Week 12: Clean Energy

I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for over a month now but couldn’t write it until we moved into our new apartment and had control of our utility bill. Today, I’m pleased to have the honor of introducing you to Arcadia Power.

Arcadia Power is a company which aims to allow everyone in America (and maybe one day the world?) access to clean energy. I’m super impressed by this start up and thrilled that even though I live in a tiny studio in an apartment block in San Francisco, I can make sure that the energy I am using is ‘clean’ rather than ‘brown’.

So how does Arcadia Power work?

Arcadia Power is aiming to close the funding gap between clean energy and dirty energy. To do this, they are making it possible for anyone who wants clean energy to purchase as much clean energy as they are using each month and put it into the grid.

This doesn’t mean that the electrons in your wires necessarily come from the wind farms that Arcadia funds, but you know that as much energy as you are using is put back into the grid as clean energy.

To do this, Arcadia Power take over your utility bill and pays your utility company directly. They then charge you the cost of your utility bill plus an additional 1.5c per kWh ‘clean energy charge’. This is used to close the funding gap between clean energy and ‘brown energy’.

In return, you know that the energy you are using is being put back into the grid as clean energy. You also get a great dashboard to track your energy usage and some super discounts at eco-friendly stores such as The Honest Co.


Arcadia Power is a certified B Corp and was recently recognized as “Best in the Environment 2015”. Read all about it here.

You can get $30 off your first electricity bill by using my referral code below. Plus, to celebrate Earth Day, Arcadia is going to plant 10 trees for every new sign up in April! #bonusforest

Referral link: https://myenergy.arcadiapower.com/referral/by/lyndall9196

(Full disclosure: I also get a $30 credit so share the tree love this month!)

0Love Trees

Week 11: Shampoo

Hi folks. Some of you may have noticed I’m a few weeks behind. I’ve had some busy weekends involving a lot of running and sunshine and time with friends! In other words I have no excuse for not keeping up with my blog. I have, however, been trying out a few new things that I wanted to share. So expect a few catch up posts over the next week!

The first thing I have been trying out is package free shampoo and conditioner. I started by testing out the naked LUSH shampoo and conditioner bars. They are, put simply, shampoo and conditioners that come in solid bar form rather than in a bottle and have zero packaging. They also smell positively delicious!

My challenge is that I have pretty dry hair and LUSH uses Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) to make the shampoo bars lather well. SLS is found in most commercial shampoos and dry out the hair. They are also bad for coloured hair (which I have – been going grey since 18!) as they strip the colour out. Using the LUSH bars resulted in my hair feeling dry and losing colour so I decided to look elsewhere.

(To be clear, these shampoo bars are are definitely a great package free option! They are more natural than bottle shampoos and come without the plastic. So if you do have a LUSH near by then I’d recommend trying them out.)

This blog recommends a soap called Good Soap from made by Alaffia and sold by Whole Foods for $2 a bar. They are made from Fair Trade commercial grade shea butter and coconut oil, a full list of ingredients can be found here. Good Soap - Three I tried using this soap on my hair and it is great! It’s super soft and hydrating, my hair is looking in much better condition than it has for a long time and is not frizzy at all. I think this soap is perfect for anyone who has dry or fine hair.If you have oily or heavy hair the LUSH bars may be a better option for you.

Apart from being great on the hair it has a bunch of other plus points:

1. The shea butter is extracted traditionally not chemically. A beautiful description of the process can be found here.

2. It is certified fair trade and the company now employs over 500 women in Togo

3. It costs $2 for really big bar. Bargain!

4. It comes package free or in a small brown paper bag

5. It helps me travel light – one block of soap for hair, face and body. Win. IMG_2374 This soap is absolutely my new favourite thing. It’d also make a beautiful gift for friends. Do any of you have shampoo bars to recommend? What about conditioner? I’m struggling a bit on that one. Soap Stack

Week 10: Meat in polystyrene / styrofoam trays

I’ve mentioned before that we like to cook a lot of food. By composting and buying our food in bulk we’ve significantly decreased our kitchen waste. There are a few things that still create waste in the kitchen and meat packaging is one of them.

Now I know the most environmentally friendly among you will say that I should cut out meat entirely. I was a vegetarian for three years but nothing tastes the same as bacon and there isn’t a vegetarian alternative to juicy tandoori chicken! I do try to eat vegetarian regularly though and you’ll see below that one of my solutions is to do just that.

Back to meat packaging. The two closest grocery stores to our house are Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s sells meat on a polystyrene tray with non-recyclable plastic wrapped around it. Whole foods doesn’t use polystyrene but does package their meat in non-recyclable plastic on its packaged meat.

Trader Joes

I’ve found two solutions for this. The first is where meat is absolutely necessary (remember that tandoori chicken I mentioned?) I buy it from a butcher / deli counter that uses waxed butcher paper. Whole Foods does this as do other independent butchers. This paper is compostable.

