Why beeswax wraps will change your life

Why beeswax wraps will change your life

Each year in the UK we use a shocking 1.2 billion metres of cling film, a product which is very hard to recycle. Beeswax wraps have paved the way for a sustainable alternative, not only are they biodegradable and compostable but the colourful designs are beautiful too.

At Oxfam we stock the wonderful The Beeswax Wrap co, online and in our stores too. Their wraps are handmade using organic GOTS certified cotton, pine resin, organic jojoba oil and locally sourced UK beeswax.

What are the benefits of using them?

  • 100% natural – so no chance of any nasties seeping in to your food.
  • Reusable – just clean with a little bit of soap and cold water after each use and then use them again! Give them a refresh every 2-3 months to extend their life – more info below on how to do this.
  • Biodegradable and compostable – once your wrap starts to lose its life you can put it in with your compost or twist it up and use it as a firelighter – cool huh?
  • Keeps food fresh – the combination of natural ingredients and organic cotton fabric allows the wraps to breathe, meaning your food stays fresh for longer. This extends the life of a loaf of bread by about 3-4 days and your sandwiches won’t be limp and lacklustre come lunch time.
  • Clingy – pine resin acts as a natural adhesive and the warmth from your hands helps mould the wraps to give a strong seal.

How to clean beeswax wraps

All you have to do is use a splash of gentle washing up liquid and a bit of cool water and voila! They’re ready to go again.

Refreshing your beeswax wrap – electric oven method

To keep your wraps fresh and sticky it’s best to refresh them every few months. Please note this method is only for electric ovens not gas ovens – if you have a gas oven please follow the Iron Refresh Method below.

Refreshing your beeswax wrap – iron method

This method is quick and easy, and perfect for refreshing wraps too big to fit on a tray in your oven, or if you don’t have an electric oven.

 

If you’re now converted and want to get your hands on some stunning beeswax wraps, click the link below or visit your local Oxfam shop.

7 things you didn’t know about Fairtrade

7 things you didn’t know about Fairtrade

At Oxfam we are proud to stock many Fairtrade items boasting the FAIRTRADE Mark – which turns 25 years old this year!

Cafédirect, Clipper and Green & Blacks launched the first three products carrying the Mark all the way back in 1994. In celebration of this milestone, we’ve pulled together some fun and interesting facts you may or may not know about Fairtrade….

7 Fairtrade facts

1. One in three bananas bought in the UK is Fairtrade

2. Over the past 25 years, shoppers have generated 1 billion Euros in Fairtrade Premium for farmers and workers

3. There are over 4,500 different Fairtrade products available to buy in UK shops, but there is currently no Fairtrade cheese in the UK!

4. 93% of UK shoppers recognise the FAIRTRADE Mark and 83% trust it when deciding whether a product is ethical

5. There are 1.66 million Fairtrade farmers and workers around the world in over 73 countries, with Peru having the highest number

6. Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman wore Fairtrade gold when collecting an award earlier this year

7. If you buy Fairtrade roses from Kenya, your carbon footprint is actually lower than if you buy standard roses grown in the Netherlands!

We have a fantastic range of Fairtrade products online, including Cafédirect coffee, Divine chocolate, cotton tote bags and more. By buying Fairtrade products from Oxfam not only are you helping improve working conditions and encouraging fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world, but you are also helping fight poverty.

 

7 stylish ways to be more sustainable

7 stylish ways to be more sustainable

Organic? fair trade? Vegan? Shopping for everyday items in a way that’s kind to people and planet can be a minefield.

Introducing our ethically-sourced range, Sourced by Oxfam, which can help you tackle the war on plastic and have a more sustainable lifestyle.

1. Save turtles with a tote

ARTHOUSE TURTLE SHOPPING TOTE BAG - Sourced by oxfam
An estimated 12.7 million tonnes of single use plastic ends up in our oceans every year. We might not use plastic bags as much as we used to, but it’s still easy to accumulate loads of them at home. Instead, grab a few reusable bags you’ll love so much you never hit the shops without one.
This turtletastic tote has been designed by Arthouse Unlimited – a social enterprise that supports artists living with learning and physical difficulties in Surrey.
You can get your fins on one for £7.99 on our online shop

2. Say it with a sari

Sourced by oxfam sustainable ethical product gifts - products made with recycled india sari
When it comes to upcycling, it’s amazing what a sari can be turned in to – and the people it can support. From earrings and bags to bunting and throws – each product is unique and they make very special gifts. All have been sourced from India through suppliers who work with disadvantaged communities – providing people with valuable skills, work and healthcare.
Browse the collection.

