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Friday, 8 September 2017

ZWW 2017 Day 5 - It's #FoodWasteFriday

It's #FoodWasteFriday and what better day to publish my book, Leftover Pie: 101 ways to reduce your food waste, hey? This was the challenge that Rachelle Strauss, founder of Zero Waste Week set me a little over a year ago.  Although I thought I'd finished writing the book a while back, there was still a lot of work to pull it together.  Chatting with Rachelle, I was sharing my concerns about the whole food waste issue.

Last summer we decided to rent out my daughter's house, in the lovely city of Bath, while she was 'back home' with us for the summer.  It was a great experience but it really made us realise that other people don't deal with waste in the same way we do. After one young couple had stayed for three nights, I was sorting out the rubbish they had left behind - wondering how the bin was full to bursting! But it wasn't just recycling that I had to pull out from the rubbish.  I was stunned.  In that bin there was more food wasted, then I would have bought for my family of four for a whole week.

That's how I came to be having the conversation with Rachelle:

"I've got to finish Leftover Pie."
"You have!" she replied. 

I was shocked into action you could say.

A few months later Rachelle decided that the 10th annual Zero Waste Week would cover a different topic each day and that Friday would be dedicated to Food Waste.

"Why not publish your book then?" she suggested.

So there you have it.  Leftover Pie is out in paperback today.





We're renting the house out again this year, but we've made a few changes.  The food waste caddy used to live on the kitchen windowsill. Now it lives right next to the general waste bin.  There's a sticker on the general waste bin, that says, "No Food Waste".  Maybe that sticker needs to be bigger!  We still have to pull out food waste on occasions.

We had a recycling bin in the garage, but we decided to put a recycling container right next to the bin too.  This has helped considerably.  I guess it is that problem of "out of sight, out of mind".

So why is food waste such an important issue?

Here's what I think...


It's not just about saving money, it's not just about respecting our food producers, or our friends and family who are preparing and cooking food for us, it is not even just about people elsewhere going hungry, while we let food go to waste.  It is those things, yes.  Of course it is. But it is bigger than than.  It is about climate change.

As Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, said at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Food Waste:

"If we can't fix food waste we can't fix climate change." 


So, as you see, it is important and we all have the power to do our bit and put that right.


ZWW 2017 Day 4 - Time Saving Tips for Thursday

Day four of Zero Waste Week was all about Time Saving Tips

I arranged to visit a wonderful "SuperHome" local to me prior to their open day. They have a display board featuring my book, so I nipped over with some signed copies for them to sell on the day and I was guinea pig for their guided tour around the house. Plenty of top tips there, particularly around energy saving.


SuperHomes Open Day
Sat 9th Sept, 11am-2pm
4 St Denys Close, Stanford, SN7 8NJ

"If you're interested in making your home more efficient and environmentally friendly, you might like to visit a SuperHome. 
Open days let you quiz the owners, so you can discover what worked and get frank feedback on what didn’t. There are open days across the country in September, including one in Stanford in the Vale. The Williams family’s 1950s bungalow is heated using wood pellets, and is free from fossil fuels from heating to transport. When it’s sunny they can cook with a sun oven, concentrating heat using reflection."


Some of the things I learnt:

  • I had a vague idea that chest freezers were more energy efficient than upright freezers, but I didn't realise it was by as much as 50%. 
  • I had never thought of the idea of a chest fridge - also 50% more efficient.  
  • I loved their guilt-free fairy lights, using solar energy from a battery system. 
  • I was interested to hear they had set up a local Facebook group for sharing stuff.  I think one of those would be great in my village so I'll be onto that later this month.
  • I was so delighted to hear that their local "Sustainable Wantage" group was collecting crisp packets for a craft workshop - my last fail of Zero Waste Living.  I was brimming with enthusiasm when I said to Mr Pitt, that we needed to save up his crisp packets for them. "I already am," he said.

As for my own top tips, for making Zero Waste easy here are a few ideas.

My recycling centre
I love my little recycling centre for the few things that don't go into the kerbside collection. The biscuit wrappers I save for a friend who has a Teracycle collection point at work.  I'll need to add in crisp packets to my collection now.


I have a reuse centre with these lovely pull out boxes on a shelving unit, for things like envelopes, notebooks, and sewing accessories for mending.


One thing that is wasting time at the moment is my collection of tubs - none of which seem to have the right lids attached, so a sort out of these is needed to get back to an easy life.  I use these all the time for buying meat and cheese from my local butcher, buying dry goods in bulk, freezing extra portions of things like casseroles and curries so I have home-made ready meals in the freezer for days when I have to visit clients or schools. Just a quick sort out and I will no longer be wasting so much time finding a box and lid that go together.  If I end up with lid-less containers I'll relegate them to the tool shed.

That's my top tips for tidy zero waste life.  Onto #FoodWasteFriday.




Thursday, 7 September 2017

ZWW Day 3 - #WorkWithWasteWednesday

I love 'up-cycled' stuff but I'm not good at making things myself.  "Working with Waste Wednesday" was the theme for yesterday's Zero Waste  Week. I am still busy sending out books, booking talks and events and following up all manor of requests prior to my publication day tomorrow. So I decided that rather than even think about trying to find time to make anything myself, I'd contact the people I collect things for and arrange to meet up to hand over my goodies to them, knowing they will transform them into something far more wonderful than I could create.





I collect broken jewellery, buttons, bits of fabric and ribbon for a wonderful lady called Laura Hounam.  I have blogged about her jewellery creations before here. She raises money for Against Breast Cancer charity by selling her jewellery at craft fairs around the county. The charity also collect stamps and old coins, so I give these to Laura too.


Another favourite up-cycling business of mine, also local to me, is Lane End Vintage. Sue of Lane End Vintage sells lovely hand made cards which reuse bits of games, stamps, buttons, maps, books and the like.  As I am local I can even go and stock up with my clear plastic wallet before Sue puts them into their protective wrappers.  If I buy them in wrappers, I give the wrappers back and Sue reuses them.  I also bought several Christmas gifts from Lane End Vintage last year.  I love the postage stamp art kits that she does and so have my nieces and nephews.

Postage stamp art kits by Lane End Vintage

Not so local is the Woolly Pedlar run by Sue Reed. I have two of Sue's creations, which were both sent by post. The quality of her work is beautiful and I love the quirky designs.  Sue says:

"Upcycling means to use waste and transform it into something new, more pleasing and with a new use. It is the process of adding value to preloved items through design. I gather locally sourced recycled wool knitwear for upcycling. There are so many textiles just shipped abroad or thrown into landfill. I am on a mission to recycle waste wool, be it from the second hand clothing sector, or from the few remaining UK factories that manufacture wool knitwear in the UK."


Here's my jumper made by The Woolly Pedlar
I like to support small businesses and so when you get the combination of small businesses and up cycled treasures, it makes me very happy.  Lane Ends Vintage's picture below, sums it up.




On to Top Tips Thursday.  I'm planning on taking a good look at the ZWW Top Tips Thursday Pinterest board.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

ZWW 2017 Day -2 #TrashlessTuesday

For #TrashlessTuesday, I'm continuing my theme of using the boxes from my signed book copies to clear out some space in my understairs cupboard (obviously known as Harry Potter's Bedroom).

I'm a bit concerned that by venturing anywhere near my cupboard I'll be finding waste that could otherwise stay hidden - out of sight out of mind, and all that.  But I have the advantage of living in an area of the UK that really cares about maximising use of resources and minimising waste. I live in Oxfordshire and here we have brilliant kerbside collection services and a very extensive offer at our Recycling centres across the county, which were recently given a reprieve to stay open, in the face of continuing budget cuts.

From delving into my cupboard each time I empty a box of books, I'm realising that there's a lot of packaging materials in there.  Does that happen in all households?  I keep things for reuse and I do go to my cupboard rather than go to the shops any time I send anything anywhere or gift anything.

I really don't need all this packaging.  It would take me years to reuse it and anyway, my stock of gift bags and packaging tends to grow every Christmas because we are usually hosts for the family gatherings and for some reason, no-one seems to want to reclaim their gift bags.  So these are going into a box to be taken to the charity shop on Friday morning.

Box 1 ready for the charity shop
Added to the gift bags, I've found bubble wrap which I know my charity shop can use as they sell quite a bit of crockery and other breakables. In goes the brown paper that I'm finding in my boxes of books too.

As for my plastic bag of trash to be carried round all day, I am following with interest the posts on the Zero Waste Heroes Facebook group and realising that my own zero (well nearly zero) waste is clearly made a lot easier because of where I live. I've seen people add yoghurt pots and flyaway plastic to their #TrashlessTuesday list.  I had both of these today and both go into my kerbside recycling box.

The one thing I ended up with that can't be recycled or reused was this packing tape on the bubble wrap. I pulled off the packing tape carefully to save as much of the bubble wrap for reuse by my local charity shop.  The tape itself will end up in the general waste bin - that always pains me, but the bubble wrap isn't useable in the mess it was in, so this is the sacrifice.
A mess of bubble wrap
Tape (on the left)  removed - that will go in the bin and the untidy edges of the bubble wrap (on the right) will recycle.
It made me think about how I was packing up my books for postage as I was using a lot of sellotape.  The #TrashlessTuesday bag challenge really works does't it?  By making me focus on waste, I realised by folding the very old envelopes (40 years plus, I reckon) a different way, I use less tape and that will maybe make the envelope more likely to be reused by the recipient.  Open your books carefully please, lovely people, and apologies for the excess tape of the books I've already posted.

One of the ways that I have managed to cut down on both my trash and my recycling over the last few years is to take my own containers to the butcher's, my own reusable vegetable bags to the greengrocer's or supermarket and to buy dry goods in bulk, again in my own containers.  Our two daughters will shortly be returning to university, so we had a family outing to the nearest dry goods store with almost every plastic and glass container that we had in the house and we have stocked up on all things like oats, dried fruit, nuts, rice,  and I can't think what else, but lots more.  The only packaging from that entire enormous shop was a large tub that contained peanut butter.  Senior daughter is running a marathon in a couple of weeks and she's getting through a lot of peanut butter.  We decided the tub looked like a useful container and it was probably equivalent to three of the glass jars we've been buying.  So it seemed like a reasonable packaging option.

Once you get into the Zero Waste idea, I think you shop differently. If we can shop packaging free, we do.  Otherwise, I think we always ask ourselves the question: what will happen to the packaging post use? If it can be reused (then recycled) then we'll buy it.

The one exception seems to be shop bought crisps.  My solution is to retrain my brain to not eat them. But that's not something I'm going to ask the rest of the family to do.  However, quite by coincidence no crisp packet was finished on #TrashlessTuesday so it is just the tape in the bin.







Monday, 4 September 2017

Zero Waste Week 2017 has started

It is here again.  It must be September already! This year sees the 10th annual Zero Waste Week and each day will tackle a different theme.

The theme for today was #MakeItMendItMonday.  Jen Gale, one of the 40 contributors in Leftover Pie is the queen of "Make do and mend".  I followed her progress and stories during her year of  buying nothing new and she was the inspiration behind my pledge a few years ago for Zero Waste Week to get mending.


I had quite a bit of success back then with my mending pledge, but things have lapsed a bit recently, and I know I have a whole lot of aspirational mending in a pile, ready and waiting for some ZWW inspiration and support. Trouble is, I can't get to it as we are having some building work done.  So while I can't get at the pile of stuff that I know needs mending, I thought I would tackle the dreaded cupboard under the stairs.

It started off as a fairly organised storage area, but over the years it has become a general dumping ground for mainly my own things that I can't decide where to put, haven't got room for in the place they belong or didn't make the time to put away properly prior to having visitors!

Oh what a mess.

I put in an order for 250 copies of my new book, Leftover Pie, and some of these are for the events I have coming up over the next six weeks. So that they don't spend up to six weeks in the middle of the floor in my lounge, I thought I ought to clear some space in the cupboard.  My plan is that each time I empty a box of books, I will sort out part of the cupboard and fill the box with things to go to the charity shop.Taking part in the Zero Waste Week Twitter chat today, I shared my desire to declutter and found lots of support and ideas. So during the week I will share my zero waste declutter progress and how I manage to act on these ideas, which hopefully I will.


Having a whole lot of pre-ordered books to sign and pack up today, I have managed to empty two boxes.  Unfortunately my cat, Smokey, had different ideas for the first box, but I started with a nice easy declutter of the growing gift bag collection.  Some to keep, some in the box for the charity shop.


