Leftovers

One of the big single use plastic items that gets used in this house is clingfilm. We almost always have a couple of bowls/plates covered in cling film in our fridge – a bowl of tuna & mayonaise from D1 making herself a tuna sandwich, one tin of tuna is alway too much for one sandwich; a half onion left from making dinner; leftover pizza from Friday pizza night.

Even though we try, as much as possible, to store leftovers in reusable plastic tubs inevitably there are occasions when you can’t find a suitable tub so the cling film comes out. So this week I looked into alternatives and came across ‘Cling Cloth‘ so I ordered some. I bought a Variety pack, 3 cloths in various sizes , and a Bread Wrap. They arrived this week, packaged in a cardboard envelope package and I’ve been using them for the last couple of days.

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Cling Cloths are organic cotton cloths infused with beeswax, jojoba and pine resin. They are natural, re-usable and, at the end of their life, compostable. I have found them incredibly easy to use – in comparison to cling film which is, nearly always, a nightmare clinging to itself and nothing else! The cloth moulds around anything and sticks to itself in place. I have used it so far to cover bowls full of leftover guacamole and salsa from Saturday night’s fajitas (saved dirtying another container by transferring them from the bowls they were made and served in to plastic container thus reducing washing up!) and to wrap half an onion which was left from making the salsa.

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All these stayed wonderfully fresh, the cloth does not seemed to have retained any lingering onion odour from the half onion, they were easy to wash afterwards and folded neatly to pack away and use for next time.

I will report again later in the year as to how they have held up to repeated use.

 

 

 

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Weekend Waste update

First weekend and end of my first week of my plastic free challenge and I’m feeling I’m doing ok. The amount of waste in our kitchen bin is significantly less than usual and the amount in our recycling bins is also less.

Dinner last night was bean fajitas,   We love fajitas and I often make meat and veggie versions but today decided everyone was going to have bean fajitas to make life easier. I did use gluten free and wheat tortillas though. D3 helped me make dinner, she made the salsa: 2 tomatoes, remove seeds & chop, 1/2 red onion chopped, lime juice;  and we also made some guacamole – 2 avocados, bit of lime juice, shake of cumin, mash it all together with a fork.

The fajita filling we made by frying a chopped onion with a couple of cloves of garlic and some fajita seasoning. We then added three tins of red kidney beans (drained) and cooked for about 10 minutes. Then about 100ml of vegetable stock and cook until the liquid is almost gone and mash a little.

Pics of our dinner –

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Sunday is rugby day – D2 was playing this afternoon so we were all out most of the day. Dinner tonight was roast chicken (Quorn sausages for the vegetarians).

Also made some puff pastry pizza slices for lunchboxes as promised to D2, and had pastry left so we made some chocolate spread turnovers as well. So that’s lunches sorted!

Waste this weekend –

Landfill waste – 2 plastic packets from tortillas, 5 tassimo pods, plastic wrap from ready made pastry, plastic wrap from chicken

Recycling – 3 cans from kidney beans, 2 cans from soup (Sunday lunchtime before rugby), vegetable peelings (potato, onion, avocado, brocolli), cardboard from puff pastry & quorn sausages, plastic trays from chicken & quorn sausages.

 

 

 

 

Day 3 waste update

Packed lunches made = 4 (I ate leftover spaghetti bolognese from yesterday evening as D2 didn’t want dinner)

Dinner = homemade pizzas. Garlic bread from freezer.

My family love pizza – me I could live without them, I really don’t see what the fuss is. Let’s face it, basically it’s cheese on toast isn’t it? Whatever, if they could they would have Dominos every day  or at the very least frozen pizza from the supermarket. I, on the other hand, want them to eat slightly more healthily (and cheaply) and so somehow, sometime ago, Friday night became ‘Homemade Pizza Night’. I’m not sure how this happened but now it is expected and if Friday evening comes along and there are no pizzas then the cries of disappointment are loud and long.

Of course, pizza making in our family is not that simple with our various dietary requirements. I have tried various recipes for gluten free pizza bases over the years and D1 has given feedback on them all. In the end we have come to use a recipe which is on the back of the Doves Farm Bread Flour packet which is quick, easy and (she reports) tasty.

Dough for the rest of the family is made in the breadmaker. This takes some time so I stick all the ingredients (1 cup of water, 4 cups of bread flour, 3 tbsps olive oil, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp yeast)  in as soon as I get in from school at 4 and then I can go off and do over things. By 5.30/6pm the dough has mixed and proved and is ready to shape, top and cook.

