Who says weddings have to cost the earth?

12 Aug

Jess, R4GM’s very own Education Officer now Mrs. Mahoney, tied the knot in Australia in April.  Here she shares how she made her dream green wedding come true on a budget.

I had a dream…a dream of a wedding which was stress-free, waste-free and didn’t damage my bank account.

I didn’t fancy spending the next 6 months of my life trawling Pinterest and discovering my “inner” Martha Stewart. At the same time, I didn’t want it to look cheap and tacky or like I had just emptied the contents of my recycling bin on the table and let the kids have a craft day. I dreamt of it being pretty, magical ……all that unicorn, princess fairy tale stuff without creating unnecessary rubbish.

Not possible you say? You are living in bride coo-coo land you say? It was possible and I am sane. Now I will share with you all my magical secrets on how I managed to achieve this in just 6 months, 10,000 miles away from the wedding venue!


To save on all the paper, printing and posting, I sent E-invites ( I used a website called E-vite which was free).

The Dress

Jess pre loved wedding dress

The pre-loved wedding dress

We all know it is more environmentally-friendly to either hire a dress or buy a second- hand one. I have to admit I did dabble in some wedding outlet’s and bridal shops which had sample sales but the ones that did take my fancy were way too overpriced or the quality was not up to standard.

This is the dress that truly won my heart, it was a pre-loved beautiful designer dress by Willowby which I found on Bride2Bride (There were some lovely pre-loved dresses on Sell My Wedding Dress and Still White too). I bought it from a lovely lady who had only worn it for 2 hours!

What is even better is that I am going to pass my dress on for someone else to enjoy. Therefore my dress, in the end, will have cost me around £50 (at most) rather than over £1000 if I had bought it new.




I bought my veil (£3) and hair pieces (£5)  second hand from eBay .

My bouquet and bridesmaid’s bouquet were from a place called Trinity Bridal Boutique, where they makes bouquets out of old pieces of ribbon, brooches and bits from old dresses.

My wedding ring was sustainably sourced white and rose gold and my Husband’s was a second hand carbon fibre ring from eBay.


I went for a minimal and zero waste theme. This meant that I didn’t buy anything that would be thrown away the next day.

My lovely husband (then fiancé) collected wine bottles (and had fun emptying the contents) painted half pink and half blue and wrapped them in ribbon. For the flowers, I didn’t want flowers that would just die so I bought silk ones that could be used again and again.

We gave the homemade wine vases and flowers to one of our friends and they are now nicely decorating their house.  As for my wedding favours I didn’t want to give my guest’s something they didn’t need or would just throw in the bin.

In place of wedding favours, I made a donation to the Dog’s Trust (all of the guests were dog-lovers).

We didn’t have a guest book, as we knew it would probably spend the rest of its life in a dark cupboard. Therefore I am going to be making a collage of the wedding cards so I remember the guest’s beautiful words (I found this idea here on Pinterest).

Food and Drink

I made sure to specify to the venue that we didn’t want anything disposable or single-use, we had reusable cutlery, glasses, napkins and plates.

To reduce food waste, the cake-maker (my husband’s sister) made sure that the middle layer of our wedding cake was the only real layer with the other two layers being foam (which she reuses for other cakes). This also saved me and my husband from having to live off cake for the next month!


Our honeymoon was the most glamourous part! We went all out by going off into the Australian Outback in a converted camper/transit van fully equipped with all the luxurious amenities: outside camp shower, portable camp stove, fold-away bed and the great outdoors as our own personal en-suite . On our Outback adventure we climbed big rocks and gave shelter to spiders bigger than my head- the perfect fairy-tale ending!

For more wedding inspirations read our previous blogs from guest blogger Alfred Chow as well as Tina and Bec’s wedding tips. 

A Recycled Wedding 

My Big Fat Green Wedding


Who manages your local Tip? (Recycling Centre) A Day in the Life of Alan Brown

15 Jan

When you visit your local Recycling Centre dropping off your unwanted household items, like me you probably drive in, chuck your rubbish and go!… But can you really appreciate what it takes to manage your local recycling facility?

