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The backpackers coffee press

I love coffee and I carry my own coffee making equipment with me when backpacking, (yes really I do), but this mug is also great for the office or even for take out.

I have

So I boil the water in the tiffin tin with the huge element. Pour the hot water onto the coffee. Wait for it to brew. Plunge. Sit on the balcony watching the sunrise sipping fresh coffee. I Yes I know its a plastic cup but I can’t give it up I tell you!

Plastic 

I used to carry glass and metal cafetierres but they kept on breaking. I have to admit that this is one of those times when plastic is the best man for the job. I bought mine in Japan but I found something similar on Amazon. Zyliss Cafetiere Hot Mug, Blue Zyliss Cafetiere Hot Mug, Blue £8.99 

Steel 

But when I need a new one I will get one of these stainless steel beauties…..

From the Bodrum Website

TRAVEL PRESS SET Coffee maker with extra lid, vacuum, small, 0.35 l, 12 oz, s/s Black:

  • vacuum and made from stainless steel for maximum heat retention.
  • closable lid with a stopper for the opening.
  • slip-proof silicone band around them comes in beautiful colors.
  • Coffee maker furthermore comes with an extra lid
    You can of course get them on Amazon
Bodum Travel Press Set Coffee Maker, Lime Green
Bodum Travel Press Set Coffee Maker, Lime G…
£16.67

Amazon

You can read our thoughts on Amazon here and why we sometimes suggest products sold through them.

Coffee Beans 

I try to buy my coffee loose where I go. I have found bean shops that will grind and give me the coffee in my own reusable bags in Istanbul, Georgetown, Chang Mai and Huddersfield.

 

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Headscarf homemade

Made while backpacking!

I hate the sun on my head so I need to wear a covering of some sort. Hats are good because they have a brim but I have come to prefer huge head scarves when backpacking I realized this quite by accident.

We were invited into a yurt for some fermented camels milk by some friendly Khazaks who, as we were leaving, gave me a head scarf. I couldn’t say say no and was touched by their generosity but, and I know sound ungrateful, it was extremely ugly. At the time I couldn’t imagine ever wearing it so shoved it into the recesses of my pack.

Then I lost my hat. In a place where there were few hats to be had. And so I took to wearing the huge head scarf. And quickly learnt to appreciate the value of this multitasking product. It can be worn in a variety of ways from frumpy but super shady, useful when the sun is ferocious, to perky Rosie the Riveter style for sea bathing.

My default daily setting is an in-between babooksha style which protects head and neck. AND it can be used for all manner of other things such as

an extra towel for wet hair, – self explanatory
a bandanna style sunbathing top – tie tightly round the top of the bust. Sunbathing only. Don’t be too active!
a laundry bag. Put the laundry in the middled and knot the opposite corners to make a bundle

So hooray for scarves then! But not the Khazak scarf. I wanted a better scarf. And it had to meet the following criteria: It had to be bigger then your average, ten-a-ringitt, bikers bandanna because a) it had to be long enough to shade my neck and b) not make me look like mutton dressed as gang member.

It had to be made from natural fibres with no fringes. I find the fringes are always synthetic.

The fabric had to be thick enough to protect from the sun but not so thick it looked like a wimple.

And the design had to be acceptable. No youthful paisley or american flags, no middle aged flowers or indeterminate swirls. Finally it had to be cheap. I can tell you the above design brief seemingly rules out every ready-made scarf in SE Asia.

So I bought some fine cotton lawn in a Bangkok fabric market and made myself one. I used the ugly scarf as a pattern- 91cm square.

I cut it out with my straight metal nail scissors. Well cut and ripped. I sewed it using thread from the market – no idea wether it was natural or synthetic but it came unpackaged and on a cardboard tube. Needles I had with me – I find they come in very handy when backpacking. I turned over the edges, twice, then sewed it by hand.

Actually I have a confession. This is the second scarf I’ve sewed by hand. I made a rather stylish black and white number and lost it a day later! Another confession – that was the 2nd hat I’d lost. Careless!

All count as part of my Fair Share Fabric Project.

In 2015 I pledged to use no more than my fair global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. Whats a global share?11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. You can see how I am doing here.

