Archive for the ‘reducing’ Category

I don’t know if people has just gotten so out of touch with the world or are just plain apathetic.

But destroying perfectly good clothes is just IMMORAL. When so many homeless person are in need of warm clothes. And plenty more from countries ravaged by war and calamities. Charities can sell them on to make money to benefit countless more people.

Article from Treehugger: Swedish store vows not to burn clothes. Reports on popular Swedish department store Åhlens who have announced they will stop the common practice of burning clothes.

Common practice???!!

Article from Treehugger:  H&M and Wal-Mart were caught destroying clothing.

Article from the Evening Standard:Bonfire of Fashion’s Vanities. Says that 2 months ago Lyle & Scott threatened to torch up £1 million worth of unsold sweaters. Their reasoning – “We have spent years building up a valuable brand”. And they fear seeing their goods flogged at TK Maxx and how that would damage their brand’s image. And a lot of designer goods can sympathize with that.

But we, as the consumers, can change the way the fashion business thinks. But I hope more investigation goes into this and those who practice this policy be named and shamed.

There is nothing wrong with being fashionable. But I hope it doesn’t mean that you buy clothes for a season and toss them out. Because attitude like that is what drives these businesses to do what they do now.


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Dumpster Diving: a way to tackle food waste?

Dumpster Diving: a way to tackle food waste?

Image from the Mother Nature Network.

With the number of restaurants, groceries and food shops in London, I guess it’s no secret the city generates a lot of food waste.

Restaurants and groceries and food shops regularly clear their shelves of food and ingredients that are past their prime, but have not necessarily gone bad. Their clients wants the freshest item. I tend to always get the item on the shelf with the longest expiration date, because I don’t want food going off so soon or risking that the food has gone off before the date on the label.

But would you believe that London food waste emits more CO2 than whole of Estonia?

Can we help tackle the problem? Here’s a few things we thought of:

Shop for ingredients you’ll use up on the day. You can save on money and save the food from being thrown away. Groceries usually have a section where there will be food items with marked down prices because they have reached their sell by dates. Vegetable and fruit markets also mark down their prices at the end of the day. (A bit harder than it sounds for those who don’t live near a grocery. Or buying ingredients that comes in packs.)

More on grocery shopping. Consciously get the “ugly” fruits and vegetables – that banana that curved too much, the misshapen carrots. Don’t worry, they would taste the same.

Don’t be shy. Ask for doggy bags. If you can’t finish it, take it home. Restaurants would be more than willing to do this. Chefs would be happy to know that you did not finish your meal because you’re full and not because you don’t like it.

If you’re a food shop owner, time to do something. Out of ideas? here’s something to read – Channel4 asks a few restaurants on what they do with food waste

  • Wahaca uses a company called Aardvark who makes compost from their food waste.
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café checks their bins daily to see what is being thrown away. This way, chefs are accountable for what they throw away.
  • Leon are in a trial to get their kitchen waste composted. They want to get all their packaging compostable but don’t believe that we should be making plastic from food stuff when food security is a growing issue.
  • Pret gives leftover food to the homeless.
  • McDonald’s cooking oil are collected and recycled into bio-oil which powers their delivery fleet.

I don’t really have a clue on how food shops deal with their staff and food wastes. Or the real story behind Whole Foods and Mr. Reese. Rules are rules, but really, fire an employee for eating a sandwich that was to be thrown away? Don’t worry, he challenged the dismissal and won.

And save the best and most extreme for last – would you “dive”? Dumpster diving is nothing new. But what seems to be something that only the homeless person would do, people keen on saving food from the landfill and getting a free lunch have started getting in on the act too. Here are the rules if you would consider dumpster diving. And let us know how it goes.

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It’s a basic requirement for self-reliance that everyone should be able to sustain themselves. A community will rely on its own people to pool their resources and trade among themselves to ensure their survival. They will scrape every little resource they have so they can use it for their basic needs; of course, they would replenish them for future requirement. Managing wastes by recycling or re-using some of them will leave minimal real waste and be less harmful to the community’s own environment. The innovation of every individual would be a great resource for the community so they can continually support themselves and future generations.

Only when you don’t have the necessary resources to sustain your needs, that you’d start looking for trade partners outside your local area. This is where macro economics will come in: every community (state, nation, region) will compliment each other by sharing resources abundant to other communities. Trading fairly among communities and not exploiting other’s ignorance.

