• Sustainable water use Birmingham

Recently, Sustainable Water Use Birmingham have put out some posts about having a sustainable festive season and I thought that I would pull all these together in a short blog post for you. However, the credit really needs to go to Sophie, SWUB’s lead researcher and caption creator as I am just collating all the information she has found and communicated so well into one place.

Festive Fashion

When it comes to festive fashion the key piece of advice is: the most sustainable items are the ones you already own.

Love the clothes you already own, wear them time and time again and if you want something new shop secondhand or swap with a friend.

There are some ways that you can make your clothes last a lifetime by caring for them correctly. For example, denim and wool don’t need to be washed as frequently as you think as they are natural fibres, meaning they self clean.


If your denim items need a freshen up try putting them in the freezer - this may sound unusual but it works a treat!

The small action of washing your clothes less can have a big impact:

  • It will extend their life (less risk of shrinking and bobbling);

  • Save water as the average washing machine uses around 50L of water with each wash;

  • Save you money on your utility bills!

Wearing clothes made from natural materials has additional benefits too. When washed all clothes release microfibers, however synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester and acrylic release microplastics which we all know are the oceans enemy! The same goes for sequins and glittery items so where possible try to avoid them even though they are a popular choice at this time of year.

Getting gifts

Shop locally and support small businesses. This year, this is more important than ever as small businesses have been hit the hardest during the pandemic. Head to our Instagram page (@SWUBham) to see our sustainable, small and local suggestions - there is a post and also a highlights reel dedicated to this. Etsy is a great place to start for looking at a wide range of independent sellers.

Before you buy a gift check with your friend and relative what they would like so you only buy what someone needs and really loves. This will avoid the holiday being a period of overconsumption but being mindful of what you buy and use makes us all appreciate this time more.

Then you need to wrap the gift that you know the recipient will love. We suggest using classic brown paper that can be recycled instead of glittery or metallic patterned paper. A video I saw on a BBC Facebook video said: if you can scrunch it up and it stays scrunched up, it can be recycled. Alternatively use a gift bag and don’t use tape so that it can easily be reused again next year or why not wrap someone’s gift in a wax wrap as they are a gift in themselves that can be reused by the recipient!

Food, food and more food

It is predicted that at Christmas, 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 74 million mince pies are wasted.

To avoid unnecessary food waste, plan what you are going to eat ahead of time and write a list of what you will need before you go shopping. Even better, head to your local zero waste or refill store so that all your goods come with recyclable or reusable packaging.

With plans changing you may already have excess food - make use of the Olio app where you can list items of surplus food for someone local to collect from you. This reduces food waste and is a great way to help your local community and neighbours.

A Christmas unwind

SWUB advocates for showers over baths to save water but we do know that winter baths are one of life's little pleasures. However it is important to be mindful of your tub as the average bath uses 80 litres! According to WaterWise, by filling up your bath 1 inch less you could save 5 litres of water.

Additionally, opt for shampoo, conditioner and soap bars from zero waste stores, Lush or search a small business on Etsy for plastic free alternatives. These items are also great gift ideas! Finally, using sustainable razors also helps reduce plastic - Estrid razors are a vegan and plastic free razor subscription service. So, ditch disposable razors by tailoring the subscription service to receive new razor heads as frequent as you like!

Thank you for reading this article and if you have any other sustainable tips for the festive season, let us know as we love learning how we can do better!

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  • Sustainable water use Birmingham

It has recently been announced that dual flush toilets are doing more harm than good. In general, water use has risen in the last decade to unprecedented levels. Here in the UK with the average individual is using as much as 150 litres per day. This figure is higher than our European counterparts in France (128L) and Germany (122L). We must work to reduce the amount we use to maintain supplies for future generations and continue to use water ‘on demand’ as we know it.

The leaky loos have been estimated to cause 400 million litres of water loss each day in the UK. This is astounding and something needs to be done. The dual flush was originally designed to help tackle unsustainable water use but with 1 in 10 households experiencing leaky appliances in their home, the families water use (approx. 350 litres) is being almost doubled1. This means a potential shortage of water supplies to your home, dried up rivers and therefore, biodiversity loss and higher bills!

The BBC Radio 4 Podcast Costing the Earth, which we highly recommend by the way, does inform us that the dual flush loo when working properly is saving us water 💦 However, the problem lies with the number of leaks which may be difficult to detect if you don’t know how to find it.

So how do I find a leak?

According to Water Safe UK you can detect a leaking toilet easily using toilet tissue! Here’s how:

  • Half an hour after a flush, wipe the back of the pan dry with toilet tissue.

  • Place a new, dry sheet of toilet tissue across the back of the pan.

  • Leave it in place for up to three hours without using the toilet, or overnight.

  • If the paper is wet or torn in the morning – you have a leaky loo.

Here at SWUB we urge everyone to urge everyone to check their toilet for leaks to help save water and cut down on your water bills during this tough time and forever!

  1. Figures taken from Costing the Earth podcast by BBC Radio 4

Written by Holly Hughes

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  • Sustainable water use Birmingham

Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign is back again this year to build support for the slow fashion movement. Long-time followers of SWUB will know that we are passionate about slowing down clothing consumption to assist with our campaign aim of reducing water waste, pollution and insecurity.

Participants of Second Hand September are pledging to only buy second hand clothing items as opposed to ‘new’ for the month of September and will continue the habit thereafter. The fashion is one of the largest polluting industries, leading to vast environmental degradation and human rights issues. Second hand shopping is a brilliant way to keep clothes out of landfill, to reduce your carbon foot-print and to honour workers throughout garment supply chains.

Some shoppers may put off second hand shopping by the assumption that items may be dirty – no promises but most spotless, and you can often find items in their original condition! Charity and thrift shops will only display items that are fit for sale! Instead reframe how you view the term ‘second hand’. For us it means you can find unique one-off pieces and high-quality designer bargains!

Here are SWUB’s reasons to go Second Hand this September:

  • It takes approx. 10,000 litres of water to create a pair of jeans and 3,000 litres for a cotton t-shirt. Putting this in perspective, it would take you 13 years to drink this much water!

  • 20% of all freshwater pollution is a result of fashion. Manufactures often dispose of dyes in waterways such as the Citarum river, which is now the world’s most polluted river!

  • Mass cotton production is drying up water reserves due to its growth being water intensive. This is illustrated through the Aral Sea, which has shrunk to just 10% of it’s since the 1960s.

  • The fashion industry is also responsible for 20% of global water waste!

SWUB’s recommended ways to shop this second hand?

  • Borrow from friends and family

  • Charity and vintage shops - write a list of items that you’re looking out for to ensure you will actually wear what you buy

  • Use these apps and websites to search for specific items: Depop, eBay, Vinted and Vestier Collective

  • Renting is a great alternative if you want an outfit for an occasion, try Hurr, FrontRow, OurCloset and By Rotation

  • Attend a clothing swap – take along items that you haven’t worn for a while to swap with something you will re-wear over and over

The slow fashion movement is growing and here to stay - there has never been a better time to join than this September. Whatever you do buy second hand make sure you love it and will wear it for a lifetime before passing it onto another loving home!

Written by Sophie O'Connell

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