A Greener Future?

Dawning awareness

In the end, it was the ‘Groundhog Day ‘ effect of unpacking the weekly shop and online purchases that tipped me over the edge. The mountainous problem of avoidable waste, and the UK’s growing addiction to single-use plastic, fast fashion and ‘disposables’ was being replicated on a weekly basis in our kitchen!

I knew I had to do something…

Hiding in plain sight

Once I’d really opened my eyes to the problem, I literally couldn’t escape the plastic waste all around me:

  • At work and when out, disposable has become the norm: coffee cups, plastic cutlery, plastic and polystyrene food containers, plastic-coated paper plates, straws,
  • At the supermarket – Plastic packaging cocoons our fruit and veg, bread, pasta, pulses, meat and dairy; while shelf after shelf of single-use plastic entices us to buy the latest and greatest shampoo or shower gel, the new miracle cleaning spray…
  • At home – we’d slipped into buying more and more online, with the inevitable layers of bubble wrap, plastic, paper and cardboard.

And I was no innocent bystander. Yes, I recycled. I saved and reused things where I could. But plastic and disposable is so much part of our culture now that I’d become oblivious to much of it,

Then I saw the quote from Anne-Marie Bonneau:

…And my own (very) imperfect journey began

Two steps forward…

We kickstarted our efforts by signing up to Plastic-free July. It challenged us to shop differently, helped break unconscious habits and reset our relationship with shopping. At the end of the month, we had only one bag of rubbish and literally a fraction of our usual plastic recycling waste

Although we have been less strict on ourselves since the end of the challenge, in the last 6 months we’ve still vastly reduced the amount of waste we send to landfill. We’ve only put our refuse bin out twice in that time (though this still feels too much).

We’ve also noticed that the volume of recycling we put out has reduced, and the composition has changed. There’s visibly less plastic, but more metal and glass.

To reduce the amount of food and garden waste we put out, we bought a new home composter.

Crisps in the compost?

Now it’s not just our food and garden waste that no longer has to travel miles to be disposed of, there’s even some home-compostable packaging that can be added into the mix!

Refills, not Landfill

By July, I’d already started volunteering at Cheltenham’s zero-Waste shop ‘Food Loose’, and was loving it. It also meant that I had a weekly opportunity to stock up on packaging-free food and household refills!

But I still felt I wanted to do more.

Talking to friends and colleagues, I realised that many people didn’t know we had a zero-waste shop in town, and those who did were often unable to get there because of the opening hours.

And so at the end of August, ‘Waste Not…’ was born. It’s a small, not-for-profit venture which I run in my spare time, and aims to extend the reach of Food Loose by offering pop-up refill stations for cleaning and personal care products, and a refills home delivery service for the communities where I live.

It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve expanded the scope to include workshops (zero-waste Christmas crackers and wax wrap making), which has helped me make more connections and build a small but continuing customer base.

In 4 months, we’ve sold about 200 litres of refills – which is probably equivalent to around 400 single-use bottles being reused. We’ve had conversations with hundreds of people about zero-waste shopping and seen spikes in footfall in the shop after pop-up events.

…Two steps back

Supermarkets are pledging to cut back in packaging, but there’s a lot of grrenwashijg going in. For example, at the very time Waitrose were planning to launch their Unwrapped initiative, they quietly switched to selling their own brand butter in a composite package. Asda and other supermarkets sell loose meat, fish and deli products on their fresh product counters. But I realised they it all comes in small plastic trays and bags, which they remove and then sometimes even re-wrap for display. Add to this the mountain of single-use plastic sheets used to pick up products and weigh, and supermarkets could even be generating more plastic waste than if we were to leave our containers at home and just to buy it in plastic off the shelf!

My takeaways

Going plastic-free doesn’t have to cost more. Some loose items are more expensive, but I’ve also saved money by no longer buying bottled water, fizzy drinks, cling-film, sandwich bags, bin bags, paper plates and napkins. We also spend less on snacks and biscuits because I only now buy them on special occasions

It requires you to shop differently. I’m rarely able to get everything I need in one place, but with a little planning I can usually do it in one trip. I make a point of allowing plenty of time when I go to Waitrose Unpacked for example, so that I can really enjoy the process of selecting my own loose goods

80/20 is good enough. There will be occasions when I don’t have enough time or energy to avoid plastic and convenience shopping will really have a positive impact on my day. Rather than angering about this, I’ll make the best possible packaging choice I can given the constraints of the situation, and will then stand back and remind myself of the bigger picture and how far we’ve come.

2020 – the start of a more sustainable decade?

In September, a chance meeting with the incoming Community Lead for Plastic-Free Cheltenham opened up a whole host of new opportunities for making a real difference. I’m now on the Steering Group and planning my first ‘Virtual’ Mass Unwrap 💚

And thanks to a very thoughtful friend, we also have 52 challenges to keep us motivated and help us find new ways to reduce our home use of plastic!


Just where does all our rubbish and recycling go?

… short answer, nobody really knows!

A friend kindly sent me an article from the BBC which had some worrying information and striking statistics:

in 2017, UK households generated just under 27 million tonnes of waste. That’s about 409 kg per person, or the equivalent of 4 giant pandas.

( Image courtesy of http://pages.english.ctrip.com/tours/giant-panda/)

Only 45.7% of this waste, less than 2 giant pandas per person, was recycled.

Recycling rates don’t feel to have improved hugely since 2017, but we are hopefully at least on track to meet the (unambitious) government target of 50% by 2020.

Paper and cardboard are the most recycled materials at 79%, with metal at 71.3% and glass at 67.6%. Most of this recycling is carried out in the UK.

Plastic is a different story…

Roughly two thirds is sent overseas to be recycled to reduce costs. We literally dump our rubbish on other countries and give them the problem to sort.

An estimated 611,000 tones of plastic packaging was exported by the UK to other counties in the year to October 2018. Until January that year, it mostly went to China, but China will now only buy plastic scrap that’s 99.5 % pure. And it’s no wonder when you hear that UK waste giant Biffa illegally sent UK household waste containing used nappies and sanitary towels, marked as paper, to them!

Next it was sent off to Malaysia, Turkey, Poland and Indonesia, but Malaysia has declared that it will not be the dumping ground to the world’s waste and is sending back 3000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste. And the others are sure to follow.

It’s our mess, why do we struggle to be accountable for it? If our neighbours dumped their household waste in our back gardens, we’d be up in arms and the neighbours fined for it.

And it’s not for want of good examples to follow – Germany, Austria, South Korea and Japan have some of the highest recycling rates in the world. Japanese eco-town, Kamikatsu, recycles a whopping 80% of its household waste. Each very different countries with different cultures, but they have a shared understanding of, and respect for, the environment we live in.

So, it’s down to us!

Until the government, manufacturers and suppliers up their game, it’s down to us as consumers (we are responsible and accountable too) to do what we can to cut down in single-use plastic, and choose wisely when there’s no other choice.

Being armed with as much information as possible means we can make the best possible choices.

Be savvy

Advertisers are out there to draw us in with their seductive language, making an everyday item sound like it’s going to rock our world! For instance…
  • Do we really need 4-5 different types of household spray cleaner, or would just one do?
  • Does one brand of laundry liquid really have better ingredients than another, or is it just the perfume, designer container and brand marketing that draws us in?
  • Stores offer 101 special products for our different hair types. When we go to the hairdresser, how many different varieties do they have in stock?
  • Stick to one or two products that work for you, buy as refills or in bulk and top up your existing containers.

Be inventive 🙂

How can you get more than one use out of a ‘single-use’ wrapper or container and save money at the same time?

Most of us probably reuse our plastic take-out boxes many times before recycling (they make great, stackable storage pots and meal prep containers), but what about other things? What are your favourite re-purposed items? Here are a few of mine:

  • Butter paper (greasing trays and baking tins, then washed a great alternative to cling film when wrapping small items)
  • Yeo 1 litre yoghurt pots (making my own yoghurt, storing cashews and chocolate buttons!)
  • Frozen veg and fruit ziplock bags (great for storing loose rice and pasta and any food you want to freeze)
  • Cereal pack liners (another great alternative to expensive freezer bags, great for picnics and packed lunches, or transporting loose foods from shop to home)
  • The clear stretchy plastic bags used for family sized bags of mixed peppers (anything you’d use a plastic bag for really!)

If you can see past the branding, plastic containers and bags can save you loads of money each year. Cling film, ziplock bags, sandwich bags, Tupperware… Dare I say it, even wax wraps, can all be replaced by things you would otherwise just throw away or recycle.

Think of all the wine we could buy with the money we’ve saved 💚😁💚

Be informed

Make sure you keep up to date with information on what is recyclable. Did you know that:
  • Even greasy pizza boxes can now be recycled?
  • You can recycle shrink-wrap, bubble wrap, bread bags and frozen food bags with your carriers at the supermarket?
  • Compostable and biodegradable bags are not designed to be recycled, and if they enter the recycling system can potentially cause quality issues in the recycled material.
  • 5 litre plastic containers are easy to recycle and should make it safely through the recycling process.
  • Choose cardboard – containers are widely recycled or can be composite composted
  • Look for local Terracycling schemes where you can drop off packets and containers that aren’t easily recycled.

To find out more about what you can now recycle and how, go to https://recyclenow.com/


Reducing waste on a budget

When starting out reducing waste, whether you are cutting back on single-use plastic or any other types of waste, it can be completely overwhelming. There’s SO much plastic and packaging all around us, and finding alternatives that work is hard, especially if you are on a tight budget.

Since I became really interested in reducing my impact on the environment, my focus and commitment has always been to find alternatives that are widely accessible and affordable.

Growing up in a large family, I was aware that my parents had to budget very carefully. Meals were always plentiful, but planned to make the most of what we had and minimise waste. Leftovers from Sunday roasts became a pie for the next day, vegetables were turned into bubble and squeak, cake was always so good that it was often gone before it had time to cool, so there was never any waste there either!Back then, Mum didn’t wrap things in clingfilm or foil – a plate on top of the dish was enough to keep whatever it was fresh in the fridge until used.

This got me thinking about shopping plastic-free and whether I could do this and not spend any more overall. Wherever possible I look for plastics-free alternatives in the supermarket and only buy elsewhere if I can’t get what I need, Sadly loose things are often a bit more expensive even in supermarkets, but I’m trying to offset this by reviewing what’s really necessary in my shop and what I can do without.

I’ve stopped buying:

  • Clingfilm,
  • Sandwich bags,
  • Bin bags
  • Anti-bacterial cleane
  • Air fresheners and fabric sprays
  • These are all at least 6 months old, and we won’t ever replace the clingfilm
    I’ve also really cut back on:
    • Foil
    • Grease proof
    • Kitchen towel
    • Crisps, biscuits, cake and desserts in plastic
    • Ready-made snacks and sides like dips, coleslaw, hummus

    I’ve switched to:

      Butter wrpapers, beeswax wraps or just a plate to cover/wrap things
      Supermarket own-brand washing powder (I did this years ago as liquids made my machine smell)
    • Refills of washing up liquid, fabric softener and loo cleaner
    • Refills of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and hand wash (and also bars of soap)
    • Eco dishwasher tablets – Wilko tabs are only £3.50 for 25
    • White vinegar as a rinse aid – it works well and is much less expensive
    • Loose store-cupboard items – some are a bit more expensive, but some things are WAY cheaper
    • Blocks of ice-cream in cardboard, which I can jazz up with fruit purée, choc sauce etc.
    • Reusable water bottles and coffee cups
    • Recycled loo roll not in plastic (I use Who Gives A Crap, bit Home Bargains has a 4-pack in paper.
    • Buying meat from the butchers, whee I can take my own containers. It is more expensive, but I know where it’s from and I can get just what I need rather than a pre-packed amount.
    I’ve gone back to:
    • Making my own snacks and sides (yummy and often cheaper)
    • Making my own natural yoghurt – surprisingly easy and much cheaper
    • Saving cakes, biscuits and desserts as a treat and making these myself
    • Taking packed lunches more often and taking a fresh coffee with me (still a work in progress!)
    • Shopping around – I’ve had to accept that I can’t go plastic-free and get everything I need in one supermarket shop, and I need to be more planful. (Those of you who know me will realise just how much of a challenge this is… 😂🤣)
  • w
  • I don’t beat myself up about:

    • Continuing to buy a small number of things in plastic (my son’s favourite sausages for example).
      Slipping up occasionally, or being pragmatic if I have to buy a wrapped cucumber!

    Looking at spending in the round

    Although some thing are definitely more expensive and our weekly shopping bills might be higher, this isn’t the end of the story. By looking hard at and revisiting some of our habits, overall we have probably saved money since we started Plastics Free July. This has come from:

    • Household products we’ve stopped using and no longer need to replenish,
    • Having at least one meat-free meal a week
    • Buying fewer lunches, snacks, sweets and coffees coffees while out
    • No longer buying bottled water – full stop.
    • Asking myself before I buy something whether I really need it or just want it – and if I really don’t have something already that I could use instead

    I found some really inexpensive swaps in Savers:

      Witch hazel – great as a cleanser and many other uses (£1.49)
      Almond oil – good hair treatment oil and night-time facial moisturiser, and this culinary almond can also be used in dressings and on salads (£1.29)
      Loofah shower scrubbie (99p).
      Dettol sensitive soap (55p)
      Loose dishcloths (25p each)

    And it’s all about the greens!

    First pic shows contents of my £10 organic veg box and the second shows how much plastic-free fruit and veg you can get for a tenner on a Friday from our local stall holder in Coronation Square!

  • Final thoughts…

  • I realised that for this to work for us as a family, it had to feel natural and sustainable. That’s why I deliberately set this as my ‘very imperfect’ journey.
  • My suggestions, if you are setting out to reduce you waste:
      • Look for one or two areas where you can see an easy cost-effective way to reduce your waste and focus on those. You can add more in when these have become a habit.
      • Where you have to buy plastic, buy the largest sizes you can and opt for plastics that can be recycled either kerbside, at supermarkets or dropped off at your local teracycle hub
      • Get the family involved and on the lookout for economical plastics-free alternatives – if they’ve found them, they are much more likely to be willing to use them!
      • Accept that it will take a bit of planning and you won’t always be able to get the things you need in one place.
      • Follow zero-waste groups like plastic_free living tip swap and ask for hints and tips if you are struggling – I’ve found that people are SO helpful.
      • Celebrate milestones – pause for a moment and look how far you’ve come. Whether it’s the overflowing rubbish bin that’s now only half full when collected, or you’ve halved the plastic recyclimg you put out, it feels AWESOME!
  • Featured

    Welcome to My ‘Reducing Waste’ Blog

    Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

    — Oscar Wilde.

    I‘ve always worried about plastic; 20+ years ago when my boys were babies I remember losing the battle with old-style towelling nappies and then buying the most eco-friendly disposables I could find, horrified even then at what I was sending to landfill.

    My sisters would tell you that I’ve always been stingy with cling film – they used to tease me for the scraps left on the ancient tube whenever they visited – and yet the single-use plastic in our weekly shop had become invisible to me because it was everywhere.

    And then one day I opened my eyes, and once I’d really looked hard at our weekly shop, I could no longer pretend the plastic wasn’t there. I also had to face the truth that I’d be more inclined to spend £10 on a nice bottle of wine than dig through the shelves to hunt out the last pack of organic chicken.

    Since then, I’ve been experimenting week by week and sharing what I’ve learnt on on Facebook. Lots of friends have said they’ve found my posts useful and several people now have encouraged me to blog.

    I’ll be writing about my very imperfect journey towards zero waste shopping and a more sustainable way of living. I’d love to connect with other people who are also trying to make small everyday changes – what works, what doesn’t, and what else we might try.

    There are lots of blogs and other sites out there for seriously committed and experienced zero wasters, but sometimes I’m left feeling a bit unworthy. When sharing my delight at getting a 15p refill of organic mixed herbs on a plastic-free FB Page, for example, someone commented ‘grow your own!’ (which I do, but that’s not the point). And don’t get me started on the posts encouraging us to eschew toilet paper altogether and go for upcycled washable cloths….

    I hope you will find my posts honest, helpful and encouraging, and that you’ll feel inspired to share your experiments and hints & tips with me too!

    If you’d like to stay in touch, you can subscribe below to get notified of new updates.

    Guest blog #5: George’s Repair Cafe – vintage hacksaw

    The Snap On Blue Point Hack Saw Hacksaw, model HS-9, was made in the 1950s, the same as me, so there is a kinship here and there is a nice story to this. 

    I was up in northern Idaho doing a job.  We were in Saint Maries, which is right on the Lewis and Clark trail.  Captain Merriweather Lewis and Captain William Clark first stepped foot in what would become Idaho, commanding the Corps of Discovery in 1805 at Lemhi Pass on the Continental Divide, not far from Saint Maries, and the party traveled through the area. Today about 2800 people live in the area.

    I found this Blue Point Hacksaw model HS-9 on that day at a jumble sale at the local Elks Lodge # 1418. It was covered in rust and mud.  I thought the handle was art.  The same for the design, and I picked it up for $3.00. The fellow selling it said it had been dug out of the mud at an old factory not farm from the Elks Lodge… 
    Back in Boise I somewhat cleaned it up, that was at least 10 years ago, it’s been hanging out there with my tools on the tool wall,  used as needed for all these years.  Last week I decided to clean it up further.

    First up was a complete disassemble and then each piece was given a good cleaning with the high speed wire wheel on drill.  When finished all the parts were as clean as I could get them.  Considering the original mud bath and how long it was there… not bad
    I decided a good fire engine red would do the aluminum handle, I left the rest polished steel.
    A vintage 1950s, Snap On tools company, Blue Point Hacksaw, Model HS-9, with new 12 inch blade…
    Works a charm, 

    Guest Blog #4: George’s Repair Cafe – new life for a funky old rake…

    You never know what will be found in the wilds of the urban garden shed, I find old garden tools.  What I find may be antique in age, other things more modern, if they can be repurposed they will be. I just love to fix up old garden tools like old hoes, small diggers, old shovels, and give many away to friends. I believe there is no need to throw those charming old tools away.
    This latest find was a heavy duty manufactured rake head for hard use.   I found my treasure at the bottom of a charity shop bin and got it for pennies. I believe it to be a vintage 6 tine garden rake that was home made; constructed by hand from 1/4th inch plate steel.  The depth of the pitted rust leaves me feeling it is 1920s era.  For the iron monger it’s not worth much.  For me it’s a treasure.

    I took a rotary 4 inch steel brush head to my electric drill, and at 7,000 rpm made short work of the rust.
    This has to be an amateur made piece of Victory Garden era. When I found at the charity shop, the stick had been broken off.  I thought, “That’s a nice size rake head,” this one will pull up rocks in tight spaces. 
    A quick internet search on AMES Tools shows new ones for $32.00.  My treasure cost less than a dollar. 

    The iron is pitted, which says “I have been rusting way for decades’.
    I thought a nice loud orange spray would shout out, “Use Me!”
    in Boise, George

    Guest blog #3: George’s Repair Cafe – swivel chair

    Do you have that sinking feeling when sitting in your old office chair?

    Is it one of those no longer working, as it once did, variable height adjustment office chairs? There is no need to throw it away, as it’s an easy cheap fix.

    Like so many other “Planned Obsolesce” consumer goods, the pneumatic adjustment shaft that connects the feet assembly to the chair body is expensive to replace, and you won’t be able to do it by yourself. Special tools of the automotive repair shop industry are required.

    Pop on some plastic pipe…

    A cheap DIY solution that may apply to you, if you have ordinary tools and a place to work… adjust the chair to your comfort, and then slip on a plastic pipe over the faulty pneumatic adjustment shaft that won’t stay up.

    There are plenty of online videos to guide you through doing it yourself. My low cost solution is to use a short length of hard plastic water pipe. I picked up mine for free in the discard bin at the plumbing department of a local hardware store, 3 inches long. The attendant marked it “no sale” and gave it to me for free. You can also have one made and take it home. That might be a better solution, be certain to have him run a cut down the entire side so you can open it like a book.

    And clamp it up!

    When home, get under the chair, pull down the fashionable soft cover, expose the shaft, spread open the plastic pipe, snap the pipe in place over the adjusted to your comfort level shaft, sit on chair. If you like, secure with one of those 1.5 inch wide stainless steel hose pipe clamps you will use to hold the plastic cover in place… Open the clamp, wrap it around the plastic pipe, re-connect the clamp, screw until tight in place. You are done.

    That said my fix is not the only fix, You Tube is a great place to check out options…

    “Keeping it from the landfill In Boise Idaho”

    Guest blog #2: Solar energy – what’s taking us so long?

    Another guest blog from my brother in-law George. The topic feels very personally relevant as we take the plunge ourselves with solar panels and wonder why it has taken us so long. And it also has huge collective relevance as climate Strike Day draws to a close around the world.


    I have been advised to keep it short. There is no way that can be done… so if you are interested in a nice long read, grab a cuppa, or better, work in an afternoon or evening’s bracer such as a generous G&T or a nice wine before you read…

    ‘Waste Not, want not’

    Over here in modern day America, we associate founding father Benjamin Franklin with his Poor Richards Almanac, “Waste not, Want not!” The concept is worthy, attribution dubious.

    I was surprised to find out recently that the principle of Solar Cell technology has been around for a very long time in our modern world. In 1839 a French scientist, Edmond Becquerel, is said to have discovered the photo voltaic effect. I won’t geek you out with facts and figures, – our Ross Perot did that when he ran for President as an independent candidate in the 90s… all those charts and numbers confuse. My point is Becquerel figured out a way for harvesting energy from our sun.

    It was not until the 1870s that an English electrical engineer, Willoughby Smith, figured out he could generate electricity with no moving parts using good old Atomic #34 selenium. Then in 1883 an American, Charles Fritts created the first working cell. A year later the world’s first rooftop solar array, using Fritts‘ selenium cells, was installed in 1884 on a New York City rooftop. Technology for generating electricity from sunlight has improved ever since.

    Why then do we continue to burn coal for our electricity?

    Solar Arrays – turning the table on electricity costs

    I have a friend, a retired engineer, Darwin, who lives out in the desert east of Boise. He paid out for a huge panel array that follows the sun for maximum output, and has never looked back. We get on average 300 full-sun, blue sky days in south west Idaho. So, he powers his shop, and sells the surplus energy to the local electrical company; he says the array takes the edge off his monthly electrical bill.

    Anyone willing to pay can mount an organized collection of solar panels on a south facing roof – any south facing roof – and for the next 30 years harvest electricity,. The electricity from the sun after the initial cost to install is free, the technology continues to improve. 30 years from now, can you imagine the efficiency that will be available with improved solar panels? I think of Moores law?

    Energy falling on roof tops without solar panels, that is waste.

