Borax occurs naturally in evaporite deposits produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. The most commercially important deposits are found in Turkey; Boron, California; and Searles Lake, California. Also, borax has been found at many other locations in the Southwestern United States, the Atacama desert in Chile, newly discovered deposits in Bolivia, and in Tibet and Romania. Borax can also be produced synthetically from other boron compounds.

Proper borax is No longer sold on the shelves in the UK. You have to make do with a borax substitute from Dripak.

“Borax Substitute is sodium sesquicarbonate – a mineral compound, with similar pH to borax, making it ideal for cleaning and laundry. It is gentler than Soda Crystals yet stronger than Bicarbonate of Soda.

Using Borax Substitute around the house
Uses Borax Substitute as a:

Multi-purpose cleaner – Mix it with some water to form a paste. This makes it an excellent scouring agent that offers more cleaning power than Bicarbonate of Soda.
A water softener to help keep your washing machine clear of limescale.
To make your own bath salts, simply add some perfume or essential oils and a drop of food colouring to some Borax Substitute.”

That said you can still buy borax from Ebay


You can use real borax for the above and
Can be used to make a fire retardant spray
To deter moths


Borax, washing soda, bicarbonate or all three. What should you use for your cleaning needs? A comparison HERE
See all out #plasticfree cleaning aids HERE


Creams & Lotions – Recipes

It is so easy to make your own creams and lotion that once you start you will never look back. The advantages are huge; you get to control what goes on your skin, be way more eco-friendly and save a whole load of cash. You can make almost anything the cosmetic companies sell but without the palm oil, dodgy chemicals and weird colours. Though you can have all those too if you want.

Lotion and cream is basically a mix of oills,waxes or butters with water combined using an emulsifier. Lotions are thinner, cream more solid.

Do you really need to make a cream? Many times you can use an oil or butter neat. But sometimes they are just too oily.

Many commercial creams including E45 use mineral oil. That’s derived from the same gloopy black oil we use to make petrol.


To make cream or lotion you will need

Oil, butters & waxes.
There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you. Generally speaking the richer the oil the heavier the cream, the more water you put in the lighter the lotion. There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.  See my guide to oils here.

There is much talk of using distilled water but I use tap.

Cooking thermometer
VERY useful .

Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.You have to add other ingredients to turn what is basically salad dressing into lovely thick cream. So in addition to oils and water you will need an emulsifier.

Optional. Oil on its own does not go off – there is no water for bacterial to feed on. Once you have added water to oil then it can. Now your creams are vulnerable to bacteria. Preservatives will help “keep” you r cream. I don’t use it as it can cause skin irritations. And I find cream without I less itchy on my skin. I have had a few pots of cream go mouldy but we are talking maybe 5 in the years I have been making my own creams. You can read up and buy preservatives here Aromantics

to put your cream in.

Notes On Emulsifiers

The most complex ingredient in cream is the emulsifier. The water and oils are simple enough but this is what makes them bind together.

There are a few completely natural emulsifiers  but they  do not give consistent results.
Most commercially used emulsifiers are manufactured. They are most often derived from coconut oil and palm oil. More recently, rapeseed has been used.
But some are produced from pig fats. Check what you buy.
I have tried a few with varied success BUT
A combination of VE Emulsifier, MF Emulsifier and Cetearyl Alcohol works every time and can be used to make a wide range of products from thick creams to thin lotions.

VE Emulsifier or Glyceryl Stearate is a vegetable-based emulsifier
Cetearyl Alcohol is a vegetable based emulsifying wax
MF Emulsifier or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate  can be fermented from lactose (milk sugar)but more commonly comes  from nondairy sources such as cornstarch, potatoes and molasses.

Palm Oil
Please note that all the above also may be derived from or include palm oil. Be sure to buy from a good practice supplier. For example there should be something this note on Aromantics VE emulsifier “The Palm oil that is used in both in MF/VE emulsifiers comes from suppliers that are either members of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil or a subsidiary company or who are members of FEDIOL which supports sustainability. FEDIOL is a European industry federation based in Brussels”.
You can read more about palm oil here.



Heat the Fat Stage ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal pot on hot water) until above 75°C. Use a thermometer to check.

Boil the water add the MF emulsifier and other Water Stage ingredients to 75°C.

