Tag Archives: #ecofriendly

My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 4

Another update on my progress with waste reduction. This week I’ve been focussing on reducing  what goes into my food waste bin. So I’ve been saving the likes of orange and grapefruit peel and zest, potato peelings and the pulp from my juicer. Some of these are waiting in the freezer still, but so far i’ve enjoyed a nice refreshing cup of grapefruit tea and used orange pulp in my soup. And we’ve had potato peel crisps, apple pulp pancakes and a grapefruit cake. All including stuff that i would have previously just binned.

Zerowaste cooking

Here’s how to make the grapefruit tea and the potato crisps. I won’t be blogging the soup recipe, as most of my soups are just whatever is to hand in the fridge at the time. So this one besides orange pulp, also had some outer leaves from a cauliflower, a carrot, some savoy cabbage, leek, garlic, quinoa, stock and turmeric. But I will try and share the cake and pancake recipes at a later date.


grapefruit tea

Grapefruit Tea

Ingredients

Peel from 1 grapefruit
1 litre water
1 tsp agave nectar

Method

Tear the grapefruit peel into small pieces.
Place in a large saucepan with the water.
Bring to the boil.
Turn off the heat and cover saucepan with lid.
Steep for 1 hour.
Pour into a jug through a sieve.
Stir in the agave nectar to sweeten.
Reheat if desired.
Pour tea into mugs.
Serve and enjoy.

Grapefruit Tea

I did have quite a bad cough at the time I made this tea and found it quite soothing for that too.


potato crisps

Potato Crisps

Ingredients

Peel from potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 degree centigrade.
Tip the potato peels onto a baking tray.
Drizzle oil over the potato peels.
Sprinkle the salt over the potato peels.
Turn the potato peels several times until they are well coated in the oil, making sure they are spread well out over the tray.
Cook in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, until crispy and starting to brown.
Serve and enjoy.

Potato Crisps

I’ve also been cooking more things from scratch, that I would previously have just bought at the supermarket, which I haven’t managed to find not in plastic. So I’ve baked crackers for the first time and made my own humous, as these are items that we eat a lot of in our household. Recipes to follow in due course.

houmous

#plasticfree crackers

And a few more wins on the packaging side. I’ve discovered Two Farmers crisps which come in compostable packets. I had to order 24 packets online, so they are taking up rather a lot of space in the cupboard, but I’ve since heard that my local zero waste store is going to start stocking them. Result, as I’ll be able to buy in smaller numbers, once we finish munching our way through this lot. The only other product I know in compostable packaging is Wallaroo fruit snacks, so I would love it if you could point me in the direction of any other brands who do this please.

Two Farmers crisps

Also you may have heard me complaining recently about the pointless plastic wrappers on cucumbers. I’ve now found a local greengrocer who stocks baby cucumbers with no plastic. Unfortunately they do work out significantly more expensive, but I had to bite the bullet, as cucumber is son2’s favourite vegetable. I plan to try my hand at growing my own later in the year. Wish me luck with that, as I’m not very green fingered. Overall, I’ve noticed that my grocery bill is definitely higher by me trying to avoid plastic. Luckily I can afford this, but it will be very hard for those on a tight budget.

baby cucumbers

And it is frustrating when things don’t go to plan like the other day when I ordered a cardboard box of wonky potatoes from the milkman. Apparently it was out of stock, so he substituted it with not one but two plastic bags of potatoes. And disappointingly it is not the first time that I’ve experienced a plastic issue as regards fruit and vegetables from the milkman. I ask myself should I buy all my vegetables at the greengrocer instead, but then would they be too heavy to carry, as I walk there. Trying to minimise use of car unnecessarily, so it is a difficult balance to choose between.

There are still quite a lot of products that I haven’t come up with a plastic free answer yet. A few of the key ones for us are cheese, creme fraiche and frozen peas. A friend told me that one of our local butchers stocked large blocks of cheese that you can get a piece cut off. So I duly went along, only to find the cheddar block had already been cut up and the pieces packaged into plastic.

So it is still a bit one step forward, two steps back, but overall I’m happy with the change. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 3

Here’s my latest update on how I’m doing with my waste reduction, although I do wish I could get my other half onboard too. We popped into a farm shop at the weekend, so I could buy some loose fruit and vegetables. However he added some purchases to the basket, every single one wrapped in plastic, including biscuits with more plastic than I have ever seen before. Sigh! At least the boys are semi-signed on.

