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Zero Waste 101: A Guide to Get You Started
If like me, you want to live a lower waste lifestyle, then I hope you're enjoying my journey so far. I've done so much research into making this change, that I wanted to (hopefully) help save you some time, so you can get on with saving the world...
You're Just Being Lazy
Being labelled as lazy can be aggravating; when you are trying your very best in life it’s disheartening to hear people disregard your efforts. And when you’re only just holding on to some small semblance of normality due to depression or anxiety, it’s nigh on heart breaking...
My Zero Waste Challenge
At this point it's pretty hard to ignore it - the world is going to shit. Our oceans are drowning in plastic, pollution is reaching record highs, we're relinquishing any and all green spaces to property development and the polar ice cap is - STILL - melting...
On Friendship and Growing Old Together
September has always been, hands down, my favourite month of the year. I’m the first to admit that could have a little to do with my birthday; but mainly my love for this time of year is all about the way the leaves change, the baggy sweaters come out and the hibernation period begins...

Monday, 29 April 2019

My Trip To Village Greens

Hannah Barnes

So this weekend I made it to the second of my local plastic free shops. This one is actually a local cooperative; Village Greens, set up in Prestwich. They offer plastic free hoppers, eco friendly products and fresh local produce so I was excited to head down there. 

The amount of plastic free dry goods were far fewer than I found at Plentiful, however Village Greens have fresh produce too. So, I was still able to do a good shop and pick up some useful items. 

If you read about my last plastic free shop visit, you'll know I was still on the hunt for loose salad leaves. I'm happy to report that I found some here, which isn't surprising considering the shops name! My usual pick of salad leaves had pretty much sold out but I did pick up a huge Spanish lettuce to try. 

They also had popcorn kernels in the hopper, so I was glass to add those to our options for sweet snacks. The best find by far though, was the fresh pesto! They have a little deli counter and luckily I'd brought the perfect container along. It's now my pesto pot and I can't wait to head back for more. Pesto is the perfect ingredient to have on hand for a simple but tasty meal and I really didn't fancy grinding any up myself. 

I found yeast too! It's packaged, but the packaging is paper and I'm pretty sure it'll last me a good while so I picked some of that up along with some bread flour. The flour was also packaged in paper, but I figured that making my own bread will save on enough plastic to allow me a little paper waste. Plus it was reduced and I'm standing by my theory that I'm saving the whole product from the bin, by buying it. 

The last thing I managed to tick off my master list for waste free pantry items was oil. They have it available to buy from a bulk dispenser along with the rest of the liquids we saw at Plentiful. Such as toiletries and cleaning stuff. 

Once again I spent very little, and was really happy with what I managed to find. Village Greens even has free jars people have left for others to reuse. So I was able to add a much needed corn flour jar to my collection. I'll be back to try and bag me some of the more peppery varieties of lettuce very soon. If you're anywhere near Manchester go and check this place out! 

What I Bought 

Chick Peas
Bread Flour
Cooking Oil

Still Looking For 

Savoury Snacks

And in case you were wondering, I bought myself a bay tree, so I now have a fresh supply of bay leaves whenever I need 'em!  I also have a lead (no pun intended) on some pet food, thanks to a helpful comment on my last shopping post.

Have you been to your local plastic free shop yet? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Easy Zero Waste Life Hacks

Hannah Barnes

Okay, so whilst tracking down your local Plastic Free shops, gathering enough containers, scheduling a date and heading down there may sound like a massive task. There are some really easy ways you can reduce your waste right now.

Most of them involve going back to basics, ironically these life hacks...are all pretty old school. I just called them that to get you to click. It's all to the good though, because with these hacks, you're not only are you reducing your waste but you'll also be simplifying your life.

Along with helping a few local tradespeople with a boost in business. Happy days.

1. Get A Milk Man

Yep! They still exist, I promise! You can get a weekly delivery of local, fresh milk right to your door. The best part is that you can recycle your milk bottles directly with them. Completely cutting out any dependence on plastic milk cartons. Your milk will also be produced on a much smaller scale, coming directly from the farmer, so you'll be responsible for less pollution. You can also look into raw milk, which comes with plenty of health benefits.