Take off heat. Now pour the Fat Stage into the Water Stage in a slow steady stream before they drop below 75°C.

Mix well – I use a hand blender.

Allow to cool. Whisk occasionally to achieve a nice creamy consistency. As the mixture cools it becomes thicker and more creamy. It will reach its thickest consistency when it has cooled down to room temperature.

When the temperature is below 40°C you can add active ingredients
perfumes or essential oils and other magical things to make you look years younger.

You can also add specialist ingredients to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Put the Cream into jars and label.

Take Care

That everything you use is clean, very clean.
Make sure you have enough pots to store your cream in.
That you label it – and date it. Believe me you will forget!

Recipes & Kits

Here are some sample recipes.

Supermarket Cream (My recipe)

You can buy all these ingredient from the supermarket.  I cut the olive oil with the lighter almond oil because I find it rather heavy.
Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

Fat Stage


  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil Tesco’s or Asian Shop
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 20g coconut oil Tescos or Asian Shop
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Fancy Aromatics RecipeTo be honest I think this recipe has way to many ingredients but I like this company, I have used their products many times and think that this will probably make a nice cream. It is also useful to have a recipe that lists by percentages.You can experiment and use different oils, or even less oils. Just make sure the percentages stay the same. For example you can cut the thistle oil and use 10% Apricot Kernal Oil.

    By percentage
    Fat Stage (above 75°C)
    2% Cocoa Butter
    3% Macadamia Nut Oil
    7% Apricot Kernel Oil
    3% Thistle Oil
    2.5% VE Emulsifier
    2% Cetearyl Alcohol

    Water Stage (above 75°C)
    4.5% MF Emulsifier
    69% Boiling Spring Water
    2% Glycerine

    Third Stage (below 40°C)
    1% Preservative 12 or Eco
    1% Vitamin E Simulated Natural
    2% NFF Complex
    1% Essential Oils of your choice

    From Aromantics

    Rich Tropical Delights Cream (My recipe)

    Much easier far fewer ingredients. I cut the olive oil with Almond because I find it rather heavy.
    Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

    Fat Stage

  • 25 g VE Emulsifier
  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil
  • 30ml Coconut Oil
  • 20g Shea butter
  • 10g Cocoa butter
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Design Your Own
    You can adapt the mix of oils for the above recipes based on your personal preference.
    If you want to design you own cream from scratch, follow these guidelines…
    style=”font-size: medium;”>Emulsifiers 5-8%
  • Oils 12-20%
  • Water, Additives, and Botanicals to 100 %.


Trouble Shoot
Cream too thick? You cannot add more water once the mixture has cooled. This ruins the cream – it will not rub in. You will need to make a thinner lotion and mix your creams to achieve the desired consistency. You can add more oil and mix well. This of course makes your cream more oily.


If you want a thinner cream add more water at the water stage.


If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

Anti Aging, Sun Tan Lotion & Fake Bake
You can add  specialist ingredients to your base to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.


Aromantics is a good and ethical supplier of ingredients but expensive. I buy a lot of stuff in bulk from other suppliers. Ebay is a good source. Prices vary so do shop around.

I store my creams in old jars but for display  I have bought some glass jars with metal lids.

Plastic Spoiler

Most plastic base ingredients come in plastic bags but I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

Making Personal Care Products 

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on  toothpaste and other products  
and making other stuff – here.

Making creams while travelling

You cannot carry a years supply of home made cream in your rucksack so here are some ideas about making your own home made creams in hotel bedrooms.

If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.


Gift wrap reusable and made from old tents

I have to admit to using synthetic tents. I feel this is one instance where plastic really is the best product for the job, (remembers sleeping under canvas and shudders #plasticweuse). But what to do when your trusty old tent is no longer up to the job. Well you could re- use  it to make crinkly sounding wrapping paper. Or if you don’t camp, or sew, you could buy some recycled Glastonbury tent wraps form these guys….


FestiWraps are made from tents, discarded at UK music festivals such as Lattitude and Glastonbury, and then collected by us. Tents that cannot be recovered by charities and would normally be sent to landfill, are collected, cleaned and used to create fabulous reusable gift wrap. The wrap itself is made from two outer layers of tent fabric sandwiched around a piece of ground sheet.  This creates a crinkly sound like paper folding and un-folding, bringing the emotional sounds and experience of a wrapped gift to life.  The fastening cord, which makes the FestiWrap so quick and easy to use, is made from the recovered tent guy ropes. You can buy here.


