How to make hemp milk that doesn’t split

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This of you that have been following me on instagram will already know that I have been experimenting with different plant milks to find vegan substitutes for some of my milk consumption.

The most successful, and the most like regular milk so far was cashew milk but as I also just heard about the process of harvesting cashews, in which the pickers often suffer acid burns, this was never going to be a sustainable replacement for locally produced cows milk for me.

My favourite more sustainable, and more locally grown candidates have therefore been oat milk ( oats also readily available in card or paper and quite cheap) and hemp (so far I have bought this in plastic from local health food store but it grows in the UK and there are other suppliers online). Both of these are amazingly easy to make. Unfortunately both were very strange in hot drinks, sinking straight to the bottom of the cup. However I liked the taste of hemp milk in tea, after a few cups of getting used to the more nutty flavour.

Then came a game changing solution from someone in the Journey to Zero Waste UK Facebook group. I have been experimenting since and now have a homemade hemp milk I am happy to use in tea on a semi regular basis.

All you need is:

  • 1/2 a cup of hemp seeds
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 or 2 dates (or alternative sweetener such as maple syrup)
  • 1 level teaspoon xanthan gum ( you can find this in the baking section of supermarkets or health food stores)
  • A blender
  • A sieve / muslin cloth/ jelly bag

Method:

  • Pop the hemp seeds, date, and water into the blender and, at the last moment, add your teaspoon of xanthan gum.

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  • Blend for several minutes until it looks milk like.

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  • Strain through a sieve. If you prefer to remove all the black specks of hemp seed you will need to pass it through something finer such as a muslin cloth or jelly bag – I usually just use a sieve but see from the photos I took earlier that I used a jelly bag the first time. As the xanthan gum makes the liquid slightly gloopy this may take a while and a bit of assistance from the edge of a spoon – if it is really too thick to go through pop it back into the blender and add a bit more water – you want the consistency to be slightly thick but not too gloopy. It is easier to add more water than to add more xanthan gum which doesn’t seem to mix in properly after the first step.
  • Decant into a bottle or jar and store in the fridge ready for use.

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  • Don’t forget to scrape the sieved out hemp seeds out of the sieve/jelly bag and store those for another use – I have so far used them in cereal bars, granola or added to the next loaf of bread/pizza.
No it's not frogspawn - it's hemp pulp
No it’s not frogspawn – it’s hemp pulp

And that’s it – it should keep for 3-5 days in the fridge. Do let me know if you make it and how you get on. And I would love to hear any other plant milk making tips.

If you enjoyed reading don’t forget to like the post or leave me a comment. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where I post more frequently.

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Look no further for a simple DIY deodorant that really works!

So you want to use a natural deodorant?  It is really easy (and cheap) to make your own using the simple recipe below. No complicated or hard to find ingredients required.   And the essential oils are optional.

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I was fortunate enough to only need to try a couple of DIY deodorant recipes before finding one that really works for me.  This recipe came to me sort of by word of mouth – via a Facebook discussion group.  I have tweaked it only a little – by reducing the amount of essential oils – but they are not an essential ingredient.

This is a deodorant rather than an anti perspirant so it won’t stop you sweat, but it will stop you being smelly.

You can see the recipe above but for clarity the ingredients are:

  • 2 tablespoons of  either cornflour or arrowroot – my card box from Waitrose did have a plastic liner but I believe you can buy it in Lidl without.  Either way the box will last for quite a while.
  • 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda  – I bought this card box from Wilco but you can also find it in most hardware stores.
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil – this glass jar was from Aldi  and much cheaper than buying from a health food store.
  • Plus a few drops of essential oils.  I chose tea tree oil for it’s antibacterial properties, and because I happened to have some already.  I also added a few drops of lavender to my most recent batch for fragrance.  Just be sure to choose oils that are skin safe.

