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Seven Sustainable Swaps

Seven Sustainable Swaps

This spring, Seven launched an internal sustainability-focused newsletter, Sustainability Matters. As a team, we’re constantly thinking about how we can make changes to live a more planet-friendly lifestyle through how we travel, eat, shop and live in our homes.

To kick-start our efforts in raising awareness, we asked seven members of staff to test and review some eco-conscious alternatives of ‘everyday’ products.

Grind compostable coffee pods (Nespresso compatible); £10 for 20 (refills £15 for 30)
grind.co.uk

Reviewed by Christine Faughlin, Workflow Director

As grateful as I am to be greeted by my Nespresso machine’s blinking presence every morning, there’s always a nagging thought that my daily reliance on single-use coffee pods is bad for the environment. While Nespresso does have a pod recycling system in place, it relies on stashing bags filled with used pods in my already tight-on-space kitchen and then remembering to arrange for a courier collection. I’m ashamed to say that more often than not they end up in the regular bin. So I was keen to try Grind’s Nespresso-compatible eco pods, which are made from commercially compostable materials. 

In addition to the pods being eco-friendly, the beans are certified organic and sourced from farms around the world before being roasted in London and packaged. The pods arrived in a striking pink tin that can be re-used when you need to replenish your stash with letterbox-friendly refill packs – either as a one-off purchase or on subscription. I chose Grind’s ‘house blend’ and, while I didn’t enjoy it as much as my usual blend, I accept that my taste in coffee is completely subjective, and it still produced a decent espresso. The pods themselves, which are made from bioplastic (plastic produced from renewable sources, such as corn starch), can be composted industrially. Grind says they can also be composted at home, although it will take twice as long, so I opted to dispose of mine with my weekly food bin collection. The only downside of the Grind eco pods breaking down so quickly is that they tended to leak a few grains into the espresso, while still sitting in the machine. But it’s a small price to pay for environmental peace of mind. 

Friendly Soap shampoo and conditioner bars; £2.75 for shampoo, £4.95 for conditioner 
friendlysoap.co.uk

Reviewed by Tamsin Burnett-Hall, Cookery Workflow Editor

We’re all aware of the need to cut back on single-use plastics, but when it comes to toiletries, it’s easy to overlook just how many products come in plastic bottles. Having already switched from shower gel to solid soap, I was keen to try out the shampoo and conditioner bars from Friendly Soap. As you’d expect from an eco-product, they are cruelty-free, free from chemical nasties and are packaged in recycled (and recyclable) boxes. I chose the ‘lavender & geranium’ fragrance, which smells like a summer garden. Initially I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to tell the natural bars apart, but the conditioner bar looks creamier while the shampoo bar is slightly translucent.

Unfortunately, if you live in a hard water area, natural shampoo isn’t suitable, as the minerals in the water interact unfavourably, although conditioner bars are fine. I find that the shampoo bar lathers up wonderfully, leaving my hair squeaky clean. The conditioner bar needs a bit more work to create a creamy paste with your hands, but if you prefer, you can dissolve the bar in boiling water and transfer it to a reusable bottle. As well as the eco benefits and how long-lasting the bars are, one of the best aspects for me is how brilliant these are for travelling, as they don’t need to go in a liquids-allowance bag if you’re flying and they’re also great for camping because they are so compact. If you’re worried about making the transition from bottle to bar, don’t be – visit friendlysoap.co.uk for tips to ease the process.

Kraft paper biro pens from Agile Home and Garden; £20.99 for 50
agilehomeandgarden.co.uk 

Reviewed by Chloe Elliott, Office Manager & PA

When searching for an eco-friendly pen for our office, we came across the kraft paper biro pens from Agile Home and Garden. The company was created with the ambition of producing more eco-conscious alternatives for things that we use at home and tries to use little to no plastic in products, opting for natural materials instead.  

At £20.99 for a pack of 50, the pens are incredible value for money (42p per pen!), and everything from the pen barrel to the stainless-steel ink core is fully recyclable. The kraft paper barrels and lids are also compostable.  

The pen itself writes smoothly, the ink flows well, there were no smudges and it’s comfortable to hold. Perhaps those used to the hexagonal design of Bic’s standard biros might prefer a pen with a little more structure, but this could easily be resolved by adding a reusable grip. 

Overall, a fantastic environmentally friendly alternative! 

Smashed Grapes wine; £8.49 per bottle (non-sale price £9.99)
smashedgrapes.co.uk

Reviewed by Helena Lang, Head of Content, Food & Lifestyle

If, like me, you feel like it’s not the weekend without a lovely bottle (or two) of wine, then you should give the selection at smashedgrapes.co.uk a go. It’s run by wine-loving chaps Dan and Sam, who believe they’ve found the sweet spot of great wines – down-to-earth prices on a product that also benefits the producers, you and, best of all, our beautiful planet.

One of their aims is to get the public to try more unusual wines, from more unusual places – it’s shocking that 86% of UK wine drinkers consume less than three types of wine! The Smashed Grapes team know that for the average £5 bottle of wine only 31p goes on that delicious juice in the bottle, on a £6 bottle that leaps to 94p, and for £7 you’re looking at £1.40, and so it goes. So, for only a little more cash you’re getting far better quality, and if you think of your wine as a farm-produced product, you want all the love, care and passion possible in your bottle, just as you would for your free-range eggs or organic sourdough loaf, right? I decided to try some Romanian wine – hard to find in the average supermarket – and picked the Umbrele Pinot Grigio, a delicious, refreshing and lightly fruity white alongside the Umbrele Pinot Noir, a lighter-than-average red, perfect for summer drinking and a smash served alongside a barbecue feast. Both are currently in the Smashed Grapes sale down from £9.99 to £8.49 a bottle.

As well as all the above, Smashed Grapes isn’t just a carbon-neutral business, it’s carbon negative – a tree is planted for every eight cases of wine via Ecologi. Plus, all their packaging is made from recycled materials and is recyclable too. In addition, most of the wines are vegan, though it’s always best to check with them first. Cheers!

My Little Eco Shop reusable make-up pads; £12.99 for 16PC set (currently off-sale, but similar sets are available)
mylittleecoshop.com

Reviewed by Kirsten Price, Group Publishing & Client Director 

It takes years for make-up wipes to break down in landfill sites, while the pesticides that are used when the cotton is grown for single-use cotton pads also have a negative impact on the environment. This is where this 16-piece reusable make-up pad set from My Little Eco Shop comes to the rescue.

The pack that I tested contains 12 ‘bamboo velvet’ make-up remover pads, 4 terry rough pads (which have a peeling effect to remove stubborn make-up) plus a handy washing cloth bag. I loved that the pads are super soft and gentle on the skin – softer than single-use cotton wool pads – and the fact that there are 16 of them means there’s no need to get stressed about when you’re going to get the chance to wash them (unless you put your washing machine on less than once a week). The pads came out of the washing machine as good as new (so far), and the washing cloth bag means that you don’t lose any pads among your other washing in the machine.

The only downside that I found was that when you are using the pads, you do need to use a little more product than you would with a single-use cotton wool pad, as more sinks into the lovely velvety fabric. But that’s about the only complaint I can make. All in all, I’m super impressed and will be sticking with them.

Smol dishwasher tablets; £4.60 for 30 (or £1 for 9 as part of free trial)
smolproducts.com

Reviewed by Liz Stansfield, Digital & Social Content Lead

Smol sells dishwasher tablets direct to your door via a subscription service, cutting out the middleman with tablets that fit through the letterbox. You tell them how often you run your dishwasher and they then send you a box of 30 at a rate which suits you.

The brand makes a pretty bold claim that it is ‘the most effective concentrated dishwash tablet in the world.’ It certainly did the job – it cleaned our dishes perfectly and cut out the need for salt/rinse aid, and we don’t have any complaints on the quality. But they do come in some pretty high-security child-safe packaging, which was a little too secure – we had trouble getting in, even following the instructions to the letter.

Wild deodorant; £25 for reusable case and 3 refills
wearewild.com

Reviewed by Elizabeth Knipe, Print Lead

The Wild deodorant arrived in fully recyclable packaging (the refill packaging is also 100% compostable) and was easy to assemble. You can choose the colour of the case you want and there is a selection of deodorant scents – I’ve been using ‘lemon meringue’, and even though it smells quite sweet, it’s a subtle scent and not sickly or overpowering. That said, the other scents I have (‘jasmine & mandarin blossom’ and ‘fresh cotton & sea salt’) are much fresher smelling and I prefer those.

It can take a couple of weeks for your body to adapt to natural deodorants, especially when moving from traditional aluminium-based antiperspirants, so you may have to apply more than once during the day initially. I found that it isn’t sticky and doesn’t melt in the heat, and that it’s gentle on the skin (I didn’t experience any irritation). It can leave white marks on clothing, but no worse than traditional deodorants. Each refill will last for 1-2 months depending on how often you apply it during the day. The thing to keep in mind about this product is that it is a deodorant and not an antiperspirant, so depending on how sweaty you are… well, you get the idea (no antiperspirants are 100% effective either).

Trying to cut down on plastic and single-use products usually comes at a price, with the alternative product not as effective as their plastic packaged and non-eco alternatives, but I’ve found this to be just as effective as a traditional deodorant. It isn’t too pricy, as refills can be ordered, so I think this will be a permanent swap for me.

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