Well, here’s an opportunity for you to take a look; Alan Brown, is a supervisor at the Viridor Recycling Centre off Raikes Lane in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Alan is 55, lives in Bolton with his wife and they have five grown up children. Alan has worked for Viridor since the late nineties and currently is a supervisor at the Raikes Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre.

The Raikes Lane Recycling Centre houses 15 skips that are filled with different items such as cardboard, garden waste and non-recyclable waste. It’s Alan’s job to ensure that the recycling centre runs smoothly and he works a shift pattern of 4 days in work and 4 days off work, with 12-hour days when he is in work. Each day he is supported by a team of 3 site operatives. The site constantly receives recyclable and non-recyclable waste such as wood, green waste, rubble, batteries, tyres, clothes, oil, cooking oil, small and large electrical items, TV’s, fridges, charity items such as: CD’s, furniture, books, shoes, clothes and all have to be either recycled, donated or burned. Alan keeps a check on all vehicles entering the site, what they are disposing of, keeping in touch with his team by radio, as he can’t always see them around the large site. It’s very important for him to keep the communication channels open with his team at all times so he is prepared for any eventualities. This requires Alan and his team to be vigilant at all times as they have to keep an eye out across the site to watch out for vehicles repeatedly visiting to ensure that they are only disposing of household waste. They regularly check the cameras to monitor repeat car registrations and speak to anyone that is thought to be to disposing of trade waste.

The site is for household waste only and part of Alan’s job is to explain to trade or commercial people why they can’t access the site, and what waste disposal facilities are available to them.

Alan Brown at the Raikes Lane Recycling Facility

 Alan indeed has many hats! Health and Safety on site is one of his key priorities which means ensuring staff and site visitors follow the correct procedures of which there are many. Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, high visibility vests and safety foot wear is essential at all times. In addition Alan ensures that all of the different material types are handled safely to minimise the risk of windblown litter, fire or spillages.

The control of hazardous waste is another key challenge for Alan. He needs to quickly identify if customers are carrying asbestos, plasterboard, car batteries, chemicals, paint and weed killer, so they can be directed to the right container. These items are then recorded using the Risk Assessment Management System (RAMs) to comply with strict COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) waste legislation and regulations.

Alan also manages the site evacuation procedures if it was necessary and is fully trained in first aid, in case a member of staff or the public became ill on site.

Alan’s job is full of variety, he needs to focus on serious matters such as the security and health and safety matters on site but also knows too well that you have to have a sense of humour in any job, especially this one for example;

Alan said “I remember when one member of the public tried to climb into one of the metal clothes banks to try to retrieve clothes rather than donate them. The man had to remove all of his own clothes so that he could slip through the small opening and he actually got stuck inside the container! I had to call the Fire Service to rescue the man from the metal clothes bin and they managed to retrieve him naked and shaken but thankfully intact. Every day is different in this job and you need to have a good sense of humour as well as knowing all of the health & safety regulations”.

The site gets really busy during Monday to Friday and numbers can reach up to 900 vehicles per day. Weekends are even busier with up to 1500 vehicles passing through the site on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

Alan on site at the Raikes Lane Household Recycling Facility



The recycling industry has seen some big changes over recent years as the UK strives maximise recycling, recovery and re-use.

Alan say’s “Recycling is a massive industry, we are trying to recycle more and more items that can be invested back into valuable resources such as metal and plastic and another good example is the fact that Greater Manchester transform food and garden waste in to ‘Revive’ quality compost and sell it back to the public at a low cost”.

During his time with the company Alan has worked at many sites including Bredbury, Rose Hill, Over Hulton,  Adswood and Radcliffe to name a few. He has seen some unusual items being dropped off at the tip such as a large wooden coffin, which was fortunately empty!

Alan concluded to say “I really enjoy my job working at the Bolton facility which has certainly presented me with some new challenges. I could never get bored in this job, I like the responsibility and the variety and I like working outside and meeting lots of different people”.

 The New Year brings some new challenges for Alan, as he will soon be moving to another site to work at Radcliffe HWRC in the same role.

