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