eco friendly products, Gardening, Travel & Transport

A surprising sustainability story…

For a while now, I’ve been conscious of the need to use peat-free compost to help protect the planet. I’m no expert but I know that peat is a highly unsustainable material and its extraction bad for the environment in several ways: primarily, peat bogs store carbon and its mining releases a load of CO2 into the atmosphere; bad news for obvious reasons. Beyond this, peat grows really slowly and can’t be replaced as fast as it’s removed. The mining process therefore breaks down important ecosystems, thus ruining the habitat of many rare species and destroying biodiversity. That’s enough reasons to put anyone with half a care for the planet off from using peat-based compost!

The problem is, peat-free compost is slightly harder to come by and almost invariably pricier than the bog-standard stuff (see what I did there?!). Thinking I’d have to order online because you don’t tend to see it in the usual places, I was amazed to discover yesterday that Aldi was selling peat-free compost at £1.99 a bag!

These bargain bags claim to be ‘approx 40L when mixed’ – I’m not sure what that means but it’s a little dubious – I’d suggest there’s about 20L in there by normal compost-measuring standards. That’s probably a third of the price of any other equivalent products I’ve seen online.

I’ve yet to put this stuff to use so time will tell whether it’s any good. I see mixed reviews online but the same can be said for a whole host of other brands, many of which are much more expensive. My mind is open!

In another eco-friendly double-whammy, I managed to collect and transport no less than four bags of this stuff on the e-bike! After an embarrassing false start attempting to carry them all on the back, this 2-front-2-back configuration was just about stable enough to make it the mile or so across town home. Phew! Another good reason that Tern named this bike for its ability to Get Stuff Done.

What planet-saving adventures have you been on lately? Have you discovered any gardening bargains, experienced any blunders or carried any abnormal loads by bike? I’d love to hear your stories! Comment here 🙂

Plastic Pollution, Waste & Recycling

Doing the right thing is hard, but…

Last week, I posted excitedly that I was looking forward to taking all my extra recycling to various Terracycle drop-off points in my local area. For those who don’t know, this is a scheme whereby different categories of rubbish that aren’t taken by kerbside recycling can be taken to locations that have been set up to collect them and send them off to be recycled. Many of the locations are home addresses where the occupant has simply added a box or bin to their own rubbish collection point for eager locals to drop off their Terracycle waste.

In theory, it’s a great scheme. I eagerly set off last Sunday on the Tern e-bike – a sustainable double-whammy I thought! – to do my drop offs, only to find that, out of 4 home addresses I’d jotted down for different types of rubbish, only 1 was a successful drop-off. At the rest, there simply wasn’t a collection box anywhere to be seen.

It was quite disheartening, especially when I’d made the effort to plan a 10-mile-or-so circuit to accommodate a multitude of locations.

The GSD loaded up and ready to go

This, alongside another issue I’d experienced the previous day (cycling 5 miles in a raging headwind to collect groceries from my local waste-free shop only to be turned away because their lockdown closing time is in fact half an hour earlier than that listed on their website), really brought home now hard it is to do the right thing.

Anyone who knows anything about getting people to change their habits will know this is not good: most people simply won’t change if changing isn’t easy to do and there isn’t some kind of intrinsic motivation to do so. So, much as schemes like Terracycle and shops like Almond and Co are wonderful facilitators of doing the right thing for those of us that are very motivated to do so, a lot more needs to happen to make doing the right thing for the planet the norm.

There is one silver lining to this story: I finally made my return trip to Almond and Co yesterday after last weekend’s failed attempt. On my way out of the shop, I spotted a Terracyle collection box that takes some of the rubbish categories I’m keen to dispose of responsibly. So, next time I’ve got a bag of crisp packets that needs to go, I’ll combine the drop-off with a stock-up. Now that’s the kind of convenience I’m looking for…

Uncategorized

This post is a load of rubbish…

This is a rubbish picture of a whole load of rubbish. Overall, I think it’s safe to say it’s RUBBISH. But it pleases me immensely. Why?

I’ll tell you why: because this is all rubbish that, until recently, I’d have had to send straight to landfill due to the limitations of kerbside recycling. However, now that I’ve discovered Terracycle, that’s all changed! Their community recycling schemes mean I can take a whole range of waste to various local venues to be recycled. Here we have everything from crisp packets to bread bags to cheese packaging to toothpaste tubes and soap pouches. All stuff that used to go in the bin and can now be recycled: amazing!

