Ecoffee Cup now available

The amazingly gorgeous Ecoffee cup is now available from Life Lived Simply.  For just R189, you will be prepared to always proudly refuse single use takeaway cups.

There are 6 different designs and the cup is 340ml.  So next time you want to grab a takeaway coffee, just hand over your cup and the barista can place it in directly.  Some stores even offer small discounts for using your own cup.

Best of all, you can sip with the confidence of knowing you are not contributing to the 100 billion single use cups that end up in landfill.

What I love about this cup is that it is light, and whilst the manufacturers do admit to it not yet being perfect, they are working on it.  The bamboo cup is made from naturally organic, naturally sterile bamboo fibre sourced from managed plantations in Anji province in central China; combined with non-GMO corn starch and a resin binder. The sleeve and lid are made from high quality food grade silicone – which is made from silicon (silica) and oxygen. Both elements are recyclable. It is free of BPA and phthalates, and if you look after it it should last a lifetime. The cup is biodegradable, you just need to crush it, soak it in boiling water and then bury it in organic compost, and it will take 24 – 36 months to fully biodegrade.

I particularly love that it is standard coffee cup size, as this avoids confusion at the counters.  I have already chosen my cup! Fits perfectly in my handbag along with my folded up cotton shopping bag, Freshbag, stainless steel straw and reusable napkin – so I am always prepared and able to politely refuse the single use.

ecoffee-cup-life-lived-simply

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am working on the shop aspect of my site.  If you would like to order and Ecoffee cup, then drop me a line at mrscolleenblack@gmail.com. Check out the other waste producing products I have available too.

Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle & rot – always in that order.

All the Zero Waste Fails in Botswana

IMG_2681So as you will know, since July 2015 I started to keep all our landfill waste in a jar. Why? So I could see exactly what my landfill waste is, rather than throwing it “away” and not thinking about it.  This system worked really well for us. Our large old rubbish bin is used purely for recyclables, and our food waste goes into our bokashi composter.  With thoughtful consuming, we didn’t have all that much waste really.

By the end of May 2016 the jar was pretty much full, and I was planning on starting a second one soon. For me,it is the most obvious way to have a neat, visual reminder every day, as well as a perfect example when explaining zero waste. It’s not for everyone, but I would highly recommend separating your landfill waste, recyclables and food waste for a week or two.  It is the perfect way to see how you can improve.

So come end of May we were preparing for a holiday in Botswana with friends (not into zero waste). I was in charge of organsing food and drink.  It was all going so well, I had baked rusks and other treats and precooked some snacks, managed to buy biltong, some meat, vegetables, fruit, cheese, olives and milk all package free.  But as I was walking through Woolies to get some eggs, I passed a shelf of bacon and it hit me; it was all going to fall apart on this holiday!  Bringing out the skottel for fried eggs for breakfast without bacon? I would be strung up!  So I bought a few packs of bacon, as I cannot find it at any butchers, bizarrely. First fail.

I had packed two tubs for compost and a bag for recyclables.  So efficient, I know.  Efficient? More like completely ineffective.  First night camping, before we even crossed the border, I emptied a large bag of recyclables, landfill waste and compost into a general bin. Gosh. Second fail.

So all is going well, absolutely flipping loving the holiday (will blog separately) and we were planning on stopping in Maun to stock up on vegetables and meat.  But it was fine, because I was totally prepared for this very moment.  I had my tubs to take to the butchery counter, and I also planned on buying whatever vegetables I could package free between the grocery store and the market on the streets in my bags.  But we changed our plan, stayed at extra night at an awesome camp, instead of overnighting in Maun, which meant we were on severe time constraints to be able to get to the next camp before dark.  So we turn up at an awesome butchery where they also have vegetables, eggs and everything we could need.  I waltzed in armed with my tubs and shopping bags to discover everything was in plastic and vacuum packed – except for the biltong – I won with the biltong!!! This is where you learn to pick your battles! So we bought an abundance of packaged meat and vegetables to see us through for the rest of the journey. Third fail.

So between the complete awesomeness of Botswana and zero willpower, I absolutely chowed down on packaged vegetables, ate packaged slabs of chocolate as if my life depended on it, and quite frankly didn’t give a damn.  I was in Botswana with awesome friends and elephants and lions?!

So not all went to plan. But lessons were learnt.  For better waste organisation system in future, but also just to remember to always just do the best with what you have, when you can, never give up and just keep trying. Maintaining a positive attitude and never giving up- Win!

So now we are back home and back in routine.  Need to figure out what to do with my full waste jar! Think I will definitely start another one, I find it really motivating.

Grooming – Then & Now

So back in May last year I wrote about some changes we were making in our lives towards the zero waste lifestyle.

We have come a long way since then!  In that things have gotten simpler, I over complicated so many things along the way. Which appears to be par for the course on the zero waste journey from what I have read.

