Why go Zero Waste?

Well first off I am going to add a small disclaimer to this post. I, myself, am not totally zero waste. I am quite far from it if I am honest. But I try. And in reality every small step I take to reduce my waste is a step closer to reducing all waste.

Day 1 of Zero Waste Week was Monday and the question that was posed was “Why?” Why are you reducing your plastic? I would love to hear your reasons. Please leave comments or link to your own blog post explaining your reasons. I would love to read them.

What about me? Why do I spend time trying to reduce my plastic?

My reasons are quite simple really. In this post Rae lists 10 reasons for reducing plastic, but I only have 2. My kids!

Like any mother I want the best for my kids. I want them to grow up in a world that can still take their breath away (for all the right reasons). One that is inhabited by many many species of animals and fish.

I want them to look in the sea and see fish not plastic.

by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish

I want them to look to the horizon and see mountains, not landfills.

oil takes millions of years to form

I know that my decisions today can help shape their future tomorrow. Why wouldn’t I try my best?

Click here for Zero Waste Week

Big Pit

We live in the South Wales valleys and coal mining is such a part of our history that you can’t go anywhere in the valleys without seeing some kind of nod to our past.

There are many monuments and memorials to those who lost their lives in the pits and there are a number of museums dedicated to the mining industry.

One such museum is Big Pit.  It has free entry, although car parking does cost £3.

There is a lot to see here and you can get a feel of what it was like when it was a working pit. The bath house is there as is the canteen and explosives store.

There is an interactive exhibition called King Coal but for me, the main attraction of Big Pit is the fact that you can actually go underground.

The underground tour lasts approx 50minutes and you are kitted out with a helmet, a lamp and a gas mask. As they are technically classed as a working mine, there are a number of laws and legalities they have to abide by. One of which was the “no batteries underground” rule. That meant no mobile phones, no watches, no car keys!

Visitors are taken underground in the cage and you could really get a feel for what it was like, although conditions were considerably better when we went down! At one point, we were asked to turn our lamps off so that we could experience total darkness. I held D’s hand for this but he was actually much braver than I thought he would be. In fact, he loved the whole thing.

For me, it was an amazing experience as I haven’t been since I was a child. My grandfather was a miner and it always reminds me of him and the stories he told us of life underground.

The tour guides are very knowledgeable and are always willing to answer any questions. The one thing I will say, is that the underground tours do fill up very quickly. We paid £3 each to guarantee a place on one of the tours but you can always take your chances and queue for free.

If ever you are in the area, it is definitely worth a visit.

What’s your Carbon footprint?

I don’t know about you but I seem to be in various “groups” on facebook. There’s a crafting one, a reduce plastic one and a sustainable living one to name but a few. I enjoy these groups and they are mostly easy going places where I can pick up different tips.

Last week however, someone posted this link in one the groups. A link to a calculator to work out your carbon footprint. The original poster lived in Australia and flew home to Britain a few times a year so as expected her carbon footprint was pretty high.

I was excited to try out the link to see what my footprint was. We are a family of 4, a guinea pig and a tortoise and we try to live as sustainably as possible. So I took the quiz and got the results….

I’ve got to be honest I was a bit shocked. I didn’t think it would be so high!

The quiz is split into 4 sections and the results give you a breakdown of each section:

From the results above, it seems that we fall down on the travel section. We have been abroad twice this year already but only once by plane, we have two cars, Hubby commutes almost an hour each way 5 days a week, I have a medium sized family car which I use to ferry the kids about to their various activities and to carry my stuff from school to school when needed for my job.  We do walk to school as often as we can, even in winter, but sometimes it is necessary for me to drive the kids the mile to school.

It also gave a breakdown of our carbon emissions. Apparently we are just lower than the UK average but much, much higher than the world average.

I realise that this isn’t an accurate figure as it uses guesstimates based on your answers to a quiz that doesn’t really cover all the bases. It is however, a good starting point.

Does anyone know of a better calculator?  Have you tried this one? Please let me know

Half Term

Last week was half term so I had the kids home with me all week. I am one of those mums that love having my kids home and we usually pack so many activities into school holidays.

But this time was different. This time we hardly did anything, and to be honest I’m feeling quite sad about it.

I had ear surgery two weeks ago and as such I wasn’t really well enough to leave the house and I haven’t had the energy to organise activities in the house either. So the kids have pretty much done nothing.

On the positive side, they are quite happy to entertain themselves (and each other), they have played with Lego, D has played with his Pokémon cards, they have watched Netflix and YouTube videos and played nicely with me downstairs. It was nice and the kids were fab but now we are at the end of half term and I feel like they’ve missed out and I have awful mum guilt.

As a way to salvage something we walked up the mountain last night to watch the sunset. Little Lady brought a friend and they spent a bit of time running around and messing around, stopping every now and again to admire the colours of the sky as the sun went down.

We were all exhausted on the way back down (even though I’d spent most of my time sat on a blanket!) but they have an Inset day here today so it didn’t matter how late they were going to bed last night.

They haven’t stopped talking about it today which eases my guilt slightly. Little Lady’s friend has already asked when we can do it again and I have heard rumblings about repeating it but on Pen-y-Fan instead. We’ll see.

How do you feel about school holidays? Do you use the time as downtime? Or fill the time with activities?

Is there plastic in your tea?

Almost 4 years ago I wrote this blog post about teabags containing plastic. I was absolutely horrified to realise that I had been ingesting plastic (albeit tiny amounts) but it did explain why I kept finding the bags in the compost bin.

We made the switch to loose leaf tea and we’ve used that ever since. However, that’s not really the end of the story, as the most convenient form of loose leaf tea (supermarket rather than trekking into Cardiff) still comes wrapped in plastic *sigh*.

So it was great to read that PG Tips are switching to plastic free, fully biodegradable tea bags  (article here). The Co-op are reportedly following suit with their Fairtrade tea going plastic free by the end of the year.

Hopefully in their rush to remove the plastic from their teabags, they won’t overlook their packaging.

Still, it’s all a step in the right direction.

 

Pen Y Fan

Pen-y-Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and a popular attraction for both casual and accomplished climbers. It is 886 meters above sea-level and is owned by the National Trust.

There is a very well cared for path to the top and although steep, the terrain itself is pretty smooth. Hubby had a few days off and he and I decided to take the kids. We packed some sweets and some sandwiches, wrapped up warm (the weather was showing -5* at the summit) and set off.

Despite the cold there were already a lot of people on the mountain and the kids were keen to set off.

Here’s D with his “ready to climb a mountain”pose 🙂

As we climbed we came across the odd bit of snow at the sides of the path and the kids were very excited.

The views as you climb Pen-y-Fan are breathtaking.

As is the view from the top

D especially found the climb hard going, but in fairness to both of them, they were both determined to reach the top.

The classic “top of Pen-y-Fan” picture.

I was (and still am) so proud of the two of them. It is not an easy climb and with D’s little legs it took us an hour and a half to climb the 2 miles to the top. With the endorphins pumping from the accomplishment both stated that they can’t wait to do it again. You never know maybe we’ll make it a regular thing.

 

Bamboo toothbrushes

Continuing with our quest to have a plastic free bathroom, the kids and I have changed over to bamboo toothbrushes.

I was slightly apprehensive as I’ve read some negative reviews where the bristles fall out after a few uses.

I had my mind changed by the lovely Claire who owns Plant2Plate in Caerphilly town centre. A caterer by trade she has recently branched out into environmentally friendly and plastic free products.

I first became aware of Claire and her lovely shop through Facebook and decided to go and check it out. She had some lovely products and says that she doesn’t stock anything that she doesn’t use herself. We talked about the toothbrushes and she showed me what she had.

I decided to pay a bit extra and skip the economy version as I was still unsure over the quality of the bristles. This brush cost me £2.50 which is more than I usually pay as I normally pick the cheapest one available. The kids also wanted one each (the children’s version was slightly cheaper) so I bought one each for the three of us.

Unfortunately I seemed to forget about hubby so I’ll have to go back and get him one next time I’m in town.

We’ve used them now for over a week and the bristles are holding fine. They are softer than the normal toothbrushes I buy and the handles are thinner so it took D a bit of getting used to.

Both Little Lady and D seem to like them. There’s a lot less fuss when I ask them to go brush their teeth now and their teeth do seem to be getting a better brush than usual too. Let’s hope that keeps up.

As an added bonus the packaging is recyclable too.

Have you tried a bamboo toothbrush? What was your experience?

St Fagans

The South Wales valleys are full of history and we are so lucky to have a lot of places near us that can tell us our history.

One of my favourites is the National Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans near Cardiff.

It is just so beautiful. Seeing the old buildings as you walk around.

Like this old pig sty.

Or this water mill

There’s even a school room where school groups can dress up as Victorian schoolchildren and experience school life with quills and ink pots. They even have Victorian era toys to play with on the yard outside.

If you’ve got time it’s also well worth visiting the olde worlde shops.

The visitor centre itself has recently had a facelift and it looks incredible. It’s a must on our half term to-do list.

Bath Bomb Success

I recently wrote about our attempt to make bath bombs and how the first attempt had gone awry due to an issue with the recipe. We had to have another as the kids were desperate to have homemade bath bombs in their bath.

A quick search of the internet and I found a recipe that worked on The Soap Kitchen. They suggest

300g Bicarbonate of Soda

100g Citric Acid

10ml of fragrance (we used less than this)

We also added a 6yr old’s handful and a half of dried rose petals.

When mixed they gave a much better texture and held together better. I had bought small round moulds and this mixture gave us 6 balls.

They’ve been used in the bath and the verdict is mostly positive. The main negative came from me and that was that there were waaaaay too many rose petals left in the bath once they got out lol! If you have a 6yr old to use as a measuring tool, maybe suggest only 1 handful 😉

If you use this recipe please let me know how you find it. I’d love to have your views too.

Our Plastic Free Bathroom

In my last post I told you about our bath bomb experience. The kids thought it was great fun and can’t wait to do it again.

The point of making our own was to cut down on the plastic wrapped versions you can buy in the shops.

It didn’t quite work out very plastic free though as the ingredients came wrapped in so much plastic it was unbelievable!

Each individual item was in a plastic bag, two of which was in another plastic bag.

One of the items, the honey powder, had a plastic tub option instead of a plastic bag so I chose that thinking that at least the tub could be reused. But the tub came wrapped in so much cling film it was unreal!

I was pretty disappointed to be honest and will be looking for another source for the ingredients.

Have you ever done anything trying to minimise plastic use that ended up a complete fail?