How to make creamy oat milk and nut milk at home.

I'm holding a bottle of homemade plant milk.
Photo shows me holding a bottle of homemade plant milk

Making your plant milk at home is easy, uses less packaging, and in many cases works out much cheaper as well (definitely the oat milk). What are you waiting for?

OAT MILK:

1 cup oats

4 cups water

2 dates ( or alternative sweetener such as maple syrup or vanilla essence). This is optional.

4-5tsp oil ( I used rapeseed)

Pinch salt ( optional)

1/4 to 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Blender

2 sieves

METHOD

1.Soak the oats and the dates ( if using) in the 4 cups of water for 20 mins.

2. Add other ingredients apart from the xanthan gum. No need to drain or rinse the oats first .

3. Blend

4. Set one sieve above the other over a bowl and pour the mix through. TIP: Don’t press it through or use a nut milk bag as this can make the milk turn out slimy – and it is really hard to get through a nut milk bag. Just tilt the sieve to get the milk through.

5. Return the milk to the blender, add the xanthan gum and blend again. The xanthan gum helps the mix stay together but it does give a thicker texture so you will need to adjust to taste. It’s best to start with a smaller amount and then add a bit more to see how you prefer it.

6. Pour into your preferred container and refrigerate. Although the xanthan gum helps stop separation you may want to still give the bottle a gentle shake before using.

NUT MILK

Nut milk is even simpler.

1 cup nuts ( I usually use a mix of almonds and hazelnuts but you can also use other nuts or seeds such as pumpkin seeds)

4-5 cups water

Blender

Nut milk bag

METHOD

  1. Soak the nuts in enough hot water to cover (from the kettle) for an hour (or more).
  2. Drain and rinse
  3. Add fresh water
  4. Blend
  5. Strain through a nut milk bag, muslin or other fine weave cloth. This time you can squeeze to get as much liquid as you can out.
  6. Pour into your preferred container and refrigerate.

OAT AND NUT MILK

My plant milk of choice at the moment is a mix of oat and nut milk. Because the oat milk is best filtered through a sieve and the nut milk though a nut milk bag I find it easiest to make a half batch of each and then mix them together in a bottle at the end. In this case, because of the fat from the nuts there is no need to add the oil or the xanthan gum, although a tiny bit of xanthan gum at the end does reduce the settling of the oats. I keep it super simple and just blend oats with water after the 20 mins soaking time, then sieve. I don’t find the dates or other additions to be necessary. Then I make the nut milk exactly as above and mix the 2 together.

Because the sieve allows small particles of the oats through you will need to shake it before use as the small bits settle to the bottom. If there is a lot of sediment when I’m nearing the bottom of the bottle I often add more water and give it a good shake again to make it last a bit longer.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE OAT AND NUT PULP

After making these you will be left with a small amount of oat pulp and rather more nut pulp. Don’t throw this away as it can be used up in many recipes – I often share how I use it over in my instagram account. Some of my favourites are in homemade granola, in bread, cookies and cake. Treading my own Path blog has a great recipe for vegan chocolate brownies using nut pulp. The oat pulp can easily be added to porridge. You can add some nut pulp in place of tahini and I have tried fermenting it to make vegan cheese before.

Do let me know how you get on if you give this a try – and if you have other ideas for using the nut/oat pulp.

Eco Swaps you may not need – is it greenwashing?

When you are starting out on a journey to reducing waste buying lots of new products as “eco swaps” might seem appealing. But as well as being expensive, you might find out that many of these things are also unnecessary. Below are just a few examples to illustrate the point but I’m sure you will be able to think of others.

  1. Beeswax Wraps

One of the first things I purchased after joining a zero waste group was a set of beeswax wraps. I know some people really love these, and if you do and they help you to reduce waste then that’s fine. We found them hard to clean so didn’t keep ours for very long but we soon realised that we already had plenty of options to store food – lunch boxes, reused takeaway or ice cream tubs, a bowl with a plate over, placing the cut side of a piece of fruit face down on a plate etc. These options meant we already used cling film rarely ( in fact I still have a roll in the drawer bought from Safeway who were taken over long ago).

