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sugru – mending plastic

sugru“What if you could fix, modify or make almost anything? That’s why we invented sugru.”

and I have long been a fan! It is high up there in my plastic2cutplastic category. That is a product with plasticky elements that helps to ultimately reduce your plastic use. Sugru is a  rubbery stuff that can be hand moulded and used in dry or wet, hot and cold situations to mend (or adapt) all manner of things especially plastic products that are getting a bit wobbly. I hardly need stress the advantages but here’s a copy of the press release any way….

“sugru was created by a young product designer on a mission to empower people who want to repair and enhance their products. It moulds like play dough, sticks to almost anything and turns into a strong flexible rubber overnight.Adopted by people in over 150 countries, there are simply thousands of uses for sugru, from modifying kit on expeditions to the North Pole through to homeowners making small improvements to gadgets, appliances and even toys.” You can read more here..

It really does work! I have used it to mend chargers saving them from landfill and me the cost of buying new.

Also to seal a gap in the wooden trim above the kitchen sink. Better looking than shiny silicone seal, easier to use and far less packaging.

As packaging goes, yes they do come in plastic lined foil sachets but they are packed in a cardboard envelope so the packaging is minimal and necessary to keep the product from drying out.

sugru is available at a wide range of retailers including B&Q and Wilko as well as online at sugru.com.

Because it is so darn handy it will come as no surprise that sugru are also supporting Waste Less Live More Week of which I am a proud partner.

Bit more press release…

“Inventor and CEO of sugru, Jane ni Dhulchaointigh is also looking forward to the challenge: ‘being resourceful brings a little bit of creative thinking into everyday life and I love that! We designed sugru to be easy to use in the hope that it might encourage people not only to reduce waste but to feel more confident and creative about fixing and improving things too. The Waste Less Live More challenge is a brilliantly easy way for people to make small changes… and if enough of us do those small things, it could make a big difference.”

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Yogurt & Yogurt makers

Yogurt comes in plastic pots  and I of course refuse to use one use disposables. So the pots have to go,but who can live without yogurt? Not us, so I had to learn how to make my own.

I had heard of how you could make it in a flask but I just ended up with curds and whey and an evil-smelling flask. Then Husband remembered how they used to make it back in the village  of his birth. He ended up with curds and whey and evil-smelling blankets.

So I bought me an Easy Yo Yogurt maker – – really easy – just mix the contents of the sachet with water – yes that’s right – the plastic foil sachet that came in the plastic packed box. Didnt think it through. Not best pleased – it did make very good yogurt though. If only they sold the mix in a jar – or cardboard box. Ho hum back to the drawing board.

And maybe it might be worth doing some in depth research:

So What Is Yogurt

Milk like everything else is full of bacteria. Even pasteurised milk as pasteurisation only kills a certain percentage of bacteria in milk. After a time these bacteria start to multiply. Some bacteria cause milk to go bad, others can turn it to yoghurt. Depending on which gains the upper hand, the end result can be evil smelling gunk or a tasty snack.

The main (starter) cultures or bacteria needed to turn milk into yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

These are used to ferment the lactose (milk sugar) in milk. This results in lactic acid which decreases the pH, and breaks down the cell membranes so the proteins clump together and form the soft gel or as we know it, yoghurt.
Yoghurt is actually a very soft cheese.

If the yoghurt making bacteria are dominant they multiply and consume the food supply (milk sugars) starving out other bacteria, including the type that makes milk go off

Traditional yogurt has a high acid content, which many bacteria cannot survive in which is another reason yogurt stays fresh longer than milk.

Making Yogurt

The yoghurt making process is one of favouring certain bacterias over the others. This is done by killing off existing bacteria, introducing yogurt making bacteria, the starter culture, then ensuring that conditions suit the growth of that bacteria.

You will need…

milk 1 liter
starter culture (bacteria) 3 tablespoons of live yogurt or a powdered starter – see below for more details
a way to heat the milk
a food thermometer
A container for your yoghurt.
a way to keep the yogurt at a warm and constant temperature.

Chose your Milk
To make yoghurt you need milk proteins and milk sugars – milk in other words. But which milk?
I use Pasteurized milk from the milk man. Check out this list of people who deliver milk in glass bottles.
Ultra-pasteurized is said to be too sterile(I don’t know why that matters if you are introducing the culture), raw milk I don’t work with.
The milk can be whole or reduced-fat.
Or a mixture of the two.
Adding dry milk powder will increase the amount of whey protein and create a richer textured yogurt. See where you can buy loose powdered milk here.
Cream apparently doesn’t work at all.

