Household Cleaning Eco Swaps – Low Cost & Easily Accessible – A Review Of Ecover Washing Up Liquid & Toilet Cleaner

Is it really possible to get excited about washing up liquid and loo cleaner? Yes, for me it is. After buying both of these I was significantly more excited than usual about cleaning.

If you’re new here I’ve been making a real effort in the last year to clean up my act to help the planet without spending a fortune. When something runs out I do my best to find a more environmentally friendly alternative that is either the same cost as the product I was buying previously or even cheaper. Believe it or not this is possible. So far swaps have largely focused on my beauty routine including saying goodbye to bottled hand soap and shower gel in favour of paper wrapped bars as one example of many.

Now products are finally starting to run out in my kitchen and around the house so some more swaps have been made. It’s almost embarrassing how excited I get about an affordable swap that is really easy to come by and that’s how I feel about discovering these products from Ecover.

It’s bugged me for a while that most washing up liquids have written on the back “harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects” and we are literally washing this down the drain into the water systems. It blows my mind how companies can sell products like this. Cheap supermarket own brand dish soap never lasts five minutes and the flashier stuff like Fairy more often than not irritates my skin which added another layer of excited when I found Ecover as it is labelled as suitable for sensitive skin. I hoped this would mean no more irritated skin from doing the dishes that instantly leaves me reaching for soothing hand cream or questioning why I don’t own some glamourous rubber gloves.

I purchased a 950ml bottle on Tesco Clubcard Price for £2. In the store their 900ml bottles of Fairy, so less product, were the same price so this does work out cheaper than buying a brand with labels declaring it dangerous to sea life. But it gets so much better from there. Ecover’s washing up liquid comes in a 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottle which is fully recyclable and it is made in a zero waste factory. On the back of the product there are details for how to find your local refill station. These are spread around the UK so you can take the empty bottle to a store to have it filled up again meaning no further plastic bottle purchases are required. I don’t live in a big city at all, I looked up my local area for refill locations and was thrilled to find 3 within 7 miles. One of which is on a road I travel down daily on the route to and from work. The ingredients in the product are also plant based and biodegradable.

The product smells amazing, I find the bottle aesthetically pleasing and all told I’m really chuffed with this. To test it out I intentionally left my washing up overnight rather than cleaning it after cooking and had no difficulties removing things like dried on pasta sauce, almond butter or ice cream from my pans and dishes.

When purchasing the washing up liquid I was also in the market for some loo cleaner. Ecover’s 750ml bottle with an RRP of £1.75 was £1 Clubcard price. I’ve used the supermarket own brand one which costs less than 50p and found it rather useless staining my toilet blue and not really doing much besides. The Clubcard price deal placed this at the same price point as Duck & Harpic products but of course Ecover has the upper hand by not including any nasty ingredients which are detrimental to the environment. The only thing which disappointed me with this was that the bottle is made only from 50% recycled plastic unlike the washing up liquid, but given that this formula is also made with biodegradable ingredients it makes me feel like I’m doing better than not trying at all.

As the toilet cleaner claimed to remove limescale I popped the plug in my bathtub, squeezed a little of this on the offending stain that refused to budge with 4 other cleaning products and left for the instructed 10 mins. I returned to the bathroom smelling lovely and not eye watering like bleach. A quick wipe and the whole area was sparkling like new. I even sent a photo of the bottle to a couple of friends I was that impressed which brought to mind the online memes about how you know you’re an adult when you get excited about buying things like a vacuum cleaner.

The Final Word

Thanks to offers these cost me the same as other branded equivalents which seem to have no eco considerations. I appreciate that own brand options are cheaper but given how long an almost 1L bottle of washing up liquid will last me, and how much better this is for the planet than previous things I bought, I’m more than happy with this switch. I can’t wait to investigate refilling the bottle! I’m aware that solid bars of washing up liquid exist which eliminates the need for any plastic bottles but what really appeals to me about these Ecover products is how easily accessible they are as I could pick them up on my weekly shop without having to think in advance about ordering something online or venturing to a specialist store. I really hope that offers like this will encourage more people to make the swaps whilst buying their groceries. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more supermarket available eco conscious cleaning product swaps as my current products empty.

Comments Welcome.

Monthly Round Up – The Best Ways I Made Money, Saved Money & Bargain Finds In August

Well, we’re officially over halfway through the year. How this has happened baffles me. Whilst I had hoped to have a quieter month this month to try and shift some bits on eBay or Marketplace the reality is I’ve been preoccupied with enjoying my summer and remembering a little what real life was like pre the dread C-word in a way that I’ve felt safe.

I made a whopping £0 selling my unwanted items in August but I did score some great, necessary bargains that still make this post worth writing in my opinion.

