Like a lot of special days in the calendar, Valentine’s Day can be an eco-nightmare. With cards, food and plastic wrapping, you may be looking for ways to show someone you love them whilst also loving the planet.
Read through our top 7 tips to make sure you have a more sustainable Valentine’s Day:
Like a lot of special days in the calendar, Valentine’s Day can be an eco-nightmare. With cards, food and plastic wrapping, you may be looking for ways to show someone you love them whilst also loving the planet.
As more of us adopt an eco-friendly way of living, sustainability is becoming an increasingly hot topic. The more we learn about how our lifestyle choices affect the environment, the more we want to change. It is also becoming easier to make these lifestyle adaptations from eating less meat to growing your own produce, and swapping harmful chemicals in products for sustainable alternatives.
However, it can be a struggle to find truly ethical and sustainable products because manufacturers don’t always explicitly name their ingredients, or use variations on ingredient names instead. We should be trying to use more natural alternatives, such as biodegradable wipes and washable cloths. But how do you identify which cosmetic companies are doing an honest job of making sure their work is good for the planet?
Using organic health and beauty products is an easy way to live a more sustainable and ethical life and, in addition to giving your conscience a boost, this commitment can make you look and feel better than ever. These products can have huge benefits to your beauty regimen, all while being totally chemical-free.
This is down to the presence of natural oils, which affect everything from hydration to inflammation, and can be found in body moisturisers, lip balms and more. So whether you want smooth, soft skin or long, luscious hair, here are ten natural oils you need to introduce to your beauty regime ASAP.
Although it is not an officially recognised awareness day, Blue Monday usually falls on the third Monday of January (the 20th this year). According to life coach and psychologist Cliff Arnall, this day highlights a mood drop that some feel during the first month of the year due to a mix of things such as post-Christmas credit card bills, lack of daylight hours and the end of festivities. If you are feeling the effects of January Blues this month and want to pull yourself through to a positive mindset, our ideas guide for Blue Monday and beyond may help.
Bokashi Bran, Bins & Buckets can be an amazing and inexpensive way to aid composting your kitchen waste as it can break down foods that traditionally take a very long time to decompose. Whilst this process is incredibly helpful, it is a science that needs some care and the right information before starting. Once you have the correct facts, bokashi composting can be a doddle so we have put together a guide on bokashi buckets, bokashi bran and bokashi bins so that you can make the right choices.
As we become more eco-aware and try to live more sustainably, more inventive ways of composting become available; from home made and built wooden composters to plastic ready-to-use composters and from large to small. It’s not just the materials that can differ, there are all manner of solutions such as Wormeries, food digesters, compost tumblers and hot composters to consider.
To make an informed decision, keep the following prime needs in consideration:
Research has shown that 18 million tonnes of food end up in landfills each year in the UK, but this can easily be reduced by simply reusing our food scraps for other purposes. However, the good news is you can reuse your leftover food in a variety of ways, including make yourself look like a million dollars. So, not only will you be doing your bit for the environment. but you can also turn your kitchen cast-offs into all-natural, bespoke beauty and skincare products. Here’s how.
Besides being the nation’s favourite drink, tea can improve the appearance of your eyes in an affordable and natural way by reducing dark circles, puffiness and redness. So, if you’re tired of trying a seemingly endless stream of eyecare products that just don’t seem to work, chemical-free tea bags could be your new best friend.
You can use every type of tea bag, including black, white and herbal varieties, but the best teas to use for skincare are the ones with the highest amount of caffeine, which soothes puffy and swollen skin. Tea also contain antioxidants, with herbal lavender tea bags being particularly good at tackling dryness. Furthermore, the tannins in tea will also counter any swelling. All you need to do is squeeze all the water out of two tea bags, allowing them to cool completely, before placing them over your eyes, and, if dark circles are your nemesis, underneath as well.
Next time you’re about to throw away the filter from your morning coffee, why not keep hold of the leftover grounds? Coffee has a variety of skincare and haircare benefits, as it can stimulate blood flow, boost collagen levels and reduce the premature ageing of skin cells.
To make a facial scrub, you’ll need 6 tablespoons of finely ground coffee, 4 tablespoons of coconut oil— it’s a great moisturiser—and a few drops of tea tree oil. Combine these ingredients and store them in an airtight container, either at room temperature or, if you’d prefer a cooling sensation, in the fridge. When ready to use, a small portion can be gently buffed into your face in a circular motion, removing dead skin cells to reveal a fresh, healthy new complexion.
Caffeine-infused hair products are available to buy from drugstores but it’s easier—and cheaper—to make some yourself. All you have to do is mix some coffee grounds into your favourite conditioner and gently scrub your scalp for a few minutes. Expect smooth, shiny hair, while the caffeine in the coffee can also promote growth.
Not only is oatmeal the perfect winter breakfast, it can also double up as a product you can use on your skin and hair, so make use of the last few handfuls in your kitchen for your own DIY beauty products.
If you’re prone to acne, an oatmeal mask may reduce inflammation, as it contains zinc, which soaks up any excess oil that could trigger breakouts. Zinc is fundamental to skin health, but because our bodies don’t naturally produce it, we have to consume it through food and supplements. Oatmeal also contains saponin, a naturally cleansing compound ideal for removing blackheads and clearing pores. What’s more oatmeal boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help improve dry skin and remove dead cells.
Simply boil half a cup of oats in the same amount of water, let it cool, then stir to create a fine paste. Apply it to your skin and allow to sit for 20 minutes before washing off with warm water.
Oatmeal is also amazing for your hair, as it can treat dandruff, help fight hair loss, and acts as a natural moisturiser due to its nutrient content. When used as a hair mask in particular, oatmeal strengthens hair follicles helping make your hair stronger. To make this, you need to mix oatmeal, fresh milk and almond oil to make a paste, before putting it on your hair for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water.
Bananas aren’t only one of your five-a-day, but excellent for your hair. The silica in the fruit encourages the synthesis of collagen, which can give your hair a much-needed boost in thickness, length and shine. A banana’s antimicrobial properties can also heal flaky, dry scalps. All you need is a few of those uneaten bananas that have been loitering in your kitchen for a while. For a conditioning mask, combine your ripe bananas with a small amount of honey, and apply to your hair for 10-15 minutes, focusing on your scalp and roots, before rinsing with lukewarm water.
Perhaps a food you wouldn’t have considered for your DIY beauty products, potatoes can improve skin health and help treat acne and other facial spots and blemishes. The vegetable can have positive effects on hair, improve dry skin and treat sunburn, too.
Potatoes are said to slow down the signs of ageing because of the antioxidants they contain, with vitamin C being particularly beneficial. As a result, you can use them to treat and prevent wrinkles—just peel and mash a few to create a paste, apply it to your face for 20 minutes, then rinse with cold water.
Spuds are also effective at removing the dark circles around your eyes. Simply peel a raw potato, slice it into large, even pieces. Then wrap them in a clean cloth and place the cloth under your eyes for 20 minutes. Afterwards, gently wash your eyes with warm water.
Avocados, although great on toast, are also fantastic for your hair and skin. The natural oils they contain can nourish, hydrate and soften. The most important thing to bear in mind is that your avocados must be inedible—the ones too mushy to use in a meal.
To make a face mask, simply mix half an avocado with yoghurt and organic honey, leave this mixture on your face for 15-20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. The fruit contains lutein, a carotenoid which promotes the skin’s elasticity. Avocados also help keep skin smooth and boost its immunity against stress and other environmental factors.
If your avocados are too soft to eat, mash them up and apply to your hair. This nourishing mask is filled with biotin, which encourages your hair to shine, and vitamins B and E to protect against dryness and damage, essential to the health and growth of your hair.
We all suffer from stress from time to time but sometimes it can really get on top of us. When your body experiences a perceived or real threat, it pumps your system full of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone). When this happens, your body has a flight, fight or freeze reaction which does eventually calm over time. Unfortunately, frequent occurrences of these threats can lead to stress issues, especially when improperly treated or neglected. Serious and untreated stress can lead to physical and mental issues including anxiety attacks, insomnia and skin problems. Luckily, stress can be battled, and coping mechanisms can be put into place quickly.
Read through our tips for surviving stress to help you become equipped to handle whatever life throws at you.
Ecotherapy is a cheap and amazing way of getting physical and mental exercise whilst meditating and creating. At its core, Ecotherapy is simply taking part in activities outdoors and can be prescribed by the NHS for mental health issues and stress. Watching your plants, fruit and veg flourish can give you a deep sense of wellbeing as the hard work you put in usually pays off. Nurturing a garden patch whilst being in peaceful outdoor surroundings is a popular therapy for a lot of mental health issues and serious stress problems which you can prescribe for yourself in your own back garden! Spending even a small amount of time outdoors walking or watching animals can settle the mind quickly and having something like a bird house or a bug hotel invites animals and insects to your back garden which means you needn’t go far to get a slice of nature. Taking some time out in your garden can prepare your mind for life’s stresses and the more you partake in this type of therapy, the better equipped you can be in the future.
