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.

Where To Send Your Unwanted Items So They Don’t End Up In Landfill. Including Recycling Used Make Up, Prescription Glasses and Worn Bras

This is a slightly different post theme to my usual frugal hacks and freebie collections. Like a lot of us during any of the lockdowns in the last 12 months I’ve had a bit of a tidy up, rearrange and organise of my house which prompted me to write this post. A few years ago when having a huge deep clear out I came across some items which initially cost me a lot of money such as old prescription glasses, make up products, underwear etc that I didn’t want to throw out but simply didn’t need or use anymore. On a whim I began online research to find out what to do with them as opposed to sending them to landfill. Below I’ve included just a few of the schemes I came across for my items. Nowadays I tend to quickly Google items to find further solutions. Obviously local charity shops are a great option for standard donations, freecycle or Facebook Market Place are other popular choices.

Ask Your Friends and Family

This is my number one port of call when getting rid of a few bits. For example when tidying I came across some colour depositing hair products that I wouldn’t use again as I didn’t fancy red toned hair anymore. They were 3/4 full and remembered a friend within my social bubble pre-lockdown 3 mentioning colouring theirs so this was re-homed with her. Whilst asking another friend for houseplant advice I realised I had some small empty plastic plant pots and one decorative one that I’d planned to donate to charity but asked if she’d like them instead. I’ve done this in the past with so many things including items of clothing if I’ve decided not to sell them on eBay – if you do decide to sell them a post on my best tips for eBay can be found here.

H&M Textiles Recycling Scheme for worn out fabrics, clothes and textiles

In all H&M stores there are collections for bags of unwanted clothing and a system for all items donated. Some are sold for charity and really old unwearable items are recycled into loft insulation or cleaning cloths etc. I’ve filled at least 5 bags in the last 6 months with old paint stained t shirts, socks with holes in, bobbled jumpers or faded bed sheets. In exchange you will be given a £5 off your next £25 spend voucher with usually a long use by date on. I tend to gift these to friends as I buy the vast majority of my clothes second hand. I like this scheme for being really easily accessible but admit it doesn’t solve the fast fashion problem as the voucher gives an incentive to buy more fast fashion. But for me personally it’s probably saved the equivalent for 3 bin bags of textiles going to landfill with no further purchases which is better than me just chucking them in general household waste.

Clarks x Unicef For Old Shoes in any condition

Clarks have partnered with Unicef since 2008 and use any old shoes you donate by taking to their stores and putting in a collection bin (even including wornout £1 Primark flip flops and holey slippers) to help fund children’s education in poor 3rd world countries. In 2018 they saved nearly 190 tonnes of shoes going to landfill whilst providing “school in a box” kits that turn any space into a learning area for 40 children.

Donate Old Glasses Frames via The Lion’s Club or New Eyes

I’ve worn glasses since I was 4 and struggle to adjust from one pair to another meaning I only wear 1 pair at a time and had lots of old prescription frames. My local optician, like many, have a link with The Lion’s Club who send the glasses to 3rd world countries after servicing them. In some African countries the cost of an eye test is the equivalent of one month’s wages. Both charities  The Lion’s Club and New Eyes also accept hearing aids as well as glasses for children, men and women. Try your local opticians to see if you can donate the pairs in store or check online for addresses to ship items to a good cause.

Donate Old Bras to help raise money for breast cancer charities and help those less fortunate in 3rd world countries. There are lots of charities online that accept used bras, you simply pop them in the post after paying a small postage fee. Free donation options include Bravissimo stores across the UK who have collection bins that you can drop them off at “in any condition”. The charity Against Breast Cancer also have bra banks where you can donate. Their website has a handy map to find your nearest one.

Duvets, bedding and towels may be collected by local homeless shelters or animal shelters. It’s worth giving them a call to check what they can accept. I once managed to donate lots of towels to a local animal sanctuary to help keep the animals cold in the winter! If they’re really grotty take them to a local textiles recycling bank or use the H&M scheme.

Recycle printer ink cartridges and used postage stamps for charities such as the RSPB. There are lots of recycling options online for these with freepost options so it won’t cost you anything to do so.