2. Fancy new storage jars

Zero waste isn’t about buying new stuff so whilst shelves full of matching jars filled with loose food from your local refill shop might look appealing it really isn’t necessary. If you buy food in jars, keep them to reuse, reuse other containers such as ice cream tubs, takeaway tubs, etc depending on what you have. And if you don’t have any of these, check charity shops or ask on local giveaway groups – you will likely be able to find suitable storage cheap or for free, and even matching if you so wish – I have lots of Douwe Egberts coffee jars for storage – I only bought one myself – the rest came from Freecycle and Facebook giveaway groups so cost me nothing. Alongside those pictured I also have lots of mismatched jam jars, pesto jars, peanut butter jars etc that I use for storing smaller quantities of things in the cupboard, fridge or freezer.

Assorted storage jars – mostly reused jars from giveaway groups

3. Water filters

I’ve seen several eco accounts promoting Brita filters recently. In the UK we are fortunate to have access to safe to drink tap water so the need for such a product has always been a bit of a mystery to me, although I understand it is being promoted as an alternative to bottled water if you don’t like the taste of your tap water. Filters need replacing and at the moment you need to take them to a Terracycle collection point which may not be convenient for everyone, and recycling is anyway a resource intensive process. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water there are several alternative options to buying plastic jugs and filters:

a. leave water to stand before using – this will allow chlorine smells to disspate. An ideal way to do this is to keep a jug of tap water in the fridge.

b. charcoal sticks – I haven’t tried these as I like my water straight form the tap but these are a great plastic free alternative. You just leave the stick in the water for a while, it can be reused, and eventually composted.

c. get used to your tap water and enjoy the fact we have such easy access to safe drinking water.

4. Coffee cups, water bottles, produce bags

How useful these are depends on your lifestyle. If you often get a takeout coffee then a coffee cup might be really useful. We actually do this fairly rarely so really would have actually been fine just using the Thermos flasks we had already to take our own coffee from home. Now we have reusable coffee cups we do use them occasionally, but they really weren’t an essential purchase. The same with water bottles – actually we could probably do fine just by reusing bottles that have come into the house with things in them. At least my water bottle was preowned from a charity shop. And produce bags – pre covid I shopped on foot with a shopping trolley, often from the market and used my produce bags all the time so for me they seemed worthwhile – but I could have used old pillowcases or made my own bags from old clothing/ bedding etc for less waste and if I needed them now I would probably do that. This year I haven’t used them at all other than for storage at home as we have been having all our shopping delivered, so if you tend to shop on line these might be an irrelevant item for you.

5. To sum up:

As I said at the start these are just examples, but the point is really to get into the habit of asking yourself a few questions before making a purchase, however eco friendly it might appear:

  1. Do I have something at home already that will serve this purpose?
  2. Can I reuse something for this purpose – or source something preowned to use?
  3. How often will I actually use it? ( e.g. using a disposable coffee cup might actually be a lower waste option if you only get a take out coffee once a year)
  4. Is there a lower waste alternative?
  5. Do I really need it?

Are there any eco swaps you’ve bought and then regretted? Do let me know.

Zero Waste Shopping 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.

UPDATE FEB 2020:  I have updated the information below since it was first written a few years ago.  As I no longer live in Leighton Buzzard I would really appreciate comments letting me know about any further updates to the information.  Many thanks.


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, and most supermarkets now also allow you to bring a container to the meat, fish and deli counters, a big positive change since I first wrote this post. 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.

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.

 

Mimic Gifts – Hockliffe Street.  Offers an extensive range of refills and bath products – including refills for shower gels, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, denttabs ( a great alternative to toothpaste), kids bubble bath, bath salts, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, all purpose cleaner, washing up liquid and much more.  Plus shampoo and conditioner bars, soap, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable wipes, cotton buds and menstrual products.

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 ( heading 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. ( I know this farm is  currently being surrounded by a new housing development  – eggs confirmed as still available Feb 2020 but this may change)

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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 a range of local produce, oil and vinegar refills and loose fruit and veg, including organic options, (thanks to Pecks Farm for supplying the photo below).

