Tag Archives: #reusereducerecycle

How Green Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets?

Disclosure.  This post is a review of  a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Early last year I was introduced to Reco toothtabs, which I’ve been purchasing on subscription since reviewing them as they are my favourite plastic-free toothpaste that I’ve tried to date.

When you browse round the Reco webshop, you will see they also sell a good range of eco-friendly products from other trusted brands. But they are now about to launch their second own product and they sent me a trial pack to test out in advance for free. And no it is not a dental item this time. May I present …..

….. Reco Laundry Detergent Strips

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

I certainly haven’t seen or heard of anything remotely similar, so was only too happy to put these to the test.

First the packaging is cardboard and according to their website, it has already been recycled. You can either recycle or compost this. Plus it easily fits through the letterbox. No plastic bottle or capsule. Did you know that it is estimated that only about 9% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

Moving onto the information displayed on the packaging or website, I immediately felt confused when I read the composition. A lot of chemical sounding words plus warnings of skin irritation. This didn’t sound as eco as I hoped, although the website does say safe for the environment – OECD 301B certified biodegradable. More jargon that I don’t understand. Hopefully when they launch they can make this side of things clearer for the consumer.

My personal wishlist in this regard for an eco laundry product would be to see clear bullet points along the following lines.

Natural Ingredients
No chemicals
Cruelty free

So I would be very interested to hear which of these it ticks. I totally get its plus points over a liquid detergent as regards plastic and carbon cost. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate now and ask what are its plus points over a powder detergent, besides less cardboard? I hope its not a case of greenwashing!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The product itself comes in lightweight perforated sheets of two strips which are simple to split. The instructions indicate that one strip will be sufficient unless you live in a hard water area and your washing load is heavily soiled, in which case two strips are recommended. I have soft water here.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The directions tell you to put the strip in the back of the washing machine drum before loading your laundry. It has a strong pleasant fragrance before use and I found my laundry to have a hint of this after they had dried on the line. As regards effectiveness, it was great on general soiling like food stains but didn’t really impact long-term stains like armpits at 40 degrees, which it is fair to say is on a par with most products. And it dissolved perfectly. In fact the website indicates that they dissolve instantly in cold or hot water.

I couldn’t see any mention of whether they expected you to use them in conjunction with fabric conditioner or not. However this is a product I stopped using a couple of years ago, and in my opinion the Reco laundry sheets worked fine without the use of fabric conditioner.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

So to summarise, an effective laundry product which is definitely more environmentally friendly than a liquid detergent or capsule, but I would like more clarity on the rest of its eco-credentials. In the meantime I’ll be sticking to using horse chestnuts or soap nuts for my laundry.

And if you can’t wait until the product launches to give it a try, how about seeing if you get lucky in their giveaway to win a year’s supply of Reco Laundry Detergent Strips worth £100!

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too, where I see they are on the same wavelength as me, when it comes to cleaning with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

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Ditch the Tube with Reco Ecofriendly Toothtabs

Disclosure.  This post is a review of  a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Time to talk about another eco product. I’ve received a packet of 62 toothtabs from Reco, free to review, enough for a whole month. Their mantra is #SingleUseSucks, Ditch the Tube, Zero Paste, Zero Waste which sounds fab to me.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Regular followers of my blog will know that I am passionate about the environment and sustainability and may have seen, via my series of posts about my own personal journey towards zero waste, that I have been trying to avoid toothpaste tubes. These are notoriously hard to recycle, being mixed materials made from a combination of plastic and aluminium, so most tend to end up in the rubbish bin. Terracycle have introduced a recycling scheme but there is no collection point locally.

I have tried a few types of plastic-free toothpaste now, so was very interested to see how these would compare. Reco toothtabs are toothpaste tablets which contain fluoride. My dentist has stressed that fluoride is essential, so this is a definite plus point for me, since some brands of plastic-free toothpaste that I have tried don’t have fluoride. At my age, I’m sure my enamel is wearing thinner, so thumbs up for the fluoride to help with my dentall health and oral hygiene.

So let me tell you how to use the toothtabs. Pop one tablet into your mouth. Chew it to form a paste. Wet your toothbrush under the tap and then brush your teeth as normal. Simple.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

I was pleased with the minty taste, as some others that I’ve tried haven’t been too great in the taste department. This is definitely my joint favourite along with one that I have purchased from my local zero waste store. However I must mention that the packet indicates they are not recommended for children.

Reco state that their toothtabs are free of artificial preservatives and stabilisers normally found in toothpaste. See their website, for full details on each ingredient. They are also vegan and cruelty free.

Also I am pleased to report that the packaging is 100% recyclable, biodegradable and home compostable. The toothtabs come in small paper bags, with a label that Reco say has been printed on 100% recycled waste paper. And Reco also say that the mailing envelopes are made purely from sustainably sourced paper.

I’ve cut out flying myself, but these toothtabs are ideal for your hand luggage when going through airport security. Dry, so no need to be separated into a see-through plastic bag and you only have to pack the number you need for your trip.

I’ve popped mine in a handy tin that I already had, but if you subscribe to their regular 3 month delivery service, they will throw in a storage tin for free, plus you get a 5% discount. The delivery will easily fit through your letterbox, and you can can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.

