Category Archives: Sustainability

Keeping packaging free back at work

Holiday is over and I’ve been back at work for two weeks now, but junk free January continues…

I’ve managed to stay packaging free, but this has involved quite a lot of use of cafes for lunch, so far. Rather than buying some packaged food, I’ll either sit down in the cafe (hardly a hardship, it’s very relaxing), or take my lunch box along and ask if I could have the food in that. They take us out for lunch at work quite a lot too which is excellent!

People have been surprisingly ok with the lunch box, and my regular places now don’t raise an eyebrow. I’ll definitely keep on with this after January. It feels really good not to have a pile of plastic & card containers going into the bin, take away work lunches were one of the biggest causes of junk in my life.

One big change is the lack of lack of black tea at work. We have a regular tea round, maybe 4 or 5 a day, and though I love herbal tea, it’s not the same. I hadn’t realised how big a role milky tea plays in stopping me getting hungry. However, it’s good to cut down on caffine a bit, and rosebud tea, lemon verbena tea and green tea from Food for All are delicious.

Outside of work, I’ve been having muesli with rhubarb, baking apple, ginger & raisin puree instead of milk for breakfast, and baking a bunch of potatoes on the weekends as the basis for quick & easy evening meals when I traipse home late.

Yesterday was a big baking day – potatoes, rhubarb concoction, and a Jamie Oliver recipe for blackened aubergines (cook whole in the over for an hour, scoop out the middles and mix with cumin, garlic, lemon, oil etc, to make a topping). Also got hold of some fish from a fishmonger using my trusty lunchbox.

Highlight of the weekend was getting hold of loose cocoa nibs from Mother Earth in Newington Green – they are as addictive as chocolate and I highly recommend them!

 

 

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Save a Packet, the “scoop and save” loose-food shop of Kingsbridge, Devon.

I’m the Devon end of Junk-Free January and I’m very fortunate to have a shop in my neighbourhood called Save a Packet. They’ve been very supportive of the project. Here are some of the things you can buy there. They’re very happy for you to take your own containers.

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Almonds

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Organic Spelt Flour and Organic Granary Flour
Organic Spelt Flour and Organic Granary Flour

At Save a Packet, it’s possible to buy:

  • Rice – several varieties.
  • Salt
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Lentils of various sorts.
  • Flour – including organic spelt flour and organic maize flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Sugars
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Cocoa powder
  • Coffee
  • Sweets

And loads of other good stuff. There’s a more complete list here.

We’d be really interested to know if you have anything similar in your neighbourhood. If so, you’re welcome to leave a link and description in the comments section so we can support their good work. (of course you’re welcome to leave a comment if you don’t have one too 🙂 )

Making my own packaging-free almond milk.

It’s difficult to find milk without packaging and although it’s possible to get nice organic milk by the glass at my local farm-shop, (so it’s possible to fill your own container there), I’ve decided to make my own almond milk because I’ve done it before with delicious results and I can get loose almonds at Save a Packet.

Ingredients:

Whole almonds

Process:

Soak your almonds in water for 24-48 hours

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Drain and then blitz in a whizzer with a bit of water.

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You’ll get something looking a bit like this:

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Put a colander or sieve in a bowl or pan, and line it with muslin, cheese cloth, or a thin tea towel, and squeeze out the milk like this:

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You’ll end up with some dried bits of nut in your cloth, and lovely almond milk in your dish.

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Then you can bottle it and put it in your fridge. You could add a bit of agave syrup, or something similar if you wanted to sweeten it up.

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And then make some nice coffee

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With the dried bits, you can either find a yummy culinary use for them (it tastes good in flapjacks) or you can find some lovely ladies who might appreciate it.

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Enjoy!

Brushing teeth with bicarbonate of soda.

I couldn’t find a toothbrush which didn’t come in packaging, but a much more environmentally friendly option, and mostly plastic-free, is the “environmental toothbrush”

I had been getting myself used to the taste of bicarb before the challenge by using the Kingfisher Bicarbonate of Soda toothpaste, so it didn’t come as too much of a shock to me.

I managed to get hold of loose bicarbonate of soda from my local loose foods shop, Save a Packet. All I do is wet my toothbrush and dip it in the powder, or sometimes I’ll wet my finger and distribute some evenly around all the teeth, and then bush as usual.

I’ve found that it leaves my teeth and mouth feeling really clean and my teeth are looking whiter already.

There is a lot of mis-information out there saying that bicarb is too abrasive, when it’s actually a less abrasive than store-bought toothpaste. If you’re interested in the figures, the Relative Dentin Abrasivity RDA values (how abrasive they are: a lower value = less abrasive) of all the main toothpastes, and bicarb, are listed here http://www.levysmiles.com/faq/best-toothpaste  Baking soda has an RDA of 7. The toothpastes range from 35-200.

Here is some information from the “Arm and Hammer” website about brushing with baking soda.

  • It is clinically recognised as an incredibly powerful cleaning agent by dissolving deep into tooth surface crevices.
  • Despite its highly effective cleaning powers, it remains significantly non-abrasive and incredibly gentle, making it ideal for dental use.
  • Baking soda maintains a good pH balance inside your mouth by neutralising any acids. This keeps your breath fresh for hours.
  • Baking soda has the power to whiten teeth. It is so efficient at removing deep engrained stains that subsequently your teeth get whiter.

I don’t know enough about the long-term usage of baking soda, but I know a lot of people have been successfully using it without problems, and it seems good to me so far.

Toothbrush and baking soda.

Bathroom Products

I’ve been having a think about how we can find unpackaged products for things like shampoo and conditioner. I’m hoping to find similar things which are made locally, but as a back-up I’ve seen that Lush do some excellent looking solid products like shampoo bars. Here is their Jason and the Argan Oil 

They also do solid conditioners like this Jungle conditioner. We could also use natural alternatives like eggs, avocado, and banana, but I haven’t tried them yet.

Solid deodorants  are on their menu too, but I’m probably going to continue using the alum crystal deodorant which I already use. I just might have to think of a creative way of sourcing it.

Lush even sell solid toothpaste (but these come in a recycled and recycleble/compostable box) Like these Chou Chou I Love You’s

I think I’m going to make my own toothpaste though to make it truly package-free, if I can find somewhere which sells loose bicarbonate of soda.

Hats off to Lush however for doing a good range of package-free products.

Jenny.