Review: Friendly Soap shampoo bar

One of the latest darlings in the sustainable living world, I think it’s fair to say, is the shampoo bar.

The concept is great: instead of buying large plastic bottles full of liquid chemicals to clean your hair, you use a small soap instead. It’s much less likely to be packaged in plastic, is much smaller in size whilst lasting a comparable length of time, and contains fewer and more natural ingredients.

friendly_soap_bar

Inside the recycled cardboard box is a solid rectangle of soap, and nothing else.

Having already adopted a bamboo toothbrush (which I love) I was willing and excited to give the shampoo bar a go. I only felt a vague attachment to the shampoo and conditioner I was used to, and am thankfully not particularly fussed about achieving hair “shine” or “silkiness” or “vibrancy” and whatever other adjectives product marketers like to shove onto the various hair care brands.

I first gave Friendly Soap’s Lavender & Tea Tree bar a whirl last summer. It came in a recycled and recyclable little cardboard box, which was adorable. The initial attempt produced a relatively pleasing result: my hair felt a bit rougher than ‘normal’ (read: trained on chemicals) and less “flick-able” (because the hairs didn’t glide over each other as easily) but it was clean and soft, and smelled great.

friendly_soap_order

You can tell I was convinced because this was my order after trying one bar.

Then, after the second and third washes, I felt disillusioned. My hair was full of static, crackling alarmingly with every brush, and felt oddly solid. Exactly as described in the various ‘trouble-shooting’ articles I went on to find, it felt like a coating of soap remained on every hair. I felt self-conscious and retreated back to my usual shampoo and conditioner for a bit.

However, after a bit of research and reading around, I realised part of the problem was me. I had made a few crucial errors:

  • Unprepared for transition period: my scalp had got used to producing a lot of natural oils in response to the mainstream shampoo/conditioner I’d been using for years. So when you first start using a shampoo bar, it’s recommended that you rinse your hair with something like apple cider vinegar or diluted bicarbonate of soda. This helps reduce the oils on your hair and so helps the soap lather up properly.
  • Single lather: I was used to a chemical shampoo that lathered up instantly and only ever lathered and rinsed once. With shampoo soaps, you get much better results with a second lather and rinse.
  • Short rinse: Again, I was used to being able to rinse my hair very quickly. To make sure you rinse after using shampoo soap properly, I found I needed at least twice as much time under the water and to separate my hair out into smaller bunches to aide the reach of the water. Still, we’re only talking two minutes rather than one.

About six months later, I’ve settled into it and I’m highly unlikely to go back, except for maybe rare special occasions where I really do need my hair to behave in a different way.

hair_washed_with_friendly_soap

My hair about six weeks in to using shampoo bars after a typical day out-and-about

What I’ve found/learned (mostly the hard way!) about using a shampoo bar is:

  • A single 95g bar of Friendly Soap lasts about 2 months, washing on average every other day. For me, this is probably equivalent to roughly 600ml of liquid shampoo and conditioner (combined).
  • Once you’ve settled in, and unless you’re very particular about how smooth and shiny you like your hair, a separate conditioner is not really necessary. My hair is a bit rougher and less silky than before, and is a bit frizzier too, but feels softer on the whole.
  • The pre-wash rinse is less important than achieving a frothy second lather. If you can’t feel a mousse, you’ve not put enough soap on.
  • Splitting shoulder-length hair into two halves before applying the soap makes it easier to clean all your hair properly and reduces the risk of residue left in the middle.
  • Gently sliding the wet soap bar over your hair from root to tip is the best way to apply the correct “portion”. Early on, I tried the other method of lathering up the soap onto your hands and then applying that to your hair, but for me this produced less reliable washes and I was more likely to end up with my hair feeling stiff halfway through the day.
  • Rinsing for a bit longer than normal is a must.
  • Gentle but thorough brushing once the hair is dry is also a must. I’ve found brushing all over twice tends to make my hair behave better!
  • It leaves a small amount of dusty residue on my hairbrush – this comes off pretty easily either by scraping the bristles or when you pull hair off anyway. I also initially washed the hairbrush with some warm water and an old toothbrush.

