Plastic Avoidance: Part 3

Real Food

Once you’ve accepted that you can’t always get organic, it’s not difficult to avoid plastic.  If you can’t find enough loose produce at your usual supermarket, find out if there’s a good old fashioned market in your town.  We’ve found one which is just a big fruit and veg stall in the town centre, once or twice a week.  The guys who run it are really friendly, they sell quality seasonal fruit and vegetables, provide small (compostable) paper bags to fill, and it’s very good value for money – much better even than the supermarkets.  Just take your own shopping bags and get them to weigh as much as you need.  We bought a big 12.5 kg sack of Desiree potatoes from them for just £5!

We also have a health food shop not too far away which sells a small selection of loose organic produce which is great although we can’t get there every week.

Or you might be able to find a local organic produce grower who operates a veg box scheme whereby you order a weekly veg box from them and they deliver it to your door.  They will be happy to leave the box in a designated safe place if you’re going to be out and you’ll get a great selection of whatever is in season. The soil Association will help you find a scheme near you 🙂

As for other necessary staples – you can probably get most of them in glass jars or tins.  We used to buy lentils, sultanas, pasta, tofu, cereal etc etc in plastic packets because we thought we couldn’t avoid it, but now we’re getting our lentils in tins and we’ll manage without cereal, pasta and dried fruit.  We buy organic oats in paper bags and I’ll mix them with fresh fruit for my breakfast instead of sultanas.

*Since writing this I have discovered the Zero Waste Club – a wonderful mail order company in London from whom you can order organic dried fruit, nuts, grains, pasta, sugar, pulses, seeds, cocoa, popcorn, herbs and spices and more! You order it by weight and they mail it to you wrapped in paper bags.  See Plastic Avoidance: Part 7.

Things like vinegar, ketchup and oil are easy to get in glass bottles, although sadly I don’t think there’s any way of avoiding the plastic pouring spout they put in the oil bottles.  But I always think, even if everything is not as perfect as you’d like it to be, the world would be a better place if everyone at least did this.  Same goes for things like cocoa powder and gravy granules – they come in cardboard tubs with metal bottoms and a plastic lid.  Sometimes mostly plastic-free is the best you can do.

Lots of other staples that have always been wrapped in paper, still are.  You can get bread in paper bags from a bakery, or you can make your own.  I haven’t been able to buy salt without plastic wrapping but if you buy things with salt already added – like the stock cubes above (paper-wrapped in a cardboard box) – then you can manage without it.Something else to be aware of is that tea bags (which are supposed to be compostable) are actually made of 20% plastic.  See here for a great post with more details about that and sign this petition aimed at getting Unilever to remove all plastic from their tea bags.  Be aware though, it’s not just Unilever that does it, this is common practice.  The only way to be sure you’re not getting plastic is to buy loose tea leaves 🙂 And if you check this out you’ll see that there are a lot more uses for tea leaves than just a relaxing drink.

Need a meal in a hurry?  Well, you can’t buy hash browns or oven chips anymore, but look what you can buy!  There are all sorts of delicious and convenient ready-prepared vegan goodies in cardboard containers in the freezer section of your supermarket.

So whadaya need plastic for?

Not much!

ps I’ve just found out you can even buy plastic-free crisps 😀

Click for PLASTIC AVOIDANCE parts twofourfive,  six and seven

Plastic Avoidance: Part One

We have for many years tried to keep our plastic consumption to a minimum but have found it very difficult when also trying to incorporate other ethics into our shopping habits.  For example – it’s pretty easy to buy loose, unpackaged fruit and vegetables if you take your own bags to the market with you, but if you want organic produce, it’s usually wrapped in plastic.

We always recycled it of course but we know that a plastic food container, because of its low melting point, cannot be recycled into another plastic food container.  It can really only be downcycled into things like plastic lumber which cannot be recycled again.  Glass, paper and tin cans on the other hand, can be recycled ad infinitum.  Bottles will become bottles again and again; drinks cans and baked beans tins will become cans and tins again and again; paper can be recycled again and again, and eventually composted.

 

So, even though we were recycling, we felt very bad about the plastic in our bins.  Add to that the worry that maybe the plastic being collected by the council recycling lorry wasn’t even being recycled and … well, let me explain:

I had an email a couple of weeks ago from Avaaz campaigning group saying that studies had shown that most (about 80%) of the plastic in the ocean gyres was coming from rivers in Asia and Africa.  Finding it very hard to believe that people in Asia and Africa consume more plastic than people in Europe and America, I was reminded of an email conversation I’d had with someone at Waitrose supermarket.  They told me that there was no facility to recycle their plastic bags in this country so they sent them to Asia for recycling.

