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The ethical survival guide to festivals

0 Posted by in Festivals on July 16th 2014

Glastonbury When we think of festivals the term that comes to mind is ‘unadulterated fun’. There’s nothing quite like spending a few days camped in a field with friends listening to your favourite music.

Even if your experience is strictly U-rated, there’s something wonderfully rebellious and bohemian about festivals which sends our minds back to the 70s. Suddenly a floral head garland and a band T-shirt combination seems like the best idea ever. Is that a native American war bonnet you have there? Well bring it on.

Read the rest of The ethical survival guide to festivals »

6 Places You’ll Find Hidden Plastic (That You Probably Didn’t Realise)

0 Posted by in Environment, Green Living, Sustainability on July 15th 2014

Whether you’re taking part in Plastic Free July (meaning you’re attempting to use no single use plastic for the whole month of July) or you’re just interested in doing your bit for the environment, wanting to be able to compost your waste, or recycle it, rather than sending it to landfill, chances are you’d rather have a little less plastic in your life. After all, it’s extremely persistent in the environment, it leaches toxins, it cannot be truly recycled (only downcycled) and it harms wildlife, particularly marine birds, mammals and fish.

Plastic is everywhere. As well as the obvious plastic, it often sneaks into our packaging in unsuspecting ways so we don’t suspect we are still buying it. Most of us want to do the right thing, but making plastic-free choices can be difficult!

Read the rest of 6 Places You’ll Find Hidden Plastic (That You Probably Didn’t Realise) »

The root of sporting success?

3 Posted by in Food & drink, Superfoods on July 8th 2014

If it’s good enough for the Tour De France Cyclists it’s got to be good enough for us! In this article on the BBC website the Belkin cycling team chef Jesper Boom explains how the purple root vegetable can help give his team’s riders a crucial performance advantage in the gruelling stages. Belkin Cycling Team beetroot JuiceThe secret is the high nitrate content in beetroot which helps muscles to use oxygen more efficiently.

Jesper is so adamant of the benefits that he will ensure in advance there are adequate supply of Beetroot in all the hotels the team stay at, if it’s not on the menu then he asks them to go and buy it!

So what evidence is there of the benefits?

Beetroot juice has traditionally been linked to lowering blood pressure however over the last few years there has been a focus of studies on increasing athletic performance. This has led to a boom in its popularity and with top athletes adopting it the boom will only continue.
Research by the University of Exeter published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise has shown drinking the juice enables competitive-level cyclists to cut down the time it takes to ride a given distance. The study looked at club level cyclists completing 2.5mile and 10 mile trials who were given beetroot juice beforehand (supplied by James White Drinks), on one occasion with normal beetroot juice and the other with a key ingredient, nitrate, removed.

The results showed on average riders were 11 seconds quicker on the short course and 45 seconds quicker on the longer course.
It is thought the nitrate has two physiological effects, firstly affecting muscle tissue and reducing the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity and secondly it widens blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and allowing more blood flow.
Other studies have shown it is actually less effective in increasing performance of the highest level athletes, the significant improvements seem to be with everyday chumps like us!

In events such as the Tour De France anything which can give a slight advantage could be crucial with riders being separated by seconds after 90+ hours of cycling so you can see why they are so keen to use it.

So have you tried it?

Beet It Stamina ShotI have to admit when I was training for the Great North Run I thought I’d give it a go and I found it to be an acquired taste! It certainly is a marmite style drink but if you aren’t keen there are still ways to reap the benefits of beetroot. James White Beet It has 10% apple juice mixed in to give it a sweeter taste. There is also the option of the Beet It shots to give you that hit before your big event.

But it’s up to you, there are plenty of juices you can mix with beetroot juice to make it suit your pallet, the best thing is just to try different things, my particular favourite is in a smoothie with mixed berries and apples, yum!

But it isn’t just drinks you can add beetroot to, it works surprisingly well with chocolate especially in chocolate brownies (which as we all know are an essential part of any top athlete’s diet), or check out our Free From Foodie’s recipe for triple feel good chocolate truffle cake.

I’d love to know your thoughts on beetroot, do you swear by it to get you through a 100 mile bike ride? Just love the taste? Or wouldn’t go near the stuff??

