Waste Free Feb – Day 9 – Plastic Free Fruit & Vegetables

Over the last 8 days I have given tips and advice on how to recycle as much as possible – I find that this is often the best place to start as it doesn’t involve much change.

When you have got on top of your recycling the next thing to focus on is to reduce the amount of plastic/packaging you buy in the first place.

A good place to start is with fruit & vegetables.

Our First Abel & Cole Fruit Box

There are numerous options for buying plastic free fruit and vegetables, these include:

  • Visiting your local market – they often sell ‘by the bowl’ and will tip each bowl into your own bags if asked.
  • Ordering a veg box – we order our fruit & vegetables from Abel & Cole but I have also heard good things about Riverford. Both use the least amount of plastic they can and you return the boxes for reuse.
  • Buying loose produce at the supermarket using reusable produce bags – We have the bags pictured below and they are brilliant – they are strong and have a tag attached so you can stick the price label on if you have pre-weighed. We keep these in the car in case we need to nip in for any extra fruit or veg.

Another obvious way to reduce plastic packaging is to grow your own.

Do you have space for a fruit tree in the garden or in a pot on the patio? Maybe you could grow runner beans on trellis up your fence or have a courgette plant on the edge of a flower bed? Lettuce leaves and herbs are perfect for large pots on your patio.

Generally speaking fruit, veg and herbs are easy to grow and you can have your own organic plastic free produce on your doorstep.

The easiest things to grow (in my opinion) are:

  • Lettuce leaves
  • Courgette
  • Runner / French beans
  • Carrots
  • Raspberries (drape a net over them before they go red).

If you don’t have space to grow – look out for an allotment and if you don’t have time, look for people selling their surplus produce at the end of their gardens.

Waste Free Feb – Day 8 – Reducing Food Waste

One area of waste that became more and more apparent as we recycled more was food waste. To some extent it is inevitable that there will be some waste as we are a family of 5 and the children don’t always clear their plates.

Composting

The first thing we did was to set up a compost bowl in the kitchen for our of our fresh fruit and vegetable peelings/waste. We are lucky to have a garden big enough that we can have a compost heap. Reusing these scraps by composting them to make rich compost for the garden is definitely a win:win situation!.

Other things you can compost are:

  • Small amounts of brown cardboard
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair
  • Hedge clippings
  • Leaves
  • Bedding from small pets (gerbils, hamster etc) – will mostly be wood shavings.
  • Old plants (not weeds).

We have tried different methods of storing compost before it goes out to the heap and we have found our favourite is to have a large bowl and line with a sheet of newspaper and store on a shelf in the freezer. By doing this we have no issue with the bowl getting dirty, no smells and most importantly in the summer – no flies!

Reducing Food Waste

We meal plan our evening meals and our lunches tend to be leftovers or sandwiches/crackers. This means that we more what we need only and ensure we do not have fresh food that will not be used. When cooking food I do tend to cook a big batch in one go and then put the leftovers into individual pots ready to be eaten. I also stack these pots in the fridge with the oldest at the front so they are being eaten in the right order.

Its good to check your fridge every few days to see if anything needs using up. Sometimes I’ll move some containers of soup or chilli into the freezer so that I can have an omelette or salad for the next few days to use up the fresh things. Having a freezer is an amazing asset to avoid food waste!

If you don’t use a lot of bread, you can store your bread in the freezer and just remove a couple of slices at a time as needed.

Love Food Hate Waste have an amazing website full of information on how to avoid food waste. It really is worth checking out.

For the leftovers that are left on plates that cant be re-eaten there are a few options – a Bokashi bin, a Green Johanna bin or a Wormery. We haven’t taken this step yet but it is something we are considering for the future.

Give your surplus food away!

If you do have too much of something and you know you won’t use it – give it away. There are many options:

  • For dry food that is in date – give to your local food bank collection point.
  • For fresh food – offer to your family & friends.
  • For any food – offer on the Olio app for people in your local community.


Waste Free Feb – Day 7 – Making Eco Bricks to reduce landfill waste.

If you have followed the posts over the last 6 days you will now be a recycling pro! Well Done!

There will still be some plastic packaging you are left with – the tops of yoghurt tops, ground coffee bags, cellophane from breadsticks etc.