Toppings of choice are passata, mozarella, grated cheddar and pepperami or chorizo for the carnivores among us.

Give it a go – it’s a lot easier than you think. Much tastier than frozen, ready made pizza, way cheaper than take away and no carboard boxes, plastic wrap or polystyrene trays to dispose of!

 

Todays waste

Landfill waste – 2 plastic bags from mozarella, plastic bag from garlic bread, 2 tassimo pods (hubby had one coffee this morning and one this evening)

Recycling – tetra carton from passata (put in our mixed recycling bin), paper bag  from flour (put in paper recycling)

Plastic Free Day 2

So, Day 2 of PlasticFreeMe and I thought I’d share my family’s meals and the waste produced from those, so hear goes

Breakfast 

Cereal & Milk, tea, coffee – waste produced = teabag (which went into the food recycling bin), coffee pod from the Tassimo. The cereal & milk both have plastic containers but we didn’t finish them today so they’ve gone back in the cupboard/fridge.

There used to be a Tassimo recycling bin in Sainsburys in Marlow but last time I looked it wasn’t there, according to the Tassimo website the nearest one now is Sainsburys in Maidenhead. I did apply to them ages ago to see if I could get my own recycling bin as those little pods going in the bin vex me and my family have a serious Tassimo habit (not me as I don’t drink coffee or hot chocolate) – still waiting to hear from them.

Lunch 

As we are all now back at work/school/college this meant packed lunches. Youngest (D3) and middle (D2) daughters had a bento box each filled with a savoury Pizza pastry (bought from Tesco but D2 and I have plans to make our own), cucumber sticks & dip (hummus for D3 and sour cream for D2) , chorizo sausage & cherry tomatoes (D3), yoghurt (D2), clementine (D3) and banana (D2) and finally some homemade graham cracker toffee. They each had a bottle filled with blackcurrant squash.

I am going to digress here to talk about the toffee . We first made this before Christmas to put in the Goody Bags we gave out as Christmas presents. It’s called Christmas Crack Toffee  and is on the i heart naptime blog here   as well as the Christmas Crack we also made some Peppermint Crunch from the same blog, the recipe is here  we made ours with gluten free graham crackers from Kinnikinnick Foods and it is absolutely amazing. We have quite a bit left and don’t plan to wait till next Christmas to make some more!

Anyway, returning to our meal plan! D1 made sushi the night before for her lunch – first time she had made it herself so lots of supervision but she did a very good job. I took a ciabbatta roll and the last bit of brie from the Christmas cheese board.

Waste produced – banana & clementine peel which went into our food recycling bin (our local council takes food waste and it is processed to produce energy and agricultural fertiliser), paper used to wrap the pizza slices when we bought them at Tesco which went into the paper recycling bin

Dinner

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This evening’s meal plan was for Spaghetti Bolognaise. Minced beef & Soya mince were already in my freezer, onions, pepper & garlic in the vegetable rack, bacon in the fridge and pasta in the cupboard so the only additional purchases were a tin of tomatoes and a carrot. Our family contains two vegetarians, myself and D2, and a coeliac, D1, and so I made one ragu sauce with minced beef and bacon and one with soya mince and two lots of pasta, one GF and one not.

Waste produced = onion skin, pepper seeds & stalk and garlic skin which went into the food recycling; tin from the tomatoes and plastic tray (green not black!) from the mince which both go into our mixed recycling. The soya mince was in a plastic bag but I only used half so the bag has gone back in the freezer for another day as did the bacon in it’s plastic tray back in the fridge and the pasta in it’s plastic bags back in the cupboard.

Overall pretty good day with one exception. I was reading an article on the Friends of the Earth website ‘9 really good alternatives to plastic’ which has alerted me to the fact that most teabags contain plastic. WHAT!!! I live on cups of tea and am very concerned to learn that the teabags, which I had thought were compostable, contain microplastics which are then being put into the soil with that compost. Apparantly there is a small amount of polypropolene added to the bags to ensure that when they are heat-sealed they don’t then come open in the box or your cup. I did some more digging and found an article on the blog Moral Fibres which has detailed some of the main brands and whether they contain plastic or not.

For me, as I own a vast collection of teapots and tea infusers I am going to dust them off and start buying loose leaf tea…

 

My first ‘plastic free’ shop

Well, I always try to minimise plastic when shopping but this is my first shop since setting myself the challenge of reducing single use plastic and I spent some time in the supermarket trying to do so (anyone who knows me will realise this is a true sacrifice as I absolutely detest shopping!)

