You know how frustrating it is when you’re doing your best to avoid plastic but even the glass bottle of organic vegetable oil has a plastic insert, plastic lid and sometimes even a plastic neck-sleeve? Well, after spending half an hour trying to cut off this evil neck sleeve the other day I decided, I’m putting my foot down! I am not buying bottles like this ever again! “But what about cake?” argued my alter ego, “how will you make cake without vegetable oil?”
This is how:
All you need is
four very ripe bananas,
a mug and a half of self-raising flour,
and half a mug of sugar.
The sugar is plastic-free too if you get it from a zero-waste filling station or buy Silver Spoon British Sugar (made from home grown sugar beet) which is always wrapped in paper.
First mash the bananas with a fork
Then preheat the oven to 160° C
Then add half a mug of sugar to the bananas and mix well. This will magically make the bananas very runny.
When the sugar and bananas are thoroughly combined, add one and a half mugs full of self raising flour and mix well.
(NB there’s a lot of mixture in that bowl because I doubled the ingredients to make two cakes)
Now you should have a thick, moist cake mixture, ready to put in the tin.
(If You Care parchment paper is unbleached and totally chlorine-free (TCF) greaseproof paper which can be found at most good health food shops)
Line a loaf tin with some eco-friendly greaseproof paper and fill it with your cake mixture.
Put it in the middle of the oven and bake for one and a quarter hours (75 minutes). Carefully remove and insert a sharp knife to test. If the knife comes out clean, it’s done, if it has wet mixture on it, put the cake back in the oven for a few more minutes.
When it’s ready, take it out of the tin and cool it on a wire rack.
Use a serrated knife to cut it as it’ll be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Absolutely scrumptious 😀
No plastic required 😉
Source: I got this recipe years ago from a brilliant homemade book called Grime and Nourishment, (NB this book is not suitable for children).
I’m thrilled to tell you that you can now get quality, organic, frozen veg packaged in nothing but a cardboard box!
It’s really hard to get enough greens when you’re trying to avoid plastic – unless you can grow your own.
But now that I’ve found these we can have our organic greens every day!
And they’re so easy to add to any meal. No washing or chopping. Just put some of these in a saucepan to gently warm – I put them in with my baked beans.
I bought them from the brilliant Sunny Foods Health Food shop in South Street, Eastbourne, but I’ve seen them in the Health Food Shop in Rye and the one in Hastings so hopefully you’ll be able to find them near you.
One thing’s for sure – I’m going to make sure my freezer is always stocked up with healthy, organic, plastic-free veg from the Natural Cool range – check it out! 😀
Remember I wrote in my earlier plastic avoidance posts that it was impossible, in my experience, to get organic stuff (like sugar, lentils, dried fruit, nuts, pasta etc etc) that wasn’t wrapped in plastic? Remember I said that we’d decided we had to prioritise plastic avoidance even if that meant having to buy non-organic? Well, I’m absolutely delighted to tell you I was wrong!!!
Thanks to the Zero Waste Club (a new mail-order company in London) you can now buy all those wonderful staples organic and plastic-free 😀
In my first order I got sugar, salt, muesli and banana chips. In my second order I got popping corn, pitted dates, raisins, cashews, pasta, lentils and cinnamon, but they’ve got so much more! Nuts, pulses, dried fruit, muesli, oats, flour, cocoa, herbs and spices, seeds: check it out! They told me they’re going to get tea soon too!!!
The Zero Waste Club was set up by a couple of lads, Pawan Saunya & Rishi Gupta, who got so upset when they watched a documentary about plastic pollution in their A’level World Development lesson that they determined to do something about it. You can read their inspirational story here. Thanks to Pawan and Rishi, the rest of us ZERO WASTE WANNA BEs don’t have to miss out on pasta and dried fruit and nuts and salt etc etc in our efforts to boycott plastic, and we don’t have to compromise our organic principles either.
You can order by weight through their website and they will package up your goodies in tough, recycled paper bags (see picture at top) which you can in turn re-use, recycle and/or compost. I’m keeping mine for filling with fruit and veg peelings in the kitchen and then the whole lot can go in the compost bin. They despatch every Wednesday for a flat rate of £3.99 per order. I cannot recommend this site highly enough. It’s just so exciting when your goodies arrive!
The Zero Waste Club has stopped selling unpackaged food items and is instead concentrating on plastic-free, sustainable products like toothbrushes, razors, utensils, compostable bin liners and dog poo bags, toilet rolls, …. all sorts of things you need. They are completely transparent and show you how the items were made and by whom. Next time you need a new comb, hair band, coffee filter, tea strainer or who knows what – pop over to The Zero Waste Club and see if they’ve got one. If they haven’t, ask them to stock it in future – they’ll be eager to help you 😀
As for your zero waste food cupboard staples, I’m very glad to say that there are more and more zero waste shops springing up all over the place. Chances are there’s one near you. Google it! 😀
You can get vegan plastic-free toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, toothbrushes – everything your teeth could ever need from Georganics, including cardboard-packaged tooth soap and refills. Check it out! 😀
According to the Australian Environmental Toothbrush website, over 30 million toothbrushes are used and disposed of by Australians annually, amounting to approximately 1000 tonnes of landfill each year. The plastic they’re made of won’t break down in our lifetime. Nor within the lifetime of our children. Imagine that on a global scale. This is what inspired a Brisbane dentist to invent the wonderful Environmental toothbrush.
