Praise for my local Butcher – Cornwalls, Ross-on-Wye

For me, going into town on a Saturday morning is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Husband and I visit the Country Market where we stock up on locally grown veggies and local Free Range eggs.  Occasionally we pick up a jar of homemade jam or local honey.

Some weeks we pop to our friendly Butchers, Cornwalls, on Broad Street.  I have to admit they’ve seen less business from us in recent months as we are eating less meat!

But this Sunday, we’re celebrating Spring with a roast chicken. The daffodils are opening, their bright yellow trumpet flowers signalling Sping’s arrival and the evenings are growing lighter.  Yesterday we went for our first evening stroll after work, an exciting promise of summer days to come.

A friend had told me that most Butcher’s are happy to fill up your own container when buying meat.  I’ll be honest, last time I went to the butcher, I completely forgot to take my own tupperware but not this time.  Armed with my biggest container, I eyed a Free Range Herefordshire Chicken in the butchers window.  I was a bit nervous about asking them to pop it in my tupperware but they were happy to oblige.  They are trying to do their bit too – they charge for plastic carrier bags, they’ve recently introduced more paper packaging and they showed me their paper freezer bags today.  “We’re trying!”, they said.

Our butchers are great – they’re very friendly and always more than happy to advise and recommend.  Going into a butcher’s can be intimidating at first.  Moving from the city of London to the countryside, it took a while for me to pluck up the courage to go into the butchers when we moved to Ross on Wye.   To me, meat was neatly packaged in plastic, neatly stacked on supermarket shelves, labelled with multi-buy offers. But if you have a local butcher, I urge you to visit them.  Say hello, ask questions, don’t be afraid – a good butcher will be delighted to advise.  And as for the products, you’ll pay a bit more, but the flavour of local, often free-range, meat is a hundred times better than the supermarket!  And, if they’ll fill up your tupperware, you can eat meat, plastic free. Double win!

We walked home from town, carrying our goodies, chatting about our plans for the chicken.  Roast chicken tomorrow, chicken pot pie on Easter Sunday, fajitas or risotto with the small pieces of meat remaining and a hearty chicken soup made from the stock with veggies and pearl barley – we can’t wait to get cooking!

That’s me converted.

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

 

 

 

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Alternatives to the every day – cling film, foil and baking paper

By opening my eyes to just how many products are made of plastic, I’ve been taking a fresh look at some of the items I use day in, day out.

Clingfilm, foil and baking paper – what can I say, I’m a wrapper.  Put a bit of cling on it and pop it on the fridge.  If you’re a winner when it comes to reducing food waste or you’re a whizz with leftovers, chances are you’re going to be using cling film, foil and baking paper too.

My first thought was that there’s was no alternative to cling film, so I decided to try and cut down.  Lunchbox sandwiches now go in a tupperware (yes made of plastic, I know, but reusable probably for the rest of my life).  Quite often, I take leftovers to reheat for lunch at work – I’ve heard that reheating in plastic tupperware isn’t the best for you and if it’s tomato based, it stains the tupperware.  Old me used to take my leftovers in a bowl with clingfilm over the top but I’ve found Joseph Joseph’s Nest storage set which is 4 rectangular glass containers with plastic lids.  They are fab – when they’re not in use (which is not often) the dishes and the lids nest neatly inside each other so they only take up the space of the biggest container.  The second smallest dish is also the perfect lunch left overs size, perfect for the new “less plastic” me.  AND, they go in the freezer, oven, microwave and dishwasher.  (Yes, I’m the kind of person that gets overly excited about kitchen things but believe me, these are worth getting excited about!)

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I do a lot of baking, so I used to use a lot of baking paper and foil.  I picked up a couple of reusable baking sheets and these are also amazing!  Nothing sticks and they are very versatile.  Kitchen essential!

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Whilst I was buying the reusable baking sheets, I saw an eco-friendly clingfilm.  Really?  Yes really.  “Bee’s Wrap® is made with organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin.  All wraps are fully biodegradable and compostable.  The natural antibacterial properties of beeswax and jojoba oil help keep food fresh, and allow Bee’s Wrap to be used again and again. Simply wash with cool water and soap, hang to dry and repeat.  Used several times each week, Bee’s Wrap should last for roughly one year.”  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure but the lady in my local cook shop vouched for them so I thought I’d give them a try.  I don’t actually use them that much because I’m doing so well with my clingfilm alternatives (I feel so virtuous!) but they live on top of my roll of clingfilm so that I go for them first.

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How am I doing?  Well my lunch box is now a disposable plastic free zone.  Whereas before I would use maybe 2 pieces of clingfilm a day, now it’s all in reusables.  And at home, the fridge is pretty much clingfilm free – things go in tupperware or get the bees wrap treatment.

The only 2 foods so far I’ve used clingfilm for is pasta dough going in the freezer and half an avocado to keep it fresh overnight.

My roll of clingfilm is 75 metres long.  (75 METRES!!)  I bought it before I started this journey.  I don’t plan on buying another roll, ever.  I wonder how long I can make this roll last and how many metres of clingfilm I can keep out of landfill.  I wonder, if you added up all the clingfilm sold each year, how many times it would wrap around the world?  Let’s stop suffocating the planet in clingfilm – seek and we shall find, the alternatives are waiting for us.

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

Another week, another shop

Another week has flown by and it’s time to stock up for another week ahead.

We swung by the Country Market again this week and picked up lovely potatoes, leeks, a bunch of carrots and a cabbage that’s so beautiful it reminds me of a bouquet of flowers!

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Then onto Morrison’s.  It was a relatively small shop this week (33 items) and there were only 3 products were I had no choice but to buy non-recyclable (I did spend probably 5 minutes looking at packets of museli before finding ONE (one!) that’s in a recyclable bag!).  (Note:  I don’t normally buy museli but my mum is visiting next week, I’m sure she’ll appreciate the amount of time spent perusing the cereal aisle this week!!)

On the naughty product list this week…

Indian snacks.  We’re having some homemade curry from the freezer and I do love a bhaji/samosa/pakora (preferably all three) to go with it!  Yes, the cardboard sleeve is recyclable, and the plastic tray can go in the recycling.  But that layer of film, NOT CURRENTLY RECYCLABLE.  Damn!

Ciabatta rolls.  Is there any bread available in recyclable packaging?!  I will fess up here, in last week’s post I did say I was going to make some bread.  This hasn’t happened!  Hence why I bought some.  Can I console myself with the fact that it was reduced?  At least buying it meant it will be eaten and not wasted.  The plastic wrap was not in vain!  That was my logic whilst making my choice.

Brunch bars.  What did we snack on before brunch bars?!  Working at a nut free site and being dairy-free means I mainly buy them for my husband as an extra snack to keep him going between his pre-work gym session and his very late lunch.  We have cut back!  He used to take two, but now takes one plus a home made snack.  I purposely chose bars with as little packaging as possible and although at first glance they’re recycling friendly thanks to their cardboard box, the little monkeys are wrapped in plastic!

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To the check out!  I was served by a wonderful lady who commented on my brown paper bags for my loose fruits and vegetables.  I  told her that I bought them with me from home.  “Good for you!” she said.  Yes, I agreed, good for me – but even better for the planet, I thought later.

She told me that she takes her tupperware to the butcher each week.  I have read about doing this but haven’t tried it yet.  She then went on to say that Pedigree Foods are next on her list to write to about their packaging.  Good for you, I thought!

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

 

 

 

What a lemon!! New week, new change.

Convenience.  We love it.  It runs through every part of our lives.  Anything that makes things faster, better, easier – sign. us. up.

Unfortunately, doing what’s best for our earth isn’t always convenient.

But maybe doing the responsible thing isn’t actually that difficult.

Take an apple.

Every day I take an apple to work.  So does my husband (his is smothered in peanut butter, mine is sadly not because I work at a nut free site!).

This may be a little odd but I find apples incredible difficult to eat as they are.  So every day I cut my apple up and chuck it in a tupperware – ready to snack on around 11am.

To stop it going brown, I put some lemon juice on it.