On the whole, I would thoroughly recommend switching to a shampoo bar, and so far I’ve had no reason to look for a different one. It doesn’t have to be an expensive choice (particularly as not needing a conditioner as well made switching for me about the same cost), it has the added bonus of not contributing to your liquid limits when flying, takes up much less space in the bathroom, and I personally am loving the soft-feeling of my hair more than enough to offset the small increase in frizziness.

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Circular economy

In my previous post about the benefits of recycled paper, I mentioned the term “circular economy”. It’s something I only recently encountered, and I thought it would be fun to do a follow-up that explores this idea in a bit more detail.

It was the below video made by Vox and 99% Invisible that first made me aware of the concept:

This video brilliantly gives you a small insight into just how impressive the natural world is in its exploitation of fundamental principles. The main example of the video is the work involved in trying to make Japan’s bullet train quieter; its shape bunched air together so that it exited tunnels as a sonic boom, causing significant disturbance. It just so happened that Eiji Nakatsu, the general manager of the development department, was a bird watcher, and applied the shapes he had seen (particularly the shape of the kingfisher’s beak) to the train.

The result? After testing the beak principle, as well as other bird-related design features, and finding they worked, the new bird-inspired train:

  • was 10% faster
  • used 15% less electricity
  • was quieter, remaining under 70dB

The improved efficiency statistic is particularly interesting when looking at this idea from an ecological stand-point. It proves that most of the problems we need to solve have probably already been solved in various places across the animal kingdom, and that as long as we keep an open mind and remain willing to apply natural principles to our designs, we could benefit hugely.

Another idea for efficiency in that video is analysing how individual fish within their schools position themselves relative to each, to minimise drag and maximise their speed relative to energy output. You could also use the similar pattern amongst flocks of birds, who often fly in a V-shape to reduce drag, and take turns being the lead bird so the burden of flying fully into the wind is shared equally amongst the flock.

Using design elements from the natural world to improve the cleanliness and functionality of the products and buildings in our world is one thing, but the real reason this video brings up the idea of a circular economy is through analysing natural processes.

In nature, nothing is wasted. There is no need for landfill. Recycling happens organically, as organisms eat each other, excrete waste that fertilises plants, which are eaten by organisms, and so on for ever. Plants and trees inhale C02 and release oxygen as a by-product, thereby allowing most other living creatures to breathe. As The Lion King so eloquently puts it: “It’s the circle of life”.

Approaching our current societal model with this in mind, it becomes immediately clear why single-use plastic is such a problem: the second you have finished using it, it becomes waste, because apart from turning it into another single-use plastic, there is no other use for it; it does not biodegrade, and it is not useful to any other organism*.

(*There are whispers of a single lone type of bacteria that feeds on plastic, but apart from this anomaly the point stands.)

Picture instead, a non-toxic material that is durable and can be reused: you purchase an item, you unwrap it, and then you return the packaging to the manufacturer, who reuse it and send it back out. Or, completely organic cups that fertilise soil and can regrow the very same plants to make the cups.

Picture a culture of technology where every part can be replaced easily, where fixing broken things is common, where your laptop is not completely shut away behind a solid steel body and upgrading it with new processors or drives is completely impossible (looking at you, Apple). You wouldn’t need to get a new laptop or phone every year or two, because you could easily customise and update your model with new parts as and when you need them. Instead of replacing the entire computer because one small part has failed or no longer suits your needs, you could only replace that one small part, and all the elements in the old part are reused and repurposed for another life.

Or perhaps, as briefly highlighted in my previous post about recycled paper, the ink and glue waste that is removed from post-consumer paper as part of the recycling process being put to use in the concrete industry or as a fertiliser, nourishing trees that will one day find their way back at the recycling plant.

