Newsletter – September Week 3

positive green news

Had a lovely surprise this week. The lovely Emma Gleeson mentioned me and Living Lightly in Ireland as part of her interview with Jenny Green on 2FM, one of Ireland’s nationwide radio stations. It took a bit of detective work for me to find out that Emma’s mention was the reason for a slew of new followers. Thanks so much Emma and so to return the favour I’m going to mention her forthcoming book about sustainable decluttering called Stuff Happens.

Nothing mentioned in this post has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your bloggers to remain independent then please share this post or support me with a small monthly donation via Patreon or with a once off donation via Paypal.
Photo by Luke Thornton on Unsplash

Seems like so much is kicking off this month. I gave a talk to the staff of Deloitte last week and I’m doing one for the staff of Autodesk today. Pandemic or no pandemic, things are still happening, even if it’s only online.

To get you in the mood for your own eco-actions here’s some positive sustainable stories to fire you up.

Irish company Cully and Sully become a B Corp

Introducing the world’s first soluble and fully recyclable circuit board

Lovely list of low-waste and outdoor things to do this Autumn from Roscommon County Council

Bangladesh to review all but 3 of it’s planned coal power plants 

Coca-Cola to replace virgin plastic bottles with 100% recycled versions in the Netherlands and Norway in 2021

Dublin City Council unveil plans for a biodiversity / ecological centre in Liffey Vale

Australia bans export of unprocessed waste

Belize increased the size of its Sapodilla Cayes reserve to encompass the Cayman Crown, one of the best preserved reef ecosystems in the region, home to many endangered species of corals, as well as previously undocumented reef types.

Some common myths about sustainable clothing 

Could salt marshes protect against rising sea levels?

The Eco Activists reaching millions on Ticktock

Scientists have brought endangered turtle back from the brink of extinction

How one national park in Africa is rebounding by including local communities

Pillow cases and upholstery fabric from recycled jeans

Finish town offers rewards to citizens that cut their CO2 emissions

Adidas launch shoe made from biodegradable and recyclable materials

The biggest commercial rooftop greenhouse in the world just opened in Montreal

Seychelles has progressed from protecting 0.04% to 30% of its national waters, covering 410,000 km2 of ocean – an area larger than Germany.

In addition to running its brewery on wind power and gas made from malted barley, Brew Dog has now bought a forest to offset their carbon emissions 

Lego to trial paper bags in its boxes next year

A cycling friendly roundabout debuts in Cambridge in the UK 

Timberland aim to be 100% circular by 2030 and to only source natural materials from regenerative agriculture 

African country Gabon aim to remove oil from their GDP entirely by 2030, and replace it with sustainable alternatives

Till next week peeps

Elaine

Sustainable Ethical Nurseries and Kids Rooms

A little lockdown love has resulted in plenty of pandemic pregnancies and the promise of a bounty of bounce-back babies come next January. If that applies to you, congrats! I’ve got pretty much every aspect of parenting covered on this website so if you want to be a planet-positive parent fear not. That’s not to say that I’m knocking sustainable parenting out of the park – far from it – but we keep trying.

I’ve written before about What you Don’t Need to buy Baby, Sustainable Ethical Baby and Maternity Gear, Sustainable Ethical Clothing for Kids, Raising Zero Waste Kids and now we’re going to take a spin around the nursery, and kids room.

Nothing mentioned in this post has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your bloggers to remain independent then please share this post or support me with a small monthly donation via Patreon or with a once off donation via Paypal.

Sleeping
I’m going to start with what should be the most important part of a bedroom, the bed. For our kids we used a moses basket, then a cot and then straight to a single bed with a bed rail. In my opinion toddler beds are a waste of money and resources, but maybe your cot converts to a toddler bed or you can lay your hands on a good one second-hand.

Moses Baskets – These are generally only used for a few months and an be picked up in good condition from friends or family, or second-hand online. See my list of Second Hand Stores in Ireland for leads. If you do get a second hand one it might be wise to change the mattress. See below for more info.

Cots – Honestly I haven’t come across any sustainable ethical new cots on sale, which is kinda surprising. All I can suggest is to buy second-hand where possible and then for new, look for a wooden one made from a sustainably managed forest (FSC certified or similar) with a natural oil finish if at all possible.

Bed Frames – The most sustainable bed frame is one that already exists so aim to buy second-hand if you can. Sure with a new mattress a bed frame can be as good as new. My son currently sleeps in a deadly racing car bed that only cost us €60 on adverts.ie. If you can’t find something to suit pre-loved I have a list of sustainable ethical beds listed in this article.

If all else fails and you’re stuck with buying on the high-street then opt for a metal bed frame if you can. Metal is long-lasting and infinitely recyclable in most countries. Timber frames are great in theory because the plant absorbs carbon while it grows making it potentially carbon neutral but often the source of the timber is unclear so you may be contributing to the destruction of virgin forests by buying it. Plus it’s often coated with synthetic lacquers and varnishes making it unsuitable for composting and only really fit for landfill or incineration at the end of it’s life.

Mattresses
So it’s no secret that I’m a lover of second-hand, but I do make exceptions; underwear, pyjamas, and mattresses (unless the mattress is very lightly used by someone I know). This is particularly important when it comes to cot mattresses. I bought a new cot mattresses for my firstborn, which her brother slept on too, so I was concerned when I learned how a study in 2002 linked second-hand mattresses to an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Interestingly the original study was criticised by child health experts, whose analysis of the data showed no increased risk in the sharing of mattresses between siblings in smaller families. Still buyer beware.

When it comes to new mattresses it’s very hard for consumers to choose a sustainable option in Ireland. We really doesn’t have a fully circular recycling / disposal system for mattresses so regardless of what the mattress is made of it’ll end up being incinerated at the end of it’s life. Sure the metal components might go for recycling but there is no facility to compost the natural materials or recycle the synthetic materials. Also because practically all mattresses are treated with fire retardant (FR) chemicals they really shouldn’t be composted, or recycled – or even incinerated for that matter. FR chemicals have been a cause of concern for decade now with many now calling for them to be banned as happened in California. Interestingly only Ireland and the UK treat upholstered furniture and mattresses with FR chemicals, continental Europe seems to do fine without it. There are a few mattress makers with products that don’t require FR chemicals and I’ve listed them below.

The other issue with mattresses from a health point of view is volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals that off-gas from new materials at room temperature and are typically what people describe as that ‘new’ smell from cars and furniture.  VOC’s may cause long-term damage to health, particularly children’s health. Synthetic foams, like those found in most mattresses, tend to give off a lot of VOC’s, so one way to reduce the load is to opt for natural materials instead. That said latex, which is often used as an alternative to foam can cause an allergic reaction in some.

Cot and Kids-sized – Cottonsafe in the UK, supplies chemical-free and natural cot and toddler sized mattresses, as does The Little Green Sheep. Currently, there is no Irish company offering chemical-free baby and child mattresses, but the Irish company Natural Sleep does offer kids mattresses made from organic cotton and natural latex.

Standard Sized Mattresses – You can see a full list of eco mattresses brands in a previous article on Sustainable Ethical Bedrooms, two of which I’m happy to report are completely free of chemicals. One made in the UK and one made in China for an Irish brand.

Bedlinen
The question of what to put on your child’s bed is a lot more straightforward. Your choices include second-hand or organic cotton. I’ve given a list of places to source second-hand above so here’s a list of brands of organic cotton bedlinen for babies and kids.

Duvets & Pillows
If you need standard-sized duvets click here but for toddler sized beds here are some brands to consider

  • Natural Sleep (UK) – organic cotton, Kapok or lambswool filling, organic cotton covers,
  • Devon Duvets (UK) – British wool cleaned without chemicals in cotton cover, made in UK,
  • Green Fibres (UK)  – Organic Cotton cover and filling

Paint
I mentioned VOC’s above, well those bad boys re-emerge when talking about paint. Most people aren’t aware but standard paint is really just liquid plastic with some pigment in it and as such it emits VOC’s into the atmosphere like any other plastic. Some high-street brands now offer low VOC’s versions but I find I still get flu-like symptoms when we use them. For a list of lung-friendly eco paint brands click this link.

Rugs
Okay this isn’t one for vegans or vegetarians but some people swear by sheepskin rugs for babies. For other eco options visit my article on Sustainable Ethical Living Rooms

Accessories
Kids grow out of things so quickly, so think twice before rushing to buy theme accessories linked to the latest kids blockbuster. These date so quickly and become impossible to rehome. Better to buy timeless items that look cute and don’t age as badly. Personally I think paper crafts are a fantastic way to decorate a kids room without breaking the bank or the planet. I am totally in love with the template for a 3D card whale from Balincraft. Imagine that hanging from the ceiling of a kids’ room!

cool kids room decorations

Online marketplaces can be a great place to find accessories for kids rooms. They’re generally in perfect condition and available for very little. I’ve even got a few on my own Pre-loved Homeware page on Adverts.

Another great idea for cute decorations for kids rooms is themed sweet and biscuit tins from post supermarkets. I kid you not! (Like the pun?) I have some beautifully designed and made sweet and biscuit tins from Marks & Spencer adorning my kids’ rooms.  The charity shops are awash with these come January so keep an eye out.

Storage
Be careful with storage, it can hide a multitude of sins. If you need more than one toy box you’re in danger of being left with a load of toys that you just won’t be able to rehome in the future. When it comes to toy boxes I’d go for a sturdy wooden wooden but pay particular attention to the closing mechanism. You do not want tiny little fingers being trapped in a badly designed box!

At some stage a book case would be nice, and a floor mounted model that your child can access themselves is ideal. It doesn’t have to be big. We use a large basket on the floor.

storage for kids rooms

In my experience baskets are the best way to store kids stuff. Cardboard boxes break too easily and plastic storage containers fade and can be very quick to crack into sharp pieces when little bodies lean on them. Even if some storage containers do survive they’re generally scuffed too much to rehome meaning most get binned. I find well-made baskets wear the best and last the longest and if they do break you just have to put them on the compost heap or in the brown bin. Naturally Irish made baskets using locally grown materials will be the most sustainable to buy, but they’re often beyond the price range of most parents. They can also be a bit spikey for a kids room so my preference for bedroom storage is water hyacinth. It’s not as robust as wicker or willow but it’s softer and if you’re crafty you can customise it. Plus water hyacinth is an invasive species outside its natural home of the Amazon so if you buy from other places you’ll be helping those countries protect their local biodiversity. Interestingly all baskets are handmade so whichever one you buy you’ll be helping to provide a livelihood for a craftsperson. 

Bedroom furniture wise there really isn’t anything being sold in Ireland as particularly sustainable or ethical so if you can’t buy second-hand aim to buy as locally-made as possible. And if you can, try to get a natural oil or wax finish that you can sand back and re-finish yourself if needs be. I would suggest avoiding kidish wardrobes etc. You’ll be surprised just how quickly they grow out of them and you’ll be faced with rehoming them. I’m also not a big fan of built-in wardrobes. They’re expensive and nine times out of ten they get ripped out and binned after 10-15, and because they’re bespoke there is no chance of rehoming them. Better to invest in a good quality standalone wardrobe that can be restyled or rehomed if needs be.

Blinds or Curtains
There is a catch 22 to blackout blinds in a babies room. Some say that having pitch-black rooms leads to babies who can’t fall asleep elsewhere. I don’t know about that. As a desperately tired parent I tried everything to help my kids sleep longer. Nothing work but that’s a post for a different type of website!

Black-out fabric can be applied to any blind or curtain, but be warned, the light will still seep in around the edge of the blind or curtain. The only product I came across that completely blocked out all light was the Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind. Using this frees you up to choose blinds and curtains without black out lining.

For suggetions on where to buy fabric that is organic or certified as being free of toxins click the link.