The picture was taken from this website where you can see Glastonbury trash shots.

You can find other gift wrap options here, plus biodegradable sticky tape, string and pretty ties

Some reused plastic sails here



Essential Oils

Essential oils have gone from being an obscure aspect of botany to an all round marketing  ‘good thing’.  Almost every product you buy from washing powder to shampoo trumpets that they contain essential oils. So much better, so much greener. As such they have been embraced by the environmental movement as the fragrance for your home made products, a staple in  your medicine chest and the relaxant in your bath.

I have been using them for years thinkin that they are a so eco friendly. But are they really? And are they even oils?

What Are Essential Oils?

They are not actually oils because they do not contain fatty acids.
They are in fact terpenes
Terpenes organic compounds produced by plants (and occasionally insects).
Terpenes are made up of isoprene units, each consisting of five carbon atoms attached to eight hydrogen atoms (C5H8)
They are often strong-smelling.
So essential oils are the strong smelling terepenes found in plants and insects.


Terepenes (along with phenolics nitrogen-containing compounds ) are called secondary metabolites.
Secondary metabolites are chemicals produced by plants for which no role has yet been found in growth, photosynthesis, reproduction, or other “primary” functions. These chemicals are extremely diverse; many thousands have been identified in several major classes. Each plant family, genus, and species produces a characteristic mix of these chemicals, and they can sometimes be used as taxonomic characters in classifying plants. Humans use some of these compounds as medicines, flavorings, or recreational drugs. 

Just so you know – search for terepenes and you get a lot of information about marijuana

They are often characteristic of particular species, are sometimes only produced under particular environmental conditions and for different reasons. The lemon tree for examples produces a pungent oil to repel insects while the rose creates pungent oil to attract them.

N.B. Fragrance oil and essential oil are NOT the same thing. Fragrance” or “fragrance oil” or “perfume” often refers to synthetic scents.

 Medical Qualities

Some essential oils appear to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Others may help speed up healing. However while many claims are made about the potency of essentail oils there is not enough scientific evidence to back them up. Generally it seems to be accepted that they do some limited good though should not be relied on to cure any serious complaints or used to swab down an operating theatre.

While they might not be hugely effective they dont do much harm either. Secondary metabolites are broken down relatively easily so are unlikely to accumulate in large quantities in the environment.

Growing the Oil

Though figures vary you can safely say it takes a lot of plants to produce a small amount of oil..

For one pound of essential oil you will need
50-60 pounds of eucalyptus
200 -250 lbs of lavender Sources include Bulgaria, England, France, USSR, Yugoslavia, Australia, USA, Canada, South Africa, Tanzania, Italy and Spain2 2,000 lbs of cypress
5,000 to 10,000 pounds of rose blossoms to produce one pound of essential oil. Primary cultivation sites for one company include: France, Tasmania, Spain, Italy, England, and China.

Extracting the Oil

Terpenes are usually extracted from plants by steam distillation or chemical extraction.

Environmental Concerns

No matter how they are grown essential oils take up a lot of agricultural land
Growing single species for harvest results in a monoculture style of farming.
Plus all the other demands of farming, – water, fuel, fertilisers organic or not.
It is a lot of input for a very small harvest of what is basically a luxury product.
Add to that the fuel needed to extract the oils “If steam distillation is used temperatures above two hundred degrees applied anywhere from 2-24 hours to extract various oils. ”
If chemical solvents are used which are more effective and so require less plant material, but in turn pose issues of toxicity for people and the environment. 
Some oils are harvested from the wild from threatened species.
Cropwatch, a non-profit that keeps tabs on the natural aromatics industry, maintains a list of wild species threatened including rosewood, sandalwood, amyris, thyme, cedarwood, jatamansi, gentian, wormwood and cinnamon,

Should You Use Them…

Personally all of which makes me wary of using essentail oils. I do love the smell but I don’t like the idea that so many resources go into making one tiny bottle of luxury scent.
If you are going to use essentail oils please use them sparingly and buy from a company that is clear about how they grow and harvest their oils.

Take a look at Pravera or Yorkshire Lavender

How To Use Them…

Read more about the oils we use and what for, HERE.


