Saturday, 27 September 2008

Day 20

Today I started shopping for Zero Waste Challenge Week which begins on Monday.

I started at our local butcher, Bob Wherlock. Frank spotted my plastic containers and was careful to ensure that he didn't serve me any plastic with my meat. The couple standing beside us thought my containers were a brilliant idea and we had quite an interesting little conversation about the zero waste challenge. Mrs Bob (as I think of her) was very keen on the idea. I also got a good recipe for liver. It would never have happened in the checkout queue at Sainsburys.

So meat should not be a problem. Neither should fruit and vegetables, which I get from our organic box and local greengrocer. Staple carbohydrates will be tricky. A trip to Sainsburys enabled me to stock up on lasagne and arborio rice. Everything else was in plastic packaging. I'd bought coffee in a paper bag at the deli this morning but tea was a problem. I'd not found any plastic free tea in any of our local shops but I did eventually manage to track some down in Sainsburys. It's packed by Jacksons (of Piccadilly!) and is even fairly traded. Alan is relieved, as he was not looking forward to a week of me without my favourite brew.

I spent some time in Sainsburys examining various products for recycling information. Not everything, even Sainsburys own brands, features relevant information, which is very annoying. However I did discover that both type 2 (high density polyurethane) and type 4 (low density polyurethane) bags may be recycled along with carrier bags. It's a pity they don't tell their customer relations staff about this, as they'd just informed me that the bins were only for carrier bags. Type 2 includes the inner wrappers of cereal packets and type 4 includes oven chip bags.

On the way home I checked the Evening Post and was delighted to find the article featuring my challenge attempt. So I am now officially famous! - well, among Evening Post readers at any rate! I'll try and scan it tomorrow for the benefit of those who do not live in Bristol. Meanwhile here's a link to the introduction.

A few things crept into the bin today:
  • a couple of windows from envelopes
  • a couple of plastic spouts and seals from juice cartons - I bought a couple of Sainsburys Basics juice cartons today, which do not have any spouts and which can be recycled in the Bedminster Asda car park
  • a unrecyclable foil coffee bag

Our Riverford vegetable box arrived yesterday, which will be handy, especially now that I have discovered Veg Box Recipes, a website packed with ideas on what to do with fruit and veg of all varieties.


John Costigane said...

Hi Gai,

I look forward to reading your article, well done. It is good to see the media cover the local waste week.

Containers are part of my routine but I am the only person that does this up here. It would be a laugh to see 2 customers do the same.

Your various plastic packaging problems could be helped with transfer to container, in store. I have done it. Moral support might be helpful until you find the nerve.

Mrs Green said...

Wowee - you are really set to go. You've found out some fab information this week and I loved hearing about your visit to the butcher.
I'm wishing you the very best of luck and I know you are going to do so well.
Relax and enjoy the week, knowing you are doing the best you can.

Mrs G x


Hi Gareth - It's a shame we couldn't hang out in Sainsbury's together. We could have had a real fun time in the aisles.

I must have spent about 3 hours in our local one last week. I haven't been there for months so if they have some fancy face recognition technology, they'll be wondering if something's up.

My mission was to try and buy zero waste processed foods, which I did with some success, but do you know what, I had the same experience with the customer service staff when I tested them with a bag of bananas. I was told "suppose you could put them in there, but I put mine in my recycling bin at home". I gently hinted that they're not allowed in our recycling bins before I got a shrug and got on with my research.

I found that recycling label was more prevalent on Sainsbury's own-brand good but other brands have a hell of a lot of catching up to do. However we are starting to see more products bearing the WRAP Recycle Mark logos which are broken down into material components. I am reassured that this will be far more commonplace this time next year.

I think it's absolutely fantastic that the conversations you sparked up at your local butchers is helping to promote the Zero Waste idea to more and more people.

Good luck this week. You'll have a great time. And I'm glad I'm back in time to see how you go ;-D

just Gai said...

Hi John. I'm sure your suggestion of disposing of unwanted packaging instore is an excellent one but I have to confess that I'm not ready for that yet. Perhaps one day in the future and ideally with some sort of media coverage. I'll bear it in mind.

Yes, Mrs Green and Mrs A, the butcher's visit was a highlight. I'll be watching carefully to see if anyone else follows my lead. A neighbour, who once spent some time in Berlin, told me that bringing one's own containers to the shops is quite commonplace in Germany, even for such 'messy' items as yoghurt.