Wednesday, 30 December 2009

No More Plastic Post...continued...

As some of you might remember I've been trying to STOP any post from being delivered to my house in those plastic 'envelopes' - because they offend me a LOT! I can't recycle them locally and I want to cut down the amount of plastic that I use (because it's made from oil and what not that's running out).

I'm having trouble with one magazine I am repeatedly sent (from a teaching union I used to belong to when I was studying for my PGCE, that I'm not a member of anymore, because it stopped being free and because I can't find a teaching job! Talk about rubbing salt in the wound lol!) To make it even worse, my mum is a member of the union and she gets sent their magazine every month too - so we get 24 plastic wrapped magazines per year sent to our address!! There is no way to contact this company! There are no contact details on their website or in their magazine, there is a phone number I can call, but at my own expense, so I'm reluctant to do that. I have found a semi satisfying way of dealing with their plastic post though - sending it back with a sticky label asking to be removed from their mailing list - I've done that for the past 2 months (along with the numerous membership packs they keep sending me too) so maybe next month will be teaching magazine free!!!

I also got a catalogue wrapped in plastic from who I've never heard of, but actually have a special 'remove from mailing list' contact on their website - which I'm really impressed with! I added a little note to the end of the part where I had to put my details about how I was trying to reduce waste and that an unnecessary paper catalogue and plastic bag weren't helpful and could they please reconsider their mailing methods. Lets see if it works!

Having said that The Book People have a section for managing mailings, where I opted out of getting catalogues and I still got one last month, maybe it takes a while to process or something, but I'm going to send them a quick email as well to make sure.

Someone from my old university phoned me and asked if I wanted to donate £26 a month for a student fund, which obviously I said no to, and then asked if I wanted to be put on their mailing list, I had a long conversation with the girl all about cutting down my waste and not wanting to get any paper mail, but that I was happy to be put on their e-mailing list (in case I ever win the lottery!). Three days later I received a letter, not in plastic thank goodness, but with about 5 pages in it asking again for a donation. I put it all back in the envelope and wrote an angry letter on the back of one of the sheets, asking to be removed from their mailing list and giving them my email again. I'm not usually angry - but it seems to have worked in this situation, as a couple of days later I got this email (note email not letter! hurrah!)

Dear Susan

Thank you for your letter from which I was sorry to learn that we had failed to act upon your request not to receive snail mail in future. I am afraid this was simply human error, with Sophie failing to make the requisite note on your record. I hope you will accept our apologies and I can assure you that your record has now been suitably amended. Some Aber publications, such as Prom, are not yet available electronically, but I will ensure you receive it this way once it is produced in an e-format.

Best regards

If angry is the best way to beat plastic post then I'm going to have to rethink my tactics!

What I bought this month...

A chocolate advent calendar for my mum
A lush solid shampoo bar
A TV guide magazine
A little green pottery pot - I'd seen it in the charity shop last time I was in and thought it was lovely, it was reduced to 24p this time I went, it seemed rude not to!
A book - also 20p from the charity shop (but I'll take it back to the charity shop so not to worry!)A shopping trolley - like old grannies have, to carry my food shopping home and save my arms and using the car (my old one's handle and wheel broke beyond repair and had a hole it it!)
3 more books - again from the charity shop and to be given back to the charity shop (one of these days I'll get my butt to the library and stop spending money on books!)

So, I think this is definitely better than last month. I obviously need to start going to the library because although getting books from charity shops is better than buying new, I think the whole resource sharing ideology of libraries suits my own ideas about how we should use and share 'stuff' better. Also the purchase of the granny shopping trolley worries me - I did need one, but my thought process went 'I need this, it's lovely, it's £10, I'll have it', then when I got home I started wondering where it was made and what it was made from and if I couldn't have got a more environmentally friendly one from somewhere else. Sigh. At least it will make my trips to the market more happy and arm-ache proof! And the chocolate advent calendar - the outside was recyclable, but I'm pretty sure I spotted the plastic tray in the bin, I need to think of a better alternative for next year!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Handmade Christmas..Part 2...Bags, Mouse Doorstops, Ivy Garlands...

Hello! I hope you've all had a wonderful, magical, happy Christmas time - we certainly did in our household :)
My homemade gifts went down quite well, I think, as well as the few shop bought presents I gave as well, so hopefully next year I won't feel so worried about giving things I've made myself.

As well as the LED fairy lights, earrings and coasters I posted about last time, I also sewed some things....
A couple of reusable shopping bags (all made from fabric from my stash and an old men's shirt bought from the charity shop).

Some mice doorstops, for my mum, these are the most complex things I've ever sewn and I unpicked the seams several (million!) times, but I think they were kind of worth it! Every thing in these are reused, except the eyes, which I bought from a local, independent sewing shop. The fabric is from an old blouse and skirt bought from the charity shop, they're stuffed with some fleece left over from another project, the noses are round beads covered in fabric and I sneaked some gravel off our patio (when mum wasn't looking!) to make them heavy enough to stop doors! I even reused some plastic bags that catalogues and magazines are sent through the post in to contain the gravel before I put it in! See - plastic 'envelopes' are useful for something!!!! the pattern for these is from Sew Hip magazine.

