Zero Waste Coffee

I stopped drinking coffee a while ago. As a student, I used to work in coffee shops, study in coffee shops and hang out in coffee shops. Studying has some perks, mainly the availability of time that you can spend any way you want -guilt free! I would spent a lot of time sitting in my favourite place staring out of the window and just pondering about the world. When I started working after University, I would pick up a coffee on the way to work to perk me up and to give me that feeling of bliss (would rather be staring out of a window with a cup right now but this is second best feeling ). There was a lot of money spent on coffee, not to mention all of that packaging that came from it!

I realized that I was actually quite caffeine sensitive so I tried to cut down. My tea consumption in that time has however quadrupled so it was probably all psychological anyway :) What I realised in the process of curbing my habit is that a coffee shop visit was more of a time for myself where I could think, process my thoughts and just relax.  It wasn't about the coffee really. So now I try to recreate that moment for myself at home without spending literally hundreds of pounds every year. The solution is simple, cheap and completely zero waste-make your own. 

I now buy all of our coffee in bulk from a local shop in Sheffield called Pollards. They stock a huge amount of varieties. Who would have thought that there is so much to choose from? When you enter the shop, your taste buds are screaming as the smell of freshly ground coffee welcomes you in. You can ask to smell different varieties to see what you fancy each time. Our current favourite is Monsoon Malabar.  I bring my jar, get it filled with coffee beans and grind them at home using a coffee grinder. The coffee lasts fresh for longer when all of its flavour is locked in the bean. If you don't have a grinder, don't worry as they can grind it for you! 

There often is a misconception that good quality items costs a lot more. If you buy 2 x take away coffees  for 2.50 each, for the same price you will be able to get a really good quality fresh coffee which will last you for weeks! 

We use an insulated stainless steel coffee french press to brew the coffee at home and compost the coffee grounds. 

No more take aways in plastic coffee cups either!  If I want a drink whilst I am out I bring a reusable mug and ask the staff to fill it. As long as the mug has a lid I have never been refused. 

When on occasion I want a coffee (Craig is the main coffee hound these days) I make it at home, have a moment for myself and relax knowing that I am supporting local shop, drinking good quality coffee and there is no waste as a result. But I'm not going to lie, I I still like a good coffee shop every now and then ;)

Buying Meat Zero Waste

When it comes to Zero Waste shopping, the biggest worry that I had was with meat.  Am I going to be able to bring my jars into the shop? Will the butchers trust my containers enough to eradicate any health and safety worries that they might have? I made the decision to eat less but more quality meat so I was looking for a butcher who would be happy to sell me produce zero waste. 

Beeches of Walkley is a well know butchers in Sheffield, renowned for a really good quality meat, often sourced locally. I went in, asked for my meat to be filled in my jars and the rest is history! 

People often think that meat from the butchers is more expensive. That is not always the case! The lamb mince in the jar on the left was £6 per kg. If you buy fresh lamb mince from Sainsbury's, it is currently 8.50kg. Not only you are supporting local business and so keeping the money in your local community, it is actually cheaper!

They also stock a lot of freezer foods in bulk like cookie dough, beans, peas, hash browns and more. I am so excited to add to my zero waste food repertoire. 

How to buy your meat in bulk : 

1. Sterilise the jars beforehand. You can either put them through a hot cycle in the dishwasher or pour hot water over them.

2. Butchers are never self-service so I just hand my jars over, Chris weights the jars, tares the weight and just works out the cost. It helps if you write the tare of the jar at the top with a permanent marker. 

3. Just in case that you need to work out the maths here is how you do it. 

For example
Jar weight 250g
Total weight of the jar and meat - 750 grams
Price per kilogram - £6.50

Subtract the weight of the jar from the total. To convert it to kg, the formula is -
 Multiple it with price per kg = 0.5 x 6.50= £3.25 total

So far all of the local businesses that I have approached with Zero Waste shopping in Sheffield have been really supportive. For some of them, it is the first time (hopefully not for long) that they had a request like this, but were more than happy to ask me questions.  This is one of those things I love about shopping small. You get to know the people that are the backbone of your community who are proud of their work.  They work hard because they are passionate about what they do and not just for the company's self-imposed targets. Sorry supermarkets, you just can't compete with that.

Zero Waste Lunch Essentials

I have a bit of a reputation when it comes to food. I always, always bring food with me everywhere I go. When we plan camping trips I am usually in charge of food, not because I am the best cook but because I make sure that we don’t go hungry at any point! :) 

I am out a lot in the evenings after work, either climbing or doing something along that line so nutrition is really important for me. The only way to get adequate fuel is to plan my meals for the day ahead and carry everything that I will need for the whole day. 

This is my toolkit that I usually bring with me. Everything in there is unbreakable for a reason! A lot of my commute will involve biking or walking and so it is a lot more practical for me to use items made from stainless steel. The good thing about stainless steel is that it last for a very long time, making it a really good alternative to plastic.   I do sometimes use glass mason jars as well.  