Well – if Waitrose does it, you can bet a lot of other companies do it too, maybe even councils?  And if the UK sends plastic to Asia for recycling, you can bet other countries do too.  If the same is happening in Africa that would explain why 80% of the plastic in the oceans arrives there from those continents.  The plastic that I diligently put out for recycling might be ending up in the ocean!

It’s all speculation but it makes a lot of sense and the only way I can be sure that I’m not part of the problem is to take control of it myself.

We now realise that the good done for the Earth in growing organic, is compromised if they wrap the organic produce in plastic.  Plastic not only litters and pollutes when it’s disposed of, the very production of it is toxic since it is (usually) made from oil.

So we’re not going to pay in to that any more.

We have to prioritise plastic avoidance and hopefully these ethical companies will respond with ethical packaging.  In the meantime, we’ll show you our plastic avoidance tactics.

Starting tomorrow 😀

See all our Plastic Avoidance Tactics here

Quick! Sign This! Save the World from Plastic Bottles!

Every day 16 MILLION plastic bottles go un-recycled in the UK.

It’s a plague of plastic that’s choking our rivers and suffocating the ocean — it’s even in our drinking water! But finally there’s hope.

The Environment Secretary is considering a revolutionary plan to give people a financial incentive to recycle. It’s a complete no-brainer, but industry lobbyists and even supermarkets are fighting back, hard — and there’s just four days left in the consultation.

To drown them out we need a tidal wave of public support to flood the consultation — click to add your name and then share this with everyone, we have four days to make it massive:

Secretary Gove: End the Plastic Plague Now!

The plan is super simple: a small deposit is paid with every plastic bottle, which you get back when you recycle the bottle. In places like Germany and Denmark this same plan has taken recycling rates to over 90%.

More recycling means new plastic production would plummet. We’d use less oil, our beaches, birds, and brooks could breath again, AND our councils would actually save money from lower garbage collection and landfill costs. Complete no-brainer.

There’s no time to waste — every minute another 10,000 bottles go un-recycled. With just four days left, let’s make sure the Minister can’t back down now. Add your name and then tell everyone:

Secretary Gove: End the Plastic Plague Now!

In the wild, a single plastic bottle can take 450 years to break down. Winning this would be a victory felt for centuries. Our great, great, great, great grandchildren will walk on their beaches, birds circling overhead as the waves roll in, smiling back at us. Let’s make this happen now, for us, for them, and for our world.

https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/plastic_pollution_uk_loc/?cmzEIlb

The Circle of Life

Make your own compost 🙂

Save all your raw fruit and vegetable peelings, apple cores, tea bags, soapnut shells, etc etc

and take them outside to your compost bin (any container will do but make sure it’s got drainage holes in the bottom)

Toss your ‘green waste’ in there, (ie raw fruit & veg waste)

but also add some ‘brown waste’ (such as brown paper, black and white printed paper like newspapers or old paperback pages (no colour print), dead leaves) every so often otherwise you’ll end up with a wet soggy, stinky mess.  You want about 2 parts ‘green’ to 1 part ‘brown’ according to the science 🙂

Then eventually it will rot down to something moist and earthy, just teaming with baby earthworms (I don’t know where they came from) and ready to host your new plants.  Don’t ask me how long this took, I didn’t time it, but it was probably about a year.  We just eventually thought it looked composty and tipped it out of the bin and there you have it.  Click here if you want advice from experts 😀

Now you can pot it …

… sow some seeds in it, …

… and in a few days (this is less than 2 weeks later) your old vegetables will be providing you with new vegetables 🙂

I’d better thin these 😉

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vegan, vegetarian, recycling, home-grown, plant-food, plant-based, health, gardening, growing

Explain

For the first seven chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 8 continues:

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Explain.  How is this the only waste you personally made this week?”

Luke explained.

“I told my mum not to buy the vegetables an’ fruit in plastic bags an’ nets an’ trays ’cause we don’t need ’em, we just throw ’em away as soon as we get home. So I jus’ put it all loose in the trolley; I laid it on top of a soft bag so it dint get bruises, and then I put it in our own bags when we paid for it.”

The fact that the bags to which he referred were actually pillowcases was an irrelevant detail unnecessary to divulge.

“Ok, good, loose fruit and veg – no need for packaging.  What else?”

“I told Mum to get the loose lentils and raisins that you can weigh, instead of the ones in packets, and we put it in our bags we took with us what we can re-use.”

He paused, waiting for her to acknowledge receipt of this information.

“Go on,” she urged.

