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 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!

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.

Vegan Breakfast – Homemade Porridge

I am dipping my toe into the world of eating vegan. I have decided to eat as vegan as possible mainly for health reasons but also for environmental reasons.

I first thought that ‘being vegan’ would be ridiculously difficult and I would feel like I am depriving myself all of the time. However once I looked into it I realised that there are so many choices!

Today I started the day with vegan porridge – this was made simply with:

1/2 a cup of porridge oats and 1 cup of oat milk – heat for about 2-3 minutes or until thick enough.

It is literally that simple!

To make the basic vegan porridge more tasty, try one of these 5 different combinations to add taste and texture:

  • A spoon of peanut butter, a chopped banana and a few walnuts (put in before heating).
  • Some sliced apple, a few chopped dates and a sprinkle of cinnamon (put in before heating).
  • Some chopped dried apricots and sprinkle of ginger (put in before heating).
  • After heating add some blueberries and chopped strawberries.
  • For a treat once cooked add a square of vegan dark chocolate (THIS is my favourite) and some sultanas.

I had the peanut butter, banana & walnut porridge this morning and is was simply delicious – complete comfort food. It was definitely a good choice to banish the winter blues away. I made this in my big Emma Bridgewater Pasta Bowl – one of my favourites.

I will be adding some more Vegan Breakfasts soon, so come back to find some more inspiration.

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. It really is a product that I have and use and would like to recommend.