Making the Swap

Many of you have made the swap to solid shampoo bars with us since 2018 (!), and we are now proud to stock a huge range of plastic, vegan and palm oil free options. The main thing we have learned along the way is that all shampoo bars are not created equal. There are two main types:

 

The Difference

The main difference is in soap based bars the main ingredient in the shampoo bars is usually Sodium Olivate, or well, soap. You will find the PH of soap is not naturally matched to human hair and this is where issues around residue and waxiness can arise from.

Soap Based Bars

When I first bought a shampoo bar several years ago, I cracked it open and was really excited about my first hair wash. However the excitement soon disappeared when I dried my hair; it felt really sticky and almost greasy. I thought that maybe I just needed to have another go, but the next 2 washes over the following couple of weeks left me with the exact same result. This came down to it being a soap based bar.

Beginning to fear that this was going to be a complete bust I fortunately turned to the internet to check out if this was normal. It seemed to be fairly common that chemical laden hair has to go through an adjustment period when swapping to a soap based solid shampoo bar. First of all, you need to really rinse well. The articles I read said that to help with this it is advisable to do a rinse with apple cider vinegar to help clarify the hair, and ensure there is no soap residue left behind. I checked out Chagrin Valley and decided to follow their recipe for a herby apple cider vinegar rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I brewed up a decent batch and decanted it into some old squeezy plastic bottles. I rinsed my hair really well and then squirted the mix all over, really rubbing it into my scalp and through the lengths. It’s optional to rinse out the mix, though sources of information did say that you can also leave it in if desried. After drying my hair felt great! It felt clean and soft and did not smell of vinegar at all. I had made enough of the rinse that I could leave several uses worth in the fridge, so for the next few washes I could just use what I had left. I chose not to use a conditioner as I didn’t feel I needed it, but if you have purchased a conditioner bar then the majority of advice says this is what your wash routine should look like:

  1. Wet hair and your shampoo bar.
  2. Either lather up your hands and apply the lather to your hair, or, if your hair is really thick, rub the bar directly onto your hair and scalp.
  3. Rinse well with water.
  4. Use an ACV rinse all over.
  5. Rinse again.
  6. Lather your conditioner bar up with water and apply it sparingly through just the ends of your hair.
  7. Rinse well.
Syndet Based Bars

Now these bars are a whole different kettle of fish. First of all, you’ll find they cost a little more. This is for a good reason. Soap based ingredients are generally much cheaper, hence why soap free bars are more expensive. However, both types of bar can last up to 3 months (if left to dry between uses). This can therefore still be a really budget friendly swap.

Since learning all about the differences since 2018, we’ve chosen to mainly stock the syndet based bars as the results are so much nicer- and the bars much easier to use. We do have a fragrance free soap based bar, which is an amazing value option and can be just fine for shorter hair or those who are willing to adjust to it. But if you’re looking for a super straightforward swap with lovely results straight away, we recommend our Hairy Jayne or Zero Waste Path ranges. The latter is actually a 2 in 1, making it even better value for money. Enjoy!

shampoo conditioner bar

 

Switching To a Solid Shampoo Bar

plastic free haircare
Making the Swap

Many of you have made the swap to solid shampoo bars with us since 2018 (!), and we are now proud to stock a huge range of plastic, vegan and palm oil free options. The main thing we have learned along the way is that all shampoo bars are not created equal. There are two main types:

  • Soap Based Shampoo Bars
  • Syndet Shampoo Bars

 

The Difference

The main difference is in soap based bars the main ingredient in the shampoo bars is usually Sodium Olivate, or well, soap. You will find the PH of soap is not naturally matched to human hair and this is where issues around residue and waxiness can arise from.

Soap Based Bars

When I first bought a shampoo bar several years ago, I cracked it open and was really excited about my first hair wash. However the excitement soon disappeared when I dried my hair; it felt really sticky and almost greasy. I thought that maybe I just needed to have another go, but the next 2 washes over the following couple of weeks left me with the exact same result. This came down to it being a soap based bar.

