Living Zero Waste & Eco- Friendly in a Big City

I live in Glasgow – the biggest city in Scotland and in my opinion one of the most interesting & vibrant. There are so many things to see and do, many of them free. From musesums, to shows and literally any kind of restaurant or café you can think of (including many vegan ones) it is the ideal place to base yourself in Scotland. There are even some zero-waste shops here (which I am going to write a post on shortly!) and there is usually always some sort of vegan festival or event happening here. But coming from a suburb in the outskirts of Aberdeen where it seems to be a lot easier to recycle things I’m going to go through some main points here on how we can do better to live zero-waste in bigger cities.

green trash bin on green grass field
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Go out of your way to find zero-waste products

This is definitely easier said than done and I completely acknowledge that, however it’s kind of what comes with going zero-waste and trying to buy more responsibly. It’s just a fact that supermarkets don’t have a huge range of unpackaged food yet so it’s inevitable that going out of your way to do shopping is going to happen.

A quick Google search (or Ecosia if you want to plant trees each time you search!) can lead you to many interesting shops, farmers markets and events where you can buy zero-waste produce. In Glasgow there are loads of farmers markets, mostly on weekends, where you can go and buy in season fruit & veg plus loads of other things. I bet every big city has one so have a browse on the internet to see if you can find anything!

brown and green mountain view photo
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Going out of your way to recycle…

Yep, this is a sad but true fact! Who would of thought it would be sooo difficult to recycle when you live in a city centre? I have lived in 2 flats where recycle bins weren’t even available anywhere near us and would have required a car to take the recycling to the nearest bin. We spent over 2 years not really recycling and felt sooo guilty about it, we even got onto the council a few times but nothing was done. I can’t believe that in one of the busiest cities in the UK that recycling would be so hard. Although the flat I’m in now does accept recycling, they don’t accept glass bottles or jars and there’s no way for us to get those to a recycling bin without a car. So I’ve planned to buy as little glass as possible and reuse any glass I do have, it’ll be challenging but life is all about adapting to new situations!

Making others aware of the options that we have for zero-waste and eco-friendly shopping!

Because I’m really into the environmentally friendly/zero-waste lifestyle I sometimes forget that other people haven’t really been exposed to it. Remember to be kind when you’re reminding someone of how they can live in a way where they’re minimising their impact on the environment. Leading by example is definitely an effective way to do things, when people see you doing new things they often ask questions which can bring up the subject and allow you to educate others on important issues in a friendly way. There is no need to be condescending about things!

Ditch the car if you can!

photography of roadway during dusk
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I decided not to take a car with me to Glasgow… the pollution is already prominent enough that I don’t think it needs another diesel car contributing to it. There’s really no need for a car unless you’re work is in an awkward location or you go away a lot (which I do, but I have friends who can usually take me). If you can’t entirely ditch your car at least try to car share when possible! It’s also fun to take the train and bus to new places as you often get to see a new landscape… aaaaand you don’t have to worry about having a drink when you’re out!

That’s all my tips done for just now, but I’ll probably think of more later! Check out my other sustainability posts such as reducing your carbon footprint & 5 affordable things to know before living a sustainable lifestyle! Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for other ways to live more eco-friendly or zero waste in the city or if you can help me with my recycling problem!

Ailsa xxx

 

Volunteering Ideas To Boost Your Health & Help the Environment

I’m literally SUCH an advocate for physical exercise & the outdoors – the main reason being how good I feel mentally during & afterwards. How funny is it that the thought of exercising can actually be stressful and we can’t be bothered to do it a lot of the time, but then literally the first few movements you make in a workout or an outdoors walk and those feelings normally vanish. But why not combine physical exercise & the outdoors with volunteering?! It’s such a feel good combination, you’re doing not only yourself a favour but the planet and local communities/organisations.

sea landscape nature water
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So what volunteering options do you have? (UK Based)

First of all – decide on your personal interests! I’m really into the outdoors & conservation work, so I actually volunteer with the national trust for Scotland conservation volunteers. There are groups all over the UK for national trust  volunteering. 

Conservation volunteering is literally sooo varied! You could be weeding, removing invasive species, doing some gardening, raking up leaves & even repairing or making paths on popular walks.

I know that in Scotland Friends of Nevis and the John Muir trust have regular conservation work parties up Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the UK!) which could be really interesting if you’re into climbing and learning about geology.

mountain under white sky
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Physical activity equals healthy & happy mind!

The reason why I absolutely LOVE this kind of volunteering is because you don’t even realise you’re exercising but you are definitely a good tired at the end of the day. It’s also an amazing social thing and you can actually make long term friends from these kinds of groups, you have a shared interest and so it’s an amazing thing to do! You’re also doing really valuable work, which otherwise wouldn’t get done at all and so it’s extremely rewarding. You might not be getting physical money from it but I think the physical, environmental & mental benefits from volunteering are totally worth it.