My two best friends and I gave extremely zero waste presents to each other - nothing! We went for a Christmas drink instead!
I also managed to get a photo of the ivy garlands I mentioned before, after the house I volunteer in closed for winter they gave us the ivy ribbons because we worked so hard on them! They've been very beautifully decking our hall (and kitchen) and have just started to wilt after about 2 weeks!

This year we managed to recycle all our Christmas wrapping paper, the council is picking it up with the kerbside recycling. I saved all the foil 'paper' my mum used last year to wrap my presents, and I had enough of that plasticy shiny ribbon to wrap all my presents tightly without sellotape - except three round ones that wouldn't play along! My brother and his girlfriend watched in confusion and amazement as I coordinated a 4 bag system (paper for recycling, foil for reusing, ribbon and tags for reusing and unrecyclable stuff) for collecting and sorting all this wrapping on Christmas morning - they do no recycling in their house (I know!!) and made lots of 'oo we really should start recycling' type noises - I do hope they do!!

We also had no food waste! That isn't unusual in my house (as I usually eat it all!) but seeing as it's Christmas I think it's an achievement! We sent the turkey home with the meat eaters, the left over quorn has gone into the freezer and I ate all of my vegan sausages on the day anyway! The veggies became soup and some of the millions of potatoes fed the birds. We do have a LOT of plastic wrapped snacks hanging around though - I'm not in charge of food shopping and couldn't convince my mum to stop buying them! Maybe next year!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Handmade Christmas...Button Earrings, Perler Bead Coasters, Origami Fairy Lights...

This year I've tried to hand make a lot of my presents, especially taking into consideration being more eco friendly. I'm a bit wary of giving homemade stuff, I'm the only one in my family who does it, so I generally supplement the homemade present with something bought as well, which kind of contradicts my point of handmaking something to cut down on consumption...hopefully by next year I'll have convinced my family to tone down the buying presents thing so I don't feel so guilty when they give me something shiny and expensive and I give them something wonky and weird and made with something from the depths of the drawer! Or even better - convince them to make stuff from the tat in the depths of their drawers too! Here are some of the things I've been busy with...

Button earrings - I had the buttons (from my Grandma's button tin), earring backs and glue already so it was just a case of putting them to good use!

Perler Bead Coasters - I already had the perler beads and felt and glue I used to make these - I copied a pattern on the internet that I can't find anymore (my laptop's died and I've lost all my favorites!), but if you google 'perler bead mario mushroom' then examples come up that are easy to copy - These are for my brother, he likes computer games so I thought he could use them in his games room, that is if boys use coasters at all!?

I think the glue I used for both of these projects was definitely NOT environmentally friendly (judging by it's smell!) but I think it's best to use up what I already have then I'll have to do some research on eco glue!

I've made two sets of these fairy lights for two of my old roomates - LED plug in lights (no batteries and LEDs are more eco friendly) covered in origami paper lanterns - I used white computer paper and I had to buy the blue starry paper - but it's 100% recycled gift wrap from Oxfam, so I think that's OK! I started making the lanterns from magazine pages but only managed to find 2 magazines in my house and they didn't have nice pictures - at least my magazine diet is working!!!
I still have a bit of sewing stuff to finish off tomorrow, I can't believe I've left it so late! Is anyone else having a homemade gift meltdown!!?

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Zero Waste(ish) Christmas Decorations...Pine Cones...

This week my mum, me and the head gardener at the National Trust place I volunteer at made some Christmas decorations for the house. Because it's a historical house everything has to be authentic, so no tinsel! We made holly wreaths for the doors and some ivy garlands, but some of the other volunteers made flower arrangements, holly garlands, mistletoe balls and dried orange and cinnamon ornaments to go on the Christmas trees (there are 3 - the biggest is 25 foot!!). Sadly, you aren't allowed to take photos inside, but there's one from the local paper to advertise the event so you get an idea....

To make the wreaths we made some weaved hoops out of twigs then we raked some moss off the lawn, tied big handfuls round and round the hoop till it was covered really well, then stuck lots of holly into it! It was really lovely to make them in such a traditional way and to know that all the materials came from the garden (and that the hoops would be kept to reuse next year and the holly would go into the compost bin).

Mum was so inspired she decided to make one at home! We're going to use holly and fir from our garden, but she couldn't be dissuaded from buying some of that green oasis that florists use as a base instead of some nice twigs and moss (even when I offered to make the base myself and even after a heated 'discussion' in the middle of Wilkinson's!) Ahh well, I suppose it's better than buying a completely plastic wreath, and she says she's going to reuse the oasis each year to make her Christmas wreath, but I know her and as soon as it starts looking tatty it'll go in the bin (cue another 'discussion' here!)...I'm just disappointed I suppose because we've seen how easy it is to make a more natural version for free but she refuses to use it!