    Imagine if every south facing roof were paneled from the East Coast, across the nation to the West Coast… feeding the grid, the day time electricity generated would be so much there would be abundance.

    My favorite system for the home and industry is the one manufactured by Elon Musk.

    Tesla solar roof cost vs. solar panels: worth the premium?

    Learning to live within our means

    Right now, due to over consumption in hot weather running cooling apparatus, the grid over here in the US overloads on serious hot says. The system can’t handle the call for electricity. Imagine if all homes in a suburban neighborhood were paneled and feeding the grid, it’s time for change as to how we power our nations.

    Burning fossil fuel pumps dirt into the air we breath, you can’t get around that. I like clean air, I bet you do too. Tell me free energy is not a good thing.

    A ten panel array will give you 3 Kw a day. A 15 panel array will produce 5 Kw or more a day.

    Initial layout costs vary from country to country, but it’s all start up. Once you are rolling making energy… it’s a deal, and you are not polluting the atmosphere we breath.

    That’s it for now, from the wilds of Idaho Suburbia… George

    Eco-hacks: Dishwashers

    Ever licked the back of a silicone spatula or wooden spoon after making a cake or maybe a sauce and realised you can smell and taste the remnants of your dishwasher tab just as much as the food?

    I don’t know if I’ve got particularly sensitive taste buds or unusually absorbent spatulas, but this has bothered me for ages and I was totally up for switching to eco tabs and hopefully losing that taste… I wasn’t anticipating the tea and coffee rings still on the cups at the end of the cycle, or the food still clinging to the plates.

    Determined not to give up (as much for my palate as the environment if I’m honest), I’ve been trialling different ways to get a good wash. I’ve experimented with a few things, and together with a top tip from Cathy at Food Loose, we have the makings of a solution.

    Let’s be honest before we start though – this isn’t going to work for everyone. If you are happy with your current tabs and used to a quick washing cycle, you might want to start by swapping the brands with individual plastic wrappers to one that has soluable casing and buying the largest sizes you cans find.

    But if you do want to persevere, here’s what works for me:

    1. Remember to keep your salt and rinse aid topped up in a hard water area,
    2. Load the dishwasher and put on for a pre-rinse (I add 4-5 drops of SESI washing up liquid)
    3. Wash on your eco cycle. The lower temp and longer duration cycles are more effective with older tech dishwasher tabs.

    I accept that my dishwasher’s performance is now just about ‘good enough’ rather than perfect. But it’s worth it to be free from artificial lemon! 🍋 🍋 🍋






    Greenwashing, greed and social responsibility

    ‘We continue to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging’

    Asda sustainability Manager, 4 April 2019

    However we will only use what is necessary – excessive packaging is not only a waste of resources, but a waste of money.

    Morrison’s website – policy pages

    Until manufacturers and stockists are required to bear the cost of plastic pollution. and responsible management and recycling costs are reflected in the price of the product, going single-use plastic-free will continue to feel like walking the wrong way up an escalator,


    Now, you can’t really compare like with like because all the refills are no-nasties products, made in the UK, vegan and cruelty free. They are also manufactured by small independent companies.

    But to give you a sense of what we are up against:

    • Refill of a Redox bottle with shower gel: £1.50. Radox shower gel in Asda £1.
    • Refill of washing up liquid £1 – leading brand 99p
    • Refill of hand soap £1.50, multiple single-use bottle options under £1 in Asda…

    An army of plastic bottles…

    And then there’s all this unnecessary wrapping…

    I did a bit of on-site recycling of everything I could, and left the film I couldn’t avoid in Asda’s bin.

    A couple of bright spots:

    Bicarbonate of soda in boxes 99p from Home Bargains, and a lovely range of Little Soap Company soaps in Asda – £2 each.

    The oldies are often the goodies!

    Made in Gloucestershire 😍

    What’s in a name…?

    Exciting times!

