Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Zero waste, plastic free bathroom

The kitchen is the first place you can start reducing your plastic intake, buying fruit and veg without packaging. Only buying what you need, so you don't end up binning food. But after you've got your head around that, the bathroom is the next best place to start making some eco choices!


Who Gives a Crap toilet roll: 

In my first zero waste post I talked about getting the trial pack from Who Gives a Crap, since then we have had our first full order. It was great that they emailed to say the order would be dispatched in a few days, so we could cancel or move the delivery. We didn't, we got the delivery. I had them delivered to work. Im really happy with the rolls, they last ages, due to being double length and 3 ply. We haven't used the kitchen roll or tissues from the trial box yet, as its not part of our routine, so we decided not to add anything onto the order. I'm hoping to use the paper wrappers from the rolls to dry the compost bin and see how quick they compost. 
We are very happy with the swap and hope to keep it up long term. 
In fact about 6 months on we still have about 20 rolls left, I personally love not having the mental weight of needing to remember to buy and check on loo rolls, buying loo roll twice a year suits me. The patterned paper is cute enough that I don't mind them being on display, and have been reusing and the paper wrappers. The red roll is the emergency one, don't open this unless your next order is on its way!





Lush solid Shampoo and Conditioners:

Next up we were running low on shampoo and conditioner. I have been going to Lush for over 10 years, and previously bought the solid shampoo, even took one travelling around Asia. The solid conditioner bars were newer, I think I've used one before but it wasn't the same shape bar. I am in love with both the fragranced of these bars, mixed together they are lovely too. Jason and the argentine oils, and Jungle avocado and banana conditioner bar. My hair is nice and soft and my bathroom looks better without the bottles. me and the other half both have long hair, and have both been using theses bars in the bath and shower, and are happy with them. The conditioner is harder to apply, as you cant really tell if its on your hair, like with normal liquid ones, so just kind of wing it and check it all feels a little covered.
Very happy with this swap.

We did find a zero waste shop, that refills with shampoo and conditioner, and found this a lot more expensive, which in turn meant we were more sparing with the amount of product we used. When we ran out on conditioner, we weren't able to get to that zero waste shop, so we went without conditioner for a few week. The first few times my hair missed the conditioner, but after a few weeks, I felt like my hair was used to it, and I could wash my hair less often without it feeling oily. 





Sanitary products:

When I was in Brighton a few months ago I saw cotton washable sanitary towels, for me theses are the best option, however there are other options on the market, like moon cups/ diva cups, and pants to be worn during those days of your cycle. However it depends what you're already used to and how heavy your flow is.    
These towels are made in India, and the company is funding job and better sanitary care for the people there. They are very cute bright colours, and have a little popper. I stopped using the disposable ones a while ago, I didn't like how bad they were for the planet, and they didn't feel very nice either, the plastic would get too warm, the wings sticking to everything and just uncomfortable. I think I have some leftover in my cupboard still, but I will donate these. 
I bought the light day versions which was a pack of 3, this covers me for the 2-3 days I usually need them for. I wash them in the sink and then throw them in the washing machine. pop them back in my draw until next month, but I keep one folded into a very discreet origami style square in my handbag. 
Very happy with this swap too!





We still need to tackle a few more things like toothpaste (I did previously make my own, but have since stopped that in the busyness that is daily life). I already have a bamboo toothbrush, I've been using them for a few years. I've used Lush toothy tabs, which aren't plastic free but I think the pots can be taken back to Lush.

Cotton face pads, instead of cotton wool pads for taking off make up, I bought 3 cotton reusable pads. They are so easy to wash, I do it in the bathroom by hand, and I just pop them on the radiator to dry. I don't wear a lot of make up, so 3 in rotation is good for me. I've even taken one on holiday in my make up bag to clean my face. They're great, and were cheap too. 

We use bars of soap which we easily can get packaging free. 

We haven't found a bathroom cleaning alternative yet, hoping to use up what we have then investigate what we can do, toilet cleaner too.

Speaking of cleaner, I have a bottle of white vinegar with some chopped lime rinds, this makes the smell a little bit more pleasant for cleaning, mix with bicarb for great cleaning action!