So the next time you visit the tip you will have more of an insight into how much is involved in the day-to-day running of your local recycling facility. For more information about your recycling visit

Ho! Ho! Homemade Christmas

2 Dec

So it’s that time of year again; the clocks have gone back and the dark evenings are here. This means only one thing to me…. No, not X-factor and Strictly! But yes, those dreaded three words: “Christmas is coming” Oh no, not the most wonderful time of the year! Yes maybe to those who are organised and start shopping in July but to me it’s just stressful shopping and excess expense. As a family a few years ago, because our ever expanding tree grew and grew we decided to only gift each other with small token gestures. This year I am going to try a different route! Homemade presents. Yes family, you heard me right, ‘Homemade!!’

So, I start looking around the house for things that I could reuse as this is supposed to be saving me money. Right, left over jars what could I do with them? (apart from recycling them in my mixed recycling bin). Got it, cookies in a jar! These are brilliant and can be made to contain various delightful treats; I decided on oat, raisin and chocolate cookies and chocolate chip brownies, they will do nicely for my nieces. All I need now are the ingredients, some leftover ribbon or material and labels.


Chocolate brownies in a jar

Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients to put inside the jar

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 95g plain flour
  • 35g cocoa
  • 75g plain flour
  • 135g brown sugar
  • 150g sugar
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 100g white chocolate chips


Start by thoroughly cleaning the jars, old bolognese sauce and a chocolate brownie is not the best combo! I also sterilise the jars, just heat the oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1 and place the jars on a baking sheet in the oven to dry completely and let cool.

Layer the dry ingredients in the jar (you may need to adjust the quantities to fit your jar) following the order above, from top, starting with the salt, baking powder and flour. Press each layer down before adding the next. The amounts given should exactly fill a one litre jar.

jar 3 edit

Oat, raisin and chocolate cookies

Write instructions as follows on a tag or maybe reuse an old Christmas card and attached to the jar: Combine the contents of the jar with 150g melted butter and 3 beaten eggs. Mix well, and pour into a lined 9 x 9 inch tin. Bake at gas 4 / 180 C (160 fan) / 350 F for 25-35 minutes.

I have tied a little wooden spoon that I had to the jar just for effect (you can find more recipes at the end of this blog).


Now for the boys. So all the men in my family are football fanatics. One thing I find very frustrating is that each year their idolised team releases a new kit for the season. It is often a minute change but they always insist on buying a new shirt, donning it in honour of their hero’s. This inevitably leaves last year’s shirt at the back of the wardrobe never to see the light again until that fateful day it goes to the charity shop.  Well you know what I am going to say this year? ‘Stuff it’! Yes literary stuff it.

I dig out one of my son’s old shirts, turning it inside out I start by sewing the sleeves opening together, I need to stitch them securely so when stuffed the filling does not come out. I do the same on the neck, trying to retain the shape of the shirt. I then turn it back to right way and start to stuff. For this I use fiber stuffing and some cut up old clothes that are not good enough to donate to a charity shop.

shirt image

Football shirt cushion

You can stuff these cushions with almost any material or even beans from an old bean bag; you just need to make sure it’s nice and full. When stuffed stitch across the bottom and ‘hey presto!’ I have a football cushion for my nephew, ideal for the computer chair, hours of comfort whilst he wins virtual football championships.

Still on the football theme I have a quick and easy idea for the grown up men of the family, reindeer beer to enjoy whilst watching the Boxing Day match. I have bought a selection of tradition bottled ales and utilise a cardboard bottle carrier I saved. As art is not my strongest point I print off some sleigh images  and stick them along with a bit of festive tinsel to the bottle carrier. To transform the bottles into reindeer I simply use pipe cleaners as antlers, sticky googley eyes and a little red pompom for the nose. Really you can reuse anything that you have around the house; buttons, cardboard or paper are all useful materials. These reindeer are also great for Christmas parties and can be done on any size bottle.

beer 1

Reindeer Bottles

Just remember, once the contents of the bottle have been enjoyed, remove the antlers, eyes and nose before you put it in the correct recycling bin.

So now I have got just my sisters left. I had already started their presents about 2 months ago, my homemade plum and rum jam.  I used the recipe from our September  jamming blog and ploughman’s style chutney already to go I just need something to put them in.

