The Problem with Packaging

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According to the German federal environment agency, around 140 million tonnes of rubbish are currently floating in our oceans (Welt Online), and as such, man-made packaging and the subsequent rubbish cluttering our land and seas is now one of the greatest challenges we face today. 16 million tonnes of packaging are thrown out every year in Germany alone (and Germans are notoriously diligent recyclers!) I won’t even begin to imagine what that same statistic might be for countries that hardly recycle at all.

Kasia and I once attempted a week of grocery shopping without packaging, and let me tell you, it’s ridiculously difficult. Where does one buy flour without the bag? Or milk without a carton? Or salt? Or lentils? Or oil? When you think about it, almost everything in modern supermarkets is packaged these days…to the point where you can get individual ears of corn vacuum packed in little plastic bags. Is this really necessary?

Well, German co-founder and CEO of ‘Original Unverpackt’, Milena Glimbovski, doesn’t think so. Milena recognised this issue and left her career in communications to join the “zero waste” movement, entering the food retail industry to provide an alternative option for consumers looking to buy groceries without unneccessary packaging…

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Lavender soap and a very good cause

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Making soap using lye and natural oils is simple and produces a bar of soap that will effectively kill almost all bacteria, and is just as effective as antibacterial soap. One of my closest friends Ilyena is currently living in a small village in Uganda and working at the Engeye clinic, where she is starting a project to improve community sanitation by teaching soap-making using traditional methods. Meanwhile in St Andrews I have started making soap again and am selling it to raise money for her project. Currently I have vegan lavender soap which I made using olive, (RSPO certified sustainable) palm oil and coconut oil. It is £2.50 per bar, with the profits going directly to Ilyena’s soap project. If you’re in the St Andrews area and are interested in buying some, please email theconsciousstudent@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you. If you’re living further afield and are still interested, I will do my best to post it!

p.s. if you’re interested in making soap, here is a beginners’ guide.

Do you have a good egg?

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I recently discovered that every egg (from farmers with more than 50 hens) in the EU is printed with a code that allows you to pinpoint which farm it came from, as well as if it comes from organic, free range, barn or caged hens. Excited to discover my egg-source, I typed the code into this  egg code tracker only to be disappointed by the fact that “no supplier was found”. I think it might be because my eggs are Scottish…

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10p Burt’s Bees copycat lip balm

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A few months ago, I stumbled across this post on how to make burt’s bees style lip balm for 8 cents a tube by broke and healthy (be sure to check out some of their other posts – there’s some great stuff on there!) Since I go through quite a lot of lip balm I thought it might be worth trying to make my own for a fraction of the cost. Burt’s Bees is notoriously expensive (£3.69 for 4g), using only high-quality and natural ingredients. However, I soon found out that I could use the same natural ingredients to make my own lip balm for about 10p for 4g. And when I discovered how simple the process is, I found myself wanting to make lip balm for everyone. “Bring me your empty tins and I will fill them with balm!”

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Eco gift guide

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For those of you with some seriously last minute shopping to do, here’s a quick guide with a few ideas for eco-gifts to give your loved ones. It’s always good to think about avoiding too much waste on gifts that may be used once then thrown away or just put on a shelf somewhere. Here are a few ideas that work well as last-minute gifts too:

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charity gift guide

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Gift-giving at Christmas time has different connotations in many different places and cultures, but giving in general means thinking about others and placing their needs before your own. So, in the spirit of giving, here are some things you can give to those in need. These charity donations come with Christmas cards that you can personalise, so you can gift someone you know with a donation made on their behalf.

Keep reading to find out how to save the world from unwanted gifts.

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Christmas present DIY #1

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Its that point in December where you may have started thinking about presents to give your friends and family, so over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing some cheap homemade present inspiration as well as a gift guide for cheap and ethical presents. This is the first instalment, as knitting this scarf may take you up to Christmas Eve to finish. But fear not! This is one of the easiest and cheapest knitting projects I’ve ever done and is perfect for the beginner knitter or as a quick project if you’re already a knitting master.

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To buy or not to buy: organic

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Trying to make decisions about what to buy in the supermarket can be difficult enough, not to mention when ‘organic’ gets thrown in the mix. Is it really worth spending that extra 50p? Keep reading for a brief guide to organic farming and how to buy organic on a budget. We’ve found that it can be possible on a student budget if you stick with a few simple rules

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