Could you live for free on plastic bottles…?

When I was young in the 60s me and my friends would regularly scout around our neighbourhood collecting drinks bottles that had a deposit on them. Lemonade, Corona fizzy drinks and beer bottles were the most common ones if I recall.

I can’t remember what the deposit was on each bottle, maybe a halfpenny or a penny, but if we were lucky we would earn enough for a good stash of sweets to take back to our camp in the cow field.

Today we visited the Swansea Marina Tesco while our daughter was at a Chinese event nearby.

We generally shop at Aldi these days but we wanted to go to that particular Tesco superstore as we had spotted that it was one of five taking part in a trial plastic bottle ‘reverse vending’ recycling scheme.

The scheme, launched in September 2018, gives customers a 10p Tesco voucher for every plastic bottle they return.

As well as Swansea the other stores in the trial are in Borehamwood, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham…

The scheme accepts bottles up to 750ml in size from Tesco or major brands such as Coca-Cola.

We took 11 bottles, and nine were accepted by the machine giving us a voucher for 90p to spend on anything in Tesco.

The scheme is supposedly limited to 10 bottles per customer per day, but the family in front of us put in 61 bottles and got £6.10. I think they ‘beat the system’ just be doing it in seven batches with a separate voucher for each.

When we first saw the machine in December there were a couple of women filling it up with bottles collected from their work colleagues. They got £23 towards drinks for their office Christmas party.

A Tesco press release of April 2019 mentioned that the highest amount of bottles returned in one day was 1,052 in Edinburgh’s Hermiston Gait Superstore…

Plastic bottles are all over the place alas, and as the Christmas party women showed it would not be hard to collect considerable numbers.

That gave me the idea for any enterprising soul living near one of these Tesco participating in this trial.

If you could collect just 50 bottles a day you could get £5 in vouchers to spend.

I am pretty sure a single person could eat and drink moderately well on £5 (US$6.50) a day at Tesco.

It probably wouldn’t be too difficult to get even more than 50 and dine in style.

I wonder how quickly Tesco would catch on to this. Maybe a couple of friends working together and shopping at different times of the day and night could fly under the radar.

Anyone in Swansea, Borehamwood, Edinburgh, Manchester or Birmingham up for a challenge?

Live for free and save the planet at the same time…

[ images from @pennsif ]

5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 002 – 16 May ’19]

So it worked, I’ve now completed Day 2 and done another five good deeds for the planet.

And number one on today’s list, for me is a pretty big score.

One million plastic cups saved. Bang. Armchair activism at its best.

Thank you Waitrose – good work.

Here comes five…

1.  No More Plastic Peach Tea

Last weekend we were in Abergavenny in mid/south Wales.

Abergavenny is one of the few towns in Wales with a Waitrose store – a more upmarket supermarket with a large range of organic products.

It also has a nice litte cafe and as it was lunch time we decided to have some refreshments.

I chose peach tea. It was served in a disposable plastic cup with an unasked for straw.

This rather suprised me as by the entrance was a sign saying that Waitrose are working towards eliminating disposable coffee cups as part of their progressive sustainability policy. They also have a specific policy section on their website entitled ‘Prioritising our plans for plastic‘.

I had seen in the cafe other drinks such as orange juice being served in glasses. The peach tea was an open and shut case. Ditch the plastic cup.

So Monday morning I went into action.

I tracked down the appropriate Customer Service department, explained the folly of the situation, and after one phone call and four emails I got the commitment I was looking for…

“We will be working hard to ensure all our cafes from now on will be serving peach tea in a glass with an optional straw.”

Waitrose have 123 cafes across the UK. If they each serve an average of 25 peach teas a day for 360 days a year…

That’s over a million disposable plastic cups saved each year.

Result! Back of the net. Job done. Armchair activism in action.

With all due smugness I am just a little bit proud of this.

Now I just need to follow up and check they follow through. If you are near a Waitrose with a cafe have a peach tea and let me know how they serve it…

2.  A Vegan Day

I’m not a vegan – I keep chicken keeping homesteader.

But I am a vegetarian. I have been since doing a Vegan special edition of The Alternative Lifestyle Show last April with @teamsteem, @ura-soul, @lenasveganliving, @choogirl, @krnel, @freedompoint and others.

And I am an ‘almost-Vegan’ – it is only a few eggs and a bit of cheese left to go.

I do like to have at least half the days of the week as totally vegan days.

Today was one of them.

And I ordered a new vegan cookbook too… ‘15 Minute Vegan: Fast, modern vegan cooking

3. Greening up the kitchen

There are quite a lot of throw-away cleaning items used in the kitchen – scourers, cleaning cloths, washing up brushes.

Many of them are plastic based.

While it is tricky to avoid the disposable nature of the items, at least we can make some amends if they are made of recycled plastic.

I have just picked up a range of items that fit the bill from Eco-Force.

The scourers and sponges are made of recycled plastic and foam, the cleaning cloths are recycled and washable.

The washing-up brushes (not shown in the photo) have detachable cleaning heads so you only throw away the heads and reuse the handles.