Reco ecofriendly toothtabs

Plus I have a special offer to share with my readers of a 31 day trial pack of toothtabs for £3 (including free delivery) so that you can try them out for yourselves. Just visit this page for a toothtab trial pack.

And I’ve been browsing around the Reco website and have seen that they sell other brands that I already buy. There is Kitenest who I helped crowdfund and Pokito who I bought a collapsible cup for my son to keep in his school blazer pocket. And there is rCup, which we used to have until my other half accidentally left it behind after a race. I’ve got my eye on some of their other products too like the soaps, natural deodorant and vegetable loofah scrubber.

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too where you can even discover 37 Hacks for an Old Used Toothbrush.

So join Reco and me in the mission to help our society switch from a single-use mindset to a multi-use one!

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Plastic Free Communities – reducing single-use plastic in your local community

Plastic Free Communities - Surfers Against Sewage
My town has signed up to the Plastic Free Communities initiative run by Surfers Against Sewage, aimed at reducing single-use plastic in our local community. This is something that I am very passionate about, so I offered to join the committee. And I thought I’d use this post to brainstorm some ideas to suggest.

Plastic free gardening
Our group has already identified that we could speak to garden centres and nurseries regarding recycling flower pots, sale of non-plastic insulation and bulk soil and compost. I’ve just discovered only this week that we have a Gardener’s Association locally, so I haven’t been to see if they already do any of these, but I certainly plan to join. Also we could make a list of local stables / farms offering plastic-free manure.

Ecobricks
Ecobricks
For those of you who haven’t heard of ecobricks, they are plastic bottles that you fill with small pieces of clean dry plastic in order to make a building block. I have made a few myself, but although there are plenty of community projects collecting them across the country, we have nothing locally. I have a local school in mind who may be interested, although I do know that they won’t wish to promote needless purchases of plastic bottles.

School stationery
It is great that the library take old pens, but the product that I am accumulating which I don’t know what to do with, is old Pritt-sticks. My children are asked to take these to school and they go through a tube so quickly, sticking worksheets etc into their books. Surely there must be a more eco-friendly solution. And don’t get me onto the topic of sticky-back plastic. Some teachers, but luckily not so many, still ask the children to cover their exercise books with this. How about wrapping paper instead?

Packshare
Most of us end up with packaging that we don’t need. I’m using pieces of bubble wrap to insulate my greenhouse and I have given some of the large paper bags that milk&more deliver, to a local shop to use as bin liners. But I came across a scheme called Packshare which originated in Cornwall, whose aim is for you to find local businesses who can reuse your packaging. They are hoping to get a good presence nationwide, but when I keyed in my postcode, the nearest businesses are about 20 miles away. It would be great to promote this to local businesses. Hopefully it can take off to the same extent as the water bottle refill scheme.

Pallet packaging
One day when I had popped into our local supermarket, I observed one of the staff wrapping an empty pallet trolley with a huge roll of plastic like clingfilm, going round and round with layers of single-use plastic. Why? And talking of supermarkets, some have collection points for plastic bags. Perhaps we could ask ours to consider doing this or even organise a mass unwrap event.

Reusable bags
Bags
Not everybody unfortunately, but it is now much more widespread that people will bring their own shopping bags. However not many also carry their own produce bags and boxes. Some of the local shops are more on board than others at reducing plastic, but I have a few ideas in this area. Sewing or crochet skills could be taught to disabled with learning difficulties to make cloth, net and mesh produce and shopping bags, which can be sold through their own shop and other local shops. Of course, this doesn’t have to be limited to bags, they could also learn to make things to replace other single-use products like scrubbies and pads.
Notices to be displayed in local shops saying that you are welcome to bring your own boxes. And where they do wrap in paper like at the butchers, I scratch my head sometimes as to whether it is purely paper or a plastic backed paper. How should I dispose of it? With food waste? Or can it be washed and then go in recycling or torn up for home composting? Again notices would help.

Ice Cream
I find that large plastic ice cream boxes are ideal for reuse. We are lucky to have a local dairy farm who make their own ice cream, which is sold locally in either individual or 500ml sizes, but apart from the plastic lids, they appear to be mixed material. However they do also make a 2l size in a plastic box, which they used to call family size on their website. When I contacted them last year, they said this was usually only sold to pubs but I did arrange an appointment to buy some directly from the dairy. Also someone mentioned at our last meeting, that the plastic lids can be returned to the dairy for reuse, but I can see no mention of this on their website. So definitely some scope for follow-ups here.

Hairdressers
The hairdresser is traditionally not very sustainable. This is not just on the plastic front, but energy and water usage too. However some hairdressers are starting to address sustainability better. Perhaps we could promote this, starting by suggesting refill hair products for both the salon and to sell to customers.

Plastic free butter
Deli
Sadly it is many years ago since the local deli closed down, but I have discovered plastic-free butter elsewhere. Perhaps one of our local shops, maybe the butcher who sells a small selection of cheese, could be persuaded to stock this.

Balloons and Balloon Sticks
At the local Christmas shopping evening I saw kids with the estate agent branded balloons on balloon sticks, one of which blew away but luckily the dad caught it. Balloons can be lethal to wildlife. So we may wish to suggest that the estate agent reconsider their promotional material.

