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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 17th Nov 17, 10:16 AM
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    MSE Andrea
    Zero waste, plastic-free, MoneySaving Christmas
    • #1
    • 17th Nov 17, 10:16 AM
    Zero waste, plastic-free, MoneySaving Christmas 17th Nov 17 at 10:16 AM

    So, I've finally got round to writing something I've planned to blog on for a while but never quite got to it. I may as well write a thread on it then turn it into an MSE blog when I get a moment...

    I'm obviously a MoneySaver! I'm also very much trying to reduce my family's impact on the environment so trying to be zero waste and reduce our plastic use at source.

    But since I started down the zero waste and plastic free path I've found there's a big clash between these and MoneySaving.

    My principles are especially being tested now Christmas is coming.

    Eg if I hadn't stocked up on a load of cheap wrapping paper in January I'd be wrapping presents in beeswax wraps so it can be re-used!

    I get the odd strange look from cashiers when my tomatoes are rolling about all over the place on the supermarket belt because I didn't want to buy the ones in plastic trays.

    But those individual ones often cost so much more

    When I talk to other "ordinary" folk who don't think like this I feel I'm a bit over the top so I'm hoping there are more likeminded souls on the Green and Ethical board that are trying to do the same, have found the same obstacles and have found some useful solutions... and that can tell me I'm not alone!
    Last edited by MSE Andrea; 17-11-2017 at 10:23 AM.
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Page 1
    • Nonnadiluca
    • By Nonnadiluca 18th Nov 17, 3:23 PM
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    Nonnadiluca
    • #2
    • 18th Nov 17, 3:23 PM
    • #2
    • 18th Nov 17, 3:23 PM
    You are not alone! I am fighting a losing battle against waste in general and plastic waste in particular, but I keep on fighting and am making some progress. Christmas does present a real challenge though doesn't it? Foodwise, everything will be made from scratch, meat from the local butcher and veg from the excellent local greengrocer both of whom are used to me bringing my own containers: I have made drawstring bags from old voile curtains for fruit and veg,( these are good for the supermarket as the cashier can see what's in them and they weigh almost nothing. I have been complimented on the idea many times) . Presents, that's the real challenge. For my Son in law I have ordered a small cask, 5 litre, of his favourite beer from a local brewery, all other adults will get something edible and/or handmade, wrapped in fabric if I can manage it! The grandsons are the most difficult, I think it will be nigh on impossible to manage a plastic light xmas for them but, as ever, I will do what I can.
    I am really struggling with my waste from week to week though ; I have no idea where it all comes from. There are just the two of us and two dogs, we make all meals, bread, biscuits and cakes from scratch, I use soap nuts and white vinegar for laundry and buy 5 litres of Ecover wul for the dishes, we compost anything compostable and reuse anything we can. In spite of this, we still have a recycling bag full every week and a non recyclable bag every two weeks. Any suggestions for reducing this would be greatly appreciated, I would love to be one of those households which produces a carrier bag of rubbish a year, not that I have a carrier bag obviously!!!
    • Nonnadiluca
    • By Nonnadiluca 18th Nov 17, 4:33 PM
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    Nonnadiluca
    • #3
    • 18th Nov 17, 4:33 PM
    • #3
    • 18th Nov 17, 4:33 PM
    You've got me thinking now! Instead of selection boxes,( Cadbury contains palm oil, which I don't buy, as well as the packaging), I will make stockings from some red velvet which was left over from my daughter's sofa reupholstery, and fill them with favourite treats which have better green credentials. I think I will also make some tote bags and the aforementioned veg bags as extra gifts: hopefully they will save a few plastic bags being used in the future, and the tote bags can be used for gift bags.
    I'm on a roll now and will probably come back and post any other ideas, mostly so I don't forget them!
    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 20th Nov 17, 12:21 PM
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    MSE Andrea
    • #4
    • 20th Nov 17, 12:21 PM
    • #4
    • 20th Nov 17, 12:21 PM
    You are not alone! I am fighting a losing battle against waste in general and plastic waste in particular, but I keep on fighting and am making some progress. Christmas does present a real challenge though doesn't it? Foodwise, everything will be made from scratch, meat from the local butcher and veg from the excellent local greengrocer both of whom are used to me bringing my own containers: I have made drawstring bags from old voile curtains for fruit and veg,( these are good for the supermarket as the cashier can see what's in them and they weigh almost nothing. I have been complimented on the idea many times) . Presents, that's the real challenge. For my Son in law I have ordered a small cask, 5 litre, of his favourite beer from a local brewery, all other adults will get something edible and/or handmade, wrapped in fabric if I can manage it! The grandsons are the most difficult, I think it will be nigh on impossible to manage a plastic light xmas for them but, as ever, I will do what I can.
    I am really struggling with my waste from week to week though ; I have no idea where it all comes from. There are just the two of us and two dogs, we make all meals, bread, biscuits and cakes from scratch, I use soap nuts and white vinegar for laundry and buy 5 litres of Ecover wul for the dishes, we compost anything compostable and reuse anything we can. In spite of this, we still have a recycling bag full every week and a non recyclable bag every two weeks. Any suggestions for reducing this would be greatly appreciated, I would love to be one of those households which produces a carrier bag of rubbish a year, not that I have a carrier bag obviously!!!
    Originally posted by Nonnadiluca
    When those of us that are aware of the issue still have trouble, wondering where on earth the packaging is coming from, it's almost disillusioning to think how much packaging people don't think about when they're not "aware" of the issue.