So – my plastic free shopping this week.  I shopped at Tesco Loudwater I’m guessing  not the best but probably not the worst at overpackaging. In the spirit of less waste I also drastically reduced my shop by going through the cupboard of tins/pasta/jars and the freezer and just buying extra fresh ingredients to make meals with what I already have. I spent a third of what I usually do but I will see if we make it through the week without a top up shop.

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The main things I could not get plastic free were:

  1. Dairy. Cheese all seems to be shrink-wrapped in plastic and the mozarella I bought for pizza is in a plastic bag; yoghurt & sour cream are in plastic pots but I’m not sure how else this could be packaged?.
  2. Fruit & Vegetables: I did pretty well here buying loose tomatoes, carrots, courgettes, beetroot & spring onions. Lettuce, or any salad leaves, are not available except in plastic wrap/bags. Cherry tomatoes are either in plastic bags or in a cardboard tray within a plastic bag. Potatoes there were no loose potatoes in the Tesco I was in and so I bought a plastic bag of potatoes.
  3. Meat: We don’t eat a lot of meat as myself and my middle daughter are vegetarian, however the rest of the family do like chicken. I generally buy a whole chicken and they have it roasted with the leftovers for sandwiches and chicken curry. All the meat in the Tesco store I was in was prepacked in plastic and the chickens are on a plastic tray within a plastic bag. There isn’t a butchers counter but I am not sure even then I could have bought unwrapped meat?
  4. Quorn sausages: I was very disappointed to find that all the Quorn products are, to my mind, over packaged with a plastic tray sealed with plastic film and a cardboard sleeve around that. Come on Quorn! I am sure you could do better with packaging. Their website states that they have a vision for Sustainable Nutrition and are ‘working hard to ensure our packaging can be recycled…and we’re also cutting the amount of packaging’ So I’m hopeful that things will improve. 

The plastic tray used for my Quorn sausages does concern me as it is a black plastic tray. A recent One Show highlighted the fact that most black plastic ends up in landfill even if your local council offers plastic recycling, as mine does.

The black plastic doesn’t reflect light and so the scanners used to sort the plastic and so they could end up contaminating other recyclables such as glass. This means they are often just discarded into landfill. There is an alternative black tray which could be detected and sorted into mixed colour PET but retailers don’t want to start selling it as they want the sorting centres to agree first – nobody wants to take the plunge so the situation has reached a standoff.

http://resource.co/article/one-show-tackles-black-plastic-confusion-11742

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I did try really hard and will see if I can get better. Will be checking the other supermarkets in my area over the next few weeks to compare their packaging. I suspect I may have to revert to buying my fruit and veg from a farm shop – I used to do this every week but that was before I worked and had more time. I used to take my youngest before she had started school as one of our days out each week! The challenge is overcoming the convenience of shopping in a supermarket and getting everything in one place when you are ‘time poor’ and additionally, working to a budget with 5 people in the house to feed.

My other challenge is that I detest shopping of any sort, food shopping especially and for many, many years I have done my food shopping online. The prospect of spinning out my shopping across several different shops fills me with a sense of mild dread.

Wish me luck

Happy New Year

I am resurrecting this blog as I have set myself a challenge for the coming year to reduce the amount of single use plastic in my life and I want to document my success, or otherwise, and perhaps help others who have a similar goal. I am not sure that I can eliminate it plastic entirely  but I am going to have a very good try.

As some background, my family consists myself, my husband, our three daughters, two cats, a hamster and some fish. Trying to feed all of them, on a sensible budget, and be environmentally responsible is going to take some effort but I think it’s worth it.

The easy changes (as I see them at the moment) are –

  1. The drinks pouches with plastic straws/disposable plastic drinks bottles which my children like in their lunch boxes – replace with a reusable drinks bottle filled with juice/squash/water
  2. Sandwich bags/cling-film – we have mostly stopped using these already as we have numerous ‘bento’ style lunch boxes which eliminate the need to wrap food items separately.  Yumbox are a particular favourite for my kids and I love my Lakeland bento box . I also have some Keep Leaf cloth re-usable sandwich bags if I really need to take something without a lunchbox.
  3. Plastic lids on takeaway tea/coffee cups – I’m not a big Coffee shop fan (I hate coffee!) however I am a tea drinker and spend a considerable amount of my time watching my daughters play football and rugby. I therefore do consume cups of tea at pitch side bought from the clubhouse, invariably with a plastic lid. I do have a wonderful ceramic travel mug with a lid bought for me for my birthday by one of my daughters and resolve to get in the habit of always taking it with me to sports fixtures.
  4. Shopping bags – I am pretty good at remembering my own shopping bags but need to make sure that I always remember, and not just for grocery shopping; clothes, books etc the shops all hand out plastic bags even if they now charge. My youngest daughter and I sewed tote bags as Christmas presents for family/friends which we filled with homemade produce so we are trying to encourage everyone else as well!
  5. Food Packaging – this is the hard one as it really takes some effort to buy food without plastic packaging without going to a farm shop which then ups my grocery bill quite substantially. It’s a juggling act between keeping my family budget and saving the planet from disappearing under a blanket of plastic. However, I will try my best to buy food with as little plastic packaging as possible.

Will update this

Today I was Not Knitting I was….

…trying to do my bit to save the planet.

This week several things have happened that have just served to highlight an issue that has been concerning me for quite some time, the issue of over-packaging.

I am a concerned world citizen who tries to do their bit to live my life making as little impact on the environment as I can – I choose to buy my electricity from a green supplier who invests in alternative energy sources, I recycle with zeal and harangue everyone around me to do the same, I practice organic gardening, I buy organic vegetables from a box scheme and I am looking into fitting solar panels. The rest of the world, and big business in particular, doesn’t seem to share my principles and I have become more and more aware of the amount of unneccessary packaging that is used on groceries and a whole range of other consumables.

This week when my shopping arrived from Ocado I was really excited to see that I’d been given a free sample of Green & Blacks chocolate. Now, Green & Blacks is my favourite chocolate and they are sold on an ethical standpoint of fairtrade and organic production. So why was the little 35g bar not only wrapped in the ordinary chocolate wrapper but also enclosed in a huge folded cardboard sleeve?

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The sleeve was obviously intended as a marketing tool to look like an envelope from the outside and as you unfolded each leaf another little sentence greeted you to introduce the new chocolate but couldn’t this have been done some other way? They could have printed the details on the Ocado receipt I got where it told me I’d been given a free chocolate bar. It could have been printed on a much smaller card enclosed with the chocolate bar?

This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg in the packaging department but it was the idea of a company with a supposedly ethical ethos doing this that got to me….of course Green & Blacks are now owned by Cadbury Scweppes who are not particularly for their ethics or environmental responsibilty so perhaps it is only to be expected but it got me thinking.

I then went through the rest of my shopping to check what other unneccessary packaging there was – and bear in mind that I am a consumer who chooses products carefully with thought for the environmental impact.

Firstly, the four cartons of apple juice are held together by a cardboard sleeve – why? They are sold as a “four-pack” so they have to be held together don’t they? So why do the supermarket sell them like this, why not just sell me four separate cartons of apple juice? When I checked the price of buying apple juice I got a real shock – a pack of four cartons of apple juice costs £2.79 which is 7p per 100ml but a single carton of apple juice costs 89p or 8.9p per 100ml so the four-pack with the extra packaging and so presumably extra packaging costs is sold for 7.6p more than four individual cartons. Ok, 7.6p isn’t much but why is it sold for more encouraging people to buy the extra packaging? Is it really that much trouble to store four cartons not held together with a cardboard sleeve?

Then there was the ready meal curry we bought, now we don’t often buy ready meals but we were late home and this was the day before my shopping order was delivered so my husband, J, bought an indian meal.

Inside the box were several plastic microwaveable containers and each one had a cardboard sleeve with cooking instructions on it. Why were the cardboard sleeves thought neccessary? It can’t be a marketing idea because they were inside a carboard box and couldn’t be seen. The cooking instructions could easily be printed on the outer box or on a label on the microwaveable dishes. This is why I don’t buy ready meals….

The worst offender for over-packaging has to be children’s toys. We don’t have children but I buy a lot of gifts for friends children and get to see all the packaging they get lumbered with after birthdays and christmas. Why is it thought necessary to package one small doll on a card backing to which it is tied with at least 100 wire ties, inside a plastic shell which is inside a cardboard box?

It’s time that we as consumers started to fight back and let these companies know that we don’t want or need all this packaging they are giving to us. So next time you’re shopping think about what you are buying and how it is packaged.