Eco Friendly Christmas Wish List Pt.2 Charms and Chains

After chatting to Roxanne from Charms and Chains about her Christmas baubles and decorations, I had to share with you a little roundup of some really amazing products that she has to offer. Having teamed up with Jess from the Refill Garage, you can rest assured that they are all eco friendly and perfect for gifting this Christmas!

There’s currently 7 products available from this amazing collaboration that ranges from £3 to £16 (3 gift boxes, and 4 single products), so they’re perfect for secret Santa or as a stocking filler.

Eco Friendly Gift Boxes

I’m obsessed with the gift boxes that C&C and the Refill Garage have put together. Each box comes with a bamboo toothbrush and a Faith in Nature Soap Bar alongside a unique eco-friendly product to help you start making little changes that will reduce your plastic waste.

According to www.water.org.uk, 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year in the UK alone. It’s hard to believe that we are constantly paying for a bit of plastic to carry our water around in, never mind considering the impact that this kind of senseless consumerism is having on our planet. The reusable bottle included in this gift box is a gorgeous elephant print design by Sass & Belle, so you can help do your bit for the planet and look wonderfully chic at the same time!

Sass & Belle Rainbow Print Travel Mug

This nifty Sass & Belle mug is made with 45% Bamboo Fiber, 25% Corn Fiber, 5% Wood Fiber and 25% Melamine. It’s printed with a lovely rainbow print and is perfect if you’re a ‘coffee on the go’ kinda person.

I personally use a travel mug daily and like to keep one close for an unexpected Starbucks trip. You can buy this separately or in a lovely gift set that comes with a Biodegradable Teapigs Tea Temple bag for you to sample on the go!

Pink String Shopper Bag

These little shopper bags are the rage at the minute. They’re crafted from 100% cotton, so they’re really durable and easy to pop in your coat pocket or your handbag for when you’re out food shopping.

My parents have just got back from Florida, where apparently these are used for shopping, going to the beach, the pool and just for pottering around with – they’re even displayed on mannequins in fancy clothing stores!

You can grab one of these on its own, or in a lovely gift set!

Stainless Steel Straws & Cleaner

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet the past few years, you’ll have seen story after story about straws. We know that they’re a terrible single use plastic and we know that a lot of companies have really struggled to give us an alternative that a) doesn’t go all goopy in your milkshake, and b) can actually *cough* be recycled *cough*.

We can’t sit around waiting for these people to get their act together and make something that actually works, and to be honest, there’s absolutely no need for us to. These stainless steel straws are discreet, easy to use and easy to clean – you can even pop them in the dishwasher.

You can buy these on their own, or you can find them in both of the Sass and Belle travel mug gift sets!

The Refill Garage

I’ve been writing this post for a long time now, but because of a house move and lots of other bits and bobs, I’ve not had chance to share with you all some really positive work coming from The Refill Garage. Since I first started writing this post, a lot has changed, but the goal for The Refill Garage has stayed the same.

The story starts with a husband and wife embarking on a personal mission to reduce their plastic waste. Like a lot of us, Jess and her husband had the daunting realisation that their bathroom was full of plastic bottles and started to piece together ways that they could cut down their waste and live a more sustainable life. They started making little changes – using the milk man, refilling their milk bottles at a local farm, buying their veggies at a farm shop, using soap, shampoo and conditioner bars rather that bottled products – all really great changes that got Jess thinking about this on a larger scale.

How fantastic it would be if there was a service where you could use the same bottle, but fill them up?

Jess started researching, seeing that there were similar shops in Cornwall and Bath, but nothing closer to home. Introducing – The Refill Garage! Like a lot of us, Jess is in love with the planet and is devastated by the damage that we’re causing. “Watching things like Blue Planet or War on Plastic Waste really hit home that we need to make some changes. It’s overwhelming.

When I asked Jess what running The Refill Garage meant to her, she told me that she finds it incredibly rewarding being able to help, and ‘knowing that doing something small can make such an impact in the long run is an amazing accomplishment’.

