Product review: bamboo toothbrush

Bamboo toothbrush 3

This has to be one of my more random reviews, up there with soapnuts and pineapple paper.

This blog isn’t really an eco lifestyle blog as I don’t want to scare anyone away, but if you’ve read it for any period of time you’ve probably noticed by now that I’m a bit of a crazy hippy.  So, if anyone was going to experiment with bamboo toothbrushes, it would be me.

Bamboo toothbrush 2

I’ve been trying to cut down on the plastic in my bathroom for ages now, and one problem I’ve had is toothbrushes.  Everything on the market is designed to be thrown away, and it’s a real conundrum if you’re trying to cut down on waste.

I can’t remember where I came across the idea of bamboo toothbrushes, but I bought a pack of six from Save our Green (and got a free coconut scrubber for the kitchen at the same time).  You can try the brushes with either standard nylon bristles, or bamboo bristles.  I bought bamboo bristles given that I was testing a green alternative.

Bamboo toothbrush 4

The toothbrushes come in one size and hardness.  This doesn’t bother me because I hate the amount of choice in toothbrush shopping anyway (I just want to clean my teeth – why is it so complicated?!), but I guess if you like to have this choice it might annoy you.

I haven’t really noticed any difference between these toothbrushes and regular plastic ones.  They clean my teeth just the same, and I’ve been using the brush for about a month now without any signs of wear on the bristles.  I mostly use them with Lush Toothy Tabs and Sensodyne (I have a filling that’s sensitive – P.S. Sensodyne doesn’t really help with this!).  The only weird thing is when you’re brushing you have the feel of wood against your lips instead of plastic.  It’s an odd sensation after X number of years brushing with plastic, but it’s not unpleasant.

Bamboo toothbrush

I’m not a dentist (I assume I should put some kind of legal jargon here!), but unless you have special teeth needs I’d recommend trying out these toothbrushes.  They can go a little way to easing your ecological footprint without huge inconvenience, and you can buy the brushes in multipacks for the whole family (you can buy a pack of 12 for £30).  If you have a hot compost, you can stick these in your composter when you’re finished.  Or just recycle it with your other wood waste.  Yey!

Lego Moleskine week 21 & 22

2014 Moleskine week 21

Week 21

This was my holiday week.  It feels like a long time ago now!  The picture on the right came from Landscape magazine.  I love the photos in it.

2014 Moleskine week 22

Week 22

This week looks really empty.  Probably because the last few weeks have had magazine cuttings in them.  I got a new fire steel, which is one of those scratch metal things that create fire.  This is very exciting!  Also, I ate two pizzas on the Tuesday and felt really ill for two days afterwards from eating too much!  Not doing that again.  I am old now…

May reads (2014)

Another month where I’ve reached my reading goal.  Good news!  I’m still behind on my 2014 reading challenge, but I’m not doing badly after my bad February and March!

Snuff – Terry Pratchett

Every time I get up to date with the Discworld series, Terry Pratchett releases another book.  This is the 39th Discworld novel, and now he’s gone and written number 40: Raising Steam.  I own the whole series in paperback, so I’ll buy number 40 sometime.  Anyway, Snuff was good because it was a Commander Vimes novel, and they’re always good!  The City Watch novels are my favourite.  There’s no point in reading this unless you’re a Discworld fan though, and if you’re a Discworld fan it’s probably already on your list!

The Farm – Richard Benson

This was a sad book.  It is a biography about being a farmer in northern England during the last few decades.  It is a fascinating insight into the decline of farming traditions, but it is a bit sad as the family lose their farm in the end to the banks, as has happened repeatedly over the last few decades with small farms.  However, it’s worth a read if you’re interested in that sort of thing as you’ll learn a lot.

The Self Illusion – Bruce Hood

This book has taken me months to finish.  It was hard-going in places.  It’s a psychology book that looks at the illusion of the self, and explains why the self is just an illusion with the help of lots of psychology and neuroscience studies.  It was an interesting read, but it took me ages to finish and I’m getting to the point now where I’ve read so many popular psychology books that when they start to reference studies I know which ones they are talking about because everyone references them.  Still, psychology is one of my hobbies so I will continue to read them!  (I’m reading another book at the moment in fact!)  I don’t really care if the self is an illusion (it is!) – I am quite happy with my illusion self. Haha.

When a crocodile eats the sun – Peter Godwin

I read a lot of diverse books this month.  I didn’t really realise until I set them all down like this. This is a biography on white life in Zimbabwe since the end of Apartheid.  Peter Godwin is a National Geographic journalist and grew up in Zimbabwe.  This book is an eye-opener.  I can’t emphasise that enough!  I knew nothing about Zimbabwe and the end of Apartheid other than that it was a good thing (that it ended), so this book was fascinating for me.

In the last couple of decades, there has been a huge increase violence against white farmers and a huge increase in poverty in the country, largely as a result of President Mugabe’s dictatorship (he fixed the last few elections so although he’s calling it a democracy it isn’t in any sense of the word any more).  To hide his corruption, he has demonised the white population (which was actually very a small percentage of the country).

The country was actually stable and happy at the end of Apartheid and there was no lingering bad will between the two communities, but Mugabe put an end to that decades later with the singling out of the whites as the cause of the country’s ills.  It’s really quite shocking.  Farmers were attacked in their own homes by mobs, and their families tortured before being killed.  These white farmers largely have nowhere to go, as they are Zimbabwe-born (Mugabe wants them to “go home”, but they are home).

Many have fled to other countries such as South Africa and Australia, but they are farmers so as they fled from or were killed by the violence Zimbabwe’s farming declined and as a result there is no food for the population.  The people who took the farms took them over as trophies, and have no farming skills.  The country has been run into the ground by one man’s greed.  I can’t believe all this has happened in the time that I’ve been alive and yet our Governments have done nothing!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain

This is the book that everyone was talking about a few months ago, but I waited until it was cheap to read it!  A fascinating psychology book on the science of introverts and extroverts, and how to get the best out of both types of people.  A good read.

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince – J.K Rowling

I’m slowly making my way through the series.  Almost there now!  The Half-blood Prince is book 6 in the series, and is a sad one.  I’m still enjoying the books though.  I’d forgotten how good they are.  My sister went to Harry Potter World last week and I am super-jealous.

Cradle to cradle – Michael Braungart and William McDonough

I’ve had this book on my reading list for a long time now, but I found it a bit disappointing.  It was hard-going and a little depressing.  It’s about how our current industrial principles have been designed around a cradle-to-grave system, where we use something then chuck it away.  It causes no end of waste and pollution, and is really bad (lots of emphasis on this).  The authors are proponents of a cradle-to-cradle system, where products can be stripped down to their constituent parts and re-used.  It’s an excellent idea and one wonders why we haven’t already switched to this system (greed and laziness is the answer).  However, it’s a book for industry, designers and manufacturers, rather than the general public.  I don’t think we have the power to change these manufacturing practices as consumers – it’s for the companies to do.  All the world’s CEOs and directors should read this book and sort their businesses out.

Did you read any good books this month?

Birds in the garden

I recently bought some new bird feed, and the birds are loving it.  I’ve had a couple of new species in the garden, although sadly I haven’t got good photos.  Still, I thought I’d share what I’ve seen recently.

New birdfeed

Chaffinch

Two starlings on birdfeeder

Two starlings

Young great tit

Young great tit – there’s a whole flock of these playing in the garden these days!

Pigeon on fence

Pigeon

Collared dove up close

Collared dove

Lego Moleskine week 19 & 20

2014 Moleskine week 19

Week 19

Eurovision!  Iceland should have won.  This is the week I started a count down for finishing my crochet blanket.  Also, I watched Hanna.  It’s really good, you should try and see it if you can.

2014 Moleskine week 20

Week 20

I’ve now finished season one of Nashville.  I love it!  We had loads of sunshine in this week and I spent lots of time in the garden.

Phone pouch for bike

Here’s a random thing I made whilst I was on my holiday.  I had originally intended for this knitted thing to be a scarf, but I didn’t like it.  Then I was on my exercise bike getting annoyed about the fact that there was no where to put my phone, and I decided I should make a pouch.  And suddenly I had a use for the knitting I didn’t like!

Phone pouch for bike

This is definitely one of my more random craft projects, but it works!

