Our good idea (which backfired)

Filed in Blog by on February 27, 2009 16 Comments
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stainless steel butter dishMr Green and I had an ‘Aha!’ moment in Lidls last week. Picture the scene. A packet of butter kept in the cupboard (because butter from the ‘fridge is so hard it rips holes in your bread) after two or three days. Guess what that looks like.

It’s not a pretty sight, I can tell you. Now I’m the good one (of course) – I scrape carefully across the length of the butter with my knife. Little Miss Green just cuts big hunks of it off and spreads bread onto the butter, but Mr Green; well, Mr Green stands there with the butter in one hand, a ryvita in the other and he dips the ryvita into the butter!

You might be interested to know that I now have my own packs of butter and those two share another pack 😀

Anyway, back to Lidls. We spied stainless steel butter dishes on offer. What a brilliant idea, we thought. We have tried using a plastic container in the past, but we’re uneasy about storing fatty foods in plastic for health reasons. These stainless steel butter dishes looked just the part. Whatsmore, they came in a cardboard box. And to add to my joy, I just have a thing about stainless steel. I love the stuff; it’s hard wearing, looks the business, has no health risks and it lasts for ever. Plus if you really, really need to get rid of it, you can recycle it.

Sold, to the woman carrying her reusable shopping bag!

I clutched my new purchase all the way home and couldn’t wait to introduce the butter dish to her inmates. I opened the box and ….

And ….

I found the base and the top, both wrapped separately in plastic. If that wasn’t enough, the base had a sachet of silica gel in it ???

My limited knowledge of silica gel is that it is a drying agent. Why does a stainless steel dish wrapped in plastic need a drying agent? Somebody enlighten me please; so at least I can understand why I have this piece of landfill waste to deal with.

Ok, so the plastic was marked with a 4, which is recyclable, but ya know; it’s unnecessary and although I CAN recycle it; I have to drive 15 miles to do so as none of my local supermarkets will take it.

The butter dish will undoubtedly keep that kitchen cupboard a little neater and we’ll no longer have buttery fingers when we reach across the shelf for something, but I always feel a little cheated when my good ideas are marred by a little disappointment by thoughtless and unexpected packaging.

What about you – what ‘good idea’ have you had on your zero waste journey that backfired?


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 (16)

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  1. LOL @ LMG with her hunks of butter. That’s my style too and Mr A does his carefully just like you Mrs G…but Mr G…well that’s ‘er……eurgh 😀

    That’s really crap about the packaging and I have no idea about the silica gel and why it should be needed for Stainless Steel…perhaps it sweats when wrapped in plastic who knows.

    The key backfiring element for me on the zero waste front has been sorting out my stuff in the kitchen, while young Mr T has been all too busy creating a whole pile of rubbish elsewhere. At least he is getting better, bit by bit 😀 xx

  2. Poppy says:

    Same butter issues here too Mrs G. I confess that we usually use spreadable gunk, but during Zero Waste week I enforced butter on my crew. I grumbled to my Mum that it was a real problem spreading the stuff and her response was to say that I shouldn’t keep it in the fridge! Drrrr! Does she really think so highly of me? Another big divide methinks for the wanna be greens and the 40’s babes who take every comfort that society can throw their way. Mum has heating in her kitchen, we don’t.

    With regard to your packaging. Yes totally OTT. I guess they are not made anywhere that you could sensibly complain to either 🙁

  3. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Lidls/Aldis are a bit chequered on the Zero Waste front, like most supermarkets. I simply shop on my terms. As for butter, I use it for frying chicken and baking only. My brothers and families all love the stuff.

    The biggest recent setback was inconsiderate gifts from friends, at Christmas, who seemed to question my Zero Waste attitude. That is dangerous territory. In future, no compromise will be afforded to such waste plastic packaged gift offers. I managed to find a home for the gifts but the waste had still to be landfilled by someone.

  4. Sarah says:

    Dang, a proper butter dish? I missed it.

    We tend to go for that spreadable-mostly-butter in a plastic tub that gets washed and seriously reused until it starts to fall to bits and then is recycled. I have a freezer full of them, all with handy sized portions of various things, and they’re used to collect veg peelings for the menagerie, I stand plants in them while growing on during late spring and summer…..