2. Find A Butcher

Whether it's a cool new modern butchers or just the local village butcher, who's been trading for years, most towns still have an independent butchers. Rock up with your reusable tubs (labelled by meat) and get them filled up with your usual cuts. All you need do is wash your tubs between visits. You'll be able to select the exact quantities and trim, of meat, that you're after and this will also save food waste. So it's another double whammy.

3. Hunt Down Local Eggs

Chickens have taken over back gardens, yards, fields and even rooftops all over the country. Laying more eggs than their owners can often handle, these eggs are usually sold on. Fresh, local farm eggs are often even cheaper than the supermarkets free range - and you get a lovely range of colourings. I swear the blue ones taste the best. Just like with your milk, this method also comes with in built recycling. So you'll no longer be littering the world with your single use egg cartons. Go a step further and ask your family to hold onto their shop bought cartons. Your egg supplier will be happy to put them back into service.

4. Visit Your Local Grocer

Last thing on the shopping list? You're going to need some veg! Check out your local greengrocers for plenty of the stuff. Take along some reusable produce bags and fill them with fresh veg to your hearts content. You'll get the added bonus of shopping more seasonally, lots of wonky veg and the option to try some new things you might not usually have on the menu.

5. Discover Farm Shops

If you don't want to do all the leg work yourself, don't worry. It's already been done for you by the owner of your local farm shop. I'm extremely lucky to have a farm shop below me, in the building which I work, so I can pop in whenever I need supplies. There's a great range of local produce, eggs, milk, veg and meat on offer. They also stock jarred sauce, preserves and homemade bread and biscuits. So long as you take your produce and grocery bags along with you, you can easily visit a farm shop and leave with very little waste.

Let me know of any great farm shops near you I could come and check out!

Monday, 15 April 2019

Exploring Local Farm Shops

Hannah Barnes

When it comes to farm shops, I'm really lucky to have one right beneath my feet most days of the week. As odd as that sounds, it's because my gift boutique; The Loft, is located in an old mill, right above Robins Mill Farm Shop. There's also a cafe downstairs, so I'm spoiled for choice come lunch time. 

          I've started picking up as much of my shop as possible from there. Which means I've cut out a lot of plastic packaging from meat - by taking my own containers - vegetables (why is it all covered in plastic at the supermarket anyway?) and even things like biscuits and bread. 

I can't get everything I need though, so I decided to take a Sunday trip out with Nathan to explore a few more local farm shops. One thing in particular that I'm finding hard to track down is fresh salad leaves. Which I find really odd, as I recently heard that bagged salad is a breeding ground for bacteria. If so, why is everyone so intent on covering it in plastic? Even the farm shops are doing it. It's just coming up to summer, and I love a fresh salad so I'll have to think of some new options on that one. 

I did however pick up plenty of fresh veg and even bagged myself some spring lamb. The first place we visited had by far the best selection including ready meals and artisan bread. I actually already pick up a lot of ready meals from Robins Mill after work, but haven't done so since minimizing how much I throw away. Seeing all the delicious meals on offer, I think I'll have to hatch a plan to get my own containers filled at the mill from now on. Plastic free lasagna here I come!

What's great about shopping around at local farm shops is access to fresh, seasonal produce and we really made the most of it. Entranced by carrots straight out of a Beatrix Potter book, we stocked up and even tried some wet garlic...although I still don't know why it's wet. As well as picking up the essentials such as mushrooms and potatoes. 

I took my trusty cloth produce bags along but did top up with the paper bags on offer. They might not make your shop entirely waste free, but plastic free is better than nothing! Along with the salad leaves, I was also unable to find any cordial. Which we've basically just stopped using since going plastic free. I know I've seen glass bottles of the stuff before, but I just can't track it down and might have to resort to bulk buying some on Amazon.

We had a great day out checking out all of the different farm shops near us - and there were plenty. I'm sure you can track a few down too and I'd really recommend seeing what's on offer. We took the dog and had a walk in the woods whilst we were out, but more on that next time! 

Been down to your local farm shop lately? Let me know how it went in the comments! 

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Greener Energy With Bulb

Hannah Barnes

Although different to our plastic problem, pollution from energy consumption is also a big issue. When it comes to going zero waste, for me, it's all about reducing my negative impact on the environment. So naturally my thoughts turned towards the hard won energy I use each day. 

After hooking myself up with some, pretty basic, but very necessary recycling bins,the next thing I wanted to change was my energy provider. I live with my partner and our brood of animals and whilst we don't use a ton of energy, I knew we could find a way to become greener! I looked into solar panels, but that's a big picture project for us at the moment...and then I heard about Bulb via the Martin Lewis Money Show. That guy is a national hero, I swear.

I was about due to switch up my energy supplier anyway, as per Martin's solid advice, and Bulb came out pretty much on top for value as well as greener energy. I was willing to pay a little bit more to get greener energy, but even so there wasn't much in it. Since then, my energy prices have dropped even lower so it was clearly the right move to make. In fact, I was still receiving email updates from my old provider, who sent a message around the same time, to warn me that their prices were increasing.

You can imagine how good that little cherry on top made me feel! Bulb now provide my home with 100% renewable energy for less than I was previously paying...and less than I agreed to pay them. They have a great Trust Pilot rating and I'm more than happy to invest in a bright new company as they pave the way towards renewable energy for all. They even have a section on their site introducing the people who provide their renewable energy and it gives an awesome sense of community.

The also sent me a link to help spread the word so we can all enjoy cheaper, greener energy. We'll both get £50 credit if you sign up here and you could save up to £356 on your current energy prices. Even if you don't see a huge saving though, take a look around the site and consider making a switch for the sake of going greener.

You can switch to bulb today with £50 Bulb credit included by clicking here.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Zero Waste Confessions

Hannah Barnes

I've been trying to move towards a zero waste lifestyle for about two weeks. It's something I've been considering and researching for a while now. After making careful preparations for a few weeks before hand, I'm now giving it a shot. 

 Since then, I've been learning as I go and inevitably, making a few mistakes. Even so, I've succeeded in slashing the amount of waste I throw away each day and I'm really proud of that. It's still easy to mess up though! So I wanted to share with you some of the - sometimes stupid, sometimes just plain guilty - mistakes I plan to stop making.

1. Rookie Mistakes 

If my head isn't in the game, it's very easy to mess up and make the wrong choice when it comes to going zero waste. I've ordered coffee...whilst my reusable coffee cup languishes in the car (only to kick myself later); realised I have nothing to eat with on the go, and patted myself on the back for taking my own container to the butchers...only to head home and portion everything up using plastic freezer bags. I'm trying really hard to make it as easy for myself to make these changes as possible, but sometimes I'm my own worst enemy!

2. Always Be Prepared 

I've noticed that preparation can be key. Despite my best efforts sometimes going awry (see above). If I have the right tools to combat single use items, I am a zero waste queen...most of the time. This means staying on top of what's in the cupboards and what we're eating each week. If I'm hungry and I know what's on the menu, I'll happily use up what's left at home or grab some bits from the farm shop before I leave work. If I haven't thought ahead that day though, it's all too tempting to dash round the supermarket and grab whatever I fancy. Only when I get home does the penny drop on the amount of rubbish I've just created. Luckily with my bulk buys from Plentiful, I'm now in a far better position.

3. The Whoopsie Pile 

I swear there's something primal about the reduced pile in any supermarket. I just can't seem to ignore the call. I justify this because this food, and all the packaging that comes with it, is headed for the bin anyway. By buying it, I am at least making use of the resources that went into producing it. Whatever my reasoning though, it still creates plastic waste and I definitely need to do some research into the best choice here. If you know how best to play things when it comes to reduced food items, let me know in the comments section.

3. The Recycling Bins 

This one's a real whopper. You might want to sit down. Up until this year I didn't even have recycling bins at my home. I looked into when we moved in and point blank refused to pay the £180 charge for 5 ugly bins. I had every intention of recycling myself, but have to confess I was never particularly productive. I knew when I started this journey that the first step was to get some bins. Despite wanting to throw as little away as possible, I knew I had to begin taking responsibility for how I threw away what little I did. So I finally got my bins and did a little happy dance out on the drive. Now I'm a recycling queen extraordinaire. I even have my own little bin for bottle tops, ready to drop in at Lush next time I'm there

Have you made any Zero Waste mistakes along the way? I'm actually glad to have mine off my chest! So feel free to purge your own in the comments section below. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Plentiful: My Local Plastic Free Shop

Hannah Barnes

I finally made it to one of the two plastic free shops near me last weekend! I've been wanting to check it out for ages and as I'd heard of this one first, it seemed only fair to head their first. 

                            Plentiful, is located in Ramsbottom, less than 15 minutes from my home. You can take your own containers and jars or grab some whilst you're there. I ended up taking a mixture of large plastic containers - for pasta and noodles - and my collection of randomly acquired mason jars for rice and grains. I had no idea I had so many...or where they all came from. I also saved some apothecary style gin bottles and a ton of sauce jars, so I brought them along for anything else I might want in on.

I'd scoped things out a bit online before rocking up but still wasn't totally sure what to expect. I went with a vague list in mind and a readiness to try some new things. Their selection covers most bases with cereals; I indulged in some delicious granola, a few types of pasta, rice and other grains. They have gluten free vermicelli noodles, which I recently started cooking with and absolutely love! As well as cous cous, chick peas and lentils. I'm always a little afraid of lentils after a bad experience I had cooking with them, but have now vowed to give them another try.

I was in my element when it came to the herb section. I'm so inspired to start my own pristine collection of herb jars after seeing them lined up in all their green glory. I stocked up - using my rubbish old empties - on basil, ground coriander and parsley.

I also found some things for my sweet tooth! I wasn't sure if this was something they had covered at Plentiful, but they do, and all of the chocolate and confectionery items are premium quality. Yogurt coated raisins, milk and white chocolate all found their way into my jars. I was really pleased to spot this section of the store after noticing just how much the chocolate and crisp wrappers can add up at home.

Another section I stumbled upon were the liquids. So I used some spare bottles to grab a dollop of coconut body wash and some all purpose cleaner. The body wash, in particular, looks really cool in its new - or rather, re-loved - apothecary bottle.

My shop totaled out at about £25 and I got over a week's worth of both pasta and rice. Plus, the all purpose cleaner is concentrated so should last ages. I'm really impressed with the quality of the products I got for the price I paid and would totally recommend a trip to Plentiful. I'll be back pretty soon with some slightly larger jars for all those delicious sweet treats.

Here's everything I ended up buying:

My Shopping List...

White Pasta
White Rice
Vermicelli Noodles
Ground Coriander
White Chocolate
Milk Chocolate
Yogurt Coated Raisins
Coconut Body Wash
All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate

Still Searching For...

Pet Food
Bay Leaves
Ground Coffee
Cooking Oil
Savoury Snacks

Know where I can find any of these bits? Let me know in the comments section below...

Monday, 1 April 2019

Why Should You Care About Plastic?

Hannah Barnes

By now you may well have noticed that I've been going on a little zero waste jaunt here on the Lazy Girl. Now, however well that gels with living a lazy life, it's something I've become very passionate about. 

I've notice though...that it's also something of a marmite topic of conversation. 

                           You may not want to hear about it, because hearing about it makes you feel bad. I totally get it. At this point, the problem feels insurmountable...but it's never too late to make a change.

Why should you care about what you throw away?

Out of sight, out of mind is the way most of us think about our rubbish. We throw things away without thinking; the bins get collected and the waste disappears. Once it's gone, it's gone...right? We can get on with our lives.

Well, not strictly, no. Whilst we may do our best to sort bottles and boxes into their respective recycling bins, the sheer amount of waste produced puts a heavy burden on those charged with its destruction. So much so, that some of our recycling is even shipped over seas, to be dealt with elsewhere. Piles and piles of it are then simply dumped, destroying landscapes and ecosystems, due to their low value. 