Hope you enjoyed readying this, if you have any tips, or want more information on what I am doing, please comment below or message me.  



Monday, 3 December 2018

Plastic free, Zero waste Christmas


The festive time is upon up, and this is our first festive holiday with the aim for zero waste plastic free, however all this advice can be applied to birthday, baby shower, graduation and wedding gifting too. 

Rule number one; an obvious one, get the person something you know they need or will use! Don’t get them something you love or use a lot, if they won’t use it, it is a waste. 

I think it is really important not to support companies who don’t need any extra support. I don’t plan to shop at amazon, they don’t need my business and if you think about shipping and packaging, it just not very eco. (Having said that I totally understand it hassle free and great for those who are less able or willing to be going around the shops during this busy time).

Materials wise, plastic free can include;
Wood, Glass, Metal, Paper, Ceramic, Fabric. These cover a wide range of items you can gift. 


Note with all these, are only good presents, if they will not gather dust in their home; 
  • Books, second hand, with a note inside as to why you chose this book. 
  • Jewellery, for men and women, especially vintage. A broach, cufflinks, necklace. 
  • Beer or Wine glasses, if they don’t have some already and would use.
  • Alcohol, mostly plastic free and glass is easily recycled. Homemade infused alcohol is a really special touch too. Or a bottle of Prosecco and a few flavours to spruce up each glass.
  • Small bowls, plates, or cups and saucers, a tea pot.
  • A small wooden hamper filled with their favourite gifts. 
  • A small wooden beer bottle holder with a bottle opener on the side. 
  • A both bomb, packaged in a paper bag, or card box. 
  • Home grown plants, like Aloe vera, rosemary, or lavender.
  • Cotton clothes, or vintage clothes, knitted  or sewn. 
  • Zero waste gifts, reusable versions of disposable things.
  • Loose leaf teas in reusable containers, for example from Whittards. 

Homemade gifts are not a cop out, they are thoughtful and one of a kind. Do bear in mind any allergies and dislikes. 
Fudge, cookie baking jar, infused alcohol, dried fruits, baked biscuits, gingerbread, spicy nuts, cinnamon nuts.




Where to shop:
Vintage markets, Charity shops, antique shops, Lush sells lots of packaging free products, online eBay and facebook market place, Etsy, your local craft shop. Support small or local businesses, and homemade! Christmas markets sadly are usually not more eco than shopping in the supermarket, the gifts are likely mass produced and imported, but talk to the vendors to find out!

I went to Winchester vintage market looking for a gift for a friend and bought two vintage cups and saucer, a vintage scarf, a broach, and it all came to about 20-30 quid, the same as I would have spend at John Lewis or Amazon. 

Wrapping:



Don’t buy wrapping paper, it doesn’t get recycled, instead choose fabric which can be reused(like a scarf, or a fabric bag, which can be reused every year), and isn’t disposed of immediately after. Or brown paper which can be composted, or reused, some gardening twine that’s biodegradable too. You can dress it up with a potato stamp cut into a tree shape, and some ink. Add a pine cone, a few leafs, dried orange slices (left over from mulling wine). 
Personally, I’m planning to use the pattered paper that is used to wrap individual toilet paper rolls, and if I have some then fabric, and cardboard boxes leftover from last years Lush gift sets. 

‘Gifting’;
Remember it isn’t about cost. Especially if there is no expectation for that gift. If you have something you think a friend will like or see something you know they need, gift it without expectation of a reciprocal gift in return. If you make a tray bake of Rocky road, and know its your friends favourite, slice it up, put it in a jar with a cute (recycled) ribbon, and wish them a happy festive holiday.  

Equally some of your friends, if they’re trying to move towards minimalism will likely appreciate a donation to a charity close to their hearts. 