Beginning to fear that this was going to be a complete bust I fortunately turned to the internet to check out if this was normal. It seemed to be fairly common that chemical laden hair has to go through an adjustment period when swapping to a soap based solid shampoo bar. First of all, you need to really rinse well. The articles I read said that to help with this it is advisable to do a rinse with apple cider vinegar to help clarify the hair, and ensure there is no soap residue left behind. I checked out Chagrin Valley and decided to follow their recipe for a herby apple cider vinegar rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I brewed up a decent batch and decanted it into some old squeezy plastic bottles. I rinsed my hair really well and then squirted the mix all over, really rubbing it into my scalp and through the lengths. It’s optional to rinse out the mix, though sources of information did say that you can also leave it in if desried. After drying my hair felt great! It felt clean and soft and did not smell of vinegar at all. I had made enough of the rinse that I could leave several uses worth in the fridge, so for the next few washes I could just use what I had left. I chose not to use a conditioner as I didn’t feel I needed it, but if you have purchased a conditioner bar then the majority of advice says this is what your wash routine should look like:

  1. Wet hair and your shampoo bar.
  2. Either lather up your hands and apply the lather to your hair, or, if your hair is really thick, rub the bar directly onto your hair and scalp.
  3. Rinse well with water.
  4. Use an ACV rinse all over.
  5. Rinse again.
  6. Lather your conditioner bar up with water and apply it sparingly through just the ends of your hair.
  7. Rinse well.
Syndet Based Bars

Now these bars are a whole different kettle of fish. First of all, you’ll find they cost a little more. This is for a good reason. Soap based ingredients are generally much cheaper, hence why soap free bars are more expensive. However, both types of bar can last up to 3 months (if left to dry between uses). This can therefore still be a really budget friendly swap.

Since learning all about the differences since 2018, we’ve chosen to mainly stock the syndet based bars as the results are so much nicer- and the bars much easier to use. We do have a fragrance free soap based bar, which is an amazing value option and can be just fine for shorter hair or those who are willing to adjust to it. But if you’re looking for a super straightforward swap with lovely results straight away, we recommend our Hairy Jayne or Zero Waste Path ranges. The latter is actually a 2 in 1, making it even better value for money. Enjoy!

shampoo conditioner bar

 

Is plastic the real Halloween nastie?

plastic free halloween

This Halloween many people -adults and children alike- will no doubt be thinking of dressing up for Halloween. It might not be possible to have a completely plastic free Halloween, but hopefully you’ll find some useful ideas here…

There’s no denying it can be fun. Anything involving sugary treats and fancy dress can be fun! Likewise if you’ve got babies or young children you can make them look super cute- and older kids and teens will no doubt be invited to some kind of event or wish to go trick or treating locally.

In every shop you visit you’ll be confronted by costumes of all colours and themes. Not to mention at rock bottom prices. But let’s stop for one minute and think about the potential impact of Halloween on the planet. These facts from the Fairyland Trust speak for themselves:

Truly shocking. But what’s the answer? Thankfully we’ve got a few ideas for you to help you still have fun but reduce potential waste at Halloween.

1. Short on time? Source second-hand

Look on local buy/ sell groups, Facebook marketplace or even charity shops for preloved costumes. Most charity shops put donated costumes to one side and put them all out at this time of year. Much cheaper too! Then pass on when you are done. There’s a local group to be found here.

2. Create your own

Look at things you already own and create your own costume. An old bed sheet, some talc and chains of grey paper and you’ve got yourself a ghost. An old outfit with some added rips, messed up hair, and a bit of red lipstick for blood and you have a zombie. Rather than buying face paint, look to use up old make up if you have any. Or bring out the same face paint palette year after year.

3. Use natural materials

Straw for a spooky scarecrow, pine cones and twigs with twine for a forest beast, you could even mix a bit of sand and brown paint mixed in pva and dabbed on for a mud monster effect! Not forgetting wool, moss and feathers which are all plastic free.