The worst offender, when it comes to insurmountable waste, is plastic. The best we can hope for is that this plastic slowly breaks up - although its molecular bonds will never break down - into micro plastics. These minute beads of plastic then enter the food chain, impacting the lives of thousands of species.

How can you help make a difference?

The throw away and convenience nature in which we live our lives plays a huge part in this problem. Single use coffee cups, food packets, plastic straws and cleaning wipes (to name a few) are adding up by the millions - and they all need to go somewhere.

With just a few simple life style swaps you can keep the convenience, and chuck out the eco guilt. The plastic free revolution is upon us and there are plenty of every day solutions for quitting your plastic habit. Local plastic free stores are springing up, community led projects are on the rise and bloggers and writers are weighing in with their favorite ways to rid your life of unnecessary waste. 

Have you made any zero waste changes in your life? I'd love to hear about your own journey and any tips you've picked up along the way. 

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Zero Waste Living: Where To Start

Hannah Barnes

I'm about to go plastic free, in a bid to eventually becoming seriously low waste, which I think is a pretty good place to start. Plastic is one of the biggest problems our world faces and if I can cut my dependence on it by even 50%, I'll be pretty chuffed. 

So, where do you start when looking to cut your plastic use?

Here are a few ways I've attempted to prepare my myself for a waste free life. If you're embarking on a zero waste journey, this is where to start!

1. Assess What You Have

Heading out to purchase products to help on your zero waste journey, isn't necessarily a bad thing. But before you go wild, figure out what you already have at home. Chucking out all of your plastic containers, for example, just adds to the mountains of plastic already awaiting recycling (if that's even possible). You can still use them! Call it quits on buying new plastic items; but using what you already have is a sensible way to save it from ending up in the ocean. The same goes for all the forgotten items in the back of your cupboards. Reuse sauce jars, water bottles and cut up old clothing for reusable cloths and cotton pads.

2. Use Up What You Have 

In a similar vein, use up the products you already have at home. Get everything out of the cupboards and remind yourself what's actually in there. It makes for an interesting meal plan and means that, again, you won't be wasting the effort, natural resources and resulting pollution that came from manufacturing the - less than ideal, but perfectly serviceable - items you own. This goes for shampoo, body washes and cleaning products too. You might be tempted to chuck them out and replace with their eco friendly counterparts but it's far better to wait until you actually need a top up.

3. Suss Out Local Stores 

If you're lucky enough to have plastic free or zero waste specialist shop near you then check them out. Do a reccy and find out how it works, what they offer and what you'll need to bring (usually your own jars and containers). You can also suss out farm shops - take along cloth produce bags to avoid the plastic ones - and local bakeries, soap shops, butchers and fishmongers. When it comes to meat and fish you can take containers along again and get them filled up with produce. Worst case scenario, buy in bulk. If you're really stuck opt for the largest portion of whichever product you're after. Smaller versions just mean more waste, so go big - check out local wholesalers - and avoid individually packaged items.

4. Save Your Waste 

As unappealing as that sounds, it's worth saving your waste, or at least being more mindful, for a week. This way you can take stock of where you most offend and start coming up with ideas to immediately reduce your rubbish pile. I noticed that my diet coke habit was amounting to a huge pile of used aluminium cans, every single week - which finally gave me the push to kick it! I switched to lemon water, filling my long forgotten BRITA filter and refilling used plastic bottles. Honestly? I haven't looked back. I thought it would be a challenge for me to kick the caffeine, but as it turns out...water is far more refreshing, better for you and tastes delicious with a few slices of lemon thrown in.

5. Do Your Research

There is so much information out there. Barely a day goes by when I don't spot something on the news, or an article on my social feeds highlighting the waste epidemic we're facing. They're not all decrying the end of the world though! Many people are taking responsibility for their own waste, and writing about it. They've already been there and they know what they're talking about which is why I found it so helpful to follow their stories. You can find a bunch of resources in the zero waste guide I've put together here. Or else, stay tuned, for more on my own journey into a waste-free world.

Know of a Zero Waste shop near you? Let me know in the comments section!                               

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

My Zero Waste Challenge

Hannah Barnes

At this point it's pretty hard to ignore it - the world is going to shit. 

