5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 015 – 29 May ’19]

Today was an organic day.

For us, for our chickens, for the planet.

I am a firm believer in the organic way.

For me it is a pact I have made with the planet. You give me good food and I won’t give you unwanted chemicals.

This is my choice. The planet says thank you.

1. Homing in on 100% Organic

I made a journey to our nearest full-on wholefood / organic shop today – Watson & Pratts.

They have a complete range of organic produce including fruit and veg, their own freshly baked bread and just about any grocery items you can think of.

Another big bonus is that the fruit and veg is mainly sold loose – rather than all wrapped up in wasteful plastic as organic produce always is in the supermarkets.

So in planet positive terms it gets big ticks all round.

But it is expensive. Organic products are generally about 20% more expensive and this shop is not part of a supermarket chain so lack of economies of scale compounds the higher prices.

Eating organic does come with choice strings attached.

As a family we chose to allocate more money to food because we believe organic is better for us and better for the planet.

It is all about choices. We don’t have a TV, we don’t smoke, we don’t go out to eat very often, we don’t go on exotic holidays, we don’t buy fashion branded clothes etc etc. You get the picture.

Everyone has to make their own choices.

Still there are ways to help reduce the costs of going organic. Buying in bulk, looking out for offers, growing your own. This article popped up today…

2. Organic Milk in a Returnable Milk Bottle !!!

For a non-vegan this was an ultimate, supreme champion in the I-Spy Organics book.

In rural Wales doorstep milk deliveries are quite rare so you don’t see milk in old-fashioned returnable milk bottles very often.

And organic milk in a returnable bottle is a super scarce find.

Now I’ve found it – thanks to Nigel’s Dairy.

And they are not too far away from me either.

The downside, in an upside down sort of way, is that with our current near vegan diet we only use one bottle of milk a week at best.

3. Organic chickens are go

In my quest for going 100% organic I have finally managed to get some organic corn for the chickens and the goose.

Although they are happily thriving on scraps and fresh pasture at present I do give them a handful of corn most days.

Getting hold of organic corn round here is difficult. No one keeps it in stock – mainly because of the additional price (usually about 40% extra) and relatively short labelled shelf life.

The main supplier at small scale is The Organic Feed Company, a brand of Allen & Page.

They produce 20kg sacks of organic mixed corn – available online at around £15 – £20 plus delivery.

My nearest bricks and mortar stockist is about 40 miles away but she doesn’t always have it in stock now, and it is too far to drive unless I am passing that way.

With a noticeable amount of reluctance I managed to persuade my local farm suppliers to get it as a special order. I picked it up today. £14.90 for 20kg.

Certainly expensive but the sack will last the chickens around 6 months.

And it’s one more step towards my goal of 100% organic.

4. Investing Organic – Playin Choc

As I am all in organic today I was keen to find an organic related start-up investment.

Crowdcube was my starting point again. One business that caught my eye today was Playin Choc.

PLAYin CHOC is “an innovative new UK manufacturer of organic vegan chocolates and eco-friendly toys – a ‘premium, sustainable, Kinder Surprise'”.

It is very premium niche but their products are high quality and beautifully designed as well as organic and vegan. Producing children’s toys without plastic is also appealing.

This company is not the down to earth, dirt under the nails type of organic company I was primarily looking for but I have made a very small investment as in its particular market I think it may well be successful.

Remember though this is my totally non professional view and should not in any way be seen as worthy financial advice etc etc.

5. The Daily Donation – Garden Organic

As this is an ‘Organic Special’ I thought I’d chose an organic related organisation to donate to.

I’ve already donated to the Soil Association – and I will be upgrading that to a membership once I have found an annual payment option rather than monthly.

So today I have chosen Garden Organic – an organisation that promotes organic gardening.

They used to be called HDRA or the Henry Doubleday Research Association back in the day, and I used to visit them regularly at Ryton Gardens near Coventry when I lived in the Midlands. Indeed I knew several of the people who worked there.

If you want to go organic in the garden do check out Garden Organic.

I’m organic.

100% through and through.

[ header image from unsplash.com // other images from @pennsif ]

5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 004 – 18 May ’19]

Motoring along to day 4 of the challenge.

I really feel I am getting the wheels rolling now.

Every day I dig a bit deeper and think a bit harder about what I do and the impact my actions have.

Can I do better?

1.  Electric Test Drive # 1 – Hyundai IONIQ

Today we had our first test drive in an electric car.

First up it was the Hyundai IONIQ at the Hyundai dealer in Aberystwyth – Shukers.

There are hybrid and full electric versions of the IONIQ. Unfortunately Shukars only had the hybrid version in stock but switched over to full electric mode this was just about the same as driving the full electric version.

The car drives super smooth and super quiet. It has a 170 mile range and an impressive array of electronic gadgetry onboard.

I certainly enjoyed driving it and it is definitely in the running. Although the split rear window and the 3 year age of the model do pop a couple of ticks on the negative column for this car.

Hyundai have another longer range electric model – the KONA with a more impressive 250 mile range – but the first batch has sold out and there won’t be any more available until March 2020.

Next on our test drive schedule before making a final choice are the Renault Zoe and the Nissan Leaf.

2.  Hey Supermarket, can you charge me up?

The big thing with electric cars is the range and the availability of charging stations.

There has been significant growth in the number of charging places in the past year but in Wales they are still pretty thin on the ground.

One obvious location for charging points is supermarkets. You could plug your car in while you do your shopping and it should be 80% charged by the time you come out.

I know a growing number of supermarkets in England are plugging in to the charging network but in Wales only a small handful are hooked up.

So I have started contacting all the supermarkets we visit across west and south Wales asking them if they would consider having a charging point.

I kicked off with Morrisons and Tesco this evening, more to follow.

Do the supermarkets around your area have electric charging points?

3. Too Good To Go is a super good idea

This is not something I have done as it is not available where I live, but my eldest daughter in Bristol used it for the first time today.

It is such a good idea I really wanted to share it.

Too Good To Go is a phone app where restaurants offer up at very cheap prices their surplus meals that will go to the waste stream if not used straight away.

My daughter loaded up 3 boxes of breakfast ingredients all for £2.50 (US$3.25) this morning from a hotel 10 minutes away. This was a great deal for a hard-up student – or anyone that wants to save money and save food waste.

It is mainly in the big cities but well worth checking out if you a city dweller.

According to the website Too Good To Go is already working with over 23,000 food donating partners in 11 countries across Europe. It has saved over 14 million meals equivalent representing a reduction of over 36 million Kg of CO2.

The app is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

They also have a whole bunch of jobs on offer in case you are in Europe and looking for a job with a planet friendly company…


4. Organic, local, artisan bakery. Nail. Head

I visited a new bakery not too far from me today.

I knew they were setting up a while back but hadn’t realised how much they had expanded their range.

All sorts of loaves, buns, pastries and even some lovely cheese sticks.

It is organic, hand-baked on the premises, using artisan methods and not too far from me.

The prices are a good bit higher than supermarkets but in terms of quality and planet friendliness the products from this bakery are in a different league.

Definitely on the treat list when we don’t get round to baking ourselves.

5. The Daily Donation – The Soil Association

The Soil Association, based in Bristol, has been at the forefront of the organic movement in Britain since 1946.

They are the UK’s leading organic certification body and do sterling work promoting organic food production.

They were once on my target list of places to work, but that never came to pass.

Today to show some support I sent a £10 donation. I might upgrade that to a regular membership donation on the next round of donations.

Another great day on the planet.

I am feeling more fully charged up about this challenge with each passing day.

Maybe, just maybe I can make a teeny-weeny micro-bit of difference.

If I do, I’ll be happy. If I don’t – at least I tried.

[ header image from pixabay.com // other images by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #569 – What resources do we have – cataloging our flora and fauna

We are blessed to live on 17 acres of Welsh mountainside.

Our property includes 2 streams, a lake, around a thousand standing mature trees and 10,000 younger trees that have been planted over the past 6 years.

We also have copious amounts of rock – welsh slate, granite and quartz to be precise.

Having not had chemicals used on the property for at least 20 years, and having not had any intensive grazing for 15 years, there is an amazingly rich and diverse ecology here.

I am not a permaculture expert, but I believe one of the principles is to make use of the resources you have on your own property first.

We have many resources. The obvious ones – wood, water, timber – are obvious and abundant. But at a more micro level I have little true knowledge of what we have here in terms of the massive treasure trove of flora and fauna.

I would like to remedy that.

So my plan is to commence a systematic documentation of all the flora and fauna on the property.

I will be starting with the plants. Partly because I have some small botantical experience, partly because they don’t move when you are trying to identify them, and partly because I am fascinated to know what potential medical and food resources lie forgotten and unrealised in our 17 acre organic floral haven.

Trees, plants and fungi will be included. The fungi particularly excite me.

We constantly find new fungi – and they are all so beautiful and tantalisingly tempted. I am sure there are riches unknown and untapped amongst our fungal friends.

I am hoping, with the help of @cryptocariad and the rest of the family, to make this a mixed media project with photographs, illustrations and possibly even video.

Our medicine chest and our pantry may never be the same.

Pennsif’s Progress #570 – I am how I buy – my quest for organics

Whenever and wherever possible we eat organic food.

A lot of it we can grow, but alas some of it we can’t.

What we can’t grow we have to buy.

There lies a problem and a dilemma. We live in a very rural part of Wales. Our nearest large towns are over an hour away by car. So our shopping choices are limited.

Especially for organic products.

There are a couple of small independent organic stocking shops in the area. But they are very expensive, have a small range and require the consumption of at least 6 litres of petrol to get there and back.

I chose organic both for health and for environmental reasons. So burning a lot of fossil fuel to obtain organic food seems rather nonsensical.

There is a local food bulk buying group that buys from Suma (a large national ethical food co-operative) that we participate in but it only orders every two months and there are other restrictions with it as well.

So we have reluctantly defaulted to online shopping for a number of organic products. We have dabbled with various online eco-store type sites but with heavy delivery charges the costs have been prohibitive.

The only easy-to-use and easy-on-the-wallet online source we have found for our organic needs has been Amazon.

But this grates badly with my purchasing ethics. Amazon is super efficient at what it does in terms of ecommerce mechanics – but that is where my admiration ends.

So I have constantly been on the look-out for new online sources.

Now I think I may have found one – PremCrest Ltd based in Bradford in the north of England. They are wholesalers of ethical and organic products. They sell in bulk so that helps bring the prices down considerably. And I have managed to sign up for an account.

I cannot find much about the company other than basic details of their directors and their recent financial accounts through a company checking service, but they do have an Ethics and Environment Policy :

  • https://www.premcrest.co.uk/ethics-and-environmental-policy

That is rather run of the mill though – with no real mention of fair trade with suppliers etc. I suspect I would find something not too dissimilar if I searched on the Amazon site.

I would love to buy from local, independent, family-run type shops. As long as it doesn’t cost me too many arms and too many legs. Organic products are all at a premium as it is.

But the independent shops will buy from somewhere – so you can never be sure.

The only safe bet would be to buy from producers directly.  I did have a project called “Eat Who You Know“.

That was fun. More of that in another post…

For now I will try an order from PremCrest. Their prices are a good 40%+ cheaper than the nearest organic shops, and they tackle Amazon’s Subscribe & Save bulk prices head-on.

Maybe if I buy in bulk from PremCrest I can share round with other local organic eaters. Payment with steem or SBD would be cool. But alas the venn diagrams of organic eaters and active steemians don’t overlap round here.

More on PremCrest as the order unravels…


Pennsif’s Progress #577 – The Organic Goldmine and a three legged dog

Today we went for a trip to the seaside.

In fact to Aberaeron, a seaside town not so far from us.

We go there quite often as it is a nice little town with some nice little shops and an ice cream parlour that sells handmade honey ice-cream that used to be nice.

And today there was a three-legged dog.

Aberaeron is also a nice little town as it is so little that it doesn’t have a supermarket.

Instead it has a Costcutter – one of those small town convenience store chains that inhabit many towns around Britain.

We don’t normally do any shopping there as we have a couple of ‘proper’ supermarkets in our town that are considerably cheaper.

Today we thought we would pop in to check it out.

Wow, we were super surprised. They had a whole section dedicated to organic food, as well as various organic products scattered around the shop.

We are keen organic shoppers whenever we can afford organic and whenever we can find organic. Usually in our home town the pickings are quite sparse.

Who’d have thought it in little Aberaeron – this was definitely a case of judging by it its cover…

We grabbed and dashed and got a whole pile of organic goodies we hadn’t seen before.

I am particularly keen to try the Geo brand Thick Vegetable Stew.

Generally we would make our own but two of our daugthers are off to university in September so I am keen to find good quality, nutritious and ideally organic ‘ready meal’ type products we can stock them up with.

It has good ingredients, good nutrition ratings, is easy to prepare and it is not so expensive (£1.89 / US$2.40).

They might make good emergency uni-stocks for both.

Interestingly while looking online for more about this Geo product I found an interesting ethical wholesaler Premcrest. Maybe I can get an account with them to seriously cut down the costs on our organic purchases…

  • https://www.premcrest.co.uk/geo-organics-mildly-spiced-thick-vegetable-stew-300g-x6

Another organic product that was particularly interesting was the organic bread. Thomas’s Bakery is a very traditional local business – not one I would have suspected of moving into making organic products.

On the way back from Aberaeron we popped into Blaencamel Organic Farm. They have a little shop in a shed selling surplus organic fruit and veg.

It was late in the day when we dropped by so there wasn’t much left but I was impressed by their polytunnels. They seem to sprout new ones every time we visit. Their business must be growing.

The future is bright. The future is organic…