If we rely only from multinational companies to supply us with cheaper products (with poor quality) coming from other countries, then we’d be killing our own self-reliance. Surely, local suppliers would have already priced their products fairly to sustain their own survival and be competitive (with better quality you can scrutinise). We’re not even sure if cheaper products from other countries were traded fairly, though multinational companies claim them to be. One such sample is the world’s reliance to oil: supply is controlled only by few countries belonging to a cartel; we’re all at their mercy. It would be beneficial if supply of money is retained within the community, paid/circulated among its own people; a big disadvantage if paid to multinational companies belonging outside the community.

For this reason we have to consume local products when possible. Reducing our reliance on foreign products by transporting only the minimum necessities will also minimise carbon emission that affect all communities as a whole, wherever we are.

There’s always a need to trade outside our own community, we can’t be totally independent, as each land has its own limited resources. (The truth be said.)

(What is life?)

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If you think that just because it’s called paper, you can still be green by recycling it, think again. But, not to worry, we’ve found some great eco gift wrapping ideas for you.  

 via Martha Stewart 


Wrap bottles in newspaper 

 Simple gift wrapping 

 Try using kraft paper 

 Pretty newspaper ribbons 

 Recycle old music sheets 

I think that if you put a real effort in your wrapping and make it very pretty, nobody would dare tell you you’re cheap for not using store-bought wrapping paper.  

But if you have to, please make sure you buy FSC-certified or recycled paper.

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Buy-one-get-one-free offers by supermarkets are recently highlighted by the government as one of the main causes of the billions worth of food thrown away each year in the UK.

And there have been talks of banning this kind of offers.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that BOGOFs are meant to get rid of the supermarket’s/manufacturers’ extra stock as opposed to help consumers save. But they can be a godsend for those who count the pennies.

I don’t think the government should have the right to dictate to companies what marketing strategies they take to entice customers.

But it does take a little more discipline from us the consumers. Because it really isn’t a great deal if we end up not using what we buy. BOGOFs are great for food staples – oil, pasta, toilet rolls, toiletries. But in buying perishable food, you have to put a little more thought into it – can you freeze it? can you work it into your menu for the week?   

But we all have been guilty of buying too much. And I am still trying to find ways to make sure that we use up the food in the fridge before they go off.

The problem in our household is that we don’t plan our meals. We usually get inspiration on what to cook based from what is in the fridge. And lazy days that we eat out unplanned can mean that the chicken left defrosting in the fridge can go off. And stressful days at work can mean the cheese sandwich goes uneaten and inedible by the time we get home.

I’ve eaten my share of less than fresh food just because I couldn’t get myself to throw it away. Or left my hands yellowed trying to juice all the oranges still sitting in the counter after more than a week.

Here are some tips I will try to do myself:

  • citrus fruits. juice them.
  • other soft fruits. make a smoothie out of them.
  • apples. make apple sauce. lovely with pork chops, sausages. or topping for your cereals.
  • stale bread. no don’t feed the wildlife with them. make bread crumbs. if it’s not furry yet, toast them.
  • leftover vegetables. add chicken to make chicken and vegetable soup.
  • potatoes. use in soups. make mashed potatoes. make potato omelettes. potato cakes.
  • and of course if you have compost, throw inedible food in.

And this site will prove really useful for ideas on what to do with your leftovers. They’ve got an index there of ingredients that need using up, and it shows you a range of recipes using that.

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We’ve been doing this for years, yet only though about blogging about it just now.

We’ve never really liked paper. But we like keeping records. of everything. bills. mortgage statements. bank statements. insurance certificates. Face it, there is a lot of records you need to keep these days with the thousand-and-one insurances we have to cover just about everything. So we scan, and print to PDF.

It’s so much easier to organise. You have folders in your computer instead of the shelves and shelves of storage. not to mention the filing folders and boxes you have to buy as well.

When you need to keep a record of something you received online, print to PDF, instead of printing on paper. These days, I’ve been PDFing my travel itineraries and maps whenever we’re on holiday and bring a PDF reader with me.

So google it up, there’s lots of free print to PDF software out there you can use for your Macs or PCs.

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Call me lazy. I used to wash my glasses and mugs after each use. And I find myself in front of the sink for a good part of the day. I soon got tired of that.
Call me icky. I now use the same mug for my coffee and tea and water and juice. Just a little swish of hot or tap water and it’s ready for the next beverage.
Now I think people who can’t stand using the same glass for different beverages are such *snobs*. Maybe they need to stand in front of a sinkful of dirty dishes for them to realise it is a lot of work to do the washing up. Not to mention a lot of wasted water and polluting soap.
So be lazy and save the environment at the same time.

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