  5. John Costigane says:

    Hi again Mrs Green,

    Mrs A is doing Red Nose Day effort and I have started a topic on SkyNews forum. Obviously, I never miss a plug for MyZeroWaste as well. Everyone feel free to leave a post there.

  6. Carole Blake says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, can you give me a link to the forum? Not sure which one I’m looking for?


  7. John Costigane says:

    @Carole Blake: Hi Carole, the forum is on the SkyNews website. Do a google for SkyNews and follow from there. The link within Sky is Discussions and to leave a message you can log-in with an alias and password or just have a look. My alias there is LesWaste (Less Waste) and the post is under Environment. Thanks you for the interest.

  8. Perhaps the silica gel pack was to keep the plastic-wrapped stainless steel from developing rust? (Hey, I didn’t say it was a smart idea — just an idea).

    Just last night, Mr. Savvy and I bought him a pack of artist’s pencils. We chose the pack in cardboard instead of plastic, but when we opened the cardboard, there was plastic inside that we couldn’t see.

  9. Carole Blake says:

    Ohhhh, I’ve just been reading the thread on plastic packaging, you kept your temper very well!!! I’d better not post in that one, or I’ll lose mine!

  10. Carole Blake says:

    Fraid I had to have a word, Easter Egg topic. I’m not posting to him anymore!!

  11. John Costigane says:

    @Carole Blake: Carole what was your alias? Was it C-???. Martin on there was a comedian who did things for a laugh but I just argued the case and won. Feel free to have a strong word. I will certainly second your sentiments.

  12. Carole Blake says:

    @John Costigane: Yes I am that person lol. Sorry, but I read what he’d written in the other thread re plastic packaging, that wound me up, then I read the whole thing on the Easter eggs and just couldn’t help myself. If he’s just doing it to get a rise out of people, I’m obviously too easy to do it to!!

    Sorry Mrs G, seemed to have nabbed your thread. I’m switching over to butter to try to save on the plastic pots; to the good tho’, I used two yoghurt pots to plant lettuce seeds in this week. They’re coming up already.

  13. John Costigane says:

    @Carole Blake: You told him, Carole! The forum is full of wind-up merchants not like this site at all. I can handle all-comers but thanks anyway.

    If you feel like doing a topic of your own just post one. I will certainly give you full backing and we could have a dialogue there. Anyone else could also take part. It would be fun.

  14. Condo Blues says:

    I mom has a butter dish that looks just like yours except it has a glass insert that you the butter rests on in the stainless steel butter dish. To make it easier to clean, I suppose?

    I use a cermanic butter dish.

  15. Rebecca says:

    I have that same exact butter dish, and I don’t remember it coming with any packaging at all. (Although now I don’t really remember.) My mom has a French butter bell, which allows you to keep butter at room temperature for longer than usual. It is ceramic and involves water somehow. Not that I’m trying to get you to make yet another purchase. . . .

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Almost Mrs Average: Hey Mrs A; I considered the ‘it might sweat’ thing too, but as stainless steel doesn’t rust, why would that be an issue?
    Glad to hear master T is sorting himself out!

    @Poppy: We have the issue with limited heating in the kitchen too. The downstairs is open plan and it ranges from 16 to about 22; which I’ve learned is the difference between rock hard butter and spreadable 😀

    @John Costigane: John, it was a shame that Lidl came near the bottom of the league in recent reports about the amount of recyclable packaging they offer.
    Let’s hope that this Christmas is better in terms of gifts for you 🙂
    thanks for all the work you do on other forums, John; we all appreciate you spreading the word.

    @Sarah: Hi Sarah – that’s some serious re-use you have going on there. Good to hear. we’re butter lovers through and through and more supermarkets are stocking it in greaseproof paper rather than laminated packaging, which is great!

    @SavvyChristine: That’s very frustrating. Just as you think you’ve bought something suitable there is a hidden piece of plastic in there. what a shame.

    @Carole Blake: hi Carole, don’t worry about nabbing the thread – you’ve piqued my curiosity enough to see what is happening over there now …
    glad to hear the lettuce seeds are happy in their yogurt pots!

    @Condo Blues: I wonder if the glass keeps cooler than steel? As long as it’s recyclable after use; that’s the main thing 🙂

    @Rebecca: I saw one of those once, Rebecca and it did look rather good. It’s very tempting, but the one I saw was quite expensive.

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