A Photo an Hour: 20 July 2019

Hello lovely readers! Saturday was July’s photo an hour day. I took part on Twitter and now I also want to post the photos on my blog.

10 a.m. Obviously my day starts with tea.

11 a.m. Shower time. We’re still using the bath but the glass for the actual shower is due to arrive on the 29th! Also, we are not currently using those plastic bottles of shampoo/shower gel but of course I haven’t thrown them away because pouring out half the contents is even worse than having single-use plastic bottles in the first place!

12 noon. Waiting for a bus.

1 p.m. We met a friend (technically Jan’s friend, but who’s keeping track?) and went for a drink by the river.

2 p.m. Still by the river. It started to cloud over (but then brightened up again)

3 p.m. We went for food. I took this photo slightly late because I got distracted by eating 😉

4 p.m. Jan wanted caffeine. He went to Starbucks (which we never usually do) because he got a discount for being part of the Basel tattoo cast. Annoying that they give you plastic cups even if you sit in! This branch didn’t have any normal glasses and only small mugs.

5 p.m. Slightly delayed again as I was paying for some purchases then had to run for the bus. Photo taken on said bus.

6 p.m. Home and reading my penultimate book for Erin‘s reading challenge.

7 p.m. Another tea – ginger and lemon this time so I switched cups. Looks more like autumn than summer.

8 p.m. At this time of year I have lots of cards to stitch (it’s also about time I started Christmas cards!). This one is for my friend’s son, who is turning 5.

9 p.m. I wasn’t hungry for dinner after that huge lunch, but I popped to the shop because I fancied some chocolate. Plastic-free options are limited at the only place that’s open at night… I pretty much had the choice between this and Toblerone (or a grapefruit Lindt bar which quite frankly sounds disgusting).

I could have taken a 10 p.m. photo but I didn’t because I always like to have an even number, so that’s yer lot for today.

What did you do on Saturday? I hope it was a good one!

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Plastic-free July in the office

Hello my lovelies! I thought it would be good to record another day in my life of trying to be plastic-free since the month is now half over (has my motivation lapsed?) and I also had to be in the office yesterday. Totally different situation to my usual days working from home.

I completely forgot to take photos of my morning routine – I’m not at my best at 5:30 a.m.! But you know the drill from last time anyway. Bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste in a plastic tube, refillable bottle of shower gel. And at this point I should admit to you that I caved and used my old shampoo in its plastic bottle the day before. I just couldn’t get on with the shampoo from the zero-waste supermarket… my hair was lank and felt greasy. No thanks! Jan has now bought me a lemon grass shampoo bar so we’ll see how I get on with that. Anyway…

1-water flask

I filled a flask with water before I left so I had something to drink on the two-hour train journey.

2-croissant

Breakfast at the train station… croissant in a paper bag. I also grabbed a napkin so I could place it on the counter while I paid.

3-baguette

I purchased lunch on arrival in my destination city. Baguette wrapped in some kind of waxed paper and placed in a paper bag.

4-water

At work we drink water from plastic bottles. German tap water is safe to drink, but the pipes for our building are old and not necessarily hygienic/safe. A company delivers the bottles then picks up the empties for recycling or reuse (I’m not sure which).

5-dinner

I finally got back to Basel at around 8 p.m., by which time I was way too tired to cook! So I stopped at the vegetarian restaurant by the train station. The straw in my drink is paper. Still single-use, wasteful and entirely unnecessary but not plastic. Did any of the food on my plate come in plastic packaging? I can’t guarantee that it didn’t (and I’d honestly be surprised if every ingredient they used was plastic free). Did I care? In that moment, no. I just wanted to eat and get home. (And yes, I’m aware that it’s exactly that kind of attitude that led to all the problems with plastic bags, straws, bottles, etc. in the first place!).

I then went home, brushed my teeth (plastic tube again), took my folic acid (plastic packaging – unavoidable) and very gratefully collapsed into my bed. Office days are long!

First day of plastic reduction!

Hello! As I’ve already mentioned, this month I am teaming up with Steph to reduce the number of single-use plastic items I use. Today I am going to take you through a normal working day during plastic-free July. One of the things I committed to doing was to choose alternatives to plastic packaging wherever possible and, if I couldn’t find one and the item is non-essential, go without. However, I decided that if I already had things in plastic containers I would use them (I mean, I’m hardly going to throw them out and simply waiting until August to use them isn’t possible if they go off in July), so as I go along I will point out where I am using an item that’s made of or comes in plastic – even if it’s not single use, I will show you that it’s not plastic-free. The day in question is yesterday, the very first day of the challenge…

