Plastic Avoidance: Part 3

Real Food

Once you’ve accepted that you can’t always get organic, it’s not difficult to avoid plastic.  If you can’t find enough loose produce at your usual supermarket, find out if there’s a good old fashioned market in your town.  We’ve found one which is just a big fruit and veg stall in the town centre, once or twice a week.  The guys who run it are really friendly, they sell quality seasonal fruit and vegetables, provide small (compostable) paper bags to fill, and it’s very good value for money – much better even than the supermarkets.  Just take your own shopping bags and get them to weigh as much as you need.  We bought a big 12.5 kg sack of Desiree potatoes from them for just £5!

We also have a health food shop not too far away which sells a small selection of loose organic produce which is great although we can’t get there every week.

Or you might be able to find a local organic produce grower who operates a veg box scheme whereby you order a weekly veg box from them and they deliver it to your door.  They will be happy to leave the box in a designated safe place if you’re going to be out and you’ll get a great selection of whatever is in season. The soil Association will help you find a scheme near you 🙂

As for other necessary staples – you can probably get most of them in glass jars or tins.  We used to buy lentils, sultanas, pasta, tofu, cereal etc etc in plastic packets because we thought we couldn’t avoid it, but now we’re getting our lentils in tins and we’ll manage without cereal, pasta and dried fruit.  We buy organic oats in paper bags and I’ll mix them with fresh fruit for my breakfast instead of sultanas.

*Since writing this I have discovered the Zero Waste Club – a wonderful mail order company in London from whom you can order organic dried fruit, nuts, grains, pasta, sugar, pulses, seeds, cocoa, popcorn, herbs and spices and more! You order it by weight and they mail it to you wrapped in paper bags.  See Plastic Avoidance: Part 7.

Things like vinegar, ketchup and oil are easy to get in glass bottles, although sadly I don’t think there’s any way of avoiding the plastic pouring spout they put in the oil bottles.  But I always think, even if everything is not as perfect as you’d like it to be, the world would be a better place if everyone at least did this.  Same goes for things like cocoa powder and gravy granules – they come in cardboard tubs with metal bottoms and a plastic lid.  Sometimes mostly plastic-free is the best you can do.

Lots of other staples that have always been wrapped in paper, still are.  You can get bread in paper bags from a bakery, or you can make your own.  I haven’t been able to buy salt without plastic wrapping but if you buy things with salt already added – like the stock cubes above (paper-wrapped in a cardboard box) – then you can manage without it.Something else to be aware of is that tea bags (which are supposed to be compostable) are actually made of 20% plastic.  See here for a great post with more details about that and sign this petition aimed at getting Unilever to remove all plastic from their tea bags.  Be aware though, it’s not just Unilever that does it, this is common practice.  The only way to be sure you’re not getting plastic is to buy loose tea leaves 🙂 And if you check this out you’ll see that there are a lot more uses for tea leaves than just a relaxing drink.

Need a meal in a hurry?  Well, you can’t buy hash browns or oven chips anymore, but look what you can buy!  There are all sorts of delicious and convenient ready-prepared vegan goodies in cardboard containers in the freezer section of your supermarket.

So whadaya need plastic for?

Not much!

ps I’ve just found out you can even buy plastic-free crisps 😀

Click for PLASTIC AVOIDANCE parts twofourfive,  six and seven

PS:

Now you can get frozen ORGANIC veg that’s just packaged in a cardboard box – no plastic bag inside! 😀

veg group reduced

Look for it at your local health food shop and if they don’t have it, ask them to stock it 😀

Plastic Avoidance: Part One

We have for many years tried to keep our plastic consumption to a minimum but have found it very difficult when also trying to incorporate other ethics into our shopping habits.  For example – it’s pretty easy to buy loose, unpackaged fruit and vegetables if you take your own bags to the market with you, but if you want organic produce, it’s usually wrapped in plastic.

We always recycled it of course but we know that a plastic food container, because of its low melting point, cannot be recycled into another plastic food container.  It can really only be downcycled into things like plastic lumber which cannot be recycled again.  Glass, paper and tin cans on the other hand, can be recycled ad infinitum.  Bottles will become bottles again and again; drinks cans and baked beans tins will become cans and tins again and again; paper can be recycled again and again, and eventually composted.

 

So, even though we were recycling, we felt very bad about the plastic in our bins.  Add to that the worry that maybe the plastic being collected by the council recycling lorry wasn’t even being recycled and … well, let me explain:

I had an email a couple of weeks ago from Avaaz campaigning group saying that studies had shown that most (about 80%) of the plastic in the ocean gyres was coming from rivers in Asia and Africa.  Finding it very hard to believe that people in Asia and Africa consume more plastic than people in Europe and America, I was reminded of an email conversation I’d had with someone at Waitrose supermarket.  They told me that there was no facility to recycle their plastic bags in this country so they sent them to Asia for recycling.

Well – if Waitrose does it, you can bet a lot of other companies do it too, maybe even councils?  And if the UK sends plastic to Asia for recycling, you can bet other countries do too.  If the same is happening in Africa that would explain why 80% of the plastic in the oceans arrives there from those continents.  The plastic that I diligently put out for recycling might be ending up in the ocean!

It’s all speculation but it makes a lot of sense and the only way I can be sure that I’m not part of the problem is to take control of it myself.

We now realise that the good done for the Earth in growing organic, is compromised if they wrap the organic produce in plastic.  Plastic not only litters and pollutes when it’s disposed of, the very production of it is toxic since it is (usually) made from oil.

So we’re not going to pay in to that any more.

We have to prioritise plastic avoidance and hopefully these ethical companies will respond with ethical packaging.  In the meantime, we’ll show you our plastic avoidance tactics.

Starting tomorrow 😀

See all our Plastic Avoidance Tactics here

Quick! Sign This! Save the World from Plastic Bottles!

Every day 16 MILLION plastic bottles go un-recycled in the UK.

It’s a plague of plastic that’s choking our rivers and suffocating the ocean — it’s even in our drinking water! But finally there’s hope.

