Why you should never buy apples in a plastic bag

Filed in Blog by on December 9, 2009 11 Comments
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My beloved Alice; a wannabe Aga

My beloved Alice; a wannabe Aga

It had to happen, right?

My beloved Alice met her fate this week after 2 1/2 years of domestic bliss.

Alice, in case you are wondering, is my cooker. I’m an Aga girl at heart, but when I bought Alice I couldn’t quite reach the extra few thousand to get a real Aga, plus we don’t have room in our kitchen for a hob for use during summer when you don’t want an Aga pumping out heat.

Alice was the next best thing and I have to confess it was love at first sight. Not only is she made by the Aga people, but she’s a real cooker looker. If I was a boy appliance in my kitchen I would definitely have an eye for Alice; she really is hot stuff; especially when baking a Sunday roast.

Aaaaaanyway, our recycling area is now outside, so I stack things up on the corner of the work surface and the next person to go out to the woodshed or ‘fridge takes the recycling items with them. A bit like leaving a toilet roll on the bottom stair for the next person to take upstairs with them, right?

Well the other day we found ourselves in a rush at lunchtime, so I stacked the stuff up on the side of Alice while I served up lunch.

We ate, cleared away and Mr Green, being the well trained altruistic and loving sort that he is, washed and wiped up (no sorry ladies, he doesn’t have a brother).

A few minutes later I could smell something. I checked the fire; everything was hunky dory. Sniffed around outside; the smell was definitely inside. Checked Mr Green hadn’t been washing up too quickly and had steam coming from any orifice, but all was well. Went into the kitchen and the smell got stronger.

I looked at my beloved Alice and there she was with a plastic bag wedged to her face.

Yes, Mr Green had stuffed a tea towel on Alice’s rail to dry and accidentally knocked the switch to turn on one of the hob rings. Alice was unfortunate enough to have a plastic bag sitting on the hob that had been turned on and was slowly flambéing her first delicacy of plastic bag.

Fortunately the offending knob had turned clockwise to a 1 rather than counter clockwise to a 6; so it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. And thank goodness we hadn’t been on our way out for the afternoon – I shudder to think what the consequences might have been.

So let that be a lesson to me next time I want the convenience of a pre-packed in plastic item. I mean apples; I really should know better, we have an orchard less than 2 miles away. Sheesh; you would have thought I would have learned from the time I set fire to our sofa wouldn’t you?

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 (11)

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  1. Gorgeous cooker Mrs G and am so glad it escaped lightly. Could have been much worse, just imagine. I can’t remember exactly how but a couple of years ago I managed to set light to the plastic handles of a knife and fork, which were resting close to our gas hob. There were flames, the fire alarm was going at full throttle and it all was a bit of an emergency at the time to put out the mini fire that alight on my worktop. Anyway, I’m off to the market today to get my usual 3kg of free-spirited apples and will dutifully hand over my bag to be filled 😀 x

  2. Poppy says:

    I hope you managed to peal away the offending bag when it cooled down Mrs G. What a lovely cooker looker Alice is. My Sis-in-Law has something similar, but strangely, the majority of the knobs appear to have gone awol and she uses a pair of pliers to turn the controls up and down!! It’s a strange household!

    We’ve had apples in bags the last few times we’ve bought them partially because Mr T has had one of those bizarre special offers on that leave you in a quandry. One bag for £1.99 or 2 bags for £2! I had previously been buying only what I needed from the loose counter, but these are English Coxs, and I can recycle the bags, so I went for it and junior does seem to be muching his way through them quite successfully 🙂

  3. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    I always buy unpackaged apples to avoid plastic packaging (waste) which means the risk of burning is removed. My problem with the gas cooker is leaving on the grill at a low setting, which is noiseless. Double checking the settings are all at ‘off’, especially at bedtime, prevents any recurrence.

    Recyclables tend to build up here as well, but are well-removed from cooker/microwave dangers.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Almost Mrs Average: Well that sounds a scary experience, Mrs A – glad all was ok in the end.