As part of our free Recycle for Greater Manchester education experience, the creative education officers make gift bags out of old wall paper with the school classes. I have asked them to make a video of just how to do this.



So that’s me all set for the festive season (well almost).

The great thing is that all these presents are made out of things that are in and around our homes and can still be recycled when finished with. Right it must now be time for a mince pie and a mug of mulled wine.

Merry Christmas everyone!


More cookies in a jar recipes

Oat and chocolate chip cookies in a jar (1 litre jar)

  • 110g porridge oats
  • 110g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60g chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 170g plain chocolate chips
  • 165g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions for tag: Preheat oven to 180 C / gas 4. Grease baking tray, In a medium bowl, mix together 110g melted butter or margarine, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the jar. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing. Shape into walnut sized balls. Place 5cm apart on prepared trays. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Transfer cookies from trays to cool on wire racks.

Chocolate and fudge brownie mix in a jar (1 litre jar)

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 95g plain flour
  • 35g cocoa
  • 75g plain flour
  • 135g brown sugar
  • 150g sugar
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 10g white chocolate chips
  • 50g fudge (optional)

Instructions for the tag: Combine the contents of the jar with 150g melted butter and 3 beaten eggs. Mix well, and pour into a lined 9 x 9 inch tin. Bake in a preheated oven at gas 4 / 180 C (160 fan) / 350 F for 25-35 minutes.

Chocolate cookies with Smarties recipe (500 g Jar)

  • 180g plain flour, sifted
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½tsp salt
  • 100g Smarties
  • 45g light soft brown sugar
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Instructions for the tag: Combine the contents of the jar with 80g so butter and 1 beaten egg. Take large tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. Line and grease two baking trays and arrange the balls of dough, spaced well apart. Flatten each ball a little and bake for 10-12 minutes.




29 Oct

Lisa Capelli, one of our campaign officers is surprised at how underused the pumpkin is at this time of year.

When September comes I cannot think of anything more comforting and sweet than a pumpkin based treat. In Italy, where I was born, pumpkin (zucca) is the main ingredient of many of our traditional recipes. We Italians love our zucca to colour risottos, fill our ravioli or flavour bread. Autumn is here, the time is right and I can’t wait to roast one of those succulent orange monsters! So I decided to go and buy one.  It should be easy, shouldn’t it? But once in the supermarket, a nightmare starts taking shape in the fruit and veg aisle. No matter how many times I walk up and down the aisle the ‘Great Pumpkin’ does not materialize (was Charlie Brown was right after all?). There are no signs of pumpkins throughout September. October has come but my craving is still not alleviated. I had lost all hope, when, all of a sudden, on a dark Autumn night, the supermarket doors open onto a bright orange magic feast, that welcomes me in. There they are, pumpkins everywhere, nicely lined on a shelf and piled high up on stands ready to be bought, taken home to be made into…Jack O’ Lanters? Beautiful though they are.

Yes, that’s right, 2 in 5 of us will buy a pumpkin at this time of year, dissect it, carve it and throw its ‘guts’ straight into the bin (hopefully a food and garden waste recycling bin) and proudly show their spooky artwork on their doorsteps and windowsills. The tragedy continues, as a few days later, even these ghoulish ‘big heads’ will face the same destiny of its fleshy insides. The scary statistic is that 18,000 tons of perfectly edible squash is thrown straight into the bin and wasted. We Italians know that there is much more to a pumpkin than just a scary face. The innards of this magnificent vegetable are absolutely terrific.

So what can you do with them? From roasting its seeds to blending its tasty flesh there are so many recipes that would give this spooky veg a much more dignified end.

Here are two traditional Italian options for you. PUMPKIN RISOTTO is a classic in North Italy, one of the most traditional recipes in my home region of Lombardia. There are many variations to this dish, the one I suggest here is simple and makes a flavoursome meal and is very close to the traditional version.