Anyway, we also made a LOT of ivy garlands, which involves hand sewing individual ivy leaves onto a strip of fabric! They look really gorgeous though and are also very traditional and very biodegradable! The house looks lovely for it's Christmas opening and I have lots of inspiration for when I have my own house to decorate! The ivy garland was inspired by this TV programme, which is actually filmed quite near where I live, The Victorian Farm, Christmas specials.

After being all inspired and christmassy I also made a Christmas tree decoration. I have a little tree in my room each year and make it a new decoration each year. I took a pine cone from my national trust garden - they have massive redwoods down each side of the driveway leading up to the house, they're beautiful - washed it, dried it, tied a slipknot in a piece of ribbon from my ribbon jar and stuck the stem of the cone into the knot before pulling it tight all the way, then tied a bow with the ends of the ribbon and wrote in biro the name of the place and the year so i can remember when I'm old where it came from. I'm still debating whether to glitterfy it a bit.

To glitter or not to glitter, that is the question?!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Handmade Christmas Postcards...

This year some of my friends organised a Christmas card making party, which turned out to be an excellent method of cutting down consumption. We all brought crafty things we already had at home and shared them, so no one had to buy anything new! Some lovely cards were made by everyone and it was really good fun (my inner eco obsessive also thinks that 7 people in one room saves the energy of those 7 people sitting in 7 rooms in their own houses - we only used one light bulb and one cd player, rather than the 7 we might have used if we'd have stayed home by ourselves!)

I make my own cards every year, and this year I'd been thinking of ways to make them more eco friendly - I saw these in the Amnesty International Catalogue and thought I could probably whip up something similar.
These Christmas postcards use 50% less card (because they have no back!) and no envelopes, I used some foam stamps I bought last year, an ink pad I found in my mums drawer and some card I already had to make these. I figure because I managed to hold back on adding glittery sparklyness they can go in with the normal cardboard recycling (correct me if I'm wrong!). I'll draw a line down the middle of each at the back and write instructions, so people know it's eco friendly (and not just weird!) and that they can leave it as a postcard or fold it down the line to make a stand up card (it'll be quite small then - each postcard is about 1/4 of a sheet of A4 - but I think they'll be cute)

Has anyone got any other tips for eco friendly card sending? I know I could just not send any at all - but it's Christmas!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Book review - How to Grow Fresh Air.

This month's eco book was 'How to Grow Fresh Air' by Dr B C Wolverton.

I liked...

1. It's based on the results of a NASA experiment to use plants to create an atmosphere that create the right balance of gases to sustain human life in a sealed unit, so you get to read all the sciencey thoughts behind it, in the first few chapters.
2. It has a growers guide section that gives you tips about the kinds of light, watering and pest control you need to take into account when growing houseplants (excellent for serial spider plant killers like myself!)
3. It then moves on to look at the top 50 plants that put oxygen back into the atmosphere and remove harmful toxins like formaldehyde that are present in modern buildings (in the carpets, furniture, paint, etc - scary thought!), there is a paragraph about each plant, as well as tips for it's care and it's rating out of ten, which is averaged from 4 areas - removal of chemical vapors, ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to insect infestation and transpiration rate (rate it releases oxygen into the environment).
4. The ratings are really helpful in choosing which plants you want to grow - I've decided to try to break my terrible spider plant killing spree and this little fellow has been living happily on my shelf for the past two weeks!
Spider plants have an overall rating of 5.4 - 6s for removal of chemical vapors and ease of growth and maintenance and 5s for resistance to insect infestation and transpiration rate - maybe I'm onto a winner!?
5. I found it really inspiring, to be told explicitly and in detail how important houseplants can be to creating a healthier environment inside our homes and then being given practical tips so you feel more confident in having a go yourself.
I didn't like that some of the sciencey bit was sooo sciencey I had to skip it! And that most of the plants found to have the best rates for removal of chemical vapors and transpiration of oxygen seemed to be the hardest to grow, but I think that has more to do with my skill level than any problem with the book!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it's opened my eyes to a whole new world of indoor gardening!

But it was free!!!

So, I kind of went a bit squiffy on Buy Nothing Day and was pressurised into going Christmas shopping with my mum, and although I really wanted to avoid the shops altogether at least I didn't buy anything (she did though!) and I talked to some really cool girls on a council recycling stall about what the council's doing for the environment in my area. In return for filling in one of their questionnaires I got a free green goodie bag (even when I leave the house intending to come back empty handed I still managed to get something, even if it was free!)....