Toothpaste
I have made the swap to toothpaste and mouthwash tablets and bamboo toothbrushes, as I am sure we have all heard that every toothbrush we have used will be around, long after we die. However TerraCycle do have a recycling scheme for toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, but none locally. I have tried to ask my dentist to enrol (in a nearby town) and she did promise to raise it with their head-office. But worth pursuing with other more local dental practices too. We do have a few of the other TerraCycle schemes locally, but this could be broadened further to encompass items like cleaning product packaging, biscuit and sweet wrappers

As always I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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Small steps towards a more sustainable Christmas

I know I started off the year with good intentions to keep my blog updated with all the progress I have been making towards reducing plastic, however life got in the way, but yes I’m still continuing down the sustainability path. A light bulb moment for me was that it is not only about reducing plastic. So now I’m trying to focus on the bigger picture of zero waste, carbon footprint, seasonal products and supporting local independent businesses in addition to plastic. But I find it can be hard to prioritise any one of these aspects over the others in certain situations. And I’m continually keeping in mind the mantra Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Refurbish, Repair, Regift, Rehome, Repurpose, Recycle, Replant, Rot.

Looking back, the last news I gave you on this topic was about our fab eco holiday in the summer. Since then I’ve joined local groups, been on workshops and things have been ticking along in the garden. I will try to find time for more blog updates next year, but for now I wanted to focus on Christmas.

At the beginning of November, the boys and I had a good sort through our 3 boxfuls of Christmas decorations, reducing what we were going to keep by about half. The remainder was sorted for charity donations, or repurposing components for crafting, recycling or eco-bricks, with minimal ending up in the waste bin. Around the same time, we sent 3 bagfuls of unused items (toys, stationery, toiletries) to school for including in shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. A great way to do it, compared to preparing an individual shoebox each like we’ve done previously, when I’ve usually ended up buying some items like hats, scarves and gloves cheaply at somewhere like Poundland, since those probably weren’t made very sustainably.

So throughout the year I have been popping into charity shops, sometimes with a boxful to donate, but often just for a browse. And I’ve found plenty of gifts to put aside for the boys, especially including the themes of Dr Who, Star Wars or Marvel as I knew those would feature on their Christmas lists.

For my other half, I’ve chosen an experience, topped up with a few items from the charity shops and edible gifts. And I’ve made a large hamper for my parents of which all the contents are either handmade locally or by me. So I’ve made a couple of soup-in-a-jar mixes, turmeric latte and zero waste candied peel. See below for the recipes.

candied peel

Looking at the Amazon wish lists of other relatives, I’ve managed to swerve Amazon entirely and bought requested gifts either on the high street or vouchers. Someone else gets a membership. Another gets products I chose for her at a Tropic fundraising party, so supporting both one friend’s fundraising and another friend’s small business. And I helped the boys select edible gifts handmade by disabled people in our local community.

I had to think hard about buying for someone in Canada. Previously I would have just resorted to Amazon, but this year I found Wychbury Ave, a small ethical local business who handcraft soaps and body products. Plus bonus, the owner was prepared to hand-deliver my order.

As regards wrapping and cards, this was more of a bugbear, as I already possess lots of shiny foil-paper, silver tape and glittery cards which I obviously want to use up rather than dispose of, but I can see it lasting quite a while yet. And I did save some paper from last Christmas too. I have been sending about half of my cards as e-cards for the last few years anyhow, but is this anymore eco, when you consider the carbon footprint of the servers? I also handmade a few cards, but didn’t have time for many, although I have always made my own gift tags. So it is probably going to be a number of years before this area hits my eco target. Similarly we have some crackers leftover from last year. I did better earlier in the year with birthday wrapping, using pages from our local newsletter tied only with ribbon. But at least nothing new was purchased. And any gifts that have arrived by post have been left in their packaging.

There does still seem to be a larger pile of gifts than I had hoped, but at least not many have my name on them. I’m particularly pleased that some of the family have made a donation at my request to their local food bank instead of getting me a gift.

Christmas gifts

Son2 is particularly eco-conscious, and bless him, this is what he wrote as a ps at the end of his letter to Santa – “Please try not to use wrapping paper since it may end up becoming plastic pollution“. So his presents will be loose inside a pillowcase, although I’ve tried to preserve some element of surprise by hiding the more fun items inside the clothing gifts.

And onto the catering. I’ve bought much less food. Nothing for tea, no gammon and wide selection of buffet treats. If anyone is still hungry, they can have a turkey sandwich. Yes we are having turkey for lunch, but it has been hand-reared free range locally by my friend on her smallholding. Fresh vegetables are from our local greengrocer, whilst frozen peas, sweetcorn and yorkshire puddings have been purchased packaging-free. Also no starters. And this year for the first time, we are passing on the Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, since only half the family like them anyhow, plus I am trying to reduce my sugar intake. No Yule log either. We do still have mince pies which I made using mincemeat that was handmade by disabled people in our local community.