The Environment Secretary is considering a revolutionary plan to give people a financial incentive to recycle. It’s a complete no-brainer, but industry lobbyists and even supermarkets are fighting back, hard — and there’s just four days left in the consultation.

To drown them out we need a tidal wave of public support to flood the consultation — click to add your name and then share this with everyone, we have four days to make it massive:

Secretary Gove: End the Plastic Plague Now!

The plan is super simple: a small deposit is paid with every plastic bottle, which you get back when you recycle the bottle. In places like Germany and Denmark this same plan has taken recycling rates to over 90%.

More recycling means new plastic production would plummet. We’d use less oil, our beaches, birds, and brooks could breath again, AND our councils would actually save money from lower garbage collection and landfill costs. Complete no-brainer.

There’s no time to waste — every minute another 10,000 bottles go un-recycled. With just four days left, let’s make sure the Minister can’t back down now. Add your name and then tell everyone:

Secretary Gove: End the Plastic Plague Now!

In the wild, a single plastic bottle can take 450 years to break down. Winning this would be a victory felt for centuries. Our great, great, great, great grandchildren will walk on their beaches, birds circling overhead as the waves roll in, smiling back at us. Let’s make this happen now, for us, for them, and for our world.

https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/plastic_pollution_uk_loc/?cmzEIlb

The Circle of Life

Make your own compost 🙂

Save all your raw fruit and vegetable peelings, apple cores, tea bags, soapnut shells, etc etc

and take them outside to your compost bin (any container will do but make sure it’s got drainage holes in the bottom)

Toss your ‘green waste’ in there, (ie raw fruit & veg waste)

but also add some ‘brown waste’ (such as brown paper, black and white printed paper like newspapers or old paperback pages (no colour print), dead leaves) every so often otherwise you’ll end up with a wet soggy, stinky mess.  You want about 2 parts ‘green’ to 1 part ‘brown’ according to the science 🙂

Then eventually it will rot down to something moist and earthy, just teaming with baby earthworms (I don’t know where they came from) and ready to host your new plants.  Don’t ask me how long this took, I didn’t time it, but it was probably about a year.  We just eventually thought it looked composty and tipped it out of the bin and there you have it.  Click here if you want advice from experts 😀

Now you can pot it …

… sow some seeds in it, …

… and in a few days (this is less than 2 weeks later) your old vegetables will be providing you with new vegetables 🙂

I’d better thin these 😉

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vegan, vegetarian, recycling, home-grown, plant-food, plant-based, health, gardening, growing

Explain

For the first seven chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 8 continues:

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Explain.  How is this the only waste you personally made this week?”

Luke explained.

“I told my mum not to buy the vegetables an’ fruit in plastic bags an’ nets an’ trays ’cause we don’t need ’em, we just throw ’em away as soon as we get home. So I jus’ put it all loose in the trolley; I laid it on top of a soft bag so it dint get bruises, and then I put it in our own bags when we paid for it.”

The fact that the bags to which he referred were actually pillowcases was an irrelevant detail unnecessary to divulge.

“Ok, good, loose fruit and veg – no need for packaging.  What else?”

“I told Mum to get the loose lentils and raisins that you can weigh, instead of the ones in packets, and we put it in our bags we took with us what we can re-use.”

He paused, waiting for her to acknowledge receipt of this information.

“Go on,” she urged.

“I told Mum to get me the porridge oats what comes in jus’ a paper bag instead of cereal what’s in boxes and plastic bags.  An’ we got flour an’ sugar in paper bags an’ bread in paper bags instead of plastic; an’ peanut butter in a glass jar with a metal lid; an’ vinegar an’ ketchup an’ apple juice an’ sunflower oil in glass bottles with metal lids – but we ‘aven’t finished all of ’em so I on’y brought the juice bottle today – an’ two tins of beans.  That’s everythin’ I ate an’ I made my Mum choose glass an’ tins because they can be recycled over an’ over forever an’ ever, back into bottles an’ food tins, but plastic is bad an’ can on’y be cycled to things like plastic bricks an’ stuff that can’t be recycled in the end.”

Mrs Tebbut was lost for words.  He had read the printouts.  He had done the work.  Impressively.  She looked at the three paper bags, one glass bottle and two baked beans tins and was amazed at how simple it could actually be.

“Well done Luke,” she said, “very well done indeed.”

At the end of the day when everyone else was going to get their coats, Mrs Tebbut called Luke to her desk.

“Good work today Luke,” she said, “is this something you’ve been concerned about for a while?  I mean before we started our project?”

Luke was unused to his teacher’s friendly voice being directed at him but he saw no harm in indulging her.

“Yeah.  Since I saw Spiker caught in the plastic rings an’ all the litter what hurts the animals.  An’ since so many people are jus’ stupid to keep droppin’ the litter I thought the best thing to do is to make shops stop sellin’ it, then there’d be nothin’ to drop, ‘cept maybe paper bags but that won’t hurt no one and it won’t last long.  So I’m teachin’ my Mum not to buy things with plastic.”

“Well, Luke, that’s wonderful, I’m very impre….”

“An’ I’m makin’ new things out of old things as well,” being impressive was new to Luke – he couldn’t stop now, “so I’m recyclin’ ’em myself and I’m reducin’ the buyin’ of new things ’cause of fixin’ things and makin’ new ones out of old ones.”

Mrs Tebbut smiled.

“Really?  What are you making?”

“At the moment,” he said proudly, “I’m knittin’ a blanket for my pet lamb to keep ‘im warm on chilly nights.”

“Wonderful!  And are you using recycled yarn from an unravelled jumper?”

“Kind of, but no, not yarn.  Strips of material.”

She looked confused so he tried to explain.

“I got the idea from me Nan’s magazine ’bout makin’ rag rugs by cuttin’ old material into strips an’ knottin’ ’em together to make long long strings of it an’ then knittin’ with it. It’ll make a thick, soft blanket for Squirt to sleep on.”

“Fantastic!  What material are you using?  What are you cutting up?”

Luke was glad she asked because he’d put a lot of thought into that decision.  He answered with the quiet confidence of a wise person enlightening a complete beginner.