Starting a garden project like composting or a Wormery is a daily activity that you can monitor and will help with gardening in the long run. Also, living more sustainably will help you to feel more at one with the Earth whilst doing good for the environment.
To stave off stress issues, people need to get regular physical exercise, no matter how light. We can sometimes be quite sedentary in our personal lives which means we need to make this time for ourselves and keep active. When you reach a happy place while exercising, your body releases endorphins (the happy hormone) which when released frequently can help battle against cortisol and adrenaline. Gardening, digging and sweeping your patio can be productive ways to release these hormones regularly. Tidying your garden in Autumn can be quite physically strenuous, which means you will be getting exercise whilst also being productive.
Yoga & Meditation
Due to the digital age being in full swing, it has never been easier to learn yoga. There are so many free YouTube channels that help viewers take some time for themselves and relax. Yoga is a brilliant way of getting exercise (perfect if the weather isn’t good enough for a walk) and teaches you how to breathe in a relaxing way. It can also assist in physical issues which can cause stress such as sciatica, arthritis and high blood pressure. The great thing about watching online at home is that you can dip in and out whenever you choose and whenever you need it.
Meditation apps for your phone and tablet can be quite cheap and help with a range of stress-related problems such as insomnia and anxiety. Learning to think differently and deal with what life throws at you can be an invaluable skill that you can pass on to others. Lighting candles and surrounding yourself with beautiful smells can mean the environment you meditate in becomes calming and relaxing instantly.
Taking time for yourself whether it is in the garden or at home is a valuable part of dealing with stress. Exercise and being outdoors are the best ways of getting through a tough period but if you engage regularly, your body will become used to happy hormones being created which battle stress chemicals when they are released. We can be complex creatures but luckily a lot of research has been done to help us easily navigate through harder times. On National Stress Awareness Day, why not practise some of the tips we have outlined and build up your defences against those perceived or real threats.
Explore through our range of gardening and home products to help you relax and destress on Original Organics.
Wrapping & Gifts
A great many of us have started to swap wrapping paper for recyclable alternatives or reuse gift bags. If you’re struggling to find eco-alternatives to wrapping paper, why not use newspaper? You could purchase a few issues of a foreign language newspaper to add a luxe touch.
Head scarves from charity shops to wrap your presents are a great option and can look incredibly chic. If the recipient does not wear scarves or want to keep them, encourage them to gift the scarves on or you can reuse for wrapping other presents during the year.
Gifts baskets are another good alternative, you can wrap these in compostable cellophane for a hamper-esque feel. Shoe boxes with no lids are a cheaper alternative to wicker baskets, save them though the year and make ‘date night in’ boxes for couples with mini bottles of wine and chocolates. Or make ‘rainy day’ activity hampers for kids with colouring books and nibbles in.
Tote bags make a lovely gift and you can use one to pop your gifts in instead of a gift bag. You’d also be gifting sustainability on!
A lot of gifts are packaged in large plastic boxes which then have plastic sections inside to ensure the items look presentable and attractive. There are two issues with this, one is the extra use of plastic and the other is there is an added price to a packaged present. Savvy shoppers find the same items packaged separately for a smaller cost to their wallets and the earth. Also, make sure that gifts are packaged in recycled/recyclable/compostable materials. Our Health & Beauty and Candles & Diffusers ranges were handpicked for their ethical and natural ingredients and packaging.
Whilst many of us may have lost the art of making presents, instead of buying little stocking fillers such as biscuits, you could make some. You could also pop some bee-attracting seeds (coming soon to Original Organics) into a gift basket or stocking to encourage people to get out into their gardens.
Food & Drink
There is nothing like a feast with your nearest and dearest during the festive period, but many households are left with a large amount of waste. If you usually bag food waste up in your kitchen caddy for kerbside collection, you could start composting on a small scale to get into the swing of creating a rich fertiliser for spring time planting.
Cutting down on meat is an easy way to ensure you lower your carbon footprint. With an increase in Veganism in the UK, there are more options than the traditional nut roast around! You could swap one of your meat selections with a substitute easily found in most supermarkets. There are even vegan alternatives to salmon now, so give it a go!
If you’re not able to swap even a small portion of your consumption, source meat from a local butcher or buy organic produce. Butchers sometimes package meat in less plastic or can pop your purchase into a tub that you bring along. Butchers also mostly sell meat from local suppliers. Organic produce is a good way of making sure your food has a smaller carbon footprint due to better farming methods.
