Mixed successes in avoiding plastic – Plastic Free July.

So, since starting out with plastic free July I really haven’t had time to sit and write – instead I have been sharing some pictures of some of my plastic free efforts over on Instagram which is easier to do as I go along. Do pop over and have a look.

My 2 initial pledges were to replace plastic wrapped snacks such as crisps, and to find a local milk delivery in glass bottles.

Well, so far so good.  We had our first glass bottle milk delivery last Monday.  There is no denying that it is considerably more expensive than plastic bottled supermarket milk, but the additional cost is more than offset by the saving we have made since we swapped from individual plastic bottles of fizzy water to a Soda Stream back in September.  And it somehow seems really nice to open the fridge and see a couple of glass bottles with nice green foil lids.  Plus, we are supporting a local dairy.

Finding a feasible regular alternative to crisps and other plastic wrapped snacks has been a little harder, although I have managed not to buy any more once I finished off the couple of bags in the cupboard already.  In the first week I was really enthusiastic and made flatbreads, cut into triangles and baked with cajun spices and  popcorn – seasoned with a little melted butter, salt and plenty of black pepper.  In the second week I managed to buy cashew nuts loose (into a reused plastic bag – most suitable thing I could manage to find) to last me the couple of days in the office.  But I can only buy them near my work, not near my home which means my half hour lunch break was pretty much taken up with getting these.  In the 3rd week, things were getting really busy at work so I didn’t have a chance to buy nuts.  I baked some cake at home but then had no time or energy to make savoury snacks too so ended up taking along the spare crusts cut off son’s sandwiches as an extra filler – it did stop me being hungry but was a bit dull as snacks go.  I had one go at making my own crisps but managed to burn them and even the burnt ones were soft rather than crispy by the time I wanted them at work the next day – so I clearly need to practice this!

I haven’t asked the rest of the family to join in with giving up crisps etc but my son did enjoy popcorn in his packed lunch a few times instead of usual crisps.  Another week I gave him tortilla chips from a larger bag for less pro-rata plastic but he got bored with that after a couple of days and didn’t eat them.

At the start my husband forgot and bought home plastic wrapped chocolate a few times – but now he is remembering to look for the card or paper packaged ones which are fairly easy to find.

Looking back at the instagram pictures has helped me see how many plastic free things I have managed including:

  • Switching to glass bottled milk
  • Washing my hair with gram flour and vinegar
  • Using lemon balm from the garden to substitute some cups of tea, and drying some to use later on
  • Making yoghurt in my Wonderbag
  • Accidentally making granola – started out trying to make some raw energy bites ( oats, honey dried fruit and seeds) but I just couldn’t get them to stick together so baked the crumbly mess instead and it tasted great.
  • Making sweet and savoury popcorn ( the kernels were in a plastic bag but makes lots of portions) – my favourite is to coat in a little melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Making flatbreads, and baking some into “tortilla chips” seasoned with Low Salt Cajun Spice Mix
  • Buying a lovely bar soap in a card box
  • Buying fruit and veg from the market in my own cloth bags, as usual
  • Buying coca cola – which we buy quite rarely – in glass bottles
  • Only buying paper wrapped chocolate
  • Buying loose nuts
  • Finding that a local shop sells recycled toilet roll in compostable packaging – with no plastic!

I’m quite pleased with that and although I am not going to promise never to eat shop bought crisps, I will be making some of these changes on a more regular/permanent basis.  Next I am going to try loose tea to avoid the plastic in the bags.  I already buy our coffee this way and the same shop sells loose tea so will be trying that this afternoon.

When I wrote this last week we were about to go off to a festival which I suspected would rather ruin my plastic free efforts – more about that in another post as this one’s getting rather lengthy.

Giving up Shampoo

It has now been 7 months since I last used a commercial shampoo to wash my hair.

My experimental journey towards “no poo” as they call it, started off fairly easily.  I decided to try living without commercial shampoo shortly after I had applied a colour to my hair, which handily means I know that where the colour ends is also pretty much where the shampooed hair ends.  I had read a few blogs about it, including washing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar either long term or as a transition to using water only,  and washing with honey (at blog High Heels and Training Wheels ), and as the honey method seemed to be popular with curly hair and suitable for use with hard water (ours is really, really hard) I decided to start with this method, with the ultimate aim of getting to water only washing. I also liked the fact that I know exactly what the honey is and where it comes from (within my small town), unlike many of the shampoo ingredients.

