Sunday, 8 February 2009

Progress check

I have been sadly neglecting my blog lately so thought it was time for a progress check. How am I doing with the low-waste habits?

The positive points:

- we are shopping at the local independent shops more often. This has cut down on plastic waste especially meat and fish trays, and we are much better at avoiding impulse buys. From the butcher in particular we are finding the produce much tastier, too. We try to cycle there and so it also keeps us fit! (Particularly cycling back with laden panniers :)

- we are buying some things in bulk to reduce packaging - yogurt in 500g pots and dried fruit/nuts weighed out to order and put in paper bags.

- most of the time there are home baked cakes/flapjacks in the cupboard instead of packaged cereal bars.

- I make a point of saving foil and miscellaneous metal (bottle caps etc.) as I know that can go to the recycling centre now.

Still needs work:

- we still buy some things in unavoidable plastic packaging: celery, spinach, cheese (occasionally), yogurt (although see above), pasta, rice. These last two could maybe be bought in bulk, but I haven't seen large packs of wholemeal pasta or brown rice anywhere.

- I am doing longer runs now and need to consume energy gels which come in foil/plastic sachets. I might try going back to jelly babies! But the gels are easier to eat on the move.

- we haven't yet invested in any reusable containers of a suitable size for buying meat, fish etc.

- I need to get another reusable water bottle for travelling. With the liquids regulations on planes, airports even seem to be reluctant to let you take an empty "disposable" bottle through security, so you have to bin it and buy another (cunning). At least at Luton they had recycling bins for them. I had a flyer from Jarrolds this week telling me about new recycled plastic water bottles, UK-made, that they are selling for £8. I can't find the flyer (think I recycled it :) so I can't give more details, but I will probably invest in one of those, to support recycled manufacturing and to help me avoid disposable bottles on the move.

I mention travelling as I was away in Poland this week. Breakfast at the hotel was one of the least waste-friendly operation I have seen in a long time! Although you could help yourself to cereals, juice and milk from large containers, and bread from open baskets, everything else (butter, jam, yogurt, cheese, pate, tea, sugar) was in single-serving plastic cartons with plastic/foil lids. The best effort I have seen was in Germany where everything was help-yourself from bowls and plates, ranging from sliced meat and cheese to yoghurt, cereal and nut/seed toppings.

Just a few thoughts. I feel quite happy with how we are doing, and think that to go further would mean some serious rethinking of the way we live and, particularly, eat. Maybe in the future when the current habits are really entrenched, we'll look at going further towards zero waste?


  1. YAY for buying meat with containers!! I'm still gathering strength... OoO

    Dried nuts and fruits in bulk is great too!!
    /I admit it's not quite easy to find non-stale and organic non-packed here in Slovenia!! but Dad doesn't mind, so he just buys bulk../

    Too bad about the hotel in Poland.. Some hostels etc here in Slovenia are bad too.. (bad materialistic ex-communist countries!! grr!!)
    Interesting that Germany is better, well they are officially a zero waste country, so good to know even hotels abide by it!!
    Maybe it would be good to start keeping track where things are zero waste and where not..? :)
    /and highly publicise it/mention it in hotel reviews etc-??/

    Well, if you feel you've done enough, maybe take a little break, and then return to minimizing further? :)
    I know I took a little break at times and then later on returned to this with renewed spirit!

  2. Thanks Layla! Another thing I should mention about the hotels is that the German one was a 4* and the Polish one was a clean but functional 1*. Maybe that makes a difference? I agree it would be good to mention it in reviews - I should look on Tripadvisor.