Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wrapping up Christmas

Hello, Emma and Rachel here. We hope that you've had fun over the last few weeks making your own decorations and wrapping for a little bit greener Christmas.

In the bagladee household we opted for the LED Christmas lights to cut down on energy wasted. The old lights had packed up so I didn't mind too much throwing them away. I'm also thinking of alternate wrapping ideas and trying to support fellow crafters by buying handmade items.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for following and supporting TLBG. We are so happy that the response from setting up this green blog has been a success. The plan was not to convert the world but just make more people aware that we can do more to make the planet that little bit greener. And you have all been doing your bit by taking part, whether that be your fantastic posts or your great suggestions......we are very grateful!

It just re-iterates what we say, that bloggers/crafters are such wonderful people. The generosity and selflessness is overwhelming at times. And the world is definitely a better place with you all in it.

If you are wondering why we have chosen now to do a thank you post, well let us explain. We have decided that over Christmas and into the New Year we are going to be taking a break from TLBG (I think I have worn Rachel out a little, Emma). There are lots of things going on in both of our lives for the next few weeks and would like to come back in the new year with some fresh ideas and topics (we're going to swat up in the holidays).

We would like to say, however, if you do have any topics/links/ideas please post at the bottom here. We will still be reading and responding to comments. And don't forget to keep all that wrapping paper, cards and even your tree as we will be covering Christmas Recycle when we come back.

So I think all that's left to say is HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR...we will see you all in 2010.

Hugs to you all,
Emma & Rachel xxx

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Countdown to a greener Christmas - Wrapping

So, let's kick off this week with a couple of facts about Christmas wrapping:-

According to the book "A Greener Christmas", the US alone produces an extra 5 million tons of garbage over the Christmas period, most of which is wrapping paper, packaging and cards, which could all be recycled.

It has been estimated that if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused or repurposed materials, it could save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. That is an absolutely astonishing figure! And just think how much more it would be if every gift, all over the world was wrapped in an eco-friendly way.

So, what can we do to help? Here are some ideas:-

1. Re-usable. I read on a blog ages ago that someone had a set of Christmas boxes that were used year after year, that were part of that family's Christmas tradition. I love this idea! You can of course buy lovely gift bags & boxes, and I think cake tins (or indeed any size tin) would work equally well. But how about making your own? Shoe boxes are perfect to be recovered or decorated and re-used as gift boxes.

Then, of course, there is fabric. The Japanese tradition of Furoshiki is a beautiful idea - simply a square piece of cloth that can easily be tied - and you can find tutorials for how to fold and tie them all over the internet (check out There are various sites where you can buy wrapping cloths but it is just as easy to make your own - in fact, there's hardly any "making" involved at all! It's just a square of fabric which you can hem the edges, or leave raw if you prefer. And, once again, these cloths can be re-used time and time again. Alternatively, you could buy or make a drawstring fabric bag for wrapping awkwardly shaped gifts.

2. Re-purposed. There are so many things that could be re-purposed as gift wrappings. I've already mentioned shoe boxes but how about maps, newspaper, comic or magazine pages - these can look quite stunning when tied with pretty ribbons (again, reusable!). How about wrapping your gift in a pretty tea-towel (which could also form part of the gift) or a mens shirt front?

3. Recycled. When I was a child my mum used to save all the wrapping paper to use again the following year (we had to be very careful unwrapping things!) It's not quite so fun as rippping the paper off but if you do have any large pieces left over it is definitely worth saving them. Also, good old brown packing paper - if you make sure you buy the recycled variety - works very well. If you want it to look a bit more special, why not decorate it with some Christmassy stamps?

4. If all else fails, make sure your wrapping is recyclable so that you can put it in your recycling bin after Christmas. Try to buy wrapping paper with a matt finish and no special effects (glitter, metalic finishes etc) as these make the paper un-recyclable (those kinds of of "luxury" paper also probably cost more and require more resources to produce). Try and use a minimum of sticky tape and remove any pieces of tape before you recycle. You could even use no tape at all, if you tie your package up carefully with pretty string or ribbon.

From "A Greener Christmas" - gifts wrapped in teatowel, corrugated cardboard, newspaper pages and tissue paper,

and on this page, gifts wrapped in a map, brown packing paper, fabric and a shirt front.

Japanese Furoshiki - picture from "Sewing Green" by Betz White

A shoebox covered in brown paper and decorated with stamped snowflakes

More brown paper decorated with stamps

Collection of Christmas ribbons - all of which can be reused next year!

I hope that gives you some good ideas. Happy Wrapping!

Rachel & Emma xx

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Coundown to a greener Christmas - Decorations!