It started off really well.  I began by spacing out my conventional washes from approx 3 times a week to once a week, washing with just water once or twice in between.  I did this for a few weeks until I had used up a bottle of Bodyshop Rainforest shampoo that had been hanging around for a while (this shampoo contains no sulfates, silicones or parabens).  Then  I switched to a dilute mix of honey and boiled water to wash my hair (approx 1tbsp local honey dissolved in about 3 times the amount of warm water and left to cool) once a week.  And it seemed to work pretty well.  Initially I continued with a water only wash once in between.

I joined an international Facebook group of people living without shampoo and learnt so much more. They have a whole host of files with more information and shampoo recipes here , where you can find out more about most of the methods I mention.  I learnt to expect that my hair might feel waxy to start with as the silicones are gradually removed (although I was using a natural shampoo my curl serum did contain silicones), and that apple sauce could be used as a treatment.  I learnt that hard water can be a challenge, and can also cause waxiness.  I also learnt that tea or coffee can be used as a rinse between washes so gave both of these a try, along with rosehip tea, and lemon and ginger tea as I had these already.

I began my no poo journey towards the end of October.  By Christmas I was still washing with honey and water once a week but was finding the waxiness beginning to build up (which unexpectedly gave my hair loads of volume so didn’t look at all bad but felt pretty yucky).  So I tried an apple sauce hair mask.  Basically I chopped up a cooking apple and microwaved it until soft enough to mash up really well with a fork (generally advised to use a blender although I didn’t bother) .  Once it had cooled enough to not burn me but was still warm I spread it all over my hair and covered with a shower cap.  I rinsed it out thoroughly after about half an hour and hey presto, clean hair (if much flatter than with the wax).  Around this time (can’t recall if before or after) I also tried an egg wash which was also pretty effective – an egg mixed with an equal amount of cold water (hot water will cook the egg!), and applied to the hair (in the shower or over a sink as it will drip everywhere) then rinsed off after about 10 mins, again with cool water to avoid cooking the egg.   Due to the protein content this is generally not recommended more than once a month but it depends on your particular hair needs.  After new year I also tried a beer rinse as we had an open can left over – my hair loved this!

After another month I used the apple sauce and egg again.  A few months into the new year I was starting to find the honey was not as effective – I think this may be  because the new hair growth was not as dry as the coloured hair – and that my hair was becoming much greasier.  At this point I tried  using  a wash of chick pea flour – 1tbsp of chick pea flour dissolved in warm water.  I added some lemon juice which my hair seems to like ( in moderation).  This was the cleanest my hair had felt yet.  Sadly the next week it didn’t work so well  – this is because it has similar protein issues to the egg.  So I went back to the honey wash, but adding lemon juice, and at one point also tried using the olive oil bar soap I use for washing (not best in hard water and needs to be followed by an acidic rinse such as diluted vinegar) when I didn’t have anything else to hand.

Anyway, 7 months and a fair bit of trial and error later, I have found a different routine which is working really well  for me.  I am now using a wash of soapnuts with added honey and lemon juice alternating with a wash of tea (currently teapigs liquorice and peppermint bags I rescued from being thrown out at work) with a capful of distilled white vinegar.   At the moment I use one of these every 6 days and in between avoid wetting my hair by wearing a shower cap when I shower (to minimise the chance of hard water build up).  Towards the end of the 6 days I might wear my hair up, and brush with a bamboo brush or boar bristle brush at bedtime.  I mainly use soapnuts I have already used for laundry to make up the soapnut shampoo but find adding a couple of new soapnuts does help to make it lather sufficiently.  I make enough around once a month to fill an old small shampoo bottle – then  I use half and then pop the bottle in the freezer to keep the rest fresh for the next wash.  Since the soapnuts contain saponins which produce a lather and also work well in hard water this method seems to work much more like a regular shampoo than some of the other methods did for me and I am quite happy my hair is getting a good clean.  I have been using soapnuts for my laundry since last September and find they clean well so perhaps it should be no surprise that they also work well on my hair.  The effectiveness of the liquorice root and peppermint tea and a little vinegar is perhaps more surprising but smells great too (mint sauce!).