You can read more about plastic free  backpacking here

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How to travel plastic free

Crossing land borders in South East Asia has been unusually stressful this trip thanks to the big bag of  white powder I am carrying in my rucksack. No we are not funding our trip by an ill advised foray into drug smuggling but trying to back pack plastic-free. Which means no plastic toothpaste tubes. So we have brought a sack of home-made tooth powder with us. While carrying tightly wrapped packs of dentifrice may be innocent, it sure doesn’t look it. I dread the day I have to explain to some grim-faced custom official. The response I fear  involves rubber gloves.

So why do it?

Well we are visiting wild and remote places, the kind of places you have to walk to. Places with no garbage collection service and your rubbish goes onto the village dump just out of town. A system that has been in place forever and that used to work.plastic pollurion mabul featured

But in the old days of course most trash was biodegradable, animals ate some of  it, the rest would compost down, it was safe to burn and the ashes could be used as fertilizer. The system was not perfect, but people have lived like this for centuries and maintained  sustainable landscapes. The introduction of plastic rubbish has changed everything. Because most plastics  do not biodegrade plastic lasts for a long time  possibly for ever. It cannot be eaten, does not rot or compost down and it is difficult to burn.

You can see some photos of plastic pollution in remote tourist places on our Facebook page Planet Trash 

When it does eventually break up or degrade, it only breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic. It cannot be left in the landscape as before. Basically every bit of plastic rubbish has to be collected up and specially disposed of either by being  buried in landfill, incinerated or recycled.

Whatever your method of plastic disposal, it requires amongst other things a decent infrastructure, some roads, machinery, power, vehicles and a lot of cash. You don’t get that the places we go. So  now the ditches alongside the rice paddies are choked with plastic crisp bags, the beaches littered with plastic water bottles and  plastic bags cover huge swathes of land. Many communities can only deal with their plastic waste by burning it. Evil smelling bonfires of smoldering plastic trash are now as much a part of the backpacker experience as tinkling temple bells. These filthy fires add to air pollution and global warming and worse; certain types of plastic, when burnt release release extremely toxic carcinogens.

Bali rubbish featuredAnimals that forage amongst the rubbish for food will often accidentally eat plastic. Which is a poor diet and sometimes a fatal one. Here are a few facts;

If plastic trash is not dumped, rubbish is often thrown into rivers to be carried off down to the sea.   Encyclopedia Brittanica states, “it has been estimated that 6.4 million tons of debris end up in the world’s oceans every year and that some 60 to 80 percent of that debris, or 3.8 to 5 million tons, is improperly discarded plastic litter “. In our years of travelling we have seen plastic pollution increase massively and we  don’t want to add to that pile of everlasting, carcinogenic, potentially lethal trash. That is why we travel plastic-less.

Here’s how.

Top Tips

DON’T Buy bottled water.You may not need to – check out this site that tells you if the water is safe to drink

If it isn’t use a Steripen  to purify  water.   . This fantastic bit of kit works by UV light, weighs next to nothing, is tiny and purifies water in 90 seconds…. if you bought only one thing. Of course you will also  need a refillable water bottle

We shop at local markets and bakeries for unpacked tasty plastic free snacks and we  take our own bags to put them in – including a reusable carrier bag and produce bags. . Because so much street food comes in disposable plastic we take

We don’t use plastic packed toiletries provided. Instead we use our own including;

More

You can see everything in our pack right here…..

Links to suppliers in the posts….

The backpackers coffee press

I love coffee and I carry my own coffee making equipment with me when backpacking, (yes really I do), but ...
Read More

Headscarf homemade

Made while backpacking! I hate the sun on my head so I need to wear a covering of some sort ...
Read More

How to travel plastic free

Crossing land borders in South East Asia has been unusually stressful this trip thanks to the big bag of  white ...
Read More

Glasses / Tumblers/ Pint Pots

When we go travelling, camping, partying or picniking, we take our own steel tumblers for wine and other beverages. They ...
Read More

Lunch box or tiffin tin

Street food in Asia is good and cheap but sadly now involves a lot of plastic. These days it is ...
Read More

Talcum Powder

Suffering from sweaty, itchy bits ? Try this tropical talc in metal tins. It soothes and calms and leaves no ...
Read More

Chop Sticks Folding

The curse of the plastic chopstick wrapper means that eating plastic-free South East Asian style  can be hard work. So ...
Read More

Cups BYO

Any one lucky enough to see the photos of Vladimir Putin bare-chested in camo  will have some idea just how ...
Read More