Another coup, was a big box of envelopes, that had belonged to my grandfather.  I did wonder how I was ever going to use foolscap envelopes, but with a reel of sellotape and a bit of folding, I am managing to use them up to send out my books. Knowing that the first sales of my book are very likely to be people who are already on the path to zero waste, I feel the recipients will only appreciate the reuse element. (Well I guess they were once new, but that was very many years ago.  I think they might be older than I am!) 

More books to sign tomorrow - so what will be in the next box, I wonder? Slowly I will make my way through the mess and rehome, redeploy, mend and put away the contents.

That's my zero waste week day one.  How was yours?

Monday, 21 August 2017

Leftover Pie in Pebble Magazine

Pebble Magazine is the perfect read for eco friendly living. Featuring articles on eco holidays, sustainable eating, ethical fashion and all the latest green innovation,

 "pebble is about how we want to live, the world we want in the future, our dreams and desires." 

Here is the link to Leftover Pie's 7 Ways to Reduce Your Food waste.

Why not pop into the "no plastic cocktail bar" while you are there too.

Monday, 7 August 2017

10 top tips for reducing food waste

I’m often asked for my top 10 tips on reducing food waste, so here you have them.
  1. The big number one tip has to be…  Buy less food! Try to think of each shopping expedition as one where you will buy the minimum amount of food to get by rather than one where you are going to fill your trolley and pack your fridge full to bursting.  It is a small change in mindset that makes a huge difference. 



Monday, 10 July 2017

Leftover Pie news and the APSRG on Food Waste

Blog posts have been a bit thin on the ground from me lately, with the work involved in publishing Leftover Pie, so I thought I ought to get back into the swing of things, while I have a short breathing space between publishing the ebook, and the next step which is to get the paperback ready for launch on 8th September.

Last week I went to the All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group's meeting,  Food waste: next steps for the new government.

I really don't think that I had appreciated how important an issue food waste is until I started researching Leftover Pie, so knowing this discussion was going on in parliament, I really felt I needed to find out what is being talked about at the parliamentary level.

By the way, this was my first visit to the Houses of Parliament and I managed to get told off for taking a photograph where I shouldn't! Oops. I then kept my camera firmly tucked away, which was a shame, as I missed a photo opportunity with Dean Pearce, one of my wonderful recipe contributors, who I had the great pleasure of meeting in person for the first time.  What a day of firsts! First visit to parliament, first telling off in parliament,  and first plastic free July failure in a cafe putting the world to rights with Dean. Anyway, back to the meeting...

There are great things going on all around us to help reduce the food waste mountain, examples of which I highlight in my book.  Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, who chaired the meeting, described this as '1000 flowers blooming',  but I can't help thinking that we are lacking some big legislative support for those 1000 flowers.

Image: WRAP


The food waste hierarchy, which it seems surprisingly few people even know exists,  is a legal thing, but it seems it isn't 'policed' very well, if at all. Councils and businesses are supposedly obliged to take the food waste hierarchy into consideration, but that doesn't always happen.  Not all councils have separate food waste collections.  I, personally,  think this causes huge confusion and also an excuse for people to ignore food waste collections when they do have them.  As I explain in my book, this causes huge financial issues, when people who are offered food waste collections don't make use of them.  We need to solve this problem.  It is something that I am plugging away at as much as I can when I do Love Food Hate Waste events and talks, explaining the importance of separate food waste and explaining the cost implications of not separating waste, but I can't help feeling that the message would get out there quicker and more efficiently if there was legislation that enforced this.   There would still be those that wouldn't bother -but at least if there was a clear message that legally we should be separating our food waste, more people, likely would do so.

It was good to hear from Mark Glover, CEO of WRAP, that they are working on a "set menu" of options for separate food waste collections for local council and they hope that all councils will then choose from this set menu.  But there are councils who have already tried food waste collections before and not had sufficient uptake to cover the costs, which would be covered by the savings if most people then used the service.  So ... we are back to the issue of legislation again.

Tim Smith, of Tesco, talked about the efforts they are making to reduce food waste and Tesco was praised by the APSRG for publishing their food waste figures, and it is hoped, of course, that other supermarkets will follow Tesco's lead and publish their own food waste statistics.  It was commented that recently the amount of food waste appeared to have risen, but Tim Smith explained that at the outset, they weren't very good at measuring their waste, and that in reality it is improvements in how they measure waste that lie behind the apparent increase rather than an actual increase in waste.

I was, however, very surprised to find that other supermarkets haven't yet started to publish their own figures.  Surely they will?

One of my concerns about all the recent wonderful awareness raising that has been going on and the mainstream media coverage of food waste as a problem, is that people often think that it is mainly the fault of the big supermarkets that there is so much waste.  In fact, we know that over half of all food waste in the UK is actually wasted in the home.

It is this home food waste that I concentrate on in Leftover Pie, looking it why and how it arises and giving practical solutions to help people reduce food waste at home.  With 101 recipes - some mine and some from my wonderful army of chefs, food writers, food waste campaigners and lifestyle bloggers, as well as some general practical tips, there is something for everyone.  From those who are struggling big time, with a regular mountain of rotting veg at the bottom of their fridge right through to chefs who are already running a resource efficient kitchen, there's a recipe for you.

Leftover Pie is available now as an ebook and from 8th September in Paperback.  I hope you enjoy reading it and reviews are greatly appreciated.



For more news of Leftover Pie and talks and events go to the Leftover Pie Facebook page.


Monday, 15 May 2017

Guides cook up a feast

Yesterday evening 2nd Kidlington Guides were challenged to cook up a feast from the food they could find that needed using up in their fridges.  It was suggested that they bring any leftovers or odd vegetables and that the idea was they shouldn't buy anything specially.  This was about foraging in our fridges or cupboards to make a meal from what we already had, with the idea that we could reduce waste as we did so.

We talked a bit about the food waste issue and the extent of the problem.   It was encouraging that 17 out of 27 households were using their kitchen caddies for their food waste, keeping it separate from general waste.  We discussed some of the reasons behind why others didn't use their kitchen caddies.  Three families didn't have one, so I suggested that they contact the local council to ask for a kitchen caddy as they are free to all households and they can ask for one to be delivered. Another family didn't use a caddy but put any food waste always straight into the outside brown compost bin, so that's perfect.  Maybe the others might have a think about whether they could use their food caddy too.  There are people who don't like the idea of using food waste caddies in their kitchen. Putting their food waste straight into their outdoor compost bin after every meal might be a solution for them.