3. Create less waste with cool cups

REUSABLE BAMBOO TRAVEL CUP - STRAWBERRY THIEF BY WILLIAM MORRIS DESIGN - sourced by oxfam
The average lifespan of a single-use coffee cup is 13 minutes. And as they usually have a plastic coating, they’re rarely recyclable. So reusable takeaway cups have arrived and are here to stay. We’re stocked up with loads of different designs to suit every single style – including this one featuring one of William Morris’ designs.

4. Do good with a Dopper

Sourced by oxfam DOPPER water BOTTLE
Dopper bottles are on a social mission. They want us all to fill up their bottles with tap water instead of buying single-use plastic bottles, destined for our oceans. The ones in our range are especially great for drinking on the go or taking to picnics, with a built in removeable cup as well as a screw top lid. And to help rectify some of the plastic damage already done – Dopper donates 5% of its turnover to the Dopper Foundation to reduce plastic pollution and provide clean water where people need it most. Buy yours here.

5. Bee cling film free

beeswax food-wrap sourced by oxfam
Plastic can be hard to avoid. When creators Carly and Fran started trying to live as plastic free as possible, the one item they struggled to replace was cling film. So with a bit of trial and error, these reusable and beautiful beeswax wraps were created using just organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil and pine resin. They’ll keep your bread, cheese or sandwiches really fresh – sealed with the heat of your hands. A genius and natural solution. And available to buy from our online shop.

6. Give up plastic with Greenpeace

How to give up plastic book - sourced by oxfam
It’s estimated that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight), so this accessible guide couldn’t be timelier. Will McCallum – head of Oceans at Greenpeace and on the front line of humanity’s global fight against plastic – gives us loads of suggestions for small changes we can do to make a big difference. Get your copy from Oxfam Online Shop.

7. Beat poverty with bamboo

Recyclable lunchbox made from sustainably sourced bamboo - sourced by oxfam
Want to avoid plastic Tupperware? These lunchboxes are made from biodegradable, sustainable bamboo. Its naturally anti-microbial so stops germs in their tracks – making these pretty lunch boxes perfect for keeping your food fresh. Available online for £9.99

And as always, everything you buy with us funds our poverty-beating work around the world. Discover our whole sustainable Sourced By Oxfam range

Top tips to start your vinyl collection by our Oxfam Music Shop experts

Top tips to start your vinyl collection by our Oxfam Music Shop experts

Vinyl’s making a comeback!

Music holds the power of making us feel, one song can transport us back in time to a moment in our lives we cherish. There’s no doubt that the popularity of music has been around for centuries but how we consume music has changed, we’ve seen the decline in cassette tapes and CDs and the rise in subscription services such as Spotify and iTunes. However, vinyl is back, and it looks like it’s here to stay.

A YouGov survey of 1,444 people highlighted that one in four 18-24-year olds bought a vinyl record in the last month. Last year, more than 4 million LPs were sold in the UK – a 25% increase compared to the 3.2 million sold in 2016.

Alongside the nostalgia that comes with vinyl records, taking the time to browse through record stores or online to build your collection is a hobby that we love the sound of.

5 reasons to invest in a second-hand vinyl collection:

  1. It’s tangible – vinyl records are items you can collect and own.
  2. It’s pretty cool – first made in 1948 predominantly for film, 71 years later and we can find our favourite artists in our local record store.
  3. It can become a hobby – browsing through your local Oxfam music store to find your favourite artists or a new gem is a thrill that’s hard to achieve through an MP3 download.
  4. The listening experience – a nice set of speakers with a quality turntable is all part of the experience of relaxing and enjoying the music.
  5. It has great sound quality when you have the right set up.