Cutlery – travel

The buffet cars on Polish trains are so cute. They are relatively modern but have an old-fashioned feel. Perhaps it’s ...
Read More

Water steriliser – SteriPEN

Its easy to give up bottled water in England but what of when you are abroad? in countries where the ...
Read More

Menstrual internal protection reusable

Products to deal with menstruation are plastic heavy  ( see some stats). They are made from plastic, come wrapped in plastic, ...
Read More

Carrier Bags reusable

Cotton string bags are fantastic. These are my best bags and I use them most of the time. They have ...
Read More

Amazon

One of the real joys of buying #plasticfree is sourcing the stuff in local shops. The excitement when you see milk in glass bottle in the newsagents is beyond words.

However sometime you have to buy on line. Most of the products featured have an online option to buy. Though we try to link with business we know we cannot always do this. Then we try to find a similar product on Amazon.

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.

Steripen Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier - Black/Green SteriPEN UV Traveler Mini Opti TRMO-MM-GF Water Purifier Silver / Black Steripen Traveler 3 in 1 Handheld UV Water Purifier
Steripen Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water …
£76.48
SteriPEN UV Traveler Mini Opti TRMO-MM-GF W… Steripen Traveler 3 in 1 Handheld UV Water …
£43.63
Steripen FitsAll Filter Steripen Classic Pre-Filter Pack Portable UV Water Purifier - White/Blue Klean Kanteen 18oz Reflect Mirrored
Steripen FitsAll Filter
£12.99
Steripen Classic Pre-Filter Pack Portable U…
£57.86
Klean Kanteen 18oz Reflect Mirrored
£18.80
Klean Kanteen Reflect-Mirrored-27 oz / 800 ml Square Indian-Tiffin Box Stainless Steel with Additional Container Yellowstone 300Ml Stainless Steel Mug
Klean Kanteen Reflect-Mirrored-27 oz / 800 ml
£25.79
Square Indian-Tiffin Box Stainless Steel wi…
£9.99
Yellowstone 300Ml Stainless Steel Mug
£4.53
Sustainable Bamboo Drinking Straws - 12 Pack Lifeventure Knife, Fork, Spoon Folding Cutlery Set Travel Stainless Steel Foldable Pocket Chopsticks Silver Tone Pair
Sustainable Bamboo Drinking Straws – 12 Pack
£14.95
Lifeventure Knife, Fork, Spoon Folding Cutl…
£13.89
Travel Stainless Steel Foldable Pocket Chop…
£2.51

 

 

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Glasses / Tumblers/ Pint Pots

When we go travelling, camping, partying or picniking, we take our own steel tumblers for wine and other beverages. They don’t smash like glass and are light weight and easy to carry.

Tumblers

These glass size tumblers are great.  We got ours in India. You can often find something similar in Indian/Asian shops.

Pint Pots

At festivals we like to drink pints. But they often come in plastic. Forget festivals even. In the U.K. there is a worrying trend in pubs to serve drinks in plastic pots, especially if you are drinking outside. It is really horrid. So we need to take our own pint pots out with us and preferably something that won’t break in our bag and cant be used in a street fight!

We did consider buying a Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint Cup. This holds just under a pint and is made of stainless steel BUT we had serious reservations that have prevented a purchase.  First it’s not quite a pint, second it is imported from America and finally they are very expensive. The cheapest is being sold  £7.95 per glass.  Not that green and frankly over our budget.

So we stopped going to festivals (increasingly more than we can afford) and try to drink in pubs that serve in glasses.

Glogg Pots

However Glogg felt our pain and came up with some  proper, U.K pint pots made from stainless steel, right here in England. And at £5.00 a pot – just about affordable! Wahey!

This is from the website….

Sustainable

  • Stainless steel is the no-compromise alternative to disposable paper or reusable plastic cups
  • Diverts landfill waste with each use

Durable

  • Can be reused indefinitely
  • Won’t deteriorate over time

Safe

  • Constructed from certified 304L food grade stainless steel
  • Won’t shatter like glass or shard like plastic

UK Designed and Made

  • Quality, without compromise
  • Supporting British jobs, skills and industry
  • Reduced environmental impact compared to Far East imports
  • UK trading standards compliant for sale of alcoholic drinks

Buy

You can buy from  the website…. or via Amazon.

