Le plastique n’est pas fantastique

Cat Daddy and I have found it difficult to stick to our green routine during lockdown, for the following reasons:

1. Due to lack of availability, we have, at times, had to choose between food wrapped in plastic or no food at all.

2. We haven’t been able to get to the post office to send our plastic film to our friend who makes the speakers, nor our empty crisp packets to the lovely volunteers who magically transform them into donations to their local air ambulance. So we have had to bin some of it, as we don’t have the space to let it pile up.

3. Ocado are no longer taking back their carrier bags for recycling.

4. Sometimes we I have stuffed up and ordered the wrong thing online by accident.

Cat Daddy was very cross with me the other day when what I thought would be recyclable aluminium cans of John West Tuna in olive oil, ordered on Ocado, turned out to be plastic pots of John West tuna in olive oil. These are a new invention because, apparently, when people put a half-eaten can of tuna in the fridge, they don’t like the whole fridge smelling of tuna (and, apparently, decanting into a sealable container is too arduous and/or complicated). So the new pots come with a resealable lid to keep the tuna stench from tainting the fridge.

It’s somewhat annoying that both pot and lid are made of plastic, plus there is a peel-back film made of that weird plastic-foil hybrid stuff which isn’t recyclable anywhere on the planet. And it’s also annoying that the pots are smaller than the cans, so the chances are that most people would eat the lot and wouldn’t need to put any leftovers in the fridge. But what offended Cat Daddy about this purchase was that he had just written to John West to complain about the hideous ungreenness of their new plastic pots and I have now made a fool of him by buying that very product, even though it was a genuine mistake.

Anyway, in something of a departure from the norm, the only individual in our household maintaining their level of responsibility is Louis Catorze, who is still a loyal customer of Lily’s Kitchen in their compostable packaging (which, when empty, we use as food waste bags). And we sincerely hope that their acquisition by Nestlé will not lead to any changes in their packaging nor in their food formulations. I am half-tempted to shop around and change but Le Roi really, really likes Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish.

Here is Catorze, looking smug beyond belief in the knowledge that he is the greenest person in Le Château. And he would like to remind any tuna-loving furry comrades to boycott John West until they do something about their stupid plastic pots.

Like an evil warlord planning his next strike.

Les caresses de chat donnent des puces

C584A943-212A-47E7-9B98-81566F8D670CMy plan to make Louis Catorze a zero-waste kitty has reached an obstacle: spot-on flea treatment. Not only is the market fairly limited in terms of products – with some well known to be utterly useless – but not a single one is plastic-free. So it won’t be quite as simple as swapping brands, as we did with the little sod’s food. 

Louis Catorze uses Broadline, which has the added benefit of also treating worms and therefore absolving us of the Greco-Roman death-wrestle when we try to get a worming pill into him. Each little vial comes individually wrapped in a plastic tray with a peel-off film cover. Whilst I can see why vets and pet shops would want such packaging for sterility, I wrote to the manufacturer to ask if there may be another option for at-home users.

The response – which, unbelievably, came from a lovely customer services lady named Cat – was that the packaging was needed to keep the product stable and to comply with some fancy-sounding European safety law. 

(When I told others about Cat, very worryingly a couple of friends told me that the name must just be a coincidence, as if I genuinely thought the company might only recruit people with animal names or, worse, that I thought they had an actual cat managing their customer service enquiries.)

I wrote back to Broadline Cat and asked if they were doing anything to find an alternative to plastic. I understood about the product stability – after all, we wouldn’t want rancid chemicals to cause Catorze to mutate and turn into the scary Monsieur Hyde version of himself – but, given the ticking time bomb that is single-use plastic, I hoped that there might be another way. (Cat Daddy remarked that Catorze already IS the scary, mutant Monsieur Hyde version, and that a cocktail of putrid chemicals couldn’t possibly make things worse in that respect.)

Broadline Cat replied as follows: 

“Please rest assured that Boehringer Ingelheim continuously look to make improvements where possible to improve our environmental impact. Whilst there is nothing more we can share currently on this particular area, we will ensure to raise this with global manufacturing and supply chain colleagues working on our environmental programmes.”

I don’t know what the solution is for packaging spot-on flea treatment. But I hope Broadline Cat will be true to her word and that they will continue to look for one. 

Le lit découvre tous les secrets

Louis Catorze has a Château full of comfortable beds at his disposal, with soft anti-allergy bedding and freshly-laundered duvet covers. So, naturellement, he chooses to sleep in … a grubby Hounslow Council plastics refuse sack, in the equally grubby Forbidden Greenhouse. You couldn’t make this up … and, to prove that I really haven’t, here he is, narrowing his eyes at me with no shame whatsoever: 

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Could he BE any more low-brow and unbecoming of a Sun King? 

