Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Packaging-free food shopping?

Inhabitat, a nifty green design/lifestyle/architecture blog, recently posted (all wide-eyed and ooooh) about Unpackaged, a grocery shop that sells lots of foods loose.

Well, it's a great idea. But it's not new. Of course, now it's come to the notice of trendy posh Londonites, who want Bee Pollen and Red Quinoa, it's the next big thing, but weigh-it-yourself type shops have been around for ages - they're not common, but they are there. It's just that, you know what? They are in run-down areas where people don't have much spare cash, and they sell no-brand cornflakes. Fancy!

It seems it's either top end or bottom end of the market, and nothing in the middle...

Saturday, 23 January 2010

What's new?

Long time no blog...

How about an update of good habits and slippage? Where are we over a year after zero waste week?

Food buying habits are still pretty good I think. We still head to the local shops or market as much as we can, and we don't buy much processed food at all. There has been a bit of slippage on the baking front, and a few more cereal bars and similar snacks being bought, but we're back on home made cake this week. Yay! And we still fearlessly laugh in the face of Best Before dates and Consume Within advice, and trust our noses, with no should-have-been-edible food going in the bin. There are a few things that have gone in the compost when they've gone off too soon, pears and satsumas being a bit prone to mouldiness for some reason.

There has been a loss to the eco-shopping scene in Norwich. Wholefood Planet closed this month. I said when I originally blogged about it that it was out of the way, and I think that probably did for it. In an industrial unit down a dead end road on the very edge of town is not the place to open a shop, or a cafe (as they added later). It is a real shame, as it deserved to do well, but it also deserved to be better located for passing traffic and those who don't drive (presumably a fair proportion of their target eco-audience?). I will miss the large packs of wholefoods.

We have reluctantly moved away from the Bio-D washing liquid and softener that came in 25 litre containers and saved us lots of packaging. It was causing huge amounts of what can only be described as gunge in the washing machine. I don't know if it deteriorated because we didn't use it quickly enough, but there were grim mucus-y blobs in the softener, and a similar substance building up in the tray (and presumably in the pipes). We are trying some other eco alternatives including concentrated softener and, I'm afraid, wrapped tablets. Any comments on better-packaged things that work and don't cause gunge?

We had a new situation back in November - workmen in the house. Our old boiler went pop (more like dribble, actually) and so we replaced it with a more efficient one, requiring some changes to the whole heating system. The plumber took away the old boiler, feeder tank from the loft, and the insulated hot water tank from the airing cupboard. But he left behind cardboard and polystyrene packaging, broken tiles, leftover mortar/plaster stuff, assorted screws and general waste. Unfortunately he left it in the recycling bin, since that's outside the front door and the rubbish bin is tucked away behind the garage since we use it less often. So we had to tip up the whole wheelie bin and sort out the contents. Even when I mentioned it to him, MORE waste went in it the next day. ARGH.

There have been some changes to our Freecycle group in that it's become Freegle, but it still works just as well as ever. We had some great publicity in the November 2009 issue of Your Rubbish Your Choice (you can read it online from that link - page 16-17), and once again went to te Norfolk Waste Partnership conference to spread the word. In YRYC you can read about Recycle-PC, who collect all manner of old IT equipment through Freegle, make working systems, and give them away to those who need them - not to mention disposing properly of the bits that are no longer useful. I was really pleased (and not a little surprised) to find out that old PCs from work go to these guys, and passed on a whole vanload of computers to them at the end of the year. I'll be adding some bits of our own as soon as my husband's not looking ;)