Onward Packaging 

I wrote to them about their packaging and here’s the reply

Our pint cups have taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to turn into a reality and we are immensely proud of them!

All cups bought from our website just come in a cardboard posting box with no extra packaging at all. While we are not wholly against plastic, we are very much against waste of any kind and it just isn’t necessary to send people packaging they are simply going to send to landfill. Of course, the box can be reused or recycled.

We do also sell through Amazon fulfilment centres and, unfortunately, cups sent to Amazon have to be in plastic bags to comply with their regulations. We never purchase plastic though, we always reuse bags from elsewhere. The local printers we work with often have products that come to them individually packaged but that don’t need to be repackaged once printed, so we use bags that they no longer need. We know it isn’t ideal but it is the best we can do to avoid waste.

Hopefully that tells you what you need to know but feel free to come back to me at any point with any other questions.

Using Them

There is of course no guarantee that you can use them in the pub of your choice. Pubs often have funny ideas about using and then reusing pint pots. But the more of us keep on asking the more likely change is. See you at the bar!

More

If none of the above suit I have tried to source some alternatives. 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.

Plastic Reusable Branded Glasses Featured Branded Cups

If you are having a big party or event you might consider theses reusable branded cups. Yes they are plastic but they get reused throughout the night and can be kept at the end as a keepsake. A great compromise where glass cannot be used but disposables are just too wasteful.

Compostable Disposables

If you really must use disposables here are some compostable options….

More

If none of the above suit I have tried to source some alternatives. 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, I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…

Do note – I have not used these myself  so I cannot say how well they perform or what the onward packaging is like. You will have to check with the suppliers. Any one who has tried them, can review them or can recommend some other great product please do  leave a comment.  Together we can make changes.

Primeshop-30ml Stainless Steel Tumblers Glasses Drinking Cups for Camping Garden BBQ
Primeshop-30ml Stainless Steel Tumblers Gla…
InterDesign Polished Stainless Steel Forma Tumbler Audi Stainless Steel Tumbler Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint Cup - 473ml/16oz
InterDesign Polished Stainless Steel Forma …
£10.49
Audi Stainless Steel Tumbler Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint Cup – 47…
£8.48
Not quite a pint, pint tumbler. Read the reviews.
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 may one day get an affiliation fee. That’s not why we do it. Good job as we never have made enough to get paid. We do it to show what is available

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Lunch box or tiffin tin

Street food in Asia is good and cheap but sadly now involves a lot of plastic. These days it is mostly served in polystyrene (Styrofoam), clam shells. We don’t want to give up street food but don’t want to add to the rubbish.

Our solution is tiffin boxes. They come in all sizes are just great for taking you rice and numerous curries to work with you or, in our case eating out  at street stalls.

We got ours in China and they are an essential part of our plastic free travel kit.

We have tried several types of tiffin tin including  a two tier sandwich box handy for  bits and bobs, a big bucket of a thing with a tightly fitting but not waterproof lid and a small round tin.

We use them for

  • fried rice and snacks
  •  juice in plastic obsessed Thailand.
  • heat water in when we need to make our own emergency tea.
  • as a cooking pot out in the jungle.

Other plastic free aids we carry include tin cups and folding cutlery and reusable folding chop sticks. Yes we clank but we don’t leave behind rubbish with a lifespan of centuries. And if that sounds smug….don’t care.

If you want to buy in the U.K. they can be found in all good Asian Shops, numerous green shops on line and of course Amazon.

Here’s the rest of our plastic free travel kit and our new travel page showing where we’ve been what we found and how we did it plastic free.


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Chop Sticks Folding

The curse of the plastic chopstick wrapper means that eating plastic-free South East Asian style  can be hard work. So too can carrying full size chopsticks – they are too long and pointy for comfort. So it’s a big cheer for the clever Chinese for these push and click “folding” chopsticks.

Open them up slide them together and they are full size sticks. Pull them apart and seal them in the handy carrying pouch and they are easily transportable little things of beauty. Made of stainless steel and wood they look and feel good.

They are also  great for taking to places closer to home where they give you those disposable chopsticks.

We got ours in Beijing but you can of course get them on Amazon.