See a full range of homemade #plasticfree personal care products here 
And find out how to make lots more stuff HERE
Find all plastic free personal care products here…


An introduction to some of the stuff you need to make the above


Halloween Outfits

bc1a69400b979de96bde47e5f738618cWant a halloween costume that doesn’t involve a lot of plastic?

The skull T was found over on Pinterest along with lots more very clever cut out ideas – some with instructions. The rest you might have to work out for yourself. Eek!

Martha Stewart can show you how to make cut out  skeleton teeshirts. Which strikes me as rather strange. I didn’t think that was her thing.

If you are not so crafty, you might like to go as a head on a box!? Or 50 shades of grey…

More plastic-free Halloween ideas here.




Halloween Celebrations

Halloween can be  truly a time of plastic madness what with the masks, fake blood and sweets. I beg you to consider just how evil all that plastic is. So here are some plastic free ideas…

Pumpkin Lanterns

Each year finds me  busy carving my own biodegradable lantern. It’s easy ; buy your self a vegetable, hollow it out cut out a face (or message) and stick a candle in. You can then make soup out of the innards.
I used to be too tight to buy a pumpkin so used swede instead.  I have to admit that swede soup is not as nice. Also pumpkins are easier to carve – its hard work hollowing out swedes.

More plastic free fun…

  • Get (or make) some fabric trick or treat bags to take out with you – not to my house obvs.
  • Buy plastic free sweets for when the ghouls come calling.
  • Use compostable disposable partyware
  • Make a reusable burlap witches hat .
  • make your own costumes

Halloween Outfits

Want a halloween costume that doesn't involve a lot of plastic? The skull T was found over on Pinterest along with lots more very clever cut out ideas - ...
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Nothing sets the mood quite as well as candles but it is hard to find plastic free candles. Most come in a protective plastic wrap or  bag. However we ...
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How to party…plastic free….

Organising a big bash? Nipping off out to buy some paper plates? WAIT!!! Given the choice between washing up and disposable partyware, the answer may seem obvious. Or maybe ...
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Halloween labels and flour paste!

Print and stick  these creepy labels onto a wine bottles to make a suitably  themed halloween gift  - but don't use avery labels as some suggest!  Print onto ...
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Halloween colouring pages for kids

The day of the dead skull and more nice stuff is over at cool moms. These are more kid focused. You print them out, colour them in. And then ...
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Halloween Witches Hat

Follow the instructions to make a cunning canvas reusable hat. On this extremely crafty blog... Find more fantastic Halloween party ideas here. How To Boycott Plastic Find plastic-free ...
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Party Bags Trick or Treat

I know you family types need to plan ahead so, lets get ready for,...ooooooooo.......halloween.... Well my nasty little ghouls and ghosties you will be getting no plastic wrapped ...
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Chocolates and Sweets

I don't care if the lady loves milk tray, she's not getting a box of chocks from me. Not with that plastic wrapping, plastic cover sheet, plastic sweet tray ...
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Flowers Cut

After going to all that trouble to find plastic-free, cut flowers  you will want them to last as long as possible. Here are some tips from Edna Thompson. Not entirely plastic-free as cans of soda are plastic lined and asprins are plastic packed but massively plastic reduced and no need to buy any new product.

Tricks to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

Fresh flowers add flavor, aroma and energy to every home. But they don’t last long. If you want to keep your birthday bouquets fresh longer, you need to know a few things. The first major reason that cut flowers fade is that they do not get the nourishment they need once their stems are cut. As you know, soil is rich in nutrients that keep plants alive for a long time. When flowers are taken away from their habitat, they can no longer get nutrients from soil, and water can only keep them fresh for several hours to a couple of days. The second reason that flowers fade quickly after they are cut is bacteria. Over time your vase contents will attract bacteria. For this reason, what you need to do to enhance the longevity of your cut plants is to provide nutrients and to reduce the growth of bacteria to a minimum.

Here are a few tricks from Gardeners in Chelsea that will get you the best results. Read on.

Cider Vinegar

The first method to keep your cut flowers fresh as long as possible is to use apple cyder vinegar. Here is what to do. Before you put the flowers into a clean vase, fill it with water and add two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Wait for the substances to dissolve and add the flowers. Now, in order to enhance their longevity, you need to change the water every other day. Don’t forget to add sugar and vinegar every time. The secret to this method is that apple cider vinegar prevents bacterial growth and protects cut flowers from fading too soon after that.


Fill a clean vase with water and add a crushed aspirin. Let is dissolve into the water before you add the flowers. Again, make sure to change the water every other day or every few days to ensure that the flowers are kept fresh and free from bacteria.


Another way to go is to use sugar and white vinegar. Before you toss your cut flowers into the vase, be sure to add two tablespoons of white vinegar and three tablespoons of sugar. Add water and then the flowers. The water needs to cover up to four inches of the cut stems (10 centimeters). This mixture proves to be very powerful. While white vinegar prevents the growth of bacteria, sugar helps to nourish the cut flowers.


Another clever way of keeping your flower arrangement fresh is to use vodka. Believe it or not, vodka can nourish your cut flowers as it offers antibacterial activity. As a matter of fact, any other clear spirit will work great too. Use one tablespoon of sugar and only a few drops of clear spirit or vodka to provide a bacteria-free environment for your cut flowers. Be sure to change the water every couple of days.


Here is our final suggestion. Instead of using sugar to keep your cut flowers at their best longer, grab a can of soda and fill a ¼ of cup with it. Then add the liquid to the vase water before you place the flowers. It’s best to use a clear soda, but other alternatives will work too.

Picking Your Own?

Do not cut them on a hot afternoon. Instead pick a cool early morning time to do this. Hope you enjoy your fresh flowers longer.



U.K made woolen string

Got me a new favourite string!

“twool® twine is a strong, soft and subtle British wool alternative to imported jute. Wool is one of the oldest naturally occurring fibres around, it’s a practical material – it lasts, we grow it well in this country, it’s renewable, super sustainable and is currently an underused natural resource.”

“A versatile garden twine made from Dartmoor wool. Super sustainable, socially-responsible and environmentally sound twool twine is strong enough for traditional garden use yet soft enough for floristry, crafts and gifts.”

twool® twine is a strong, soft and subtle British wool alternative to imported jute. Wool is one of the oldest naturally occurring fibres around, it’s a practical material – it lasts, we grow it well in this country, it’s renewable, super sustainable and is currently an underused natural resource.

It’s made in the U.K.from British wool and comes in different colours. See the full range and buy from the website

Other String

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting plastic free string can be hard work. It’s easy enough to get biodegradable plastic free string – go for jute, cotton, hemp, sisal, linen and avoid manmade fibers such as nylon and polyester.

Getting it unwrapped however can be a chore. Most big shops sell it plastic wrapped! As they sell everything plastic wrapped. I find it best to search out small hardware stores and market stalls. Even then it is scarce so whenever I see some I buy it.
NB check the bobbin. Once swooped triumphantly on some jute string only to realise later it had a blue plastic inner. How I missed that I don’t know!

My string collection now includes

white cotton from Marsh Hardware shop, Marsh, Huddersfield
brown jute from Todmorden Market
very nice string from a stationers in France.


Think I am OK for now! However if I needed some more string I could go topfree string garden Pound land. I have seen these and they are plastic free. You can find a store near you via the website.




Fred Aldous Manchester

string fred Aldousmulticoloured cotton on cardboard tube form Fred Aldous. Check out their fantastic craft store and website

pfree general

They also sell  Nutscene string. You can buy this jute (?) string in a tin or loose. It comes in a range of vibrant colours.

You can also buy string in a tin from the shop at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It comes plastic free and unpackaged.

If you can’t get to Yorkshire or Manchester, you can get it direct from the manufacturers (lovely website wide range of products), or from Amazon.

I have never bought on line so I don’t know if it comes plastic wrapped. Do check.

Cotton Wool

You can go to wool shop and buy knitting cotton.


Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source.

If you can’t buy local please do check the links above to the suppliers and buy direct from them and support their online businesses.

If you can’t do that then you can buy String from Amazon – see a wide range here.  

Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them.  Heres why I went ahead….. No we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.

If you buy a product via this link we do get an affiliation fee for this. This is not why we do it.



Natural fibres & bristles

Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include
Cotton used to make cotton
Flax is used to make linen. It is one of the strongest vegetable fibres.
Wools include
Sheep’s wool in a range of weights and qualities
Alpaca wool used to make high-end luxury fabrics.
Angora wool -The silky white wool of the Angora rabbit is very fine and soft, and used in high quality knitwear
Mohair also from the Angora goat.
Cashmere wool comes from cashmere goats and has great insulation properties without being bulky
Silk is strong and light weight.

Coarse Fibres for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses include:
Abaca -Once a favoured source of rope, abaca shows promise as an energy-saving replacement for glass fibres in automobiles
Coir -A coarse, short fibre extracted from the outer shell of coconuts, coir is found in ropes, mattresses, brushes, geotextiles and automobile seats. Can also be used in a brush rather like a bristle.
Jute -The strong threads made from jute fibre are used worldwide in sackcloth – and help sustain the livelihoods of millions of small farmers
Sisal -Too coarse for clothing, sisal is replacing glass fibres in composite materials used to make cars and furniture.
Copied from Natural Fibres

Hessian /ˈhɛsi.ən/, burlap in America and Canada,[1] or crocus in Jamaica,[2] is a woven fabric usually made from skin of the jute plant[3][4][5] or sisal fibres,[6] which may be combined with other vegetable fibres to make rope, nets, and similar products. Gunny cloth is similar in texture and construction.

Hessian, a dense woven fabric, has historically been produced as a coarse fabric, but more recently it is being used in a refined state known simply as jute as an eco-friendly material for bags, rugs and other products.


Natural fibre brushes come in many sizes – you can get everything from big bristly brushes for sweeping yards to cute scrubbers for your nails. They  can be used for sweeping, brushing, scrubbing and scouring.

If you don’t know your Piassava from your Pasodoble read the following:

Bassine is a coarse leaf fiber from palmyra palms. It is inexpensive and durable. It is used to make stiff sweeping brushes often used outdoors.
Natural Coco Fibre (COIR)  comes from the husk of the Coconut tree. It is softer than bassine so more liable to crush and splay. Makes a good soft sweeping brush.
Black Coco Fibre (DYED COCO) is coloured natural coco and has exactly the same properties.
Flagged Black Fibre is specially treated dyed coco fibre where the ends have been flagged or split. It sweeps better than plain coco fibre.

Bahia Piassava (BASS) is a stiff fibre harvested from trees. It is water resilient and doesnt distort. It comes from Bahia in Brazil.
Arenga (GUMATI ) Arenga fiber is harvested from the Arenga Pinnata Palm in Indonesia. Arenga is softer and finer than Bahia Paissava. It is very hard wearing and resilient
Tampico Fibre is from the lecheguilla plant (Agaves Sisalana, Agave Foreyodes) grown in Mexico. Good wearing and reasonable sweeping qualities, but is liable to crush. It is also very water absorbent, and non-electrostatic, so that the brushes remain dust free. The natural colour varies from green to yellowish-white although the fibre can also be black or brown as well as grey. The material is used extensively for making yard brooms, panel brushes, deck brushes, nail brushes and bath brushes.
Cereal root is the root of a species of grass, zacaton plant, which grows on the high plateaux of Mexico. The roots of the Zacaton are cut from the plant, washed clean from soil and transported to a preparation factory. Cereal root is a tought, elastic and water-resistant material which is used for vegetable brushes and washing-up brushes.
Union mixture is a mixture of white fibre and bassine. It´s a strong and water-resistant mixture which is used for vegetable brushes, deck brushes and scrubbing brushes

With thanks to Ravibrush  and  irishantverk for the above information

Animal Derived Bristles
The most commonly known uses for animal bristle and hairs are
Boars hair is used for hairbrushes.
Feathers for dusters
Paint brushes for decorating and art

But almost every other animal hair, feather or bristle can be used for something it seems.
Camel Hair Brushes
Goat Hair Brushes
Hog / China Bristle Brushes
Horse Hair Brushes
Ox Hair Brushes
Pony Hair Brushes
Red Sable Brushes
Sabeline Brushes
Squirrel Hair Brushes

Decorating Brushes
Paint brushes are made from either synthetic fibres or natural hairs. Natural hair brushes are usually Chinese Hog or badgers hair and are recommended for use with oil based paints as they flow more smoothly and actually paint on the surface rather than simply “spread” the paint about. Synthetic brushes, e.g. Nylon or Ployester can be used with all paints but their use with water based, emulsion paints, is more usual. Chinese hog bristles absorb water which makes using them with water based paints very difficult and getting a good finish is almost impossible. Other natural fibres used for good quality paint brushed are Camel hair brushes, Squirrel hair brushes and Sable hair brushes.

Synthetic Bristles

Polypropylen (PPN) PPN
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Flagged PVC/PPN

Easy enough to spot when they are used alone but sometimes they are mixed with natural fibres. Do check carefully. Ask if any of the above have been used or look carefully at the bristles. Here is an scrub brush

Find reviews of natural fibre sweeping brushes here


Flowers to collect

Because they are grown locally and packed on site, I bet you could get these UK grown flowers plastic free if you asked! Why would you want to buy UK flowers? Read more…

Organic Blooms If you love cut flowers, and care about where they come from and how they are grown, then a stunning bouquet of British cut flowers from Organic Blooms could be just what you’ve been looking for!
Organic Blooms is a Social Enterprise based just outside of Bristol. CLICK AND COLLECT Bouquets Available now

Champernhayes Flowers & Foliage is based in rural West Dorset where I grow and sell cut flowers and foliage. I love to forage from local hedgerows. I arrange flowers for weddings and events, as well as selling wholesale and to local businesses. My speciality is in scented woody ornamentals and foliage stems. I have an established perennial cutting garden and a newly fenced field which will be planted up in the autumn of 2014.


These don’t have web pages but  are up on twitter.

Yorkshire Petals @Yorkshirepetals

Glorious home grown English country flowers offering varieties of bunches that are not available in most florists or supermarkets.

Elaine Parkinson @FelicityFarm

Growing and designing beautiful seasonal blooms for weddings, events and gift bouquets on our farm in Chorley



Wrapping paper you can plant

I love this idea – wrapping paper you can plant. The following is taken from the sales blurb…

“Eden’s Paper is 100% plantable wrapping paper. It’s a gift within a gift! So, instead of throwing your wrapping paper in the bin, you can now plant it to grow things like veg, herbs or flowers!

Once the paper has been planted in the soil, the paper immediately begins to biodegrade leaving the seeds to grow into champion veg or flowers.

  • 3 pack includes: 1 x Broccoli, 1 x Carrot, 1 x Tomato
  • 5 pack includes: 1 x Broccoli, 1 x Carrot, 1 x Tomato, 1 x Beetroot, 1 x Bell Pepper
  • They also do flowers – great for mothers day!

Our paper is made from 100% recycled paper. The seeds are embedded on the back of the wrapping paper in seven layers of biodegradable tissue paper. The wrapping paper and tissue paper layers use no glues to hold them together, as glues are harmful to the soil.


Read more and buy here


Don’t forget to use biodegradable sticky tape ( and that’s not, despite what you may have been told), Sellotape.

Not got a garden? Then try these other zero waste and / or environmental wrapping options.


Mothers Day

Flowers and chocolates  are a traditional choice for such days and always welcome. Especially when you choose a few plastic free, more eco options.



What mum doesn’t love a garden? Or Monty Don? Or Waitrose? Then check this…  while looking for some plastic free secateurs I came across these from Japan. At 80.00 they are outside my price range but they look lovely, are recommended by Monty Don, come in a box (less plastic packaging) and are sold by Waitrose.

“Rated one of the best performing secateurs by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, with a score of 17/20 (January 2015).These slim-handled secateurs, forged from a single piece of high carbon steel, are a popular choice for female gardeners as they fit smaller hands perfectly.”
What can I say!
If you cant afford that there are some other (cheaper) options here, recommended by me.
And a lot more garden related gifts here.

But what if …
I am stereotyping your mum? what if she hates the gardening, has hands the size of shovel, wants to wipe the grin off that smug buggers face and only shops in Lidles? You could try these plastic free delights that can double as gifts.

Argh last minute Valentine day fixes….

Forgot !?! Quick, go get this free down load and print out the coupon book. Serve with a deep soulful look ...
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Time to buy new panties, knickers, bloomers, draws, step-ins – call them what you will. I am a simple woman ...
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Body Butter

One of the joys of living plastic free is that you have all kinds of useful base ingredients in the ...
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The  cutters of I use are from Joseph Bently I bought this set from TK Max– steel and wood tools with minimal ...
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Wrappings & Cards
Gift got you need to wrap it. You can find plastic free gift wrapping options and cards here.