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Home Composting and What is Compostable?

There is a lot of talk about compostable packaging and food supplies. Manufacturers often talk about how their packaging composts within 12 weeks. Or how the coffee cup you are using is compostable. What they don’t tell you is their claims are based on commercial composting on an industrial scale. If you think of composting do you picture a big industrial facility or a heap in your back garden? So what is home composting and what is compostable?

Home Composting Guide

Home Composting

It is simple to do. It can be cheap – it depends on if you build your own compost heap using old wood pallets or if you buy a super expensive compost bin. Where I live in Cardiff the council actually sell you compost bins for £7. It’s basically a big bin with a hatch door at the bottom to make it easier to get your finished compost out.

Home composting and industrial composting work on different timescales. You are never going to get good quality home compost in 12 weeks. The temperature of the heap is unlikely to get high enough for rapid breakdown; especially in the winter months. Does that make it any less compostable? Well no. Cardboard is compostable – but everyone says biodegradable. Sugarcane tableware is compostable but I have to use biodegradable because it doesn’t happen within an industrial composting timeframe. There is a nice study on domestic composting rates of cardboard, sugarcane plates, plant based compost liner and compostable bioplastic fork. The cardboard and sugarcane plate had degraded in 80% of the test compost heap within 6 months and in 95% within 12 months.

That’s why I’m passionate about bagasse tableware. Six months after you use it you can feed your flowerbeds, plant vegetables and have a good source of home made compost. Can you do that with a plastic plate? Even paper plates often have a thin plastic coating so they are usable, making them unsuitable for composting.

BioPlastics Aren’t Always Home Compostable

The diagram below is a good guide for compostable markings. So your compostable disposable coffee cup may appear to be a good way of avoiding waste but in reality you will end up throwing it in your black bag waste anyway. Just look at the temperature needed for industrial composting and a highly controlled environment – can you picture that in your back garden?

Is it a science? I reckon most definitely; to get a good idea of how to balance a good compost heap read here. Most DIY stores sell compost heap starter if you are at the beginning of your journey. I have a rabbit and his waste has proved to be a very good compost heap starting material! Although my compost heap is now a bit too much rabbit waste and not enough greenery after the winter. I need to mow the lawn!

My Sugarcane Compostable Party Supplies

I have been asked many times why I don’t sell cups. It is for the simple reason I haven’t found on that is home compostable yet. They all have bioplastic in them and need industrial composting. When I started Eco Infinity I felt very passionate that all party supplies sold should be home compostable. That party supplies should not have to enter mainstream waste collection.

I am sticking to that. Even though I could have a much bigger business with many more sales by now it will be abandoning my whole ethos for Eco Infinity. I hope you found this blog post useful. If you did a share on social media is always appreciated.

Happy composting everyone!

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DIY Beeswax Wraps At Home

DIY Beeswax Wraps

Making your own DIY beeswax wraps couldn’t be easier. It is an especially good way of using up old cotton fabric remnants. No special equipment is needed; in fact you can do the process with only three things. Cotton fabric, beeswax and a heat source; either an iron or oven at low heat.

Where To Buy Beeswax

Ebay and Amazon have a lot of beeswax blocks for sale. You can choose your quantity. I bought my block from Live Moor. It came really quickly and postage is free.

Method

Measure the pots and pans you usually use to get an idea of the size of wrap that would be most useful.

Cut your fabric squares. Don’t forget you will want to fold the edges over so cut them a bit bigger than your bowl/container. If you have them use pinking shears to prevent the fabric fraying.

Before you apply the beeswax iron your fabric squares flat.

Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper on an old baking tray.

Place your fabric square on top of the greaseproof paper.

If you are using beeswax pellets you can miss out this step! Grate your beeswax. I like to use the smallest grate size.

Evenly cover the surface of your fabric square. Don’t leave any gaps to make sure you get an even coverage.

Iron: Lay another layer of greaseproof paper on top to protect your iron. Without using steam iron your beeswax fabric until the beeswax has melted.

Oven: Put the beeswax coated fabric into the oven for 5-6 minutes until the beeswax has melted.

What you’re looking for!

Once melted the fabric should appear soaked. Let it dry before repeating the process on the other side.

Your wraps are now ready to use.

Care Instructions

Do not put in the washing machine!

Hand wash in warm soapy water and line dry/leave to dry.

Your wraps should be usable for about a year before the wax deteriorates. Once you have finished with them throw them on a compost heap. Haven’t got a compost heap? Read about starting one.

No time to make your own beeswax wraps but want to use less plastic cling film? Buy your wraps here at Eco Infinity.

 

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Reusable Drinks Bottles A Modern Essential

Reusable Drinks Bottles

Remember in the 1980’s when you were out with your Mum and when you moaned at being thirsty the answer would be ‘you can have a drink when you get home’. I fell into that trap. The toddler always has a cup of water for him, but in the rush out of the house I would forget about my other two children – and myself. This is why I’m making the change to remembering the reusable drinks bottles.

Reusable water bottle

The UK uses 13 billion single use plastic bottles every single year. That’s 13 billion bottles thrown away to be recycled. Except it isn’t. Only around 7.5 billion are actually recycled. And that’s from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. It is a cold hard fact. We need to stop buying the bottle of coke because it’s only one bottle. It is one bottle 13 billion times over.

St David’s 2 shopping arcade in Cardiff recently publicised the addition of fountains to re-fill your reusable drinks bottles. As more and more public spaces begin to adopt this approach you won’t need to beg a cafe for a re-fill of water. Or and this has happened to me. You won’t have to pay £1 for the privilege of tap water being put into your bottle. I did check if they still charged £1 with the rest of my order. Yes? I’ll just have the water then thanks.

Eco Infinity Eco Shop

Eco Infinity is stocking a new range of reusable drinks bottles. All chosen to give a variety of sizes and designs. Practical, functional but beautiful.

It is too easy to slip back into old habits. We’re in the age of commercialism – there is nothing we can’t buy and we can buy it at any time of day. I’m old enough to remember growing up with 9-5 shops and nothing open on a Sunday apart from the newsagents for the papers. Today our children want something they will be able to go somewhere and get it.

I have to re-train myself as well. Check the bag before I leave. Nappies? Wipes? Why not add cutlery and bottles onto that mental list as well? I need a caffeine hit while out. Buy a can. Yes you can’t re-close it but cans can be recycled over and over again.

 

Reusable bottle

Take a look at the selection of reusable bottles at Eco Infinity. If it’s your first order use code FIRST to get 10% off your total order value and there is no minimum spend either.

Happy drinking!

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Trying to be Eco Friendly with Multiple Children

Eco Friendly with Multiple Children

Well three to be precise. You tend to have a lot of stuff with one child. Multiply that up threefold and you have the potential for supplying a country’s worth of plastic just yourself. So how do I try and streamline our life to attempt to minimise our single use plastic consumption? And live trying to be more eco friendly with multiple children.

Eco friendly with multiple children

  • Reusable nappies! I love cloth nappies. I have used the same set on all three of my children.
  • Reusable wipes! My first two children I used home made reusable wipes, I’ve been a bit lazier with number three and bought more disposable wipes.
  • Reusable cups. They all have one when we go out. Never had a problem re-filling them with water when out and about.
  • Plastic cutlery. Now this one sounds weird but I’m talking about the spoons and forks that I bought 10 years ago when weaning my eldest. Perfect for slinging in the rucksack and using for unexpected snacks. I still get arguing over who has the pink one though…
  • Hand me downs. My daughter wears the old boys clothes and football kits too. And when I’m done with them they get passed on. School trousers got holes in? They cut cut down into shorts. Make do and mend for a reason!
  • Wet bag. For the swimming kit – don’t take the plastic bags they sometimes leave for wet kit. I also have one for the nappies when out and about.
  • Cotton. I never used to consider that polyester had plastic in it. I try and stick to cotton clothing.
  • Lunch boxes! I’ve made some muslin washable bags for their lunchboxes and storing cake etc. I’m trying to cut down my kitchen roll and cling film use.
  • Recycling. I drive my husband insane with my insistence on what goes in the recycling. I have boxes of waste to take to different places. But our landfill is usually just two black bags a fortnight.

Bin and Recycling

What I Fail At

It is important to admit what we’re not as good at. For most of us parents it is probably a similar story.

  • Toys. Party bag toys in particular. The tat that they bring home and never look at again.
  • Toys. We were all kids once wanting the next big thing in toys. I mean have you seen an LOL doll? The amount of plastic packaging is obscene but my daughter saves up all her pocket money to buy them. Same thing with Match Attax and sticker albums.
  • Disposable nappies. I use them overnight, none of my children sleep well in cloth. And I need my sleep!
  • Disposable wipes.
  • Cling film. I’m trying alternatives but I’ve always been a bit lazy about finding them. I make no excuses – it has just been laziness and supermarket convenience.
  • Food packaging. My biggest fail. I can’t do a totally plastic free shop without affecting their diet, and I’m not prepared to limit what I feed them.

So….

How do you compare? Do you have any suggestions for changes I could make? Tell me. I’m always trying to be more eco friendly with multiple children. To read about my journey with composting as a waste disposal technique read here.

Seaside Bin Recycling

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My Home Composting Journey

Composting

I remember as a child my parents had a compost heap at the bottom of the garden. My Mum would wander down there with the vegetable peelings most days. I don’t remember them using the compost lol but I’m sure they did. Over the last few months I have once again become aware of composting. It is becoming part of my journey into reducing the waste our family uses heading to landfill.

The Compost Bin

I bought a compost bin from Cardiff Council. You can get them at the Lamby Way recycling depot or tip, if we’re not being so posh. It only cost a few pounds and it can hold 240 litres; it’s big! So cost isn’t an obstruction to starting to compost at home.

Composting Infographic

I am starting cautious in the hope that it might be successful so I’m limiting what I put into my compost heap until it’s bigger. So, sawdust from the rabbit hutch (urine is apparently a great addition to a compost heap), grass cuttings, non-seeded weeds, leaves (we have lots). From the house; fruit/vegetable peelings, tea bags, crushed egg shells, paper towels, plain cardboard like toilet rolls, scrunched up paper, sugarcane disposable party supplies.

How I’m Doing It

  • Small is key I reckon. I’m ripping paper or shredding it. Ripping up cardboard and the sugarcane party supplies.
  • Old cotton fabric offcuts are cut even smaller.
  • I’m mixing the wetter peelings with cardboard and paper.
  • Moisture. In the middle of a heatwave I’m adding water every week. Not much – maybe it’s not enough I have no idea!
  • Regular turning. Not looking forward to this one!

Why will it take so long to turn into compost though? Patience is not my strong point. Once there’s something to see I might show some photos. A few peelings aren’t very exciting to look at.

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How My Plastic Free Changes Are Going

Plastic Free Changes

On July 1st I started another #plasticfreejuly. So how is it going? Is it easy? Or am I finding it tough going. These are my plastic free changes.

Quotation Plastic Free Changes

  • Food packaging. The biggest challenge – sometimes it seems that everything is covered in plastic. Getting some fruit and veg is relatively easy; but the choice isn’t as good and it’s more expensive.
  • Soap. An easy one. Once the usual squirty kids soaps are finished it is all bars for good.
  • Shampoo bars. I bought two from Adam and Eco. I really like them. The kids are suspicious I’m just using soap lol.
  • Single use bottles. Easy. Very easy. I have either been using my reusable bottle or buying a can instead. I don’t take the children out for the day without them having a bottle of drink each, so it makes sense I include myself in those preparations.

How Can I Improve It?

  • Morrisons have new zero plastic aisles. I usually get a big shop delivered from them but they don’t give you a carrier bag free option. I’m going to have to brave taking the toddler lol.
  • My nearest high street greengrocer has been a great find. It’s a 15 minute drive but the selection is much better than if I go to Asda which is closer to me.
  • Research! Where can I bulk buy goods.
  • Research! Check everything I buy whether the plastic is recyclable. If it isn’t then put it back on the shelf.
  • My local butcher thinks I’m bonkers but he puts my meat into my Tupperware.

Half way through. It is progress and more importantly sustainable progress. All of my changes will definitely stay for the long-term. Like most people I’m finding food packaging is the hardest thing to avoid. Until shops have a financial penalty for the amount of plastic packaging they use I can’t see that changing either.

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5 Things I Thought About Sugarcane Tableware

Sugarcane Tableware… Sell it and Love it

When the sugarcane tableware first arrived I thought there had been a mistake. Maybe the company had sent me the wrong boxes. They were a lot more rigid than I expected. But then I didn’t know what a plate or bowl would look or feel like. Made from non-woody sugarcane fibres that are the by-product from the juice extraction process. These five points form my thoughts around my first experiences with compostable plates and bowls.

  • They are so sturdy. Even after 30 minutes spent covered in salad dressing they were rigid enough to not flex much. You could carry them around one handed easily, even when they are piled high with food.
  • They aren’t very colourful. Yes, I agree they look boring but you can jazz them up with bright coloured accessories.
  • If you are entertaining children they are excellent to draw on with felt tip. My daughter used an 8oz bowl to make a hat.
  • They didn’t blow around as much as paper plates do in the breeze. I put this down to the fact they are slightly heavier.
  • It seems totally bizarre to dump them on your compost heap afterwards but it made for fast clearing up.

I have used them several times while entertaining. I’m a convert. There will be no more paper plates in this house. I’m even considering using them for certain craft, anything that doesn’t involve glitter or glue lol. Not sure my compost heap would like glitter being added.

In fact the sugarcane tableware provides quite a talking point about plastic pollution. This is one small way we can help reduce the plastic footprint we leave behind on the earth. One of my favourite quotes explains why I am making such an effort. Gaylord Nelson has got it spot on.

Tableware Gaylord Nelson Quote

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#plasticfreejuly

#plasticfreejuly

You will see that hashtag a lot in July. Maybe you will hear people talking about zero waste and not using being plastic free during July. Currently around 8,000 people have registered to take part. I am one of them. Eco Infinity is doing #plasticfreejuly too. I did it last year on my blog Toy Infinity and it is actually really hard to cut out all plastic. This year I am concentrating on eliminating single use plastics rather than living without plastic.

#plasticfreejuly

My Challenge

  • No plastic drink bottles. If we’re out and need a drink because we’re not organised enough to have remembered our bottle we’ll buy a can.
  • 90% of bathroom waste isn’t recycled and the bathroom is probably the place I use most plastic. I’ve made a change by buying shampoo bars and soap bars. No more plastic bottles!
  • Using my own containers in the local butchers. No more plastic bag to throw away.
  • Not using the plastic bags for loose veg.
  • Buying clothes made of natural fibres; no polyester.

Plastic Free July Reusable Tea Cup

Party

I have already made one change. At our family barbecue we’re using my compostable party supplies and composting them afterwards. Minimal washing up for my Mum and no landfill for Cardiff Council. It’s a small change but when you consider there will be waste from around 20 people eating that will make a big difference.

Are you doing Plastic Free July? Tell me your challenges in the comments. For more information on #plasticfreejuly visit the Marine Conservation Society

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Why Sugarcane Plates?

Why Sugarcane Tableware?

Sugarcane fibres are a natural by-product of extracting the juice from the sugarcane. The waste fibres are usually incinerated but there is an increasing trend to using the fibres to form disposable party supplies. Why do I love sugarcane plates so much?

You can home compost! A domestic compost heap doesn’t reach the high temperatures of a commercial system. This means that some substances labelled as compostable won’t compost properly in a domestic compost heap. A good example is biodegradable plastic or PLA. Although clear PLA glasses are biodegradable they will not degrade successfully in your home compost heap.

Sugarcane (or Bagasse) has similar compostable properties to paper and cardboard. If conditions are right in your heap (not too wet and warm enough) it will completely degrade in months. No more hours spent at the sink washing up or endless loads in the dishwasher. You put it all on the compost heap and use it years later to feed your garden.

Dont forget it isn’t just sugarcane plates but bowls and other tableware supplies too.

At Eco Infinity we are trying to encourage home composting. It reduces the waste collected by your council, enriches your garden and is the most environmentally friendly way of disposing of your waste.