The title says it all really. We're back on the shopping topic...
But this time we're not talking about where you shop, we're talking about how you shop. Make the most of your money, while cutting down on our plastic usage. Woohoo!
Now there's a great idea! They taste the same, probably cost less as you're not paying for packaging and you're not clogging up your bins with waste.
Did you know some stores are aiming to ditch the packaging completely? You can bring your own containers along and fill with as much or as little as you need. No waste plastic and no waste produce either. Win win!
Chicken breasts - £5.19 per kilo. Whole chicken - £2.05 per kilo. Less than half the price... So why settle for 2 roast chicken breasts and 2 portions of chicken pasta, when you could have 2 roast chicken breasts, 2 portions of chicken pasta (thighs), sticky BBQ chicken (drumsticks and wings) and a family size pot of chicken soup!
Fruit and veg fans, you're not off the hook either. We looked at the same shop and found a pineapple for £1 and a packet of prepare pineapple for £1. What's the difference? You could have 5 meagre slices or a whole pineapple!
Buy in bulk...
There is plenty of produce we buy that either has a long date, or no date at all. Dried pasta. Herbs and spices. Toilet roll. So we experimented again, but this time we had to use a different store. The previous one doesn't stock bulk bags of herbs and spices which just made us sad. OK here we go... One little pot of 12g of oregano, £1. So that's 83p for every 10 grams. One bigger pot of 60g of oregano, £2.50. What?! £2.50! That's outrageous! Oh wait, that's actually 42p for every 10 grams. Almost half price... That suddenly sounds much nicer!
So there you have it. Some simple shopping tips to save you money while cutting back on plastic (or otherwise) packaging. Yay! Thumbs up and a pat on the back is required!
You can probably already guess where we're going with this one...
You remember that challenge we gave you to leave the car at home once a week? Still going with it?
Yes, great, congratulations! Keep up the good work!
Or maybe not...
It's starting to get a little colder so the walk home from work is looking a little less appealing? We only said you should leave the car behind, we didn't say you had to go wheel-less. Two wheels is usually faster than two feet and can be a great deal warmer too!
Naturally cycling has great health benefits but it's also great for the environment as you're reducing those harmful carbon emissions. Have some fun with it and make it social... Why not start a 'cycling bus' with your work colleagues? Join some local cycling groups to help you get in the spirit. Take your family out for organised rides such as the Yate Bicycle Safari happening on Sunday.
Better By Bike!
Yate and Chipping Sodbury is lucky enough to be supported by Bristol's Better By Bike scheme. If you're new to cycling, or even new to the area, it's a great resource. You can have a nosey at different cycling events, find fantastic cycle trips or use it's route planner. They will give you an easy to use map and route with all the details you need to know. They'll tell you where to hop onto a cycle path or even where to hop off your bike. Handy reminders to have, no-one wants to get caught out cycling where they shouldn't.
Helmets on everyone! Happy cycling!
Shopping. It's a very marmite thing isn't it? In one camp you have everyone who finds shopping a necessary evil... And in the other you have the retail therapy lovers. Whichever side you fall on there are a few ways of shopping that are kinder on your pocket and kinder on the planet.
We had fun last Friday. A few of our chirpy volunteers spent a little time outside Wellesley and Abbotswood Primary schools talking to locals for our yearly community consultation.
This year we may have added a cheeky little incentive, free food! Barbara had been out foraging Abbotswood apples and Nessa had been busy making mini jars of jam from local fruits. The jam went down a treat and we managed to convince a few people to try apple foraging for themselves. So we'll help you out...
Here's the apples...
And here's the jam...
Nessa's Yate Bramble Jam: Nessa used local foraged blackberries and apples for her recipe. Knowing that we were doing a giveaway we bought the jam jars, but there is nothing stopping you recycling the jars you've already got at home. If you do that then all you have to buy is the sugar! Hooray! Nessa used 2 bags of sugar, which made about 5 pounds of jam. By using foraged fruits, and reusing jars that's 5 pounds of jam for a teeny tiny £1.28. What more could you ask for?
Jam can be a great introduction to home preserving as you can tweak this basic recipe to your heart's content...
1 lb granulated sugar
1 lb fruit
Step one: Place the fruit and sugar into a large pan over a low heat. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved.
Step two: Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes, the jam should start to thicken.
Step three: Remove the jam from the heat. Spoon some of the mixture onto a cold plate. Leave for a few minutes and then push the mixture with a spoon handle or your finger (clean hands please!). If the jam wrinkles, you're good to go. If not, put the jam back on the heat for a minute or two before trying again.