I am hoping this method will continue to work for the moment, at least until I finish the large bag of soapnuts I am using for the laundry.  At that point I intend to experiment with the more local alternative of soapwort, or ideally attempt to go water only.

Along the way my son also gave up shampoo – at the same time as going from long to short hair – he just uses water and had no transition issues (he’s 9 so was ecstatic at me allowing him to not use shampoo); and I found out that my dad had already switched to water only washing a few years ago.  My husband has just decided he’s going to give it a try too so we might well soon be a shampoo free household.

Have you ever tried giving up shampoo?  How did you get on and what method did you try?

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I have also started putting together a Pinterest Board on Natural Haircare .

 

No new clothes – learning to love the clothes I have and realising I actually don’t need more.

Full wardrobe
Full wardrobe ( and I don’t just have the one)

I have always been a bit of a shopaholic and a bargain hunter when it comes to clothes.

A few years ago I spent a year not buying new clothes – there’s a little about it on my separate (now discontinued)   blog https://prelovefashionandrecycling.wordpress.com/

That time my challenge was to only buy second hand clothing for a year.  Excluded from this were shoes and underwear, and things bought with birthday gift vouchers.  As I went through the year I found I couldn’t get leggings second hand so allowed these new (loosely under the underwear category since I tend to layer them under dresses).

Actually the challenge was far easier than I expected and by the end of the year I had amassed loads of “new to me” clothing, along with far more new shoes and underwear than I possibly actually needed.  And I felt good because I had spent lots in charity shops. Although I went back to buying some new clothes, I continued to get well over 50% second hand.

Back in September last year I signed up for zero waste week and shortly after decided that perhaps it was time for a new clothes related challenge.  This time I was not just going to not buy new clothes, but not buy, or acquire, any additional clothes, shoes or underwear, whether new or pre-owned ( with one exception – see below).  Because this was a tougher challenge ( certainly one my husband thought I had 0% chance of sticking to), I set a more modest timescale – until Christmas, and set myself one exception which was a pair of specialist shoes needed for an arthritic toe as the old pair had started giving me blisters.

Actually I had only bought one item of clothing since July – a second hand dress which turned out not to fit and was donated back to charity.  So effectively my challenge began in July.

Allowing myself an exception for shoes in advance was perhaps not such a great idea as I quickly ordered a pair online (mistake to browse ebay after a glass of wine – I should know better) .  In the end I didn’t keep them – my old boots turned out to just need breaking in again for the winter and soon became comfortable again, and the new shoes didn’t really fit so after a few weeks I listed them back on ebay and sold them on.

Christmas came and went.  My only challenge really was a Christmas do at work which required a posh outfit.  I already had a gorgeous black satin fishtail wiggle skirt from Coast in the cupboard, picked up in a charity shop a few years earlier and never worn as I had struggled to find any shoes to go with it that I could actually walk in (I’m usually in either summer Birkenstocks or clumpy MBT boots).  A friend came up trumps with a pair of flat pointy court shoes she’d picked up in a charity shop which she lent me for the evening.  And my auntie lent me a lovely black lace top and a silver scarf (since we had a black/white/silver theme).  My auntie is a bit skinnier than me so the top was a bit on the tight side but altogether I was really happy with the outfit and I could even walk (and dance) in the shoes which friend now has on standby for me to borrow again should the need arise. And I had a lovely evening.

So, I made it until Christmas, and do you know what, I still couldn’t really think of anything I needed or even particularly wanted by way of clothing.  I unexpectedly received a gift voucher from work for long service and really struggled to spend it. After buying some things to help with my zero waste journey such as lush deodorant bars and storage tins, a loofah, a soap dish and replacing a really scratched wok with a hopefully longer lasting enamelled one,  I could only think of looking for clothes for the remainder  (I was limited to a specific shopping centre) but really wasn’t inspired by anything so aside from a nightdress ( as I had got rid of 2 just before starting zero waste – as my mending efforts had failed)  I bought some “functional” items – a thermal underdress, a pair of leggings and a couple of pairs of bamboo socks.  Aside from those I have still not acquired anything new, or even second hand.