GROOMING

May 2015 – Switching from nasty chemical filled body lotion to Trash is for Tossers Body Butter
May 2016 – Using either coconut, almond or jojoba oil.  Less faff on buying ingredients and making.

May 2015 – Switching from whitening toothpaste to Trash is for Tossers toothpaste and activated charcoal.
May 2016- still using coconut oil & bicarb but leaning towards straight bicarb.  Again – less faff and coconut oil.  My teeth are still white without using charcoal.  That stuff is hecticly messy.

May 2015 – Switching from Plax mouthwash to Wellness Mama’s mouthwash
May 2016 – Didn’t really use it.  I mix aloe gel, water and a few drops of spearmint, more for husband really.

May 2015 – Switching from sanex and dove soaps to Wellness Mama’s body wash
May 2016 – Bought Ouma Hannas Boerseep without plastic packaging in bulk. Less ingredient buying and making.

May 2015 – Switching from nasty chemical filled shampoos to combination of no-poo and Wellness Mamas natural shampoo
May 2016 – Too stressful so I use Natures Gate Shampoo & Conditioner (Dischem) and on home days a bandana. I sometimes use dry shampoo made from a mix of cocoa powder and maizena.

May 2015 – Switching from deodorant to natural deodorant
May 2016 – Using a homemade deodorant to avoid packaging of previous. But switching to alum stone which I used in UK years ago and was just reminded it existed. I am such an idiot.

May 2015 – Switched from tampons to MoonCup (fell off the wagon on this one but back on 100% and loving it)
May 2016 – Still using Mooncup and thrilled with it.

May 2015 – Currently using the Victorian Garden face wash and moisturiser (free of nasty chemicals and tubs last for months)
May 2016 – Oil cleansing with jojoba oil, exfoliating with bicarb or coffee grounds, and moisturising with rosehip oil.

May 2015 – Stopped wearing nail polish.  Literally thought I might die. But google the chemicals. Eish.
May 2016 – Still not wearing nail polish, love the look.  How much time does it take to put on, take off, wait to dry, chip, get annoyed because it’s chipped.  How much do manicures and pedicures cost and bottles of nail polish cost?  The chemicals you breathe in salon and that are absorbed. Oh please – ain’t nobody got time for that. I am too busy planning holidays and living life.

May 2015- Stopped buying perfume and really minimised use of the ones I had – a Long Barn spray and a Jo Malone from my wedding.
May 2016 – Still not finished them.  Don’t really miss it that much.  Again, the chemicals and links to cancer – no thanks. Now when I smell peoples perfume, all I can think is, those are quite likely carcinogens I’m breathing in. Nice.

Other changes I have made:

Due to lack of chemicals in our baths and showers, the water from these drains into a bucket and straight into the garden bed and lawn.

I don’t scrub every inch of my body with lathering soap every day.  I wash the important bits. Less soap is used, less time under water and less drying on my skin.

I have navy showers on the thorough days ie; switch water off between soaping, scrubbing, shampooing and shaving.

I don’t wear make up every day anymore, on the odd occasion I will wear a bit of mascara and eyeliner. I used to fear breathing without making on as I thought I looked like a beady eyed alien.  Now I think I look like me, and I am happy with that.  That said, I do sometimes wear a teensy dot of make up.  With recipes from the book Zero Waste Home (buy it – it’s amazeballs) I make my own eyeliner, mascara and beet stain. I use combinations of cocoa powder and maizena for blusher (also the beet stain) and eyeshadow. Will blog another time about that specifically.

I know longer use wax strips.  I use a stainless steel safety razor, which is amazing.  I am going to try the sugar wax that I read about via Zero Waste Home.

So that is pretty much where we are with this area. Saving a ton of money and time, no  nasty chemicals being absorbed into our skin, less packaging needing to be recycled or sent to landfill, and best of all, you start viewing yourself and life differently.

I buy my bicarb and oils from The Soap Barn in Edenvale (buy online & the courier) and from Dischem.

Would love to hear if you have any tips or advice, or if you are struggling in certain areas, maybe I can help?

 

Menstrual Cup Outreach at The Khaya Centre

After much fundraising online and through Riverside Community Church, we managed to raise R22145 to buy menstrual cups from MyOwnCup, for underprivileged young girls and women.

Thank you to everyone, from around the world, who supported the project with donations and/or raising awareness by spreading the news via social media.

The BranchOut Team at Riverside connected me with The Khaya Centre in LeHae. The Khaya Centre is an organisation made up of a group of amazingly renovated, colourful shipping containers, and an equally amazing group of giving people. They provide a safe environment for children, youth and adults to learn, interact and play.

There is a children’s creche, library and computer centre which supports children within the LeHae community. They feed 1100 people a day, (yes that figure is correct!) and have their own bakery, housed in a shipping container, where they produce just over 100 loaves of bread a day. They have so many projects that are run from their centre. I was completely blown away, not just by work they are doing within their community, but by their passion for what they do.