And what if we could look at the wide variety of existing waste products and see what possibilities they offer? What if an organic waste product with a renewable, endless supply could benefit the environment instead of going to landfill? Well, see below:

Waste hair from hairdressers’ and barbers’ can be used to clean up oil spills efficiently and without scooping out hundreds of tiny sea creatures that are vital to the ocean ecosystem, and without using synthetic chemicals that bring their own health and environmental dangers and problems, on top of the consequences of the oil spill.

Now, moving completely away from fossil fuels and removing all risk of oil spills would be an excellent place to be! But in the meantime, we can use the principles of the circular economy and biomimicry to clean up the inevitable messes.

Recycled paper: what, how, and why?

I’ve got a fairly big copying job to do this weekend, so I’ve been checking supplies during the week.

Well, I say “checking supplies”. What I mean is, I’ve been lovingly stroking the nice recycled paper that has recently captured my heart and pretending I’m stock-checking.

green_copyist_loves_recycled_paper

Photographer: “It looks like you’re holding a baby.” Green Copyist: “I am.”

Before I talk about that particular paper, and the story of how I came to find it, I want to talk about recycled paper in general: what it’s made from, how it’s made, how it’s different to non-recycled paper, and what environmental and societal benefits it offers.

In the age of the internet, it’s shockingly easy to find many excellent resources that have carefully constructed details analyses of recycled paper, comparison tables, and even some amazing behind-the-scenes videos of the manufacturing process (I’ll get to those later – you’re going to want to watch them).

The process of researching this post has confirmed to me again that we must recycle as much as possible, and use products made from recycled and reused materials wherever possible. The environmental and social benefits are too good not to!

In this blog entry, I’m going to pool together some of the headline facts that have grabbed my attention in my research, and I’ll include links to all the relevant sites at the bottom so you can easily continue reading.

 

Recycled paper

Recycled paper contains, rather obviously, paper material that has already been used. Most recycled paper manufacturers refer to “post-consumer waste”, which is paper that has been out in the world and used, like office paper or magazines.(1) However, recycled paper can also contain paper that was never used out in the real world, but instead come from offcuts from virgin paper manufacturing.

(Virgin paper is paper that is brand new, fresh from a tree.)

 

Manufacturing process for making recycled paper

The main differences in the manufacturing process for recycled paper compared to virgin paper are the stages that occur before the pulp arrives at the paper mill.

For virgin paper, that process involves logging the trees and then treating the wood until it becomes a pulp.

For recycled paper, the process starts with collecting waste paper materials. Paper is separated from other recycled waste at sorting plants, and the waste paper is bundled up and taken to a mill that turns the paper into recycled paper pulp. That pulp can then be turned into paper of differing weights (grammage) and finishes. I highly recommend you watch the four videos on Arjowiggins Graphic’s site if you’re interested in the manufacturing process.

These short videos give a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into each stage of the manufacturing process for recycled paper. It’s all interesting, but for me the two things that really made me sit up in very pleasant surprise were:

  • In the second video, Manufacture of recycled pump, you see a shot of the pulper in which waste paper is mixed with soapy water. Air blown through the pump forces ink from the paper and other unwanted residue, like glue, to the top where it can be skimmed off. That’s interesting enough – but this by-product of a by-product is put to use! Arjowiggins say that they use this to make fertiliser, and helps to produce bricks and cement. This is exactly the sort of no-waste circular economy that we need to be sustainable!
  • In the third video, Recycled paper manufacture, there’s an excellent shot of two workers cutting off a quality control strip from an absolutely enormous roll of freshly-made paper. After several minutes of huge machines and the heavily industrial landscape of the mills and sorting plants, this human touch was really sweet to see. It’s a reminder that despite mechanisation, there are still people working to make this most human of products: something primarily used to communicate with others. (It also links to a side-benefit for people I’ll describe below.)

This process can be repeated, as most paper fibres can sustain up to five recycles before they become so short and broken down that they can no longer produce reliable paper.

