Weekly weigh in 17

Filed in Blog by on September 24, 2008 10 Comments
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We’re commencing our weekly weigh ins again this week as it gives us and you a guide as to how we are doing with our zero waste lifestyle.

It’s been very interesting to see how doing just one week of total zero waste seems to have somehow filtered into new habits.

I don’t feel that we’ve particularly ‘tried’ to be better behaved, but one new habit for sure has stuck and that is Mr Green’s curry. While we were doing our zero waste challenge I made chicken curry from scratch.
It was a bit of a revelation I have to admit. Usually I have a thing about dicing meat. It’s just so tough and I do not have the right knife for it. So it becomes a real chore that actually puts me off making an attempt at cooking dishes that require diced meat (I know, I know).

Anyway, the only way Mr Green was going to get a curry during zero waste week was for me to buy some chicken and dice it (in hindsight, I’m sure the butcher would have done it for me, but I didn’t think to ask). So I bought some chicken, got it home, started to dice and oh my, meat from a butcher is quite a different product from meat from a supermarket.

It was easy to cut through! So easy, just as if I were cutting butter with a hot knife.

Plus the curry tasted 10 times better than any pre prepared thing AND it works out to cost less (not always mind you, it’s so good that Mr Green tends to eat more).

So this is one change that has remained firmly in place.

I did buy Little Miss Green a selection bag of crisps once zero waste week was over. Thinking back on it she was marvellous for a seven year old. I mean, I didn’t expect her to ‘get it’ at all. But she really did and she took things on board and didn’t challenge me when I said No to things in the shops (perhaps I should try another week as this is pretty unheard of!).

There is a plastic bag in the landfill waste this week that I am really annoyed about. You remember I made chutney? We didn’t have enough tomatoes growing to make this, so I had to buy some. I went to the Co-Op and they had a roll of plastic bags next to the produce. I asked for paper bags, like the ones you get for mushrooms, but this is only a small branch and they don’t stock them.

Mr Green scowled at me as I took a plastic bag and started to fill it. I considered taking loose tomatoes to the checkout, but thought better of it when I realised how many I needed. I reassured Mr Green that I would not be tying the bag and would reuse it.

I got to the till and hadn’t bought enough tomatoes, so went back to get more. I handed them over and the lady started to tie the bag. I asked her not to in a panic stricken voice and she actually argued with me!

She looked at me like I was some naughty school child and said ‘I’m only tying it lightly’ and handed it over before I could grab it from her. Well, you’ve guessed it, no amount of careful untying would set those tomatoes free without tearing the bag. So I ended up with a ripped plastic bag to get rid of which I feel quite aggrieved about.

There is also a rice cakes bag. I am told by kallo ‘the packaging is classed as a non recyclable film‘. I’m not sure what a substitute would be for these as Little Miss green lives off them. I have no idea how I would make rice cakes myself, but I suspect some specialist equipment is needed. Does anyone know for sure?

There are two plastic raisins bags from the chutney making, a frozen chips bag – yes I buy frozen chips and I shall probably continue to do so. Deep frying is not one of my favourite past times. In fact I hate it with a passion. I used to slice potatoes and put them in a plastic bag with a tablespoon of oil and oven bake them. I guess I could toss them about a bit in a large bowl – I’ll think about it.

There is a toothpaste tube, a couple of non identifiable plastic lids – I missed the boat with Kristal on those! and something mysterious which Little Miss green needs asking about later; it’s a Muller Lite pot, which I never buy!

Where on earth that came from I don’t know.

Anyway, the total is 110 gms and this is for a months worth of rubbish! I’m going to split it into 4 and show it up on the graph, as this works as a good visual representation for us. But you’ll see the dip on the graph is a lovely round ZERO from our zero waste week. Yipee!

I have to say, for a months worth of rubbish, I’m impressed. We did use up with some meat in the freezer that was in a plastic tray, but Mr Green called the manufacturer about the packaging. He was assured that we could reuse this plastic tray in the freezer and the oven safely. So I’m going to refill it, probably with curry!

I’ll put up a pic later – I’m still in my dressing gown 😉

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 (10)

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  1. Hi Mrs Green,

    110 grams is a fantastic effort for a family of three + cat over the four weeks. The beauty of this achievement is that it can be a permanent change with a massive landfill reduction over a year, for example. I am convinced that this is the future, sustainable waste.

    Home baking is a must for anyone looking to reduce packaging waste, though baker’s shops offer good paper/unpackaged choices. There are lots of small cake recipes, including rice based. One particular childhood favourite was coconut pyramids.