    I was so happy Blue Planet highlighted it last night but so sad to see how it had to be highlighted. I'm in Zero waste and plastic free facebook groups and follow relevant accounts so I knew it was coming up in one of the episodes but it was still devastating to watch.

    Fabulous to see people's reactions are being highlighted in the papers today though and hopefully that whale calf's life won't have been in vain!
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    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 20th Nov 17, 12:22 PM
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    • #5
    • 20th Nov 17, 12:22 PM
    • #5
    • 20th Nov 17, 12:22 PM
    You've got me thinking now! Instead of selection boxes,( Cadbury contains palm oil, which I don't buy, as well as the packaging), I will make stockings from some red velvet which was left over from my daughter's sofa reupholstery, and fill them with favourite treats which have better green credentials. I think I will also make some tote bags and the aforementioned veg bags as extra gifts: hopefully they will save a few plastic bags being used in the future, and the tote bags can be used for gift bags.
    I'm on a roll now and will probably come back and post any other ideas, mostly so I don't forget them!
    Originally posted by Nonnadiluca
    Please do! And please post a photo of the stockings - "before" and "after" shots would be great!
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    • Emmala
    • By Emmala 23rd Nov 17, 3:51 PM
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    Emmala
    • #6
    • 23rd Nov 17, 3:51 PM
    • #6
    • 23rd Nov 17, 3:51 PM
    Interesting thread! I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently, after seeing the photo of the seahorse with his (her?) tail coiled round a cotton bud. It really got me thinking about beauty/cosmetic products in particular as the vast majority are contained in some form of plastic, so even by making a conscious decision to use less plastic, it’s challenging to do so from a consumers point of view, because the decisions about packaging have already been made by the manufacturer. So I know not to buy products with micro beads, or cotton buds with plastic stems, but what if I want products in glass (as I’m more confident that these will be recycled than plastic)? There aren’t many glass options out there, even among more ‘green’ beauty companies.

