Zero Waste Shopping in Leighton Buzzard

Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week? Is your bin full of packaging waste?

We are fortunate that Central Bedfordshire accepts a large variety of food packaging for recycling but plastics tend to be hard to recycle, can mainly only be downcycled, and can only be recycled a few times before ending up in landfill ( or in the oceans).  Plastics then hang around pretty much forever ( How long does it take a plastic bottle to biodegrade?).  They are also made of non renewable oil and potentially leach toxins into your food.  We have therefore been trying to reduce not only our landfill waste, but our recyclables too, particularly trying to avoid single use plastics.  This has been a journey, changing our buying habits a little at a time, but over the last couple of years we have managed to reduce our landfill waste by over 80% and our recycling by about 50%.  This post is about just one of the ways of avoiding packaging waste, by trying to avoid acquiring it in the first place, and focusses on the places that, after a change in my shopping habits, I find this easy to do for grocery and household items in my home town of Leighton Buzzard.  If you know of other local shops that should be included please do let me know.

UPDATE FEB 2020:  I have updated the information below since it was first written a few years ago.  As I no longer live in Leighton Buzzard I would really appreciate comments letting me know about any further updates to the information.  Many thanks.


I now try to buy food, and other items, unpackaged whenever possible.  This tends to be easier when shopping at the local market and independent shops than in the supermarket, although the supermarkets usually have some loose fruit and veg – remember to bring your own bags or containers, and most supermarkets now also allow you to bring a container to the meat, fish and deli counters, a big positive change since I first wrote this post. Meal planning and a shopping list will help you have a good idea of how many bags/containers to bring along.  Some of my personal favourites for buying unpackaged items are featured here.

Leighton Buzzard Market:

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg – on the South side of the High Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Happy to place fruit and veg directly into your own bags.

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market
Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market

Other market traders are also often happy to sell into your own containers – just ask nicely at the start of your purchase.  It feels strange at first but you soon get used to it, and so do the traders.  I have done this several times at the olive stall at the top of the High Street and at the Delisha samosa stall, a cake stall and at the other fruit and veg stall.  The fish van indicated he would be happy to do this too.

The farmers market and craft markets are also a good place to ask.  Check the market website for the dates of each.   Bucks Star Brewery visits the farmers each month and take their glass eco -growlers back and give you a full one at a discount, whilst the Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company sells refillable growlers which you can refill at the brewery on Grovebury Road. The Honey Man asks you to return your empty jar for a discount off the next one.

16864435_10210908767568510_7007334062055417694_n
Refillable eco growler from the farmers’ market
20171118_101831
Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company stall at the monthly farmers market.

 

Mimic Gifts – Hockliffe Street.  Offers an extensive range of refills and bath products – including refills for shower gels, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, denttabs ( a great alternative to toothpaste), kids bubble bath, bath salts, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, all purpose cleaner, washing up liquid and much more.  Plus shampoo and conditioner bars, soap, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable wipes, cotton buds and menstrual products.

House of Coffee – Peacock Mews.  This small coffee roasting shop is happy to grind coffee as required into your own container.  I began by taking in a plastic lunch box but having since acquired lots of empty large Douwe Egberts coffee jars from a local sharing site I use one of those, carefully wrapped in a tea towel to protect it in transit.  We then store the jar in the freezer to keep the coffee fresh. Fair trade options are usually available.  A small discount is now offered to customers refilling their coffee bags or using their own containers.  Loose tea is also available.

16865081_10210907728302529_7980541323627234896_n
House of Coffee – Peacock Mews

Selections – High Street A variety of hardware items from replacement broom heads to individual screws. They also sell replacement gas canisters for SodaStream (as does Argos) which has replaced the plastic bottles of fizzy water we used to buy every week, and saved us money.

20180130_111611

Natures Harvest – North Street  Sells unpackaged soap and refills for Ecover laundry and washing up liquid. Also stocks bamboo toothbrushes, Ecoleaf toilet roll in compostable packaging and lots of other eco friendly products.   Although many of the food items are currently in plastic, the owner is actively investigating alternatives.

20171123_103831[1]

16864669_10210907727942520_3292370890055820345_n

Oliver Adams Bakers- Market Square  Bread, cakes etc either in paper bags or into your own bag/container. The Co-Op – Waterdell off Brooklands Drive has a daily delivery of Italian bread which can be bought loose.

20180130_105844

Strattons Butchers – Market Square .  If you eat meat ask Strattons to sell it you without any single use plastic.  I ask them to weigh it on the waxed paper sheets they use and then transfer in to my own container, which they are happy to do.

20180130_105814

Model Farm – Hockliffe Road If you are passing ( heading out of town past the garden centre) this is a great place to buy free range eggs.  We return the boxes for reuse when we next visit. ( I know this farm is  currently being surrounded by a new housing development  – eggs confirmed as still available Feb 2020 but this may change)

20180217_131557

Pecks Farm – Towards Hockliffe – we have our milk delivered in returnable glass bottles by Pecks Farm.  It does cost more so is one of our more recent changes, but we have offset the additional cost by savings made elsewhere in our waste reduction journey.  The farm also sells a range of local produce, oil and vinegar refills and loose fruit and veg, including organic options, (thanks to Pecks Farm for supplying the photo below).

Pecks Farm Shop - by  James Rudd
Loose produce – image kindly supplied by Pecks Farm

You can still find some unpackaged options in the supermarket – it does vary but locally I find Tesco tends to have the most unpackaged fruit and veg.  Morrisons and Waitrose also sells loose rolls, croissants and cakes – I use my own bag or container where these are self service but have not been able to do this at the counter.

16681720_10210907726862493_1359553675519900306_n
Mmm, which potatoes will I choose?

 

Since I first published this post there have been some new additions to the zero waste shopping options:

The Little Buzzard Bakery on North Street – very happy for you to use your own bag for their freshly baked goods – but get there early as they often sell out!

 

20180130_105344

Clipstone Dairy – Clipstone – has a milk vending machine.  I haven’t used it yet but understand they will sell you a bottle you can reuse but are also quite happy for you to bring along your own bottle to fill.

 

And if you need a coffee to take away while you are out and about, both Costa and Espresso Head offer a discount if you bring a reuseable mug.  If you do end up with a takeaway coffee cup from anywhere, did you know that you can take them into Costa who will send them off to one of the 2 places in the UK that are able to recycle takeaway cups?

Have you shopped packaging free anywhere else locally? Please let me know.  Leighton Buzzard is coming soon to the Zero Waste App available at the App Store and Google Play.

For more ways to reduce your household waste you can read:

7 top tips to reduce your household waste

For the local circular economy:

More places to shop with less waste in Leighton Buzzard – the Circular Economy

Now , do you still need to put that bin out?

Did you know that you can now follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where I share some of our daily waste saving in more regular short posts?  Please do sign up.

To read more about some of the other ways we have gradually reduced our waste:

16807726_10210907726622487_2055995162207271710_n

 

 

 

 

Zero Waste Shopping in Leighton Buzzard

Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week? Is your bin full of packaging waste?

We are fortunate that Central Bedfordshire accepts a large variety of food packaging for recycling but plastics tend to be hard to recycle, can mainly only be downcycled, and can only be recycled a few times before ending up in landfill ( or in the oceans).  Plastics then hang around pretty much forever ( How long does it take a plastic bottle to biodegrade?).  They are also made of non renewable oil and potentially leach toxins into your food.  We have therefore been trying to reduce not only our landfill waste, but our recyclables too, particularly trying to avoid single use plastics.  This has been a journey, changing our buying habits a little at a time, but over the last couple of years we have managed to reduce our landfill waste by over 80% and our recycling by about 50%.  This post is about just one of the ways of avoiding packaging waste, by trying to avoid acquiring it in the first place, and focusses on the places that, after a change in my shopping habits, I find this easy to do for grocery and household items in my home town of Leighton Buzzard.  If you know of other local shops that should be included please do let me know.

UPDATE FEB 2020:  I have updated the information below since it was first written a few years ago.  As I no longer live in Leighton Buzzard I would really appreciate comments letting me know about any further updates to the information.  Many thanks.


I now try to buy food, and other items, unpackaged whenever possible.  This tends to be easier when shopping at the local market and independent shops than in the supermarket, although the supermarkets usually have some loose fruit and veg – remember to bring your own bags or containers. Meal planning and a shopping list will help you have a good idea of how many bags/containers to bring along.  Some of my personal favourites for buying unpackaged items are featured here.

Leighton Buzzard Market:

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg – on the South side of the High Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Happy to place fruit and veg directly into your own bags.

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market
Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market

Other market traders are also often happy to sell into your own containers – just ask nicely at the start of your purchase.  It feels strange at first but you soon get used to it, and so do the traders.  I have done this several times at the olive stall at the top of the High Street and at the Delisha samosa stall, a cake stall and at the other fruit and veg stall.  The fish van indicated he would be happy to do this too.

The farmers market and craft markets are also a good place to ask.  Check the market website for the dates of each.   Bucks Star Brewery visits the farmers each month and take their glass eco -growlers back and give you a full one at a discount, whilst the Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company sells refillable growlers which you can refill at the brewery on Grovebury Road. The Honey Man asks you to return your empty jar for a discount off the next one.

16864435_10210908767568510_7007334062055417694_n
Refillable eco growler from the farmers’ market
20171118_101831
Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company stall at the monthly farmers market.

 

Mimic Gifts – Hockliffe Street.  Offers an extensive range of refills and bath products – including refills for shower gels, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, denttabs ( a great alternative to toothpaste), kids bubble bath, bath salts, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, all purpose cleaner, washing up liquid and much more.  Plus shampoo and conditioner bars, soap, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable wipes, cotton buds and menstrual products.

House of Coffee – Peacock Mews.  This small coffee roasting shop is happy to grind coffee as required into your own container.  I began by taking in a plastic lunch box but having since acquired lots of empty large Douwe Egberts coffee jars from a local sharing site I use one of those, carefully wrapped in a tea towel to protect it in transit.  We then store the jar in the freezer to keep the coffee fresh. Fair trade options are usually available.  A small discount is now offered to customers refilling their coffee bags or using their own containers.  Loose tea is also available.

16865081_10210907728302529_7980541323627234896_n
House of Coffee – Peacock Mews

Selections – High Street A variety of hardware items from replacement broom heads to individual screws. They also sell replacement gas canisters for SodaStream (as does Argos) which has replaced the plastic bottles of fizzy water we used to buy every week, and saved us money.

20180130_111611

Natures Harvest – North Street  Sells unpackaged soap and refills for Ecover laundry and washing up liquid. Also stocks bamboo toothbrushes, Ecoleaf toilet roll in compostable packaging and lots of other eco friendly products.   Although many of the food items are currently in plastic, the owner is actively investigating alternatives.

20171123_103831[1]

16864669_10210907727942520_3292370890055820345_n

Oliver Adams Bakers- Market Square  Bread, cakes etc either in paper bags or into your own bag/container. The Co-Op – Waterdell off Brooklands Drive has a daily delivery of Italian bread which can be bought loose.

20180130_105844

Strattons Butchers – Market Square .  If you eat meat ask Strattons to sell it you without any single use plastic.  I ask them to weigh it on the waxed paper sheets they use and then transfer in to my own container, which they are happy to do.

20180130_105814

Model Farm – Hockliffe Road If you are passing ( heading out of town past the garden centre) this is a great place to buy free range eggs.  We return the boxes for reuse when we next visit. ( I know this farm is  currently being surrounded by a new housing development  – eggs confirmed as still available Feb 2020 but this may change)

20180217_131557

Pecks Farm – Towards Hockliffe – we have our milk delivered in returnable glass bottles by Pecks Farm.  It does cost more so is one of our more recent changes, but we have offset the additional cost by savings made elsewhere in our waste reduction journey.  The farm also sells a range of local produce, oil and vinegar refills and loose fruit and veg, including organic options, (thanks to Pecks Farm for supplying the photo below).

Pecks Farm Shop - by  James Rudd
Loose produce – image kindly supplied by Pecks Farm

You can still find some unpackaged options in the supermarket – it does vary but locally I find Tesco tends to have the most unpackaged fruit and veg.  Morrisons and Waitrose also sells loose rolls, croissants and cakes – I use my own bag or container where these are self service but have not been able to do this at the counter.

16681720_10210907726862493_1359553675519900306_n
Mmm, which potatoes will I choose?

 

Since I first published this post there have been some new additions to the zero waste shopping options:

The Little Buzzard Bakery on North Street – very happy for you to use your own bag for their freshly baked goods – but get there early as they often sell out!

 

20180130_105344

Clipstone Dairy – Clipstone – has a milk vending machine.  I haven’t used it yet but understand they will sell you a bottle you can reuse but are also quite happy for you to bring along your own bottle to fill.

 

And if you need a coffee to take away while you are out and about, both Costa and Espresso Head offer a discount if you bring a reuseable mug.  If you do end up with a takeaway coffee cup from anywhere, did you know that you can take them into Costa who will send them off to one of the 2 places in the UK that are able to recycle takeaway cups?

Have you shopped packaging free anywhere else locally? Please let me know.  Leighton Buzzard is coming soon to the Zero Waste App available at the App Store and Google Play.

For more ways to reduce your household waste you can read:

7 top tips to reduce your household waste

For the local circular economy:

More places to shop with less waste in Leighton Buzzard – the Circular Economy

Now , do you still need to put that bin out?

Did you know that you can now follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where I share some of our daily waste saving in more regular short posts?  Please do sign up.

To read more about some of the other ways we have gradually reduced our waste:

16807726_10210907726622487_2055995162207271710_n

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb and Apple Jam

 

 

Rhubarb is one of the few plants that reliably turns up a bumper crop in our garden every year. It grows so well in its spot next to the compost bin that we always have way more than we know what do with, even more so since my dad split it into 4 plants a couple of years ago.  Preserving it in a jam is a great way of keeping some for later in the year (although I must admit to starting eating this straight away).   Although best made with early rhubarb you can also use larger stalks just fine.  Our rhubarb plant has been passed down through the generations so I have no idea what variety it is – it originally came from a plant in my great grandfather’s garden and as a child it came with us when we moved house.  When I first got my own place we split the plant so I could plant my own and it has since moved again with me, and a plant has been returned to dad for his allotment.

The apples and the lemon rind and juice in this recipe help it to set – if you were to leave them both out you may need to use jam sugar, which contains added pectin. If you are organised enough to have planned ahead I am sure you could use frozen diced apples which would allow you to use foraged crab apples or homegrown if you are lucky enough to have an apple tree.

Rhubarb and Apple Jam:

Ingredients:

  • 1kg rhubarb stalks, washed and trimmed, then sliced into approx 1cm chunks
  • 3 eating apples or a large cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 1kg preserving sugar ( or jam sugar for added pectin)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 25g unsalted butter

Equipment needed:

  • Large bowl
  • Either a preserving pan or a heavy based large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater or lemon zester
  • Sterilised jars – you can reuse old jam jars. This recipe will probably make about 4-6  jars depending on the size but have a couple more ready just in case.
  • Jam or sugar thermometer (optional) or put several saucers in the fridge or freezer (to use later to test the jam setting point).

How to sterilise the jars:

Wash your jars thoroughly in soapy water or a dishwasher and dry in an oven at 140 degrees C for at least 10 mins – then keep them warm until ready to use.  Scald the clean lids in boiling water.  You can alternatively use a sterilising solution according to the pack instructions and warm the jars after rinsing thoroughly.

 Method:

  1. Place the sliced rhubarb into a large bowl with the sugar.
  2. Use the lemon zester or grater to grate the lemon rind into the bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice.
  3. Give it all a stir. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth such as a tea towel and leave for a few hours, stirring occasionally.  You should see some juices start to come out of the rhubarb (if not you can leave it longer – some recipes say to leave overnight but I find a few hours works fine).
  4. Meanwhile wash and sterilise your jars as above.
  5. Empty your bowl of rhubarb and sugar with all the juices into your pan. Add the chopped apple and ginger (if using).
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil slowly so that the rhubarb and apple have time to soften.
  7. Then bring the mix to a rolling boil and boil until it reaches setting point ( see below), stirring frequently to prevent sticking (and because personally I prefer the rhubarb broken up rather than in big chunks in the final jam). I found this took about 25 mins but this may vary.
  8. Once your jam has reached setting point remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool down a little. You may find it has formed a skin on cooling in which case give it a quick stir before spooning carefully into your warmed jars.  Place the lids on while still warm.

 

How to test for setting point:

Using a jam thermometer – setting point should be achieved at around 104 -105 degrees C.  However you may find it difficult to test accurately if you are making a relatively small amount of jam in a large pan – I have never managed it and prefer the saucer method.    When you think the jam is approaching setting point (it will start to thicken a little), get a cold saucer from your fridge/freezer and carefully drop a little of the jam onto it.  Give it a moment to cool and then press with your finger – if ready it should wrinkle a little. If not cook for another few minutes and test again.