Zero Waste Fails – Homemade Dishwasher Tablets!

Dishwasher

Don’t all the blogs you read about Zero Waste preach about everything that works for them. I’m getting a little sick of it actually, it’s like the edited version of many people’s lives that are portrayed on Facebook. It’s simply not real!

So, I’ve been trying to find a Zero Waste alternative to individually, plastic wrapped dishwasher tablets for some time now. It’s been one massive fail. I’ve tried recipes for liquids, powders and tablets. None of them was successful, not successful enough to switch to anyway. They contained in varying proportions; soda crystals, bicarbonate of soda, borax substitute, essential oils, castile soap and citric acid.

The tablets fell apart as soon as I removed them from the ice cube moulds. Alongside that, they were only halfway effective – leaving nasty, gritty residue on my cups, making my stainless steel cutlery marked and rusty. In addition they were totally useless on tea and coffee stains – meaning that I had to wash many items again by hand or soak them in  a special solution to remove the stains.

The dishwasher powder was the same, only this added a terrible white residue to everything which I had to scour off with a metal scourer. The liquid was no better, with horrible water residue marks on everything. The whole point of having a dishwasher is to remove that heavy burden of washing up, multiple times per day. Because we cook most meals from scratch, we normally have a large amount of dishes and pans to clean.

Whilst I’d love to be writing about my fantastic homemade dishwasher tablet recipe – it just didn’t happen. I don’t know if it’s because we live in a hard water area, or something else. I ended up making a trip to the supermarket just for dishwasher tablets because I couldn’t bear the white residue on everything any longer and I was worried I was going to ruin my expensive cutlery permanently. On top of having to wash everything again, it simply wasn’t worth it.

What are your Zero Waste fails? Do you have a successful dishwasher tablet recipe you can share?

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How to buy a brand new Siemen’s fridge/freezer for free!

OK, so this month has been killer for us financially. We are doing major renovations on our house – now these were planned and budgeted for. However, then we found out one of our pets has a terminal illness cue a small fortune in vet’s bills. The kind where they give you a quote and it ends up being double. Now I wouldn’t change anything because our pets are part of the family, but if I didn’t save money like it’s going out of fashion – we would not have been able to pull these kinds of sums out of a hat. So when on top of all of this, our fridge/freezer decided to say goodbye – we could have been turning to Freecycle or worse, trying to do without. Or I suppose actually, most people would just put it on a credit card and end up paying many times the item’s original price. I’m writing this post to show you exactly where a little bit of on-line earning can get you in just a few months. I bet I’m not the only one facing unexpected strains on their finances, or you might just want to avoid getting into debt over Christmas.

I was just able to buy this Siemen’s Fridge/Freezer from John Lewis for free! Yes, you read that correctly- FREE! (If you are reading this tomorrow 29/09/16 onwards, then unfortunately their great deal will have ended. But here is something similar on Amazon and you can save up Amazon vouchers from all of these sites towards your purchase).

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I want to show you something really tangible, more so than me just giving you the figures for what I earn online. Although, this fridge/freezer represents less than half of what I can earn online each month, just to give you an idea. But I’m not sharing this to boast, I’m sharing this because if I can do it – you can too! You can effectively give yourself a pay rise and make thousands of pounds every year, from the comfort of your sofa or bed!

The majority of my gift cards which were put towards this purchase came from Swagbucks, with a little from Pinecone, a little from a site called Valued Opinions (comment or message me if you want a referral link, as it must be sent to your email address) and 1 voucher from The Wise Society (comment of message me if you want to join up, if they ask for the name of your referrer and I will give you my name. I am not currently certain if they are taking new members). I will aim to write a little more about those last two survey sites ASAP. The small remainder was covered by sites like Newvistalive and Populuslive which pay in cash.

I was lucky enough to catch the last day of a deal offering a 3-year extended warranty for free, taking it to 5 years in total, free disposal of my old appliance (normally £9), £70 cashback which I was given instantly off the purchase price at the checkout and free delivery which is also standard on any item over £50. John Lewis comply with the UK Government’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations which came into force in 2007. This means that all recyclable elements of our old appliance will be recovered to make new consumer goods. I also love the fact that John Lewis offer eco delivery slots, so I was able to choose a time for delivery when they are already in my area – meaning that more fuel is saved. How very Zero Waste of me!

