Clearing out- kitchen shelves

Ever since we moved in, this top end shelf in the kitchen has been home to all our bottles. It’s always hard to know where to put them and we don’t really have any accessible cupboard with deep enough shelves, so they ended up here! The whole shelf was getting disgusting where one syrup bottle had leaked everywhere and just generally dusty. It was time for a clean out!

I ended up throwing half the bottles away – out went Bailey’s, Malibu, some Japanese concoction and a bottle of orange coffee syrup (only what’s left and safe to consume is pictured above). The conclusion for us is- don’t bother buying alcohol or coffee syrups. We so rarely drink them that a small fortune (well a small fortune to me, between £30-£50) had gone off. We had done surprisingly well at giving away most of what we had been given. Our hearts always sink when we receive bottles of alcohol (it usually happens at Christmastime from well-meaning colleagues or occasionally relatives). 2 of the bottles above are gifts – Prosecco and Champagne – neither of which are we likely to consume. To be honest, I don’t know how good to drink either of them are, but I shall offer them to my brother who is likely to drink them. Another is a bottle of Pimms I bought 2 years ago and is about half full – I don’t know if it’s good, but it will also get offered to my brother.

What remains is a bottle of brandy which solely gets used at Christmastime for brandy butter and the Christmas cake. To be honest, when this one is finished I don’t think I’m going to bother making either any more. No-one in this house really likes Christmas cake and often the brandy butter ends up in the bin. A bottle of Vodka which I only purchased recently, to use for homemade disinfectant. It seems to do a brilliant job and will certainly get used up in time. Then we have 2 bottles of non-alcoholic mulled punch which I picked up cheap recently and are good until 2017. I’m looking forward to enjoying those next festive season. We also have a bottle of ginger beer that we were given, it’s also good until 2017 and if we don’t drink it, I know a friend who will love it. The final bottle is a bottle of wine from our wedding, it’s a stupid thing to get attached to but I am slightly. It was a rose, but the colour has changed and I don’t know if it will be any good, especially since we’ve never had a wine rack – so it hasn’t been stored properly (on its side).

So there we go, what to do with all that space – I decided to move my recipe books from the book shelf in the lounge, into the kitchen. I hope they will be easier to get to and in the room where I use them. Many of these get lots of use, although in time I may thin out my collection some more. Because there are so few of them, the bottles have ended up back on the other end of the shelf. Oh well!

One thing I do know is that when we get our kitchen re-designed (one day!) I most certainly will not be installing these stupid shelf ends – they serve no purpose except to gather dust.

Zero Waste Frustrations

Currently it feels like I’m being thwarted at every turn! I had a list of things I wanted to change, after finishing reading Bea Johnson’s book- Zero Waste Home. First on the list was to switch to milk in glass bottles, as we currently get through 2x 4 pint bottles a week on average and milk bottles make up a significant part of our waste.

I discovered that we would be able to get a milkman to deliver these. I looked into it all, decided we would pay the extra to have Organic milk delivered and was all set to make the change. For some reason, I decided to do a quick internet search on the subject and the first thing that came up- was that this supplier is shutting down its bottling plant due to lack of demand. Now I’m not surprised, unless you’re a zero waster, or just simply prefer the taste of milk from a glass bottle or non-homogenised milk, with the cream on top- then you’re unlikely to be buying milk the old-fashioned way! Customer comments revealed a dissatisfaction with this move, but some customers had already been switched and everyone would be within 2 years.

It seems like a waste of time making the change, if it is not sustainable- although potentially it could make a limited impact over the short-term (if our area hasn’t already been switched). I will, of course, write to the supplier explaining my predicament and encouraging them to change their plans. But they cite less than 4% of customer opting to buy their milk in glass bottles as unsustainable, who frankly can blame them? There do seem to be other suppliers that may supply milk in glass bottles direct to supermarkets, but I can’t locate that product anywhere locally. There aren’t any private dairies either, supplying milk in glass bottles.

OK, maybe I can’t make that change. But I was all set to buy loose tea instead of tea bags. But guess what, they all seem to come in plasticised foil packets, or cardboard boxes with plastic foil inside- doubly wasteful! Is the change worth it? Tea bags come in a cardboard box only (at least for the brand I buy), this seems better than opting into plastic products.

Now I know Bea says that this will take time, but it seems like our choices in the UK are much more limited than in the USA. I think that possibly the health and hygiene rules are much stricter and they will claim that the extra packaging protects us from health risks.

If anyone can help me out with sustainable options, please get in touch!