If the coconut oil is a little too hard to mix in easily you can soften it slightly either in a bain marie or for a few seconds in a microwave.  Then stir in the other ingredients until well blended and spoon into a suitable container.  I reused an old hair wax tin to store mine but I have also used glass jars for smaller amounts for travelling or gifts – use whatever you happen to have.  If you have an old stick deodorant you may be able to refill that.

To use just apply to the underarms with your fingers taking care to rub in before dressing to avoid transferring any oil to your clothes.

You will find that in a summer heatwave it may turn to liquid  – you can just keep it in the fridge for a while before applying but it should still work well.   I find it fine for travelling during colder months but do have a back up bought tub of Trust deodorant for hot summer holidays just to avoid any leakage in transit.

Please let me know how you get on if you try it.

 

 

More places to shop with less waste in Leighton Buzzard – the Circular Economy

I have previously written about the places I shop for consumable items locally – but what about the other things you sometimes need or want to buy?

WRAP describe a circular economy as an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

A Circular Economy
A Circular Economy – WRAP and the circular economy | WRAP UK http://www.wrap.org.uk/about-us/about/wrap-and-circular-economy

 

With the circular ecomony in mind I tend to adopt a ” second hand first” to those non – consumables I sometimes need to buy.  Fortunately Leighton Buzzard is very well supplied with places to find some lovely pre-owned things. This post focusses on the shops  you can look through in town, but if you scroll to the end you will find a link to online sharing/ swapping and selling sites operating locally.

Ollie Vees – Market Square  This is a fantastic vintage store selling clothing, sewing patterns, records, buttons and much more.  They also hold regular events including sewing and making meet – ups.

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Peacock Mews Collectables A collection of several shops along Peacock Mews selling a variety of vintage collectables including clothing and furniture and other items – pop in for a browse.

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Allsorts – Clarence Road  – a house clearance business selling a variety of second hand furniture, electrical goods and antiques.

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I mainly tend to shop in the charity shops – of which we have a good selection ( and there are probably more I have missed).  I can almost always find what I want in one of these – with Oxfam being my personal favourite.

Variety of charity shops:

Oxfam – High Street

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British Heart Foundation – Waterbourne Walk

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The Salvation Army – Waterbourne Walk

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Breast Cancer Care – Lake Street

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Sue Ryder – High Street

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Willen Hospice- Bridge Street

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Extra Care Charitable Trust – Bridge Street

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Age UK- Lake Street

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I previously wrote about the places I shop for food and other convenience shopping items in Leighton Buzzard – you can read about those here : My favourite places for shopping without packaging in Leighton Buzzard

As well as the local shops, there is a wealth of local sharing/swapping/selling groups in the areas, mostly online, forming part of the local circular economy.  Some of these are listed at the bottom of a previous post: 7 top tips to reduce your household waste

So, most of the time there is no need to leave town for a shopping fix, and no need to buy new, saving the resources involved in buying new things, and saving other people’s unwanted items from being thrown away.

Christmas Crackers – Zero Waste Style

Home made Christmas Crackers
Home made Christmas crackers

Do you enjoy having Christmas crackers but worry about the waste?

Of course they are not an essential, but they are a traditional part of the Christmas lunch table setting in the UK, and fortunately a simple one to replace with a less waste, homemade version.

I have been making my own for the last couple of years, using loo roll or other cardboard tubes and decorating with various bits and bobs saved through the year.  All you need to buy is the cracker bangs ( I found some unpackaged in lovely local shop Room No 9 in Leighton Buzzard but you can order online or find in craft shops) and your choice of gifts.

The first year I decorated them in the foil wrappers from chocolate bars.  They weren’t very neat but the family still really enjoyed them.  Next time I used some colourful pictures from a calendar and had improved the technique a little. I have saved some glossy wrapping paper that couldn’t be recycled to reuse this year.

The first step is to place the cracker bang carefully inside your loo roll or other cardboard tube and place it on top of the paper you will be wrapping it in to check for size – you want the cracker bang ends to be just covered. Mark where your cardboard tube comes to on the inside of the paper .

Then, removing the card tube again for now, carefully fold one end of the paper over to the mark you have made and cut some small slits – these will help you squeeze the ends of the paper in to tie them neatly.  It’s a good idea to try this out on a spare piece of paper first to make sure you have the slits in the right place and to see how big to make them.  Do the same at the other end.

Now, wrap the paper around the card tube with the cracker bang in and fasten with a small piece of tape.  Tie your ribbon around one end.

Now fill up the cracker with your chosen gift and joke.  I find jokes online to print out, or reuse jokes from the crackers at my work Christmas lunch – even better write your own.  We already have a set of Santa hats which are too large to fit in the cracker so we place those at the table separately but you could of course make paper hats if you prefer.

 

 

I try to source the gifts from local charity shops.  Last year I found these gorgeous wooden tree decorations which just fitted in, and which can be reused for the tree every year.  When I haven’t found anything suitably small preowned I have filled the crackers with sweets or lottery scratch cards.  Homemade sweets or biscuits would be another good idea if you can leave filling the crackers until close to the day.

Once the gifts are in, all you need to do is tie the second ribbon to close the end – and label them if you have personalised the gifts.

I’m not the most artistic or neat and tidy person so these always end up looking homemade, but there is nothing wrong with that – the family seem to enjoy them and there is hopefully no plastic tat to go straight in the bin.

If you have enjoyed reading please leave a comment and  use the links to follow the blog, or follow my linekd Facebook and Twitter account.  Thanks

 

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Looking for new ways to eat your Halloween pumpkin? Try these recipes for Pumpkin Pizza Dough and Pumpkin Pasta.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that we managed to grown a few humungous green squash of some uncertain variety in our back garden this year.   The last one harvested this week weighed in at over 5 kg!

I was expecting them to be a green variety of butternut but they turned out to be much less flavoursome than the nutty butternuts so I have had to be inventive and a bit sneaky to get the family to eat them, especially my generally vegetable averse son who wouldn’t go near anything if he thought it contained squash.

So, I have been experimenting – these are a couple of recipes I will be making again – especially since hubby and son are off to buy a pumpkin to carve today so there will be even more to use.

Easy Pumpkin Pizza Dough

Home made pizza is a firm favourite in our house.  We like that the toppings can be tailored to each family member to avoid waste.

I searched for pumpkin pizza dough recipes and came up with several paleo or gluten free versions but I wanted to make it as close as possible to our usual pizza base so no-one would know the difference, and to keep it as simple as possible, because who has time for recipes involving about 20 ingredients? So I experimented with a basic pizza dough recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 375g bread flour (or 00 pasta flour)
  • 1tsp quick yeast or easy bake yeast
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Approx 400g pumpkin or other winter squash  (enough to make approx 250ml puree)

Method:

  • Start by preparing your pumpkin or squash puree – peel and dice then cook the squash until just tender.  I steamed mine as I wanted to keep the flavour fairly bland so it wouldn’t be detected in the finished product but you could roast for a fuller flavour. Steaming the squash took about 10-15 mins.  Roasting may take a little longer.
  • Mash or blend the cooked squash and allow to cool.
  • Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Measure out 250 ml of cooled puree – don’t worry if you have less than this as you can add water to the dough if necessary.
  • Start by adding about 200 ml of the puree to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough  – if the dough is still dry add more puree a little at a time.  If it is too wet you can add a little more flour.   Once it feels about right knead the dough on a well floured surface for about 5 mins until smooth and elastic.

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  • Leave the dough in a warm place for at least 30 mins to rise – it should roughly double in size.  You can leave it in the bowl covered with a damp tea towel, or simply leave it on the counter covered by your upturned mixing bowl.
  • Preheat your oven and oiled pizza trays to 200 degrees C.
  • Cut the dough into  portions and roll  to desired size  and thickness on a well floured surface.    This quantity will make 2  x 30cm round pizzas or more smaller, thinner pizzas.  We usually make quite a thin crust so I split the dough in half – put half the dough in the freezer and then made pizzas for 3 of us with the remaining half.
  • Bake the rolled dough on the hot tray for about 5 mins before removing from the oven, turning the base over and then adding your desired toppings.  This will help the base go crispy.  Return to the oven for approx 10 mins for a thin base, longer for a thicker base.

