Interview on NewsTalk

I was delighted when I received an email from a producer of the Alive and Kicking show by Clare McKenna on NewsTalk radio station. They were inviting me to the show to talk about living low waste and what steps everyone can make to lower the waste they produce. I could not say no.

The show was on today, 8th September 2019. Clare was great and I had a chance to talk about the ups and downs of a zero waste life.

If you would like to listen, click on the link below:

https://www.newstalk.com/podcasts/alive-and-kicking-with-clare-mckenna/live-waste-free-life

Collaboration

I am delighted to announce that I started a collaboration with a project called The Future Living.

The Future Living enables householders and businesses to track, analyse and improve waste patterns. It is based on a technology platform that analyses the relevant waste suggesting how to dispose correctly and offers advice on buying patterns in order to improve peoples environmental footprint.

For further information please visit The Future Living Website

Wardrobe simplified

I have been meaning to write a post about my wardrobe, or the content of it, and how I’m consciously trying to reduce the number of clothing items I own.

I have been reading blog posts and books about living with less and simplifying for the last while. I realized that I too experience what they call “decision fatigue”. I wanted to change this.

We started decluttering our house approximately 2 years ago and I have been through 3-4 bigger decluttering sessions, only in my wardrobe. It was crazy. And I don’t even consider having had a huge wardrobe. I know people who own a lot more clothes than I do.

Now it is different. I think now I have enough pieces to wear an outfit on a normal day, and I have some occasion wear (very few).

These are my hanging pieces. I still think this could be further reduced, but at the moment I am not going to. Almost half of these pieces are either maternity or a few sizes bigger than I am now.  I am keeping these, because we would like to have another baby, so I will use them then.

There are some smart blouses that I like, but don’t wear them, because I am staying home with Little M, but hopefully in the foreseeable future I will start working again and then they will be in use. They are good quality, timeless pieces, so I would not like to donate them and purchase new ones later.

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These are my tops, folded in the drawer like it is suggested in the Konmari book.

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And my t-shirt, tank tops and PJs

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At the moment I own:

3 skirts

1 pair of dungarees

1 pair of jeans

1 summery loose yoga pants (present from Mikey from Vietnam)

3 pairs of legging (2 croped, 1 normal length)

The  top shelves house my hot summer and cold winter piece. Even if I could be ok with just the general wardrobe piece, I would still need these when we are travelling. SOmetimes I really envy those who live in a warmer climate and don’t need a set of winter clothes too, but here in Europe (Ireland), it is not possible.

On the bottom shelf I have my hoodies that I wear all year around.

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and now onto shoes:

On the top: winter boots, and the smart shoes that I own. I haven’t worn the occasion wear piece for at least a year or two, but I could not wear my everyday shoes for those occasions, because they are very casual.

I am continuously re-evaluating pieces in the wardrobe. Some of my shoes I am not going to replace once they reach the end of their life.

Now I am very conscious when I need to buy a new piece. I try to move away from synthetic materials and choose natural fabrics.

When I can not buy something second hand, I chose to buy organic and ethically produced, but most importantly I buy less.

This is not a capsule wardrobe, and I am not aiming for one. I just one to have enough, the amount that I am comfortable with.

I like to have a variety of clothes, but now, that I experienced the difference between enough – too much and the time and energy to maintain both, I can easily say the less is the better.

Before decluttering my wardrobe, I was always very stressed about the mess and the ” I don’t have stuff to wear”. This has changed.  I can now easily choose an outfit to wear every morning and spend 2 minutes tidying every night, and that is all the maintenance my wardrobe needs.

Now I would like to hear about your experience! Do you find you have too many items in your wardrobe? Or have you been decluttering too?

What a busy month

August was a crazy busy month. Really. A few people from the Zero Waste Ireland Facebook Group got together and we organised some events for the upcoming Zero Waste Week.

You can check out the events listing here

There are going to be informative talks, film screening and to kick the whole week off we will start with a coffee morning.

It is going to be fun!

We purchased a very nice, stainless steel bokashi bin and started to put things in it. This meant, that we could now unsubscribe from the waste collection services (another bill down!!)

If you want to know more about bokashi bins and how to reduce food waste check out Stop Food Waste Website. It is full of great information.

One more on the food waste front Olio was launched in Ireland too and now people can share their surplus food through the Olio app. I will be back with more info on this, but in the meantime you could download the app and see how it works.

As it is the last day of the month, I have weighed our landfill waste and I have to say I am grinning from ear to ear. It is a new record of 133g!!

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I did not do a detailed photo this time, but the content is about the same: stickers, receipts, plastic windows, plastic bits of pre-zw purchases and other non recycleable plastic bit or current purchases.

So this is us this month, I hope next month I will have more time for blogging.

Thanks for dropping by and if you get a chance please share our Zero Waste Week events. I hope to see some of you there.