Cat Daddy: “If you gave him enough time, probably, yes.”

Sois le changement que tu désires voir en ce monde

Cat Daddy and I are continuing in our efforts to reduce the use of plastic. Our household now boasts sustainable bamboo toilet paper (which used to come from Amazon wrapped in nasty plastic, until we snitched to the supplier and they put pressure on Amazon to stop), plastic-free ladies’ sanitary items made of cotton and other plant matter, and we have even ditched supermarket meat and started going to the pricey-but-worth-it butcher who doesn’t use those polystyrene tray things. 

This morning we said goodbye to the last thing that is really bugging us, which is Louis Catorze’s environmentally-unfriendly Acana Pacifica packaging. Unfortunately some other living thing somewhere will be forced to say hello to it, seeing as the darned thing isn’t recyclable, and I wish there were something we could do about that. But there isn’t.

So we have done the next best thing, which is to stop buying it and to buy something else instead. Lily’s Kitchen is officially our new partner in Opération Get-The-Little-Sod-Onto-New-Food-Without-Him-Noticing, which goes live later today. 

Phase Une will consist of normal servings of Acana Pacifica, with the lightest garnish of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish on top. Assuming it passes with neither refusal to eat nor freak vomiting/diarrhoea incident, we will move onto Phase Deux, which is, erm, the same thing but with a moderately heavier sprinkling of Lily’s Kitchen. 

Despite getting rid of the plastic packaging we still have a considerable supply of the Acana Pacifica food left, having decanted it into Catorze’s refillable airtight dispenser. And, actually, this suits us fine; we will need plenty of the base ingredient because Opération G-T-L-S-O-N-F-W-H-N is going to be a long and arduous project. But it will definitely be worth it for the positive impact of buying from a UK-based company with compostable packaging. And, better yet, our local Pets at Home stock Lily’s Kitchen, so I can go there to collect it rather than have it arrive in a cardboard carton and a layer of bubble wrap. (Cat Daddy: “It’ll be far too heavy for you to carry, with your bad neck and shoulder. Let’s face it: I’m the chump who’s going to end up being the packhorse.”)

I told Cat Daddy how proud I was that our boy was doing his bit to minimise his negative impact on the planet. His deadpan reply, without looking up from his laptop: “Great. Let me know the minute he starts making a positive impact.”

Le plastique défigure le monde

Cat Daddy is waging a war on plastic, after finding out just how much of it ends up in seas and landfill. He doesn’t have quite such a problem with the hard plastic that can be recycled, such as bottles, although he is pretty cross with Easter eggs for all their unnecessary packaging and relative lack of chocolate. The main target of his rage is the floppy, filmy plastic that our local council used to recycle but now won’t.

I have been clobbered by Cat Daddy for buying from mail-order companies whose goods arrive in bubble wrap. I have also been clobbered for my use of ladies’ sanitary items because of their plastic content, although Cat Daddy has helpfully reminded me that I “probably won’t need them for much longer”. Even Louis Catorze didn’t escape a clobbering for his Acana Pacifica, which comes in one of those non-recyclable foil-plastic hybrid things.

“Can’t we just give him canned cat food?” asked Cat Daddy. Given that at least 50% of last year’s Le Blog was about trying to make Catorze consume things that he didn’t want to consume, I’d say that were a firm NON. Cat food tins seem to be the most environmentally-friendly option by far but, if your selfish, awkward crotte of a cat won’t eat wet food, there’s not much you can do … apart from put pressure on the supplier to find alternative packaging. Or find a supplier who is doing it properly and just hope and pray that the aforementioned selfish, awkward crotte will eat their food instead.

The makers of Acana Pacifica say this about their packaging:

“At present, our packaging is not recyclable in most areas. While there are lots of recycled bags, none of them are appropriate for our products. This is due to the fact that we do not use chemical preservatives, so our bags need to form a complete barrier to protect your pet’s food from the outside environment.

We would prefer to reduce our impact on the environment, but the technology just doesn’t yet exist for a product like ours. That will change as more and more pressure is placed on packaging producers, and we will continue to explore these opportunities.”

This doesn’t really help us much, but at least they replied promptly. I have sent similar enquiries to many other companies and have discovered that they fall into one of two camps: those who are happy to answer your questions and those who really don’t want to at all.

Lily’s Kitchen, par contre, claim that their dry pet food packaging is fully compostable. (And, yes, I wish I had found that out BEFORE I reordered the massive sack of Acana Pacifica which will last the little sod a good 6+ months.) In terms of quality of ingredients Lily’s Kitchen seems to tick the same boxes as Acana Pacifica, so I am going to give it a try when his existing food runs down.

Changing the food of a cat who doesn’t like food is a bigger pain in the derrière than one can possibly imagine. But worth a shot, oui?

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