We will give them a go, and report back.

4. Little mouse – charge yourself

To cut down on wires on my desk I prefer to use a wireless mouse.

My most recent one used a single AA battery.

I could have used a rechargeable battery and even charged it in my solar battery charger. But that is a bit of a hassle and never lasts very long.

Now I have got a rechargeable mouse that just uses a usb cable to charge off the PC.

This is the Cimetech mouse I got today…

5. Donation to Denmark Farm Conservation Centre

I was going to donate to Extinction Rebellion today but my donation was blocked by PayPal.

I don’t know if this was a temporary glitch or PayPal not liking Extinction Rebellion. I will try again tomorrow.

In the meantime I donated £10 to Denmark Farm Conservation Centre.

This is an organisation in west Wales that does some great conservation and environmental education work.

They also run excellent courses – I have been on quite a few there.

You can combine their courses with a stay in their super eco-friendly Eco Lodge if you fancy a break in the Welsh countryside while you learn a new skill.

This is my second five for the planet.

I am not sure I will be able to repeat my ‘Waitrose Win’ too often.

But I will keep on trying…

[ all images by @pennsif ]

5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 001 – 15 May ’19]

Following on from my post yesterday about getting back into environmental campaigning I thought it best to start at ground zero.

Me, my family, my home. What can we do here, now, today that will make a little bit of difference.

It may just be a little bit, but a lot of little bits can make a big bit.

So I’m setting myself a challenge. Every day. To do five things that are ‘planet positive’.

Here goes…

1.  100% Recycled Toilet Rolls

I thought I would start at the bottom and work up.

It may not seem like much, but we all use toilet paper every day in every way.

Today we switched to Renova 100% recycled toilet rolls.

There are plenty of recycled toilet rolls on the market but this one is available readily in bulk on eBay or even better from the new Good Club – both at a pretty good unit price of 26p (USD 0.33).

2.  Electric Car

We are very keen now to switch to an electric car.

The ranges are getting better and the number of charging stations increasing – even in rural Wales.

We are looking at cars from Nissan, Renault and Hyundai at present as they have dealers within a couple of hours from us.

Today I called the Hyundai dealer in Aberystwyth to see if they have any electric cars available to view.

Hyundai have two fully electric models – the IONIQ Electric and the KONA Electric.

The dealer has the IONIQ in stock so we are going to take a look and test drive on Saturday. The KONA has a waiting list until next January – it must be popular!

3. Furniture Giveaway

Over the years we have collected a lot of furniture. We have too much – and are now trying to downsize.

Today we gave away two office chairs and two beanbags to a young couple just setting up home nearby.

Saves them buying, saves us taking to the tip. Saves the planet providing more precious resources.

We still have more to giveway – Freecycle here we come…

4. Ethical Consumer Magazine

Ethical Consumer is a great magazine that gives the low-down on the environmental and ethical performance of companies to help you decide who to buy from. They cover all manner of consumer products and services.

The latest edition includes guides on supermarkets, cat & dog food, cooking oil and paint. Coming up in future editions they will be covering toilet paper, nappies, over-the-counter medicines, laptops, toothpaste, email providers and makeup.

The magazine has been running since 1989. I let my subscription lapse some years back.

Today I re-subscribed. It costs £29.95 for six issues a year – available in both print and digital editions.

How we spend our money and what companies we buy from really is one of our most powerful personal campaigning tools. Be informed, spend wisely, help the planet.

5. Donation to the Centre for Alternative Technology

If I can manage it I am going to try give a small donation to an environmental charity or campaigning organisation every day.

This will be funded as far as possible from what I earn on these daily posts.

Today I donated £10 to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, north Wales.

CAT has a very special place in my life. It really is where it all started for me way back in 1974.

If you dig back in my posts you will find at least part of the story. It’s as important as penguins.

This is my first ‘five for the planet’.

If you fancy joining in this challenge I would love to hear from you.

Maybe we will even need a hashtag…

[ all images by @pennsif ]

Heading back to where I came from…

I’ve mentioned in several posts before my background in environmental campaigning.

I spent many years involved in Friends of the Earth from local volunteer to regional director with many roles in between.

They were great days in the 1970’s, ’80’s and ’90’s particularly. I enjoyed them immensely.

But life changes and I moved into other areas.

The issues that I was campaigning on then have, by and large, not gone away. The issues have become problems.

And now the problems have become a crisis. And that a crisis is becoming an emergency.

That emergency now teeters on the brink of becoming a catastrophe…

Climate, extinction, pollution, plastics, desertification, degradation.

Take your pick. They are all breaking bad.

My Personal Dilemma

This presents me with a dilemma.  Do I sit back and let the world go to pot.

Or do I stand up and be counted again.

Four decades have passed since I first manned the environmental barricades. A lot has changed. And age has left me less nimble than before.

But back in the day I was pretty good at what I did. And I have learnt a lot over the years that may come in handy.

Although I had retired from active service I have decided to re-enlist again and do my duty.

I have only have one life. We only have one planet.

Make it count.

Priorities must change.

[ image from ]