A few towns in the UK now have waste-free shops where customers take their own jars and Tupperware along to fill up with produce. Find out if you have one locally and stock up on some Christmas food this way. If there isn’t one near you, push this ethos into the supermarket by not using plastic bags for fruit & veg.
Decorations & Cards
The distance a card must travel, the materials used in their production and the fact that most are sent to landfill can mean greetings cards are not an eco-friendly option for wishing loved ones a happy holiday. Making e-cards is a great alternative and with so many free template companies on the internet, this could save the pennies too. For family or friends without access to the internet, you could craft your own and cut down on printing inks. Or make a keepsake/something edible so recipients do not feel the need to bin it once Christmas is over.
Although we may believe that real Christmas trees make a smaller impact on the environment because they are natural, it is not true. The space needed to grow these just to then be cut down means it can be quite wasteful. A faux tree used year on year could be better so stick to what you have. Also, checking for an FSC stamp on trees means your tree is a better for the environment. You could also grow your own tree in a pot during the year and bring indoors during the festive period for display, thus saving money and the Earth.
There are so many amazing and cheap ways to make sure you have a sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas. It can be relatively easy to swap a few things and cut down your carbon footprint during this time of feasting and gifting. No traditions need changing, it is a simple case of reduce, reuse, recycle.
To find out how you can live and garden more sustainably, explore through our full range on Original Organics.
Explore through our festive range and pick up a gift for an avid gardener (or yourself!). Stop by our amazing range of Christmas decorations and lights to make sure your home is merry & bright
Whilst some of us may be fearful that this extra charge is unaffordable, others simply do not like the added bill. Luckily, this collection is an ‘opt-in’ recycling service which means your garden waste will not be picked up if you do not wish to pay, but this means those of us with fallen leaves, grass and hedge trimmings have no way of disposing of it all. There is a way to properly dispose of your garden waste without paying charges, going to the local dump or leaving a pile to rot in your garden.
Dead/dying leaves can become one of the best composts for your garden, and autumn is full of falling leaves in your garden! Using a dedicated leafmould composter can be advantageous as having mesh sides built in allows the leaves to become aerated and decompose quicker. This rich compost can be created in 6-8 months and can be used as potting compost as well as a rich soil enhancer. Imagine starting this project in October/November and having a fantastic compost by May/June when you really need it. Just make sure you shred your leaves first and scatter with water if you need leafmould in a shorter time.
If you want to know more, we have a fantastic article that explains exactly how to make the perfect leafmould compost on the News & Blogs section on Original Organics.
In autumn, we rarely cut our lawns but into the spring and summer months, this chore can mount up waste. If you regularly cut your lawn and do not have a long lawn very often, grass clippings can be left to decompose and enrich the soil underneath without the need for collecting and composting. If you need to collect lawn clippings, you can compost this down to create a brilliant enricher. Any domestic herbicides that have been used on your grass will accelerate the composting process and will not harm fruit and veg when eventually used to help them grow. Although, herbicides used on an industrial level on golf courses, football pitches and farms are possibly dangerous to use on plants, so it is best to avoid composting this sort of grass if it has been treated. You can use this grass as a mulch under non-fruit bearing trees and hedges.
When putting grass into a composter, it is best to toss the clippings around as a thick layer of grass will slow down the composting process and will make your compost very wet. If you use a hot composter, you can add shredded leaves to the mix and cut down the time needed to create garden fertiliser.
Tree Branches & Hedge Trimmings
Every so often we need to trim our trees, even in autumn/winter, which can cause an issue if you are deciding to not have your garden waste picked up by the council as it can be hard to dispose of a material this tough. If you cut branches and hedge trimmings you can turn these into mulch to keep soil underneath damp through the hotter months. Alternatively, you can add these cuttings into your compost bin and mix it in with the rest of your garden waste.
Tree branches can also be used as a refuge for wildlife during the harsher months. When stacked properly, bugs, hedgehogs and other creatures can use this space to hibernate or live away from the snow and ice.
Some branches and hedge trimmings can be saved and used in fire-pits, chimeneas and stoves in the summer or in the autumn to create a cosy area in the garden, or smoking areas in pubs and restaurants. Add these to proper wood fuel and relax while listening to the crackling of the fire, just make sure the wood is dry before you add it in.
Composting may be the easiest and most sustainable way to dispose of your garden waste but creating a mulch for the summer months is just as important. Avid gardeners and novices alike spend some of the autumn/winter period preparing for the summer months as any work done now means your yield will be more fruitful and you can rest easy knowing you have saved yourself money on buying compost and not paying for the waste pick-up.
For our full range and more on how to garden sustainably, visit Original Organics.