A Little Bit Of Eco-Friendly Black Magic

Every one of us has an eco-friendly ‘Green Bee’ lurking inside us. I only realised my very own eco-friendly

‘Green Bee’ was alive and well at a get-together at our home with friends last Christmas when someone was looking for the bin (trash) to dispose of the remainder of their child’s chewed up sausage roll. They looked at me in amazement when I explained that I didn’t have a bin/trash canImage in the kitchen.

Here in Ireland we pay for domestic waste removal. In my kitchen I have a small caddy courtesy of Fingal County Council for food waste and a large pedal bin for recycling.

“My bin is black large and lives in the garden and gets put out for collection twice a year. My latest plan is to get it out just once a year” I bashfully declared. This statement created more raised eyebrows and got the, by now slightly drunken, conversation on to the topic of recycling. I know what you are thinking, never accept a party invitation to my house! Don’t get me wrong, I like nothing better than to party like it’s 1999 but I am at that stage in life where (after a few glasses of Christmas cheer) the conversation can veer into unchartered territories. I grant you, this wasn’t the most scintillating of chats but there is one topic everyone is happy to tune into and that is how to save money. By putting my bin (trash can) out twice a year and spending a mere €17 on bin tags annually the savings aren’t going to be life changing, even if you had previously put your bin out once a month. Although €80 a year saving doesn’t seem like a lot, it  is in fact  just the tip of the iceberg and if you bear with me I will explain. A bit of black ‘Bin’ Magic is all that is required.

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1. My only refuse bin is the big black bin in the garden (with my large recycling and composting bin) and requires a small effort to put stuff in.
 I am quite lazy at heart so I will think long and hard about what I need to dispose of before I trek outside. Any food (or paper or cardboard packaging that has been contaminated by food) can go into the brown bin or the dogs bowl. There is a saving right there. Make the most of your annual Council charge and recycle as much as you possibly can. Check with your local recycling centre and find out what they will recycle free of charge. Generally anything with a plug  can be recycled for free. Batteries are also recycled free of charge but perhaps check whether or not your local school or Library is collecting batteries as this can be an extra income source for them. Check out how it is done at our local Council Fingal.
Any dry paper or cardboard is Green bin fodder as are many plastics. The recycling information is usually on the back.
I have begun to take into account the recyclable nature of  packaging when I am shopping. I will opt for fruit and veg that are loose if I can and cut down on the packaging before it even enters the house. My latest trick is to leave any unwanted packaging with my Supermarket. If enough of us do this they’ll get the message. The plastic packaging with meat and fish gets automatically put into the dishwasher and when it’s clean and dry that goes into the Green bin. Squash everything as much as you can and remove all caps from bottles and then flatten.
 I have cut back dramatically on processed food and instead try to buy the raw ingredients and make it myself. This isn’t always the answer for a busy household but the benefits to not only your pocket but to your health are immense. I’m not a lover of slaving over a hot stove so cooking is kept to a minimum.  Soon I will post quick recipes and easy tips for making your own household cleaners that are great for the environment, effective and have minimal cost.
Often a small bit of organization is the key. I’ve always wanted to shun my slovenly ways and transform myself into a ‘Monica from Friends’. It hasn’t happened and most likely never will. I am what I am, but I have incorporated ways and means of organising certain aspects of my life which allow my ‘Green Bee’ to flourish by following  3 simple rules:
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Rule no. 1 is to NEVER, EVER throw anything into the Black Bin that you know or suspect can be recycled.
Rule no. 2 is to be mindful when you shop. Cut down on the packaging you buy wherever you can. This not only applies to grocery shopping but also when buying clothes and appliances. Never bring home those awful plastic clothes hangers unless you genuinely need them to hang your clothes on. Leave them with the Shop Assistant. As for large appliances, at the time of delivery I always ask the delivery guy if he can take it away with him. They, to date, have always obliged. The offer of a cuppa and a smile can go a long way to helping this along. The onus is also on them to take your old appliance and dispose of correctly.
Rule no. 3 is to have a meal plan for the week. this will make sure that you can plan and maybe even prepare or batch cook where you can. This cuts back on packaged foods and last-minute splurges on Takeaways and Ready meals.
Our kids love our Friday Pizza night. I never buy a ‘shop bought’ Pizza if I can help it. I like to make it fresh and straight away I have saved on packaging waste and cost. Believe it or not but you don’t need to be Italian to make a cracking Pizza. I do however have an Italian Uncle. Does that count?  Minimal ingredients are required. It’s a great healthy meal and you’ll be hard pressed to buy one from a Supermarket that will taste better. A small amount of planning-ahead is essential for the dough to prove but really it is a super easy recipe and takes very little time.  Click here for my easy to follow recipe for great homemade pizza.
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As for the old clothes, they get recycled at our local Charity shop or passed on to the children of friends and family. Generally by the time our youngest has gone through all of his hand-me-downs there isn’t a huge amount of wear left. There is nothing more insulting for a Charity Shop than to receive a bag full of torn and worn-out clothes to sell. Having said that most Charity shops are more than happy to take a bag of clothes marked for recycling as they get paid by recycling companies per weight. Torn tights, socks with holes, jeans that are beyond patching all go in the bag once they are laundered. Old towels and bed linen also can happily go in here but perhaps you might support you local animal shelter as very often towels and blankets are needed. The animal charity I support is Dogsaid but there are more in need than ever before.dogsaid
My children are pretty young still and growing fast, so we have a recycling bag ‘on the go’  and as soon as an item is ready for the ‘Big End’, in they go. Alongside this bag is ebay_200x200usually another one of old clothes that are still good enough for a charity shop to sell on. When I had more time on my hands and fewer children, the bag of clothes was photographed and sold in a batch on Ebay. Baby clothes, in particular, sell surprisingly well. Just make sure to factor in your postage costs when considering your reserve.
Old toys and unwanted Christmas gifts can end up at the local Charity shop too but also keep an eye out in your local Parish centre and schools who regularly require items to sell at Fetes and fundraisers.jumble
Jumbletown is a really useful website that facilitates Givers and Takers. Their tag line is ‘Someone somewhere wants it’. This  is one of my favourite ways of disposing unwanted items. Every item on the website is free and it connects people who need to get rid of stuff to those that need stuff. It couldn’t be simpler.  One mans rubbish is another man’s treasure and this website is especially good for getting rid of bulky items as it saves you the trouble of otherwise transporting and disposing of the items yourself. Facebook is also another great way of passing pre-loved items on. Lots of groups are springing up on Facebook which are devised just for this, the act of passing on something to a welcoming new home.
Now, over to you. Create your own Magic and see how much you can save by making small eco-friendly changes to your life daily.

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