Waste

Lately the issue of waste and the environment has been at the forefront of my mind. I have slowly been taking stock of our lives and living habits to see where we can cut back on waste.

One morning while doing the mundane (and mostly thankless) task of making packed lunches I realised that I could cut a lot of waste here and I was quite shocked.

This is what little lady’s lunches normally look like (with some variations).

20130501-173333.jpg

Little lady also takes fruit separately, which she eats at break time.

Where can I make changes? Straight away I can lose the foil. I mean her sandwiches are in a lunch box, in a bag! Seems a bit ridiculous to wrap them in foil too!

So foil gone. What’s next? Little lady’s treat. Her treat varies depending what niceties are on offer when we go shopping. These particular treats are individually wrapped but come in a box, in a plastic wrapper. Lots of packaging, and therefore waste there. With a bit of forethought and 20 minutes spent in the kitchen while baby D was having his nap and she now has home made (freezable) treats. I cut the welshcakes into little stars rather than the traditional circles so that they fit in her lunch box. We also stumbled across these fine(!) gadgets 2 for £1 in the pound shop, which makes her sandwiches a little bit nicer now they are naked (well we think so)

20130502-115734.jpg

I do like her lunch to be relatively good for her so I always try to add a cheese stick. There are again individually wrapped (easy for lunches) but in a packet. The individual wrapper goes in the bin at school so technically it doesn’t affect my waste but that’s not really the point here. We are still producing waste no matter where it is disposed of. This was the item that made me feel a little bit silly. I thought about how to reduce the packaging for a while before realising IT IS CHEESE!!!! I honestly can’t believe I have been buying these as well as the block of cheese that is a staple in our shopping. Just goes to show that marketing works. The individually wrapped cheeses “perfect for lunch boxes” fooled me for quite a while. Well no more. Today I cut my own cheese sticks from the block in the fridge. Less packaging and a slightly sheepish mammy!

So what does little lady’s lunch box look like now?

20130502-115524.jpg

Some naked homemade jam sandwiches, a home made treat, cheese cut from the block and a yoghurt.

Any ideas on what to do about the yoghurt? I am still quite stuck on that one so for now the long yoghurts will stay.

Advertisements

In a jam

This last birthday I was very spoilt. Not only did I get 4 fruit trees in the post

20130426-155937.jpg
I was also lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a new-to-me jam maker.

20130426-160036.jpg
I have been eyeing up this gadget for about 2 years but have always decided against getting one due to the cost. However, my lovely hubby found a reasonably priced, hardly used, second hand one and snapped it up. All without telling me….naughty boy keeping secrets….but we’ll let him off this time.
This week hubby has worked a lot of late shifts meaning I have a bit of time to myself after the little people are in bed. This meant jam making time!!!! I have to admit it was a bit of a faff chopping up all the strawberries but once that was done it was so easy. Look at it all bubbling away

20130426-160427.jpg
Excellent. While that was bubbling nicely I suddenly remembered how we had recycled all those jars I had been keeping ‘just in case’ Argh!! So the hotchpotch of jars I did manage to find (two branston pickle jars and 4 little blackberry jelly jars) went in the oven to be sterilised.

20130426-160610.jpg
The tricky bit I have always found is checking the setting point. This was a much easier job with the jam maker as it beeps when it’s ready! Yay! Still need to check the setting point though.

20130426-160723.jpg
Ooh not quite! Back in for another 5 minutes and bingo!

20130426-160803.jpg
Lovely jars full of homemade jam. Okay so I spilled a lot trying to get it in the jars. I have pondered (loudly and repeatedly) to hubby that maybe I need a funnel to make the bottling (jar-ing??) less messy. Lets hope he gets the hint (tee hee!). Now only one thing left to do (apart from tidying up but we’ll skip over that bit)

20130426-161025.jpg
Try it of course.

And I am very happy to report that the toast was very well received by the little people. Apparently, I am also told that two of the little jars jumped into Mamgu’s bag when she came to visit. I must keep a better eye on them next time she comes to visit 😉

Spring Green blog swap

Last month I signed up to my very first blog swap. The lovely Char set up the swap and was very nice to me and my naivety as I had never done anything like this before. Basically the rules were you had to stick to the theme (spring green) and not spend over £5. I was partnered with Kel. So what did I get her? And more importantly 😉 what did I get?

When the parcel came baby D was very interested in it as the contents had been wrapped in lovely bright “sweetie” wrapping. He opened them and was very disappointed to find that actually it wasn’t sweets. I, on the other hand, was over the moon when I saw these.

20130415-185608.jpg
There was a sewing kit which contained all these very useful items.

20130415-190229.jpg
Some green and yellow ribbon, green buttons and yellow buttons (it was getting late when I took these on my phone, so the colours are not so good)

20130415-190416.jpg
A ball of bright green wool

20130415-190516.jpg
And two of these

20130415-191315.jpg
Yes I did say two. Baby D pounced on them as soon as he saw them. Funny how he knows they are chocolate when he hasn’t seen them before! I had to rescue this one for little lady or he would have eaten both.

A big thank you to Char for organising the blog swap but mainly Thank you so much to Kel for my fantastic presents. I kind of feel that what I sent Kel was a bit understated. I hope she liked it?!

Reflecting

So today is my birthday. I have now creeped into my 30’s. Last year didn’t count as then I was “just 30”. Today at 31 I am officially “in” my thirties! That’s my logic anyway.

Birthdays for me are a time of reflection. To look back at the past year and look forward to the year ahead. I must confess to having a little cry last night while reflecting. Turning 30 was emotionally difficult for me and in order to keep myself from hiding under the blankets for the next decade, I swore that I would make it worthwhile.

It started out well. I organised a party for my 30th and told people that instead of presents I wanted donations to the local cancer hospital where my dad was treated many years ago. I not only had a fab night but I also raised over £100!

My 30th last year

My 30th last year

However, personally I feel like I have failed! A whole year gone and wasted.

At 10st 1lbs I am still overweight, financially things are still tight and I cannot for the life of me stick to a meal plan! By now I had hoped that we would have finally finished decluttering and the house would look decent enough to allow visitors to just pop in without me having serious embarrassment issues. I am both cross and disappointed in myself for letting a whole year slip away. Unnoticed, gone, never to be seen again. I honestly cannot tell you where this past year has gone and it upsets me.

Last weekend I found out that a friend’s husband had died. They are both the same age as me. Then another friend died (she was nearly 90 but still). So next week, a week after turning 31, I have 2 funerals to go to! I find that both incredibly sad and humbling. How do my issues even compare with burying your husband at 31?? Honestly? They don’t. End of.

So I have enrolled myself in the gym and have been twice this week with another session booked for tomorrow. I have prepaid for 10 sessions so that I know I will definitely go. I will be under 10stone by the end of the month. Financially, without taking a second job I am not sure how to fix that. We are looking at ways to cut down costs and free up a bit of cash while doing our bit for the planet and future generations. I have also kept up my charitable donations. Since my party last year, I have collected and donated unwanted items to orphans in Romania, donated food items to the local food bank, started knitting blankets for vulnerable older people and bought presents for children in care. So maybe this year hasn’t been that bad after all!

Before I leave you to reflect on your own year, I want to share with you the best present I had this morning.

20130411-110639.jpg
What more could I want?

Balls to the environment

Recently I have become more aware of the damage being done to our once beautiful planet. We are filling our countryside with waste (landfills), we are depleting precious natural resources like coal and gas and we are polluting our waterways with waste and chemicals.

I have been reading a number of blogs recently about how ordinary people (like me) are changing their way of thinking in order to make better choices for our environment. Jen and her family are on a mission to not buy anything new for 12 months, while Karen reduced her waste so much she only threw out one plaster all week.

I have been spending time looking at our family life and seeing where we can make changes. Small changes in order for us to be more mindful of the environment. The changes, for us anyway, must not make life harder or more complicated or we will end up reverting back to our old ways. I’m sure we are not the only family who finds this?

A couple of months ago we were told by our doctor that baby D has too many histamines in his body. This makes him scratch himself so much he can draw blood. We use bath products made especially for sensitive baby skin, we smother him in cream every time we change him and we try to make sure he doesn’t get too hot as that makes him scratch, and once he starts he can’t stop himself. So the first area I wanted to look at was laundry. Was there a better way of washing our clothes that is better for the environment but also better for baby D’s skin?

Our washing machine is in almost constant use.

20130408-182524.jpg
Yes that is a kettle in our washing machine! Baby D loves playing with the washer.
Here he is rescuing a Jaffa cake he accidentally dropped in there.

20130408-182648.jpg
Anyway I digress. After some research I found these.

20130408-182750.jpg
Eco washballs. They are quite expensive to buy at the outset (£15) but if they last the 1000 washes they are meant to then that equates to 3p a wash. I bought them from here but you can buy them elsewhere. Just search for Eco washballs and you will find some. (This is not a sponsored post by the way). They contain natural ingredients and can even be refilled so that cuts down on manufacturing and packaging, meaning less CO2 and plastic being released into the world. They do look a bit like UFO’s which i was surprised at, thinking they would be more ball-like, and I was a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be enough room in the washer for all 3 as they are quite large.

20130408-183336.jpg
But hubby plodded on with some muttering about how “we’ve bought them now so were going to use them no matter what!”

20130408-183505.jpg
Here he is putting them in with the wash. He moved so quick I didn’t get chance to get a proper photo and his arm is a bit blurred but I’m sure you don’t mind.

To be fair the clothes came out very clean and soft. It is early days but so far baby D hasn’t shown any signs of discomfort from the clothes that have been washed using the ecoballs. We do have some washing powder in the cupboard and we plan to hold onto that for a while just so that we can give the Eco balls a fair chance. Hopefully we won’t need to buy any more which is better not only for our pockets but better for the environment as we are putting less chemicals into the water system.

The next areas on my list are cleaning products and toiletries. I would love to hear your stories of homemade/ green products that you have used in these two areas. I hope bit by bit, we will, as a family, lessen our impact on the planet. Now I’m not suggesting we all go mad and try to do everything at once. But maybe if we all did one thing. Just one small thing. It may just help.

What small thing could you do today?

Happy Easter

I know it’s a day late but Happy Easter everyone. It has been busy here this weekend as Easter is a BIG event in the Christian calendar. We had services on Good Friday and then spent Saturday setting up the hall ready for the big Easter breakfast we hold, allowing the whole church to come and eat together before the service and rejoice in the fact that He is risen!

Enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend whatever you do. Here are some pictures from yesterday.

20130401-151610.jpg
Tables all set

20130401-151637.jpg

Breakfast at the ready

20130401-152108.jpg
The cross

20130401-151736.jpg
Covering the cross with flowers

20130401-151803.jpg

These photos were taken on my phone as I forgot to take my camera with me. Sorry.