Fruit and Veg Shop v. Supermarket



For this weeks “Going Green in 2016” challenge I’m focusing on the ethical origin of products (as well as continuing to reduce plastic from last weeks challenge). Spurred on by my plastic disappointment in last weeks grocery delivery I bit the bullet and didn’t order my veg online. Instead, me and my little one headed off the the local fruit and veg store to see how it would compare. It’s a lovely little shop and I did enjoy my trip but I’m left in two minds.


Reasons to choose the Fruit and Veg Store….

  • WP_20160208_001.jpgSupporting local businesses and farmers. The carrots came with half a farmyard still attached and they stock glass jarred honey from an apiary less than a mile away.
  • Probably less packaging? There were still plastic bags for loose veg like mushrooms but I was able to avoid the punnets at least. (I’m not sure why the broccoli had to be wrapped in cling film!!!!!)
  • I was able to choose my own fruit and veg and got new ideas for the kids to try.
  • It’s good for the kids to see not everything comes from the “Tesco man”
  • Loose oranges are 5p cheaper!!!

Reasons to stick with the supermarket delivery…

  • The supermarket is cheaper. My basket cost £22.70 in the fruit and veg store (the local honey alone cost £6…special treat!). At Tesco the equivalent basket cost £16.32 and the main compromise was that my honey came from a further 70 miles away!WP_20160208_004
  • The produce arrives at my door. No car seat, changing bag or buggy required.
  • There wasn’t a huge difference in the amount of plastic and packaging.
  • Much of my fruit and veg store shopping was not as local as I had hoped presumably because it was out of season.


I guess I want shopping locally to be the winner but for that to happen I probably have to make some changes myself. If I create the weeks menu around seasonal produce I think the fruit and veg store could come out on top – maybe not on price but I noticed it was the seasonal food didn’t have the unnecessary packaging. Buying loose veg which has come straight from the farm to the shop must be best. But, if I don’t manage to create a seasonable menu then, rather like today’s effort, the fruit and veg store isn’t really much better than the supermarket. My cherry tomatoes, kiwis and melon had still flown from some far flung land to be with me. So that’s set, next week this household is eating seasonably and repeating the fruit and veg shop visit…Eat Seasonably here I come…can I create a seasonal menu that my 2 year old will eat………wish me luck!!


Going Green in 2016: Bathroom Update

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The war on plastic continues…This week in the bathroom we moved to bamboo toothbrushes from Save Some Green. Disposable plastic toothbrushes was one of my biggest irritations on the plastic front. Anyway, I chose bamboo bristles and so far have been very impressed. I previously experimented with “The Environmental Toothbrush” and found the bristles fell out quite quickly and the brush had to be replaced after a month. We’ve only been using these brushes for a week so it’s too soon to comment on their longevity but so far we give it a thumbs up! When they’re done they can go straight in the compost bin! And perhaps my most exciting discovery of the week……our toothbrush holders. WP_20160205_002With everyone’s toothbrushes being identical we needed something to label them and we also found wooden toothbrushes went slightly manky if they didn’t have chance to dry out. This is genius and ticks all the boxes – even the box about recycling plastic clothes pegs!!

To reduce the amount of little plastic bottles in the cupboard I’m also experimenting with natural deodorants. I’ve previously tried baking soda and liked it OK but I did struggle with the best way to apply it without covering the bathroom in a layer of dust (There’s enough dust in our house without adding more!) This week I’ve been using….. a lemon! It’s no Right Guard but if applied a few times during the day it does leave you feeling fresh. Although, it is winter in Northern Ireland so it’s not having to do much work!! The purchase of lemons was multi-functional (I LOVE multifunctional!) . I intend to make my own furniture polish this week and I like the simplicity of this recipe from The Blender Girl.

For the last year or so we’ve been using these cool little bamboo soap bags in the shower. My husband uses this Hemp hair and body shampoo bar for all his cleansing needs but I found washing my hair with soap left a residue. I use Faith In Nature shampoo instead but it does come in a plastic bottle so I might have to rethink it. However, I do like the soap-in-a-bag method for daily showering purposes. Don’t get me wrong I have a few bottles of “normal” shower gel and foam bath in the cupboard for a special occasion!

Sanitary wise I’ve enjoyed these reusable panty liners which I got from Earthwise Girls about a year ago. They wash well and are really convenient. With two kids the washing machine is on most days anyway and I just throw these in a normal wash. It significantly cuts down on bathroom waste – plastic or otherwise. I haven’t been brave enough to forego tampons but I find Natracare a good compromise. Maybe someday I’ll go re-usable!

Now I’ve got the ball rolling with plastic, next up I’m going to examine the ethics behind my shopping purchases. I’m hoping Ethical Consumer will point me in the right direction! Check out next weeks blog to see how I get on.

Going Green in 2016: Kitchen Update

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So one week into my plastic reduction the headline conclusion is….this is harder than you’d think!

My first hurdle was the Tesco order. I get home deliveries. There’s no way I’m dragging a baby and a toddler around a giant supermarket! Some swaps were easy. We’re getting PlJ Lemon “squash” in a glass bottle rather than lots and lots (and lots and lots) of small plastic ones and I found Flahavan’s porridge oats in a paper bag…yay! But, despite asking the “picker” for my “loose” fruit and veg in paper bags they still turned up in endless plastic bags which have to go straight in my bin:-( I thought the ultimate kick in the teeth was the fact all my little plastic bag wrapped goods had then been placed inside a large brown paper bag…arghhh! I contacted Tesco and they thanked me for bringing it to their attention but essentially told me not to hold my breath! Next week I’m going to pack Mr Cucumber Diaries and toddler off to the local fruit and veg shop and see how they get on.WP_20160203_001 1

We made the transition to stainless steel sippy sups for the kids this week and the Klean Kanteen was a resounding success. Read all about it in my earlier blog here

I also found some “tupperware” style glass containers in Ikea. They have a plastic lid but at least that doesn’t contact the stored food so I’m happy with the compromise. Like all good Ikea products they work well and don’t cost a fortune. I don’t think it’ll be too hard to find alternative uses for our plastic tupperware collection.

We also love these little wrappers for my husband’s sandwiches. Keep Leaf make a whole range of eco friendly storage options in lovely colourful designs.  The simple wrap for a round of sandwicheWP_20160205_015s suits us fine and avoids daily cling film or foil ending p in the bin. We picked ours up from WWT Castle Espie gift shop but you can get them all over the place now. We made this change about a year ago and they are still going strong. They fasten with velcro and wash well. I’ll definitely be using them fr the kiddies lunches when they start school!

Belfast City Council was remarkably helpful in dealing with my enquiry regarding what we could put in our blue recycling bin. I thought the website was vague but turns out it’s quite correct – the only type of plastic that can go in the bin is plastic bottles! That’s quite limiting really. We’ll have to find other uses for yoghurt pots and margarine tubs…Pinterest here I come! Did someone say glue gun? I have tried making my own yoghurt into the past. Some batches were OK but it was very hit and miss. The final straw was the time I somehow melted the thermometer.  For now it’s going to be shop bought yoghurt although I have moved to larger tubs to reduce overall packaging.

In other news, the washing machine continues to survive on a diet of Bio D washing powder (which comes in awesome paper bags) and Ecover fabric softener (comes in a plastic bag and cardboard box). The washing powder is fine for daily washes but not great at stubborn “lasagne-type” stains. I admit to having a sneaky bottle of Vanish in the cupboard which I feel very guilty about but try to reserve it for disasters. If anyone has any winner eco-friendly stain removers that really work please let me know! The Ecover softener does a reasonable job and “Amongst the Flowers” smells nice. It’ll not leave your clothes super soft but it’s better than a long list of other things I’ve tried!  I’ve tried loads of laundry product combinations over the years and I’m relatively happy with this at the moment. It’s by no means perfect but has less impact on the environment than many other options.WP_20160207_005.jpg

Bio D (we love them!) also do a great washing up liquid which we find works well – just as good as any supermarket brand anyway. We’ve used it for quite a while without any problems. It comes in 5 litre plastic containers which isn’t ideal – there must be something useful I could re-purpose them into? At least they can go into our recycling bin if all else fails. Also, buying in bulk usually means less packaging over all. I find Ethical Superstore our best bet. They do free shipping (even to Northern Ireland!!!) on orders over £50.

