General ramblings

Message in a Bottle…

March 8, 2013

I ventured out of my little comfort zone of rural Wiltshire (with the odd foray into Somerset..) earlier on this week, and visited the Big Smoke-yes, London baby!!

Just to prove I was actually there-a rather dreary picture of the Thames, and a London bus!!

Just to prove I was actually there-a rather dreary picture of the Thames, and a London bus!!

AND I was child free…!!

I realise you are all clamouring to know what could possibly warrant such a momentous journey, so I will tell you…

I was invited by the lovely people at Ecover on a Top Secret Mission….

They were very vague about it on the invite, and I had no idea really what I was getting myself into, but one of the things I have promised myself about My Make Do and Mend Year is to grasp any new opportunities that come up and see what happens. So I did.  And I’m very glad I did.

Ecover were having a press conference in London, to launch their Message in Our Bottle I wasn’t invited to the press conference, but on a Bloggers Mission!

There were 5 of us there, and I still haven’t quite figured out the criteria for the invites (obviously, exceptionally well written, and world changing blogs were the main criteria..) but it was a very lovely bunch of people who were sat around the table. We were told all about the new initiative that Ecover were launching, and there was no expectation on us that we would/should blog about it. No money changed hands, no free holidays were dangled (we did all get a re-usable bag with 2 bottles of Ecover washing up liquid in it though-not sure that really counts as bribery..?!) And I’m still not really sure what is expected of me.

BUT I know that I really really want to tell anyone who will listen (and those who won’t..) all about their Message in our Bottle, and the initiatives that Ecover are pushing forward.

Now, I am aware that I probably sound a little like I have been brainwashed by Ecover, but I promise you I haven’t. I have always maintained that I wouldn’t use this blog to sell stuff-it seems to me to defeat the point and be very hypocritical to be advocating buying nothing new and consuming less, and then to have a column at the side with adverts imploring you to buy new and consume more. So this is NOT a sales pitch.

We use Ecover products at home, and have done for several years. My main reason for switching to them was their environmental credentials, but I had no idea just how high up their agenda all things ‘sustainable’ are.

Since 2011, all of Ecover’s plastic bottles have been made from Plantastic-this is plastic made not from oil, but from sugar-cane. It is 100% renewable, recyclable and reusable. Top marks!

However, one of the big problems for plastic, all plastic, is recycling it. 50% of plastic in the UK is currently recycled, which is great, given that not so long ago it was 2%, but there is still lots of room for improvement. Most of the plastic that is recycled is actually downcycled (I had never heard of downcycling before, but if you can Upcycle, I guess it makes sense that you can downcycle too!) which essentially means it is turned into a product of inferior quality-so made into plastic benches and things.

And I’m sure you are all aware that there is a LOT of plastic floating around our oceans. This is not only devastating for the marine wildlife and ecosystems, but also a phenomenal waste of plastic.

So Ecover have a plan. To clean up the planet one bottle at a time. It is called their message in bottle. And this ‘infographic’ probably explains it far better than I could

MIOB infographic_cmyk_final

How amazing is that?

And just imagine the impact if other companies could be persuaded/cajoled/MADE to do the same….

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  • Reply Let there be light! | My Make Do and Mend Year May 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm

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  • Reply Happy Earth Day! | My Make Do and Mend Year April 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

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  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo March 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I have started using ecover products again (OH has taken some convincing). AS well as the packaging issue, there are so many dangerous nasties (dangerous to us and marine flora and fauna) in ordingary products its quite scary.

    With regards to the plastics issue, most supermarkets now make carrier bags out of plastic which breaks down quickly (as opposed to the old stuff with would take decades of longer to biodegrade), but I agree they need to do more.
    I hate not being able to buy meat (from the butcher as well as supremarket) which isnt in a plastic tub or plastic bag.

    I do think the biggest issue with regards to plastic bottles tho is the drink industry – soft drink and water bottles are a huge part of the problem ( a quick google found this quote from a newspaper article)……..
    “Describing the continued disposal of plastic bottles and other plastic products to landfill as “shameful”, Taylor will confirm that government figures show how last year around 240,000 tonnes of plastic bottles were sent to landfill by households with access to kerbside plastic recycling collection – equivalent to nearly half of all bottles used.
    He will add that the plastic bottles sent to landfill would have been worth around £91m if they had been recycled.”

    This is shameful in this day and age, and this is just the UK! China produces much much more waste and will continue to do so as it becomes more Westernised. This isnt just a UK problem, and reall needs to be tackled on a Global scale. If every household make a little effort to shop more wisely (buying peoducts with less packaging) and recycle more it would be a good start.

    Sorry – this rant came out of nowhere!

    • Reply Jen March 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

      Great rant Jo! I really don’t get why people don’t recycle when it is made so easy for them now-I am guessing that the majority of councils now do kerbside collections of plastic bottles, as it also creates a revenue stream for them. Juts imagine if coca-cola and evian etc got on board with Ecover’s initiative-then we really would be getting somewhere…

  • Reply hmk71 March 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I read that infographic and can’t see past “UK landfill sites full by 2017”. You know that panicky feeling you get watching Africa…

    • Reply Jen March 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      Scary isn’t it..?

      • Reply hmk71 March 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm

        Very. I want to go and live on an island or go and knock on the door of every house that has an overflowing bin and ask them what they’re thinking of? But then, I can’t get through to friends or members of my family, so maybe not…

        • Reply Jen March 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

          It’s so hard. I don’t understand how people can not care. Someone said to me yesterday “Oh, I’m the un-greenest person out there” WHY?????? Do you genuinely not care what happens to your OWN kids, or their kids?? But then I am always aware of trying not to come across as some tree hugging hippy, so I refrain for beating them around the head with their own waste….