Pecks Farm Shop - by  James Rudd
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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Top apps, websites and groups to help you reduce waste and grab a bargain or freebie (UK) : PART 2: Fashion

 

Full wardrobe
Full wardrobe

Welcome to the second in a series of posts linking useful apps and websites to help you reduce waste and save money.  This post focusses on clothes and fashion.

According to WRAP campaign Love Your Clothes an estimated 3000,000 tonnes of clothes goes to landfill in the UK every year. There is no need for any textiles to end up in landfill in the UK – the Love Your Clothes campaign promotes a more circular economy and provides lots of useful tips on extending the life of your clothes to reduce the environmental impact of clothing.

Buying  (or selling) preowned:

New clothing is resource intensive so one of the first things you can do to reduce the impact of clothing is to buy preowned whenever possible, and if you no longer want a piece of clothing, to pass it on rather than throw it away.

My favourite way to buy is by browsing my local charity shops,  or the weekly Swap Rail at the Eco Chi stall on Chichester market (if you are local you can find this near Marks and Spencer on North Street).  Clothes Swaps are another good opportunity to give your wardrobe a bit of a makeover.  But if I am looking for a specific item, online is another good way as you can often set up alerts to be notified when specific products are listed or join brand specific selling groups on Facebook.  Online is also good if you don’t have time to get into town during opening hours.  This is just a selection of the huge online opportunities to buy/ sell/ giveaway or swap.

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Clothes Swap Party

Pre loved Fashion:

Ebay is perhaps the best known and the one I use most.   If you are after a particular brand or size it is easy to set up alerts as new items are listed to make sure you don’t miss out.   Good for selling too as you can reach a large market.  Many charity shops also sell through ebay so you can support your chosen charity at the same time – most offer free returns.

Re- fashion is a great new site for online charity shopping made easy with free returns in case your chosen item doesn’t fit.

Facebook marketplace can also be useful for finding great buys in your local area. Many areas also have local sell/swap groups so it’s worth searching for these groups near you.  There may be dedicated groups for school uniform or uniforms for groups such as guides and scouts.

As well as local groups I use a couple of zero waste related Facebook selling groups:

Journey to Zero Waste UK Sell/Swap/ Gift – for a whole range of items but often includes clothing while Zero Waste Fashion Swap/Sell/Buy is dedicated to clothing and fashion.

Depop  and Vinted  are both sites to browse for your style – although I haven’t used these yet personally.

Free stuff:

Freecycle and Freegle are both, as the names suggest, for free stuff .   You are more likely to find people offering a whole bag of clothes after a clearout here rather than individual items.  You can also share wanted posts asking if anyone  has what you need.

Many areas also have Facebook groups dedicated to free items.

Repair or Upcycle your clothes:

Repairing or upcycling your existing clothes and fabrics is another great way to reduce textile waste.  Love Your Clothes is a really useful resource for this – with a dedicated page for care and repair.

And back to Facebook, the Eco-Friendly Sewing UK  is helpful and friendly.

Look out for sewing  and repair meet ups in your area too.    I’ve taken a few small sewing jobs to my local repair cafe.  You can find our more about the Repair Cafe Network via this link but do note that not all local repair cafes are featured there so do search online to find your local one.  My local one is the Chichester Repair Cafe

As ever, this is just a selection of the many resources available to reducing waste when it comes to clothing and fashion.  I would love to know about your favourites – please do let me know in a comment below.

Happy Blogiversary to me!

WordPress tells me it is my 8th anniversary of blogging today so please help me celebrate by sharing and  signing up to follow this page or my linked Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.

I’m sharing this post as part of the Going Green Linky

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50 + ways to reduce waste and avoid plastic- UK

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

Are you looking for ways to reduce waste?  And single use plastic?  Then read on.  I hope my experience of making changes might help.  If you find the information useful please let me know and feel free to share –  you can find sharing links at the end of the post.

Recently someone in the Journey to Zero Waste UK Facebook group asked about ways to avoid plastic. I’ve been trying to reduce waste and our use of single use plastics for a while now and when I started reeling off a list of changes I was amazed at how long the list got! Some of these are things we have always done, or done for a long time, but many are more recent changes, made since I’ve been part of the online zero waste community. So I thought it might be useful to share our list. There are of course many other changes you can make, and not all of these may be applicable, but these are some of the things that work for us.