Bargain Finds

I officially have an addiction to Facebook Marketplace and I’m totally ok with this as it has been saving me a fortune. This month I picked up 3 items of free furniture and in August I found a wonderful statement floor lamp. I was initially loosely hunting for a different style one before coming across this human sized Pixar lamp in a pale green blue colour. It’s magnificent. It was listed as “like new” and I can’t see a single mark on it.

I was chuffed to get it, knowing it was a bargain but I only got more smug from there. I looked the exact one I had up to discover it cost over £80 from the Range. Days later I saw a virtually identical shaped and sized lamp to mine retailing for over £200.

Mine cost me £20.

This month I resisted the lure of the Boots clearance section with strong willed determination to work through my accidentally hoarded stash of beauty products. I’ll no doubt be visiting there next month as I’m one of those people who starts their festive shopping very early to avoid stress and help save me some cash.

Saved Money

This month I began venturing to eat out in restaurants again after what feels like the longest time. Below are some of the ways I saved money whilst having a much needed night off cooking.

Tesco Clubcard Vouchers – These were converted to cover the bill for Pizza Express minus drinks and as I don’t drink this wasn’t costly. I also visited a Chef & Brewer chain where I enjoyed an entirely guilt free steak and chips as I had Tesco vouchers to cover the cost of my main meal. Without these I highly likely wouldn’t have splashed out so much so this felt like a real treat.

Remembering Money Saving Expert’s Nandos Hacks – yes, there are such things. I learnt ages ago that ordering 1 large portion of fries was cheaper than the price of 2 regular sides and it was rumoured you got more chips. So I decided to test this out with a friend and we both agreed we had more food for less cost. We also opted for the refillable zero drinks as these dodged the sugar tax cost and saved us a few extra pennies. I’m well aware we could have been even cheaper by only having tap water but as this was my first Nandos trip in over 18 months I fully intended to enjoy the whole experience and the little savings all add up.

August ’21 – A Round Up Of All The Samples & Free Items I Got This Month & How I Got Them

Last month I optimistically thought August would be a calmer, quieter month for me but it has been far from peaceful in all the best ways. I’ve simply not been on my phone as much to register for sampling opportunities but in true frugal fashion I’ve done very well with saving on any shopping trips I have been on such as picking up free food whilst doing the grocery run. Without further ado below is every thing I picked up at zero cost this month.

Beauty

Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream – I’ve been curious about this cult favourite for some time now so was pleased to be able to get hold of a sample of this to try out. I was able to get this via filling out a sponsored social media advert.

Carolina Herrera Liquid Lipstick – I managed to get this after filling in a sponsored advert on Pinterest. It took nearly 2 months to arrive but was definitely worth the wait as the pink toned red is such a beautiful colour. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a lipstick and have quite the collection of glorious minis like this.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair – I got 2 sachets of this from a sponsored social media advert. I’ll be saving these up, along with other high end beauty samples, to make a gift for a relative as they love this product and I find it a bit underwhelming.

I’m sorry to say beyond this I totally lost track of any postal freebie arrivals and didn’t manage to pick any up in stores!

Food / Drink

3 x Greggs breakfast rolls – one a week via O2 Priority Moments. I generally tend to pop into town to run errands early in the morning on a Saturday and add this to my list as it’s a completely free treat to start the weekend.

Iced latte from Cafe Nero – again free via O2 Priority Moments on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. I’m slightly disappointed I only managed to grab one of these but did nail how to make a wonderful coconut milk iced latte at home with Aldi’s 69p long life milk so I’m not too upset by this!

Peanut cereal bar from Holland and Barrett – via an offer on Shopmium. Whilst I don’t like peanuts I popped to the shop to browse clearance items and decided to grab this whilst there. I often do this and pass them onto friends or donate to food banks as it’s a totally free way to do a good deed.

Nucao Original Sea Salt chocolate bar – Green Jinn offered £1.15 cashback. I bought the bar on clearance for £1.14 on a whim and was granted the cashback so technically made 1p profit. These bars are very densely nutty.

Sproud Pea Milk – from Waitrose via an offer on Green Jinn. This is long life so I grabbed one to pop in the cupboard. I do this whenever I see long life plant based milks for free on cashback apps as it helps me to save a fortune in dairy free milks.

Mighty banana vegan milkshake – again via an offer on Green Jinn. I find this by far the best cashback app for saving money on dairy free or vegan items.

Meal in Pizza Express – by paying with Tesco Clubcard vouchers

Home

3 x Items Of Furniture – I got all of these free after spotting a listing on Facebook Marketplace. The previous owner was having a house clearance and just wanted the items gone to save them having to pay for a service to take it all away. I’m a huge fan of the mid century style and had actually been looking for one of these exact units from the start of the year so I am absolutely thrilled with this find.