What You Can Learn from Your Energy Bill

0 Posted by in Climate Change, Green Living on June 30th 2014

Do you know how much energy you use at home? No, I don’t mean how much money you shell out to your energy company by direct debit every month. I mean how many units of energy you use every day.

If you take the time to look at your energy bill there’s some useful information on there. One interesting thing you can find is whether your bill has been estimated, or whether it has been calculated after a meter reading. If it’s been estimated, that means someone in an office has pulled an amount out of a hat and billed you for it. Well, possibly not; I’m sure there are complex algorithms and the like. This estimating can work in your favour, of course. If you’ve used 20 units and your energy supplier has estimated that you’ve used 5, then you’ll have a small bill – but down the line you’ll be due for a big bill once they finally cotton on. On the other hand, if you’ve used 5 units and you’re being billed for 20, then that’s your money sitting in their bank account, earning interest for them at your expense.

Read the rest of What You Can Learn from Your Energy Bill »

Why not try some Moroccan Mint Tea?

0 Posted by in Food & drink on June 26th 2014

Dragonfly Moroccan mint teaOne of our best selling teas is the Dragonfly Moroccan Mint Tea, and it’s easy to see why if you try some!

Dragonfly are a family-owned, British tea company with a 100 year history of sourcing, growing and making the very purest and finest organic teas.

Dragonfly have a tradition of introducing tea drinkers to new experiences and were actually the first to introduce rooibos and white tea to Britain. Their Moroccan Mint tea is a blend of naturally sweet spearmint leaves from Morocco and gunpowder green tea form China, inspired by Morocco’s rich tea-drinking tradition this refreshing tea is served throughout the day in Morocco both during and after meals.

Many tea vendors will add a bit of theatre to the occasion by raising the teapot higher and higher above the tea glass to improve the taste by increasing the oxygen content, just make sure you have a practice doing this before you spill any!

This tea has a slightly different twist however with a balance of spearmint leaves with pure gunpowder green tea which gets its name from the dark appearance of the leaves which are rolled by hand into tiny pellets that resemble gunpowder.

We’d certainly recommend this tea if you like a delightful afternoon cup in the sun!

Plastic Free July: will you accept the challenge?

13 Posted by in Environment, Green Living, Sustainability on June 17th 2014

The challenge: attempt to use no single-use plastic for July. That means no plastic bags, no straws, no disposable takeaway coffee cups, no plastic cups or bottles – in fact, attempt to use no disposable plastic that’s designed for one use at all.

“Think about it. Why would you make something that you are going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever? What’s up with that?” Jeb Berrier, Bag It Movie.

Read the rest of Plastic Free July: will you accept the challenge? »

Not just about the chocolate…Can electronics be fair trade too?

5 Posted by in Fair trade, Green Living, Sustainability on June 2nd 2014

When we think of Fairtrade, we think about workers being paid a fair price. We generally think of food products like coffee, sugar and chocolate; maybe we think about Fairtrade fashion. But what about electronics? Can gadgets like mobile phones, laptops and tablets be Fairtrade too?

Whilst Fairtrade certification schemes don’t extend to electronics (yet), that doesn’t mean that the Fair Trade principles shouldn’t apply. Principles, yes, because Fairtrade is more than just paying a fair price. It’s about social justice. This means transparency and accountability; ensuring no child labour or forced labour; no discrimination and good working conditions.

So do electronics companies adhere to the Fair Trade principles?

Read the rest of Not just about the chocolate…Can electronics be fair trade too? »

Nilaqua – Washing With No Water!

0 Posted by in Beauty, Festivals, We LOVE on May 20th 2014

Nilaqua Shampoo

People don’t often think about the environmental impact water has at festivals. In addition to the diesel fumes/ transport pollution of using tankers, the water has to heated (usually with gas burners or generators) you have to dig holes in the ground for waste, you need chemicals to purify and prevent disease, then you have to collect the grey water and tanker it away again. Overall festival showers are a large cost and detriment to the environment.

Nilaqua is kind and gentle to the skin and contain no parabens or alcohol. Simply apply the liquid directly to the hair or body, massage to lift dirt and grease, then remove by thoroughly towel drying! These alcohol free goodies are not only far better for the environment than washing with water but they save queuing, give you a bit of privacy and of course they leave you sparkling!