Inside the Act on CO2 reusable shopping bag I got a Fat Trap (not too sure about this device, it's a cardboard box with a plastic bag liner that you pour your used cooking oil and fat into, rather than down the drain where it clogs up the pipes and sewers - I very much dislike the plastic bit though, although it probably is less waste than putting used oil in an old plastic bottle in the bin, which is what we do on the rare occasions we have oil to throw away - anyone else have any opinions on the fat trap or what to do with old oil???), a water saving device for the toilet cistern - you put it in and it swells up and displaces 1 litre of water, so you save a litre per flush, we already have at least one in each loo here so I'm saving this for when I move out (not sure about this one either - I think you could put a brick in your loo and avoid the plastic this things made from), an energy saving lightblub - another item for the 'when I move out' pile! And some leaflets about 100 ways to save energy, ways to keep warm (this ones really fun cos it has a thermometer that tells you when it's too cold, ideal and too hot so you can experiment and get your heater settings to the right levels to stay warm and save energy) and a leaflet about what the council's doing to be more eco.
Not bad for a days work!

Monday, 30 November 2009

What I bought this month...

This month I bought...

A beautiful food dehydrator,
A kilner jar to store my beautifully dehydrated apples,
Sew Hip magazine (quite necessary - I'm making my mum a 'stargazing mouse' doorstop for Christmas from a pattern in it)
Another kilner jar for moooore dried apples
Elf on DVD (I never buy DVDs, typical I would buy one now I'm keeping a record! I dooo actually need it though, I can't borrow it of anyone, couldn't find it to buy second hand, we have no DVD rental shop here!! and it's nearly Christmas!!)
4 books from the charity shop (they were 4 for £1 - couldn't resist, but they'll go back to the charity shop so I don't think they really count!)
A patchwork skirt from the charity shop (once I was in the charity shop looking at the books I couldn't resist - I knew there's a reason I avoid shopping!)
Some new face soap - my old one was drying my skin out.
Some bicarbonate of soda, to use for cleaning and maybe try as deodorant (although I'm going to have to research this - I know you can use baking power as deodorant and that they're similar but I'm not sure if they're the same thing!)

I'm actually quite shocked at the amount I bought this month, especially as an unemployedwithnomoney person! I feel like I never buy anything, but heres the proof, 12 things in a month! At least writing it down has made me realise and now I can do something about it and try to buy less next month.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Product swap, Exfloliators and Blackboard.

Here are the most recent changes I've been making to green myself up a bit!

Exfoliator - I've had this pink face brush thingy (I think it was from Boots, but I've seen more natural wooden looking ones in the body shop) for yonks, and the pink exfoliating glove came free with my epilator, now I've run out of both my face and body exfoliator I'll be using these reusable options instead and saving all the chemicals that were no doubt in my products and the plastic tubs they came in.

From notes to blackboard - me and mum like to leave each other notes everyday ('dear sooz please tidy the computer table' 'dear mum I've gone to ems for tea see you later' 'dear sooz have a nice day hope you've stopped having a runny nose' etc etc etc) and I'd been gritting my teeth about these notes, it's lovely, but I kept thinking about how much paper it was using, so I was very glad when Mum suggested using the blackboard we already have in the kitchen to write notes for each other on - I didn't have to do any of my usual mind tricks/whining! Today I have drawn a picture of a bunny on it - because I'd like a pet bunny but I'm not allowed one (now she's being environmentally friendly I can use my mind tricks to achieve other goals!).

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Getting active...

I've had four months of unemployment now, but I've tried to put my time to some good use - although I am aware that I keep having moments of huge un-motivation and I could have done so much more, I keep thinking I'll get a job so I don't want to commit myself to something then have to stop once I'm employed. But I'm trying to change that way of thinking because it's the source of me never getting anything done!

So this week I've started 3 new things! 3!!

1. I'm going to a Friends of the Earth meeting tonight - I've supported friends of the earth for years but only just got the courage to go to a meeting - I'm very excited!

2. I have a meeting with a lady from this wildlife trust about starting doing some practical conservation volunteering - like coppicing trees and clearing scrub! My meeting's on Tuesday - I can't wait!

3. And I'm doing an online diploma (it's a real course - accredited by a marking board and everything) in Environmental Sciences to show that I actually really do know stuff about the environment (and not just from a free course!) - I'm doing the paper free version which saves 280 pages of course book coming my way, and have managed to find an old notebook to repurpose for making notes - so hopefully that will counteract the fact I have the computer on more to view the course documents!

I have also been volunteering here once a week for about 3 months now - a big beautiful garden owned by a charity we have here that buys old houses and land and keeps them open for the public. I work in the gardens (mum comes too) and do all sorts of jobs that the head gardener tells me to do (he's lovely - a veggie with a VW camper van - yey!) It's really good fun and I generally need a sleep when I get home! They also have chickens there, that are lovely and fat and I like to say hello to them!

I've also started a distance learning course in Nutrition - it's a free one from this church group (I'm not religious but I do like food!) it's handy to know about nutrition - especially because I'm vegan, and because when I'm growing my own food (someday!) I'll have more information about what I need to grow to stay healthy!

And I'm still doing free Open University courses about the environment too.

I'm really excited about my new activities! YEY! I almost don't want a job then I can just carry on doing lovely things forever!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Buy nothing day...

Buy nothing day is on the 28th November this year - which is this Saturday.