On to the cooking...

We had a table full of ingredients to work with and the Guides split into four groups each picking some ingredients and talking about what they would make with those ingredients.

We had dried egg noodles in various forms - clearly a popular store cupboard essential.  These made a great base for various dishes.  We had some leftover cooked vegetables which included mashed potato, peas and carrots.  We had an iceberg lettuce, 5 tomatoes, two thirds of a pepper, about three quarters of a cucumber, some fresh broccoli florets and stalk, a potato, one and a half avocados and half a lemon.

We had some tinned carrots,  part of a tin of sweetcorn - correctly stored in an airtight container rather than in the tin and a pack of chopped tomatoes.

We had some cauliflower and broccoli cup-a soup, some pancake mix, some Orio cookies and some white chocolate chips and a box of cheese crackers.

I brought the green leafy ends of some leeks, some green ends of spring onions and a box of assorted vegetable peelings which included onion skin, the core and seeds and stalk of two red peppers, some celeriac, swede and carrot ends and peel.

Here are some of the things that were made:



Dips with crackers and potato wedges
This group made an avocado dip and a yoghurt dip to eat with the crackers and some oven cooked potato wedges. They made sure they scraped out all of the avocado from the skin before putting the skin ready for the compost bin.
The potato wedges were cooked in a little oil with a sprinkling of sea salt.

We missed a trick here as a perfect accompaniment to the dips would have been the stalk of the broccoli. You peel off the tough outer edge of the stalk and then cut the inner bit into strips like you would cut carrot, celery  or cucumber and it is delicious and very good for you.



Avocado salad
The avocado salad was made from mashed up avocado, chopped tomato, lemon juice and chopped up ends of spring onion.  It was very tasty.



Pasta salad
This was made from a "mug shot" instant pasta dish combined with some chopped ends of spring onion.  The spring onion really added to it visually and taste wise as it gave it a lift. A good twist of black pepper was a nice addition to this too.

Pancakes with Orio cookies and white chocolate chips
The pancakes were using up a packet of pancake mix, which was a just add water kind of recipe, but it became so much more with the addition of Orio cookies and white chocolate chips.  Some interesting lessons were learnt here.  The cookies turned the mix a light brown colour.  This meant that it was hard to tell when the pancake was cooked.  The girls doing the cooking also had their doubts about whether it would be nice.  The colour didn't look appealing. We decided we needed to taste it, so I was the guinea pig.  On tasting I could tell the pancake wasn't cooked enough.  So we cooked it some more and then I tasted it again and it was good to go.  The girls weren't totally happy with their creation, so I suggested they cut up small pieces and take it round to people to taste.  The came back saying people loved it.  Taking a small piece and tasting meant people were judging by taste not look and they enjoyed what they tasted so that gave the girls confidence to cook two more pancakes to share round.  "Don't judge a book by its cover" was an important lesson here and we talked about the importance of tasting your cooking as you go.

Noodle soup with sweetcorn
The base for the noodle soup was a packet of super noodles with a stir in sauce. Then the vegetable peel stock and some of the leftover peas and sweetcorn were added. Some carrot was peeled and pre-cooked in the microwave before adding into the soup.  I heard the word delicious get mentioned but didn't get to taste it myself.  It did smell very good.  I added the carrot peel to the vegetable stock.

Mixed Salad
The mixed salad was chopped iceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomato and sweetcorn.

I took on the challenge of making sure nothing got wasted from what was left. Here is what I have made so far.


I mixed the rest of the yoghurt - about a desert spoonful - with some porridge oats for breakfast.

I used one of the packets of pasta in sauce and cooked the rest of the broccoli.  This made a tasty lunch.



Last night I kept the remaining stock and added in the mashed potato, the rest of the peas.  There were a few stray noodles in the stock as we used the same colander to strain the noodles and then the stock.  There were a couple of loose florets of broccoli on a chopping board as we cleared away so they went into my soup pot and there was some of the cooked carrot left, so that will be a nice addition to give sweetness to the soup.




I brought all this mix to the boil,  and then simmered it for 15 minutes to let the flavours come together and then whizzed it with a hand blender.  The next important step was to taste it. It needed some seasoning so I added about a teaspoon and a half of salt, tasting after each half teaspoon, and a generous amount of black pepper.  I then added in the egg noodles, cooked carrot and leek ends that one group had prepared.  The soup was lovely and I now have two portions in the freezer and one in the fridge for tomorrow.

This evening I am cooking another batch of soup using the cooking water from the broccoli I cooked for lunch and the salad off-cuts from Guides.   I have also put in the ends of some asparagus that I had in the fridge.  The ends take a long time to cook, so I always trim them otherwise you get either overcooked asparagus tips or chewy bits on the end.  I think the ends work better blended in a soup.  

I have added the remaining lemon juice to a lemon cake and then I put the lemon in the freezer as I will candy the lemon peel when I have a few more used lemons.

I read the ingredients of the remaining pack of pasta and because it contains cream powder I can't eat it due to an allergy. When you find yourself with food that you can't use for whatever reason you can offer it on the food sharing app Olio
.


Thursday, 16 March 2017

The cupboard clean out

In the second week of the www.ecothriftyliving.com decluttering challenge, Zoe has tasked us with clearing out our store cupboard and trying to use up those items that are still ok to eat after the best before date.
Here is my cupboard this morning.



I know more or less what is on it, Including a couple of things that I know are way out of date. I have no idea why they are still unused.
One ageing item is a time of evaporated milk. I used to use this to make ice cream as I can't eat cream.  I haven't made ice cream for a couple of years now but I have certainly made it since the purchase of this tin so I can only assume poor stock control as the reason it is still lurking at the back of my cupboard.


I am going to do some research before deciding whether my tin can be turned into ice cream or whether it is better off in my wormery. One thing is for certain I will definitely not be 'binning' it. I will at least open the tin and if the contents aren't edible then I will get the remaining value I can from the milk and the tin.

As for the rest, I found a few items nearing their bb date so I packed them up to take them on holiday with me next week.

Then after cleaning the cupboard I put anything open or dated in 2017 on the bottom shelf, the 2018 on the next shelf up and 2019 and beyond at the top.  If I do this once a year all should be well.

Spot the difference?


Want to join in the declutter? There are plenty of ideas being shared on the facebook group. Here is the link.


