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My eco-friendly life

Eco warrior Serena Lee gives us an insight to her low-waste habits

It was December 2012, and I was staying with my family in Malaysia. My auntie was sewing up my cousin’s old underwear for my grandmother to wear, when she complimented my top and asked how much it cost. It was from Miss Selfridge, a polyester or viscose kimono-style thing, costing £36. She tutted at the price and continued sewing. I should add that my family could absolutely afford new underwear; it was just the default to repair something broken rather than replace it with something new.

I was quietly hit with guilt. I knew I wouldn’t wear this top when I got home – I’d probably give it to a charity shop within a couple of months. I needed to start giving my wardrobe more love. Auntie did more than sew underwear that day – she sowed the seed of repairing and reusing, ready to be nurtured over the next few years.

With perfect zero-waste bloggers showing off a year’s waste in a Kilner jar, I thought I’d share my week in the life of a low-waste, but certainly not zero-waste (yet), vegan mum trying to do her bit – including a few failures.

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About Be Kind

Hello, Most women can remember their first period. Maybe you were lucky enough to have someone comfort and reassure you during yours, or maybe you worked things out for yourself. Either way, for a lot of women, from that first period onwards, it’s a monthly event that is shrouded in shame. A hush-hush secret between friends, a missed PE lesson, a surreptitious tampon passed underhand from a colleague, a sanitary pad shoved up a sleeve, a handbag conspicuously carried to the bathroom – for something perfectly natural, experienced by 50 per cent of the population, why the stigma? We spoke to the brilliant illustrator Hazel Mead (p20) about period shame and how, with her clever drawings, she is breaking taboos and opening up the conversation. Her pieces challenge misconceptions around real topics – like feminism, sex and periods – and she is a passionate campaigner against period poverty. Like Hazel, it’s about bloody time we put an end to the humiliation and mystique around our periods, and liberated ourselves by talking about them honestly and openly. Aside from the emotional impact of periods, they create some shocking environmental damage, too. While we’re all trying our best to use our keep cups and Tupperware, we need to consider the footprint of our sanitary products. Each pad used is the equivalent of four plastic carrier bags – a female uses on average 11,000 throwaway period products in a lifetime, so, if these are all pads, that’s equal to 44,000 carrier bags. Fortunately, there are some great alternatives which are better for the planet and your pocket, too – find out more on p80. Enjoy the issue, Phillipa Editor