    In September I’m launching a social enterprise to extend the reach of what we do at Food Loose in Cheltenham with outreach initiatives for communities to the west of the town centre.

    I will be starting small with pop-up shops, collection points and local deliveries of non-food refills. But I’m hoping this will grow and take on a life of its own through community engagement and involvement, and so I need to set things up right from the start.

    One of these is the name. So many good names, so many already taken!

    With the help of friends, I soon had a shortlist, with names intended to evoke a sense than anyone can reduce their waste, and that reusing and refilling in all its forms is the way to go.

    The winner?

    Waste Not…

    Refills, not Landfill

    This sums up our whole ethos; reducing what goes into landfill and tackling plastic pollution requires us as consumers to press reset and learn from our parents and grandparents:

    ‘Waste not, want not’ – if you use a commodity or resource carefully and without extravagance you will never be in need.

    Some startling facts:

    • Almost every piece of plastic ever produced is still somewhere on earth today.
    • As plastics degrade, they form micro-plastics which enter the food chain
    • Only about 9%, of all plastic waste is actually recycled; 79% is dumped in landfill and around 12% is burned
    • 40% of all plastic produced is packaging used only once and then discarded
    • An estimated 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into the world’s oceans every single day.

    If you want to find more about plastic pollution here are a few links –

    Cling on to Clingfilm, or Go-Go Retro?

    Many of us are starting to look for alternatives to clingfilm, but perhaps like me you aren’t completely sure you know what options there are, or how much they’ll set you back?

    After a little bit of research, I’ve come up with 5 main alternatives:

    Silicone lids and wraps

    At their best, these are high-quality food-grade products that provide an airtight seal, and can be used on hot food. They cost around £12 and should last a long time (you can get cheaper versions, but they may not be BPA-free food grade silicone, and reportedly they break much more easily).

    Eco-Friendly Silicone Stretch lids – Reusable BPA Free Silicone Food Covers – Transparent Microwave Safe Silicone Bowl Covers – 6-Pack Multi-Size Silicone Lids by Mirco Innovations https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07LH7ZW1J/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_CyVrDb31AE93P

    Alternatively Lakeland do these elasticated plastic food covers for £2.29:


    At end of life, both plastic and silicone covers are likely to end up in landfill, unless recycling facilities have improved by then.

    Plant-based cling film

    Watch this space…. I’m still researching this item but on the face of it, it’s a plant-based alternative to clingfilm that seems promising:



    Compostable organic cling film – 1 roll https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0733CZRJ1/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_SJVrDbYYES5ZX

    Beeswax and soya wraps

    Between £10 and £20 to buy, depending on size (and they are relatively easy to make), these reusable wraps are ideal for a whole range of wrapping purposes. There are many different brands out there. I’m linking to some from the ‘andkeep’ website as an example, as they are made in the UK

    …’Whether beeswax or soya wax, reusable wraps are created on two founding principles. Firstly, it’s logical. It breathes. If living food needed to be wrapped in airtight wrap the rind, peel or skin would be airtight. It’s not. Secondly, it’s inspirational. It looks good, feels good, smells good and fosters a healthier relationship with food’. (Source: andkeep)



    Foil and Parchment

    Two staples in most kitchens, and they definitely have their place as an alternative to clingfilm. I wash and reuse foil several times before recycling it, and I use ‘If You Care’ parchment for baking, as this can be home composted.

    Budget-friendly swaps:

    This is really all about refusing to buy new, and instead re-using and re-purposing what you have at home. Best of all it costs next to nothing, or is free!

    • Re-purpose old cotton clothing, pillowcases, etc. into home-made beeswax wraps. Cost: £1.99 for a block of beeswax
    • Save and wash butter wrappers – great for wrapping cheese or covering a dish
    • Re-use ziplock bags many times, and keep ones from any food you have to buy in plastic (I use a frozen peas bag to store strawberries I picked and froze, and a frozen berries bag and for my coffee beans).

    What are your personal favourites?