Wildflower planting

I’ve mentioned on here before that I have a bit of scrubby land between the garden and the railway line.  Originally, the wooden fence at the bottom of the garden marked the boundary between the railway line and our garden.  However, as part of Network Rail’s work to stop trespassers on the train tracks, they installed new metal spiked fencing along this stretch of the railway line one metre in from the original boundary, meaning we’ve gained a metre of land.  It was a daft thing to do, as the railway line isn’t accessible from this section of track anyway – the hedging and scrub on their embankment is really thick!  Still, I’m sure it made them feel better!

On the Network Rail side of the land there are a few trees, so our patch of scrub is quite shaded, and I’ve been pottering with it for over a year now.  I’ve planted two trees – a rowan and a crab apple.  A third, an elder, is planted but growing weirdly so I don’t think it will take.  I’ve installed a mini pond, a composter, a little bit of paving and a rhubarb plant.  However, a lot of the patch of land ended up as just soil, as the weeds are veracious and you have to keep on top of them if you want access to the land.

I’ve tried seeding wildflowers there before, but the cheeky birds ate all the seed.  Then, when I was browsing the Wiggly Wigglers website last week I noticed that they sell wildflowers in pots (and mats and turf if you’re wondering).  Since germinating is the problem for me, this seemed like the solution.  I was on the site to order birdseed, but I got six wildflower plants for £10 too.

Wigglywigglers order 1

When the parcel arrived, Archie helped me unpack it in the garden!

Wigglywigglers order 2

The plants came in packs of three in cardboard bag-style containers.  They shipped well – I’m impressed!  The bags in the background are the birdseed I ordered.

Wigglywigglers order 3

Each plant is a different species.  Some prefer full sun and I’ve planted them in pots, one was a yellow cowslip that my Mum wants so I’ve not planted it, and the final three are the shade lovers going on the scrub patch.

Wigglywigglers order 4

If the plants take, they will spread by themselves and help colonise the bare soil.  I’ve left labels in for now until I become familiar with the plants, but I will remove them once I recognise the flowers.

Wigglywigglers order 5

This is the section of land, looking north from the composter (which is behind me).  The green wire at the far end marks the boundary to next door’s section (not all my neighbours have moved into this additional bit of land yet – and it gives you an idea of how bad the weeds get!).  The sticks you can see on the far left are around the mini pond, to protect it from the evil black cat that prowls (Archie’s nemesis).  I am intending to put the slabs in the ground properly sometime, I just haven’t got round to it yet (well, I’ve done a couple, but you can’t tell from this photo!).

If the wildflowers take, I will buy more next year to fill in the rest of the bare soil, so that you are walking on slabs surrounded by wildflowers and rhubarb.  I’m being cautious for now because the soil here is poor quality and has a lot of rubble and building waste in it, and I don’t know if the plants will survive.

What I really want, though, is a hedgehog house.  I know there is a hedgehog about as I’ve found his poo in the garden, but even the cheap homes are at least £25.

I always wonder about clearing the “natural” habitat to create an artificial native environment, as I’m doing here, but the weeds that dominate along this stretch of railway line number maybe two or three.  If my wildflowers take, I’ll have increased the biodiversity along this stretch of railway line, and added additional pollen sources for the local insects.  I figure that the local wildlife is happy to have a little disturbance in exchange for more bugs to eat!

(This post isn’t sponsored.)

I’m back, with photos!

Hi all, I hope you all had a lovely week whilst I was offline.  I had a week off at home and it was lovely.  The sun shone (shocking!), and I got lots of little projects done.  Time at home without work is the best, as you get to catch up on all those things that you ignore when you have a full schedule.  I finished my crochet blanket (coming up in another blog post), fed the birds, did lots of reading and gardening, saw a few new films and watched some rubbish TV!

You might think that because I was home all week I didn’t spend much, but you’d be wrong.  I ate and did some online shopping!  hehe.  It was a good week, and you’ll see some of the things I did in later posts.  For now, here are a few photos.

Garden flower

Pigeon and dove

Cup of tea and a magazine

Dew drops

Archie asleep B&W

Pine cone found on my walk

Archie paws B&W

Clematis flower

Cow parsley

Forget-me-nots

Small tortoiseshell butterfly

Lincolnshire in spring

Hawthorn blossom