I didn’t even manage to get a picture before they were half gone. So much for trying to ensure we eat less processed sugar. But that’s another story. And we didn’t even need more biscuits, as we given plenty at Christmas, which are still in the cupboard, the reason I haven’t baked any lately.

Borders Biscuits

So as mentioned last time, I’ve made a number of longer term purchases as well as focussing on food. First up is laundry. I was horrified when I read in my No More Plastic book about all the micro-plastic going down the drain and ultimately into the ocean each time we do a load of washing. I do plan to research about sustainable clothing, but for now, I’m popping our existing man-made fibre clothing into my new GuppyFriend washing bag. I have to say I was expecting it to trap the same amount of fibre as I remove from the filter in the tumble drier, but there only seems to be a tiny bit. However every little counts I guess. I did also purchase an Eco wash ball online, but when I saw that it was made from plastic, I decided to return it. Instead I’ve now bought a bag of soap nuts, that I found in my local zero waste store.

GuppyFriend laundry bag

Whilst there, I also filled a bottle of washing-up liquid at their refill station and purchased some Ecoleaf dishwasher tablets. And I now have a bamboo dish brush ready for when my existing plastic brush needs replacing. I do plan to do something about dish cloths and scourers too as mine contain micro-plastics, but I had previously bulk purchased these, so will look into that in due course.

The bathroom is another area that I have focussed on. I’m really loving my solid Friendly Soap shampoo bar. It’s definitely my favourite purchase. I’ve also bought a PureMess natural organic deodorant and an Eco Bath bamboo bath puff. One more thing I’ve bought which I’m not so convinced about is an ear bud. Again I probably jumped in too quickly ordering this from Amazon. The original plan was that this would replace single-use cotton buds, which I mostly only used for ear cleaning. However both the handle and the protective cover are plastic. And I wouldn’t say it is particularly effective, but I will persevere with it, unless I find a better solution.

And I’ve made quite a number of dental purchases since regular toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes are non-recyclable plastic. I’m trying Georganics toothpaste and mouthwash tablets, both of which come in glass jars, but I am concerned that neither contain fluoride which I always thought was important. So still looking for a plastic free alternative with fluoride. I’ve also bought bamboo toothbrushes, natural silk floss and a titanium toothpick to replace all the single-use plastic picks. I haven’t managed to find either a plastic free head for my electric toothbrush or an interdental brush yet, so if anyone knows where to get those, please let me know.

I thought that I was going to need to buy lots of produce bags, but I’ve actually only bought a few mesh ones. Instead I’ve repurposed some small cloth bags into produce bags. And I’m using a mini foldable lunch cool bag, to pop items like sausage rolls into to avoid the grease soaking into the cloth bags. Yes I know it is plastic but we already possess quite a few of these. What does anyone else do regarding greasy food purchases?

Eco friendly purchases

Going forwards, I’m going to try to see if I can find alternative sources of products before immediately buying from Amazon, as that resulted in unnecessary plastic packaging. The bottom left image just above is an example of products from Amazon.

I’ll give you an update on the grocery side of things next time. It’s all little steps at the moment, but I’m pleased that I’m heading in the right direction. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 2

Regular readers will have heard how this year I’m particularly trying to reduce waste, especially focussing on plastic. This has resulted in quite a few more online purchases than usual this month, so I am slightly concerned that I may be going about this the wrong way, as that doesn’t sound quite the right approach, in terms of the overall ethos. But hopefully these will all make a difference in the long run.

So let me tell you what actions I’ve taken. Previously I mentioned how disappointed I was with the lack of plastic-free options at the supermarket. Since then, I’ve visited both a local butcher and greengrocer and am much more impressed. The butcher only uses paper for packaging, although I’m not sure if it is a recyclable type of paper. Something I need to find out. And the greengrocer was mostly plastic free, although I still failed with my purchases of strawberries, grapes and cucumber. Why on earth does a cucumber need to be encased in plastic, when it has its own perfectly good skin?

greengrocer products

I’m also getting deliveries from my local milkman with mixed success. This is what it said on their website regarding plastic. Ignore the bit about 7am, as they didn’t live up to that expectation.