Conservation Volunteer Groups

There’s also a group throughout the UK called The Conservation Volunteers, which have many options for either weekend or during the week volunteering. This could be good for people who are retired, maybe mums or dads who want to do something while the kids are at school or people who want to get into a career to do with conservation!

Now, if you’re not able to do really intense physical exercise there are always plenty of other options! You can volunteer with charities at various events to raise money for them, work in a charity shop or even just volunteer on your own terms by carrying out wildlife surveys in your own back garden (such as the butterfly survey-this can take as little as 15 minutes).

three white windmills on green field under blue sky
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New Skills!

Volunteering gives you many amazing new skills which are soo desirable on your CV as well. Some of these are working in a team, using your initiative, being resourceful and following instructions. If you’ve been out of work for a while, or you’re really young and haven’t had a job yet then volunteering is definitely a route you can think about! It gives you skills you will need in a paid job role and companies will definitely see this as a positive thing when you do get to the stage where you want to look for a paid job.

Getting back into the workforce

As for getting back into the workforce volunteering is a really great thing to do for yourself. It can get you back into a routine, help you to make connections and it shows you’re self motivated and you get yourself out there even when you’re not being paid for it. This could lead to meeting someone who might know where you can find a paid job!

photo of group of people in a meeting
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How does this all relate to sustainability?

In my personal opinion, connecting with the outdoors is key for the education of conservation & sustainability issues. Personally, I find the more time I spend in the outdoors, the more aware I am of these issues and the more I care about trying to help fix them. You learn so much through outdoor volunteering that you never would had you not taking the precious time to do something so helpful.

If you’re interested in living a sustainable lifestyle check out my post on things you should know before embarking on a sustainable lifestyle journey. You can also check out my post on how to reduce your carbon footprint!

Thanks and let me know if you have any questions about volunteering!

Ailsa xxx

A Zero Waste Skincare Routine You Can Try Out!

Although I’ve established a zero-waste skincare routine recently, byy no means am I a skincare expert. I’ve never had more than 2 or 3 steps to my actual morning or evening skincare routine. However at the age of 24 now (still very young) I’m realising how important looking after your skin even from a young age is. I still don’t use any SPF however I do plan to start when I can find a natural or sustainable product (please hit me up in the comments or by email if you know of any!).

*I do use affiliate links in my posts, but ONLY for products I’ve purchased myself and I actually like!*


Step 1)

I wash my face in the morning with some cold water to wake myself up, I just run the tap for a little bit and literally just splash my face! Nothing fancy here but I believe doing so can improve the circulation in your face. So of course apart from using up a bit of water, this step is most definitely zero-waste!!

Step 2)

Now I cleanse my face with my homemade cleanser! The main component of this is tea tree oil – which I believe helps to reduce acne (if used in small amounts), can also reduce the oil levels in the skin and soothes dry skin! You can read more about the effects of tea tree oil on the skin in this 2016 article: Journal of Dermatology Research and Therapy.

I use my new reusable face pads, which I got from a company on Amazon. The link is below if you’d like to have a look! They are washable and come with a mini bag which you can wash them in (in the washing machine) and 2 free boxes of bamboo cotton buds! A brilliant zero waste option for taking off make up and cleaning your skin, since single use face wipes will most certainly end up in the sea or in a landfill :(.

So basically I put a few drops of my homemade cleanser onto the reusable make-up wipe, then I just gently rub my face all over to get my pores clean. It’s important not to be rough with your skin especially around the eye area which is really delicate.

Here is the recipe for my homemade skin cleanser, it’s very easy!!

  • 1 table spoon tea tree essential oils
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil/ any other oil really

This cleanser is so effective for removing all of your makeup, including your mascara and eyeliner. I’d really recommend trying it out to see if it works for you!

Step 3)

Last up for my skincare routine, I moisturise using my homemade moisturiser! It’s brilliant because it’s so easy to make and contains all natural ingredients, plus you can vary the fragrance of it/or make it fragrance free if you prefer that 🙂 I opt for germanium essentail oils to make it smell nice!

I also exfoliate my skin about once or twice a week with my homemade coffee scrub. This makes your skin soooo smooth and is literally so simple to make, with 3 ingredients from your kitchen cupboard. The fact that coffee contains antioxidants which are good for your skin is a plus.

I just put a little bit of the coffee scrub onto my hands and spread it out on my face, like you would a normal face mask. I leave it for about 10 minutes then wash off with warm water.

The brilliant thing about my skincare routine is that you can just fill up old jars or moisturiser pots with all of the homemade products that you make! So it vastly reduces your waste plus makes you a little more creative, even if you’re not a natural at making products from scratch (like me).

