Thursday, 17 July 2014

A response from Dairy Crest and do Kallo stock cube wrappers contain plastic?

I recently switched to buying milk in glass bottles from the milkman as it is plastic free, organic, unhomogenised, supermarket free (ish - whether or not Dairy Crest is supermarketesque is another question) and at least British if not local. However I was concerned about whether the farmers were being paid a fair price for the milk I bought and decided to ask Dairy Crest (who I'm buying the milk from) directly as I outlined in this article here.  This is what they said.

I will have to take them at their word, but I was disappointed over their lack of transparency over this issue.

I have also been wondering if the stock cubes I buy have plastic in the wrapper, so I tweeted Kallo as I usually buy their brand of stock cubes.  They replied with this.  

Before I got their reply I also did my own experiment - I soaked the wrapper in water and then separated out the layers and found the thin layer of plastic on top of the foil. I have heard this method can be good if you want to recycle the different layers, but I just ended up with a bit of a mess...

I'm sure Kallo are not alone in the way they package their stock cubes and I am quite happy to live without stock cubes. I often substitute them with yeast extract because it is sugar free and it is one of the key ingredients in stock cubes.  However I have yet to find plastic free yeast extract - although the Meridian brand does come in a glass jar with a metal lid, but the lid is plastic lined. I  have tried making my own stock in the past, but it has never tasted anything like the stuff you buy and other members of my family want their rice and pasta cooked with stock.  I have asked Kallo if they will consider rethinking their stock cube packaging, but in the meantime I need to start looking for plastic free stock - any suggestions anyone?  I also need to update my going single use plastic free to do list with stock cubes (read more here)!

Other UK bloggers going plastic free can be found writing at WestywritesPlastic is RubbishWestwick DreamingSecond-hand talesSustainable WitneyMy Zero WastePlastic-Free July in Croydon and Mommy Emu - take a look and why not join us on our plastic free journey!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter - thanks so much!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Plastic Diary days 8 to 13 - no use crying over spilled milk!

I have been known to get emotional over wasted food before (read more here), but this time I managed to keep it together :)  This milk got spilled on day 12 of Plastic Free July and is part of a longer milk and now bread related saga...  I started buying milk in glass bottles from the milkman for several reasons:

  1. It is plastic free
  2. It is organic and unhomogenized 
  3. It is British (so localish i.e. not imported from overseas)
  4. It is not from a supermarket.
However it has not been a smooth ride so far - I had a few issues with getting the order right to begin with (my fault not theirs) and although that is sorted now it is all still fairly new and my son was excited about finding the milk on the doorstep. He wanted to carry it to the kitchen (he's 6 and very enthusiastic) and did a great job until putting it down where he managed to miss the worktop entirely. As you can see the milk bottle lost the fight with the floor :)

So there is obviously the downside that milk in glass bottles is breakable and with two small kids I do need to supervise them closely when they decide that they absolutely must be the ones to get it out of the fridge and pour it on their cereal!

My other concern about the milk is whether or not the farmers are getting paid fairly for it.  I am buying the milk from Milk and More which is part of Dairy Crest.  I read an article in the Guardian here from 2012 which seems to imply Dairy Crest are not paying farmers a fair amount but it is a bit vague and perhaps out of date, so I gave Milk and More a call to try and find out what percentage of the cost of the milk goes to the farmers.  They have been very evasive about it so far and each person I speak to has told me they don't know at which point I ask to be put through to someone who does.  I'm still waiting for them to get back to me with an answer... 

I don't know of any viable alternative plastic free, supermarket free, organic, unhomogenized milk options locally so I am going to stick with this for now until / unless a better solution comes along.

Bread and milk have been a bit of a bone of contention in my house.  Ever since I stopped shopping in supermarkets I stopped buying enough bread and milk to last us all week. Instead I bought them little and often, but sometimes (ok very frequently) I entirely run out of bread and milk because I haven't had a chance to pop to the corner shop to get more. So I decided to give ordering bread with the milk a go so that we stop regularly running out of bread.  

I naively didn't expect that it would be left outside my door in a plastic bag though.  Yes the bread comes in a plastic bag (I am allowing this exception as I rarely eat it - it is for my family and student), but it doesn't need to come in another plastic bag! When I spoke to them about the milk I asked them not to put the bread in a plastic bag next time so hopefully I won't have this problem again!

