Tag Archives: eco

No Plastic July – The first days.

As you know I have pledged to give up 5 areas of plastic consumption for No Plastic July.

I have been watching blogland and the key to all these challenges (No Plastic, No Waste, Buy Nothing New, Give Up Supermarkets) is research, planning, organisation and preparation.  Sometimes something unexpected will upset those plans, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, it just means sometimes you have a blip.

This is day 6 of the challenge but there is already plenty going on …

1. Crisps and Savoury Snacks.

I already have a selection of tins and airtight contains to keep the homemade ones in and Josh has been getting very excited about trying to make our own corn tortilla wraps and turning those wraps into tortilla chips.  The problem being that we would still have to buy the cornmeal in a plastic bag but it would probably be less plastic than bags and bags of tortilla chips.

As soon as I thought of this challenge I knew I wanted to make cheese straws.  They are delicious, we both love them and I also wondered how cheap they would turn out to be.  They were a huge hit and far from feeling like No Plastic July was deprivation at this moment it felt like luxury.

I used this recipe and made a very large amount of very rich cheese straws (which are more filling than the ones you get in foil, plastic packets in the shops).

But the problem I am hitting is that even making things from scratch does eliminate plastic.  I don’t have a co-op type shop nearby where I can take my own containers and weigh our flour from  big bins.  So the local supermarkets supply butter, baking powder, cheese, cornflour etc.

I think I can take my own container to the cheesemonger in town and I’m going to give that a go next week when I go to the market with my own bags.  I’ll report back!

We also went to a local farm shop with lots of lovely artisan cheese crackers.  As we have guests coming at the weekend we would normally pick some up.  Not this time as every single variety had some plastic in the packaging.  Crackers are next on the “to make” list.

2. Children’s toothbrushes – “I’ve found only one bamboo toothbrush in a child’s size.  I’m going to give it a go but he will only be 1 so it might still be too big for him.”

I wrote the above sentence in a fit of hubris.  I didn’t buy the lovely bamboo one I bought the silicone baby brush.  Is silicone plastic.  If so then I have already failed a little.  Basically R has decided to meltdown every time someone tries to brush his teeth.  He doesn’t really object to the toothbrushing, he objects to relinquishing control of his toothbrush.  He had to have a bath with it the other day so close is his attachment.  The baby brush is supposed to allow him to clean his own teeth so I don’t need to hold his toothbrush for him.  I’m hoping this doesn’t boot me out of the challenge – we have speculated it might be better than a plastic one as it might last longer… but who knows.  We will be trying bamboo again when this interesting phase is over.

[Update: I really not convinced that the baby brush is working.  R loves chewing on it but he doesn’t seem to be working the actual bristles into his actual gums and teeth. I knew there wasn’t going to be an easy solution to this.]

3. Yoghurt – I’ve already got some recipes for this and as I posted about here, in a recent charity shopping trip I found an original vintage 70s Yoghurt thermos flask for £1.95. I had one go at making yoghurt as a test run.  It was a total disaster.  Turns out a) you don’t need to sterilise your yoghurt making equipment and b) you can’t sterilise a vintage 1970s yoghurt maker.  I just made a £1.95 donation to the charity shop as I killed the yoghurt maker and will be going back to the glass jar in a haybox idea.  I also learned that Greek Yoghurt doesn’t have the cultures to get you going, milk powder can curdle! and my sugar themometer says 180F but this is a lie.  Luckily I did all this learning before the challenge.  I am now ready with some definitely bio yoghurt, more tips from the internet and a glass jar in a haybox!

4. Bottle Drinks – Well I didn’t buy lots and lots of bottled drinks to get me through the next month in my last shop.  That would obviously have been a cheat.  In fact I’ve been trying to get through my stock to make this a real challenge.  My key piece of preparation was getting a jug (I broke our last one).  My Mother Out-Law had a heavy glass jug which was too heavy for her to life and so I gratefully took it home and filled it with warm water and herbal tea bags.  It has been chilling overnight and I can now enjoy iced spearmint and chamomile tea whenever I like.

For people coming at the weekend I ordered juice in a glass bottle from Abel & Cole and a couple of posho drinks like “presse” which come in glass bottles.  But I am disappointed to learn via polytheenpam that they all have plastic in the caps of the bottles.  I’ll also be using the juice in some homemade hummous later in the week.