Jess sources her products from a collection of retailers. Choosing them involved a lot of research as she wanted to be able to find a supplier to whom she could return the containers to be refilled, so that it’s a circular system that isn’t creating any waste. She also wanted to ensure that the products that she is using are as eco-friendly as possible, as she doesn’t want the process to be counterproductive.

I originally asked Jess if she was planning on introducing any new products, to which she replied with a big yes! We’ve watched over the past months how The Refill Garage has responded perfectly to the demand, listening to it’s customers requests and reacting appropriately with products to help them reduce their own waste.

Jess didn’t create The Refill Garage to be her sole job and source of income, ‘ I created it to provide a service for others that I longed for!‘. She told me that not having a permanent shop, and instead ones that she can ‘Pop Up’ in allows her to keep prices as low as possible. ‘If the prices are extortionate then it would discourage people from using the refill option as it’s cheaper to go to a local store and buying another bottle full of what they wish to buy!

The Refill Garage is a really exciting venture and something that we shouldn’t take for granted. We definitely need more people like Jess with the passion and drive to not only make a difference to her own life, but help the rest of us make a difference with our own!

“We needed a facility to refill our bottles, so if it meant me researching and trying it then that’s what I was going to do!”

Eco Friendly Christmas Wish List

Eco friendly products are a big talking point at the minute. Opinion columns are discussing them daily, with some jumping for joy and others thinking they’re just another way for large corporations to pass the guilt down the chain.

Despite what some people think, our personal consumption is important. It’s become a part of our identities now, it’s engrained into our existence. It’s choosing to take your refillable water bottle everywhere, or it’s the ignorance of buying bottled water every day on your way to work. It’s the moment that you get your consumerism under control and stop wasting your money on trash. If this is you, and you’re looking at making a difference to your life, my Christmas Wish List will hopefully give you some great ideas. In absolutely no specific order, I’m going to share with you some of my favourite eco friendly products right now.

Lock & Lock Eco Friendly Tubs

Off the cuff, Lock & Lock have released a collection of eco friendly tubs that are produced using the cut offs from their original clear range. Every one is said to be a different shade to the next, depending on where they’ve come off the production line, and they’re just as durable and hard wearing as their original collection – and they are a fantastic size. I got mine from Sainsbury’s, they were on offer at around £3 and came wrapped in a piece of card that explained that they’re salvaged from 100% food grade waste plastic. You can find them here for a really great price, or they are on Amazon with a bit of a hefty price tag. I use them when I meal prep and for storing soup for quick midweek meals.

Tefal Enjoy Utensil Collection

Next up, the Tefal Enjoy utensil collection. I’m struggling to find many links for this one, there are couple on Amazon, though I got mine in Sainsbury’s on offer a lot cheaper. They’re made from 95% recycled materials and have a 2-in-1 function, like a spaghetti spoon that you can also scoop up your sauce with. They’re nifty in the sense that you can have more space in your drawer, and you’ll have less dishes once you’ve made your signature spag bol. I’ve been using these for a while now and feel like the days of using 2 utensils at once are part of a messy culinary past I’m glad to leave behind *stares lovingly towards utensils*.

Thermal Curtains

This may seem like a weird one, following the food theme from the previous products, but thermal curtains have become my must have home product. They’re great for prevents draughts and breezes, reducing noise, and helping to stop the sun from bleaching your decor. Having moved from a draughty 1930s property, the last thing that I wanted was to have a cold house, and these have really helped to banish those last little chills around the windows. It’s said that having thermal curtains can help to cut down your heating costs, with them reducing the amount of energy lost through your windows, so they’re an all round win win. Don’t rush out and ditch your curtains too quickly though, you can upgrade your current curtains with a thermal liner that will help do the exact same job for a fraction of the price.

Insulated Lunch Bag

I recently bought one of these for Jamie, he is terrible for buying food on the go while he is at work. Besides the cost and waste, the lack of nutrition in everything he buys is a worry for me. I picked this one up on Amazon, it came ready for Monday morning and was surprisingly practical. The upper compartment fits a standard size protein shaker in, so it’s more than enough space for your water bottle. The main body houses the Lock & Lock 1.2L eco box and has room left over for snacks and boasts a couple of hook and loop tape fastening compartments that I stuff homemade cookies in.

Coconut Bowls

I came across these guys listening to the Plant Proof podcast, their story is incredible and definitely worth a listen. I was gifted a bunch of things for my birthday last year and they’re almost too good to use. 4 bowls, some cutlery and a bag of straws are now in my possession and I’m as happy with them now as I was when I first saw them. They need to be hand washed with soapy water and polished with coconut oil after every 10 uses, but don’t let this put you off as not only do they look fantastic, but they’re also handcrafted and helping to reduce the mass waste of coconut shells. You can fill them with anything your heart desires, just make sure your family and friends are ready for the new tropical level of food porn you’re about to be producing. Grab them straight from the guy’s themselves and you’ll probably bag a discount!

Biodegradable Poo Bags

If you’re a dog mom/dad/guardian then you’ll know that you can never have too many poo bags, but the type we choose is really important. As an extremely gross experiment, I totalled up how many poo bags I’m using in a week and the results were pretty mind blowing. On average, both of my dogs will poo twice a day, however if we go for a walk, they could both squeeze out another 2 (very pathetic looking) poops each – because they’re both kind like that. That can be a whopping 8 bags just in one day, and an average of 56 bags a week if we get a walk in every day. My good friends and Hounds sell Earth Rated Scented Lavender Poo Bags, they’re everything that you want from a poo bag – sturdy, thick and capable of masking pretty stinky dog droppings. Your dog mom/dad/guardian points just went through the roof.

I know that there isn’t a biodegradable cotton bud in sight, but these are all different ways that you can look at your consumption of products and make changes for the better.

Let me know if you’ve tried anything on my Christmas Wish List in the comments!

Christmas Party Attire Roundup

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Monki Yellow Fruit Print Dress

The party season is fast approaching, and all of our favourite retailers are going all guns blazing when it comes to sequins, glitter and show stopping finishes. I am an absolute sucker for buying something new for every occasion, but I’m trying to reign it in knowing the impact that fashion can have on the environment. In July I purchased a gorgeous Monki fruit print dress dress for my work summer party. I wanted to make sure that whatever I got could be worn again and again, dressed up or down, and it’s done just that. I styled it with drunk eyes, Kim K braids, lace up heels and a little shoulder bag covered in animals playing golf. Since then I’ve teamed it with sandals, trainers and even a parka – it’s versatile, my friends.

With this Christmas attire roundup, I’m going to push you away slightly from the glitter and glam of dresses and show you some of my favourite alternative Christmas party looks.

Monki Emerald Ribbed Culottes

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Monki cares: Cropped ribbed velour trousers

I absolutely adore Monki, a lot of their clothes are highly functional and have the kind of style that you can make look seriously edgy, or keep conventional.

These emerald culottes are the perfect example of how you can work a sassy wide leg for parties and for a random weekend in Feb. The statement hue is sophisticated and has that Christmas-y vibe we love and teams in perfectly with this seasons obsession with 70’s cuts and prints.

For your Christmas party, a sleeveless black chiffon top, metallic nails, a smokey eye, barely there black heels and your glitzy clutch bag from last year are all you need to shimmer through the festive season, then retire them down with a brown sweatshirt and chunky black boots throughout the rest of the winter months.

These caught my eye even more, as they’re apart of the ‘Better Cotton Initiative’ that helps to support responsibly grown, sustainable cotton farming.

Newlook Paperbag Waist Trousers

Newlook: Camel High Waist Paperbag Trousers

Paperbag waists aren’t leaving us anytime soon, they’re a really easy way to work a day-to-night look with ease. These have a more tailored finish than some, but still boast a slightly relaxed fit that’s perfect if there’s going to be lots of fizz and snacks at your party.

I chose these as not only can you pair them up for your party with a silky cami and nude heels, but you can style them for work with a blazer and shirt, or for the weekend with a graphic tee and slouchy cardi.

Miss Selfridge Grey Plush Overcoat

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Miss Selfridge Grey Plush Overcoat

We’re all guilty of going out without a coat or jacket over winter, but this plush overcoat is a cosy way to work chic slouchy style over the party season and beyond.

Back in 2003, Kate Moss was pictured wearing an oversized faux fur coat with a silver maxi dress, white heels and a black clutch bag. It worked for Kate, so it can work for us. Layer your legs in knee high boots like the Miss Selfridge model for a fierce party look, or add in plain white tee tucked into your fav boyfriend jeans for a casual finish.

Yours Black Distressed Jeggings

Because who doesn’t like the jeans and a nice top look? These distressed jeggings are a comfortable choice for every occasion and easily worked with sweatshirts, tees, blouses and shirts.

If you’re not a big fan of tight fitting clothes, don’t shy away from these just yet. They’re fitted with an elasticated waistband and have elastane added into the cotton-rich mix, so they’re easy to pull on and have a finish that moves with your body.

For the party season, a lace bodice and smart blazer will keep you looking glam from Christmas to NYE, while a year round staple look can boast a tie waist shirt and ballet flats.

Reiss Floral Mini Skirt

Reiss Floral Mini Skirt With Lace Detailing

I had a mailer through with this skirt on and fell in love with it the moment I lay eyes on it. It’s classy, contemporary, and easily worked from coffee with friends to your NYE party.

The black shirt combo featured is a statement choice for your festive RSVP’s and can be taken into your work wear with a blazer and brogues or layered with a chunky knit jumper and roll neck top.

Miss Selfridge Black Ditsy Print Chiffon Rara Mini Skirt

Now, I’m under no illusion that this design is quite expensive and I struggled to find an exact replica, though I don’t think that this look is unobtainable using any kind of floral skirt. One in particular that I loved was this gorgeous floaty Rara number from Miss Selfridge. It has a shirred waist and layers of tulle, making it ultra feminine and adaptable for any event.

Boohoo Floral Wrap Skater Dress

Boohoo Wrap Floral Skater Dress

Boohoo isn’t exactly known for subtle clothing, but I thought that this floral skater dress was quite a classy choice that you could take throughout the seasons with the right jacket and tights.

It’s styled on the site with chunky white trainers (sigh) and that’s about it. BUT if you’re confident with your style, lace up boots would give this dress some killer boho vibes ready for the festival season. For Christmas, a popping lippy and strappy heels will complete the look perfectly.

Debenhams Black Faux Suede Loafers

Black Faux Suede Chain 'Wim' Wide Fit Loafers
Faith Black Faux Suede Chain ‘Wim’ Wide Fit Loafers

Last but not least, one my favourite Christmas party picks are these black faux suede loafers. I’ve done a few years of ripping up my feet now, and I can’t say that I ever really want to look back. Small heels and stylish flats can work wonders – not only are they absolutely killer in style, but they’re also comfortable, allowing you to spend more time socialising with a G&T, rather than sitting in the corner nursing your newly formed blisters.

Have you got your party outfit sorted? Let me know in the comments!

Hounds Dog Shop and Groomers

If you’re looking for a shop that really cares about you and your dogs, Hounds is the place you want to go. Supplying a collection of natural chews, treats, food, toys and accessories, this isn’t your average large chain dog shop that sells you suspicious products with unknown ingredients, it’s a unique sanctuary for people that really love their doggies.

Choosing natural treats and food should be something every owner should commit too. Nourishing your pet is the difference between them thriving and merely surviving. Quality brands like Canagan, have a higher nutritional value in each piece of biscuit, meaning your dogs body is absorbing more nutrients and protein with every bite, which of course means that your dog isn’t starving again half an hour after their meal. Canagan estimate that a dog of 8kg only requires 125g of their food a day, working out at a measly 71p.

Treats such as raw hide chews are produced using a tonne of nasty chemicals, bleach and glue, before being re-coloured with a plethora of dyes, some of which are considered a carcinogenic. A great alternative to these types of chews are at large in Hounds. Some of which I found nestled within my latest order.

