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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

Steps

  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

Steps

  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

The wonders of the Mooncup (unsanitary made sanitary)

16 Jul

Waste comes in all shapes and sizes and we on the whole do our best to reduce the impact on the environment. One of our communications team staff has a personal waste issue that is close to her heart and definitely one to share……..

I am going to tackle a subject that would make some folk wince, but hopefully by the end of this blog you will have an open mind.

Reusable sanitary products for women. That’s right I said reusable… How? What?  My God, I hear you splutter into your coffee. But it does exist and I’m going to answer all those questions I know you have, because I had them too when my previous manager first suggested them to me.  So please – read on, it’s worthwhile.

I have worked in the Environment Sector for over nine years and my old boss was a real Eco Warrior, whereas I fit more in the Eco Worrier category. Despite this, I was intrigued enough to try it. Honestly I have never looked back; I would go as far as to say it changed my life for the better!Happiness

There are a number of reusable sanitary products on the market, known as menstrual cups. These include the Femmecup, the Diva Cup, the Intimina and more.  I have personally used a product called the Mooncup for several years.

The Mooncup comes in 2 different sizes – one for women who have given birth, and one for women who haven’t or are under 30 years of age. Not sure what happens at 30, I dare not think about this being five years past that landmark!

Now for the science bit, a menstrual cup is a type of feminine hygiene product which is usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell and is flexible. It is worn during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid (blood), and can be worn during the day and overnight.

Mooncup

Don’t be put off by its appearance – it is no bigger than a tampon. It folds down easily for inserting and is much more comfortable than a tampon.  Removal takes a bit of getting used to as it is a little like a suction cup, however once you get the knack, it’s like all things new – it’s just a case of a short period of adjustment, no pun intended!

Yes, you do have to wash it out but it’s no major issue just ’tip and rinse’, easy!  Most toilets have sinks in them these days.  The only minor inconvenience you may have when you are out and about, is the location of a lavatory.  However, you can safely wear the cup for up to 8 hours at a time so most of this will be done in the privacy of your own home.

As I said earlier, the cup has been a revelation for me and it seems the same for Genny Wilkindon-Priest from the Daily Mail. They are easy to use, comfortable, safe, durable, dispels all of those myths we were taught as you can see what your period flow is like (may seem yucky, but I agree with the Daily Mail article, it made me feel more connected to my body).  They are environmentally friendly (less waste) but most importantly, the Mooncup has saved me lots of money on disposable sanitary products. Also as I am quite a dizzy ‘non’ blonde, I never get caught short of not having anything with me due to it being reusable, a huge bonus for me.

Some interesting facts

The Mooncup is latex-free and contains no dyes, BPA, toxins or bleaches.

On average, one woman will use over 11,000 tampons or pads in their lifetime, which have been known to end up in landfill or even in the sea. Multiply that by the UK population of women (26,674,000) over the age of 15,( index mundi 2014) that’s just over 293 billion products being disposed of a year!Kotex ad

Let’s apply some maths to this, based on averages we can deduce the following: if a woman menstruates for 40 years and buys a pack of disposables every month for an average cost of £4. Over the lifetime of a woman that could cost a total of £1,920. A reusable product may have big upfront costs (under £20 each) but over its lifetime, will save you serious money which you could spend on……. a holiday, handbag or those pair of shoes you have been coveting but thought you couldn’t afford!

You can also buy products such as reusable pads, similar in design concept to reusable nappies, something I have never tried but include similar benefits.

Convinced yet? Here are some more reasons to try them. It’s good to know there are choices out there for women, reusable products may not be for everyone but my advice would be to try it, you never know, you might like it. Lets know your thoughts.

Top Tips for the ‘Tip’

22 Apr

Or as we like to call it in the industry the ‘recycling centre’, no matter how hard we try this name just doesn’t seem to stick. We understand why ‘tip’ is used; it’s easy to say and that’s what residents know it as. To quote Shakespeare, “what’s in a name?”

Most people acknowledge the changes that have been made in the industry in recent years with over 20 separate recycling streams for the stuff we don’t need any more and want to tip somewhere.

Recycling Centre Sign

Recycling Centre Sign

Today, most of that waste is transformed into new products, i.e. plastic bottles can be made into new football shirts; metals turned into iPods or new drinks cans; glass can be made into more glass bottles.

As for the non- recyclable items, this doesn’t go to waste; it’s turned into green energy! The power you use at home may have resulted from disposing of your waste at the tip. Long gone are the days of putting it all in a big hole in the ground.

In Greater Manchester we have a network of 20 recycling centres all of which are new or have been refurbished; they get used a lot which is great. Last year, across all 20 centres we recycled 54% and 68% was turned into green energy.

The sun is shining and Spring is upon us and so is May bank holiday and this is when the recycling centres are at their busiest (residents de-cluttering at home and spring cleaning). We thought it would be a good idea to provide you with some ‘top tips’ to use when visiting the recycling centre to make your visit simple and stress free. (All of the advice below is based on experience and true life stories):

1. Preparation is key – The recycling centres are designed to make recycling easy; by following these few simple steps it will make your visit even easier:

  • Segregate your recyclable items (check your local recycling centre to see what recycling they take); this will make unloading your vehicle quicker.
  • The recycling centres are predominately designed for vehicle access, and operate a height barrier set at two metres. Don’t even chance it if you think your vehicle is close to this height as we have had vehicles get through when they are loaded and not get out the other side once unloaded! If you have a vehicle above this height, we do have recycling and disposal facilities available at our larger plant facilities. See our website for the closest one to you before you leave home.
  • If you are pulling a trailer make sure the load is lower than two metres, as you can see from the picture below, your vehicle may clear the barrier but the load may not and this can cause damage to your vehicle and our lovely stripy barriers.
Trailer loaded to above 2 metres that caused damage to the barrier and the residents car

Trailer loaded to above 2 metres that caused damage to the barrier and the residents car

Staff are there to assist, but if you are bringing heavy or awkward sized items, please consider whether to bring along someone to help you (is it a 2 person job?)

2. Don’t tip the wrong stuff – When you have located the correct recycling container to tip your waste please ensure that you only recycle what you intended to.

  • Make sure you put your car keys in your pocket before throwing things into the containers; otherwise it may be ‘hook a duck’ time for staff. The recycling containers hold tonnes of waste so it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack!
  • Make sure there is nothing valuable that you have accidentally put in with your recycling.
  • Make sure any jewellery on your throwing hands is secure! We recently saved Neil’s wedding ring as well as a lot of earache from the wife!

3 .Leave the site safely – This may sound like common sense ‘how could I not exit safely,’ but it is worth remembering to do the following:

  • (See Point 1) make sure you check your vehicle height and remember your car may appear shorter when loaded.
  • Ensure your boot is closed before you exit, this is especially important if your car is a hatchback. Open boots will stop you and everyone else from leaving.

4. Make the most of it – Make sure you get the most out of this service; all recycling centres are open during the summer from 8am to 8pm (except Salford Road, Bolton). See what can be recycled and disposed of here and if you want to know what happens to your recycling all the information is here.

  • However don’t be surprised if you’re a frequent visitor, that you are asked a few questions. Recycling Centres are for Greater Manchester residents only; commercial operators need to pay for disposal of their waste. We try and protect this service from abuse so it remains a high quality service for all.
  • Lastly, don’t forget Greater Manchester residents can use any of the 20 recycling centres in the network, so you may want to check out our recycling centre map to check which one suits your requirements.

Spring is in the air..

12 Mar

It’s time for Spring cleaning again, a chance to open your windows and clear away the winter cobwebs! So don’t forget when you clear out your draws and cupboards the garage and the garden shed you can take all of your unwanted items to your local recycling centre. Think how much space you can make in your home and garden!

In Greater Manchester we have a network of 20 recycling centres that provide residents with a wide range of recycling and waste disposal opportunities. You may be surprised with what you can take to the recycling centres. Generally if it is from your house or garden you can bring it along to a recycling centre, where we can recycle it or it can be used for energy recovery.

At your recycling centre you can take a wide range of standard materials for recycling:

HWRC recycling material icons image

Did you know that you can also take a lot more items that you may have otherwise thrown away?

For example:

  • Odd socks, nylon and wool tights or stockings and  underwear as well as clothing and textiles too worn for use, all of these can be put into our textile bank at your local recycling centre.
  • DVDs and CDs with or without cases, books (damaged or not). They can all be put into our media bank where the items will later be sorted for reuse or recycling.
  • Left over paint- we take all paint, gloss and emulsion. Any gloss paint will need to go into the hazardous waste bin – just ask staff on site for help.
  • Did you know that as well as taking your old car oil we can also take your old cooking oil, which is reprocessed in the UK for biofuels?

 

Smart Apps:

Remember, if you have a smartphone you can download the Recycle for Greater Manchester app which has a ‘find my nearest’ function which lists all our recycling centres, opening times, addresses and postcodes. If you have activated your mobile location function it will also show you a map of how to get there!  Just go to the App Store or Play Store on your mobile device and search for Recycle for Greater Manchester.

 

Nothing goes to waste!

The good news is, if we cannot recycle it we will use it to create energy from waste.

If you want to know more about what we do with the items you take to your recycling centre visit our website or book to visit one of our FREE open days which run throughout the year.

If we cannot recycle it we will use it to create energy from waste. If you want to know what we do with the items you take to the recycling centre find out more.

 

 

 

Why not use up your leftovers on Pancake Day?

17 Feb

Traditionally pancakes were made to use up perishables such as butter, milk and eggs the day before Lent begins Making pancakes is  also a good opportunity to use up any leftovers of items from your fridge and kitchen cupboards before they are out of date. In the UK, we still waste around £60 worth of food per month by throwing away food that could have been eaten. A fifth of the food we buy ends up as waste, and about 60% of that could still have been eaten.

Research has shown that milk is one of the three top items being thrown away unused in British homes along with bread and potatoes. There is an incredible 5.9milliion glasses of milk wasted on a daily basis in the UK. The main reasons for the waste is the fact that we sometimes  buy more than we need and we are unsure about how to store food to keep it fresh. Quite often, we are unsure about  food date labelling and over-estimate portions. So instead of throwing away leftovers or overripe fruit today, use them up by creating a tasty pancake filling.

pancakesPancake batter is simple to make and there are loads of pancake recipes to be found online. To create the basic pancake you will need is a few ingredients; flour, milk, and eggs. Just about anything you put in a pancake will taste great, you can even add fruit, nuts, berries or even chocolate to your batter. If you need to shop for your pancake day treat remember to take a shopping list and only buy what you need to create the prefect waste-free meal.

Pancakes are popular around the world; why not try a different type of pancake today? There is the American buttermilk pancake, or Russian pancakes called blinis, which are made from buckwheat flour, try them served with smoked salmon, sour cream or crème fraiche. If you fancy something savory try an Indian Gujarati pancake with spicy potatoes and yoghurt. Or for a delicious  dessert you can make quick and easy sweet fillings using overripe fruit chopped and stirred through yoghurt or cream.

Enjoy your pancake day, if you do have leftover batter keep it fresher for longer– pour it into an clean plastic milk bottle and it will stay fresh in your fridge for a few days’, it will separate so just give it a quick shake before you use it.

Got a favourite pancake recipes, filling or handy tips? Share it with us via Twitter @recyle4gm or our Facebook page!

Get creative and save money this Christmas

19 Dec

With just a week to go until Christmas… if you have not already, it’s time to get all those decorations up and get all the presents wrapped.

Tina, our ‘crafty’  communications team  member shares some creative ways on making your very own decorations and present wrapping ideas using items lying around the house and last years’ Christmas cards!  

I have a tendency to collect odd bits of paper and random bits and bobs  in hope that one day they will come in useful. That day has come, all the hoarding was for this one day – Christmas Day!

Instead of buying wrapping paper and decorations, why not have a go at making your own or use things around your  home?

Here are some ideas…

  • Reuse boxes and gift bags

Whenever I get a present in a gift bag, I always keep them so I can use again.  I also kept some fancy shoe boxes which I use for storage.  Boxes can also be used  to put awkward shaped presents in –also  it makes it harder for the person to guess what the present is!

  • Reuse old Christmas cards to make gift boxes

Here is a quick and easy way of making gift boxes. If you saved your Christmas cards from last year you can turn them into boxes, which can be used for small gifts such as sweets and chocolate.  I also like using these boxes to keep bits and bobs in like buttons and paperclips.

Here is the quick guide from Crafty Pod

  • Make hanging decorations from old leaflets or paper

I have been addicted to making these paper decorations- they are quite easy to make.  Mine are made out of old leaflets, a calendar and some red envelopes I saved from Chinese New Year.  They look great hanging in my front room, or you can make mini ones for the Christmas tree!

Watch this ‘how to’ video.

 

  • Reuse packaging 

    Things to reuse

    Things to reuse

You be surprised how much stuff round your house you can use to put your presents in.   I ordered some clothes that came in a box shaped like pizza box once! You can use things like plastic cartons you get supermarket vegetables in, jam jars, takeaway containers…the list is endless!

Do you have any Christmas craft ideas to share with us? Send us a message!

Baby on a budget – part one

17 Dec

Tina, our office Mum-To-Be has been in nesting mode- even in the office… here she shares her preparation  for the new arrival.

At 30 weeks pregnant, I am now in true nesting mode-  even the freezer has  been cleaned out – don’t worry  I’m not planning to put the baby in there…

After reading an article (New mums spending £1,000-plus on ‘baby essentials’… or costly gimmicks?)  I got a bit panicked.  Being a first-time Mum – I had no idea what a baby really needed, the cost of baby stuff and how to cope with a reduced household income whilst on maternity leave .  So I decided to ask the experts – MUMs!

I am very lucky to be surrounded by Mums at work – even though they have shared some horror stories,  they all have given me invaluable advice and unanimously agree the sleepless nights are worth it!

I have also been inundated with very kind offers from friends and family who have given me a lot of their little one’s toys, pram, cot, car seat, Moses basket, blankets and a mountain of clothes!

As well as the generosity of others, I am also saving money by:

  • Using cloth nappies

    Cloth nappies! - my favourite is the yellow one with clouds!

    Cloth nappies! – my favourite is the yellow one with clouds!

I have recently purchased a cloth nappy kit from Baba and Boo, which includes 20 washable cloth nappies and all the essentials.  By using these I am hoping to save up to £1000 and even more if I decide to have baby number two.   By not using disposable nappies, this will also reduce the amount of rubbish in my general bin.  I can’t wait to start using them – just look how cute they are!

  • Using rechargeable batteries

Some of the toys I have been given need batteries  (usually the noisy ones) so I will buy a range of rechargeable batteries and a charger – again this will save money in the long term and also I don’t have to worry about dead batteries.  If you use disposable batteries, you can take them to your local supermarket for recycling – they should have a battery box  located near the tills.

  • Repurposing

    Laundry basket used for toy storage

    Laundry basket used for toy storage

If you don’t have anything lying around the house you can repurpose, check out your local furniture reuse organisation who have a great selection of quality second hand furniture.  Alternatively, check out NCT’s nearly New Sales and car boot sales.

To keep on top of your expenses, check out The Money Advice Service baby costs calculator to estimate costs.

So I just got 10 weeks to go now…there is still a lot of cleaning to do.

Wish me luck!

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