So, this week we're talking decorations, and what better excuse for a bit of crafting?! There is a huge amount of inspiration out there - on the internet and in books and magazines. Here are just a few ideas:-

Fabric wreath from Home Sweet Sewn by Alice Butcher & Ginny Farquhar

Felt and fabric decorations from A Greener Christmas by Shererazade Goldsmith

Simple, natural wreath idea from Country Living magazine

Festive garland from Green Parent magazine

Vanilla heart biscuits from Ideal Home Complete Guide to Christmas

Paper decorations (above and below) again, from Ideal Home Complete Guide to Christmas

I do love these paper decorations, but they would, of course, be much greener if you used recycled or repurposed papers - I'm thinking old magazines, maps, pages from thrifted books etc.

On the internet, here are just some of the links I've found for some fabulous tutorials:-

Edit: The link for this first one didn't seem to be working - it took me to a real estate site! - but there are some great ideas there so here's the actual address:

Domestic Diva

Sew Mama Sew

The Long Thread

For advent calender ideas:

30 Handmade Days


And for kids crafts:

The Crafty Crow

I haven't gotten round to making any decorations just yet, but I certainly plan to, and will come back and post pics once I do.

Finally, a word about lights. Everyone loves Christmas fairy lights, they make everything look so magical, but did you know that conventional fairy lights waste 90 per cent of the energy they use as heat? - only 10 percent is turned into light. According to A Greener Christmas, "if you leave a set of conventional Christmas tree lights on in your home for ten hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas, you'll produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 64 party balloons." If you need to buy new lights, choose LED lights, as they use 80 percent less energy, last longer and stay cooler than traditional bulbs. I am certainly going to make sure that our fairy lights are not left on all the time this year.

So, I hope this has given you some inspiration and that you'll all have fun making lots of different decorations. Please do drop us a line and let us know if you post on your blogs.

'Til next time, take care!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

In the Spotlight - The Story of Stuff

Just a quick post today, as I think this one can really speak for itself. If you haven't watched this 20 minute web-movie already, then please do - it's a real eye-opener. I first saw it probably some time last year, and I believe it has such an important message, especially at this time of the year when we're all gearing up for Christmas shopping. It'll make you look at all those cheap goods that you thought were such a bargain in a whole new light. And get your kids to watch it too - younger children probably wouldn't be interested but I would think a 10 year old could understand it all ok.

You can watch the movie here -

Next week we'll be continuing our Countdown to a Greener Christmas with the subject of decorations so if you have any handmade ornaments or tutorials to share please do let us know.

Take care
Rachel x

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Countdown to a greener Christmas - Gifts

Now that it is November I don't feel so bad about talking about Christmas!! As you know, we are starting our countdown to a greener Christmas with the topic of gifts. So how am I going to be greener with my gift giving? Well, I think that, as a family, we are fairly restrained about our gifts anyway. We don't have a lot of money so our Christmas budget is pretty modest. Several years ago we all agreed with friends and family to only buy presents for each others children and only on their birthdays, not at Christmas (with the exception of our parents). I think at one point I was buying gifts for about 14 children, it was just getting a bit silly, and my kids were getting tons of stuff that they really didn't need (and that we didn't have room for anyway!) Now though, with their birthdays spread out over the year I can take more care over their birthday gifts, and at Christmas I can devote all my attention to my own children. As much as I would like to be able to say that all my gifts will be handmade - I just can't. With 7 & 12 year old boys, it's probably going to be a mixture of computer games and lego! We still don't spend a huge amount on them and I try to make sure that everything I do buy is something that they really will appreciate and use - not the latest must-have toy that they will get bored of after 5minutes.

For our parents though, we do give "greener" gifts. For the last few years we have made our own hampers for them. I love this idea, as you can tailor it exactly to the person you are giving to, so we included things like, luxury hot chocolate, biscuits, speciality teas, pots of jam - things that we knew they would like and would use. I would either buy a basket to put the items in or decorate a box - either of which could be kept and reused. This year I am knitting - scarves for our mums and socks for our dads (if I can manage to knit fast enough, that is!) plus they will get the latest school photos of the boys.

I think that the most important thing is to just be more mindful of what you give. People really don't "need" so much stuff. Giving something that has had real thought put into it is so much nicer than just spending money. Making or buying handmade items is a wonderful idea and, as we all know, the internet is a fabulous resource for this - tutorials for making just about anything, and places like Etsy or Folksy if you want to buy something unique.

So, what sort of gifts will you be giving this year?

Rachel x

Thursday, 29 October 2009

It's coming....

Even though it is still October, (just), you cannot fail to have noticed that Christmas is everywhere - in the shops, in magazines, on the tv and also in blogland too. Everyone is starting to think about the festive season. I recently bought this book, "A Greener Christmas", and it has really encouraged me to try even harder to make our Christmas this year that little bit greener. Some of the facts in the book are quite shocking - for instance, in the intro, it reads:-

"Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are now widely recognized as the two most polluting days of the year: the equivalent of three weeks of carbon dioxide emissions and three billion tons of extra garbage are generated worldwide over this short period. Much of the extra trash collected contains discarded gifts, most of which will end up in landfill sites. Container ships are also now carrying record volumes of cheap Christmas consumer goods from china - all of which are expected to have a life span of less than four months."