At the start of this I shared my challenge with the folk over at the  Zero Waste Heroes Facebook Group to give me some motivation.  Someone commented that I would learn to really love the clothes I had.  I wasn’t sure, I thought I might get bored , but actually they were spot on.  I have culled quite a few things I wasn’t so keen on ( to charity shop) and most of my wardrobe is now things I really like (including the purple woollen dress in my post from a few years back).

So, my challenge has extended to cover 9 months, and I have to say that it has really changed my attitude towards buying new clothes.  I found that:

1)  I already owned way too many clothes

2)  I could donate some and still have more than enough

3)  Asking whether I need something really helps, and has extended way beyond clothing

4)  Because this attitude has extended beyond just clothing I have saved an average of £250 per month on my personal spending.  Considering I was mainly buying cheap second hand clothing to start with that is a phenomenal amount!

Going forward I will continue to ask myself how much clothing I really need and when I do need something be sure it is something I really love, and which fits me really well.  I like the recycling element of buying second hand so will continue to do this but where I do need new I am going to focus more on buying such new items from ethical companies – it may cost more, but I will be buying fewer items.

I have been invited to a charity clothes swap party next week (arranged by the good friend who kindly lent me her shoes).  So I am going to have a day off, at least, from not acquiring anything new to me.  But I am determined that I will bring home fewer items than I donate to the swap.  More about that in a future post.

I am still sorting out items to swap but so far have picked out 2 coats, a pair of velvet trousers (freshly dry cleaned and embarrassingly still unworn from the last clothes swap a couple of years ago) and a skirt to go:

Starting to gather items for the clothes swap
Starting to gather items for the clothes swap

What is your approach to buying new clothes and how often do you clothes shop?

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Post featured on  Thrifty Thursday

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BYO Cup – are we preaching to the converted?

Bring your own stainless steel mug
Bring your own stainless steel mug

 

I don’t generally have a coffee on my journey to work.  But the other day there was still coffee in the cafetiere and no time left, so I poured it into my stainless steel cup which falls somewhere between a “coffee to go” cup and a Thermos, and took it with me.  By the time I was sat on the train about an hour later it was still piping hot.

Maybe it was because I happened to be drinking a coffee that day that I took more notice of the others on the train, because I had not particularly noticed before.  In just one carriage, and it was not particularly busy, I counted 20 people sipping cups of tea or coffee.  Now given all the recent media coverage, Hugh’s War on Waste campaign and even articles in the Metro I was reading on the train that morning, you might think awareness of the coffee cup waste issue would be up a bit. So how many do you think had their drink in a reusable cup or flask?

Me.  Just me.

So it made me think.  Is the message actually getting out there?  And if it is, why don’t people care?  Are those of us trying to reduce our waste just sharing our disgust at the rubbish produced amongst ourselves? Are we preaching to the converted?

I truly hope not, and that little by little, the number of people thinking about such issues is increasing.   I was certainly not expecting to see no disposable cups, but 19 out of 20, now that really is rubbish.

 

An estimated 2.5 million paper cups are thrown away in the UK each year – that’s almost 5,000 a minute.  Less than 1% are recycled. ( rivercottage.net)

 

 

 

 

Chunky Thai Parsnip Soup

image

I used up some leftovers to make this chunky soup/stew for  our lunch yesterday, mainly to use up a couple of very soft parsnips that I’d bought in anticipation of  a mothers’ day roast last week, but which had been forgotten (we still had a huge roast without them).

Amazingly, at this time of year, I did manage to get something homegrown into the mix, by way of some garlic and a very small leek – a second crop of leeks seems to have appeared by itself in the garden this year.  Unfortunately our efforts at growing parsnips didn’t produce a single one this year.

I also included some coriander which, despite being 2 weeks old, looked pretty much as fresh as the day I bought it, having been stored wrapped in a damp teatowel in the fridge.

Plus half a jar of Thai paste, some powdered coconut milk, half a pepper and some chicken stock – my first attempt at home made stock which I was really please with.  If I had noticed the ginger in the fridge I really should have used that too.

