Well, Recycle Week is approaching fast and I've packed my rucksack, workbag, changing bag, car and buggy with plastic and cloth bags. The latter incidentally all from Germany, where small shops give them away to customers, as a way of marketing their business through the print on it. (hark, small shops, great marketing idea, no?)
Recycling of course is the last in the line of the three R's, reduce, reuse, recycle.
So I had a look at the first R. As a quick exercise, I looked into my cupboard and fridge and considered which of the packaging was really superfluous and could be reduced by simple (!) changes in my lifestyle.
Lots of packaging is convenience, and like any working mum, convenience is important. This is why I shy away from the task of going entirely waste free for now. I can't see it (yet). Quite a lot of items are there to feed Cubling, so are recent packaging sins. However, there are items where convenience may be overrated. So here are the big non recyclable bin fillers that I can really do without:
- fruit shoot bottles. Yes, Cubling loves fruit shoot, and they are very convenient, right size for toddler hands and tummies, fun, reasonably healthy and mess free. I have 16 fruit shoot bottles in my cupboard. I don't have much cupboard space. Getting rid of them would be good for the environment and for my limited food storage space.
Solution: Squash plus normal toddler cups. It's cheaper, as mobile, the same stuff, and inconvenience factors is close to 0, especially as offset by not having to carry heavy packs of fruit shoots home. Of course I could also revert to water and milk only ...
Barrier: Peer pressure (when Cubling sees another toddler drink a fruit shoot, she wants one too). Could carry an old fruit shoot bottle and fill that for those occasions.
- yoghurt pots. I have two types, plain yoghurt in 500g tubs (not so bad) and the wee ones marketed at babies/toddlers with sugar and fruit flavour. The latter take up a lot of space, the tubs can't be recycled in our council area, and they are not as healthy as plain yoghurt
Solution: stop buying them. Just buy the plain stuff. If I'm really keen: get the yoghurt maker (yes I have one!!!) out and make yoghurt the handmade way, using the glass containers that come with the yoghurt maker which can be reused forever.
Barrier: none. Cubling doesn't mind which yoghurt she gets, she loves all yoghurts equally and would choose to live on a diet of yoghurt and chocolate if only I let her.
- broccoli florets wrapped in plastic foil. Onions, carrots, potatoes in plastic bags. Not a lot of rubbish but rubbish that is unnecessary. Every shop also has unwrapped broccoli etc.
Solution: pick unwrapped veg. No barriers (apart from price on occasions). Easy.
- fruit and veg tubs (e.g. mushroom, strawberries, tomatoes that all come in plastic containers).
Solution: for most of these there are choices in most shops. Go for loose mushrooms and tomatoes instead of tubs. I have no solution for the fruit. Only few shops will sell them in cardboard boxes and none I know sells them loose.
- toddler fruit pots: Cubling doesn't eat fruit, or rather, only in the pureed form (and that's a struggle most of the time too). So I have lots of plastic fruit pots in the cupboard, which I mix into porridge or give her with meals if she doesn't eat the veg.
Solution: cook and puree using reusable plastic containers.
Barriers: This requires extra time input to put into practice. Cubling may not like my homemade fruit puree because it's not as smooth and may taste differently.
Probably the hardest on this list to implement but worth a try.
- toddler snacks: lots of little bags in bigger bags (multipacks). Here's a tricky one. Cubling doesn't eat healthy snacks that have minimum packaging, so to get rid of those packs I have to try and change her eating habits first to go for less packaging. Again, there's a peer pressure problem. What I can do is reduce how often I grab a bag of snacks.
- Egg cartons: In my hometown, we recycle these by taking them to the market and refilling them with the next load of eggs. This is not offered around here. Hence no immediate solution.
- Jam jars etc: Can be reused for home made jam, or if like me, you don't get time to make any at this point in time, offer them on your local Freecycle network where there's always people desperate for extra jars for their jam making endeavours (as I once was).
So tell me, what's in your cupboard that you could get rid of with minor simple changes?