Sunday, August 31, 2014

August, and everything after...

Well I said I was going to monitor my single-use (ie non-recyclable or re-usable) plastic consumption for longer than a month, and I did! I got through August keeping everything aside. However as we now have two additional folk in the house for a while I'm not even going to try keeping that up as it will just get way too complicated. However once we're back to just the two of us again it will be interesting to try it again and see how much, if anything, my habits have changed!

The collection for August is larger than for July mainly from using things up: a couple of packets of microwave rice from the CDE Kit, some cotton wool that I've had since I lived in Wellington (so at least 7 1/2yrs old!), a thingy of liquid soap from a hotel that is a plastics number we can't recycle locally and the bottle has split so I can't refill it, a carton of rice milk I'd bought for when my parents were here late last year & hadn't needed then but was about to go out of date, and finally I finished off that bag of pasta I started in early July!

Of course there are the usual medication packs, strips off the top of bulk buy bags etc. as well. I've been thinking about how to reduce the amount of plastic I use that can be recycled as even reusing and recycling just postpones the day when it becomes waste and as is becoming increasingly evident there is no such place as 'away' to throw it.

So, there are a few changes in shopping habits I've decided to commit to and the idea is gradually I'll add in more things to the equation, basically the same way as I've phased in any other change in my shopping habits. Using the glass bottled organic cider vinegar (or refilled bottles from the health food shop) in my hair rinse rather than buying separate bottles of the cheaper stuff in plastic bottles was my first decision. I'd balked at doing this before but then realised just how long a 750ml bottle had lasted me and figured it was hardly a huge financial commitment! I'd been buying coconut milk powder when I could find it, but have switched to tins as the amount I use on a regular basis has increased enough now to warrant it, I just need to remember which brands don't have plastic linings in their tins! I've discovered I can get my long grain brown rice in 10kg paper sacks via the local food co-op so that is duly noted for future reference (I've quite a stash to get through first!). I've already mentioned changing the supplies in the CDE Kit, that will take a while to complete but at least I've made a start.

I'll see how I go with those, and no doubt as the weeks roll by I'll find other things to add to the list. One unlooked for plus is the dosage of one of my meds has changed so once I've finished the current supply I'll be taking one or two tablets not three which will reduce the amount of rubbish as well as hopefully improve my health!

I was quite impressed though that despite all the stuff being used up, two months worth of single use plastic still fit into one bag in the end. The info from Plastic Free July keeps coming through their Facebook page which is great, lots of ideas and plastic free products still being shared including some I hadn't even begun to think about - suncream anyone?! Mind you given the initiative comes from Western Australia I shouldn't be surprised that they were on to that one. I do have a recipe for making some, but I can't say as I've been enthused enough by it to give it a go. But who knows where I'll be on this journey by July next year - hopefully making even more of my own things and creatively avoiding more and more plastics in my life.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

plastic free July - the finale, or rather the beginning...

Well the month is over. In fact it was over a while ago, but for various reasons this didn't get finished at the time so I'll try to edit this to make sense timewise as I finish it off....

I managed to come up with a compromise solution for my CDE Kit dilemma of the other week. I've bought a sistema microwave noodle bowl which at least is BPA free even if it is plastic. After a bit of experimentation I've now got a collection of buckwheat, stock powder and sundried tomatoes in the kit replacing the rice ready meals (which have now been eaten, and the packets added to the August plastic collection - ah well!)

Week four saw another packet being used up - having found the tail end of a packet of rice floating around forgotten about in the cupboard it got tipped into some miso soup I was making. I was feeling rather pleased with myself as I've made miso soup from scratch a few times now rather than just open a sachet. Sure it takes longer than boiling the jug, but it doesn't take that much longer and the result is much more satisfying. However I'll still keep some sachets on hand for emergencies (aka very low energy days). Unfortunately the only way I can buy miso around here is in a plastic bag within a resealable plastic pouch. Not tubs or jars like I used to get in Edinburgh and Wellington. So an empty miso bag has also been added to the weeks collection, but better one bag than a pile of sachets.

The 'foil' seal on a new jar of tablets (the only one I take that that isn't in blister packs) turned out to be plastic film masquerading as foil - bah humbug. Plus I'm on to a new moxa stick (shhhh, don't tell Teri it has taken me this long to get through the last one! I tend to forget more often than remember to use it...) so that's another packet on top of the usual blister packs.

I bought myself a mini processor, basically a bowl with two sets of blades and a motor. Sooooo many of the recipes I come across these days that work for my dietary requirements seem to involve whizzing up a lot of dried fruits, nuts, pulses etc and our poor overworked whizzy stick blender isn't really designed for such. So I made the most of a half price sale! Aside from the plastic bags wrapped around each component part (why???) in theory this means I'll be more easily able to avoid certain plastic packages as it will be easier for me to make things like oatcakes and crackers so I'm less likely to resort to buying them when low on energy (I finished a packet of Corn Thins recently that had been bought for that very reason). I started to try making my own LSA but realised I need to buy more linseed after I'd already whizzed the almonds and sunflower seeds, but hopefully that will be another plastic packet no longer coming into the house. Sure I'll still be buying the bulk bags of the ingredients, but I get them anyway. I've got a whole heap of recipes to go at now that I've been procrastinating over trying as putting things through the mouli or using a pestle and mortar instead is much harder work. Whilst I'm all for avoiding unnecessary electricity use I've had to accept that for now I just don't have the physical stamina for the more energetic methods.

So, after a month of trying to avoid single use plastic what have I learned and achieved? Well it is certainly much easier to keep single use plastic consumption down when you're at home under normal circumstances. I don't seem to be alone in discovering that either. I've started to radically rethink the food in the CDE Kit, I'd gone down the usual track of various packets and tinned convenience foods, most of which I don't usually eat which is a pain when it comes to refreshing the contents each year. It has also made me think about how and where the food in it would be used ie it is unlikely to be at home. I've become much more aware when shopping about packaging, I thought I was pretty good at this already, but have realised that there is still a lot of room for improvement. I've got into the habit of not only carrying around with me my cloth shopping bags but a handful of clean plastic bags - these can be used for loose veg and bulk bin items, standing pots of seedlings in etc instead of taking another new plastic bag in the shop/at the market. At some point I'll make some of those tulle bags for veg, but I've way too many other sewing projects to finish first!

But the biggest realisation I suppose for me is that if I'm going to really make a difference to my habits I need to monitor my usage for more than just one month. It is now three weeks into August, and sadly the collection for August already has more in it than the one for the whole of July, but that is mostly due to using things up and phasing them out (like the rice packets from the CDE Kit). But I'll write more about August in another post.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Okay so it has been a while since I've blogged, several reasons - a stinking head cold, a dying laptop, coming off the herbal meds that make day to day life bearable for a fortnight in preparation for a minor op which happened yesterday, and trying to get to grips with a new laptop which I still haven't managed to make talk to my camera.

I do have an almost finished post about my Plastic Free July attempts but the final photo is still on my camera... I should just finish it and post it without the photo, but promises of help are in the offing so fingers crossed I'll have it sussed soon! Meanwhile I have continued the exercise into August, but more on that later.

Anyway, I'm now back on my meds which help my head work, although also popping painkillers like smarties again whilst my innards recover. The world is slowly coming back into focus again and hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly....