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environment recycle reduce reuse

Waste Free Lent – Week 4

Copy of Copy of Waste Free Lent

Another week has gone by, and the lessons I have learnt again are that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I really do have to get more organised and remember to take food and drink with me when I go out! I have, however, got into the habit of taking a reusable cup with me everywhere I go and find most places are more than happy to use it. In fact, one place I got coffee from offered me a discount on my coffee for providing my own cup – win!

I’m not going to give you a day by day breakdown this week – last week was so manic I can barely remember what I did when, but I will share some wins and some dilemmas!

Wins: I had both a 40th birthday and Mother’s Day to negotiate this week, but didn’t do too badly on the waste production. For the 40th I bought a couple of knitting pattern books (the birthday girl is obsessed with knitting!) and put in a bottle of my home-made redcurrant gin. For my Mum, I bought a selection of posh tonic waters in glass bottles, and again put in a bottle of my home-made red currant gin. So very little waste. I then reused gift bags I had received for my own birthday a few weeks ago.

The bright spring days have highlighted that I have neglected cleaning my windows over winter! The reason for tIMG_20160304_150848his became clear when I tried to find some glass cleaner and discovered I didn’t have any. Now, in a perfect waste free world, I would use white vinegar and water to clean my windows, but I didn’t even have a spare spray bottle to use to do it. I did, however, have some old stock of Eco2Life spray bottles and refills from when I was a Wikaniko rep. Some were glass cleaners, so I opened one and used it. I was impressed and it smelt better than white vinegar too. I have added the rest to my website at a knock down price, in case you want to try them yourself!

Fails: I am really struggling with buying bananas and coffee. My local supermarket only does Fairtrade bananas in plastic bags. I could drive for half an hour to visit a Sainsbury’s, as ALL their bananas are Fairtrade, the loose ones, the value ones etc.. The only low plastic coffee I can find is also not Fairtrade (although I buy most of our coffee in bulk, the lids of the tins it comes in are still plastic). I am passionate about Fairtrade, I believe those that grow my food and drink should earn a fair wage and have access to education and healthcare. Any tips?

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environment recycle reduce reuse

Waste Free Lent – Week 1

waste free lent blog week 1Just before the start of Lent, I read an interesting article inciting people to give up plastic instead of chocolate. As someone who both worries about the amount of waste I create, and preferring Lenten fasts to make me think, I gave it some serious consideration.

Then I looked around my house and went into blind panic. I read a few blogs on giving up plastic waste and panicked even more. It just seems so hard. I have so  many questions – like how do you wash your hair, let alone dye it, clean your teeth, buy meat, or pasta…

I still wanted to reduce my waste and really think about the waste I was producing though. So here is what I am going to do, post a new thing I did to reduce my waste each day of Lent (40 days if you don’t include Sundays).

So here we go:

Day 1: I hereby undertake to buy nothing new before the end of Lent. I decided this, then went for a meeting with a potential new volunteer in an out of town shopping centre. It was amazing how hard it was to walk past the special offers, and displays. Our whole society is based around encouraging us to buy more, consume more, create more waste.

Day 2: One of my bad waste habits is drinks when out and about. Whether it is coffee in a take out cup, or fizzy pop in a single use plastic bottle, drinking on the hoof is a potential waste minefield. I had already swapped to taking a reusable coffee cup out with me, but today took a sports bottle of squash too. Unfortunately, I also took my toddler, who drank quite a lot of the juice and by mid-afternoon we were both thirsty again. Most of the coffee shops in our town do coffee in washable mugs, but if you want a cold drink you have the choice of disposable cups or single use bottles. I opted for a hot drink to avoid the waste, but unfortunately had to buy a drink in a single use bottle for my son. Must do better next time!

Day 3 – was quite easy to not buy anything, I just didn’t go to the shops! However, I once again struck by how difficult it is to eat meat without producing plastic waste – the bacon at lunch time came wrapped in plastic and the meatballs for dinner were on a plastic tray. I clearly need to have a chat with my local butcher about me bringing my own bags to reuse. Vegetables are easier as I get most of my veg delivered from North East Organic Growers. Although it comes in plastic carrier bags, I send these back to be refilled, so no waste there!

Day 4 – this was a massive fail on the waste production front. My son was having a belated birthday party and I failed to plan for party bags in time. This meant buying plastic bags, and plastic wrapped sweets to put in the plastic bags. In an attempt to reduce the amount single use waste in the bag, the gift I included was a small metal Hot Wheels car. A discount shop had packs of 5 for £5, so not too expensive and more useful that your average party blower or plastic snake! The kids even played with them together at the party, so clearly a win. Unfortunately the pack was also wrapped in single use plastic. Must plan better for my daughter’s birthday in a couple of weeks.  Also did my weekly fruit shop – everything comes in plastic! Resolved to find a way to bring my own bags next week – even if they are reused plastic bags and maybe shop in the my local market rather than the supermarket. Finally I bought a chicken for Sunday dinner. On the whole I buy chicken to have a low food waste week – check out my four meal chicken here (although now my toddler is eating whole portions, it’s more like a 3 meal chicken!). The cashier tried to put the chicken, which was on a plastic tray and shrink wrapped in more plastic into a plastic bag (because the law says she can without charging!). I stopped her, and gave her a reusable plastic bag to put it in, separate to my other shopping!

