Sustainable Living - Carrier bags

A few blogs ago I promised to share my favourite eco-friendly carrier bags. So here it is. Here's all the earthly goodness in my carrier bag wish list. But, before I begin, please tell me I'm not the only adult who puts shopping bags on their Christmas list?! 


String bag - Package Free Shop

First up is this little beauty. Say goodbye to those pesky, plastic fruit & veg bags and say hello to the Package Free Shop's string bag. Who knew your trip to the store could be so fashionable?
The only downside? I can't find it in the UK so be prepared to pay those extra shipping costs. (cry)




Paper Bucket - UASHMAMA

This is probably my all time favourite, it blows my mind. How can something as fragile as paper become so durable we can use it as a bag?! Maybe one day I'll my very own UASHMAMA bag and let you all know!
Until then, I'll be dreaming of carting shopping home in this Italian luxury.





Jute Bag - Ian Snow

It's back to my favourite store, Ian Snow, for our next bag. While this one may seem too fancy for the weekly shop, who's stopping you? Maybe your food will taste better in a consciously bought bag? Maybe you'll meet the love of your life down the cereal isle? Maybe we'll never know until we buy the bag.
This one is on the Christmas list for sure.





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Refresh & Reboot Cotton Shopper Bag - Paperchase

Finally, I love this one. I love it for the slogan. It's true we all have baggage, but by using single use carriers we're making our baggage the planets baggage and that's not ok.
This one is high up on my wish list mainly because it's affordable and everyone loves affordable.






P.S. Two blog posts in two days?! What a treat...
P.P.S. Yes I really have started my Christmas list already.

Earth Hour 2018

At 8.30pm on the 24th March 2018 Bowmore went dark. Now, some readers may be thinking this is nothing unusual, Islay is prone to the odd powercut, but this time the outage was different. It was intentional. 

This particular, hour long, blackout was in support of WWF's Earth Hour and my first attempt at organising a community event. After approaching A&B Council we were able to switch off every streetlight in Bowmore, joining millions around the world in this global grassroots movement. 

After following Earth Hour for many years, I felt compelled to do something more. Take my efforts beyond my own home. Most importantly, I felt the need to raise awareness. Remind people of how fragile nature can be, but also how easy it is to make change happen. 

The biggest change for Islay's Earth Hour was seen in the sky. I find it interesting how streetlights are designed to light up the darkness, keep us safe, but really they only hide the nights natural beauty and teach us to fear the dark. 

As the late Stephen Hawking said; 

"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seen, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up."

We can all learn and grow if we simply listen, look and feel our beautiful Earth. Not just for Earth Hour but each and everyday.


Many thanks to the support of Argyll & Bute Council, Bowmore Co-op, Iain Woodrow electrical, Linsay & Rhona Mac Arthur, RBS and 1st Islay Scouts.

Sustainable Living - Marine litter

If you follow me on Instagram (@rhiarhiajones), and follow my stories, you may have seen the posts I shared about marine litter. That's human waste, trash, rubbish, plastic, and it's all mixed up in our oceans.

OUR waste, OUR responsibility. Right? 

Now, if like me you have a growing passion for our environment, you'll find yourself walking along the beach trapped somewhere between anger, shame and a yearning to do something. But what can you, an individual, really do?

The sheer scale of global marine litter seems irreversible and helpless but it's important to keep moving forward and here's how...

Visit the beach
Head down to your local beach, or make a day trip, and see it for yourself. I'm no beach expert, but I'd bet good money that there's human litter on every single beach in the world. Some beaches will be more polluted, others less so, this all comes down to their positioning in the ocean, nearby currents and the amount of human activity they see. Seeing, realising and understanding the true scale of marine litter is the first step towards a more sustainable future.

Count to five
Every time you visit the beach, take home 5 pieces of trash. Or if you have a bag, car, trailer take home as much as you can carry! Participating in a beach clean doesn't have to be an organised event, we can all take part, all the time. If 10 people visit a beach that's 50 pieces of trash. 100 people, 500 pieces. 10,000 people... you get the idea. Together, we can make a huge difference.

Talk to someone
On your own it's easy to feel useless. Go have a chat with your friends, family, colleagues, try to raise awareness of the issue you feel so passionate about. One of the biggest problems facing a more a sustainable life is ignorance. If people aren't aware, how can they be expected to act? You never know, your friend may have walked the same beach and had the same feelings.