#plasticfree milk

A big thumbs up to milk, juice and smoothies all in returnable glass bottles. However I did see quite a number of products in plastic packaging listed which I have been trying to steer well clear of. I did make the mistake of ordering butter which looked to be in a paper wrapper, but it actually arrived in a paper wrapper encased inside a cling-film like outer wrapper. Not what I was hoping for. I also tried out their fruit and vegetable box which was mostly plastic free, except for the potatoes which were in a plastic net. Surely they could have been loose like most of the other contents. I did give them feedback on this and they have advised me that they are aiming to have all their fruit and vegetables plastic free by February. At least their grapes were in a paper bag. On the whole, I think I’ll mostly stick with visiting my local greengrocer, but I may test out some other box schemes. I have used Abel and Cole in the past occasionally. Looking forward to buying yoghurt in glass jar from them soon. I also tried some of their fresh bakery products, which are photographed loose on the website, but turned up in those bags which are half paper / half cellophane. Still need to check out my local baker in comparison, or just use my bread machine more frequently.

Milk delivery

And I did buy one item that I hadn’t expected to see on their listings – Cheeky Panda toilet rolls. Not sure about the wrapper on this, it looks plastic, but is labelled as oxo-biodegradable. I’ll have to look up what that means. Also although it is an eco brand, the bamboo used to make it, is grown in South East Asia, so I need to weigh up my carbon footprint versus reducing waste. Hopefully I can find an alternative produced in the UK. I’m sure most loo rolls were wrapped in paper packaging when I was a child, so hopefully brands will reimplement that.

Cheeky Panda toilet rolls

Not all my online purchases have arrived yet, but I instantly noticed the difference in packaging used by Ethical Superstore to that used by Amazon. So rather than using Amazon, as my go-to-store, I need to consider the alternatives first. I shall tell you more about my online purchases in the next instalment, once I’ve had time to try them all out. But they do include the GuppyFriend bag that I found out about in the No More Plastic book.

Another thing I’m trying to address is the amount of junk that comes through our letterbox, since we  don’t need it in the first place. So I’ve taken two actions. I’ve filled out an opt-out form on Royal Mail website, however my postman says he has to continue to deliver it until the form has been processed which could take unto a month, because he is being paid to deliver it. And I’ve also stuck a “No Junk Mail” sticker on our letterbox, to hopefully discourage other door-to-door deliverers.

No more junk mail

So some small improvements here. I hope to visit my nearest zero waste store soon. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

Regulars readers will be aware that this year I have started a more conscious effort to reduce waste, in particular plastic, as I am very concerned about the amount of plastic pollution in the oceans and the global impact. And it is quite a lightbulb moment when you realise that all the toothbrushes, combs and other plastic products we have used over the years, will be around long after our deaths.

Towards the end of last year, my jaw dropped when I read a news article about an environmental book called “No More Plastic” being shrink wrapped. What a wake-up call. I immediately added the book to my wishlist and my sister kindly bought me the kindle version for Christmas.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

This book easily draws you in with the message that it only takes you 2 minutes to implement any #2minutesolution to reduce your plastic consumption. These all add up to making a meaningful difference to the world. Let me share a few quick solutions that I have implemented as a result of reading this book.

Firstly I discovered that bottles with plastic wraps cannot be identified by the recycling sorting machines, so end up in landfill. Therefore my initial #2minutesolution has been to pull these off bottles like Actimel. My family drink a lot of these, so ultimately I’m hoping to find a similar drink in a glass bottle, but in the meantime these ones need to be recycled.

My next #2minutesolution has been to order a GuppyFriend Bag, which hopefully will arrive soon. What’s one of those I hear you ask. Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of them either. It is a lint catching bag that can be used in the washing machine, similarly to the filter that catches lint in a tumble drier. Why do I need one? Well from reading the book, I’ve just discovered that every item of clothing made from man-made fibres sheds plastic lint each time you wash it, which currently is going straight down the drain, and eventually into the ocean. The tiny plastic particles are too small to be captured at the sewage plant. And as I enjoy running frequently, I possess plenty of man-made clothing which is often in the wash. That certainly made me sit up and think. Never dropping litter, I hadn’t thought of myself as a potential ocean polluter.

And thirdly, I’ve now downloaded an app called Bead The Microbead and am about to use it to scan the contents of my bathroom cabinet for any products which may contain plastic microbeads. If I find any, they will be binned.

There are lots more that I plan to implement and you will be able to follow this in my new series of blog posts documenting my journey towards being plastic free and zero waste. You may see my first post of 2019 here.

I highly recommend this great book by Martin Dorey, which I read cover to cover in one day and keep dipping back into. It is available on Amazon in both kindle or paperback format.

Microplastic is already in the food chain and has been found in humans!

About the author

Martin Dorey, anti-plastics expert, has been working to save our beaches from plastic for the past 10 years. His Beach Clean Foundation and global call to arms #2minutebeachclean has been taken up by people all over the world, and has proven that collective small actions can add up to a big difference. Together we can fix this.

And of course I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 1

Happy New Year everyone. I decided to make a different New Year’s resolution this year to my usual fitness targeted one, although of course I still want to focus on that too. This time it is a biggie in my opinion, to try to do my bit for the planet by leading a more sustainable and eco lifestyle, reducing waste, in particular plastic. My other half laughed at me, saying my actions won’t make a difference, but I think every little helps. He said that if I am really sincere about this, then I need to get rid of my car and avoid flying. Something to think about, but right now I need my car to get to work.

I plan to regularly share my progress here on my blog and hopefully inspire others to take action too. I started thinking about this towards the end of last year, so I was pleased to receive a kindle copy of No More Plastic from my sister for Christmas, off my wishlist. I’ll try and write a separate book review on that, but it has certainly given me plenty of food for thought.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

Plastic pollution seems to be heading out of control. There are huge islands of plastic rubbish in the oceans, hundreds of miles across and growing rapidly. What a frightening thought.

UK supermarkets currently generate 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every year, so I started by signed the Greenpeace petition to UK supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic packaging. When I went to do my supermarket shopping this week, plastic was in the forefront of my mind, so I was very disappointed to come home with only 7 plastic free products out of a £70 shop. This was at Sainsburys, so I shall see if I can do better at any of the other local supermarkets. I was too early to visit the deli counter which doesn’t open until 9am, but I did some research by asking a member of staff if I could bring my own box for deli purchases. Sadly the answer was no, due to health and safety. Sounds crazy since it would be my food in my box!

#plasticfree groceries

I understand that so far, Iceland is the only UK supermarket chain to pledge to remove plastic packaging from their own-label goods. This should be achieved by 2023, but you can read how they are progressing so far here. Yes I know that it is still a few years off, but they certainly seem to be taking the lead on environmental issues, having already removed palm oil from their own-brand by the end of 2018. Pity I don’t have an Iceland branch locally.

Another thing I try to avoid is food waste, so when I ended up with too much cucumber recently, due to son2 temporarily not eating it, after having had two teeth extracted, I decided to experiment with cooking some. I’ve never cooked cucumber previously, but I thought I would try it in soup.

cucumber soup

Cucumber soup

Ingredients (serves 1)

half a cucumber
1tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 medium potato
1 small onion
1 large cube of frozen chicken stock
2tbsp single cream
approx 200ml boiling water
oregano
salt and pepper

Method

Peel and slice the cucumber.
Peel and chop onion and potato into small pieces.
Peel garlic and put through garlic press.
Gently heat oil in a saucepan.
Add garlic and onion to pan and allow to soften.
Add water, stock and potatoes.
Add cucumber.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Cook until potato has softened.
If necessary, add extra water.
Roughly mash with potato masher.
Mix in cream and cook for another minute.
Serve and enjoy.

cucumber soup

I couldn’t persuade son2 to try it, as he doesn’t like soup, but I found it really delicious. Lovely comfort food. Just what I needed as I have a bad cough at the moment.

And whilst at Sainsbury’s, I bought a couple of perpetual advent calendar box kits, reduced to 30p each, although unfortunately plastic wrapped. But this is with the aim of reducing plastic long-term, as the boys insist on chocolate filled advent calendars each year, which of course contain a lot of plastic. Now I’ll be able to make my own chocolate shapes using the plastic moulds saved from last year’s calendars, and pop them in these advent boxes.

advent calendars

This is my first tiny steps on my journey towards being plastic free and zero waste. Obviously I have a huge way to go yet. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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