Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (3-10April)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

This past week we continued to eat our way through the once a month delivery of food. To top up supplies I did:

  1. Change my regular veg box order from medium boxes of veg and fruit to just one small veg box (no potatoes). Some weeks I do really well with my veg box but other weeks some of the stuff can end up in the compost, which I know is a complete waste of food and money. I’m trying to be better and only order when I really need it, and change the order depending on what we need.

2. With this in mind, I made sure I used up most items within a few days, even if we didn’t eat them. I roasted some of the tomatoes and courgettes, to make a pasta sauce later in the week. I also tried my hand at wild garlic pesto (stored in an old Nutella jar):

Wild garlic pesto organic veg box

Wow! Normally I add the wild garlic to a little salad or soup a little half heartedly – and then end up composting the rest.But this recipe really worked to help extend its shelf life. Although I added a couple of spoonfuls to some pasta, the taste was a bit TOO strong (although it would have kept vampires at bay!). But, I have kept it stored in the fridge and am now using it as a replacement for garlic cloves in recipes, adding a teaspoon at a time to dishes.

 

3. On the food front I also topped up the olive oil in my cupboard as I ran out earlier in the week and hadn’t ordered a replacement. My local Holland and Barret store has a large oil refill station. You buy the glass bottles, fill them with oil and then pay. Next time you return to the shop, you just refill the glass bottle and pay only for the oil. I love that mainstream stores are now offering zero waste products and services. When I saw the oil and sesame oil reduced I had to buy it. Once I’ve used these bottles I can keep returning to the store to fill up, thus encouraging repeat custom.

 

 

4. My daughter helped to collect the eggs from the school hens and came home with some beautiful eggs on the last day of term – perfect timing for Easter!

Multicoloured eggs pastel hens eggs

5. On Saturday night we went to a fundraiser for Alzheimers Society. We took part in a quiz, enjoyed a ploughmans meal and bought a few raffle tickets. We ended up winning a Ghostbusters 1 & 2 dvd plus big bag of popcorn – perfect evening entertainment for the school holidays!

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Zero Waste & Plastic Free Bloggers to follow

package free grocery shopping

Oh the world of Zero Waste/Plastic Free can be a beautiful one: full of gorgeous waste -free interiors and kitchen shelves stocked with glass jars holding package-free food. But, even the most photogenic blogs reveal a serious side to them. Those Zero Waste bloggers that I follow are working very hard to reduce their impact on the environment. Whether it’s avoiding all packaging and taking only glass jars and canvas bags to the store; reducing cosmetics to a bare minimum, or refusing all things plastic, their blogs carry a serious message and call to action. Here is a selection of my favourites:

Zero Waste Home

inspirational reads: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

Bea Johnson is author of ‘Zero Waste Home’. Her book (and blog) is full of practical tips on how to eliminate waste in your house. For example she goes shopping with bags and glass jars and doesn’t accept any packaging. Being French (although living in California), she also has an amazing minimalist wardrobe, and wears only home-made and packaging free cosmetics. An online tour of her home also shows that she practices what she preaches:

Plastic is Rubbish

Blogger Polythene Pam is passionate about plastic – and avoiding it. The British blogger behind Plastic is Rubbish went plastic free in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Her blog is packed with useful information and campaigns. She also has a very comprehensive directory of where to purchase non-plastic items and how to avoid packaging.

plastic-is-rubbish blog

Treading my own Path

On the other side of the world Lindsay Miles writes the blog Treading my Own Path and is author of e-book ‘That’s A Wrap – the eGuide for Plastic-Free Living’. Lindsay takes some beautiful photographs and it’s worth following her Instagram account here too  For a snapshot of ‘a day in the life’ try this blog post here.

Zero Waste Chef

I really like the Zero Waste Chef, Anne Marie Bonneau. She subscribes to a packaging-free life and cooks without waste, yet she does it in a very human way. She has a tiny kitchen (see the post here) and admits when she’s made mistakes. She also writes a lot about fermentation and runs webinars.

Trash is for Tossers

Lauren Singer has been living trash free for four years and is one of the best known zero waste campaigners (along with Bea Johnson and Beth Terry from myplasticfreelife). She lives in New York and, okay, is one of those bloggers who has a photogenic life. But she is also very serious about her lifestyle choices, runs a small company selling organic, vegan cleaning products and has a host of zero waste tutorials on her youtube channel.

I also want to make a special mention for two blogging friends, Jen at mymakedoandmendlife and Zoe at ecothriftyliving. While they blog on general environmental matters their approach to living waste free and lightly are inspirational. And I must also mention Rae Strauss, who runs Zero Waste Week (first week of September) and is always full of tips on how to reduce the waste in your home.

And if you fancy sharing your own plastic-free tips and images join in with #plasticfreetuesday every week on twitter and instagram

A spot of plastic-free shopping with the secondhand tales household

A spot of plastic-free shopping with the secondhand tales household

Is Free Coffee worth it?

Is Free Coffee worth it? via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

At least twice a week I  commute to Bath. And, like many other commuters in the city, I stop at Waitrose to get my free coffee.

If you haven’t come across the Waitrose loyalty card before, you can use it to pick up free takeaway coffee/tea or get a big reduction on hot drinks in the cafe. When the supermarket first started the scheme a couple of years ago all hot drinks were free –  a rather over-generous, and unsustainable,  gesture on the part of the marketing team. As a result people only used the cafe for their free drinks, causing huge queues. Now the loyalty card has been refined and a special takeaway self-service station set up. You  have to get your card scanned in order to get a takeaway cup (which is pointless for someone like me who brings a reusable cup).

Free Coffee at Waitrose - is it worth it? via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

For the past few weeks I have been happily joining the queues to get my free latte and feeling rather smug when I produce my re-usable cup (while trying to inform people of the evils of disposable coffee cup lids in the process!). But a couple of things have got me thinking about this:

  1. On my walk into work I pass a small coffee shop. Despite being on a busy main road it’s not in the best position for passing trade and a friend and I have commented on this. Last week the manager handed out a free pre-stamped loyalty card to us. The idea was that if we came in and got a couple of coffees we’d earn enough stamps to get the next one free. I admired his attempt at reaching out to potential customers, but still happily passed by en route to Waitrose.

Bath coffee shop loyalty card

2. On my way back from a meeting at the Fashion Museum I passed by another cafe, The Boston Tea Party, which is part of a small chain. I was pleased to see they offered a discount to people bringing in their own reusable coffee cups. But I’d already got my free latte and didn’t want another shot of coffee that day. So I just passed on.

BUT if I didn’t get my free coffee from Waitrose I COULD have popped into the new coffee shop, or got my latte fix for a reduced price from Boston Tea Party. And slowly I began to wonder how many local coffee shops were struggling with customers because they were getting their daily cuppa free of charge from somewhere else?

A quick search indicates there are 82 coffee shops in Bath which is a huge number I know. Some of them have been established for years,making use of local and tourist trade. Others are more recent and, I believe, may not last as long as location and cost are pretty crucial. As overseas tourists don’t tend to have Waitrose cards it’s probably the local and national trade that is affected more by the free coffee from the supermarket (which also has a great central location). Anecdotally I have family members who will only use Waitrose to get their free cuppa when they are visiting another town – no matter how many great independent coffee shops there may be.

While I don’t have any hard evidence for the decline in  sales of coffee in other shops, particularly at commuter time, I’m going to make a change. I’m going to skip the Waitrose latte in the mornings and seek out some of the independents. I also want to locate those shops that give discounts to customers with their own cups. So watch this space…..

 

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (16-22 Jan)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.comSo now that I’m getting into a new working pattern my week is starting to look rather different. One of the biggest changes is being in Bath three times a week and having a lunch break. If I’m not careful I will be trawling charity shops a lot and my Thrifty Finds may grow ….

This past week, though, I was still quite restrained :

  1. I’ve had mixed fortunes  dealing with food waste this past week. I managed to use up the last of the Christmas mincemeat by adding it to a fruit cake. I also used up the water which I had kept after cooking some beetroots. I added it to some homemade playdough for the kids – which turned into a cool red colour.

homemade playdough made with natural beetroot dye

But, if I’m honest, I’m still struggling with the veg and fruit box and not using all the ingredients. I had to throw away a few mouldy oranges and a lot of lettuce 😦

2. I picked up a couple of books on Slow Living/Living intentionally at the library. I realised I hadn’t got a book from the library for well over a month. It was nice to have time to browse the shelves and, now my kids are older, I don’t have to head straight for the children’s corner.

library books as part of Thrifty Finds series on seoncdhandtales.wordpress.com

3. I finally received that refund for the delayed train last month (We were stuck on a train outside Sevenoaks station for over an hour!)

4. I went to a free lunchtime talk at Bath Guildhall. It was about the 50th anniversary of Bath Record Office. As part of my job I will be promoting this great service.

5. I’m struggling at the moment with the free coffee from Waitrose that I pick up every morning when I’m at work. I know I shouldn’t struggle with free coffee but I do wonder how it affects trade in the other local coffee shops. I’m currently planning a post on this. In the meantime I take my trusty re-usable coffee cup (and have already had a few conversations with people about it!). I also received double stamps on my loyalty card from another coffee shop because I brought a reusable cup!

Reusable bamboo coffee cup

And finally… not a Thrifty Find at all but I wanted to say that I marked last Friday by meeting up with the lovely Deborah from The Magic Jug blog. She had been in town earlier to help with the ‘Build Bridges Not Walls’ banner that had been draped over Bath’s historic Pulteney Bridge – to mark Trump’s inauguration  (see here). It’s always so lovely when you meet up with someone whose words you read on a regular basis. And last Friday it was even nicer to meet up with a similar minded person. I also watched and read all the coverage on the Women’s Marches which stirred my feminist soul and made me feel I really had to do something.

 

princess-leia via ladieswhodesign.com

You can download this poster via womenwhodesign website here

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Plastic Free July: Failing to plan…

So, despite the fact that I have been trying to avoid some single use plastic for the past couple of years I still slip up by failing to plan. Sometimes I can be very good and take a  trip out with my disposable coffee cup/water bottle, spork, napkin and reusable bags.

But there are also times when I don’t think ahead. For example this week I went to see the wonderful Billy Bragg in concert (a great, therapeutic post-Brexit experience).

But I hadn’t even clocked that, at the bar, drinks would be served in disposable plastic glasses. This is something that is so obvious and, as someone who works the bar in an Arts Centre, I should have known this. Of course, because I couldn’t go without a pint of the local brew, ‘Funky Monkey’, I had to order the drinks in the plastic pint glasses.

What makes me even more cross with myself is that we have two reusable plastic pint glasses picked up from last year’s festivals:

reusuable plastic pint glasses

So, next time I go to a gig I must remember to take one of these. Sometimes I feel I need a crystal ball to predict what sort of disposable plastic products I will be faced with on a day to day business. And if I packed for every eventuality I would have a very heavy bag….

Still it’s all a learning experience and, as I promised myself, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

On an unexpected positive note this week I ordered a t-shirt which, although it did arrive in a plastic bag, had only this fabric label attached:

Redbubble label

The label explains the care instructions and points customers towards its returns website. I was also very impressed that it was attached to the t-shirt with the wooden clothes peg, rather than those awful plastic tags that end up lost on the floor when you cut them off!

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Plastic Free July Days 1-6

plastic free July

This month is Plastic Free July, an idea originating from Australia that encourages us to give up single use plastic for a month.

I haven’t completely made up my mind as to whether I will actively take part in Plastic Free July this year. I participated a couple of years ago (post here) and really struggled with finding alternatives that matched a)my time and b)budget.

However I like to think I have learned a lot since that experience, and incorporated some of the plastic-free habits into my everyday life.

So, with this in mind, I’ve set up a very loose guide as to how I am going to participate in Plastic Free July this time:

  1. Continue with my ‘good habits’, that is to take reusable shopping bags, refuse plastic straws and disposable cutlery and, instead, bring my own.
  2. Refuse the top four single use plastic sources: carrier bags, straws, takeaway coffees and plastic bottles. I do most of that already (see above) but could be better with the latter two.
  3. Not beat myself up if I make a ‘fail’.

So, since the beginning of July, I have gone out and about with my new(ish) reusable bamboo coffee cup:

20160706-145326.jpg

I have carried water in my brilliant Lakeside container that keeps drinks hot or cold:

 

20160704-153415.jpg

We managed a plastic-free picnic for school sports day last Friday:

20160704-153404.jpg

I also undertook a mammoth baking session at the weekend to ensure we had lots of unwrapped, homecooked snacks

 

20160704-153349.jpg

I have, however, been not so good when it comes to plastic wrapping. I went to the cinema and bought a packet of Maltesers (although I also took my water bottle instead of buying a plastic bottle there); went shopping with my youngest and bought a few things wrapped in plastic; bought trainers online that came in a plastic bag.

As much as I think I have fairly good habits when it comes to refusing plastic and waste, it is only a drop in the ocean. But when I look at how far I have come since before participating in Plastic Free July in 2014 it is quite a distance….

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Plastic Free July article in Green Parent magazine

Green Parent magazine June/July 2016

A couple of years ago I took part in Plastic Free July; a worldwide initiative to encourage participants to cut down on – or eliminate – single use plastic.

I found it to be a really enlightening, yet frustrating,challenge. I learnt a lot about alternatives to plastic wrapping, straws, disposable cups etc but also discovered that plastic is everywhere. By linking up with like minded bloggers I picked up tips on how to go plastic free but also found out just how prevalent the material is (did you know there is plastic in tea bags and chewing gum?).

Suffice to say that I haven’t repeated the challenge but have tried to incorporate some of the things I learned into everyday life.

 

Anyway, to cut to the chase, I wrote an article on my experience of Plastic Free July for the Green Parent magazine and it is featured in their current June/July edition. I have written for them before (as I dabble in some freelance writing) and love their ethos and attitude. I also blogged about the magazine here as one of my go-to inspirational reads on slow living.

The Green Parent magazine is on sale in major newsagents and supermarkets or you can find it here. Even if you don’t have children – or your kids have grown up – I still think it’s a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to live a greener life.

(Plastic Free July 2016 begins next week on Friday  1st July. My blog post here summarises my thoughts at the end of the 2014 challenge)

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