Lifeventure Knife, Fork, Spoon Folding Cutlery Set Travel Stainless Steel Foldable Pocket Chopsticks Silver Tone Pair
Lifeventure Knife, Fork, Spoon Folding Cutl… Travel Stainless Steel Foldable Pocket Chop…

 

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 in the posts.  They link direct  to the suppliers.  Do consider buying from them and support their online businesses.

If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…

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 these links are for 3rd party sellers, we have always found the Amazon service to be good and their packaging usually compostable. In the absence of anything else we feel we can recommend them.

If you buy a product via this link we do get an affiliation fee for this. That’s not why we do it.

More

Also useful is folding cutlery and tiffin tins. Here’s the rest of our plastic free travel kit

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Cups BYO

Any one lucky enough to see the photos of Vladimir Putin bare-chested in camo  will have some idea just how butch the Russians can be. A fact reinforced by the number of camping shops in Moscow selling rugged man’s stuff. And they don’t get much more rugged than this tin cup, double wall construction and complete with sturdy clip to attach it to your rucksack. So I got one.

I take a reusable cup travelling with me because  I am highly dependant on take out. I don’t want to use plastic cups and so-called paper cups are plastic lined so I take my own cup and use that instead.

I have to say, as reusable cups go, this one is as good as Vlad on horseback – and you can’t get better than that!

But reusable cups are not just for travellers.

A report conducted jointly by the Alliance for Environmental Innovation and Starbucks found that 1.9 billion cups were used by Starbucks in 2000.[5] In 2006, Starbucks reported that this figure had grown to 2.3 billion cups for use at their stores.[6]

And just recently the Guardian reported that “A conservative estimate puts the number of paper cups handed out by coffee shops in the UK at 3bn, more than 8m a day with only  one in 400 is being recycled.

You can read more about disposable cups here

Good enough reasons to take your own reusable cup to the coffee shop.

Buy

I don’t know if you can buy such a good cup in the effeminate, decadent West but you will find something in outdoor shops that might do. Most do a good range of camping cups.

More Options

I have not used these myself  so I cannot say how well they perform or what the onward packaging is like. You will have to check with the suppliers. Any one who has tried them, can review them or can recommend some other great product please do  leave a comment.  Together we can make changes.

Some of the products featured may come plastic packed or even be made of plastic. They are included because if a product reduces the consumption of plastic disposables or packaging waste then, we feel,  there is a strong justification for using it. You read more about using plastic to cut plastic here.

Reusable silicon cups with lid

They wont break in your bag and will save the planet – result. You can buy them from Onya – the people who do the mesh produce bags.

Heres some blurb from them

Did you know you can take your own reusable coffee cup to most coffee shops?  They will fill it instead of the usual disposable one and some of them even offer you a discount! red_lge

Features:

• Foodgrade silicone cup/lid

• Eco friendly and reusable

• Dishwasher safe

• Withstands up to 200ºC heat

• Cool to the touch

• byocup and lids are not available separately.

The byocup silicone story

We are conscious of the fact that manufacturing reusable cups also   has an environmental impact, so we have put a process in place to    recycle the cup responsibly.

At the end of its life as a byocup, please return it to us and we   will forward it to a silicone recycler in India who will turn it into   charity bracelets or key rings.

Ceramic Cup

If you don’t like the sound of that or prefer something ceramic try the I am not a paper cup – a pottery cup with reusable silicon lid.

I know it looks like a polystyrene version but thats the joke. It’s also double wall construction so it will keep your drink hot and your hands cool. Shame about the plastic packaging! You can buy them here.

notpapercup-pr

Catalogue

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. Coffee Evolution were doing take away ceramic cups for instance.

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

If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…

 

Yellowstone 300Ml Stainless Steel Mug Creative Tops Katie Alice Cottage Flower Doubled Walled Porcelain Travel Mug with Silcone Lid Glass Mason Jars
Yellowstone 300Ml Stainless Steel Mug
£3.24
Creative Tops Katie Alice Cottage Flower Do…
£9.05
Glass Mason Jars
Aladdin 31843 Double-Walled Drinking Cup with Handle 0.47 Litres Helikon Swedish Army Folding Cup Camping Hiking Olive Primeshop-30ml Stainless Steel Tumblers Glasses Drinking Cups for Camping Garden BBQ
Aladdin 31843 Double-Walled Drinking Cup wi…
£16.88
Helikon Swedish Army Folding Cup Camping Hi…
£3.95
Primeshop-30ml Stainless Steel Tumblers Gla…
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. That’s not why we do it.