These are just three possible strategies when it comes to costumes. But maybe look for plastic free Halloween treats to give out too- buy sweets loose from us at Zero instead of individually wrapped, make small cakes or energy balls, even give out fruit (sorry if this gets your house egged!). Plus don’t forget to eat your scooped out pumpkin flesh in a pie, cake, risotto or soup. There are some great ideas here for starters, and don’t forget we stock most of the other dry ingredients you might need too!

pexels-karolina-grabowska-5706443

 

In conclusion- if you plan to do something this Halloween, just try and be mindful of your waste. It doesn’t mean you can’t get involved, but even a small change can make a big difference.

halloween
Image credit: Instagram @carladrawz

Last Christmas, I gave you a jar…(Guest Post)

As an aspiring zero-waster, it’s easy to be intimidated by go-to apps like Instagram and Pinterest when looking for gift inspiration.

I regularly fall prey to the rabbit warren that is Pinterest and, more often than not, emerge with nothing but distant plans to open some bizarre hybrid of Etsy shop.

The cold and extremely disappointing truth is I’m not going to become a master candle-pourer, calligrapher or decoupager overnight, or even in a few months. I’ve accepted that now.

But making zero-waste gifts for friends and family can still be a fun and rewarding task – providing you don’t feel too pressured by Insta-ready prototypes or Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas elves – who literally have all year round to make their presents!

After around three Christmases and rounds of ever-growing family birthdays (not that I manage to handmake for all of them), I’m finally getting the gist of creating a simple gift which might not befit Etsy clientele, but might do the trick with those who know me as weird auntie/sister/friend or,  in my parents’ case, ‘the special one’.

And this Christmas, rather than frantically scrolling through Pinterest and running around Wilkos and The Works on my lunch break (I actually became paranoid the checkout lad thought I fancied him last year), I’ve planned three different kinds of jar or bottle-based gifts to make for family and friends.

Jars and bottles are collectable all year round and I am a little obsessed with them. They have SO many uses.

Jars can make both charming and useful gifts. You can decorate the lids and fill them with items from stationary and bath salts, to baking ingredients and spices for foodie friends. And, if you’re really short on time, never underestimate the power of a tag and a bit of twine.

However, for the purists among us, there are plenty of simple recipes just a Google search away for homemade scrubs, moisturisers and lip balms – a thoughtful and waste free (and probably cheaper!) alternative to a prepackaged gift set.

Another fool-proof project is seed bombs which can be made with mushed paper and seeds in moulds or with soil and clay – an especially thoughtful gift for those more partial to the spring!

My own homemade checklist this year includes infused oil and gin, soap dispensers with refillable hand soap, and sweetie jars for the kids.

To make the sweetie jars more fun, I plan to either stick a small figure on the lid or paint a panel of chalkboard paint and write their name on it, attach some chalk and boom! Mind blown (if you’re under six).

Recently, for a niece’s christening, I made a ‘memory jar’ (a port bottle I found in a charity shop) which I decorated with hessian and her name in letter tiles. I also attached a little drawstring bag I had with some ‘memory note’ printouts inside (thanks Pinterest!).

If you fancy yourself more of a wordsmith than a crafter, dream, happiness, or inspiration jars can be filled with quotes, or words of encouragement. And even if the outside isn’t magnificent – it’s what’s inside that counts!

Preparation I’ve learned is definitely key. Check what supplies you have (i.e. jars, plant pots, drawstring bags, charms) and see whether you can make anything out of them. And, if you’re like me, charity shop treasure-hunting is a year-round hobby, so you should have plenty of resources!

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If you feel you need some design inspiration, then (and only then) check Pinterest et al, and make a list of more specific supplies you might need.

If you’re limited to evenings and weekends, allocate a couple of afternoons or evenings to do them. Some communities host ‘crafternoons’ encouraging crafters to take along their own projects. Making a date on your calendar and including friends is more likely to ensure you achieve your zero-waste gift goals.

Regrettably with gifts come the gubbins of wrapping, tags and cards.

With Christmas around the corner zero-wasters will be faced with a tide of conundrums from wrapping and cards to the extended family food shop.

