Why Thermos Flasks and other glass vacuum flasks are not Zero Waste!

I’m publishing this post as a warning to all that purchasing a Thermos brand or other brand flask, with a glass vacuum liner is just about the WORST choice you can make when trying to live a Zero Waste lifestyle. They are promoted as an alternative to buying drinks out and will potentially save you money.

I grew up with my parents taking them everywhere – in fact they still do! It always used to be the case that you could buy a new glass liner, if yours ever broke. I chose a glass lined one because they are known to keep drinks hotter for much, much longer than metal walled flasks and I thought I would be able to replace the parts as needed. But be warned- not any more! You have to buy a whole new flask – you cannot buy a replacement branded or otherwise, not anywhere! This means your entire plastic flask has to go in the bin. Let me tell you that I am completely horrified at this state of affairs. I hope that Thermos gets bombarded with complaints which forces them to bring back the replacement parts.

IMG_5684So, you can expect to be shelling out for the entire cost of a new flask every time yours breaks and having to live with the knowledge that you are adding non-recyclable plastic to the World’s landfill sites. I wonder just how many perfectly good flask shells are sitting in the bin, for want of a glass liner. Honestly, the thought makes me feel slightly sick!

I’d love to hear if anyone knows of a truly Zero Waste flask – one that you only have to buy once!

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More Musings on the Story of Stuff – Branding & Marketing

As I said yesterday, I’m currently reading this book:

Today, in the chapter on distribution I struck upon something horrifying. I guess I sort of knew this already, but seeing it in black and white is even more shocking. I’m sure we all know that most companies out there don’t actually make the stuff they sell, but they buy it in and have unknown manufacturers make it for them. We’ve seen this so much in the clothing industry where brands like H&M and Primark have clothes made up in India and take no responsibility for the working practices of those in their supply chain. This is all part of these companies plans to cut costs, basically by abdicating responsibility.

This efficiency driven, cost-cutting is pervasive. Companies don’t make the stuff they sell, they simply brand it. Apple don’t make computers, but they sure as heck have created a brand that people crave. H&M don’t make clothes, Nike doesn’t make trainers. They all simply buy the garments and items from producers, or the parts to assemble them and often not even from the same factory, but from multiple producers. It’s quite possible that one factory churns out the exact same product for multiple retailers.

So really, let’s face it – it’s often not the item we are buying, but we’ve been sold on the brand. The founder of Nike even admitted that the company once saw themselves as production oriented, but that they now understand their most important function is to market the product. So guess where they put all their money? Advertising. And often this advertising isn’t even for a specific product, it’s all about the image they want to associate with their brand. Nike aren’t selling your trainers, they are selling you a fashion statement that in this climate will probably be outdated in a mere 2 weeks!

The Rough Guide To Ethical Living

Today I want to recommend to you a book I discovered recently in a charity shop; The Rough Guide to Ethical Living. This book covers climate change, sweatshops, fair-trade, ethical investment, organic food, finances and more. Pretty much every issue you could face in life.

You know, life can sometimes seem like a moral minefield – particularly when you start to pay attention to ethics, zero waste, fair trade or green principles. It’s so hard to know which products or companies we should support and those we would be better avoiding. Also, there are so many claims out there today, despite advertising standards some can be dubious. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all.

If you would like some help to decide which ethical claims can you can trust then the Rough Guide to Ethical Living cuts through the ‘greenwash’ to answer your questions. This guide literally looks at all the problems and ethical options. It’s a relatively compact tome, but it covers all the main issues. Where there is more information available, it points you to relevant, trustworthy websites where you can find out more.

It’s particularly aimed at UK readers and recommends websites, books and magazines. It also includes tips on reducing your carbon footprint at home and on the road. I would consider this book to be an essential handbook for responsible consumers and it’s very easy to read. It’s definitely one that I plan to keep on my bookshelf for reference.

According to the blurb, there are a couple of other Rough Guides out there; The Rough Guide to Ethical Shopping and The Rough Guide to Climate Change. I’m going to add these to my reading list!

Are you paying too much for your energy?

I think we all know that these days, we’ve got to make the effort to shop around to get the best deal. Often, there’s no point staying loyal to a provider – be it for insurance, energy, phone, broadband or anything else! I don’t know how many of you watched The Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV, but it should be on your must watch list. You can catch up via that link. I can personally credit Martin Lewis and his site MoneySavingExpert (MSE) with everything I’ve learned about saving money and making money since 2012. Again, I highly recommend you make some time to read all his advice. There is a lot of go through and I try to condense some of it onto my blog, but everyone is different and what works for me, may not work for you. However, everyone can benefit from checking whether or not they are overpaying for their household energy.