Mince pies

We’ve had our artificial Christmas tree for many years, but when I got it out just over a week ago, I realised one of the pieces had broken when it was being taken down last year. I’ve managed to repair it, so hopefully the tree will last us at least a few more years. However only two out of four colours of our LED lights seem to now be working and I’ve discovered they sadly don’t have replaceable bulbs like our previous set did, but we are making do. So much for me stating that they would last for 50,000 hours use, when I reviewed them 6 years ago. But I’ve noticed that none of us are particularly bothered about switching the Christmas lights on, so saving energy. We’ve only ever had one strings of lights at a time, unlike some houses which seem to go overboard on both the amount of lighting and how soon it is up, in some cases even as early as November, but maybe Christmas lights will become a thing of the past in our household.

Christmas wreath

On the more natural decorative front, I cut a few sprigs of holly, ivy and pine from the garden and wove them around my willow wreath for a front door decoration. It looks a bit lopsided, but I am still pleased with it. I made the wreath early last month after volunteering to help with the willow harvest.

Making a willow wreath

And now to share my recipes. Firstly the zero-waste candied peel. I’ve been saving all types of citrus peel in the freezer, along with other bags of bread crumbs, raw vegetable scraps for stock, apple cores and vegetable peelings. My initial plan was to make my own candied peel that I could either use in cake-making or as a sweet treat. However I wished to avoid sugar, so I have used honey in my recipe instead. But as we eat a lot of citrus fruit, I seemed to have a non-ending supply of citrus peel, so the obvious idea was to gift some of the candied peel. For an additional touch, you could also dip the candied peel in chocolate.


Candied Peel

Candied Peel

Ingredients

300g mixed citrus peel (orange, lemon and grapefruit)
250g honey
water

Method

Defrost the peels.
Remove excess pith and cut into narrow strips.
Place in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil.
Boil for 5 minutes, then drain off the water.
Replace with fresh water and bring to the boil again.
This time simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain the water into a jug.
Pour 400ml of the strained water back into the saucepan.
Stir in the honey and strips of peel.
Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the honey.
Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup.
Allow to cool.
Strain off the syrup, (you can store this in the refrigerator to make cordial drinks).
Place sheets of greaseproof paper onto all your cooling racks.
Spread out the peels in a single layer on the paper.
Place the cooling racks in your airing cupboard for 2-3 days until the peels are dry.
Store the candied peels in airtight sterilised jars.
(Optionally dip in melted chocolate).
Enjoy.

Candied Peel

Secondly turmeric latte, a tasty drink. Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so this is a great gift for the health benefits.


Turmeric Latte

Turmeric Latte

Ingredients

250g skimmed milk powder
5 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of black pepper

Method

Mix all ingredients together.
Store in an airtight sterilised jar.
Attach a label to the jar, detailing the following usage instructions.
Mix 25g into a mug of cold water.
Heat in microwave.
Enjoy.

And finally the soups in a jar. I did two variants, mild coconut curry soup and minestrone soup, but there are so many more possibilities for this. Gift them along with a tin of coconut milk or chopped tomatoes respectively.


Mild Coconut Curry Soup

Mild Coconut Curry Soup

Ingredients

125g green lentils
125g red lentils
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp dried onion
1 tsp turmeric
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tin coconut milk

Method

Mix together the dried onions, curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Layer the dry ingredients into a sterilised jar as follows.
Firstly the green lentils.
Then the red lentils.
Then the spice and onion mix.
Cover with a circle of paper.
Place the stock cube on top of the paper.
Seal the jar airtight with lid.
Attach a label to the jar, detailing the following usage instructions.
Place stock cube in 750ml boiling water.
Add contents of jar and can of coconut milk.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat.
Simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.
Enjoy.


Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

75g barley
75g red lentils
75g gomitini pasta
1 tbsp dried onion
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 garlic powder
Pinch of basil
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of marjoram
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tin chopped tomatoes

Method

Mix together the dried onions, mustard powder, garlic powder, herbs, salt and pepper.
Layer the dry ingredients into a sterilised jar as follows.
Firstly the barley.
Then the red lentils.
Then the pasta.
Then the spice and onion mix.
Cover with a circle of paper.
Place the stock cube on top of the paper.
Seal the jar airtight with lid.
Attach a label to the jar, detailing the following usage instructions.
Place stock cube in 750ml boiling water.
Add contents of jar and can of chopped tomatoes.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat.
Simmer for 45-50 minutes until barley is tender.
Enjoy.

So these are my first small steps towards a more sustainable Christmas. I am sure there is loads more I could do, so I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips for Christmas please.

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Christmas.

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An eco holiday at Owl Barn Retreat

In line with trying to become more eco-focussed this year, we decided that we wanted our holiday to follow the same principles, so we chose to stay at Owl Barn Retreat. This is a delightful barn conversion in a rural location about a mile from the village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant in Wales. It is a sustainable and eco-friendly holiday cottage which has achieved a gold award from the Green Business Tourist Scheme. This was how we discovered the cottage. I’m particularly impressed with the kitchen work surfaces having been constructed from recycled glass bottles.