Preparation time: 20 min, Cooking Time: 25 mins, Serves: 4


300g Pumpkin

400g risotto rice (Arborio is the most commonly used in UK)

100g grated parmesan cheese

1 onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 litre vegetable or chicken stock

50g butter

½ glass of white wine


1. Peel, de-seed and chop the pumpkin in small into cubes.

2. In a heavy-based saucepan fry the onion in the oil over a low heat until soft but not browned.

3. Add the rice and mix well for a couple of minutes to coat the grains with oil: in this way, you will avoid the rice sticking to the pan.

4. Now you can add the wine and pour in one-third of the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until almost all the stock is absorbed.

5. Add the pumpkin and a little more stock, and continue to simmer gently until the stock is absorbed.

6. From then on, add the rest of the stock a little at a time, until the pumpkin is soft and the rice nicely al dente (has a little bite to it). You may not need all the stock, but the texture should be loose and creamy. Don’t forget to stir every so often.

7. When the risotto is almost ready stir in the butter and the parmesan cheese.

8. Leave the rice to rest for 2 more mins,your risotto is now ready to be served.

For me, the pumpkin is the undisputed queen of the Autumn. The colour of its flesh reminds me of the leaves this time of the year, when they turn into that intense shade of orange. This recipe glorifies all of the pumpkins flavours – just a couple of spices are added to give this CLASSIC ITALIAN PUMPKIN SOUP an interesting twist.

Preparation time: 15 min Cooking, Time: 35 min, Serves: 4


1 kg Pumpkin

80g  onions

3 tbsp. olive oil

200g potatoes

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch ground nutmeg

1 litre vegetable stock


1. Peel, de-seed and chop the pumpkin in small in to cubes.

2. Peel and cut the potatoes in to small cubes too.

3. In a heavy-based saucepan fry the onion in the oil over a low heat until soft but not browned.

4. Add the pumpkin and potato cubes in the pan.

5. Pour in part of the stock just enough to cover the vegetables in the pan – you will add the rest later.

6. Adjust to your taste with salt and pepper.

7. Simmer for 25-30 mins gradually adding the rest of the stock.

8. Once the vegetables are cooked, turn the flame off and blend to obtain a smooth cream.

9. Now add cinnamon, nutmeg and extra seasoning if required. Serve hot with some toasted bread cut into small cubes (crostini).

Send us your favourite pumpkin recipe via Facebook or Twitter , if we like it we will send you a re-useable shopping bag and some LFHW giveaways!

Greening my beauty routine

15 Oct

By Jessica Stott

I am going to talk you through the steps that took me from this:

Photo of bathroom cosmetic storage - full photo of cosmetic storage in bathroom - full

(facial mask tub, facial mask squeezy tube, facial exfoliator squeezy tube, tooth paste tube, facial cleaner tube, foot cream tub, body butter tub, facia wipes, hand cream tube, dental floss container, body cream squeezy tube, eye roller, moisturiser squeezy tube, moisturiser tub, body exfoliator tub, roll on deodorant, disposable razors, plastic toothbrush ) blog photo 11

To this…..

blog photo 6

As well as being a massive tree hugger, I am also a bit of a beauty product junkie -as you can see by the mass amounts of products in my bathroom.

I realised a while ago that these two characteristics clash, since having a high maintenance beauty routine creates so much waste! So I started to think this must be a problem for many girls out there (each year worldwide the cosmetics industry creates over 100 billion units of packaging). So how can you make sure you make the most of the waste created?

For a start all of these can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin and if you get a chance remember to take the lids, dispenser and spray tops off!

cosmetic bottles that can be recycled

(From left to right- dry shampoo bottles/canisters, hairspray canisters, heat protectant spray bottles, shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles, hand soap dispenser, hand sanitizer dispenser, facial mist spray, aerosol deodorant, body spray bottle, glass perfume bottle, bubble bath bottles, body cream pump bottle, body cream bottle, facial exfoliator bottle, cleansing oil bottle, serum dispenser bottle, moisturiser bottles, facial toner bottle, eye makeup remover bottle, mouthwash bottle, foot spray bottle, foot deodoriser can, talcum powder bottle, nail varnish remover bottle)

 picture of unrecycable material -facial mask tub, facial mask squeezy tube, facial exfoliator squeezy tube, tooth paste tube, facial cleaner tube, foot cream tub, body butter tub, facia wipes, hand cream tube, dental floss container, body cream squeezy tube, eye roller, moisturiser squeezy tube, moisturiser tub, body exfoliator tub, roll on deodorant, disposable razors, plastic toothbrush )

