5 Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day

Are you a full-on romantic, with Valentine’s plan carefully constructed in January? Or are you more of a last-minute, petrol station flowers and chocolate, panic buyer?

Plastic wrapped chocolates. Cute teddy bears made in sweatshops. Flowers imported from across the world. They might tell your significant other that you care, but what are the consequences for the planet, and the people making them?

Either way, if you want to celebrate the most romantic day of the year, it can be easy to get caught up in the hype. Often, this means spending money on things that aren’t environmentally kind or ethical.

Being more aware of what you consume on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean missing out on all the fun and romance. You can still show someone you love them without extravagance or mass-produced plastic.

This year, have a little heart and show some love to the planet by aiming for an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day. Here’s how to keep it free from plastic and full of ethics.

1. Dinner for Two, Minus the Food Waste

A candlelit dinner is as green as it is romantic – think of the electricity you’re saving!

Eating at home can be as romantic as eating out. Set the scene with mood lighting, candles and music, and leave the washing up until the next day!

It’s also a great excuse to enjoy the warm weather of the Australian summer and pack up a picnic and enjoy a bike ride to a local beauty spot. An afternoon in nature is good for the soul, just remember to leave nothing but footprints behind!

Whether you go out or stay in, spending quality time with your loved one over a delicious meal is the perfect way to celebrate anything.  In either case, avoid over-ordering/cooking so that all the surplus food that you don’t eat doesn’t end up in the bin and aim to eat as much local produce as you can.

2. Free From (Plastic and Bad Ethical Practices) Chocolate

If you’re feeling the love, why should that be at the detriment of someone else? The chocolate trade is steeped in bad ethics, from unfair working conditions and pay, to the use of palm oil. So this year, look for a Fairtrade box of chocolates. Warm cocoa also makes a tasty drink to share with many health benefits. Cacao is available at most health food stores, look for one without plastic packaging.

3. Finer Florals

Seasonal, locally grown food is sustainable, and the same can be said for flowers. When it comes to beautiful bouquets, keeping things environmentally friendly means that roses are out. When buying flowers, consider the amount of plastic wrapping they come in too. Would a potted plant be a better option? It’ll certainly last longer!

Also, if your flowers have come from overseas, there’s every chance that they’ve been grown and cut by someone not paid a fair wage. This is especially true at this time of year to meet demand.

4. A Handmade Valentines

You don’t need to be a genius to be creative. Remember how simple life was when you made your own Valentines cards? Just because you’re an adult now, it doesn’t mean you can’t still make them.

Can you bake a cake or cook your Valentine’s favourite meal? Can you make them a beautiful Valentine’s card? Or write a poem, a piece of music or a song? Maybe you’re good with wood or metal. Painting or sketching. Can you sew without stitching yourself up? Whatever you can create, the chances are it will be more appreciated than something bought from a shop.

If words or art aren’t your thing, something else that can be given is a massage. Set aside an hour and do a loving massage for your partner. You could also make this into a fun activity for both of you by getting your partner to exchange the massage. 

Get as creative as you like, safe in the knowledge no one else will be giving the same gift. It doesn’t matter how good it is; it’s the thought that counts!

5. Valentines Experiences

Experiences are often worth so much more than stuff. You can keep it simple with a walk in the park or an evening together playing board games with no phones or tablets. Dedicating time to each other, including the kids if you want to, can be so valuable.

Buy gift experiences like cookery class if they love being in the kitchen and you have the budget. Or simply handwrite some IOU messages, and leave them around the house. You could promise a massage, making dinner for a week or a trip to the cinema.

If you’re thinking of going away for the weekend, look for eco retreats. One that is accessible (and affordable) by train rather than driving gives you even more eco points.

Go against the grain, and do something different whilst being mindful of the planet. Often, a simple “I Love You” with breakfast in bed is more than enough.

Have less of an impact, show the planet some love and opt for an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day this year.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Let us know how you’ll be spending it this year in the comments below.

Zero Waste Food Tips

Food waste is a huge—but edible—problem. Food waste costs the economy around $20 billion each year. Each year we waste around 7.3 million tons of food – this wastage equals about 300kg per person or one in five bags of groceries. 

Food that’s taken land and energy to produce, required water and nutrients, needed labour to ensure it grew, could be harvested and processed, fuel to transport…and then it ends up in the bin. It’s estimated that food waste accounts for more than five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. If that’s not the biggest unnecessary waste of resources, then we don’t know what is. 

Fortunately, there are many things we can do at home to reduce our food waste, so we’ve put together some of our top tips to help you reduce your food waste and take those extra steps towards a zero-waste kitchen.

Preparation is Key

One of the easiest ways to be successful in a zero-waste kitchen is preparation. Before heading to the supermarket or farmer’s market, organise your fridge or cupboards, create an inventory, plan your meals for the week and write a shopping list to ensure that you only buy exactly what you need and will actually use.

Store your food properly

An essential first step in reducing food waste is storing your food. Your produce will stay fresh and last longer if it is stored correctly. Learn to recognise if something is bad or not, rather than relying on the ultra-conservative supermarket “best before” dates and ensure that food is kept in clean, sealable containers either in cupboards or in the fridge as needed. It’s also a good idea to freeze what you can in portions as soon as you bring them home so you can use what you need.