Pasteurize the Milk
The milk mixture needs to be heated to 185°F (85°C) for 30 minutes or at 203°F (95°C) for 10 minutes. Which means you warm the milk to just below boiling on the stove, maintain the temperature keeping an eye on it all the while.
Some recipes say for half an hour though many say less time is needed.
This serves 2 functions:
First it breaks down the milk proteins resulting in a more stable yoghurt
Secondly it kills off any unwanted bacteria already present in the milk.
N.B. Even Pasteurization of milk only kills a certain percentage of bacteria in milk.

Cool Milk
Put the milk into your containers.
Allow the milk is cool to 108°F (42°C) the ideal growth temperature for the yoghurt making bacteria, (starter culture).

Add bacteria
Now add your Starter Culture. This usually a dollop of live yogurt though you can buy starter culture in other forms. more on this below.

Mix well

Allow To Ferment
The mixture now has be kept at 108°F (42°C) until a pH 4.5 is reached allowing fermentation to take place. Fermentation results in the soft gel known as yogurt. This process can take several hours. Too hot or too cold and your bacteria won’t work.
You have to find a reliable way to keep your mixture warm and at a stable temperature.

Ways to keep warm
an electric yogurt maker,
an insulated container or flask
an oven with just the light
a food dehydrator
Lots of blankets

To check the yogurt is ready, try tilting the pot. If it moves as one you have made yogurt.Yay. If it separates into liquid and solids the bacteria has run out of food.

The longer you let your yoghurt ferment the more acid it becomes and the more tart the taste.

Cool
To stop the fermentation process cool the mixture to 7°C.

Starter Cultures

The yogurt starter can be made from live yogurt bought from a shop. make sure it says “live cultures.
You can  use your own homemade live yogurt as a starter culture.
You can buy starter cultures as a powder. These are from Amazon. Obviously the packaging contains some plastic but so does a pot of yogurt.

Trouble Shooting

Theoretically you should be able to use your own home made live yoghurt to make more yoghurt indefinitely However we find that after a while our home made live yoghurt seems to loose its strength and we cannot make more using this batch. So every few weeks we need to buy a new container of yogurt for a fresh culture.

This is because the bacteria is weak, possibly dead

One solution is the freeze a fresh batch as soon as the yogurt is made. This keeps your bacteria feisty.

Keeping it warm. If you dont have a constant heat source,  yogurt making can be tricky. I tried putting it in the oven and making it in a flask but the results were too variable. finally got me an electric yogurt maker from Lakeland – mail order. The yogurt is made in a plastic container -BPA free for those of you worried about leaching chemicals. It works really well. So although it is a plastic product I feel it is worth it as it cuts our overall plastic consumption. It does make good yogurt and is very easy to use. If you are busy I would recommend getting one of these.

Update

Trying Homemade Again Since then VB has re-learnt his yogurt making skills and now makes it in a pan which he leaves wrapped in a blanket overnight. Completely plastic free.

Reusing the Easy Yo And if you check the comments you will find out how to make yogurt using hot water and how to use the Easy Yo yogurt maker without purchasing more sachets.

More

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the only 2 cultures required by law  to be present in live yogurt.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus subsp. casei, and Bifido-bacteria are probiotic cultures. These, it is claimed, help improve  lactose digestion, gastrointestinal function, and stimulate the immune system.

There are yogurts that culture at room temperature, which is even easier!

Find other plasticfree recipes here.

About The Alternatives

and raw materials for making plastic-free products

PLASTIC SPOILER

Some of the below  will come plastic packaged. As I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise. It still represents a huge decrease in plastic consumption.

Fatty Acids – Oils, Butters & Waxes

Fossil fuel oil is slippery is very versatile. As well being the base for most plastics and driving our cars ...
Read More

Essential Oils

Essential oils have gone from being an obscure aspect of botany to an all round marketing  ‘good thing’.  Almost every ...
Read More

Natural fabrics explored

The more I sew the more I realise all fabrics are not the same - even if they go under ...
Read More

Which fabric….

In April I am going to be trawling through my wardrobe, ( such as it is). here is some background ...
Read More

Natural Fibres & Bristles

A  guide to natural and biodegradable fibres that are safe to compost and can be  washed without shedding tiny plastic microfibres ...
Read More

Glass

Things to consider when choosing glass packaging as oppose to plastic What is glass  Glass is made from sand, soda ...
Read More

Vinegar

Vinegar is great. You can use it for all kinds of things and is almost plastic free to buy. Vinegar is ...
Read More

Bicarbonate Of Soda

This one product can replace hundreds of plastic bottles on your shelves. It does biodegrade. However there are issues about ...
Read More

Rapeseed Oil

Rapeseed (Brassica Napus) or rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed is the bright yellow flowering plant grown in swathes all over ...
Read More

Palm Oil

While I was in Malaysia I got to see some orangutangs. Most of them were in the rehabilitation center which ...
Read More

More

See how to make all kinds of plastic-free food, clothes makeup and other stuff 

Other basic products that can help you live plastic free and information about them can be found here…. – useful to know tag.

 

 

 

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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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How to…menstruate plastic free

Why?

Along with cotton buds, tampons, applicators and panty liners make up 7.3 % of items flushed down the toilet in the UK.
For every kilometre of beach included in the Beachwatch survey weekend in 2010, 22.5 towels/panty liners/backing strips, and 8.9 tampon applicators, were found.
About 90% of the materials used to make sanitary pads and liners are plastic and include polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate super absorbents.
Every year, over 45 billion feminine hygiene products are disposed of somewhere.
Read more here

How

There is no doubt menstruation can be a grubby business. So three cheers for the mooncup using, reusable wearing, all green and lovely ladies of clean. Here’s what they use

Resuables

Because of the nature of the product, where it has to go and what it has to do the options do contain some plastic. Shop bought reusable pads may be made of synthetic fibres and have a waterproof backing (though some don’t). Silicone is non biodegradable and very plastic like.  But they are reusable and so cut your plastic consumption by massive amounts. You can find out lots more via the product links.

Reusable menstrual pads / sanitary towel. They are as they sound. Reusable pad you wash after use. You can buy them ready made from smaller suppliers on Esty to bigger  mainstream companies. You can even make them yourself. Read more here – buy or make Reusable menstrual pads / sanitary towel

Internal / Menstrual Cup  –  This is  little silicone or rubber cup that you use internally. It collects the flow and is then emptied washed and reused. Before you squeal and scream read this

Disposables

Not only do towels and tampons come wrapped in plastic, the fibres used to make them are often synthetic plastic. About 90% of the materials used to make sanitary pads and liners are plastic and include polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate super absorbents. Natracare to a great range of  almost plastic free menstrual products. Try these

Tampon with applicator made from organic cotton with a cardboard applicator in a paper wrapper.

Other Interesting Options 

About which I know very little

Sea Sponges 

There’s an interesting read  here with instructions on how to make your own  and  reviews of ready made here.

Buy Local First

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.

Buy from independent online traders

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.

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

Gladrags Menstrual Color Cotton Pads - 3 - Pack Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size B 1pieces Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size A 1pieces
Gladrags Menstrual Color Cotton Pads – 3 – …
£18.67
Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size B 1pieces
£19.99
Comes in 2 sizes – check before you buy you can read a review on http://plasticisrubbish.com/2010/01/03/lady-stuff/
Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size A 1pieces
£19.99
Natracare Regular Pads Natracare Organic All Cotton Tampons With Applicator - Regular 16 Reusable Hemp Sanitary Towel
Natracare Regular Pads
£1.90 – £18.27
Natracare Organic All Cotton Tampons With A…
£2.59
see review on our website http://plasticisrubbish.com/2014/06/26/tampons-with-applicator/
Reusable Hemp Sanitary Towel
Reusable Cotton Sanitary Towel - Flowers & Birds The Busy Woman's Guide to Cloth Pads GladRags Color Day Pad
Reusable Cotton Sanitary Towel – Flowers &a… The Busy Woman’s Guide to Cloth Pads
by Tracy Puhl
GladRags Color Day Pad
£6.00 –
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.

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Juice and juicers

I can easily avoid juice screw top lids, and plastic lined tetra packs, by making my own juice.

Now I have been putting this off for a while because I thought it would take a lot of  labour and time . Don’t like the first and don’t have enough of the latter. But I have heard so much good about fresh juice and juicing recently I began to think it might be worth it.

And our tree is covered with apples no good for eating but if I juice them then maybe. Well at worst I could make cider surely??

So I bought a Philips Juicer and though there was some plastic wrapping most of the protective  gubbins was cardboard. Result.

Better still it is really easy to use and clean. No peeling no seeding chuck the fruit in.

Since then I have been juicing everything – really I mean everything. Both  fruit and veg are quickly reduced liquid and its great for using up things – bit of pepper, some dried up ginger, half a lemon and a soggy tomato – in they go along with the broccoli stems and sour allotment apples. I know it sounds gross but so far it has all tasted good.

Totally recommend this product

PLASTIC ALERT

Of course the juicer has plastic elements but we don’t boycott all plastics. We think that there are some valid uses for the product ( gasp!! yes I know…you can read our reasons here). The juicer fits into the

Plastic products that reduce the use of plastic disposables

Pen Ink refillable

Here is a one of the worlds finest inventions as radical in its time as the computer has been in ours treated as a throwaway piece of rubbish

Not only am I ridding the world of plastic I am reinstating dignity to the much abused pen.

Refillable Fountain Pen

I have bought myself a fountain pen with refillable cartridge. Please note many pens use disposable plastic ink cartridges which defeats the object. DO CHECK!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fountain pen with reusable ink cartridge.

The pen is from Parker and the body is made (mostly), of stainless steel.As is the nib.

Yes the cartridge thing is plastic but it is reusable.

I have been using this pen for a while now and I like it a lot.

Bought the wrong pen?

If you have got a disposable cartridge pen you may be able to buy a refillable cartridge.  For example this one for Parker Pens. You will need to Google the make of your pen to find out.

Failing that Indestructables have a guide fro refilling throwaway cartridges. Looks time consuming and messy to me but it can be done!

Ink

The ink  comes in bottle but they do have  plastic lids. The bottles are  so cute I plan to up-cycle them when I get enough.

I don’t actually do that much writting by hand so that might take some time.

Plastic Alert

Of course the pen  has plastic elements but we don’t boycott all plastics. We think that there are some valid uses for the product ( gasp!! yes I know…you can read our reasons here).

Buy

I strongly recommend you buy from a shop. This pen is going to last you a long time! You need to get the feel of it. Besides which, pen shops are lovely.

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.

Parker Jotter Stainless Steel Chrome Trim Fountain Pen Medium Nib - Gift Boxed Parker Fountain Pen Refillable Ink Converter Parker Quink 57ml Ink Bottle Permanent - Black
Parker Jotter Stainless Steel Chrome Trim F…
£13.97
Parker Fountain Pen Refillable Ink Converter
£3.87
Parker Quink 57ml Ink Bottle Permanent – Bl…
£4.48

Biodegradable Cornstarch Pen

But I am bad with pens – years of abusing them can not be wiped out in a moment. Used to loosing them destroying them throwing them away without a backward glance means I am careless.

 

In the meantime I don’t want to lose my expensive fountain pen so  I have bought some disposable pens – pens that biodegrade. You can read about them here.

They were rubbish so now I  use a pencil…..

Read more about pens & pencils here….

 

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Bread and bread machines

Buy

As you know, most bread comes plastic wrapped. Unless you are lucky enough to  have a local bakery, and don’t work office hours, this can be problematic for the plastic free.

I do get to choose my own hours so I can go shopping in the week, and we do have a local bakers – but there is still a problem.They put their bread in plastic bags. They do have paper bags for the buns but they don’t like using them for bread. Each time I ask, they tell me the bread doesn’t fit in a paper bag. It quite clearly does and has been proven to do so on previous occasions. It is, for whatever reason, an issue with them so I don’t push it.

Most supermarkets do unwrapped rolls and will let you use your own produce bags.

However man cannot live on barm cakes alone!

Make

So I bought a bread maker which is easy to use and the bread is fantastic. There are still some plastic elements – the milk powder comes in a plastic lined packet and the yeast is plastic foil wrapped but it is a small plastic price to pay compared to pre-packed bread.

Of course the  breadmaker has plastic elements –  but we don’t boycott all plastics. We think that there are some valid uses for the product ( gasp!! yes I know…you can read our reasons here). The breadmaker fits into the plastic products that reduce the use of plastic disposables category.

More

So now our bread needs are met with a combination of buns from the co-op, a run in with the bakery when I have the time and the stamina and homemade bread.

Speciality Breads get fantastic nan breads from Maryam Bakery

Find more yummy baked things at bread, buns and biscuits

Courses & Community Made Bread

Not only do these guys do scrummylicious bread which I totally recommend, they do it for a good cause!

All quotes are taken from the website….

“LoveBread is run by bakers and volunteers who love baking bread. We want to involve the local community in providing real bread for their community.  ”

This not for profit organisation  bake handmade artisan bread for sale in  Ryecorn’s Wholefoods, Brighouse every day except Wednesday, Villa Farm Shop, Huddersfield on a Friday and Saturday and Ingfield Farm Shop, Southowram on a Friday and Saturday.

Learn to make Real Bread

Love Bread run regular workshops teaching the basics of making your first loaf to advanced techniques of shaping and flavourings.  We also run courses and training sessions for community groups and schools.

All workshops are available to book online, visit our workshop page for more information. Our workshop vouchers are now available from the bakery, market stalls or email us for more information.  We are now taking bookings for all our workshops, visit the workshop page for more details and to book your place.