I recently discussed with my housemate about organically and environmentally friendly products we use in our day-to-day life. It inspired me to write this post, to explain how you can identify what products are friendly and what organic actually means.
This discussion arose because my housemate thought her vape juice smelt the same as my lip balm. Although, it is proven that vaping changes our sense of smell and taste, I want to explain the difference between organic products and artificial products and what popular products you should be buying, as an alternative or inspire you to shop more carefully.
I hear "what I do won't help the environment" too much, yes you can help the environment by changing the products you buy to help the environment. It is important to be good with money, especially today. Sustainable and eco-friendly products are more expensive but you can learn how to save money and research-friendly products and you can live a healthier lifestyle, which will benefit you and the environment.
Understanding the word organic
Although organic food has various advantages, it is not always healthier, and it is important to remember that food is not the sole source of chemical exposure. The way we grow, where we live, the cleaning products we use in our homes, and whether or not we treat our pets for parasites are all possible sources of chemical contamination.
Marketers work hard to make their food seem appealing, so those organic bakes, sweets, and snacks will still be rich in sugar, fat, and calories, despite being organic but it is still important to regulate and control how much we consume.
Organic food comes from an agricultural technique that doesn't utilise artificial fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators, or livestock feed additives. Organic regulation prohibits irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms or items derived from or produced by GMOs.
Organic agriculture is a production method that strives for environmentally, socially and economically sustainable outcomes. Crop rotation, animal and plant manures, occasional manual weeding, and biological pest management are instead used in agricultural systems.
What artificial means
While the term "artificial" can simply mean "produced by humans," it's frequently used negatively to indicate that an artificial product is inferior to the actual thing. Artificial refers to things that are created or produced rather than occurring naturally. Artificial is frequently used to contrast with nature.
Synthetic is a synonym for artificial. Synthetic ingredients are added to food to improve its look, texture, flavour, shelf life, freshness, and nutrition. Artificial flavours are created by mixing chemicals generated from inedible substances like paper pulp or petroleum. Artificial flavours are designed to smell and taste identical to natural tastes.
An artificial ecosystem is not self-sustaining, and without human intervention, it would perish. A farm, for example, is an artificial ecosystem made up of plants and species that are not found in their native habitat. This environment could not survive without people.
Artificial ecosystems with improved design can increase the population's subsistence capacity in a given location and permit human habitat extension into seas, outer space, extra-terrestrial bodies, and underground places. Dams, gardens, and parks are examples of artificial ecosystems created by humans. Artificial ecosystems such as zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens are maintained to maintain biodiversity.
Your health and the environment's health
Peanut butter & other sugary products
I learnt a neat trick from a hiker in Ireland, always have peanut butter because peanut butter has healthy vitamins and minerals and depending on which brand you buy, it is 100% naturally sourced and environmentally friendly. Whole Earth peanut butter not only tastes great but is completely healthy, within reason, I don't advise eating the entire jar but it is recommended that one tablespoon is enough to ease that craving. Wowbutter is an excellent sustainable peanut-free replacement.
My housemate finds it strange that I can look at a doughnut and trick my brain into thinking it looks unappetising and then go eat an apple instead. I don't tend to crave sugar that often, I say that as I am eating a doughnut whilst writing this. Craving sugar is based on our biology. If you are craving sugar often, it is best to talk to a professional about it because it is your body's way of telling you something is missing.
Stevia has long been promoted as a healthy and natural sugar substitute. The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative aim to increase sugarcane yields by at least 20% while reducing chemical inputs by 25%. They also produce rural jobs, particularly for women, as the seedling production process employs them. Stevia is a low-calorie, natural sugar substitute that can help you manage and lose weight, as long as it is used in moderation.
Groceries & meal kits
Meal kits emit 33% fewer greenhouse gases on average than grocery store dinners. Meal kits reduce food loss and waste because the components are pre-portioned. Last-mile transportation emissions are lower for meal kits than for grocery store meals.
Gousto meals are nutritious, especially if you're presently relying on a lot of processed foods and ready-to-eat meals to get you through the week. Gousto delivers directly to customers' homes, reducing emissions by lowering the number of delivery trucks. This is in addition to their continued commitment to sourcing 100% British fresh meat to save air miles.
Seacourt's manufacturing is run entirely on renewable energy, and the printing process is completely waterless, with no landfill waste and a net positive carbon impact. Gousto replaced plastic punnets with cardboard punnets, lowering the amount of plastic used by up to 90%. With half the plastic, you get the same quantity of sauce and 25% less plastic around your herbs.
It is very difficult to avoid microplastics today because we have improperly disposed of plastic for so long and continue to wrap our food in plastic packaging and bags. I adore is this comedy sketch about the ridiculousness of wrapping potatoes in cellophane. Carry a backpack or a recycled bag with you while you shop, to reduce the amount of plastic bags you keep in your storage space or give back plastic bags to the local grocery store.
