THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb20

50 Shades of Sustainability

When we started the Modern Mint Shop we wanted to focus on products that held sustainability as a high value – we imagined they would be created from recycled materials, or from natural sources that, managed correctly, would save or improve an eco-system.

It would be easy to meet the supplier, check they were doing what they said, and feel good about doing our bit. Nice and simple!

But…

… we had little idea the depth the word ‘sustainability’ has – significantly, products that may appear ‘green’ may prove themselves to create other problems somewhere along the way.

A good example is the use of plants to create bio-fuel in which to run our vehicles. It seems like a grand idea, as we reduce our carbon emissions instantly. But for us to have a crop that we can burn as fuel, it means someone won’t have a crop they need in order to eat. It places our transport ahead of a human life, and what looked like an easy switch for the first world countries to make has far more shades to it than we can first imagine.

Seedballs Bee Mix
Seedballs – the BEE MIX!

(Pictured above – Seedballs from our shop. A pretty deep shade of green!)

What shade of sustainability are we looking for?

Doing our ‘bit’ may make us feel good, but there is a journey to go on here – we are educating ourselves as we go, and hope you will join us and learn as we learn. A good place to start are with the three r’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Do our products meet these basic (and necessary) standards?

When designing gardens we try to add a fourth ‘r’ – refuse. This is where we try and find solutions for the garden where we don’t have to do add anything new. Often just managing a particular area in a certain way will produce the desired effect. Right now we are working on a garden which needs definition to the space used as a lawn. The lawn slopes down onto a pond and a hedgerow, then out into fields. We could add a wall and steps across the lawn, to sit the green space in scale with the house and add this lovely element to the garden. To do this will need lots of inputs – building materials, machinery and labour.

Instead we intend to define areas of long grass, to demarcate this transition from house to the wilder edges of the garden. It is simple, and a refusal to ‘add add add’ – in fact, it should mean reducing the amount of mowing necessary every week. A benefit in a garden of this size…

Embedded costs must be looked at – for example, the water needed to grow your food must come from somewhere, even if it gets forgotten by the time you open your bag of salad. This ‘virtual water’ must be included in the cost of what we buy and use.

Give something back – this is the exciting part, as we take aim on our journey to sustainability. Can we find solutions that not only reduce the energy and waste from our actions, but actually rebalance what we have done? Can our gardens be carbon sinks? Can we create spaces that provide the best environment possible for our health, both mental and physical? Can we support the planet and the people who are on it?

That is what sustainability means – to support.

It is answers to how we support this earth that drives us to keep learning, to keep discovering the many shades of sustainability.

7 Days Waste

Here is a list we made last summer of what we threw away. An (R) signifies what was recycled.

Monday

  • 10 x kitchen towel
  • 1 x plastic magazine sleeve (R)
  • 7 x various leaflets flyers (R)
  • 1 x wrapper for Ryvita crackers
  • 1 x cardboard inner roll for kitchen towel (R)
  • 1 x plastic wrapping for kitchen towel
  • 1 x plaster bag for coriander
  • 2 x rubber band
  • 1 x egg box (R)
  • 1 x netting bag for garlic
  • 1 x plastic garlic label
  • 1 x cardboard punnet (R)
  • 1 x wrapper from tin of tuna
  • 1 x paper bag (R)

Tuesday

  • 1 x kitchen towel
  • 1 x plastic seal on peanut butter jar
  • 1 x 2litre milk bottle (R)
  • 1 x square of Clingfilm
  • 1 x plastic tub for hummus (R)
  • 1 x card sleeve for hummus (R)
  • 1 x plastic halloumi wrapper
  • 1 x milk bottle seal

Wednesday

  • 1 x bag for popcorn
  • 1 x netting bag for limes
  • 1 x egg box (R)
  • 1 x square of cling film
  • 1 x pen
  • 2 x kitchen towel
  • 2 x brown paper bag (R)
  • 1 x piece of paper (R)

Thursday

  • 2 x paper receipts (R)
  • 2 x rubber band
  • 1 x plastic punnet for blueberries (R)
  • 3 x paper (R)
  • 1 x plastic wrapper for flap jack
  • 1 x shaving foam canister (R)
  • 1 x 2 litre milk carton (R)
  • 1 x glass jam jar and lid (R)
  • 1 x plastic salad bag (R)
  • 3 x napkins
  • 1 x square of Clingfilm
  • 1 x little cardboard box and plastic lid (R)
  • 1 x plastic seal from milk carton

Friday

  • 1 x shampoo bottle (R)
  • 1 x square of cling
  • 1 x cardboard inner roll (R)
  • 1 x wine bottle (R)
  • 1 x paper (R)
  • 1 x kitchen towel

Saturday

  • 3 x brown paper bags (R)
  • 1 x local magazine (R)
  • 1 x square of Clingfilm
  • 1 x cinema ticket (R)

Sunday

  • 1 x kitchen towel
  • 1 x plastic packaging for fish (R)

The sheer amount is frightening – and it is nothing compared to what we see others throwing away. We are making a conscious effort to do better – and it is possible. Growing more food would be a brilliant first step.

Clarity in Sustainability

Every week we find out more about how to live lightly on the earth. Questions of sustainability are important ones to answer, and though it seems huge and we are, at times, unclear of the way forward, this blog and the products we sell on the shop are significant and solid marking points on the way to discovery. They are a place for us to experiment, brainstorm, test and learn.

It is exciting. We hope you will continue learning with us.

(If you would like to read more from Modern Mint, why not try this interview with the Cycling Gardener of Liverpool?)

Apr27

Beekeepers – Quick Notes On Plants For Bees

tulips for bees

Fine news for beekeepers today – a total ban on bee-harming pesticides has been announced! To celebrate, here is a list of plants we recommend as being brilliant for the bees: Helenium Sedum Echium vulgare Marjoram or Oregano Eupatorium (common name? Joe Pye-Weed. But don’t let that put you off!) Borage Nepeta Veronicastrum Teucrium Bonus plants for shady spots? Try hellebore, lamium and pulmonaria. Looking for a shrub to plant near your apiary? Phillyrea ought to do it. Although it is difficult to get hold of…. we are working on making it more available though, so check back with Modern …

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Apr20

Thoughts On Modern Mint, April 2018

Hey Modern Minters, we have been busy already this year – so busy! Here is some of the topiary work we love doing so much…. A post shared by ModernMint (@modernmintshop) on Apr 5, 2018 at 9:48am PDT Whilst evenings (and some afternoons!) have been spent travelling the country giving garden talks to clubs, horticultural societies, WI’s and U3A’s. This is all fabulous fun but it has meant: We have not been consistent with our mailing list I have not finished the book ‘Helping The Honeybee’ I was due to get to the publisher by the end of February There …

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Mar30

Helping The Honeybee, Southend On Sea Beekeepers

Helping the honeybee

This week I gave a talk – Helping The Honeybee – to the lovely beekeeping group at Southend on Sea. Here are some notes for those who didn’t have a chance to write down some of the ideas we spoke about and shared…. The Top Plants For Bees Helenium Sedum Echium Marjoram (which you will find in your seedballs) Oregano Eupatorium, also known as Joe Pye-Weed Borage Nepeta Veronicaastrum Teucrium Phillyrea If you want a hedge for around your apiary, you will not go too far wrong with planting the amazing, tough as old boots, Phillyrea. Read plenty more about …

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