Day 5: Zero Waste Week

Today is the final day of Zero Waste Week 2016, which has run from the 5-9 September. The theme is food waste.

My goal for the week was to reduce my food waste, carrying out small manageable tasks on a daily basis. This approach worked well for me, and I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve achieved. Although my food waste bin has more in it that an average week, that’s because I’ve spent energy sorting out my food storage, and have banished everything that was so out of date I could no longer use it.

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Here’s a peek in my food waste bin – yum!

I’ve managed to fill my freezer with lots of food – some of it cooked up with vegetables that were past their best and would, I fear, otherwise have found themselves destined for the compost.Having several portions of dinners ready to defrost is going to make it easier to meal plan, which in turn will assist me in reducing food waste.

A surprising side benefit of Zero Waste Week has been that it’s kick-started me with cooking – once I’ve whipped up a few batches of meals, I realise it’s no big deal and have been cooking more, even when there’s no almost-off food needing used up.

My biggest obstacle is disorganisation. I don’t prioritise food waste and planning normally and this has resulted in me buying more than we can eat and leaving food to go off.   I did however sort the fridge out and as you can see from the picture below, my cupboard has been organised.

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There’s even a shelf for the iron again

See yesterday’s post for the before picture.

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading this week,and well done if you’ve saved anything from being wasted. Good luck to us all as we continue to try and defeat food waste!

Day 4: Zero Waste Week 2016

Every day this week so far I’ve been setting myself small tasks, as I take part in Zero Waste Week. The topic this year is food waste, and I’m determined to both reduce my food waste and establish some good habits that will ensure I chuck less rotten food out in future.

Yesterday’s tasks were to:

  1. Make a vegetarian goulash – serving the dual purpose of following my meal plan, as well as using up some elderly peppers, tomatoes and courgettes that I found in the fridge a few days ago; and
  2. Sort out half of the shelves in my big food cupboard.

I started with the goulash.

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It was totally satisfying to chop up the rescued veg and, before long, I had a vat of delicious loveliness bubbling on the cooker. That was yesterday’s dinner sorted – and with several extra portions ready for the freezer. Perfect.

Very much in the mood for my next task, I threw open the cupboard door and started hauling things out. Here’s the before picture.

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I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting this to be such a big job. In my head, I believed that I’d cleared the cupboard quite recently, but the best before dates on some of my jars and tins suggested otherwise. My last declutter must have been over a year ago.

I quickly abandoned the idea of tidying out half of the shelves in one sitting. The whole cupboard would need cleared out as any signs of order were gone. Chuck today, tidy tomorrow, I decided. There were tins on every shelf, cereal packets all over the place, and bags of crisps nestling in random nooks and crannies…you’ve literally got the picture.

I grabbed the bin, a food waste bag and made a pile for recycling and they all started filling up pretty fast.

Some of my big issues were that:

  • We had several duplicate ingredients – cooking chocolate, oatcakes, coffee (which no one in the house actually drinks!), crisps (flavours that no one likes), cake sprinkles, spices…
  • We are the (not very) proud owners of some items that we rarely use such as cinnamon sticks, tiny marshmallows and a jar of value syrup – purchased by the other half for a ‘science experiment’ done with the kids one Sunday morning.
  • There were large open packets of things like tea bags and salt that regularly need decanted into smaller caddies, as well as things like bin bags that should be kept under the sink.
  • Items such as sugar, a variety of flours were sitting in tupperwears often abandoned and past their best before dates.

Basically the main issue was a lack of organisation. Based on the evidence we clearly purchase duplicates by accident a lot. We fail to empty large packets into their smaller caddies for everyday use, and we keep things in the wrong places. This causes clutter and leaves things to go past their dates. By storing different items in similar looking tubs (although they are all labelled and dated), we end up rummaging chaotically, and missing what we need.

The solutions are pretty obvious – kill the clutter and make sure we can find what we need quickly. If we buy unusual ingredients, we need to have a plan for using them up immediately and not letting them squat in our cupboards until they’ve gone soft and furry.Ban science experiments that lead to food waste.

Today’s task will be to perfect the cupboard – organise the shelves and wash down the woodwork. Hopefully it’ll be good enough to post an ‘after’ photo on the blog tomorrow! I’d better get to it.