So what happened throughout the rest of days 8 to 13?


I did have a couple of successful mostly plastic free days during this period (only I was plastic free, not the rest of my family).  I found it easier to be more plastic free the days that I wasn't at home.

I bought plastic free cucumbers from the Food Market in Lewes (find out more about the market here) and my mum kindly gave me a cucumber she had grown herself, so I can happily eat cucumbers again!  I also made plastic free chips.  I was making baked potatoes anyway and decided to make the chips in the overn at the same time to freeze for later use.  I open froze them on the non-stick oven sheets pictured (to make sure they didn't stick together while freezing) and then put them old ice cream tubs to store longer term.

Single use plastic I used/ chucked/ recycled specifically for me during days 8 to 13:

  • I used and bought mayonnaise (plastic in the lid)
  • Stickers on fruit
  • Plastic in butter wrapper and on the label.
  • Tomato puree (plastic lid)
  • Olive oil (plastic pourer/ in the lid)
  • Tahini (plastic in lid)
  • Coconut oil (plastic in lid)
  • Toilet paper packaging
  • Vinegar for washing - comes in a plastic bottle with a plastic lid
  • I recycled a plastic bottle which contained a water purifier for our fish tank - I do absolutely nothing for our fish tank - my husband does all the hard work, but I do get to enjoy looking at it, so I guess this is shared plastic...
I also went to a wedding, ate food and drank lots of wine which would have had plastic packaging, but I didn't see it - so it doesn't count :)

Single use plastic I used/ chucked / recycled that wasn't for me during days 8 to 13:

  • Cucumber wrappers
  • Kids stickers and sticker sheet backing
  • Random plastic bubble wrap off the kitchen floor 
  • Packaging associated with kids toy (was given to my son a while ago for his birthday but we only just got round to opening it) 
  • Bin full of sweet wrappers (not mine:) ) 
  • Pen went in the bin as it was broken by my son
  • Bread bags
  • Marmite jar lid 
  • My parents left behind some plastic rubbish which they thought we would be able to recycle but we couldn't (they very kindly babysat for us while we were at the wedding).
  • Fizzy drinks cans - apparently they are plastic lined (read more here)
  • Tea bags - many tea bags contain plastic - read more here.
  • Rice bag - I buy rice in bulk 5kg bags, but I decant the rice a bit at a time into a smaller container. I finished decanting the rice on day 13 and had two bags - an outer very strong looking bag and an inner flimsy plastic bag to deal with.  I keep the outer bags but the thin bag went in the recycling.
That's it for now, but I will be back with more plastic related posts soon!!!

Other UK bloggers going plastic free can be found writing at WestywritesPlastic is RubbishWestwick DreamingSecond-hand talesSustainable WitneyMy Zero WastePlastic-Free July in Croydon and Mommy Emu - take a look and why not join us on our plastic free journey!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter - thanks so much!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Plastic diary - Days 4 to 7 of Plastic Free July

My plastic free diary continues.  If you missed days 1 to 3 catch up with them here!

Day 4 - Friday

Today's successes:

No single use plastics used or thrown away by me today (not counting the hairbrush prong)- yippee!

  1. I did a very nearly plastic free shop (except for cucumbers).  I bought salmon from the fishmongers on the seafront near me in a reusable container. I bought chicken in a saucepan from the local butchers and unpackaged fruit, veg and nuts from the grocers. I brought them home in reusable bags.  I know some people like to take separate reusable bags for delicate fruit and veg, but I just stack them in the bags in such a way that they don't get squashed and it seems to work so far.  Sometimes I wash out the large reusable bags I use.
  2. I found plastic free sea salt at the fishmongers (I was very excited about this as it is the only place I have found plastic free salt not in the supermarket!)
  3. We had plastic free roast chicken and roast potatoes (including roasted sweet potato and butternut squash) for dinner. 
Plastic used/ thrown away/ recycled:
  • A broken toy - plastic water pipe/ whistle thing went in the bin (not single use plastic and not mine, but the type of toy that breaks far too easily)
  • Another broken hairbrush prong :(