 

UPDATE – THERE IS AN EVEN EASIER WAY:  This came out so well I was confident enough to experiment with using pumpkin puree in my bread machine.  If you have a bread machine with a pizza dough programme you can use that and simply replace the water with an equal volume of pumpkin or squash puree.  I also tried the same with a regular white bread programme to make bread with hidden veg content.  No-one noticed the difference!

Easy Pumpkin Pasta

I made this with butternut squash a few weeks ago.  The method is pretty much the same as for wholemeal dried pasta but I used white flour and substituted the squash puree for the water. Pasta has to be my son’s favourite meal so if I can crack finding a homemade version he really likes it will be great.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups plain flour or pasta flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin or squash puree

Method:

Peel, dice and cook your butternut squash or pumpkin until tender by either boiling, steaming or roasting.   I started mine off on the hob and left it cooking in my Wonderbag while I was out at a class.  Perfectly cooked by the time I came home.

 

Mash or blend the squash to a smooth puree:

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Mix the dough either by hand or in a food processor – with the ratio of 1 cup puree to 2 of flour until you have a nice dough.  I didn’t measure it carefully and used too much puree so the dough on the right is rather too wet.  This is easily rectified by adding more flour until the consistency is right. (At this point I found I had run out of flour so had to dash to the shop for some more ).

Roll the dough into a ball, cover (with an upturned mixing bowl )  and leave to rest for about 10 mins.

Then, on a well floured surface, roll the dough out to be nice and thin – thinner than I managed would be good – I definitely need more practice, or a pasta machine.

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Leave them as noodles or form into your desired shape.   Either cook in boiling water for a couple of minutes or dry for future use.  When dry they will need to be cooked for 8-10 minutes.

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Happy to report that both the pizza and pasta were happily eaten with son none the wiser that he had been eating more vegetables.

As well as these I made spicy soup, cheesey pumpkin scones and pumpkin muffins, pumpkin marmalade which if it passes the taste test will be given as Christmas gifts, and have lots of diced and pureed squash in the freezer for future use so would love to hear more ideas for using up that pumpkin and squash. What’s your favourite recipe?

If you liked reading please use the links on the page to follow the blog or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram where I share ideas more frequently .

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The easy way to make waste free, wholemeal dried pasta

Who knew that pasta was so simple to make?

I have never been a great fan of pasta, but my son absolutely loves it – he would eat pasta and pesto every single day if I’d let him.  But in the UK it is difficult to find pasta without plastic packaging, particularly if you want to buy in large quantities  (there are some options mainly in card but with a small plastic window).  Having heard it was easy I thought I should give it a go – and it really is easy – and it got the taste approval from my fussy child. You can easily buy flour in a paper bag which you can either recycle or put in your home compost.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 cup hot water

Method:

Making the dough:

  • If you are using a food processor fit the dough attachment.
  • Add the flour, pour in the hot water and switch it on.  It will turn to breadcrumbs to start with but stick with it and it will soon come together into a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • If you are making the dough by hand place it in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the flour and pour in the hot water a little at a time and mix together  either with your hands or a wooden spoon.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together in a dough.
  • Press the dough down into a flat round.  Divide into 4 quarters  (this will make it more manageable to roll out later).
  • Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 10-15 minutes.
  • You could freeze all or some of the dough at this point for later use if you wish.

Now you can begin to turn it in into your desired shapes:

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time roll it very thinly.
  • Then you can get creative and cut and shape to your heart’s desire – but be warned, this bit can take a long time.   I like to look on it as something therapeutically undemanding on the brain to do while listening to some muscic but you could get the kids to help or invite a friend round for a natter while you work. Slicing into lasagne sheets or into strips for tagliatelle is probably the quickest.  I tried to make spirals on my first attempt but decided this time that bows might be easier.    For bows I rolled the dough then cut into strips which I then cut across into small rectangles as shown below.  To turn into bows you simply squeeze them together in the middle.

