Monday 25 February 2019

My Journey to Less Waste #7 - How are we doing?

Hi there everyone 😀

I thought it was about time that I let you all know how we are doing on our journey to less waste. Have the changes we made been sustainable or have they fallen by the wayside?

Our journey started back in September last year with a sudden awareness of the implications of the amount of waste, particularly of the plastic variety, that we are producing as a household.

When we started on this journey we very quickly realised that recycling was not the answer ... it just wasn’t enough ... if we wanted to make any difference at all we had to actually stop using as much stuff and start to create less waste.

We started by having a real good look at the kind of waste that we were producing. We did this over a couple of typical days and you can see what we created on a normal day here and on a Shopping day here.
Carrying out lots of research and Looking at the waste we were producing soon had us feeling totally overwhelmed with the enormity of the problem and it would have been easy to put our heads back in the sand and just carry on regardless.

But we did not give up ... we decided to try making small changes that didn’t cost us anything and were easy to fit in with our daily lives and see where we went from there.

In November 2018 I shared this infographic with you all ...

... and let you know the things that we were trying to do under each heading. I thought it would be a good idea to go back to this list and just see how well we had done ...

I switched to paperless banking ... This has been a big win and something that I fully intend to continue with. I have drastically reduced the amount of paper dropping through the door and have also saved time in filing and shredding ... Less wasteLess plastic

I updated my registration with the Mailing Preference Service ... Another win ... there has definitely been a reduction in the amount of junk mail that we have received ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅

I unsubscribed from unwanted catalogues ... I can’t remember the last time I received a catalogue in the post. Unsubscribing has definitely worked. I’ve also not been tempted to buy anything that I don’t really need ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending 

I cancelled my magazine subscriptions ... I have succumbed recently and bought one gardening magazine as it had lots of free flower seeds with it, but other than that this has been a definite win ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending  

I stopped using clingfilm ... Now, I have to confess that we have used cling film a couple of times, but in the main we have found alternatives. The beeswax wraps I bought back in September last year are still going strong and a couple of them have been back in the oven to perk them up, which worked really well. I’ve also made my own which have been a great seller on the craft stall. We haven’t bought any more clingfilm though and I think what we have will last us for years ... Less waste ✅ Less Plastic ✅ Less spending 
I no longer use supermarket single use bags for loose fruit and vegetables ... We haven’t used any of this type of bag since I made this commitment ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅

Replaced cotton wool pads with reusable cleansing pads ... I’ve managed to totally stick to this one and haven’t used a cotton wool pad since I wrote this post. I've also made some for sale on my craft stall so, as well as saving money on buying cotton wool pads, in plastic packaging, I’ve made a few pounds too ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending 
♻ I’m afraid that I still haven't opted out from the Post Office door to door leafleting. I’m not really sure why ... maybe I’ve been worried about missing a fabulous local deal ... Less waste

I’ve also ...

♻ Gone a whole year ... without buying a single item of clothing, handbag or pair of shoes of any description ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending 

Kitchen roll use ... We've managed to continue with our reduced use of kitchen roll. We used to use this for everything but we have continued to find alternatives where we can. We have definitely bought less, but I am sure there is more we could do ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending ✅

Polythene food and freezer bags ... We've continued with our drastically reduced use of poly bags and are using beeswax wraps for Martin’s lunches and have a good stock of plastic takeaway cartons that we are using to portion meat up for freezing ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending✅  

Fragranced ironing water ... Whilst I’m still not ready to give up using this just yet, I have continued to drastically dilute it and this has made it go a lot further. We have definitely bought less bottles of this than we would have previously ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending ✅ 

I've also made changes with ...