OK, this sounds great! But, where do I start? Our music shops around the country have given us their top tips when it comes to second-hand vinyl shopping.

6 top tips to follow when buying vinyl:

I want to start building a vinyl collection – where do I begin?

Begin with what you like, begin with what you know and try things that are cheap but in a good condition.

Debbie Taylor – Oxfam Books and Music, Bedford.

What are your top tips for second-hand Vinyl shopping?

  • Take the record out of the sleeve and look at it carefully and check the condition.
  • Watch out for counterfeits. Is the price for the condition too good to be true?
  • Look (dig) right at the back of the display.
  • A well organised shop is often well organised when it comes to assessing condition, pricing and cleaning records. Avoid shops that seem like they don’t care.

Rowland – Oxfam Books and Music, Olney.

What kind of vinyl player should I get/things I should consider?

If you know you’re into it for the long term read around, especially for classic old turntables that may be cheaper on the second-hand market. Get a decent cartridge and stylus (the cartridge holds the stylus). Different stylus shapes sound better on records. If you can, try a difficult record to play in your collection to see if it sounds OK. I’ve got a record that plays well on my turntable that jumped a lot on a deck worth thousands of pounds. Make sure the arm has adjustable anti skate and don’t buy a deck with a plastic arm.

Mike Fisher – Oxfam, Southampton.

What should I know about needles and cartridges?

Firstly, a cartridge contains a needle (stylus) but it is possible to replace a stylus in a cartridge. The better and more expensive the cartridge the better the sound you will get from it, if it’s on a good turntable.

Brands such as Pro-ject and Rega , even on their budget turntables, come with very good cartridges such as those made by the highly regarded Ortofon. Over time you can upgrade the cartridge for a better one.

However, you do need to make sure a cartridge is compatible with your turntable and that it is of the correct type (either Moving Magnet or Moving Coil – MM or MC).

A stylus will only last for about 1,000 to 1,500 hours of playing. Replacing the stylus in a cartridge is the cheapest way of ensuring your cartridge is still effective and to prevent damage to your records.

Rowland – Oxfam Books and Music, Olney.

How do I store my vinyl collection?

Upright. Some people prefer crates with the record sleeve face out, others prefer shelving with records spine out, but that can increase wear on the sleeve. Personally, I tend to use Ikea Kallax shelves, and the floor.

Mike Fisher – Oxfam, Southampton.

Store in standard room temperature, DO NOT put it in a loft. Temperature and humidity variations can ruin the records, warping them and turning them mouldy.

Alan Harris – Oxfam Books and Music, Lymington.

How do I clean my vinyl records?

Use fairy and lukewarm water. Make sure you carefully rinse them and dry with a soft cloth or tissue.

Paul Hunter – Oxfam, Inverness.

Now that you have the top tips in how to start shopping for your collection, it’s time for the fun bit! Finding your favourite artists, albums you’ve always wanted to hear and begin your journey of a new hobby of vinyl collecting.

Buy vinyl on our online shop and enjoy 15% off using code: MUSIC15 until 15th October 2019 (Ts&Cs apply).

 

The Refugee Camp where 95% of households recycle

The Refugee Camp where 95% of households recycle

Buy and donate preloved clothes with Oxfam and you can do more than fight landfill here in the UK. As this game-changing project in Jordan reveals…

Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is now home to around 80,000 people who’ve been forced to leave their homes in war-torn Syria. As well as providing clean safe water and sanitation in the camp, Oxfam has helped launch a recycling project that’s fighting landfill and poverty simultaneously.

Recyclable waste – things like water bottles, buckets, plastic packaging, scrap metal and cardboard – is collected from around the camp, then taken to the recycling centre where it’s separated and prepped for selling on. The project means that more than 95% of households in Zaatari now recycle, with a fifth of waste from the camp kept out of local landfill sites – we’re talking over a thousand tonnes every month.

The project’s also providing an income for around 180 men and women. Jasem Al-Wrewir is one of them.

“Before the conflict in Syria began, my family and I lived in Al Ghouta, near Damascus,” he explains. “We had a house, a car and enough money to live comfortably. I was 40 years old, with a family and a successful business in waste management, that I’d built up over 15 years of hard work.”