Challenge the brands
Brands are designed to be recognised. Recognised in our adverts, in our shops, in our homes, but in our oceans? While walking along the beach it's easy to pick out big brands, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fairy, Starbucks, Pot Noodle, Lucozade, Crocs... the list goes on and on. While the people behind these brands will most likely be delighted that you've recognised their product, will they be as delighted at where you found it? It's time to put the pressure on and demand change. We all use social media daily and it's easy to find big brands @handles. Find them, tag them, share them. Grassroot movements can and do work, when enough people challenge the brand, change will happen.

Single and ready to mingle
A funny little saying when it comes to dating. Not so funny when it comes to the environment. Single use products are a huge contributor to marine litter. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'll even shout it from the rooftops. STOP USING SINGLE USE PLASTICS! Your convenience is a real inconvenience to the planet. Switching to more sustainable alternatives can seem hard, can seem expensive, but don't be put off at the first hurdle. I've committed to replacing my everyday items for more conscious, more sustainable alternatives as each one runs out, this helps spread the cost and slowly breaks old habits one by one. But really, stop supporting single use. It's not cool.  

Just incase you didn't know already, I'm no expert, I've not got a degree or any fancy knowledge on the conservation of oceans. I'm just like you. An ordinary individual committed to making change happen.



Sustainable Living - The weekly shop

Welcome back! Here it is, my second Sustainable Living post and this time it's all about the weekly shop. 

Living on Islay really limits where we can shop and ultimately makes it harder to buy green. On the other hand, it makes it incredibly easy to support local businesses, every cloud has a silver lining after all!

So, my weekly shop is relatively small, there's only two of us. We do our main shop at the Co-op (our only food store on Islay), we buy our meat at the butchers and our local produce comes from the Spa. Your shop will probably be very different, especially for those of you on the mainland, but here's my guide on how I try, really really try, to do my bit. Everyone can help change climate change, and rethinking what you pop in the trolley is a great way to start.

So here it goes, here's my shopping habits.

"I forgot my bags"

First things first, always remember your own reusable bags. Whether this is a bag for life or your favourite rucksack, remember that single use carriers are NOT recyclable and will still be kicking around the dump or ocean long after you're 6ft under.

I hear of many people claiming to 'recycle' or 'reuse' their single use carries as bin liners or to empty the litter tray. This is not recycling, nor is it reusing the product in an environmentally friendly way. Just say no. Stop accepting them as part of daily life. 

I'll be making a post about my favourite eco-friendly carriers soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

In the Co-op

Here's where we buy most of our weekly supplies. It's our super little supermarket. However, like most stores, it's overflowing with unsustainable products and almost everything is over packaged. But the way we chose to shop can make our own basket that little bit greener.

- Say NO to fruit and veg that comes pre-packed. Or if you have one, support your greengrocer.
- AVOID those pesky little plastic bags provided for your loose fruit and veg.
- Try to REFUSE the meat products. There's a butchers for that.
- Pre prepared ready meal or pre prepared natural DISASTER? It's time to cook your own food.
- LIMIT your sweet treats. Unsustainable packaging with food that isn't too good for you either.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but practice the above an you'll soon start to see a change in the way you look at the shelf.

At the butchers

I buy my meat products at our local butchers, it feels great to know your shopping and supporting local. Most butchers will be able to tell you where your food has come from, and how it was prepared making you more aware of your food footprint on the environment. 

Try not to be put off by butchers prices. Ours feels expensive. But it isn't. If we bought our meat from the Co-op, or other supermarket, it's processed, the food doesn't go far. But from the butchers, it's fresh and goes further. So that extra penny you spent is eaten instead of shrunk into fatty water. I find that one butchers chicken breast compares to two or even three supermarket ones meaning you need to buy/cook less.

Spa time

Our local Spa, like many corner shops, sells a variety of local produce. My new favourite is their Gigha milk. It's sooooo good! It's from a neighbouring island and delivered in traditional glass bottles, which the shop takes back to be reused. Brilliant. 

We can also buy locally produced honey, jam, chutney, tablet. The list goes on. If you've not visited your small local shops lately it's time to pop in. You never know what you'll find! 

photo cred: Blue the Film 

photo cred: Blue the Film 

So while my guide is small, it's a start. Small decisions make a big difference when your conscious of the of the consequences.

Are you changing the way you shop? Share your small supermarket decisions in the comments!