Crafts · crochet · Menstrual Products

I made a bag

This is something I’ve been meaning to make for a while. It’s a bag to keep my menstrual cup in. I own two cups but I’ve misplaced one of the original bags so I’ve been keeping them both in the same bag. I’ve wanted to make a bag that’s a little more discreet for transporting my cup around.

Cup bags are also something I’d like to make for my low waste craft business if I start it up. I’m thinking I could practice this pattern and make a few adjustments and potentially have something similar to this as something I could sell.

I’ve had this yarn left over in my yarn box for a few years so it’s good to finally get round to using it. Something I want to do over the next few months is make some things with the yarn I have in my craft box.

What do people think? If anyone has any feedback on the pattern then let me know. If anyone is interested in making one themself and wants the pattern for it then feel free to ask. I could try to write down the pattern for you. It’s not quite beginner friendly but if you’ve crocheted a few things and have got the hang of all the basic stitches then you should be able to make it.

Alternatively, if anyone wants me to make one for them then let me know! I love making things but I want to make things that will be used rather than just making things for no purpose. If I’m going to be making a few to practice then I’m going to have several similar bags. Alternative colours are an option if grey isn’t your preference.

No Spend Challenge

No Spend February – Week 1

The first week of the month is always the most expensive for me as it’s when all my large payments are due. This week I paid my rent, council tax, phone contract and internet bills. These are obviously things I can’t avoid paying for the month.

What I’ve bought this week:

  • A gift voucher for a shop my friend wanted a voucher to for her birthday. This is the friend I mentioned in my previous post who’s birthday it was this week.
  • Bowling trip to celebrate her birthday.
  • Chips from the chip shop. So I know I said I wasn’t going to be getting take aways this month but I decided to make an exception when I found out the plan for the birthday celebration was to get food from whichever takeaway place people wanted to go to. My options really were to eat out or not have dinner.
  • Food shop. This was actually quite a bad one in terms of waste, I got some veggie burgers, oven cook potato wedges, garlic bread and rice.
  • Train ticket. I’m visiting my family over the weekend and have spent money on transport to see them. 
  • Food shop. Tea bags and some biscuits.

Overall this week hasn’t been perfect, but also it’s not been terrible. I haven’t bought any material things other than food. However I’ve bought more foods in packaging that I hoped to. For my meals, breakfasts and lunches were pretty easy to eat things I already had in the house but dinners were where I bought most extra foods. Using foods I already have has been good and I still have some foods that I want to use in meals so I don’t have to buy more.

This week has made me realise how often I want to go into shops just to have a look what’s in there and just in case there’s something good. I’ve remembered that this is a good time of year to find things in charity shops, especially this year with so many people having clear outs after watching Marie Kondo’s show. I now have to try very hard to avoid being tempted for the rest of the month.

No Spend Challenge · Zero Waste

No Spend February 

I know most people did this for January, but I’m going to be doing it for February instead.

Why I want to do this:

There are a few reasons. I’ve chosen this particular month because I’m currently looking for a new job and I don’t know what my income is going to look like for the next couple of months so saving some money would be a good thing for my bank account at the moment. Also, I have so much stuff that I really don’t need to be getting new things all the time. I want to use the things I have more and maybe even use up some of the stuff I already have. I’ve been moving towards a low waste lifestyle for a while now, but I’m still far from being perfect so a month of not buying anything other than essentials is hopefully going to help me become more aware of what I’m spending money on.

What I’m still going to buy:

Obviously I still need to spend money on a few things as I still want to live comfortably but by planning what I’m allowed to spend money on now it means I have guidelines set at the beginning of the month. There are also a couple of things I’ve already got planned for the month that I know I need money for.