Save your food scraps

Food scraps can be used in a whole heap of easy and useful ways; vegetable stalks and skins can be made into homemade stock, apple cores and skins can be fermented down into apple cider vinegar, roots can be sprouted in water and planted in your veggie garden, stale bread can be roasted into croutons or fried for french toast, soft fruit and veg can be used in baking, banana skins can even be used for cleaning! What you can’t, or don’t want to reuse, can be thrown into the compost bin.

Begin or Rediscover Composting

Whether you haven’t started composting, or you’ve forgotten about that compost bin in the corner of your garden, now is the perfect time to begin or rediscover composting. The food scraps you produce in the kitchen (think carrot peels, eggshells, coffee grounds) can create beautiful compost which is so much better for the environment then chucking those scraps in a landfill.

Cook in Bulk

Cooking bulk, one-pot meals are a great way to ensure that your produce doesn’t go bad before you’ve had a chance to use it. Bulk meals can be easily frozen in meal portions and used when you fancy them. Plus it will almost be like reaching for a ready meal after work saving you the time of preparing a fresh meal every day.

Reducing food waste may seem overwhelming or challenging at first, but remember that every single effort counts. If all of us began practising even a couple of these tips on a regular basis, that would have a huge impact on our health, our budgets and the environment. Start with easy things like only buying the amount of food you need, shopping in-season, buying from local farmers to reduce the carbon footprint of your food and cooking in bulk. There’s no better time to get started than now – today is the day!

How zero waste is your kitchen? Let us know in the comments.

What is bio-glitter?

Festivals around the world are becoming more environmentally conscious, eliminating materials that harm the environment in favour of biodegradable, eco-friendly practices. The latest crackdown? Glitter. In fact, 61 festivals have banned the use of glitter in the UK alone

After it was accidentally invented in 1934 by Henry Ruschmann, glitter has exploded in the craft and makeup industries, causing many an arduous vacuuming-up over the years. Heedless of the potential mess, many of us can’t get enough of anything delightfully shimmery, shiny and sparkly, and glittery cosmetics such as those used heavily at raves and music festivals are no exception.

Sadly, our soft spot for sparkle comes at an environmental cost. With most glitter being made from etched aluminium bonded to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), it is a form of microplastic — minuscule bits of plastic that find their way into the soil and water, wreaking particular havoc on oceans and aquatic life. This form of pollutant is divided into two categories: plastic products such as bottles that eventually break down to sand-sized particles, and microplastics that are initially produced as tiny units of waste. The latter has typically been defined as microbeads, those teeny little globs found in scrubs and soaps.

These microplastics make-up 92.4 per cent of the plastic floating around in the ocean and take thousands of years to disintegrate. Once they enter the food chain they end up being eaten by humans, and a disturbing amount can also be found in our drinking water. Scientists are still investigating how this affects our brain function and breathing, but many would like to see glitter made of these plastics taken off the market before the full extent of the damage is known.

Similarly to the current phasing out of microbeads around the world, with the UK and US already successfully outlawing them, scientists are calling for a ban on glitter. 

Fortunately for glitter lovers, there are eco-friendly alternatives emerging in the Australian market. Bio-glitter has been created, made from ingredients such as cellulose, a material derived from eucalyptus plants. The company began developing biodegradable glitter in 2010. It is currently the only true biodegradable glitter in the world. 

That is because not all biodegradable glitters are created equal. Many contain a small amount of plastic, which prevents them from fully breaking down when thrown away, and use unsustainable manufacturing techniques, shady supply chains or are only industrially compostable. 

Bio-glitter is sustainably harvested eucalyptus-based cellulose is pressed into a thin film, dyed with natural cosmetic pigments, and then precision-cut into various particle sizes, plus it does not cost the earth.

Here are our top 5 uses for bio-glitter:

  1. Glitter make-up – if you’re a regular festival goer and love a great piece of body art or glitter bling on your face bio-glitter is the perfect substitute to your regular sparkles.
  2. Arts and crafts – glitter is a much-loved staple of any arts and crafts session. With most of it usually ending up on the floor or in the bin this kinder option will help you craft on in peace.
  3. Hair accessories – the glitter parting or braids have become firm festival favourites. Don’t lose your sparkle and protect the ocean by switching to bio-glitter instead.
  4. Glitter nails – good nail paints free of nasties are hard to come by. Add bio-glitter to your favourite nail polish instead.
  5. Homemade products – add bio-glitter to homemade soap bars, candles and beauty products.

This is the key to success in the battle against litter: not all changes are difficult and affordable alternatives do exist.

It’s time to go forth and sparkle responsibly! Shop for Vesica’s plastic-free Bio-glitter HERE.

6 Ways To Have A Plastic-Free Summer

We find the summer holidays one of the most challenging times to be plastic-free. The routine of the week and comforts of home make packing your own lunches in glass or metal containers, remembering your shopping bags and sipping from your water bottle easier. 