Plastic Free July …the weighing in

This is just a quick post to report on how much waste we produced in the month of July. I have weighed and counted all items.

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You might think I have too much time on my hand to sort and weigh all the rubbish  but my aim is to be able to look back and see how much we actually produce and also I am hoping to be able to host some talks on reduced waste- waste free living, so I need some numbers to show people what is possible.

We had to buy a few new things in July so they came in some packaging. I hope that this is not going to be a regular occurrence. We bought a new lawn mower and a shelving unit for making a pantry. There are no pantries in these housing estate houses which is a shame, so we reserved a corner of the office to keep all our preserved food in a shelving unit (it has a door) I was searching online for weeks to see if I can get a second hand one, but no luck with anything in reasonable distance.

So, let’s see how we did in July:

Tetrapack

14 Tetrapack milk cartons

1 small Tetrapack cheese carton

It is very difficult with milk here in Ireland, because it seems impossible to buy milk in glass bottles, let alone bottles that can be returned. This is crazy, since there are cows all over the fields and there are lots of dairy farms according to the internet. There are lots of small farms that make their own cheese etc…but none of them in a distance that I would like to drive every week. So until this changes we have to buy tetrapack. Tetrapack is recyclable but as far as I know it is a very costly and complicated process. I have no information on how much of the cartons that we bring to the recycling centre will actually be recycled. One can only hope.

Some would ask why we don’t give up milk altogether. I know that there is a huge environmental impact of animal agriculture, but at this stage we  don’t want to give up on milk or any other dairy products completely. We have reduced our dairy consumption somewhat already. I have been trying to research plant based milks, but they also come in tetrapack. And because nuts are not locally grown here I wouldn’t like to buy more to make nut milks. Then I heard/read about oat milks and this is what we are going to try.

Glass

10 brown beer bottle

1 white bottle (whiskey)

I am OK with bringing the beer bottles back to the recycling centre.

The rest of the glass that we buy gets reused for preserving and storing food.

Paper

800g

In the paper bin there are miscellaneous pieces of paper, soft cardboard. Most of the brown cardboard gets torn up and added to our compost.

Plastic

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I have separated the plastic into two groups. Old, that have been in the house and usually pre zw purchases; and new that we bought or received (gifts etc…) in July.

Old plastic: 295g

New plastic: 33g

And then I separated the non recyclable plastics:

non recyclable plastic: 81g

recyclable plastic: 247g

Please note that I have no information on whether the recyclable plastic actually gets recycled or not. It is brought to the recycling centre anyhow.

And this leads to the final group which is the

landfill waste: 290g

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Still there are lots of receipts and stickers. There was one toothpaste tub that M used up. We are not going to buy this or any other mainstream brand anymore. I have found one brand that is organic and uses no palm oil or microbeads in their toothpaste which is great.

So this is us in July. I hope we can further reduce what we can in August.

 

back after a break…long post

This blog has bee quiet since we came back from our holidays, but we did not give up on our zero waste efforts. There were lots of things happening in the background. Maybe that is the reason why I was away from the blog. However, I have kept documenting our zw journey on Instagram.

So let’s see what we have been up to.

Most of our activity is focused on our kitchen and food: growing, preserving making and eating.

Our garden is a half a success. We managed to grow some peas, strawberries and the blueberries are just ripening now. We did not do so well with spinach, radish and carrots. Three of our herbs also got infected with rust (fungal stuff), so they need to be thrown out or burnt.

Look at all the peas. So far I have put about 500g (without pods) in the freezer and there lots more on the plants.

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We also got invited to two friends’ houses and gardens to pick berries as they were unable to pick and eat or preserve them anymore, and they didn’t want the berries to go to waste. Which was just the thing we needed. Lot of fruit without plastic!

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I have received my canning machine and purchased jars from a glass jar wholesaler so I could preserve the berries and other fruit and veg.

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I also got a stainless steel funnel, hopefully this will serve me for many years to come.

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And these are the canning projects in pictures:

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Red and black currant sauces and dilute drinks

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Pizza sauce in the making

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Cherries in jar

We will be so happy in the winter when I can make a cake with the fruits that we preserved and will not have to buy frozen fruit in plastic etc…

Some of the other foodie thing that I tried lately:

Home made Oreos: The recipe is from Momables and it is so tasty

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I keep making this flatbread to go with curry:

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No special recipe here, just flour, water, herbs salt and baking powder (or I use self raising flower). Quick and delicious, better than the shop bought stuff in plastic and we know what is in it.

I also tried to make tacos. They did not turn crispy as I expected them, but were nice to eat anyhow.

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At the end of June I weighted the rubbish that we produced in the month of June (except the rubbish we made while on holiday).

I poured the little container on the kitchen floor and separated the items.

I found that there were lots of receipt, cloths labels, random plastic bits from pre zw purchases, luggage labels, other plastic bags and bits and envelope and pasta box windows. We have done a big clearing out in the office which created lots of plastic window, so hopefully next month there will be less windows.

Altogether it weighted 140g. We were very pleased with this result.

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Here is a picture of our recycling drawer too:

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This is the recycling rubbish that we collected in June, except one bag of paper that I could not fit into the bin that we cleared out from the office. Also they had to be shredded, because some of the had sensitive data on them. There are still many items in there that were purchased before we stepped on our zw journey. Hopefully these will clear out soon. Some people say that it can take years. Some say that they had been on the journey for a few years and they still kept finding stuff around; stuff that they would not buy anymore.

I have to admit that this time I did not bring the mixed recyclables to the recycling centre, but poured them into our green bin. I did bring the tetrapack, glass and metal though. We do want to change from this routine to bringing everything to the recycling centre (once a month), because we are hoping/going to cancel the bin services in the autumn.

At the start of July I signed up for the Plastic Free July Challenge. In the challenge you can choose to give up the 4 most common plastics: straws, plastic bags, take away cups and water bottle. We haven’t been buying any of these for a good while now, so that would not have been a challenge for us, so we went with as minimal plastic as possible in all areas of our life. Now this is not easy at all. But we are doing ok, I think. I will report back next week.

Yogurt pots were one of the plastics that we were still buying, only  a few pots a month but they were still there. I gathered all my courage and started to make our own yogurt and now I don’t know why I waited so long. It would be even better if we could buy the milk in glass bottles instead of the tetrapack, but as it is impossible in Ireland, we will just stay with this now.

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I used Wellness Mamas recipe to make my yogurt in the oven and it was really easy. I did strain the last batch and it was very nice and creamy like that. And it didn’t take much time at all.

We did a few nice purchases too. We needed a new lawn mower, so we got a push mower. It is great, no electricity is used and it hasn’t got that many parts that can break, so hopefully it will be with us for long.

I also got some pre-loved clothes from adverts.ie and I am in the habit now to ask the seller to wrap my package in brown paper or reuse a paper shopping bag. It works well and no plastic!

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On the activism front I have started volunteering with the Cloth Nappy Library and had my very first Cloth Nappy event (Nappuchino) and there were a good few participants. I am going to hold one monthly from now on.

To mark the start of Plastic Free July, I organised a coffee morning in our hose and invited a few people from the Zero waste group and some other non-zwers. I was a busy morning but it gave me a little push to try and organise some more events like this. So now I am looking into organising a talk with the local library. Hopefully they will be on board.

As I said in the beginning of this post that we are very busy lately. Now you can see 🙂

I will keep writing a bit more often (let’s see how that goes) to report back on our process.

And don’t forget you can do a bit too, with refusing a plastic straw or with bringing your own cloth bag to the shops 😉

Sorting out the rubbish

I haven’t been here for a while, but now that little M is asleep, I try and write up a quick post on how we are doing.

The amount of rubbish we produce has significantly decreased. So much that I decided to rearrange our bins under the sink.

Before we had three: one for recyclables, one refuse waste and one compost.

This has changed into a new layout like this below:

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The small white container is for refuse waste. Unfortunately there are pieces of plastic, receipts and stickers that you cannot avoid, so they all go in this bin. I got into the habit to refuse a receipt at the till but it’s not always possible.

Then we have one container for paper and cardboard. At the moment I put some recyclable plastic in it too, but I expect these to reduce to a very minimum.

There’s one container for glass and another one for tetra-pack. We buy milk in tetra-pack, so that goes in there.

I did this arrangement to line up with our local recycling centre’s separating arrangements. I am training ourselves to separate the rubbish this way, so every so often (once a month or so) we go to the recycling centre and empty all the containers. It does not add extra journey, cos we usually go there anyway with glass, batteries or other items that needs special attention when disposing. And anyway it is a 5 minute car journey, so no far at all.

We have a small bucket on the countertop for organic waste that can go into the composter that we got second hand and started to use.

I put this system into place in the beginning of April and we have half filled that white container. Not bad, huh? All wet waste is eliminated: nappies, wipes (I still have half a package of disposables left, but I only use them when we are out. ), sanitary products, food waste etc…

The government announced a new pay by weight system to be introduced from July. In that system we will pay by weight for every bin. So far the green (recyclables) and brown (compost) were free.

In my plan we will not use the green and brown bins, so we will save money on the and the black bin will hopefully will only contain light and dry items, so it will not cost much.

In the long run I hope to get rid of our green and brown bin provided by the waste management company and just use the one bin, possibly a smaller one for the landfill waste.

In that case we will be able to use the space at the side of the house more efficiently,  maybe for a bike shed or a potting bench?

The only problem that I encountered with this system is that we are not supposed to put cooked food, meat or fish in the composter, not because it doesn’t break down it is more to do with attracting rats. I am still working on the solution. I’m thinking of a small bokashi bin for cooked food leftovers and bones etc… Until then, I will throw the cooked veg leftover in the compost and try not to buy meat that comes on the bone.

Week 2 of Zero Waste

I am back to report that all goes well with our transition to live a more sustainable life.

Achievements of last week:

Little M started to use cloth nappies during the night too. I am very impressed how well they work. I got two sets of BumGenius Flip and they are bombproof. We also used up our last disposable swim nappy and received a reusable one, so from now on no disposable nappies for Little M.

I declutter or bathroom, got rid f a whole lot of stuff that I had but not used and just kept the basics. I am going to use up my last shampoo in plastic bottle, and then start using the shampoo bar from Lush.

This morning the bamboo toothbrushes arrived. I’m very happy because my  old one really had its time and needed to be changed. I ordered them from Hydrophil and they are lovely. I had to try them immediately. Feels good on the teeth. We will see how they work out: how long the bristle stay nice and straight, will the bristles stay in place etc… And if we like them, I will order a good few to save on postage and packaging. Every bit of paper and packaging that they sent is recycled material and I am going to put them in the recycling bin too. Now I just have to figure out how to solve the toothpaste issue. Do I want to make our own? not sure yet…

In the kitchen we are working ourselves through plastic packaged and tinned food. It will take a while but I have to say our fridge looks a lot emptier but it is refreshing.

I went to Honest2 Goodness market on Sunday and bought a few delicacies.

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It was great to be able to get a few things that I haven’t found in the regular shops so far. Although a bit on the pricey its worth going there every so often.

We have eaten our last bag of tagliatelle pasta, so from now on I will make our own. We still have some bags of Hungarian types, we’ll go through those too. We decided that we are going to make pasta on weekends, make two or three batches in advance. I is easier to make pasta with M helping. We can dry them on clean kitchen towel and use them up the week or soon.

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I am a big chocolate milk drinker. I was wondering how to do this without me buying the Nesquick powder in plastic boxes. After researching this matter for a bit I found out that the easiest way is to mix cocoa powder with sugar in a jar. That’s not difficult, but I know that simple dark cocoa powder does not dissolve in cold milk. So I read somewhere in the comments section of a blog that you want to pour a little bit of boiling water onto the home-made nesquick in your cup, dissolve it this way and then add the cold milk. And it work, and to be honest it tastes a lot nicer that nesquick.

Now in the search for cocoa powder in bulk. Which is great because this led me to this Chocolate Shop in Ashbourne where they sell bars of chocolate without wrapping. S when we have eaten up all the Christmas chocolate this is where I’m going to go.

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This is how far we got this week.

Environmental friendly

Generally we are aiming to live an environmental friendly life. When we moved into our new home over a year ago we improved the energy rating of the house right away:

  • changed all of our spotlight bulbs to LED
  • replaced windows to improve insulation
  • the energy rating of all our appliances are A+
  • we installed a smart heating control system (Nest) to reduce heating bills

Since then we have done even more:

  • replaced old backdoor
  • insulated the attic

At the end of last year our attention turned towards our waste production. It is simply unbelievable how much waste we produce on a weekly basis. After little M was born we soon started to realize that disposable nappies have to be changed to cloth nappies. However we were skeptical. Thankfully the Cloth Nappy Library Ireland offers different types of loans and we were happy to give cloth nappies a try. After the initial trial period we were pleasantly surprised and decided to transition from “sposies” to cloth. We have done our calculations and took all aspects into consideration.

At the moment we use cloth nappies during the day and disposables during the night, however this will soon change to full time cloth diapering. (maybe another day I will write a post only about cloth nappies…)

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and be aware!! Once you start thinking about reducing waste in your household it is then hard to stop. With cloth nappies come reusable cloth wipes and sanitary pads for environmental conscious mums. And then I started to look around: what else??

I realized that I dislike the fact that I buy vegetables in plastic packaging. For example: tomatoes, they come in a plastic punnet that is also wrapped in a cellophane bag. This is crazy. All this packaging!!

So I had a look around and came across Zero Waste Philosophy and now I am hooked. I think 2016 will be the year where we are going to implement Project Zero Waste.

I don’t really believe that we can live completely waste free, BUT every step we make towards a cleaner environment adds up. And maybe we will inspire some of our friends and family and they will also make some changes to live a more environment conscious life.

My inspiration is Zero Waste Home. This is an American blog, so I will have to find the ways to carry out this project here in Ireland. Hopefully I will share interest and ideas with people in the Zero Waste Ireland Facebook Group.

I will be back and report on how we get started and some achievements in the very near future.