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Reducing your food waste with help from Facebook

I have recently joined a new Facebook group run by Zoe Morrison, author  of Eco Thrifty Living blog, with a little bit of help from me.

The Facebook group is for anyone who is interested in wasting less of their food and making even the food that many people might regularly throw away into something tasty.

Tomorrow, Monday 6th March, Zoe is introducing a challenge:

The #STILLGOOD DECLUTTERING CHALLENGE!

Zoe is challenging the Reduce Your Food Waste Facebook group members (and readers of her blog and mine!) to have a clear out and use up anything that is approaching or beyond its 'Best Before' date.

Starting on Monday 6th March, the areas to be tackled are:

Week 1: drinks - both dried and in liquid form e.g. tea, coffee, alcohol, juice and so on.

Week 2: tins, jars and dried goods e.g. flour, rice, pasta, herbs, spices.

Week 3: Freezer foods and/or the condiments in your fridge

Week 4: The food you keep outside your kitchen - e.g. in your office drawer, in your car, your secret stash of munchies :)

I decided to get a head start on next week's challenge and just have a look at the drinks, starting with the tea and coffee drawer.



I had no idea that I had 5 tubs of cocoa powder.  I do make a lot of cakes as I make cricket teas throughout the summer. So I know that this will get used up. Two of the pots were no doubt brought home from the Junior and Senior Daughters' houses and each had less than half a tub. So I decided to set to work and use some of it. We were going for dinner at a friend's house so I made some truffles to take with us. I had an ageing but in date tin of condensed milk, so I used three table spoons of cocoa powder in the tin of condensed milk, which I heated up until it bubbled, then added about 50g of unsalted butter, which you stir in until it melts. Then when the mixture is cool enough you just roll it into balls with your hands. It is surprisingly mess free.  I then rolled the balls in more cocoa powder and I coated a couple with some candied peel I made last weekend.

They went down well last night and I have more for after roast dinner today.  Gutted, Sis, that you can't join us today. I will try to save you a couple.


These used up the two tubs that were started.

However, I think I need to get a bit more chocolate cookery done as I have some dubious looking packets of drinking chocolate that look past their best and a tub of Nesquik that my nephew brought here a couple of years ago. Now what am I going to make with that? Ideas please.

Here is the link for anyone who would be interested in joining our Facebook group.

Reduce your food waste!386 members








Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Five-of-your-ten-a-day soup

After hearing last week that a recent study is suggesting we all eat 10 portions of fruit and veg every day for the good of our health I keep hearing people say they used to struggle with even 5-a-day.

Five-a-day is doable for me, but 10...definitely  a stretch. Last Thursday with a big effort and a twitter challenge I managed nine, but then for the last few days it has been down at five or six. However, today Mr Pitt made 5-a-day soup for lunch. We thought we were pretty good at making soup anyway, but recently we had a day at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School and this simple soup inspired by Maman Blanc was one of the dishes we cooked.

It is a great was to use up all the veg in your fridge. The basic recipe is to sweat some onion in a bit of rape seed oil (or a mixture of rape seed oil and butter). Chop your veg into pieces of roughly the same size and then add into the sweated onion,  adding the veg that take longest to cook first, adding just enough water to cover the veg. You don't need any stock.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and just before serving add a good handful of fresh chopped herbs. At the cookery school we added chervil, but we don't grow that, so today it was thyme from our pot on the kitchen window sill.

The veg was celery, parsnip, carrot, butternut squash, cauliflower leaves (the white part from the centre of the leaves) and onion. If you want to make sure you are getting your 5-a-day you could weigh out your veg portions, but this is now going to be my go to recipe for what is left in the fridge.




Thursday, 23 February 2017

Can you do ten a day?

I was inspired by @SkinnyJeanGard  today to take up the challenge to see if I can eat 10 portions of fruit and veg per day.



I am pretty good at 5 a day and my first thought was perhaps 7 or 8 especially if I snack on dried fruit. But 10? Not so sure.

When my children were young enough to have me guide what they eat we talked a lot about 5 a day and the standard challenge was to have eaten 4 by the end of the school day. One might be eaten with breakfast in which case the lunch box would have to contain three more portions. If no fruit was eaten at breakfast then we tried to put 4 portions in with lunch. So dried fruit or mashed banana with porridge was popular. The lunch box almost always contained carrot sticks, then sometimes peppers, grapes, tomatoes, raisins, dried apricots or mango. Pasta salad is great for getting in 3 portions of veg and the same with rice salad and couscous too. I was very aware of the 5 a day thing and made a game of it with the children.  My Mum died of (hereditary) ovarian cancer six weeks before Senior Daughter was born and my aunt (mum's sister) died of the same, shortly after Junior  Daughter was born. It was then I realised it was probably not a coincidence and did some research.  I had heard of the 5 a day thing back then but when I was told that it was found to protect against cancer (that was the way I interpreted it in my vulnerable grief-filled state) I took it pretty seriously as you might imagine. So 5 a day has been a habit for a long time.

Waking up to BBC Radio 5 Live this morning and at the same time nosying for news on Twitter I heard about the 10 a day thing.

Can I really manage 10 portions a day? I decided to see.

A lot of people wonder about portion sizes. I was just editing my section from my forthcoming book Leftover Pie yesterday covering portion sizes, so it was in my head.  I heard an expert  (apologies for not catching the name) talk about 80g.  For dried fruit it is 30g (as some of that 80g is of course the water content in fresh fruit).

Here goes for my Ten-a-day challenge.

This is 30g of dried cranberries and 30g of dried papaya, which I'm going to mix into 25g oats and three table spoons of plain yoghurt for breakfast.

Two down, eight to go.
While I was weighing out breakfast I thought I'd check what 30g of dates looks like.  It is about five and a half dates.  I usually take 5 or 6 dates (or two or three apricots or some dried mango) with me if going out and about.   I don't always eat it that day, but it stops me cracking and buying processed, packaged snacks.  I think the fact I don't always eat it now, kind of tells me I'm over the packaged snacks urge anyway.  But when I started my Zero Single Use Plastic challenge in 2015 I really wanted to make it a bit easier and not feel deprived.  So that's how the habit started.

When I'm at home, I don't tend to snack as much, so I don't know whether or not I'll eat these.  I think also, because dried fruit is high in sugar - albeit natural, it is probably not great for the teeth to eat on its own.  Still you can't get everything right, hey?

Portion number three perhaps?

