In ode to the whiteboard; and why Sundeala is the eco-friendly option

What a genius! She’s not even 2 😉

I can’t be the only grown adult who still finds an odd satisfaction from writing on a whiteboard? There’s an innate feeling of power that comes with scribing words two inches tall on a wall for all to see. Perhaps it’s because we first see this practice at school that we look up to the pen-holder as an authority figure; a position that people then try to replicate in boardrooms everywhere. When I first started teaching, the whiteboard was the place I played out my new teacher identity. I may have not felt much older or wiser than the undergrads I was ‘teaching’ but I had control of the whiteboard pen, so I was in charge. The only thing I dislike about the whiteboard is there’s no spellchecker. And whenever I’m forced to write without a keyboard (I say forced, it can be fun), I realise I’ve forgotten how to spell. The combination of the above factors makes the humble whiteboard quite an intimidating thing don’t you think? I’m sure there are two types of people in the world; those who jump at the chance to wield a whiteboard pen and those who pass it over to someone else.

With this in mind, and because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to draw, when Sundeala sent me a shiny new whiteboard I decided to hand it over to my eight year old niece. My niece proceeded to not only draw, but also adopt her own teacher identity by schooling me in maths. So once again the whiteboard reminded me of life pre-smartphone when I had to add three digit numbers in my head. I was quite interested that my niece didn’t mind when her younger sister started wielding a pen, and rather than write on the clean, white board, scribbled all over her older sister’s work. I wondered if this was because my niece knew any marks she made on the board were temporary. They would get rubbed out anyway, so where was the harm? That’s the joy of a whiteboard – total freedom to do as you please.

Sundeala, whose slogan is ‘Display your conscience’, make environmentally sustainable boards from 100% recycled waste. The only company in the UK that currently manufacture in this way, they sell a wide range of notice boards, whiteboards, and writing walls for home and professional use. Unlike a lot of brands that sell themselves on their eco-credentials, Sundeala has been around for well over 100 years. They have a factory in Cam, Gloucestershire and use water from the Cam River in their eco-friendly production process. I’m pleased to say the whiteboard I have from them works like a dream; it’s smooth to write on and wipes clean with ease.

I can see how Sundeala’s boards are a great option for organisations looking to be green. Maybe a person brandishing a whiteboard pen will be the next person to come up with a ‘green’ invention to change the world.

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Solving the Packaging Problem for Unique Gifts


Could 2015 be a second-hand Christmas? There’s certainly been a flurry of activity around second-hand shopping this year. TRAID ran their #Secondhandfirst Week in November inspiring people to buy, swap and wear second-hand clothing. I joined in on Twitter and Instagram, posting pictures of my favourite second-hand pieces including a vintage Chelsea Girl tea dress, Florida thrift shop frock and bargain charity shop Christmas top. As well as lots of Instagram activity, events were held across London and the UK, and we were all encouraged to pledge to source more of our wardrobe second-hand.

There’s also the second-hand Christmas campaign by Truly Gifting’s founder and MD Tiia Sammallahti. I had a chat with Tiia last week to find out more about her new venture into sustainable gifting. ‘Truly Gifting’ are, quite literally, selling the second-hand ethos. What started as an MBA business plan has quickly been put into action by Tiia and her passionate team as they produce packaging and labelling to make second-hand gifting a viable gift giving option. I’ve written about the etiquette of giving second-hand/used/vintage gifts before. For my PhD research I interviewed mothers about their habits for buying second-hand childrens’ clothes, toys and equipment and it came up that some would give second-hand items as gifts to other people’s children but only if they looked nearly-new (or new) and/or they knew the parents well. There was an etiquette of gifting second-hand.

trulygifting selectionboxes

For many adults gifting second-hand items is a no-go. This is different of course to regifting presents, which three-quarters of people find acceptable. Yet there is a rise in environmentally conscious consumers and voluntary simplifiers who don’t want to buy into the commercialisation of Christmas. For them, a carefully selected second-hand book, necklace or retro wall clock is a thoughtful gift and a way of asserting their beliefs. As a long-standing study on gifting suggests, ‘We give, receive and reject gifts strategically, thereby symbolically predicating identity’ Sherry et al. (1983:159).

The team at Truly Gifting recognised the need to make second-hand gifts more socially acceptable if we are to move towards a more sustainable future. They have created a range of packaging items that make it easier for us to gift second-hand pieces that would normally be devoid of labels and bubble wrap. A range of boxes, made themselves from recycled and responsibly sourced paper, offer a neat way for us second-hand shoppers to gift something unique. They are also great if you make your own gifts and need a way to present your handmade creations. Furthermore, the boxes come with little message cards describing the Truly Gifting ethos – ‘we extend the lifespan of products and reduce the burden on the planet’.

Take a look at

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Cruelty-Free Bio-D Comes Top for Eco-Friendly Washing

washing-machine eco friendly

What we wash away down the plug hole has become an increasing concern of mine and has slowly but surely changed my cleaning habits considerably, both in terms of washing myself and washing things in my home. I’ve gone from a bleach lover to shamefaced occasional user; I clean my shower screen with vinegar and often bathe in plain hot water. The only time my clothes have smelt freshly fragranced in the last couple of years is when I happily discovered samples of everyday washing detergent in a holiday apartment and thought I may as well use them. And yes, the burst of ylang ylang sea breeze rose petal mountain fresh was LOVELY. But other than that I’ve tried a few environmentally-friendly alternatives – including nothing but water, which does work for the odd freshen-up.

First on the list we have Ecozone Ecoballs. A nice little discovery from a shop in Brighton, I genuinely think these are great. They are tennis-sized balls of eco goodness you can chuck straight into the drum again and again and by some science I don’t understand, your clothes come out clean with no harm done to the environment in the meantime. Because they are soap free you can cut the rinse cycle on your machine (if your machine has that function) thus saving extra water and energy. Although pricey to purchase upfront EcoZone then say that they cost just 8p per wash. After a few months you’re meant to replace the balls (that’s on my to-do list).

After my experimentation with EcoBalls I moved onto Ecover non-bio liquid, probably I should say, in search of something fragranced. Normally I’m a great fan of Ecover, not least because their range of cleaning products is extensive and easily available in the supermarket, but sadly I didn’t get on with their washing detergent. Whilst it did clean my clothes and made them smell clean too, something about it irritated my skin. I don’t have particularly sensitive skin so this was surprising and perhaps said more about my lack of contact with soapy detergents in general. Whatever it was, mum benefited from my cast-offs and I haven’t had any complaints about its effectiveness in dealing with dog blankets and mud-encrusted jeans.

And so we come to Bio-D who recently sent me some washing detergent and fabric conditioner to trial (they must think I’m posh – I can barely be bothered to condition my hair!). Bio-D is an independent, family owned, ethically motivated company producing environmentally responsible detergents that have minimal ecological impact both in their manufacture and use. Where possible ingredients are derived from plant-based, renewable sources. The concentrated laundry liquid is fragrance free and ideal for delicates and fine fabrics. I’ve found it washes my clothes perfectly and causes no irritation with wear. The fabric conditioners come fragranced with essential oils – juniper and seaweed, or lavender – or completely unfragranced.

Bio-D eco friendly washing

A further benefit of Bio-D is their disdain for animal testing. They ensure that none of their raw materials or finished products are tested on animals, and are therefore certified by the ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo. You’d probably recognise the Leaping Bunny logo, even if you’re not sure what the scheme is about. It’s coordinated by Cruelty Free International, the leading worldwide organisation working to end experimentation on animals. 100s of cleaning products, toiletries and beauty products are certified by the Bunny – you can request your own copy of their shopping guide to check yours. Cruelty Free International’s latest campaign asks consumers like you and me to sign the ‘Go Cruelty Free Pledge’ and only buy Leaping Bunny certified products. You can take the pledge here and receive monthly offers from Leaping Bunny brands, Bio-D being one of them.

So there we have it – three environmentally-friendly alternatives for washing your clothes tried and tested. I should say that although I don’t have kids or pets and therefore shouldn’t get particularly mucky – I do make a habit of rolling around the common on a weekday evening (for fitness training) and Bio-D coped fabulously with muddy knees and elbows.

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