Let’s talk about water…

Last time I posted, I made a list detailing some of the areas of my life in which I saw the biggest need for change.

The first thing I’m going to tackle is relatively easy as it doesn’t require an initial outlay  – I’m going to time my showers. Normally, this is the part where I would try and calculate any financial saving that I was making so that I could add the money to my weekly shopping budget. As loose fruit/veg & bread etc. tend to cost more than packaged, I like to reallocate any money that I save to help cover the additional cost of making ethical choices, but on this occasion there isn’t going to be any financial saving because my water consumption isn’t metered. As with the rest of Scotland, our water is included in our council tax.

Still, Having read 12 Small Acts to Save Our World, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that all the water which comes into our home has been treated to be fit for purpose, which in turn means that it’s passed through a treatment plant. The more water I use (or indeed, waste) the more energy that’s required to treat it.

I suppose that on a remote level, I’ll be saving money because my water-heater won’t need to work for as long if I’m not heating as much water, but those sorts of sums are beyond me. So, for now, the food budget remains the same.

Anyway… The ‘control’ shower… by putting a plug in my bath, turning my shower on and starting a timer, I aimed to see just how much water I was using on average.

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My shower took just under 7 minutes (I had to dry myself before I could grab my phone and camera to stop the clock and take a picture, hence the times not matching).

This is how much water was in the bath.

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Please don’t judge the state of the tub/how cloudy the water is… or the shampoo bar residue to the right of the taps… I didn’t clean the place before taking this picture, which I probably should have thought to do, but there you go.

On some level, I did expect to see this sort of amount of water – it’s less than I’d use in a bath, which is what I’ve always been told is great about showers. But it’s also a lot more than I would like. It was around 10cm deep and that’s a lot. I mean, that’s more than I bathed my kids in when they were babies so that was a bit eye-opening.

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This is my tub – still filthy – after a two minute shower. You can’t really tell from the photo but there’s less than half of the water of the previous shower in there (which makes sense, given that I was in there less than half as long…)

If you have the means to do this (i.e. a shower over a bath), I would definitely give it a go. It’s one thing to read about the amount of water you save, but to actually see it for youself really brings it home.

Having looked at the Do Nation Shower Power pledge, it looks like tackling my showers in this way can potentially save 11kg of CO2 in a two month period…

That’s 66kg over a year.  If everyone in my family does the same, that’s 264kg CO2 per year (presuming they shower a similar length of time to me).

Have you tried any of the Do Nation pledges? Why not tell me about it here, or on Twitter?

Reduced-plastic grocery shop – Morrisons

On Monday, I went to Morrisons to do my shopping.

While I was there, I saw some pretty great things – my favourite being trays of local eggs where you could purchase as many or as few as required.

If you can read my crappy writing, this is our meal plan for the week. In order of consumption they go…

Lasagne  – I made this on Sunday night so it was ready for when I got in on Monday. It was made from leftovers, so no shopping needed.
Vegetable Chilli – I had some peppers and leftover homemade guacamole in my fridge, as well as canned tomatoes and kidney beans at home. Of the groceries above, I’ll be using onion, garlic and carrot.
Ham Quiche – This is going to use up the ham my son didn’t finish last week, as well as some eggs we already had in. Of the above, I’ll be using the flour to make the pastry.
Stir Fry – I’ll be using another of the peppers from my fridge, some spring onions I have at home, rice, and a variety of condimemts (i.e. fish sauce, sugar, five-spice, soy sauce and cornflour to make a sauce). From the pictured groceries I’ll use a chicken thigh (possibly two) and the brocoli. The rest of the chicken will go in the freezer for future recipes.
Chick pea curry – This is a favourite in our house. I’ll use a can of chick peas that I already have, plus some rice that we already have, plus some lime pickle we already have. From the above, I’ll use onion, garlic and carrot, plus some of the non-brewed condiment* for the start of a mango chutney I’ve been making.
Beurre Blanc – this is the Jack Monroe recipe, only I use spagetti and butter beans instead. The wine we use was inherrited when my inlaws died, and I tend to keep this recipe for the end of the week when the cupboards are running low. It’s a real treat to finish on.

The stuff unaccounted for includes:
Strawberries, 6 bananas, 2 passion fruits, 2 lemons, 4 apples, 1 pineapple, lots of flour, lots of butter, sausage meat, 12 bagels, 1 bar of white chocolate and the rest of the non-brewed condiment.