That brings us to Sunday, and as traditionally Sunday is a day off the Lenten fast (if you count the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday you get 46 – so you take the 6 Sundays off). I shall pause for the week. I haven’t significantly reduced my waste this week, but I have 36 more days to go!

Tips on the following would be appreciated:

  1. How to buy meat without plastic?
  2. Eco party bag ideas?
  3. Drinking cold drinks out and about.

 

Categories
environment reduce reuse

A scatterbrained woman’s thoughts on plastic bags

CREDIT: REUTERS/PETR JOSEK
CREDIT: REUTERS/PETR JOSEK

Just after Christmas I went up to Glasgow to stay with family and went out sales shopping. I was a little surprised when, in Marks and Spencer, I was asked if I wanted a carrier bag for my clothing purchase, and even more surprised when I was charged 5p for it. Surprised, but not cross, quite pleased really.

When I got back to my parents-in-law, I mentioned it to them, and had to smile when both my mother- and grandmother-in-law produced small reusable bags from their handbags. I was impressed. The 5p charge was obviously working.

It made me think. I have the best intentions not to get carrier bags, I have a huge collection of reusable shopping bags. I also have a mountain of single use plastic bags from all the times I have forgotten to take my reusable bags.

The Government estimates that 8 billion carrier bags are given out in supermarkets each year. That equates to 130 per person per year. That’s 57000 tonnes of carrier bags ending up in landfill every year*. Yikes!

In October of this year England will see the introduction of a 5p charge for carrier bags at the supermarket, to bring it in line with the other countries in the UK who already charge this.  The introduction of the charge in Wales resulted in a 79% reduction in carrier bag usage.

My biggest problem is remembering to take bags with me.  If I have a carrier bag with me, I will happily use, and willingly give plastic bags back to retailers in favour of using a bag I already have. Hopefully, a 5p charge will encourage me to make sure I always have bags with me – if not the new legislation could get expensive!

What about you? Do you have any tips on plastic bag reusage for a scatterbrained mum?

*Source – https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/reducing-and-managing-waste/supporting-pages/charging-for-single-use-plastic-carrier-bags

Categories
reduce

Natural Beauty

rosemary_sagedisp
The world of cosmetics, full of controversy, always a source of debate. It is true that a lot of commercially available cosmetic products are bad for the environment; a friend commented today that most exfoliants contain micro particles of plastic that end up in waterways, some cosmetics are still tested on animals, contain potentially harmful chemicals or are just packaged badly, using huge amounts of resources just to look good (see here for a case in point). But, does that mean that in order to be “green” we have to sacrifice looking good, treating our bodies, our little bit of pampering?

In an ideal world, maybe, we could all be content with washing with unpackaged soap, moisturising with olive oil and washing our hair with a rinse of vinegar or bicarbonate of soda. I know many people who do all those things. For the rest of us, though its a case of finding the middle ground. If I wash with soap I feel like my skin has been tucked behind my ears, the changes in temperatures at this time of year leave my skin dry and uncomfortable, I like to wallow in a scented bath, scrub myself to within an inch of my life and slather myself in sweet smelling moisturiser. It makes me feel good, it helps me unwind and it makes my skin healthier.

So what can we do? Well for a start, think about which products you really need to use and keep it to a minimum.

Look at the ingredients – are they natural, sustainable ingredients, for example it is possible to get exfoliators with no plastic in, in recyclable tins such as this one here

Can you make it yourself? See here for how to make your own bathsalts! If you search the internet you will be amazed at how many products you can make cheaply and easily in your own kitchen!

What sort of packaging is it in? Do you really need one in a plastic bottle, in a plasticated cardboard box inside plastic film? Or is there an alternative in sustainable packaging? Lush Cosmetics, Neals Yard Organics and Wikaniko are all companies that use minimal packaging in their toiletries.

It’s mostly common sense – just think, is this product costing the earth?

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Uncategorised

Surviving summer with a baby, the green way!

I love summer. I adore summer. It would be fair to say I am a solar-powered person. In summer my energy levels are higher, my mood is better and my skin looks healthier.

However, summer with young children can be a bit of a balancing act between making the most of the good weather, and keeping your children safe and healthy.

We’ll start with the obvious – sunscreen. It is of course important to protect delicate skin from the effects of UV radiation, but it can be tricky to find a sunscreen that is not full of synthetic chemicals. There are a couple on the market though, including this one from Carribean Blue which uses natural Zinc Oxide to shield from the sun’s rays.

