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 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 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!

Indulging in Self Care with a Hot Bath and Natural Products

A hot relaxing bath is such a treat.

A chance to take 20 minutes out from life and unwind.

The main principle of self care is to put yourself first in order to be able to then give yourself to others.

Making having a bath something special, just for you is so important. Those 20 minutes are not going to rejuvenate you if you are staring at a mess, sharing the bath with toys and having little ones asking for you every few minutes.

A Few Natural Bath Products You Could Add to Your Bathroom.

Here are my tips for a perfect Self Care Bath

  • Find a time in the evening when the house is quiet and you know you can have some time undisturbed.
  • Taking no more than a couple of minutes – quickly tidy the bathroom, putting everything away.
  • Start the bath running and instead of opting for normal bubble bath why not try a natural alternative instead – see below for some ideas.
  • If you don’t have candles in the bathroom already, find some and light enough to create a calm, soothing mood.
  • Enjoy your soak, pull yourself into the moment and stop your head from whirring around by scanning your senses – how does this feel? how does this smell? what do I hear? what do I see?
  • As you relax and if you trust yourself to keep your phone dry and safe – this is the perfect time to listen to a relaxing audio book or do a timed meditation.

These are my favourite natural bath products:

  • Oats – simply take a clean odd sock, put half a cup of normal oats into it and tie the sock tightly adding some essential oils as required. When running the bath, massage the sock in the water and the bath will gradually turn cloudy. An oat bath works brilliantly to relieve inflammation, moisturise skin and relieve redness. It is great (without the essential oils) for chicken pox and eczema too! A good choice in the summer to relieve sun soaked skin.
  • Milk – once the bath has been run add two cups of milk (ideally whole milk) and mix in – you can also add some essential oils or a large spoonful of honey. Milk baths are a great choice to take in the winter to relieve dry skin. Milk can naturally help to remove dead skin cells and like oats is also good at moisturising and removing redness.
  • Epsom Salts – Start by adding a large tablespoon of Epsom salts to a hot bath. Gradually over time you can build up to 2 cups. Epsom Salt baths have so many amazing benefits including reducing stress, relaxing the body, improve sleep and concentration, helps sore muscles, sprains and bruises, helps migraines and helps flush toxins out of the body.
  • Bath Oils – Use a base oil such as Almond Oil or Jojoba Oil – in a glass jar add 50ml of base oil and then 20 drops of essential oils – store in a dark cupboard. When your bath is ready add 1-2 teaspoons of this to your bath. You can tailor your bath oil to your requirements by changing which essential oils you add.
  • Neal’s yard – I love the fact that Neal’s Yard are made using good quality natural products. I ask for these products for my birthday or sometimes purchase them when they are on sale. My favourites are the Aromatic Foaming Bath and the Geranium & Orange Foaming Bath – a little goes a long way so despite being quite expensive they last a very long time.

Good Essential Oils for Homemade Natural Baths:

  • Lavender – relaxing and calming – ideal before bed.
  • Clary Sage – good to lift your mood.
  • Rose – good at calming anxiety.
  • Ylang Ylang – to relieve tension in the body.

There are so many more – experiment and have fun creating blends that work for you!

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the companies I have linked to.

Plastic Free Birthday Celebrations

As we move forward with our plans to use less and less plastic I have invested in a few things that make Plastic Free (and especially single use plastic) Birthdays much easier.

It was my daughters 7th birthday last week and we always decorate the house ready for when they wake up.

Decorations

Fabric Birthday Bunting on Amazon – Similar to the one we have.

We have beautiful fabric happy birthday bunting that we bought last year which comes out every year and goes on the mantle. Along with two colourful lengths of bunting.

My daughter especially loves yellow so we bought a yellow tissue paper pompom and yellow crepe paper to drape from our centre light in the living room to the corners of the room. Sadly this came in plastic packaging so I will be on the look out as to where I can buy it plastic free next year.

Party Time

I had already purchased melamine plates and cups which we reused for her party (and use for camping/family gatherings) – Despite these being plastic, they can be reused over and over again, they are very hard wearing and I really think they will last a lifetime! They have been dropped time and again by the children and we haven’t had a single one break. They have also saved lots of single use plastic being used. We bring them along on picnics too and use them daily for the children so they are getting lots of use.

We decided against party bags and instead bought these cardboard cupcake boxes. The children had two party activities – one was to decorate the boxes (including their name) and the other was to decorate two cupcakes – one for their pudding and one to put into their box to take home. We played some party games and the winner won some foil wrapped gold coins (leftover from Christmas) which despite us saying could be put into the boxes – were mostly eaten on the spot!

We also did an activity where the children each made keyrings using scratch art. This little pack that we bought made 6 so they did one each. They were all going to put them on their school bookbags (they now just use rucksacks) as they scratched their names so hopefully giving them a purpose will mean that they will not be ‘plastic tat’. We recycled the cardboard and wooden sticks went into the compost. Hopefully people will reuse the keyring if no longer needed for their bookbag. They put their keyrings into their decorated boxes.

Gifts

My Daughter had gifts that were plastic free as possible – she had gerbils as her main present (we already had a glass fish tank which we used to home them). She also had a jumper, an amazing book by The National Trust called How To Help a Hedgehog & Protect a Polar Bear – it is amazing! It is full of ideas of things you can do with your children to help save the planet (if you know me I may have bought one for your child as I bought 3 extra copies I loved it that much!). She also had a CD & some sweets (try and get foil or paper wrapped where possible).

Wrapping & Cards

Her gifts were wrapped in reused amazon brown packing paper (Thanks Amazon!) and I purchased a card free from plastic (Card Factory are good for this but other retailers are starting to get on board too).

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the owner of the product.

Small Steps to Reduce Plastic Waste – Your Handbag

The impact of plastic on our environment is becoming more and more apparent. I feel so strongly that we need to do all we can to rectify it and ensure the world our children grow up in is better educated and make better choices. I have been trying to gradually reduce both my plastic consumption and my use of ‘single use’ items in an effort to reduce waste overall.

One of the first areas I started with was my handbag.

When you are out and about single use plastic/items crop up time and again and there are a few simple things that you could do to change the amount of waste you create.

  • Buy a reusable coffee cup – Keep this in your handbag not only for purchases of hot drink but also soup and if you have runout of water you can always use this at a Refill station to quench your thirst. If you don’t have much space consider a collapsible reusable cup.
  • Buy a stainless steel water bottle – Remember to fill up with water before you leave the house and if you run out just head to your nearest refill station to fill up for free.
  • Take you own snacks – this is the easiest way to avoid single use waste – bring them along in a reusable Tupperware box. There are plastic free lunch box items such as this Metal Lunch Tin. Taking your own tub of food will often mean that you are able to avoid buying out, but if you still need to purchase food – ask the retailer to put it into your reusable tub rather than their own packaging.
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  • Remember your bags – Always keep your bags in your car so they are ready to use. It is also a good idea to keep a cotton bag rolled up in your handbag for the times you forget.

For those who want to progress past the basics towards an entirely plastic free handbag – check out these for some inspiration:

A cotton purse instead of PVC or leather.
A hand knitted sunglasses or phone pouch
Bamboo cutlery and metal straw – keep in your handbag and refuse single use.

As time goes on more and more products are coming into the market which will make these choices easier. Retailers are getting on board quickly to, so many people are asking for their own containers to be used it is quite commonplace now – so don’t worry about asking! Quite often there is a small discount for using your own too!

NB: If you purchase via the links on this page I will get a very small % which goes towards the running costs of this website. This is not a sponsored post and I have no links with the owner of the product.