Daily Tip Challenge 2020 – September
1st In season food – Aubergine, Beetroot, Blackberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Courgettes, Chillies, Cucumbers, Damsons, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mangetout, Marrow, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Plums, Pumpkins, Radishes, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Sweetcorn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms
2nd Use washable food wraps. Kids are returning to schools and people to offices and the temptation in the present climate is to revert back to plastic and throw in the bin after a single use.
We have a range of sandwich wraps and snack bags that are machine washable or can be wiped clean. The wraps keep any size or shape of sandwich held firmly together and also opens out to become a placemat.
3rd Don’t cherry pick. So much food is thrown away every year as we want to buy the nicest shaped produce. Things like single bananas are often thrown out as people want the bunch rather than a few single ones. Misshapen fruit and veg tastes exactly the same as the smooth ones but again, are never picked up and end up in the bin. Shopping at greengrocers will also help as many fruit and veg that don’t look right won’t even by put out by supermarkets.
4th Switch to an eco toilet roll. For some reason in the UK we use a lot of toilet roll, 2.5 times more than the European average! There are so many eco options available now, some are made from completely recycled material but may be individually wrapped, some are made from bamboo so free of chemicals and good for sensitive skin but may be in plastic. So many out there with different positives, all are a step in the right direction.
5th Eco Brick - but as a last resort. For those who don’t know, eco bricking is the process of stuffing plastic packaging in to plastic bottles. They need to be really compressed so that these bottles can then be used in building projects. This serves to lock up the plastic as well as offer a free building material. This can only work if the bottles are completely shielded from sunlight to stop the bottles breaking down.
The issue surrounding this is that we are not tackling the problem at source and still allowing the huge usage of (in many cases) unnecessary plastic packaging. Also, perfectly recyclable plastic bottles are being taken out of the loop meaning more plastic is being made to meet this shortfall.
All together this is a good initiative but should be seen as a very short-term solution and we still need to stop usage where we can and show food companies they need to come up with an alternative.
6th Drive as eco as possible.
-Drive as smoothly as possible when accelerating and avoid late breaking
-Keep tyres inflated to correct level
-Keep car serviced and oil topped up
-Use air conditioning only when necessary
-Remove roof bars when not needed
-Remove unnecessary clutter from the boot
All fairly small changes but could keep your car more economic, saving on your carbon footprint and fuel costs.
7th Make an “eat me first” shelf. Today is the start of zero waste week so will see if I can focus the tips around this.
By having an eat first shelf in the fridge this should help avoid waste. Often things can get obscured at the back and not noticed till it’s too late. By having things in view and adding to it as things get close to a use by date you can plan meals around this and hopefully reduce what is thrown out.
Remember, best before date is not the same as use by date.
If you know you won’t eat it, can it be frozen?
8th Use the LOAF principle. Day 2 of Zero Waste Week and came across the L.O.A.F steps when buying food, this will lessen your environment impact.
L is for Local – at the top of the list is – locally sourced ingredients – this cuts down on food miles and also means that you are going seasonal too.
O which is for organic- buying organic when you can helps to support good farming practices, but not all farmers adhering to good practice can afford to have their produce labelled as organic.
A is for Avoiding intensive farming. If you can’t go local or organic, then avoid factory farming and support farms who are caring for the environment and farming in sustainable ways.
F is for Fairtrade – Fairtrade is for those items that you can’t source locally ever as they just don’t grow in your climate.
9th Store food to make it last. Zero-waste week day 3 - The average UK household throws away 22% of their weekly food shop which adds up to £700 per year!
Every day in the UK we throw away
20 million slices of bread
6 million potatoes
4 million bananas
The food and drink we waste, that could have been eaten (4.5 million tonnes) would fill:
• 8 Wembley Stadiums (London, UK)
• 90 Royal Albert Halls
• 38 million wheelie bins (based on a standard 240l)
• 3,600 Olympic sized swimming pools
490,000 bin lorries
10th Zerowaste week tip 4. A Best before date is about quality and food should be safe to eat after this date, however, it may no longer be at its best. In this case, it might need to be used as an ingredient rather than in its original form, in order to improve its taste or texture.
Pick one entire food cupboard and take everything out.
Give the cupboard good clean and dry it thoroughly. I’m going to assume you have three shelves (including the bottom of the cupboard). You can achieve similar with just two shelves though.
Whilst everything is out, make a note of what you have or take a photograph.
As you put things back, write up some store cupboard meals that you could make from what you have in stock or what you know you usually like but have run out of.
Don’t get hung up on the menu plan right now, just jot down your ideas on it when they come to you and finish it off later with a bit of help. That’s why you took the photo of what you have.
Once your cupboard is clean and dry, start putting things back following these rules:
Everything you have bought this year and is unopened and has a Best Before date well into the future, goes onto the top shelf of your cupboard if it is a wall mounted one or the bottom shelf if it is a floor standing unit. The reason for this is that these items will be the ones harder to reach, so when you are rushed and stressed, you don’t break your own system.
Everything from last year or with a Best Before date in the next three months and that is unopened goes onto the next shelf up or down, so it is in the middle.
Anything opened, nearing or past its Best Before date goes on the bottom shelf if your cupboard is on the wall – top shelf of it is floor standing. This should be the easiest shelf to reach and the one that will catch your eye first.
Pick one thing that is past its Best Before date if you have anything, take a photo, post it on social media with the hashtag #Letsignorebestbefore or do a search for a meal idea of how you are going to use it up before the end of the week.
Pledge to eat it by the end of the weekend!
Keep your menu plan to hand and add to it as you see new ideas for store cupboard meals
11th Look at eco holiday homes. If you are planning to have a holiday in the UK (and you live here) then that will already be a big reduction on your carbon footprint if you usually go abroad.
The National Trust own many properties that are set up with eco heating systems, air source heat pumps, solar panels etc so you can remain eco whilst away.
An added bonus is you get to stay in some really unique properties in amazing locations with profits being used to restore historical buildings or places of interest.
12th Plan an eco day trip. I appreciate that a trip somewhere very local with your own food would obviously be more eco but if you are wanting a bigger day trip for the family then one of these options may be good and not as widely known.
Centre for Alternative Technology, Powys - This is more of an educational centre for all aspects of sustainable living and development.
Greenwood Family Park, Gwynedd - The park has tunnels, mazes, slides and the world’s first people powered roller coaster.
Findhorn Foundation, Moray - An eco village with arts centre and environmental courses, films and gigs.
Pens Thorpe in Fakenham, Norfolk - 700 acre nature reserve and woodland conservation park.
13th Use coffee grounds as fertiliser. Coffee grounds add organic material to the soil which improves drainage, water retention and aeration in the soil. The grounds will also help microorganisms beneficial to the plant and attract earthworms. Added bonus is slugs and snails don’t like caffeine and will avoid it.
14th Use a bar of soap. There has been a resurgence of soap bars instead of plastic dispensers for many reasons. Of course it’s more eco, no extra cost, chemical free, huge variety, made locally.....
We now have 25 different soap bars available including two new ones, Rose Geranium and Cinnamon & Cedarwood.
15th Try a shampoo bar. Another plastic saver and as yesterday, free soap dish (upside down logo) with each purchase.
Many people have tried to switch and not got on with it. Some do and straight away, some find it takes a few weeks for their hair/scalp to adjust. If you live in a hard water area then you may find you won’t be able to use them due to minerals reacting with the soap and causing residue.
We have two new options to add to the existing range of shampoo and conditioner bars. Fragrance free and peppermint and eucalyptus.
If you want to try switching we have full instructions on transitioning away from chemical bottles to natural bars on our website.
16th Use ripe bananas for quick cookies. If you want a quick solution for bananas that are past their best then mash up 2 x bananas, add 500g of oats, 150g peanut butter and mix. Add any other optional extras - chocolate chips, walnuts, raisins, blueberries etc. Cook at 180 degrees for 15 minutes, that’s it. Healthy and filling snack.
17th Use lemon to cleanse your dishwasher. Putting a squeezed lemon in the top of your dishwasher will not only give your glassware a nice shine the critic acid will also neutralise any odours.
18th Read eco blogs. If you want something a bit more substantial than my daily tip then there are so many eco blogs that cover all aspects of living a more environmentally friendly life. I just stumbled across a list of the top 100, if you want to look through for inspiration then go to blog.feedspot.com/eco_friendly_blogs/
19th Utilise baking soda/sodium bicarbonate. Like cider vinegar this has a whole host of uses around the house. It works as a gentle abrasive cleaner by adding a bit of water to make a paste. Then use for stains like rust, coffee and wine.
20th Know your plastics, no. 1. All plastics should have a small triangle with a number from 1 to 7 which signifies the type of plastic used in manufacture. I thought I would run through these as it helps when making purchases if you know what will happen with the packaging after.
1 is Polyethylene terephthalate which will be shortened to PETE or PET. This is often clear plastic and used for drinking bottles, washing up and spray bottles and other food containers. It is considered a safe plastic unless it gets very warm it can leach carcinogens in to the liquid which is why it’s recommended not to drink from bottles left in cars on hot days. It is also porous which can allow bacteria to accumulate which is why you will often see it stated not to refill and reuse the bottle for drinking. Most councils (if not all) have the facilities to recycle this plastic but it can only be done a few times so always use a proper refillable bottle where possible.
21st Plastic no. 2 of 7. This plastic is high-density polyethylene and you will see this as a number 2♻️on your plastic containers with the abbreviation HDPE. This is mostly non drinking bottles except for milk and some juices. Also detergents, butter and toiletries, it is considered a safe plastic and won’t leach in to the contents. Like 1♻️ these are widely recycled by most councils.
22nd Know your plastics 3♻️. Polyvinyl Chloride or its much better know abbreviation PVC is used in many products but in the food industry, primarily bottles of oil and food wrap/cling film. Ideally try to avoid this product when purchasing food as most curb side collections won’t take it so it will end up in landfill.
Check with your local tip/dump/recycling centre with it though, it is also used in a whole range of household items like plumbing pipes, shower curtains, window frames, carpet backing. If they can take it then it is recycled for things like guttering, traffic cones, panelling.
23rd Know your plastics 4♻️. Low density polyethylene or LDPE 4♻️ as printed on things like plastic carrier bags, bread bags bin liners and squeezable sauce bottles.
This is one of the problem plastics, very lightweight so can easily be carried by wind and water, mistaken as food by marine life, mass produced and often used briefly before going in the bin. Another reason so many of these end up in the environment is they are not widely recycled by curb side collections.
There are many supermarkets that have in store recycling bins for this sort of plastic or will collect during food delivery. A lot of these plastics are easily avoidable by using your own bags, buying fresh bread without bags (or make your own), sauces in glass bottles (or refill shop) and don’t use bin liners.
If you do have plastic bags then reuse them as much as possible before putting them in to be recycled.
24th Know your plastics 5♻️. Polypropylene, or PP 5♻️ is most commonly used for yogurt and margarine tubs and microwave meal trays.
Recyclable by most councils with curb side collection although avoid buying things with black plastic trays if you can. These are often not picked up by the machinery during recycling as they are difficult to pick out against the conveyor belt (not sure on the correct terminology there).
25th Know your plastics 6♻️. PS or EPS is well known as polystyrene and is shown as 6♻️ on our plastics. PS is usually things like coffee lids and some egg cartons, EPS is the takeaway containers and the packaging used for electrical goods and other packaging.
Another problem plastic due to how light and easily transported by wind and water it is. There are also links to it leeching toxic chemicals when heated. It is difficult to recycle but can be done, seems very few councils have the facilities to do it though and mostly businesses offering it as a service.
The plus side on this one is that it is definitely being used less. Takeaways seem to have paper based containers, packing peanuts are often dissolvable and I can’t remember the last time I saw a polystyrene cup.
26th Know your plastics 7♻️. The last of the plastic categories is 7♻️ OTHER. This is either a plastic that is not in one of the other 6 types or often a mixture of plastics. This can make them a lot more difficult to recycle.
These plastics are often more rigid and as a result will be reusable and not single use.
Check with your local council as some will collect curb side, others may not but take them at refuse centres.
27th Try eco fire starters. In the UK the temperature has dropped over the last couple of weeks and log burners are being fired up. Try using dried orange peel as an eco fire starter. The peel contains oils that not only keep them burning they spread over the wood and ignite that. Added bonus it smells a lot nicer than chemical fire starters. Another option is the small wood and card cone pictured. We sell these in boxes of 6 and are very effective, just light the wood shavings in the centre of the cone and that will burn for 5 minutes and get the fire going.
28th Utilise egg shell. Another item that would go straight in to food waste could also be a great fertiliser. Clean all the residue from your egg shell and then grind to a powder. This calcium rich powder is great nutrients for plants.
You can also plant seeds in to half an egg shell with soil and put the whole thing in to a pot/ground. This will break down as the seed grows allowing the nutrients to be adsorbed.
29th Take your own containers. Many people are eating out again to support restaurants, do you ever have left over food? If so take your own containers to bring home, saves on food waste or the restaurant using single use containers.
Also check with your preferred takeaway as to whether you can bring your own containers for them to fill. Some offer this and others may not advertise it but see the environmental and cost benefit.
30th Revive rubbery vegetables. After a while veg like carrots, celery and parsnips can be limp and feel like rubber. Don’t throw them out, they are most likely dehydrated. Just cut the thick end of the vegetable off, put in a glass or jar of water and check back in an hour. The time can vary depending on the veg, size etc but can be anything from minutes to a couple of hours and it will be firm and crunchy again. I have read that this can work for all root vegetables.