Comments Welcome

Low Cost & Easily Accessible Eco Friendly Beauty Swaps That I Plan To Make

In the last few months I’ve been trying really hard to clean up my beauty act. I’ve swapped to zero waste razors and deodorant, given up plastic bottled soaps and gels for paper wrapped bars and tried to prioritise brands with better eco credentials. I know I still have a long way to go. The only reason these swaps are in the pipeline and haven’t already happened is because I have a stash of beauty products or essentials to work my way through. As someone who likes to make the most of their money I’ll often stock up on items I trust or rely on in advance of needing them to ensure I’m not caught out having to pay full price which means I’ve accumulated quite the stash.

Bar Soap Facial Cleanser

I’m aware that last year I mentioned wanting to try Carbon Theory’s bar cleanser but have found such conflicting advice online that I was put off from this. Reviews I read said the formula could be quite drying and as I use prescription acne treatment or ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, AHAs, BHAs which can be drying I now use and need a more hydrating cleanser. I’ve seen that Cerave, one of my favourite brands for cleansers, released their famous formulas in bar form with cardboard packaging. So far I’ve yet to see this on sale in the UK in stores but have seen it on Amazon and as I love the original bottled formulas I’ve a lot more confidence that my skin will get on well with this. I think Cerave must be sick of me and my enthusiasm for this product on Instagram as I keep trying to find out when I might be able to buy this in UK stores!

Via Instagram SebaMed UK’s cleansing bar came onto my radar. It too comes in cardboard packaging, has a ph of 5.5 and is designed for sensitive acne prone skin meaning it is gentle and non stripping.

Once my stash of bottled cleansers has been worked through I’ll be transitioning over to one of these alternatives. Interestingly I recently saw online that Nivea have released bar facial cleansers and I’m aware The Body Shop also have a variety. I’m just incredibly fussy as my skin is very acne prone but if yours is less temperamental than mine and your face is less likely to break out faster than you can say “spots” then this is becoming a really easy swap to make.

Bar Shampoo or Refillable Shampoo

I am thrilled that The Body Shop now have refill stations in their stores up and down the country. I didn’t expect my smaller local stores to have this option but both do which made me very happy. As they’re little stores they only have 6 options but this includes 1 hand soap, 1 shampoo, 1 conditioner and 3 shower gels. The shampoo in my local store would be my one of choice out of all their options which was a very happy discovery.

I’m torn between trying the refillable shampoo and Garnier’s new Ultimate Blends bars. I’ve seen these several times in Boots on half price offers making them £3.99 instead of £7 which sounds like a great affordable swap option to me. As they’re stocked in Boots I can see myself using my Advantage Card points to give this a go without spending a penny. I think I’ll try one of their bars first and if I don’t get on with the shampoo bar experience then I’ll go for The Body Shop refillable option as a back up.

I’ve got quite a collection of shampoo bottles that I’ve accumulated from clearance deals thinking these were too good to pass up at the time. I’ll move towards bars once I’ve emptied the bottles I have. I know so many people rave about Lush but their expensive prices put me off slightly when I’ve no idea how I’ll get on with shampoo bars hence waiting it out this long to make an eco switch.

Reusable Cotton Pads

I’ve been incredibly wary of these given that my skin is really acne prone. I didn’t want to potentially waste my money on these. Since delving into using an oil cleanser I’ve been using a wash cloth to remove this and as long as I chuck it in the wash once or twice a week I’ve not had any issues. This has given me the confidence to venture into trying reusable cotton pads. I’d only really be using these for exfoliants and don’t tend to use that many cotton ads as it is hence not making this switch sooner.

One of my wonderful followers and “insta-pals” as she likes to call us, The Acne Pharmacist, kindly sent me a surprise pack of 3 reusable pads recently so I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to try these out.

Plastic Bottle Free Make Up Remover

I’ve been a huge fan of the Garnier Micellar Water since discovering it a few years ago. It’s my go to for removing eye make up as it is cheap, cheerful, highly effective and doesn’t break me out. However, given that I really want to try and make my beauty routines more eco friendly I’m intending to try The Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Butter instead as this comes in an aluminium tin. Their mini retails for £5 and as I’m a loyalty card holder I received a £5 voucher for my birthday month so I was able to pick this up at no cost. All that’s required is a wash cloth which is far better than plastic bottles and disposable cotton pads so I’m really hoping my skin gets on well with this.

More Eco Friendly Body Lotion

I’m aware The Body Shop recently redesigned their packaging for body butters to include an aluminium lid to make them more eco friendly. I’m torn between purchasing this which I’ve used before and enjoy or branching out to try products from Lush. I’m equally open minded about using a moisturising product in a cardboard tube or similar so intend to do my research for when the products I have run out.