“I told Mum to get me the porridge oats what comes in jus’ a paper bag instead of cereal what’s in boxes and plastic bags.  An’ we got flour an’ sugar in paper bags an’ bread in paper bags instead of plastic; an’ peanut butter in a glass jar with a metal lid; an’ vinegar an’ ketchup an’ apple juice an’ sunflower oil in glass bottles with metal lids – but we ‘aven’t finished all of ’em so I on’y brought the juice bottle today – an’ two tins of beans.  That’s everythin’ I ate an’ I made my Mum choose glass an’ tins because they can be recycled over an’ over forever an’ ever, back into bottles an’ food tins, but plastic is bad an’ can on’y be cycled to things like plastic bricks an’ stuff that can’t be recycled in the end.”

Mrs Tebbut was lost for words.  He had read the printouts.  He had done the work.  Impressively.  She looked at the three paper bags, one glass bottle and two baked beans tins and was amazed at how simple it could actually be.

“Well done Luke,” she said, “very well done indeed.”

At the end of the day when everyone else was going to get their coats, Mrs Tebbut called Luke to her desk.

“Good work today Luke,” she said, “is this something you’ve been concerned about for a while?  I mean before we started our project?”

Luke was unused to his teacher’s friendly voice being directed at him but he saw no harm in indulging her.

“Yeah.  Since I saw Spiker caught in the plastic rings an’ all the litter what hurts the animals.  An’ since so many people are jus’ stupid to keep droppin’ the litter I thought the best thing to do is to make shops stop sellin’ it, then there’d be nothin’ to drop, ‘cept maybe paper bags but that won’t hurt no one and it won’t last long.  So I’m teachin’ my Mum not to buy things with plastic.”

“Well, Luke, that’s wonderful, I’m very impre….”

“An’ I’m makin’ new things out of old things as well,” being impressive was new to Luke – he couldn’t stop now, “so I’m recyclin’ ’em myself and I’m reducin’ the buyin’ of new things ’cause of fixin’ things and makin’ new ones out of old ones.”

Mrs Tebbut smiled.

“Really?  What are you making?”

“At the moment,” he said proudly, “I’m knittin’ a blanket for my pet lamb to keep ‘im warm on chilly nights.”

“Wonderful!  And are you using recycled yarn from an unravelled jumper?”

“Kind of, but no, not yarn.  Strips of material.”

She looked confused so he tried to explain.

“I got the idea from me Nan’s magazine ’bout makin’ rag rugs by cuttin’ old material into strips an’ knottin’ ’em together to make long long strings of it an’ then knittin’ with it. It’ll make a thick, soft blanket for Squirt to sleep on.”

“Fantastic!  What material are you using?  What are you cutting up?”

Luke was glad she asked because he’d put a lot of thought into that decision.  He answered with the quiet confidence of a wise person enlightening a complete beginner.

“I decided the warmest stuff would be what blankets are made of and I found two big blankets in the airing cupboard what nobody was usin’ so I used ’em.  I’m nearly finished now.”

Mrs Tebbut smiled again.

“You’ve got a good heart Luke,” she said, “off you go.  Have a nice weekend, I’ll see you Monday.”

Luke, almost overwhelmed by the unfamiliar sensation of being approved of, went to get his coat.

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er (£4) – the first eight chapters; and Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er: my privut notebook (£2.75) – every member of Luke’s secret sersiety of animal stick up for-ers should have one; are available from Amazon 🙂

   

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vegan, vegetarian, environment, recycling, children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour, animals, children, sheep, lambs

School Project

For the first seven chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 8 continues:

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At Besco’s Luke watched her closely with his project in mind.  To Mum it seemed like every time she reached for something he said,

“No!  Not that.  Get this one!”

She found it very trying but at the same time was impressed with her son’s commitment to the project and didn’t want to curb his enthusiasm for anything school-related.  She bit her tongue and cooperated with most his suggestions.

At the checkout, when the lady asked if she’d like any bags, Luke spoke out before she could answer in the affirmative.

“No thanks.  It’s very bad to get plastic bags.  They make pollution.  You should ban ’em.”  Then he put his pile of pillowcases onto the end of the checkout and started filling one with loose vegetables.  Mum flashed the checkout lady an embarrassed smile and said,

“School project.”

When the day came for the presentations to the class, Luke, because his surname began with W, was one of the last to present.  His peers were getting restless.  They had already sat through twenty seven similar presentations in which they were shown similar empty packets, cartons and bottles being thrown out that week by each family.  Those to be recycled included cereal boxes with their internal plastic bags, plastic milk bottles, plastic ketchup bottles, plastic shampoo bottles, Tetra Paks, glass wine bottles, beer bottles, plastic pop bottles, drink cans, food tins and the like.  Those to go to landfill included toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, brillo pads, polystyrene food trays, plastic straws and crisp packets.  Mrs Tebbut herself was having trouble staying awake at this stage and decided that next year she would get the class to work on a single collective presentation for a school assembly.

Luke waited for Susan Vickers to take her family’s waste off the presentation table and then he walked to the front and stood awkwardly facing his class.

“Ok Luke, how have you reduced waste in your household this week?” asked Mrs Tebbut.

Luke reached into his bag and put onto the table three paper bags, one glass 1 litre bottle and two empty baked beans tins.  He looked at the class and spoke loudly to conceal his nervousness.

“This is my waste for this week.  The yellow and blue paper bag what had oats in will be recycled; the brown paper bread bags will go on the compost; the bottle and the baked beans tins will be recycled.”

Relieved that it was over he waited for Mrs Tebbut to tell him to stand down.  She didn’t.

“That can’t be all,” she said, “I told you to show the class how much waste your household had produced and how you’d helped to reduce it.”

“I did.”

“This is all your family’s waste for a whole week?”

“This is the reduced waste what I made ’em reduce.  I don’t think it’s fair to include the things I told ’em not to buy.  They’re not my fault.”

“Luke, that wasn’t the project.  You’ve misunderstood.”

“I’ve done it fair.  It’s not fair to say I dint do well makin’ my family’s waste smaller if my family won’t do what I tell ’em.  It’s on’y fair to see what waste was made from choices I made ’em make.”

Mrs Tebbut couldn’t argue with that.

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story concludes tomorrow 🙂

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vegan, vegetarian, environment, recycling, children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour, animals, children, sheep, lambs

Bags

For the first seven chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 8 continues:

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Mrs Tebbut continued.

“Now can anybody think of ways in which we could reduce our waste in the first place?”

Several hands shot up.

“Yes, Andrew.”

“Draw on both sides of the paper.”

“Very good.  Yes, Katia.”

“Stick a note on your door that says ‘no junk mail’.”

“Good thinking.  Yes, Simon.”

“Get your shoes re-soled instead of buying new ones.”

“Ooh, yes, well done Simon.  Repair things instead of throwing them out.  Good one.  Ok, well done, you’re all thinking now.  What about the choices we make when we buy things like food.  We have to buy food, but how can we reduce waste before we even get it home?”

The class went quiet again.  Everyone was thinking but they weren’t quite sure what she was after.

“I’m thinking packaging here,” she explained, “we eat the food but we throw away the packaging.  How can we reduce that waste?”

“Buy food with recyclable packaging!” Butler shouted out.

“Yes, if we must, but what would be even better?”

Joe’s eyes suddenly lit up and he opened his mouth as if to speak but didn’t.  Mrs Tebbut noticed.

“Joe?  Did you want to say something?”

“Buy stuff without packaging,” he said quietly.

There were a few snickers.

How ya gonna do that?  Everything comes in packets!” someone scoffed.

Joe went red and looked down at his hands.  Mrs Tebbut frowned.

“Quiet!  Pay attention to Joe, he’s got the right idea!” She turned to Joe, “well done, that’s exactly what I was looking for.  We need to avoid the waste coming into our homes in the first place by choosing things with the least amount of packaging, and even no packaging when possible.  Kenny – see me at the end of class!”

Mrs Tebbut went on to explain their class project: a week on Friday they would all make a presentation to the class in which they would explain how they had reduced waste in their household.  As visual aids they were to bring with them everything being thrown away in their house that week (after it had been cleaned if necessary) and tell the class where that rubbish was headed: recycling or landfill.  She gave them printouts which told them all about recycling.

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After tea on shopping night, Luke was rummaging through the kitchen drawers.

“Come on Luke if you want to come, I want to get this over with,” said Mum.

She hated shopping.

“I’m coming …” said Luke, but didn’t.

“What are you looking for?” asked Mum.

“The shopping bags.  I thought they were in here.”

“So did I.  Oh, I don’t know.  I think I put them in the wash.  I don’t know where they are now.  Never mind, just leave it.  Let’s go!”

“Hang on!” said Luke and he rushed upstairs.

Mum picked up the car keys and headed for the door.

“If you don’t come now Luke, I’m going without you!”  And she went outside.

Just before she released the handbrake Luke opened the passenger door and climbed in.

“What are you doing with those?” Mum asked with alarm as she looked at a large crumpled pile of flower-print and cartoon superhero pillowcases on his lap.

“Bags,” he said, “we need reusable bags.”

Mum inhaled deeply, checked the mirror and reversed out of the drive.

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continues tomorrow 🙂

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vegan, vegetarian, environment, recycling, children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour, animals, children, sheep, lambs