All I have to do is sort it out into the categories that are taken within the different schemes, and drop them off at the relevant places highlighted on Terracycle’s handy maps.

Another great thing in the world of recycling is the increasing number of products whose packages state “recycle with bags at larger stores”. Though Terracycle has a specific bread bag recycling scheme, my bread bags get bundled up with cereal packets and various other eligible items to be taken to a supermarket for recycling (but, if I can help it, not before I’ve reused them as sandwich bags or food storage).

So there we have it, a whole new world of reduced waste. It feels good! I’m looking forward to heading out on the bike do drop my sorted waste at various places later. How about you? What new and exciting ways of minimising waste have you discovered lately? I’d love to hear about it – drop me a comment below!

eco friendly products, Plastic Pollution

I wish I’d known this before about recycling…

Back before lockdown, when I was still working in an office on a regular basis, I was really pleased to discover one day that a crisp packet recycling collection box had appeared in the office kitchen (that’s chip packet to those who speak American English!). I started happily collecting packets from home and bringing them in to recycle, happy that it was one less thing going to landfill. A mere few weeks or so later, the pandemic hit and with that my crisp packet recycling dream was over.

Every time I throw something in the general waste, I experience a niggling guilt that I shouldn’t be doing it, despite recycling everything my local authority will take (sadly they don’t een collect food waste in my area, but that’s a conversation for another day!). I’m doing what I can to minimise waste by refilling containers at my local zero waste store, choosing lower-packaging options where possibe ans buying almost only loose produce, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. My curiosity was therefore peaked when I got my hands on a hand soap refill package that read in bright green ‘NEW: recycle me with Terracycle’.

Terracycle, that name rang a bell: it was the company we’d been sending our crisp packets to from the office all those months ago! But how did this service work and how could I make use of it now the office collection was no longer an option? I headed to the Terracycle website to look for answers and was blown away by what I found…

Terracycle runs a huge number of programmes to recycle all sorts of items that won’t be recycled by local councils or other mainstream waste management facilities. Crisp packets and soap packaging aside, there are also programme for cheese wrappers, snack & confectionary packaging, toothbrushes & dental care packaging, games & toys, disinfectant wipes and Marigold gloves… the list goes on! Businesses can also purchase Zero Waste Boxes to recycle packing from items such as arts supplies, baby gear, beauty products, casste & VHS tapes, used gum (!)… again, the list goes on, and importantly in the current era, include disposable PPE items.

The public recycling schemes are free to use, and work on a clever community-based model. Individuals set up drop-off locations by finding a public place to place the collection box, getting permission to do so and signing up with Terracycle do getthings going. Terracycle provide all the gear and the individual ships the waste to Terracycle to do their thing once a suitable quantity has been collected. One everyone has a collection point within a 5-mile radius the scheme is full; otherwise you can set up your own scheme and get collecting. What’s more, partners who have set up a collection earn rewards for waste they return, which can be redeemed as donations to a charity of their choice. Genius!

I’m excited to find that there are collection points nearby for some of my more frequently used items, such as crisp packets, dental care and laundry packaging. Even more so that there could be an opportunity for me to set up a new collection point for other items that aren’t yet accounted for in my local area! I’m going to get the lowdown on what it entails to set up a scheme, but it feels like it could bethe perfect way to do a little bit of good in my community without taking on too much burden. Win-win!

Oh, and Terracycle is operating in over 20 countries worldwide, so it’s not only people in the UK who can benefit! Check out their website to find out more about the programmes, locate your nearby collection points, purchase Zero Waste boxes or set up a scheme. Happy Terracycling!

eco friendly products, Recipes

Making my own snacks to save on waste!

I love making my own tasty, clean and eco-friendly sweet snacks, which is both healthier for me and reduces the amount of packaging I have to buy and dispose of! I’ve enjoyed experimenting with some fun energy ball flavours these last couple of weeks… Let me know if you’d like to see recipes and be sure to follow me for updates when they drop!

Crunchy Nut bites
Chewy date, nut & oat bars
Dark chocolate, apricot & pistachio balls