Zero waste gifts:
I’m a little reluctant to encourage gifting these things, as it kind of promotes a different kind of trendy consumerism. I would happily accept a Bamboo toothbrush as I have to change them every few months, but there is only so many plastic straw alternatives someone 'needs', and reusable coffee cups, and bamboo cutlery, so check what your friend already has before buying them a duplicate. Recently I have purchased, a soap bag, a cotton string tote bag, a bamboo straw, and some cotton face pads, for some inspiration of zero waste shopping.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Week 3

Not so long ago I realised that other people were following the same eco concept as me, and it had a name, 'Zero Waste', because of this I found out there is also a plastic free July challenge.

This month, I've found myself refusing more plastic than usual, it is easier to refuse by saying to yourself or others that you're doing this challenge, and next month you can buy that thing (in reality you probably wont need to buy it next month, but its easier to deprive yourself of something you think you need if you believe its only short term).

Since starting plastic free July, I haven't managed to completely eliminate plastic from my day to day life.
  • People buying you things. (Talking about why I try to be plastic free should help this).
  • People leaving things that can be used up (e.g. food).
  • People offering you food in plastic. (Is it ok if they were going to eat it anyway, and share some with you?)
  • Using up what you already have that is plastic. (What if you haven't found an alternative yet).
  • Being out of the house, expecting to find something without plastic, but not finding anything.

The benefits of plastic free July, include that I'm eating better, less processed foods and more seasonally. Secondly we haven't put our dust bin out this month, and our Rubbish bin is empty, and our recycling can wait another few weeks until it will need to be taken out. We don't have to worry about it being rubbish day, and needing to not miss this for fear of over filled bins. Thirdly, the cost and frequency of shopping, Ive started shopping less, I wont pop into a shop and pick something up, because its hard to find much that is plastic free, instead we are utilising our veg box, and existing pantry foods, and then when planning meals we will do a bigger shopping with lots of plastic free veg and staple foods. 

  

 
 

So far making a few switches like taking my own lunch and taking snacks when I go out, taking tubs out with me is really helping. Buying loose bread and rolls, is usually more pricy, but they taste good too. But my biggest temptation is probably crisps, I've been trying to find good replacements, but when I'm out and about and craving something savoury this is still an issue. things like chocolate are easier to find in just foil and card, which can be recycled, but I'm not craving chocolate too much, you can always buy chocolate drinks without packaging too. 


  

I've failed to refuse plastic straws a few times, in that either I've ordered a drink or someone else has for me and it has a straw. This has only happened a few times, and I plan to hold onto my straws and use them for Eco Bricks, until I manage to refuse them better. 

I went to Falmouth for a work conference, and knew I wanted to avoid plastic, I packed lots of fruit, and bulk bought dry fruit. Brought a tea cup, a water bottle, and cutlery. Actually the event was catered, and easy enough to avoid plastic. Not avoiding waste completely, things usually came in Vegware boxes, or paper bags, and ready to be served in their containers. I refused one breakfast, as I already had enough fruit that needed eating so didn't need to take anymore. One of the lunch stands said how they don't use plastic, and I did notice their stand was completely free of it. Catering vans are getting much better with their awareness, hoping supermarkets catch up soon. Falmouth is by the sea and I think they all seemed more aware of avoiding single use plastic because of its impact on the oceans.

  

During this trip my colleague told me she is making Eco Bricks, which is where you save, wash, dry any plastic which cant be recycled and chop it up and squish it into a 2 litre plastic drinks bottle. These Bricks can be used to build things all over the world. 



This weekend I went to Hackney Downs Vegan Market, and found that there were lots of options for plastic free purchases. Like the Smoothie and Juice stand offered either a drink in a plastic cup, or in a glass bottle. I asked them to reuse my Starbucks Mug. Which they understood and were happy to do. A restaurant inside that offered plated foods, and various cake stand which you could buy with no plastic. 


How are you finding plastic free July? 

I'm finding it a fun challenge, not too hard, but almost exciting, because you can find fun alternative. The benefits seem great, its definitely like going back to how your grandparents would live, without plastic, especially without single use plastic. 




Sunday, 24 June 2018

Pick your own for zero waste

Recently we have been running down the frozen fruit in our freezer, and we don't plan to replace it, as that requires buying more plastic. Equally you can't really buy berries in the supermarket without plastic packaging. The solution for now, was to get to a pick your own. We went on the first Saturday they were open of the year.