    This week I will try various types from the old recipe books. My mother’s baking range was immense, not as deep as Maisie’s, but well able to cater for a family of six.

  2. maisie clark says:

    That is really well done for a month.

    DH was telling his work colleagues that we have only been putting a carrier bag of rubbish out each week into the landfill bin and they were amazed.

    I am toying with the idea of mailing the crisp packets and any plastic wrap that can’t be recycled back to Tesco or Sainsburys or wherever it came from with a note stating that “It is their responsibility to recycle this waste responsibily”.

    You could do the same with the sultana bags from your chutney making.

    Will make interesting mail opening for the bods at Tesco Head Office.

    What do you think??

  3. Helen says:

    Hi Mrs G, I came across your site via janey Lee Grace recently and have loved reading your posts. Sorry if this has been answered before but one recyling thing that puzzles me is whether you can put non-carrier bags in the bag recyling things at the supermarket. For example food bags (clean ones of course), magazine wrappings (from the weekend papers) and stuff like that. I have been using a rule of thumb that if the bag/packaging feels like it could be used to make a carrier bag then it’s probably ok, but reading your posts about plastic recyling I’m now not at all sure!

  4. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John, I was really pleased with the month’s outcome. I am yet to post up a photo and update the graph – it’s been a busy day. Let us know how the baking goes. Coconut pyramids sound nice; a little sweet perhaps?

    Thanks Maisie; yes, we get wide eyed looks when we say how little rubbish we produce too – it’s great that your dh is talking about this at work. I’m all for ‘return to sender’ for packaging that cannot be recycled and this is the next step in our venture. Let’s go for it! And we can share any feedback here; it will be interesting to see if anyone actually responds!

    Hi Helen, welcome to the site and thanks for saying where you found us.
    Each supermarket has different policies on what they will accept.
    My experience shows that some supermarkets will take polythene in the carrier bag recycling receptacles – you can read more about it here.

    Polythene is the type of packaging you are talking about – vegetable bags, magazine wrappings and toilet roll / kitchen towel packaging too. You will need to ask at the individual supermarket though.

    Does this answer your question or would you like more info?

  5. esther says:

    I’m not there yet, since as you know it’s very hard to get everyone in the family to do this with me, and most of all, because many things just still come in plastic…f.e. overhere, no way to find milk in glass bottles anymore, it’s plastick. recycable, but, plastic. so now, I make my own (organic) milk, from powder milk (which come in paper and is way better to recycle and much lighter to carry home, lol)

  6. just Gai says:

    It’s funny, but only today I was thinking along the same lines as Maisie, ie of posting unrecyclable plastic wrapping back to the supermarket’s head office. A variation on leaving it all at the checkout, and maybe more effective as the message is directed nearer the top of the company. It’s too much to get my head around at the moment but I shall return to it later because, like Mrs Green I have encountered plastic wrapping that I cannot see myself being able to give up permanently. The only solution is to persuade supermarkets to used recyclable wrapping.

  7. Wow! You guys are doing so well!

    I’m no help on the rice cake thing. I think they use exceedingly high heat to pop the rice(sort of like popcorn) and I don’t know that you could do that at home.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Esther, welcome to the site from over in sunny France. You can get powdered milk in paper – we can’t get that to my knowledge, yet we can have milk delivered in glass bottles! Yes, it’s it a challenge to reduce waste without the entire family joining in. This may change for you in the future!

    Just Gai, we will definitely be joining with a ‘return to manufacturer’ plan. It seems there are several of us planning this, and it’s a good move, especially with the recent news of pushing for incinerators.

    Kristen, my feeling was that they would require blasts of hot air that you just could not reproduce in a domestic kitchen. I’ll let you know if I find anything out!

  9. Kathryn says:

    Love the website!You are doing a really good job to reduce your rubbish so well. We have been trying to be green for years and gave up plastic bags a long time ago. It is much easier here now as shop assistants usually ask if you want one.

    Our problem in reducing our waste is cat litter! We would have a very small amount each week, but we have to put 10 litres of litter in as well which ruins the whole thing. You can’t compost it and the cats don’t go out of our garden so they can’t dispose of it elsewhere! Any suggestions would be welcome.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Kathryn; welcome to the site and thank you for your comments. It’s great that your shop assistants ask about bags rather than assume to give them away. Are you in the UK?

    Cat litter has been discussed on the site; you can read some ideas on it within the comments on this page

    We haven’t reached a proper conclusion yet, but I’m planning an article on it at some point and will put in everyone’s suggestions.

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