Now the summer holidays are here, and you might be out of the house a little bit more, away from home visiting family or looking for ways to treat yourself to a coffee from your local cafe. It’s all too easy to fall back into your old plastic wasting habits.

Incorporate some plastic-free activities and practises into your summer holidays. Soon they will become second nature, meaning that you will be reducing your plastic without even thinking about it! Here are six of our favourite plastic-free activities to get you started.

Take your own picnic

If you’re lucky enough to be able to explore or even travel further afield, pack up a picnic and set off for your local park or beach. 

For the ultimate plastic-free picnic, wrap your goodies in muslin or wax and store items glass or metal containers. You can also bring your own water bottles or thermos’ to drink from and bamboo cutlery, if you need them. Then all you need to do is just sit back and relax.

Remember your water bottle

Plastic bottles are the quickest thing to sink to the bottom of the ocean, and they never biodegrade. Plastic particles from bottles are also slowly eroding into your water so on a whole they are bad for the environment, and bad for your health! Grab yourself a stainless steel water bottle instead and remember to keep these on hand when you’re out and about this summer.

Visit the local farmers market

Farmer’s markets are a great activity, and a great way to save on plastic wrapping, eat organic, support local and independent businesses and have an all-round more personal shopping experience. You can find these in your local town, and more and more are popping up in cities. Bulk food stores are also another way to save on packaging, just grab your favourite refillable container!

Buy from the deli or bakery

When it comes to buying the ingredients for family gatherings or summer BBQs, try to visit your local bakery, butchers or deli. Most small businesses are happy to wrap your products in your own containers, or wax wraps so just ask!

Start your own herb garden or veggie patch

Herbs and veggies often come with a considerable amount of plastic waste. From herb portions wrapped in plastic to fruit on plastic trays, there are so many ways that you can reduce your plastic waste and growing your own is one of the best. Even if you just have space for a few small pots of herbs or salad leaves on your window ledge growing your own is a perfect activity to keep the whole family busy all summer long.

Ditch the coffee runs

We know that grabbing a coffee from a cafe feels like a treat, but disposable coffee cups can no longer be recycled. It is estimated Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. That’s approximately 2,700,000 paper coffee cups thrown out every day! Instead, invest in your own reusable coffee thermos or some quality, fair-trade coffee that lives up to your takeaway coffee standards and make your own at home.

How To Have A Plastic-Free Christmas!

In the hustle and bustle of the festive season, we tend to overspend, overindulge, and overestimate how much stuff we need. It’s easy to overdo it and end up with a massive pile of plastic waste, random junk, and uneaten food. In fact — Aussies produce around 30% more waste at Christmas time! 

We think that we can all do better. The key is to think ahead and make sustainable, plastic-free swaps. It’s easier than you think!

Here are six simple ways to host an eco-friendly Christmas – from sending plantable Christmas cards to renting your Christmas tree, and sourcing a sustainable Christmas lunch – so you can focus on having yourself a merry little (plastic-free) Christmas! 

Wrap gifts with recycled paper or fabric

What many of us don’t realise though is that many rolls of wrapping paper contain non-recyclable elements like foil, glitter or plastic.

If you want to know if your wrapping paper can be recycled or not, use the scrunch test. Scrunch up the paper in your hards and then let it go. If the paper stays scrunched up, then it can be recycled but, if it unfolds by its own accord, then it likely contains non-recyclable elements.

Alternatively try wrapping gifts with fabric instead, using colourful fabric squares that can be reused again and again or scarves that also be enjoyed as part of the present.

Choose decorations that will last a lifetime

When choosing decorations, we’d recommend opting for classic designs that will be loved for years, as opposed to trend pieces that you’ll be tired of by next Christmas. Decorations made from recycled wood, fabric and glass make great alternatives to plastic or PVC options that are non-recyclable. 

Buy eco-friendly crackers

Replace single-use crackers with reusable ones. Some are made from natural linen, and some allow you to add your own personalised gifts. These are great eco-friendly Christmas decorations for the lunch table.

Reduce your food waste

Most of us are pretty good at getting creative with our leftovers throughout the year, but when Christmas comes, we can be a little more wasteful.

One option is to buy less. That can be tricky, though when guests are staying. Instead, make a conscious effort only to buy what you need, no overeating for the sake of it and using your composter or garden waste bin for scraps.

Switch to LED Christmas lights

If every household swapped a string of incandescent lights for its LED equivalent, we could save more than A$11 million and 29,000 tonnes of CO2, just over the 12 days of Christmas.

When it comes to eco-friendly Christmas decorations, LEDs are far better than traditional twinkling incandescent lights, because they use up to 80% less energy.

Switch to solar-powered lights outdoors, and put both sets on a timer. You’ll not only make environmental savings, but your energy bills will be reduced too.

Use plant-based glitter

What’s Christmas without a bit of sparkle? Opt for plant-based, vegan glitter like our Bio Glitter. Made entirely from cellulose, this glitter is 100% bio-degradable and does not cost the earth. So make the switch today.

Take care over the holidays enjoy the time with your friends and family. Thanks for your support online throughout the year!

Many blessings,

Shane and the Vesica team x