Thursday, July 19, 2018

What's the deal with #whynottoday?



"Why not today" became my motto after my friend Lotta & I decided on a name for the Plastic-Free Shop we opened together in 2015.

"Varför inte idag" (in Swedish) or Vii for short.

Vii became a real thing, fast. At least for our friends and families, and some of our customers who became friends. We'd organise all kinds of things (some more successful than others): second hand markets, seed & plant swaps, clothes swaps, we had a crafts night, a salsa night, you name it.

Why? Because we thought it would be fun! Because Why not? And Why not today?


When I prepared for my move to England I wasn't sure what to do with the concept, as I realised its success was mainly thanks to the network I had around me ... so it got put on hold a little while I did my yoga teacher training and dealt with the logistics of moving to and settling into a new place.



Fast forward a year and a bit and it makes more sense than ever.


After teaching yoga in a studio for a year I found he courage and made the decision to start to develop my own little community around my style of teaching - outside as much as possible! 

Since the beginning of this year I've been involved in an initiative called Plastic Free Harrogate which is proving to be really rewarding.
(Find us on Instagram and Facebook!)

I feel really passionate about the work we do, and convinced that we all can make a difference, especially if we work together ... and all of a sudden opening up my webshop made sense again.


... and on tough days when I don't want to do anything at all I remind myself of that powerful little motto ...



Why not today?



Some days, it's the only question you need need to ask yourself to get yourself moving.


Whether it is to tackle that one little extra thing on your to do list, to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, to change habits that need changing (like switching to alternatives to plastic ;))
or even just to roll out your yoga mat!


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Plastic Free Harrogate & Vegware


For a couple of months now I've been involved in a group called Plastic Free Harrogate.

Among other things we highlight local businesses and the environmentally friendly changes they make to the way they run things, hoping to inspire others to follow suit, but also, making sure the public knows which local independents are EVEN more worth supporting. 

So far in Harrogate we've seen businesses switch from plastic to paper straws, make them only available on request, or stop offering them all together. 
One coffeeshop even decided to ban the use of disposable coffee cups and will only serve take-away coffee to people bringing their own cups! 


More and more coffeeshops are switching from conventional and difficult to recycle take-away solutions to compostable ones. Vegware being the biggest name in the compostable packaging world.


The waste collection situation in Harrogate being as it is (limited, to say the least) I've been a bit sceptical about this change ... 
Is it worth the extra financial investment if these items go straight to landfill or incineration anyway?


Image By Vegware


So I reached out to the company to get some clarity.
Spoiler alert: I didn't get much, but the headache it gave me dissipated at the end ... so read on!

I mainly wanted an answer to the following questions:


Q: Don't these see-through compostable drink containers get mistaken for oil based plastic, get put in the recycling bin and as such contaminate whole batches of plastic (and see it go to landfill instead)?

A: If our products were to end up in the dry mixed recycling stream, they would be removed at the sorting stage of processing.

My thought on this?
At this point I'm not convinced they would actually be removed, as I've read many articles about this contamination problem. 
I suppose one solution would be for coffeeshop staff to tell their customers to throw their take-away cups in general waste unless they have a food waste collection bin. 

Cups thrown into the council's bins dotted around Harrogate go straight to landfill or incineration anyway, so no risk of contamination there. 

Q: Don't compostables release methane (just like food waste) when sent to landfill?

A: When it comes to landfill, it is a common misconception that our materials break down there. In landfill, conditions are actually designed to prevent materials breaking down. By restricting moisture and oxygen, microbial activity is reduced. 

Yet food waste does degrade over time ... and releases methane.
According to this website:
The process of layering general waste creates methane, which has a global warming potential 21 times grater than carbon dioxide and methane from landfill represents 40% of all the UK's methane.

So wouldn't the same happen to products made from other compostable substances ... especially when they are contaminated or in contact with food waste?

Q: Lastly, what is the benefit of Vegware in an area where there is no such thing as food waste collection?

A: We appreciate that some of our customers do not currently have access to food waste collections or commercial composting routes. 
We believe that Vegware is the first step in changing attitudes towards food waste recycling in the UK. As with any innovation, you need the customer demand in order to change the infrastructure. That is why we are so grateful for our customers’ commitment: as more people use Vegware and demand composting routes, it allows us to convince more waste collectors that it is in their interest to collect and compost our products. We have found that it is customer demand that has encouraged waste management companies to adapt their collection services.

Even without access to composting, there are still environmental benefits of using Vegware packaging as opposed to conventional plastic disposables. The materials used in Vegware products are renewable and sustainably sourced, and create less carbon emissions in the manufacture. We believe it is better to use plant-based materials for our products, rather than depleting finite resources.


Image by Vegware


Conclusion: (borrowed and adapted from A Plastic Planet)

We need to start a serious conversation about our waste management systems & infrastructure, including industrial composting as obviously composting vast quantities of packaging at home* is not practical.

We need a food waste collection service that actually composts it, so that Vegware can be collected at the same time. 
Then we need ALL take-away products to be of the same kind, so there is no confusion as to where it goes.


* Most Vegware containers won't compost completely at home, unless you manage to create high heat in your compost bin. It is classed as commercially compostable. 










Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Who Gives a Crap?


This post was inspired by a discussion on Plastic Free Ripon's Facebook page ... a place I often find myself since becoming part of a similar group here in Harrogate.

It wasn't necessarily the fact that this toilet paper is plastic free that made me a return customer of Who Gives a Crap (although that's obviously a fabulous thing),
rather, it was their argument that I'd never have to carry toilet paper home from the grocery store anymore, which, when you do most of your shopping by bike or on foot, is quite a powerful sales point. 

