Give-Back Friday

Give-Back Friday

Children & Trees

This year we’re switching Black Friday up a little bit. We’ve never been ones for following the crowds anyway…

One problem we have with Black Friday is that it drives consumerism. Something we all already have an insatiable need for.
Don’t get me wrong if you’re in need of a new washing machine and you’re able to go and get one at 50% cheaper than at other times then perfect!
But primarily it’s a force to encourage us to buy things we don’t need, simply because we love a bargain.

We believe that it can be a force for good however.
This year especially has been hard on many, and charities are struggling too, both because many have had more pressure this year, and have also not been able to raise the funds they would in a normal year.

So this year from Friday 27th – Monday 30th rather than discounts, we’re giving 10% of the value of every order* to Charity.

It’s really hard to choose from all the amazing ones out there, in the end we decided to keep it simple and support 2 causes that are reasons why Wikaniko even exists.

So we have chosen to support this Give-Back Friday the environment and children.

One of the Charities we’re choosing to support is Action For Children. They have helped many children and families for years, and have helped many children stay safe and fed during the pandemic.

They’re now doing all they can to ensure all children in the UK get a hot meal, present and safe place to sleep this Christmas. Something our own children are lucky enough to take for granted.

The second Charity we want to support is The Heart Of England Forest.
As the name suggests this is a forest in the heart of England , that was started in 1996.

Their aim is to plant a broadleaf forest that stretches across the heart of England -the ancient woodlands of tomorrow. Currently it’s stretching over 4000 acres with over 1.5million trees planted.

But it’s not just a forest they’re all about biodiversity so there are also areas of dedicated heathland, wetland and grassland. It’s an area for anyone to enjoy, and wildlife to flourish.

We appreciate how lucky we are to have a business that has been able to carry on through this crazy year. We appreciate how lucky we are that our children are home and fed, and we appreciate how important outside space has been for all of us this year, and is for all years, and how important trees are for safeguarding the future for all of us.

We thank you for your support this year – and every year. And we hope that being able to give back whilst also getting some super things you need from our website or catalogue will give you an extra reason to smile this weekend.

 

*10% applies to order value before taxes and shipping.

Why bother with Organic Cotton?

Why bother with Organic Cotton?

Why bother with organic cotton?Ever dropped a pebble into a lake, pond, muddy puddle? It’s something that’s strangely more inviting to do, the stiller and more serene the body of water is… I guess there’s something inside of us that likes to cause a little disruption, like being the first person to walk on fresh snow…There is something deeply satisfying about seeing your footprints alone as you blaze the trail,  or watching those ripples spread out from the now submerged pebbles impact site.

And, disruption caused, we can walk away without there being any great change or impact upon our lives. The footprints remain, until nature or more footprints intervene, the lake returns to serenity, with its water level a mini micro amount higher due to the new pebble on the bottom…we invoke a tiny almost unseen change on the world around us, and carry on.

There are thousands of ways we can have the same impact on the world, simple changes we can make to our habits that can instantly make us more eco friendly.
Some of the things might have an environmental impact far outside our immediate environment, effect a change we may never see or experience. But that does not make it any less worthy, in-fact it could arguably be even more worthy for that.

One such change would be the switch to organic instead of conventional cotton.
This may seem a bit picky, after all, cotton is already natural, it is a plant, it is white and pure looking and fluffy and most of us (at least in the UK) may never come into contact with it in its most natural state, so how could this possibly make a difference?

Generally speaking cotton is grown as a mono crop, which means there is no crop rotation just cotton cotton cotton. The knock on effect of this is that higher and higher levels of pesticides and insecticides are needed, in fact a few years ago 22% of all the worlds insecticides and 20% of the worlds pesticides were used on cotton alone. Some changes in recent years to the genetic makeup of cotton has reduced the need for some of these chemicals but not all that much.

When mono crop culture is used it causes heavy damage to the soil, meaning that the soil becomes poor quality, and so many chemical fertilizers are used to try and give the cotton enough nutrients to grow… but because the soil is in such poor condition, many of these fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides are just washed away and end up in the waterways. This is not only bad for the local aquatic environment (see more on this here) leading to dead zones but they also often make their way into drinking water meaning in some areas there is no safe drinking water for the people in the area.

