Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

I have to say I don’t like how things seem to be going climate wise. This is in no way a scientific (that is probably obvious) or even a soapboxy blog post but the unseasonably warm weather we had, although lovely, was tainted by the knowledge that it was just not ‘right’. It was hard to enjoy it with a clear conscious, knowing that it is a symptom of something larger and quite scary. Not many things give me the heebee jeebies but thinking about what is in store for the near, and even for my children’s, future gives me a great big dose of them.

Like many people we have become much more aware and very concerned over the amount of plastic waste that we generate just from normal life. The majority of ours was related to food, either packaging or storage. When we decided to save money and live frugally, we noticed it had an impact on the amount of rubbish we were producing. I was being more careful with food planning so throwing less away and not buying the more expensive packaged snacks and cakey things.

This was a stupidly warm day for February.

I am ashamed to say it but our original decision to live more frugally was not based on lessening our environmental impact, but on saving money. Less rubbish into the black bins and more walking to save petrol were just happy unintended consequences. It was in October last year that I made the conscious decision to start reducing single use plastics. It had been building for a while in my subconscious, then rumbled to the surface when taking out a slice of Aldi bread from its plastic bag (cringe) and I checked the ingredients on the packet. At the time I had been reading a lot about palm oil (whole other issue) so when I saw it listed along with preservatives and whatnot, I decided enough was enough. I know bread does not need palm oil or the other stuff or even a flipping non recyclable plastic bag. I have made bread before. I can make it again. I will make it.

And so it began.

Here are some of the things we have done towards reducing our single use plastic waste:

  • Bread baking. We have had mixed results but are definitely improving with practice. There has been the odd panic loaf from the baker’s but the hardest part was convincing the kids to eat it as it looks ‘different’. They were much more up for it than I thought and now the six year old won’t eat shop bought bread. I have to sound like some snobby numpty when explaining to other mums, that the reason she didn’t eat her perfectly normal jam sandwich is because the bread isn’t homemade (awks). Making a change like this means that we not only save money (as bread flour and the other ingredients work out to be more economical), but there is no packaging involved aaand we know exactly what is in there.
Not a great picture but the only one I have of ‘bread’ apparently
Storage pots from a charity shop for £3!
  • Buying fruit and veg locally from the market in town or village shop and also trying to stick with what is in season, failing that buying loose veg from the supermarket rather than packaged. In summer we will be growing as much as we can and are hoping to up our storage game this year. Last year we did pretty well as we had homegrown carrots from the freezer for Christmas lunch.
  • Storage boxes for leftover food and packed lunches as opposed to sandwich bags.
  • Buying local meat from the butchers. Buying local reduces food miles, and as meat tends to be more expensive we buy less of it, meaning more veggie nights. Not only is this better for plastic waste but also shows our support for British farmers and produce – also something very important to us.
  • Trying to remember to take my trusty Thermos flask with me if I know I might want to get a takeaway cup of tea is still a work in progress. Probably 40% of the time I do remember. This was another frugal swap that has an eco side effect as it was originally intended to save money on the long motorway journeys when house hunting.
  • We compost all our raw fruit and veg waste. On to our second compost heap already!
The latest Splosh delivery
  • I now use Splosh cleaning products. Switching to use Splosh products not only helps calm the septic tank worries I was having about all the chemically stuff going down the drains, but hugely reduces our plastic bottle waste. Splosh works like this – order stuff (like loo cleaner) – use – keep bottles – order refills – they come through the post – refill bottles. All the packaging is recyclable or biodegradable and delivery is free on refills. You can even post the refill pouches back so they can reuse them. We use hand soap, loo cleaner, bathroom cleaner, dishwasher tablets, laundry liquid and washing up liquid (#notanad) and these have replaced all my previous cleaning things.
  • Beeswax wraps have replaced cling film and we may even start making our own soon.
  • I have ditched the sponge and for washing up, and now use either a washable scrubby thing or one that you can compost when it has worn out. I use normal cleaning cloths and old towels for other cleaning round the house.

The next step I’d like to take is replacing shampoo, deodorant and possibly toothbrushes and toothpaste. Any suggestions? I’m not sure where to look for these as I don’t like Lush stuff (*hides* they smell too strong!) and other than that I don’t know where to go.

I do feel powerless to make big enough changes to make a real difference but I hope teaching the kids as best we can, making the effort to reduce our plastic waste and supporting local has to be better than nothing at all. Of course, to put this into perspective there are two big diesels sitting on the drive, and we live in the middle of nowhere so we are far far far away from doing any real good but something is better than carrying on as if nothing was wrong and I only wish I had started all this years ago.

Thanks for reading if you got this far – turned out to be quite an essay! Here’s Billy the Sheep as a reward 🙂

Baa


The evolution of a hut

The story of how an intangible dream has evolved into solid reality.

Pompous I know, but work with me here.

When we started thinking about making the huge move from Kent to Somewhere Else (at that time we were looking at Herefordshire), one of the things on the list was enough space to start a small glamping site so that the new place could pay its way. We looked at houses with one or two acres, then got hooked on the idea of a smallholding with chickens and bees. A veg plot was a must of course. And why not some sheep while we’re at it? Suddenly two acres was not going to be enough. As we upped the acreage, the houses got shabbier until we reached a point where we viewed an uninhabitable 200 year old cottage which needed complete renovation (as did the static caravan which came with it – ‘do up’ the caravan in order to ‘do up’ the house…), BUT it came with ten acres!

Eventually, having slightly expanded the search area on rightmove, we landed on what we reckon is the jackpot. Four acres – plenty for glamping and all our current smallholding dreams, and a house which is the right mix of characterful and still standing.

Our stay in a bell tent in 2017

Last year we ummed and ahhed about the glamping – should we have bell tents or yurts? Slight risk of blowing down in the wind and where do we put the loos? What about pods or lodges? They wouldn’t look quite right somehow. Shepherd’s hut? Bingo! Right sort of look for a field, sturdy enough to be very cosy and we’ll get one with an ensuite which solves the loo problem (never a good thing to have a problem with).

Next step was finding one. We looked at a couple of second hand huts but none were quite right. Then we stumbled across Shropshire Shepherds Huts and Pods which turned out to be just over the hill from us. A few conversations and a trip to the workshop later and we handed over a rough plan of what we wanted. A couple of months after that, we got a call to say it was being built and did we want to come and see? Did we ever!!

WIP

When I said ‘rough plan’, it was essentially that – a drawing Luke did one evening with a rectangular box on it and labels like ‘bed’, ‘sink’ and ‘lots of windows please’. No measurements or anything technical. What we saw under construction was miraculously a real life 3D version of our basic drawing. Amazing.

Not sure whats happening here

A week later, after preparing the site, we were all hanging around at the top of the lane waiting eagerly for the hut to turn up on its trailer. Turn up it did, and was skilfully winched into place.

It has arrived!
Skilful winching

It is amazing inside and has many windows, through which the view looks rather fetching. Now we are in the process of connecting all the water and waste pipes, electric cables and planning the fun things like what colour bunting should we have and how many saucepans? It will be ready very soon and I cannot wait to try it out for myself! All in the name of research of course.

In situ

As we get it ready there will be more pictures up on Instagram and Facebook so follow along to not miss out!