1) Ditch the Disposables:

  • Cloth nappies – even if you only use them part time it’s worth it. There are lots of preloved nappy groups on Facebook so you don’t need to spend big and can try different types.
  • Cloth baby wipes – again, even if you mainly only use them at home as we did it still saves loads of waste. Wet as needed and wash with the nappies. We bought some from ebay but if you have fabric to repurpose, so much the better.
  • Cloth hankies – buy vintage or make your own from old clothing. No need to sew – you can cut up old jersey T shirts and they won’t fray.
  • Washable cloths for cleaning (many of ours are the baby wipes/nappies we no longer need for that)
  • Flannel for face washing.
  • Instead of cling film, put things in a reusable container or a plate over a bowl. You can just put the cut side of half an onion etc face down on a plate.
  • Tea towels and dishcloths or going to sink to wash hands/face rather than kitchen towel.
  • Washable menstrual products – either a cup or washable pads as you prefer.
  • Dishcloth, wooden brush or sliced loofah for washing up . A metal scourer is great for stubborn things.
  • Reusable baking sheet liner rather than greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

2) Bathroom:

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My bathroom essentials

 

  • Bar soap instead of liquid hand soap or shower gel.
  • Rhassoul clay and diluted vinegar in place of shampoo – you can even make your own vinegar – more in this post: Shampoo bars are not the only option! Hard water friendly zero waste / low waste hair wash options.
  • Alternatively just use water for hair washing ( doesn’t work for me but seems to work fine for the rest of the family).
  • If neither of these appeal look out for a local refill option – I now have the option of refilling an old shampoo bottle with locally made Green Goddess shampoo at local refill shop Refilled Chichester.
  • Home made deodorant: Easy coconut oil deodorant recipe
  • Flannel and water.
  • Cloth loo wipes (part time – just for wee here). Mine are repurposed baby wipes.
  • Bamboo toothbrush.
  • Denttabs with fluoride – I buy mine from Anything but Plastic but they are available from several online shops or maybe from your local refill shop.
  • Ecoleaf toilet roll made from UK post consumer waste. In a compostable potato starch wrap.
  • Safety razor – bar soap can double up as shaving cream.
  • Oil in a glass jar for moisturising when needed (currently using a blend of oils bought in a glass bottle in TK Maxx).

3) Food shopping and baking

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Percol Coffee

 

  • Loose fruit and veg – generally from the local market. I take my own bags and a 4 wheeled Rolser shopping trolley which makes it easier to get it all home on foot. If I can’t get to the market I do my best to choose loose produce in the supermarket.
  • Dry goods and refills from local zero waste shop.
  • Meat from local butchers – happy to put it straight into our own containers. Waitrose, Morrisons and Sainsbury will also do this for meat and fish.
  • PG Tips loose tea in a card box.
  • Percol ground coffee in a home compostable bag (carbon neutral too).
  • Look for less or easy to recycle packaging.
  • Milk delivered in returnable glass bottles.
  • Make our own bread and pizza etc. I’ve been using a bread machine to make all our bread for 3 or 4 years now but have only recently got into baking sourdough – even less waste as no yeast is required. You can read more about making sourdough here: Simple sourdough bread – by a novice
  • Make yoghurt (occasionally! ).
  • Make plant milks. I tend to prefer almond milk now but I previously shared a recipe for hemp milk: How to make hemp milk that doesn’t split
  • Soda stream for fizzy drinks.
  • 5kg bags of rice from the world food section of the supermarket– less plastic and cheaper.
  • Save veg peelings and trimmings to make vegetable stock.
  • Two Farmers crisps in home compostable bags (available at Refilled Chichester)

4) Cleaning/laundry

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Refills available at Refilled Chichester

 

  • Refills of washing up liquid and laundry liquid.
  • Ecozone eco balls.
  • Soap nuts.
  • Laundry powder in a card box.
  • Dishwasher powder in a card box or make your own DIY dishwasher powder.
  • Dishwasher salt in a card box.
  • Vinegar. I mix vinegar 50/50 with water in a spray bottle for general cleaning or dab a bit on neat to wipe down food prep. surfaces immediately before using – e.g. when kneading dough.
  • Bicarbonate of soda.
  • Citric Acid – either mix to a paste with a little water as a cream cleaner, or dissolve 2 tbsp in 500ml of hot water and coole before transferring to a spray bottle for general cleaning as an alternative to vinegar
  • Borax Substitute.

5) On the go

  • Coffee cup.
  • Water bottle.
  • Stainless steel straws.
  • Empty container and cutlery if you plan to buy street food.

6) Other things

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  • Compost all food waste, and waste from herbivorous pets.
  • Grow a few things.
  • Forage a few things.
  • Buy things we need second hand first – I’ve bought most of my clothes that way for years but now we also look for other things preowned too. Our oak bed frame has to be one of the best finds when we moved house. It perfectly matches the bedside tables we had already.
  • Repair what we can.
  • Reuse – e.g. jars and tubs from food are saved to reuse for taking to refill shop, making jam, storing and freezing leftovers etc.
  • Rehome things we no longer need – via Facebook groups, ebay, charity shops etc.
  • Recycle as much as we can.

I’d love to hear about your favourite changes that have helped you reduce waste. Please let me know by commenting below and sharing.

Remember you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @busygreenmum

I’m sharing this as part of the Going Green linky for Plastic Free July over at A Green and Rosie life so do check out the other posts there too. https://eco-gites.blogspot.com/2019/07/going-green-29-july-2019.html?m=1

Shampoo bars are not the only option! Hard water friendly zero waste / low waste hair wash options.

When it comes hair washing and reducing waste the first option many people go for is a shampoo bar. You can buy them loose on the High Street from shops such as Lush and there are many options sold just in card in zero waste shops, health food shops and online.

Before deciding whether to give shampoo bars a try you need to consider a few things:

  1. Are you happy to use a bar with SLS as an ingredient? SLS can be (but isn’t necessarily) derived from palm oil, and can be a skin irritant – if you are concerned about either of these you may want to check if the supplier knows the source of their SLS or choose an SLS free bar. On the other hand, the inclusion of SLS means the bar will work much more like a regular shampoo and so is less likely to need a transition period while your hair adjusts. Also should work OK with hard water.
  2. Shampoo bars without SLS generally need to be followed with a ph balancing rinse to counter their alkalinity. Diluted vinegar ( 1tbsp to 1 cup water) is a popular choice but there are lots of alternatives. If you use vinegar it doesn’t need to be fancy apple cider vinegar – plain white vinegar will do, or you can make your own apple scrap vinegar. I often use black tea – if there is any left in the pot I pop it into a lidded cup or jar and store in the fridge until needed. Black coffee or diluted lemon juice are other options. Most people will experience a transition period if moving from regular shampoo, as the hair loses the build up of silicones. Your hair may feel waxy during this time. An apple sauce mask will help with this – more information below. However, while some people get on with them fine, shampoo bars are known to be quite tricky to use in hard water areas.

If you have hard water and would prefer to try an alternative way to wash you hair there are plenty of options. I have been No Poo for over 3 years now, living in an area of extremely hard water for most of that time ( since moving we still have ” moderately” hard water) and these are the things that have worked for me:

1. Rhassoul clay: This is my favourite wash method. I have short fine hair so don’t need to use a lot but I essentially mix a teaspoon or 2 of clay with a little water to form a paste. I then massage this into my scalp in the shower. Always apply to dry hair – this makes your hair less likely to absorb the hard water you use to rinse. Then rinse thoroughly and follow with a ph balancing rinse of black tea or diluted vinegar (homemade apple scrap vinegar when I have it). Then rinse again with water – you won’t smell of tea of vinegar once your hair is dry. Alternatively I just mix the tea or vinegar rinse into the clay to make it a single step process. I don’t worry too much about the quantities but if you do I initally started with the ratios in this Holy Grail shampoo recipe which also includes honey for conditioning. You may be able to find rhassoul clay (or bentonite clay which can be used in a similar way) in your local health food shop but if not you can find it in paper bags online. I most recently found mine at eccoverde but it is is also available from Amazon or ebay.