  • Rent
  • Council tax
  • House bills – gas and electricity
  • Mobile phone contract
  • Food, which I plan to get as much in low waste packaging as possible, and cook fresh food as much as I can. I’m also going to be looking for some recipes which are cheap to make.
  • Three birthdays. This month it will be the birthdays of one of my very close friends, and two family members. I would like to get them all a birthday gift and send a card. We are also going bowling and having a meal out for my friend’s birthday so I will be spending money for that.
  • I have a planned trip to lazer quest with friends I went to uni with.
  • Train tickets. I have a couple of journeys already planned.
  • Toilet roll. We usually buy larger packets that last a while but the packet will run out some time in February.
  • Possibly some tissues. I’ve had several colds this winter and I’ve got through a lot of tissues. Hopefully I won’t need to buy any more this month but I’m going to put them on this list in case I run out.

What I’m not going to buy:

  • Toiletries. I have enough that I should easily be able to last a month without buying anything.
  • Takeaway food. I’m usually pretty good at bringing food with me to eat but I do buy takeaway food every so often.
  • Drink bottles. For christmas I received a lovely stainless steel water bottle which I’m going to use to bring drinks with me.
  • Clothes. I have enough to last a month, I don’t need any more.
  • Art supplies, including stationery. I know this is a strange one to add to the list but I’m so tempted when I see stuff on sale that I think could be made into something. I have a lot of supplies in my stash already that I can make things with first before buying any new things.

I’m planning to write a couple of blog posts throughout the month with what I’ve spent money on. I’m expecting to slip up a bit, but this challenge is also to give me an idea of where I spend money unnecessarily and how I can make better spending choices.

Has anyone else done a no spend challenge? I’m interested to know what other people’s experiences were.

Menstrual Products · Reviews · Zero Waste

Angelpadz Review 

This review has taken a while to write, and really that’s because my opinions on them have changed a lot. To start with I thought they were quite bulky and thick, especially the pantyliners. And the style of the wings didn’t suit me that much. But the more I’ve used them, the more I’ve found that they’re better for me that I first thought.

I have 2 pantyliners and one regular pad. The only difference is that the pad has a waterproof backing. Other than that they are the same size and thickness. They are currently my go to items for the beginning of my period. They’re good for the couple of days when I’m expecting it to start but don’t want to be using my cup yet, and for the first couple of days when it’s heaviest and I’m most likely to have leaks as they are very absorbent and thick so I feel pretty safe while using them.

The downside to them is that for liners they are incredibly thick. They are more like the thickness you would expect for regular pads. I wouldn’t want to use these as everyday liners and I only use them if I’m on my period or expecting my period might come soon.

The stitching is a little bit wonky, but doesn’t affect the use at all. The prints are very cute, the puppies is definitely my favourite one.

One thing worth noting is that these use metal snaps rather than the plastic snaps many cloth pads have. While this doesn’t affect how they work at all, they may not work well if you use drying straps to hang your pads.

In conclusion, overall I do like these pads. However they are much better suited to someone looking for pads on the cheaper side of the spectrum who doesn’t mind if they aren’t completely perfect.


I’m back from a break!

I’m back to blogging. I haven’t posted anything in about 6 months but I have several post ideas for the next few weeks.

An update on my life:

I’m currently looking for a new job. I’m still working at my old job but hoping to move soon.

I’m also considering starting up a small zero waste/low waste craft business. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while and I’ve put together the start of a small business plan for it. When I say a small business, I really do mean small. I’m not imagining that withing a couple of months I’d be earning enough from it to live off so I would have to be working another job too. I would also be running it from my little house, not some amazing place with a massive workshop and loads of storage space, so at least to begin with it would be small. If anyone has some ideas of what they would be interested in purchasing from a zero waste craft business then let me know! I’m currently trying to work out if there would actually be a market for something like this. I mostly crochet, but I can sew a bit too.

My zero waste journey is still going. I still have many bottles ot toiletries to use up, but the trally exciting news is that a shop in my villiage has just started selling some unpackaged foods and cleaning products. I’ll probably write more about it when I’ve been there more. It’s a really cute litle shop and I’m currently saving my shampoo and conditioner bottles to refil there.

Look out for new posts coming soon!

Top Tips · Zero Waste

Zero Waste Ideas: 10 Changes that cost nothing

Changing to a zero waste lifestyle has the potential to cost a lot. There are loads of plastic free, unpackaged, and reusable items available that are great to have. But they can often cost a lot more as an initial cost. Living zero waste doesn’t have to be expensive, so here are a few ideas of things that don’t cost you anything at all.

As usual with any list of ideas of things to do, I don’t know you, or your lifestyle or your specific circumstances, so please feel free to adapt these to suit you and your needs.

1. Stop getting more plastic bags.

If your house is anything like every house I’ve ever lived in, there’s a massive bag full of other bags. When you go shopping, take some of them with you. If you already have some canvas bags like the kind you often get as freebies, they’re even better as they’re longer lasting. If you live somewhere where they charge for all carrier bags then this will save you money too.

2. Cut out straws

If you don’t actually need to use a straw, start asking for your drink without one. Many restaurants and take away food places automatically give straws with soft drinks, when a lot of people don’t really need them. If you do still want to/have to use straws, rather than throwing them away after one use, wash them up with the rest of your dishes and reuse them. They will last for several uses which will save you money.

3. Bring cutlery with you

There’s a good chance you already own cutlery, or at least there’s some in your house that you could use even if it doesn’t technically belong to you. If you know you’re going to eat take away food, bring cutlery with you instead of using single use plastic cutlery. If for some reason you don’t have any cutlery you could take with you, next time you get given some plastic cutlery instead of throwing it away, take it home with you and wash it. This can become your cutlery for taking out with you.

4. Reduce post you don’t want

Junk mail is just annoying. It comes through your letterbox and doesn’t even get read before you put it into the paper recycling. It’s probably going to be difficult to completely eliminate all junk mail, but you can try. You can put a notice on your post box asking for no junk mail and advertising, which probably won’t stop all of it but may help a bit. You can contact companies and ask them to stop delivering junk mail to you. If you’re receiving advertising that’s addressed to you from companies you do actually use, see if you can change your contact method with them so they email you with news instead. 

I’m not sure how many other countires this applies to, but here in the UK if you register to vote you will then automatically have your details put into the open register unless you choose to opt out. This information is then accessible to anyone who buys it. While you probably don’t get much junk mail from this, it’s possible that you can. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote, and you will still be on the electoral register. If you wish to do this you can contact your local council, usually their website will have a quick form to fill out to opt out. If you need and help or more information you can follow this website and it wil guide you to your local council’s website: Open Register Opt Out

Newspapers can also be a massive waste if you aren’t actually reading them. If you often get newspapers delivered that you don’t read, cancel your deliveries. If you use the internet regularly, which considering you’re reading this blog post means that there’s a good chance you do, all news is published online which is quicker than waiting for it to be published in a newspaper.

If you get lots of post for people who no longer live at your house, if it’s addressed to someone you know you can ask them to update their details so they get it delivered to teir own house, and if it’s addressed to someone you don’t know and it has a return address then you can send it back to the return address with a note. Simply cross out the original address and write something like “Addressee not known at this address, please return to sender”. Then the sender will know their letters are not being received and if they have another way of contacting the intended recipient they will do so.

5. Eat out less

This one doesn’t quite cost nothing as you will still need to buy the food, but it costs less to bring food from home than it does to eat out. Get organised and bring food with you instead of eating on the go. You probably already have some kind of tupperware box you could use as a lunch box.

Also, if you usually buy a tea or coffee in the morning and don’t already own a reusable mug you could bring to a coffee shop, you can make it at home instead. It might mean getting up a little earlier to have a coffee before leaving the house, or if you own a flask then you could put a hot drink in a flask and take it with you.

This saves takeaway containers, single use cutlery and packaging from going into the bin.

6. Don’t print receipts

Lots of places now offer email receipts, and many self service checkouts offer an option of not printing your receipts

7. Use e-tickets

Rather than printing tickets, you can often have tickets scanned from your phone.

8. Don’t print unless you need to

Rather than printing documents that aren’t necessary to print, keep them on a USB drive. If you need to take a copy somewhere with you, transfer the document to your phone. If you need to give it to someone else, email it to them.