Buy nothing day is an informal day of action and awareness on consumerism, should be pretty easy for me seeing as I have no money anyway! What about you? Is anyone going to a buy nothing day event. or organsing one, or giving up spending for a day? I'd love to hear about it if you are!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Clothes recycling week...days 4 & 5...Denim Skirt, Mending Pile, Griffindor Scarf...

Technology wasn't my friend this weekend - my laptop decided to stop working too so now I'm not only using mums camera but also her computer! But my sewing machine was still my friend, so I still managed to make a dent in my pile of fabric and clothes and other 'stuff', so I'll show you what I made in my final 2 days (the weekends don't count do they, they're days of rest!) of my clothes recycling week now...

I finished this skirt, made from an old pair of jeans - you rip all the inside leg seams open, then sew them back together then add a new panel of fabric to fill in the gap between the legs.
I also tackled this whooole pile of mending. I don't find mending as exciting as making new stuff but I think mending stuff before it falls apart is an important step in preserving the clothes I have so I have to buy less new. Here is said pile, containing a mended coat, hoodie, tshirt and knickers.

I've also made great progress all though the week with my Harry Potter scarf. Ok, well it's not that impressive considering I've been knitting this thing for 3 YEARS!!! But I will finish it this year and wear it! It's currently the length of one of my legs.

So I've ended up with 2 new skirts, some new hankies, 2 reusable shopping bags, a tshirt. coat, pants and hoodie that are wearable again and a beard - all without a penny spent or anything new used - not a bad weeks work I don't think!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Clothes recycling week...Day 3...How to Make a Beard out of Tights...

Ok, well this is a little specific, but if you happen to need to make a beard for a costume party, or just for your own amusement, then this is the post for you!

I'm going to someones birthday party and the theme is 'circus' - I'm going as a bearded lady, I already have enough floaty, hippy type clothes and sparkly bits to look like I might belong in the big top, but I refuse to buy a fake fur type beard from a costume shop (fake fur is made from all sorts of nasty plasticy stuff!) so I had a look in my fabric mountain and found a lot of old (clean, I might add!) tights that were about the same colour as my hair and a piece of brown corduroy and set to work.

I cut the corduroy to a beard shape and size and attached some elastic to it, to go over my ears to hold it on. I then cut the toes and crotches (urgh! I think crotch is one of the most horrible words ever!) off the tights and cut each leg into two lengthways, then folded each piece in half and cut into them so they went kind of frilly, I then pinned and sewed them onto the beard shape. I made the moustache with some more tights wrapped round wire, so I can bend it into different shapes, and attached it to the top corners of the beard. I also made a plait from some of the left over bits of tights and some embroidery thread and bells I had and attached it to the bottom of the beard.
Back tomorrow with something more normal! honest!

Clothes recycling week...Day 2...Handmade Hankies, Drawstring Bags...

I knew if I said I would post something each day it would never happen - I'm far too disorganised for such a thing!

Yesterday I made some handkerchiefs out of some old PJ bottoms that I'd kept because I liked the pattern. It was really easy - I just cut them into squares and hemmed them on my sewing machine. I also made some little drawstring bags from this purple sparkly netting that was once the top layer of a skirt I had in my more teenage-gothic years! I'm going to use these to hold loose veggies together when I'm food shopping. Also really easy - I just cut it into 2 rectangles, sewed up the sides and threaded ribbon (from the charity shop) through what used to be the hem of the skirt to make the drawstring.
I'll try to get round to posting what I'm making today later! See you then :)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Vegan Coconut and Oat Biscuits...Biscuit of the week...

We had the oven on last night for a veggie bake and garlic bread (mmm!) and so I baked some coconut and oat cookies too! Sadly the first batch got burned, but the second lot are delicious!

I got the recipe from here, but veganised it by swapping the butter for vegan margarine and the honey for golden syrup. I froze half the dough so I can have fresh cookies next time I have the oven on too!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Clothes recycling week...Day 1...Dress to Skirt Upcycling...

To keep myself amused this week I'm going to tackle the mountain that is my fabric stash - lots of it is fabric and lots more of it is clothes that need altering or something mending on them to be wearable again.

Apparently 900, 000 tonnes of clothing is thrown away in the UK each year (thanks, myzerowaste!).

I've had a big clear out of my wardrobes (yes that's a plural on the wardrobes!) and have ebayed some stuff, charity shopped the rest, collected the un-giveawayable stuff (like tights and socks and extremely holey things) to think up uses for later (maybe stuffing for something? Fairy wings from the tights stretched over some wire??!) and kept some things that I really loved but needed to be turned into something more usable - these are the things I'm going to tackle this week!

This dress/tunic thing was in the sales when I still allowed myself into establishments where the word 'sale' is displayed (always deadly) It was down from £10 to £1 so I obviously had to have it, despite it being perhaps the most unflattering item in the history of the universe.

So I'm going to turn in into a skirt. Here's how I did it...

1. cut a little hole through one layer (the layer facing inwards towards your body when you're wearing it)of the material in the hem at top (luckily this dress already had a hem at the top I could use otherwise I would have had to make one first).
2. attach a piece of elastic to a safety pin, thread it into your hole and wriggle it all the way through the hem until it comes out of the hole again. (if you were being v. environmentally friendly you could make a drawstring, maybe out of the straps to tread that through in the same way - but I had the elastic so I may as well use it)
3. figure out how tight you need the elastic then pin the elastic together and sew it.
4. try the skirt on and see how it fits, if it doesn't unpick your elastic stitches and try again, if it does then sew up the hole you made for the elastic.

5. cut off the straps, you could do this first, but I was being cautious, if I didn't like it as a skirt it may have been remodelled into a top instead.
6.If you're me, then dew up the hole you accidentally made when cutting the straps off.
7. Wait for the summer, when a lovely thin cotton skirt will be lovely to wear! As you can see I did try to take a picture of myself wearing it, which is especially difficult if you're reluctant to take off any of your clothes or let go of the blanket you're also wearing cos it's soo cold! So there's a picture of it on it's own too!

See you tomorrow for something else made from something else!

Sunday, 15 November 2009


I was doing sooooo well on my pledge to give up plastic bags and bottles - I haven't used one for ages, then this weekend I went shopping with my friend (or following him round while he tries on lots of pairs of expensive jeans as I like to call it!) and then we went to Costa coffee because he really likes it in there (I don't, I definately don't now, but I hate those big coffee shop chains but he's having a stressful time so I was being a good friend and doing activities he liked to cheer him up) I don't drink any hot drinks, except mint tea made form mint in my own garden or by beautiful morrocan boys, and EVERY SINGLE cold drink in the place was in a plastic bottle!

I even brought it home so I could be sure it went into the recycling!
I'm so cross!
I feel a letter coming on!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

No more plastic post - continued...

I got a reply from one of my emails to companies about the plastic 'envelopes' they send their mail out in...I was quite pleased to get a reply and to know that they are aware of the issue, but I think I will email them back and ask about maybe doing an online version of the magazine, which would cut out both the plastic 'envelope' waste (which even if it was biodegradable wouldn't be great because it doesn't biodegrade properly!) and the paper, magazine waste!

'Dear Susie,
Thank you for your e-mail. I am sorry for the delayed reply.

This is an ongoing problem we are trying to resolve. It seems that most makes of polywrap can only be recycled by specialist centres. The alternative is biodegradable, but it seems that is problematic, as if a bit of biodegradable plastic gets into normal plastic recycling, it contaminates the whole batch. The cost of paper or card alternatives is also quite high. However, we are taking this seriously and costing out the options and hope we can come up with a solution soon, as it has long been a concern of our.

Our policy is to be environmentally friendly and within our office we use 100% recycled paper as well having numerous recycling facilities on site. I hope that answers your queries. '

I also managed to find an opt-out button on the website for one of the catalogues I get sent and I'm keeping check on what pops through the post box every day so I can identify more targets to eliminate!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cupcakes...

I think I missed a week of this and I'm cheating this week because 1. they're cupcakes not biscuits, and 2. I didn't make these (mum did, because we needed to celebrate her getting a pay rise at work, and because when I try to make cakes they do turn out like biscuits!). But despite that, here's our recipe for vegan cupcakes...

4 oz flour
2 oz sugar
2 oz margarine
2 'eggs' (we use this egg replacement powder)
a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips (I cut some chunks off a vegan chocolate bar - because it's impossible to get soya free vegan choc chips and I'm allergic to soya, but at least the chocolate bar comes wrapped in paper and foil, not a plastic bag like most choccy chips - so all that chopping was worth it!)

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix them up, add water or liquid if it's too thick, add the chocolate chips (or anything else you want to put in), put into bun cases or a cake tin and bake for about 20-30 mins, we do them in the middle of our oven on max (which is the setting above gas mark 9!) because our oven is rubbish, so mid to high heat would probably be fine.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Oh food dehydrator of joy!

I bought this with the last of my birthday money, I've wanted one for sooo long, and next year when I have my own garden (my friend's contract on her flat runs out in 5 months and then were going to rent somewhere together with room for a veggie patch! Excited!) I have plans to grow all sorts of things and then dry them to eat them when they're out of season, to reduce the amount of imported (ie. with a huuuuge carbon footprint) foods I buy/eat.

If you ever read the Brambly Hedge books when you were little, I'm aiming to have a 'store stump'!
photo from here

I like to name my appliances, so this is Daphne the Dryer! She also came with a free LED torch (if I was being truley eco-friendly I would have declined the free gift as I don't really need it, but I only thought of that after I placed my order) Anyway, the LED torch came in very useful for shining through the holes at the top during 'is it drying, is it drying? is it drying yet?' moments!
After about 8 hours I ended up with this...

This is about 8 apples!


Is the noise this garlic would have made if it could speak! Two of them suddenly turned brown and died...I know, I know, the whole family were in shock, it was so unexpected.

So, after much watering and putting in different positions around the garden and greenhouse I decided they weren't going to come back to life, and 'harvested' them - they've certainly changed from the little cloves I planted, I seem to have small bulbs now, they don't seem to have segments but I have seen garlic thats just a whole bulb rather than a bulb with cloves, so we'll see what it's like when I eat it!
My other 4 are still going strong (touch wood) so maybe I'll get some segment-y garlic out of those!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

What I bought next month...

I already buy a LOT less than I used to when my favorite weekend activity was shopping (was that really me??! now it's guitar playing and sewing stuff and reading and watching films and gardening and general faffing about), but in order to REALLY think about what I'm buying, if I REALLY need it or will be very, very, very sad without it (please note - I'm not one for making myself (or anyone else) feel guilty about buying things that are necessary or completely beautiful and unliveablewithout) and if it's an ethical choice, I'm going to start posting a list each month of what I've bought so I can keep an eye on myself. I'm not going to include food shopping or spending on food, drinks or general merriment while I'm out on adventures. It's more of a 'things' thing, I have enough things, there is no room in my room for more things, what are these things made of and where are they coming from, where will they end up!!!??!?! I refuse to buy unneccassary things!! Starting from this month, every month at the end of the month (ish) I'll be posting a picture and list of any things I've bought and shaming/analysing myself to see if I could be doing better!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Baby Name Book and Fleece Bunny...Home Made Presents...

I'm S.T.I.L.L unemployed! But this week I've been using my time creatively and made some presents for two of the smallest, cutest people in my life. Both were made with things I already had, so although I don't think felt and fleece are the most eco-friendly fabrics out there, at least I was using up stuff I had rather than buying something brand new.

I sewed this little felt book for my cousin's little girl, Grace, who is being Christened this weekend. It was a bit of a rush job and it's a bit wonky and weird but I think I'll just about be able to give it to her without feeling too embarrassed!
Giraffe, Rabbit, Apple, Caterpillar, Elephant...spells Grace!

I also made this bunny for my school friend's new baby, Heidi (she's sooo beautiful!), out of some fleece and other bits I had lying around - I've already given it to Heidi and her mummy thought I'd bought it rather than made it, which made me super-proud!
He even has a fluffy bunny tail!!

Made from this free online pattern.
So do you think hand making things better for the environment, because you're not running a big factory that uses lots of power, and you can buy or re-use things that are eco friendly, and you're not giving your money to big businesses that you're never quite sure about (depending of course on where you get your supplies from!)?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Book Review - Vegetable Growing Month by Month...

This month I've mostly been reading 'Vegetable Growing Month by Month' by John Harrison, which according to the cover is 'The down to earth guide that takes you through the vegetable year'. I officially Lurve this book!
I liked...
1. It answers all my stupid questions - like how do I water something, how much water, how often???! (I have watering issues! I always, always either water too much or too little - this book has a whole chapter on watering! Winner!)
2. It's really thorough and has chapters on 'why grow your own vegetables', 'where to grow and preparing to grow', 'planning the gardening year', 'getting the most from your land', 'weeds and what to do about them', 'tools', 'compost, manure and fertilizers', 'watering', 'greenhouses and poly tunnels', 'pests, problems and protection', 'the vegetable year', 'brief guide to the vegetables', which pretty much cover anything you'd want to know about anything to do with growing your own veggies.
3. It has good clear diagrams to help you understand what he's talking about.
4. It has lots of information about gardening organically, even though the book isn't specifically about organic gardening.
5. It enabled me to identify a funny shaped hoe at the garden I volunteer at - why it's a swoe!
6. It's written by a guy who actually grows his own veggies, has lots of experience and knows what he's talking about.
7. It pretty much tells you everything you'd need to know if you suddenly had a garden that needed veggies growing in it and had no experience.

I can't find any negatives! This book is perfect!

Next month I shall be reading and reviewing 'How to Grow Fresh Air' by Dr B C Wolverton.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

No more plastic post....

I spent a happy couple of hours this morning venting my frustration about the amount of mail we get in this house that arrives wrapped up in plastic. It's driving me crazy!! I've opted out of all the junk mail as much as possible, but this is post I want, and it's covered in plastic! So I've written to all the organisations that I can recall being annoyed by their plastic 'envelopes', and I'll be keeping an eye on the postbox so I can have my revenge on any more letters that dare to arrive in a plastic bag!

Here's an example of one of my letters (to Amnesty International, who I think really should know better!) in case anyone's interested.


I enjoy reading the Amnesty Magazine that I, as a supporter, receive from you. However, I would enjoy it even more if the type of packaging used for the magazine was reconsidered. Each time I receive the magazine I have the frustrating problem of what to do with the plastic bag it arrives in. These bags currently cannot be recycled in my area, and even if I reuse them they ultimately end up in landfill.

