It’s been a funny kind of day……

Filed in Blog by on June 5, 2008 18 Comments
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We’ve been getting along swimmingly for like, one day with our zero waste challenge, and then Thursday arrived with a bump.

I decided to tackle the meat packaging issue. This will contain a bit of a spoiler for another post, but we’ve made great progress with this issue already.

I won’t say too much other than we’d arranged to collect an unpackaged chicken from our butcher today. We arrived first thing this morning and the chicken hadn’t been delivered.

We went on a couple more errands involving our local farm shop where everything is sold loose (apart from chickens) and went back to the butchers.

No delivery.

We came back home for a bit, went back to the butchers three hours later and returned to, you’ve guessed it…….

No delivery.

After that we decided to visit our local Budgens where I discovered a bit of a treat – yogurt in a glass jar with a foil lid!
We are huge yogurt eaters here at Chez Green and a lot of our weekly packaging is non recyclable yogurt pots. Budgens had a few bargains instore to tempt us, so we grabbed some things in our basket and headed to the checkout.

Everything was going well until I found out that I had….

No reusable bag.

No problem, there were plenty of plastic carrier bags on the checkout, right? The trouble was that prior to discovering this omission, we’d been harping on to the woman on the checkout about our zero waste challenge. She had gleefully been sharing how strongly she felt about plastic bags too. One thing that had struck me this week is the number of people from all walks of life who like to talk rubbish! It’s astonishing; every day for the past three days we’ve talked passionately about rubbish to somebody.
The awareness is huge, even if the actions aren’t following yet.

Anyway, we’d made a firm pact on the plastic bag issue and here we were with our first ethical, real life, fly on the wall ‘Scruples’ dilemma. Do we take the bag and run (convenience) or do to ourselves what any tough parent would do to a child that goes out on a cold winter’s day without a coat and socks and learn about the consequences of our actions? (commitment)

Like the fun loving crazy fools we are, we decided on the latter.

With our integrity intact but an intriguing joy in our hearts about our decision, we struggled to the car with our shopping in our arms. We had a few strange looks, but then we are used to that and we got back to the car relatively unscathed save for a few dented arms and aching wrists.

Feeling rather smug with ourselves we went to pick up Little Miss Green from a friend’s house. When we arrived and moved the shopping for her to get into the car we realised why most yogurt manufactures favour plastic cartons with heat sealed lids.

The yogurt had leaked over the back seat.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the spilled yogurt in back of hot car scenario, but it’s pretty whiffy and messy.

Never mind, we decided to go to the butcher again. We were over half way there and realised we’d forgotten the box to collect the chicken in. Even I, no-plastic-bag-please advocate was not going to carry a raw chicken in my hands and nurse it all the way home. Oh no, no, no, no.

We turned the car around, came home, got the box and arrived at the butchers to this:


I silently wept into my reusable box.

We got home for tea, reached for the bread and there was none.

I’d forgotten to make it.

I’m tired.

The cat wants chicken. (and when she does get it will have cost about £12 when we take into account the amount of fuel we used going backwards and forwards to the butchers)

The husband wants bread.

The child wants yogurt.

Ok, in all seriousness there is a kind of moral here. We’re not being too hard on ourselves though, as we are only on day 4 of a new lifestyle. We’re breaking habits of a lifetime and that can be an arduous journey.

Our challenge today, should we choose to accept it, is to have a fast track course on the convenience of modern plastic packaging.

We really understand why most manufacturers use it now! Today we had made a commitment to no non recyclable packaging for yogurt, chicken and bread and it cost our sanity, time and the environment. But oh, how we laughed.

Yes, we robbed Peter to pay Paul and belched out emissions in the process, but what a lot we learned.

Now we’re home, fed, have our sense of humour back and the wisdom of hindsight flirting in our favour we’ve made the choice to learn from our mistakes. One of our favourite sayings is ‘There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities’. So, what did we learn?

