Simple Swaps to Make Life Eco-Friendly & Biodegradable

Taken from Papercut by Paperchase, an internal print magazine.

Meet Niamh Darby

When did you first become aware of the importance of living sustainably?

Before working at Paperchase, I used to work in a local garden centre. Working there showed me how to grow my own veggies (and plants of course), but it was a real eye opener to how we could do a lot of tasks ourselves and quite easily too!

Eco friendly insta accounts?

My best friend and colleague Alice owns her own soy wax candle business called Thora and Nell (@thoraandnell), she uses all vegan and eco friendly ingredients in her candles and wax melts. There is an eco friendly alternative to period care products over on Instagram too called @itsyoppie. I was asked to review them for my blog and they are really good. Over the first lockdown, I taught myself how to cross stitch and now you can’t stop me! I found a company who packages their cross stitch fabric in biodegradable bags and envelopes too. Their instagram is @clairebrownxstitch!

Top 3 meat free dishes?

Jamie Oliver does a cracking five bean chilli, it’s lush with rice. Hmm, my Mam’s butternut squash and chickpea curry and lastly, I would have to say I love a good risotto!

Easy shift to eco awareness?

Simple things like using our tote bags have made my plastic consumption reduce a tad. I’ve been refilling a ‘single use’ plastic bottle with hand sanitiser to help the reduction of plastic. Our store has actually started a recycling tote for food waste too!

Hardest part of maintaining?

I admit I am a bit guilty of buying single use plastic for a few products I use everyday. I sometimes forget to take my reusable bottle everywhere and my make up remover is in a plastic bottle which I buy tons of, but I’m slowly getting there!


2021 was the year I finally put my foot down on numerous things – including my impact on the planet. I have always taken my lunch in snack boxes to save on single use cling films. I’ve always taken a few extra foldable bags to carry my shopping to stop having numerous plastic bags around the house and my bedroom. We’re very fortunate to work for a company who uses biodegradable resources to create our carrier bags. It’s even better we’re switching to paper bags later in the year too. Even the hand sanitiser bottles we have at each station are washed and refilled so we aren’t getting just one use out of them.

If you’re looking for a few simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint, keep reading!

Ditch the Plastic

I must be the only person in the world who has tons of Chilly’s bottles but hardly uses them. I have a black sparkly one which is really good for Christmas shifts, because what’s life without a bit of sparkle? A few people are baffled as to how you wash these types of reusable bottles, I found some bottle scrubbies in Urban Outfitters and they work like a dream. You fill your bottle will hot water, soap, pop a scrubbie in and shake your bottle for a couple of minutes, voilà! Chilly’s have actually brought out some travel mugs and food containers too, I haven’t tried them out, but I have the Thermos version and it should work just as well.

Reusing your bottles and cups isn’t the only way to ditch plastic, most products now offer a packaging free or biodegradable packaging version including cards, packs of pens and even soaps. My favourite naked soap at the moment is the Snow Fairy one I blagged at Christmas from Lush over the road from where our York store is, it’s lasted since December and there’s still plenty of it left. I know a few naked products can be a bit pricey, but you are making a big change for the long haul. Little changes will make such a big difference to you personally and to the world too.

You’re (NOT) Toxic

You really need to ditch brands like Yankee Candle. They have so many toxic ingredients in their products, it’s becoming a bit too dangerous for my liking. Hence why I only buy my candles and wax melts from businesses where they use natural ingredients and essential oils too. Look for paraffin free and made with 100% essential oil candles. You really won’t regret switching your toasted marshmallow scent for a cosy little wax melt.

Some make up products can be toxic too, such as lip balms and eye shadows. Use Carmex or Burt Bees for an alternative, they use natural ingredients including beeswax. I have noticed thought they make my lips a bit plumper than usual so you’re basically getting your lips done for a fraction of the price, ha! Speaking of getting a little makeover, change up your shampoo and conditioner pairing if you can, they sometimes contain toxic ingredients which could be actually damaging your hair.

Go Green

One of the most effective ways to be as eco-friendly as possible is to go vegan. I personally haven’t gone fully vegan or veggie, but I am making better choices when I dine out or even stay home. It’s also good for your health to eat less meat and gather your protein from various veggies. Spinach is my favourite because you can also get some iron from the leaves too!

Why not start having meat free Mondays? We’re very lucky to have multiple meat free alternatives for this and it won’t just be having salads all the time. That’s not what going vegan, or veggie is about.

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