 

The difference between recycled and virgin paper

Because the fibres are damaged in each recycling process, recycled paper can be weaker than virgin paper. I’ve also read that it can be less resistant to humidity, but it seems this is predominantly more important for cardboard than for paper. (3)

This is why recycled paper products are often less than 100% recycled, as combining some recycled pulp with some virgin pulp can produce a higher quality paper. (1)

However, this does not necessarily mean that recycled paper cannot be high quality, or even white, as a regular fear from people is that recycled paper will be grey or an inconsistent colour. Because recycled paper does not need to be turned from brown to white like virgin paper, and because modern machines used in the process are better at filtering out inks and residues, recycled paper can be just as white as virgin paper whilst needing less bleaching to achieve the effect. (4)

Virgin paper does have the benefit of having greater control of the fibres that go into each type (that is, specific species of trees are preferred for different paper finishes). (1)

 

Environmental benefits of recycled paper

I’m going to be blatantly biased now and simply focus on why I think recycled paper is better, and why it seems most evidence backs up this view.

During my research, I did come across a number of sources that suggested at the very least, virgin paper can be as environmentally sound as recycled paper, but only if that paper is FSC certified, which currently only a small proportion of virgin paper is, and if comparable recycled paper products are either not 100% post-consumer waste or use fossil fuel-powered energy. One source suggests that bacteria counts are higher in recycled paper, but I did also notice that this source is a paper brand that promotes itself for being hygienic…

So here are some statistics about the energy and water consumption of recycled paper compared to virgin paper:

  • Recycling paper uses 20% less energy than incinerating it as waste
  • Recycled paper requires 31-33% less energy to produce than virgin paper
  • Recycled paper requires up to 35,000 fewer litres of water per tonne than virgin paper
  • Recycled paper is more efficient: it requires 1.2 tonnes of waste paper to produce 1 tonne of recycled paper, whereas 2.5 tonnes of wood are needed to produce 1 tonne of virgin paper.

(Statistics from (5) and (4))

Satellite photos showing the scale of deforestation to supply the paper industry across just seven years

Deforestation visible from satellites, from Planet Experts(14): “Virgin paper production requires timber harvesting across large areas of forests, as seen in this satellite image of a site in central Maine within the fiber basket of the Somerset Mill. Left: The site in September 2007. Right: The same site in September 2013. Timber harvesting causes disturbances to the forests, resulting in forest carbon storage loss and negative impacts on biomes and key species. (Source: SCS Global Services’ LCA Study)”

According to Conservatree’s Execute Director, Susan Kinsella, in her excellent and thorough document Why Recycled Content is Crucial for Printing & Writing Paper, there’s a potentially dangerous idea that many people have about paper: that trees grow back, and so it’s fine to chop them down. She writes:

Many harvested forests are replaced with tree plantations. This means cutting a forest that had previously been a biodiverse area with a wide variety of trees, plants, animals, birds, insects, soils and water conditions and replacing it with a monoculture crop of trees, often removing many different species in the process. Even when forests are allowed to regrow more naturally, the resulting second- and third-growth trees are far inferior in both size and quality to the original trees that they replace. (4)

Not only does felling trees to produce virgin paper take months of potential photosynthesis and carbon storage out of the carbon equation, it can significantly change the habitat and ecosystem in ways that I don’t think we should tolerate any more. If only for the selfish reasons that trees play a crucial role in the water cycle, as they slow down the speed with which rainwater works its way into rivers, and so can reduce the risk of flooding that might affect human settlements. Additionally, their strong root systems prevent soil shifting significantly or being simply swept away in heavy rain.

The Conservatree document also suggests that recycled paper mills are already supporting and investing in renewable energy technologies, to improve their efficiency and speed up their development so that they will able to use more renewable energy in their mills sooner.(4) This makes sense, as manufacturers that are already environmentally conscious enough to be creating a more sustainable version of an existing product are hopefully the sorts of companies that will lead by example when it comes to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

However, there is another aspect to the life-cycle of paper that is not directly reflected in the above figures: the potential greenhouse gas emissions if paper is not recycled.