“I decided the warmest stuff would be what blankets are made of and I found two big blankets in the airing cupboard what nobody was usin’ so I used ’em.  I’m nearly finished now.”

Mrs Tebbut smiled again.

“You’ve got a good heart Luke,” she said, “off you go.  Have a nice weekend, I’ll see you Monday.”

Luke, almost overwhelmed by the unfamiliar sensation of being approved of, went to get his coat.

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er (£4) – the first eight chapters; and Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er: my privut notebook (£2.75) – every member of Luke’s secret sersiety of animal stick up for-ers should have one; are available from Amazon 🙂

   

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vegan, vegetarian, environment, recycling, children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour, animals, children, sheep, lambs

School Project

For the first seven chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 8 continues:

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At Besco’s Luke watched her closely with his project in mind.  To Mum it seemed like every time she reached for something he said,

“No!  Not that.  Get this one!”

She found it very trying but at the same time was impressed with her son’s commitment to the project and didn’t want to curb his enthusiasm for anything school-related.  She bit her tongue and cooperated with most his suggestions.

At the checkout, when the lady asked if she’d like any bags, Luke spoke out before she could answer in the affirmative.

“No thanks.  It’s very bad to get plastic bags.  They make pollution.  You should ban ’em.”  Then he put his pile of pillowcases onto the end of the checkout and started filling one with loose vegetables.  Mum flashed the checkout lady an embarrassed smile and said,

“School project.”

When the day came for the presentations to the class, Luke, because his surname began with W, was one of the last to present.  His peers were getting restless.  They had already sat through twenty seven similar presentations in which they were shown similar empty packets, cartons and bottles being thrown out that week by each family.  Those to be recycled included cereal boxes with their internal plastic bags, plastic milk bottles, plastic ketchup bottles, plastic shampoo bottles, Tetra Paks, glass wine bottles, beer bottles, plastic pop bottles, drink cans, food tins and the like.  Those to go to landfill included toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, brillo pads, polystyrene food trays, plastic straws and crisp packets.  Mrs Tebbut herself was having trouble staying awake at this stage and decided that next year she would get the class to work on a single collective presentation for a school assembly.

Luke waited for Susan Vickers to take her family’s waste off the presentation table and then he walked to the front and stood awkwardly facing his class.

“Ok Luke, how have you reduced waste in your household this week?” asked Mrs Tebbut.

Luke reached into his bag and put onto the table three paper bags, one glass 1 litre bottle and two empty baked beans tins.  He looked at the class and spoke loudly to conceal his nervousness.

“This is my waste for this week.  The yellow and blue paper bag what had oats in will be recycled; the brown paper bread bags will go on the compost; the bottle and the baked beans tins will be recycled.”

Relieved that it was over he waited for Mrs Tebbut to tell him to stand down.  She didn’t.

“That can’t be all,” she said, “I told you to show the class how much waste your household had produced and how you’d helped to reduce it.”

“I did.”

“This is all your family’s waste for a whole week?”

“This is the reduced waste what I made ’em reduce.  I don’t think it’s fair to include the things I told ’em not to buy.  They’re not my fault.”

“Luke, that wasn’t the project.  You’ve misunderstood.”

“I’ve done it fair.  It’s not fair to say I dint do well makin’ my family’s waste smaller if my family won’t do what I tell ’em.  It’s on’y fair to see what waste was made from choices I made ’em make.”

Mrs Tebbut couldn’t argue with that.

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story concludes tomorrow 🙂

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vegan, vegetarian, environment, recycling, children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour, animals, children, sheep, lambs

Bags

For the first seven chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 8 continues:

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Mrs Tebbut continued.

“Now can anybody think of ways in which we could reduce our waste in the first place?”

Several hands shot up.

“Yes, Andrew.”

“Draw on both sides of the paper.”

“Very good.  Yes, Katia.”

“Stick a note on your door that says ‘no junk mail’.”

“Good thinking.  Yes, Simon.”

“Get your shoes re-soled instead of buying new ones.”

“Ooh, yes, well done Simon.  Repair things instead of throwing them out.  Good one.  Ok, well done, you’re all thinking now.  What about the choices we make when we buy things like food.  We have to buy food, but how can we reduce waste before we even get it home?”

The class went quiet again.  Everyone was thinking but they weren’t quite sure what she was after.

“I’m thinking packaging here,” she explained, “we eat the food but we throw away the packaging.  How can we reduce that waste?”

“Buy food with recyclable packaging!” Butler shouted out.

“Yes, if we must, but what would be even better?”

Joe’s eyes suddenly lit up and he opened his mouth as if to speak but didn’t.  Mrs Tebbut noticed.

“Joe?  Did you want to say something?”

“Buy stuff without packaging,” he said quietly.

There were a few snickers.

How ya gonna do that?  Everything comes in packets!” someone scoffed.

Joe went red and looked down at his hands.  Mrs Tebbut frowned.

“Quiet!  Pay attention to Joe, he’s got the right idea!” She turned to Joe, “well done, that’s exactly what I was looking for.  We need to avoid the waste coming into our homes in the first place by choosing things with the least amount of packaging, and even no packaging when possible.  Kenny – see me at the end of class!”

Mrs Tebbut went on to explain their class project: a week on Friday they would all make a presentation to the class in which they would explain how they had reduced waste in their household.  As visual aids they were to bring with them everything being thrown away in their house that week (after it had been cleaned if necessary) and tell the class where that rubbish was headed: recycling or landfill.  She gave them printouts which told them all about recycling.

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After tea on shopping night, Luke was rummaging through the kitchen drawers.

“Come on Luke if you want to come, I want to get this over with,” said Mum.

She hated shopping.

“I’m coming …” said Luke, but didn’t.

“What are you looking for?” asked Mum.

“The shopping bags.  I thought they were in here.”

“So did I.  Oh, I don’t know.  I think I put them in the wash.  I don’t know where they are now.  Never mind, just leave it.  Let’s go!”

“Hang on!” said Luke and he rushed upstairs.

Mum picked up the car keys and headed for the door.

“If you don’t come now Luke, I’m going without you!”  And she went outside.

Just before she released the handbrake Luke opened the passenger door and climbed in.

“What are you doing with those?” Mum asked with alarm as she looked at a large crumpled pile of flower-print and cartoon superhero pillowcases on his lap.

“Bags,” he said, “we need reusable bags.”

Mum inhaled deeply, checked the mirror and reversed out of the drive.

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continues tomorrow 🙂

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vegan, vegetarian, environment, recycling, children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour, animals, children, sheep, lambs

Last but not least: Luke Walker chapter 8 starts here!

Chapter Eight:

Luke Walker and the recycling

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Ha ha ha ha,” Luke laughed, “stop it! I’m nearly finished! Let me finish!”

Luke was sitting on the straw in Curly’s shed, trying to knit a blanket for Squirt.

Curly had given birth to Little Squirt a few days after she arrived at her new home and he was the most playful, affectionate little chap Luke had ever met.  Curly hadn’t let Luke come near him at first but after a while she let Squirt go to him.

“Hey!  I nearly dropped another stitch!  Ok, that’s it! I’m putting it away.  I’ll have to finish it at home.”

Luke preferred to do his knitting in the shed on his plot because at home Jared teased him for it.  He had laughed when Luke first asked Nan to teach him.

“Knitting?  That’s what girls do!  You wish you were a girl don’t you Luke?”

“It’s jus’ like makin’ knots at Scouts Jared!  Don’t you make knots at Scouts?”

“Yeah – knots are useful, for camping and sailing and stuff boys do.”

And knittin’ is turnin’ string into material to make blankets or mats or clothes or tents or anythin’!”

He believed an outlaw should have the skills to make his own things and be self-sufficient.  Knitting was a useful skill.  Nan had been very happy to teach him.

Luke put the half-made blanket back in his bag and played with Squirt until it was time to go home for tea.  He had to be home promptly today because it was Mum’s shopping night and he needed to go with her for his school project.

****

This half term’s topic was The Environment and Mrs Tebbut had started by talking to them about rubbish, waste and plastic pollution.  This was of great interest to Luke.

On the board she wrote:

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

“This week we are going to think about how we can reduce waste by the simple choices we make in our lives,” she began. “Although the amount of rubbish being recycled in this country has increased in recent years, the amount being sent to landfill is also on the increase.  In England, we only recycle about 44% of household waste when in fact 80% of it is recyclable.  This means we all need to try a little bit harder.”

“Or a lot harder,” Luke mouthed to Joe.

“So today I’m going to tell you about The Three Rs: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.  Have any of you heard of this before?”

Lots of blank faces and shaking of heads.

“Ok, well the idea is that, although recycling is very important, we should first try to reduce the amount of stuff we buy in the first place by holding on to the stuff we’ve already got for as long as possible – taking care of it and getting it repaired instead of throwing it away.

“Then, once we have really worn out our stuff and it can’t be repaired anymore, before we throw it out for recycling we should try to think of ways to reuse it.  Old clothes, for example, could be turned into cleaning rags.

“And finally, when we can no longer find a use for something, we should recycle it.”

“Interesting,” thought Luke.

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continues tomorrow 🙂

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vegan, vegetarian, environment, recycling, children’s story, children’s book, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour, animals, children, sheep, lambs

Meet the Family

knitted model bus

Old Red is fully furnished and ready to be enjoyed by the Andersons – so where are they?  Where are the Andersons?  Oh look, here they are:

knitted model bus

Miranda knitted Aiden and Cara and Casey and Brietta, and it didn’t take her long.

She got the pattern from loveknitting.com where it is free to download.  It’s a Goldilocks finger puppet by Amanda Berry which, at 7cm tall, is just the right size but, since we didn’t want finger puppets, Miranda stuffed the skirt, and sewed up the middle of it to make trousers for the boys, adjusted their heights and gave them the appropriate hair etc (including a beard for Aiden) and there you have it – The English Family Anderson, all ready to live happily ever after in their bus 😀

knitted dolls

knitted dolls

Now, where’s Denzel? 😉

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knitting, crafts, needlework, dolls, toys, homemade, handmade, vegan, vegetarian, recycling

The Andersons’ Knitted bus: The End

You may have noticed that in the end the bus isn’t furnished exactly as shown in the story.  That is due to the fact that it has the proportions of a camper van because of the pattern I used.  This Old Red is therefore not long enough to fit in all the furniture I’d planned to include.  So I took some liberties.  Those who have read The English Family Anderson will know that Old Red’s travelling days are over so Miranda suggested that they may well have removed the steering wheel and driver’s seat to give them more space.  That makes sense doesn’t it?

I hope you enjoy the final how-to video which shows the creation of a table, two ottomans for seating (and which contain Brietta’s and Casey’s sleeping bags and bedrolls), and a wardrobe/cupboard for food, utensils, crockery, cutlery, a washing up bowl, and towels and stuff.  There’s a folded blanket on top of the wardrobe and a basket of potatoes on top of that.  Their few clothes are kept in the drawers under Mum and Dad’s bed.  They use the great outdoors for washing and they’ve built a compost toilet out there too 🙂  So they’re all set.

I hope you’ll enjoy making your own camper-bus and I look forward to seeing pictures when you’re done 😀

ps: if knitting’s not your thing, you could always make one out of cardboard 🙂

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vegan, vegetarian, recycling, homemade, toys, model bus, handmade bus, crafts, knitting, needlework, handmade toys,

Make your own Reflecto Girl doll

Reflecto Girl doll

Here’s how:

First, find a pattern.  I used this one but there are plenty of others to choose from, including lots of free ones you can download.  So, I won’t give you pattern details, you can just download whichever pattern you fancy and then make her look like Reflecto Girl.  If you don’t know how to knit you can learn

Or, if you don’t want to do that, you can make a rag doll instead 🙂

Anyway, this is what I did:

2

As per the pattern, first I knitted the legs.  I used DK  (Double Knitting thickness) acrylic yarn from the bag of oddments in the attic – no need to buy anything new, and if you don’t happen to have lilac, I know Renée wouldn’t mind her outfit being a different colour.