(from left to right…facial mask tub, facial mask squeezy tube, facial exfoliator squeezy tube, tooth paste tube, facial cleaner tube, foot cream tub, body butter tub, facia wipes, hand cream tube, dental floss container, body cream squeezy tube, eye roller, moisturiser squeezy tube, moisturiser tub, body exfoliator tub, roll on deodorant, disposable razors, plastic toothbrush )

and these can’t








I hear you saying “If you were really so focused on being environmentally friendly you would give up all these unnecessary things”. I know I know this is true, but a vain part of me wants to save the planet while looking my best; by being shaven, clean, moisturised and smelling great.

So I was determined to find a solution….. Initially I set about trying to purchase items that either had recyclable packaging, e.g.  cosmetics that came in plastic or glass bottles or even better just wrapped in a bit of paper (like many of the products from Lush). Or buy from companies that used recycled plastic for their packaging like The Body Shop and Lush again.

Progressing from that, I took a good look at all the products I had accumulated and I just thought to myself “there is just too much of it!” If I didn’t buy another product for two years, I would still have enough stuff to cleanse the pores of the entire female population!

So that’s what I did, I reduced the amount of cosmetic products I consumed. I obviously didn’t throw away any of my products, because that would be wasteful! But I didn’t buy anymore products until I ran out. It seems so simple, but it’s all about habits.

They say it takes 21 days or 21 occasions to change or form a habit. The key to this consists of the three R’s:  Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behaviour), Routine (the behaviour itself; the action you take) and Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behaviour). When I came across a trigger (such as a media advertisement or when I walked past beauty aisles) I would ask myself: Do I need this? Will it really make me more attractive than the thousands of other beauty products I already own? Is it good for me? I changed my behaviour by simply stopping myself from doing any unnecessary shopping and only buying the minimal amount needed. My reward was saving myself a great deal of money, which I could spend on things that were truly good for me.

I am STILL working through the obscene amount of products I had stacked up nearly two years after I started this mission!

Yes I know beauty products go off, but I do the sniff/ texture test (which has seemed to have gotten me through a whole 25 years of my life without killing me so far, therefore it must be fool-proof).  There are no expiry dates on any of these products anyway (expect for the lush ones, as they are fresh).

Once I had embarked upon this journey I started thinking about all those chemicals and reading the ingredients list in the beauty products I was buying. I can’t even pronounce these ingredients and I don’t know what they do or where they have come from.

So I thought why don’t I just cut out all the unnecessary ingredients I can’t pronounce? Which are probably not doing anything for my skin, hair, health or bank account anyway? Why don’t I just use the natural products all these cosmetics promote as being at the forefront of their ingredient list? Things such as coconut oil, argan oil and so on. As this will also save me so much money in the process- win, win.  So that is what I did……..

In conclusion the mission of trying to be more environmentally conscious with my beauty routine has resulted in me cutting my products down from this…..

blog photo 2blog photo 1

… and these can’t  (facial mask tub, facial mask squeezy tube, facial exfoliator squeezy tube, tooth paste tube, facial cleaner tube, foot cream tub, body butter tub, facia wipes, hand cream tube, dental floss container, body cream squeezy tube, eye roller, moisturiser squeezy tube, moisturiser tub, body exfoliator tub, roll on deodorant, disposable razors, plastic toothbrush )

To this…

blog photo 6

(from left to right- organic castor oil, almond oil, witch hazel, organic hemp oil, vitamin E, organic jojoba oil, Shea butter, Aloe Vera gel, argon oil, castile soap, Lush’s soil shampoo, coconut oil, Lush’s solid deodorant, Lush’s solid conditioner, tea tree oil, sweet orange oil, peppermint oil and lavender oil) Most of these are either in recyclable glass or plastic bottles, come in recyclable paper packaging, or I buy in bulk to reduce packaging. They also have the added bonus of being multipurpose products

blog photo 9

With my hair removal and oral health routine I opted for reusable items where very little is thrown away (Venus shaver and replaceable heads, safety razor with replaceable blades, Braun rechargeable epilator, Oral B rechargeable tooth brush, environmental tooth brush- made out of sustainable and biodegradable bamboo)

My next mission is my make-up collection, so watch this space……….