Drying your pasta:

  • If you don’t want to use your pasta straight away you can dry it for storage.  As I have an electric dehydrator I used that but if you don’t you can just spread them out and leave somewhere airy until dry.
  •  The time it takes to dry depends on the size and thickness of the shapes you have made – I dried the small bows for 3-4 hours at 50 degrees C.  The first batch of spirals were larger and took 4-5 hours.  The best thing is to keep an eye on them and remember to swap around the trays from time to time since the different levels may dry at different speeds.
  • Once fully dry you can transfer to a storage jar until needed and cook as you would shop bought dried pasta – around 8-10 mins.    If you skipped the drying part you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.

Now I know how to make basic pasta dough I’m next going to try to sneak some vegetables into the ingredients –  as he’ll happily eat shop bought green pea pasta, and red lentil pasta without realising.  I have seen people making pasta from pumpkin puree and flour as an example – but any recommendations on things to try are welcome – please comment below.

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8 easy ways you can stop getting junk mail

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Are you suffocating under a mountain of unwanted junk mail?  Did you know you can opt out of much of it?

Once again this morning I had to chase the postman down the road to hand him back a bundle of unaddressed marketing leaflets.  Fortunately I don’t have to do this too often as we have opted out of such leaflets with Royal Mail but sometimes he forgets.  The “no junk mail” sign on the door is of little assistance to him as almost everyone has one. Did you know that even if you put a “no junk mail”  sign on your door, Royal Mail is still obliged to deliver it to you unless you have specifically registered with them to opt out?

To reduce the amount of unsolicited mail you receive requires several different approaches but it is relatively simple to reduce it significantly by filling in a few forms.

  1. Opt out with Royal Mail  How do I opt-out?.  They will send you a form to complete which you need to return by post.  It will take a few weeks to come into effect, but should soon make a noticeable difference.
  2. Register with the Direct Marketing Association’s Your Choice Scheme.  Again you will need to complete a form.   Telephone: 020 7291 3300 or email for details: yourchoice@dma.org.uk
  3. Register online with the Mail Preference Service

The above opt-out schemes deal primarily with unaddressed mail. So there are a number of further things you may wish to do.

4. Contact your local electoral registration office to  opt out of the open electoral register

5. Remove yourself from mailing lists.  It’s easy to end up on a mailing list these days when you buy something – particularly if there is a loyalty card involved.  We tend to still get the occasional catalogue from places we have shopped at once and are not likely to visit again.  It’s worth taking the time to phone them up or have a look at their website to remove yourself from these lists because as it is addressed to you, it will still be delivered.

6.  When you sign up for something, look for the box you have to tick or untick relating to marketing and other information – this should minimise you getting on other unwanted email lists.

7.  Letterbox sticker – this is still useful to discourage the leaflets that are delivered directly by local tradespeople and businesses or anyone else not covered by the measures above. You can buy ready made stickers or make your own, but unless your door is sheltered you’ll need to ensure it is weather resistant – the ink kept washing off my first DIY effort so I bought a notice in a local hardware store, but even that has since been moved to inside the glass.

8.  If you still receive unsolicited mail try to either return it or contact the sender to ask that they don’t send it again. If we all did this they might start to get the message.

Simple steps but ones that might save you from a mountain of takeaway menus.  And if you do actually need the menu you can generally find it online.