Recycle Used Make Up. Garnier have twinned with Terracycle to provide recycling bins in selected Superdrug, Tesco, Sainsbury and Boots stores ensuring that nothing you throw in the bins ends up in landfill. I love that they’ve added these to supermarkets as it meant the scheme can still be accessed even in UK lockdowns. I always hold onto old make up even if I don’t wear it because I’ve always felt bad for just throwing it out and now I have the perfect solution. In some Boots stores there are now bins to recycle products, if you throw in 5 selected items and follow their instructions you receive £5 worth of Boots points.

The Reduce Reuse Recycle website is really helpful for tips on where to send obscure items, upcycling projects etc.

How To Recycle Your Beauty Empties For Discounts & Freebies To Avoid Them Ending Up In Landfill

I love an incentivised recycling scheme as it tends to engage lots more people in the idea of recycling. Lots of beauty packaging is tricky to recycle. Some items once cleaned like shampoo bottles and even completely empty beauty aerosols etc can go in household recycling bins but others like foundations with pumps etc are more difficult which is where in store recycling services come in. Lots of high street stores have partnered with Terracycle to transform your previously “unrecyclable” items.

Below are some of the schemes available and discounts available on the high street which I found online at the time of publishing. I also recently wrote a post on changes I’d like to make overall to reduce my beauty waste which can be found here as I’m keen to make easy, cheap swaps to reduce the plastic I use.

Discount / Voucher Incentives In Store For Beauty Empties

  • The Perfume Shop – 10% discount valid on the day you take in 1 empty bottle. I have heard people having great success selling empty perfume bottles on eBay so this may work out better than the 10% saving and it is saving the bottle from being binned!
  • 5 clean LUSH containers will earn you a free face mask
  • 6 MAC Containers will earn you a free lipstick RRP £15.50
  • Kiehl’s have a reward card – 10 stamps gets you a free travel mini – stamps can be earned by recycling their packaging or shopping with a reusable bag
  • & Other Stories give you a 10% off voucher valid for 3 months if you return their beauty packaging
  • L’Occitane recycle any branded beauty empties and will give you a 10% off full price voucher
  • John Lewis offer a £5 voucher to My John Lewis members who return 5 beauty empties from any brand.
  • The Body Shop recycle their packaging in all stores but there’s no longer a discount / voucher. I personally wouldn’t hesitate to ask for a few samples after engaging with this as the company are known for being very generous with sampling.

Essentially John Lewis and L’Occitane will accept packaging from any brand providing it fits with their lists of items they can accept – e.g. nail varnish, perfume bottles, aerosols, hair brushes, tooth brushes or electrical items can’t be recycled as part of this scheme. John Lewis even state they’ll recycle minis as part of this scheme. This is worth baring in mind regardless of the financial incentive to do our bit for the planet in my opinion.

In the past The Body Shop offered a £5 voucher for recycling their packaging which I claimed to get 3 travel minis for free. Clarins once gave out deluxe minis for recycling beauty empties from any brand which I claimed 3 times over a few months. I’ve recently joined My John Lewis to recycle some of my beauty empties into another voucher once this service is back up and running again – understandably it’s been paused in lots of stores given the pandemic. Their website does say this service is available but its worth checking with your local stores in advance as many don’t currently offer this.

I keep small empty products that I’ve collected to make the most of schemes like this as one usually comes around fairly quickly and it helps me recycle as much as possible.

Comments Welcome

My Favourite Loyalty Cards – Why You Need To Join The Love Your Body Club From The Body Shop

Continuing on from my recent post about how much I love the Boots Advantage Card and its accompanying app for saving money I decided to feature The Body Shop’s loyalty card which although I don’t use anywhere near as much as my Boots card I think it is definitely worth having, read on to find out why.

Love Your Body Club details

  • 10 points for every £1 spend
  • Free £5 voucher on your birthday month that can be used in store or online
  • 500 points = £5 voucher to redeem
  • refer-a-friend-scheme offering both parties discounts (friends have to be new customers)
  • You can earn points in their outlets where most products have good reductions
  • 20% student discount through Unidays in store and online (at time of posting)
  • If you leave a product review you often get a discount code towards your next shop online

My love for The Body Shop started around 2014 when they had a promo offering £25 off a £50 spend which I used to invest in items like make up brushes, eye pencil sharpeners, a body brush etc – all of which are still going strong. I used to buy virtually all my toiletries from TBS including skin care, toiletries and gifts as a few years ago O2 Priority used to always offer 30% discounts with no minimum spend. Their receipts always used to include a save £10 when you spend £25 coupon which I would then use to buy their heavily reduced box sets in the sales which were fantastic value for money. If you’re a fan of their products I’d hugely recommend buying this way as the boxes include multi-save offers anyway and when reduced are often quite a bit cheaper than buying the 1 individual product you may have wanted.