Christmas gift shopping ... was a real win for 2018 ... seeing far less gift purchases that would produce waste. I have written a separate blog post about how we did which you can catch up with here if you’ve not seen it ... Less waste✅ Less plastic   

Birthday cards ... I managed to buy 20 birthday cards for £1 from The Works that came with no plastic sleeves that will do very nicely for general birthdays over the course of 2019. There will probably be a few more special ones that I need to buy which may come in plastic sleeves but it’s definitely an improvement in what I would normally do ... and I’ve probably also saved myself about £60 so a huge win ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending ✅ 
Shampoo ... Both Martin and I have tried shampoo bars. I didn’t really get on with them but Martin has been a definite convert so that is probably one less plastic bottle we are buying a month. The shampoo bars are more expensive than buying a cheap bottle of shampoo, but with the savings we have made in other areas I don’t mind too much ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅
Kitchen sponges ... I haven't bought any more of those small kitchen sponges with the green scouring bit on the back since we started our less waste journey. I have purchased a lower waste kitchen pack of bits and pieces and once our last kitchen sponge has finally given up the ghost these will come firmly into play ...

Reuse and repair
Shower scrunchie ... In my November post I let you know that I had repaired an old plastic shower scrunchie, using this YouTube video. Well I am pleased to report it is still going strong so that was a definite win ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending 

Since then we have also reused ...

An old duvet cover for lining small drawstring bags ... One of these was made as a Christmas gift and the rest were made for the Christmas craft stall ... Less waste ✅ Less spending 
An old linen napkin ... As fabric for my spring embroidery hoop ... Less waste ✅ Less spending ✅ 
Advent Calendars plus tissue paper ... These were originally bought from M&S by my friend's daughters, Lauren and Jess. They saved them for me and 2018 was the second year that I repurposed them as home made Advent calendars ... even managing to reuse the tissue paper that the original gifts were wrapped in. They've now been stored away to come out again for Christmas 2019 ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending ✅
Christmas cards ... Before throwing the old Christmas cards into the recyling after Christmas I sat down with the scissors and used what I could to make Christmas gift tags for next Christmas ... I also used as much of the plain card left for writing shopping lists as I could ...  Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending ✅ 

Old ceramic tiles ... I managed to use an old white ceramic tile I had in the shed and a pretty blue and white tile that my neighbour had left over from his bathroom renovations to make one of my first mosaic projects ... Less waste ✅ Less spending ✅  

Toilet roll middles ... It's that time of year when we are starting to think about the garden and planting beans and sweet peas, so we've started to collect our toilet roll middles in readiness. These are great as they give plenty of room for root growth and can be planted straight into the soil, without needing to remove the cardboard ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending ✅

Old trellis ... We found this chunk of old trellis on the back of a fence panel that we have replaced. We salvaged it, after confirming the neighbours no longer wanted it, gave it a coat of Cuprinol and have cut it up to use on our shed to support the Montana clematis ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending  

Our next reuse project is ...

Candle ends ... We always seem to have lots of wax left over from when burning candles and we have recently started collecting them and are going to see whether or not we can have any luck in making them into new reusable candles. We have had to buy some bits and pieces to get us started, but the cost of this is less in both plastic and spending than it would be to buy new candles ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅ Less spending 

We've also managed to complete another repair project ...

♻ Wok lid ... Constant dish washing corroded the aluminium screws holding the wok lid handle resulting in the handle coming clean off, rendering the lid unusable. Instead of just going out and buying a new one we managed to find some small brass nuts and bolts in the shed and have repaired it. Don't know how long it will last but it's still going strong at the moment ... Less waste ✅ Less spending 

In the above infographic recycling comes before rehoming. This doesn't sit quite rightly with me, so I  always try and rehome first. In my previous post I had already managed to rehome ...

Carpet offcuts
Old Magazines
CD Cabinet

Since then we have managed to find homes for lots more bits and pieces that we no longer had a use for ...

Books ... There have been a couple of drop offs at the local free book shop as well as picking up a new batch of reading material in exchange, rather than buying books from new ... Less waste ✅ Less spending 
Clothes and other unwanted household items ... Anything reusable has been dropped off at the charity shop ... Less waste ✅ Less plastic ✅

Old golf clubs ... Martin's old golf clubs had been languishing in mum and dad's garage for about 13 years and I'm not sure how long it was before then that they were actually used. He finally bit the bullet and decided that they could go and managed to sell them to a colleague at work who was really pleased with them and will be giving them a new lease of life ... Less waste ✅

One of the things I soon become far more aware of was what could actually be recycled and where. There are so many more options than just the fortnightly kerbside collection. Recycle Now is a fabulous website giving details of where you can recycle pretty much anything. It's certainly stopped us throwing a lot of stuff in our general waste.

♻ I have found out a lot more about what can go in our kerbside recycling ... The information provided by our council on what can and can't be included in our recycling bin has improved since my previous post, though there are still things that can be included that are not detailed on the list they provide. It has definitely been worth keeping emailing them asking them about specific items and whether that can be included.sketchy to say the least. I've sent numerous emails asking whether certain items can be included

TerraCycle ... I have registered for a number of TerraCycle recycling schemes and we even brought back recycling from when we were on holiday, rather than throwing it into the general waste.
I’ve already sent off batches of crisp packets, biscuit wrappers, toothbrushes and soap dispenser pumps. They seem to be really taking off as there are a fair number of new schemes having been introduced over the last few months.

Supermarket plastic bag recycling scheme ... I got into quite a heated email exchange with Asda, when I found that our local store does not offer this facility, even though their website stated that all stores offer this. I have since found out that I can include this type of plastic in our kerbside recycling, so have really let Asda off the hook

Printer Cartridges ... After obtaining a new club card, I have sent a few of these off via Freepost to Tesco for recycling.

Asthma Inhalers ... We haven’t had any of these to recycle yet but know that they can be dropped off at our local Boots store.

Ecobricks ... Making Ecobricks is a way of recycling the plastics that we use in our homes every day that are not normally recyclable. Things like cling film, blister packs for tablets and the crinkly plastic bags that fruit and veg is packed in. We did have a go at making an Ecobrick but ended up giving up. We spent hours cutting up plastic and stuffing it into a plastic bottle, but just couldn't get the bottle the right weight to be classed as usable.

I also wasn't entirely sure that this was a good option as it does seem to be storing up a potential problem for later on. As all of our general waste is incinerated, rather than going to landfill, I decided, rightly or wrongly, that this was a better option for us right now.

Wormery ...Our worms seem to have started eating and are producing liquid fertilizer at a rare of knots, which we are collecting and hope to use as plant food later in the year. As a result of having the wormery we have drastically reduced the amount of raw food waste that is thrown in the bin but, as yet, the wormery just seems to be getting fuller and fuller. I think this one will be a slow burn and it may be some time before we see any usable compost ... Less waste


Well, I think that's pretty much us ... Having raised our own awareness of what we are using on a day to day basis has made us a lot more aware of what is going on in the world around us.

The impact of plastic on the environment and recycling featured heavily in the local Christmas tree festival ...
There seems to have been a reduction in the use of that difficult to recycle black plastic ... Aldi’s minced beef now comes in a clear tray and their chicken is in white. I’ve also noticed that Foxes party rings biscuits are now being housed in a clear plastic tray.

The use of plastic straws seems to also being reduced drastically, with lots of places now offering an alternative ... and I read the other day that schools are being targeted with cutting out single use plastics by 2020.

All in all it seems that the tide may be slowly starting to turn as awareness starts to spread and the big players are starting to do their bit, though it be slowly in some cases. I came across this quote in the Journey to Zero Waste in the UK Facebook group and I think it really sums up how I'm feeling at the moment ...

So, what's next for us?

Well, I am really happy with what we've done so far and we will definitely be continuing with all of the changes that we have made. We will also start to look for more ways that we can continue to reduce our waste any further. Clearly, further changes will become more difficult as time goes on, but I will definitely keep you posted 😀


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