    We recycle a lot here already, but in June our bin collections changed from weekly to fortnightly which forced me to think even more about recycling as much as possible to make the bins as efficient as possible. I have a basket on the landing for recycling so that we aren’t tempted to chuck bottles or loo roll tubes in the bin, and this has helped a lot. I’ve been pleased to see that plastic has been in the news recently as I think much more needs doing at the top of the chain. My New Years resolution is definitely going to be to reduce, reuse and recycle much more consciously.
    • Nonnadiluca
    • By Nonnadiluca 24th Nov 17, 12:02 PM
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    Nonnadiluca
    • #7
    • 24th Nov 17, 12:02 PM
    • #7
    • 24th Nov 17, 12:02 PM
    I agree, it is difficult to buy beauty products that aren't packaged to the hilt in plastic. There are a lot of tutorials for home made lotions and potions on t'interweb, 'Going zero waste' blog has quite a few so maybe that's an avenue to explore. I use coconut oil as a body moisturiser, (If you have a Lidl near you they sometimes have organic coconut oil, in a glass jar, at a great price: I got 500ml for£3.99). I find it a bit too much for my face though so I am going to try rosehip oil which I have read is good. A friend makes eye serum with coffee grounds so I'll give that a go as well. Please share if you find/make anything good.
    • amandaatnumber7
    • By amandaatnumber7 1st Dec 17, 6:27 AM
    • 150 Posts
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    amandaatnumber7
    • #8
    • 1st Dec 17, 6:27 AM
    • #8
    • 1st Dec 17, 6:27 AM
    Back in October I had planned a plastic free Xmas, but now at the start of December reality has set in.
    I don't have the time to make as much as I wanted (I work part time and study) And I had to have time off work in September for surgery and didn't have enough leave so we're entering the silly season with tightened purse strings. Zero waste can be costly, as mentioned its more expensive to buy loose carrots/toms etc than the ones in a plastic bag and the weekly shop is my biggest expense. Children's toys are all plastic wrapped in plastic. I'm trying to make thoughtful purchases that fit in my budget. Some wooden toys, some plastic (lego) and I'm not doing stocking stuffers. My younger boys gift from Santa is a ticket to Adventure World.
    I'm glad I found this thread
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    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 1st Dec 17, 10:42 AM
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    MSE Andrea
    • #9
    • 1st Dec 17, 10:42 AM
    • #9
    • 1st Dec 17, 10:42 AM
    Interesting thread! Iíve been thinking about this quite a bit recently, after seeing the photo of the seahorse with his (her?) tail coiled round a cotton bud. It really got me thinking about beauty/cosmetic products in particular as the vast majority are contained in some form of plastic, so even by making a conscious decision to use less plastic, itís challenging to do so from a consumers point of view, because the decisions about packaging have already been made by the manufacturer. So I know not to buy products with micro beads, or cotton buds with plastic stems, but what if I want products in glass (as Iím more confident that these will be recycled than plastic)? There arenít many glass options out there, even among more Ďgreení beauty companies.

    We recycle a lot here already, but in June our bin collections changed from weekly to fortnightly which forced me to think even more about recycling as much as possible to make the bins as efficient as possible. I have a basket on the landing for recycling so that we arenít tempted to chuck bottles or loo roll tubes in the bin, and this has helped a lot. Iíve been pleased to see that plastic has been in the news recently as I think much more needs doing at the top of the chain. My New Years resolution is definitely going to be to reduce, reuse and recycle much more consciously.
    Originally posted by Emmala

    That Seahorse image has been really powerful and I think it's also helped spread the message even with people not so envronmentally aware.

    I rarely buy make-up (I'd rather overpay my mortgage) so I don't have the plastics/glass issue so much there but I'm choosing glass over plastic when I buy food and drink eg mayonnaise, cordials etc. It's sad that yogurts are much cheaper in plastic pots than glass - at least as far as I've seen - if anyone sees any cheaper let me know.

    I'm really pleased to have found a greengrocers in my new town that is happy to put my fruit and veg straight in my bag for life or in a paper bag if need be.

    It also happily takes back its own egg cartons so they can be re-used - a bonus considering their eggs are double yokers too!
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    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 1st Dec 17, 10:47 AM
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    MSE Andrea
    I agree, it is difficult to buy beauty products that aren't packaged to the hilt in plastic. There are a lot of tutorials for home made lotions and potions on t'interweb, 'Going zero waste' blog has quite a few so maybe that's an avenue to explore. I use coconut oil as a body moisturiser, (If you have a Lidl near you they sometimes have organic coconut oil, in a glass jar, at a great price: I got 500ml for£3.99). I find it a bit too much for my face though so I am going to try rosehip oil which I have read is good. A friend makes eye serum with coffee grounds so I'll give that a go as well. Please share if you find/make anything good.
    Originally posted by Nonnadiluca
    I'm afraid I don't use beauty products so the home-made recipes aren't my thing.

    Saying that, though, I've switched from shower gel to handsoap. When the soap i already have runs out I'll only buy new ones that come in cardboard packaging. I tried to have a sneak peak at the Homesense section of soaps a couple of months ago to see which ones have plastic packaging inside the boxes and which are just box. Am I possibly taking this a bit far?