We’re Jammin’

29 Sep

By Amy Chilver

When I got asked to write a blog about preserving, the first thing that popped into my head was the WI and Jerusalem. However, jam isn’t all about village fetes.

At home we have a little veg plot and orchard where my Dad grows all manner of fruit and veg, most of it quite odd-looking and half eaten by the local wildlife. However, it’s free and tastes pretty good. One tree which keeps giving us an abundance of fruit each year is our plum tree.

When we first start to pick the plums we’ll have them in our lunch boxes and stew them for pudding after tea, however after a week the sight of another bowl of freshly picked plums would fill me and my sister with dread. We were then given a recipe by our neighbour (who also has a plum tree and the same problem as us). The recipe plum and rum jam. This jam is rather special and one that my Dad waxes lyrical over. When the mornings are cold and crisp and winter has finally settled in, our weekend breakfasts usually start with a big bowl of porridge and a huge dollop of plum and rum jam. It certainly warms the heart and sets us on our way for the day.

The recipe isn’t long or complex and is often rustled up on an evening by my Dad, who by day is a logistics manager so you really don’t need any culinary pizzaz whatsoever. So here’s how to make plum and rum jam…..


1 kg (2 1/4 lb) plums washed, halved and stoned

1 kg (2 1/4 lb) granulated sugar

3 tbsp dark rum

Step 1.

Place the plums in a preserving pan or a large heavy-based saucepan with 250ml (9 fl oz) of water and bring to the boil.

Step 1 fruit in pan

Step 2.

Simmer for 30 minutes until the plums have softened then add the sugar and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Step 2 bringing the fruit to the boil

Step 3.

Bring to the boil. When the jam reaches a rolling boil cook for 5-10 minutes or until the setting point is reached. You can either use a thermometer, cook at around 105 degrees Celsius, that’s the temperature at which sugar forms a gel and can bond with the pectin, naturally occurring in the fruit. Monitoring the temperature can give you confirmation that you’re on the right track or use a cold saucer placing a small amount of jam on it pushing the jam along to saucer until it wrinkles.

Step 3 getting your jam to set

Step 4.

Add the rum and mix well, then ladle it into sterilised jars, seal and label. Store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.

Step 4 bottling your jam ready to eat

We reuse some of our glass jars to put our preserves in. We simply wash and remove the label, pop them into the oven on a very low heat for 15-20 mins to sterilise the jars, but don’t leave the jars in the oven with it turned on too high!

Preserving fruit and veg is nothing new but there are some top tips and exciting recipes that can make your pickings really stand out. They also make a great Christmas present, especially if you get that unexpected relative pop round…reach in the cupboard and voilà a little present ready to go.

Hopefully this has provided a little bit of inspiration for your fruit trees at home and to quote Bob I hope you like jammin’ too.

Serious about Summer Salads

21 Aug

It has never been easy to get my family to eat salad; picky kids put the smallest amount on their plates and eat even less. However, I enjoy salad and eat a lot of it, initially it was for health reasons (getting in my five-a-day) but now, more I eat the more I want. I can eat it all day. Last week I got stuck in traffic on the M60 after work for over an hour I munched through a bag of rocket and a bag of mixed leaves!

Having so many new salad options to choose from and with some supermarkets selling bagged salads for just £1 per bag, I have to admit to being duped in to buying too much just because it is so cheap but once opened, bagged salad does seem to go limp and mushy pretty quickly in the bottom of our fridge.

But it is not just me, I found out recently that salads, fresh fruit and veg are some of our most wasted foods, with an eye watering 1.2 million tonnes worth being thrown away, costing us in the UK a shocking £2.6 billion each year[1]. It gets worse, when you realise almost half of the 1 million tonnes of food and drink waste that is thrown away whole or unopened is fresh veg and salads[2].