I hope you found some of those suggestions helpful. If I missed anything out please let me know in the comments below.

If you like this post you might also like my posts on

And for daily positive sustainable stories check out my Facebook page and my Instagram Account

Elaine

 

Six Weeks to Zero Waste – Covid 19 Version

Zero Waste Shopping

Becoming a Zero Waster can seem like a daunting task but breaking it down into steps and tackling just a few a week can get you where you want to be relatively painlessly. Here is a short list of steps inspired by my own journey towards Zero Waste. I’ve tailored it to suit the strange times we’re in at the moment as some zero waste steps aren’t currently available.

Every Zero Waster’s list will be different so don’t take this as gospel; it’s just meant as a guide. If you really don’t want to do one of the steps that’s cool, everyone’s journey is different, don’t worry and carry on!

And of course by Zero Waste, we really mean low-waste. The only way to create zero waste is to eat, wear and use only locally grown, harvested compostable items made with solar or wind energy.

Continue reading “Six Weeks to Zero Waste – Covid 19 Version”

Newsletter – September Week 1

positive sustainable stories

I’ve been so busy gallivanting all over the place this week I forgot to finish this week’s post until now. I have a strong expectation that at least one of my kids’ classes will be sent home for self-isolation in the near future, so I’m trying to get everything important out of the way in advance. Have to say I’m also loving being out of the house more too. As an extrovert lockdown has not been easy, and I have developed an aversion to most online communications.

Nothing mentioned in this post has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your bloggers to remain independent then please share this post or support me with a small monthly donation via Patreon or with a once off donation via Paypal.
Photo by Isabella and Louisa Fischer on Unsplash

Yesterday I had a very zero waste day. I picked up a free second-hand jumper for my daughter, met a friend for a plant-based lunch in a cafe with resuable crockery and cutlery, and then visited a farmers market to buy local-grown and / or organic veg, and it was sunny!!!!! Love days like that, make me feel energised and full of hope. On that note I’ll be participating in a free panel discussion next week on Staying Positive in Challenging Times next Thursday. This event is being organised by the Zero Waste Festival Crew as part of their Zero Waste Week 2020 celebration. Check out their FB page for more information. I also wrote an article titled Sustain-ability for online magazine , which is about the positive actions we can take to tackle the threats facing human life on earth.

And now onto this week’s positive sustainable stories and useful tips;

Painting just one blade on wind turbines can reduce bird deaths by 70%

Some tips on how to turn you garden into a winter wildlife haven

Jaguar Land Rover set to cut emissions by a quarter using recycled aluminium

UK department store John Lewis moves to rent out its furniture

China issued new rules for its distant water fishing fleet preventing ships approaching marine protected areas with stiff penalties for ship captains and company managers that break the rules.

Since the 1970s, more than 90,000 km2 of desert in Niger has been regreened by combining huge forests of thorny trees and grain planting leading to a million more tons of grain than before.

Solar powered fridges helping to prevent food waste in countries with unreliable electricity supply

Hungarian wood structure company offers mobile installations for rent 

UK department store Selfridges launches first in-house rental collection 

Nationwide post-lockdown electrical goods buying spree sees record recycling levels

Get ready for spring and buy your organic flower bulbs from Cork garden supplier

Fewer tourists lead to increased turtle hatchlings in Thailand

The Elephant population continues to grown with 140 baby elephants born in the Amboseli National Park since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fruit and veg in season in September

Interestingly new research has now shown that, unlike Europe, overall insect life in America is not in declined

Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste programme started back on tv on Sept 1st

Mobile vending trucks for cleaning products go from strength to strength in Chile

Biogas from cow manure is now being fed-into the UK’s power grid 

The Coronavirus shifted earth overshoot day by 3 weeks

Treat yourself to a 5 minute Strawberry Watermelon Sorbet

Department of Environment invites applications for funding to re-wet farmed peatlands 

Thanks for reading. You can find me on Facebook on Instagram between now and next Friday.

Elaine