9. Start composting

This one an be quite a big change for some people, especially people who don’t usually do much gardening. Food waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings can be composted to make soil full of nutrients for plants. There are many reasons why you may not be able to have your own compost pile, if this is you but you still want to find a good use for your food waste you could see if someone local to you would be happy to take your food waste for their compost pile. If you don’t know anyone to ask, you could see if there are allottment gardens near you. It’s likely that someone there would have a composer, or they may even have a communal compost heap that they wouldn’t mind you adding to.

10. Stop getting paper bank statements

Many banks offer an option of email or online bank statements, which saves paper and also saves you having to file loads of papers.

I’m sure there are many other ways of making zero waste changes without spending any money, but these 10 should start you off nicely. If you have any more ideas that you want to share feel free to leave them in the comments, and let me know how you get on with making these changes. My challenge to you is to not let a tight budget stop you from working towards producing less waste. All the zero waste gadgets are great, but they aren’t necesarry to start you off on your journey.

Menstrual Products · Reviews · Zero Waste

Creations By Five First Impressions

I recently bough 2 pads from the maker of Creations By Five on a Facebook B/S/T group. I actually went against one of my usual rules to get these. I ordered them from America. Now I have nothing against American products, I just would prefer to buy more locally to save on shipping costs and it’s much better for the environment not to ship things such a long way. There are loads of cloth pad makers in the UK and in Europe who make perfectly good pads, so why did I go against my own rule? The main reason, the crabs. Simply, I love these crabs so much and I really wanted a pad with crabs on. I know, just liking the print isn’t the best reason for getting these but I really like crabs and the print was so cute. I also saw loads of really good reviews about Creations By Five, and the maker was selling these for fairly cheap.

Considering these had to be shipped to the UK, these arrived so quickly. The maker was so easy to deal with, sent me a paypal invoice very quickly and I think she must have shipped them that day or the next day for them to arrive so soon. They were shipped in this really cute cactus shipping envelope, with only the two pads inside which was perfect for international shipping as it keeps the weight and thickness to a minimum.

Her post in the Facebook group had all the information needed included in it, and she answered quickly when I asked if she would be willing to ship to the UK. I was expecting to have to pay the shipping myself as that’s only fair, and I think she chose a very good shipping choice as it wasn’t expensive for me and arrived quickly. She seemed to be a very good person to deal with, she was selling quite a few pads and it appeared other people were being replied to quickly too.

These pads are so lovely, and I like the paw print one even more in person than I did in the pictures. They are both minky topped, and the minky on the paw prints is incredibly soft. I’ve tried them on for size and they seem to fit very well and give me a very good coverage. They are 10″ long and both moderate absorbancy. The stitching appears to be very good, and she has done one of the things that I really like about well designed cloth pads and matched the snap colours pretty much perfectly to the fabric. I’m really excited to try these out soon.

Top Tips · Zero Waste

Zero Waste Ideas: 10 Ideas for children

I’ve seen a few parents on  zero waste forums ask about how to make the concept of zero waste both understandable and interesting for children. With the summer hollidays starting soon I thought it a good idea to get some of these ideas out there in time for some summer holiday projects.

Children learn from the examples of adults around them, so if they see their parents making low waste choices and it’s something you talk about with them they are likely to pick up lots of good low waste habits.

Here are a few ideas of things that can help children engage in learning about their role to protect the environment.

1. Take them shopping with you

If you have a bulk store near you, bring your children along and let them help refill your containers. If you have reusable fresh produce bags that you use for fruit and veg, let them help choose items from the loose unpackaged fruit and veg. Maybe even give them a bag/container to choose something they want to try in it. What they choose could make a healthy snack for them that week.

2. Help them to separate their rubbish at home.

By having separate bins for recycling and normal rubbish this makes it easier for children to know that they have to think about what bin to put things in. Encourage them to ask you if something can be recycled or not if they don’t know, and if they are old enough show them how to look for recycling signs on packaging.

3. Books

There are lots of books written for children to explain about where rubbish goes after you put it in the bin, and how things are recycled. There are non fiction and fiction books available, and books suitable for different ages. If your local book shops don’t have any, there are many that can be ordered online. If this is something that your child would find interesting, then it may be worth getting for them.