If you want to find out more about making homemade beauty products or living more sustainably, check out these posts which might help you with a couple of ideas:

Natural Deodorant

Eco-Friendly Period Products

Please let me know if you have any questions or need any help with getting started with your eco-friendly/zero waste journey!

xxxxx

Scots Firm Develop Biodegradable Packaging Made From Langoustines — Bioplastics News

Scottish company CuanTec is a startup which has produced new biological methods for extracting a chemical called Chitin from langoustine shells, a big contributor to food waste in Scotland & the UK. These biological methods are less harsh than previous chemical extraction methods.

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5 Things You Should Know Before Living A Sustainable Lifestyle…

 

“Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it.” Bill McKibben

I’ve learnt a lot on my journey to becoming more environmentally aware/conscious… It started from a place of desperation- realising I wasn’t doing enough to help the planet and I wanted to change immediately. I think a lot of people can relate to this, so please let me know in the comments if this is something that sounds familiar to you?

houses under white clouds
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However, 2 years in and some things have come to light which I wish I’d known before starting and I’m going to write them here to hopefully help others who are looking to make drastic changes in life to help both the environment and themselves.

1. Think POSITIVE

This is literally so important, I started off my journey from a place of depression & sadness. This mindset thing was not good, it sort of made me spiral into a black hole of realising there was so much more to be done and that I still wasn’t doing enough. Add that with all of the negative headlines we see in the news regarding “climate crisis” “environmental emergency” etc and you can actually end up feeling really quite helpless and depressed if you’re prone to those sorts of thoughts anyway. It’s taken a few years, a year of travelling and lots of motivational videos on YouTube etc for me to realise this is just not the right way to go about making a fundamental lifestyle change.

You need to go in with a positive mindset, of course there’s always more to be done, but even just starting out is amazing. That first tiny decision you make e.g. buying the organic version of something, choosing a plant based meal over a meat one or anything is SO important and you should be proud of yourself. Think positive and don’t let people tell you you aren’t doing enough, which leads me onto the next point.

2. Stay in your own lane

What I mean by this is that don’t take any notice of what others might say about you. Yes, look to others for inspiration and motivation but remember you’re not where they are on their journey, and they’re not where you are. When I first started out I was constantly comparing myself to others and this just isn’t the way to go about things. Stay on your on path, and whenever you feel yourself drifting away remember why you started in the first place (see point 3 for an expansion on that).

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5 Amazing Books On The Environment/Sustainability

I’ve always been a massive bookworm and pretty happy to read books on any subject, but as I’ve become more interested in environmental issues & the outdoor world I’ve been reading more on those kinds of topics. Varying from books about wildlife & plants, to sustainable cities and ethical businesses – here are 5 books I’ve read (some a few times) and that I would totally recommend reading.

DISCLAIMER:

*The following links are affiliate links, meaning if you purchase anything from them I do get commission. But considering I’d promote these anyway I think it’s fair for me to do that! It means I can keep my blog up and running if anyone clicks & buys!*

1. Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson

This book really astounded me, as oblivious as I was to how important bees were for the planet I really didn’t know whether this was going to be an interesting read or not. As a matter of fact I couldn’t actually put this book down, it’s really engaging throughout and the author doesn’t go into too much detail about actual bee species so it’s literally suitable for anybody.

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Coffee & Vanilla Body Scrub

I’ve recently been making my own beauty products & this is the newest one I’ve tried. Coffee body scrub is so easy & cheap to make and it leaves your skin feeling really smooth – I think the coconut oil is to thank for that. It’s perfect for exfoliating your skin before applying tan or moisturiser & works just as well as the shop bought stuff!

If you’re on a zero-waste journey I really recommend trying to make your own beauty products, you can avoid lots of unnecessary plastic packaging by doing this! It’s also quite fun and can be satisfying knowing you made it yourself.

It literally takes 10 minutes to make – less time than it would to go to the shop & buy body scrub! So it’s really worth it.

The ingredients you’ll need to make it are:

  • Coffee Grounds
  • Coconut Oil
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Sugar

Method:

  1. Get half a cup of used coffee grounds & mix this in with half a cup of sugar.
  2. Melt half a cup of coconut oil in a pan (you can use the normal or odourless stuff, it doesn’t matter!)
  3. Pour this in with the coffee & sugar and mix it up.
  4. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix together
  5. Put it in an old glass/plastic jar or container & keep sealed!

Storage

It’s important to store homemade beauty products properly to increase their shelf-life. Obviously there are no additives so the shelf life might be shorter than that of a shop bought product. Therefore I recommend just making as much as you need and keeping things in a sealed container away from direct sunlight!