Step four: While the jam is still hot, pour into sterilised jars. Do up the lid while the jam is still hot, the jam will thicken in the jar and the lid should start to create a dip as it cools. This means you can keep it safely in your cupboard for up to 6 months. It could stay there longer but might start to lose flavour. If you don't see the dip in the lid, keep the jam in the fridge and use within a few weeks. What a hardship that would be right?
The growing season might be nearly over, but that doesn't mean we can't start thinking about next year.
There is something special about growing your own, well, anything. Flowers, veggies, the odd few herbs, and small space growing is a great place to start. No matter where you live there is always something you can grow.
The nights are starting to draw in and the evenings are getting chilly. Why not use some of that sofa time to start thinking of what you might like to grow next year. Then when you're stuck for something to do on the weekends turn your attention to crafting a fancy planter all of your own. Pretty much anything can be turned into a planter, just remember a few key points:
Once you've got your planter, you can start planning your plants! If you're growing from seed, toilet roll tubes make excellent compostable seed trays. Fill your toilet roll tubes with compost and pop your seeds in. Once seedlings are ready to be transplanted just reposition the whole tube in the desired pot. As you water your plant the tube will break up allowing for root growth.
Small space inspiration...
You can experiment with colours, decorations and finding the best position around your home or garden. You may have to do a little research into what will grow best in your conditions e.g. window sill growing, shady corners or north facing gardens, but that can all be part of the fun. If you're growing edibles, make sure you choose things you will actually eat. We don't want anything going to waste, do we?
If you've got a little more space, then maybe something like this could be an option:
Jo made this planter out of old unwanted pallets that would have otherwise gone to waste. The planter was lined with leftover polythene sheeting. Gravel was repurposed from the garden to add drainage to the bottom, and then filled with compost. The herbs were saved from the clearance section of asda's fruit and veg section and replanted. With a little tender loving care they've come back strong and healthy... Just ignore the mint in the background, that's already had several months of use and is starting to give up the ghost ready for next year. By using unwanted materials, odds and ends of equipment he already had, Jo spent less than £10 on the whole project. To buy new planters of a similar size could easily cost you £50 or more. Well done Jo, that's quite the saving!
A quick tip...
When reading guidance on seed packets or plant pots you're usually told how much space you should leave between each plant. To make the most of your small space growing, go a little mad and cram as much as you can fit in. Remember if your plants start to look a little cramped you can always take one or two back out... And then move them to other planters you've been busy making haha. A word of warning, once you catch the bug it can get a little addictive.
But oh so worth it!
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.
The simple truth is that people love to talk. We're social, we're passionate and we're excited. So what do we do? We tell our friends what we're doing and then encourage them to take part too. One of the parents from Barnwood Buddies saw that the Abbotswood Action Group office was open, so popped into say hi and ask what we were up to. Alex said a little bit about Sustainable September, Sarah then went straight into her support for the fight against waste plastics and promoted the refill campaign... A few days later Alex was enjoying a laid on breakfast in Bristol attending the presentation of Refill's new pilot scheme.
So what's Refill?
You remember us talking about trading in your plastic bottles for reusables? Well Refill is promoting the same idea on a much bigger scale. World wide in fact. The idea is simple, recycling might not be good enough anymore. If we really want to win the war on plastics we need to go straight to the source and reduce our plastic consumption, not just recycle it. So the Refill team have produced an app that will let you search for places near you that will allow you to refill your reusable bottles with free tap water... And it's working! So it's time for us to get involved. Download the app for yourself, tell your friends and maybe even drop a few hints next at the cafe next time you're out for lunch.
But we can do more than that...
Taking the next steps...
The scheme has been so successful that it's time to expand. Starting with a pilot scheme in Bristol. That means us Abbotswood! Hooray! The new concept is to add more facilities to the app. So instead of pouring your coffee into a throw away cardboard cup, it gets poured into the reusable coffee cup you took with you. Or you fancy a bite to eat, so they'll put that hot cornish pasty straight into your lunchbox, instead of a paper bag. Takeaway salads in a plastic tub anyone? No. Takeaway salads in your lunchbox? Much better idea!
Here's your chance to take part in the pilot. If it's successful the scheme will be rolled out across the nation. You can get involved by downloading the app now. Anyone using it with a Bristol postcode will automatically be enrolled in the pilot. The more we can promote the scheme, the more businesses we can get to sign up as a Refill hotspot the better it is for everyone.