For a time, I would buy lemons but then I found a bottle (plastic, of course) of lemon juice.  Perfect, that will save me precious seconds as I’m getting ready in the morning, into the trolley it goes.

The other day as I was prepping my mid-morning snack, I was holding the plastic bottle and I thought, “what am I doing?!”  What’s wrong with a lemon?!”

My convenient bottle of lemon juice has come to it’s end.  The bottle has gone into the recycling, and a real whole lemon is in the fridge ready for today!

And if I’m not going to get through a whole lemon before it’s passed its best?  Cut it up and put a couple of slices into each space of an ice cube tray, top with water and then you’re ready for a mug of hot honey and lemon in the winter (just add boiling water) or a nice “ice and a slice in the summer” (just add drink of your choice!).

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

 

Recycling – am I doing it right?

Turns out there is a right and a wrong way to recycle.  In fact, how I recycle (in Herefordshire) is different to how my in-laws recycle (in Middlesex) and different again to how my brother and his family recycle (in Lancashire).

This seems crazy, we’re one country and yet within our country each council sets it’s own rules for recycling, depending on the resources they have.

Even if you’re already a recycler, it’s a good idea to check what your council does and doesn’t accept.  After all, knowledge is power!  So, geek up my friends – it’s up to us to make sure we’re recycling responsibly!

Herefordshire Council have a handy list (you know I loves a list) complete with downloadable guides:

https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200138/rubbish_and_recycling/60/what_to_recycle

 

I’ve always recycled but sometimes I’ve held a metal lid and thought “can I recycle this?!”. I also didn’t realise aerosols can go in the recycling, husbands deodorants will be going in now!  And I must be the kind of recycler that they hate at the sorting facility – I often put glass jars inside plastic pots inside cardboard boxes inside …. you get the idea!  Not any more, everything is going in separate.

 

 

Recycling is all about taking responsibility for your own waste.  It’s so easy to blame someone else – maybe the government should be acting faster and bolder, maybe food manufacturer’s shouldn’t be using non-recyclables to package, maybe supermarkets are the culprits for making it all so super easy – but at the end of the day, we bought it.  We should dispose of it responsibly.

If you’re gonna do it, do it right – right?

(Who knew Wham! would offer inspiration for a blog post about recycling?!)

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

 

“No one can change everything – but everyone can change something”

Yes!  Someone is thinking the same as me!

And double yes that that someone is Monty Don.  I know, I’m probably about 20 years younger than his average fan and I’m probably one of the few who is more interested in him than his dogs!  (For those of you not familiar with Gardener’s World, he has two dogs called Nigel and Nellie, who get almost as much screen time as Monty).

I was delighted to read that Monty and I have the same plans for 2018.

So hes’ coming at it from a gardening point of view but less plastic is less plastic in my book.  Good for you Monty, I hope it’s going to be mentioned a LOT on Gardener’s World when it returns in the Spring.

Growing our own is something me and the husband can’t wait to do when we have a garden.  In my mind, I’ll come home from work, grab my wicker basket and head out into our abundant garden to gather fresher than fresh produce for supper……

But it’s true, growing your own food will still involve plastic.  Pots, compost bags, liquid feed etc.

I love the line “no one can change everything – but everyone can change something”.  When you try to think of everything it’s easy to think “this is impossible!”, but if you think of something, it’s reachable.

What something can you change?  Go on, think of one thing and make it happen!  Feel free to share below – no change is too small, every change counts.

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

 

This Week’s Shop

This week I’m reviewing what I bought and what packaging it came in.

As a starting point, I’ve created a ranking for my preference for packaging.

The best thing would be no packaging at all.  Second best, reusable packaging or recyclable packaging such as glass, metals and paper/cardboard.  Next best, recyclable plastic (excluding black plastic that can’t be recycled in my area, this goes under the next category.).  The worst, packaging that can’t be recyclable – let’s face it, it’s probably going to be made of plastic!

Saturday morning and we headed into town to the Ross Country Market.  This was their first week back since the Saturday before Christmas – and we were glad they were back!