    I've tried to convince the rest of the family to use soap recently but they're refusing. As I had several old ikea soaps hanging around I mushed them up in warm water, turned them into a liquid and poured them into a hand gel dispenser. The family's been using it no problem
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    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 1st Dec 17, 10:52 AM
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    MSE Andrea
    Back in October I had planned a plastic free Xmas, but now at the start of December reality has set in.
    I don't have the time to make as much as I wanted (I work part time and study) And I had to have time off work in September for surgery and didn't have enough leave so we're entering the silly season with tightened purse strings. Zero waste can be costly, as mentioned its more expensive to buy loose carrots/toms etc than the ones in a plastic bag and the weekly shop is my biggest expense. Children's toys are all plastic wrapped in plastic. I'm trying to make thoughtful purchases that fit in my budget. Some wooden toys, some plastic (lego) and I'm not doing stocking stuffers. My younger boys gift from Santa is a ticket to Adventure World.
    I'm glad I found this thread
    Originally posted by amandaatnumber7
    I'm really glad it's helping

    I live in a town with a lot of charity shops so they've been great for cheap kids' stocking fillers that don't come in plastic and help a good cause at the same time - it's a complete win win!

    Could you try that perhaps?

    It also means, when the kids eventually get bored with them, I won't have wasted much money on them and they'll get recycled at the charity shop or a future school Christmas Fayre toy tombola
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    • Nonnadiluca
    • By Nonnadiluca 1st Dec 17, 1:02 PM
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    Nonnadiluca
    I have switched to bar soap as well, and have tried shampoo bars but didn't like them much: the Lush ones that some people like contain palm oil derivatives and I choose not to buy anything containing palm oil, and my hair wasn't great with the other ones I tried. My compromise was to buy a 5litre bottle of clear, unscented shampoo from the Suma cooperative, who have pretty good environmental credentials. My reasoning is that one 5litre bottle uses less plastic than 20 X 250ml bottles, and that we could probably find a use for a large container, eg OH makes comfrey plant food so could use it for that. I don't think we could reuse 20 smaller plastic containers! It's really nice shampoo too and will last for ages, the lack of scent means that it's fine for both of us, so I consider that a win all round.
    Christmas wise, I have been looking at Furoshiki wrapping techniques on t'interweb and it seems quite easy, (famous last words!). Has anyone else tried this?
    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 1st Dec 17, 1:27 PM
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    MSE Andrea
    I know about Furoshiki but I have a ton of wrapping paper I bought reduced in the January sales so I'm going through this first.

    I'd also like to use beeswax wraps instead of cling film when my cling film runs out but I send my kids to school with their food in tubs anyway (we seem to have gathered a lot of those!) so this wouldn't save much cling film and may take a while to recoup the cost unless I can think of another use for them.
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    • MSE Andrea
    • By MSE Andrea 1st Dec 17, 1:27 PM
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    MSE Andrea
    PS in case anyone's reading this shampoo bars are on my Christmas list
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    • Emmala
    • By Emmala 5th Dec 17, 5:29 PM
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    Emmala
    I'm afraid I don't use beauty products so the home-made recipes aren't my thing.

    Saying that, though, I've switched from shower gel to handsoap. When the soap i already have runs out I'll only buy new ones that come in cardboard packaging. I tried to have a sneak peak at the Homesense section of soaps a couple of months ago to see which ones have plastic packaging inside the boxes and which are just box. Am I possibly taking this a bit far?

    I've tried to convince the rest of the family to use soap recently but they're refusing. As I had several old ikea soaps hanging around I mushed them up in warm water, turned them into a liquid and poured them into a hand gel dispenser. The family's been using it no problem
    Originally posted by MSE Andrea
    I know what you mean about the soap packaging.....why put it in the box, wrapped in plastic? Itís annoying and so wasteful.
    • Emmala
    • By Emmala 5th Dec 17, 5:31 PM
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    Emmala
    I know about Furoshiki but I have a ton of wrapping paper I bought reduced in the January sales so I'm going through this first.

