Spain- loose and unpackaged

There is a lot of loose food available in Spain. Search out small and independent shops and use the fantastic markets.

They sell frozen food including fish fingers. Most town will have a store that does this. Some supermarkets also do it.

There are wine bottle refill shops where you can use your own bottle.

Cheese is sold in rounds, is tasty and suprisingly cheap.

You will have to take your own plastic free packaging.


See photos in the FB gallery


There are several loose tea and coffee shops in Seville so keep your eyes open.
Just near the Parasol is Asuka. They  sell loose herb tea and coffee beans, reusable one cup filters and loose chocolates. Has paper bags and cool staff. Best take your own bags to be on the safe side. Here’s the website.

Read about


Do you know how long it is since I had crisps – gorging out on them here because they sell them loose in paper cones. OMG!!!!!


There is a great company based in Barcelona making  stylish cloth produce bags for your loose food. Otherwise you will have to import your own.

Crisps sold loose served in a paper cone.

Crisps sold loose served in a paper cone.


See our other Seville posts here and our plastic free travel notes here.

Check out the other plastic free places we have been – outside the U.K. I mean….



Sri Lanka

Just got back from a month in Sri Lanka which was  very wet and very beautiful. There was a lot of exotic, jungly, lush greenery studded with pretty flowering trees, fantastic tea plantations, dramatic hill and some rather lovely towns. Plus ancient sites and well regarded national parks. All strung together by a sweetest railway system with the most wonderful retro stations manned by uniformed staff straight out of Boys Own Topping Tropical Tales.

So we got to trundle through rice paddies and neat tea plantations in reliable trains. We saw lovely old houses, gentle countryside, wild peacocks waddling round the fields and kingfishers skimming muddy pools. We had high tea in the last great hotels of the raj and mooched round the delightfully renovated town of Galle. And it was cleaner than a lot of other Asian countries with (comparatively) very little plastic trash.

Looking back it was lovely but at the time we were ambivalent. Which might have been in part due to the weather but it rained every day. Some days only for a couple of hours but others it went on interminably. Great big splashy soaking storms that made most kinds of out door activities more challenging then we were prepared to cope with. Even when it wasn’t raining a moist miasma lingered and meant nothing ever dried out. My trousers bloomed white mould and the bags had to be unpacked every day. The beds felt clammy the rooms smelt strange and we had to buy our own umbrellas.

And it was a little bit bland. Galle for example was like some well maintained small European town the sights. A quick mince round and an overpriced coffee and you were done. There is a lot of ancient stuff but was expensive. I cant say if it was good value for money because we didn’t get to see any of it. We did try honest we did. We set off to look at an ancient city. We had barely reached the ticket office when the rain blew in in huge tearing sheets of misery and we decided to turn back. Actually we were not too disappointed. The $30.00 dollar entrance fee (each that is) and Google pictures of the site had left us rather cool.

But that left us with nothing to do. Not all of Sri Lanka is lovely. Much of it is ugly concrete tropics and this town was drab and dull and now soaking wet. Also, unusually for Asia, food here is not plentiful. There are few street vendors selling snacks and no cute chai stalls. There are some restaurants and bakeries but they are often rather dreary. Worse still the food is not that great. Stodgy, greasy and sugary. There is some rather nice curry but they serve it luke warm often cold.

So we didn’t do the expensive sights or the national parks either. Who wants to see a wet leopard anyway? The famous beaches went the same way. The seas were too rough to swim or even paddle. Which left…. nothing. Sri Lanka shuts up shop early and by 9pm most places are closed. And this is in Kandy main tourist and pilgrim town. No night markets, no chanting pilgrims, no people sitting out on the street chatting.

And very few backpackers. Possibly they had more sense than to come in the wet season but there seemed to be little in the way of a backpacker infrastructure. There is no area to head to full of cheap hostels, cafes offering banana pancakes and cold beer.