Day 3: Zero Waste Week 2016

Click here for Zero Waste week

Phew, is it really already Day 3 of Zero Waste Week? I’m finding that I’m focussing much more than usual on what I’m feeding the family and, of course, what I’m managing to use up from my cupboards and fridge. I’m slowly being reminded that reducing food waste is a lifestyle change, rather than a burst of effort then reverting to old habits. I’m still somewhat resisting the effort involved, but I’m getting the hint already that time spent organising has both time and monetary rewards…

The challenge I set myself yesterday was to come up with a meal plan for the week. As I documented, I’m not keen on meal planning – I find it soooo booooring.

Was I missing something though? I took to the internet to see if I could pick up some tips and here’s some that I especially liked:

Don’t keep the fridge full to bursting, but do have lots of basic ingredients in the cupboards

This one really appeals to me (especially after chucking out lots of wasted mush from the fridge on Monday). My newly cleared out fridge is much easier to navigate, and there’s less chance of me missing the items I actually want to use. I also have food cupboards that are bursting at the seams, and crying out to be organised – perhaps they are full of those magical basic ingredients?

Chose a shopping day and make a list

Dashing to the shops frequently is a major bugbear of mine. During the school holidays we were there a lot which was okay as the kids have Heelys. They were always up for a bit of zooming down the aisles, but now it’s just me on my non-wheeled shoes and, frankly, I have better things to be doing. If I could get away with three trips a week, I’d be happy. If I plan my meals, I can maybe just plan my shopping trips.

Ask the family what they like

Genius! This was something I did at the start of the year with my own family when I was trying to work out how many family meals I had in my repertoire. The only problem is, I added what I like and what my other half likes to that list, and eight months later, I can’t remember who likes what any more.

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My ‘back of a fag packet’ list from the start of 2016

 

To confuse matters further, I’m noticing the kids’ tastes are changing. Back to the drawing board…

Keep a meal journal and remind yourself of past dishes

This is another great idea that I have also tried. I religiously filled in a little diary for ages at the start of the year which helped me make sure I was giving the family a good variety of dishes. I also found it really useful for jogging my memory when I was uninspired. I’ll dig it out.

Use an app

Ooohhh! Modern! I am a dinosaur when it comes to technology. Shamefully, I let my IT whizz of a partner deal with all the gadgety things in our home, I enjoy the tools he provides me with, then cry pathetically for help when my internet connection fails. I won’t be sorting that out any time soon I fear, but perhaps he might download me an app?

 

With all of these pearls of wisdom to hand, I set to work on a meal plan for dinners for yesterday and the following seven days:

Day 1 : vegetarian haggis, neeps and tatties

This was a request from my eldest who complained that we haven’t had it for ages because dad’s gone off it. Fair point – I make them shovel down dishes they don’t like, so dad got to grin and bear it for last night’s dinner. Plus it was quick and easy to prepare (I should’ve asked for that meal planning app before I serve up though!)

Day 2: Goulash with rice and fresh wholemeal bread

This uses up the peppers, cherry tomatoes and courgettes I discovered in the fridge. I’ve also now replaced the out of date wholemeal bread flour I found on Monday so we’re good to go. I’ll make extra portions so that there’s some to slam in the freezer.

Day 3: Lentil bolognaise with pasta

This is quick, easy and nutritious. I used to feed this to the family so often that we all went from loving it to hating it, but we’ve not had it in over two years so this dish is making a comeback!

Day 4: Baked potatoes

Everyone loves these in my family. The kids both have classes just before dinner so I’ll half bake the potatoes and leave them in the (switched off but warm) oven to finish off while we’re out. There’ll be very few dishes to wash up which is perfect because I’m off out in the evening 🙂

Day 5: Macaroni cheese

This is another dish that we avoid because my other half doesn’t like it, but he’s out on Friday so it’s back on the menu for us. Quick, easy and can be whipped up from those basic ingredients I always have in the house.

Day 6: Homemade pizza

Somehow pizza’s become a tradition at the weekend. I’ll make some dough in the breadmaker and take a frozen tomato sauce out of the freezer – I have lots of this for emergency meals. The toping can be whatever needs used up from the fridge.

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Here’s one I made before

 

Day 7: Chickpea Stew

I found some chickpeas in the cupboard and this is another quick, nutritious meal that can be frozen. (Just don’t tell the kids there are chilli’s in it…)

I actually found planning the week’s meals surprisingly easy and was taken aback at how little the ingredients will cost me. Our shopping bills are definitely on the high side so this raises the question…what are we actually buying at the supermarket??

