Zero waste coffee

I do like a good cup of coffee – the real stuff made from beans. And it was whilst preparing my coffee this morning that I realised that (at least as far as what happens in my house) it’s zero landfill waste… so on day 5 of Zero Waste Week, I thought I’d tell you how I manage it:

We buy our organic coffee beans from a small shop in Aberystwyth called The Mecca; they sell loose teas and coffees and we always take our own containers so we generate no packaging

coffee beans

coffee beans

We grind the beans ourselves (solar electricity on a sunny day) and store any not used immediately in a glass jar

all ready to go

all ready to go

The water is filtered with charcoal, which comes wrapped in tissue paper in a cardboard box:

charcoal in the water jug

charcoal in the water jug

and is boiled in a Kelly Kettle:

on the boil

on the boil

using, for fuel, twigs from pruning the willow hedge

willow waste

willow twigs

and newspaper, both scrunched up and made into ‘sticks’ as my nan taught me

newspaper sticks

newspaper sticks

The ground coffee goes into a cone lined with a heavy cotton fabric, which is washed between uses and used over and over

coffee in the cone

coffee in the cone

We pour the water on and store any excess hot water in thermos flasks for use later

steamy coffee

steamy coffee

And very quickly, there’s a mug of coffee

my coffee

my coffee

Being lactose intolerant, I drink my coffee black and I don’t take sugar.

Eventually the charcoal needs replacing, but we just put it in the soil, and the filters need replacing, as they do finally start to break down with the action of the acidic coffee and the repeated rinsing, but they get put on the compost heap, as do the coffee grounds. The cone and jug are more than 15 years old and still going strong; the Kelly Kettle was bought in 2009 and has been repaired once. So, all-in-all, about as low waste as we can manage Рa great drink for Zero Waste Week.

 

DIY dog biscuits

Some months ago I discussed making the dog’s diet more sustainable. In the intervening time we have started feeding them more raw meat: minced offal has proved particularly popular with them and we are able to buy it from the same place that we buy much of the meat that we eat ourselves. It is organic, and the sort of thing that the dogs like is often rejected by us pernickety humans. I have to confess that I’m not a great offal fan, so being able to feed it to the dogs makes me feel a little better.

Dogs, being omnivores, cannot live by meat alone. We are fortunate that our two are fond of vegetables. Max will happily disappear off with a cauliflower stalk or a carrot for a quiet chew under the kitchen table.

Unfortunately, we have not solved the problem of dry food yet. Max suffers from Colitis and the latest research, according to our very knowledgeable vet, suggests that highly processed protein in the form of complete biscuits is the best diet. So, whilst we do give him a variety of fresh foods, Max still eats quite a lot of commercial complete dry food. There is another aspect to their diet, however, that I can contribute to. To help calm Max’s delicate digestive system, we give him (and Sam) charcoal biscuits as treats. I have always, until now, bought these from our local pet shop, but I realised yesterday, as stocks were getting low and I didn’t fancy going out because it was raining , that I could probably make these myself and thus avoid any artificial additives and simultaneously reduce our ‘dog food miles’!

Homemade charcoal biscuits - yum?!

Homemade charcoal biscuits – yum?!

A quick survey of the interweb and I was ready: organic wholemeal flour (milled at our local watermill), organic olive oil (from Spain… few olive groves in west Wales), some ground up charcoal tablets (designed for human consumption, but slightly out of date) and water. I mixed it up to a dough, rolled it out and baked it whilst I was cooking other food in the oven last night.

And the verdict from Max and Sam? Well, see for yourself:

Biscuit time! Yum!

Biscuit time! Yum!

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