So that’s our progress in the kitchen so far. Keep an eye out for the bathroom update coming soon:-)



Going Green with a Klean Kanteen (Review)

After a somewhat ropey start to my plastic reduction we finally had a success story…the Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup. The 12oz cup is stainless steel and I hope will last a lifetime – or at least see them through their sippy cup days! At £11 + £3 pp it’s obviously  much more expensive than my usual Tesco “whatever is on offer” sippy cup but I concluded in the long run it’s probably an economical enough option. The cup should last “forever” and you can buy replacement tops for £4 (plus pp). The caps look sturdy, are easily cleaned and can be sterilised so overall I think they should last much longer than my usual cups. At least only the top needs replaced so that puts a smiley face in the plastic reduction box. And, when the child is older, you can buy a sports top. I boughtWP_20160203_001.jpg a sports top to try with my toddler but I think he’s very much still at the “spill proof” cup stage!

Anyway, the new cups were an instant hit with my toddler and he is more than delighted with his purple one. His 10 month old sister seemed fascinated by hers and spent ages licking the outside:-/ She does seem to be able to lift it fine despite
it being heavier than her old plastic one and not having handles. I think it’ll take a day or two for her to fully get the hang of it…she was really quite distracted by the shiny red metal object that had arrived during nap time to really consider drinking from it!

I  bought our new cups from Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks  a great little online, UK based, shop of “non toxic” products for all the family. I think we’ll be visiting this site again and not just for sippy cup caps. They have all sorts of cool toys and gadgets. I’m tempted by the Abeego for food storage but that might be one step too far for the budget right now!

So, overall, I’m happy with the sippy cups. The kids love them and only the cap is plastic. While it may seem pricey when I think of the the number of plastic cups I’ve bought  and discarded a couple of months later I think the Klean Kanteen is a winner…if only I’d bought one when my little boy was 6 months and not 2.5 years!

Going Green in 2016: Plastic

I’ve set myself a challenge. Call it a new month resolution. My husband will call it a notion! Anyway, trying to be more eco-friendly in our house is something that I frequently try and address but often hit stumbling blocks. I have two small children, not much time and a very small budget to play with so choosing green options have to tick a lot of boxes before I’ll become a life long convert. We’ve experimented with bamboo toothbrushes, soap bars in bamboo bags and reusable sanitary products. Some of my notions have caught on and some have quickly fallen by the wayside. But here I am setting myself the challenge yet again to try to make our home a little more eco-friendly.

Let me be up front – I am in no way an eco-warrior. I’m a very bog standard stay at home mum that thinks she should be a better steward of the planet and doesn’t want to leave a big dirty footprint behind her. I also want the same for my kids!

So, this time I’m going to try a more gradual approach to change and set different targets each month to find greener options that can fit in with my family life. They won’t fit every family and they certainly won’t tick every eco-friendly/ethical box but I’m a firm believer that every little helps (and not just at Tesco!).

So let me begin by targeting …..PLASTIC

Check out for why plastic is BAD!

But the things about plastic that personally annoy me as a Mum are:

  1. Lots of it can’t go in my recycling bin so it goes to landfill and it doesn’t go away… for a very very long time….every toothbrush we throw away can lie in a landfill site for 400 years! We could literally drown in plastic!
  2. As well as all the obvious plastic there’s little plastic beads in lots of toiletries that end up in oceans and rivers and kill fish etc. Check out
  3. There are questions about chemicals and hormones leaching out of plastic packaging into the food stored inside…really doesn’t sound healthy!

So, that’s me suitably annoyed with plastic to try to reduce the amount of it around our home. My initial plans include:

  1. To reduce the amount of plastic coming into the house.WP_20160131_097 My weekly Tesco delivery may have to be revised! I’m a big fan of wooden toys and if it has to be plastic then Green Toys ( seem a good option.  We love this little aeroplane:-)
  2. To check exactly which plastics can go in my recycling bin.
  3. To try to replace plastic storage containers with glass. I’m big into batch cooking and freezing food and often the food is reheated in the tupperware box…I think that really has to stop!
  4. Audit the bathroom cabinet for polypropylene or polyethylene. Sanitary products and toothbrushes may need to be re-thought (again!)

So that’s the plan. I’m not going to change the world but surely one less plastic bag must help a little? Who’s with me? If you’ve any clever tricks for minimising plastic, that fit in easily with family life, I’d love to hear them. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!