Although nowadays society is cottoning on and wrapping paper scrunch-tests (to determine whether it is recyclable or not), swapping sticky-tape for twine  and upcycling old cards to create tags are simple eco-hacks taking households by storm.

Or if like me you’re from the Julie Andrews school of wrapping, your presents come in no-thrills brown paper and string.

However there are workshops for more creative wrapping for those who want their presents to look the part. And not only that, taking time out to learn a new skill could be a nice way to bring a bit of mind space and festive hygge to your otherwise busy life.

Zero-waste crackers also seem to be the rage now – a fun project I am planning to do with my sister which involves collecting toilet rolls and picking up odds and ends from charity shops. Luckily she is the organised one so I don’t have to worry too much in this area!

And when it comes to cards, if you are a traditionalist, you might want to look for ones without glitter or metallic material or, if you are sending them afar, consider using postcards to cut down on paper.

Otherwise for easy card-craft, stamps are your friend, coupled with an embellishment or festive shapes cut from felt.

While most zero-wasters will likely run into waste beyond their control this season (token auntie brings ‘racing Santas’/ giant holographic gift bags/ bulk-buy biscuit supply etc.), the efforts we do make will not only create lasting (reusable) gifts, but the sentiments behind them will hopefully turn the (yule) tide for Christmases to come.

And if you can’t resist a cheeky Instagram post or, hell, even stage an ‘unboxing’ of your homemade gift haul, I won’t judge you.

~ Cat Thompson

What’s the point of Zero? Plus FAQs

It’s been a little while since we’ve had chance to write a blog post. However, we have finally managed to summarise what we are trying to achieve, plus  answer some frequently asked questions as best we can.

As you may well know, we are two mums (Charlie and Marisa) who started this business purely because it was something we wanted. Since we began in October 2018 (not that long ago- crazy!) we have been overwhelmed by the support and interest across Warwickshire. We already feel like we’ve learned a lot, but there’s still lots we want to try and do. But first and foremost, we are mothers, and we need to keep a focus on our family time too.

National Trust Losers

So, what do we aim for?

1. Plastic Free. We recognise the devastating damage caused by single use plastic and work hard to provide goods which eliminate it. There’s a full list on our website and we are always listening to what customers want.

2. Local. We aim to be local, and support local. That means bringing the option to shop plastic free to people- rather than them having to travel, park, etc. We do this with our pop-ups, deliveries and the new permanent locations we have opened this year. We are especially excited about these, and hope our regular customers find them useful. If you live in Coventry, Rugby, Banbury, Harbury or Warwick there is one near you!

Local also means we stock local- supporting and extending the reach of other small local businesses wherever we can. You’ll see that our cleaning products, soaps, coffee, tea, granola, chocolate, skincare, reusable wipes, honey, and beeswax wraps are all locally sourced. This is something we are extremely proud of and we’ve met some lovely people by sourcing our products this way.

3. Affordable. We aren’t (and never will be) Tesco. But we have a strong focus on pricing. Every price is researched and checked against outlets similar to ourselves and the supermarkets. Often, for higher quality goods, we are cheaper or close in price. Sometimes you may pay more, but for a premium product which supports a real person, not a faceless corporate entity. As our economies of scale grow, we hope to reduce our prices wherever possible and encourage your feedback.

Marisa (right) has recently relocated to Sweden but is still a big part of Zero! Charlie (me!) on the left.