For lunch I made a soup testing out a recipe for "Bean Broth, Made Good" by Malou who writes a frugal food blog called Wonky Veg   (wonkyvegblog.com) which uses up the liquid from a can of butter beans.  I am going to use most of the butter beans tonight as I'm making butternut squash risotto and if I am going to get anywhere near 10 portions of fruit and veg today, I need to add in another veg (or three) to my usual combo of onion, celery, butternut squash and sage.  But there's not a lot in the fridge!
A portion of veg - cauliflower stalks.  I will
dice them up to add into the bean broth.
Bean Broth, Made Good
The soup was delicious.  As I was making it, I was getting the veg ready for the risotto this evening and using up the bits I didn't need to make my soup.  Normally I would have put in a either a half or a whole onion into the risotto, depending on how much other veg would be going in, but as I am on a "challenge" to get in my 10 a day, I didn't want to cheat, so after chopping my onion, I weighed 2 portions (160g) which was most of the onion, and then used the rest for my soup.  

I only had around 80g of celery so by the time I took some of the mainly leafy bits for my soup I didn't even have one portion.  Looking at what else was in the fridge, I found some beetroot.  I like beetroot with butternut squash and feta so I weighed that.   I have 94g so I am going to count the beetroot and the celery together as a portion each.  What do you reckon? Fair?



So my soup contained some onion and some celery leaves, but probably only half a portion's worth, and some butterbeans (but I can't count those for lunch because however many portions of pulses you have it only counts as one of your 5 - or in this case 10 - portions per day and I'm including a portion each for tonight's risotto).  So I think for my soup I can perhaps count one and a half portions.  The cauliflower stalks are one portion and the celery and onion are a half portion.

I ate two clementines (1.5 portions as 138g?) after my soup, so by lunch time I have managed 5 portions. I haven't yet eaten the dates!

This evening's risotto will contain

  • butternut squash (a portion each) 
  • celery (half a portion each)
  • beetroot (half a portion each)
  • onion (a portion each)
  • butterbeans (a portion each)
Okay, so that's 4 portions in tonight's dinner - if I eat it all.  There's some leftover apple and blackberry crumble in the fridge, but I'm not sure I'm going to want that after risotto.

Adding it all up, assuming I eat all my portion of risotto, I will have eaten 2 portions at breakfast, 3 portions at lunch and 4 for dinner.  So if I am going to crack that 10th portion I need to either eat the crumble or eat the dates.  Hmm! I'll let you know.  

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Plastic Ocean

On Tuesday, I was invited to speak along with a fellow zero waster, Hannah, at The Oxford Waste Society.

The theme of the talk was cutting down on plastic packaging. Inspired by the horrific facts that she learnt about plastic pollution in our oceans, Hannah took on the challenge of living for a year without using any single use plastic. My own inspiration for my family's plastic free year was a little closer to home. I was upset by the amount of plastic waste in the hedgerows and ditches in our lovely Oxfordshire countryside.


It was great to hear about Hannah's plastic free experience and to see all of the life choices that I have made being embraced by someone else. It was really interesting to hear that even though Hannah has now finished her challenge year she plans to continue, as we have.

"How can I possibly go back?" she said.

I know that we have slipped back in some ways. There were things that were hard or not viable to buy without packaging.  The one think I can think of is frozen peas. We tried to grow peas in our plastic free year but they got devastated by some high winds when they were still not strong enough.
I don't know why I don't want to give them up, but I don't.

The other thing that has crept back into our household is packaged crisps. I have almost managed to give them up. But even I cracked last weekend when Mr Pitt opened a packet of cheesy biscuits and I found myself picking at them.

At this point, I should say that our plastic free year wasn't supposed to be about giving up. It was about finding alternatives that were not packaged. We experimented with making home made crisps from vegetable peel and that works well. I managed to switch to snacking on dried fruit and nuts which I bought unpackaged from SESI Oxford. I haven't stopped doing that. When I  find myself nibbling away at packaged snacks at events I stop.
Home made butternut squash crisps

So reflecting on my packaged snacks nibbling last Sunday at home made me think. When you make a conscious decision about something you feel strongly about, it isn't that hard to stick to it. So I have munched my last packaged snack. That's it. I am done with them.

I can't speak for the rest of the family, but I am going to be strong willed and stick to my principles and I will draw support from Hannah's "How can I possibly go back?"

My single-use plastic collected from one year
When we did our plastic free year we ended up with one "plastic cat-food bag" full of single-use plastic and my view was that we hadn't succeeded in our challenge.  It is only afterwards in talking about it at events like the Oxford Waste Society meeting, that I have realised that what we achieved was in any way surprising.  Imagine if this was the amount of plastic produced in every household in the UK.  It is hard to remember how much plastic we produced before the plastic-free year (2015), but I would guess I may have produced four or five times that amount. I didn't measure our plastic from last year but taking a guess I would say it was probably only double. So I'm wondering if seeing and measuring waste in this way has any effect on consumption.

I had a realisation at the beginning of the year that the only thing likely to be in my bin at the end of the year is crisp packets and the non recyclable wrappers from a bag of Cadbury's Roses that were brought to our house at Christmas.

I still think that this waste will be less than an old style plastic carrier bag full over a whole year.  I plan to check, so I am keeping all the wrappers that are non-recyclable in one of my (recyclable, but also reusable for many purposes) cat-food bags to see what we gather in a year.



Monday, 16 January 2017

Talking Rubbish on Radio Four PM

On Friday I was invited to be part of a panel of experts on Radio Four's PM programme.

All week PM has been talking rubbish in an effort to get people thinking about packaging, what they are prepared to accept and how they dispose of it.  Listeners were invited to voice their opinions and to send in their questions to the panel of experts made up of Karen Cannard of The Rubbish Diet, Dominic Hogg of Eunomia and myself.

Here are the links to the programme each day with timings for the relevant section.

Monday  - 17:24 http://bbc.in/2j0cQzI
Tuesday -  17:36  http://bbc.in/2j4jSnq 
Wednesday -  17.45 http://bbc.in/2ikukpG
Thursday   - 17:20  http://bbc.in/2iLCzsk
Friday  - 17.45  http://bbc.in/2iLCzsk

The studio at BBC Oxford.  Just me on my own hoping
 the tech would work.  It did and it sounded like we were
 all sharing a jolly cup of tea together!


We had some great questions sent in. We couldn't all answer all of the questions so here's a bit more from me.