But that is not the only toll on water that cotton can take. Cotton is a thirsty plant, and when grown in this way it becomes even more so.

According to the WWF 20,000 litres of water is needed in order to produce one 1kg of cotton. Roughly the equivalent to 1 t-shirt and a pair of jeans!

Aral SeaThis thirst can, and has had the most devastating consequences. The Aral sea in Uzbekistan being a prime example, once the 4th largest fresh water lake in the world (about the size of Ireland) 85% of it is now a desert. Caused solely and completely by cotton farming.

This video shows exactly what this has meant for the region and is a powerful watch if you can spare 10mins https://youtu.be/NC5UIEx83fo

But after all of that! All is not lost, there are things that can be done- There are organisations that are helping cotton growing communities to improve their practices, which not only helps the local environment but also their own health too in many cases.
Integrating things like integrated Pest Management has resulted in 60- 80% reduction in pesticide use and increased cotton yields. This has also seen a return of birds which are also helping to reduce pests.
At the moment organic cotton accounts for around 0.2% of world cotton production (WWF) It can take about 3 years for farmers to transition to organic practices and recover the yield they were previously getting, but experienced farmers in India, Paraguay, East Africa and Peru report yields which are broadly equivalent to conventional cotton.

In some areas production has remained lower, BUT due to less expenditure – in pesticides, insecticide and fertilizers the profits of the farmers still went up.

There are also practices that can be put into place to reduce the water needed, introducing sprinkler or drip irrigation can save 70% of the water, better rainwater harvesting, and recycling of the water can also be implemented to help improve yields.

But organic cotton is a fragile business, it is increasing in demand, but the future is uncertain, farmers want the confidence that the market will be there to support them, and that, dear reader is where we come in. By choosing organic cotton you are helping to prevent environmental disasters like the Aral sea (which you may never have even heard of until now…) You are helping communities to have an industry that can support them and keep healthy. You are helping.

When you buy clothes try and make sure they have been responsibly grown, consider the environmental impact of what you are wearing.

And even for cotton products like Cotton Buds, Cotton Wool Balls, Pleats and Pads, you can get wonderful organic alternatives.

We all have the power to make a difference, every day. Often we don’t even know we are doing it.

If food waste was a country…

If food waste were a country…

If food waste was a country…

If food waste was a countryIt would be the third biggest emitter of carbon, just behind China and the US.  This means that wasted food is pretty terrible for the planet, but it also means that this is one simple thing that we can all so something about, with very little effort.
Usually when we talk about changing our diets for the planet the talk is about becoming vegan…
 Ready for a little controversy?… You don’t have to go as far as being vegan to make a difference.  But if you want to, go for it. This is just not a blog about that, this is about making a start.

10 simple things you can do at home to cut down on food waste

  • Make a weekly menu. Plan out in advance what you’re going to eat for each meal, and then buy the ingredients that you need.
    This doesn’t have to be a rigid set up, you can swap days  around
    We’ve been doing this for a few years, we get the littles involved so everyone gets a say.And it actually saves us loads of time and money, simply because we’re not wondering round a supermarket debating whether we’ll need cheese, or one cucumber or two…we know.Also we don’t spend ages staring at a cupboard trying to work out what we can put together for dinner, it’s all planned out we just get on.  (now I just stare into the cupboard arguing with myself about whether to eat another cookie!)If planning out a a menu every week is akin to pulling teeth, you could have the option of doing 3 or 4 weeks and then just rotating through them. Or just planning Mon-Fri and then going rogue at the weekends ;)But honestly give it a try and you might just find that all the time and money saved makes it worth it…
  • Batch cooking. Honestly I’m not very good at this, but I know many people who swear by it.
    Basically you set aside some time and cook a big batch of several of your favourite or go to dishes, then freeze them in portions, so they’re good to go when you want them.
  • Portion control.  I have some serious issues around pasta (and cake) portion control. But in all seriousness, getting used to making the right amount in the first place saves left overs going in the bin, and stops you (me) going back for seconds.
    .
  • If you’re not a cook, and rely on ready meals, then learning to cook a couple of staple dishes  can save you a lot of time, a lot of money and be healthier for you. It’s also healthier for the planet as there is a lot less packaging.
  • There is a lot of evidence to suggest that following a vegan diet is better for the planet. However there are also many arguments to the contrary – that properly managed farms act as carbon sinks and aid the environment. I’m not about to get into the pros and cons of either. So all I will say is that any of the following steps will be steps taken in the right direction, so take any/all that you can.
  — Have a Vegan day once a week.
  — Have meatless meals