Owl Barn Retreat

Owl Barn Retreat

From here, we were able to do several walks to the nearby villages of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant and Penybontfawr, plus most magnificent of all, a longer walk from the cottage all the way to Pistyll Rhaeadr, the tallest waterfall in Wales which is in a remote area of the Berwyn Mountains. And of course we had to take a trip to CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology, my third time there. We also enjoyed a walk from Lake Vyrnwy to a nearby smaller waterfall.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

Centre for Alternative Technology

Penybontfawr

Stepping Stones near Lake Vyrnwy

We were provided with Faith in Nature toiletries and Ecover, Ecoleaf and Method cleaning products, along with a tasty welcome pack of local food. We continued to try to buy locally with produce from the village butcher, Oswestry market, Llynclys Hall farm shop, plus Honeysuckle whole foods shop in Oswestry and Down to Earth in Llanfyllin. Zero trips to the supermarket on this holiday.

Recycling and composting are key at the cottage with separate clearly labelled bins for each type of recycling. I’m already aware how recycling varies from county to county. Here in Powys, there appears to be no recycling of tetra packs or metal jar lids. We did consider the possibility of bringing those back home but decided there probably wasn’t space in the car. But we did head home with an eco brick half filled.

butterfly

Owl Barn Retreat

And I loved relaxing in the wildlife garden watching the butterflies and listening to the birds. We’ve also seen rabbits, squirrels and a fox. Son2 has enjoyed using the telescope when it has been less cloudy and has spotted Arcturus. He also loved playing in the maze, which is another great area for wildlife with all the long grass and bracken.

Owl Barn Retreat

It was a great feeling to be on the same wavelength as the owners. Anne phoned me a few days in advance of our holiday and told me things like there being a fishmonger at Oswestry market on Wednesdays. Just like I do here at home, Anne takes her own boxes to the butcher and fishmonger to avoid plastic. She was quite happy to leave me a supply of boxes to use, so we didn’t have to pack those.

We loved it so much at Owl Barn Retreat, that we have already booked two future stays there.

I’d love to hear your eco friendly holiday suggestions and tips please.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 8

Latest update on reducing our plastic usage and other waste. Although I’ve baked my own crackers quite a few times now, I was very pleased to discover some crispbread packaged in paper in a nearby village. Son1 can polish off the crackers so quickly, that it is good to have something in the store cupboard again.

crispbreads

I’m now a regular customer at the local independent shops, so I felt able to challenge the greengrocer when I popped in early one morning and saw him chopping off all the outer leaves from the cauliflowers. I asked why he was doing that and he said customers prefer them like that. Well I’m a customer and I would prefer them left on, but I felt my request fell on deaf ears. So it remains a choice between a cauliflower with leaves in plastic from the supermarket, or a plastic-free cauliflower minus leaves from the local greengrocer. I would use the outermost leaves in soups and stock, the next ones in I would steam and the innermost ones I would eat raw in salads. I also asked what would happen to all the wastage. Apparently it goes for the pigs to eat.

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for apple pulp pancakes, made using the pulp from my juicer.

pulp pancakes

Pulp Pancakes

Ingredients

250g apple pulp
25g melted butter
2 eggs
125ml milk
200g plain flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Method

Melt the butter in a jug in the microwave.
Add all ingredients except oil to a large bowl.
Beat the ingredients together to a batter.
Gently heat oil in a frying pan.
Pour pancake size spoonfuls of batter into the frying pan, to make about 3 pancakes at a time.
Cook for about 2 -3 minutes until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes.
Turn and cook the other side for about 2 minutes until golden.
Repeat until all batter has been used.
Serve either warm or cold, either plain or with your choice of topping.
Enjoy.

These are delicious and can be made with other types of pulp. They also have no added sugar, just the sweetness from the pulp.

pulp pancakes

I mentioned previously that I had saved some seeds to plant. Initially it was just ones like melon, butternut squash and pepper to avoid them ending up in food waste. But then I thought, well why not also try saving a few of those that you would typically eat like tomato. Well I can report that I’ve had mixed success. The tomatoes and peppers came up but no luck initially with either melon or butternut squash, so I had to plant some more of those, which happily did germinate. Of course the real proof of success won’t be until later in the year, as to whether I actually manage to harvest anything from them.

growing seeds

I’ve also bought a few packets of seeds including cauliflower, which are now at the seedling stage. So hopefully I’ll be harvesting my own cauliflowers later and avoiding the chopped off wasted leaves issue.

And on the topic of seeds, which ones can be roasted to eat? I’ve only ever roasted pumpkin seeds. I regularly buy melons, peppers and butternut squash. Anyone know if I could roast any of those seeds?

I’ve never particularly had green fingers but I’m gradually enlarging the area that I started as a vegetable patch last year. Certainly hard work digging as there seem to be so many weed roots. Only managed a few carrots, tomatoes and one pumpkin last year, so hoping for better results this time round. Very pleased with the “reduced to clear” stickered chive and mint plants from the supermarket that I planted in the autumn. They are flourishing marvellously.

mint and chives

I’m always experimenting with chopping up various greens from my garden into my salads, not only chives and mint, but things like carrot tops and beetroot leaves. Recently I tried radish leaves but they were rather bitter, maybe the taste will grow on me. I’ve been wondering about dandelion leaves, as there are lots of those growing here, so I was very interested to read Becky’s blog post on Dandelion Tea Benefits & How to Make Dandelion Tea. I shall certainly have to give some of these suggestions a go.

Also I made a suggestion to the cafe at work a few months back that they reduce waste, by offering the coffee grounds to employees for their gardens and I’m pleased to say that they finally implemented my idea last week, so I’ve brought a couple of bagfuls home. Just drying it out first, but I plan to use some of it as a mulch around the plants and some in my compost bin. That is a much longer term project but slowing filling with a mix of grass mowings, leaves, fruit and vegetable waste plus torn up butchers’ paper. But don’t think I’ll have any compost ready this year.

coffee grounds

coffee grounds

And I found another crowdfunding initiative to help fund plastic-free organic dry shampoo from KiteNest. See details here. I’m enjoying making a small pledge to these campaigns.

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

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No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

I used to be a very regular user of the local library but over the last few years, I’ve only visited intermittently with the boys and don’t think I’d borrowed a book on my own library card for some considerable time. It was only when I was doing some password housekeeping and tried to change the pin on my card earlier this year that I discovered my account had been deactivated. I’ve had it reinstated now, but it was rather a wake-up call. No wonder councils are trying to cut library services if people like me can’t be bothered to use them. So I’ve vowed to make better use of the library and will aim to visit between once a week to once every 3 weeks. My new motto is use it or lose it!

The first book I borrowed was No Impact Man: Saving the planet one family at a time by Colin Beavan. It almost jumped off the shelf at me, with my current focus on reducing waste, in particular plastic. You may find out more about the author on his website here.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

Here is the blurb.

In the growing debate over eco-friendly living, it seems that everything is as bad as everything else. Do you do more harm by living in the country or the city? Is it better to drive a thousand miles or take an airplane?

In NO IMPACT MAN, Colin Beavan tells the extraordinary story of his attempt to find some answers – by living for one year in New York City (with his wife and young daughter) without leaving any net impact on the environment. His family cut out all driving and flying, used no air conditioning, no television, no toilets. . .They went from making a few concessions to becoming eco-extremists. The goal? To determine what works and what doesn’t, and to fashion a truly ‘eco-effective’ way of life.

Beavan’s radical experiment makes for an unforgettable and humorous memoir in an attempt to answer perhaps the most important question of all: What is the sufficient individual effort that it would take to save the planet? And what is stopping us?

This book tells of how Colin, Michelle and their 18 month old daughter Isabella and dog Frankie spent a year back in 2007 living as environmentally as possible. And any negative impact that they couldn’t eliminate, they would counter balance with positive impact. The initial plan was to ease themselves in gradually, starting with zero waste, no disposable products and no packaging. Followed by travelling with no carbon footprint, then food choices, consumer purchases, heating, electricity, water use, pollution. And although it was a family project, it generated huge media interest.

At this time there was lots of “greenwashing” and it was very confusing for Colin to work out what to do for the best. It starts on day one with Colin immediately feeling guilty for using paper towel to blow his nose when he wakes up, before he finds a cloth napkin in the kitchen that he can repurpose as a handkerchief. The second strike for the morning is Isabella’s disposable nappy. And so it goes on.

I was absolutely hooked reading this book. There was plenty I could relate to and lots that goes way beyond anything I’m considering, like turning their electricity off.

I highly recommend this excellent book by Colin Beavan, which is a real eye opener as to the scope of what can be achieved as regards environmentally friendly living. It is available on Amazon in both kindle or paperback format.

I’m off to look at my next library book now, a beginner’s guide to crochet. This is a craft I’ve never tried, but I’m hoping to learn how to crochet my own dish cloths. I stopped buying the ones containing microplastic like J-cloths at the beginning of this year, although still haven’t finished using up the existing roll.

In the meantime, you may see my series of blog posts documenting my journey towards a plastic free and zero waste future here.

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 7

It has been a while since I last gave you an update on how things are going with trying to reduce waste, in particular plastic. I felt I suffered a setback whilst we were on holiday recently. It seems much more difficult when you out of your own zone. Things started going wrong from when we stopped at the services for a meal en-route. We all opted for different fast food outlets and my other half was the only one who got his meal on a china plate with proper cutlery. So thumbs up to Harry Ramsdens for that. The rest of us ended up being served with disposable tableware. I don’t see why they couldn’t all follow Harry Ramsdens lead.

We were doing a house swap to the Wirral and our host had written a note regarding what could go in the recycling bin. Basically cans, glass, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard. So much more limited than what we can recycle at home. No plastic trays, yoghurt pots, etc. I had heard previously that recycling varied from council to council, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this restricted. And no food waste bins either. Although we had a lovely holiday, sadly I sent significantly more to landfill that week than usual. And of course, I didn’t know where to shop locally for least plastic waste, especially when we had to dash straight to the supermarket on arrival to buy a cabbage to feed their tortoise. We opted for Morrisons, but no plastic free cabbages in sight. I later found out that sadly the local greengrocer had closed down permanently, so no options for fruit and vegetables other than the supermarkets.

water bottle

Also I was very saddened when taking part in a race in beautiful countryside to see single use plastic water bottles discarded littering the route. Several issues come to mind here. Firstly bring your own reusable bottle to carry with you. The run was only 10k and it was a cool day. I didn’t need to hydrate whilst running at all, although admittedly my time was almost twice that of the leaders. Secondly if you do take a bottle from the water station en-route, hold onto it until the end of the race and then recycle it. Obviously not viable for a marathon when you will need to hydrate multiple times, but fine for this kind of distance. And thirdly, perhaps the race organisers could consider other options to plastic bottles, such as compostable paper cups. The goody bag was another area that could be reconsidered, as it was one of those plastic drawstring bags. How about a cloth bag instead.

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for grapefruit cake, made when I was thinking of ideas of what to do with grapefruit and orange peel. The recipe also requires grapefruit juice as well as the zest. Since I had eaten the whole grapefruit, I used bottled grapefruit juice, which I have been buying from the milkman anyhow. But you could squeeze the juice from the grapefruit for this recipe.

Grapefruit Cake

Grapefruit Cake

Ingredients

100g date sugar
Zest of 1 large grapefruit
100g greek yoghurt
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50ml olive oil
3 eggs
50ml milk

And for glaze
20g date sugar
50ml grapefruit juice

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a loaf tin.
Grate the zest from the grapefruit.
Mix together yoghurt, date sugar and grapefruit zest in a large bowl.
Whisk in the eggs.
Sieve in the flour and baking powder
Mix in the olive oil and milk.
Spoon mixture into lined tin.
Bake on middle shelf of oven for about 30 minutes, testing that a skewer will come out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile mix together date sugar and grapefruit juice for glaze.
Make holes in top of cake with a skewer.
Pour glaze over cake slowly, allowing to soak into holes.
Serve and enjoy.

Grapefruit Cake

Grapefruit Cake
I’ve got bagfuls of citrus and vegetable peelings in the freezer. I tend to pop a handful of vegetable peelings in for crisps whenever I have the oven on. But more recipe suggestions for these would be very welcome. I’ve also been saving seeds out of melons, peppers and butternut squash. Wondering which of these can be eaten or would they grow, if I try to plant them?

And finally I’ve just helped crowdfund for Plastic Free, Tree less, Natural, Toilet Paper from Ty Mor. See details here. I’ll let you know what it is like once it arrives.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 6

Since becoming more conscious about plastic, I’ve found that I’m making much more frequent small shopping trips to our local high street to visit the butcher, greengrocer and baker, plus going further afield to a zero-waste store. However my purchases do still need to be topped up by a visit to the supermarket from time to time. So I thought I’d share with you what I’ve managed to find plastic-free at the supermarket. I’ve tried Sainsburys and Tesco superstores and a much smaller Co-op.

So starting with the obvious – fruit and vegetables. Although a lot is bagged in plastic, they all have some loose, which I take my own produce bags along for. However I have heard rumours that the sticky labels on loose produce like mangos and avocados may be plastic. Anyone know if that is true? Also it then depends on the supermarket, as to whether you have to weigh the produce yourself and get a barcode price label or if it can be weighed at the till, needing no label. These labels are paper but again you shouldn’t put them in your recycling bin, as the stickiness could jam the recycling mechanism. I didn’t know this until recently. Previously I assumed any paper could go in the recycling bin. I’ve now learnt that quite a few shouldn’t. I may feature this in a future post.

#plasticfree shopping

Another obvious one is the likes of eggs, flour and sugar in their paper packaging. And up until now, I had thought tins, drink cans and jars were a safe bet, apart from those jars with an annoying plastic lid or the superfluous plastic seal around the lid. Totally unnecessary in my opinion. So I had been pleased to find items like passata and coconut oil in jars. But sadly today I read here that the tins, drink cans and metal jar lids are mostly coated on the inside with plastic to avoid corrosion, and not just any plastic but BPA. I’m now getting alarm bells ringing, with regards to potential health risks. Sounds like I will need to rethink my shopping.

#plasticfree shopping

Moving on to the deli counter at the superstores. Sainsburys were not obliging at all, but Tesco will wrap the deli produce in paper for you if you ask them. More sticky labels again. However they wouldn’t go one step further and let me put it loose into my cooler bag. I’m not sure whether this type of paper is either recyclable once washed or compostable. It feels very smooth as if it may contain some type of coating. Anyone know?

#plasticfree shopping

And another partial win is the bakery counter. Larger items seem to be already packed in cellophane window bags, but the smaller items like rolls and croissants I put in my own produce bags.

#plasticfree shopping

Now for some of the items that you may not know about. In the freezer section, items like these veggie burgers and kievs in the picture, along with fishfingers and potato waffles are just in cardboard with no hidden plastic. And i’ve found that Boursin cheese is packed in foil inside cardboard. And Gü desserts are in glass ramekins inside cardboard. I’ve been taking the ramekins to the charity shop.

But then there are items I’ve bought, which look like cardboard, but I have a feeling that they may be mixed materials. Unfortunately the packaging gives no indication. This applies to quite a few brands of ice cream tubs. I’m still searching, so does anyone know of an ice cream that is definitely in just cardboard?

What plastic free foods and drinks have you found at the supermarket?

And here’s a recipe I promised to share for crackers, an item I haven’t managed to find plastic free in the shops. The same story with biscuits, so if anyone has located either of these, please do let me know.


Crackers

Crackers

Ingredients

200g wholemeal plain flour
Salt and pepper
50ml olive oil
100ml cold water

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease baking trays.
Weigh flour into a mixing bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Mix in the olive oil.
Mix in the water to form a ball of dough.
Cut small pieces of dough and press each piece onto greased baking tray as thin as possible.
It will probably make more than you can fit on your baking trays, so cook in batches.
Cook for 10-15 minutes in preheated oven until crackers are crisp.
Cool on cooling rack.
Serve cold with cheese or your choice of accompaniment.
Enjoy.
Store in an air-tight container.

Crackers

Crackers

As always, I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

I’ve subsequently seen a great zerowaste idea for using up leftover dry hard wraps to make crackers over on Jacqui Paterson’s blog, although I have to say we tend to get through my homemade tortilla wraps too quickly for them to go hard.

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 5

It has been a little while since I last gave you an update on my progress with reducing plastic and overall waste reduction generally, so here’s my latest news.

No more junk mail

The “no junk mail” sticker on the front door seems to be working very well. The only things we now seem to be getting in addition to our post are the local monthly village magazines. That is if you don’t count items for the previous resident and I’ve been labelling those “moved away, return to sender” for years now! I’ve started considering each piece of post, as to whether we actually do need it or whether we can ask the sender to cancel. I was impressed that National Trust have started using compostable wrappers for their magazines, but even so I decided this fell into the category of unnecessary post. I’ve therefore mostly unsubscribed, although apparently we will still receive the Autumn edition due to it including AGM voting papers. Can’t say I’ve ever looked at the details of their AGM or plan to in the future either, but never mind, I’ve made a step in the right direction. Also it took two attempts to unsubscribe as apparently the request had to come from member 1 and I was member 2 in our household.

National Trust compostable packaging

However I did fail on trying to unsubscribe from the mail shots our local garden centre send out. I have a loyalty card with them and when I asked on my last visit, apparently you can’t have one without the other. She said “it’s only 8 times a year”, but that is 8 unwanted pieces of post. I did try to suggest they move their mail shots to email, and she did say that they would think about that. So I’ll just have to wait and see.

And on the food shopping front, I’m still guilty of bringing more plastic into the home than I wish. Some things we have been going without in the hope that I will soon find a plastic free alternative. But others are key to our regular weekly shop, particularly biscuits, crackers and fruit bread. I’ve been trying to bake these more often, but as I work full-time, sometimes there just isn’t the opportunity. And when I think I’ve baked a large enough box of crackers to last all week, I then find son1 has managed to polish them off in a couple of days. He’s like a bottomless pit when it comes to food. Today I made a large bowl of popcorn and he alone ate almost the entire lot in less than 5 minutes.

I’m gradually finding plastic free alternatives, so I now get yoghurt in glass jars from the milkman, along with my other deliveries. But unfortunately the milkman seems to have reverted to putting things inside plastic bags. It was all paper bags in January so I don’t know why. I keep asking the dairy to tell him that I don’t want the plastic bags, but the message doesn’t seem to have got through. I haven’t actually met him yet, as he usually delivers well before we wake up.

However some of my successes like plastic free butter and houmous have been discovered in other towns rather than my local high street. So this brings into debate, the question of my carbon footprint. I don’t feel I can justify driving over 5 miles just to buy some butter.

Plastic free butter

One trip I do plan to make further afield is to the new zero waste store which has just opened. I need to get all my containers lined up and ready. I’ve heard it even has freezers, which is excellent news as we have run out of some of our staples like frozen peas and sweetcorn. We much prefer the frozen variety to tinned.

I’ve also continued to keep a careful eye on what goes into my food waste bin. We have two of these, a small kerbside bin and an even smaller windowsill one. Previously I would always chuck everything into the windowsill one initially and then transfer it outside every couple of days. But now I’ve started putting anything like chicken bones straight into the outside bin. This way I can choose to tip the windowsill bin into our garden compost bin, along with some of the compostable paper waste I’ve been saving for this purpose. A mixture of green and brown each time, although I’m not sure how long it will take to decompose for use in the garden. But hopefully this will reduce the number of bags of compost we purchase in future.

Also I’ve made my own equivalent of marmalade, out of orange pulp saved from our juicer along with orange peel.

Zero Waste Marmalade

Marmalade

Ingredients

250g orange pulp
40g chopped orange peel
200ml cold water
50g fruit sugar

Method

Chop the orange peel into small strips.
Place orange pulp and peel in a large saucepan.
Cover with water and add sugar.
Bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until it has thickened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile bring another saucepan of water to the boil.
Carefully place jars in the boiling water for about 5 minutes to sterilise.
Remove with tongs.
Spoon marmalade into hot sterilised jars.
Allow to cool.
Serve on buttered toast or bread.
Enjoy.

Zero Waste Marmalade

This made about a jar and a half. Naturally I used jars that I had saved. This marmalade looks a different colour to regular marmalade and I believe that to be due to the pith also being present in the pulp. It also had a much more bitter flavour as I had used less sugar, plus the cooking time is shorter so the peel is a more dominant taste still.

So overall gradually moving in the right direction. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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