I’m setting myself a challenge for 2018 of reducing single use plastics. I’d been thinking about this for a while and then someone on Zerowaste Nottingham suggested a zero single use January. I already know I’ll fail the zero goal – my meds come in plastic sheets with foil seals and I take 6 to 10 tablets a day… but I’m interested in what wangles my creative mind will come up with that will reduce my usage πŸ˜‰

I think how I give/pass things on to others will be a major area – from using black binbags for landfill rubbish [mainly cat litter! which as I trained Nonie to accept wood pellets will at least compost and not make huge quarries, ugh] to plastic bags for slices of cake to friends.

I was very pleased with myself for re-using polystyrene pizza bases as platters for the muffins I made for a local free meal cafe [open to anyone street homeless or who attends a foodbank] but then had to swathe the pile in enormous amounts of clingfilm as the platters were slightly the wrong shape and the film couldn’t tuck in. Sigh…

The wins: the polystyrene and the old show cards re-used for ingredient listings; a friend gifted me lots of stuff she won’t use following a diabetes diagnosis so some went in; most of the fruit in the muffins were actually those fancy pressed fruit bars they sell in gyms that I bought vastly reduced from Approved Foods, unwrapped and cut up with scissors [spoonie tip!] and the cocoa and cherries also came from AF, our friend in fighting bbf stupidity. I’ve worked in catering and know what to watch out for with things like flour going off/getting infested, but surely most people know anything with a huge sugar content is going to last for years?

So, lots of wins/ saves from unnecessary waste there πŸ™‚

The painful losses, hmm some of these come from a form of vanity [professional appearances!] but also from the way things are sold nowadays. Mainly clingfilm! Oh my, I wrapped and re-wrapped when the gap became clear. Then how to transport them? They were being picked up by another foodbank supporter and in the end, cursing the rash dispatch of AF boxes to the recycling, I remembered the battered Bags for Life the friend sent stuff in – I hope someone bethought themselves that they can be renewed at the supermarket for the foodbank use, but didn’t want to seem too preachy/ teach my elders to suck eggs so didn’t say. It was very hard to hand over food looking so shabby, but as my favourite saying goes you can save your face or your ass [read planet] and shabby did the job. Then there were the tubs the margarine, cherries, dried fruit etc came in. Hmm. More later! For the moment, a loss.

The next batch I had thought through a bit more and saved the wrapping from some decorative balls I bought for my next art installation

http://www.wilko.com/decelerate-living-room-collection/wilko-neutral-decorative-balls/invt/0427133

 

an aside – do you KNOW how LONG it took me to find out those balls with the slices on are called sola balls? 18 hours of scrolling through floristry and interior design sites.. finding anything when you don’t know the name for it is incredibly difficult, I started with the image pages and apparently most other people don’t know either πŸ˜€

So I had the beautiful packaging complete with pretty dangle tag and after airing them for a few days, put the next batch of muffins in the presentation bags. The trays of winter spiced flapjack and gingerbread went in the huge ziplock bags the lotus pods had been delivered in, again after airing [lotus pods aren’t poisonous!] and the info tags were made from scraps of paper and upcycled show cards again. The foil trays I sent the tray bakes in can be washed and re-used if the free cafe people are careful how they slice the cakes [really sharp knives cut through the foil if pushed too hard] as can the ziplock bags I sent the xmas cakes in.

So, much less waste – but even making the cakes makes waste because of the way I’ve been buying ingredients. To be fair, I only decided to offer cakes again when a few friends had said they would help this year, otherwise it is too many spoons. Having company, someone to spoon the mixture into the muffin tins another friend lent, maybe to wash up, it all helps. Also someone able-bodied to nip to the shops in the Xmas throng for emergency cherries πŸ˜€ But now I am in the swing and prepared to commit to at least once a month donations, then it would make sense to buy margarine in 2kg tubs, as they can be washed out to be delivery packaging. I already use the little fruit tubs for painting, as I make up a big batch of a colour to keep continuity across different materials, and they tend to need a hard scrub after use as I use craft/acrylic paints which are non-toxic but clod together as they dry. They can be cleaned and put in local recycling though.

The clingfilm/cellophane on the much reduced price fruit ingredients etc and the plastic bags that sugar comes in aren’t recyclable, so I either decide they are an exception clause A [because they make my donations financially possible] and/or pay a plastic toll to a group who do ocean clearing I think… One solution with the sugar is also helpful for spoonies and vegan recipes – using the ‘boiling’ method of cake making, making the mixture in a pan, using golden syrup or black treacle or natural blackstrap molasses or even CAJ concentrated apple juice instead of crystalline brown sugar, as you can buy these in tins or glass containers. White sugar is even easier, as Silver Spoon comes in paper and is from British sugarbeet, so hasn’t travelled thousands of miles to get here either πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, friends will be getting their slices in re-used margarine tubs for a while!

The items that sparked my personal use twang of conscience were shower gel and shampoo. After a fair bit of research it turns out you can get shampoo/shower bars that do NOT contain laureth sulphate/lauryl sulphate, not because of the effect on human skin, but because the toxology tests on animals are utterly disgusting [warning: included only for accountability, reading it is extremely upsettingΒ  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10915818309142005 Β ]

and because of the effect on waterways – fish can cope with SLEs to a certain extent, but what they eat can’t, see effect on Daphnia:

https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://duckduckgo.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1054&context=honors-theses

so that means suppliers like Lush are out. I’ve found a lovely supplier on eBay who managed to send a box out in time for Xmas, though I’d intended it for New Year πŸ™‚ she guarantees no SLEs and various other things are reset to vegan-friendly. I’ll give you a fuller report when I’ve started using them πŸ™‚

So much food for thought – as usual, a mantra I will be chanting is ‘don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough’. I know I will fail a zero single use plastic challenge, but trying will be very interesting πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

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