  — Buy as ethically as you can afford.
Whether its meat, eggs, yogurt, cheese…If you can buy free range do so, if you can buy organic do so. We have cut our meat consumption to once sometimes

Growing your own, helping to reduce food waste
Raised planter at my parents house

twice a week, which enables  us to buy organic, free range, grass fed and local.

— With fruit and veg, try to buy in season, organic and/ or local where you can.

 — With all food buy as locally as possible. Cutting the carbon footprint of your dinner, but also supporting local and often smaller businesses.

— Grow some of your own food if you can.  This cuts down on the old food miles massively, of course, but we find it also helps with waste too.
How? Well rather than trying to work out exactly how many carrots we’ll need for the week, we just go grab a couple from the garden when we need them.

You don’t need much space, in fact you don’t even need much of a garden at all. Its amazing how much can be grown in pots or tubs.

Potatoes, Carrots, runner beans, onions, peas, tomatoes, strawberries, are just

some examples. Herbs are even happy with just a window box. Why not grow a garden you can eat?

Less waste? Absolutely! We’ve put effort into growing it, we’re not going to waste it! 🙂

  • Use your left overs. If all else fails and you do end up with left overs use them.
    Beebee wraps helping reduce food waste
    Beebee wraps helping reduce food waste

    Left over Bolognase sauce of Chilli goes great in a jacket potato. We’ll sometimes have left over Paella with some salad for lunch the next day. (Don’t keep rice cooked rice for long 24-48hrs is my max,  and make sure you fridge it within an hour of it being cooked, if not throw it out.)
    Left over meat can be great in a sandwich, or salad, or Chicken in a soup, lamb in a stew etc…
    Bread thats gone stale can be made into breadcrumbs and used or frozen. Or turned into a bread and butter pudding…yum!
    Beebee or Leaf wraps are great for storing left overs and keeping them fresh.

  • Know the difference between best before and use by dates. Whilst this might sounds obvious to some, millions of ££ worth of food is thrown away because it’s reached its best before.
    Use by date means that after this date the food should not be eaten.
    Best before means that the product was at it’s freshest before that date, but can still be eaten.
    Please apply some common sense here though…if it wasn’t green and furry when you bought it, probably best not to eat it.
  • Gift away food that you know you’re not going to use in time, or even your left overs.
  • Use the parts of the veg you don’t eat to make your own stock.
    Carrot tops, potato peelings, those parts of the onion that are half onion and half skin…
    .
  • Compost the fruit and veg peelings, egg shells etc the bits you don’t use. So they can be used in your garden next year, and watch your garden flourish!

The positive effects to the environment with this kind of change are mostly unseen, but you could well notice fewer trips to empty the bin and lower food bills, the rest you just have to ‘know’ is making a difference.

But truly that’s how we got in such a pickle in the beginning because just like we can’t see the positives, we haven’t been able to see the negatives. Now we know that they’re there, it’s time to start tipping the scales back the other way.

And every little thing each one of us can do really does make a difference.

12 Simple Swaps to (start to) Save the world

It sounds a bit crazy right? As if its that easy?!…but it could be… Because in reality thats all it takes, enough people making small changes. And once you start..who knows where you’ll go!

You Make A Difference!

We all made a difference getting us to this point and each time someone makes a change, however small it may seem, it tips the scales a little the other way.
Tip those scales. You know you want to!

1. Eat less meat.

Studies show that the number one thing that we can all do that will have the biggest positive impact on climate change is to eat less meat.
You don’t have to cut it out entirely, but reducing by maybe having one or two veggie or vegan days a week is a great start.

2. Reuseable drinks Containers

In the UK we use 13 BILLION plastic water bottles a year, and 2.5 BILLION single use coffee cups.  By getting a reusable water bottle and coffee cup you would certainly be part of the solution. Try these

3. Avoid Single use Plastic.

We are set to be known as the plastic age. Is it just me that finds that rather depressing, when you think of all the other amazing stuff we have going on?

It can be a challenge getting out of the single use plastic habit but it is do-able. Refusing plastic straws, stirrers, buying loose fruit and veg , taking your own containers for meat, fish etc. Is a great place to start.
Seeing if you have a refill shop or zero waste shop near you and switching your shop to there, is great too!

Or you could just start here – In the UK we use 745,000 Miles of clingfilm a year, enough to go around the world 30x! A simple switch to Beeswax Wraps could save many of those miles.  You can find out more about them HERE.

4. Swap Your toiletries.

There are some great zero waste options for toiletries now available, from
shampoo bars to toothpaste jarsFriendly Soap Lavender & Geranium Shampoo Bar
And deodorants too.
The great news is that they are also *usually* made with more natural ingredients and fewer chemicals, making them better for you and the environment too.
Switching your toothbrush for a bamboo or beech wood toothbrush is another great swap for the environment.

5. Avoid Fast fashion.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting on the planet. And is a triple threat, being damaging to the land, the air and the water. Fast fashion creates a huge extra demand on resources that is simply unsustainable, and often exploits workers too. By opting for better quality items they last longer, look better and can easily be mixed and matched to give a timeless look.

6. Litter

One man’s trash…is probably yours too, but if you see some please pick it up.

For my recent birthday, we took a trip to the coast to see the seals. This is the time of year when they are all up on the beaches to have their young.  It was lovely to see them, but it was very sad to see the litter that they were having to put up with.  And not all of it was a result of having been washed up from the sea. There were disposable coffee cups dropped by other visitors, chocolate bar wrappers and drinks cans.

If you have some spare time you could see about collecting some litter near you, or if you are already walking combine it with a litter pick.  You and I both know that it is not glamorous or even a particularly appealing prospect. But you could literally be saving a life, Keep Britain Tidy estimates that around 2.9 million small mammals die each year as a result of litter.

I don’t know why people litter, if you do, please stop, there are things id rather be doing than picking it up.

7. Make your laundry, cleaner.

We have written extensively about how changing your laundry products can have a big environmental impact, so if me just saying switch up your laundry products for more environmentally friendly ones, (you can find them HERE) isn’t enough then you can read more about it in these blogs-  Laundry1, Laundry2, Laundry3!

8. Grow your Own.

Any amount of fruit or veg you can grow at home is great. It adds some biodiversity to the lawn culture and it has been shown to improve health and happiness.

As well as giving you some great tasting and fresh food. It is educational for children and has literally zero food miles.

If you don’t have a big garden then you can grow in pots (strawberries, potatoes, beans for example) if you don’t have a garden at all then you can grow some crops in window boxes (herbs, lettuce, spinach, strawberries for example)

9. Cleaning Up.

How many cleaning products do you use around your home? How many chemicals are under your kitchen sink? With a few swaps to more eco friendly alternatives you can – Save money, cut the chemicals going into the water ways, reduce the air pollution in your home, which is often worse than outside!  Simple swaps like – white vinegar, a real wonder product. If you would like more info on this and the simple swaps you can make you can find it HERE and HERE.

10. Go Wild.

Help out wildlife in your area by setting aside some of your garden, for some wildflowers.

It can be easily done just by scattering some Seedballs, they contain seeds, compost and natural pest deterrent to help as many seeds grow as possible.  You could also set up a some wildlife homes, using some stacked logs, bird houses or bug hotels. If you dont have room in your garden, or a garden at all, then you can always spread a little wildflower love out and about!

11. Have a waste free period.

Long Panty Liners WrappedProbably safe to say that this is nobodies favourite time of the month. But should the whole world suffer for it? (Not including your other half, they should of course suffer right along with you! 😉 )

The average woman uses 11,000 sanitary products in her lifetime and many of those products end up in our oceans and on our beaches.