  • Don’t forget your bags and boxes (those dents in your forearms really hurt)
  • Keep spillable things upright in transit (it’s a bit like the 5 loaves and 2 fishes story. Once 100mls of yogurt is running free on your car seat it seems to miraculously generate enough to feed the five thousand)
  • Manage your time (creating zero waste puts the responsibility back on us to be organised so that we can all have bread for tea)
  • Organise your day and ask empowering questions (practise asking this infront of the mirror until it becomes second nature: “Please can you tell me what time the delivery is due?” and this one “What time does this establishment close?” otherwise you have one seriously annoyed cat to explain yourself to and a 18.4 tonne carbon footprint to deal with – that’s one very expensive chicken)

Do tell us your stories about recycling. What have been your funniest moments and which lessons have been your hardest to learn?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (18)

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  1. Mr Green says:

    Ok, this has been one hell-uv-a-day! The temptation to ‘just compromise’ and take the easy option was really strong. But, we didn’t. It cost us time and money and some frazzled nerves. However, sometimes we have to choose a principle over convenience and maybe this is a something we all need to get used to in order to ‘do the right thing’ It hurts at the time in your own micro-cosm life, but you know it’s a decission that ultimately adds one more brick to secure the Earth’s future. Now that feels good …

  2. ROFL – I love you guys and you’re real bricks for keeping with it…LOL, welcome to my life! But I am the bearer of great tidings, in that it does become easier down the line when new habits become part of your every day make-up…

    …except of course the odd anomaly, like yesterday when I returned from London and popped to Waitrose. I looked in my boot…no bags. I looked in my footwell, hooray a bag for life…I picked it up and realised it was there for a reason, full of unsorted rubbish from my car. There was nothing for it but to buy a couple of new bags for life in store, knowing fully well I have about 20 at home.

    Twenty? Why the hell have I got so many…from previous misdemeanors of course! But why are they still at home…? Honestly, I am much more organised these days and this is the first time in a while that I’ve caught myself out.

    Anyway, it’s great to see you keeping up the effort, talking rubbish with strangers and providing us with your funny stories.

    Hope today is better than the last ;-D xxxx

  3. Mrs Green says:

    Good morning! I had a strangely good nights sleep after yesterday’s adventures and today I’m coming home with a chicken in a box if it’s the last thing I do LOL!

    I do remember you saying to me that humour was the most important thing with this challenge.

    Guess what?

    You were SO right 😀

    Have a wonderful day yourself,

    mrs G x

  4. dottyspots says:

    (((hugs))) – I can certainly sympathise on the bread front (countless times I’ve realised I’ve forgotten to make some and it’s 1/2 hour till lunch – but then I also realised I was wearing slippers halfway to the shops yesterday, so perhaps I’m especially dippy ;0)

  5. Mrs Green says:

    😀 😀 slippers to the shops LOL! When he’s not looking I will post up a photo of Mr Green’s first and last attempt at making bread……

    You will feel very good about wearing slippers to the shops after this 😀

    Mrs G x

  6. Agnes says:

    It does become easier as time goes on, I now have a re-useable bag in every handbag and my shopping bags do make it back to the car, and believe it or not I even remember to take them into the shop with me!! Used to be I was at the checkout when I realised the bags were either in the boot of the car or in the cupboard in the house!!

  7. Mrs Green says:

    That’s good news, Agnes. We realise we are taking our first steps and these habits are pretty ingrained.

    Today we did really well and the use of an Onya bag is very beneficial – all I need to do is remember to put it back in my bag or car when I’ve unloaded the shopping!

    It sounds like you have it down to a fine art now 🙂

    Thank you for stopping by with a comment; we really appreciate the interaction of our readers on here.

    mrs G x

  8. Soda bread, with the left over yogurt (assuming it was plain?) – takes about an hour to make….

    And why not make a tote bag with some waterproof fabric for the meat? That way it can get unpacked at home and the bag can go in the wash?
    They’re dead easy to make.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Sarah, I need you onboard the site! Your ideas are fabulous. I can’t believe I didn’t think of soda bread. A few years ago I went on a yeast / sugar free diet and all I made was soda bread. I love it much more than bread; it’s kind of cakey and much more satisfying.

