Friday, 30 July 2010

What I bought this month...

a bird brooch
3 kilner jars
3 candles
wooden spoon and spatula set
terracotta pigs
red shoes
Dr Who magazine-it had a free tardis that NEEDED to come home with me and live with my other Dr Who things!
Charity shop skirt

We went to the Ikea 75% off sale at the start of the month - I LOVE ikea and they have a pretty impressive eco-policy, but I didn't find anything I liked enough to buy, except some useful things like kilner-style jars (99p each for litre jars, I've been paying £3 a jar in my local shop) some candles (I'm addicted to these red berry scented candles they have there so I stocked up) and some wooden spoons.
The terracotta pigs were inspired by Mangocheeks - I was jealous of hers!  I got some for mum too!
I also got a £20 voucher for for signing up to the DVD rental I got a new book and 2 CDs (She and Him and Paloma Faith, in case you were wondering.)

I have a new system for managing my stuff...for every new thing I bring into my life I have to get rid of something I already have (I'm going to try to get rid of something similar to the new item, for example if I get a new tshirt I have to get rid of an old tshirt, but if I can't bear to be parted from one of my tshirts then I can get rid of something else).  I've spent the past year Seriously Decluttering and have sent at least 20 bin bags full of stuff to the charity shops and lots of stuff to the recycling and a little bit of stuff to the landfill.  I still do have quite a bit of stuff, but I don't want it to escalate to the level of so-surrounded-by-stuff-I-can't-move again!  So this month I've got rid of 4 CDs, a book (for the Amazon stuff), about 7 pairs of shoes and a skirt I never wore.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Cath Kidston:  Mum bought me a Cath Kidston bag as an early birthday present (not my bday till September!) because she knew I'd been drooling over them and it was on sale, but it came in 2 plastic bags and it was made in china :(

Result: This is the letter I got back from them.

Dear Susie,
Thank you for your e-mail.
We use bio degradable mailing packaging and keep our products in a plastic covers in order to keep them from getting marked whilst stored in our warehouse or whilst in transit.
We are always looking to reduce our environmental impact and have recently employed a new team of staff to look at this and the best way to do this.
An area on the website with information regarding these issues is in progress and will appear within the next few months.
Whilst producing our items in China may seem unethical to some, we are confident with the factories and staff we use.
Our product development team audit the factories and ensure they comply to working condition standards. They, along with Cath Kidston regularly visit the factories and are always impressed by what has been seen.
Using Recyclable materials or using sustainable FSC paper is ingrained in a lot of the things we do but we are not quite there in integrating this in to everything. It is certainly a priority and something we take seriously which is why we have employed a new team to do this.
I hope this answers some of your questions and if you have any other queries please let me know as I would be happy to look in to it myself or pass you to the most relevant person to help.
I hope you continue to enjoy Cath Kidston products and if you have any suggestions we would be more than happy to hear them.
If you need any more assistance please let me know.
Have a lovely day.
Kind Regards

Sooooo I think this is quite good, they seem to be thinking about being more green - although I do think a company that charges so much for their products could put some of their profits into using organic materials and recyclable packaging..hopefully in the future they will.
Pure Margarine:  Continued from last month's communications with Pure concerning their use of palm oil and hard to find recycling info on their packs.

Here's my reply to them -

Dear Pure,

Thank you for your response and for the information concerning recycling your packaging. I do feel that this information could be made clearer on the boxes as it is very hard to see and hope that this is taken into account in the future.
I was interested to hear that Kerry Foods is a member of the RSPO and that you seem to be taking some steps towards responsible palm oil use. However, I do feel that if you were truly happy with this solution to your use of palm oil in pure margarine you would also be happy to state that your product contains palm oil on the package. The only way to find out that palm oil is in pure margarine is to look on your website. This suggests that this information is concealed because a lot of your customers would be disappointed to know about Kerry Food’s use of palm oil. I have a number of vegan friends and those that I have discussed this with have been disgusted that palm oil is used in your product. I hope that the use of palm oil will be discontinued in pure margarine in favour of a more sustainable option. I will be looking for a new brand of margarine that suits my dietary requirements until this issue has been resolved.

I look forward to your reply,

(p.s. I'm really pissed of with Pure margarine!)

I haven't had a reply from them. Pah!

Asda:  I wanted to buy some nice pink sparkly sugary cake sprinkle things from Asda but I couldn't find recycling info on the plastic tube...

Dear Asda,
I wanted to buy some of your own brand cake decorations (like these;jsessionid=KSOiwma6ib8B-cPkJCjvVQ**.oses4067-atg05?trailSize=1&searchString=sprinkles&domainName=Products&headerVersion=v1&_requestid=79483) while shopping in your store this afternoon. Although the recycling information on the packaging told me the pots were plastic and to check recyclability with my local council it did not tell me what type of plastic the pots were made of. I carefully looked all around the plastic pot and couldn’t see a plastic type or number moulded into the plastic. Without this information it is impossible to recycle plastic as most councils only accept specific types of plastic. I am very reluctant to buy items wrapped in plastic that I cannot dispose of responsibly (ie. By not sending them to landfill) and would like to know what type of plastic the packaging is made of and to request that this information is made clearer on the packaging in future.
I look forward to your reply,
Yours sincerely,

Result - I got an email saying that they'd received my message and would take a day or two to get back to me, that was last week - I'm not going to hold my breath!  I don't usually shop in Asda anway (they're owned by Walmart and don't have the best reputation) and I'll avoid it in future now!