      • Reply hmk71 March 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

        haha! That’s such a great image! I know what you mean about image. My kids fondly (I think!) call me a hippy, and I have nothing against tie-die (still have some trousers, I think) but I do want to show that you can be green without looking as though you live in a converted ambulance, which isn’t most people’s dream…
        But really good friends, sensible, thoughtful people, can’t put the future past NOW what their family *needs* .
        I think people believe ‘they’ will invent something that will solve peak oil, the waste issue, any other problem I point out. That governments will not let society change fundamentally. If I say that whatever is going to save modern society will have to already exist, for it to be ready in time for a smooth transition, I am told that the oil industry will be working on it in secret…

        So I just try to get them to at least recycle the stuff they keep buying, keep making things out of junk at Rainbows, keep taking my tubs to the butchers…and try not to give into the urge to beat them about the head with their own waste!! (Oh, I could so do that with the people in my road whose bin is always overflowing!)

        Sorry, v. long reply.

        • Reply Jen March 9, 2013 at 9:24 am

          Don;t apologise-fabulous reply! I am completely with you in that half the battle is showing people how they can be ‘green’ without having to turn their lives upside down. What I am doing this year is making meaning that we are living much more sustainably, but I don’t think that anyone on the outside who didn’t know would have seen much difference. You can make a big difference without making a big difference-does that make sense..?!

      • Reply hmk71 March 9, 2013 at 11:11 am

        Yes, absolutely. I think that’s another hurdle- why should I do anything when big business/the government/USA/India/China/Mrs Jones next door isn’t? People can’t see that they can make a difference without completely restructuring their lives, like you said, or that if everyone did their (little) bit it would add up to a lot.

  • Reply Robyn March 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I’d happily use ecover products if only they actually worked in hard water areas – sadly I can’t see that having to use twice as much of a product, even an eco-friendly one, can possibly be good for anyone!
    The initiative that would REALLY help with the number of bottles floating (literally) around out there would be to go back to the old thing of things coming in glass bottles with a deposit – or incentives for refillable plastic ones of course. In fairness I think this is something Ecover already promote, isn’t it.

    • Reply Jen March 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Robyn. We’ve got hard water, and find the Ecover products work ok-I sometimes think they just need a little bit more old-fashioned elbow grease than say, Cillit Bang and the like.
      Glass bottles, I guess, create their own problems, with increased weight and volume, and more space and energy needed to transport them. I did ask the question about a deposit scheme, but I think the logistics are difficult. To give Ecover their due, they do promote the re-fillables, but I hadn’t realised how fraught with problems this is-a re-filled product has to be sold by weight not volume (some weird EU regulation I think!) which means that there have to be specially audited scales available blah blah blah. Also, I think there is a reluctance amongst the supermarkets to have any kind of re-fillable dispensing thing in store, as the cost of retro-fitting them into the stores is prohibitive.
      I agree with you that the ideal solution would be to use less plastic, and to incentivise people to re-use the bottles, but I’m not sure how this can be implemented in practice!
      If the big boys (Coca-cola and the like) came on board with something like this, it could have staggering results!

  • Reply vickymyerscreations March 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Really interesting reading, thank you:) We also use Ecover products 🙂 ….have to admit I was secretly hoping for some cool suggestions of where to go charity chop shopping, as also off to the big smoke child free next week and I have a couple of child free hours! vicky

    • Reply Jen March 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Crikey, I wouldn’t know where to start in London for charity shops! Expect places like Camden have some good ones. Someone did once suggest to me doing a ‘charity shop map of Britain’. That would be cool wouldn’t it?! I think there is a charity shop finder website somewhere-will try and find you the link

      • Reply homemadekids March 9, 2013 at 9:49 am

        I live in London and use loads of charity shops – but the selection and price is often far better in posh country towns (eg, Bishop’s Stortford, Bath) as here in the big smoke everything is re-branded as vintage and thus pricey! Don’t let that stop you – a real treat is going down Stoke Newington Church Street (take the 73 from Euston) on a weekend sat or sun. Lots of fab vintage (2h) shops and also lots of vintage (2h) furniture. Nicola

        • Reply Jen March 9, 2013 at 10:15 am

          Fan, thanks for this Nicola. I keep trying to carve out a day to go rummaging in Bath or Marlborough..!!

      • Reply hmk71 March 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

        I went to either Hungerford or Marlborough a few years ago and there were some fabulous second hand shops. If you want a rummaging friend, I’ll happily meet you there (Bath’s a bit too far for me). Promise I’m not a weird stalker!

        • Reply Jen March 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm

          My main difficulty is getting a day without the Smalls-they are not that enamoured with shopping-charity shop or otherwise..!

  • Reply Lilandrael March 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I think this is a great idea. Sadly though, I think it will take some persuading to get other companies to join in with this. So many just think of the cost/profit implications that going green just doesn’t seem to factor in to the equation.

    I’ve started using Ecover washing detergent recently for cost/environmental impact reasons and I must say, despite not having the girly floral scent of the more expensive brands, it still cleans fairly well!

    • Reply Jen March 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      If enough peole ask them to do it, they should do it! Maybe we just have to ask. Loudly! As oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, then maybe it will become cost effective for them. Here’s hoping.

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