I am writing, therefore, to ask you to reconsider the type of packaging you use for the magazines you post out. I support Friends of the Earth and the Dr Hadwen Trust and both of these organisations send out their magazines in paper envelopes. I have also seen magazines sent out in cardboard sleeves. A change in the packaging of your magazine, perhaps to one of the types I have mentioned, would enhance my satisfaction in supporting your important work.

Please will you pass on my comments to the relevant people.

I look forward to hearing back from you concerning this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Miss Susie Biscuit."

Has anyone else tried doing this? Did you have any success? What can we do about these naughty plastic posters??

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I've only just become aware of 350, an international day of action on saturday 24th October to stop climate change, which can only be a good thing, right?!
You can sign a petition on their site and search for events where you live, unfortunately I've missed out this year and the only thing happening near me is a parents protest with children - do you think theres time for me to steal a baby before saturday!?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Vegan Lemon Shortbread...Biscuit of the week...

My blog is called the last biscuit, and it's about being eco friendly and reducing my waste and consumption - so surely it would be shameful to continue to eat shop bought plastic wrapped biscuits, wouldn't it?!

To avoid the unrecyclable plastic wrap around those delicious biscuits of goodness I'm going to start baking my own, using ingredients in recyclable packaging and made at times when I already have the oven on cooking something else so I'm not heating it up just for biscuit making (does anyone know if this is the most energy efficient way of doing this? My logic says it is, but it's possible I'm wrong!)

This week I made vegan lemon shortbread biscuits, which I slightly altered from a recipe for orange vegan shortbread which is in the 'Vegan' recipe book by Nicola Graimes, available from T.J. Hughes about 6 months ago. Not sure I can put the recipe up here for fear of being sued for copy write, but there's an almost identical recipe available online here if you scroll down a bit!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Garden update...

My garlics have had to be moved into the greenhouse as it's got a bit chilly - now I've actually read a gardening book I know that I planted them in the wrong season and should have bought garlic seeds from a gardening shop, not used the supermarket garlic, which was probably grown in a different climate and won't do so well here. Despite what the interwebs told me (it liiiied!! Well, probably it was just giving me information for somewhere with a different climate!) It's still growing though, and under the soil they have definite garlic looking bits!

We still have lettuce growing and tomatoes (mum's - no photo though! It has blight and is too unphotogenic!) and I have one or two radishes left that have gone over and are now doing pretty convincing turnip impressions!

I also have two different types of mint growing in pots, one I cut back a couple of months ago and is making new sprouts, and one new one that was a present and is called 'mint Moroccan' and is yummy! Mummybiscuit says mint is hardy so it can stay outside and enjoy the winter weather without shrivelling up and dying!
And because we've still got all this produce in our garden, Fluffy (resident Giant Land Snail - made a burrow and went to sleep - didn't want his photo taken today apparently!) is still eating home grown food. Tomato and lettuce from our garden, apple from a friends tree, cuttle fish bone found on the beach in Cornwall by my Mum's friend (Fluffy needs to eat egg shells or cuttle fish to keep his shell strong - making him the only non-veggie in the house, but we forgive him!)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Vegan Potato Cakes...Recipe...Product swap....

On my quest to reduce non-recyclable plastic from my life I have seen heaven - and it's potato cake shaped! Seriously, these are soooo good I am never ever eating another shop bought, plastic wrapped potato cake again! Do potato cakes seem like a funny thing to need to reduce in ones life? Well, I seem to eat a lot of them, cos they're vegan and yummy and warm and, well, I like potatoey things!

So anyway, this recipe makes 20 2inch potatty cakes (supposedly - I made about 24 but I think I rolled them out too thin)

1 pound of potatoes - peeled
4 oz of plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp snipped chives (from mums garden! woop woop!)
salt and pepper

*cook potatoes - boil for about 20 mins then drain and return to pan and mash them!
*Add the flour, oil, chives and salt and pepper (I put the flour and oil in mine then split my mixture in half, and left half plain and then mixed the chives into the other half), mix it into a soft dough.
*Put flour everywhere (maybe no everywhere - but that seems to be the result when I get my hands on the flour!), roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch (says the recipe, I'm going to do mine thicker next time) and cut out with a 2inch cutter (I did not use a 2 inch cutter either - what can I say, I'm a potato cake rebel!).
*Cook in a griddle or heavy frying pan, on a low heat for about 10 minutes, turning once after about 5 mins, until both sides are golden and irresistible looking! Put some spread or jam or something on them and eeeaaat!

I made loads and put them on baking trays into the freezer, when they're frozen I'm going to take them off the trays (freezing them like that is supposed to stop them all sticking together!)and put them into boxes in the freezer.

The flower shaped ones are plain and the round ones are chive (chive ones are yummier!)

And here they are cooked, these are weird shaped ones that I made with the left over bits that were too small for the cutters, I did cook some more so I could take a picture of the pretty ones for here, but became distracted by the deliciousness and ate them before I remembered I'd cooked them for the specific purpose of photographing them! Oh dear!