Sunday, 2 February 2020

What a waste...

It was Anne-Marie Bonneau (aka Zero Waste Chef) who wrote "we don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly." 

She's right isn't she? As a family:

1. We have two cars (one petrol, one diesel).
2. Since moving out of town, I use my car every week day and some weekend days (as opposed to approximately 3 days per week when we lived closed to town).
3. We have a tumble drier and a dishwasher.
4. We don't often cook from scratch.
5. We eat a lot of meat.

However, having said all of that...

1. Our cars were chosen with good fuel economy and low emissions in mind (this is a lie, I chose mine because it was pink, the other things were a happy coincidence). We also use my husband's car for our family holidays, so while it's not 'trains over planes', our carbon footprint is lower than if we were flying abroad each summer.

2. We only drive half of the school run each time, parking near our old house and finishing the journey on foot/bike/scooter. We also try to do errands while we are out in the car, so we aren't making extra trips.

3. We hang our washing out during the summer months, so the tumble drier gets a break.

4. We recycle any food related cardboard, jars and tins we use and our local supermarket recycles plastic bags, from frozen vegetables and the like.

5. We have started choosing some things from the vegetarian freezer during our weekly shops and have found quite a few alternatives that we will definitely keep eating.

If zero waste sounds like too much to take on, here are some of the ways we are trying to reduce our impact on the planet, maybe some of them could work for you too.

Nom Nom Kids
We first started using Nom Nom Kids reusable pouches for purees and yoghurt when Honey was tiny. Since then, Suzanne has added larger pouches, snack bags and sandwich bags to her repertoire and we have bought and used every single one of her products. They are a daily feature at snack times and in our packed lunches (even I use them) and they have helped us save hundreds of sandwich bags/pieces of clingfilm from going to landfill.
A sea of Nom Nom
One of my favourite ways to use the snack bags, is to portion out larger bags of crisps, biscuits etc so that they last longer and so that only one single use packet has been used. Often, the kids will share a bag of Quavers or Mini Cheddars without even realising, whereas they would usually eat a whole packet straight from the original bag.

Saved from Landfill
Although we try to cut waste where we can, my tendency towards time and effort saving foods inevitably creates rubbish. Since we moved to a larger house, we have started recycling crisp packets, kids snack wrappers, biscuit packets and so much more. In our neck of the woods, a local lady and her trusty helpers work tirelessly to sort, pack and send the different waste categories off for recycling via the Terracycle scheme. All the money they raise goes to the charity Kicks Count and all the waste they sort DOESN'T go to landfill!

For a full list of what can be recycled via Terracycle within Gloucestershire, click here. To stay up to date and to find out where your nearest collection hub is, join the Facebook group Recycling for KC - Cheltenham and Gloucestershire.

Kerbside Recycling
In our area, we have recycling boxes for plastic, paper, tins and glass and a bag for collecting cardboard. The list of things that can be put in our kerbside boxes can be a little bit confusing, with different sources contradicting each other, but recent additions include dead batteries, aluminium foil and aerosol cans. As the street we live on is fairly narrow, a smaller lorry is usually sent to collect our recycling fortnightly, so we don't worry too much about sorting within the boxes. At our old address (just down the road), a truck with compartments for each waste type collected the recycling weekly, so we sorted within the boxes to make the refuse collectors' jobs a bit easier.

Since moving house a year ago, we also have a food waste bin for the first time. Tea bags, coffee grounds and the occasional toast crust make their way into the food bin before the day even begins, add egg shells, potato peelings and floor snacks and our little bin is often quite heavy by the end of the week.

Recycling Centre
In our old house, we designed everything to take up the least amount of space and while we had plenty of room for bins and recycling boxes outside, inside was a different matter. Now that we have more room to store the boxes, we have also started recycling juice cartons and because we will be going to the recycling centre anyway, we save odd bits of wood (like lolly ice sticks), scrap metal (85,000 Ikea allen keys anyone?) and we also take the leaves that fall onto our lawn, when one of us can be bothered to collect them up!
Ace loves helping at the tip!
Eco-Able is the brainchild of the lovely Danielle, she has curated a marketplace full of fabulous alternatives to single use. She is a stockist for the aforementioned Nom Nom Kids bags and pouches, as well as many other products that can help you on your way to planet friendly living. Here's our Eco Able top five:

Playdough - Their eco friendly, vegan play dough comes in a cute, metal tin. The colours are gorgeous and the consistency is lovely, it's perfect for modelling, and also great for chopping, rolling and mark making. The sets come in a handmade, reusable fabric gift bag, with 25p from every sale being donated to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. The tins are really pretty too and I can think of loads of uses for them once the play dough comes the end of its life (e.g. refill with more play dough or wash and use for storing hair clips etc).

Goats milk soap - According to the blurb, unprocessed goats milk helps to get rid of dead skin cells, making it perfect for shaving and moisturising. I have been using the plain goats milk bar for a couple of weeks now, instead of shower gel and my skin is lovely and soft.

Soap saver - This little pouch not only helps keep your soap together (thus making it last longer), it is also a fabulous alternative to a plastic shower puff. Oh, and it encourages your soap to dry out between uses so it isn't all slimy next time you need it!

Reusable wipes - We used reusable baby wipes part time when Ace was in nappies (I never got my head round using them out and about) and since he potty trained, we have sold the boxes, but kept the wipes for mopping up spills, wiping faces and even cleaning the bathroom. Eco-Able stocks cute, colourful wipes which are made from fabric off cuts and sewn together using left over pieces of thread. They are backed with super soft flannel, making them perfect for little (and big) faces and they also come as rounds which are ideal for removing makeup (I have even sacrificed one of mine for removing nail varnish, which has eliminated the need for any single use cotton wool in our house).

Reusable cups and water bottles - I don't drink tea or coffee (which is apparently very strange for a teacher), but I do genuinely love water! From the age of 16, I worked as a lifeguard and spent a lot of time on very warm poolsides gulping back litres of water per shift, to stave off dehydration. A reusable bottle was essential, but I also used to buy bottled water whenever I was out shopping. These days, I carry reusable water bottles for myself and the children most of the time. When we go out for the day, it's as natural as packing my purse and my keys and I can't remember the last time I bought a bottle of mineral water.

Buying Pre-Loved 
If we want or need something, my first instinct these days is to search for it on Facebook Marketplace, in a selling group or on ebay. Buying things preloved and locally has saved us a lot of money over the last few years and the pre loved marketplace has also allowed us to move on unwanted items of our own and earn some money in the process.

So although we aren't perfect, we are trying and we will keep trying. The kids are on board and we regularly have conversations about how we can look after our planet a little better and they get involved in all our efforts, taking many onboard with gusto... apart from giving up Happy Meal toys... On the rare occasions we visit McDonald's, these are still seen as a huge treat. Here's hoping McDonald's and other companies offering similar, plastic tat, will come up with more Earth friendly alternatives in the not too distant future.

*Although we were kindly gifted some items from Eco-Able, all thoughts and opinions within this blog are my own.

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