I am looking forward to receiving my fridge/freezer next week – not least because it will work, but it is an A++ rated appliance and should only cost about £22.50 per year to run. I don’t know what our current appliance rates at, but it’s around 10 years old and undoubtedly won’t be as efficient. I hope that this appliance lives a long life, as I hate the throw away and disposal nature of our society. We inherited our last appliance, so we didn’t have any choice, but it was a cheap brand not known for their longevity. Here’s hoping we have made a better choice. I know none of this makes our purchase ideal, but we are doing our best, along with having chosen an ethical retailer who is doing their best.

I hope this post encourages you to start using some of the methods I have mentioned recently. I will be posting about a lot more and although it seems overwhelming at first, just try to incorporate 1 at a time. Once you’ve built it into your daily routine, you can add another. Until it just becomes normal to check these sites in your spare time. I hope that by starting in the order I am listing them, you will get some good earners in place quickly and see the fruits of your labours. Please comment and let me know how you are getting on! I would love to hear how others are being helped by my posts. That’s all for now folks!

Multi-use Kitchen Items

Late last night, as I sat in bed – I had a brainwave. I’ve been decluttering again and getting rid of unnecessary or duplicate kitchen items. On the rare occasions I make a pie, I can make my casserole lids multi-task! They are practically the same size and depth and that mean I can free up some valuable space. It feels like a real lightbulb moment! So those pie plates in the left hand picture are going to be making their way to a charity shop, since I was lucky enough to be given them in the first place.

My Grandma actually used to make something called Plate Meat Pie on an old enamel or metal plate. It was more frugal as it only had pastry on top and was sealed to the plate. Thus making it much healthier too.

So tell me, what kitchen items do double-duty in your house?

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.

When you think you’ve minimised- minimise some more!

Photo on 14-05-2014 at 22.22

(Sorry about the naff quality of this picture, my phone has gone in for repairs, so I had to take it with a webcam instead!)

We’ve really been enjoying a sense of wellbeing around the house for the last few months, since my last post actually! It’s down to the space, the lack of clutter and the opportunities that brings. Peace- less physical clutter= less mental clutter. Joy- at being in a pleasant environment. Freedom to pursue other interests, instead of organising, tidying and cleaning.

But, as car boot season approaches- a) I can’t resist because I love car boots and b) we are constantly accumulating more stuff that can be gotten rid of. Today, I spent 10 minutes going through the kitchen cupboards to find items that we are not using. Many of the items in the above picture we inherited with the house (bought from a family member) and kept them on that awful premise that “they might be useful someday”.

8 months later, they most certainly have not and I cannot wait for them to be gone! We are getting rid of:

  1. A lovely patterned pie dish that was a wedding present but has had very little use
  2. A melamine picnic plate that my mum gave me, but has been used once or twice. It’s got a lovely pattern, but the design proved entirely impractical for containing food
  3. 2 packets of seeds, now out of date but someone might use them (inherited)
  4. Packet of out of date batteries, maybe someone can use them (inherited)
  5. Medium saucepan (inherited). We do not need all the saucepans we have and this is the third of 3 this size!
  6. Dryer balls (inherited). Why exactly do you need to bother with these?
  7. Silver cleaning cloth- I gave away the silver!
  8. Thermos flask in carry case (inherited)- never use it
  9. Pie funnel (was my Grandma’s) but I have never used it, even when I make pies- I just cut a slit in the top instead
  10. Tupperware Flour scoop (was my Grandma’s) great idea, never use it!
  11. Melon baller (given to me by mum) ‘felt’ that I should keep it, but I recently helped her move and she admitted that she could never get hers to work either and gave it to a charity shop. I feel released to follow suit!
  12. Gourmet gold cat food fork (freebie). Yes, exactly- who needs this? It’s tiny and impractical to use and can’t be put in the dishwasher
  13. Rolling pin- found out after buying that this deposits small amounts of rust from between the handles each time it is used. It is unhygienic and annoying when it ruins your pristine white icing! I bought a solid one from a charity shop for less than this one cost me!
  14. 2 non-stick cake tins (inherited). I have to admit I will never need to use 4 cake tins, 2 is enough
  15. Various plastic pots and boxes- we never use them, we already have enough
  16. 2 mouse traps (inherited)- we don’t have a mouse problem, we don’t need these!
  17. Peeler- 1 of 3, not needed!

So there you go, 17 items going (not including multiples) and 1 empty kitchen cupboard is going to be reclaimed and repurposed. The over-riding message from this decluttering session is about having ‘enough’. It is greed that drives us to have more than we need. I am letting this items go, to hopefully someone who actually NEEDS them. I’d encourage you to read other minimalism blogs that speak about the concept of enough, if you need further encouragement.

Please get in touch and share stories about your minimalism journey.