EDIT - a couple of hours after I wrote this post I got an email from ASDA pointing me in the direction of their waste policy and letting me know that they're trying to find out what type of plastic the pots are made from so they can let me know - perhaps they're not so bad after all!!!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Tin Score!

Last night on the way to the pub I spotted some cute vintage biscuit tins out with someones kerbside recycling and my eyes lit up but it was still a bit too light for sneakily stealing tins, so on the way back from the pub I grabbed them, whispered 'thankyou', wondered if stealing recycling was illegal, decided biscuit tins are probably not recyclable anyway so I was doing them a favour, and made my getaway!

The top one is my favorite, even though it is a bit faded - it has a handwritten label on the bottom in old fashioned handwriting that says 'blues, mauves, purples' I wonder what was kept in it!  The middle one is a little tea caddy and the blue label says 'half pound' underneath.  The bottom tin is huge and has half the label left on it, which has pictures of biscuits and the brand, which is 'Lily of Peru' - how exotic!  I love things that have had an exciting life before they've got to me!

Just a tip, if you decide to steal 3 tins from a recycling pile at 11.30 at night don't stack them all inside each other then run away unless you want to make such a loud rattling noise that your mum peeks out of the curtains to see what's going on!

Friday, 9 July 2010

New new veggie plot...

Mum dug a bit more of old-shrubs-and-flowers-garden garden to make room for more veggies!

Mum got some cauliflowers and cabbages on sale in the supermarket and we put them in. 

Moving along we have the pumkin, peas a row of lettuce and a row of spring onions and another cauliflower.

And here are the dwarf beans and some chives, which we planted all around the edge of the patch - we plan to put some strawberry plants into later in the year when the strawberry plants we already have put out runners.

Eco bird scarers...

After a naughty Mr Blackbird dug up a lot of our new veggie patch we decided we needed some bird scarers and I decided that that would be a good use for some old Cd's I had lying around.

The Cd's I used didn't work anymore, so I used a permanent marker to make it pretty and cover up the writing already on the CD, threaded some cotton through the hole in the middle then tied it onto a garden cane.  I also had a spool of video tape that I'd removed from an old VHS, which I cut into lengths and tied around the canes.  Mum became very keen on the bird scarer idea, so she asked me to make some more, just with the video tape tied onto canes, with a ping pong ball on top to act as a cane topper so no one loses an eye! (we drew faces on them so they look like little multi-armed people waving the birds away - but none of them were facing the camera!!)

I think if I was Mr Blackbird I would be suitably put off by these!

Monday, 5 July 2010

First courgette and other green things harvest...

There are many green things ready to be eaten in my garden...

The first cucumber of the season (mum's been growing these in hanging baskets) as you can see this cucumber is as wide as out fridge!

My first courgette!  I'm soo proud!

And lots of mint (this is a variety called Mint Morocco) that was getting leggy, so I cut off most of the long stems and I'm drying them in the spare bedroom for zero waste mint tea this winter!

Do you like my innovative herb drying system - I use rubber bands to keep a bunch of herbs together, then clip each bunch onto an old skirt-hanger, then hang off the handle of something (this time it was the turn of the old-lady-style shopping trolly!)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Our New Veggie Garden...

Last week Mum had an afternoon of motivation and cleared a big space (with my help!) round the side of our house for a chicken house and some chooks.  After clearing the space she decided that the other side of the garden might be best for our future chickens so we dug two big trug fulls of our homemade compost into the cleared land (which was so dry and hard and horrible and took hours and jumping up and down on spades to get into!) and decided to make it into a mini veg plot.  Luckily enough we went into B&Q yesterday and found lots of organic plants, grown in peat free compost, in biodegradable pots reduced from £1.50 to 40p!  We got dwarf french beans, sugar snap and mangetout peas and a pumpkin.  We also have room to put in a couple of rows of something else, we're thinking maybe lettuce and some baby leeks (more on that later)

The french beans are the two on the left, the peas are at the back and the pumpkin is that small single leaf on the right!  I'm excited!

Plastics Kerbside Recycling...

We've been lucky enough to have our paper, cardboard, glass, metals and garden waste collected every fortnight for ages.  But today a new kerbside recycling pack popped through our door!  It has a large orange net bag for putting plastic in and some small plastic bags for putting used batteries and low energy light bulbs in. 

The new recycling pack came in a plastic bag and just as I was considering the irony of being provided a plastic recycling pack in a non-recyclable bag I spotted this sticker on it -

I'm so pleased that we can recycle our plastic so easily now and that there'll be no more car trips to the big recycling centre with it!  Yey!!!