Day 5 - Saturday

Today's successes:

  1. I made pasta from scratch with mainly plastic free ingredients!  I messed up a bit though and used olive oil which has plastic around the lid/ seal... Next time I will use just flour and water, as I tried making it with egg and didn't like it and the recipe with the oil didn't work very well either as it was too wet.   The pasta took me hours and hours to make using a manual machine - I need to get quicker at it!
  2. The milk arrived from the milkman for the first time in a glass bottle!  
  3. I made spaghetti bolognaise with steamed grated sweet potato for dinner for me.  The rest of the family did have spaghetti which had been plastic packaged though.  I made the bolognaise sauce from scratch with mince that I bought unpackaged from the butcher and that I transported home in a reusable container. Some of the other ingredients did come packaged with plastic though :( - tomato puree lid and yeast extract lid were both plastic
Plastic used/ thrown away:
  1. I ate a sandwich for lunch as I was in a major rush to get to my sons summer fair in time to help out on stall at 12.00... I didn't have time to make a salad.  The bread came out of a plastic bag :(
  2. Dishwasher tablet wrapper - another thing I still haven't sorted - plastic free dishwasher powder.
  3. Cucumber wrapper in the bin.
  4. Spaghetti in plastic packaging (not for me and already in my cupboard)
  5. I realised that instead of ordering full fat milk from the milkman I had ordered skimmed milk, so I changed my order and then somehow cancelled my milk for the rest of the week meaning I had to go out and buy some in plastic bottle later in the week.  I also didn't order enough milk as I had family over on Sunday wanting cups of tea and we ran out before the delivery we were due to have next, which then didn't come - doh, doh, doh!!!!
  6. I bought some secondhand uniform for my son at the summer fair, but did also buy a new school jumper in a disposable plastic wrapper :( - wasn't for me and at least I bought some secondhand.
  7. On Saturday night I drank a little more wine (from the open bottle with the plastic seal)...  I had decided it didn't count it as it was already open (I am making up the rules as I go along), but I'm not going to open any more this month (ok don't hold me to that).
Day 6 - Sunday

Today's successes:

A pretty good day today! I had my husbands family over for lunch - there were 11 of us (including kids) and I made them a virtually plastic free lunch of:

  • salmon (bought in a reusable container from the fishmonger and cooked in a stoneware baker with a lid so no foil either),
  • homemade pasta (ok lets not talk about the oil), 
  • homemade pasta sauce (yes ok there was plastic in the passata jar lid and the tomato puree lid, but I made it in bulk and froze the leftovers, so perhaps less plastic than if I had bought jars of the stuff...), 
  • homemade coleslaw (virtually plastic free except a little plastic in the mayonnaise lid - need to make my own! I did use homemade yoghurt though)
  • Cherry tomatoes and chopped up carrots - bought unpackaged from the grocers. There was also plastic wrapped cucumber...
  • My mother-in-law very kindly brought a fruit salad in a reusable container (I didn't ask about the fruit salad packaging :))
Plastic used/ thrown away/ recycled:
  • Gifts which came in plastic bags (saved for reuse) from family and plastic rubbish associated with them (chucked in the bin).
  • Cucumber wrapper (I tried to avoid eating the cucumber, but kept eating it without thinking and gave up in the end!)
Day 7:

Today's successes:

Today was a single use plastic free day - woohoo! 

Plastic used/ thrown away/ recycled:

Ok it was single use plastic free, apart from using some vinegar for the washing (comes in a plastic bottle with a plastic lid - shh). I also made my son a marmite and cheese sandwich which in fact I do most days.  The cheese is ok, but the marmite had a plastic lid (but it wasn't for me, so doesn't count).

Conclusions after a week of Plastic Free July:

Although I set myself some rules for this month, I am going to scrap them.  Instead I am going to strive to be as plastic free as possible (but not worry if I'm not) and to continue to document and observe what I do throughout the month so I know what I need to work on in future.

There will be more diary entries soon and also I have a post coming up about interesting observations about going plastic free - so watch out for them!!!

