What’s your Carbon footprint?

I don’t know about you but I seem to be in various “groups” on facebook. There’s a crafting one, a reduce plastic one and a sustainable living one to name but a few. I enjoy these groups and they are mostly easy going places where I can pick up different tips.

Last week however, someone posted this link in one the groups. A link to a calculator to work out your carbon footprint. The original poster lived in Australia and flew home to Britain a few times a year so as expected her carbon footprint was pretty high.

I was excited to try out the link to see what my footprint was. We are a family of 4, a guinea pig and a tortoise and we try to live as sustainably as possible. So I took the quiz and got the results….

I’ve got to be honest I was a bit shocked. I didn’t think it would be so high!

The quiz is split into 4 sections and the results give you a breakdown of each section:

From the results above, it seems that we fall down on the travel section. We have been abroad twice this year already but only once by plane, we have two cars, Hubby commutes almost an hour each way 5 days a week, I have a medium sized family car which I use to ferry the kids about to their various activities and to carry my stuff from school to school when needed for my job.  We do walk to school as often as we can, even in winter, but sometimes it is necessary for me to drive the kids the mile to school.

It also gave a breakdown of our carbon emissions. Apparently we are just lower than the UK average but much, much higher than the world average.

I realise that this isn’t an accurate figure as it uses guesstimates based on your answers to a quiz that doesn’t really cover all the bases. It is however, a good starting point.

Does anyone know of a better calculator?  Have you tried this one? Please let me know

Half Term

Last week was half term so I had the kids home with me all week. I am one of those mums that love having my kids home and we usually pack so many activities into school holidays.

But this time was different. This time we hardly did anything, and to be honest I’m feeling quite sad about it.

I had ear surgery two weeks ago and as such I wasn’t really well enough to leave the house and I haven’t had the energy to organise activities in the house either. So the kids have pretty much done nothing.

On the positive side, they are quite happy to entertain themselves (and each other), they have played with Lego, D has played with his Pokémon cards, they have watched Netflix and YouTube videos and played nicely with me downstairs. It was nice and the kids were fab but now we are at the end of half term and I feel like they’ve missed out and I have awful mum guilt.

As a way to salvage something we walked up the mountain last night to watch the sunset. Little Lady brought a friend and they spent a bit of time running around and messing around, stopping every now and again to admire the colours of the sky as the sun went down.

We were all exhausted on the way back down (even though I’d spent most of my time sat on a blanket!) but they have an Inset day here today so it didn’t matter how late they were going to bed last night.

They haven’t stopped talking about it today which eases my guilt slightly. Little Lady’s friend has already asked when we can do it again and I have heard rumblings about repeating it but on Pen-y-Fan instead. We’ll see.

How do you feel about school holidays? Do you use the time as downtime? Or fill the time with activities?

Is there plastic in your tea?

Almost 4 years ago I wrote this blog post about teabags containing plastic. I was absolutely horrified to realise that I had been ingesting plastic (albeit tiny amounts) but it did explain why I kept finding the bags in the compost bin.

We made the switch to loose leaf tea and we’ve used that ever since. However, that’s not really the end of the story, as the most convenient form of loose leaf tea (supermarket rather than trekking into Cardiff) still comes wrapped in plastic *sigh*.

So it was great to read that PG Tips are switching to plastic free, fully biodegradable tea bags  (article here). The Co-op are reportedly following suit with their Fairtrade tea going plastic free by the end of the year.

Hopefully in their rush to remove the plastic from their teabags, they won’t overlook their packaging.

Still, it’s all a step in the right direction.

 

Pen Y Fan

Pen-y-Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and a popular attraction for both casual and accomplished climbers. It is 886 meters above sea-level and is owned by the National Trust.

There is a very well cared for path to the top and although steep, the terrain itself is pretty smooth. Hubby had a few days off and he and I decided to take the kids. We packed some sweets and some sandwiches, wrapped up warm (the weather was showing -5* at the summit) and set off.

Despite the cold there were already a lot of people on the mountain and the kids were keen to set off.

Here’s D with his “ready to climb a mountain”pose 🙂

As we climbed we came across the odd bit of snow at the sides of the path and the kids were very excited.

The views as you climb Pen-y-Fan are breathtaking.

As is the view from the top

D especially found the climb hard going, but in fairness to both of them, they were both determined to reach the top.

The classic “top of Pen-y-Fan” picture.

I was (and still am) so proud of the two of them. It is not an easy climb and with D’s little legs it took us an hour and a half to climb the 2 miles to the top. With the endorphins pumping from the accomplishment both stated that they can’t wait to do it again. You never know maybe we’ll make it a regular thing.

 

Bamboo toothbrushes

Continuing with our quest to have a plastic free bathroom, the kids and I have changed over to bamboo toothbrushes.

I was slightly apprehensive as I’ve read some negative reviews where the bristles fall out after a few uses.

I had my mind changed by the lovely Claire who owns Plant2Plate in Caerphilly town centre. A caterer by trade she has recently branched out into environmentally friendly and plastic free products.

I first became aware of Claire and her lovely shop through Facebook and decided to go and check it out. She had some lovely products and says that she doesn’t stock anything that she doesn’t use herself. We talked about the toothbrushes and she showed me what she had.

I decided to pay a bit extra and skip the economy version as I was still unsure over the quality of the bristles. This brush cost me £2.50 which is more than I usually pay as I normally pick the cheapest one available. The kids also wanted one each (the children’s version was slightly cheaper) so I bought one each for the three of us.

Unfortunately I seemed to forget about hubby so I’ll have to go back and get him one next time I’m in town.

We’ve used them now for over a week and the bristles are holding fine. They are softer than the normal toothbrushes I buy and the handles are thinner so it took D a bit of getting used to.

Both Little Lady and D seem to like them. There’s a lot less fuss when I ask them to go brush their teeth now and their teeth do seem to be getting a better brush than usual too. Let’s hope that keeps up.

As an added bonus the packaging is recyclable too.

Have you tried a bamboo toothbrush? What was your experience?

St Fagans

The South Wales valleys are full of history and we are so lucky to have a lot of places near us that can tell us our history.

One of my favourites is the National Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans near Cardiff.

It is just so beautiful. Seeing the old buildings as you walk around.

Like this old pig sty.

Or this water mill

There’s even a school room where school groups can dress up as Victorian schoolchildren and experience school life with quills and ink pots. They even have Victorian era toys to play with on the yard outside.

If you’ve got time it’s also well worth visiting the olde worlde shops.

The visitor centre itself has recently had a facelift and it looks incredible. It’s a must on our half term to-do list.

Bath Bomb Success

I recently wrote about our attempt to make bath bombs and how the first attempt had gone awry due to an issue with the recipe. We had to have another as the kids were desperate to have homemade bath bombs in their bath.

A quick search of the internet and I found a recipe that worked on The Soap Kitchen. They suggest

300g Bicarbonate of Soda

100g Citric Acid

10ml of fragrance (we used less than this)

We also added a 6yr old’s handful and a half of dried rose petals.

When mixed they gave a much better texture and held together better. I had bought small round moulds and this mixture gave us 6 balls.

They’ve been used in the bath and the verdict is mostly positive. The main negative came from me and that was that there were waaaaay too many rose petals left in the bath once they got out lol! If you have a 6yr old to use as a measuring tool, maybe suggest only 1 handful 😉

If you use this recipe please let me know how you find it. I’d love to have your views too.

Our Plastic Free Bathroom

In my last post I told you about our bath bomb experience. The kids thought it was great fun and can’t wait to do it again.

The point of making our own was to cut down on the plastic wrapped versions you can buy in the shops.

It didn’t quite work out very plastic free though as the ingredients came wrapped in so much plastic it was unbelievable!

Each individual item was in a plastic bag, two of which was in another plastic bag.

One of the items, the honey powder, had a plastic tub option instead of a plastic bag so I chose that thinking that at least the tub could be reused. But the tub came wrapped in so much cling film it was unreal!

I was pretty disappointed to be honest and will be looking for another source for the ingredients.

Have you ever done anything trying to minimise plastic use that ended up a complete fail?

Bath Bomb making

As part of a drive here to get our bathroom completely plastic free this year, I bought some bath bomb making ingredients.

I have an awesome friend who used to run workshops for children, so my two have had plenty of experience making bath bombs before.

I, however, don’t! But how hard can it be? Right? If kids can do it, then I certainly can! Pfft!

So we gathered the ingredients and pulled up the recipe given on the website.

We measured and weighed all the ingredients

Then emptied them into a mixing bowl.

We added dried rose petals and some honey powder.

Now the recipe called for fragrance oil but said that it could be substituted for water which we did as we didn’t have any fragrance oil. And that’s where it all went wrong. It was too much water and it started to fizz and expand out of the moulds.

A whole batch ruined and had to be thrown away!

We re made them as the kids were very disappointed but used a lot less water than was suggested, and this time we had lovely round bath bombs ready to use.

One plastic wrapped item we no longer need to buy. Woohoo!

Do you use plastic free alternatives in the bathroom? Please let me know in the comments if you do.

EDITED If you’d like to see the recipe we used to make the second lot of bath bombs please see here

Reusable Cups

In my last post I told you about our trip to Berlin.

As a family we do try to be as environmentally friendly as we can. We have cut down on a lot of our plastic use over the past few years and are conscious of where we can improve.

Knowing we had a big train journey ahead of us we packed sandwiches, home made snacks and drinks. But I have to admit I did succumb to a cuppa on the last ICE train and when hubby went to buy it he treated us to a bar of chocolate each too.

Neither the drink nor the chocolate was really needed but I wanted a hot drink and the cafe on board was only too accessible.

The drink came in the usual one use takeaway cup with a plastic lid. I felt guilty that I hadn’t brought my own cup to put the tea in.

Since we’ve been home I have been researching collapsing reusable cups to carry in my handbag in case I fancy a cup of tea while out and about again. Something like this

Or something like this maybe….

We did have one of these and I lost it oops! Please don’t tell Hubby!

But there is so much choice. Does the plastic in a reusable cup outweigh the plastic in a single use cup? Is it small enough to fit in my handbag so that it can go everywhere with me? I don’t want to end up buying something that doesn’t fit the purpose.

I’d love to know if you have any recommendations before I buy anything.

Do you use a portable reusable cup already?