10 Easy Steps Towards Sustainable Living

Reuse, Recycle and Reduce is today’s mantra. Last year, I promised to live more sustainably and make my home greener and more eco-friendly.

Here are a few ideas that I have no only tried and tested but also managed to follow for a whole year. These are the simple ways in which anyone can contribute towards a greener and healthier planet.

1. Wooden Washing Up Brush:

The synthetic sponges are so full of chemicals and toxic materials. They are a health hazard and environmental hazard. The toxins in them get into the waterways and are known to cause harm to small aquatic creatures.

I have started this wooden brush which is completely vegan. It is easy to wash and dry. It works well and is going to need replacing far less frequently than any sponges.

Here’s a link to checkout what I use.

2. Cloth Produce Storage Bags:

These are life changing for me. Not only do they make shopping easier but also storage convenient. They can be washed easily. It has a drawstring to tie it down but also a zipper at the bottom to take the veggies out. Just hang these pretty bags on your kitchen and you are good to go.

I love that they have labels too. Easily available on amazon and they will last for a long time. Here is a link to what I use.

3. Mentrual Moon Cup:

I have been using these for a long time. I started using these because neither disposable pads nor tampons suited me. They caused great discomfort and dryness.

But now I am absolutely thankful for this product because of its environmental benefits.

These silicon cups are easy to use and very economical. I brought it for £20 which is what 3 to 4 cycles would have costed me with disposables. But this cup will last me for years.

4. Composting:

This one is the most important to me. I as a self proclaimed healthy vegan produce a lot of food waste in terms of vegetable stalks, fruit peel and leftovers veg/fruit pulp after juicing. So I have been wanting to make my own compost with it for a while but unfortunately i still haven’t managed to achieve that.

But what I have committed myself to doing is to use the council food waste bin sincerely.

I know it is not the same but it is a start. Something is better than nothing.

5. Reusueable Straws:

If you follow us on instagram, you would know how much we love our green smoothies and fresh juices. We used to get through a lot of plastic straws and chucked them in the bin without a thought. Not anymore!

We use these cute metal straws that you can wash and reuse forever.  They came with a tiny cleaning brush which makes cleaning easier.

We even travel with these straws. Refusing a disposal or those single use paper straws feels pretty empowering.

6. Vegan Lifestyle:

I have been vegan for 2 years now. I started off on ethical grounds but over the past year the sustainability reasons have resonated the most with me.

The new work reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.

We may not be able to afford an electric car or stop flying due to work purposes, but we can stop eating meat and dairy. It is one of the single most efficient ways to sustainability. The effects are far more immediate than using an electric car. So I urge you to atleast consider reducing your intake.

7. Jam Jars & Glass Bottles:

I got inspiration for this from bulk stores to be honest. Also, as an Indian I cook with a lot of spices and lentils and legumes and grains which unfortunately come packages in either plastic or in tiny jars which cannot really be repurposed. So I have started buying them in bulk packets and store a small portion in jam jars for easy access. In an ideal world I would take these jam jars to the bulk stores and avoid plastic altogether but bulk stores are not for my budget, not right now. Glass jars and bottles are really handy to keep. So start collecting them. I got a lot of them from my friends.

8. Cloth Nappies And Wipes

I used Theseus since Ro was a little baby.It is believed that in the UK, nearly 2.5 billion disposable nappies are thrown away each year. That clogs up the landfill horribly. Plastic we dispose off never will disappear in our lifetime or our great grandchildren. Isn’t that a horrific thought?

When using cloth nappies, you can further reduce your environmental impact by not using the tumble dryer and perhaps line drying whenever possible.

9. Repurposing Plastic Bags

But what do we do with all the plastic bags we have in the house already? If you are like me, you collect plastic bags for future use. I inherited that habit from my mother.

When I decided to abandon plastic bags, I felt bad about simply throwing the ones I already have into the bin so I gave a lot of them away to the thrift shops. They happily take it and use it. ofcourse these will end up in the landfill one day but I am trying to prolong the process as much as possible.

10. Thrift Shop

My current past time is to go to the thrift shops and find some amazing clothes and toys or cutlery. Some thrift shops have pretty high standards and so I was amazed at the quality and condition of some of the stuff I brought for us. Last year I decided to try and not buy new clothing for myself and my children. We made underwears an exception. We brought new shoes and invested in new winter jackets due to the lack of sizing in thrift shops and a jacket from an ethical brand is an investment as they do come with a long shelf life.