One thing you could do is make an eco brick.

The idea of an eco brick is that you get a plastic bottle and inside put your unrecyclable plastic until it is tightly packed in. You then use the bottle as a ‘brick’ to make a bench or structure.

There are some guidelines you need to follow:

  • All plastic put inside must be clean and dry (very important).
  • The bottle must be bigger than 500ml (ideally 1 or 2 litre).
  • You need to cut the packaging into smaller pieces (I’ve been cutting ours into about inch sized squares) before putting into the bottle.
  • You need a dedicated eco-brick stick – to keep pushing all the plastic down to compress it as much as possible.
  • The finished bottle must be a minimum of 0.33g/ml.
Our First Eco Brick & Our Trusty Eco Brick Stick

To find out more visit the Ecobrick website you can find out lots more information on what to put in and the finer details of how you make them. You can also search on this page to see where you can drop them off, so that they can be used to make new structures.

It is truly amazing to see how much you can pack into just one bottle – I think we have put about half a kitchen bins worth of plastic into one 1 litre squash bottle.

Waste Free Feb – Day 6 – Not Just Plastic Bag Recycling

Most people know that old carrier bags can be recycled at most supermarkets or handed back to your home delivery driver.

But did you know that this isn’t all that can be recycled in carrier bag recycling points?

You can also recycle:

  • Bread Bags
  • Breakfast Cereal Bags (inside cardboard outers)
  • Shrink wrapped plastic and ring joiners from bottle/can multipacks
  • Frozen food bags (i.e from chips, frozen vegetables etc)
  • Dry cleaning bags/bags covering new clothing
  • Magazine wrappers
  • Bubble Wrap!

Just simply collect these types of plastics in a carrier bag and put in the recycling container next time you visit your local supermarket.

You should be able to check if your local supermarket offers this facility on their website.

Waste Free Feb – Day 5 – Recycling Electronic Items & Media

We all have old phones, mp3 players and cables in the back of a drawer.

Instead of sending these to landfill, see if you can trade them in at CEX for credit/cash. You can trade in all sorts of items such as:

  • Mobile Phones
  • Consoles
  • Handheld Consoles
  • Accessories for consoles
  • Game Discs
  • Cameras
  • Sat Navs
  • Memory Cards
  • DVDs
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • AND MORE

If you can’t get any money for these items you can recycle them at your local household recycling centre.

When you go to change the cartridge in your printer, make sure you recycle the used cartridge at your household recycling centre or find a charity that raises funds by recycling these.

See if you can send Music Magpie your unwanted CD’s for a few pounds, if not donate to your local charity shop or take to your household recycling centre.

Some charity shops accept older working TVs and electronics and these can also be taken to your local household recycling centre.


Waste Free Feb – Day 4 – How to Recycle Toothbrushes, Crisp Packets and More!

I’ve covered kerbside recycling and your local household recycling centre, now you really need to know about Terracycle.

Terracycle is a company that recycles ‘hard to recycle’ items – often donating 1p per item to charities too.

Even if you recycling everything you possibly can in your kerbside bins and at your household recycling centre you will still find you have lots left in your bin. Terracycle can help you recycling items such as:

  • Toothbrushes and electric toothbrush heads and packaging.
  • Toothpaste tubes
  • Crisp Packets
  • Biscuit and cake wrappers
  • Cracker wrappers
  • Pens, markers, highlighters and correction fluid pots
  • Make up and beauty product tubes
  • Cleaning wipe packets
  • Cleaning bottle triggers and lids
  • Air fresheners, Air freshener cartridges and packaging.
  • Baby food pouches and snack packaging
  • Contact lenses and their packaging
  • Pringle tubes
  • AND SO MUCH MORE…..

To recycle these items you need to go on their website, select the item you would like to recycle and find your nearest drop off point. It is a good idea to have a box to collect these items so that you only need to drop off every month or two.

Waste Free Feb – Day 3 – What Can You Recycle at your Local Recycling Centre

To take your recycling to the next level it is a good idea to have a cardboard box put aside in the house or the boot of your car for items that need to go to the local household recycling centre.

When there is a designated place for these things you are much more likely to recycle rather than just putting it in the bin.