5. Handwash – I took the plunge and ordered some Dr Bronner plain organic soap (it is the baby soap so R can use it as well).  I already have a huge stash of essential oils.  I’ve been using them since I was about 17! and I’ll use boiled water from the tap to make up the handwash according to this recipe and just put it in my existing dispensers.  I’ll be posting more about it when I make it but so far I’m impressed because the soap bars come in paper wrapping only and the company I ordered it from  (The Ethical Superstore) sent it through the post with recycled cardboard wrapping in a recycled cardboard box and although there was a little bit of tape to keep it closed even the invoice didn’t have the stupid plastic backed peel off bit on it.  A win all round!

Green, Frugal, Sustainable Round Up

What have we done this week to live sustainably!

1. Some of our neighbours came round to have another look at using our orchard to site their beehive.  They kindly brought us a box of 6 eggs from their rare breed Derbyshire Red Cap hens!  Huge thank you all round. Then, later in the week, when we went to pick up some pig feed our pig mentors also gave us eggs from their Light Sussex Hens.  We eat a lot of eggs so this was all very welcome! Since moving here we have been given lots of eggs from local smallholders and I’m looking forward to having our own flock so we can reciprocate.

2. Sock Mending – the sock mending saga continues I am now down from 13 outstanding pairs to 7 pairs. I’d have done more but I got waylaid by successful patching some jeans for the first time.  I won’t talk about that too much as I have a whole exciting How To! blog post planned.

3. A free bottle of wine! – some lovely friends of ours are moving to London and they don’t have time to drink all their homemade wine before they leave and they don’t want to take it with them… So we are the lucky new owners of a bottle of elderberry wine from last Autumn.

4. A few months ago our neighbours (with a chain saw) trimmed our ornamental Cherry Tree to within an inch of its life.  I asked them to leave the cuttings with us and earlier this week I spent one hour (of many), stripping the long straight branches into bean poles, cutting some of the bigger bits into kindling and shredding the thinnest branches into mulch for our fruit bushes.  This is part of my work to reduce what we bring on to and take off the property and trying to close the cycle of waste, my new saying… Nothing Green is Waste!

5. Filling the cake tin – I made a big pile of cinnamon sugar and thumb print biscuits for the cake tin.  We haven’t bought any cakes or sweets from the mini-tescos all week.

As well as all the other things we have already blogged about with the compost, the charity shop finds and using up leftovers.

Mostly above we have been given things rather than done things to live sustainably.  Part of sustainable living is great community.  This week we have really benefited from our community which means that in the next few weeks it is on us to find ways to support our neighbours, be generous and give back to others.  The wonderful cycle of living side by side with people.

A Frugal, Green and Self-Sufficiency Round Up

How have we been Green, Frugal and Self-Sufficient this week?

1. Wellies* for R – a kind lady advertised a pair of wellies size 18-24 months on freecycle (and other assorted bits – but it was the wellies that caught my eye!) She was pregnant and about 5 days off her due date.  How that feels in a hot June is very fresh in my memory so I took over some of my homemade Black Forest Brownies as a thank you present for the wellies.

Wellington Boots for little Dinosaurs

Wellington Boots for little Dinosaurs

(*Wellies is a UK slang term for waterproof rubber boots, that is because in the UK such boots are called Wellington Boots.)

2. Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly – I’ll do a proper write up of this later.  But inspired by Dawn of Doing it For Ourselves making Elderflower Jelly and the birds having eaten most of our Gooseberries, I decided to make up a Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly recipe. That saved me a job of topping and tailing as well.  Doesn’t it look fabulous!

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jelly

3. Birthday Bunting – I finished making bunting to decorate the house for R’s birthday in a couple of weeks.  It is re-useable (I’m going to keep adding to it each year until it is a huge family joke) and has no packaging and it looks bright and silly.  Perfect!

4. Comfrey – we don’t have any in our garden, but it is the best of all the Green Manures and a staple of permaculture nutrient design.  Luckily my Father Out-Law has a huge amount with pretty blue/pink flowers.  As always I only have to ask for a cutting or a bit of root and he is back with a spade and a pot before I know it, generously dividing some up for me.  That saved me from buying some seed/plug plants from a garden centre. We also took our tetrapaks over to put in their kerbside recycling scheme (they are on a different scheme to us and we can’t recycling tetrapaks easily) and I went home with some spare jam jars – which came in handy for 2 above.

5. Straw from the Pig Pen – The straw we get for our pigs is a waste product from a local farm.  After it has been used as pig bedding it goes in the hot composter and the cold composter as important dry, woody material. I am so pleased we get two uses out of something which would otherwise go to waste.