Mooncup Size A

They also contain a surprising amount of plastic and synthetic fibres which are not always the best for your body. There are some great alternatives from Mooncups, to reusable pads to natural pads and tampons. To find out more Click Here.

12. Single use wipes.

A source of ‘hidden plastic’ in the home. Single wipes often end up in the
environment by being flushed or blown away, and if sent to landfill will not decompose.  You can make your own reusable wipes, from old clothes or towels.

You could also use Bamboo towels which are washable and reusable up to 85x!
Or there are Biodegradable wipes like THESE from Ecozone. Although we still don’t recommend you flush them.

So there you go, whether you change one thing or 12, do all at once or one a month for 12 months, you will have made a positive difference and as cliched as it sounds, changed the world.

Sometimes it’s the simple things…

That can make a big difference.

It’s pretty safe to say that consumerism in general is a pretty selfish practice right? And it is a habit that pretty much all of us has fallen into over the last several decades.  As Ariana Grande so eloquently puts it “ I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” and yet I don’t think of myself as particularly selfish…I mean, I might have been known to sneak the last cupcake on occasion!

But when it comes to buying things and they are just sitting there waiting to be bought it’s too easy to just buy “it”. We might give a thought to price or colour but do we really think about the social or environmental impact of our purchase?
Every purchase we make comes with one though, even the smallest.

toockiesLike a dish cloth…

So simple. But such a great product, with a wonderful human story too.

Toockies are a set of Hand-crafted 100% organic Cotton and Jute scrubbing clothes.  They –

 

  •  Contain NO microplastics
  • Are reusable
  • Machine washable
  • Bio degradable (when they are no good for washing up/cleaning any longer you can use them as potting mesh or compost them!)
  • Are really strong.
  • They don’t stain
  • They don’t scratch
  •  They last ages!
  •  Are Fairtrade

As well as all of that – Toockies are knitted by hand by ladies in Nababpur India. Its such a simple thing, but the Tookies project opens up an unimaginable door of opportunity for these women. A community centre provides them with a central location for training, knitting, picking up new yarn and dropping off finished products. They can work at the centre or at home, allowing them to work hours that suit them.  It gives them a dignified way to earn a living and take charge of their own future.

When the knitter has made a pack she signs the card sleeve, and you are able to go to the website and see the lady who made your cloths and her story.

Who would have thought so much could come from a humble wash cloth?!  Someone said to me –“ but its just a dishcloth, I’vetoockies info got hundreds!”

Can those hundreds of dishcloths claim all the same as the above? Just imagine how much good you could do buying your hundreds of dishcloths with these environmental and social impacts…

Even the smallest things we do, can have a massive positive impact on the world if we let it.

Also it helps when the products are great, we have been using these for many months now and they are.

You can get them HERE

Simple changes – Bags

Our blog posts seem to have taken on a bit of theme of late, so I have decided to call them the simple changes series, because that is what they seem to be, a series of simple changes you can make to make your home a greener and hopefully healthier place, with a lighter footprint.

So to continue this, we are going to talk bags. Yes, I appreciate this might not be the most exciting topic you have ever read about, but it is another small but important change that can have a massive impact.

We have already heard so much about plastic shopping bags and how they are/were a scourge upon the environment. Whether you love or hate the fact that you now have to take your own bags to the shops or be charged for them, there is no denying that it has had a huge positive effect.

According to government stats for 2015-16, since the plastic bag tax policy came into force in England in October 2015, the total number of carrier bags used at the UK’s biggest retailers has fallen by an estimated 85%. And in direct relation to this studies of plastic litter found in the North and Celtic Seas, they found statistically significant reductions in the amount of plastic bags in the sea from 2010 (when Ireland introduced the tax) – 2017. Plastic bags are the only form of plastic litter to have seen a reduction over this time frame. All other forms have increased.

To me this demonstrates two things; – Firstly we really can make a difference when we try! It is amazing to read about positive environmental impacts for a change!