If you found this useful please share with your friends and let me know by commenting below.  Use the links to follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

7 top tips to reduce your household waste

Is your bin full of packaging waste? Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week?  Then you might like these tips for reducing your household waste:

  1. Buy food and other items unpackaged: take your own bags and containers when you shop and avoid prepacked items. Write a list to buy only what you need. You can read more here about my favourite places to by unpackaged in Leighton Buzzard. The market and independent shops are great for this.16807726_10210907726622487_2055995162207271710_n
  2. If you can’t find it unpackaged, choose glass, paper or card over plastics, or investigate refills:  as well as being made from non-recyclable fossil fuels, plastic is harder to recycle and can often only be “downcycled”.  It therefore likely to end up in landfill sooner, and takes centuries to biodegrade.  Glass and paper however can be endlessly recycled and paper can be home composted.  Easy swaps from plastic include switching from plastic tubs to butter in paper (Waitrose), from tea bags (which often actually contain plastic as well as coming in plastic wrap)  to loose tea in card (PG Tips is widely available), oils in plastic to oils in glass bottles (you can also get refills of flavoured oils at Dobbies in Bletchley),  bar soap (bought loose or in card), refills of laundry and washing up liquid (in Leighton Buzzard these are available at Nature’s Harvest), laundry powder in card (Aldi), dishwasher powder and salt in card (Waitrose or Sainsbury), milk in glass bottles (Pecks Farm deliver in the Leighton Buzzard area or you can take your own bottle to fill from the milk vending machine at Clipstone Dairy). You can find out more about plastic in tea bags in this article from Treading My Own Path and a list of easy swaps in this article from Happier, Sustainable, Less Skint.
  3. If you can only find products in plastic buy the largest size available for less packaging pro rata as long as the product stores well and you will actually use it all.  For example we buy 5kg bags of basmati and long grain rice from the world food section of the supermarket – if you live close to an Asian supermarket you may have more options and be able to find rice in paper.
  4. Use reusables: take your own coffee cup or water bottle out, use cloth handkerchiefs, cleaning cloths, washable feminine hygiene products such as cloth pads or a menstrual cup, instead of disposables.  Take your lunch to work in a reusable lunch box ( I have a lovely stainless steel one from A Slice of Green but we also continue to use a lot of plastic ones we had already as well as using containers such as ice cream tubs). Extend the reuse of products by buying second-hand and donating things you no longer need – as well as the charity shops there are numerous local sharing groups for giving away or requesting items, often for free – you may be surprised what things people can make use of when you no longer need them, and how often someone else no longer needs something you do.   You can find links to some of them at the end of this post -a search for local similar groups on Facebook is always worthwhile as I have only mentioned a couple I use in the list.  Repair things rather than replacing if you can.   Many areas (although sadly I’ve not found one near me yet) have repair cafes where you can get help to fix your broken items.  If you don’t have one near you can often find information about repairing things online (local people offered me plenty of advice on recent problems with my washing machine via local discussion group Nextdoor – in the list of links at the end).
  5. Have a go at making your own: If you have time bread, cakes and pasta can easily be made from ingredients largely sold in paper bags. White vinegar is great for cleaning and can be bought in glass bottles. You can make your own deodorant and apparently toothpaste from coconut oil (glass from Aldi) and bicarbonate of soda (in card from Selections or Wilco) with a few drops of essential oils. I have saved links to lots of useful recipes on my boards on Pinterest.
  6. Reduce your food waste: meal plan to avoid overbuying and use your freezer to save leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste has lots of tips. Washed peelings can be saved up to make stock, and fruit scraps can be used to make scrap vinegar or tepache.

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    Home made apple scrap vinegar
  7. Compost as much as you can – pretty much anything organic can go in. Like many councils Central Bedfordshire offers discounted compost bins and information.

 

If you want to know more and are on Facebook, the friendly groups Zero Waste Heroes and Journey to Zero Waste UK are great places for sharing ideas or asking questions about reducing your waste, and there is now also a local group Zero Waste Bedfordshire.

Local sharing groups and other useful links:

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This post is being shared on A Green and Rosie Life’s Going Green Linky for March 2017 and Skip The Bag’s Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop

 

 

My favourite places for shopping without packaging in Leighton Buzzard

Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week? Is your bin full of packaging waste?