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Hot and bothered children often find it difficult to settle at night too. One thing I have found that can help is to cool them down before bed. After a lukewarm bath, smother them in something Aloe Vera based. Aloe Vera is naturally cooling, and moisturising, so can help replace some of the moisture lost in the heat and leaving their skin feeling cool and refreshed. A great aloe based aftersun is this one with lavender and peppermint to soothe and cool, and its in spray form, so if some is a little sore, you don’t need to touch! Image

Finally, there is the insect and stinging nettle problem! We spend as much of our summer out of doors as possible, but this invariably leads to someone having a run in with a midge or a stinging nettle at some point. This summers big find is this after bite spray. Again it has cooling aloe vera, along with eucalyptus, clove and tea tree oils. It takes the sting out. I used it tonight after 3 lots of nettle stings weeding the garden and it really works. There is a matching insect repellent too!

afterbitedisp

 

Have a happy summer everyone and stay safe in the sun!

Categories
recycle

The art of refilling…

I used to hate it when a bottle of hand soap or multipurpose cleaner ran out. Although the bottles are easy to recycle, the tops, the bits that pump the soap are not. I used to feel guilty everytime I put one in the bin, as I hate waste! I particularly hate plastic waste as it doesn’t biodegrade.

Then one day I had an epiphany. Refill the bottles! It wasn’t rocket science, quite obvious when you think about it, but there you have it.

My first foray was not overly successful. I ordered a refill bottle of my favourite multipurpose cleaner from my wholesaler. Only, I hadn’t read the description properly. Thinking I was ordering 5 litres of Ecover multi-surface cleaner, imagine my surprise when 15 litres turned up! Now imagine trying to tip a bottle big enough to hold 15 litres to pour one litre into my existing bottle. AND I had to order a special tap to do it.

I made a mess, and I have enough multipurpose cleaner to last a couple of years I think!

Imagine my relief then when I found these little bottles of cleaning product, add to an existing bottle and top up with water and you’re good to go. Eco2life are a greener choice in cleaning products for your home and available in multipurpose cleaner, floor cleaner, glass cleaner and bath and shower, you need never throw a cleaner bottle away again.bathroomrefilldisp_1(1)

My favourite find though is this Lavender and Geranium Handwash. Vegan, BUAV approved and paraben free, it is green and gorgeous smelling. You can buy a pump action bottle of it, but I just bought the refill. It came in a little pouch, with a sticker for you to put on the bottle you are using so you know what’s in it. It’s also available in Aloe and Tea Tree.lavenderhwbotdisp_1

 

So what about you? Do you refill, or just throw out?

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Uncategorised

The 4 meal chicken!

I want to keep up with a regular blog entry, but don’t really have anything cloth nappy related I want to say today. So I thought I’d share with you one of my thrifty eco ideas that I regularly put into practice. The 4 meal chicken.

In the west we eat far too much animal-based protein. It’s bad for our health, it’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for our pockets! Reducing how much meat we eat is a big step towards food equality across the world. I, personally, am not prepared to become vegetarian, for a barrel load of reasons, but we do try to reduce how much meat we eat!

Two things to bear in mind as you read this. 1. I’m feeding 2 adults, 2 children and a toddler, if you are feeding teenagers or adults, you won’t get 4 meals out of one chicken! 2. If you are used to eating a lot of meat, you may have to start with a 2 meal chicken as you wean your family off!

OK, so here we go.

Day one.
Bought the biggest chicken I could afford, a free range one from Morrisons (Aldi is also good for large free range chickens at a good price)

I roasted the chicken and served it as follows: 2 slices of breast meat for the adults, 1 for the children. I served it with roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots and lots of gravy (made with the juices from the chicken and the veg water). The gravy is important as it makes the meal feel meatier, even though you are using less meat. (If you have a very hungry person in your house, make Yorkshire puddings too!)

Day 2.

I picked the remains of the breast meat, back meat and wings and made a pie filling with the left over gravy and carrots from day 1, some mushrooms, 2 celery stalks, a glass of white wine and a blob of double cream (left over from the dessert I’d done on day one!). I used ready roll puff pastry to make a pie with the filling and served with mixed root vegetable mash (potatoes, swede and carrot)

Day 3.
I asked my hubby to pick the meat off the legs to make a curry, which he did and added mushrooms, peppers and some tomatoes that were past their best. As he was cooking, he used a jar of Sharwoods Tikka Masala. Served it with rice.

When I cleared up I discovered he’d only used 1 leg, so we still had the meat of one leg left…

Day 4.
I picked the meat off the last leg. I stirfried it with an onion, handful of mushrooms, a red pepper, 2 celery stalks and a whole head of savoy cabbage. Stirred in some hoisin sauce, soy sauce, a splash of sherry (works instead of rice wine!) and some garlic. Served with noodles.

So, that was it for the poor chicken? Well, not quite. It’s now sitting in my slow cooker, with some herbs from the garden, an onion, some peppercorns and some celery to make a stock. The stock will be combined with more celery, and any left over veg and a handful of pulses tomorrow to make a hearty soup for lunch. So maybe I should call it the 5 meal chicken!