It is easy to think that you can just ‘throw away’ items when in reality there is no such thing as away – you are choosing to send it to be buried in the land, incinerated or shipped abroad.

Items that we can take to our local household recycling centre are:

  • Aerosols
  • Audio cassettes
  • Appliances (large and small)
  • Batteries
  • Bicycles
  • Books
  • Cans (food, drink)
  • Car batteries
  • Car parts (drained of any fluids)
  • Cardboard
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Chemicals (household and garden)
  • Clothes and textiles
  • Computers and monitors
  • Cooking oil (used, domestic)
  • Engine oil (used)
  • Fluorescent light tubes
  • Foil
  • Food and drink cartons (including Tetrapaks)
  • Fridges and freezers
  • Furniture
  • Garden waste
  • Gas bottles
  • Glass (clear, mixed, coloured)
  • Glasses (spectacles)
  • Hardcore and rubble
  • Household waste (excess)
  • Low energy light bulbs
  • Mobile phones
  • Paint – oil based
  • Paint – water based
  • Paper (including newspapers and magazines)
  • Plasterboard
  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastics including packaging and rigid plastics (but no films, wrappers or plastic bags)
  • Printer cartridges
  • Scrap metal
  • Shoes
  • Soil
  • Tyres (car)
  • Telecoms
  • TVs
  • Video tapes
  • Wood and timber

Lots of these items can be recycled in your kerbside recycling so save yourself a trip and recycle these at home! Once your recycling centre box is full just take a trip to your local recycling centre to recycle your items.

Check your local authority website for your nearest recycling centre, opening times and items they take.

Waste Free Feb – Day 2 – Recycling at Home using Kerbside Recycling Bins.

The first step to being as waste free as possible is to ensure that you recycling everything you can using your kerbside recycle bins.

We have two recycling wheelie bins and two recycling black boxes. At first we didn’t realise that you could have more than one of each, it is really useful to have this extra recycling capacity – especially at high waste times such as Christmas.

In our area there are the items we have been able to recycle for quite a while:

  • Cardboard
  • Plastic Bottles
  • Glass Jars and Bottles
  • Tin Cans and Drinks Cans
  • Magazines, Newspapers, Paper and Envelopes

But as well as these commonly recycled items, we can also put the following in our kerbside bins:

  • Foil and foil trays
  • Greetings cards and wrapping paper (not foil type)
  • Aerosol cans
  • Metal biscuit & sweet tins
  • Clothes, Shoes, Handbags & Belts
  • Curtains, Sheets, Blankets & Duvet Covers
  • Plastic Pots & Trays such as yoghurt pots and fruit punnets/meat trays
  • Food & Drink cartons – passata, orange juice, oat milk etc
  • Brown paper, Shredded Paper.

You can also pay to have garden waste taken away.

Take a look at your local authority website to see what your area takes and how many bins you can have. Just ensuring all items that can be recycled kerbside are, will make a big difference to the amount of waste that is sent to landfill.

Waste Free February – Day 1 – How To Do A Waste Audit + FREE Printable

I am really passionate about ‘doing our bit’ to save the planet. Our environment and nature around us is so precious and we really must do all we can to reduce our footprint on this earth. One of the ways we can do this is buy minimising our consumption and reducing our waste.

I decided to join in with our local Wildlife Trusts ‘Waste Free Feb’ to see if I could reduce the waste our household creates, I feel we are already quite good but as with everything, there is always room for improvement.

They suggest starting the challenge with a waste free audit – yes this means looking in your bins to see what you are really throwing away.

Here is what I found:

Kitchen Bin:

  • Food waste (non compostable)
  • Sweet wrappers
  • Biscuit/cereal bar wrappers
  • Cling film
  • Wrap & bread packaging.
  • Frozen food packaging (sausages, berries etc)
  • Jiffy bag
  • Cereal inner bags
  • Lots of misc plastic wrapping/bags/packaging.

Bedroom/Bathroom bin:

  • Tissues
  • Hair from hairbrush
  • Cotton buds
  • Empty make up/body product containers

I need to look into these items and see if I can either purchase the items differently to create less waste or whether these items can be recycled or reused rather than put in the landfill bin.

I’ve made a PDF Printable to help you do your very own waste audit:

Check back over the coming month to find out more information on actions to take to reduce your waste!