A tribute to my daughter and Bob the builder

I always remember this motto ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ as it was Bob the builders mantra and my 3 year old daughter was Bob the builder obsessed, she is nearly 18 now! A 3 year old Teanna used to watch out the window for the weekly bin men to arrive then run outside to greet them as they had a green truck and she thought it was Roley! One bin man I will always remember, a friendly rastafarian with epic dreadlocks and my daughter loved him and his truck.


I have always recycled but since moving to Portugal I have definitely become more aware of recycling. I think it’s because I am more connected to nature now, living a more pure, clean and sustainable life and also because we are down to one salary so I am conscious about money and waste. We are not just recycling our food waste and packaging but upcycling items found around the house, garden and the loft, reusing every and any item we can to prevent unnecessary purchasing of new.

Mum knows best

One thing I instilled to my children from an early age was to put their rubbish in a bin when out and about. The amount of kids I see chuck sweet wrappers on the floor right in front of their parents! Working in schools I would also challenge feisty teenagers by saying to them “I think you dropped something” whilst bending over, picking up the wrapper and handing it to them – works 9/10 times. Well theres always one that says “F you B, you ain’t a teacher.”

I remember watching my mum making crafts for school fetes and making a lot of our clothes as a child. This was back in the 1980’s before it became fashionable and quirky. I also enjoyed watching her knit and she would darn socks too. I can barely sew a button back on clothes and I wish I could sew as I think it’s a fantastic talent. Bad eyesight runs in the family and I remember many a time helping my mum thread that sewing machine needle – what a pain! The arthritis in my hands is pretty severe now so I think I would struggle with any type of fine motor skill task that requires dexterity which is a shame as I would love to learn to crochet. Below is a list of some of the things I am doing to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, save the planet and money.

  • Recycle plastics, glass and cans – bins just down the road.
  • Sharing a tea bag – 1 bag = 2 cups of tea but I’m not sharing my snickers!
  • Grow own organic crops and trade with neighbours, bread in exchange for eggs or edible crops (not the smokable ones) as although Marijuana was decriminalised in Portugal 2001, it is still illegal to grow and sell it! You can’t live the dream from the inside of a police cell (ha ha).
  • Saving eggshells and coffee grounds for the garden and compost.
  • Started hot composting – this doesn’t involve composting in hot pants! but that won’t stop hubby come summer time! Photos to follow.
  • Reuse glass jam jars in the garden and to make homemade fig jam.
  • Reuse plastic bottles – beer traps for flies, orange picker, cloches etc.
  • Reuse cardboard from delivered packages for log fire.
  • Recycle toilet roll inner tubes – plant seeds in them then plant out straight into the garden. Hubby poops a lot, I on the other hand don’t (I blame IBS). We will have a box full in no time!
  • Recycle egg boxes – keep for when we have chickens so we can trade eggs to neighbours.
  • Reuse stone pebbles from the garden.
  • Reuse reclaimed stones found in garden – build rockery or use as pathways or a weapon for slugs!
  • Rummaged around loft and found some delights  – bedside cabinets, old basket for logs, trolley for seedlings and a candle stick holder.
  • Repaired and repainted wooden garden bench.
  • Reused/upcycled most of the furniture that came with the house – bought minimal items.
  • Reused multiple plant pots found in the shed.
  • Recycled soil from other parts of the garden for our raised beds.
  • We are getting chickens soon – yippee fresh eggs.
  • Found loads of wild blackberries at back of garden – will prune/cut back but keep for autumn or whenever they bear fruit, eat and freeze for jam making.
  • Take cuttings of plants I find on my nature walks around the village – I found lavender growing in a public hedge – I think I’m turning into my mother! Such a mum thing to do. Don’t take cuttings from peoples gardens unless you can outrun a Serra da Estrela Dog – lesson learnt!
  • Instal water butts – (free water to water garden plants) – rain water from guttering. Water from hose is metered here.
  • Use natural cheap methods for pest control – beer traps, soapy water, vinegar and boiling water. Not an expensive, toxic pesticide in sight!
  • Not buying any clothes in 2020 challenge – reuse what I already have.
  • Stay outdoors later – it’s sometimes nice here right up until sunset around 8pm. Use warmth of natural sun instead of log burner inside – logs cost money.
  • Explore solar panels.
  • Clothes washing – not having a teenager in the house means we only have to wash clothes every 10 days and that is because I only bought 10 pairs of knickers with me and don’t wanna go commando any time soon! Drying clothes on washing line in sunshine as opposed to tumble dryer – fantastic.
  • Reuse anything and everything in shed – tools, string, paint etc.
  • Make most use of freezer – you can freeze almost anything except for hubby (unless he is dead!).
  • Old wooden spoons make excellent paint stirrers.
  • Found half a trunk of a palm tree – plan is to recycle into a planter for the garden or for bottom of Hugelkulter raised bed. I thought it was a roller blind dumped in the garden – I need an eye exam at the opticians ASAP! but in all fairness to me it does look like a roller blind, take a look at the photo below.
  • Trade in your spouse – if your 1st husband is not up to scratch you can easily trade them in for a 2nd husband. Not too tricky and well worth the effort in the long run. Make sure 2nd husband is house trained and does not snore. Stay friends with 1st husband as they can be very helpful especially if they are fluent in Portuguese and called Carlos!

Plastic is not fantastic (plastic rant)

I am amazed at some of the packaging which contains surplus amounts of plastics. We recently received a package from Amazon UK and it was wrapped in metres of plastic. I look at the spectacular crystal blue seas here and often think I do not want this plastic ending up in the sea or destroying our beautiful marine life. When possible I buy fruit and veg without plastic packaging from local markets and take my wicker basket. I save plastic bags and reuse in various ways and have large Ikea reusable blue bags for hanging out my washing on the line, food shopping and carrying stuff in the garden. The reusable bags from Continente supermarket are also really strong and only 50 cents.

Bag full of plastic I found littered around the garden and really dangerous for wildlife!

Final comment

If you are new to recycling, I would suggest starting small. Maybe try to change or break one bad habit per week. Soon recycling and reducing waste will become a way of life for you and doesn’t take up too much time. Do a little research and see how much waste goes to landfill every year in the country where you live. I know some people who say they can’t be bothered as one person won’t make a difference. Imagine if we all had that attitude! Start small and build day by day – remember the saying: Rome wasn’t built in a day! Good luck X

See my article on Frugal living in Portugal here:


Plastic rant update 20th May

As we are not venturing out much lately hubby ordered a couple of essential items for his bicycle from Wiggle. Yes, we love you Wiggle but I am naming and shaming you! See below photos of the small items and the huge gigantic cardboard box it came in with endless plastic packaging!!!!!!!