We are fortunate that Central Bedfordshire accepts a large variety of food packaging for recycling but plastics tend to be hard to recycle, can mainly only be downcycled, and can only be recycled a few times before ending up in landfill ( or in the oceans).  Plastics then hang around pretty much forever ( How long does it take a plastic bottle to biodegrade?).  They are also made of non renewable oil and potentially leach toxins into your food.  We have therefore been trying to reduce not only our landfill waste, but our recyclables too, particularly trying to avoid single use plastics.  This has been a journey, changing our buying habits a little at a time, but over the last couple of years we have managed to reduce our landfill waste by over 80% and our recycling by about 50%.  This post is about just one of the ways of avoiding packaging waste, by trying to avoid acquiring it in the first place, and focusses on the places that, after a change in my shopping habits, I find this easy to do for grocery and household items in my home town of Leighton Buzzard.  If you know of other local shops that should be included please do let me know.

I now try to buy food, and other items, unpackaged whenever possible.  This tends to be easier when shopping at the local market and independent shops than in the supermarket, although the supermarkets usually have some loose fruit and veg – remember to bring your own bags or containers. Meal planning and a shopping list will help you have a good idea of how many bags/containers to bring along.  Some of my personal favourites for buying unpackaged items are featured here.

Leighton Buzzard Market:

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg – on the South side of the High Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Happy to place fruit and veg directly into your own bags.

Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market
Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg Stall, Leighton Buzzard Market

Other market traders are also often happy to sell into your own containers – just ask nicely at the start of your purchase.  It feels strange at first but you soon get used to it, and so do the traders.  I have done this several times at the olive stall at the top of the High Street and at the Delisha samosa stall, a cake stall and at the other fruit and veg stall.  The fish van indicated he would be happy to do this too.  Mimic Gifts sells a range of vegan friendly bath products free from SLS and palm oil  –  many products can already be bought loose or in card, with a discount if you bring back the box to refill, and the stallholder is working hard to remove or reduce plastic packaging and source alternatives for other products.

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Mimic Gifts – return your box for a discount, or bring your own

The farmers market and craft markets are also a good place to ask.  Check the market website for the dates of each.   Bucks Star Brewery visits the farmers each month and take their glass eco -growlers back and give you a full one at a discount, whilst the Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company sells refillable growlers which you can refill at the brewery on Grovebury Road. The Honey Man asks you to return your empty jar for a discount off the next one.

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Refillable eco growler from the farmers’ market
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Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company stall at the monthly farmers market.

 

House of Coffee – Peacock Mews.  This small coffee roasting shop is happy to grind coffee as required into your own container.  I began by taking in a plastic lunch box but having since acquired lots of empty large Douwe Egberts coffee jars from a local sharing site I use one of those, carefully wrapped in a tea towel to protect it in transit.  We then store the jar in the freezer to keep the coffee fresh. Fair trade options are usually available.  A small discount is now offered to customers refilling their coffee bags or using their own containers.  Loose tea is also available.

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House of Coffee – Peacock Mews

Selections – High Street A variety of hardware items from replacement broom heads to individual screws. They also sell replacement gas canisters for SodaStream (as does Argos) which has replaced the plastic bottles of fizzy water we used to buy every week, and saved us money.

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Natures Harvest – North Street  Sells unpackaged soap and refills for Ecover laundry and washing up liquid. Also stocks bamboo toothbrushes, Ecoleaf toilet roll in compostable packaging and lots of other eco friendly products.   Although many of the food items are currently in plastic, the owner is actively investigating alternatives.

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Oliver Adams Bakers- Market Square  Bread, cakes etc either in paper bags or into your own bag/container. The Co-Op – Waterdell off Brooklands Drive has a daily delivery of Italian bread which can be bought loose.

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Strattons Butchers – Market Square .  If you eat meat ask Strattons to sell it you without any single use plastic.  I ask them to weigh it on the waxed paper sheets they use and then transfer in to my own container, which they are happy to do.

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Model Farm – Hockliffe Road If you are passing ( just out of town past the garden centre) this is a great place to buy free range eggs.  We return the boxes for reuse when we next visit.