As MSE is impartial and a major consumer champion, they are not trying to sell your anything. Unlike going through a regular comparison site, who will take a cut – I believe MSE does not. So you should join and check out their Cheap Energy Club to see if you would benefit from switching. Most people on the TV programme were saving around £250 a year!

I have just done it and I am glad to say that my household is on the cheapest deal for us – a 1-year fix with The Cooperative Energy. We’ve actually been with them for 4 years now and they’ve consistently offered us good value and good service. They never try to sell us things we don’t need, they are very clear about how much we are spending and even contacted us to tell us we could get a better deal! I love being with a more ethical company and they are pioneering some great green initiatives too. I believe that a lot of the smaller companies are much better for their customer service. So why don’t you get checking and post back with how much you’ve managed to save?

How to buy a brand new Siemen’s fridge/freezer for free!

OK, so this month has been killer for us financially. We are doing major renovations on our house – now these were planned and budgeted for. However, then we found out one of our pets has a terminal illness cue a small fortune in vet’s bills. The kind where they give you a quote and it ends up being double. Now I wouldn’t change anything because our pets are part of the family, but if I didn’t save money like it’s going out of fashion – we would not have been able to pull these kinds of sums out of a hat. So when on top of all of this, our fridge/freezer decided to say goodbye – we could have been turning to Freecycle or worse, trying to do without. Or I suppose actually, most people would just put it on a credit card and end up paying many times the item’s original price. I’m writing this post to show you exactly where a little bit of on-line earning can get you in just a few months. I bet I’m not the only one facing unexpected strains on their finances, or you might just want to avoid getting into debt over Christmas.

I was just able to buy this Siemen’s Fridge/Freezer from John Lewis for free! Yes, you read that correctly- FREE! (If you are reading this tomorrow 29/09/16 onwards, then unfortunately their great deal will have ended. But here is something similar on Amazon and you can save up Amazon vouchers from all of these sites towards your purchase).

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I want to show you something really tangible, more so than me just giving you the figures for what I earn online. Although, this fridge/freezer represents less than half of what I can earn online each month, just to give you an idea. But I’m not sharing this to boast, I’m sharing this because if I can do it – you can too! You can effectively give yourself a pay rise and make thousands of pounds every year, from the comfort of your sofa or bed!

The majority of my gift cards which were put towards this purchase came from Swagbucks, with a little from Pinecone, a little from a site called Valued Opinions (comment or message me if you want a referral link, as it must be sent to your email address) and 1 voucher from The Wise Society (comment of message me if you want to join up, if they ask for the name of your referrer and I will give you my name. I am not currently certain if they are taking new members). I will aim to write a little more about those last two survey sites ASAP. The small remainder was covered by sites like Newvistalive and Populuslive which pay in cash.

I was lucky enough to catch the last day of a deal offering a 3-year extended warranty for free, taking it to 5 years in total, free disposal of my old appliance (normally £9), £70 cashback which I was given instantly off the purchase price at the checkout and free delivery which is also standard on any item over £50. John Lewis comply with the UK Government’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations which came into force in 2007. This means that all recyclable elements of our old appliance will be recovered to make new consumer goods. I also love the fact that John Lewis offer eco delivery slots, so I was able to choose a time for delivery when they are already in my area – meaning that more fuel is saved. How very Zero Waste of me!

I am looking forward to receiving my fridge/freezer next week – not least because it will work, but it is an A++ rated appliance and should only cost about £22.50 per year to run. I don’t know what our current appliance rates at, but it’s around 10 years old and undoubtedly won’t be as efficient. I hope that this appliance lives a long life, as I hate the throw away and disposal nature of our society. We inherited our last appliance, so we didn’t have any choice, but it was a cheap brand not known for their longevity. Here’s hoping we have made a better choice. I know none of this makes our purchase ideal, but we are doing our best, along with having chosen an ethical retailer who is doing their best.

I hope this post encourages you to start using some of the methods I have mentioned recently. I will be posting about a lot more and although it seems overwhelming at first, just try to incorporate 1 at a time. Once you’ve built it into your daily routine, you can add another. Until it just becomes normal to check these sites in your spare time. I hope that by starting in the order I am listing them, you will get some good earners in place quickly and see the fruits of your labours. Please comment and let me know how you are getting on! I would love to hear how others are being helped by my posts. That’s all for now folks!