    @Poppy: Alice is restored to her former glory Poppy, thankfully! These were english coxes too – in polythene, so I didn’t feel *too* bad 😉

    @John Costigane: Gas cookers really scare me John! I’m always worried about gas leaking from them for some reason – nothing to do with experience so I don’t know why it is.

  5. Agathe says:

    I have meld a tea pot (made with glass who broke and plastic) years ago, i set fire to a towel, and meld a knife (with a silicon handle) … just by turning on the wrong button….

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Agathe: Hi Agathe, welcome to the site and thanks for sharing your story; it seems many of us have had mishaps in the kitchen in this way!

  7. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    I recently used some of the oven-dried Sweet Basil and found the flavour far better than the purchased variety. As for the plants, they are struggling already in the December chill, something I have not seen for many years. With the reduced hours of light, many leaves had developed black dots caused by bacteria. Drastic measures were required to save about 20 good leaves, for freezing, and 20 to be scattered on the front garden, the latter to avoid spoiling the compost.

    The plants will not last a severe spell of cold but there are enough leaves and grounds for most of next year. Future efforts will aim to last well into autumn before the frosts start.

    During the past weekend there was a few days constant freezing fog which gave me a chill which kept me indoors until Monday when the fog lifted. I therefore missed the article but at least a wider audience saw your food management, most of these probably not on the internet. This should help raise your profile and a guest spot on TV might be a future event. A topic raised on SkyNews Forum to give your article more coverage was pulled just like the TetraPak competition. It might be time to give Sky the boot for the New Year.

  8. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    The commingled collection today threw up a couple of funny incidents with the biggest laugh being a filled plastic bag sitting beside a blue bin. Obviously, there is still some misunderstanding among local householders. My own nearby contact who has recycled as long as me, using the initial boxes system over many years, has had to remove plastic bags from the recyclate on 2 occasions. This from a good recycler shows the wide use of plastic bags for recyclate in the home. I can see this being a continuing feature but the bin collectors speak to householders to offer advice during the round and have left filled blue bins for the following fortnight. There will be further problems no doubt but feedback should help after the holiday period.

    My own effort now includes removal of plastic-lidded glass jars used for food item storage with 3 lids successfully dispatched in the blue bin today. There are various glass on glass alternatives, with inner plastic lining only, and these will replace all the remaining jars.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, it seems, that despite a few teething troubles, the co-mingled collections are going well. It’s great how this opens things up for different purchases for you too.
    Sorry to hear you have been unwell – I trust you are ok now?
    Regarding Sky – as with all things in life, sometimes we need to move on. We take what we need or add where we can, but then it’s time for other things…

  10. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    The commingled has allowed Tetra Pak purchases to be added as a Zero Waste Alternative which is a big plus. Plastic caps, previously always a bugbear, are another choice mainly for clear glass bottled items like sauce. Margarine tubs for baking are another addition which help a lot. Otherwise, the Zero Waste approach is still very worthwhile since plastic is still of questionable value from a sustainable perspective.

    Liz, at Wrap still prefers source-segregated kerbside collections but having experienced both types, I find commingled is better for householder participation. This is still a big issue in recycling and others’ experiences would be worth reading to help form a clearer opinion. Your local setup seems to rely on householders doing the most but commingled might be a better choice, though a more rural setting may be a problem.

    My health is better but colder so long lies are recommended where possible. As for next year, that requires some careful thought but the aim is to change focus while keeping up the pressure on all things unsustainable. I have still to get Ian to join the site but the festive period is not a good time for busy traders. His unpackaged offerings have been very helpful, and deserve some promotion on the web. In general, we can all help good businesses prosper and attract more to add impact to the trend.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, it’s great that you are able to make so many changes to your shopping habits; we’re hoping that some new facilities will be available around here over the next couple of years.
    I’m not sure how I feel about co-mingled or segregated. Segregated seems to produce a better quality recyclate, but as you point out, it’s participation that is needed at this stage.
    We have a new site feature coming up in the new year which will enable you to help Ian get some interest and trade 🙂
    Stay well.

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