2. Aruvedyic hair powders: A wide range of hair powders can be bought quite cheaply from Spices of India where you can also find information about the properties of each one to see which is most likely to suit your hair. Depending where you live you may also find them in your local supermarket or international store – I actually found a single box or aritha powder reduced to clear (about 50p) in my local Morrisons although I’ve never seen them there before. The powders generally come in card but do have a small plastic bag inside. When I ordered from Spices of India I asked for no additional plastic in the postal packaging and they heeded my request. I use a mix of shikakai and amla powder – the shikakai is a gentle cleanser and the amla is conditioning. Similar to the clay, I just mix a spoonful or 2 of the powders to a paste with a little water the massage into my scalp ( again starting with dry hair) and rinse well. Aritha (soapnut powder) also works well with hard water although I personally find using it regularly too drying for my hair). No ph balancing rinse is needed with these.

3. Protein washes: chick pea flour / gram flour; rye flour: As with the above methods, mix a little into a paste with water and massage into dry hair and them rinse well. These works well for me as occasional wash methods only – very cleansing but contains a lot of protein. Most people can’t use protein washes more than about once a month but it varies so you might find it works fine for you. I find that if I use protein again for the next wash it doesn’t work at all. And I personally don’t like the smell of the chick pea flour which I find lingers however much I rinse. Egg is another protein wash option – mix an egg with an equal amount of cold water. Apply all over dry hair and leave on for about 10 mins – it will drip so stand in the shower or close to a sink. Then rinse off thoroughly with cool water – otherwise you will end up with hair full of scrambled egg!

These are just the methods I have successfully used – do have a look at wealth of information over at the No Poo and Low Poo Facebook Group for lots more hair wash methods, conditioning advice and detailed advice on dealing with hard water.

If you have hard water I would love to know what works for you.

Dealing with waxy hair during transition:

Apple sauce mask:

Peel and chop a cooking apple (any other apple will do fine too – so use what you have) and cook until it is soft enought o mash easily to a puree. I usually use the microwave. I tend to just mash it with a fork but you may prefer to use a blender for a smoother puree which is easier to rinse out. While the puree is still warm ( but not oo hot) apply it all over your dry hair and cover with a shower cap. Leave it on for at least half an hour and then rinse thoroughly. You may need to do this a few times during the transition period.

Making apple scrap vinegar:

Save up apple peels and cores in the freezer until you have enough to fill a jar of your choice. Then place them in the jar, add a tablespoon of sugar and cover with water. Give it a good stir. Secure a cloth over the jar to let the air in but keep fruit flies etc out. Be sure to give it a stir at least once a day so that the same bits of apple aren’t exposed to the air – otherwise the exposed bits can go mouldy. After a few days or a week, depending on the warmth of yor kitchen, the mix will start to bubble and ferment. Keep on stirring it. After a few weeks the apple pieces will all sink to the bottom. At this stage strain the mixture through a sieve or cloth and compost the apple pieces. By this stage it should already smell vinegary but I usually leave it with the cloth cover to continue to develop.

Thanks for reading – for more frequent posts please follow me on Instagram

Easy coconut oil deodorant recipe

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.

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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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

 

 

Zero Waste Shopping 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.

UPDATE FEB 2020:  I have updated the information below since it was first written a few years ago.  As I no longer live in Leighton Buzzard I would really appreciate comments letting me know about any further updates to the information.  Many thanks.


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.

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.

 

Mimic Gifts – Hockliffe Street.  Offers an extensive range of refills and bath products – including refills for shower gels, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, denttabs ( a great alternative to toothpaste), kids bubble bath, bath salts, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, all purpose cleaner, washing up liquid and much more.  Plus shampoo and conditioner bars, soap, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable wipes, cotton buds and menstrual products.

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 ( heading 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. ( I know this farm is  currently being surrounded by a new housing development  – eggs confirmed as still available Feb 2020 but this may change)

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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 a range of local produce, oil and vinegar refills and loose fruit and veg, including organic options, (thanks to Pecks Farm for supplying the photo below).

Pecks Farm Shop - by  James Rudd
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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