Estimates suggest that the average office worker in the USA uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year, and in the UK the figure was estimated at 45 sheets per day (so approximately 10,800 sheets per year).(6)(7) 4 million tonnes of standard copy paper are used per year in the USA.(6) If all that waste paper was sent to landfill instead of being recycled, it would decompose in the anaerobic landfill environment, which means it would release methane gas, a greenhouse gas that creates a warming effect 23 times greater than CO2.(5) Therefore, increasing the popularity of recycled paper turns used paper into a desired resource rather than a waste product, and incentivises people and businesses to dispose of their waste paper responsibly.

Table showing potential wood, energy, and water savings from switching to recycled paper from virgin for one year

An impressive chart made by the City of Portland Oregon(6): “Environmental savings are for one year of switching virgin paper to 100% post-consumer recycled content (based on US averages).”

Regarding water consumption, the paper manufacturing industry as a whole currently uses the highest amount of industrial water per tonne of product output, totalling 11% of all freshwater in industrial nations. Producing recycled paper instead of virgin can reduce water consumption by up to (or even more than) half, according to (8) and (6). In most cases, this 50% reduction means 23,000-35,000 fewer litres of water used per ton of paper produced. (5)(8)

Overhauling this enormous consumer of water to favour recycled paper, and thus decreasing massively the industry’s water consumption, would be of huge ecological benefit, especially as paper and cardboard manufacturing is increasing. In 2006, global paper and cardboard output was 382.6 million metric tons, but by 2018 this had increased to 410.9 million metric tons. (9)

This growth in paper production is unfortunately mainly in virgin paper at the moment, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America, which not only puts pressure on water resources but on forests and land too. (10)

 

Social benefits of recycled paper

According to Arjowiggins Graphic, recycling in general creates up to ten times more jobs in comparison to sending waste to landfill.(2) This is due to the associated roles, such as collection, sorting, processing, and sales (as the recycling process often ends in a useful end-product, not just a pile of rubbish).

Paper recycling is highlighted – alongside plastic, metal, and glass – as having a particularly rigorous process, which means even more roles are required for human workers.(11) Thus, the circular economy turns around once more.

 

… and specifically, health benefits

One of the first things I noticed as a selling point used by recycled paper brands was that they did not use chlorine bleach.

I just assumed this would be a good thing, and took it as another positive reason to try the paper. However, having dug a little further into what using chlorine to bleach paper means, I now understand its significance.

Chlorine is effective at bleaching paper fibres to be white, and also binds to (and so removes) lignins, which would otherwise cause paper to deteriorate.(12) So far, so good: white paper, great for printing black words on, that lasts longer.

However, this process causes chlorine to bind with the organic material and release toxic pollutants that do not break down in water. I’ve already highlighted how much water is used in the paper manufacturing process, and therefore how much waste water is produced. The pollutants created by the chlorine bleaching process are now linked to cancers and endocrine, reproductive, nervous, and immune system damage. (12)

Recycled paper, unlike virgin paper, is at its starting point already fairly white, as the majority of waste paper is standard white office-style paper. Virgin paper starts from a tree, which must be bleached from brown/beige to white. Given that most recycled paper manufacturers also choose not to use chlorine as their bleaching agent, and need to use less bleaching regardless, this can only be a positive thing for the health of us people and for the entire water ecosystem: recycled paper mills produce 46 grams of chlorine per tonne of product on average, virgin fibre mills produce 1.9 kilograms, and pulp mills that use virgin fibre produce 4.9 kilograms. (13)

 

Conclusion

Recycled paper uses less energy and less water than virgin paper, prevents waste going to landfill, creates many more opportunities for jobs in the recycling chain, and produces far fewer toxic chemicals.

This can only be a very good thing. So far, I’ve only got good things to say about the end product: the actual physical recycled paper I have been using. Which makes recycled paper for this Green Copyist very much the natural choice.

