It’s been three weeks now and I think I am slowly getting the hang of making zero waste choices. Now I need to focus on finding ways of buying package-less AND organic. So far most of my zero waste purchases meant I had to buy non-organic produce. Little S is starting her adventure with baby-led weaning and I want to make sure she does not get in contact with nasty pesticides/herbicides, which can leave traces on the fruits and vegetables.
What we did this week
I’ve had a big disappointment with the milkman. I was excited about the prospect of getting my organic milk in old-fashioned glass bottles. So far he has missed three delivery days. Sadly I will have to cancel and look for another company delivering in my area. I was really hoping that milk delivery would be one of the ways zero waste lifestyle would add convenience to my life.
We have received our box of fruit and veg from the Riverford. It’s all organic, but it does have some packaging. The cardboard box fruit and veg is delivered in is reused up to 10 times. Potatoes come in a paper bag, asparagus is tied with two rubber bands (I’ve never come across loose asparagus), but the one item that bothers me is the plastic box of peaches.
I have asked Riverford is it possible to request not to receive anything in plastic or change plastic packaging to something else. I’ve been told that:
Certain fruit and veg cannot be put in our cardboard punnets or paper bags, as it affects the quality and shelf life quite a lot. Card/paper draws moisture from delicate produce and makes the shelf life a lot shorter. We are always happy to take back packaging and recycle it.
I have also received an answer from the council about including hair and nail clippings in the food waste caddy, which I assume is composted:
The Food Waste Caddy is only to be used for any food waste, any items mentioned found in the food waste caddy will result in a non collection.
When I asked what happens with the content of the caddy and why can’t I include compostable items like hair and nail clippings, I was basically given the same answer as above. I’ll ask again until my question is actually answered.
I’ve stopped buying pasta, as I realised that all the brands seem to use non-recyclable packaging. Some of them include this symbol:
which I assumed meant that it’s recyclable. After reading this site, I know that it’s not necessarily the case. It simply ”signifies that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging.”
This is a problem for us as a family. Pasta is quick, easy and cheap, and is excellent for Daddy’s packed lunches or quick post day-in-the-park suppers. Because of that Daddy rebelled against the challenge and bought two packets in non-recyclable packages. Next week I will be going to a bulk store I’ve found and I am really hoping that they stock pasta.
Another thing my family rebels against is that we are in full soft fruit season and I haven’t been buying any, because they always come in plastic punnets. We don’t buy strawberries out of season, so we always look forward to May/June when UK strawberry season begins. I don’t want to refuse my family this pleasure – and of course I love strawberries too! – so I will be buying soft fruit, as long as the punnet will be reused by the stall holder or is fully recyclable (no film on top).
A couple of years ago, during my maternity leave, we went to live in Poland for 6 months. We stayed in my home town of Krakow. It was such joy to see mounds of strawberries on market stalls. They are always freshly picked and you can buy them by weight and carry home in a brown paper bag. Or buy a 2 kg woven punnet and pay a little extra for the punnet itself. If you bring it back next time, you get your money back and the seller reuses it. That’s the joy of buying straight from the producer.
Daddy went to LIDLs under strict instructions not to buy any fruit in packaging. He came back with pineapples, bananas and kiwis. All of these came a long way and have bigger carbon footprint compared to UK soft fruit. So there is a price to pay for packageless items as well.
We’ve made mozzarella. Or it’s more true to say, we’ve made cheese of sorts. It seemed like it was all going well, but at the end it all fell apart. Maybe it’s because my sleep deprived brain didn’t take in the recipe properly and I’ve heated the milk to 90C rather than 90F – I’ve cooled it down afterwards, but the heat must’ve altered the structure of milk.
I will try again, just to see if I can make it. And Big F loves mozzarella so it will be great for him to see the process – he was so disappointing with results this time round.
Daddy also made some delicious home-made mayonnaise. I think this will be a treat rather than a regular thing though. With a baby and a toddler I simply don’t have the time to make it every week.
It was our anniversary this week and Daddy bought some flowers in non-recyclable plastic wrap. I did tell him off, but how stern can you be when you are given flowers?! He later picked some gorgeously scented white roses – free and without packaging. They didn’t last very long, but I much preferred them to the shop bought option.
A few smaller points:
I also bring all banana skins, apple cores etc back home with me. If I put them into a normal bin it will go to landfill.
being shy doesn’t help, and it is frustrating to constantly ask for no bags and as soon as I look away, to get money or attend to kids, I am handed one
It can be hard to be organised with two small kids and this week I used Big F’s nursery bag to buy potatoes
There is not much rain in California where Bea Johnsons lives. I shop with a buggy and use public transport, so my cloth bags often get wet. It can be an issue if I have something like bread.
I have started freezing some bread, so I don’t have to go to the bakery three times a week. I can go once or twice, depending what are our plans for that week
Are we producing less rubbish?
I think we’ve added another 10 cm to the bin, but we are slowly running out of non-recyclable items. Some items I’ve binned this week:
broken glass and ceramic mug – council does not accept broken glass in the recycling bin
waitrose rubbish – I went to buy cheese at a counter in my nearest waitrose and very disappointingly every piece of cheese was picked up and weighed on a separate piece of plastic. I was told that because of health and safety/hygiene they can’t use my containers on the scale, or not use plastic to pick up cheese. I was also handed an empty plastic bag, to which all the price stickers have been attached to – how frustrating!
Our recycling bin would have been less this week, but because of the anniversary it has been bulked out by wine and ale bottles. I am breastfeeding, so normally don’t drink (beyond an occasional glass of wine or beer). Apart from the bottles there’s also a lot of soggy newspaper balls I have been using throughout the week to dry the insides of Big F’s shoes/wellies. When will it stop raining?! Oh, the newspapers are from granny, we don’t buy any print media.
What’s the plan for next week – more zero waste ideas
I am very excited as I have found a localish bulk store! It’s only 20 minutes on he bus, so I am able to go there and back while Big F is in the nursery. I have found it thanks to Bulk Store app, which is updated by the users with bulk store locations worldwide. Have a look and you are likely to be surprised that there is one in your area!
I have been sent some Onya weigh reusable shopping bags (as a replacement to small plastic bags), so this will be a great chance to try them out. Review and giveaway coming soon!
We did not manage to make yoghurt last week, so I am looking forward to making some this week.
PS. We have been sent some Onya Weigh bags for the purpose of a review. We have also been sent bog of fruit and veg by the Riverford to help out with the challenge.