Stephen from Gibralter - Wed 11th
Thanks for your great reports on the recycling of plastic.

I understand that some plastic products may not be easily recycled but is it really beyond the potential of the scientific community to come up with an effective process that would allow for the 'mulching up' of all types of plastics into a solid mass? Even if this 'by-product' only goes towards controlling the vast spread of plastic that seems to be reaching all corners of the earth & sea. Who knows, we might even find some commercial use for it. Construction, insulation, transport etc. Might inspire a few entrepreneurs to make some more money from plastics.

There’s now lots of technology that can sort plastic into different types, colours etc to enable it to be recycled.

Technically, I am pretty sure all plastic can be ‘mulched up’ into plastic flake or pellets and it can then be reused to make other products.  The issue with plastic is almost the same as the advantage of plastic.  It is lightweight to transport. However, it is bulky before it is broken down.  When transporting plastic for recycling you are transporting a lot of air.  The cost of the transport has to be factored in to the worth of recycling. 


Plastic is probably most difficult to recycle (or too costly to recycle) when it is mixed materials or heavily printed. Some plastic based packaging is both of these – such as crisp packets and chocolate wrappers. 


I think there is the technology to completely avoid any packaging that isn’t recyclable or compostable.  But research and change costs money, so consumers need to vote with their hard earned cash and force change. There are companies making money from plastics but the margins are very small, the transport costs are high and so are the insurance premiums as large quantities of stored plastics are a fire risk. 


As consumers, the more we demand that our products are made from recycled plastic, the more we are likely to see the value of recycled plastic increase.  This wouldn't necessarily mean an increase in price of the end product, because the increased demand will bring about economies of scale as the overheads of collecting and processing the recycled plastic will be spread over greater sales. So we can play a part in ensuring that companies make the transition from "virgin plastic" to "recycled plastic".  What I do is boycott products that don't use recycled plastic and support those that do.  If lots of people do that then it becomes a no-brainer for companies to make the switch.  They realise they have to in order to keep their market share.


Liz - Wed 11th
I wonder if we need to think of alternative solutions than simply what supermarkets are doing or not doing. For instance, can we avoid the need for packaging at all?

We certainly can avoid packaging for the most part through our shopping choices.  I set myself the challenge of buying nothing in single use plastic for a whole year and many of the changes I made then have stuck with me now.

Bulk Barn is Canada's largest bulk food retailer and allows shoppers to buy most food products loose at the quantity they desire and place inside whatever container they have brought with them (eg jars or tupperware), or at most in a thin plastic bag.

As part of my zero plastic challenge, I found SESI Oxford - a food cooperative that buys produce by the sack full and you can take your own tubs along to refill them at East Oxford Market and various other outlets around Oxford.  This saves so much packaging. These services are brilliant, but sadly they are not everywhere yet.  In reality all supermarkets could offer such a service -  they just don't yet, because consumers haven't started deserting in droves to go to their local refill centre.  If they did supermarkets would be onto it in the blink of an eye.

Veg box suppliers such as Abel and Cole also use far less, if any packaging, than supermarkets and most is cardboard or paper rather than plastic.

I found that Cultivate, a local farm cooperative, also used minimal packaging and I could return it for reuse. I also use a local greengrocer, where not only is most of the produce sold loose, it is from local farmers and doesn't exclude the wonky veg.   

Val - Nethy Bridge, Scotland - Wed 11th
A question re recycling: how clean do things have to be?

We have a private water supply which makes me more aware of water usage (no doubt a meter has the same effect). There are some things which take so much washing - ketchup and soy sauce bottles for example- that I am sure I would use more resources cleaning them than it's worth.

This is a great question, and one I'm often asked. When I wrote my book, 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free, I put this question to various waste management professionals. This is what I concluded. You need to empty out and rinse food packaging enough to remove any leftover food. 
You can’t recycle a foil carton when it still contains half a shepherds pie, so you do need to scrape out any food remains into your food bin or compost bin. Besides, that way the leftover food can also become a valuable resource to make compost or energy.

All recyclables are cleaned in the process of recycling, so they don’t need to be pristine. I don’t rinse wine/beer bottles, but I rinse most things, just giving it a swill at the end of the washing up so I’m not using extra water. I have returnable glass milk bottles, but if I had plastic, I’d rinse them certainly.  I just think about the people that have to deal with all this stuff.  Un-rinsed milk bottles in even moderate heat really stink. An un-rinsed soy sauce bottle won’t offend anyone.

For rinsing things like food cans or ketchup, I always use up the last bit of things like that in sauces.  I swill a little clean water round a bottle or can to add it into the sauce /stew/ gravy I’m making.

When I spoke to the manager of the company that collects and sorts the waste and recycling in my area his opinion was this:  it doesn’t really matter if there’s an inch of wine left in the bottom of the bottle. It's far more important that every wine bottle gets collected, rather than worrying about whether or not the bottles are rinsed.  My view: who wastes an inch of wine? Really?


Shelagh - Wed 11th 
For many years I have been trying to get Sainsbury's to re-introduce their system of boxes which a number of customers still use. We have had ours for going on 40 years! We do not, therefore, ever use plastic bags.  The boxes fit special box trolleys and tesselate when stored. This system also means we get through the check out much quicker than those with bags, which collapse, fall over and split.
Keep trying! Perhaps they were ahead of the curve.  They probably stopped it because it maybe didn’t have enough uptake.  I think things are changing now.  We might see such schemes back again. I remember one issue, was that some people used them to carry bagged stuff in them.  I remember thinking at the time that it was defeating the object.  Consumer behaviour is key to forcing the hand of supermarkets.

On the programme on Friday, presenter, Paddy O'Connell brought up the issue of why we have to buy a new spray mechanism every time we buy a new spray cleaner.  I thought refills for these used to be available. I don't know why they aren't, but I certainly couldn't see any when I went to check today in a Sainsbury's supermarket.  This is definitely worth investigating and I plan to check it out further.

Kevin - Wed 11th
Why can't bubble wrap and cling film and celophane be recycled?

It can be recycled.  Not all local authorities collect it, but some do.  It is usually a cost issue as flyaway plastics can cause littering during collection and it can be more costly to transport making recycling uneconomic.

Personally I always give any bubble wrap I acquire to my local charity shop – as reuse is better than recycling.  I mostly avoid cling film using airtight containers or just putting a plate over the dish.  You can also get a reusable cling film substitute called bee wrap.  I have some of that too.