 

Bibliography

1.  Recycled Papers – The Facts, Keenpac packaging (https://keenpac.com/recycled-papers-the-facts)

2. Lifecycle of Recycled Paper, Arjowiggins Graphic paper producers (https://recycled-papers.co.uk/green-matters/lifecycle-of-recycled-paper)

3. Humidity’s effect on strength and stiffness of containerboard materials, Frida Strömberg (http://www.diva-portal.se/smash/get/diva2:942509/FULLTEXT01.pdf)

4. Why Recycled Content is Crucial for Printing & Writing Paper, Susan Kinsella (http://conservatree.org/learn/WhitePaper%20Why%20Recycled.pdf)

5. Why use recycled papers?, Arjowiggins Graphic paper producers (https://recycled-papers.co.uk/green-matters/why-use-recycled-papers)

6. Benefits of recycled content paper, Sustainability at Work – the City of Portland Oregon (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/sustainabilityatwork/article/531088)

7. How much paper does the average UK office waste every year?, Kefron document and information management (https://www.kefron.com/blog/how-much-paper-does-the-average-uk-office-waste-every-year/)

8. How a small effort in switching from virgin pulp to 100% recycled paper has a big impact, Focus Print digital printing services (http://www.focuspress.com.au/how-a-small-effort-in-switching-from-virgin-pulp-to-100-recycled-paper-has-a-big-impact/)

9. Production volume of paper and cardboard worldwide, Statista (https://www.statista.com/statistics/270314/production-of-paper-and-cardboard-in-selected-countries/)

10. The State of the Global Paper Industry, Environmental Paper Network (http://environmentalpaper.org/stateoftheindustry2018/)

11. Recycling and New Job Creation for The Balance – Small Business (https://www.thebalancesmb.com/recycling-and-new-job-creation-2878003)

12. Chlorine Free Processing, Conservatree (http://www.conservatree.org/paper/PaperTypes/CFDisc.shtml)

13. Recycling paper goes easy on the bleach, Rosie Mestel for New Scientist (https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14319441-500-recycling-paper-goes-easy-on-the-bleach/)

14. Recycled Beats Virgin Paper in Environmental Impact, New Study Shows, Global Green USA for Planet Experts (http://www.planetexperts.com/recycled-beats-virgin-paper-environmental-impact-new-study-shows/)

 

Walkable cities

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched the below video by Jeff Speck.

It’s so easy to take for granted streets that are pleasant to walk down, but I think his observations about street width, and its impact on the number of pedestrians, is definitely something we naturally consider.

When my partner and I go for walks, we actively choose quieter streets, partly due to the pollution we know is stronger on roads with more traffic, but also because the noise of the traffic is unpleasant. However, where there is no reasonable alternative, when to avoid busy roads with constant traffic would add too much time to the journey, it becomes much more tempting to drive rather than walk.

I was walking to the station from work one day last summer, and decided to walk to the next station along the line instead. I picked what looked like a reasonable route from the map, but was surprised to be basically the only person walking down these streets. The unpopularity of the area gradually became clear: the buildings on either side were several storeys high, but had no windows or doors at street level. There were no bins, benches, or trees – nothing to indicate human activity. At the end of the road, I found myself again on a street with a few shops, a pub, a pedestrian crossing – and heavily populated.

Something wonderful happens when all the right ingredients for walkable streets come together. I’m no expert on the subject, but to my mind these include:

  • Shops with display windows and clear human-sized doorways
  • Bins and streetlights
  • Trees at regular intervals
  • Irregularities in the street: curves, bends, turnings – anything that breaks the monotony of a long, straight, endless road
  • Variety in architecture along the road
  • Little, irregular, or slow-moving traffic

There’s another short video online that, in combination with Jeff Speck’s TED talk, I think gives a fascinating insight into how and why modern cities in particular have become so dependent on the car.

I’m fortunate, in some ways, to live in London, where the public transport options are varied and relatively reliable. It’s even possible to travel up and down the river on a boat using the Oyster system! When transporting scores and parts to recording sessions, I try to use public transport whenever that is practical given the weight of the job, because in my experience the Tube is much more reliable than taking a taxi (thank you, Jubilee line). (Having a second pair of hands to carry bags when a job is just a bit too heavy for one person helps enormously!)

However, I am also unlucky in that the volume of traffic in this enormous capital city of ours makes walking along London’s streets a literal and dangerous health hazard.

There are many fantastic green spaces in London, including the wonderful Green Chain Walk in my area of South-east London. But that’s only a small section of the city, and increasing the availability and consistency of pleasant walking routes, and indeed promoting walking as a viable transportation option, would be an excellent thing for London. It would need support from TfL, such as reducing traffic on popular roads for walking and increasing the number of street trees, but I would love to see the walkability of streets playing a more significant role in long-term city planning.

Review: Natural fibre Scotch tape

IMG_6387

Taping? I love taping.

There is almost nothing more pleasurable in life, in this Green Copyist’s opinion, than letting a length of soft Scotch tape fall neatly onto the edges of two pieces of paper, creating a bind that is symmetrical, straight, and without any air bubbles or bumps.

The feel of Scotch tape at the edges of parts is delightful, and I’ve become very fond of it. So when I saw a different version of this oh-so-familiar tape, their Natural Fibre Film version, I was a little sceptical and concerned that it would be considerably different.

I was wrong: it feels wonderful, with the same naturally soft flex in it and the same static that means the tape doesn’t need much convincing to attach itself to the paper.

This version uses natural fibres as part of the tape itself, and the packaging contains no plastic, only recycled cardboard.

(However, when rereading the product specifications to write this entry, I realised that the product refers to recycled cardboard cores for each tape, when the pack I ordered had plastic cores – possibly recycled, but this disparity is something I will be investigating.)

In my experience of using it, the tape runs off the roll just as cleanly as the normal brand, and is just as strong – and potentially feels even stronger, but it’s hard to say whether I feel that just because I’m so happy to be using greener products.

Financially, there is a significant difference between the price of each roll and standard Scotch Magic Tape rolls, as I have been used to buying standard rolls at around £1.15 per roll, and the Natural Fibre Film rolls were around £3 per roll. However, this is based on a multipack that also included a tape dispenser, and the price of standard rolls can fluctuate significantly between suppliers.

In this Green Copyist’s opinion, paying a bit more for a greener product is not a deal-breaker, but again I wish the financial incentive were the other way around.

Home initiative: Good Energy renewable electricity

I do my music preparation work from home, which means the energy supplier I choose for my home provides the juice for my printer and computers.

A few years ago, my partner and I decided we wanted to switch to a greener energy supplier, and in the end we settled on Good Energy.

Good Energy provide 100% renewable electricity at a very reasonable (and stable) price, and offer carbon neutral gas as well. Their gas is 6% from biomethane, and the rest is offset. They are based in the UK, run their own solar and wind farms, and have very friendly customer services operators.

Their CEO and founder, Juliet Davenport, has been working for environmental causes for decades, and has even received an OBE for her services to renewables. That gives me a really good feeling about the direction and commitments of the company!

For this Green Copyist, renewable energy is absolutely the way to go.

Review: Kyocera printer

Printer: Kyocera ECOSYS P4040dn

kyocera_at_abbey_road

My darling girl on her first day away from home at Abbey Road

When looking to buy my own printer for session copying, I was looking at price (naturally) and price per page, but I was also interested in the environmental impact of my future printer.

I was impressed by Kyocera’s approach to ink cartridges. Instead of having hundreds of tiny parts, their cartridges only contain a handful of component parts, which makes recycling empty cartridges not only possible but relatively simple. They operate a freepost cartridge return system as well, making it incredibly easy and hassle-free to recycle the cartridges.

(I also felt very Green about buying a printer from a company that heavily promotes its solar panels.)

The cost-per-page to print is very low, as each ink cartridge lasts for around 15,000 A4 pages. Not only is this financially efficient, it is ink-efficient too (and makes replacing ink cartridges an infrequent task).

All of this, on top of the massively reduced energy consumption rate of the printer when on standby compared to similar printers I was looking at, made this model a clear choice for this Green Copyist.

After nearly two years of service, my Kyocera is still reliably fast and efficient, with crystal clear printing even on dense scores due to this laser printer’s high resolution.

Would definitely recommend!