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.

 

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?

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?

Reusable Cups

In my last post I told you about our trip to Berlin.

As a family we do try to be as environmentally friendly as we can. We have cut down on a lot of our plastic use over the past few years and are conscious of where we can improve.

Knowing we had a big train journey ahead of us we packed sandwiches, home made snacks and drinks. But I have to admit I did succumb to a cuppa on the last ICE train and when hubby went to buy it he treated us to a bar of chocolate each too.

Neither the drink nor the chocolate was really needed but I wanted a hot drink and the cafe on board was only too accessible.

The drink came in the usual one use takeaway cup with a plastic lid. I felt guilty that I hadn’t brought my own cup to put the tea in.

Since we’ve been home I have been researching collapsing reusable cups to carry in my handbag in case I fancy a cup of tea while out and about again. Something like this

Or something like this maybe….

We did have one of these and I lost it oops! Please don’t tell Hubby!

But there is so much choice. Does the plastic in a reusable cup outweigh the plastic in a single use cup? Is it small enough to fit in my handbag so that it can go everywhere with me? I don’t want to end up buying something that doesn’t fit the purpose.

I’d love to know if you have any recommendations before I buy anything.

Do you use a portable reusable cup already?

2018

2018? Another year gone. Time certainly does fly as you get older!

I’ve seen so many “New Year, New Me” posts across the whole of social media over the past week and while it is nice to see people setting goals for the year ahead, how many of them are realistic?

I know I’m guilty of it. It’s easy to get swept away with the glamour of new diaries and blank calendars and think “this is the year I….. <whatever>” But then the real world kicks back in, the mundane day to day stuff and it’s easy to get sidetracked. To put things off til tomorrow, til Monday, til… well any day that isn’t today.

I’ve tried to keep that in mind while setting myself goals for 2018. I like having targets to aim for but I can get downhearted if they turn out to be unachievable. So I’ve dialled it back this year. No big sweeping status, no grandiose plans. Just a list of things I’d like to do in the house, things I’d like to do with the kids and things I’d like to work on personally.

I hope to write here a lot more often and I’d like to share with you both the work we are doing in the house and the steps we are taking to live a more sustainable life. And I’d love it if you would join us as we negotiate the unknown that is 2018.

I wish you all a healthy and happy new year.

Trashless Tuesday

On Day 2 of this year’s Zero Waste Week I was challenged to see how much (or how little) waste I created in just one day. So here goes:


For full disclosure this picture is me and the two kids only. Hubby took his lunch to work in a reusable container and has cutlery in his locker but once he’s there I don’t know if he created any other waste.

There were also 2 dunker pots but Little Lady didn’t bring her empty one home. Now I do see the irony of the string cheese wrapper after I posted about using block cheese but it was requested and bought the night before they were due to go back to school from the corner shop that didn’t have block cheese. Once the packet is finished we won’t be buying them again.

The main two slip ups by me were due to lack of organisation. We usually use loose leaf tea in a tea pot but struggle to get it sometimes so we had bought tea bags the last time we went shopping. The pot noodle was also due to poor planning. It was quick and easy to prepare after a lunch meeting.

The crisps? Well I love crisps and haven’t really found an alternative that can be stored just yet. I’d be happy to hear your suggestions if you have any?

Tea was made with veg that came in our vegbox and pasta that had been decanted into a large glass jar last time we went shopping.

Overall I don’t think we did too badly. Yes there is room for improvement and yes on other days we will create waste that was not shown here (the empty pasta bag for instance). How did you get on? Do you produce more/less waste than me on an average day?

Waste

Today is day 2 of this year’s Zero Waste Week. The theme today is all about reducing waste. I wrote this post 4 years ago showing how I cut down on lunch box waste. Looking back now I can’t believe I wrapped her sandwiches in foil and bought pre packaged cheese! But just goes to show how little changes now can become lifetime habits. Hope you enjoy

Waste

Lately the issue of waste and the environment has been at the forefront of my mind. I have slowly been taking stock of our lives and living habits to see where we can cut back on waste.

One morning while doing the mundane (and mostly thankless) task of making packed lunches I realised that I could cut a lot of waste here and I was quite shocked.

This is what little lady’s lunches normally look like (with some variations).

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Little lady also takes fruit separately, which she eats at break time.

Where can I make changes? Straight away I can lose the foil. I mean her sandwiches are in a lunch box, in a bag! Seems a bit ridiculous to wrap them in foil too!

So foil gone. What’s next? Little lady’s treat. Her treat varies depending what niceties are on offer when we go shopping. These particular treats are individually wrapped but come in a box, in a plastic wrapper. Lots of packaging, and therefore waste there. With a bit of forethought and 20 minutes spent in the kitchen while baby D was having his nap and she now has home made (freezable) treats. I cut the welshcakes into little stars rather than the traditional circles so that they fit in her lunch box. We also stumbled across these fine(!) gadgets 2 for £1 in the pound shop, which makes her sandwiches a little bit nicer now they are naked (well we think so)

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I do like her lunch to be relatively good for her so I always try to add a cheese stick. There are again individually wrapped (easy for lunches) but in a packet. The individual wrapper goes in the bin at school so technically it doesn’t affect my waste but that’s not really the point here. We are still producing waste no matter where it is disposed of. This was the item that made me feel a little bit silly. I thought about how to reduce the packaging for a while before realising IT IS CHEESE!!!! I honestly can’t believe I have been buying these as well as the block of cheese that is a staple in our shopping. Just goes to show that marketing works. The individually wrapped cheeses “perfect for lunch boxes” fooled me for quite a while. Well no more. Today I cut my own cheese sticks from the block in the fridge. Less packaging and a slightly sheepish mammy!

So what does little lady’s lunch box look like now?

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Some naked homemade jam sandwiches, a home made treat, cheese cut from the block and a yoghurt.

Any ideas on what to do about the yoghurt? I am still quite stuck on that one so for now the long yoghurts will stay.

Bagging it up

No one can go completely zero waste in one go. It takes time and it takes effort. The good news though, is that small things can make a big impact. Small things like bringing your own bag to the shop.

Since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge here in the UK, there has been an emphasis on reusing plastic bags or even bringing your own cloth bag. Most of us now have a wide collection of “bag for life”‘s under the sink. But how often do we remember to take them with us?

How many of us have left a shop juggling our purhases because we don’t want to have to buy yet another bag?

Hmm, yes I thought as much 🙂

So……for the first day of this year’s ZWW I’m going to help you make a shopping bag that you can keep in your handbag. As long as you remember to put it back in your handbag once you’ve used it, you can tick off “refuse plastic bags at the checkout” from your Zero Waste checklist. Result!

You will need:

  • a piece of fabric (I used an old quilt cover)
  • Needle and thread
  • sewing machine (or you can handsew if you prefer)
  • an iron
  • A button
  • A piece of elastic/ribbon 8cm long

Instructions

  • Prewash your fabric if necessary
  • Measure and cut 2 pieces of fabric, 2 handles and 2 pieces of lining (not shown in picture) My fabric measured 45cms x 35cms and my handles measured 60cms x 6cms


Handles

  • Fold the straps in half lengthwise marking the centre fold line. Open up and fold the edges in to touch the fold line.

  • Fold in half again and press to conceal all raw edges

  • Sew all the way down the open edge

Main Bag

  • Measure 8cms in from both top edges of your main bag fabric and pin the short strap edge, taking care not to twist the strap
  • Pin the elastic/ribbon to the centre of the top edge on one piece.

  • Lay one bag piece right side (RS) to right side with one lining piece. I’ve used an old piece of fabric for the lining as it was what I had to hand. An old bedsheet is perfect for lining bags like this.

  • Sew (I used a 1.5cm seam allowance (SA) along the top edge catching the handles and the elastic. For added strength you can sew the very edges to the SA on the lining

  • Lay the “half bag” you have made down flat RS up and place the second piece RS down on top.
  • Match up seams and sew all the way around leaving a gap the width of your hand at the bottom of the lining (between the two black lines on the picture)

  • Clip the corners to get a sharper corner then turn right side out through the gap.

  • Sew the gap closed and tuck the lining into the bag.


  • Place the bag on the table with the elastic side up
  • Mark a dot 10cms up from the bottom of the bag in the centre

  • Sew a button at this spot. Make sure you sew it well as it will take quite a bashing if you use the bag a lot.

Folding your bag:

  1. Fold on long side into the centre by a third
  2. Fold the other side in over the top
  3. Fold the bottom up a third to reveal the button
  4. Fold the top down and tie the button.

(Or you can follow the picture below)

  • Pop in your handbag and voila!

I’d love to see pictures of your bag if you make one.