Today’s tasks will be to sort out half of the shelves in my big food cupboard, and of course to make tonight’s goulash. I’m off to read some of the other Zero Waste Week blogs now !

Day 2: Zero Waste Week 2016

How is Zero Waste Week going for you?

Click here for Zero Waste week
Yesterday, I set myself two small challenges to put me on the path towards becoming a Zero Hero. I was going to:

  1. cook the family dinner (from scratch) and freeze the leftovers, and
  2. clear and clean my fridge.

Those small challenges ended up taking me a while, but it was worth it as I now have three meals for four in the freezer (twelve portions!!), and a sparkling fridge.

When I decided to cook, I was just going to make double portions of the vegetable curry I’d decided on but, when inspecting the veg I’d bought for the recipe, I realised I had more than I needed – and it had already passed its best before date by a few days! I’m not a natural cook, but I took a deep breath and adapted the recipe. Basically I just chopped and chucked in all the vegetables I wanted to use up and added a bit more of the other ingredients to keep the proportions of the dish correct. An hour later, I had a huge pot of curry. I was delighted.

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Normally I would serve curry with naan bread, but I didn’t have any so decided to make a loaf in the breadmaker instead. To my dismay my wholemeal bread flour was past its date (definitely time for a cupboard clear out, I noted!) so I set the breadmaker for a plain white loaf instead. By the time dinner came around, the smell of the fresh bread permeated the whole house and the kids were desperate to get stuck in, forgetting that they are not curry fans…

I left cleaning the fridge until the evening. I’ll admit that I didn’t think this would be too big a job as I had a clear out recently. I must have cut a few corners the last time though because there were some horrible things in there. I am way too embarrassed to have taken any photos (who wants to see mouldy food anyway??) but there was a cucumber that had self-liquidised and leaked, a garlic that was going the same way – staining a shelf in the process, and some jam that had got stuck to the back wall with ice and had some floaty things in it. Urgh!

I also discovered a glut of peppers and cherry tomatoes. Some were still nice and fresh so I chopped these up and popped them into the kids’ packed lunches this morning, while others are good enough to hide in a tomato sauce or a goulash. I’ll also throw in the three courgettes I found. They look like they were bought for a reason – I just can’t remember what it was…

I feel great about yesterday’s achievements. It’s lovely being able to look into the fridge and see what I have at a glance. What can I do though to break my usual cycle of over-buying, throwing out horrible food and feeling guilty?

The answer came from KathrynH of secondhandtales who yesterday posted a comment under my post asking:

Have you got a meal plan for the week?

My heart sank a little, as of course she was right but….I hate meal planning!! It involves tying myself down, thinking really hard about cooking and food shopping (not my favourite daydreaming topics),then following the plan through all week. All week!

I’ve decided thought that it’s eminently sensible. I’m no domestic goddess and the safest way for me to break my bad habits is to write a fail-safe action plan. I even have some home cooked meals in the freezer so this week doesn’t need to be too hard.

My task for today is therefore to come up with a week’s realistic meal plan. I’m already sitting down thinking and writing about food so perhaps in another fifteen minutes, I can take my next small step towards breaking my bad food waste habits. I’ll report back tomorrow!

Day 1: Zero Waste Week 2016

Click here for Zero Waste week

Welcome to my first blog post for Zero Waste Week 2016 on the topic of food waste.

Food waste – what does that phrase mean to you?

Food waste: the jigsaw piece that can help us tackle the world’s environmental problems?

Food waste: the responsibility of supermarkets, much publicised for being guilty of contributing to the waste of mountains worth of ‘imperfect’ fruit and veg?

Food waste: a real issue for households in the UK which, if tackled, will cut down food bills and allow individuals to own their part in looking after our world?

Let me tell you a little about me and what food waste means in the context of my life…

I am WestyWrites, a female blogger who is always trying. Trying to get greener, trying to do better and quite often trying to get blog posts written! This is my fourth year of writing my way through Zero Waste Week and it’s a great way to focus the mind and connect with others who are interested in the same issues. If you’re new to the blog – welcome!

What does food waste mean to me? Well, put it this way, if food waste was a person I’m not sure we’d be great friends… She kind of intimates me with what she stands for, makes me feel guilty about the things I should do, and is well dressed – she probably spends the money she saves on wasted food shopping for clothes and beauty products.

