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Saturday, 12 September 2015

Zero waste week days four and five

Well done and thank you to Rae Strauss for another inspiring and informative zero waste week. Day four was all about WEEE and furniture. So I thought I would share my most recent furniture makeover.

My daughter found this in a charity shop and I gave the white drawers a coat of paint to freshen it up. It definitely has a few more years of use left in it.

On the WEEE front, I've managed to recycle a very old pair of curling tongues that were my grandmother's and I was concerned for the safety implications of anyone plugging them in.  I also recycled an old camera and a broken torch that I felt was beyond repair and in truth was never much good anyway!

Day Five all about paper is one I'm going to tackle when I get back home.  I've decided to have another go at slimming down the paperwork in my office.  Despite my clear out a couple of years ago I still have way too much paper, and I have way too many books.  That will be my post holiday challenge to get down to the minimum of paperwork and to give away yet more books.  I want to see at least part of a tree put back into use instead of sitting on my book shelves and inside my filing cabinet.

Back to La Belle France, I was pleased to see that one of the supermarkets here has a row of recycling boxes for batteries, light bulbs and printer cartridges. A step in the right direction :)  The amount of rubbish in the general waste bins here shows that it is really only the first step of what needs to be a marathon.  We are lucky that we do have very good recycling facilities in the UK - we just need to use them.  I think the same is true in France - just not enough care and attention is put into the issue of what we throw away.

Happy recycling  and reusing all you Zero Heroes!  If you haven't yet signed up for Zero Waste Week, it is well worth doing so.  There will be monthly updates to keep you going until Zero Waste Week next year.  If you've been on board this year, please do share you reuse projects on social media.  It all helps to spread the word and in turn reduce the amount of needless waste.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Zero Waste Week Day Three

So today is all about food waste and how to avoid it , and how to reduce the packaging associated with it. My speciality! But today it is going to be harder. Much harder as I am now in France, separated from my food waste bin and my compost heap. On the plus side, to minimize packaging, we've brought our Onya weigh bags and the supermarket here were fine with them. There are no single use bags in French supermarkets, but we brought a plentiful supply of reusable bags. All our fruit and veg was packaging free. Meat on the other hand was a challenge. In France meat packaging is often polystyrene and no recycling facilities exist here for that. Plan is to have not much of it. There's also no separate food waste so we have already thrown some melon skin and seeds in the general waste. I don't know what happens to it thereafter. To minimize avoidable food waste we brought the contents of our fridge with us in a cool bag and that provided us our first meal. We plan to get inventive with bread. Croutons for goats cheese salad is our first use it up plan. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Zero Waste Week - Day 2

I'm feeling good about my empty carrier bag store and I've managed to mend the drying rack.

Today it is all about reusing glass.

Here are some of the things I already do.  We are fortunate to have a milkman so we get our milk delivered to our door in reusable glass bottles.  We also buy orange juice in reusable glass bottles from our milkman.  I'm sure this makes a big reduction to our weekly packaging output.

I'also refill some rather lovely glass decanters with rape seed oil and sunflower oil from SESI in Oxford.  It has unfortunately recently been made illegal to refill your own containers with Olive Oil, so I now buy my olive oil in a big tin.  However, you can still refill your own bottles with oil oil mixes such as olive oil and rosemary or olive oil with chilli.

Here's the legislation about the olive oil refills ban for anyone who would like to know more about this.

Inspired by today's Zero Waste Week email I'm planning to tackle a storage issue I've been stressing over for a while now.  It's the tool shed.

Everything is a mess in here.  It always takes a while to find what we need when we need it, so I'm implementing the glass bottle storage system so we can see everything and so we can make much better use of the shelving.  I don't have time to do it today, but I've glued one jars lid to the underside of the metal shelving and filled it with some screws.  I'll see if it holds and then if it does I'll do some more!  If it works, I'll make sure I add nice clear labels to my jars too.

I love Zero Waste Week!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Zero Waste Week - Day One

Today is all about plastic.  Couldn't be a more appropriate place to start for me!

I'm now into my 9th month of trying to live without single use plastic.  It has been a challenge and we have started to crack.

Last week we went to the supermarket to buy the necessary for cricket tea and for some reason it turned into a family outing.  Junior Daughter asked "What's for tea?" and I replied that I was planning to make a curry.  "Can we have poppadoms?" she asked.  I was planning to have a go at making poori from scratch to avoid purchase poppadoms which are only available in plastic packaging, but I couldn't bring myself to have the discussion.  I have been getting the feeling that the family are fed up with this zero plastic challenge. And that's hardly surprising because it is so hard to achieve these days.

I was later informed that the particular poppadoms chosen were because they thought the packaging was more easily recycled than the film-type packaging.  This is true, but it is none-the-less single use plastic packaging.

I also discovered that a sizeable quantity of Diet Coke had been purchased and rather than the individual bottles - which we long ago decided were exempt from our 'no plastic' efforts - they purchased 2 four-packs, which are wrapped in film plastic.  I didn't ask, but just know that these were undoubtedly cheaper than the individua bottles.  Annoying that anything with extra packaging is cheaper than the option without the extra packaging.  It shouldn't be allowed!

Added to that when I took my large reusable plastic tub to the cheese counter, the man serving me insisted that he wrap the cheese in the two plastic sheets he had to use to weigh the cheese and place it in the container.  I was screaming with frustration inside, but just smiled and said thank you and went on my way.  Sainsbury's, if you are listening, why does serving cheese have to involve so much plastic?  Some people on the cheese counter seem to understand that if I take the trouble to bring my own reusable tub to buy my cheese, then clearly I don't want to be lumbered with a load of plastic waste.  But other people just don't get it!  Do I give up trying?  Or do I persist in my efforts to reduce this waste?

But back to the positives of plastic reduction…

Inspired by today's Zero Waste Week email, I decided to take a look at the single use plastic that I have in my house, despite managing to largely avoid it for more than eight months.  At the start of my zero plastic challenge I realised I had quite a lot of the stuff already, and of course I don't want to waste anything, so I knew I would gradually use it up.  I decided in order to try to measure how much new plastic packaging I was introducing through the year, that I would put out any plastic packaging from prior purchases into my recycling bin on a weekly basis as before.  I'm only collecting up this year's plastic packaging.  I remember also wondering how long I would still be generating packaging from things already in stock.  Well, the plastic is diminishing steadily, but there's still some around.

Today, then for Zero Waste Week I'm going to gather together all this plastic and see if I can use it up during the week.

Keen to take immediate action however, I'm also going to tackle another plastic pile-up that regularly annoys me.  Like most people, I imagine, I have a bag full of plastic carrier bags I dip in to when I need one - such as for giving things away. I rarely use these for shopping as I have plenty of reusable canvas and jute bags.

I am pretty sure that I haven't personally gained a plastic shopping bag at all this year, so I don't understand how I come to have soooo many bags.

I can only assume that they've beed breeding in my cupboard.  Although we always seem to need plastic bags on regular occasions, we have accumulated so many, that I'm confident that if I part with these bags - every last one of them - today, we will by the end of the month have somehow accumulated more.  So I'm taking them to the recycling point in Sainsbury's.  Yes, I'm returning some of their plastic for them to make back into plastic bags (or more plastic sheeting for their cheese counter maybe?).

How long will it be, do you reckon, before my string bag is brimming full with plastic bags again?

My final plastic reuse challenge for today is to mend this rather sad looking drying rack!

I'm sure I can find something that will bring it back into life.