Here is an ingenious alternative to plastic washing-up brushes, or the ubiquitous yellow sponge, green scourers and metal scrubbing pads: the humble loofah and coconut plants! Try Michael’s Original and LoofCo loofahs for dishes and Safix coconut fibre scrubbing pads for pots & pans. 100% compostable, non-toxic, hygienic, effective and long-lasting. Only a click away, and packaged in nothing but a little cardboard, at Greenbrands.co.uk. Husband Pete was delighted when we first started using these: “These are tougher than the yellow plastic sponges and plastic brushes, they do a better job, they don’t gunge up and they last so much longer.” The coconut scourer is tough but doesn’t scratch pots and pans. The loofah is soft and squeaky when wet and is brilliant for cleaning dishes, cutlery and glass. I’m happy too, because Pete is doing the dishes!
Yellow kitchen sponges with the green or white scouring pads are made from petroleum and are 0% biodegradeable. They shed microplastic into the water as they deteriorate and at best they last a few weeks. Basically they are a complete nightmare for the environment and everyone uses them. I still have some lurking under the sink because we used to buy them in spades. I look at them suspiciously now that I have my new loofah-and-coconut friends – not quite sure what to do with them… If I’d known how easy it is to find an alternative, I would have surely switched years ago.
Why not give them a try: Greenbrands Online Shop – they don’t cost the Earth!
NB: also available as bathroom scourers!
One of the early decisions we had to make was what to put in our packed lunches. Toby takes lunch into school every day and in the past this consisted of a sandwich, a snack bar, a bag of crisps, salad vegetables and fruit. But snack bars and crisps are invariably packaged in plastic – believe me, we looked high and low. We came up with various ideas to replace the snacky part of his lunch, for example homemade cheese straws and flapjacks. If I take a packed lunch to work it’s usually a salad or leftovers from the night before in a tupperware box. A lot of the time though I would just grab something from M&S on the way to work. M&S sandwiches and salads are packaged in plastic, as are most express supermarket lunch items, so this was no longer an option. Packing my own lunch suddenly became a necessity if I didn’t want to run out to a café or bistro at lunchtime. But I wasn’t enamoured with my sad, utilitarian looking tupperware boxes. A little research showed that there is a whole world of non-plastic lunch boxes out there, from Indian tiffins to Japanese bentos. I bought the modern stainless steel lunch box pictured above. This box has no polymer or silicone seal so it won’t hold liquid like salad dressing. But the clips work great and as long as you keep it upright there is no problem with spills. It came with a small box inside which is useful for nuts, raisins, cherry tomatoes etc. I bought my box in a shop in Oxford but they can be found online from various retailers. It is beautifully made and comes in different sizes and even in double and triple layers. I now really enjoy packing my lunch and don’t mind leaving it out on my desk for all to admire! Check out all the different styles of boxes at ecolunchboxes.com.
On the 1st of May 2016, we begun the journey of avoiding all food and household items that have plastic packaging of any kind. In at the deep end. Went to the farmers market, a natural food supermarket, health food shop, deli, farm shop and an ordinary supermarket to see what I could get. I went prepared with my cloth bags, of course, and a number of small paper bags just in case. Managed to buy just over half of the items on my shopping list. The fishmonger at the market and the woman at the deli shop obligingly used my paper bags to wrap my items in. A few things I bought had cardboard on the outside but then turned out to be lined in plastic or wrapped in plastic foil (coffee beans, biscuits, tea bags, oatcakes, corn crackers). Very interesting exercise.
It must be difficult for shops to sell stuff in small quantities and keep it fresh – hence all the plastic/foil packaging. Also found out that the only butcher in Stroud has closed its doors! Next stop: wholesalers for bulk shopping and online shops to see what they have to offer. In the meantime I signed on to a local milk delivery service which has turned out to be a real joy and we love our milk man and the stylish classic glass bottles. I highly recommend this as a first step for anyone. Also made a batch of mayo, humus and taramasalata. Laughable how easy this is provided you have a food processor and can be bothered.