A circular economy, in basic terms, means extending the life cycle of products, i.e. when a material is coming to the end of its life, they are kept within the economy wherever possible and can be used again and again and create further value. In contrast with a linear economy where products are bought, used and thrown away.

As the raw materials on this planet are finite a circular economy is a necessity. If we all lived like the average citizen in the UK we would need the resources of 2.63 earths*!


1. PRIORITISE SECOND HAND WHERE YOU CAN

Borrow or buy second hand, utilise programmes like the library of things, car-share apps, clothes swaps, charity shops and online marketplaces like eBay and Facebook. why not set up a Whatsapp group with your neighbours where you can swap items amongst yourselves.

Image: https://popupcity.net/observations/you-can-now-borrow-a-drill-in-the-library-of-things/


2. BUY LESS, BUY BETTER

Invest in quality durable items, to buy less and save on future spending.


3. REUSABLES

There are a lot of swaps you can make to encourage circular living stricture into your life, switching to reusable items is one of these. These include coffee flasks and water bottles to shopping bags, period products, beeswax wraps and face masks!


4. REPAIR AND UPCYCLE

Patch your jackets and darn your socks! Not only can you repair your worn-out clothing, but you can also send off your technology for repair or breathe new life into old furniture with a lick of paint. Upcycling is a creative way to reuse re-purpose things to add more value to the item, get creative with the things you think are destined for the bin and you might surprise yourself, follow our Instagram for ideas

5. RECYCLE AND COMPOST AS MUCH AS YOU CAN

Keep the materials in the loop when items are beyond repair, scroll down to read our previous blog post on identifying the recyclable plastics amongst non-recyclable plastics.

6. PUT PRESSURE ON THE GOVERNMENT TO ADOPT CIRCULAR ECONOMY POLICY MEASURES

The main three strategies to achieve a circular economy is renewable energy, energy efficiency and material efficiency. Significant steps in these three areas could see dramatic drops in carbon emission, also encouraging a culture of repair, maintenance, upgrading and remanufacturing is predicted to more jobs to exceed 100,000. making the benefits of moving away from a linear and towards a circular economy huge.**

One small step you can take today is to sign up to a petition or support environmental focused businesses.

Linked is a petition to fix the UK's plastic pollution crisis from Greenpeace:

https://action.greenpeace.org.uk/l/854853/2021-04-22/qv21z?source=WB&subsource=OCPOPSPEWB01BL&_ga=2.188484072.1545199517.1622131434-1362904047.1622131434





if in doubt refer to the 'buyerarchy of needs'


The Sunny Jar Team x



https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/economy/20151201STO05603/circular-economy-definition-importance-and-benefits

* Eathrise.studio from the global footprint network (2017) UK

**https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/15/circular-economy-jobs-climate-carbon-emissions-eu-taxation

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Whether you have a blossoming balcony, indoor paradise, or a fully-fledged garden or allotment, here are some tips to keep your garden healthy while protecting the planet. Here in London, we find it both therapeutic and satisfying to maintain our small pockets of green paradise, not only can plants have a positive impact on mental health but also on air quality. In a city with notably poor air quality, it is a great way to offset the pollution in the air and create a healthy home and what is more satisfying that harvesting your own grown food!


1.Reuse and upcycle when planting


Create a small compostable planters to start seeds indoors (tomatoes, peppers and cucumber) with toilet rolls.

Reuse old plastic pots or takeaway containers as planting trays, making sure you add drainage at the bottom (eggs shells, nuts shells, sand or small stones or pebbles) and don’t over water.


Check how to make compostable seed starters


2.Share your plants and seeds


Swap seeds and plantlets with your friends and family or join a local plants swap group on facebook.


3. Organic plant care


Fertilise your plants with old banana peels stored in a jar and fill with water making sure the banana peel is below the water level, to avoid mould forming, store out of direct sunlight for two weeks, before pouring into the soil around the plant. The potassium in the peels promotes growth from the roots up.


Repel slugs by spreading broken eggshells at the base of the plant, this makes it harder for the slugs to reach the plant.