Nowadays I don’t buy anywhere near as much as I used to but would still say this card is worth having if you like freebies. You get special member offers and TBS often give away samples of products via social media adverts that you can pick up in store, I’ve always been asked for my Love Your Body Card when collecting these. I’ve been able to pick up face mask sachets, 2 mini bottles of shampoo (which when empty are great to refill for travelling), a mini hand cream and others in the past. The best perk is the £5 voucher within your birthday month and it is easy to use this to get completely free products.

I’m fully aware that lots more eco-friendly toiletry companies are out there but for easy accessibility I think TBS is a better choice than most other high street options in Boots or Superdrug. They’re owned by Natura & Co, an ethical, cruelty free company and TBS do lots to raise money for charity and protecting the planet. They promote in store recycling, make packaging from recycled waste which improves working conditions for plastic pickers, have some refillable products as well as plastic free options like bar soap for body and face with options for different skin concerns. I used my birthday voucher last month to pick up a free bar soap to make an eco swap away from buying shower gel. Their packaging like plastic tubs and glass jars look great when upcycled into plant pots and their gift boxes are great to reuse for presents (after covering the logo with a ribbon etc) or organising around the house. I’ve stored sandals in boxes to make them stackable and even used an empty clean body butter tub to store jewellery.

Comments welcome.

Things I Only Own 1 Of – Saving Money The Minimalist Way

I’ve previously written a post on things I don’t buy to save money, some of which coincidentally benefit the planet, but this time I felt inspired to write a comprehensive list of things I only own one of in a bid to reduce spending and the accumulation of unnecessary stuff. I made this change within the last 3 years. Whilst I love living cheaply I always aim to buy good quality items when on offer so they last and I don’t have to keep buying them. I also dodge fad items instead opting to buy things I genuinely love or are classics.

  • One set of bedding – it’s reversible so has 2 patterns. I find these dry really quickly when washed first thing, particularly in the summer, and I’ve yet to find a pattern I love as much as my current set so don’t see the point of owning more than 1.
  • One large towel – I’ve never felt the need to own a second or third as this totally does the job for me.
  • One of each staple make up products such as foundation, mascara, quality eye shadow palette etc. I don’t wear make up very often and just stick with the same styles. I’ve never understood the need for multiple primers, contouring products etc but that stems from being very fussy with what goes on my face due to adult acne.
  • One of each basic toiletry -I find keeping things simple helps my skin not to freak out, save me money and keep my bathroom shelf from being clogged up.
  • One phone case – which I bought half price on eBay 3 years ago and it’s still going strong. Again, the print is very me and it works brilliantly. I don’t need a whole wardrobe for my phone…
  • One pair of glasses (and sunglasses) – I find it hard to switch between prescription styles and they’re not cheap so if I like them enough to spend quite a bit on them I certainly should like them enough to wear them exclusively!
  • One LBD – A Ted Baker dress purchased from a charity shop for £16
  • One pair of trainers – bought from an outlet
  • One hair styling tool … a hair dryer – I don’t use curlers or straighteners. I sleep with my hair in french braids if I want beachy waves.
  • One classic black leather handbag purchased from an outlet for £50 around 6 years ago.
  • One basic belt in black leather that does the job so I don’t need any others.
  • One overnight bag with over the shoulder carry strap. Sometimes used when stocking up on food with packets, tins etc. It’s a great multitasking bag.
  • One manicure tool – a glass nail file which has been with me at least 5 years.
  • One small TV – I grew up in a house with only 1 TV so have never understood the need to have multiple in several rooms.
  • One subscription service only – Amazon Prime which I use to watch TV and films, listen to music daily, on occasion order things for myself and friends.
  • One pan – the flat I live in has a fully equipped kitchen meaning I don’t need to own any glasses, chinaware, cookware etc. If I did there frankly wouldn’t be enough space in the kitchen anyway!

Comments Welcome.