We have visited many times over the last few years. mostly we freeze a little and eat a lot fresh.

We arrived at opening time, and there were already a few people there. We grabbed a small and large punnet, one plastic, one card with a metal handle, but we returned both of these at the end, I asked a member of staff if that was ok to leave them used, and they said, they prefer it.




We bought 1kg, and 2.5kg between the two punnets, we picked for about 45 minutes, and got lots of really red and ripe strawberries. I think it was 4.99 a kilo PYO, and 6.99 a kilo picked, maybe a little more than the supermarkets, but the taste is not comparable. 

We also bought a jar of jam, some chutney and a loose broccoli, they offered lots of picked vegetables without packaging, but we were due our veg box so decided not to pick up too much.

We raided our cupboard for every empty storage box we had. In the end when we decanted the strawberries, we filled an entire cake travel tub, a big circular plastic tub with clip on bottom (or top). I didn't think we would have needed it, but we filled up the second biggest tub with the smaller 1kg punnet of strawberries. Mountains of berries!




We have frozen a load of the strawberries for smoothies, with the green leafs at the top intact, they are added nutrition guys!

For about 5 days after the picking we ate loads of strawberries every day, took some to our friends, and made some rhubarb strawberry muffins too!

We might get to visit again during strawberry season. But we are excited for the Raspberry, tayberry, tummelberry, loganberry and boysenberry seasons!

True Foods Co-operative in Reading


Sadly my home town doesn't have an bulk food or zero waste stores... yet! We have previously visited Rice-Up Whole-foods in Southampton, but due to the distance this isn't a viable regular option. Thankfully we heard about True Foods in Reading, much closer, and not far from places we occasionally go anyway. It's north of Reading, near Caversham.

First off we noticed there are lots of fruit and vegetables, of really good quality, mostly more expensive than on the high street, but about the same or less than the farmers market. They have a wonky veg box, where we picked up two cabbages and plants for sale outside too!


Behind the counter is a fresh bread counter, with a great selection of breads and rolls. we recently picked up a potato and rosemary sour dough. We mostly buy our bread at Waitrose, as you can buy it loose, and you can pick up a bargain at the end of the day if you're not fussed what kind of bread you get. In the last few weeks we have eaten so many different types of bread, zero waste bonus! 




Above you can see the scales and our containers, we have the puffed quinoa and a box of loose wholegrain pasta, we also picked up oats, and aduki beans. the staff were lovely, and helped us to zero the scales so we could use our own container, they even seemed happy that we had brought our own containers. I imagine this could get a bit hectic if lots of people were in the shop, but we did ok. We have kept some brown paper bags from our veg box delivery, which are similar to the ones at True foods, so we take those, and they can weigh at the till. It's hard to remember the weights of everything as you go along, which is actually why I took these photos. 



There was a big variety of products in the bulk tubs, surprises included Nutritional yeast, raw sugar, sun dried tomatoes and chocolate drops. Many varieties or rice, lentils, beans, and cereals.

Below we have refillable laundry liquids, we haven't used these yet, but the prices looked reasonable, and an over view of the tubs and scoops area in the shop. 




Over view of True Foods, it's great if you're in the area and wanting to stock up on your pantry essentials. We visited the Reading vegan market, so took our second trip here. Stocking up on nuts for nut milk, and lentil for curry and lasagna. For us, for now, this is a good way to avoid buying plastic whilst stocking up our store cupboard. The alternative is buying tins of pulses, which can mostly be recycled. Our goal is the buy less variety but use more. I have found nuts and seeds from years ago, some of which I have had to throw away. I am hoping that the Zero waste journey, and living minimally mean we make better use of the fewer things we have in the house. 

  • Tuesday, 29 May 2018

    Journey to Zero Waste

    Plastic free, minimal waste has been something I have done on and off for a few years, but recently I've discovered the zero waste movement which has loads of top tips and support. We have made small changes over the years, but from time to time we have slipped. Having watched a few Ted talks, and been on a few websites, I'm really pumped to start making bigger changes in our day to day life. Im going to document my journey and hope to inspire others who are also going down this road towards zero waste.