Now onto some FAQS…

  1. Do you buy everything from CostCo? Nope! Aside from our locally produced items, the main supplier for our dried goods is an ethical wholefoods cooperative. This means all the company profits go back to the members, which we love. Some products might be cheaper sourced elsewhere but we love the ethics behind this company and the range and quality are great too.
  2. Is everything organic? Why not? As you have seen, our focus is on Plastic-Free, Local, and Affordable. For many products, buying organic means 3 X more expensive, and we feel this would price out many people trying to change their approach to single-use plastics. Having said that, all or most of our pastas, cereals and dried fruits are organic.
  3. How do your products get delivered? Fortunately, most dried goods in bulk come in paper sacks. However, some items such as dried fruits are packaged in plastic. This is due to the risk of oils leeching out, which would result in a spoiled product and food wastage. These plastics are recyclable with carrier bags, which we do.  We are also constantly asking questions of our suppliers as to how packaging can be adapted or changed. Henley Chocolates for example have switched all their 40g bars to paper as a result of working with us. Our coffee and granola is collected in bags which are reused over and over. Cleaning products come in reusable drums which our supplier refills for us- so no waste at all.
  4. What about allergens? We take every possible step to avoid cross contamination when using our scales, funnels and scoops. However, much in the nature of ‘produced in a factory that handles…’ we cannot 100% guarantee the absence of allergens and we ask customers to be aware of this. We know is disappointing, but our customer’s welfare comes first!
  5. Do you have a shop/ where is your shop? We have “mini Zeros” which are open most days (except Hornton (near Banbury), which is different). You can find permanent ‘mini Zeros’ open almost daily in Rugby, Coventry (Binley Woods) Coventry Fargo Village, Harbury (near Leamington) Warwick (non food only), and Hornton which is a fortnightly pop up as published on our Facebook page. Please use these if you can as they do stock all the most popular items. Full details and product lists can be found on our website. We have some ongoing events happening, and some further developments coming soon!

Hope this has been a useful post, and we look forward to hearing from you or seeing you soon. Any questions or feedback do feel free to get in touch and we shall do our best to reply within 24 hours. If you’re happy with our service please leave us a Facebook review. 😊

Charlie & Marisa

The Easy Way to Revive your Jars

To begin with, any donated jars we were given (AKA ‘The Lonely Jars Club’) got a 70 degree wash in the dishwasher. This does a great job of removing any residue inside and killing any potential bugs, but we found labels would usually stay put and occasionally there’d be smells hanging around too. (Obviously those jars got put away again rather than passed on!)

There’s just something so much nicer about a de-labelled jar. You can see the contents more easily and you aren’t going to be put off your sultanas by a “chilli anchovies” label staring down at you.

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After a bit of research I thought I’d give a new method a go, and it worked a treat! So here it is- and you’ve got a week or two to try it before our next pop up. Don’t forget you can take your containers to the “Mini Zeros” anytime though! (I’ll list these at the bottom of the post)

  1. Make sure jars are clean and free of food residue. Any slight smell should be removed by this method.
  2. Half fill your sink with warm water and a splash of washing up liquid (we use Fill Co). Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and stir to dissolve.
  3. Place all your jars in the water, making sure all the labels are submerged.
  4. Leave for at least an hour, you want the water to cool.
  5. Using a stainless steel scourer/wire cool, scrub each label off working from one side to the other. You will find the glue has loosened. Avoid warm water as it softens the glue and makes it smear everywhere.
  6. Some jars have a plasticky label you need to peel off first, then this method will remove the glue.
  7. Give each jar a quick rinse and leave to air dry.
  8. All done, now fill them up with your favourite products (dishwasher powder included!) at your local zero waste shop.

Permanent Zeros (opening times vary, please see our website for full details.)

Outer Coventry: Turnips Cafe, Binley Woods

Leamington: Harbury Supermarket and Post Office

Rugby: The Nest, High Street.

Banbury: Everything Usefill, Hornton.

Coming soon! Coventry City Centre- The Green Unicorn Vegan Store, Fargo Village.