My own food waste reminds me that I live a busy life. I run a pretty tight ship at home – the things that matter most to me are prioritised. I live with my other half and our two children, and it’s fair that most of what I do is centred around them (when I’m not out with friends, at sewing classes or looking at Pinterest!). Meals are often thrown together in haste as one child or the other has an extra curricular class on. Where lovingly prepared meals are taken out of the freezer, we still often boil too much pasta or spill frozen peas all over the floor. Despite cleaning out the fridge two weeks ago, I found a punnet of old strawberries unpacked in a cloth bag yesterday which had turned to mush and leaked all over the floor. Oh dear…

This week however is a chance for change! It’s an opportunity to look at what we do well and what we can do better. It’s time to reflect on what we’ve done right in the past, praise ourselves for what’s working and make small changes to make big differences – even if we’re talking long term.

I am writing this post after having just attended a classroom session with my eldest child who has a very motivated teacher. The teacher was running through this year’s learning, and I was left impressed by her goals. From some of the wrong answers she was getting from the children in maths, I saw that she has her work cut out but she has confidence and, most importantly, a past record that suggests she’s up to the challenge.

This week is time for a ‘can do’ attitude from me. I need small goals which will add up to significant results, and lay the foundations for permanent change. Today I am going to set myself two tasks. The first will be to clear my fridge again, this time rescuing any food that’s almost past it’s best and the second will be to cook the family dinner from scratch and to freeze the leftovers.

Can I do it? Why, yes of course I can!  Good luck to everyone reading who’s tackling their food waste this week.

To catch up on my previous Zero Waste Week posts click here.

Plastic-free Me: November diary day

It has occurred to me that an effective way to track my plastic-free progress and uncover unsavoury plasticky practices might be to document a day each month, diary-style, to assess where the dreaded single use plastics are creeping in.

Saturday seemed a good day to start so I grabbed my pen (immediate fail!) and a spiral bound notebook (fail!) and noted down my ‘problem areas’.

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It has to be said that there was a bit more to my day than simply using lots of plastic but I’ll spare you those details!

The first task of the day involves a disposable nappy (not my own) and a packet of wipes. Both come in plastic packaging. Although I am yet to decide if and how I’ll include the children in Plastic Free July, I will of course be looking at the plastic I consume on their behalf and trying to minimise it, at the very least.

Next, I take my daily medication – a pill that comes in a bubble packet. Although it is for a minor ailment I do feel the effects if I miss a day or two so skipping it in July is not a sensible option. A letter to the drug company to explore whether alternative packaging exists is in the pipeline (does anyone feel hopeful of a positive response? I don’t!)

Breakfast ‘chez moi’ is milky porridge all round, and everyone has their own preference for fruit. My favourite fails the plastic test – raisins that come in a plastic bag – but the others gravitate towards bananas or pureed tinned fruit which makes the plastic free breakfast achievable if we can source milk in a glass bottle…

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…except for our fruit juice which comes in a cardboard carton with a plastic pourer.

After breakfast I run the dishwasher – my Ecover dishwasher tablets each come in a little plastic packet – and I put a load into the washing machine. Again I’m using Ecover, this time in a plastic bottle. I have a feeling a shop nearby will give me refills in my own bottle so I must investigate that.

In the bathroom I use toothpaste in a plastic tube (with a bamboo toothbrush – blog post to follow), take a shower with a bar of soap but use a plastic disposable razor on my legs and shampoo and conditioner that come in plastic bottles. Once I’ve ‘styled’ my hair (I use the term loosely!) I rub a little wax through it to keep it in place. Despite the fact that I’ve had this tub of wax for so long that I don’t remember buying it, I do have to declare that it is a single-use plastic.

Bloody hell, this is depressing – shall I continue?

Back into the kitchen and I put the ingredients for a loaf of bread into the breadmaker and, you guessed it! Of course! Some of ingredients that make my healthy-option, partially organic loaf include plastic packaging. Grrrr…..

I snack on oatcakes. These appear from the outside to be packaged in a cardboard box but contain four little plastic packets inside – this is a problem with many food items.

I eat the oatcakes with jam from a glass jar but with a lid of an unquantifiable material. It presents as metal but only half-heartedly attracts a magnet. I suspect it may not make it through customs to my kitchen in July. In the afternoon I have my oatcakes with hummus which is brazenly packaged in a plastic tub.

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Time to look out some recipes I think…

Next up in My Day of Destroying the Environment is lunch. I accompany bread with homemade soup (the bayleaves used for flavour came in a plastic packet), boiled eggs, babybels (covered in plastic and bagged in plastic for good measure)…

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… falafels (plastic tub), apples, organic carrots (plastic bag), organic pepper (plastic bag), ham (plastic packet) and apple juice (plastic pourer).

Are you noticing, as I most certainly am, that despite feeding my family mainly on good healthy raw or homemade food (which doesn’t happen every day!), I am badly failing the plastic test? Forgive me if I am feeling hard done by…

I apply some make-up (every single item is swathed in plastic) and, with some relief, leave the house and head out to a children’s show at a local venue – surely this must be a plastic free afternoon?

Sadly not. There is ice cream at the interval which Daddy has agreed to by the time I am approached for the rubber stamp. Plastic tubs with plastic spoons. Sigh.

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Home for dinner and because we’ve been out it’s quick and easy pasta (from a plastic bag) and pesto from a glass jar – again, with a questionable lid. The broccoli and cabbage we have as a side dish is from the veg box and pudding is homemade apple crumble made by a relative – packaged for us in a foil container – hooray!

Off to bed for the children and there’s more milk from the plastic container and more toothpaste from the plastic tube on our bamboo toothbrushes.

I have my third cup of tea in the evening. I use Tetley. The packaging the tea bags come in is paper, I think, but there is a strip of sellotape-type stuff that is there to allow it to be resealed for freshness. Fail, fail, fail.

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I use a plastic bottle of washing up liquid on the dishes, remove my make up with wipes from a plastic packet, use cream on my hands from a plastic pump dispenser and slink of to bed thanking my lucky stars that there’s almost a full eight months until Plastic Free July arrives!

 

Meaner Greener Me: cleaning out a cupboard, cleaning up my act

In our house there is a big five shelf, built-in cupboard that holds most of the items we use regularly. It includes household filing, greetings cards, wrapping paper, photo albums, laptops, cables, huge amounts of stationary, the kids’ craft box, my make-up, hairdryer, straighteners…I could go on and on. It badly needed organised – to the point that we are used to things literally falling out and hitting us.

As well as the threat to our health and safety, it has niggled me for some time that this cupboard has hindered some of my attempts to be a more responsible consumer.

How can this be?

Because the cupboard has been so disorganised I sometimes find myself buying duplicates of things we already have because I know that if I need sellotape within the next week I’d better get more because I’m never going to find ours in that bloody cupboard!!

Recently, my other half and I had discussed tidying out the cupboard but had failed to satisfactorily turn the idea into reality.

Until this weekend.

One of us challenged the other on the postponement of clearing out the cupboard (ie blamed them) which culminated in the task being set for the following night. Neither of us felt able to back out, even though it was quite obvious we both wanted to…

At the allocated time, we duly set to work and approximately three hours later concluded our task feeling united in our triumph and somewhat sheepish about, as suspected, how many duplicates we had found.
Here’s a taster:

Glue from the craft box
I had no idea we had this and bought another tube (not pictured) last week.

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Stickers
I buy these fairly often without checking what we have already.

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Thank you cards
1 or 2 packets would be enough for our needs.

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Toiletries
…yes, there are 9 lipsalves.

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It’s an eye-opener that a few hours of tidying would have saved me A LOT of over-consuming. It would also have saved me a significant amount of time as I was forever digging around in the cupboard searching in vain.

We filled a wastepaper basket full of ‘bits and pieces’ that will simply end up in landfill, as well as lots of old paperwork that will be recycled. I feel very frustrated by how much ‘stuff’ we had – some of it necessary, some of it luxuries and so much of it completely in excess of what we need.

During Zero Waste Week I learned that the way to reduce my food waste is to buy less food in the first place and sorting out our cupboard reinforced that message. I acquire too many things. I need to stop thinking simply about why I want something and to go beyond that and consider whether I will be able to use a product up entirely (or for years to come if it can’t be consumed) and how the item, or its packaging, will be disposed of at the end of its life.

Hopefully this is a lesson learned, although I am slowly starting to realise that ‘not wasting’ is a skill that takes practice.

Zero Waste Week Day 7: where no experience is wasted

zero waste week 2013 header logo

So Zero Waste Week is drawing to a close – have I been a Zero Hero?

Erm…well, no.

Not if we’re being strict. Not if the challenge was to reduce my food waste to zero.

Isn’t life so difficult though if you’re a perfectionist?
Yes!

Isn’t it agonising to stay completely within the rules for everything?
Yes!

Is a miss as good as a mile?
No!

Happily with this challenge, although I didn’t win the gold medal, I have come away armed with lots of little prizes, in the form of new knowledge nuggets – hooray! Even better I’m going to share them so that if you want, we can go for gold together.

Knowledge Nugget 1: less food = less waste
The biggest revelation I’ve had this week (and I do feel a bit self-conscious putting it down on paper as it’s so darned obvious) is the less food I brought into the house, the less waste I have.

In short, I’m a great one for trying new recipes sometimes even to use up things in the fridge but I’m short sighted. I buy ingredients, make the recipe they were intended for and leave them languishing in my cupboard assuming I’ll use them again at some unspecified time. This is the reason that when I sorted out my cupboards at the start of the week I found an eclectic collection of foodstuffs – mustard powder, poppy seeds, ground cumin…

Knowledge Nugget 2: planning is everything
If I aim to have zero waste, I must plan to achieve this goal. When planning recipes or impulse buying at the food shop, I need to know that I can use an item in its entirety to justify its purchase.

Knowledge Nugget 3: reduced food waste means increased cash
Again it’s obvious but if I’m not wasting food, I’m saving money because I’m buying less. Nice.

So, will I ever be a Zero Hero?

Actually yes, I think I will and I don’t think it will be long until I master the skill of reducing my food waste to zero. I’m motivated and I’ve had a week of intensive practice to find out what mistakes I made and to reflect on correcting them.

For me, life is hectic. I’m shopping and cooking while looking after small children. I forget things (such as what’s in my fridge) or they don’t even register with me in the first place (did we really get fennel in the veg box this week?) so my chosen path to Zero Waste is going to be lists and audits!

Anything perishable that won’t be used up automatically (such as milk) will be listed and displayed prominently in the kitchen. I will do a cupboard audit every two months to catch things with longer Best Before Dates before they go off.

Simple, but I think to reduce food waste it only takes a few small changes!

Before I sign off, I want to say thanks to everyone who’s followed my blog this week, reblogged it, retweeted it and for the comments!  I so much appreciate them all. It’s been an exciting week for me – learning new skills and making connections.

Good luck everyone in your quest for zero food waste!

I’ll leave you with the before Zero Food Week and after pictures of my food cupboard. Only two items were removed for being past their Use By dates – the rest of the space is due to using up food and rearranging! Thanks Zero Waste Week!

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To read the previous posts on this topic, click on the links below:

Can I be a zero hero?

Revved up & raring to go

Day 1: what a lot of food

Day 2: leftovers, limp leaves & lunch

Day 3:the dreaded veg…

Day 4: chopping & more chopping

Day 5: some weeks are tricky

Day 6: it’s about… zero waste

Zero Waste Week Day 6: it’s about… zero waste!

Today I have a little admission…if I didn’t reign myself in I’d be a bit of a shopaholic given half the chance.

It may not be the biggest skeleton to have in the closet but it is something I have to keep in check.

I can’t remember exactly when I became aware of the waste involved in occasionally acting on a compulsion to buy things that I didn’t need, but two significant things happened around the same time that had a waste-reducing effect on my life:

1. A huge 24/7 supermarket opened up nearby and suddenly there was temptation everywhere because it stocked much much more than the smaller store it had replaced. I quickly realised that by buying more than I needed, I was spending more than I wanted and often my purchases would find themselves in the charity shop within a few months, having lost their novelty value.

2. I got a Twitter account and suddenly I had access to a HUGE amount of information. I became more aware of what was going on in the world and was horrified by rising poverty levels in the UK.

In short, I couldn’t justify wasting money and things when all around, there was need.

Not long after my ‘Supermarket-gate’ and ‘Twitter-gate’ came the Horsemeat scandal, which if you are a regular on my blog, you will know that this led to my blogging project Supermarket-free Me.

To cut a long story short, this taught me how much food is wasted by the big supermarket chains as part of the supply process and how poor some of their workers’ rights are abroad, and made me think about where I buy things from and how I dispose of them and so Meaner Greener Me was born.

