Wednesday, 28 February 2018

My first Zero Waste shopping experience

I've been shopping! 
not very exciting really...but the changes I've made in a few weeks are having a massive impact on my bin - so I'm very happy - AND, it's been much easier than I anticipated.

So the story so far - well, like most people I have done the majority of my food shopping every week in the supermarkets. For me, with a husband who has a lot of food intolerance and a very tight budget, this has meant shopping at Aldi for fruit, veg and meat, Tesco for certain "free from" items, Booths for others...the list goes on. I also got a few bits from Blackburn Market each week, some fish, bits of meat, eggs etc. I felt like I was always shopping and then throwing away tonnes of packaging (although I had convinced the fish stall that the 3 pieces of fish I get each week don't all need their own plastic bags, than all to be put in another carrier bag) 

So after a few weeks of sewing up fruit and veg bags from an old duvet cover, saving up for a set of stainless steel containers (only cheap ones, not the best!) and asking the butcher on the market how he would feel about me using my own containers and him being quite positive, I set off for my first zero waste shop

A draw full of fresh packaging free veg


Everyone was so positive - the fruit and veg stall thought it was wonderful and complemented me on my bags, the Exchange Coffee Co were more than happy to fill my tins with coffee and loose tea, the bacon stall owner asked me about zero waste shampoos as she's trying to reduce plastics herself, the fish stall just grinned at me when I passed them a tin, and the meat stall laughed when I asked for as much chicken as he could cram in the tin - I even had a tiny tin that was just the right size for my toddlers weekly pie - wins all round...until I got to the cheese stall. Even though they have the full cheeses they had cut and pre-wrapped pieces in cling-wrap. They were not happy about cutting another piece for me, and instead spent ages weighing the pre-wrapped pieces to find the closest to the weight I wanted. As there is no other cheese stall and I know it all comes pre wrapped at the supermarket I gave in until I can find another supply! 

Stainless steel containers with meat, fish and bacon in - plastic free.

I did end up at the supermarket for a few bits and pieces, cereals and bread for my husband mainly and a few tins and jars, but overall I am really pleased - here's to the next shop! 

Monday, 12 February 2018

Upcycled, recycled, cycled all over...

Another goal for 2018 is to make as many of my own and my sons clothes as possible, but to make this just that tad more challenging I am also trying to not buy any fabric this year! 
Sounds impossible? Well, looking around my sewing room I think I probably have enough fabric to keep us clothes for many years to come - it's going to be tough not to buy more though...

For almost 12 months now I have been on a diet - a BIG diet - so far I am 1lb off loosing 6 stone, I have another 4 stone to loose before reaching my goal, so a good source of fabric is my ever increasing pile of clothes that are tooooo big. Some I have donated to charity, some I intend to sell on e-bay but others are perfect to down size!

My first down sizing of 2018 is jeans that I have cleverly re-invented as....well, jeans! 

Arranging my pattern onto old jeans
I bought a load of PDF patterns last year, there are three designers I buy from at the moment, they are brilliant, Most of the patterns come in multiple sizes, and when you pay for them, you get them instantly - Most of them are now moving to 'layer' formats so when you open up the PDF in Adobe, you choose the layer with the size on you want and just print that off, simple! 

This finished Ants in the Pants pattern from Puperita
The pattern I used was Ants in the Pants from Puperita on Etsy - the great thing about all these designers is they also have great support groups on Facebook, so if you have any questions, there's always someone there to help - often the designer themselves. 

All of the designers I use are also happy for the finished garments to be sold by the makers. One does ask for anyone doing this to make a donation to a womens refuge, another charity, or to her sponsored child in Africa, and they all ask that they are named as the designer - fair enough I say!

Here they are being modeled - He is hard work to get to model anything! these are the least blurred shots.
His top is also made by me, this is a MBJM (Made by Jacks Mum) pattern.

I will pop the links at the bottom to my favorite PDF pattern shops! 
Happy sewing.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Getting Stuff Done - In the Kitchen

My Glass storage Jars for dry goods on display 

Well my year of getting stuff done is certainly gathering momentum.
I think a more relaxed approach is paying off, along side good research and a feeling of positivity, I am surprising myself with how much I can do, although it is making me kick myself a little at how long it has taken for my eyes to be opened.

I did not watch Plastic Ocean, (I will do when I think I can get through it without sobbing) but its effects are starting show in other people. I have joined a few Facebook groups dedicated to reducing waste and making do and mending, plus up-cycling clothes and fabrics etc, They are helpful and infuriating all at once! 

There is definitely a generation gap out there that really shows those who lived without much plastic years ago, those who have studied Home Economics/Cookery etc at school, and those who didn't. My approach is to just read the advice and do it how I think best, and what suits me and my circumstances.

For many years I have been aware of a problem with the amount of plastic we consume on a daily basis, but besides giving up carrier bags a few years ago (and feeling rather smug at the checkout with my reusable bags) I have buried my head in the sand with regards to everything else - And so I have been doing a waste audit. 

I have been shocked at how much plastic, single use and otherwise, my life seemed to require to function normally.

Rather than have a knee jerk reaction and just bin it all and start afresh I am considering each item as I encounter it. Can I use it again repeatedly? Once its empty/finished can I find a better alternative? Do I even need it at all? 

Small changes are already making a big impact on my rubbish and recycling bins.

First was to go back to getting doorstep deliveries of milk in glass bottles. 
We always had a milkman deliver when I was growing up, as far as I remember milk just wasn't sold in the supermarkets - and when I moved into my own home in 1992 I got my milk delivered then, but after a couple of years the milk started to arrive later and later until it was being delivered after I had gone to work, and coming home on a hot summer day to sour milk on the doorstep was the last straw, so I ditched them. 
I am so glad I have gone back (new milk man!) It arrives about 5am, so by the time we are up at 6.30am (toddler time...) it is there. I recon that's at least 4 large plastic bottles a week less going into my recycling bin.

I am currently on the Slimming World diet, and was becoming a little bit addicted to Muller-light - so my next mission was to start making my own yogurt for both me and my toddler.
I bought a wide neck flask and a small pot of live yogurt as a starter culture - and pow! I have yogurt! Apr another 18-20 less plastic items going to landfill every week.

I have been straining the yogurt to thicken it up and have had whey left in the spirit of re-using I have thrown myself into the world of Fermented Vegetable - Wow, they are sooooo delicious 
 On the Right is my Husbands Whey free fermented Veg (He is milk and dairy intolerant) in the middle are my Whey Fermented Veg, and on the Left is distilled vinegar with lemon rinds infusing for cleaning
Fermented Veg in the fridge and jars of Whey waiting to be used

I have also used the Whey as a starter for my next batch of yogurt and to replace some of the water in my bread recipe - delicious!

Another issue on my list had been food waste. At one time this would have all gone to our allotment to e composted (apart from meat, dairy, citrus fruit etc etc) ut as we don't have an allotment anymore or much of a garden or a council food waste collection I have now invested in a Bokashi Bin! 

We are in early days with it yet, but it seams to be going well. Basically this is an Anaerobic digestion /fermentation system that means I can eventually 'compost' ALL food waste, I mean EVERYTHING - raw, cooked, meat, dairy, fish, bones, shells - the lot! 

It isn't taking up much space and is easy to use 

Bokashi Bin with Bokashi Bran on top

And finally, I am trying to bulk buy, find places to take my own containers to fill, making veg bags etc. More an those adventures soon. 

Results so far are;
1) less waste in both recycling and landfill bins
2) saving money - quite a bit!
3) loosing weight faster and eating healthier 

win win win! 

And that's just the kitchen...

Useful Links;