Check out Nilaqua in action!

Treading My Own Path, Rethinking Waste and the Two New Kids

9 Posted by in Green Living, recycling on May 19th 2014

Fact of the Week: In 2012 UK Supermarkets gave out 8.1 billion plastic bags, with the average shopper using 11 a month.

Are you an avid recycler? Do you take pride in seeing your recycling bin brimming with glass, steel, aluminium and paper? What if I told you that recycling was yesterday’s news(papers), and there are some new kids on the block?

Lindsay MilesMy name’s Lindsay I’m a green living advocate, writer and educator, and I write the blog I’m really excited to be guest blogging here at the Ethical Superstore over the coming weeks and sharing my passion of all things ethical and green!

Whilst I’ve always been passionate about sustainability, my path really changed two years ago when I watched the documentary Bag It!, about an average American who takes a closer look at our love affair with plastic. It made me realise that environmentalism and sustainability isn’t just about big picture stuff like “saving the rainforests”. Knowing about the issues isn’t enough; we also need to act. It is as much about the little things we do and the choices we make every day. Collectively our choices have massive consequences, and if we make them wisely, we have the power to bring about real, positive change.

The great thing is there are so many ways that we can make a difference. Rethinking waste is one of the easiest. Waste is something we all have in common. We buy stuff, we use it and then we throw it away. Rubbish – literally! I had always been a responsible recycler…until I realised that recycling wasn’t the green solution I’d always thought. It’s not about recycling more… it’s about wasting less.
“Reduce, re-use, recycle” is a mantra we’ve all become familiar with: the 3 “R”s. Well, there are now two new kids on the block.
Meet the five “R”s: REFUSE, reduce, re-use, REPAIR, recycle.

Refuse: The first question to ask is do I need this at all? Think single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, disposable cutlery, takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles. This isn’t about using less but making a stand and refusing altogether. Say no, particularly to disposables, and bring you own. Can you switch to reusable bags, request no straw or carry your own reusable coffee cup or water bottle?

Reduce: This is about consuming only what we need, and taking only what we’ll use. It sounds straightforward, but throw in clever marketing and multibuy offers and we often end up buying more than we really intended to! Why else would UK households throw away 4.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year? That’s 6 meals every week for an average household! (Source: WRAP UK)

Re-use: Heard the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t buy a new one either! Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for finding new uses for old objects. If you can’t reuse something, try to donate it to someone else who can. Consider too: when purchasing something new, choose things that are made well and built to last.

Repair: …And if it is broke, then do fix it! This isn’t always easy: maybe it requires skills and knowledge we don’t have, and some companies prefer us to buy new products and make it hard (or expensive) to get replacement parts. Repair Café run get-togethers where you can learn how to fix broken items, or you can look online at sites like

Recycle: Our goal shouldn’t be to recycle as much as possible, it should actually be to recycle as little as possible. It goes without saying that recycling is better than landfill, but it’s still an energy-intensive and time-consuming process. Don’t get me wrong; we should definitely still be recycling! However, there are so many points of intervention before we even get to recycling, it really should be seen as a last resort.
We all have different circumstances, beliefs and values, but whatever our situations, there is always something we can do. Everyone can make a difference.

No one can do everything.
But everyone can do something.
Over the coming weeks I’m going to be writing more about waste, particularly our love affair with plastic, as well as some how to’s and tips for being a conscious consumer. I also want to hear your ideas! Are there any topics you’d like to know more about? Any issues you struggle with? Any aspects of ethical consumerism you find confusing? Just let me know in the comments; I can’t wait to hear from you!

Allergy Awareness Week

0 Posted by in Health and Wellbeing on May 1st 2014

Fact of the week: UK hospital admissions for food allergies have increased by 500% since 1990 (Gupta, 2007)

Allergy UK logoThis week is Allergy Awareness Week so we thought we’d highlight some of the issues around allergies and the changing nature of who suffers from them and what they are and why they are increasing.

So what is an Allergy?

An allergy is a response from the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substances from foods, pollens to dust mites. Normally these substances are harmless to people but people who have an allergy towards them as their immune identifies them as a threat and gives and inappropriate response.

Read the rest of Allergy Awareness Week »

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