    I’ll try it this week and see what Little Miss Green makes of it.

    The idea of making a waterproof morsbag is excellent – you just haven’t seen my sewing skills! 😀 I’ll stick with the plastic box for now, but I think you might be on to something. I never say never about the idea of making my own bag though; I’m doing things today I would never have dreamt I’d be doing ten years ago.

    Thanks for your suggestions, they were really great 🙂

    mrs G x

  10. Queenie says:

    Mrs G have you thought about buying a yoghurt maker?? I am led to believe they are very cost efficient and having witnessed one in action at a friends they look really easy too.
    I recycle our yoghurt pots at the local tip btw although it involves a car journey and i don’t have a car anymore so catch 22 there…. I tend to save them all up until they start spilling out of the windows then i know its time to cadge a lift off someone and drop them off….

  11. Queenie says:

    PS I always carry 2 or 3 bags folded up in my handbag because you never know when you might just spot a bargain … 🙂

  12. Hi Mrs G – Queenie’s got a grand suggestion there. I’ve been meaning to do a post about my yoghurt making but havne’t go around to it yet.

    It’s basically a heater which has 7 jars. All you need is some boiled milk which has cooled down mixed in with some yoghurt culture. It works a treat. In fact it’s like magic.

    Will blog about it soon so that you can see it in more detail.

    However, you could also make it in a flask. I tried that but it failed. However, I’m inclined to think it was the cheap flask from Woolies that did it.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    Shhhhhh ladies; you’re giving away my secret. After a lot of deliberation, procrastination and stepping way out of my comfort zone I’ve ordered one yesterday. I’ll be blogging about it just as soon as it arrives. 7 small jars, Mrs A? You haven’t seen my appetite for yogurt; I am solely responsible for the Yeo Valley yogurt survival. I have ordered a catering size one that can make a litre at a time.

    How do you recycle your yogurt pots, Queenie? Our council doesn’t take them. Do you buy a particular make that are recyclable or does your council offer some special collection point?

    Have a wonderful day,

    Mrs G x

  14. Queenie says:

    I live near to a local tip which offers fantastic recycling facilities – allegedly. They have a big skip labelled “plastics” and they go in there. I also take my tetra-paks and put them in the “cardboard” skip, yet they won’t let me put them in with my kerbside cardboard collection!
    I say allegedly as I have been known to take my recycling only to be told that the particular bin I want to use is full and to put it in “landfill”. Erm I think not ….

  15. Mrs Green says:

    It’s all a bit of a minefield, isn’t it Queenie? It sounds like your council offer good facilities and I’m sure the days of ‘oh just put it in the landfill’ skip will be short numbered as higher targets are set.

    What’s been lovely about all the comments on this site is that there are so many people ‘out there’ who care so much! We find it really heart warming and hopefully, if councils can see the interest, their will be more incentive to step up recycling facilities for local residents.

    Mrs G x

  16. Hi Mrs Green,

    Chicken is a problem for the consumer. The butcher is the first choice but delivery times are in the lap of the gods. I found a good reliable alternative at a fishmongers. The trick is to find your best source and buy regularly. If I miss a day he keeps some in the freezer. They are well used to my containers and I also benefit from the lack of plastic wrapping added to the weight of purchase, 0.5g.


  17. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,
    You’ll be pleased to hear we are now in a routine where we buy chicken on a FRIDAY!

    I know it will be in and still fresh. Like your fishmonger (our local fish market is the other side of 6 month roadworks, so we won’t be visiting there for a while), our butcher will freeze things for me now and they are completely used to us taking our own containers.

    Only this afternoon we popped in and bought some bread rolls (we don’t normally buy them from there) – the guy put them in a plastic bag and then apologised to us and offered to take them back out. They’ve taken to our ways very quickly and are completely supportive. It’s wonderful and we really appreciate their service.

    I’d never thought about the fact we’re saving money on packaging; there’s a way to entice other consumers eh?! 😉

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