Other UK bloggers going plastic free can be found writing at WestywritesPlastic is RubbishWestwick DreamingSecond-hand talesSustainable WitneyMy Zero WastePlastic-Free July in Croydon and Mommy Emu - take a look and why not join us on our plastic free journey!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter - thanks so much!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Plastic diary - Days 1 to 3 of Plastic Free July

I promised to keep a plastic diary throughout July and here is it - the first few days! (Just as a reminder I have challenged myself to refuse single use plastics associated with me only, but to try to limit them for the rest of the family - read more here)

Before I start, I've been having a think about what counts as single use plastic.  A plastic bag that you use once to carry your shopping home could be defined as single use, but is it still single use if you use it over and over again?  I'm starting to realise that when I say I am trying to avoid single use plastic during July, what I mean is plastic that is designed to be disposable and not long lasting.  Even that is a bit confusing, but I will stick with that definition for now. To see another bloggers take on it read here.

Daily plastic free successes:

Based on my definition above, I think my electric toothbrush heads are a bit of a grey area as they are designed to be disposable, but the electric toothbrush itself is long lasting and I use the toothbrush heads for as long as possible. Toothbrushes aside I have the following plastic free successes daily:

  • I brush my teeth with bicarbonate of soda that I bought in bulk in a paper bag from my local Chinese grocery shop. 
  • I would usually use bicarbonate of soda as a deodorant as well, but recently a friend gave me some homemade lavender deodorant in a reusable pot, which is such a treat and I have been really enjoying using that.  (Bicarb used for brushing teeth and deodorant pictured above)
  • As far as toilet paper goes although I spent a month not using it (read more here), it didn't work for me long term.  I had thought about trying other methods, but can't bring myself to do it at the moment.  So I am using toilet paper at the moment.  It is toilet paper that we bought in bulk over a year ago though so I haven't actually been out to buy any in a very long time!
  • I wash my hands with olive oil soap, which comes packaged in a cardboard box.
  • I don't have a shower every day, but when I do I use the soap mentioned above and I also use it to wash my hair.  I don't use any other products in the shower - no shower gel, no shampoo and no conditioner (read more about that challenge here)
  • The kids have a plastic free breakfast - porridge which was bought in bulk in a paper bag and fruit which was bought unpackaged from the grocers.  I also have fruit for breakfast bought unpackaged from the grocers.
  • I have a plastic free lunch of salad - instead of buying plastic packaged lettuces, I have been buying unpackaged cabbage and shredding it for a salad base.  I also very kindly got given a homegrown lettuce recently, which was delicious!
  • I make packed lunches for the rest of the family which although does involve plastic packaged bread also contained unpackaged chopped up veg, fruit and and I make my own sandwich fillings. I do use mayonnaise that I buy in a jar though and that is something I still need to work on and also the cucumber is plastic wrapped...
  • The kids have been picking homegrown plastic free strawberries and raspberries every evening to have for dessert after dinner each night - sometimes added to homemade plastic free yoghurt.
  • I drink plastic free herbal teas - using homegrown lemon balm, mint and chamomile in hot water (read more about my chamomile tea here
  • I do plastic free washing up using bicarbonate of soda (read more here)
My plastic free diary - Days 1 to 3:

Day 1 - Tuesday

Today's successes:

Technically I didn't buy, use or throw away any single use plastics related to myself at all today - hooray!

For dinner we had omelettes - the eggs were bought plastic free via my bulk buying egg group I set up as part of my food sharing group (read more here) and the cheese was bought in bulk at the butchers chopped straight off a massive block and transported home in reusable containers (read more here).  I also added some veggies which were bought unpackaged from the grocers

Plastic used/ thrown away:

  1. First thing on the first morning of Plastic Free July I had to change a pooey nappy - which I put in a disposable nappy bag straight in the bin (I was hoping my son would be finished with nappies by now and he is in the day time but not at night).
  2. I also tried on two pairs of tights realised they had massive holes in them and needed to be chucked (then afterwards I wondered if they can be recycled). I also realised tights probably have plastic in them - nylon is plastic, is lycra plastic?  Also although tights can be worn again and aren't in theory designed to be worn a couple of times and then chucked, that is what tends to happen with me, so maybe they are single use plastic...
  3. I used a different hair brush to normal and two of the plastic prongs broke off :( which were chucked in the bin.  Not single use plastic in theory, but maybe poor quality plastic items which are supposed to last longer than they do should count... 
Day 2 - Wednesday

