Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 17 - Compost

A friend of mine reminded me this week that, actually, it is more important for the environment to focus our efforts on reducing waste than just on avoiding plastic. He is right. The real issue is waste reduction.

A few years ago, I watched the wonderful film by Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer, the Clean Bin Project, a really fun documentary about a couple's challenge to live waste free for a year, in competition with one another. This coincided with my Lenten challenge to try and reduce my waste. I had also come across The Rubbish Diet - The Slimming Club for Bins, which is worth a look.

One of the things I realised early on we needed to do, was to compost more. So much of what goes into our bins is actually compostable, and recently we had our first 'emptying' of beautiful earth from the bottom of our composter just in time to spread over my son's veggie patch. He was delighted!

I was slightly concerned about rats invading warm compost bins, but was advised that if you do not put out any meat or cereal scraps, you should avoid vermin. But egg shells, tea and coffee grounds, all fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings can be composted, along with leaves and grass clippings, sawdust, hair, dust, newspaper, cardboard. You need to add a mix of 'greens' and 'browns' which isn't difficult to do, and what could be more natural than returning the goodness of this waste to the earth? Give it a try.

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly


Lovely picnic in our local park today to celebrate home education and to declare, along with others up and down our country, our children are not invisible, as the media likes to assert. "There isn't a right way to become educated. There are as many ways as there are fingerprints." (John Taylor Gatto) One size does not fit all. Protect parental freedoms to educate in a way which suits each child. #HomeEdInSight

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 16 - Waste Less

Anyone who watched the documentary, Hugh's War on Waste, a few years ago cannot fail to have been impacted by the shocking amount of food wasted in this country. Whilst the programme drew attention to supermarket waste - the waste of the system, if you like - it didn't focus so much upon household waste, the amount of food people like you and me buy and then discard, perhaps unopened, and uneaten.

This seems a fairly sensible problem to tackle if we want to reduce the amount of throwaway plastic packaging we are simply discarding - and also contribute less to the global problem of food waste, and the negative impact on the environment.

You might find buying food in smaller, more regular 'shops' reduces food waste, as you are more likely to buy only what you need. This practice also makes it more feasible to shop in smaller, local shops, as mentioned in previous posts.

It is also good to eat up any leftovers, and to befriend your freezer. Cooking batch meals is easily done, and a portion can then be frozen for another day. I have to confess, with 5 hungry men in our household, there is often not a lot left over!

What tips do you have to reduce food waste?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Monday, 16 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 15 - The Meat Counter

For those folks that eat meat, so much of it comes in plastic packaging. Apart from buying and eating less of it, what can we do? Well, maybe you have a local butcher or deli you can frequent? Our local butcher does deals on say, three meats, which makes the cost a little more reasonable and, if we ask him to, he will put our meat into a container we take into the shop with us. It really is as simple as asking.

I don't shop at Morrisons, but recently I heard that, if you take your own container to their meat counter, they will put meat into your own box, thereby by-passing the plastic packaging. I wonder how long before other supermarkets follow suit. Steps in the right direction?

You just need to remember to carry your own containers with you - along with your reusable bags. Are we up for the challenge? Remember, the more people that ask, the more demand businesses see, and the more change occurs. Why not give it a go?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 14 - Eat Less Meat

As a young teenager, I decided to turn vegetarian. My chief reason for doing so was environmental. I was shocked to read about the amount of land deforested, given over to the raising of livestock for beef, and then laid waste. It also seemed crazy to me that grain which could feed humans should be fed to livestock to produce meat. A heavily meat-based diet cannot be sustainable on a planet of finite resources.

I was vegetarian for many years, and would really encourage you to look at eating less meat and more plant-based meals. Even if you do not turn vegetarian, having several meat-free meals each week can still be one of the best things we can do for our planet. And the more food we cook from scratch, at home, rather than depending upon pre-packaged, processed food, the less plastic packaging we bring into our home, and the greater the health benefits. Even small steps in this direction can be a positive change.

I live with 5 men who love their meat, and my husband does a lot of the cooking in our household, so at the moment I am not a vegetarian, I am very sorry to say. But we don't eat much red meat, and we do try to have several vegetarian meals each week.

More tomorrow on how to reduce our plastic even when eating meat ...