So, next week we shall be starting our Countdown to a Greener Christmas and we really hope you'll join in too. We're going to start with gifts. Obviously, we're not asking you to blog about specific gifts you'll be giving - we don't want to spoil any surprises! - but rather, do you have a "policy" when it comes to gift giving? Are you making any of your own gifts or do you make a point of buying only handmade or eco-friendly gifts? Do you have any arrangements with family & friends about the type of gifts you give each other? Are there people in your family who are particularly difficult to buy for and you're stuck for ideas? Do you love the thrill of Christmas shopping in a big shopping centre, or do you do it all online? Do you have any favourite websites for eco-friendly gifts? Let us know!

Til next week!
Rachel & Emma xx

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

TLBG Wednesday - Water Conservation - Rachel

Firstly, thanks to Emma for choosing this week's topic. This is definitely something that we should all be concerned about as water is so vital and without it - well, we die! We have made some changes in the Contented household over the last few years - apparently, here in the South East there is less water available per person than in Sudan & Syria! These are the changes we've made so far:

* Not leaving the tap running whilst brushing teeth
* Also not leaving the tap running when washing the dishes - I used to have the tap running the whole time so I could rinse things before putting them on the drainer! I dread to think how much water was wasted over the years! Now, I only turn on the tap to rinse specific items (like glasses or cups - if you've ever poured yourself a glass of water and taken a swig that tastes of washing up liquid, you'll know what I mean!)
* Only using the washing machine on a full load
* Only filling the kettle with the amount of water needed
* We have a water bag in the toilet cistern
* This next one might be a step too far for some people, but I'm going to put my neck on the line and tell you that - we don't flush the toilet after every use! Have you heard the little rhyme? If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down! Well, that's kind of what we do. We don't leave it all day, but instead only flush, maybe once every three uses? Obviously, anything unpleasant does get flushed straight down, and if there are guests in the house I do flush it every time as well, but we must have saved an enormous amount of water by doing this. The trick, I think, is to keep the loo spotlessly clean (no mean feat with three males in the house!) and to keep the lid shut too.
* Taking short, sharp showers. I'm pretty quick in the shower and I'm also trying to get into the habit of not shaving my legs in there either - it's more convenient than using a basin full of water but think how much water is just pouring down the plughole while you're doing it?

I also think it's really important to think about what we put INTO our water as well. The more "contaminated" our water is when it goes down the drain, the more treatment is required to make it clean and usable again and the more risk there is of that "contamination" escaping into the eco-system and harming our wildlife, or even of being pumped out of a sewage overflow pipe and onto our beaches. So we're back to the subject of using eco friendly products (shampoo, shower gel, washing powder, washing up liquid, toilet cleaner etc) again! Don't pour cooking oil (whether it's from frying or from a tin of tuna) down the drain either - although it's a food product, it can really damage wildlife if it gets into our rivers. (What do you do with it then? Good question. Our local council recommended that we collect it in an old bottle then wrap the bottle in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the household rubbish. I'd love to know if there's a better solution). Ok, gone slightly off at a tangent there, but you get the picture!

On the Act On CO2 website there's a great little gizmo to calculate how much water you could save if you made some simple changes. So, how much can you save?

Rachel x

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

TLBG Wednesday - "Change how the story ends"

Since this ad campaign has been causing quite a stir in the media I thought this week on TLBG we could cover Water conservation. The advert features a Dad telling the little girl a bed time story about what happens to the world due to climate change.....Act on co2 is the message and the website was launched this earlier this year.

Check out the website, you can find out all the facts about Climate change, what you can do, what the government is doing and there is even a co2 calculator where you can find out how much carbon emissions your household produces and tips on how you can do your bit.

They have a section specifically for water conservation......the shocking facts are:

That in the UK we actually use 150 litres of water a day on average. This is the equivalent of 317 pints of milk being left on your doorstep. One fifth of a households carbon footprint comes from just heating water for baths, showers and washing up.

Its been estimated that we waste the equivalent of four months output of a typical power station , just by boiling too much water in the kettle. Millions of pounds are wasted every year by boiling water we don't need.

Try filling your cup/s with water then empty into the kettle this way you are only boiling what you are going to use.

Stick a post it note of your cupboard door reminding yourself not to over fill the kettle.

There are so many more ways to save water on their website. For readers outside the UK try your local government website for more information on climate change and co2 emissions.

So for this weeks TLBG post we want to hear ways in which you try to save water, do you watch how much water you use or is it something that you never really think of? Do you teach your children not to leave the tap running when they are brushing their teeth? If you do have little ones are you concerned that their future lies in the hands of co2 emissions? And do you try to teach them how to be more Eco conscious. Do you think that the governments are doing enough?

Don't forget to pop back and post your link.....and if you are in the UK please feel free to link to the act on co2 website.

Looking forward to reading your posts.....