Method:

  1. Slice small leek (or you could use an onion) and fry gently.
  2. Add chopped garlic and red Thai curry paste to taste ( we used half a jar but it was a rather mild one)
  3. Fry gently for a couple of minutes until the leek or onion starts to soften and then add the coconut milk / stock.  I think I added about 500ml which as you can see makes a very thick soup so you may want to add more.
  4. Add a couple of peeled and chopped parsnips.
  5. Bring to the boil – after about 10 mins add a chopped red pepper.
  6. Continue to simmer until the parsnips are tender.  This took around another 20 mins.
  7. Add some of the coriander close to the end of cooking, saving the rest to add as a garnish.
  8. Either blend to make a smooth soup, or simply use a potato masher as I did for a chunkier texture.
  9. Serve with the remaining coriander.

Zero waste tips:

I was able to get the parsnips, coriander and pepper unpackaged from the market, keeping the coriander fresh in a damp teatowel.

The paste was in a glass jar – but you could substitute fresh ginger, lemongrass, and chilli.

The chicken stock was homemade after we had friends round for a roast a few weeks ago.  I used this chicken stock recipe  although minus the celery as I hadn’t planned the stock making so didn’t have any.  I reduced it to a concentrate and stored in the freezer.

Cooking in a Wonderbag:

To cook this in a Wonderbag extend the cooking time at step 5 to 15 mins and then transfer to the Wonderbag for an hour. For more about the Wonderbag see my earlier post: Vegetable Curry in a Wonderbag

 

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A variation on this recipe is available on an earlier post Red Thai Spicy Parsnip and Coconut Soup

 

 

 

 

Olio – A great way to share food with your neighbours

When I heard the food sharing app Olio was extending out from London to the rest of the country I thought this was a fantastic idea.

Anyone who has seen TV programmes such as Hugh’s War on Waste will know that a shocking amount of perfectly edible food is wasted by households and businesses in the UK every week. Over the course of a year around 7 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away, of which over half was perfectly edible.  This waste costs families an average of £470 per year, rising to £700 for families with children – enough for a holiday!  For more surprising facts, and lots of ideas for reducing food waste take a look at Love Food Hate Waste

So, where does Olio come in?  This free app allows people, whether individuals or businesses, to offer and to request surplus food by uploading a photo and details.  Someone nearby that can use the item sends you a message and collection can be arranged.  Some areas have drop off and collection points in local shops to make this easier.  You can charge for items, but the majority are offered free.

I jumped at the chance to become a volunteer ambassador to get the scheme going in my local area, and am encouraging people to download the app, to check their cupboards for quality food that they are never going to get around to eating, and to get sharing!

The items are gradually being offered, but it would be really great to see more people joining in.  Take a look and see what is on offer – if you don’t have surplus food yourself, you may find something you’d like to try.

Download the app for free at the App Store or Play store.

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The image at top of post is courtesy of Olio.

 

 

Reducing my waste a little at a time – the temptation of clothes shopping.

Back in early September I decided I was not going to buy any clothes, either new or secondhand, until at least Christmas.  This is in a bid to reduce waste, and declutter my life a little.  So far so good.  If you just stay away from the shops (including the online ones) it’s easy.  I even managed to go into our local Oxfam with donations several times without my usual trick of looking at the stock and coming out with something else while I was there.

The test came on Tuesday when I when my aunt kindly drove me to a job interview which happened to be near a big shopping centre, to combine the car journey with her shopping trip.  I was determined not to buy anything but couldn’t really avoid having a look around the shop while she was in the changing room.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried.   A couple of items immediately grabbed my attention, that were apparently new styles for Next’s autumn/winter collection.  I have seen them both somewhere before – already in my wardrobe.  The navy wide legged trousers look really like a pair I have been wearing to work for around the last 5 years which started out as a charity shop buy which I customised with buttons from a local vintage clothing shop.  And the patterned velour leggings – so similar to some skinny patterned cords I got secondhand on ebay 2 years ago.  So it turns out I don’t need anything new after all.  Ahead of the trend from the charity shop.  Who knew?   Apart from my shoddy photos ( and the crumpled trousers I just got out the wardrobe)  you have to admit they are quite similar?