I purchased a Hounds Monthly Chew Box which currently contains a pack of Denzels Chews, an Edgard & Cooper snack bar, a natural cow ear, 2 types of chicken feet, a pork roll, a beef heart and a lovely biodegradable poo bag! Along side the box, I ordered 4 puffed chicken feet (Serge’s all time favourite), 4 chicken sausages, 2 buffalo ears and a standard sized buffalo horn.

Chew Box treats
Cow ear, puffed chicken foot, cows heart and dried chicken foot
Pork roll

As you can imagine, the dogs were ecstatic when my package arrived promptly at the door, and neither of them could wait to tuck in. We started by investigating the Chew Box. Both Serge and Max were intrigued by the tasty smelling box, so much so I struggled the get any photos before they were trying to run off with bits to start demolishing!

I tried to insist (for science of course) that they did a sniff test of each paper bag before I unwrapped it. The winner by far was the bag of little chicken sausages, so we started with them on the taste test. Max sat with me while he scoffed his, Serge ran off like usual to eat his in secret (probably so Max can’t come to steal it). In a close second was the pork roll, we of course did a taste test on this and it went down so well that I had to take a trip to the shop and buy some more before a mini dog war erupted in our living room. Whilst there, I explored the pick and mix style treat table and picked up some more chicken sausages and a couple of duck necks too.

Max with a chicken sausage

The Chew Box has definitely been a hit, it’s perfect if you’re after something a little different every month and even more so if you haven’t got much time to nip out and get your pooch some treats. Priced at a very modest £8.49, or £8.07 if you subscribe (box contents valued at over £10), it’s a little price for a ‘happy, healthy hounds’!

My Waste Free Journey

Whether it’s from Brexit, Boris Johnson, or more importantly, global warming, the UK is stuck in a whirlwind of terrible news. We’re bombarded daily by a lot of negative information that can be difficult to digest, especially when there are a lot of conflicting opinions. Despite having a strong interest in the matter, I’m currently taking a step back from getting angry at the disaster that has become UK politics, and I’m instead focusing my energy into changes I can make to help reduce my Carbon Footprint and waste.

Something that has become very real for me recently is the constant pressure of consumerism, there’s always something new or better that we should be buying, most of the time when what we already have is perfectly fine.

Fashion

One of the worst contenders for this is fashion, so trying to reduce what I buy is something I try to exercise a lot. Being able to make simple repairs is a great way to cut down the need to buy clothes. There will always be times when you can’t avoid buying something, but what we do with our old clothes afterwards also impacts the environment. At one point, among everything else I owned, I had around 40 dresses in my wardrobe. Some I hadn’t worn for years but couldn’t bring myself to get rid of, others I wore day to day, and the rest were purely for evening wear and didn’t get that much use. After sorting through everything I had (a lot still had tags!), I’d made a huge pile of clothes to be sold, another to go to charity, and one that I planned on recycling with the H&M scheme.

What happens after you sell your clothes on is out of your control, but somebody else buying second hand is a small step in the right direction for our society becoming more eco-friendly. A way that you can be sure on the fate of your clothes however, is up-cycling. I just recently made a cotton tote bag from an old T-Shirt, it was quick, easy, and didn’t require a sewing machine.

Beauty

I’ve also invested in a couple of products from Lush. All of the products come boxed in recyclable materials, either placed in the cardboard on their own or wrapped in a very thin piece of paper. The padding inside is also recyclable, rather than being Styrofoam – I kept this for packing for our move.

I ordered a Wiccy Magic Muscles bar to help sooth my aching muscles after the gym. I don’t really have a product that this is substituting, but if you use something like baby oil or massage oils, you would have very little waste from this product. I also bought a conditioning shampoo bar called Godiva, it’s a lovely yellow bar that contains cocoa butter, cupuaçu butter, shea butter, camellia oil, organic macadamia nut oil and extra virgin coconut oil. It comes unwrapped, but Lush sell their own little tins that you can pop your products in. Last but not least, I ordered a soap called Honey I Washed The Kids. I couldn’t find a tub large enough on sale at Lush, so I’ve popped it in a small Tupperware tub.

