Eco tips: May 2023 - October 2023

Archive of Eco tips

Tips for sustainable living, produced by members of the eco-group, are published weekly in the Church bulletin. An archive of these tips can be found here:

We have all heard the dire warnings this week of the high likelihood of reaching or exceeding a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next five years. This figure is critical because it represents a tipping point from which it will be impossible to recover.
Let’s take this warning as a spur to redouble our personal efforts to live more sustainably in all aspects of our lives.

This week’s tip is a reminder of the LOAF principle which applies particularly to buying food, but has implications for other purchases. LOAF stands for
Local: this involves shopping locally where possible, but particularly avoiding foods which have travelled a long way to reach us. This means avoiding those which have been flown in, and also adjusting our choices so that we eat those foods which are in season.
Organic: Agriculture often uses a lot of chemicals, and although there are many regulations, some of these chemicals can have a very detrimental effect on the environment and biodiversity. Growing our own vegetables or trying to avoid those which may have been produced with the aid of a lot of pesticides is a good way forward.
Animal-friendly : We may not all be ready to move to a vegetarian or vegan diet, but we can all try to reduce the amount of meat, especially red meat, that we eat. This also has health benefits. If buying meat, try to find out about its sources.
Fairtrade: Fairtrade goods are much more widely available in supermarkets than they once were, and of course they are available in the Fairtrade shop in Wesley. By choosing Fairtrade products, we are also thinking about the lives of those on whom we depend for the goods we are buying.

Over-frequency of linen changes and a surfeit of single use plastic containers of toiletries used to be features of many hotels. It is good to see that a lot have become much more ecologically aware, and are encouraging less frequent linen changes and have installed refillable dispensers for soaps and shampoos. However, these practices are not universal. If we have occasion to use a hotel, for work or leisure, and we find that sheets and towels are being changed unnecessarily, or that toiletries are in single use plastic containers, make a point of commenting on this on the inevitable feedback form which will arrive. We will not be in a position to comment on ’behind the scenes’ issues, but at least we can show that we are concerned about excessive laundry and the use of plastic.

A few weeks ago we asked you for information about local ‘zero-waste’ shops or those with ‘refill’ facilities. Sadly, we didn’t have many responses, but are very grateful for those we received, and these are listed below. If you have any further suggestions, do send them in, via the circuit or Wesley office.
Several supermarkets and other shops have been trialling some refill sections within their stores, though none within this area. Ask at your supermarket and convenience store. Show them that there is a demand. A recent visitor to Brussels reports that most of the convenience stores she visited had goods for sale on a ‘refill’ basis. This shows that it is perfectly possible. Let’s get campaigning!
Shops providing refill goods
Name and type of shop
Range of refill products
Ex-squeeze-me, Greengrocer
Handbridge, Chester
Dried fruits, nuts, grains, small range of spices
Ty Pawb, Wrexham
General – see their Facebook page -
The Organic Stores
Unit 4 Oaktree Business Park Queens Lane, Mold, CH7 1XB
Organic foods and ethically sourced products including fresh fruit and veg, frozen food, dairy & vegan chilled food, organic wines and drinks, tinned & packet organic foods, eco beauty and health products; eco liquid refills in laundry, cleaning & beauty products, refill organic nuts and grains.
Hoole Food Market
Faulkner St, Hoole, Chester
Wide range of dried goods, grains, pulses, pasta etc. The shop works on strong environmental principles, with their fruit and vegetables being locally sourced. Delivery service available.

The hot weather is here, and we have all heard of the problems of water shortage in some parts of the country. Despite the storms and heavy rain of recent days, water supplies are low for the time of year. Even without major changes to our domestic plumbing systems, there are many small things which we can do to save water.
Showers: Keep these short; 4-5 minutes should be long enough.
Drinking water: Rather than running the tap to get a cold drink, keep a jug or bottle of tapwater in the fridge; this will then be cold and ready to drink.
Laundry: Washing linen and clothes takes a lot of water. Try to use the same linen for a little longer. Resist the temptation to throw the day’s clothes into the laundry basket (unless they really need it).Also, rather than just putting them on a chair (or letting them end up on the floor) hang them up outside the wardrobe, preferably near an open window, and this will freshen them up for at least another day.
Watering the garden: Even if there is not yet a hosepipe ban, try to avoid hosepipes.Water selectively with a can where it is needed. If you do not have a rainwater butt,leave a few buckets around to collect at least some of the rainwater which will come from the inevitable thunderstorms.
Cleaning your teeth: Don’t forget to turn off the tap while cleaning your teeth; a lot of water is lostin this way.