Eventually the situation in Syria got so dangerous, his family had to flee, arriving in Zaatari camp in 2013. “Adapting to life as a refugee here was extremely difficult for us at first,” says Jasem. “We weren’t used to living in tents, to the unforgiving environment.” Waste was just one issue that made daily life harder. “In those days there was garbage everywhere – along with the insects and other pests that come with it.”

In 2015, things changed. Jasem was approached to help with and then co-manage a pilot recycling project on site. “I was so excited to be using my skills again,” he says. “Three years later, our small pilot project has grown and now collects waste from all districts across Zaatari camp… that’s 259 tonnes every week.”

As well as raising awareness about recycling, and collecting and prepping recyclable waste, people involved in the project have used their expertise with massively inspiring results. “Former tailors are making rugs for the winters out of old clothing, engineers are making mechanical toys for our children,” says Jasem. “And farmers have built multiple greenhouses from recycled bottles to grow fresh vegetables.”

The project has also given Jasem hope and plans for the future. “While it isn’t possible right now, I would love to build on what I have achieved here – to work in a recycling centre in one of the cities in Jordan, outside of the refugee camps.” Ultimately, he wants to go home. “One day, I hope that there will be peace in Syria, so that I can return with my family to rebuild my business and our beautiful country. Until that day, we are here.”

This project is just one way that the money raised from shopping and donating clothes to Oxfam helps people beat poverty. There are many more. Find out about our work.

Photo Credits: Sam Tarling/Oxfam, James Riturban/Oxfam

Choose to Reuse: our top tips for reducing single use plastic consumption

Choose to Reuse: our top tips for reducing single use plastic consumption

The war on single use plastic is a global problem, with an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans each year and killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. It’s predicted that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight.

At Oxfam, we choose to reuse. We’re not just referring to second-hand fashion and books – our Sourced by Oxfam reusables range includes ethical and sustainable items such as bamboo lunchboxes, reusable coffee cups, beeswax wraps, water bottles, tote bags and more. We’ve put together our top tips on how you can make a difference – let’s help save our oceans from single use plastics AND help to end poverty worldwide at the same time.

1. Use a reusable shopping tote bag

It’s shocking, but a plastic bag can take up to 500 years to decompose. Since the 5p charge for plastic bags came in to force in England in 2015, our use of plastic bags has dropped by approximately 80%. However, we can still do more to reduce this figure! We have a range of beautiful tote bags online starting from just £5.99.

2. Carry a water bottle with you

Each year 7.7 billion plastic bottles are purchased across the UK, and many of those will end up in landfill. With apps such as Refill you can easily find local businesses that will fill up your water bottle for free, not only meaning you can help to reduce plastic consumption, but you can save money as well!

3. Use a reusable coffee cup

2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK – enough to stretch around the world roughly five and a half times! Unfortunately, less than 1 in 400 of these are recycled. You can help make a difference by taking a reusable cup with you every time you purchase a hot drink, and lots of coffee shops will give you a discount for using your own cup too!

4. Cover leftovers with beeswax wraps

Cling film is hard to recycle, and each year in the UK we use more than 1.2 billion metres! Beeswax wraps are a wonderful alternative, not only are they 100% natural but they are also totally compostable.

                    

5. Make your own lunch

Many food on the go products are packaged in single use plastic, that are quickly discarded and aren’t recycled. Our range of lunchboxes are made of biodegradable, sustainable bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world – it only takes a year to grow back after it’s been harvested and doesn’t need much water or any fertilisers to make it grow and thrive.

 

Did you know we sell products made from recycled saris?

It’s amazing what a recycled sari can be turned in to – we stock jewellery, bags, scarves, bunting and throws all made from preloved silk saris. We source these items from a range of suppliers in India, who work with uneducated and disadvantaged women providing them with valuable skills and work. Check out our beautiful range online now!

 

Our reusable items are very popular and sometimes sell out online whilst we wait for more stock to come in! If this happens check your local Oxfam shop to see if they have what you are looking for, or follow us on Instagram where we will announce when items are back in stock online.

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