Jerry - Wed 11th 
Is it really economical and environmentally friendly to wash out yoghurt pots and margarine tubs to make them acceptable for recycling?
If you just give messy yoghurt pots a quick rinse at the end of the washing up that's enough, but if you have done a good job of eating every last bit of the yoghurt you can recycle it without rinsing.  As for a margarine tub – use up all the margarine and you don’t need to rinse.

John, Aberdeen - Wed 11th
As some councils can accept plastic film, butter and other spread tubs, etc. for recycling I have assumed that they were quicker than others at signing up contracts and the demand for those recyclates is limited. Am I right?

It is more often to do with geographical availability of recycling facilities for the different materials.  In some areas the cost would outweigh the benefit, whereas other areas would have a cost effective outlet for recyclable materials.

It can also be to do with where in the contract cycle a council is as more and more revenue streams for recyclables are opening up, but if a council is one year into a five year contract it is harder to make changes than if they are coming towards the end of a contract and about to renew.

Samuel (aged 9) - Wed 11th
In Edinburgh were I live, we have one bin for all paper, cardboard, plastic, tins, and a separate box for glass. What I would like to ask you is what happens to it? How do they sort it and recycle it? (**why do councils do it differently - what are the consequences)

If you get the chance to visit a Materials Recovery Centre (MRF pronounced "MURF") you should go. They do sometimes do school visits. They are fascinating places – the technology involved in sorting materials is often quite surprising.  They use all sorts of things from gravity and air, to lasers detecting different light rays coming from the plastic to sort it by colour.  Some MRFs have good websites that you can look at and see what happens.  This is a good YOUTUBE video that shows you the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIVKmwzWSuc

Councils are responsible for their own waste and recycling contracts and that results in lots of different systems all over the country.  That means that the public are often very confused about how things work.  I think it would be great to have a standardised system, and maybe one day soon that will happen.  Recycling rates seem to be higher in countries that do have standardised systems. 

There's information about the different methods of recycling in my book, along with facts and figures about what difference it makes to our carbon footprint (pages 90-97).

Carol - Bristol - Wed 11th 
We have, at home, many, many VHS video tapes and CDs and DVDs, that are blank or started off blank. It isn't clear that those non pre-recorded media are recycled by any business or local council. We've been hanging onto them for years now, along with old cassette tapes, until someone recycles them, but do you think it will happen? What is the environmental impact of the materials in these media going to landfill and if they were recycled what would the materials be recycled into?

Video and audio tapes can cause a lot of problems and costs if they find their way into mixed recycling as the tape can clog up the machinery. I did manage to find a specialist company in Bristol that recycles media – EMS Europe.  I know that it was getting increasingly difficult though, so I don’t know if they still operate their recycling scheme.  Terracycle recycles various forms of media but it is a chargeable service.  They are costly items to take apart and the recovered material is of low or no value.  Streaming and downloading is a huge help, as there isn’t the physical waste from this. But we have a whole lot of media waste to dispose of at the moment, brought about by changing technology.
I wonder if any company who has made mega-bucks from the selling of such items would consider paying for the recycling of them now? Don't you think they should?

Martin - Edinburgh - Wed 11th
Would you tell me, if we introduced recycling of packaging in all supermarkets, as they do in Germany and some other EU nations, how much difference would it make to recycling levels, to the consumer and the economy as a whole?

Personally, I think it may not help recycling rates.  Look at how many people used to get new plastic bags – 6, 8 maybe 10 a week, because they didn’t think about bringing their own from the previous shop.  I think we would be better working towards reducing packaging as much as possible, whilst still protecting goods from damage and waste, and having more standardisation around the country.  

If there was more understanding and less confusion then more people would recycle more stuff. I hope that we will get to the stage where people do feel ashamed of being wasteful. Apparently not many of us are there yet, but I think as the realisation of how much the use of resources impacts climate change, we will start to adapt and change our ways.  Education (and resulting consumer / peer pressure) is key to this, I think.

Megan (primary school teacher)
What important message about packaging and waste do our experts think she should be passing on to the children in her class?

I think the most important message to pass on to children is that we need to think resources, rather than rubbish. Every time we have something we don't need anymore and want to dispose of it, we need to think: "How best can this be made use of?"

It is really important to understand the Waste Hierarchy. This is definitely something to cover carefully in primary and secondary schools. (It is in my book). Reduce, reuse and recycle is also a key message. But I think it helps if children understand why.

There are three advantages to recycling

1. Stuff that we make requires resources (materials) that we might have lots of on the planet at the moment but not an infinite supply. So one day the materials might run out if we overuse them. Often getting raw materials creates pollution and destroys habitat.

2. When we throw stuff away rather than recycling there are still places where that stuff has to go to landfill. We are running out of spaces for landfill. In many cases mixed waste in landfill is creating greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.

3. Making things from recycled materials rather than raw materials takes less energy. E.g. an aluminium can from recycled aluminium uses only 5% of the energy compared to a can from raw materials. Paper from recycled paper takes 45% less energy. Looking at the maths and science behind the figures is fun and shows why recycling makes sense and helps reduce carbon footprint.

Again, there's lots of information in my book that can help with this. I use the book for years four, five and six as well as in my Dustbin Diet for secondary schools, where children make their own version of the book. Here's the version made by Henry Box School in Witney.

Resource for schools to help teach about waste reduction and recycling

You can also download a free bingo game based on the facts and figure in the book.

Recycling rates are stagnating  (except in Wales, where they are doing a great job at waste management). Food waste is increasing and many large retailers are reporting record sales, which I presume means we are buying more and more stuff and no doubt wasting more and more stuff. So it is great that the subject of waste and packaging is being discussed on prime time radio. I feel the Radio Four PM team did a great job and hopefully they will inspire people to think about packaging and perhaps start influencing a packaging revolution by encouraging people to choose carefully how they spend their hard earned cash.

For this we need to thank the research and production team. I found out that Emma Close put forward the idea and Emma Rippon bravely commissioned the series. Thank you to both of you. Then Ruth Edwards and Xavier Zapata with presenter Paddy O'Connell researched the issues. Tomas Morgan, the BBC correspondent in Wales, made the wonderful piece on how Wales is excelling on recycling.A big thank you to all of you for raising this important issue and at a time when people are generally receptive to change.