Emma &Rachel xxx

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Morsbags in the Spotlight - Round up

I'd like to start this weeks round up post by sending big hugs to both Rachel (my partner in the fight towards making the world thatlittlebitgreener) and dotsorstripes who have been feeling quite under the weather. Hope you are feeling better soon!!

So lets get back to rounding up....well again members you haven't disappointed. I love the fact that not only have some of you posted about Morsbags but you're also getting involved :D great stuff!!

Marmaladekiss, we love reading your TLBG posts, you are soooo inspiring, your posts are always thought provoking and packed full of great quotes and facts. This week Marmaladekiss talks about the concept behind Morsbags and goes ever further to talk about what we put in our shopping you shop ethically? Looks like we may delve into this subject in another Wednesday topic, its definitely something that we need to cover.

Alex posted about her friend Josie who is an expert at making Morsbags, 81 is her total to date...WAY TO GO JOSIE!! Check out Alex's and Josie's posts, her bags are fab.

Sweetmyrtle showed us her Morsbag and tells us how easy it is to get in there and get involved. She has also been very generous to make 5 and give them away....go and check it out. Thanks Ginny, its great to see you guys getting really involved and PIF. You all make Rachel and I very proud.

I had not heard of Morsbags before Rachel suggested we do a Spotlight post on them, I'm so pleased we did, even though I have used re-usable bags for a long time its been so nice to get others on board too. Hopefully through our posting this week we have raised awareness for and even inspired people to make some and stop using plastic carriers.......

Its times like these that you think supermarket chains would get involved in this its all well and good offering re-usable bags to buy in the stores but the amount it costs them to make all these plastic bags surely they could offer free ones!?!?!? And if not then they should be charged a penalty for all these bags ending up in our rivers, seas, beaches and landfills!! Tesco's, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons are you listening!!! You could target the masses. If we continue to pollute our land and water with hideous and harmful plastic bags, then one day you wont have any customers to fill your lovely, well lit, plastic bag churning stores!!

Members please don't forget to post your links, Jo kindly pointed us in the direction of mrlinky (thank you Jo), so if you check at the bottom of Wednesdays post you will see a little box, enter your name and your link to your TLBG post and you'll be added to the list at the bottom of the post here so that we can all see what you have written.

Thanks again for another week of great posts and if you have any other organisations that you would like us to put in the spotlight then get in touch.

Emma & Rachel xxx

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

In the Spotlight - Morsbags

Several weeks ago we received a lovely email from a lady called Tracy who is involved in the Morsbags movement, and who asked if we would like to get involved. We think this is a fantastic idea so, of course, we wanted to try and help spread the word. Many of you may have already heard of Morsbags but, for those that haven't, here's a little bit about them.

Morsbags was founded by Claire Morsman who lives in London, when she was shocked by the devastating effect plastic bags have on marine wildlife. She created, a non-profit project aimed at eliminating the use of plastic bags by making and distributing reusable fabric bags - for free.

People are encouraged to get together in sociable sewing groups, or "pods" to make the bags and to then go out into the community and distribute them to the general public - ideally in places like shopping malls, supermarkets & train stations etc when people may be on the verge of accepting yet another plastic bag, but they can of course also be given out to friends, family, neighbours, popped through letterboxes or even used to wrap gifts. They call this approach "social guerilla bagging" and it is making an impact. To date, Morsbaggers in more than 400 pods worldwide have made and distributed over 50,000 fabric bags, potentially replacing more than 25 million plastic bags! Each bag is labelled with an iron-on patch with the project's web address printed on it, so the project self-perpetuates.

The bags themselves are very simple, unlined tote bags, made with French seams for strength and they can be made from cast off fabric such as sheets, duvets and pillow cases, old shirts or dresses etc. There is a great tutorial on the website together with loads of information about the project, hints and tips on making and distributing the bags and, of course, info about the pods. You can create your own pod with your friends, you could join an existing pod, or you could even do it on your own - just by making a few bags and giving them out to your friends or neighbours could still make a big difference.

Here at TLBG we wholeheartedly support this project so, in order to try and help spread the word even further, we would like to make next week's TLBG Wednesday topic - Morsbags! We'd love you to write a post about the project and maybe you might also consider creating or joining a pod and making a few bags. Perhaps you could even do a little giveaway or P.I.F. for your blog readers? Maybe you're already a pod member - let us know how you have been involved or how many bags you've donated so far.

Don't forget to have a look at the website at

Emma & Rachel x

Friday, 25 September 2009

Coming soon....

Hello! Just popping in quickly today to let you know that next week we'll be starting a new series of posts called "In the Spotlight", where we'll be focusing on one particular company, organisation, website or product that we feel deserves a special mention and a blog post all of it's own. We have quite a few things on the list already but, as always, if you would like to make any suggestions, please do let us know. Look out for the first installment early next week.

Have a great weekend!