Today's successes:

  • Ordered milk in glass bottles from the milkman -to start on the weekend
  • Bought bulk sunflower seeds and popping corn - they did come in plastic bags, but two 5kg bags instead 20 x the 500g bags I would have had, plus they cost half of what I would have paid! I bought these from Infinity foods wholesale which is probably the cheapest place / way to buy a large variety of bulk organic foods in Brighton! (In case you are wondering I have not been sponsored or subsidised in any way by them - I do have a friend who works for them though.) Previously I was buying the exact same branded products from my local grocer in small bags at double the cost - really not sure why I haven't done this sooner!
  • Got given some beautiful (and very tall) plastic free flowers from my friends garden!
  • Homemade pizza for dinner using my breadmaker (only plastic ingredients included tomato puree lid and yeast packaging)

Plastic used/ thrown away:

  • Today I broke my rules on purpose.  I bought yoghurt in a plastic pot and cream in a plastic pot.
    • I bought the yoghurt because I needed some to start a new batch of homemade yoghurt as I had left my homemade starter too long to use (see how I make yoghurt here)
    • I bought the cream so that I could make Tikka Massala sauce, which I made in bulk the next day and then froze. I would like to think I was doing it to avoid plastic, but actually a lot of the ingredients came in plastic packaging - herbs, spices, cream, plastic lid on tomato puree...
  • I also broke my rules by accident - it was the last week of the Catchbox season (read more here) and my lovely friend picked up my fish for me. However I forgot to give her a reusable container every time she picked the fish up for me and it came home in a disposable plastic bag. The same lovely friend bought me a really beautiful plastic free bunch of flowers though which came from her back garden!
  • Plastic also went in the bin that wasn't mine/ wasn't single use:
    • Cucumber wrapper
    • My son broke the decorative badge on one of his Crocs (plastic shoes)

Day 3 - Thursday

Today's successes:

  • I made gingerbread men using mostly plastic free ingredients to be sold at my son's summer fair. I used olive oil that was bought in plastic, but bought in a massive bulk bottle of it quite a while ago.  The ginger was also bought in a bulk packet (although thinking about it I could have tried using raw ginger to save on more packaging) 
  • For dinner we had chicken tikka massala with homemade sauce. Yes there were plastic problems with the sauce, but I made myself unpackaged cauliflower rice (basically you blitz cauliflower in a food processor and then steam it) and my husband had normal rice, which I had bought in bulk from one of my local shops (can't remember which one!). The chicken was leftover from a roast chicken that I bought unpackaged from my local butchers and transported home in a large saucepan.  I had frozen it in a reusable container. Kids and student didn't have dinner at home that evening.

Plastic used/ thrown away/ recycled

  1. Vinegar - put plastic bottle in recycling bin, saved lid for taking to the The Green Centre. I had planned to make my own vinegar for July as I use it all the time for cleaning and for washing clothes but I haven't found the time to do this yet. Plus if I did make my own vinegar I would need to test if it is acid enough and I have a feeling any test kit I buy would be likely to contain plastic...
  2. Tuna - came in tins - plastic lined (wasn't for me and was already in my cupboard from before July)
  3. Pasta which came in a plastic bag (wasn't for me and was already in the cupboard)
  4. Empty yoghurt pot - washed and kept 
  5. Stock cube wrapper - not sure if it has plastic in it - Kallo organic brand (wasn't for me and again was already in the cupboard)
  6. Cream pot - went in the bin
  7. Bed wetting mat - went in the bin (wasn't for me, but I keep planning to buy a reusable one of these!!!)
  8. I had wine with dinner - even though it comes in glass bottles, it has a plastic seal :(.  The wine was already opened though so I decided it didn't count shh don't tell anyone :).

That's it for now, but tomorrow I will  be publishing what happened from days 4-7 so look out for it!

Other UK bloggers going plastic free can be found writing at WestywritesPlastic is RubbishWestwick DreamingSecond-hand talesSustainable WitneyMy Zero WastePlastic-Free July in Croydon and Mommy Emu - take a look and why not join us on our plastic free journey!

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter - thanks so much!

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