DSCF9440[1]DSCF9442[1]

This gave me so much confidence to carry on, and that getting to Christmas really won’t be that hard. Will see how long I can manage after that 🙂

ZERO WASTE WEEK #2

So another zero waste week may be over, but that’s no reason to give up trying to reduce packaging and other waste.  I have found this week really useful for focussing the mind on ways of reducing the packaging and other unnecessary stuff we bring into the home, and finding about new ways of avoiding or reusing thing – many thanks to the addictive and informative discussion on the Zero Waste Heros Facebook Group .

It has been tough, and we still have plenty of waste, but the week has focussed my mind on finding ways to reduce our waste further.

I am now the proud owner of some abeego wraps to use instead of cling film. ( from Boobalou)  And doesn’t the half eaten mango in our fridge look lovely in it?

I now know that you can buy specially made reusable kitchen towel (rather than just using cloth serviettes / tea towels etc) and even spent a fascinating hour one evening reading blogs about washable toilet roll ( or “family cloth”) – not sure I am convinced about that one yet but some people obviously love it – see this fascinating post from Becoming Peculiar . Didn’t imagine I’d be doing that at the start of the week.

I asked the council to replace our standard sized wheelie bins with smaller capacity bins – this will focus the mind on maintaining a lower level of waste.

I have had a mini sort out and given things away to foodbanks and refugee collections for example.

I’m starting to put together a zero waste appropriate christmas gift list of reusable stuff to replace disposable items ( and guess what everyone will be getting from me too).

I have also bombarded my facebook friends with loads of information about reducing waste – sadly not a single one has liked or shared anything at all so thank goodness for the friendly folk at the Zero Waste Heros Facebook Group  for keeping me from getting too depressed by this.

Of course even if we think do all start actually thinking about the packaging, zero waste is a long journey – the reality is that most of us have to shop in a supermarket and most things are overpackaged.  Legislation may be the only way to overcome this, and I don’t see that as likely any time soon.  But, there are easy things we can all do to reduce our waste where we do have options, and every little helps.  There are some easy swaps – even just swapping that multipack of individually boxed portions of raisins for a single large pack and putting a portion for your kid’s lunch into a reusable small pot helps, or choosing the yoghurt in the recyclable cardboard carton over the plastic one.

My favourite change, and one I could have done long before was to ditch the convenient individually packaged bags of fresh coffee we discovered a couple of years ago and go back to using loose coffee in a cafetiere – we have a fantastic local shop that roasts and grinds coffee and who didn’t bat an eyelid at me taking my own container for the coffee. Now, knowing little about different coffees,  we just have to work our way through the huge selection on offer to find the one we really like.

Anyway it’s now Ditch the Disposables week – bring it on.

ZERO WASTE WEEK – Tips for reducing your waste

Waste
Waste

It’s zero waste week in the UK this week ( starting 7th Sep 2015) so I thought I’d share a few of the things we already do, and extra things we could do, to reduce the amount of waste we produce, although we are still far off from zero.  I think we are already pretty good at the re-using and recycling.  We need to work much harder on reducing the stuff we get in the first place.

So here are some ideas:

Real Nappies
Real Nappies
  1.  If you have a baby, try using real nappies.  There are loads to choose from out there to find one that works for you and you may find your local authority or a nappy adviser can loan you some to try.  We used prefolds ( which are actually the ones you fold up yourself) as we found these to be cheapest, easy to wash and dry, and that they fit our baby best.  They were also the ones offered by the laundry scheme we started out with before deciding to do it ourselves.  But you can also get many that are already shaped to fit and fasten with velcro.  And even if you use them part time (e.g. using disposables on holiday/ when out or at night) you’ll still be reducing your waste by loads.  We also used washable towelling wipes to clean baby with and although we used disposable liners I see you can now also get washable nappy liners. Supernanny talks about the  Benefits of cloth nappies You can get loads of useful information from the Real Nappy Information Service
  2.  Having used the real nappies it seemed logical to also switch to washable sanitary pads – and I would never go back. They are so much more comfortable. I only use disposables on holiday now and find them really crinkly and uncomfortable. I just keep a lidded plastic bin by our ensuite loo and chuck them in to soak with some Napisan.  Then they just go in the machine.  If you can find microfibre fleece versions I find they are the easiest to wash and dry. You can also find out about these from the Real Nappy Information Service and there are plenty of patterns for making your own on Pinterest.