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Pecks Farm – Towards Hockliffe – we have our milk delivered in returnable glass bottles by Pecks Farm.  It does cost more so is one of our more recent changes, but we have offset the additional cost by savings made elsewhere in our waste reduction journey.  The farm also sells local produce and loose fruit and veg, including organic options (thanks to Pecks Farm for supplying the photo below).

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Loose produce – image kindly supplied by Pecks Farm

You can still find some unpackaged options in the supermarket – it does vary but locally I find Tesco tends to have the most unpackaged fruit and veg.  Morrisons and Waitrose also sells loose rolls, croissants and cakes – I use my own bag or container where these are self service but have not been able to do this at the counter.

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Mmm, which potatoes will I choose?

 

Since I first published this post there have been some new additions to the zero waste shopping options:

The Little Buzzard Bakery on North Street – very happy for you to use your own bag for their freshly baked goods – but get there early as they often sell out!

 

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Clipstone Dairy – Clipstone – has a milk vending machine.  I haven’t used it yet but understand they will sell you a bottle you can reuse but are also quite happy for you to bring along your own bottle to fill.

 

And if you need a coffee to take away while you are out and about, both Costa and Espresso Head offer a discount if you bring a reuseable mug.  If you do end up with a takeaway coffee cup from anywhere, did you know that you can take them into Costa who will send them off to one of the 2 places in the UK that are able to recycle takeaway cups?

Have you shopped packaging free anywhere else locally? Please let me know.  Leighton Buzzard is coming soon to the Zero Waste App available at the App Store and Google Play.

For more ways to reduce your household waste you can read:

7 top tips to reduce your household waste

For the local circular economy:

More places to shop with less waste in Leighton Buzzard – the Circular Economy

Now , do you still need to put that bin out?

Did you know that you can now follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where I share some of our daily waste saving in more regular short posts?  Please do sign up.

To read more about some of the other ways we have gradually reduced our waste:

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How to impress with minimal effort – Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

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Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

When it comes to Christmas and New Year entertaining, easy is good.  Well, let’s be realistic, easy is good anytime.

Last week I made Banoffee Pie, to take to family for a Boxing Day tea. Since they started selling ready tinned caramel so you don’t have to boil a tin of condensed milk for hours Banoffee Pie has been my go to easy dessert.  But this dessert, inspired by Millionaire’s Shortbread, is even easier.  Yes really.

Ingredients:

  • 250g biscuits ( I used digestives as I had half a pack left from the banoffee pie but I bet something oaty like Hob Nobs would work really well)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 tin caramel (I used Carnation)
  • 200g block of milk chocolate ( I used Choceur from Aldi which comes in easily recyclable card packaging and is free from palm oil)
  • Optional decoration ( I used Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray but  as I subsequently noticed this contains palm oil  I would omit or seek an alternative in future)

( I have mentioned which products I used for convenience only – this post contains no affiliate links)

Method:

  • Grease a flan dish or baking tray well.
  • Crush the biscuits either using a food processor or by wrapping them carefully in a clean tea towel or (ideally cloth) bag and bashing with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter – I did this in the microwave, setting the timer to 30 secs and checking and stirring every 10 secs or so until completely melted, but melt in a pan if you prefer.
  • Stir the butter into the crushed biscuits until well combined.
  • Tip the mixture carefully into your flan dish and press down with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Chill for approx 1 hour until firm.
  • Spread the caramel carefully over the biscuit base and chill again until you are ready to top with the chocolate.
  • Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a bain marie or in a jug in the microwave.  I prefer the microwave as it is quicker but as with the butter check and stir it frequently until just melted.
  • Pour the melted chocolate onto the caramel carefully, gently spreading with a spatula until the top is covered.
  • Decorate as required and chill again until the chocolate has set.

To serve cut carefully with a sharp knife and have your plate or bowl at the ready – it will crumble!  And enjoy. Remember, easy is good.