And secondly we really need to take more personal responsibility for this stuff. It is sad that it has to take the government stepping in and penalising us for ‘us’ as a significant collective to make the changes needed.
Every time we spend money, make a choice we really are voting and contributing towards the kind of world we want to live in and we really need to start taking responsibility for that.

So why am I writing this post about bags? Has it not already been dealt with? Single use carrier bags yes. But these are not the only plastic bags we use.

If you have been following the blogs for a while then you probably know that Wikaniko started life simply selling bags. From alternatives to the single use carrier bags to all sorts of bin bags, freezer bags, sandwich bags, dog waste and nappy bags. You see, they creep in everywhere.

But there are alternatives and really as a user you will not notice any difference. They look the same the feel same and they do exactly the same job. So what’s the difference? Once you have finished using them they break down much much quicker in the environment and not only that but instead of simply becoming smaller and smaller piece of plastic, they biodegrade, just like a leaf and leave nothing behind. No toxic residues and no fragments of plastic.


They are known as Oxy-biodegradable plastics and the only difference is an additive called d2w that is added to the plastic at the manufacturing stage of production. Creating what is known as ‘controlled life’ plastic. It also does not stop the plastic from being recyclable (not particularly important for a bin bag perhaps, but useful in other areas!)

According to Symphony Environmental –

“Oxo-biodegradable plastic has been studied by scientists for many years http://www.biodeg.org/bibliography.html

Most recently at the Technical Research Institute of Sweden and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and a peer-reviewed report of the work was published in Vol 96 of the journal of Polymer Degradation & Stability (2011) at page 919-928 where they found 91% biodegradation within 24 months.

Furthermore, ten governments in the world have examined this technology very carefully and realised that Oxo-biodegradable plastic offers a solution to plastic waste that escapes into the open environment and cannot realistically be collected. They have legislated to make Oxo-biodegradable plastic mandatory, because it does not just fragment – It biodegrades.”

If you want to know more about the bags then please visit this link which has some great information

In the D2w Range of bags you will find –

D2w Value Pack SacksStandard Refuse Sacks – Great for general domestic waste and they are strong. We find them perfect for our kitchen bin and you probably will too.
Roll of 20

 

 

D2W Heavy Duty Refuse SackHeavy Duty Refuse Sacks – The kin of the above but thicker and also come with a drawstring. Roll of 10

 

 

 

D2W Draw Tape Pedal Bin LinersPedal Bin Liners – Perfect for bathrooms and smaller kitchen bins. Also with Draw string.
Roll of 30

 

 

 

D2W Draw Tape Swing Bin LinersSwing Bin Liners – Big brother of the Pedal bin liner. Also perfect for Kitchen bins.

Roll of 15

 

 

 

D2W Degradable Freezer Bags MediumMedium and Large Food/ Freezer Bags

Roll of 100/200

 

 

D2W Degradable Wheelie Bin LinersWheelie Bin Liners

 

 

 

D2W Degradable Dog Waste / Nappy Sacks (Roll of 50 Bags)Green vest general purpose bags. These are great for everything from use as dog waste bags, to nappy sacks, to collecting blackberries or anything else you can think of really (and yes we have used them for all of those!)
Roll of 50

 

Other options that are available are bags like –

Beaming Baby Fragrance Free Bio-Degradable Nappy SacksBeaming Baby Biodegradable Nappy Sacks

Available in fragranced and unfragranced. These biodegradefar quicker than regular nappy sacks allowing your nappy to start degrading more quickly too.

 

And if you still need some great bags for doing your weekly shop –

String Bags or Tote Bags are a great option.  Our strings bags have been going strong for over 10 years now! And show no signs of letting us down.
They’re super strong and also hold a surprising amount of stuff.

 

 

 

Also produce bags and grocery bags are amazing for getting your loose fruit and veg, and cereals/pastas etc. They’re made with organic cotton and are washable if needed and reusable indefinitely.

So there are great options out there that allow us to do more for the environment without putting ourselves to any great effort. Do we really need to be forced to make these changes? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we stood up as a nation and said, ‘actually no, we choose to do things differently.’
Wouldn’t it be great if we caused the change, rather than being forced to change??