1.   Food Tiffin - People always comment on it.  I got it a few years ago when I was traveling in India. It is actually designed to carry curry, rice and a naan bread. I love the fact that I can have 3 different things in there without having to mix it together. Today I had some omelette, home made energy balls and a salad. 

2.     Stainless steel water bottle - I drink a lot water every day so having a big bottle is essential.  

3.     Stainless Steel spork – my latest edition – death to single-use plastic utensils! It is really small and portable so it comes with me everywhere I go. 

4.     Tea flask- This one is leak proof so you can put it in your bag without worrying that it will spill everywhere. Get one of these to substitute disposable coffee cups.  

5.     Cotton bag- (not pictured) to hold everything in one place    

6.     Reusable napkin- I bought some vintage napkins in a charity shop. I never used to see myself as a napkin type of person. Until I tried one:) 

No plastic is needed and it looks so much more beautiful than shop bought packaged lunch. 

Wild Swimming - Slippery Stones

Chances are that if you live in Sheffield you have heard of Slippery Stones. During long summer evenings or the hottest day of the year, it seems to come up in conversations quite a lot. I have only recently gone for the first time and was surprised as to just how lovely the place is. There is a small pool of water where the water is deep enough to jump into and have a little dip. This little pool represents Peak District really well- dark peaty coloured water surrounded by moorlands and hills. It really feels strangely magical out there. 

To jump or not to jump? 

How to get there 

From Sheffield - Drive or cycle to Ladybower and turn right towards Howden Reservoir.  Park at Fairholmes car park. If you don't have a car or you don't feel like cycling up, there are buses from Sheffield all the way to the car park. From there it is about 6 km walk or a bike ride. During the week you will actually be able to continue to drive further up the road to Kings Tree where the road ends. From this point, it's about 1km walk. Follow the path and just after a little bridge turn left and walk up the stream. The track from Kings Tree is more suitable for off road bikes although it has seen some desperate road bikes before.


Watch out for the slippery stones, I guess the clue is in the name. The water seems good quality and the water levels vary depending on rainfall. As always with wild swimming, do your research and exercise caution. Other than that, enjoy the experience! 

DIY Lululemon Strappy Back One Piece Swimming Costume

Climbing girl’s problem alert. One of the side effects of regular climbing and doing calisthenics is that your lats get bigger. I definitely welcome this as when it comes to climbing, the bigger the guns the better (up to a point of course ;) However, as a result, my old swimming costume got too small for me so I have decided to turn it into a DIY getting drawing inspiration from a Lululemon one piece.  I love the back straps on their design which you can fit to measure. I have used an old hand me down swimming costume so apart from a few supplies, I didn't have to buy anything new.

The original piece from Lululemon 

What you need 

One-piece swimming costume 
Elastic thread 
Chalk or something to mark the pattern 
Elastic (thin but at least 1cm wide)

     Old hand me down costume 

How to 

1. Mark how low you want the back slit to go. Take into account that the fabric stretches quite considerably. I have used a DVD case to mark a rectangle ( super professional I know ) as I wanted to replicate the rectangular shape of the back.  If you are using the same template,  place the cover in the middle of the back so that you have equal distance from the side seams and cut it out. Depending on the stretch of the fabric you might want to start with something smaller to make sure that the opening is not too big. 

1. Hem the edges using an elastic thread. I did it by hand but it would probably be neater if you used a sewing machine. 

2. Put the swimming costume on and mark where you want the front straps to start from. Make sure that you stretch the swimming costume in the same way as you will want to wear it. Give yourself a seam allowance which needs to be big enough so that you can attach the straps. Hem the edges. 

3. Now you can fit the straps. This is the most laborious step as you have to keep putting the costume on and off making sure that the tension is just right and even on both sides. Start with the top strap and attach it at the back first. I have literally just sewed it onto the hemmed edge on the inside so that you can't see it from the outside. Put the swimming costume on and tension the strap to the front. The straps are attached diagonally (elastic located at the top left of the right side of the chest goes to the top of the left side on the back). Make it as tight as you want and cut it. Repeat on the other side. In order to make the nice pattern at the back I have weaved the elastic in the following pattern.

There are 6 straps in total and the number corresponds to the straps at the back.

1 xxx 4
2 xxx 5
3 xxx 6

1 over 6 under 5 over 4
2 under 6 over 5 under 4
3 over 6 under 5 over 4

Work your way to the last straps, always in rows (so 1-4, 2-5, 3-6) in order for the straps to have an even tension. You need to weave the pattern as you go along. 

It took me quite a while to work out how to do this but I am really pleased with how it turned out. I used up a piece of clothing which was probably destined for landfill ( not sure just how many times you can pass on a swimming costume) so I am really pleased with it.  The end result is really sturdy as tested on several different beaches and a wild swim at Slippery Stones in the Peak District. :) 


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