Tips For a More Eco Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us it feels and whilst it is known as the time for giving, in my opinion it is also a time of extreme wastefulness and an abundance of packaging! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas: the food, the tipsiness, the decorations; but this year the thought of Christmas has also got me feeling slightly anxious about how to try and manage it in a more eco-friendly way. So, here are my 5 tips for trying to keep the festive feeling without simultaneously undoing all the environmental good work of the rest of the year.
No. 1: Ditch the glittery / foil effect wrapping paper
Of course you could ditch wrapping paper altogether and purchase some festive cotton to make reusable wrapping paper, but this may not be practical if you are giving presents to people you either don’t see regularly enough to get it back from, or who you suspect may not reuse it themselves. By all means re-use wrapping paper received in previous years and likewise, hold on to any wrapping paper this year that can be used again. If it’s not been ripped then really it doesn’t need to be binned, it can just be reused. Some wrapping paper is recyclable – generally speaking if you can scrunch it up and it stays scrunched then that means it can be recycled. However, wrapping paper covered in glitter, foil, laminates, dyes, ribbons or mounds of cellotape CANNOT be recycled; so just don’t buy it and make sure any tape etc is removed from the paper before you put it into the recycling box. Some councils still won’t accept wrapping paper anyway, so you may need to take it to your local recycling point instead. Likewise, no glittery cards as they can’t be recycled and try to make the switch to a paper tape instead of a plastic based tape.
No. 2: Try to buy ethically and locally where possible
Yes, buying mass produced tat is probably cheaper, but it also won’t last as long, probably won’t have been produced in a sustainable way and won’t give that massive corporation the same fist pump moment that a local businessperson gets when they make a sale. (Speaking of which, we’ll have a few great gift ideas for sale on our stalls in the next few weeks!) Be more selective with what you buy and BUY LESS. Christmas doesn’t need to be this crazy extravaganza of unwanted gift giving. Which leads me onto my next pointer…
No. 3: Buy experiences not gifts
There is nothing worse than an unwanted gift and to be honest sometimes I think that we have been goaded into buying more and more for people: items that they simply don’t need or want. I certainly struggle to think of things that I really need when asked, as I tend to buy bits and pieces as and when I need them. I have found in recent years that I have enjoyed experiences as presents much more than tangible items: a soap making course, a dinner out or a day out at the farm with the kids. It doesn’t’ need to be pricey, as a parent I would even appreciate the offer of babysitting as a gift! Save on wrapping and cut down on unwanted gifts, it’s a win, win.
No. 4: Think about your Christmas tree carefully
If you already have a fake tree then fine, the best thing to do now is keep it in good nick for as long as possible since the environmental damage has already been done. They’re generally made out of plastic and metal, are non-recyclable and may well have been made in China (added carbon footprint of transport), so to offset this you will need to use it for as long as possible (10-20 years) rather than getting a new one every few years. Real Christmas trees are generally treated as a farmed crop, so buying a cut one isn’t as bad as cutting down an endangered species, but if you want to have a close-looped system, then buy your Christmas tree as local as possible, mulch it after it’s past its best and use it as a fertilizer in your garden. You can buy trees with their root balls still attached, but they take a certain amount of work to keep them alive: acclimating to the indoors, keeping hydrated in our heated houses, having a hole ready dug for planting before the ground is frozen and being suitable for the local soil/climate to name but a few. If anyone has had success with sustaining a Christmas tree like this, I’d love to hear about it!

blur-branches-celebration

No. 5: Make some natural decorations
I’m not sure why it is that people take a beautiful natural item like a Christmas tree and throw a load of plastic crap all over it! I have never been a fan of tinsel anyway but now, with my more environmentally friendly mindset, I am even more boggled by how people can be continuing to buy such an ugly, polluting item (plasticky, glittery foil = defo not recyclable). If you are buying decorations then try to think consciously: wooden or fabric perhaps. But why not have a go at making some of your own? Some little decorated pine cones, sprigs of holly tied with twine, natural stars made out of sticks, little bundles of cinnamon and star anise or some oranges studded with cloves, all make lovely tree or house decorations and are not tricky even for the most artistically challenged of us.

How to prepare dried pulses safely

There were a few people buying our dried pulses on Saturday who weren’t 100% sure how to prepare them, so I thought it would be a good idea to do a short ‘how to’.

Lentils

Keep dried lentils in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Although they can be kept and eaten indefinitely, they are best enjoyed within one year of purchase.

You dont necessarily have to soak lentils, but if you happen to be a well prepared person and you remember to do it, it will reduce the cooking process by half.

They do, however, need rinsing before cooking.

  • Rinse them in cold water, pick over to remove debris or shrivelled lentils and then drain.
  • Boil them in three times more water than pulse and avoid cooking with anything acidic – such as vinegar.