3

Then I pinned and sewed the back of leg and top of foot seams

4

and stuffed them with cut up bits of an old cotton T-shirt (no need to buy stuffing – recycle all the way!)

5

Then I knitted the body.  I thought Renée would like a pretty cream vest with a pink decorative stripe close to the bottom edge.

6

I sewed it, stuffed it and attached it to the legs.

7

Then I made and attached her head,

8

followed by her arms.

9

Then it was time to do her hair, which I was very much looking forward to.  I started with the fringe by  just sewing some gorgeous orange yarn into her head making sort of loops between the top of her head and her face, just above where her eyebrows would be.

10

Making her gorgeous long locks was quite time consuming but worth it.  I sewed the yarn into the back of her head, alternating between a small stitch to hold the yarn in place and then a long loop which reached down her back.  Then another small stitch, then another long loop.  The stitches began at the top of  her head and gradually covered the top three quarters of it so that she wouldn’t have any bald patches.  When her scalp was covered I cut the loops so that she had thick, long hair.

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Then I sewed on some eyes and ….

12

… some lips.  I’m not a neat sew-er but that doesn’t matter, just have fun with it 🙂

13

Then I made her top (included in the pattern) and embroidered – if you can call it that 😉 – the Reflecto Girl logo on the front 🙂

14

And then of course she needed a mask!  This is not included in the pattern so you’ll just have to make it up – you can do it!  What I did, if you’re interested, is

  • cast on 70 stitches, using size 10 needles (3.25mm needles);
  • first row: back stitch;
  • second row: Purl 29 stitches, cast off 4, P2, cast off 4, P 31
  • third row: Knit 31 stitches, cast on 4, K2, cast on 4, K29
  • Cast off purlwise

 Then I sewed in the ends of yarn and tidied up the eye holes with a couple of stitches sewn with the same yarn so they’re invisible 🙂

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Yes, ok, I know it looks like a giant sleep mask, but if you look carefully you can see her little eyes through the holes.  Come on, use your imagination 😉

And that’s not all –

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she had to have her red Wonder Woman bag!  Accessories are the best!

17

For this I cast on ….. oh, you know what, I can’t remember how many stitches or rows I did – basically you need it to be about this big against the doll.  Knit a simple rectangle that can be folded and sewn into a bag this size.  I attached a press stud so that it can be fastened.

18

Her bag has a picture of Wonder Woman’s face in a circle on the front – remember?  Luckily I had a scrap of fabric with circles on, just the right size.

19

So I drew Wonder Woman’s face in the circle, cut it out and sewed it to the front of the bag 🙂

Oh, and I knitted a long handle to make it a shoulder bag.  Three stitches, size 10 needles, stocking stitch (ie 1 row knit, 1 row purl) until it’s long enough for the doll to wear over her shoulder like so:

20

Now, Reflecto Girl wouldn’t be Reflecto Girl without her …

21

Dounto!  So I made one.  It needed to be just the right size to fit in her bag 🙂

22

The card I used was quite thin so I cut out two to stick together and make the ‘mirror’ stronger.

23

On one side I drew round a smaller circle to make the mirror glass.

24

25

Then I added the Celtic-ish symbols and letters …

26

… and coloured it in 🙂

27

28

All done!  Reflecto Girl has everything she needs to get the job done!

29

Let’s play!

30

31

32

33

34

Why don’t you make yourself a Reflecto Girl doll?  There’s lots of fun to be had.

***

Now, I need to make a Distracto Boy, and a Venus Aqueous, and a Megan and a Flos , oh, and an English Family Anderson! – it’s a good job I’ve got a big bag of yarn oddments 😀 It’s going to be a busy weekend 😉

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crafts, home made, knitting, toys, action figures, vegan, veggie kids, vegan superhero, things to make and do

A new rhyming story for children aged 2 and up

We are thrilled to share with you another lovely addition to our 2 and up page:

The rhyming story What’s Good For The Goose Is Not Good For The Panda by collage artist Lavender Laine begins here 😀

vegan book for children

vegan children's story

 vegan children's story book

 vegan children's story book

 vegan children's story book

continues tomorrow 😀

or you can read the whole story here now

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#vegan children’s story, #vegan rhyming story, #vegan story book, #vegan book for children

Keeping warm with odds and ends

handknit  hoodie

You may remember I have already knitted a hoodie like this out of leftover  and unravelled yarn but I gave that to Miranda so I needed another one.  And this one only took me 2 months to make, which is a record for me!

handknit hoodie

Whilst this one is not made of unravelled yarn, I didn’t buy any new stuff because it’s made completely of other people’s leftovers.  Quite a few balls had been given to us of various colours and thicknesses, and I spent a couple of pounds at charity shops buying a mixture of odd balls, so it has cost me next to nothing and I’ve made something useful out of stuff that was being thrown out.  Win-win 😀

handknit hoodie

Ooh, it’s so lovely and warm 😀

Here is the pattern if you’re interested, although it’s rather messed up so I don’t know if you’ll be able to make sense of it.

knitting pattern

knitting pattern

knitting pattern

I made mine really chunky by using 3 strands of DK (or whatever I had) so it came out bigger than the one on the pattern.  Plus I made mine longer.  So, with a pack-a-mac over the top on rainy days, I’ve got a homemade winter coat 🙂

The pattern came from this book  Greetings from Knit Cafe by Suzan Mischer

Recommended Reading: What’s Good For The Goose Is Not Good For The Panda

front (2) wgftgingftp

As soon as I saw this I just had to order a copy!  It’s made completely of collage!

back-to-front (2)

Lavender Laine has written and illustrated the whole book completely by cutting out bits from old magazines, wrapping paper, food packaging, yarn and buttons!  Talk about recycling! Even the copyright page is written in collage!

title-page (2)

Laine’s story is about a panda called Patty who has woken up hungry but doesn’t know what to eat.  She meets lots of people willing to share with her but finds that what they’re eating isn’t necessarily her cup of tea.

story-1 (2)

Each picture is made with different materials so they are all very different, and some are more abstract than others, which will encourage children to make art out of whatever they’ve got lying around.

story-2 (2)

The story is rhyming, with one verse per page, and every page is a feast for the eyes.  Children can read it slowly, or have it read to them, while they study the unusual images and try to work out what they are and what they’re made of.

story-3 (3)

You really feel like you could pick at the paper and peel off the layers – not that you would.  It just looks so tactile.