Monday, 1st July 2019

1-shower

It’s 6:30 a.m. (yawn!) and time for my shower. Jan and I visited both of the zero waste supermarkets in Basel on Saturday and bought this shower gel (right – labelled as soap because the bottle that went with the actual shower gel was too small) and shampoo. Now we have the bottles we can go back there and refill them. The shower gel is fine but I’ve yet to use the shampoo so once I do we’ll see how my hair feels about it…

2-breakfast

I’ve literally just started this challenge and I’m already failing! Breakfast is a slice of raisin toast… which comes in plastic packaging. Since I only committed not to buy any more plastic and this was purchased in June I’m safe 😉

3-tea

A cup of tea before it gets too hot. Did you know that many teabags contain plastic? It’s used to seal them shut. I found this post about common tea bands (in the UK) and whether they use plastic in their teabags. I have Tetley English Breakfast Tea. The company claims that their string and tag teabags are plastic free. Since mine have strings they should be fine. However, the box itself came wrapped in plastic (both plastic and box are long gone so I can’t show you). The milk is also in a plastic bottle.

4-toothbrush

Teeth brushing time! My toothbrush is bamboo (hurrah!) although the bristles are still plastic. Also, as you can see, my toothpaste is in a plastic tube. I did notice one of the zero-waste shops in Basel has alternatives so I want to try those at some point but I will use this tube up first. I also noticed the other day that this is made by Proctor and Gamble, who I’ve actually been boycotting for about 18 years so I’m doubly annoyed by this toothpaste! I’ve never bought Oral B before and I never will again.

Lunch break time and I took a quick trip to the supermarket but forgot to take my phone or camera to record all the plastic. At least I can show you what I purchased.

5-shopping

The margarine ran out yesterday so now I can’t have any more until August. But I can’t have toast either so it doesn’t matter. I’m not 100% sure what the butter is packed in – any guesses? Whatever it is it’s certainly less plastic than a margarine tub! The loose potatoes are clearly in my reusable bag, although the adhesive sticker from weighing them most likely contains plastic. Pesto in a glass jar inside a piece of cardboard. Apparently the inside of most jar lids is coated with plastic, but at least jars can be reused in theory. Tuna in a tin. Some (most?) tins are coated with plastic, apparently. I don’t know if this one is. The chocolate packaging is cardboard and some metallic foil. I wouldn’t usually buy Lindt chocolate but most of the others have plastic wrapping.

6-magazine

Picked up the mail on my way back upstairs. My cross stitch magazine arrived, and of course it’s packaged in plastic. I subscribe to two cross stitch magazines and both of them come wrapped in plastic every month. One subscription is up for renewal soon and I may just let it run out. I have plenty of magazines so it’s not like I’m going to run out of things to stitch any time soon…

7-soup

Now for lunch. It’s way too hot for soup, but I only have ten minutes left of my break so it’s all I have time for. I would have preferred salad or a sandwich but I can’t have either without single-use plastic packaging.  And speaking of lunch, Jan said if I was writing about my plastic-free efforts I should mention that he bought a reusable lunch box a few weeks ago and has been gradually figuring out which places close to his work are willing to refill it for him. He has also created a document on the internal portal so that other people working there also know where they can go to have the containers they’ve brought from home filled with food. There you go Jan, consider it mentioned. (Not that he will ever read this but whatever 🤷).

The dishwasher needs to be run. I bought these dishwasher tabs a couple of weeks ago and I specifically chose these “Held” ones because they’re made by Ecover and are supposedly environmentally friendly. Then I got them home, opened the packing and discovered that each individual tab is wrapped in plastic! So annoyed. I am using them for now since I have them, but as soon as they’re gone it will be back to Coop’s own “eco” brand, which have a dissolvable film. (The Migros eco ones also have a dissolvable film but the tabs are inside a plastic bag within the outer cardboard box – totally unnecessary!).

9-bathroom cleaner

Finally finished work (unrelated to plastic, but can I just point out that it’s 5:45 p.m. and I started work at 7:30 a.m…. my actual working hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.!). Now I need to do some cleaning. My bathroom cleaner is in a plastic bottle. The cloth is from a multi-pack and so came wrapped in plastic at some point.

Oh, while I’m in the bathroom I should show you this…

10-soap

Liquid soap. It’s been refilled multiple times, but the refills we’ve used in the past were also made from plastic. We still have one more full refill pack, but once that’s empty I shall try to find a new solution.

11-baby gifts

My cousin had a baby! Both of these gifts are in plastic. The one for a clothing has a zip so could be reused, but I obviously don’t know whether my cousin will actually do so. The rattle packaging is definitely single-use. Sigh.

Time to start dinner. It’s hotter than Hades (when will this heatwave end?) so we’re having baked potatoes for tea… the oven will heat up the kitchen but it’s still preferable to me actually standing by a hot stove.) We are having the potatoes with tinned tuna and bacon bits. The bacon bits use-by date is tomorrow (today when this post goes up) so they have to be used, despite being packaged in plastic. Most of the other the things I would normally eat with baked potatoes either come in plastic, require cooking, or both (hummus, cheese, chilli con carne…) so my options are limited.

13-folic acid

Before bed I take folic acid. You’re supposed to start taking it as soon as you decide to try for a baby and carry on until around week 12 of your pregnancy. I briefly stopped taking it when the midwife told me to at around 14 weeks, but two weeks later when I lost the boys I was advised to start taking it again immediately because it would hep get my iron levels back up. So basically I’ve been on folic acid almost non-stop since March 2015, and I will continue taking it until I either actually make it to 12 weeks pregnant again or we give up trying… I dread to think how  many of these plastic things I’ve already thrown away and how many more there will be in my future. (And that’s not even mentioning all the syringes, needles single-use plastic gloves, etc. at the clinic plus the needles I used to give myself injections, the packaging from the hormones I’ve had to take orally, etc. Infertility is not environmentally friendly!)

Other things I haven’t spoken about or photographed but did do: as I mentioned, we’re in the middle of a heatwave. I’ve been guzzling water all day. All from the tap and drunk from a glass. No plastic bottles in sight! I also took my reusable fabric bag shopping with me, as always. I only occasionally purchase a paper bag from the supermarket when I need one to take out the paper recycling in.

So, that was my first day. I hope this post has given you some insight into a few the unexpected (and not so unexpected) areas that plastic crops up and some ways of avoiding single-use plastics. As you can see, there are definitely many areas where I could improve! I could buy loose leaf tea in tins or cardboard packaging, find alternative cleaning products or make my own… as July goes on the list is sure to grow! Look out for more posts as I continue my month of being aware of plastic, and check out the #sustainablestephs hashtag on Instagram to connect with other people who are taking this challenge.

A photo an hour: 15 June 2019

Over a week ago, I took part in the photo an hour link up, but somehow I’m only getting round to writing a post about it now. Also, technically I only half took part because I had forgotten it was that day and only realised when I saw a post on Twitter at 11:30 a.m., so I started at noon. As always, photo an hour was hosted by Jane and Louisa.

12 noon. Already busy unpacking all our kitchen stuff

1 p.m. I feel like I’m maybe getting somewhere?

2 p.m. While I was busy sorting stuff out, Jan found The Wizard of Oz on TV. Apparently he had never seen it?1

3 p.m. We have way too much tea!

4 p.m. Waiting for a train into town.

Forgot 5 p.m. – we were shopping for new pans.

6 p.m. On the bus home. Look at all that rain!

7 p.m. Manor had pies! Obviously we had to try them.

8 p.m. Pie, peas and mash demolished.

9 p.m. Having a beer – I earned it after all that unpacking.

10 p.m. Off to bed with a book.

The next photo an hour date is 20th July. Hopefully I will remember it this time!

A Photo an Hour: 16 February 2019

Over a week ago, I took part in February’s photo an hour with Jane and Louisa. I had planned to write up my day over the weekend but instead we spontaneously decided to go to Lugano. So here I am finally posting about it over a week later. Whatever. I was also taking part in my first ever readathon that weekend, organised by Show Us Your Books hosts Jana and Steph, so my day involved quite a lot of reading.

Let’s just get on with it shall we?

9:30 a.m. Morning cuppa… a literary mug seemed appropriate for readathon weekend.

10:30 a.m. Reading in my pyjamas

11:30 a.m. I had breakfast. By the time the hour was up I had finished eating, so my photo was a very uninspiring one of an empty plate. (I had toast with fig jam if you’re wondering).

12:30 p.m. I finally actually had a shower and got dressed. A miracle?

1:30 p.m. Another tea and on to my next book.

2:30 p.m. I had to pop to the supermarket for some bits.

3:30 p.m. Back home and back to reading

4:30 p.m. Reluctantly washing the dishes.

5:30 p.m. Emptying the dishwasher.

6:30 p.m. Time to start cooking.

7:30 p.m. Colourful food!

8:30 p.m. Jan put on The Great British Sewing Bee. It was surprisingly compelling viewing.

9:30 p.m. Changed into clean pyjamas and back to reading.

10:30 p.m. Time for bed. Introducing Cuddles the bear, who I picked up from my dad’s at the beginning of the month.

If you’re interested in taking part in Photo an Hour, the next date is 23rd March. Simply take a photo every hour to show what you’re doing and post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #photoanhour or save your photos and put them into a blog post once the day is over(or you can do both, like me).

A Photo an Hour:15 December 2018

On Saturday, I took part in the final photo an hour of the year, hosted by Jane and Louisa. I had decided it was going to be the day that I finally got the last of my Christmas cards sorted, but I also wanted to clean the flat and had a ticket for Jan’s concert in the evening. So much to pack in to one day! Here’s how I got on…

9 a.m. We had no milk so my first act was to jump in the shower before heading to the shop.

10 a.m. Showered and milk purchased, now I can have a cuppa. Yay!

11 a.m. A busy week of work with lots of overtime plus one day in the office in Germany meant my kitchen was severely neglected and I had dishes to wash…

12 noon. Finally getting round to stitching and making the final few Christmas cards.

1 p.m. Cross stitch made into a card. Hoorah!

2 p.m. Another cuppa while writing out some of the cards I’d made. The ones in the background were waiting for Jan to sign them.

3 p.m. Jan signed the cards and I started putting them in envelopes.

4 p.m. Another card made!

5 p.m. Jan left for his final rehearsal and I got the hoover out. Also, how pretty are my slippers?

6 p.m. Cleaning the bathrooms, but I need to head out soon!

7 p.m. On the way to watch Jan’s concert. Terrible photo taken through the window of a tram.

I missed 8 p.m. as the concert was in progress.

9 p.m. Concert over, still in the church waiting for Jan to grab his stuff. Martinskirche, if you’re interested.

10 p.m. We went for food. By this stage it had all been eaten and I was finishing my wine before we got the bill.

11 p.m. Home and having a hot sage and honey drink to warm up… it was freezing on Saturday!

I was tucked up in bed by quarter to 12 so no more photos needed to be taken and symmetry in my blog post is preserved 😉

I did, in fact, manage to get almost all my cards made, written and addressed. Only my dad’s remained to be sorted. And I did quite a bit of the housework I had planned to get sorted, although putting away the washing ended up being a task for Sunday evening. (And I still haven’t cleaned the oven). All in all a productive day.

What did you get up to on Saturday? I hope you all had a lovely festive weekend.

A Photo an Hour: 17 November 2018

Believe it or not, I was actually up before 8 a.m. on Saturday! One of Jan’s choirs was having rehearsals over the weekend so a girl from the choir who lives in Geneva was staying out our place… although Jan isn’t even here right now (he’s in the US doing a three-week orientation for his new job). Obviously I couldn’t leave her to breakfast alone, so I was up. I don’t have photographic evidence of that fact though because I had forgotten it was photo an hour day until I went on Twitter at quarter to ten. So my daily photos start with 10 a.m….

10 a.m. Shower time.

11 a.m. Opening my post. Surprise, surprise… I received a book. I also received something much better than a book (yes, such things exist) but that will be addressed in a separate post.

12 noon. Boots on, off out.

1 p.m. In town buying some stuff. It was colder than I expected.

2 p.m. On the bus home. Weird photo, but I couldn’t think what else to do. People kept looking at me!

3 p.m. Jan asked me to scan something for him and this seemed like a good time to do it.

4 p.m. Time for a nice, hot cup of tea.

5 p.m. We recently (finally!) got some desperately needed furniture for my “office” and I’ve been gradually filling it up. At this point I was sorting out some craft stuff.

6 p.m. The desk slowly getting there. No, I don’t want to discuss how bad it looked before I started sorting it. *Shame* The stack of papers on the left is Jan’s though… I refuse to take responsibility for that!

7 p.m. Back in town. The choir had finished its practice and I was meeting my guest for pizza.

I didn’t take any more photos after that… it would have seemed a little rude. Luckily I had an even number 😉 We ate, came home, had a long conversation about books triggered by me trying and failing to fit the ones I had picked up from the public bookcase in the afternoon on my to-read shelves. I lent her a book she’d been wanting to read. Then we went to bed.

A fairly typical Saturday really. Except for once I didn’t have loads of housework to do because I had spent my evenings cleaning in anticipation of having someone to stay.

How was your Saturday?

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On an entirely unrelated note, a couple of days after I came out of hospital, I noticed that some of the leaves on the previously green tree outside our building had started changing colour. I know autumn had technically started over a week earlier, but to me it felt somehow significant… I lost my babies right when the season started to change. Yesterday, it started snowing. I’m not sure I’m ready for another change of season yet. It’s all going so fast!
Tomorrow is our work Christmas meal (the only day between now and Christmas that nobody is off), so I’ll be travelling to Germany in the morning and working there for the day. The last time I was in the office was the day I told my colleagues I was pregnant. The next time I was supposed to be there was the day before I lost the babies. Going there tomorrow, no longer pregnant, is going to be surreal. It has to be done sometime though.