Sunday, January 23, 2011

How are we doing ?

With one week left to go in January, I thought I'd give you a brief update on how we have managed in this challenge this month.

January is a fairly easy month in which to have a "no-spend" policy on anything frivalous or unecessary. There's just been a huge week of celebrations that produce far more food that anyone can consume in one sitting, presents and vouchers!
We have lived off our Christmas vouchers - we got a trip to the cinema last night with some free tickets, we went to see the amazing (secret girl crush *oops!*) Ani DeFranco using the tickets I bought in October (doesn't count, so ner!) and I'm off to buy a book today with my Christmas gift voucher.

We have removed all take aways this month which, whilst has been harder work for me on a Friday night, has meant that our diet has improved, so I think we'll make this more permanent and only have a takeaway once a month instead of each Friday as has become the habit.

Working through the contents of the freezer has opened my imagination up again to making stuff out of unusual odds and ends and the slow cooker has been on each Sunday night to ensure we've a meal for one day in the week from the left overs.

I've done a lot more crafting this month when I've not been studying and this has resulted in three new pairs of trousers for me, a pair for LMB, a baby blanket for a friend, some knitted wristies for another, a couple of quilted table mats for two other friends, a huge proportion of my current WIP being knitted up and a quilted pyjama case for LMB.

We have worked like bilio on decluttering and Mr Beehive took six bin bags of old sheets, towels, quilt covers, cot sheets and blankets, 3 year old girlie clothing and two huge boxes of books to Oxfam.

The washing and drying has been a little more traumatic, particularly on the weekend when I have everyones sheets to wash and dry and my small utility room where the machine is, overflows with linen. I have *blush* put the dryer on twice today to get rid, but during the week, we're hanging on the airer and on the Sheila maid in the garage. It's still way too cold for any drying outside yet.

The most noticeable difference for me has had to be groceries. I've made a list each week and stuck to it and I shop on a Tuesday and Tuesday only, when I'm waiting for the children to finish an after school activity. The only exception to this has been the joint of meat we buy on a Saturday for Sunday and the week ahead or the odd bottle of milk when we have run out. This has cut my grocery bill down significantly because I'm not buying off the cuff or buying in a bitty way through the week. It's also meant we've actually finished what we have in the fridge, and gone without if we run out, before I shop the following week.

I have walked much more and used the bus so our car useage has reduced. I'm now filling the car every fortnight (if that) rather than every week.

Things we have bought however, have been our ferry to France and paid the deposit on our gite as we would have lost out if we left it until February.

I still haven't managed to persuade Mr Beehive to take a packed lunch to work - although food there is not expensive as they have a huge subsidy.

A cup of tea each Wednesday before yoga as I have a half hour to "kill" beforehand.

We have needed to mail things, so there has been some money spent on postage and Master Beehive the elder was invited to the funfair in the city before it left for the season a couple of weeks ago, so I gave him a tenner for use there as I felt *my* challenge wasn't necessarily to inflict him and prevent him doing things. That said, they have been really good in participating in the challenge and are taking drinks in reuseable cups to their activities and snacks from home etc (not that we ever really bought stuff out before).

So, my challenge for next month may be the hardest one yet. I do intend to keep up the spending theme but rather than saying no to everything due to not spending, we'll just maintain the good habits ie: reading the paper on line, shopping once a week, not using the dryer so much, recycling and reusing etc.

February's challenge is to see if, as a family, we can bring our waste down to one bin bag per week.
This is coming at a time when we're decluttering and trying to downsize our lives ready for our impending move, so I think will add the extra challenge. I intend to make full use of the charity shops, the piggies will eat veggie peelings if they're clean and uncooked from most of the veg, I will reuse leftovers such as sauces, pasta, rice, potatoes etc, we already recycle glass, plastic, paper, tins and cardboard and Master Beehive the elder uses his stainless steel flask and washable sandwich wrap for his pack up on Tuesdays. Master Beehive the younger suffers from enurisis, so we still use nappies on him. I cloth nappied all the children during the daytime when they were babies, but we always used disposables at night and still use the pyjama pull ups for him. However, I have now been given a catalogue from the clinic we go to with him and there are washable pants in there that I am costing up, in whichcase could have a twofold effect of - helping him wake when he's wet and reducing the waste of one throwaway a week.

I think my biggest challenge is the children and the move. Broken toys or bits of toys that end up in the bin - where do they get recycled? We also are no longer using our compost heap due to the move and it being full for now. So, what will we do with the apple cores and banana skins and other biodegradable food waste that are no good for the pigs- hmmm?

So, who's in with me for this month's challenge? Let's see if we can at least try to keep up with Rachel over at My ZeroWaste who manages to fill just one CARRIER BAG - yes, you read that right - PER YEAR - and no, your eyes weren't deceiving you there either! Admittedly, my family is double the size, there are six of us here, but, by mathematical terms, that should only mean I use two carrier bags a year, right ;-) ?
So, we'll start with one bin bag a week eh? 52 per year and see where we go from there.

I'd love your suggestions throughout the month to help me come up with places to recycle or reduce things that we may have normally just binned.

Wish me luck! x

Oh lookie, I'm adding a post script, or is that an Easter Egg?
Anyway, you'll have missed this if you already read the blog, but here are a few links that might help with getting rid of the "tricky" stuff:

Medicines: for donating unused or surplus but IN DATE medicines, you can send them to this organisation who can then use them overseas.

Packing Peanuts and Bubblewrap can apparently be taken to your local mailboxes etc. store.

Polythene wrapping from bread, magazines etc this company in Norwich will take Bags used to cover electrical appliances or furniture
    •    Bread bags (shaken out)
    •    Bin bags (clean)
    •    Bubblewrap
    •    Can & drink pack outers & joining rings
    •    Carrier bags
    •    Cling film (clean)
    •    Compost sacks (clean)
    •    Courier bags (without paper labels)
    •    Drycleaning garment covers
    •    Mailing wrappers (without paper labels)
    •    Polythene recycling categories 2 and 4 (as marked on the film)
    •    Thin bags used in supermarkets for fruit & veg etc (shaken out)
    •    Toilet roll and nappy pack outers

Which is a phenomenal find for me as this is where I find I struggle. I buy loose carrots and veg and most fruit, but bread is still in a bag when I'm in a hurry as I'm not a stay at home mum all the while and baking fresh bread everyday isn't always a possibility, so we need some sliced ready to go stuff in the freezer! Magazines or catalogues often come packed in polythene wrappers and despite being on the "no junk" mailing list.

Lots of this month's challenge will be around changing my habits BUT, these habits have to be ones that I can maintain and live with. It's all well and good supporting the local butcher and buying my meat from him, re-filling oil bottles from the local deli that will do that, but if I can't do that on a daily/weekly basis due to work committments or travelling to uni and back, then it isn't going to help.

Packaging: of some sorts can be sent to this organisation who use them for workshops and community projects. You can also see if your local nurseries or schools require anything for their art work.

Old DVD's and CD's I use as bird scarers in the garden. String them up and hang between two canes and the shine scares birds away from your seeds. they also make cute mobiles that catch the light in the garden!
You can also send them here if you don't have a garden. Or if they're in good condition you can take them to charity.

So, that's it for now. If you have more links, please add them!
Ciao xx


Lynn said...

there are three of us...we fill one black bin bag every two weeks and we struggle to do that. Is that showing off? Food waste gets fed to the chickens, as do all veg peelings etc. So after recycling all plastic, card, paper and glass there isn't actually really anything to put in our bins.

Emma said...

Like Lynn, I have little waste too so this wouldn't be a big challenge for me. After recycling and chicken feeding I usually have 2 or 3 carrier bags for the land fill.

I do however have a million things that are waiting to be put on ebay (including of the stuff of yours that is going to raise money for charity), so my challenge for next month is to see how much money I can *make* by selling the clutter I no longer need...

This has been a great exercise for me though as a way to focus on just what I do spend - which is more than I thought! My 'progress' is here

... and now I am off to the supermarket (with a list of course!)

The Beehive said...

Yes, can't wait for the chooks and my compost back. We normally have very little waste, but it's gone up with no compost at the moment and with all of us it's become more.
What do you all do with packaging such as meat coverings or styrofoam? Does your council take this? Or do you recycle it. I do try to get stuff that doesn't have all the packaging, but sometimes it's hard to avoid it. If I use the deli counter I still get the waste plastic bagging that they put it in which won't recycle.

How good are your councils - Em, I think I know the answer to yours as mum has three bins and a very precise sorting system. Here we get plastic bottles (only as of this month! we've been taking them to the bank) recycled, glass, tin, paper and card, but not envelopes.

Magazines I recycle and newspapers the piggies use...


Emma said...

Yes our council is pretty good - we pay more council tax than other areas around us, but we do get a better service. You are right, 3 bins, compost and garden waste in one, all dry recyclables in another (that includes the bottoms of meat trays and fruit punnets etc but not the thin plastic bits that you peel off the top), and one final for anything else, which in my case is mainly thin plastic as described above and sticky labels. Each is collected once a fortnight.

I managed to get away with collecting only one piece of flimsy plastic on my trip to the supermarket - all my other veggies were loose but the carrots just had to go in a bag...

saskia said...

for not quite good as new toys and other 'stuff' you can always try freecycle- i know people who suddenly develop urges for all sorts of not quite junk for various projects/whims. i suspect some ends up back on freecycle, but that's not a problem.