    I'd also like to use beeswax wraps instead of cling film when my cling film runs out but I send my kids to school with their food in tubs anyway (we seem to have gathered a lot of those!) so this wouldn't save much cling film and may take a while to recoup the cost unless I can think of another use for them.
    Originally posted by MSE Andrea
    I was wondering about getting brown paper bags to put the kids sandwiches/rolls in rather than clingfilm. Iím not sure what the best option is. I have seen some cotton covers (a bit like shower caps!) for covering food/bowls etc instead of using cling/foil, so Iím going to investigate and get some of those for leftovers and the like.
    • Emmala
    • By Emmala 6th Dec 17, 9:33 AM
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    Emmala
    I’ve just read on the Old Style forum about biodegradable cling film, had a quick search and Sains and WRose sell one so that might solve my sandwich wrapping issues, plus if I can buy it with a normal shop I won’t be having to order it for delivery which saves too.
    • Shrimply
    • By Shrimply 6th Dec 17, 10:06 AM
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    Shrimply
    Cling film and tinfoil are two of my pet hates. The majority of the time reusable plastic tub is far more practical anyway.

    If it's a bowl that's going in the fridge stick a plate over it (p.s. this means you can stack them too. For lunches just use small tubs.

    I know I'm not perfect and I know there are things I do that I could improve on, but the fact other people don't seem to care at all really does make me sad. After I've had guests round I always end up taking things back out the bins which can be recycled etc And I think that's a big problem at Christmas in terms of people getting annoyed about you fussing over these things, and thinking you are over complicating things by no just throwing things away.
    • Ben84
    • By Ben84 10th Dec 17, 12:45 AM
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    Ben84
    what if I want products in glass (as I’m more confident that these will be recycled than plastic)? There aren’t many glass options out there, even among more ‘green’ beauty companies.
    Originally posted by Emmala
    Glass is massively more resource intensive to make and move around than plastic.

    Here's some calculations:
    https://www.triplepundit.com/2007/03/askpablo-glass-vs-pet-bottles/

    Swapping from plastic to glass is about as good for the environment as swapping a mini for a hummer.

    Not to say plastics don't have any environmental downsides - mostly when badly disposed of however - but they have come to dominate modern life in part because they're cheap - and they're cheap because they use far less resources to perform the same tasks as glass, metal or paper/card. I mean, think about it, how much does a plastic bottle weigh compared to the same volume glass bottle. Hundreds of grams of glass vs a plastic bottle that is so light it barely registers on kitchen scales, and so thin you can crush it with your hand easily. Then compare the temperature glass/sand or steel/aluminium melt as vs the melting temperature of plastics. You can melt plastics just by holding a cigarette lighter near them - flame doesn't even need to touch it, glass and metals need serious equipment to melt. Forming plastic takes much less energy.

    Of the options we have, I think plastics are the preferable material for packaging. I buy almost all items items either unpacked, or in plastic, and the end result is very little rubbish at the end of the week. When it comes to disposal, I bag them up properly and tie the bag tightly before they go in the rubbish. Don't want them to escape. My rubbish goes to a waste to energy power station where my one supermarket bag a week of mostly mixed plastic films, some paper and a few glass jars and plastic bottles is burnt to make electricity. I'm not too focused on rubbish though, it's not as big a deal as it can be presented as. Mostly I'm focused in minimising the amount of products I use. In every case I know of, products are vastly more resource intensive than their packaging. I buy concentrated products, use many reusable items, and try to make things last by using the effective amount rather than lots. A bottle of shampoo or shower gel lasts me months.

    I suppose what I'm getting at is packaging gets too much focus. Using more efficient products and not over-using them matters more than the packaging. And if like me your rubbish goes to a waste to energy power plant, anything flammable is fine - and plastics burn well. For landfill, plastics are inert, crush well compared to other materials, and contain far less bulk of material as well. I wouldn't over focus on purging plastic from my life, but do dispose of it responsibly as it is bad when it gets free in to the environment.
    Last edited by Ben84; 10-12-2017 at 12:47 AM.
    • Nonnadiluca
    • By Nonnadiluca 10th Dec 17, 6:03 PM
    • 125 Posts
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    Nonnadiluca
    For wrapping pretty much any food I use the bags from inside cereal boxes - they last for ages, are fine in the freezer, they are easy to wash and I've already bought them! My daughter and I have both been doing this for a while and it has drastically reduced the amount of cling film/foil/ plastic bags we use. As there's just OH and I at home, I buy a box of cereal probably less than once a week, but always have enough bags as they can be reused so many times.
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