Lentils will vary in their cooking times depending on their variety but here is a rough guide:

Green and Brown lentils: 35 – 45 minutes

Red Split lentils: 15 – 20 minutes

Puy lentils: 20 – 25 minutes

Yellow lentils: 15 – 20 minutes

Chickpeas

Soaking Chickpeas

Chickpeas are best soaked overnight, which is the first method; but if you have forgotten to do this and need them ready asap then there is a quicker method you can do if needs be.

Overnight soak

  • Sort through the beans to make sure there are no stones or debris, removing any that you find.
  • Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water.
  • Allow them to soak overnight, or about 12 hours.

Quick soak

  • Sort through the beans and remove any stones or other debris.
  • Place them in a colander and rinse under cool running water before draining.
  • Transfer the beans to a saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water.
  • Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, cover and remove from the heat.
  • Leave the beans to soak for 1 hour, then rinse and cook as you would if you had soaked them overnight.

How to Cook Chickpeas

Once the chickpeas have soaked, it’s time to cook them. It’s very easy and takes just over an hour.

  • Drain the chickpeas in a large colander and transfer them to a large cooking pot.
  • Cover with water twice the amount of the chickpeas and bring to a boil.
  • Cover, lower the heat and allow the pot to simmer for approximately one hour.
  • Do a taste test to make sure they are tender enough for your liking. If they’re not quite where you want them, simmer for a little longer.
  • Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Once the chickpeas are cooled, they are ready to be used. Cooked chickpeas can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. They can also be frozen in an airtight container for about a month.

Kidney Beans

Red kidney beans are poisonous if not boiled well for 20 minutes during their initial cooking, so it is really important with these pulses that they are prepared correctly. They also need soaking and you should never, ever, cook them in the water in which they have been soaked but drain and then rinse them well before putting into fresh water. The soaking water has absorbed much of the ingredient that upsets the gut.

Dried beans last for years if kept in a dry, dark place, safe from pests.

How to prepare and cook:

  • Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight.
  • If you don’t have much time, then start them in boiled water and then soaking them for four to five hours should be enough.
  • Throw away the soaking water when the beans are plump and slightly softer and the skins are no longer wrinkled.
  • Rinse them well.
  • They must be cooked in water – without salt – before adding to any other dish, even for recipes such as baked beans or stews with tomato and especially, salty bacon.
  • Boil well for 20 minutes.
  • Decrease the heat and simmer them for a further 25 minutes.
  • Drain and use as required, either added to a stew or chilli or they can also be eaten cold.

They will keep for 3 days in the fridge or can be cooled and frozen for up to 6 months.

Plastic Free Snacks Vol. 1: The Flapjack

Who doesn’t love a flapjack? A good snack for slow release energy and appropriate for any time of day due to the cereal type content (you can’t get away with Millionaire’s Shortbread before 10am, that’s for sure).

However, ready made they usually come packaged like this:

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Vacuum formed plastic and extra rage points for the M&S one as black plastic doesn’t get detected by the sorting machines and therefore is basically un-recyclable.

Therefore we’ve put together a couple of super easy and not too sweet flapjack recipes you can made at home in around half an hour. We hope you like them! (The oats and sugar you will be able to get from us by market stall or delivery)

1: Charlie’s Basic Flapjacks

Ingredients:

  • 250g oats
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey (I used a Greek Wildflower one)
  • 110g butter

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Method:

  1. Preheat over to 200 degrees. Grease a tin (mine was 25cm square and about 6cm deep)
  2. Mix everything together. If you wanted to use less sugar you could add in a banana, vegans could use some coconut oil instead of butter and leave out the honey. You could also add dried fruits, chocolate chips or a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  3. I used honey and syrup as I find syrup alone makes them too sweet for me, which is why I don’t really like shop bought ones.
  4. Press the mixture down in the tin and place in oven for 15-20 minutes until the edges are browning.
  5. Leave to cool then chop up and enjoy.

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2. Marisa’s Oaty Bars

This recipe is one I make regularly which I have adapted slightly from My Fussy Eater . Because of the lack of refined sugar, these flapjacks are great for little ones, but to be honest, they’re super yummy regardless and I will happily work my way through them myself. Many of the ingredients will be available from our store, as will reusable wraps which are great for wrapping these up for a snack or breakfast on the go.

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Ingredients:

  • 150g / 2 cups rolled oats
  • 50g / 1/3 cup coconut oil or butter (melted in the microwave)
  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 6 dates
  • 4 tbsp orange juice or apple juice

Optional extras in different combos:

  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • Zest of an orange
  • A handful of dried cranberries/cherries
  • A handful chopped nuts
  • 1 eating apple: peeled, cored and grated

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c / 340f and grease and line a baking dish (approx 8in x 8in) with some parchment.
  2. Put the oats in a large bowl and mix in your chosen optional extras.
  3. In a blender blitz the melted coconut oil or butter, bananas, dates and fruit juice until it forms a sticky paste. Pour this on top of the oat mixture and stir until everything is well combined.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the dish and press down with the back of the spoon to make it compact.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 18-22 minutes or until the edges of the mixture are beginning to brown but there is still softness to the middle.
  6. Lift the parchment paper out of the dish and leave to cool before cutting into 8 large or 16 small pieces.

Hope you are tempted to have a go at these recipes and we’ll have more plastic free snack ideas for you soon!

Avoiding the Supermarket Plastic Plague

Today marked the first day of Zero Waste Week (3rd-7th September). Given this fact and needing to do my weekly shop I thought I’d attempt this with as little/no plastic as possible reaching the checkout. Here’s how I got on…

First of all, I’m aware it’s not currently possible to get pasta, rice and many other cupboard staples without plastic wrapping. So they were out straight away.* However, given that Morrison’s have advertised that customers are welcome to use their own containers, I thought this gave me a slight advantage as I wouldn’t have to visit a separate butcher or fishmonger.

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Below is what I managed- substituting plastic for glass or metal where possible and using my own containers to buy fish and meats. The cereals do have a plastic bag inside but I’m going to see if this is possible to recycle. Tins can sometimes contain a plastic lining, something else I’ll need to check.

(L-R and F-B) Beer and soft drink in glass, sausage, beef mince and salmon in my tubs, cereal X 2, tinned goods, tomato puree, spread in foil and 1 loose banana for the toddler!

Overall, I’m pleased with the effort. Tomorrow I’ll visit the greengrocer and buy all of our fruit and veg loose. (In case you didn’t know, fruit and veg bought loose at the supermarket is much more expensive- the staff member I chatted to agreed with me on this.)

Are there any less or zero waste swaps you are going to try this week? Let us know in the comments!

Expect more blog posts throughout Zero Waste Week and also a giveaway where you can win some zero waste goodies. Follow our Facebook or Instagram to join in the fun.

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After removing all the plastic from your trolley, you could be left with this!

*These will be available packaging free when we are up and operating; soon, we promise!

Keep Britain Tidy @ Coombe

Decided to take our youngest to this event at our local park Coombe Abbey today. The idea was turn up, fill a bag with rubbish and then get your car parking free. Ok says I, a bit of fresh air and a good deed to boot.

I have to say for the first 20 minutes I was genuinely concerned that I wasn’t going to find much at all! An empty cider can had me doing a happy dance and I was worried there could be a turf war with another litter picker over an empty packet of prawn cocktail crisps.

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However, once I got slightly off the beaten path (by slightly I mean a few metres) it became evident I was in an area at one time populated by idiots.

Empty cans, glass bottles, plastic cups, ice cream spoons, chocolate wrappers, straws…many many items and all of them non-biodegradable. Little one found it all too much and fell asleep.

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I filled the bag until it was too heavy for any more (lots of glass bottles) and made my way back to the Information Centre. On the way a lady with her grandchildren asked me if I’d picked all that rubbish up and remarked it was a disgusting shame when there are bins. A valid point, but I do feel that the root of the problem is far too much waste is produced in the way of packaging in the first place; and even throwing something “away” means it ends up somewhere or other. Maybe not Coombe Park, but somewhere else where it can damage wildlife just as much.

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The end result.