Repel aphids and various other bugs by spraying a mixture of soap diluted in water in a ratio of 1tsp of soap flakes, castile soap or dishwasher liquid to 250ml of water.


4. Compost


Start your own compost heap. Make yourself a garden composting bin use Peat free compost to start yourself off and make sure, especially if you are composting your food waste, your compost bin is secure against rats and foxes but has small heavy-duty mesh on the bottom so that it is able to drain. You can also compost your garden waste.


Get a wormery. Wormeries are perfect for tight space or balconies. Fun for families they also provide your garden with "worm tea", a rich liquid fertilizer.


When buying compost be sure to check that it is peat-free. Peat bogs contribute considerably to the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere, in fact, peatland in the UK stores up to 8 years of the UK's emissions outlet, on average 10 times more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem, including forests*. When the bog is dried up to harvest the peat, lots of the CO2 is then re-released back into the atmosphere, the peat bog is also a vital habitat for local wildlife, which is completely destroyed when harvested. Keep from using compost with peat to protect the peatlands.



5. Save Water


Collect rainwater in a large bin (DIY Water Butt) to use when watering your plants.


Collect water at home when you wash your veggies or anything without chemical soap. We water using my kids bath water as we only use natural soap and essential oils.


You can also lay down mulch, bark chippings or straw over the soil to slow the water evaporating from the soil. Saving water is more and more important especially in the face of climate change, with hotter and drier summers ahead.



6. Grow sustainably


Native wildflowers aid the revitalisation of the natural habitat of local species, encouraging biological diversity, bringing life into the garden. Plant the wildflowers and watch the busy bees and butterflies pollinate your garden.


Grow your own veg or fruit from leftover scraps. Spring onions can be brought back to life and old potatoes can be replanted and tomato seeds can be planted to bear fruit the following year. Follow the hashtag #regrownveggies on Instagram for tips.


If you don't have an outdoor space have a go at sprouting pulses or seeds. They are a great sources of nutriments and look amazing!


Grow water-saving plants, these plants are often best suited for warmer climates and are best kept indoors as house plants, and are also great for those who are prone to forget to water their plants! These include spider plant, rubber plant, cactus, peace lily, snake plant and many more.


You can also quite easily take cuttings of your favourite plant to gift to your family and friends. Here is an Instagram live we did on the benefits of indoor plants and propagation:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CG3B_15HMTQ/


Happy Gardening!


*https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13034-peatland-destruction-is-releasing-vast-amounts-of-co2/#ixzz6tMvlK6vH


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Conventional cleaning products contain ingredients that might make our homes clean but that does not mean that our homes will be healthy. Contaminating the indoor air, mainstream products contain a mix of carcinogens, hormone disrupters, neurotoxic solvents, mood altering chemicals and reproductive toxins. Some would argue that as they've been tested and are 'safe', there is no need to worry. However a recent article in the Guardian found research linking a common chemical used in cleaning products to an increase in rates of Parkinson's Disease. This highlights that there is still so much that we don't know about the long term use and effects of these chemicals.


Many scientists regard household cleaning products as one of the most major sources of indoor air pollution and one of the most insidious threats to human health. If a cleaner claims to be able to instantly strip years of ground-in dirt and grease, think about what it could do to your body and the environment.




Let's take a look at the top chemical-laden offenders


  1. Air fresheners – One that the Sunny Jar team all personally hate. They release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. A VOC is a type of chemical that turns into a vapor or gas easily at room temperature. Hazardous to human health, they can cause eye irritation, headaches and long term adverse effects. The fragrances in air fresheners trigger allergies and asthma attacks, even in healthy people, as they contain hormone disrupting phthalates, a range of chemicals that bind the smell to the product. Avoid synthetic fragrances. Open windows and air your house as much as possible. If you prefer to have a scent, use a diffuser with essential oils for potpourri.

  2. Drain Unblockers – Drain unblocking agents contain some of the most corrosive household chemicals, including caustic soda, which can cause severe chemical burns. If it is ingested, it can destroy the oesophagus and throat and lead to death. Good old plunger and bicarb, vinegar and hot water will do the job

  3. Bleach – Chlorinated bleach is one of the most commonly cited dangerous household products. Bleach can cause chemical burns when it comes into contact with skin, and produces fumes that irritate the throat, nose, eyes and lungs, nose. Many bleach injuries are reported each year in the UK, as it is such a common cleaning agent. For people with asthma, bleach can trigger an attack. Use the more eco friendly option, oxygen bleach or hydrogen peroxide to whiten clothes.

