Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recyclable packaging for bread the newest thing since....

I went to Couplands Bakery today in town to pick up some bread.  While I make some bread I've never been particularly successful making a loaf for sandwiches, and these are hubby's staple lunch item.

As I put the bread on the counter I noticed what I thought was a recycling triangle symbol.  On closer inspection in the car I discovered it definitely was for recycling and plastic 4.  I hadn't noticed this before and began to wonder if this was something new.  When I got home I checked the other bread bags we had in our plastic bag holder.  The other Couplands ones were recyclable, but none of the bread I have purchased from the supermarket sports this symbol.

I say well done to the small player in the bread market for leading the way.  At least this plastic can now have another use (as long as people recycle).  I think this may just persuade me to become a regular now at Couplands.  The bread is pretty nice too and a good price so winning all the way!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Plastic plastic everywhere!

As Plastic Free July draws to an end I find myself reflecting on my efforts to reduce single use plastic, and plastic in general.  While I have been making conscious choices to avoid plastic, it seems to leap out at me.

In terms of the TOP 4 (straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags & coffee cup lids) I have done ok. 
Straws - none
Plastic bottles - none personally but hubby has bought a couple of bottles of soft drink.
Plastic bags - probably about 8 for the month when I forgot a reusable bag BUT I have used my reusable bags for small shops, and also remembered my produce bags for small shops.
Coffee cup lids - Forgot the reusable cups at the weekend so that was 3 cups, but on the whole I have managed to avoid these, although the lids are recyclable so I don't feel as bad.

My pet peeves that I have encountered this month would be:

Stickers on fruit - really annoying, get everywhere and just rubbish.

Vegetables wrapped in plastic - I bought a cabbage that was wrapped in plastic film with the price sticker stuck to that.  I was really tempted to rip the plastic off in the shop but knew that would probably confuse the checkout operator.  They are not always wrapped so I'm not sure why sometimes the supermarkets insist on doing it.

Magazines wrapped in plastic - Some magazines come with bonus magazines or a calendar attached.  Some are wrapped in plastic.  I guess it is the different publishers but why use more plastic than necessary.  I also subscribe to a couple of different magazines.  One comes in a degradable plastic package, and the other comes in a paper envelope.  Well done Go Gardening magazine for escaping the plastic trap.

Courier packages - While some of these say they are recyclable, when I asked at our local recycling centre they were dubious as they have the address labels, or plastic invoice pocket, which is made of a different type of material.

Milk bottle seals - By these I mean the little pull off seal from the plastic bottles.  Then there are the little plastic rings which are equally irritating.  Both of these have a habit of getting everywhere but the rubbish, and the rings can be seriously damaging to wildlife when they make it into waterways.

Little plastic bag tags - Like the ones that come on bread bags, and in the produce area of the supermarket.  These are unnecessary at the supermarket if you use reusable produce bags such as these from Ecodeals.  I got mine from Total Food Equipment and there are also a range of reusable shopping and produce bags from Onya.  Alternatively, just twist the top of the plastic bag, and no need for a tag.

Nappies - Buying nappies in a cardboard box to eliminate the plastic packaging, only to discover the nappies are wrapped in two plastic bags inside the box! 

So what have I learned?
I now keep a foldable and reusable bag in my handbag, and also a produce bag so I don't get caught out on a quick trip to the supermarket.

I am more consciously thinking of ways to eliminate plastic usage, and look for plastic free alternatives. 
I am encouraged to continue to reduce one use plastic usage, and to become as plastic free as I can.  I still feel as though we have a lot of plastic ending up in the rubbish, so I have more that I can work on.

Did anyone else sign up for Plastic Free July?  How did you get on?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Garden Share Collective

The shortest day has been and gone.  Traditionally this has been the date when garlic should be planted and then harvested by the longest day.  It has been so wet here I have held off getting the garlic in the ground too soon but with a fine week things have dried out a lot.  I will be using some of the garlic that I grew last year, which has without doubt been the best garlic I have ever used.  It is crispy, juicy and extra tasty.  Can't see me ever going back to shop bought garlic.

I have been tackling the pruning of the fruit trees.  I have to admit that some of them haven't been pruned in the two years we have been here, and are a bit overgrown.  I have given an Apricot tree a stern talking to as it has yet to flower and it is well and truly established so it might need to go and make way for something else!

The currants have all been cut right back, cuttings put in pots with fingers crossed, and when I clean out the chook house, the manured hay will be put around the currants for mulch.

The hens are still laying and I have been regularly getting 4-5 eggs a day from 8 hens.  As they are all 2+ years old I am more than happy with that at this time of the year.  We have been getting some good frosts, so the girls are pleased to see me in the morning with their warm rolled oats breakfast. 

I have collected some hazelnuts and almonds and am looking forward to eating them super fresh. 

The hazelnuts have their catkins on for winter.  They are fascinating to watch as they emerge and open out.  Such a nice contrast to the naked branches.

In the next month I intend to have the rest of the fruit trees pruned, the vege garden cleared out  a bit and some compost spread about in preparation for spring planting.  Then again, it is cold so I may just stay indoors and read some other blogs from the Garden Share Collective.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Plastic Free July

The first day of July begins a month dedicated to the cause of trying to reduce the use of plastic.

The website Plastic Free July gives you lots of ideas of how to eliminate the use of plastic all together, or for those not able to fully commit they can work on the top 4 uses of plastic - straws, plastic bottles, plastic coffee lids, and the every present plastic bags.  I have decided to work on the top four, and any others as I can.

I have reusable shopping bags, a reusable coffee cup and reusable produce bags.  Now just to remember them when I need them.

I see this as a good challenge.  I already shop at the local bin shop with reusable containers too but it is hard to escape plastic when grocery shopping with many fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic.  Then there are the milk products - milk, yogurt, cheese.  Come spring when the goats kid I look forward to recycling my glass bottles for milk bottles, and making our own yogurt.  Cheddar cheese is a little different as I don't think I will have enough milk to tackle that.

With a young family there are a lot of plastic encounters.  With bubs there are disposable nappy packets, and the wipes.  To counter this we use cloth nappies, and cloth wipes most of the time. 

With our daughter there are the school lunches.  I do not use food wrap, instead using Tupperware containers.  Yes these are plastic and I am investigating stainless steel options to replace the Tupperware containers I have had for about 3 years.  Then there is the contents of the lunch boxes.  I try to make bread rolls, muffins, biscuits etc and buy as little pre-packaged items as I can.
Pet plastic annoyances are the plastic bread tags and the plastic handles on bags of flour, chook food, potatoes and so on.  I do make some of our bread, but the flour for the bread still has those plastic handles.
Then there are plastic toothbrushes and dishbrushes.  When these have passed their use by dates I will be replacing with alternative options.  Ecostore have wooden dishbrushes, and there are bamboo toothbrushes available.
What plastic that we do have I try to recycle rather than have it end in the landfill.
What ways do you try to eliminate plastic?