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Cutlery – travel

The buffet cars on Polish trains are so cute. They are relatively modern but have an old-fashioned feel. Perhaps it’s that they have tables, serve proper meals and the order is taken by uniformed staff. Even the food, while not being actually good, is acceptable. Proper cooked dinners of the meat and two veg variety. Yes it’s more canteen food than fine dining, but as most fast food in Britain doesn’t even meet that low standard we were satisfied.

We were not so pleased with the table ware -. Plastic cutlery arghh. Luckily we had planned for just such a contingency and brought our own knife fork and spoon. Of the folding variety. Not just for trains, if you want to backpack plastic free through Europe these are essential for the street fairs selling yummy food.These folding forks have enabled us to enjoy shovel up fried potatoes and spear a sausages guilt free..

You will also need your own tiffin tins to put the food in.

Ours have plastic handles and come in a polyester carry case. Plus they came in very plasticky packaging. But They were a gift and a kind thought.

I have  since seen less plasticky versions them for sale at camping shops so do shop around.

Folding chopsticks are also very handy.

And here’s the rest of our plastic free travel kit

Lifeventure Knife, Fork, Spoon Folding Cutlery Set Travel Stainless Steel Foldable Pocket Chopsticks Silver Tone Pair
Lifeventure Knife, Fork, Spoon Folding Cutl… Travel Stainless Steel Foldable Pocket Chop…

 

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 in the posts.  They link direct  to the suppliers.  Do consider buying from them and support their online businesses.

If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…

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 these links are for 3rd party sellers, we have always found the Amazon service to be good and their packaging usually compostable. In the absence of anything else we feel we can recommend them.

If you buy a product via this link we do get an affiliation fee for this. That’s not why we do it.

 

 

 

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Water steriliser – SteriPEN

Its easy to give up bottled water in England but what of when you are abroad? in countries where the water is not so reliable? India for example.

I have travelled a lot in India and over the years have seen plastic pollution rise to horrific levels. A lot of that plastic rubbish is empty drinking water bottles many of them discarded by tourists. I refuse to drink bottled water because I don’t want to add to the plastic pollution.

But you might also want to consider this;  some of the drinking water bottles in India, claiming to contain purified water have been refilled with tap water. There are recurring reports about this and  it seems to be a fairly common scam. Empty water bottles are collected, refilled with tap water (if you are lucky), and the cap glued back on. To quote from but one source, “You cannot rely on the bottled water available in public places in India, because of the rampant refilling of used bottled water bottles by the racketeers in India.”

So what to do? The steri pen is my solution to that particular problem. Stick the sticky bit in a liter of water – switch on and 90 seconds later the water is safe to drink. Works by UV light.UV light destroys virtually all viruses, bacteria and protozoa. It weighs next to nothing and is tiny.

It kills

Viruses

A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.

  • Hepatitis

Bacteria

Bacteria are microscopic living organisms, usually one-celled, that can be found everywhere.

  • Campylobacter
  • Cholera –
  • Escherichia coli –E coli
  • Legionella –
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella

Protozoa

Protozoan parasites live in the cells and tissues of other living creatures. Protozoans can cause problems, from targeting the central nervous system to diarrhea.

  • Cryptosporidium
  • Giardia

It Does Not Filter Water

This is not a filtration system. It does not remove  other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, chlorine or physical dirt. You have to find clear water. I usually use it on tap water or fresh water.

Effective?

I have used it the world over to sterilise tap water and river water.  I had no tummy troubles at all – which was rather a shame as I was depending on a bout of Delhi Belly to help with my weight loss programme.

Charging It Solar, Battery or USB?

You can choose from solar, battery operated or USB rechargeable Steripens. I have tried them all. The solar charger was way to slow and I quickly had to find an alternative. However that was some time ago and things might have improved. The battery powered was the only option available to me when I bought my first PEN. The batteries (CR123) can sometimes be hard to find abroad though of course it very much depends on where you are. On the plus side the batteries do last a long time ( longer than a charge), but they do present disposal problems and it is not always possible to find a safe place to bin them.

This time I went for the rechargeable Freedom PEN which can be charged via a USB port. I am pleased with it. It holds the charge for days though that obviously depends on how much water you sterilise.

Other Benefits

On a long trip it soon pays for itself and then goes on to save you a considerable sum

You never run out of water. You may not be able to buy water or boil it. That’s the time you are glad you got a SteriPEN.

It doesn’t change the taste of the water – which is not always a plus point!

More

You will need a water bottle with a wide neck to accommodate the width of the PEN as it needs to be submerged in water.

It will do 1 or 1/2 a litre of water at a time. Get a bottle that is one or the other. We found half a litre of water each was as much as we needed to carry.  With a PEN we can always sterilise more when needed.

For more information visit the steriPEN site and check out great reviews of the product here and here.

Find out all about refill points, filters and other water related information here.

Buy

You can buy a SteriPEN in the UK  at shops, on line and of course Amazon.

Travel Plasticfree

Here’s the rest of our plastic free travel stuff and useful tips

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Menstrual internal protection reusable

Products to deal with menstruation are plastic heavy  ( see some stats). They are made from plastic, come wrapped in plastic, block drains and dirty the sea shore. You really don’t want that kind of rubbish inside you, your bin or your environment. The way to cut your trash is to get a menstrual cup.

Menstrual Cup

This is  little cup that you use internally. It collects the flow and is then emptied washed and reused. Before you squeal and scream read this series of posts by one of the best environemental writers around.

Really, try them, they are easy peasy and the slight inconvenience is more than compensated for by the increased comfort factor. They are far more pleasant  then other internal protection.

Some of the many advantages include

  • Never run out of protection
  • No need to take your bag to the loo with you
  • Great for travelling in wild and rugged places
  • No need to put of dirty, plastic sanitary items in the bin next to the loo.
  • Much more comfortable
  • Saves you loads of money
  • Don’t see your pantyliner out on the beach

Choose

I like Moon cups  – made from silicone check out the site for more info. You can buy Mooncups in shops including

English: Fleurcup menstrual cup (large size); ...

Boot’s. If you want to get them on line try Ethical Superstore or Amazon 

Rubber

Natural rubber cups are available from Australia.They are  called, rather dungeons and dragon like, The Keeper. It’s the  same principle as the Mooncup  but made of  natural rubber rather than silicone. They will ship,  see their website

Other Options

For those of you who cant face the thought of fiddling around, there are lots of alternatives here

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Carrier Bags reusable

Cotton string bags are fantastic. These are my best bags and I use them most of the time. They have many virtues including:

  • When empty, they fold up really small, but they can carry a ludicrous amount of shopping.
  • Their soft handles do not cut into my fingers.
  • They are fully biodegradable.
  • They are organic &  fair-trade
  • Long lasting

I bought mine from Organic Ally”

She sells bags with either long or short handles.
The short handles are great for supermarket runs, the long handled bags can be hung off your shoulder for more leisurely shopping – I don’t like them as much as the short.

Bought in bulk i.e. numbers of 5 they are cheap – from around £4.00 a bag inc vat and shipping. You can mix and match bulk orders so you have a combination of short and long handled bags.

knitted-bag

Or you could be uber-green and knit your own string bag – lovely bare foot person has posted a pattern for cotton yarn and a knitting machine

Fold Up Bags

The only downside to string bags is that they are full of holes which means that they are see through and they do not fold up up as small as the opaque  nylon fold up bags

onya bagI like Onya bags …..BUT they are made from a synthetic fibre RPET

WHAT IS RPET?

Post consumer bottles are collected from recycling plants and spun into yarn. From this yarn comes the fabric that makes Onya Bags.

So, you might think, plastic bad…. but recycling good.Well yes – but I have to tell you I would have bought them anyway. In fact I have other nylon fold up bags that are not made from bottles.

Why?

Well man-made fabric is not only slightly more waterproof and opaque, it folds up really small. When packed up, these bags are the size of a golf ball, much lighter and come with a clip so they can be attached to your handbag or husband.

I haven’t found a natural fibre bag that is as good at folding, weighs so little or dries as quickly.

They can be carried round at all the times making them an ideal just- in -case bag for impulse purchases.

Moreover because they dry so fast they don’t get mouldy. This makes them perfect for taking on holidays and backpacking trips where laundry facilities are not of the best and space is limited.

chico-bag.jpgOnyabags (UK)

Onyabags also do, amongst other things, a messenger bag, a really handy fold up rucksack and mesh produce bags.

If you live in the USA, Chico bags do a similar thing.