So even though I think my contribution is just a £1 bag of rocket, there are literally millions of us throwing it away just 1 bag.

Me I throw it away because:

  • I forget it is there.
  • it gets squashed in the bottom of the salad crisper!
  • I make a salad for the family and it is not all eaten.

Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) have found out that other reasons for this waste is that we buy too much or we get bored with salad after running out of inspiration. So in Manchester they have sponsored a Salad Days event.

Salad Days image

Free Salad days event in Manchester

I definitely need inspiration if I am going to get my family enjoying rather than enduring my salads. For inspiration there are lots of good ideas on the internet and on the LFHW website in particular.

Handily, for me this weekend there is a Free Salad Days event in St Ann’s Square Manchester  Centre, on Sunday 22nd August from 11- 4pm. The event is  organised by Love Food Hate Waste in partnership with Marks and Spencer’s and Hubbub. There will be free taster salads and summer puddings to sample and they will also be offering advice on keeping your salads fresh and will offer  ‘simple solutions to get the most from what you buy’ it so you can turn those salad staples into salad sensations!

So, if you are free come along- they even have an area to keep the kids amused!

Expanding my salad repertoire

I asked my colleagues to provide me with a few new salad recipes to try out and to pass on their ideas for making interesting salads stay fresher for longer.

The first thing I noticed was that my colleague’s salads were much more interesting than mine. So I have included my two favourite recipes from our team:

butternut and blue cheese

Butternut and blue cheese salad

Alison’s Warm Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash Salad (serves 2 as a main meal)

You will need:

  • Small butternut squash
  • 4oz Blue cheese such as stilton
  • Handful of walnut halves
  • Runny honey
  • Usual salad ingredients (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber)
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar


  1. Put the oven on to 200C
  2. Peel a small butternut Squash and cut into cubes (approx. 2cm)
  3. Brush and coat with oil and roast in a warm oven until just about cooked/soft.
  4. Throw in the walnut halves and mix in with the squash, drizzle with a little runny honey and continue bake whilst you prepare the salad.
  5. Prepare a salad of lettuce, leaves, cucumber, tomatoes etc. and toss in a little balsamic and olive oil dressing
  6. Add the warm squash mixture and crumble or cube as much blue cheese as you prefer over the whole salad mix.
chicory, fennel and strawberry salad

Chicory, fennel and strawberry salad

Lisa’s Tangy Chicory, Fennel and Strawberry salad

You will need:

  • 1 White or red chicory head per person
  • Handful of strawberries
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • fresh mint leaves
  • olive oil, cider vinegar and salt


  1. Break (don’t chop) the chicory leaves. Wash as dry them and place on serving dish
  2. Chop fennel in thin slices and sprinkle over chicory leaves
  3. Cut strawberries into quarters place on the fennel and chicory salad bed
  4. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the tops and a sprig of mint and then drizzle everything with olive oil and cider vinegar over the top with a pinch of salt.

 Keeping my salad fresher for longer

There is a wealth of info and advice out there on the interweb, here are a few that I think are useful:

  • Don’t put your salad at the bottom of your shopping basket/trolley (rookie mistake!).
  • Keep washed and dry lettuce/spinach/leaves in an airtight tub or wrap washed and dried salad leaves in a tea towel of place kitchen towel in your crisper as it will absorb moisture and keep the salad crisp.
  • Do not wash cucumber until just before you use it.
  • Salad leaves can be refreshed by popping them into iced water for 30 minutes before you need them.
  • Revive your celery, carrots and cucumber put in a glass of cold water in the fridge overnight.
Creamy limp lettuce soup

Creamy limp lettuce soup

For more tips for keeping salads in top condition have a look at the LFHW website. I even found a recipe for limp lettuce and leaves creamy limp lettuce soup -not tried this myself!

All things considered I just need not get duped into buying more than the family can eat, plan better and prepare my salad leaves before I put it in the fridge, can’t be that hard, can it?

Phillippa is a campaign officer with the communications team and mum to a couple of lovely but fussy teens!

[1] Based on WRAP’s Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK 2012

[2] Based on WRAP’s Household Food and Drink Waste: A product Focus 2014


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