I've been trying to navigate the technological mine-field and write a blog for some time now, and here it is! I've decided to start by answering some of the questions that I'm often asked by my customers:
Are you 'plastic free'?
Nope - and I don’t hate plastic either. It’s an amazing material which has saved lives, and it's wonderfully useful. What I hate is single use plastic - single use anything really. Especially unnecessary packaging that can’t be recycled.
I’m not a fan of extremes, and although I admire people who have the determination to stick to a rigorous regime like a diet, detox or other such fun activity, that’s not me. So, no...I’m not ‘plastic free’ and most likely never will be because I don’t believe that plastic should be the sole focus of our efforts. I’m typing this on a plastic keyboard….
Are you 'zero waste'?
Well, if you were paying attention above, you can probably guess that the answer to this is also no. We're trying very hard to clear out our lives of unnecessary clutter, and buy less stuff, which with two kids under 6 isn't easy. We’re also, quite simply trying to live a more sustainable life and that includes reducing waste as much as possible.
Is the shop 'zero waste'?
As above. No. I did fall into the trap of referring to the shop as 'Zero Waste' early on, but honestly, I don't believe a shop can be zero waste, or plastic free. It can promote and support people to live zero waste lifestyles, but the truth is shops create waste. I'm proud to say that we produce a minuscule amount of waste (ask to see our bin!) and that's largely down to the rules that I put into place for my buying (more on this later).
Do you use ‘eco-bricks’?
No I bloody well do not. I’m yet to find a convincing argument for stuffing rubbish into an otherwise perfectly reusable, or recyclable bottle before either throwing it into landfill, building some God-awful piece of garden furniture with it, or worse, sending it to a developing country so that they can build houses… Really people. Come on.
I understand that you might want to appreciate the amount of plastic waste you create, but why stuff it into a bottle? And then what? And honestly, developing countries don’t need our rubbish - they have plenty of their own to deal with (which is probably why it originated in developing countries in the first place). We have highly educated people managing technologically advanced waste sites here - let them deal with the stuff that can’t be recycled eh?
This next one is quite specific…
Do you sell biodegradable bin liners?
No. I’m yet to find anything that I believe would hold our waste destined for landfill. It’s usually smelly, juicy, spikey stuff that isn’t easily contained. Also, personally speaking, my bin is tall and thin, so it's difficult to find bags that fit - even at the best of times. I think VERY carefully before I put anything in there, and I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce it further, but the sad truth is - it’s destined for landfill anyway. I use old bags from the shop when they fit, and a stash of bin liners that we’ve had for years.
Home compostable bin liners are available, but I don’t think they’d stand a cat in hells chance in my kitchen bin. My advice is, REFUSE, REDUCE, ROT and RECYCLE as much as you can. If you’re lucky enough to have kerbside collection for kitchen scraps (we don’t) then your rubbish probably isn’t as juicy, so you might want to brave making a bin liner out of paper. You can always down-size your kitchen bin and reuse any plastic bags that come into your life too.
If, like me, you don’t have kerbside kitchen waste collection, consider getting a bokashi bin. These are super efficient composting buckets which use an active bran to help break down food waste, including small bones. Our local district council offer subsidies for these, but you do need a bit of space - do your research first! This is on my list of purchases once I figure out where I'd put one.
What can I use to replace plastic coffee cups and take-away packaging in my food business?
You might have seen some of my verging-on-ranty posts about Vegware on social media. I routinely have to bite my tongue when a small business owner proudly waggles their Vegware ‘100% compostable’ cups in my face, or on social media. Sadly gang, these little buggers won’t make lovely compost that will grow roses to make you the envy of your friends. Nope. These ‘100% compostable’ cups, boxes and bags will, most likely, never biodegrade on your home compost heap. They need industrially composting, using heat. Lots of heat.
Some local councils have this facility, so cafes and food outlets can, and I’m sure in some cases, do, work with them to make sure that the cups are composted. Sadly though, we will see lots of these cups being used in areas where there is no system in place to industrially compost them (like where I live in Leicestershire), so they end up in landfill…or worse, on your home compost heap. Good luck with that.
One final thought on these naughty cups - when you take away your coffee in your ‘100% compostable’ cup and go off for a wander around town, or hop onto the train…what do you then do with the cup once it’s empty? You put it in the bin. Don’t you? or the recycling bin? Either way, it’s wrong and it will most likely end up in landfill where it will outlive you. The solution? Take your own cup. I love KeepCup but there are loads of other options out there. Choose carefully and find one that suits you.
If you've made it this far then thank you for reading my first blog post - I hope you enjoyed it! I plan to use this space to share snippets from my own personal journey as well as to rant, celebrate and ponder - so please keep coming back! I'd love to hear your feedback about my blog so please use comments to let me know what you think!
Happy composting x