Now, despite how this may read, I am not just wildly plugging my blog with this post. On the contrary, my blog has simply documented how I’ve evolved, hopefully for the better, in terms of important issues. As part of Meaner Greener Me, I wrote a post on reducing food waste and that led me to this year’s Zero Waste Week.

Phew

So despite everything above, it was somewhat alarming for me to discover that on embarking on Zero Waste Week I was immediately flicking through one of my favourite reads….

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….The Lakeland Catalogue!

Oh I do so loooove the Lakeland Catalogue. Just look at those Dr Who Dalek cup cakes! I considered buying the kit and making them up for my other half who quite likes Dr Who.

And, well wow!

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Look at these chocolate house moulds!! I coveted this for days, envisioning hosting the perfect children’s party and bringing this out at the end as everyone gasped in awe at my baking skills.

I bought neither of course, knowing that if I even used them once, realistically that would probably be all, no matter how gorgeous they are!

I will tell you though that I was seriously tempted to buy these for Zero Waste Week to prolong the life of my vegetables.

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And how great would those tubs be for freezing leftovers…

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And these clips would come in handy.

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But really, I know that Zero Waste Week should be just that. Zero. Waste. Week.

Take part with what you’ve got. Of course certain things make it easier – fridges, freezers, Tupperware, pots and pans but it’s about planning, not possessions.

This year the focus is on food waste but of course all waste is important – we’ve got to keep things out of landfill and look after our precious environment. So search your cupboards and breathe new life into your old kitchen kit and I’ll do that too – deal?

By all means though, keep the Lakeland Catalogue as kitchen porn!

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More posts on this topic:

Can I be a zero hero?

Revved up & raring to go

Day 1: what a lot of food

Day 2: leftovers, limp leaves & lunch

Day 3:the dreaded veg…

Day 4: chopping & more chopping

Day 5: some weeks are tricky

Zero Waste Week Day 5: some weeks are tricky

Now I’m not one to complain…

…but, what a bloody difficult week it’s been!

This is how my bathroom has been looking:

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We’ve had someone in it all day for the last four days which, while not great at the best of times, really isn’t great when you have two children under 5 and one’s toilet training!

Then today, just as it looked like the painting was almost done, the paint ran out and it was my job to go to a well-known DIY chain to get some more. Easier said than done. The paint on the walls didn’t match the paint in the tester pot and it was clear that a mistake had been made at the mixing stage and there was no guarantees we could actually get more of the same…

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This was at 4pm just as I was getting ready to prepare a Zero Waste Week special tomato sauce!

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And my other half’s been spending a day’s annual leave with friends.

Not that I begrudge him because he kindly took Wednesday off work to look after the children and give me a day to myself but of course on that very day, I was urgently required on the other side of town to sign paperwork and lost most of my morning sitting in a waiting room while the paperwork was being prepared.

That’s not all…

On the same day our youngest child suddenly started coughing badly and wheezing so we had to rush to the medical centre for an inhaler and antibiotics.

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Happily, said child is on the mend and bouncing around normally but of course…

…I’m coming down with the cold now!

So what has all this to do with Zero Waste Week I hear you ask…

Well, I suppose my point is that it wasn’t a great week to be battling with enormous cabbages and dealing with overflowing cupboards! However when I first read about Zero Waste Week, I decided it was something I’d really like to do – or more accurately, I realised it was something I felt I needed to do.

Reducing my food waste makes sense when we live in a world that is experiencing the effects of generations of neglect towards the environment. If like me, you live in the UK, all around us Foodbanks are opening up at an alarming rate and morally, I can’t justify wasting food and money when other people don’t have enough.

Despite my difficult week (and please note, I do realise that all of these problems are minor) I’m glad to be putting in the effort to change some bad habits. I absolutely admit that had I not agreed to blog on this subject, I wouldn’t have put in quite as much effort as I have to be a Zero Hero but I’m pleased I did.

This week so far, I have learned a lot, made new connections with people also reducing food waste and I do feel I have achieved something, however little.
In case you are wondering, I must reiterate this blog is only about me and my efforts and it’s not about putting anyone else under pressure to join me. Read, hopefully enjoy and if you do want to take any small steps towards reducing food waste or waste in general then you’ll see there’s support out here!

zero waste week 2013 header logo

Can I be a zero hero?

Revved up & raring to go

Day 1: what a lot of food

Day 2: leftovers, limp leaves & lunch

Day 3:the dreaded veg…

Day 4: chopping & more chopping