    Washable Sanitary Pads
    Washable Sanitary Pads
  3. Compost what you can – it is not only fruit and veg peelings that can be composted.  You can also put in paper, cardboard, grass cuttings, and we also add the litter and bedding from our pet rabbit – this is quite safe to do with herbivores.  But you do need to get the mix of ingredients right so check out the Composting Guide. At the moment we still have to throw away cooked food waste/meat but you can get composters that will deal with these too which I am looking into – e.g. bokashi and wormeries.
  4.  Before recycling, see if there is something else the item can be used for.  The cardboard tubes inside toilet roll can be recycled or composted ( they help by making an air pocket in the compost) but they can also be used for crafts, can be filled with hay and veg for the pet rabbit to play with, or in winter we stuff our till receipts and papers that would otherwise need to be shredded into them and use them in our woodburner – quicker and easier than compacting the paper into logs which you can also do.
  5. If you have food that is going off see if there is something you can use it for even if it can be composted.  Overipe bananas are great in smoothies and muffins.  If you have no time to bake now you can peel and slice them and bung them in the freezer to add to a smoothie at a later date ( straight from frozen).  There are lots of recipe ideas at Love Food Hate Waste
    Over ripe bananas
    Don’t throw away those over ripe bananas

    Plum and Banana Smoothie
    Plum and banana smoothie
  6. Choose products with no or less packaging wherever possible, and check that any packaging can be recycled or composted.  The supermarkets don’t make this easy.  In the summer we grow some of our own food but we do struggle with packaging over the rest of the year / for things we can’t grow easily.  I’m determined to get more of my fruit and veg from the market and meat from the butcher’s or at least the butcher’s counter in the supermarket where you can get just what you need and are likely to get less plastic packaging, but this will require a change in my shopping routine.   We drink a lot of sparkling water which comes in plastic bottles and even if we reuse them for tap water a couple of times they soon fill up our recycling bin.  So this week I have ordered a soda stream so we can make our own and reuse the bottles.  The other thing is liquid hand soap – I would say just change to bars ( you can easily get with no packaging from stores such as Lush) but my husband complains they leave a soggy mess on the sink – so our compromise is that I’m going to bulk order 5 litre refills to refill the smaller containers.  We already get our washing up liquid and laundry liquid refilled in a local store.
  7. Make your own if you can – I’ve just made lots of plum jam using plums from the allotment but you can also forage plenty of fruit for jam – see other recipes on this blog.  I just reused old jars for this (sterilising them first). Since we got a bread machine we make a lot of our own bread too.
  8. Think about using less of products – I’ve been looking with interest at people who have transitioned to using no shampoo – just washing their hair (and bodies) with water after a transition period of using shampoo substitutes .  Although I’m not at the moment planning on going that far, it is very easy to use a little less shampoo, or shampoo less often  – I have gone from shampooing every other day to every 3-4 days so far without any noticeable difference – and I probably already have enough shampoo in the cupboard to last me another couple of years.  If you are interested you can find out more about ditching the shampoo at No Poo Method
  9. If you are crafty, try making something out of your rubbish – you may even be able to turn it into a business.
  10. Sell on or give away the things you don’t need any more – try Freecycle, ebay, gumtree or local facebook pages or donate to your local charity shop.  Buy the things you need this way as well  – it’s easier than you might think.  A couple of years ago I decided to only buy preowned clothes for a whole year (excluding shoes and underwear) – I already bought a lot of stuff this way but thought this might be a challenge.  Actually it was quite easy, even when I had something specific in mind, and I sometimes now get shoes this way too as you can often find ones only worn once or twice.  My challenge is really just to buy less, particularly new clothes.

Hope some of these ideas are useful – please comment below if you have more to add.  My Pinterest Board Reduce Reuse Recycle has links to more useful sites and ideas.