I think that people can be put off by the prices at Lush, though after doing a little bit of research and comparing my findings against the prices of one bar to how many bottles of shampoo and conditioner I buy, it seems like this is going to be much better value for money. I’ve been told that one shampoo bar can last over a month, whereas one bottle of my shampoo lasts a few days at most when it is being shared between two people. Again, the soap bar is forecast to last a lot longer than one bottle of my body wash, which leads me to hope my day-to-day waste can be cut down drastically.

Food

For a long time I have flicked between being vegetarian. At the beginning of this year I fell terribly sick after switching completely veggie, mainly due to my intolerance to most meat alternatives. Since then, meat has been reintroduced to my diet, but in much smaller portions. I try to eat a lot of vegetables that I can buy loose from the shop by my house, usually this will be things like courgettes, aubergines, onions, peppers, and just recently, mushrooms. I go through mushrooms by the bucket load and a lot of the time eat them with a mixture of veggies instead of having something like chips when I’m cooking in the week.

We are all aware by now that cutting down our meat and fish consumption is crucial to maintaining the environment, though another thing that is in the firing line right now is the packaging that our food comes in. Many things come in plastic tubs with film lids, most of which aren’t recyclable. I’ve been trying to tackle this is by buying all of my fruit and vege loose, and taking advantage of stores that will sell you meat and fish in tubs you’ve bought from home.

Over the past few weeks I have been exploring bulk buying products like pasta, rice, herbs and spices, though I haven’t quite found the best way to approach this yet. I feel that with only 3 weeks left to move, a sudden bulk buy might be alarming once I come to pack up the kitchen, though it definitely seems to be a way to reduce lots of bits of plastic.

Consistency

Consistency is key when it comes to reducing your waste – making sure that the changes you make can be implemented every day. Whether it’s from the points I’ve made above, or doing things like taking shorter showers and remembering to turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth, a more conscious approach to living is a step in the right direction.

Let me know in the comments any tips on living more consciously!

Propagating Succulents For Hundreds Of Plants

I grew up in the age before there were articles written about ‘Instagram’s Top 10 House Plants’, but also at a time where both my Grandfather and Grandmother were both exceedingly good at keeping plants, both indoor and out. My Grandmother’s signature plant was the humble cactus, she didn’t have a vast variety of them but the ones that she had were huge. When I was a child, I used to stick my fingers on the spines thinking that they would be soft, which of course they rarely ever are.

When I was around 12/13, I too had grown a plethora of cacti that I carefully placed in my bedroom window. There are some that I have absolutely no idea where they went, a few I gave to my Mother whom I believe could have killed them, and the others I still have to this day.

Over the years I wondered how I could grow more for myself, partly to gift to others, partly because I didn’t want to spend more money on them. I read a bunch of articles online and pulled so many parts of one succulent off in the hope that the disembodied leaf would grow sprouts, that I killed the mother plant (sigh). But thankfully, I’ve come a long way since then. Just recently I successfully propagated more succulents than I managed to count and gifted nearly all of them with no complaints of them randomly dying.

What I have found to be the answer to my prayers – rooting powder. Yes, it really is that simple. The one that I bought was from Aldi, it cost me £1.99 and will probably last me longer than its shelf life. The plant that I planned on propagating was a succulent that really required some maintenance, so it was a great time to try out the rooting powder whilst I was already snipping off little bits of plant.

I removed the straggly bits of new growth that don’t seem to form well whilst attached to the main plant, wet them, dipped them in the rooting powder and planted them straight away. I then pulled away some of the older growth at the base of the plant to reveal some babies the plant had shot off itself, repeated the same process I did with the others and then gave them all a really good water.

After 4 weeks, all of the cuttings were forming nicely. Some had rooted a lot quicker than others, so I gifted those early. Others I am just gifting now but could have gone a long time ago. So far, I have gifted 5 people succulents and have a lot still to go for birthday’s, so for £1.99, the rooting powder was a success.

Doff Rooting Powder

https://www.aldi.co.uk/doff-rooting-powder/p/075686270554902

If you’re a lover of succulents and cacti, send me some pictures of your favourite plants in the comments below!

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