We are always urged to change our toothbrushes regularly in the interests of dental hygiene. But one individual will get through a lot of toothbrushes in a lifetime,- and these plastic items will all end up in landfill!
There is a simple solution- use a bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo is plentiful, sustainable and it makes good toothbrushes! Furthermore, when finished with, the toothbrush is compostable. These brushes
are cheap, and are now available in supermarkets and local pharmacies. If your local shop doesn’t stock them, ask for them. Customer demand is all important.
If you think that all bamboo toothbrushes look the same, so it won’t be possible to know whose is whose in the bathroom, it is easy enough to put a mark on the handle.
A toothbrush is a small item, but one which we use every day, and making this change can help us to think about other small changes we can make in our lives.

We are now into July, which is, of course,, Plastic-Free July. Over time we have offered a number of tips on avoiding plastic, and will continue to do so. However, we thought that this week we would share a blog from Green Christian which highlights some of the dilemmas and challenges of trying to live a plastic free life.
Plastic Free July Image by Rosy from Pixabay Plastic is bad, we all know that. The UN has found that there are 13000 chemicals in plastics – of which 3,200 have one or more hazardous properties of concern that can be released into the environment at any stage in its lifecycle. But plastic can also be very useful. Shrink-wrapped cucumber lasts three times as long as it would otherwise do, meaning, perhaps, that it isn’t landfilled, releasing methane. So, going plastic-free, as suggested by Plastic Free July, is good – so long as we think carefully about what alternative we go with. Eco-alternatives Eco-alternatives are often not the answer. Cotton carrier bags need to be used 50-150 times to be better for the environment than a single use plastic bag. And a paper or bioplastic drinking straw is not the answer as they can be worse for climate change than a plastic straw. Glass, rather than plastic bottles, will weigh more and increase the carbon cost of transport. So what do we do? The best eco-alternative has got to be nothing. Home-grown cucumbers don’t need any packaging, use the shopping bag you already have at home and do you need that drinking straw? (However, see “don’t sweat the small stuff” below) Recycling
I’d always thought that using recyclable plastic was acceptable, but recent studies on plastic recycling challenge this assumption. There seem to be some very good reasons why recycling is the last of the 3 Rs (and also of our 7Rs). The recycling process releases toxic chemicals and microplastics into waste water, from where they can enter the food system So if you are planning to try to do Plastic-free July, it needs to include single-use plastic. Don’t sweat the small stuff One of the phrases Plastic Free July uses is “small steps, big difference”. This is just not true. If you’ve ever done a carbon footprint calculation you will know that how much plastic you use is unlikely to be one of the questions, and also that you have used up your carbon allowance for today before you get out of bed in the morning. We cannot, living in this country, live within the limits of this planet. We cannot live ‘holy’ lives that do not harm God’s world and people. After repentance and acceptance of God’s gracious forgiveness we must then look at the things over which we have control and try to live as gently on the earth as we can. And we may as well pick the big stuff that makes a difference, rather than sweating the small stuff. This isn’t penance, it is our worship and joy to do so. Do I bother with Plastic Free July? Trying to go plastic-free is still a good thing to do. But while doing so, why not chat about why and how you try to live gently on God’s earth. Widen the conversation from drinking straws to holidays, banking and campaigning. The motivation is the same – to protect people and creation. How much better to make a difference as well. Reproduced with permission from

Out into the garden this week…
You may have heard of the Coronation Gardens scheme, which has been launched to mark the King’s long commitment to sustainability. The scheme urges those of us fortunate enough to have a garden to commit to:
Growing some of our own vegetables and herbs;
Planting pollinator-friendly plants;
Installing a water-feature, even if it is no bigger than a bowl of water; leaving a small patch of long grass; avoiding pesticides.
You can read all about this scheme at
You can find very similar ideas in the RHS ‘Seven steps to a greener garden’ at

A reminder this week about the effects of all those e-mails…
Every e-mail has a carbon footprint. It has been calculated that the average message carries 0.03gm of carbon, although of course long mesages and those with large attachments have a lot more. This is due to the energy demands both of our own devices and of the data centres which support our
systems. Although the amount for a single message may seem small, we all know how quickly they pile up.
There are simple steps we can take:
Don’t send unnecessary messages;
Avoid using ‘reply all’ unless this is needed;
Avoid long ‘threads’ where we are sending the same correspondence backwards and forwards;
.Unsubscribe from mailings which you don’t want, and always just ‘bin’ (but keep subscribing).

There has been much in the news this week to give us cause for thought and action. We have all heard of temperature records tumbling within days of each other, of the horrendous wild fires in Greece and of the warnings by leading climate scientists that we are unlikely to succeed in limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.
All of these need to be a spur to us to re-double our efforts to limit our carbon footprint and our negative effect on our planet, so that we think about the impact of every action we take during the day, however big or small, and realise that everything we do has consequences.We also need to continue to write to MPs and local councillors about the importance of taking action on climate concerns.
This links with a further news item. We have heard how some politicians, from both main parties, seem to wish to rein back on climate commitments for the sake of electoral gain. We need to show that concern for the state of the created world is above short-term political gain- a thought ably explored by the Bishop of Blackburn in Radio 4 ‘Thought for the Day’ on 23rd July. You can hear this at It is only 3 minutes long, but worth listening to.

This week’s topic may seem to be a small action compared with our massive focus last week, but this is a reminder of the importance of thinking of the consequences of every action, and of the cumulative effect of many small actions.
Many use social media for following friends or for receiving the news, or for seemingly everything! According to the Carbon literacy Project, the carbon footprint of social media varies significantly depending on the type of content, the technology, the platform used and the efforts that the company has made to reduce its footprint. Video and images generally have a higher footprint, though, according to analysis by Greenspector, YouTube bags the prize for the lowest impact. Greenspector measured the impact of the top 10 platforms. The impact will differ, depending on the device used. Spending a minute on YouTube generates emissions of 0.46gCO2e. At the other end of the scale is TikTok, with a footprint per minute almost five times the size. On average people spend over 2 hours a day on social media. Taking average emissions of 1.15gCO2e per minute, Greenspector calculates an individual’s use of social media generates 60kgCO2e per year. We generate a similar amount by driving the 535km between London and Edinburgh in a small car.
If you want to look at the effects of particular platforms, Compare the Market have produced a personal social media carbon footprint calculator at This site also has a lot more information on the topic.

Many of us use medical tablets of some sort, either on prescription or bought over the counter. Most of these now come in ‘blister-packs’, which are not usually accepted for recycling, as they are a mixture of metal and plastic.
We are grateful to one of our readers from the circuit who informed us of the recycling scheme for blister packs now run by Superdrug. This only operates in their stores which have a pharmacy, and you can find details at . In the Chester store, the box is situated near the pharmacy counter.
Try using this service if you can and ask in other pharmacies. The sense of competition may spur others to take up similar schemes.

This week’s tip is a simple one from the Guardian’s ’50 easy ways to save the planet’: Give your garden a good breakfast; coffee grounds and eggshells are ideal for composting..

A long time ago, dishcloths were made of cotton, and often hand-knitted! Nowadays, most of us use ‘J cloths’ or other all-purpose cloths, which are generally seen as disposable, although a few are advertised as compostable. These cloths can, however, easily be washed in the washing machine, and thus have much longer lives. Such washing will of course, discharge some micro-fibres, but this is better than the whole cloth going to landfill.

If we have been fortunate enough to have a holiday in recent weeks, then maybe now is the time for an ‘eco re-set’. If we have been on holiday with a car, we may understandably have been tempted to drive a bit further and explore and enjoy some new places, or re-visit old haunts. If we have been staying in a hotel, we may have become accustomed to a rather more generous use of energy than we would allow ourselves at home. If we have been away, or if we have been entertaining family and friends at home, it may be that we have been eating rather more meat than we usually do. All of these can give us pause for thought about how we can re-set as life settles down to the routines of September.
And don’t forget- if you did get away, and stayed in a hotel, B and B or self catering, there will be the inevitable feedback form. This is where we can suggest that they change the linen less frequently, offer more vegetarian options on the menu, or provide better cycle parking!