We picked up celery (no packaging), purple sprouting broccoli (no packaging, held together with an elastic band), onions & brussel sprouts (sold in a plastic bag, not ideal, but I can take them back and they reuse them),  leeks (no packaging, held together with an elastic band).

I took my own bag for life.  Minimal packaging here – a good start!

Next we picked up a bottle of wine from Ross Wines (check it out!), with our own bag.  Glass bottle, metal cap so all recyclable.

Our last stop before the supermarket was Wyedean Health Foods.  I wanted to look at what they offered, packaging wise, and saw a few things that I will be switching to next time I need them.  I also picked up a tub of dairy free ice cream – choosing a white plastic tub over one with a black lid.

Then it was onto Morrisons…

I took my own paper bags and was able to buy apples, pears, clementines, new potatoes, tomatoes and mushrooms loose.  I also picked up ginger, sweet potato, courgettes and peppers loose with no packaging at all.  I had one option for a lettuce in a recyclable plastic bag so that went into the trolley.

Cucumber and beetroot – no plastic free option here.

A good start I thought, although very time consuming to bag everything up myself!  And when I got to the checkout I found out that buying loose is more expensive than pre-packaged.  Why is this?!

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A pack of mozzerella – this was in a plastic packet but to my surprise it says recyclable (number 7 – which from memory is tricky to recycle.  Note to self – look this up!)

Apple juice – plastic bottle with lid.  I suppose I should have looked for a Tetrapak fresh apple juice but husband went to get this item because he was getting bored in the loose fruit and veg section – can’t blame him, even I was getting bored!

Soya yoghurt & oat milk – no choice on the packaging but all recyclable.

 

Ginger ale – these are plastic bottles but recyclable.  I did look at Fever Tree as they use glass but at nearly 4 times the price, it’s too expensive.

Sweetcorn, black beans, tomato pizza sauce and self-raising flour – all in tins/glass/paper containers.

Shower gel and mouthwash only plastic options, but recyclable at least.

Handsoap – in the whole soap section there was one refill option.  This pouch has 2 refills worth inside and is made from recyclable plastic (number 7 again).  Why aren’t there more refills?

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Noodles & risotto rice – not one single non-plastic option.  I found a bigger pack of noodles than what I usually buy so I consoled myself that at least the plastic was going further (twisted logic?!)!!  Surely these products could go in paper bags – we know what noodles and flipping rice look like by now don’t we?!

Streaky bacon & parma ham.  No non-plastic options here.  I wonder if I can buy parma ham at the deli counter and if they’d let me take my own container… has anyone tried this?

Frozen fruit – it all had plastic in some form or another.  I went for 1 kg bag of “wonky” fruit as this will last me longer than the other options.

Burger rolls – this was on my list but as all the bread is covered in plastic and I’m not using them until later in the week so didn’t want to get fresh ones, I’ve decided to make my own (may regret this Sunday decision later this week, we shall see!)

Sea salt – looks good from the outside, recyclable cardboard box, but the salt is in a plastic bag inside.

Dishwater tablets – bit of a fail here.  Last time I bought Ecover brand because they were on offer.  But this time they weren’t so I picked up the box of “Savers” next to them.  I’ve never bought these before and when I moved the box it sounded like they were not individually wrapped.  However, when I got home and opened them they are individually wrapped so next time I’ll get the Ecover ones because at least the plastic wrappers are recyclable.  (WHY do dishwasher tablets need to be individually wrapped?!  Why don’t they make the box smaller and pack them in two rows so they don’t move about?!

Nurofen – cardboard box, I don’t actually know if the plastic/foil can be recycled.  I’ve never even looked before!

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Before I left, I put my plastic packaging that said “recycle at stores” in the bin – I’m not sure if that was the right place to put it as it said it was for carrier bags only.  By the way, how small is that bin?!  I bet you couldn’t fit 1 day’s worth of recyclable plastic bags in that bin if everyone took them back.

I left feeling a bit cheesed off.   Why is it so difficult to shop avoiding plastic?  And why should I have so little choice if I don’t want to use plastic?  And why am I paying more for un-packaged goods?

Well, I guess I should ask Morrison’s these questions.  Let’s see what they say.

If not me, who?  If not now, when?