One of my personal childhood favourites was The Lorax by Dr Seuss.

4. Planting vegetables

Even if you don’t have a massive garden with enough space to have a vegetable patch, there are still some vegetables that can be grown on a small balcony. Children, and even some teenagers, will love to have their own plant to look after. Something like tomatoes or beans are really easy to grow and take care of, and don’t take up much space. Children will learn about how to grow plants, and you when the veg is ready to eat you can show them how much food has grown on their plants and none of it came in plastic packaging. It even might encourage them to eat more vegetables if they’ve grown it themselves.

If you don’t have enough space for many vegetables, or want something quick that will only take a few days to grow, cress is a great food that is so simple to grow. Even todlers will be able to have fun growing cress. Especially if you grow it in an empty egg shell and draw a face on it, so as the cress grows it turns into the hair of the drawing.

5. Composting

If you have your own composter, when the compost is ready to be put on the garden get your children to help.

6. Packed lunches

If your child is old enough to go to school and takes a packed lunch, try to give them a lunch box that doesn’t have packaging in it. Glass containers are a bit dangerous for children to be taking to school, so it’s probably best to stick to stainless steel, bamboo, or reusable plastic containers and drinks bottles. Rather than putting sandwhiches in food bags or cling film, use a reusable sandwhich bag or beeswax wrap. These can be homemade, or there are loads of lovely designs available to be bought online. There are some very nice ones on Etsy, made by other people aiming to produce less waste.

If you’re going on outings over the summer, try making a zero waste lunch to take as a picnic rather than buying food out.

7. Get them a reusable straw

Children often like drinking from straws, but single use ones aren’t good for the environment. By having reusable straws in your house, and maybe even giving your child their own one that’s their favourite colour, they can still use a straw and learn about not using single use plastic at the same time.

8. Go on outings to outdoor places. See what places are near where you live, children usually love being outside. See if there are any nature trails, country parks, canal walks, forest trails, or anything like that near where you live. If you know a bit about things they may see outise like different plants and wildlife, teach them as you go. If not, you don’t have to worry about it, just let them play and enjoy being in nature. You could ven bring a low/zero waste picnic with you to enjoy outside.

9. Low waste toiletries can be used by children too. Things like shampoo bars, or using a bar of soap in the bath work for children as well as adults. Putting soap bars in a fabric/flannel bag helps children find and pick up soap in the bath, and the fabric can have fun designs on it too.

10. When they have things that need to be got rid of that can be reused make sure they know what you’re doing with them. If they have toys or clothes that they’re too old for, make them aware that you’re giving them to someone with younger children who will use them, or to a charity shop so another parent can buy them and use them. If you’re good at making crafts, you could use fabric from their clothes that are too damaged to be donated to make into new items.

Crafts · Zero Waste

I made a fresh produce bag

I made this bag to put my fruit and veg in at the shops instead of using the plastic bags they give you. I know it isn’t perfect, and the crochet could be a lot neater but I still class myself as a beginner. I designed the pattern myself, well I kind of made it up as I went a bit but it seemed to work.

I’ve been wanting to make one for a while as I haven’t been using the normal plastic bags for some time but hadn’t found something suitable to replace them with. I know it isn’t completely necessary to have a replacement for them but I thought something might be helpful rather than nothing to help convince other people I go shopping with that I really don’t need a bag. I’ve had several occasions when I’ve been at a shop with other people and they’ve insisted I need a bag and that it’s unhygienic not to use one. Personally, I don’t really understand that. Either you aren’t going to eat the peel anyway so does it really matter if it touches the basket or not, or I’m going to wash it well before eating it. If I’m buying fruit and veg from the unpackaged selections in a supermarket or greengrocer, there’s a good chance several other people have picked it up and touched it before I have and I don’t know exactly what else has touched it before it even got into the shop. So I’m going to make sure I wash it properly before eating it anyway.

It will also be helpful to keep my fruit and veg in one bag rather than getting squashed at the bottom of my shopping bag. I’m hoping that when I’m shopping other people will see that I brought my own bag instead of using the plastic ones and consider doing the same.

I’ve only taken it to the shops once so far and it seemed to work well. I didn’t need much veg as I was only getting a couple of extra bits to put in one meal, so I only got a carrot and a red pepper but the bag worked great. I usually try to go to the self service checkout if I’m getting loose food so cashiers don’t have to sort through my stuff to weigh all my food, I can just do it myself. But when I have gone to a cashier they have never said anything so I don’t think it would be a problem. I would just take food out of this bag before giving it to them.

I will probably make a few more bags like this as they would be useful for many things and not just for food. I was thinking they would make nice gifts, and I could put other things inside them and use them as gift bags.

Zero Waste

Zero waste ideas: What to ask for as gifts

When it gets to celebrations like birthdays or christmas, friends and family will most likely want to give you gifts. If you’re trying to live a zero waste lifestyle, this can present many challenges. Gifts can cause a lot of packaging to come into your house. Not just from the items themselves but also gift wrap and gift bags. For some people, giving a gift is the way they show their appreciation for a friend best. If you know people who are always giving gifts, even on occasions where giving a gift really isn’t necessary, they could be someone who shows appreciation in this way.

1. Experiences

This is one of the most common things on zero waste gift lists. There’s such a massive range of experience gifts, so you can ask for whatever you want to do. Some ideas wouldbe vouchers for a restaurant, cinema tickets, tickets for an event, theatre tickets, a day trip to somewhere, a boat ride,

2. Shopping Vouchers/ Gift cards

Pretty much everyone goes shopping and buys new things. Even if you’ve changed your shopping habits a lot since starting your zero waste journey, you probably still go shopping and it’s still nice to get new things. By receiving vouchers, you can choose low waste things yourself. Some ideas for what kinds of shopping vouchers you could ask for are vouchers for shops you know have low waste items, or shops you know you often buy things at, ethical clothing shops, iTunes, Amazon (although Amazon isn’t always the best for zero waste), Etsy gift cards.

3. Memberships

Are you part of something that has a membership cost? Would you like to be? Something like a gym membership would be the most obvious kind of membership, but there are tons of other (arguably more exciting) memberships around. Thing like annual passes to local attractions like theme parks, zoos or water parks, or a national heritage sites annual pass, or cinema passes where you can go to the cinema as often as you want.

4. Subscriptions

Subscriptions don’t have to be for things that cause waste. Possibly you already have a subscription to something that will need renewing, or subscription to services such as Netflix of Spotify. Subscriptions to magazines aren’t completely zero waste but if you already have a subscription you don’t want to give up you could ask for it as a gift (just make sure to recycle it when you’re finished with it!). You can even get subscriptions to bamboo toothbrushes so they send you a new toothbrush every 3 months!

5. Charity donations

You may choose that you would rather the money go to a charity than be spent on yourself. Obviously you can choose whatever charity you want to support, but some charities have schemes where you can do thing such as sponsor a child to go to school, ‘adopt’ an animal to help protect endangered species, give clean water to a family. Schemes like this can make good gifts, and the person giving the gift knows what their money is going towards.

6. Zero waste toiletries

Toiletries are a great gift, but most come in packaging. By telling people what your favourite unpackaged toiletries are they could get you some of your favourite things as a gift. You could direct them to the exact items you like, or to a shop to get things from. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to try but haven’t got round to getting yet, this could be a good opportunity to ask for it.

7. Reusable products

Think of things you will use a lot, such as canvas shopping bags, a reusable coffee cup, mason jars, stainless steel lunch boxes or water bottles. These kinds of things are great to have to reduce your waste and make nice gifts.

8. Edible Treats

OK so this one is a bit of a cheat on the list as most of these come in some sort of packaging, but places like farmers markets or craft sales often sell really nice food items such as chocolates, fudge, jam, honey. I’ve even seen homemade mustard and chilli sauce. Even the things that do come in packaging, it is often paper bags that can be recycled or reused, or glass jars which can be reused for all kinds of things. This is also often supporting local/small businesses which is great.

If you’ve got any other ideas let me know in the comments!