The story is absolutely lovely and can be enjoyed again and again.  It makes the point that we are all different, and what’s good for one might not necessarily be good for someone else.  No wonder it is dedicated to the Safer Medicines campaign 🙂

From Honestly Books.  Available on Amazon.

Only a few hours left to enter the prize draw!

rescue rabbit

If you live in the UK and you’d like to adopt this little cutie, just think of a name for him or her and let me know in a comment on this or that post.

All suggested names (with name of suggester) will be put into a box tomorrow morning and one will be drawn out.

I’ll let you know then who the winner is 😀

Good luck 😀

NB: this secondhand soft toy has been rescued from Raystede charity shop and is hoping to find a loving new home.

A Good Book and some Upcycling

Unqualified Education

When we began our home schooling adventure all those years ago we were very lucky to find this wonderful book.  Unqualified Education is full of inspiring ideas and information, advice and encouragement.  It is an absolute joy and still a great resource after the children have grown up.

contents

We decided to home school when my eldest daughter was just 12 and my youngest was 9.  It was not because they were bullied or anything, and they were not struggling with any of the work.  It was just that life is short, and childhood so short that they should be able to enjoy it all.  In school they were forced to conform to the ‘norm’, to study a set curriculum.  It was so rigid.  My eldest was so stressed.  She got detention for wearing the wrong colour socks for PE; her friend who had cut his hair into a mohican, and had assured his teacher that he would wear it flat and combed tidily for school, was told “Absolutely not!  Shave it all off!”  They simply weren’t allowed to be individuals.

At home we were free.  They could study what they wanted, how they wanted.  We went bike riding and swimming.  We grew vegetables and cooked and sewed and painted and, yes we did maths and English, but we read and read and read – really good books.  We did history and learnt Welsh (a bit).  What I knew I taught them; what I didn’t know we learnt together.  It was the best time.

This book was a wonderful support and inspiration.  Mind you, it’s a good book for anyone, whether home schooling or not.  As you can see from the Contents page, there’s a lot in there, and the recipes in the cooking section are all vegetarian and nearly all vegan!  There is the most amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe – mm mmmmm!

****

Anyway, I needed a new apron so I got out the book, looked up the apron pattern and upcycled myself one:

how to make an apron

(You can click on the pics to enlarge them by the way)

first

first pic

I didn’t have a broadsheet newspaper but luckily Miranda had an old pad of flip-chart paper which she’d rescued from the bin at work and that was just right for this job.

second

second pic

I upcycled an old duvet cover – thoroughly washed of course!  I didn’t do the little pocket because I wanted a big pocket – read on 🙂

cut out

third

fold, pin and hem

You can sew it by hand, it just takes a while.  Luckily I had use of a sewing machine – thanks Mum 🙂

After the hemming was done I attached the ties as shown in the instructions.

vintage tea towel

I decided to make a pocket out of this gorgeous vintage tea towel Miranda bought at the Raystede Christmas fayre a couple of weeks ago (she said I could!)  I cut off the bottom row of dogs and hemmed the raw edge.

fold and hem top edge of pocket

Then I put on the apron so that I could position the pocket and put in a pin to mark the position of the centre of the top of the pocket.

put on apron and mark with pin where centre top of pocket will be

Then I sewed it on.  With a pocket this size you have to sew up the middle, effectively creating two pockets.  No dogs were harmed by this procedure – I was very careful not to sew over any of them 🙂

All done!

finished

finished apron

The Andersons’ Bus Part Two

For those who don’t know who the Andersons are, they are characters in one of our stories – a vegan family who live in an old bus. Look here

Anyway, I had such fun building a model of their bus last week that I didn’t want to stop there – I had to furnish it!  Now, before I show you what I did I want you to bear in mind that I have no previous experience of doing anything like this and I just made it up as I went along.  So forgive its many imperfections and picture how much I enjoyed doing it – that’s the main thing 😉

First I re-opened the cardboard model and carefully cut out its windows with a tiny pair of nail scissors

First I re-opened the cardboard model and carefully cut out its windows with a tiny pair of nail scissors

Then I cut out some clear plastic from an old fruit punnet and stuck it on the inside.  Now my windows have  'glass'!

Then I cut out some clear plastic from an old fruit punnet and stuck it on the inside. Now my windows have ‘glass’!

I covered the inside with decorative paper ...

I covered the inside with decorative paper …

... and stuck on some cupboards and a woodburner on one side, and drew some storage racks above the windows.

… and stuck on some cupboards and a woodburner on one side, and drew some storage racks above the windows.

I found some boxes of matches in the drawer and decided my husband wouldn't mind if I used the boxes - I left him the bit with the striking strip!

I found some boxes of matches in the drawer and decided my husband wouldn’t mind if I used the boxes – I left him the bit with the striking strip!

I made one of them into a bookcase and used the other two to raise the bus floor so that it was above the wheels.

I made one of them into a bookcase and used the other two to raise the bus floor so that it was above the wheels.

I drew shelves and books on the shelves ...

I drew shelves and books on the shelves …

... and coloured them with coloured pencils.

… and coloured them with coloured pencils.

Looking at the pictures I’d drawn of the inside of the bus in episode 1, I wanted to make furniture to match – ish.  So I needed a driver’s seat with a partition behind; a table and chairs behind that; and a settee behind that.  I made these out of cardboard and stuck them to another piece of cereal box, the same size as the bus roof, covered in decorative paper for the floor.  They are very basic, and too wide which is why I only had room to draw the furniture on the other side of the bus, but it doesn’t matter, I can still get a feel of how things are laid out in Old Red.

11 fully furnished

15 drivers seat

I see now that the driver’s seat is waaay too big! Oh well.

Then I re-closed the outside of the bus and slotted it over the inside.

Then I re-closed the outside of the bus and slotted it over the inside.

And you can see the furniture through the windows

And you can see the furniture through the windows

And look - there's people inside! Denzel is cleverly disguised as a spaniel and Casey is also in fancy dress - but honestly, it is them!

And look – there’s people inside! Denzel is cleverly disguised as a spaniel and Casey is also in fancy dress as a knight – but honestly, it is them!

Old Red

Old Red.  What fun! Why don’t you make one?

Remember I wanted a new hat?

recycling hats

Remember I wanted to make a new hat

With the yarn from old hats I’d unravelled?

Remember I said Random Rose made a hat,

beret with ridges she cabled?

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Well I followed the pattern that Rose kindly shared,

Though the yarn had lost elasticity.

The needles I used were not quite the right size,

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

****

So I finished my hat and I’m pleased how it went,

Cream and purple go well together.

I admit it turned out bigger than it was meant,

For my head is decidedly smaller.

****

As luck would have it, Miranda’s got a big head,

Though not the metaphorical kind.

So I decided to give it to her instead,

And I honestly really don’t mind.

recycled beret finished

recycled beret side

recycled beret back

Miranda's new beret

I want a new hat!

sloppy cream hat

I want a new hat,

It’s as simple as that!

But I’ve got no money to buy one.

I know what I’ll do,

I’ve got old hats – two,

I’ll unravel to make a new one.

saggy purple hat

Rose shared a pattern,

A cool beret pattern,

Which I’ll use to make my new hat.

The purple from my sloppy

And the cream from my saggy

Hats will go great together for that!

yarn to reuse

Recycle an old shirt or two

Here’s an idea I got from this book:  Sewing Green Click on the pic find it on Amazon

At least, I think I got it from this one but I gave it away a while ago so I’m not 100% sure.  Anyway, if you’ve got a couple of old shirts – preferably big men’s ones – lying around with nothing to do, why not cut them up and make a new apron?  My husband decided these just weren’t him any more.  Excellent! 😉

1 old shirts

So, you’ve got your hands on a couple of old shirts that nobody wants – actually you could do this with one shirt but it’s nice to have contrasting patterns and colours to work with.

2 cut the back out

Cut out the back of the shirt which is going to be the main piece of your apron.  If, like me, you don’t want to be bothered with hemming or edging, cut outside the seam (as shown here) and then your edge is already hemmed.  Cut up to the arm pit on both sides of the back and then straight across.

3 back

It should look something like this.

4 collar waist band

Cut off the collar of the other shirt (or the same one if you prefer) – this is going to be your apron’s waistband.  You only want the bit that would go around the neck, not the triangle-ish bit.  Again cut outside the stitching so that you don’t need to edge it yourself.

5 unpick collar

Then you need to unpick the bottom edge of the collar …

6 pin collar on

… so that you can slightly gather the top of your apron and fit it inside the collar (now waistband).  Pin it in place.

7 sew waist band on

Sew on the waistband.  I like zigzag but you could easily do this by hand.

8 cut out letters

Now for your design.  You could cut out the breast pocket from one of the shirts and attach it to your apron.  I think that’s what the book tells you to do and it does look lovely but I thought “I don’t need a pocket on my apron” so I decided not to.  You could do anything you like … or nothing at all 🙂 I went with lettering.

Cut your design out of the contrasting material ….

9 pin them in place

… and pin it to your apron.

10 sew the letters on

Sew it in place.

Nearly there.  Now you just need ties.

11 ties

I used the shirt button bands for the simplicity.  They’re already stitched and you can attach them to the collar/waistband with buttons!

12 finished apron

13 button band ties

14 back view

15 front

16 hanging apron

Crafty Vegan

Veganism should be happy and it should be everywhere.

You can say it loud and proud without ever having to open your mouth!

sewing

Show the world your happy veganism by writing it on your stuff!

vegan upcycled bag

vegan upcycled bag front and back

vegan upcycled pencil case

No pattern needed for these make-it-up-as-you-go bags and pencil cases made from upcycled old jeans and shirts.  Just put your imagination behind your scissors and get snipping.  Then sew your designs to your background.  The lettering (above) is made by sewing knitting yarn onto the material with zigzag machine stitch.

vegan smile bag front

This bag is different from the others in that it has no zip at the top.  Instead it has a fold-over flap that keeps your bag closed.  This is easily done by taking a rectangular piece of fabric which is a little wider than you want your bag and a bit longer than three times the depth of your bag.  Place a piece of contrasting material the same size (for the lining) with it’s right side against the right side of the outer fabric.  Then sew around 3 sides of the two of them and turn them right side out.  Tidily sew the open end together with the rough edges tucked in.

Then sew on your design(s).  If you’re doing a design on front, back and flap like this one, make sure each design will be the right way up when the fabric is folded.  Pin it first if you’re not sure.

Now, with your designs on the outside, fold the bottom of this piece up to 2 thirds of the way up – the last third will be your fold-over flap – then sew up the two sides (sew it inside out if you don’t want the stitches to show).  You should now have a bag (minus the strap) with a fold-over flap.

vegan smile bag back

  So, you’ve got your bag, you’ve got your design on your bag, now you just need to cut your strap, sew it together if it’s in two pieces, and attach it.  This “Smile – U R Vegan” bag is made of an old shirt and some oddments of material.  The strap is the button bands of the shirt.  Make sure your stitching is strong but don’t worry about neatly hemming it – I think it looks good being a bit rough around the edges.  Button hole bands are good to use for this because half the work’s done for you as it’s already sewn double thickness.

And that’s pretty much it.  You could have a different one for every day of the week! 🙂

Re-Knitting

knitting

Knitting is a very enjoyable hobby as well as being a very useful skill.  To be able to make your own clothes, toys and accessories is a brilliant way of being self-reliant and can also be eco-friendly.

As a vegan shopper you won’t want to buy wool or alpaca or silk, but as an eco-minded shopper you won’t want to buy acrylic.  The problem is that organic, eco-friendly, natural yarns are very expensive.