    Rule 1 is "Refuse", this made me realise that just because something can be recycled doesn't mean I should buy it and use it once then throw it away. The production of these things uses a lot of energy, making plastic, coloured cardboard, and paper. Someone has to come collect my bin full of these things and I cannot guarantee they will recycle any of it. So refuse, make your money as a consumer speak for you, refusing someones business because they're using too much packaging is a really great motivator for change.



    Everywhere I look I am advised about the top 5; reusable coffee cups, reusable bags, bamboo tooth brushes, metal straws and a reusable water bottle. I've been doing all these things for a while, but lets be realistic, its only scratching the surface, unless you buy a coffee at Starbucks every day you're unlikely to make that much of an impact. If you really need that coffee, just drink it in the cafe, take 10 minutes for yourself that day. For us making swaps that affect what we do, and the food we eat every single day is going to make the biggest impact. The most important tips are to be prepared and to be vigilant, don't give into 'consumption', society and supermarkets telling us its ok to buy everything so heavily packaged.

    Here are the 7 biggest changes we have made to start reducing our waste, our impact, our consumption. I will be looking to make more changes as we continue down this path.

    1. Veg Box: in our case this is local, organic, very little food miles and seasonal. We hardly have any waste and the box it comes in, gets collected at the next drop off. We even visited the farm, ate bbq'd corn on the cob and dug up some potatoes. This doesn't account for all the veg we eat, as we only have a fortnightly box, but its a great basis which we can top up.


    2. Plastic free fresh produce shopping: explore you local supermarkets and find what they do that is plastic free. In Lidl I could pick up; sweet potatoes, red peppers, courgettes, aubergines, limes, bananas, apples, onions, swede. Some fruits and veg will always be easier to find plastic free, and you can take your own canvas or produce bags, not just for the check out, but to fill up as you pick too.



    3. Bulk items: so far I have found Pasta by Barilla whole wheat fusilli is in cardboard with a tiny plastic window, not sure why so many foods need windows, they cant see us! Oats, and flour can also easily be found in paper bags. Otherwise you can go to a whole-foods type store and buy loose amounts of what you need. Once we get though our existing rice and quinoa, we will be looking to top these up from a food co-operative. Our nearest bulk/loose food store is about 30 minutes away by car or train, so we haven't yet made the trip, once we reduce what we have though, we will be looking to top up. Hopefully over time, zero waste and low packaging food options will become more common in every town.


    4. Home made: so far we have learnt to make and switched our hummus, granola, nice cream, nut milk and seitan (gluten meat), soon to try tortilla wraps, bread, maybe noodles. Hummus is likely to big one of the best packaging savings, we usually eat at least a tub a week, but now I can buy loose chickpeas, soak and boil them, (freeze any extra I cook), blitz it up with some lemon juice, tahini and olive oil, and it tastes really good. That could be as much as 52 plastic pots, with cardboards sleeves each year not being produced!

    Homemade hummus

    5. Kitchen and Bathroom: toilet roll, we have just received an order of Who Gives A Crap! the trial box from this awesome company that I've been hearing about for a few years, they use recycled paper, and donate 50% of their profits to build sanitation in places which done have working toilets. I was really excited to try them, each roll is wrapped in paper and delivered in one shipment of 48 rolls every few months (depending on your usage), the trial box is 3 rolls, plus kitchen roll, and tissue box. I will report back on this once I've used them. Kitchen wise, try swapping single use kitchen roll for dish clothes, or tea towels, and instead of cling film, try just using pots with lids. Just move away from the idea of single use, including things like foil too.



    6. Buying second hand; from kitchen implements, garden furniture, clothes and shoes, anytime you purchase something second hand, its cheaper, mostly less packaging, and much better for the planet. We recently bought a smaller Vitamix jug, so we can make more small quantities of homemade sauces, and it was half the price second hand than it was on amazon or Vitamix. Then my giant water bottle smashed as I arrived at training, someone suggested replacing it, which usually I would do right away, but I realised I have two smaller bottles in the cupboard that I'm not using, so rather than continuing to consume, why not use what I already have? Again saving money, as well as energy, and making use of what I already have.

    7. Borrowing; how many times do you mention having just bought something, and someone says they have one they aren't using in their home. Recently we mentioned not having a lawn mower and found my parents have an unused push mower in their shed, too small and laborious for their very hilly bumpy garden, but perfect for our small flat garden, and a bit of fitness for us too. We wanted some garden furniture but didn't want to buy anything plastic, new or second hand, luckily my parents had a load of wooden chairs in the shed, so we have take just 2 for our garden, we have a few camping chairs from years ago we can bring out if more guests come over. Equally if I have an event coming up, I'll ask around if anyone has a dress or a purse I can borrow. Ask your friends, and make do. We washed our car this weekend with a sponge and a watering can, we don't own a hose pipe, and we don't need one. We don't have a clothes line, we have a clothes horse, when the weather turns we can bring it all inside in few moments.



    Check out Bea Johnson and so many more zero waste videos on you tube, and instagram. Remember its about what the biggest changes you can make are, also its a gradual process, you probably wont be going zero waste overnight, but incrementally day by day.


    Monday, 21 September 2015

    Slow cook Spinach tofu lasagna!

    Slow cook Tofu and spinach Lasagna

    Ingredients:
    ·         Cauldron Tofu, crumbled (pictured below)
    ·         ½ cup nutritional yeast
    ·         1 tbsp lemon juice
    ·         1 tbsp olive oil
    ·         1 tbsp garlic powder
    ·         ¼ tsp salt and pepper

    ·         Spinach (Fresh, chopped or ½ a can of tinned spinach or frozen-chopped spinach)
    ·         Passata Tomato Sauce
    ·         1 tbsp dried Italian herbs 
    ·         Dried pasta sheets (broken into long pieces) Gluten free can also be used.
    ·         20g Cheezly (or other vegan cheese, grated)

    This is the best tofu to make a ricotta, available at most supermarkets. 
    Nutritional yeast, available at health food shops. Nutty cheesy flavour. 
    Tips: 
    ·         Slow cookers do not lose water or reduce, so don’t add too much water to this recipe. The pasta will absorb some of the liquid from the tofu and tomato sauce.
    ·         Season the tofu to taste, but I find that because slow cookers don’t reduce and intensify flavour, you may need to over season the food to start. Otherwise add more salt as you plate the lasagne. 
    ·         If you don’t have a slow cooker you can make this in the oven, I suggest switching to Cannelloni tubes and using a blunt knife to fill the tubes, arranging in an oven dish and layering on tomato sauce, baking with foil to keep moisture in the dish.  

    Method:
    First in a large bowl mix together the ingredients to make the tofu Ricotta.

    Then in the slow cooker, layer, first the tomato sauce, then broken up pieces of lasagna sheets, aim that not too much is overlapping.  
    Then add a thick layer of the Tofu Ricotta, you should be aiming for only 3 layers of pasta, two layers of tofu. 
    On top of that Tofu, layer pasta, more tofu, and then last layer should be pasta and then top that with the tomato sauce. Ensure the sauce covers all the pasta evenly; any pasta not covered will dry out and become overly crunchy. 


    In the last 10 minutes of the cook, grate the cheese on top, you can allow some of the steam to escape while you do this. If making this in the oven i suggest adding a lot more liquid to the top, you could even make a cheese style sauce rather than just grating cheese. Equally if you use a lot of juicy tomato you can just grate vegan cheese on top. 


    The slow cooker should cook this in between 1.5-3 hours depending on the setting (low or high) and the power of your slow cooker. Once the pasta is soft the dish is cooked. 


     I've also made this in the oven as both a lasagna and cannelloni. 

    Sorry for the terrible photos! I make this recipe so often, I forget to photograph it. 


    Looking for more tofu inspiration?
    Try my marinated recipe:
    http://dadavegan.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/vegan-mofo-1st-marinated-tofu.html