Emma & Rachel x

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

TLBG Wednesday - Green Grooming - Rachel

Ok, this is a subject that I could probably waffle on about for hours, but I'll try to keep it as concise as possible!

Now, I love beauty products - all those lovely lotions and potions and cute little pots of make up etc - and have read various books on the subject over the years. One of the best ones has to be The 21st Century Beauty Bible by Sarah Stacey and Josephine Fairley. These ladies really know their stuff and are also very keen on keeping things as green as possible too, so I've learnt a lot from them. In fact they have also written a Green Beauty Bible (which I did some product testing for, although I'm slightly ashamed to admit, I haven't actually read it yet! The paperback version is out soon though so I will be buying that.)

After reading the first book, I started looking more closely at the ingredients lists on products. Many products that promote themselves as being "natural" or for sensitive skins actually include lots of the chemical nasties that I now try to avoid, such as:

Sodium Lauryl (or Laureth) Sulphate (makes stuff foam)
Parabens (preservatives)
and any petroleum derivatives such as paraffin liquidium, petrolatum and propylene glycol

I have quite dry skin which has become more and more sensitive as I've got older. Several years ago it became a real problem, with sore, red patches on my face so, after a lot of trial and error (I think I went though the entire contents of the beauty aisles at Boots), I discovered that, actually, using the most pure and natural products was the best solution. My favourite facial products are Neals Yarn Camomile Cleanser and Almond moisturiser, but I also really like Liz Earle's products too.

When it comes to showering, I don't stick to one brand, but I still try to use "greener" products. Our local Waitrose stocks quite a good range of green brands so I usually go and look there. It does seem to be becoming easier now to find good, reasonably priced, truly natural products. I do make my own body scrubs now - they are so expensive in the shops! You just need some granulated sugar and some oil - sweet almond oil is lovely but I've used plain olive oil too, you just need to add a few drops of essential oils to avoid smelling like salad! Get a handful, scrub it on to wet skin then rinse off, easy!

With regard to haircare, I've used a brand called Daniel Galvin Jnr Hair Juice, which is really nice, and my boys use the lovely melon scented kids version too. I have been reading on various blogs about the "no-poo" method - cleaning your hair with a bicarb & water solution. It obviously works for a lot of people, but I'm not sure I'm quite ready to take that step! Maybe one day. If anyone has tried it then I would love to hear from you!

(By the way, slightly off subject but I'm sure I read somewhere that using a hairdryer for 30mins uses the same amount of electricity as a TV does in 24 hrs! Good reason to go for a more natural, tousled look, perhaps?)

Ok, so on to make up. Now, despite what I said at the start of this post, I don't actually wear very much make up, so any products in my make up bag tends to last for years!! However, I recently tried some mineral foundation and a mineral eye shadow from Lily Lolo and have been very impressed! They sell sample sizes of the foundation so you can try out various shades to find the right one, and there's a pretty impressive range of shades in the eyeshadows too (they also sell blusher and lipglosses). There are obviously lots of other "green" make up brands out there, but this is the only one I've tried so far. Actually, that's not true, I've also used Dr Hauschka powder and mascara - both very nice but a little pricier.

Make up and skincare are obviously very personal subjects, so what works for me may not work for you. There are a several websites over in our sidebar for some "green beauty" shops which are all worth checking out.

There are some areas of grooming where I am still decidedly un-green (toothpaste, deodorant, hair colourant & perfume spring to mind) so I still have some work to do. And I do want to have a go at making some of my own products at home. There is a huge amount of information about this online, you can find recipes for pretty much anything - do let us know if you have a favourite homemade beauty recipe!

Right, I'm off to make a cup of tea now, looking forward to reading all your posts!

'Til next time,

Rachel x

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Round up and next week's topic

Huge thanks again to everyone who wrote a post about green cleaning last week! It made really interesting reading, and I am certainly inspired to try some more alternatives to conventional cleaning products! I think all of us are making the effort to try and change at least some, if not all, of our cleaning habits. Julia at Marmaladekiss once again wrote an extremely informative post about the dangers of conventional products, and with some great natural cleaning tips too. And Ginny at Sweet Myrtle also gave some great tips for using natural ingredients like bicarb, vinegar and lemon juice. I am sure that this is a subject we'll come back to again, but do let us know if you try out any of the tips and how you get on with them.

For next week, the topic is "Green Grooming"! By which we mean skincare, bath and shower products, make up etc. Are you bothered by what ingredients you put onto your skin? Do you use any "natural" brands? If so, which ones? What about haircare? Has anyone been brave enough to try the "no-poo" hairwashing method?! Do you have any recipes for home-made products or can you recommend any other websites or tutorials? We can't wait to see what you have to say about this topic!

Edited to add: For anyone who is wondering what on earth "no-poo" means, here is the link to tell you all about it!

By the way, if there are any topics you'd like us to cover, or you just want to find out more about, please do let us know!

In the meantime, have a great week!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

TLBG Wednesday - Green Cleaning

First off don't forget to check out Rachel's post today underneath this one!!

OK green cleaning, I have to confess that on this topic it is only really recently that I have started to think about the products I use and what effect they have on the environment. I used to have an awful habit of running taps whilst cleaning or even brushing my teeth. This has stopped as I watch a documentary about how wasting water contributes massively to the rapidly shrinking ice caps which in turn is making the survival of polar bears extremely difficult. As normal guilt set in and that was more running water.

I try to fill a bucket or the sink while cleaning and try to make it go as far as I can. I also used to buy cleaning cloths or sponges (artificial ones of course, not that it makes it any better). But I have now switched to reusable cleaning cloths and dusters that you just pop in your washer and they are as good as new!! I bought Sarah Smith dusters and cleaning cloths a while ago from Tesco but you can buy them here.

Cleaning cloths

Whilst browsing round Tesco I noticed that they do their own Eco cleaning range called 'naturally...' now ideally I would love to be like Kim & Ag from 'How clean is your house?' but in reality there just aren't enough hours in the day for making my own cleaning solutions so I thought I'd give this a try.

I bought the bathroom cleaner, which contains cleaning ingredients derived from plants extracts, packaging exceeds current biodegradability legislation, product and ingredients not tested on animals and the bottle and trigger can be recycled where facilities exist. It works really well, just as good as the normal chemical cleaning product I was using and it smells lovely.

I also bought their toilet cleaner which includes ingredients that are derived from natural plant extracts using sustainable agricultural practices, readily biodegrades far exceeding legislative requirements, does not contain phosphates or phosphonates, is not tested on animals and has minimal impact on aquatic life. And again smells lovely.

On my next shop I'm planning on replacing my multi surface cleaner and looking for an Eco alternative for dishwasher tablets if anyone has any suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

So that's about it for me.....I'm hoping to get some more tips and ideas from all your posts this week so keep'em coming! :D

Emma x

TLBG Wednesday - Clean Green

As seems to be the case with most areas of my life, cleaning is a subject where I've made a few little steps towards being greener, but there is still a long way to go! I've probably made most effort with the laundry, but I'll save that for another post. People who have read my other blog will know that housework is not my strong point, but I do try to keep the place looking reasonably clean & tidy(ish!!), so here are the "green" changes that we've made so far:
  • E-cloths - these are brilliant as you can use them with just water - no nasty chemical cleaning products needed - and they come in different varieties for different uses; glass, polishing, general cleaning etc. The one we have in our bathroom is great at polishing the sink and taps, it easily removes water and toothpaste marks!
  • White vinegar is the best limescale remover I have ever come across. Ok, it does whiff a bit, but it's not really that bad and the smell goes as soon as the surface has dried. It also works really well as a fabric softener - just add a glug or two to the conditioner compartment of your machine as you would a regular fabric softener. And no, your clothes won't come out smelling of vinegar! If you do want some fragrance though, you can add a few drops of essential oil as well (I use lavender). White vinegar is actually something of a super-product, it has masses of different uses - check out for more!
  • Washing up liquid - I have used Ecover in the past which is very good, and smells really nice too, but it is a bit pricey. We're currently trying Sainsbury's own "eco" brand, Clean Home, which is cheaper than Fairy Liquid even, and I'm pretty happy with it. It smells nice, claims to have "reduced impact on aquatic life, reduced use of hazardous substances" and also points out that "masses of foam on the water is not necessarily an indicator of effective cleaning - it shows you are using too much washing up liquid!".
  • Other "kitchen cupboard" products I've used are soda crystals and bicarbonate of soda, both of which are very good for cleaning out a scummy kitchen sink! Bicarb is a great deodoriser too, sprinkle it in stinky trainers and leave overnight to get rid of smells!

I'm actually quite keen to further investigate the idea of homemade cleaners, so I'm sure this is a subject that we'll come back to.

Til next time!

Rachel x

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Next week's topic

Hi, Rachel here. Just popping in to let you know the topic for next week's TLBG Wednesday (9th September) is GREEN CLEANING! How concerned are you about the impact all our cleaning products have on the environment? Do you use any eco-friendly cleaning products? How do they perform? What about home-made products? Is this something you want to find out more about? Let us know what you think.

We really look forward to reading all your posts! And don't forget, if you have any ideas or suggestions for future topics, please do let us know!

Rachel x

Saturday, 29 August 2009

TLBG - Round up post

Just thought I'd stop by and do a little round up of this weeks TLBG posts that you had all written. Wow what a response!! I loved reading through all of them.

Lisa Ridgeon Originals wrote a post about organic food and plastic. I loved Lisa's post on striving to buy organic meat in the hope of the animals living a good life before they are consumed, but frustrated by the fact its all presented in plastic (not good!). Lisa also writes about her frustration that the government released a statement saying, organic food has no more nutrition than non organic food.....Durrrr!!!! They are totally missing the point!!! You buy organic food because there are no pesticides or chemicals used in the growing/rearing process - therefore better for human consumption (I'm sure we wouldn't like to drink these chemicals they use on crops!!), better for wildlife and certainly better for the environment!!! WAY TO GO LISA!!!!

Alex over at Pink Feather Paradise wrote a great post about plastic milk bottles and how she is trying to go back to glass (which can be re-used - not all plastic can be recycled!!) which also takes me to the post that Rachel (TLBG) wrote about using milk bags!! Which I am going to give a go.

Marmaladekiss wrote a totally awesome post about a book called 'Small Wonder" pop over and read her post if you haven't already.

I also loved all the posts that were about the little things like using a Ferrero Rocher box to store your threads in rather than buying new (SweetMyrtle).

This is what TLBG is all about, I'm overwhelmed with the response to our new blog and all the posts that were written this week. I'm learning lots of new ways to be greener and its making me think about the decisions I make whether it be shopping, cleaning, throwing rubbish out, re-using things and even making tasty mish mash meals out of food that needs to be used rather than throwing it away after its gone a bit yucky because I didn't. Just because the combination isn't in a cookbook doesn't mean you cant eat it together!!

I hope you are all getting something out of TLBG - I'm looking forward to reading your next posts. We'll be setting the topic for the next post here Wednesday 2nd September for you to write a post for Wednesday 9th September.

See you then!!
Emma xx

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

TLBG Wednesday - Rachel

One of my biggest "green" concerns is plastic. The stuff is just everywhere! I was rather horrified recently, waiting at the supermarket checkout, to realise that, with the exception of a box of eggs, every single item I was buying had some form of plastic used in it's packaging. Not cool. I'm sure you all know that plastic is bad because it doesn't bio-degrade, which means that, although it might break down into smaller and smaller pieces, it will never completely go away. Once it's here, it's here FOREVER. Whilst recycling is a good thing, where plastic is concerned it is not the solution - only a tiny proportion of the plastic produced ever gets recycled, and the quality deteriorates when it is recycled, so a plastic bottle will not "come back" as another plastic bottle. The best solution is to simply use less plastic. Easier said than done. We've been using our own fabric shopping bags for groceries for several years now, and I'm getting better at remembering to take them on other shopping trips too, so our plastic bag use is pretty low. But the next big hurdle is bottles. Here are a couple of things we've done recently to try and reduce our bottle consumption:
We now buy our milk in bags! You do have to buy the special jug to use with them but this apparently reduces packaging by 75%, plus they are cheaper than the plastic bottles of milk, and you can still recycle the bags. I've got to say, I'm very impressed with this. They are very easy to use, you just put the bag in the jug, pull a corner of the bag over the edge and close the lid to secure, then push in a spout and that's it! You get two spouts with the jug, so there's always a spare and, providing you check that the bag's not leaking, we've not had any leakage into the inside of the jug either. They're only currently available at Sainsbury's and Waitrose - you can check the website here to see if your local shop stocks them and for more info. We probably use between 3 and 4 2pint bottles per week, so this will be saving us approx 150-200 bottles per year.

I've also just invested in a couple of stainless steel drinks bottles for the kids' lunchboxes (see bottom photo above). Prior to now, they would take either a juice carton (which can't be recycled) or a bottle of flavoured water (which shouldn't be reused as the plastic used for those kinds of drinks is not intended for long term use and can leach chemicals into the liquid if washed and reused). Now, these bottles were not cheap, but they are reusable, will not taint the liquid or leach anything nasty into it. And they should pay for themselves within a couple of months. Plus, we are saving approx 300 or so bottles over the course of a year! I bought them here. The first thing I did when they arrived was a leak test - put in some water, put on the lids, turned them upsidedown and SHOOK! Not a single drop escaped. I'll let you know how they hold up once the kids are back at school.
The next thing that needs to be tackled in our house is soft drinks bottles - hubby & I both like a bit of fizzy and with the warm weather we've been going through bottles at an alarming rate!
Looking forward to reading everyone elses posts!
Till next time...
Rachel x

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wed 26th August TLBG Topic

Hello 'thatlittlebitgreeners' I've just popped by to let you all know the topic for this up and coming TLBG Wednesday post.

We're going to ease you in gently ;) so the topic will be just for you to write a post about a tip, tutorial or website/book/link that you'd like to share with us all. So for example you could write about a way you save energy or re-use something, or maybe its a recipe for using up leftovers or just a super website or link that we can all visit.

Its totally up to you! Looking forward to reading your posts. And dont forget to follow the other members so that you can see what everyone has posted. Rachel and I will be back to do a round up of our favourite tips from you all.....

Emma x

Friday, 14 August 2009

Watch this

Alex at Pink Feather Paradise wrote a post today about "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch" and, after watching the clip on youtube I felt that I had to share the link here.

Please do take the time to watch this if you can. It's pretty shocking the state our oceans are in. Let's just hope we can change things before it's too late.

Thanks to Alex for highlighting this issue.