Thankfully they are easy to get hold of in this country too and you may well find them in your local health food store. If not you can get them from Living Naturally (the soapnut people) and of course they sell them on Amazon 🙂 I recommend ordering a few from Living Naturally when you get your soapnuts 😉
These toothbrushes are lovely and they come wrapped in nothing but a little cardboard box. Being made of bamboo they are safely compostable if you remove the bristles – they haven’t been able to find natural bristles yet so they’re made of a BPA-free polymer, as they explain here, but still this toothbrush is far superior to one made entirely of plastic.
We use our toothbrushes for cleaning the bathroom when our teeth have finished with them.
Toothpaste is very difficult to find without plastic, so let us know if you find any. We’ve just discovered Remineralizing Tooth Salve, haven’t tried it yet but it looks very promising. It’s made by Ophir Naturals and we came across it at Living Naturally. These little tabs come in a glass jar (unfortunately it does have a plastic lid) and according to the manufacturer, they enable the teeth to re-propogate enamel through the process of remineralization (you can read the scientific details here). They’re vegan, sustainable and fair trade; and their customer testimonials are very impressive. It’s quite expensive but if it does as it claims it’ll be worth every penny for what you’ll save on dental work. I’m really looking forward to trying these – I’ll let you know how we get on 🙂
post script: 10.42pm – we’ve now tried them and, well, the soapy taste is gonna take some getting used to – Miranda ate a cake afterwards to get rid of the taste 😉 – but I’m so encouraged by the testimonials on their website that I have high-hopes for their effect on my teeth and I will continue using them 😀
pps: Just wanted to add that I’m now really enjoying Ophir Remineralizing tooth salve – it’s so soft on my teeth and I got used to the taste very quickly. Unlike conventional toothpaste, this tooth salve is not abrasive. It cleans your teeth like you clean the rest of your body – with soap. And it is genuinely effective at getting your teeth back to their natural pearly colour! It’s worth noting that it’s not actually a good idea to use abrasives on your teeth too often because if you grind down the enamel you’ll be able to see through to the dentine underneath which is yellow 😀
For those who prefer the more conventional minty white toothpaste, you can buy Denttabs!
According to their website, DENTTABS Toothpaste Tablets are THE sustainable alternative to toothpaste. They are 100% plastic-free, ecological and free from preservatives, artificial stabilizers and any other unnecessary ingredients! They do a lovely job polishing your teeth once a week (if you’re using the Ophir Naturals the rest of the time) or for every day use if you prefer. They’re available with fluoride or without. Find a zero waste shop near you and ask them to stock them, or google them to find out where you can buy them online. They come in a glass jar, with refills in paper bags.
Plastic-free VEGAN floss
Georganics Charcoal Dental Floss is a natural floss made with bamboo charcoal fibre, candelilla wax and peppermint essential oil. This 30 metres floss clew is packed in a zero-waste and plastic-free glass container with a metal dispensing lid to allow you to easily cut the floss. When you’ve used up all the dental floss you buy refills to put in your little glass dispenser. We found this in Infinity Foods health food shop in Brighton so check out your local health food store and if you can’t find it there you can order it online 😀
We use natural volcanic alum stone instead of packaged deodorant and we get on very well with it. After washing and drying your skin, you just wet the stone, rub it under your arms and leave your skin to air dry. Rinse the stone, dry it and put it somewhere safe for next time. One stone will last for months. This really works!
Admittedly I don’t often do activities that make me sweat but when I occasionally do get hot and sweaty and have been a bit worried that I’m starting to smell, I notice a few minutes later that the smell has completely gone. It’s like the alum, which inhibits the growth of the microbes which cause the smell, takes a couple of minutes to neutralise them. So even if you get sweaty and start to notice an unwelcome odour, you’ll find that it disappears after a few minutes 😀 When this has happened to me I check my skin again at the end of the day and find it smells lovely and clean, not a suggestion of anything unpleasant. The only thing to be aware of is that your clothes may start to smell if they are in close contact with your armpits, so it’s best to wear things that are loose under your arms so that they don’t become contaminated if you do sweat. The stone will only keep your skin smelling sweet, not the fabric that sticks to it 😉
For those who feel they need a little more protection, Miranda uses this in the summer when she’s cycling. She gets really sweaty and says this works brilliantly. It’s a lovely cream which goes a long way because you only need a very thin layer on your skin. Packaged in a glass jar with a metal lid, it is provided by the lovely people at Living Naturally. It comes in Rose & Lavender, Citrus & Ylang, or fragrance-free.
There’s no longer any need to use disposable products for your monthly curse – go to Earthwise Girls to get everything you need in terms of washable, reusable, organic, natural, eco-friendly alternatives 😀
Hand Creams and Moisturisers
This cream is gorgeous. It’s organic, it’s vegan and it’s the best moisturising cream I’ve found. It’s perfect for making dry skin (hands and body) silky smooth (I used it on my tattoo and it was perfect for the job), and it says on the tin you can also use it on your face. It smells heavenly and comes in a tin with a foil seal over the top. No plastic at all. You can get it from Holland & Barrett 😀
Alternatively, you can get a selection of soapnut moisturisers in glass jars from Living Naturally 🙂
For those who don’t want to wash their hair and bodies with soapnut water, Living Naturally provides lovely soap and shampoo bars. You can buy all sorts of varieties, singly or 5 at a time. If you buy one singly, it comes it a little drawstring linen bag; if you buy 5 for a little discount, they come wrapped together in a single sheet of paper.