  4. Fabric Softeners – Fabric softener is often marketed as a gentle product (the advertisements always seem to have babies or teddies!). However, it has many hidden health hazards. The chemicals and fragrances that they contain can cause people to experience skin rashes, headaches, respiratory irritation, watery eyes, sneezing, and even asthma attacks. Fabric softeners also work by coating fabrics, which can actually reduce the absorption of your towels. Simply do not use at all or replace with white vinegar.

  5. Toilet Bowl Cleaners – Toilet bowl cleaning products are full of toxic chemicals. Packed with acidic chemicals, they can harm your lungs when breathed in, and cause chemical burns when they come in contact with skin. Little and often is the best rule for cleaning toilet. Vinegar, citric acid and bicarbonate of soda will help keep your toilets germ free.

  6. Oven Cleaners – Oven cleaning agents are one of the most heavy-duty cleaning products that we bring into our home – and one of the most dangerous. They contain lye, ethers, Methylene Chloride, and petroleum distillates, all dangerous when inhaled. There is little secret about how to clean your oven naturally: the best is to clean it as often as possible using soap and bicarbonate of soda and a metal scrubber


Watch out for these chemicals


Parabens

Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as a preservative, an antifungal agent and antimicrobial. They can be absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumours.

Parabens are linked to skin irritation, hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity and neurotoxicity.

The EU has banned five parabens from cosmetics but not the most common ones used in products – methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. However, it has restricted the amounts of these that can be used in products.


Triclosan

Triclosan and triclocarban can be used as an antimicrobial in cleaning products. Its use in toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorants, cosmetics and hand soaps is restricted by the EU.

Triclosan is classified as a pesticide and can affect the body’s hormone systems – especially thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism – and may disrupt normal breast development.

The EU classifies triclosan as irritating to the skin and eyes, and as very toxic to aquatic organisms, predicting that it may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.


Quarternary Ammonium Compounds (aka QUATS)

Used in: Products labels as ‘antibacterial,’ as well as fabric softener liquids and sheets.

Health problems: Quats present many of the same issues as tricolosan, as they are another form of antimicrobial. They irritate the skin and can be harmful when breathed in.


Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of hormone-disrupting chemicals that are most commonly used to make PVC soft and flexible but are also in synthetic fragrances. Fragrances are in everything from shampoo to deodorant and laundry detergent. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer.

Several phthalates have been banned in the EU but not all, including diethyl phthalate (DEP). Because the chemical constituents of ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ do not have to be listed on labels.

Avoid phthalates by choosing fragrance-free products or those free of synthetic fragrances. Use essential oils instead.


Finding out what’s in the products?

When you look for parabens, triclosan and phthalates on the label and try to avoid these chemicals or any others it can be really difficult to figure out what is what as

cleaning products only have to have a list of the main ingredient families in the product, and how much of each there is in the product in a series of weight ranges e.g. ‘Non-ionic surfactants < 5%’. But manufacturers also have to put a website address on the packaging of where you can get a list of each specific ingredient rather than just the families. Some more responsible cleaning products manufacturers list all their ingredients on their packaging. You can check the different chemicals' toxicity on research websites like PUBCHEM or SAGEPUB.



How can you avoid these chemicals?


Use naturally based ingredients products as much as possible. Bicarbonate of soda, citric acid, vinegar and natural soap are some of the natural ingredients that we use.

Make sure your home is well ventilated and open windows for at least 5 minutes every day, even in the winter. This will help reduce indoor air pollution.

Re-educate yourself to natural smells. Strong synthetic fragrances cover up bad smells without eliminating the bacteria responsible for the smell.

Reduce the amount of products you use, cut dish-washer tablets in half and so on… experiment and use common sense. You will save money too!


Sources: Ethical Consumer, Women Environment Network


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