Check out my other homemade beauty posts too here https://ailsawright.blog/category/diy-products/

If you try this out let me know if you like it/it worked for you! 🙂

The Orang Asli People of Peninsular Malaysia

Welcome to my first post!

One of the elder & much respected orang-asli members of the Bateq tribe

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I had two different experiences of two very different orang-asli tribes whilst travelling around Malaysia. The first of which while I was volunteering in the rainforest in the centre of the peninsula, the nearest big town being Gua Musang. I was a conservation volunteer helping to set animal sensors up to catch images of endangered species such as sun bears, Asian elephants and wild boar. I also took part in jungle treks, led by a member of the Bateq tribe, to see if we could see any signs of poaching, logging & snares – which are all still huge problem in this part of the world.

I spent a few nights camping in the jungle with this tribe, they taught us how to cook meals in bamboo (not as easy as it sounds). They took us through the whole process of gathering the bamboo from the forest, washing it out, and cooking rice and vegetables inside leaves (I’m not sure which kind of leaves – but this tribe know exactly what they were doing so we just followed them). The thing that I noticed most whilst spending some amount of time with this tribe was their heightened sensory perceptions. I noticed them reacting to noises which I almost couldn’t hear, and they could see animals in the trees which a person from an urban environment would never notice.

The Bateq tribe speak their own language (Batek) as do many of the different tribes living around Malaysia. A lot of them can speak some Malay & depending on which tribe some can also speak a bit of English if they’ve been exposed to tourists. In this particular Bateq village some members from a group called Fuze Ecoteer hold optional English classes for the kids, this is to help in the future as they can interact with volunteers coming to their village which is also a source of income for them. The orang-asli population is around 150,000 and 80% of these people are below the national poverty line. This particular tribe are now semi-nomadic due to the government providing them with permanent huts to live in, but the majority of the Bateq still go into the jungle for days at a time to hunt there.

I did a bit of research about the orang-asli, they haven’t always lived in extreme poverty because about 50 years ago the rainforest was still abundant with everything they needed to survive from. However, deforestation started to happen so as to make room for palm-oil trees and other exports. Now some tribes are actually competing for resources with elephants, because so much of the forest has been taken away that the elephants needed to move to find more food. They are surviving off of the banana trees and other crops in villages that the orang asli live in. The elephants remember where to go to find the food and so it’s becoming an increasing problem for the orang-asli.

The government provide permanent infrastructure for these communities so they can access healthcare & schools, which in a way is great as they can learn about important matters such as personal hygiene etc. On the other hand, because they’ve moved the villages to certain areas, resources are not as abundant and overcrowding is becoming an issue. Some of the elder members of these villages feel it might have been better for them had they just been left alone.

My experience with the Bateq tribe was unforgettable, waking up in a campsite in the middle of the jungle to the sounds of all sorts of wildlife and the elder members of the tribe laughing and joking with eachother was an amazing experience and one in which most people will never encounter. The skills they have are unmatchable, overnight it rained so much that we were trapped at one side of a very deep and fast flowing river, and the two 80+ year old women were carrying almost all of the equipment across and laughing at my friend and I (both in our 20s) because we were struggling so much to keep up with them!

The second experience I had living in an orang-asli village (Peretak village) was about 1 hour away from Kuala Lumpur, near a small town called Kuala Kubu Bharu. The Temuan tribe live here in permanent government housing near the . I was volunteering in a small guesthouse which a man called Antares had built, he is Malay and married to a woman from the Temuan tribe called Anoora. These houses were much bigger than the houses the other tribe had, which I later found out was because this tribe had been relocated due to a huge dam the government had built to reduce flooding in the area. Their original village is now under the water. I didn’t interact as much with this tribe but I think some of them seemed to have jobs in the local town. They also make a bit of income from charging tourists 1 ringgit to go down to the river.

Some of this tribe still go into the jungle to hunt for resources, and they do all of their washing down by the river which is a really interesting thing to see happening. I loved how relaxed everybody in the village seems and how friendly everyone was. I noticed that some of them were wearing headscarves and found it quite unusual, so I asked Antares why this was the case. In Malaysia, the government actually give Muslim men 10,000 ringgit if they marry a member of the orang-asli. Which then obviously means the woman becomes Muslim by marriage. I know to be legally classed as “Malay” you need to follow Islam but not fully aware of the ins and outs of why this deal exists.

Peretak village was a magical place and I would recommend anybody who needs to recharge their batteries to go and stay at Fusion Longhouse. You will meet the most interesting and entertaining character ever (Antares), he is open to talking about anything and definitely has a lot of jokes and wisdom to share with you! I left after 2 weeks and wish I could have stayed longer, I most certainly will be back there in the future.