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Green Living

6 Ideas To Reduce Single-Use Plastic

 

Single-use plastic has become the plague of our time, polluting rivers, oceans and the environment. It has become such a danger to wildlife and sealife that it is believed that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the planet’s oceans.

Such is the extend of the problem that microplastics have been found in human stools for the first time suggesting the tiny particles created when plastic decomposed may be widespread in the human food chain.

Just over 100 years, that’s how long it took plastic to take over our lives. In fact the first mass consumer plastic-based products only appeared in the 1940s. Light and versatile, with the added bonus of not being easily breakable, plastic quickly came to replace glass and ceramic containers. Convenience, of course, also played a major role in the expansion of the use of plastic.

Avoiding plastic all-together can be tricky and maybe also counter-productive. For example, reusable storage containers such as Tupperware can be used for years and avoid food waste. It is worth noting, though, that there is a wide range of health arguments for avoiding some of the constituents of plastic, such as around BPA or phthalates, which I have talked about before here and here.

Reducing the amount of single-use plastic though is a pressing issue.  Avoiding over-packaged products is a good start, but we can all limit the amount of plastic in our lives thanks to a host of products (some available from our eco online shop By Nature), services and tips.

  • SHOP FOR LOOSE PRODUCE

Forget individually wrapped cucumbers, bananas shrinked wrapped on polysterene trays or whatever other nonsense, overpackaged formats shops use to sell fresh fruit and vegetables. Head for the loose section and use produce bags such as the ones below instead. Washable and reusable, they are perfect for small and bigger produce. Made from organic cotton mesh, so that the cashier can easily spot what’s inside at the checkout.

 

  • PACK A STYLISH REUSABLE SHOPPING BAG

Since the 5p charge was introduced in the UK, single-use plastic bag usage has dropped 85%. Still, there are occasions where personally I am still caught out by not carrying a reusable bag while shopping. And on those occasions, I get really mad with myself. First, because I end up having to take a plastic bag, second because I hate wasting money.

Here are some of my fail-safes to always have a reusable bag with me:

– Keep one in my handbag.
– Keep one in my work bag / backpack.
– Have one in the glove box of the car.
– I literally add “reusable bags” to my shopping list so I remember to take them: yes, I do get that frazzled at times ?
– Any kind of reminder works (phone, sticky note on the fridge etc..)
– As soon as I have unpacked the shopping, I gather some up next to the front door ready to go back in the car.

Envirosax Optimistic

  • BRING YOUR OWN CONTAINERS WHEN SHOPPING

While many people have been using their own containers when shopping at their local zero-waste shops, did you know that most supermarkets now encourage shoppers to do the same at fish, meat and deli counters? While it takes a bit of pre-planning, using  your own containers greatly reduces the amount of single-use plastic packaging.

You might be confused about what type of containers to use. Personally I find reusable plastic containers such like the ones below from Addis really practical when picking up groceries from zero-waste shops. They are light and easily stackable and less likely to break than glass containers.

Addis Meal Prep v11

  • FORGET CLING FILM

Instead of cling film, wrap left over food with a reusable alternative such as the beeswax wraps below. For a vegan alternative, look out for soy wax wraps or rice bran wax wraps.

Wax wraps are flexible and slightly adhesive so they can easily be shaped around food and bowls or folded into packages to store food at room temperature or in the fridge. They are generally made of (organic) cotton or hemp, with the wax added, and can be composted at the end of their lives.

 

  • REUSE YOUR MILK BOTTLES

Milk and More

Have you ever thought of how many plastic milk bottles you dispose of every week? Why not switch to re-usable glass bottles instead. Since last year we have been using Milk & More to get organic milk delivered to our doorstep. The milkman picks up our empty bottles when delivering. Each bottle can then be reused on average 25 times before they are recycled. Conveniently Milk & More also delivers Plenish Dairy-Free Milk, organic fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh orange juice in glass bottles and organic porridge in plastic-free packaging.

 

  • BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH CONTAINERS

Earlier this year, environmental charity Hubbub found that with many people now having their lunch on the go, “the average person generates 276 pieces of rubbish each year – from sandwich boxes, to crisps and napkins” alone.

Packing your own lunch, whether for work or school, is a great way to reduce this unnecessary single-use plastic waste. Hubbub suggests that, if you do buy lunch, you can take your own container to the shop and ask them to fill it.

Some containers like the one below from A Slice of Green even include compartments and stackable trays so that to combine different dishes or snacks.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Product Reviews

The Hot List – May 2017

The Hot List - May 2017

 

1. SNACT – APPLE & MANGO FRUIT JERKY
A delicious sustainable snack, this Apple & Mango Fruit Jerky is made with ugly and unwanted fruits that would otherwise have gone to waste. Vegan and gluten free, it is made with whole fresh produce and purees. Just 100% fruit, without concentrates, additives or preservatives for a super healthy snack. Other flavours include Apple, Blueberry & Banana + Apple & Raspberry. Available from SNACT.

2. STUBB’S – LIQUID SMOKE
Completely vegan, Liquid Smoke gives a wonderful BBQ taste to your dishes. I used it to make this Smoky Roasted Cashew recipe. As the name implies, liquid smoke is made from smoke condensed to a strong flavour sauce. Available from supermarkets.

3. A SLICE OF GREEN – TWO TIER ROUND LUNCH BOX
This lunch box is ideal for taking an ‘on-the-go’ balanced lunch of a savoury salad or sandwich, fruit and a snack to work in one neat container. Free from plastic, BPA, phthalates and lead. Available from our online shop By Nature.

4. PULSIN – PEA PROTEIN
Pulsin has a lovely new look. This Pea Protein powder has a neutral taste so you can easily bake with it or mix it in soups, porridge, juice or smoothies. It is made from yellow split peas, with no added nasties. High in protein, it is perfect for athletes, vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians. Available from Pulsin.

5. RUDE HEALTH – SWEET POTATO AND CACAO SNACK BAR
I really like this range of fruit and vegetable snack bars from Rude Health. The Sweet Potato & Cacao bar is chocolatey and nutty (with the added crunch of cashews). Other flavours include Pumpkin, Beetroot as well as Peanut. Sweeten with dates, all bars are also gluten free. Available from Rude Health.

Categories
Family Green Living Product Reviews

Eco Living: Waste Free Lunch Boxes

Waste Free Lunch Boxes

Packed lunches are not only the best way to ensure you eat healthy food, but they can also help you save money and waste less (especially when using leftovers). Whether you are taking your own lunch box at work or preparing one for the kids, another thing to keep in mind is to try to reduce the amount of packaging. Before you know it, your sandwich is packed in foil or plastic, and your lunchbox is filled with prepackaged single-serving portion. I much prefer buying larger bags of fruits, seeds, nuts, crackers, biscuits or slabs of cheese rather than individual portions. It’s easy enough to make individual portions in reusable containers and creates less waste.

I have many food containers in my kitchen, mostly made of ceramic, stainless steel or glass rather than plastic which may contain Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is an hormone disruptor that lurks in many places from plastic bottles to till receipts to cosmetics. BPA can seep into food or drinks kept in containers made with it. 

I find stainless steel the safest and most practical material for my kids and husband who have packed lunches almost every day. Some of my favourite brands include Kids Konserve, U Konserve and A Slice of Green.

Kids Konserve and U Konserve have a full range of high quality food-grade stainless steel lunch boxes and products with a definite fashion edge. As a mum practicality is key and I absolutely love the new divided containers above. They are smart,  generously sized and have  a handy removable plastic divider so you can tailor the compartments size to suit the contents.  They are perfect for taking sandwiches, wraps, sushi and salad into work, school or out on a picnic; but also incredibly useful to store leftovers in the fridge.

 

This nesting trio is really functional to carry individual portions of fruits, nuts, seeds or other finger food snacks.

 

I always keep one of these smart stainless round containers in my handbag for emergency snacks and treats.

 

TWO TIER RECTANGLE LUNCH BOX WITH MINI CONTAINER – A SLICE OF GREEN

 

TWO TIER ROUND LUNCH BOX – A SLICE OF GREEN

 

LARGE RECTANGLE LUNCH BOX WITH MINI CONTAINER
LARGE RECTANGLE LUNCH BOX WITH MINI CONTAINER – A SLICE OF GREEN

A Slice of Green has a range of super practical stainless steel nesting lunch boxes where you can pack different types of food. Ideal for taking an ‘on-the-go’ balanced lunch of a savoury salad or sandwich, fruit and a snack to work in one neat container. These are great for kids too, especially if they have a small lunch bag.

Kids Konserve, U Konserve and A Slice of Green are available from our eco online store By Nature.

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Categories
Product Reviews

4 Best (Plastic Free) Lunch Box Solutions For Adults

4 Best (Plastic Free) Lunch Box Solutions For Adults

Taking a nutritious packed lunch to work can help you lose weight, save money and stay healthy. Store-bought lunches also generates a huge amount of packaging waste which the environment can certainly do without.

Since having my kids I have become aware of the dangers of BPA. While it is now better regulated, I still prefer using non plastic food containers.

BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical used to make hard plastics such as polycarbonate. BPA can migrate into food and beverages stored in plastic containers made from it. BPA is a hormone disrupter and may interfere with the endocrine system of glands. It has also been linked to increased risk of  breast cancer, heart disease and infertility. (source: Breast Cancer UK)

I have updated all our on-the-go food containers to stainless steel and drinking bottles to aluminium. Stainless steel is safe, non-leaching, durable and does not break which is perfect for carrying around. We use them for leftovers, work, picnics, after school snacks, camping etc..

Here are a few of my favourite products and brands for adults:

Lunchbots – I find these compartments boxes very useful as I am able to have different food combinations without the ingredients getting mixed up. The containers are rectangle and come in a range of colours that you can coordinate.

Lunchbots’ Bento boxes are 60% larger than Lunchbots’ classic containers and ideal for bigger appetites. The insulated food containers keep food hot for hours – without plastic coming into contact with your food. Plus, the bowl-like shape is natural to eat from and easy to fill.

 

U Konserve – I have a few insulated containers from U Konserve. They are made from a double layer of stainless steel and comes with a leak proof screw top. Heat up the meal at home and pop it in the food jar and it will stay hot for at least 4 hours – perfect for using up leftovers. It is also useful in hot weather to keep salads cool until lunchtime. Their extended range also include smart stainless steel rectangle boxes, coffee mugs and glass containers.

U KONSERVE 02

 

A Slice of Green – I love these clever nesting lunch boxes where you can transport different food combination. Simple and elegant, the range is also very affordably priced.

A Slice of green

 

Sigg – I refuse to buy bottled water which is generally expensive and comes packaged in plastic. Instead we have a bunch of Sigg bottles at home that we refill at the tap. We use them for school, work, sports, travel, camping, holidays, picnics, walking etc.. Sigg bottles are made in aluminium (which is 100% recyclable) and have a BPA-free EcoCare liner. They are 100% watertight. The active bottle top is one of the best I have come across so far. Practical and leak-free!

sigg xmas14

Our eco retailer shop By Nature is kindly offering a 20% discount on the Lunch Box and Reusable Drinking Bottle ranges above (except A Slice of Green). Just use coupon “flexi20” at the checkout. The offer is valid on orders placed by July 14th.

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