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5 (Really Easy) Ways I’m Reducing the Plastic in my Life

Plastic Free Grocery Shop

For a long time, reducing plastic has been on my radar – a vague mission I’d never had the energy to put into practice. I’m rarely one to get involved with a bandwagon but, with the ever increasing visibility, and ever increasing volume of the plastic-free movement’s voice, I figured this was one trend I’m totally into following.

It’s hard. The modern world just isn’t geared up to help us be plastic-free, but the good news is that increased coverage of the importance of reducing plastic waste is paying off – its becoming easier to take baby steps towards being plastic free/reducing plastic. And for me at least, baby steps is best – you can’t always make a huge change at once.

Here are 5 things I’ve been doing recently to reduce the amount of plastic in my life (note: I don’t want to say “plastic free” as, right now, that’s an unrealistic goal, for me).

Buying vegetables locally

It’s really handy to pick up veg like cucumber and bagged salads when I’m cruising in Sainsburys, but the amount of unnecessary plastic is sinful. Recently I found a greengrocer nearby that sells naked cucumbers, fresh salad unbagged and jarred snacks like salted fava beans. I still pick up any loose veg I can get in supermarkets (onions, carrots, mushrooms, toms etc) but go to my local greengrocer for everything else. It’s a little more expensive, but its also all organic, locally grown and you can taste the difference. And they save their salad greens for Brian

Cutting down on Online Shopping

I like to shop online now and again, but recently I’ve noticed an obscene amount of plastic involved (and I don’t even buy that much). So I decided to head back to the high street – and I’m loving it. For starters, I’m saving money on shipping, but also getting to try things on, check material labels (ecommerce, why aren’t you showing us material contents?), try my luck in charity shops and use my own canvas bags. I’m finding so many bargains too, today I picked up some black Converse All Star Dainty pumps for just £10.50 brand new from The Outlet PLUS they disposed of the box for me so they’d fit in my bag. Another unexpected plus side is that I buy less, because I can’t actually be bothered going into town to shop unless I really need something…

Bringing a Bottle, Cup and Cutlery

Yep, I’m now the kinda girl who has a travel mug, water bottle and full set of cutlery rattling round her handbag (and subsequently, a massive handbag). It’s so handy though and I know how clean they are and I’m never in a position where I have to use those rubbish picnic cutlery sets, or buy an emergency bottle of water. Most cafes will fill up your water bottle for free (or if you buy a piece of fruit or something – and we could all eat more fruit) and every single coffee shop I’ve visited in the past 6 months has been happy to fill my coffee cup. Easy.

Using Up, Recycling, Re-purposing & Replacing

It was so tempting, when I started thinking about plastic, to throw away all the plastic stuff I have and replace it with non-plastic versions. How stupid is that? I’d be creating a problem in the name of solving the problem. Instead, I’ve decided to carry on as normal, and only when something needs replacing will I switch it up for a plastic free version. This will apply to as many items as possible – and so far its proving interesting, as it’s encouraging me to research products before I buy them.
Wherever possible, when a plastic thing I’ve got stops being functional for its main intent, I’m trying to give it a new job – like using a lunchbox with a lost lid, or some staining, as a plant pot. If I can’t find a new job for it, I’ll drop it at my local recycling center.

Homegrown tumbling tomatoes

DIY and Growing my Own

Guys, I love little tomatoes and strawberries and fresh herbs for cooking – and I used to buy all those pre-packaged spices in shrink wrap, and strawbs/toms in those weird plastic coffins almost daily. Now I have a couple of hanging baskets producing amazingly luscious fruits & a modest but prolific herb garden out in our back yard – I’m saving a bit of money and everything tastes 10x better knowing its home grown.

I’m also thinking about getting back into knitting and learning to sew – that way I can pick up old woolen/cashmere jumpers in second hand stores, unravel them and re-knit into something more my style (because somehow I never find things I just love) and make minor repairs on fashion instead of throwing it out.

Wow, this turned out to be a really long post. But those are 5 of the things I’ve been focusing on turning into a habit, in the hopes I can reduce plastic from my life. I have to be honest, the thing I’m struggling with the most is dish soap – any plastic free people out there with more experience than me got any suggestions?

What steps (if any) are you taking to reduce your plastic use?

Kitty

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Hillary’s Crafternoon | Ziferblat, Manchester

Ziferblat Crafternoon Manchester

Last Saturday my eyes opened at an ungodly hour out of excitement for a really cool event organised by Joe Bloggs for Hillary’s Blinds – the infamous Crafternoon! It was my first time at one of these events, but having seen the cool stuff other bloggers get up to at them, I was super thrilled to be invited.

The focus was on the launch of Hillary’s new Jewel collection, and was to be held at possibly the coolest place I’ve ever visited in Manchester – Ziferblat. Basically, it’s a space where you pay for the amount of time you spend there, and help yourself to drinks and snacks. Even dogs can visit – perfect.

Ziferblat Crafternoon Manchester

So, I met up with Becky from Blogger and the Geek before, and we arrived just in time to bag prime seats at this nifty little space in the NQ. Our first instruction was my favourite thing ever – “Help yourself to cake!” – so we did.

Ziferblat Crafternoon Manchester

We were then put through our creative paces by Jana from The Craft Hen in task 1 – making a fabric covered jewellery box using cuts from the gorgeous new jewel range from Hillarys. I chose a muted palette for the exterior and adorned it with some monochrome buttons, then inside opted for a more luxurious, deep red cushioning. The process was surprisingly easy (but very fiddly) and we were done within around an hour! I never thought I’d be able to throw together a jewellery box in an hour!

Ziferblat Crafternoon Manchester

Anyway, more cakes and we were on to the next task – which was my favourite – the Suffolk puff! I didn’t even know what this was until Saturday, but since I left the event I’ve made at least 6 more, adorning them with basically everything I can stick down. They’re circles of fabric gathered together round the edge by a slip stich – and it makes a lovely little ruffle that can be used for… anything, really. I’m looking forward to experimenting with them.

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Sadly, I had to dart early during the Suffolk Puff stage so I didn’t get to enjoy the last hour of the event – but I had such a fun time! Who knew crafting in a group could be such fun – it’s really inspired me to be a little more creative.
I will say, though, that hot glue guns are seriously hot. Like, the clue’s in the name, but I don’t have fingerprints any more.
Because I burned them off with glue. Just saying. Tea & parkin helped, though.

Ziferblat Crafternoon Manchester

Thanks so much Hillarys and Joe Bloggs for making the event happen, and Jana from The Crafty Hen for being such a funny, encouraging instructor!
While you’re at it, read the Hillarys post about this event right here.

Do you have a favourite simple craft to work on? Share it with me!

Kitty

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3 Tips for Taking Better Photos

Tips for taking better photos

Whether you take photos for your business, to record happy memories or for your blog, most of us want them to be visually pleasing. I recently took an intensive photography course and thought it’d be fun to share a few quick fix tips for taking better photographs and getting out of the “Auto” mode. If you’ve ever looked at a digital camera and been totally baffled then keep reading, because these 3 tips should help!

1. Read your Handbook

I know it’s completely unheard of to actually read through a handbook, but your camera instructions are full of handy tips about specific shooting modes and functions. They’ll give you an idea of the range your camera has, how to activate special settings and whether there are any handy add-ons you can buy to enhance your work. For SLR cameras you’ll read terms like Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO – these might sound daunting but they can all have a great impact on your photos. I’ll share some tips for using those functions next time!

Play with Focus

Focus and depth of field can really make an impact on how a photo looks. If you’ve read your handbook ,you’ll know how to adjust focus! If not, most cameras will auto-focus. To refocus on a different point, usually you can half-press the shoot button and the lens will readjust to pick another subject. Play around with this function until you get the effect you want – whether that be deep focus or some blurs. This is obviously difficult with moving subjects, but for stills it’s really useful.

Think about Colour

The eye is naturally drawn to areas with high contrast of light and dark. Think about this when you’re snapping. More visually pleasing images have at least a point of high contrast which draws the eye. Similarly, colour saturation is really important – rich, bold colours are more pleasing than faded or darkened shades. This obviously makes taking photos in darker lighting situations quite difficult, but ISO adjustments can help with that (come back next time to find out how). In darker situations select specific shooting modes like nighttime or indoors modes to help your camera compensate for the type of light.

I’ll share another tutorial next week which will delve into the basics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO priorities, so stay tuned if you want to get a little more technical and move out of “auto” mode.

Do you have any great tips for photo improvement? Are there any aspects you struggle with?

Kitty

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