Rachel x

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The very first TLBG Wednesday - Emma

Hi Rachel and all you fellow 'littlebitgreeners' just thought I'd better pop in and say hello too....first off I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to Rachel for joining me on this little venture. You're sooooo fab!!

I have to be totally honest with you all, until about two and half years ago being green and 'trying' to do my bit for the environment was never an important issue to me. And feel quite sad that only since then I have adapted my lifestyle to being more green.....In the past 2 and 1/2 years I have recycled as much as possible, we are lucky to have been provided with a 'green' bin from our council. In here we can put plastic, paper, card, cans, plastic bottles.....there's a very long list. They also provide us with a blue bottle bin too....and last year we signed up for the brown composting bin for garden and food waste.

But after seeing an interview with Vivienne Westwood it really touched a nerve with me and made me sit and think about what was actually happening to our planet and realised that so many people are just sitting by watching it happen.....surely if we all were a 'little bit greener' it would make a difference? Even if just a little we are all trying?

So this really is the reason behind TLBG, I am by no means an Eco-warrior or that I want to preach to you all. What I would love is for us all to come together as a blogging community and inspire each other to, save energy, re-cycle, etc. We want to hear all your wonderful and even wacky ways you try to contribute to being greener and have fun and make new friends along the way.

So don't forget to contact us if you want to be on the members lists, and its over to you: write a post about your green ideas, tips, tutorials, what ever you like and don't forget to put TLBG in your post title......we're following you all so we'll be able to spot your posts.

Looking forward to reading your posts, big hugs...
Emma xx

The very first TLBG Wednesday - Rachel

Hi! Rachel here. I'm so excited that this is the first TLBG Wednesday and I really hope lots of you join in too. I can't wait to start reading your posts! Anyway, back to the subject - as this is the first TLBG Weds and we have asked you to tell us why you want to get involved, I thought it only fair that I should do the same!
I've been interested in green issues since I was a teenager but, I'll admit, whilst I thought it was all a great idea, I never really got round to doing very much about it. That started to change after having the kids - as babies they both had quite sensitive skin and my own skin became very sensitive too. I became more concerned about the kinds of products we used on our skin and turned into something of a label reader! (This is actually something I have quite a lot to say about, but I'll save that for another post). At the same time, we began recycling more as a family. We currently recycle: paper, cardboard, plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, tin cans, garden waste and food waste. We also gradually changed all our lightbulbs to energy saving ones, have a hippo bag in our toilet cistern, turn the tap off when brushing our teeth etc. All the easy things that don't take much effort, basically! But I know that there is a lot more we could be doing. This is why I was so keen to join up with Emma on this project after we got chatting about a post she wrote. By pooling our knowledge (through sharing our stories, links, tutorials etc), I hope that we will all discover new ways to be green. And I hope we'll have some fun along the way too!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


HELLO and welcome to That Little Bit Greener! We are really excited to be launching this new blog and hope that you'll all want to get involved too.

That Little Bit Greener has been created by Emma Castle and Rachel Lyddon, two keen bloggers who have never met but who became friends through the world of blogging and who share a common belief - that the world is in trouble and we all need to make changes to try and make a difference, no matter how small. Together, we wondered if there was something we could do as part of the blogging community? That Little Bit Greener is the result.
We decided to create this blog as a place to share information, stories, links, tips and tutorials that will, hopefully, inspire you to make some of those changes. We know that we don't need to tell you about recycling, shopping locally or changing your lightbulbs! We know that many of you do lots of these things already. And we know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of "green" websites and blogs already out there. We are not experts and we are far from perfect! But we wanted to add our contribution, to try and be "that little bit greener", and we want you to get involved too.

Every other Wednesday we invite you to write a post on your blog about your own efforts to become that little bit greener, eg. favourite "green" wesites, recipes for homemade cleaning products, your adventures with growing your own food, ideas for repurposing old items, your amazing second hand finds, book reviews etc. You could even ask a question for other members to answer!
As we get going, we will be suggestsing themes and possibly even set you some challenges! The first TLBG Wednesday will be next week, on the 12th of August and, for this first post, we simply ask that you tell your readers about That Little Bit Greener (yes, we are asking for a shameless bit of free advertising!!) and also tell us why you want to get involved.
If you would like to get involved then drop us an email or leave us a comment and we'll add you to our list of "members". We'll provide a list of links so that you can check out each other's blog posts and maybe learn something new or discover something that you'd like to try out. And don't forget to subscribe to our feed so you won't miss out on any updates. We'd also love to hear your thoughts about this project or any ideas or suggestions you might have, so please do get in touch!
It's our hope that, by making this a group effort, we'll all be encouraging each other to become "that little bit greener".

We really hope you'll join us!

Emma & Rachel xx

Edited to add: Thanks to everyone who has joined so far! When leaving us a comment could you please make sure you leave us your email address too so that we can contact you. Many thanks! R x

Monday, 20 July 2009