In all other dishes where I need meat I’ve started use Quorn instead. It is a protein substitute made from fungi (think mushrooms) and is perfect for curries, casseroles and pastas. Essentially anything that you’d used diced chicken for including salads. They also make a mince style product which is great for chili or Bolognaise.


I love it because I can buy a bunch of bags and keep them in the freezer to pull out when I need to make a meal quickly during the week. The bags are plastic but they are recyclable unlike the other meat packaging. And on top of that, you get all the benefits of having a vegetarian meal instead of a meat one including fewer CO2 emissions and more efficient use of food resources.

Last but not least, Quorn is cheaper than chicken, about $0.75 per serving (and you don’t have to bother cutting up the chicken). On average this saves $12 a month, $144 a year.

Week 9: Smelling good!

I’ve discovered block deodorant which gets my bathroom another step closer to zero waste. I’m currently trying this one from LUSH which works really well (as good as any bottle deodorant) and I really like the smell of. It isn’t 100% natural and does have some chemicals but less than your standard deodorant. This one I think has even fewer chemicals and I may try next! Although that may be in a really long time as the block I have is lasting really well – I’m guessing about 4 months. I also picked up a tin to keep it in which I can take when I need a refill to avoid any packaging whatsoever.


Friday Five

Hi folks,

Every Friday I’m going to share the five most the interesting links I’ve seen each weeks on a range of topics including consumption, packaging, zero-waste and low carbon. Hope you like the first installment! 

Prosperity, not consumption, by design

Mass Production and mass media – Opportunities for micro-markets

What high street stores throw away – Investigations of a dumpster diver

Multifunctionality of products – Saving time and money

Compostable cups? ..ahem

Week 8: Buying in Bulk

My new favourite place to shop is called Rainbow Grocery in the Mission. You can take your own containers and buy in bulk, or buy only the exact quantity that you need.

Half of the shop looks like a normal grocery store with a fresh fruit and vegetable section, household groceries stuff and packaged goods. The other half looks like this:IMG_2313It is filled with big tubs of pasta, grains, lentils, flour and many others. Essentially you can buy any of your dry goods in bulk as well as some others such as almond butter, olive oil (below), coffee and spices.


They also sell an array of obscure goods that aren’t normally found in a supermarket. Bee pollen anyone?


How it works is you take along your own containers and weigh them. Then stick a little sticker on the container with the weight.

Collage 2Then you fill up the jars or containers with whatever you need. We get lentils, pasta, rice, flax  and almond meal (for bread), oats and spices.


At the checkout all the containers are weighed again (now full). The difference between the empty weight and the full weight is the weight of the goods that you’ve taken.

We go about once a month and all our dry ingredients cost < $30.

IMG_2327 Links:

Unpackaged Grocery store launched in Berlin

London unpackaged Grocery store

Week 7: Shower Gel

What is something that¬† you’re likely to do over 20,000 times in your life?

That’s right, it’s have a shower.

If you shower once a day for 60 years you will have 21,900 showers. If you shower everyday for 80 years that get you up to 29,200. For those who sometimes shower twice a day due to exercise or humid weather you’ll easily pop the 30k shower mark.

So it makes sense to have a look at what I use in the bathroom. This week I’m ditching shower gel in favour of its much older friend bar soap. Shower gel doesn’t win against bar soap in the environmental stakes. Here’s why:

1. Shower gel clearly has much more packaging, it comes in a large disposable plastic bottle which often will end up in landfill. Let’s do some quick maths on that for all you maths fans out there. If a bottle of shower gel lasts two months I’ll use 360 bottles over 60 years. A bit of Google searching tells me a bottle is 20g – 50g of plastic. Using soap from today until the age of 88 (60 years) will save the world 7 – 18 kg of plastic!

2. As shower gel is liquid and is mostly water it is heavier to transportt, giving it a bigger carbon footprint

3. Shower gel often contains more than 20 different chemicals, when it comes to soap, the simpler the ingredient list the better. You’re more likely to find an all natural soap than shower gel.

It is true that some soaps have a high pH (this means it is more alkaline than your skin) which can dry the skin out, but these days it is easy to find a soap with a natural pH or a natural moisturizer like shea butter or olive oil included.

Lastly soap bars are much cheaper. In the shop I looked at today, shower gels came in at about $4 vs. a bar of Yardley Oatmeal and Almond* for $1.77. Assuming they last about the same amount of time (this depends completely on how you use it, I reckon it’s about the same for me) the bar of soap is a steal, but does it add up? Over the next 60 years of showering if I buy bar soap instead of gel I save ~$800. so a simple change that saves me $800 and at a minimum 7 kg of plastic? Yes please.

We’ll get to saving water showering another day.

*I’m not promoting Yardley, it was just the nicest looking soap on the shelf