Trash Challenge Week 3

Welcome to week 3 of my trash challenge! It’s been interesting again this week to see where all my rubbish has come from – food is still the main culprit!

Trash Challenge Week 3

  • 3 tins
  • 1 large yoghurt pot
  • 1 milk bottle
  • 1 paper sandwich bag
  • food packaging: 1 sausage packet, 1 mince packet, pizza packaging, 1 pie box, 1 cardboard egg carton, 1 foil pie tray, 2 cereal boxes plus inner plastic bags and 1 plastic wrapper from a gammon joint (which somehow missed the photo)
  • chocolate box and chocolate wrappers, 3 chocolate bar wrappers
  • paper cases from a box of biscuits
  • baking chocolate wrapper and inner foil
  • foil
  • 1 plastic grapes bag
  • 3 bread bags
  • 1 tea bag packet
  • takeaway cartons and bag from last week (it lasted us 2 meals so spilled over into this week’ trash count)
  • 2 cardboard toilet rolls
  • medication blister packet
  • assorted papers: junk mail, scrap papers, 2 receipts, 2 envelopes and letters
  • 1 contact lens case
  • plaster packaging

I feel that it’s a little less than last week, but ultimately it’s only been 3 weeks since I started the challenge so I’ve only made a few small changes so far.

This week I continued to bake (brownies and cookies), although I succumbed to a couple of chocolate bars whilst at work. We didn’t pick up much packaging from buying fruit and veg again, and we won’t as long as we stick to greengrocers rather than supermarkets! We have also tried to buy a few more things in bulk packaging, such as meat and rice. I’m hoping that this’ll mean there’s a smaller packaging:food ratio and therefore less waste.

We also bought a joint of gammon to cook and slice for lunches during the week rather than buying small packets of ready-cooked ham or chicken. It worked really well and definitely reduced our trash in that area.

From buying the takeaway and a sandwich from a sandwich shop, I’ve learnt more forcefully how so much of being eco-friendly involves preparation and planning in advance. We’ve got very good at remembering reusable bags whenever we go shopping so hopefully I can extend this to other areas of my life too.

I also signed up to the Mail Preference Service I mentioned last week. This means that I should no longer receive direct mail from companies that I haven’t previously done business with. This should reduce our post slightly, but I think I’m also going to put a ‘No junk mail’ notice on our letter box to try and reduce the many leaflets we get each week, which tend to go straight to the recycling bin!

With one more week to go on this trash challenge, I’m going to continue thinking about changes I can make, and keep up with those I’ve already started. As a meat eater, I’ve noticed that a lot of packaging comes with meat, and I’d really like to reduce this. Visiting a butcher or meat counter with my own containers could be a good option so hopefully I’ll be able to explore this soon too.

Thank you for reading, and good luck on your own eco-friendly journey as always!


Compulsory Plastic Bags?!

So I drafted this post a week ago and I was waiting for a response from an email I sent to help finish it, but that response hasn’t appeared, so here’s the post anyway!

This is my third post about plastic bags…you might be able to guess that this is something I feel strongly about! (For previous rants, please see my posts on Plastic Bags  and Plastic Bag Chaos).

Anyway, this plastic bag post was prompted by a visit to a Sportdirect shop (not somewhere I normally visit). Upon buying a few items, my friend was given a plastic bag. Even though he said he didn’t need it, the shop assistant insisted that it was compulsory to have a bag with a purchase and gave him one anyway. As you can imagine, I was incredibly annoyed by this – how can we be more environmentally friendly if large companies are preventing us from doing so?!

I googled their policy when I got back home, and discovered online complaints from others about the same problem – one even dating back to 2008! I can’t believe they have managed to keep this policy going for so long! (I found nothing about it mentioned on their website despite a long search). So I emailed Sportsdirect about this, asking them to explain their policy in relation to the environment, and I still haven’t heard back!

Have you experienced something similar?

Plastic Bag Chaos

I just saw an article on the BBC News homepage and had to share: it’s titled Plastic bag charge a ‘complete mess’.

I wrote a while ago (see Week 8: Plastic Bags) that the government is thinking of introducing a 5p charge for plastic bags – but only in large stores and supermarkets.

This follow-up BBC article encapsulates everything I feel about it. It’s a good small step in the right direction, but it’s overly complicated and the example of other countries (Wales, Northern Ireland, Irish Republic) imposing an overall charge on bags seems to be working – why won’t England follow suit?

Take a look and let me know your thoughts! Do you know anywhere else that a charge for disposable bags has been a success?

Week 8: Plastic Bags

Last weekend Nick Clegg announced that from 2015 all plastic bags in ‘supermarkets and larger stores’ will carry a charge of 5p. Although personally I feel that 5p is unlikely to make a huge amount of difference, I think that this is definitely a step in the right direction, and this prompted me to explore alternatives to plastic bags in today’s post.

I have not yet entirely eliminated plastic bags from my life. I mainly use them as bin liners and bin bags, and I reuse them when I go shopping.  Every time someone in the house gets a new plastic bag (for whatever reason), it’s saved and we use them until they break. This means that we get the maximum use out of them.

Of course, because plastic is a material that takes thousands of years to break down, I think that it’s important to use as few plastic bags as possible. I’ve heard so many stories about birds feeding bits of plastic to their chicks, and of sea animals choking or starving to death due to mistakenly eating plastic. The less that we put into the environment the better.

I’ve already posted some ideas about making bags out of t-shirts (see Week 7: Reusing Old Clothes). You could also investigate local craft markets if you don’t want to make your own, as lots of people sell bags and other things that they’ve made themselves. This will reduce the bag’s carbon footprint as it hasn’t had to travel as far, and will most likely be made of fabric rather than plastic, which is easier to reuse, and better for the environment.

You can also buy ‘bags for life’ from supermarkets and other shops to reuse, rather than flimsy plastic bags. I think that even if ‘bags for life’ are made from plastic, ultimately you’re going to be using less of them than you would of plastic bags that are designed to be disposable, so this is still a more environmentally friendly choice. There are also loads of reusable bags you can buy – including these from H&H, also available in gift shops, card shops and no doubt on many other websites, which are the perfect size to keep in your handbag, ready for when they’re needed.

Other ideas:

  • Refuse plastic bags in greengrocers and bakers – take your own bags or containers to use instead.
  • Freeze items in containers (plastic or stainless steel) rather than plastic. Or wash and reuse plastic bags if you still want to use them.
  • Look at the packaging that food, clothes etc. come in and try to buy items that aren’t so encased in plastic.

Good luck with your green efforts this week!