Plans for the rest:
We’ll just snack on the strawberries. I will carve up the pineapple, mix it with the passion fruits and one chopped apple and we’ll have this as topping for yogurt (more on that in a second) and oats as breakfast. The bagels will cover us for breakfast for 3 days. For lunch, we’ll be having a combination of things on bread, made from the flour above and fresh yeast – usually hummus and grated carrots, or some sort of egg. The sausage meat has been made into sausage rolls of Daugher’s lunch box. she’ll start the week with two of the eight I’ve made, then the rest will go in the freezer so I have some ready-made things for more rushed weeks. The chocolate is for me.

Additional:
This week’s menu is chick-pea heavy so I’ll be collecting the aqua faba to use as an egg substitute in the baking I do (some of it has already been transformed into chocolate mousse for Daughter to take to school). This way, I can use the actual eggs I have as bread topping and in the quiche. Also worth noting – this week I’ve purchased pineapple, but it’s been melon for the last few weeks and I’ve taken to drying the seeds in the oven for use in baking.

Yogurt:
I promised more information regarding the yogurt I was planning to eat this week and I will deliver, but as I’ve been typing out what’s going on there, I’ve realised that it deserves its own post… watch this space.
TLDR? I tried making yogurt from expensive glass-bottle milk…

THE PLASTIC I BROUGHT HOME

And here’s the bottom line bit… How much plastic did I bring home? There’s a film on the top of the cardboard strawberry box (not recyclable) , the meat box (PET1, curbside recyclable) with its film (not recyclable), the butter wrappers (not recyclable), and the tube the sausage meat came in (not recyclable).

As I’m sure you’ve all guessed, the animal products required the most packaging. In future, I can avoid these by taking my own tubs to the Morrisons butcher counter.

How much did it cost? The groceries from the supermarket on Monday were just under £33. The milk – the three litres I bought of it – were £3.60 in total. That makes our weekly shop £36.60. That’s not to say that we’re only eating £36.60 worth of food though – as I detailed above, a lot of what we’re eating is based on food already in our fridge.

So, is it possible to feed a family of four for a week on under £50, whilst still being low-plastic? Sadly, not from just one shop, and not without dietary changes. It also requires a lot of organisation. Husband needs to remember to make bread each day before we can have that for lunch, and I need to make things like chocolate mousse and hummus, not to mention yogurt. Hopefully the further involved we get in this lifestyle the easier it will become.

What are your top-tips for reducing plastic at the supermarket? Let me know either here, or on Twitter. ❤

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*I use non-brewed condiment instead of vinegar because a. it’s cheaper than even the big bottles of malt vinegar, b. it comes in glass bottles when malt vinegar comes in plastic, c. the stuff they stock in Morrisons is made in Scotland so has fewer food miles in relation to me and d. I can use it for cleaning too so it’s multipurpose.

Mending my sunglasses – A Do Nation pledge

I’ve had my sunglasses for five years now. They were a birthday gift from my (late) inlaws and I adore them. But because I’ve had them for five years, and because from time to time they fall off as I chase children/dog across the park, or because I walk into trees while I’m out mushrooming, or I sit on them as I get into the car, they’re not in the best of shape.

So. Having signed up for Do Nation’s ‘Fix It’ pledge, I decided that my sunglasses should be the first thing I tackle. I used this tutorial and bought some second hand lenses from ebay. In the interests of transparency at this point, I should say that the lenses cost more than a supermarket pair of shades. Even second hand, Ray Ban lenses were an eye-watering £35 but I didn’t want to risk wasting money on knock-offs and having them not fit my frames so I shelled out for the branded ones. Apparently, the seller had these lenses removed from their own frames and replaced with prescription equivalents and on this occasion, it worked out cheaper than buying directly from Ray Ban.

Going forward, since I plan to keep these glasses until I’m unable to repair them any longer, I’ll be setting up a saved search on eBay. That way if any bargainous ones come up, I can (if funds allow at the time), make a purchase. Failing that, I’ll know what the average price will be so I can save up when the current lenses start getting scratched.

I’m also going to make more of an effort to use the case that the glasses came with. The popper broke shortly after I bought them so I haven’t used it in at least four years, but I’m hoping I can either repair it, or swap it for my prescription glasses case – it’s a hard-shell and as I only wear my regular glasses between the bathroom and the bedroom when I’m without my contacts, this seems like it might be a sensible arrangement.

I pledged to fix four things during the length of the Do Nation ‘Fix It’ pledge. I plan on also mending a memory quilt that was made from my kids’ baby clothes, the oven (which came with the house and has never really worked properly) and whichever thing breaks next.

Have you done any of the Do Nation pledges? Which do you think would make the more difference in your life?