So what do you do if you can’t afford the eco-stuff?  Simple – you Re-Knit!

Browsing in charity shops and second hand shops you’re bound to find knitwear that is a pretty colour, but unattractive design.  If you buy it, wash it and unravel it, you can re-knit that colour into something beautiful.  It’s just another way to recycle, or upcycle if you like, and it’s very enjoyable and satisfying.  Here are a few things we made with unravelled yarn and oddments:

This matching hat and mittens was made by acrylic yarn unravelled from 2 different machine-knit jumpers. The problem with unravelling machine-knits is that the yarn is cut at the end of each row, it's not continuous like with hand-knits. So the ends of the yarn had to knotted together as each row was unravelled. Quite tedious and time-consuming but it results in interesting balls of yarn which, when knitted together, produce a unique effect. Leaving the dangling ends of each knot untrimmed creates a shabby chic effect .

This matching hat and mittens was made with acrylic yarn unravelled from 2 different machine-knit jumpers. The problem with unravelling mass-produced machine-knits is that the yarn is cut at the end of each row, it’s not continuous like with hand-knits. So the ends of the yarn had to knotted together as each row was unravelled. Quite tedious and time-consuming but it results in interesting balls of yarn which, when knitted together, produce a unique effect. Leaving the dangling ends of each knot untrimmed creates a shabby chic effect .

 

Blanket made by sewing together little knitted squares

Blanket made by sewing together little knitted squares

 

The yarn from these saggy old hats was unravelled and knitted into ...

The yarn from these saggy old hats was unravelled and knitted into …

... this gorgeous beret

… this gorgeous beret

An enjoyable way to give new life to old knitwear and keep it out of landfill 🙂

Don’t know how to knit?  No problem – watch this brilliant video:

And for the left-handed:

UPDATE:

I’ve just finished the hoodie I was knitting in the photo at the top.  I wanted a warm chunky knit but didn’t have any thick yarn so this is knitted with 3 strands of unravelled DK acrylic; lots of different colours and oddments.  It’s so soft and warm, like wrapping yourself in a blanket before you go outside.  Now I’ve just got to find a zip for it 🙂

upcycled knitting yarns

upcycled knitting yarns

upcycled knitting yarns

Further update:

I’ve just finished another one here and if you would like to make one yourself, the pattern is at the bottom of this post 🙂

Home Made Vegan Monopoly

monopoly instructions 1

Cut out a large square of cardboard from your cereal box or whatever and draw a line inside the outer edge to create a border.  Then divide the border into squares like this.  A traditional Monopoly board has 40 evenly-sized squares altogether, like this one, but if you want you can have a random number of different-sized squares.  It's up to you!

Cut out a large square of cardboard from your cereal box or whatever and draw a line inside the outer edge to create a border. Then divide the border into squares like this. A traditional Monopoly board has 40 evenly-sized squares altogether, like this one, but if you want you can have a random number of different-sized squares. It’s up to you!

Each square represents a place, so think about places in your town, or places you wish were in your town and put them in - include places like veggie/vegan cafes and shops like 'The Loving Hut' and 'Infinity Foods' in this one, and place you enjoy going to like the cinema, the park and the pier.  Don't forget to put 'GO' in one corner and a few 'chance' squares.  The original Monopoly  also has fines on some squares like 'income tax' but you can make up your own like we have with 'bus fare' and 'new shoes'.  Just free your imagination and run with it!

Each square represents a place, so think about places in your town, or places you wish were in your town and put them in – include places like veggie/vegan cafes and shops like ‘The Loving Hut’ and ‘Infinity Foods’ in this one, and places you enjoy going to like the cinema, the park and the pier. Don’t forget to put ‘GO’ in one corner and a few ‘chance’ squares. The original Monopoly also has fines on some squares like ‘income tax’ but you can make up your own like we have with ‘bus fare’ and ‘new shoes’. Just free your imagination and run with it!

You need play money for monopoly so you can make some fake paper money or you can make coins.  We made coins by finding whatever coins we had lying around and making rubbings of them with our crayons.  Then we stuck them on cardboard and cut them out - or the other way around but that's twice as much cutting - it's up to you!

You need play money for monopoly so you can make some fake paper money or you can make coins. We made coins by finding whatever coins we had lying around and making rubbings of them with our crayons. Then we stuck them on cardboard and cut them out – or the other way around but that’s twice as much cutting!!

We found an odd assortment of coins including a commemorative £5 coin and an out of date ha'penny - anything goes when you're making it up yourself!

We found an odd assortment of coins including a commemorative £5 coin and an out of date ha’penny – anything goes when you’re making it up yourself!

Now that you've finished your board and you know what each place is, you need to make property cards - one for each place (don't include fines/go/free parking/free cup of tea and the like)

Now that you’ve finished your board and you know what each place is, you need to make property cards – one for each place (don’t include fines/go/free parking/free cup of tea and the like). You need to decide on a purchase price for each place and a landing fine to be charged to other players that land on it. Bear in mind what denominations of money you’ve made when you decide on prices but don’t be too serious about it – we went crazy and our landing fines were often higher than the purchase prices! Just have fun with it.

There are also in Monopoly 'Community Chest' and 'Chance' cards.  Your game doesn't have to have these but it's good to have some kind of 'chance' spaces around your board (as indicated earlier) which you can give any name you like.  In our game these spaces are called 'Family Treasure' and '?'.  Now you need to make cards for players to pick up if they land on these spaces.  You can write something good or something bad on these cards (for eg the player has won something, or has to pay something) - but again, just use your imagination, it can be anything you want.

There are also in Monopoly ‘Community Chest’ and ‘Chance’ cards. Your game doesn’t have to have these but it’s good to have some kind of ‘chance’ spaces around your board (as indicated earlier) which you can give any name you like. In our game these spaces are called ‘Family Treasure’ and ‘?’. Now you need to make cards for players to pick up if they land on these spaces. You can write something good or something bad on these cards (for eg the player has won something, or has to pay something) – but again, just use your imagination, it can be anything you want.

that's about it