The trick with the thrift shop and kids stuff is to buy things when you see them. I have brought clothes and toys and books for baby Ro which he may not use until he is 4 years old but I know these things might not be available if I wait until he is 4. So my attic has a box full of stuff for the future. So whenever we run out of tshirts or trousers, we first rummage through the box in the attic before hitting the shops again.

Kids love thrift shops because unlike other shops, things are so cheap quite often I say yes to buying a small toy that they fancy. They feel special and our frugal lifestyle does not become a negative influence on them.

Also do not underestimate the power of social media. A lot of RoRo’s clothes are from Facebook friends. Bags of clothes arrive at my doorsteps within 24 hrs of me asking people. People with children  are always looking for homes for old clothes.

I hope you find these ideas easy and manageable.

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Vegan Doggy Cake

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This is the first time I have attempted a birthday cake for my dog. It was not meant to be vegan but I didn’t have any eggs.

Anyhow this recipe went down a treat. It can be eaten by humans but you might want to add lots of sugar. Dogs don’t care for sugar. So here it is..

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of coarsely grounded oats

1/4 cup of gram flour

1 cup of self raising flour

1/2 TSP bicarb

1 TSP baking Powder

1 cup grated carrots

1tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of soy milk (might need more if too dry)

2 tbsp peanut butter

1/4 cup melted coconut oil (any oil really)

Method:

Mix all ingredients together and cook in a preheated oven at 160 degrees for about 30 minutes. Voilà!!

 

3 Ingredient Energy Balls

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I absolutely love these energy balls. They are packed full of nutrients and have a long shelf life. We use it as a “pick me up” bar when we are peckish or craving something sweet. We pack them in lunch boxes and for picnics.

I, found it particularly handy as a breastfeeding mother who is constantly hungry and mostly craving high fat and sugar content. These not only help me stay fuller for longer but also satisfy all my cravings, guilt free.

You can mix any combination of nuts and seeds. I choose almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and cashews. But walnuts are good too. You can use just one type of nuts or a combination. If you have nut allergy, replace it with seeds like punpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame etc.

Ingredients:

2 cups of mixed nuts

A handful of golden raisins

2 cups of pitted dates (I used mejdool but if using dates that seem a bit dry, simply soak them in hot water for an hour)

2 – 3 tbsp of cocoa powder

Method:

Dry roast the nuts in a pan. Make sure they don’t catch.

In a food processor, blend the nuts until coarse. Leave it chunkier if you prefer,  we prefer it crumbly. Then add the dates and cocoa powder. Blend until it is all incorporated and starts to form a ball when you roll it in your hands.

Roll them and save it in a biscuit tin. Eat whenever as a snack or dessert or serve as party food.

Please let me know how you like it by leaving a comment. Follow me on instagram @beachwalkmuse

Orange and Rosemary Upside Down Cake – Dairy & Egg Free

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I love rosemary and to me, oranges and rosemary are one of the smells of christmas. So I decided to try this unique flavour in a cake.

I have to be honest, my kids were not a fan. But it is approved my friends. I, personally think it is delicious. But if rosemary is taking it too far for you, simply replace it with vanilla and you are good to go.

Ingredients:

2 – 3 Oranges, peeled and sliced

1 sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp of dried rosemary

1 3/4 cup of plain flour

1/8 tsp of salt

1 cup of sugar

2 tsp of Baking Powder

1 tsp of Bicarb

1/3 cup of coconut oil

1 cup of plant milk

2 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

Mix the vinegar with milk and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the liquid ingredients and mix well. Do not over mix, vegan cakes do not rise well if over mixed. So mix until all ingredients are incorporated and let it sit aside.

Now grease the cake tin. Sprinkle sugar generously but evenly. This is caramelise the tops of the sliced oranges and also make it look rustic and more yummy. Now arrange the slices oranges in a way that it covers the edges nicely so no batter escapes.

Now pour in the cake batter and pop it in the oven. Check after 30 – 40 minutes. If the skewer comes out clean, it is done. If not, cook a bit longer. If you see the cake is browning too much, put a foil on top. This way the cake will keep on cooking without browning too much.

Once ready, let it cool for 10 minutes or so and then pop it out on a plate. Garnish some fresh rosemary on top and serve. Enjoy!

Waldorf Window Star

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I love these window stars inspired by Waldorf Schools. These are traditionally made with kite paper and when stuck on the window, colourful lights reflect through it into your room. It not only makes the room festive but also bring a sense of warmth and cosiness in the room.

I have a step to step guide for you incase you wanted to make these. Here I am showing a demo with origami squares but kite papers gives the best result.

You will need:

8 Kite paper/origami squares

Pva glue or double sided tape

Step 1

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Fold the square into half. Open and repeat by folding the other two ends.

Step 2

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Fold all four corners into the center

Step 3

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Now fold two corners in a way that it makes a straight line in the middle and resembles a cone.

Step 4

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Repeat this with 7 other pieces.

Step 5

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Now glue the 8 pieces together with the folded sides facing down.

Step 6

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Let it dry for a few hours, ideally overnight.

Step 7

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Stick them on the window with some double sided tape or any transparent tape.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Let me know how you like these stars.

P.S: You can always use leftover wrappig papers, newspapers or your own paintings or your kids artwork to nake these. They won’t reflect as well as the kit paper but will still make for a magical experience nonetheless.

 

Rhythm, Reverence and Repeat

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A few weeks ago, I was really struggling with parenting three children, two dogs, looking after the house, homeschooling, attending playgroups and managing my own work. A lot of it was because RoRo was going through a developmental stage and there were a lot of changes in his father’s work schedule. Reuben starting school took a toll on all of us. RoRo missed his big brother, who played a very important role in his morning play time. There were too many abrupt changes in our lives and toddlers often struggle with abrupt transitions.

I was exhausted, I could never keep up with appointments or schedule and was struggling to get on top of things. So I started reading and implementing rhythms into our lives. Introducing rhythm is inspired by the anthropologist Rudolf Steiner or well known as Waldorf. My husband is Waldorf educated and we have a a lot of influences and resources of Waldorf in our household. So Rhythm was not a new concept but now felt like a good time to introduce rhythm into our lives.

As soon as I introduced rhythm into our lives, I started to get more sleep or rest, RoRo was enjoying independent play for longer periods of time giving me enough time to have a cup of tea, sometimes while it is still hot. We feel a better connection which leads to better cooperation.

So what is a rhythm?

Rhythm is everywhere. Our nature works rhythmically like the sun rises and sets, the seasons change but gradually, our heart beats rhythmically, we breathe in and breathe out in a rhythm too. We, as human beings function better if transitions happen rhythmically and not abruptly. This is truer in cases of children. Children thrive on predictability and slow transition from one thing to another.

We can add rhythm in our daily lives or on a weekly basis, we can add rhythm monthly or seasonally. Introducing rhythm throughout the year is incredibly beneficial for the kids.

What is a difference between rhythm and routine?

Rhythm inspired slow transition from one activity to another whereas routine or scheduling adds stressful and abrupt jumps from one activity to another. Rhythm is influenced by our mood and sensibilities whereas scheduling is dependent on the clock.

Rhythm is calming whereas scheduling is full of anxiety and rush.

How to apply Rhythm in our lives?

One of the key things to remember – rhythm is about enjoying and living in the moment. How long the moment lasts is up to you and not the clock. So for instance, in your daily rhythm breakfast is followed by reading and reading is followed by a nature walk. When it comes to rhythm no two days will look the same.

Today breakfast might have taken a bit longer than yesterday and you may have read four books instead of two. If it is raining outside, perhaps your nature walk was very short whereas on a sunny day it might be a bit longer. Because you are not scheduling your day, it gives you the sense of freedom to do things at a natural pace.

Our Autumn Weekly Rhythm

We have a lot of mini rituals that help us transition from one thing to another. We have a morning ritual and a night ritual. And everything else fits in the middle very gently. I don’t have it written down but it is far too predictable for us now.

But I do have a weekly rhythm. I introduced a weekly rhythm to ensure that I find enough time in the day for some deep connection with my children.

Weekly rhythm is easy to introduce. Weekly rhythm basically means introducing one special activity to each day of the week. This activity can take place at any time in your day depending on how your day is flowing.

If you think about it, the days of the week make no sense to a toddler. It is a totally abstract concept. But by adding a special activity to the day it becomes more relatable and it grounds the child, thereby making the household a bit more peaceful.

Here is how our weekly rhythm currently looks like:

Monday: Baking day

We bake a cake or a bread. We sometimes bake cookies. Sometimes this happens after roughhousing with the siblings to calm down or before a long walk, so that we can enjoy the baked goodies as a snack on our return.

Tuesday: Arts & Craft

I work on tuesdays. So my mind seems preoccupied. My work is pretty physical too. So I feel very tired at the end of the shift.

A rhythm is most helpful on this day. I run my own dog walking business so I spend the afternoon walking dogs. I bring my children along with me. So when we come back home we sit down and do some art work. This activity is brilliant because Irene and RoRo can happily do this together whilst I can choose to sit with them or carry on with chores.

Wednesday: Swimming/Park

Wednesday Irene has violin lesson in the middle of the day. There is a park outside the violin teachers house. RoRo absolutely loves going to that park. It is a bit of a novelty. So wednesdays we call it park day. In the morning we go swimming. I added two things on a wedneday because currently we have taken a break from swimming. RoRo’s friend has broken his leg and it is something they do together. We will resume swimming as soon as his friend is healed.

Thursday: Allotment Group/ Stone Soup

Thursdays we go to a local cabbage patch group. It is a playgroup in an allotment as the name suggests. Two hours of outdoors play. We also make stone soup on this day. The idea of stone soup is that everybody brings in a veggie and we have a special stone we put in a pot and we make soup. RoRo and Irene pick a veggies either from the allotment or from the green grocer and we make a soup with it. More on stone soup in a separate post though.

I forgot to write down stone soup in my chart but I incorporated this into our rhythm because the allotment group is very exhausting. It is fun but it is also high intensity and there is nothing more calming and soothing than a pot of soup. It slows us right down and makes us all feel connected all over again.

Friday: Playgroup

Friday we go to another playgroup. And rest of the day is kept free because playgroups are intense. I do not like to do indoor playgroups more than once or twice in a week. I think it is important for younger children to spend a lot of time outdoors and also do activities that are earthly, spirited but not very high in intensity.

Saturday and Sundays: Family Time

We keep our weekends free. Those are the two days daddy is home and we do as he pleases.

Do you have a rhythm in your household? Let me know in the comments what do you think about rhythms.

 

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Risotto

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This autumn is the first time that RoRo has actually noticed pumpkin and expressed a desire to eat it. My oven isn’t working very well so I couldn’t roast it but the weather was asking for something comforting and my busy schedule desired a one pot dish. We hadn’t eaten rissotto in a while. My kids couldn’t even remember what it was , so it was the perfect thing to cook.

Ingredients: (served 4 – 5)

300-400 grams of pumpkin, diced

2-3 sprig of fresh thyme

1 cup of risotto rice

5 cups of water

3 tbsp vegan stock powder

1 chopped onion

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tsp sugar or maple syrup (optional)

5 tbsp oil

handful of freshly chopped coriander

Method:

In a pan, heat 3 tbsp of oil and add the thyme. Let the thyme cook for a few seconds and then add in the pumpkin. Add some salt and turn the heat down and put a lid on until the pumpkin is cooked. Alternatively, you could roast it.

Once cooked, mash it up roughly with a bit of sugar. My pumpkin wasn’t quite as ripe. So I thought it needed sweetening. Remove all the sprigs of thyme at this stage.

Now in another saucepan, heat the rest of the oil. Cook the onion and the garlic until translucent. Once the onions lose its raw smell add the rice. Let the rice cook for a few seconds and then add one cup of hot water. I mixed in all the stock powder in that cup of water. Keep stirring the rice and when the water dry out, add another cup of hot water. Keep adding one cup of water at a time. By the time your fifth cup of water starts to dry out, your rice will be perfectly cooked. Soft with  bite to it. At this stage add the semi-mashed pumpkin and a handful of coriander. Stir and cook for another minute. Serve hot with some freshly baked garlic bread. We also sprinkled a good spoonful of nutritional yeast but that is optional.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. Let me know in the comments below.