      Our oceans are drowning in plastic, pollution is reaching record highs, we're relinquishing any and all green spaces to property development and the polar ice cap is - STILL - melting.

Rhubarb for sale farm sign.
So, what are you going to do about it? What can you do about it? You're just one person, after all: an insignificant human bean floating through space time on a massive ball of compacted space dust.

Despite our inspirational mugs and notepads telling us otherwise, deep down many of us believe that we can't really change anything. By that logic, we're all doomed. You can revel in your single use coffee cups, thinking fuck it, as you wantonly order everything from socks to cereal via a handy next day delivery service. Do a bit of recycling, and pat yourself on the back for saving the world.

Orrrr, you could spot the flaw in your logic. Change may take more than one person, but it begins with the individual. Like a ripple in our plastic clogged oceans, your actions can start a huge wave.

Which is why I've decided to set myself a Zero Waste challenge.

I've seen too many birds with bellies stuffed full of plastic, or animals with bodies deformed by our insistence on convenience. Mother nature has met her match - and it's branded. I couldn't sit there and do nothing anymore.

Unlike other people I've seen take on this challenge though, I'm going to be doing things a little differently. Rather than diving in for a whole month of zero waste living right off the bat and then deciding what to stick with, I'm going to slowly remove as much unnecessary waste from my life. That way, once I'm done I should be comfortable enough with my new zero waste life to avoid any backsliding.

To start with, I'm going to be pairing back the plastic I use in my kitchen and pantry. So, that's out with almost everything I know and in with a completely new approach to food shopping. I'm in a much better position than those who came before though, as the tide is already turning on zero waste living. There are now specialist zero waste shops - I have two within a 15 minutes drive from my house - and tons of resources to help make zero waste living fun and far easier than you might think.

I'll be keeping you all updated on my journey and hopefully sharing any hacks I come across along the way! So stay tuned to see how I fare! Let me know if you have any advice below! 

Friday, 22 March 2019

Not So Lazy Life Update

Hannah Barnes

It's been a while! I've been...well...rather busy. Still lazy as you like, of course, but - all the same - extremely busy! 

            If you've been here before you'll know about the charity I started with a friend; The Crimson Wave, which seeks to end period poverty by gifting period packs to those in need. Well, things have really taken off! We're working harder than ever to keep up a constant supply of our gift packs and work with as many charities as possible. You can find out more about that @TheCrimsonWaveOrg across social media.

As if one project wasn't enough though, I also took the leap into small business about a year ago. The local gift shop in my Dad's village was up for sale. I'd always loved the place! The Loft is a beautiful little gift boutique packed full of quirky homewares, local crafts and of course lovingly sourced gifts. Being a big fan, I used to dream about owning everything in there. So, of course, when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance.

It's been a whirlwind of a year; a record summer of sales, a burglary, two leaks, new windows and plenty of gorgeous new gifts and local craftspeople to work with. I am having so much fun. I recently took my little gift shop online and after long nights obsessing over every detail of my website, I've now launched it to the world. I am so happy with it - and hope you'll enjoy a little look around.

The aim of the site is to promote great gifting. No more 'just grabbing something' for those we love. Show them how much you care with a gift chosen especially and specially for them. In doing so, you'll help support small business along your quest to the perfect gift. I've always been a huge fan of small business, so it's nice to be part of something I've long supported.

The Loft also seeks to offer self care. I  firmly believe that if we all treated ourselves as well as we treat each other, the world would be a far better place. So, if you're browsing The Loft Online keep that in mind and don't be afraid to treat yourself. 

I love seeing customers leave the shop with a gift for their friend, another for themselves and a huge smile on their face. It lights up my day! Light up your own with a cheeky little gift to you: after all YOU ARE AWESOME, why wouldn't you deserve a treat?

Whilst I still won't be able to post often here, I wanted to update you on my life, lack of lazyness and my beautiful online gift store: The Loft Gift Boutique.

You can also enter the competition I'm currently running worth around £70 - but hurry, hurry, it closes on 4th April! Check it out on Facebook here

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