I often say the pricer the meat, the better it is for the environment. Often cheap meat is farmed and you will notice the difference in taste, abused animals are tender due to stress. It is good to purchase meat and fish from your local market or a familiar and well-researched butcher but make sure you reduce the amount of meat and fish you consume, don't go for a meat dish at every deal, try that vegetable burger or vegan bread, they are full of flavour and are extremely healthy. Don't be afraid to try new dishes either, trending dishes acknowledge our need to reduce meat and fish consumption.
According to the United Nations, around 90% of world fish stocks are overfished or at risk of overfishing, implying that we must dramatically cut our fish intake overall. Fish with the blue MSC label is environmentally friendly and morally sourced, you can find this in a grocery store e.g. Sainsbury's, Tesco, Morrisons.
Cow's milk produces three times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based alternatives, it consumes ten times the amount of land, utilises two to twenty times the amount of fresh water, and results in significantly greater levels of eutrophication. This is a product I have significantly cut down on, I have also noticed it has encouraged me to cut down on coffee.
Although there are milk alternatives, soy consumes a third of the water required by dairy, such as oat. In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, 200 millilitres of soy milk produces 0.195 kilos. Coconuts are grown with very little water, coconut milk has a very low environmental impact. In comparison to other plant and nut-based milks, a 200ml glass of coconut milk only requires 0.5l of water.
Tea, coffee & hot chocolate
A lot of commonly used teas have microplastics in them. Switching to a reusable cup, drinking loose tea, bringing an insulated flask, choosing an ethical brew, and composting your tea leaves can help us all live in a cleaner, greener, and more equitable future. The majority of tea bags are not biodegradable, and of those that are, only a small percentage of individuals compost them. Loose leaf tea reduces the amount of packaging used that may be tossed straight into the compost heap.
Tea & Tonic is a sustainable tea product that uses 100% natural materials and guides its customers through their environmental journey.
PG Tips is a member of The Ethical Tea Partnership, which collaborates with retailers to promote tea brand sustainability. The new tea bags from PG Tips are composed of maize starch, which is completely biodegradable and its tea bags are made of the new material. As a result, their tea bags can be recycled or composted as home fertilizer.
Whittard of Chelsea is an environmentally friendly tea, coffee and hot chocolate brand in the UK that provides a humane work-life and has an ethical environmental management system and reduced energy usage.
Nescafe is my favourite coffee brand, they respectfully grow their beans, and they also collaborate with the Rainforest Alliance to track and assess the growth of farm economics, as well as the social and environmental effects of their efforts.
Costa supports sustainable coffee, Tassimo and is named the "Most Ethical Brand" in Europe at the annual Allegra Coffee Symposium.
In the US Starbucks use approximately 8,000 paper cups each minute, totalling in over four billion per year. Every year, 1.6 million trees are cut down to make all of those single-use cups. These cups are coated with plastic, they aren't truly recyclable; in fact, just four places in the United States accept Starbucks paper cups for recycling.
Chemical leaching and toxicity may occur if you drink from a throwaway plastic bottle. Heat causes the harmful compounds in the plastic to leak into the water, resulting in chemical leaching. That means leaving water bottles in the car or taking them to the beach or pool might cause them to heat up to a degree that many experts in the field consider hazardous owing to microplastic contamination.
Single-use plastic and plastic drinking bottles are not only dangerous to your health, but they also contribute significantly to plastic pollution and other environmental challenges. There are several health dangers associated with drinking from plastic water bottles, and it is also bad for the environment. Not only are recycled water bottles healthier for you and the environment, but they are also affordable and save you money. Not On The High Street provide plenty of affordable eco-friendly water bottles.
It's also predicted that by 2050, the ocean would contain more plastic than fish in terms of weight. Because of the chemicals that seep and penetrate the air, plastic garbage is toxic to animals and disturbs ecosystems.
Although there is mixed evidence as to whether bottles left are in hot temperatures for an extended period of time there's a potential that the water you're drinking contains lead, chlorine, bacteria, and pesticides, among other contaminants that are harmful to your health.
One litre of Brita-optimized water has a carbon footprint that is up to 25 times lower than bottled water. Renewable energy accounts for 90% of their electricity. Customers can simply bring their used Brita cartridges to the store and dump them off for recycling while purchasing new cartridges for their Brita jugs or taps, which are 100% recyclable. The cartridges are broken down into their constituent pieces and recycled, resulting in a traceable and sustainable life cycle.
FloWater has customised refill stations to give water to their employees, guests, and staff for economic, environmental, and health reasons. They are compatible with all container sizes and deliver purified water with added minerals and electrolytes.
Vaping is a quickly growing popular activity originally designed to help people stop smoking cigarettes. I am having this debate with my housemate far too much, how does this affect our health and the environment?
It is too soon to say vaping is healthier than cigarettes, there are thousands of unknown chemicals in e-cigarettes.
The chemical vapour from vapes and E-cigarettes irritates the gums, causing them to retreat from their original location. This can further cause uncontrolled teeth grinding and eroding of tooth enamel which renders teeth sensitive to heat and cold, it can also stain your teeth. It is theorised that one hundred puffs from a vape are equal to one pack of cigarettes.
I have to be a little biased here, I cannot stand the odour of vape juice or the smoke, it is what a carnival would smell like if you put it in a blender. There is no clear evidence that secondhand vape smoke is harmful but it is proven that secondhand smoke is harmful to those around you, as the non-smoker is inhaling the smoke differently from you, it is considered respectful to smoke outside, so please respect those around you.
Single-use vape pens account for a significant portion of the trash shipped to landfills. Metals, battery acid, and nicotine can all be released into the environment by certain pens. This waste can contaminate water and wildlife habitats, making them dangerous to those who live there.
Common vaping products like Totally Wicked offer environmentally friendly recycling centres, however a lot of their materials bring plastic, nicotine salts, heavy metals, lead, mercury, and combustible lithium-ion batteries into streams, soil, and animals. E-cigarette trash might pose a greater environmental concern than cigarette butts. You can safely dispose of vaping material by simply removing the battery from the gadget and taking it to the nearest recycling facility. Recycle Now can help you identify drop-off facilities near you. Batteries are collected together with other recycling materials by certain municipal governments.
Lights and decorations
It has become a habit of mine that has begun to annoy people, I turn off lights when I leave the room, even if it is decorative. Not only does this save electricity and reduce electricity bills. It is also an aid in the reduction of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. As a result, turning off your lights is a simple method to help save the planet and safeguard the environment.
Blue light, while ecologically favourable, disrupts the body's biological clock, during the night. Sleep is harmed. The sun was the primary source of illumination until the invention of artificial lighting, and humans spent their evenings in darkness. Evenings are now lighted in most of the world, and we take for granted our simple access to all those lumens.
Perhaps you should think differently when purchasing decorative indoor lights. Animal behaviours such as migration patterns, wake-sleep routines, and habitat development are all affected by light pollution. Sea turtles and birds that migrate by moonlight become confused, lose their path, and die as a result of light pollution. If you are leaving your window open at night, during hot weather, please turn off your lights before going to sleep and when you leave the room! Even if it does looks pretty.
LED lighting are today's most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technology, notwithstanding their past use as an indication and traffic lights. Traditional incandescent lights consume up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than LEDs.
This doesn't mean you can leave LED lights on all the time. Switching off lights, shutting off the television at the wall, and using cooler laundry cycles help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, this is the greenhouse gas generated by human activity, including the habit of leaving lights on all the time. These pollutants are extremely detrimental to the ecosystem over time. Electricity is generated using fossil fuels, which contribute significantly to air pollution. When you leave a room, turn off the lights to save energy and lower electricity consumption.
Beauty products & makeup
Although moisturisers and oils are healthy, in moderation, lotion can dry the skin rather than help it. I moisturise and oil my skin at least once twice a week and that keeps my skin smooth but I also have a healthy diet and go outside every day. You should always treat your skin fairly and allow it to breathe fresh air.
It is a common misconception that moisturiser and oils should be used every day, skincare products prevent water from evaporating, clogging pores and increasing acne and dry skin. Dry skin reflects more UV radiation than moisturised skin, some doctors believe moisturisers hasten skin ageing.
Clarins skin products are made of fruit extracts and plant-based formulations are used in every product. They aim to source 80% of its plant extracts organically by 2025, offer 100% recyclable packaging, and cut carbon emissions by 30%.
Vitaskin is high in vitamins, which help to improve the skin's radiance, moisture, general health and look. Not only are they cruelty-free and 100% vegan, but it also contains vital skincare nutrients like retinol and Vitamin C, which prevent breakouts. I bought one Vitaskin C cream two years ago and I haven't had to replace it yet. They reduce waste and very little plastic, they re-use the glass bottles customers bring back.
If you use makeup on a daily basis and leave it on your skin for an extended period of time, your skin pores may become blocked. This prevents your skin from breathing, making it more susceptible to acne and pimples. You can also notice pimples around your eyes. Depending on your skin type, whether it is naturally oily or more oily than average, choose your makeup based on your skin.
Some Clinique products include beeswax, lanolin, carmine, and other animal-derived components, making them non-vegan. Clinique isn't a cruelty-free company. This is because it distributes its product in mainland China, where foreign skincare and cosmetics products are required by law to rely on animals.
Dior employs a limited number of environmentally friendly products and has established a goal to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from its cities. Dior also supports animal experimentation by allowing their goods to be tested on animals. Dior offers their products in the mainland of China, where animal testing is still mandated by law.
I would recommend high-quality makeup like Bare Faced Beauty, they provide affordable, cruelty-free testing and are 100% vegan and the cruelty-free status of No7 has been validated, their suppliers and any third parties do not test finished goods or ingredients on animals. They also don't sell their products in states that need animal testing.
Incense & oil burners
In 2015 there was a study on the impact of incense on our health and how some incense products could increase the possibility of cancer and inflammation in the lungs, however eco-friendly incense sticks manufactured with pure essential oils like sandalwood, frankincense