That’s not to say there weren’t tourists. Given it’s charms, general cleanliness and wide range of attractions, plus lots of tea, Sri Lanka is perfect nostalgia tropics. It is rather like going back to an Agatha Christie like golden age of travel. Which of course attracts an Agatha Christie kind of visitor. There were swarms of white haired twitterers wandering round in cream combat pants and pale blue shirts, strapped firmly into enormous beige money belts that look more like a truss than a purse. Being ferried from charming Colonial hotel to tea planters terrace in the comfortable luxury buses. Every train had a special observation car with big windows, (for which you paid extra), that was stuffed full of top end travelers.

Given my white hair and that you really cannot judge the financial standing of a middle-aged European by their crumpled clothes and sensible shoes, I am often mistaken for one such. Tour guides, armed with rolled up copies of Saga, are constantly try to herd me onto the cream tea tour. Sigh!

What with one thing then another, we spent the first three weeks of bitching about Sri Lanka; the food wasn’t as good as Malaysia, the Buddha’s are better in Burma, the hills are more hilly in Laos, you get cheaper rooms in Thailand and it is no where near as exciting as India. And there was no one to talk to. Then the sun came out. And stayed out. After a few dry days Sri Lanka suddenly seemed way more charming.

Once you accept cold curry is the national dish, the food isn’t too bad – better than Mongolian at least. Though I have yet to eat food that is worse than Mongolian. The accommodation is not of the best value but it is of a good standard, mostly clean and comfortable which is always a plus. And while it is not as an exciting as India it is not as dirty, poor and squalid either. There is no backpacker community but nor is it overrun by young people with loud voices and silly hats.

So much so we thought we might extend our visa stay and explore a little more.

Then it started raining again. So we left.

Plastic Problems

While much of inland Sri Lanka is tidy enough that is comparatively speaking compared to say India, there is a lot of very trashy plastic pollution. Have a look at our facebook page to see how much.

Sri Lanka is still way behind in terms of packaging and pre packed goods. Loads of stuff is sold loose and given to you in a recycled paper bag. Often made from old school books and exam papers. Sadly this is changing fast.

Worse they often your food on a plate that they have covered with a plastic sheet. When you have finished the sheet is whipped off and binned. Even in the smallest of food shacks do this.

There are a lot of bins full of food covered plastic sheets. We had to be very firm but we did get our food served plastic free.

They still sell drinks in returnable bottles and for water we use tap water and our steri-pen. We never buy bottled. 


Have a look in our plastic free backpack for more travel tips. 

See the other places we’ve been and how to visit them plastic free


Bottle reused as a bum washer

Yes, you might think I am over sharing here but come the zombie apocalypse this information could come in handy. Plus there is a whole world out there who don’t use toilet paper, some of them because they think it is a dirty habit.

I love my husband dearly. We travel together we work together and we share everything. Well almost everything. There is a line I really don’t want to cross. That line is grubby tissues in the bathroom bin. And when I say grubby I mean night soil, poop, fecal matter what ever you want to call it.

Notice, toilet roll, bin...

Notice, toilet roll, bin…

The plumbing in many parts of China lack strength. While the bathrooms in most hotels are adequate and clean, you cannot put your used toilet paper down the loo. Instead it has to go in a bucket by the side. An open bucket with no lid. Bad at the best of times but when the toilets are squats you are closer to the bucket than you would ever want to be.

So we have bathroom rules. Wash before wiping. Use water and not loo roll to remove any …. erm.. residue. You can then use a (small no waste) piece of paper to dry off.

To this end I have repurposed a plastic bottle as the Acme Portable Bum Washer.


  • Fill the bottle with water
  • Squirt letting the water trickle over the affected area,
  • Clean with your hand OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Dry

Ooo and don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards, with soap – though I am guessing I didn’t I need to tell you that.

The Acme Portable Bum Washer can be used in anywhere, massively reduces your consumption of tissues and feels far more pleasant that scratchy loo roll

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s a rather more in-depth write-up titled “how to wipe your arse with your left hand” – say it how it is buddy, and this quick overview of toilets and wiping habits the world over.

See other plastic free wiping options here.

This post is my contribution to Zero Waste Week (‪#ZerowasteWeek) the brainchild of Rae Straus (also featured in our P-f U.K. directory). Each day, for 7 days, we will feature a tip to help you eat, drink and – ermmm – excrete in the most sustainable and rubbish free- way, backpacking kind of way. Each post will appear up on our advent calender of trash free tips. See them there.


Drinking The Chinese Water

But what about the water? In China according to my tap water info graphic the tap water is not safe to drink. So we are drinking boiled rather than bottled water. Most rooms have a kettle and if they don’t you can get a flask of hot water at the reception. The trains all have a water boiler at the end of the carriage.

Many people advise bringing water to a hard boil for 5 minutes, and perhaps longer at higher elevation.   More current literature, however, suggests merely reaching the boiling is sufficient and effective.

If you prefer a belt and braces approach, let the water cool and treat it with your Steripen. Of course you will need to have your own reusable water bottle. We have two.

When you get bored of water there is always fizzy orange – see our next post…..

This post is my contribution to Zero Waste Week (‪#ZerowasteWeek) the brainchild of Rae Straus (also featured in our P-f U.K. directory). Each day, for 7 days, we will feature a tip to help you eat, drink and – ermmm – excrete in the most sustainable and rubbish free- way, backpacking kind of way. Each post will appear up on our advent calender of trash free tips. See them there.


Tiffin Tin

There is some fantastic street food in China but they serve it in polystyrene (styrofoam) trays. So you will need to carry your own tiffin tin Dont worry if you forgot to pack one, the Chinese love tiffin tins. We got this beauty in a small supermarket. It has a screw on lid so is very secure and even a handle which made boiling water in our yurt easier. Rather it made making the tea with the boiling water so much easier.




This post is my contribution to Zero Waste Week (‪#ZerowasteWeek) the brainchild of Rae Straus (also featured in our P-f U.K. directory). Each day, for 7 days, we will feature a tip to help you eat, drink and – ermmm – excrete in the most sustainable and rubbish free- way, backpacking kind of way. Each post will appear up on our advent calender of trash free tips. See them there.



China biscuits

Glad to see even the smallest of Chinese towns has a bakery that sells loose biscuits. Shame about the bags. Seems we are the only people in China not using plastic bags. What happened to the bag ban then?

And yet despite their love affair with plastic, it is possible to live waste free in China. You can get loose cakes and biscuits, seeds and nuts from market stalls and really good bakeries. Even some supermarkets will sell them unpackaged by weight. Actually they sell a lot of stuff loose too, beans, flour and rice – but that may be of less use to the backpacker.produce bags featured

You need to take your own bags be prepared for confusion and a lot of giggling! That is why we travel with an ancient Chico bag and some produce bags. I bought these bags when I first started my plastic boycott in 2007. Since then they have been all round the world with us cutting plastic all the way.

This post is my contribution to Zero Waste Week (‪#ZerowasteWeek) the brainchild of Rae Straus (also featured in our P-f U.K. directory). Each day, for 7 days, we will feature a tip to help you eat, drink and – ermmm – excrete in the most sustainable and rubbish free- way, backpacking kind of way. Each post will appear up on our advent calender of trash free tips. See them there.



How Backpackers Live Without Bin Liners

All the hotels we stayed in in China line the bins with plastic bags. When they clean the rooms I assume they grab the bag out of the bin and throw it away along with the rubbish. Gasp! Think how many bags that amounts to!

As we don’t use plastic (or toilet roll) we don’t actually make much rubbish. Our bin isn’t even full.

Certainly not full enough to justify a whole plastic bag going to landfill. Which of course we don’t think is ever justifiable.

So we take our rubbish out with us and dispose of it in a communal bin.


Sometimes we reuse we a bag to save a bag. That is we harvest a bag that has been used for something else, (by someone else, we don’t use plastic disposables), that is littering the streets and use that for our rubbish.

And while we are talking about stupid hotel plastic WTF is this all about. Glasses in plastic bags!

See how we live without bin liners at home when at home, here.

This post is my contribution to Zero Waste Week (‪#ZerowasteWeek) the brainchild of Rae Straus (also featured in our P-f U.K. directory). Each day, for 7 days, we will feature a tip to help you eat, drink and – ermmm – excrete in the most sustainable and rubbish free- way, backpacking kind of way. Each post will appear up on our advent calendar of trash free tips. See them there.


Take your own …. tray???


tin cup and folding chop sticks  for sure … but taking your own tray? Backpacking?

In China they have some really great food stalls that set up on the streets late at night. They serve beer and a whole range of kebabs. Ahh the joy of sitting down, relaxing after a hard day of jostling, knocking back a cold one and munching on a grilled body part…..but wait! There’s a problem. They serve you your food on a metal tray…. good, covered with a plastic bag…WYF! Which they then discard! No washing up, lots of litter. Yes I thought China had banned plastic bags too but it would seem not.So we got our own metal tray. We eat our food off that and at the end of the night we take it home and wash it. You don’t get rid of us so easy….

This post is my contribution to Zero Waste Week (‪#ZerowasteWeek) the brainchild of Rae Straus (also featured in our P-f U.K. directory). Each day, for 7 days, we will feature a tip to help you eat, drink and – ermmm – excrete in the most sustainable OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand rubbish free- way, backpacking kind of way. Each post will appear up on our advent calender of trash free tips. See them there.


2015 Plastic free July Mongolia

… hard. Here’s an update. So far we are totally about  4o items that contain some plastic and 4 plastic wrappers each.

It has been pouring down here (with a light dusting of snow – sigh!), so we have been sitting in a lot of cafes in an effort to keep warm and sometimes try to log on to what they advertise as wifi but is in fact an exercise in optimism. Something I am rapidly running out of.

When we sit we have to buy a drink. Here they serve milk tea. A confusing name because it contains no tea at all. It is a dash of milk a lot of hot water, a dollop of grease (butter?) and enough salt to make your lips twist. It tastes…..another sigh! I’ve tried, I really have – but I don’t like hot milk at the best of times. And these are most definitely not the best of times!

So we have been drinking a lot of plastic related beverages. Never a beverage from a plastic bottle! I’ll never sink that low but glass bottles with plastic lined lids, plastic lined cans and the occasional tea bag (which of course contains plastic).  You can find out more about these sneaky plastics here.

This adds up to around 2 items a day each.

When we have access to hot water we are making our own tea with loose leaves we bought in China.

For water we are using our Steripen to sterilize tap water.

But we have been trekking and camping in yurts so have had to buy some of our food. Outside of Ulan Batur the choice is poor. There are markets but they sell mostly pre packed processed food – plastic packed sweets, plastic wrapped processed sausages, instant noodles and packet soup. The only fresh food is weird buttery cheesy stuff that looks like grimy wax and tastes mildly yet unpleasantly of rancid butter. There are a few shriveled fruit and veg that are extremely expensive and meat. And lots and lots of meat. All around sheep are being skinned or carved up into bloody chunks. Furry feet are discarded on the floor, and once a sheep head staring up from the park bench where it had been absently left.

But we have had to eat something while huddled in our yurt and so we have bought 3 plastic wrapped loaves of bread and 3 packets of biscuits. Rather then leave them out in the national park rubbish bins I burnt the wrappers on the fire. There were simple polythene and so (it is claimed) safe to burn.

Back in Ulan Batur and our hotel gave us a sandwich for breakfast. It was included in the price and made as we thought in house. Today they served it in a plastic box. I ate it anyway. And I bought another packet of real coffee. Plastic packed of course.


With all this plastic packaging hardly surprising then that there is quite a lot of plastic trash. Everyday we litter picked in the national park collecting huge amounts of bottles.

Waste disposal methods in the city also leave a lot to be desired. Plastic bags are dumped in the street to to be collected by truck at some point. Stray animals scrabble through it looking for food. Then bin men go through the garbage first looking for cans. Inevitably some plastic rubbish escapes in the process.

Check out our FB album for updated photos.

CAMFORR Keep It Real Keep It Clean

So for Plastic Free July I am begging everyone to join in campaigning for real rubbish. You can read about it here.

Keep Our Glass

And asking folks to sign the petition asking Dairy crest to keep their refillable glass milk bottles.

In the pack

Rummage in our plastic free backpack here


The Places We Been – the rubbish we seen

The Places We Been – the rubbish we seen

Wondering where to go on holiday this year? Want to see how much plastic trash will be littering your beach…….

The following places have been featured on our Planet trash Facebook page , our visual guide of world wide plastic pollution.

Latest Album Mabul, Island off Borneo, Malaysia

Chokin Cochin 8 photos
Cochin revisited 8 photos

Gokarna Town 10 photos

The Prom, Kochi 9 photos
India Andamans – trouble in paradise
24 photos

India Arambol the nasty stuff 36 photos

India Beach Clean Up Andamans 17 photos
India Everyday Streets 16 photos
India Fort Cochin Beach8 photos

India Gokarna Beach India 2012 7 photos
India Kannar Beach7 photos
India Kudle Beach,8 photos

India Ladahk – Plastic protest and why 13 photos

India Land of Kings 11 photos

India Village life 8 photos

India Walk to Om Beach8 photos

Indonesia Bali 12 photos

Plastic in the desert 7 photo
Iran The Persian Gulf 11 photos

Iran Water & Iran8 photos

Laos A Typical Village in Laos 12 photos

Laos After the fair 4 photos

Laos Hongsa Dump Loas 6 photos
Loas Loas, Luang Prabang 7 photos

Malasia our bit of beach 12 photos
Malasia Perhentians 11 photos
Malasia Tioman Island 11 photos
Malaysia Perhentians 13 photos

Mongolia Mongolia 7 photos

Myanmar Inle Lake Myanmar 6 photos
Myanmar Kingpin – bridge over the river 6 photos

Myanmar Kinpin Burma 9 photos

Myanmar Myanmar 11 photos

Myanmar Take Me To The River…11 photos
Myanmar Woodland Bottles 2 photos

Nepal Khatmandu 13 photos

Nepal Nepalese journey 10 photos
Nepal Pokara Holy Lake 4 photos

Nepal Pondicherry17 photos

Philippines El Nido 10 photos
Phillippines Sequillor Philippines 5 photos

Spain Spain 5 photos
Spain Spain Loose Food 27 photos

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka 11 photos

Thailand A day at the races 6 photos

Thailand dirty streets dirty rivers 9 photos

UK Carnewas and Bodruthan steps 7 photos
UK Colne Valley Yorkshire England 14 photos

UK Green unpleasant land 10 photos

UK Loch Eriboll 12 photos
UK my childhood beach8 photos
UK winter wonderland 10 photos
UK Worthing Pier 13 photos
UK Tesco Garage Plastic Glove Pollution5 photos

Vietnam Halong Bay 2011 5 photos

Vietnam Market Vietnam 4 photos

Vietnam SihanoukVille Port -Plastic Sea 5 photos


Iran, Buses & Take Your Own Snacks

Every bus we traveled on in Iran dished out snacks. The better the bus the more snacks you are given. Biscuits cakes water and juice all of it plastic wrapped. A single journey will generate bag loads of non biodegradable trash. So we don’t accept it and we bring our own snacks.

Despite Persia’s love affair with packaging there are still hundreds of places that sell loose.You can nuts dried fruit and all manner of things by weight from the bazaar. loose food iranIf you are squeamish about eating unwrapped dried apricots from the dusty bazaar, the bakeries are extremely clean and hygienic. They sell bread, biscuits and cakes loose and by weight. Make mine a kilo of pudding.

Finally there is always  fruit.

Fantastic – but still not out of the woods. While some of these places might have paper bags most use plastic so you will need to take your own. We travel with bio bags and reusable cotton produce bags.

For a drink its water in our reusable, refillable bottle treated with a Steripen.

So when everyone else is creating rubbish with a life span of forever, we are not. Smug? You know it! For more posts on plastic in Iran read up here