I’m open to low cost suggestions of ways I can continue to clean up my beauty routine.

Comments Welcome

Being A Low Cost Plant Mum – Ways To Save Money On House Plants, Cheap Places To Buy Them & Easy Ways I’ve Found To Keep Them Alive

It started with a few small cacti before escalating as a won a £50 IKEA voucher last summer and used this to get a Monstera, or cheese plant, which I’d coveted for years but had worried about keeping it alive as I’d never had a large houseplant before. I would never had spent £15 on a large plant with no plant care experience so am still really happy I won the voucher. Below are a few of the ways I’ve saved money on plants as well as things that have helped to keep them healthy. I am by no means a green fingered expert and I have lost a few along the way over the last couple of years. I am currently the proud owner of around 12 indoor plants which are all going through a major growth spurt thanks to the summer weather!

Low Cost Places To Buy Houseplants

Wilko – I picked up an Anthurium for £5 in Wilko. I’ve seen virtually identical plants to mine for £12+ in places like Homebase and even B&Q. It’s hard to predict what Wilko will have in store and often the plants look like they need a little TLC but I’ve seen Bromeliads again for £5 instead of £12-15+. They also have a good range of tiny cacti that are reasonably priced.

Sainsbury – they have some amazingly priced houseplants with many in ceramic pots for around the same price as what you could expect to pay for the pot alone. I don’t usually rate this supermarket for value for money but was really impressed by the price tags on plants I’ve seen on a couple of visits. I’ve been very tempted on more than one occasion to add to my collection.

B&Q – whilst some are still pricey B&Q on the whole does have some well price plants. On a recent visit I saw a whole wall’s worth of plants wrapped in brown paper packaging for £4.50 in pots which were 12cm diameter including cult favourites like spider plants, ferns and many other leafy plants with pretty foliage.

Facebook Marketplace – in my local area I’ve seen spider plant cuttings starting as low as £1. This is a great place to start looking.

Ikea – has some low cost cacti options with 3 in a pack for £5 including lovely little ceramic pots for them. The only thing I don’t like about this is that you can’t pick the 3 you want as they come in a multipack.

Tesco – I’ve picked up a mini cacti or two in Tesco. I find these to be pretty well priced and generally well looked after.

Don’t Be Afraid To Barter

Yes, this might sound mad but I’d had my eye on a Spotted Begonia for about a year before eventually finding one in a local shop. They were £8 but all had incredibly dried out soil, some damage to their leaves and the tips of the leaves looked dry and crusty on a few of them. The plant definitely didn’t look it’s best so I took it to the till, explained my concerns and was immediately offered the plant for £4. Since buying it and watering it regularly it’s almost tripled in size and makes me very happy. If you struggle with spot prone skin and need a reminder that spots aren’t ugly I can highly recommend getting yourself one of these plants! Both B&Q and Wilko have reduced plants when I’ve asked. I never abuse this finding fault with perfectly healthy plants.

Do A Little Research

When I first got my cheese plant I read up on the best ways to water them and very quickly came across a few helpful hints and tips which have served me well in the last year. I bought a brilliant second hand book called The Care Of Houseplants very cheaply online which gives problem solving advice e.g. if it has yellow leaves it’s because of x y z. It gives at least 5 problem solving options for each plant in the book to cover most eventualities.

Under Water Not Over Water

I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s almost impossible to save a drowned over watered plant whereas underwatering, in comparison, can be relatively easily corrected. I’ve always erred on the side of caution with watering out of fear that I’ll kill plants off completely by drowning them hence being a fan of the bottom watering technique.

Bottom Watering

I water almost all of my houseplants except the cheese plant, using the method of popping the plant on a saucer, filling this with water and then leaving them to drink it up or not as the case may be. I’ve found this really helpful as sometimes it’s hard to tell if plants need watering and this way it reduces the risk of overwatering or drowning for me! If plants don’t want water they simple don’t suck it up and if the do the saucer ends up emptied.

Be Patient

I never buy loads of plants at once. I tend to pick one up, learn it’s likes and dislikes over a couple of months until I’m confident I can keep it healthy before buying more. I also won’t spend over £10 on a plant, my average is about £5. If a plant isn’t looking it’s best rather than rushing to drastic action I remember not to expect immediate results and not to throw every attempt at problem solving at the plant. I bought a £5 Umbrella Plant in B&Q and no matter what I did with it the odd few leaves kept turning brown and dropping off at first. I tried one new option every 7-10 days such as relocating it, not watering it, etc and eventually it settled down and began churning out very cute tiny umbrellas as it grew.

Comments Welcome

Where the real house plant obsession began – my beautiful giant cheese plant for free via an IKEA voucher competition prize