If we can afford to, we all enjoy giving gifts to friends and family. It is easy, however, for the recipients to end up with a lot of things, some of which are not very sustainable. So let’s try to ensure that our gifts are sustainable- they do not contain plastic and are sustainably sourced. Perhaps we can think
about giving gifts which help the recipients with living in a more eco-friendly way. OR maybe we could make a donation to charity instead of a material gift; this may be to something like Christian Aid or All We Can, or perhaps to an environmental charity.
If we do give material gifts, let’s try to be frugal on wrappings. We can always re-use wrapping paper which we have received, smooth it out, and give it another use. It is also good to know that stationer’s like WHSmith are now selling recycled wrapping paper, which is essentially attractively decorated brown paper. This also has the advantage of being sold in cardboard sleeves rather than cellophane packets.

Caring for the created world includes of course concern for the conservation of species, all of which are part of the complicated web of the planet’s eco-system. Due to trade (often illegal), destruction of habitats, and the encroachments of ever-increasing human populations, as well as the effects of climate change, many of these are now in danger of extinction, and significant populations have been lost. We can keep informed through well-respected organisations like WWF (see, and supporting their work if we can. Also, in this area, we are privileged to have Chester Zoo on our doorstep. Whilst we may think of the zoo as an opportunity for a day out, they are doing significant conservation work throughout the world. (See Let’s try to learn more about their activities, and think carefully about what we can do to protect wildlife.

From time to time, we probably all make online purchases, and in recent years we have come to rely on these. With many orders, there is the option of ‘standard’ or ‘next day’ delivery. By opting for standard delivery, we can reduce the carbon footprint of our purchase, as the couriers will be able to plan their routes more efficiently and economically.

‘The Repair Shop’ has proved to be a very popular television programme, and the craftspeople in the barn have shown us what can be done with items which look well beyond any hope of repair. In a society which for the past few decades has focussed on throwing away and replacing rather than repairing and renewing, there is now a new enthusiasm for the possibility of repair. Those with the relevant skills may be few, but if we discover people locally who can make repairs to our household goods and possessions, let’s support them, and make them known to others. If there are those within the Church or local community who have such skills which they could share, let’s find ways of using these skills, whether on bicycle repairs, clothes, or other domestic items This is a simple way of trying to live more sustainably.
Whatever our political views, we may have been surprised by recent apparent relaxations of some climate targets for the UK. Whatever may be the government policy, let’s not relax our individual and communal efforts to live more simply and sustainably and to do all that we can to protect our planet for the sake of present and future generations.

It is the time of year when, if we are gardeners, we tidy up the garden and start planning and planting for next year. If we are doing such planting, let’s make sure that we make space for some fruit and vegetables, including a place for those which may not go in until later on. Home-grown produce is usually much tastier than shop-bought, and saves both food miles and packaging.

Almost everything that we do may have an impact on the environment. It is therefore important to be aware of our personal carbon footprint, and everyone’s will be different. There are many carbon footprint calculators available online, and it is a good idea to try to measure our footprints with one of these. A simple one to use is that provided by WWF which can be found at . This is simple to use, and only takes a few minutes. It necessarily has a ‘broad-brush’ approach, but will help you to be aware of your personal impact. Even if the result congratulates us for having a below average footprint, using this can still encourage us to aim for further reductions

If we are fortunate enough to have savings which have been invested, these will come up to maturity or for review from time to time. When they do, let’s make sure that the portfolios into which the funds are invested are ethically sound; this means that they are not investing in the arms trade or in businesses which are environmentally damaging. Sometimes the diversity of the portfolios which we are offered makes choices more difficult, but there is plenty of advice online and a useful article can be found at If we are contributing to a pension fund, and have choices about where the fund is invested, we need to ask questions about this too.

We are all aware of the vast amount of rain that has fallen recently, and our sympathies are with those who are suffering from the damage and misery of flooding. Yet we still need to be frugal with our use of water. Many reservoirs are still not at capacity. Furthermore, purifying water for domestic use takes energy and resources, so by excessive use of domestic water, we are also wasting energy and purification resources.

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