Sara, from BranchOut and I met Cara of MyOwnCup at the Khaya Centre on the 7th May to meet the groups of women, so Cara could offer the training on the use of the menstrual cups.

Cara is passionate about these outreach projects, and it really shows in her enthusiasm whilst she is training the groups. She has such a fun, down to earth and genuine approach which makes it easy for women of all walks of life to feel comfortable to open up and learn together.

Here is a lovely little video that Cara took at the end of their last training session.

As I have mentioned before, this is something I would like to continue supporting.  I am in the process of sorting out the finer details to make it easier for people to donate and support the project. If anyone is interested in starting a  project in their area, but maybe aren’t too sure how to go about it, then please do get in touch with me and I can possibly help.  I would love to see more of these projects in place across the country.

Menstrual Cups – complete life changer

I am just going to jump straight into what is going to be a pretty brief blog post. The punchline – stop using tampons or pads and start using a menstrual cup.

I have been using a menstrual cup for years.  When I was living in England, I bought a MoonCup, and the first 3 cycles were slightly awkward whilst I got used to the inserting, removal, and generally just “being” with a silicone cup … there.

I will NEVER go back. Two examples of many I can give you where the menstrual cup has been invaluable.  Because you naturally get your period when you go on holiday.

One weekend at our new small holding, without running water or flushing toilet and a serious ration of water because I forgot to pack enough. Menstrual cup – no problem.

Holiday at Mabibi with over 100 steps down to the beach from our campsite. Inserted cup in the morning, removed in the evening on our return.  Up and down those steps every 3-4 hours with a tampon; no thanks.

There are a few rather odd, in my opinion, reviews from women who mention the words gross and blood bath. Seriously, we are grown woman, it is bodily fluid, get a grip and move on.

I would choose using and emptying a menstrual cup, which will last me many many years, over having a tampon, (which unless you buy organic) has been made with cotton sprayed with pesticides and has potential to cause TSS (not a myth – this actually happens), and then flushing these millions of tampons down a toilet, or putting them in a bin for them to sit festering in landfill or better yet … wait for it … the sea.  Nice.

mooncupThere are a gazillion different options out there, I personally have the Mooncup, probably because it was the most advertised one I saw all those years ago. Which was probably around 2009, and it is still perfect.  For those in South Africa, there is the MyOwnCup which is produced locally.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2016: You can now buy the MyOwnCup directly from me here in South Africa! I love it because it is made locally and Cara does outreach workshops where underprivileged girls can learn more about their monthly cycle and how to use a menstrual cup.sku5072-myown-cup-large

 

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Girls Fund – Helping underprivileged girls in Johannesburg South

A while ago, I started raising funds to buy menstrual cups from MyownCup Menstrual Cup.  The idea was for them to go to a school in Eikenhof in Johannesburg South, but unfortunately this did not work out. Riverside Community Church was already on board helping raise funds with their outreach team, Branch Out, and so they contacted the Khaya Centre who were very keen. We are in the process of finalising a date where Branch Out and MyOwnCup can meet with all the girls at the Khaya Centre and offer the training and guidance and support needed. Very exciting!

Some of you may have seen my previous post about it, well here is a repeated and updated version!  Please do help spread the word about this, where ever you are in the world.

Imagine being an underprivileged young woman living in South Africa, without always having access to water and or electricity, and not being able to afford food, let alone tampons or even san pads.

Imagine not being able to go to school because you are having your period and you don’t have san pads. Many girls miss up to 50 days of school per year! Some use rags as san pads … we won’t even go there on the hygiene issues, not to mention the embarrassment they must suffer.

For most of us, our biggest concern at this time of the month is what comfort food we need and convincing the other half to give us a foot massage. My heart goes out to these girls.

A menstrual cup is made from medical grade silicone, and once inserted can be kept in place for up to 12 hours safely. These have been used for many, many years all over the world by woman of all backgrounds.  They are becoming a popular solution in rural, underprivileged areas due to the financial savings, health factors, as well as the obvious environmental issues! I have used a menstrual cup for years and it is life changing!

jar and cup (Large)

So far we have raised just over R21475. Initially I had a JustGiving crowdfunder to try kickstart things, and that raised £160. Just as that ended we had lots more interest and funds coming in directly and then Riverside starting facilitating the receiving of funds for me.

This is going to be an ongoing project for me and I will be meeting with Cara of MyOwnCup soon to finalise getting this officially set up to make it easier for people to donate and fundraise for those in need in their areas.  Watch this space!

If you would like to order a MyOwnCup Menstrual Cup for yourself, you can do so from Faithful to Nature (click the link).  This is an affiliate link, and all money raised from this will go directly to the Girls Fund.

If you would like any more information, please feel free to get in touch with me on 079 355 3666 or mrscolleenblack@gmail.com.