Yes their toilet paper is also made from environmentally friendly materials and they donate 50% of their profits to charity to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world, 
but is it any good?

To be honest, I'm not too fussy. 
Quilted, cashmere-enriched toilet tissue with flower print was never my thing anyway, 
so anything that gets the job done in an environmentally friendly way is fine by me ... 
but since people asked:

Should you go for the Best Value recycled version or splurge on the Premium 100% bamboo toilet paper?

Both come individually wrapped (in recycled paper).
The Best Value is nice and colourful ... if monochrome is your thing you'll prefer the Premium.

The Best Value is thin and easily tears where you don't want it to.

Both are 3-ply, and even the layers of the Premium easily separate (I'm assuming because there's nothing in them to "glue" them together but I'm not a toilet paper scientist so I could be wrong)
but it's definitely a little stronger ... and softer.

My verdict:

I was a fan even before my first order arrived. Had there not been a premium option, I would have happily stuck with the recycled toilet paper ...
the fact that I'll be paying £3 more (per box of 48 rolls) to get the Premium Bamboo from now on, and I'm not ashamed to admit it, is mostly because of the packaging. 

Also, because it's Earth Day later this week, Who Gives a Crap now offers a free trial on all their products to new subscribers.
Click here to find out more!



PS: I'm aware that any environmentally friendly & plastic free toilet paper made in the EU would have a lower carbon footprint than WGAC which is made in China ... so hit me up if you know of such a business! 





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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Creating Space


I will never look back at this picture and not feel a sense of pride.
Pride mixed with (maybe slightly misleading) nostalgia.

This was not my first store space, not the last, but definitely the one I completely poured my heart into.

The picture above was taken on Gotland in the spring of 2015.

Yesterday, most of what was left of my stock went to live with Bo in her ethical and zero-waste shop CALF in Knaresborough until they find their forever homes with Bo's customers.

As she was leaving, carrying boxes to her car, Bo said she hoped I wasn't feeling too sad ...
and if I dig deep enough there is a slight twinge of sadness there somewhere, but mainly I'm proud of my well researched and thought-through products to get out there again, instead of waiting around in my cupboards for better days.
I'm happy that the remains of my old business now pave the way for new opportunities.

I'm letting go of things to create space for something else.
What that is time will tell.
I'm guessing it's going to be a mixture of my love for yoga, holistic nutrition, exploring, nature, houseplants, photography, my newfound love for ceramics ... and my need to write, document and share,
but in what form? We'll see.

***

CALF is in the process of getting a full make-over and will reopen again on Friday, with my stuff on the shelves amongst lots of other amazing products!

It's time for a trip to Knaresborough!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Yorkshire Dales Yoga Show




Last Saturday I hitched a ride with a friend and went to Skipton for the Yorkshire Dales Yoga Show.

I brought my camera and yoga gear and planned to take pictures of pretty much everything and take as many of the free yoga classes as possible.

There were crystals, essential oils, reiki sessions, beautiful jewellery, homemade tea blends, eco skincare, raw vegan cakes and the most delicious vegan truffles, and of course, all things yoga.
I have seen my fair share of shows but nothing ever even came close to this level of fabulousness.

Yet, the whole thing was a trip down memory lane.

Setting up, glancing at others' tables, waiting for the first customers to arrive, always a little too cold, or a little too hot, wondering if it'll be worth your while ... a slight nervousness ... the anticipation ...

I ended up not bothering with the yoga as the queues always seemed longer than the amount of available mats, and found myself talking to the stall holders instead of taking pictures (with a few exceptions - I simply couldn't resist Tarn & Moon's setup ♡).

I loved the energy. I loved all of it. 
And since Saturday, my mind's been busy. Buzzing. Occupied.

"They" say yoga helps with these kinds of conditions ... so I went to Frankie's class at Yoga Zen (one of the perks of teaching there).

I stayed after class and we played around testing adjustments on each other, doing inversions, discussing potential workshop ideas and ended up sitting on our yoga mats talking about how great it would be to live a life trying new things, acquiring new skills and then building a business around them all.

Enter Buzzing Mind. Again.

Am I too comfortable in my current life situation to throw myself out there again?
Possibly.

Would it be a shame not to do it?
Definitely.

In conclusion, I hope the Yorkshire Dales Yoga Show gets a sequel. I'll definitely be there. Maybe even as a stall holder ... because #whynottoday? Right?

//Aina




Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018



A new year.
A fresh start, even if it's just in your mind.

I've got quite a few resolutions, and new ones get added to the list every day now.
I've set intentions for myself as a thriving human being, as a yoga teacher, as a part of a family, as a creative person, as a body that needs the right kind of nutrition and care, etc.
Not all of those can be kept all at once, and I'm sure many will be forgotten or dropped as the year goes on, but I do think it's helpful to write them down.

I know there's plenty of cynics out there, especially when it comes to New Year's resolutions.
I'm one of them.
I laugh at overfull gyms and yoga studios at the beginning of every new year and then again when they empty a couple of months later.
Yet I'm no different.
That's why I like to split my goals for the year into smaller projects, to tackle and come back to month by month. Most of them are ongoing projects I've taken with me from 2017, the most recent ones being my 30th b-day resolutions.


Project #1 is Pottery (see previous post)
Project #2 is Photography and getting out and about giving me reasons to use my new toys.
Project #3 is Playing the guitar instead of saying I will get better.
Project #4 is Blogging more often (day 2 and I'm already on it!)
and so on.

The list is long, and will hopefully go on until I hit the grave.
because #whynottoday?

Happy New Year!

xxx

Aina