Find out all you need to know here: https://refill.org.uk/
So come on everyone, let's get Refilling!
We're all aware of savers accounts at the bank, but why should saving only be about money? We're talking about saving scraps of food. When thinking about sustainability and reducing food waste the freezer should be one of your best friends. You've probably heard TV chefs talk about batch cooking so you can make your own ready meals, but plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are freezable too. With some clever thinking and pre-planning you can save all of those little scraps left at the bottom of the fridge.
Here's the secret...
Treat yourself to some freezer safe containers.
Alright so it's not a very exciting secret, but it's well worth it. We're over halfway through September so it's over to you to do some of the work. It's OK don't panic, think of your favourite recipes you already know and love. Then label up a couple of empty tubs. As you stumble across some sad looking fruits or veggies in the fridge, chop them up and add them to the most relevant tub. Simple. When the tub's full, whip it out and get cooking.
Here's some examples of what savers tubs you could make:
Go and have some fun experimenting. You know you want to...
Enjoying your new swap shop with your friends? Great!
Let's take it to the next step shall we? You're getting the hang of things like this by now, so we'll keep this one short. How about taking it in turns to host your swap shop, followed by a film night? In the host's house of course...
Think about how expensive a night at the cinema can be. There's the cost of the tickets, the drinks and the cinema snacks. If it's friends you don't see that often you might decide to have a group meal in the restaurant next door first, or a drink in the pub after. You've all got to get there so that's the travel expenses as well. It soon mounts up...
Not if you bring the cinema home!
Browse your DVD collection and pick an old favourite, or that horror you're never quite brave enough to watch alone or maybe that one that you keep meaning to watch but is still sealed in the packet... We all have one of those right? If you've been making the best of your swap shop everyone will have different DVD's, so you get plenty of variety.
Grab your snacks, treat yourself to some fancy drinks, turn the lights out and hit play!
Let's talk socks!
And maybe hats. And scarves just for luck.
We're starting to get to that time of year where you feel the evening chill and argue with your partner about whether it's too soon to turn the heating on...
We can answer that for you...
It probably is to early to put the heating on. If you have to think about whether you're cold or not the heating can wait a little longer, reach for the extra layers instead. Save energy for the planet, and save pennies for you. It's amazing what a second pair of socks can do.
You lose most of your body heat from your extremities so grab the extra thick socks from the drawer. Shake the dust of off your trusty onesie and pull the hood all the way up. Shove your hands under the fluffiest blanket you can find.
Whatever works, wrap up toasty warm, treat yourself to your favourite hot toddy and have a cuddle with a loved one... Person, pet, teddy bear, who cares! Everyone loves a cuddle on a chilly night...
Tell you what. We'll join you!
Sorry folks, we're opening this blog post with some rhetorical maths questions...
Take a little walk around your home and think about how much you spent feathering your nest... Furniture, decorations, paintings, cooking equipment, blankets, DVDs, ornaments... Getting a headache as the price rises? We know the feeling and your friends probably do to. Speaking of which, try multiplying the amount you spent on your home by the number of friends you have...
Pretty big number huh?
But that means there's plenty of penny saving that could be done! Stay with us for a minute, go back around your home and think of all the things you only use occasionally... CD's, board games, that cake tin you whip out once a year for your partner's birthday. Between you and your friends, how much could you save if you have one of each thing per group rather than per person.
Starting to sound a little better? You could swap almost anything if you wanted to. Fancy something different to do in the evenings, raid your friend's games box. Not just board games, that could mean computer games too. Are you a little bit of a bookworm? Instead of trying to cram yet more books onto your already overflowing shelves, worm your way through your friend's shelves. School bake sale coming up, and the children want to make their own... Don't splash out on a muffin tin you know will never see the light of day again, speak to your friend who basically has their own personal bakery set up in their kitchen...
Have some fun with it!!
Arrange a social night every so often, where you can swap to your heart's content! You could meet in your favourite coffee shop and bring what you're swapping with you. Or you can be really brave, take turns hosting and let your friends loose around your house!
If that sounds too much for you, or you're just short on time, you can always just ask. Set up a group on your preferred messaging app, it only takes a few seconds to send a quick message.
Get together, swap, share, save money and have some fun along the way. We declare the swap shop officially...
We have lots of things to talk about at Abbotswood Action Group. We're sure you do too, get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger...