Saving the planet, one drink straw at a time

We like a regular drink of what we usually call ‘pop’ around mealtimes. No, it’s not a euphemism for the dastardly inebriating grog: it really is ‘pop’ or, to be more specific, a sip of cordial such as Rocks lemon, for example. Not fizzy but tastes just like old fashioned lemonade. (Just add water.)

We tend to sip our cordials (yes, with our little finger raised, if that’s how you want to imagine itΒ  πŸ™‚Β  ) through a drinking straw.Β  But let’s not bother about the various etiquettes of soft drinks. The key here is that our straws have been, up to now, made of (insert shudder here) plastic!!!

But no more. Because other kinds of drinks straws are available. Properly washable and reuseable straws. We bought some (which arrived through the mail today) which are angled, rather than straight, and are made of glass. A four-pack of 6mm straws (larger gauges are also available that are more suitable for shakes and smoothies) cost just over a fiver. Shana will put some product details at the end of this post soon, as woolly-headed me has mislaidΒ  them. (Aw shucks.)

Our new eco-friendly straws will pay for themselves in less than a year (because of no more need to buy the plastic version) and will also mean we are putting less yucky plastic into landfill or anywhere else in the environment. Thus we will have saved the planet. Feel free to join us in doing the same.

Not sure what we’ll actually do with the planet now we’ve saved it. Still working on that one πŸ™‚

Shana’s Edit: My profuse apologies for Chris’ woolly-headedness, I told him his yarn stash would get the best of him one day! We bought our straws from ecostrawzΒ , and no, that is not an affrilliate link, just a helpful pointer as to where to go to do your bit to save the planet πŸ™‚


Drastic plastic

We recently discovered the science series Made By Destruction. I like Tony Hirst’s cheerful narration, and also, I must admit, the techno-influenced soundtrack. (Hunting for the album on CD but having no luck so far πŸ™‚Β  )

Made by Destruction often features factories that process various types of plastic, and this appeals to my anorak-y nature. I just have to know the meaning of all those numbers inside the triangle of arrows on so many items in our home (everyone’s homes, that is) and whether they are all recyclable.

My research (ie, Shana’s trawling through endless web links) reveals that we had been using empty mineral water bottles totally wrongly. Water bottles are mostly made of PET (deep breath: Polyehtylene teraphthalate. There’s one for the spelling bee if you dare πŸ™‚Β  ) PET bottles should not be reused because of concerns over hygiene and also the possible leaching of chemicals into the contents of the bottle. We had, for a brief time, reused our PET bottles by filling them with filtered tap water. Never again. (Actually, we stopped using filtered tap water a fair while ago.)

A quick guide to types of plasticΒ  also highlights some other plastics villains, including the evil Bisphenol-A, more commonly known by his friendly nickname BPA. One to avoid at all costs. If you’re anything like me, after you read that page you’ll be looking at the plastic number triangles on everything in sight. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Meanwhile, we’re ditching all the plastic in the house. Chucking the biros and reverting to using pencils; braving the cold by discarding uPVC windows in favour of nice wooden frames; and of course, as all our computer gear has plastic casings, that must be the end of the blog 😦

Yeah, as if! πŸ™‚

Absolutely Nakd

We tried some delicious ‘Nakd’ bars recently and decided it might be cost-effective to make our own. Good Nakd bar recipes are easy to follow and require absolutely no cooking. It’s all just chopping, blending and pressing, and then letting them set in the fridge till they are the right consistency.

We may be upgrading our equipment soon, although we won’t be spending a fortune. But we managed to make a batch of Nakd bars using just the following rudimentary gear. First, a Crown single-blade stick blender (made in China!) that we bought probably over ten years ago. It is a mere 180 watts power and the specification plate says that you must not run it continuously for more than one minute. Oh, so that’s why Shana thought the handle felt a bit warm after ploughing through half a packet of Whitworths ultra-gooey stoned Sayer dates this afternoon πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, I was doing an impression of someone trying to start a petrol-engined lawnmower (or perhaps a jetski outboard motor?) as I got to grips with a more recent purchase of ours, the Zyliss Easy Pull Food Processor. (No money-grabbing afiliate links there, btw, so just click merrily away. )Β  You may pooh-pooh the little Zyliss, but actually it’s pretty robust and certainly saw off a packet of cashew nuts with barely a second glance. Fifteen English pounds well spent, I’d say.