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Plastic Free July - Day 13 - Personal Hygiene

It can be really fun to have a go at making your own personal hygiene products. As well as being better for us, avoiding lots of chemical nasties, this is also a great way to avoid the accumulation of throwaway plastic bottles and tubs containing lotions and creams etc.

Blogs like Wellness Mama or a search on Google will bring up numerous recipes to experiment with and try for yourself. It is worth considering the minimum products you really can't do without, and then product by product, try and replace them with plastic-free alternatives. This can take time, and some trial and error.

I have many friends who swear by coconut oil for use as a moisturizer. Coconut oil is now widely available, has many uses, is inexpensive and can be bought in glass jars. Some friends and I tried making our own body butter using the following recipe. It was a bit oily for me, but you may like it ....

1 cup organic raw shea butter (solid),
1/2 cup coconut oil (solid),
1/2 cup olive oil or almond oil (liquid)
Melt shea butter and coconut oil on top of a double boiler, remove from heat and add olive oil. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in a freezer or until oil starts to solidify and then whip up in a free standing mixer. Add essential oil if required and store in a jar at room temperature.

One real win for me in this area has been home-made deodorant, and I definitely recommend giving this a try. My husband and I had long been looking for an alternative to regular deodorant; him because of sensitive skin which reacts to deodorant, and me because I had heard of the risks of aluminium in deodorant and links to breast cancer and Alzheimers. We had experimented with a few recipes. I have to say the deodorant bar from Lush worked pretty well for me, but this recipe has been the best one yet - and I haven't looked back. It's the Coconut Oil Home Made Deodorant from Wellness Mama. I have found, after a short adjustment period, I sweat less when using this. A tub lasts ages, and it is so simple to make. Why not give it a try?

6 tablespoons coconut oil,
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) baking soda (bicarbonate of soda),
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of arrowroot,
and essential oils.
Mix the baking soda and arrowroot together in a medium sized bowl. Mash in the coconut oil with a fork until well mixed. Add essential oils if desired. Store in a small glass jar and rub on to underarms as required.

What products could you try making yourself?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 12 - Bread and Milk

Daily staples ... Bread and milk. If you're at least as old as me, you will remember the days of the milkman, when most people received milk delivery to their doorstep in returnable glass bottles. What a great system. Of course, now people's working patterns mean we have totally moved away from this 'old-fashioned' practice, and most people buy milk in disposable plastic containers from their local supermarket. What can be done?

The milkmen are, in fact, making a comeback, and it is definitely worth looking into milk deliveries in your local area. This way, you can eliminate the plastic bottles, support your local economy and be contributing to a more sustainable system. I hope this also includes a better deal for dairy farmers than our big supermarkets seem to have been offering them in recent years.

Unfortunately, when I last looked into local milk delivery, the switch would have tripled our household milk bill, which my husband was not prepared to do. I don't drink milk at all, but my husband and four sons do, so we get through a lot of milk in our household. It might be worth me looking at again, though, as options in this area seem to be increasing all the time. Definitely worth considering.

With more and more people switching to a dairy free diet, the other thing some people are doing is making their own nut or oat milks. Recipes are readily available online. I tried making almond milk once, but not being a milk drinker anyway, it was not for me. Worth a try, though.

I know at least one person who is able to go and buy raw milk from a local farm. I guess it depends where you live. At the very least, if there is no option but the plastic, try to buy the biggest containers you can, so as to be discarding as few as possible. Not an ideal solution.

Bread is another daily source of plastic frustration to me. It always seems to come wrapped in a throwaway plastic bag, even if I buy it fresh from a bakery counter. I remember living in Turkey for some years where, in each neighbourhood, there was a bakery where people could buy freshly baked bread daily - even dough to make into other baked goodies. It was so good!

Although this is no longer the case in this country, it is perhaps not such an impossible thing to imagine. There seems to be something of a resurgence in artisan bakeries. I was delighted to discover a local job-creation project, providing training and employment opportunities to refugee women, a lovely bakery producing fresh sourdough loaves - without any packaging. Hooray! Once they are up and running, I am looking forward to placing my weekly order.

Maybe you'll find similar start-ups close to where you live. Or, even better, maybe you could start baking your own fresh bread at home?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly