Month: March 2013

Plastic to go

Coffee, anyone?

I love my coffee even when it doesn't come with a delicious "Pasteis de Belem"

I love my coffee even when it doesn’t come with a delicious “Pasteis de Belem”

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed was my coffee to go. In the cold German winters it was probably one of my favourite guilty pleasures – meaning I was aware of how bad it was for the environment, but tried to ignore my bad conscience.

So I definitely feel better now that I don’t throw away empty cups anymore. My simple alternative: A thermos cup I had been thinking of using for ages (I was just too lazy to look for it in the chaos of my cellar room). I guess it’s probably not a 100% plastic-free (though it’s mainly made out of other materials), but as I didn’t have to buy a new one, it’s a good enough compromise for me – and it’s refillable after all, which is the most important thing.

If I were ever to buy another one, I would get it secondhand from a flee-market. But those things tend to last for ages, so I guess I don’t need another one any time soon.

Best thing about this: Filling up my thermos cup at home instead of buying a coffee to go on the way saves me loads of money.

DIY cotton pads

What to do with this old t-shirt?

What to do with this old t-shirt?

My idea of the day: re-usable cotton pads made from old t-shirts. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier, as it’s so simple. All you need is an old t-shirt, scissors, string and a needle (or use your sawing machine).

Cut several circles (you can use one of your old cotton pads as a model) out of the old t-shirt and seal the edges with a few stitches. That’s all you have to do. If you don’t care too much about the look or you don’t mind that they don’t last forever, you can just cut the circles without sealing the edges. If you put moisturizer on them, they work very well as make-up remover pads. And they’re dirt cheap as well (old t-shirt=0 Euros). Put them in the wash with your other laundry and you can re-use them for a long, long time.

Cheese Louise!

Or where to find more packaging-free groceries

I found a stall at my local market selling little blocks of cheese. So there is no plastic foil or anything involved. And it comes from a cheese farm just a few kilometers away from me. Score! On top of that I found out that most market stalls that sell cheese also sell soft cheese out of buckets. So if you bring your own container, they just fill it up. And my experience at markets has always been great and people appreciate my effort to live without plastic packaging.  So I went home with a container full of soft cheese with pepper and some hard goat’s cheese with garlic and herbs.

Hello....!

Hello….!

So try it out and get some cheese from the market. It tastes better anyway!

Thirsty?

How to survive without plastic bottles

Before I went plastic-free, I’d always had a plastic water bottle in my bag. This was due to various people being worried about my wellbeing and reminding me I should drink more water. I have to admit that plastic bottles are quite handy indeed and the bottle itself hardly weighs anything. So going out with a big glass bottle of water didn’t seem like a good alternative.

What to do?

In the end, the solution was pretty easy again. As you don’t find any small glass bottles in ordinary supermarkets anymore, I went to my favourite organic supermarket and bought a 0.33 liter glass bottle of lemonade (in fact “Lemonaid”). I always refill it now. Simple! The little bit of extra weight in my bag doesn’t really bother me. There were some empty glass bottles advertised in the shop as refillable bottles, but they were about five times as expensive as they were designed to look pretty. As I don’t need pretty but handy, my little glass bottle is enough for me at the moment.

Simple!

Simple!

Prost!

Hungry yet?

A plastic-free food feast

If you don’t know what to eat this weekend, here’s an idea. Last weekend I headed to the local farmer’s market (Düsseldorfers: check out “Rheinischer Bauernmarkt” in Pempelfort) where I bought lots of seasonal veggies like beetroot, parsnip, parsley root, celery root and so on.  I also got some fresh parsley from there. The market sellers always put them in brown paper bags for you, but I just put mine in a cotton bag. I combined my meal with a few things I still had at home, which you can buy without plastic packaging in most shops: artichoke, tomatoes, flour, yeast, garlic, eggs, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, balsamic. So this is what happened to my veggie goodies:

Blogpost 16.03. 1Blogpost 16.03.

I oven-roasted the beetroot with a bit of olive oil, sea salt, rosemary and thyme until it got soft inside and crunchy on the outside. I made an olive bread (You can buy olives in glass jars at Rewe, Netto or Aldi or just get them fresh at the deli counter). I boiled and mashed the parsnip and added some fresh parsley. I cut off the top of the artichoke and filled it with tomato slices, thyme, garlic and put rosemary olive oil on top. I wrapped it in baking paper, put a string around it and left it in the oven for about 90 minutes at 200 degrees heat. When it was done I removed the tomato sugo and used it as a dip for the artichoke and the parsnip puree. It also tastes great on bread. And all this also happens to be vegan.

Last but not least I tried out a veggie schnitzel recipe from Tim Mälzer’s latest book “Greenbox” (the only dish in this meal that contains animal protein) that totally convinced me. I normally don’t like substitute stuff like veggie schnitzels and or sausages. But believe me,  this stuff is divine – I didn’t even like celery root before! I mixed mayo with balsamic and served it as a dip. Turkish ajvar (a spicy or mild pepper and aubergine paste) goes well with it, too. Yummy! You can find an English recipe here.

Blogpost 16.03. 2

A divine dish – celeriac schnitzel!

It took a bit of time to prepare everything (I spent about 2 hours in the kitchen), but it was meant to be a big Saturday meal, so I wasn’t too worried about that. In the end I got a completely plastic-free, seasonal (maybe apart from the tomato), local and almost vegan (If you leave the celery, it’s completely vegan) meal. I can definitely say I’m not too worried about not eating well during my challenge anymore.

Enjoy! Guten Appetit!

mashed parsnip

mashed parsnip

Fail…

… or how I accidentally bought plastic again

It’s been more than four weeks now and going plastic-free seems to come more natural to me. I know where to go to get certain things, how to avoid packaging and how to find or make my own alternatives. So it surprised me even more that after four weeks of being plastic-free I suddenly had to throw a piece of plastic into my bin again.

This is how the story begins: I was craving cheese really badly, but I had too little time to go to my favourite Italian deli, where the owner always happily puts the cheese in my take-away container. I also had too little time to go to the organic supermarket. And there was no market on near my place either. So I headed to the nearest supermarket, a place where I have left quite a bit of money since I moved here. This is mainly due to my laziness, as it’s literally next door.

Nowadays I can’t buy many things there anymore because they are nuts about plastic packaging. They do have a deli counter though, so I thought I would take my take-away container there and give it a try. For the first time in a while I got a negative reaction when I explained my idea. The guy behind the counter just thought it was crazy. I tried to explain and explain and explain, but he couldn’t see the point why anyone would care about packaging. He told me that if he put the cheese in my container, the people at the cash desk would have to open it again. I was like: Yeah, that’s fine. I’ve got no problem with that. But he just shook his head and said this was impossible, this would cause delays for the other people in the queue.

Then he asked me why I was so worried about the whole thing, their packaging would simply consist of a layer of wax paper and a paper bag. I was surprised, as I couldn’t remember that from my old consumer days. I could only remember those paper-plastic-mix things they used to wrap it in. So I asked him twice if it was real wax paper (which I haven’t seen since I was a child) and he confirmed it was. I was tired, let him wrap my cheese and went home. And guess what…? The so-called wax paper is fake wax paper consisting of paper and a glued layer of plastic foil.

The so-called wax paper...

The so-called wax paper…

... and what it actually consists of...

… and what it really consists of…

I know now, laziness is not an option for me anymore. I will only buy my cheese from market stalls, small delis and health stores from now on. And as their stuff normally tastes so much better anyway, I will stick to that even after the 40 days.

Lesson learned: I can’t be lazy anymore.

Upcycle…

… or what to do with old plastic bags – part 2

Last time I told you about my first attempt to do something useful with my old plastic bags. My second idea requires less social skills, but a tiny bit of creativity.

What you need: old plastic bags

What you need: old plastic bags

Et voilà!

I was baffled when I found out that you can iron two plastic bags together and that it would create a weird, hard, wax-like material you can even use for sewing. So I tried it out with one of my most creative friends who also found this interesting tutorial. We spent the entire night ironing and putting together great combinations. You don’t have to use plastic bags, you can also use plastic packaging. Before I started my plastic diet I always kept the packaging from the pappadams I bought in an Indian shop cause it looked so pretty. So now I could finally use it for something.

This is what it looks like if you iron two plastic bags together.

This is what it looks like if you iron two plastic bags together.

And another example...

And another example…

I guess you’re wondering what you can do with your ”plastic fabric”. Well, anything you can think of – Turn it into bookmarks, table sets, handbags, cosmetic bags, purses etc. I can’t wait to see the results. And if you try it out, too, let me know!

Lesson learned: With a bit of creativity useless plastic bags don’t seem that useless anymore.