Other ingredients we threw into the mix were a pinch of Food Thoughts natural cacao poweder, and a weeny drop of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Madagascan vanilla extract.

I churlishly calculated at one point, that after my exertions with the Zyliss, the calories I would consume from the bars we produced would result in simply recouping the energy outlay. I could have been wrong though, because we reckon we churned out the equivalent of about seventeen of the commercially made Nakd bars. All in all then, we are, as Rockefeller once said, ‘quids in’. Definitely ready for a good sit down though. (Maybe we should rename them ‘knackered’ bars?) πŸ™‚

Sofa so good

Our new sofa arrived this afternoon. (The delivery van turned up at virtually the same second as the other van which was bringing our online-ordered groceries, but fortunately nobody got in anyone else’s way and comic scenes full of pratfalls and stunt collisions were thankfully avoided.)

The sofa delivery men had our new tasteful charcoal two-seater up the stairs and in the house in less than a couple of minutes and weren’t even out of breath.

Put us to shame, they did πŸ™‚

So, about our old sofa then, as you are doubtless dying to know.

You can see the old settee if you look at Smoky’s gallery of pictures (just click on the link at the top of the home page). It was a green tough-as-old-boots two-seater with a relatively high back compared to most modern sofas. Firm but comfortable cushions and big chunky bun feet almost as big as your head.

It had started to smell a bit musty, according to Shana. Well, we had owned it for fourteen years, and it was pretty old when we bought it in 2003. We had just bought Ezra the inflatable skeleton (who we still have). One of the blokes who delivered the old sofa wanted to take Ezra home with him but we politely declined.

Tired of the musty aroma, Shana ordered the new sofa last week, and we put the old one out for collection by the local recycling depot.

I make it sound so easy, don’t I?

What actually happened was this. First, we huffed and puffed and almost destroyed the door frame trying to heave the old sofa out of the house. Then we dragged the green beast down a flight of concrete stairs towards the outside world until we got to the last door in the communal area between the two blocks of maisonettes where Waffle Towers is located.

Since we moved here in 2007, the main entrance door has been changed. Not only must you now be a weightlifter to stand any chance of hauling it open, but the door is actually narrower than the flimsy one that used to be there.

What I mean to say is, we got stuck. Almost permanently wedged in the doorway.

At one point I went back upstairs to fetch a ripsaw, as I was convinced that the only way we would get the sofa out would be to dismember it.

Luckily, Mr Saw was not required. While I was upstairs Shana had done some rapid mental trigonometry and worked out the correct angle at which the sofa could be made to leave the building.

So gold star to Shana. And what happened next?

Well, the very next day, just before lunch, a big green dustcart turned up and two he-men in hi-vis jackets he-manhandled the doomed sofa to the back of their truck. At the push of a button Biffa (for it was indeed that very same Dustcart of the Apocalypse) ate my sofa.

They came back ten seconds later for the cushions. And the truck ate those too.

Then, with barely a burp, it rumbled off into the distance, leaving only a faint whiff of mustiness to linger in the air.

‘Farewell, old sofa,’ I thought. ‘Rest in pieces.’ πŸ™‚


An excellent and unusual word appeared on the table during tonight’s epic game of Lexicon: ‘SLAVERY’. Shana was delighted to have found it amongst her cards.

As most of our readers (that’s both of you, then πŸ™‚ ) will know, ‘slavery’ is usually pronounced with what is called a long ‘a’, as in whale, kale, or ale. And it is usually linked with the heroic efforts of Little Billy Wilberforce to outlaw it.

I, however, took one look at Shana’s offering and set off upon a road entirely less frequently traveled.

‘”Slavery”,’ I said. ‘What a super word!’

I had, as if you hadn’t guessed by now, deliberately pronounced (spat out, if you prefer) the word with a short ‘a’, thus alluding to the adjectival form of the noun ‘slaver’, with a totally different meaning: that of drooling or dribbling saliva. Many dog owners will be familiar with their slavery or slavering pooches. Some older cats also slaver at times, but I’m afraid I just can’t bring myself to believe such nonsense πŸ™‚

So there we are: Shana showing her social conscience, and I showing my preoccupation with dribble. Like to have seen old Wilber trying to ban that for sure πŸ™‚