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

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.

 

Vegan Apple & Cinnamon Cake

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When I was not vegan, I used to bake a lot. I was actually a very good baker of cakes and bread, particularly Apple Cake. It all went pear shaped since going vegan. My cakes have been, hit and miss.

Yesterday when somebody put up a recipe of a “no egg” cake, I had hope. I thought, I could easily replace the dairy and turn this recipe vegan but when I looked at the ingredients I lost all faith. It had no rising agent or binding agent in the list. And I did not fancy a stodgy plate of cake.

Anyhow, the recipe inspired me enough to make one of my own. I was having a nurturing and slow day with my toddler at home. And what better way to nurture a child than to bake. We had been apple picking at the weekend, so there was no problem in the apple supply department. So we began experimenting with a new recipe. And guess what it couldn’t be perfected any more. I am assertive!

And when good things happen to me, I like to share them. So here is the recipe. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Trust me!!

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Ingredients:

2 Apples (one sliced length wise, one chopped into bite sized pieces)

1 tbsp chia seeds, soaked in 5 to 6 tbsp of warm water.

1 1/5 cup of plain white flour

1 cup of demarara or brown sugar (I put a little less because we don’t like it too sweet)

1/2 cup of coconut or any oil of choice

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of bicarb

1/8 tsp of salt

1/2 cup of almond milk or any other of your choice

a few drops or a tsp of vanilla extract/paste/bean; anything or nothing is fine too

2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 to 4 tbsp of soy yogurt or any yogurt of choice

Method:

Preheat the oven at 160 degrees (Celsius). Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl nicely with a wooden spoon.

Then add all the wet ingredients along with the chopped apples, and combine together.

Spray the baking tin with some oil, pour in the cake batter, level it well. Now start placing the sliced apples lengthwise along the edges slowly filling in the middle to resemble some sort of circle or a spiral if you may.

Now, I added a tbsp of sugar on top of the apples to caramelise them but it is seriously optional.

Bake it in the oven for about 35 mins and check by piercing a skewer. Cook until the skewer comes out clean. Take it out, cool down the cake and serve. (Don’t forget to take a picture).

Going apple picking for this recipe is not compulsory but if it is autumn where you are, try and go apple picking with your fam-jam. It is great fun. Hope you enjoy it and let me know in the comments if you like it.

Buttered Tofu Cauliflower Tikka Masala

As always, this is an experiment gone RIGHT!!

We made tandoori kebabs for BBQ the evening before and I had these leftover marinades tofu and veg. I wanted to use them up and hence came up with this recipe.

So in order for this recipe to work, I suppose one has to first marinade the tofu in tandoori spices for a few hours.

Ingredients:

Marinade:

Tandoori Masala (Ready made powdered spice from the shop)

2 Tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

1 Lemon juice

Curry:

2 – 3 tbsp Tikka Powder (Ready from the shop)

Cauliflower

1 Onion

1/2 pineapple, chopped

1 Tbsp Ginger-garlic paste

3 Chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup of soy cream or more to taste

Salt to taste

1 tsbp sugar

1 cup of almond milk

Fresh Coriander to garnish

3 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of oil

Method:

Start off by making kebab skewer marinade. Marinade tofu, pineapple and some other veg (I added courgette and peppers in kebabs). Mix in all the marinade ingredients mentioned above. Leave it to set for a few hours.

Heat oil in a pan. Cook the onions and cauliflower, cook for a while. Add the tikka masala, salt and sugar. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. If the spices start to stick to the bottom add a splash of water. Then add the milk and some more water until the cauliflower is semi-cooked. At this point add the tofu mix and cool it only for a minute so as to not overcook the cauliflower. Towards the end, add the cream and big dollops of butter and coriander.

Voila!!

Zero Waste Periods : Cloth Pad Review – Bloom and Nora

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In the UK alone, we use about 4.3 billion single use sanitary products a year. An individual will be using around 11,000 disposable sanitary pads in her lifetime. And an estimated 1.3 million pads get flushed down the toilet, costing millions in clearing blocked drains. These plastic pads not only sit in the landfills for years (around 500 years), but the toxins used in these pads are polluting our oceans, thereby endangering the great marine life. The dioxins and carcinogens that are in these pads, enter our bodies through contact and can be literally deadly. So what is the solution?

Switch To More Sustainable and Healthier Options – Resuseable Cloth Pads

I have been using a menstruation cup for years now after having experienced terrible rashes from disposable pads and extreme dryness from tampons. But I could not go zero waste with my period right away. The cup is not the most convenient thing to empty, wash and insert back in in public washrooms. And I go on long walks which again makes cleaning after a few hours a difficult job, so I always used a sanitary pad to go with my menstruation cup. I might have cut down my use of disposable sanitary products by 90% but not completely.

Enter Bloom and Nora Cloth Pads

Bloom and Nora sent me their trail pack of sanitary pads made with 100% natural fibres. It was an opportunity for me to go zero waste in the red zone area, and I couldn’t have been more delighted.

I was sent a trail kit with two blooms and two Nora pads ranging between their four available sizes. I have used them over the past three cycle and I think I have enough experience to share my thoughts with you.

Blooms are basically made of bamboo core making it extremely soft against your skin and super duper absorbent. My baby uses bamboo nappies and I always thought he is so lucky to have something so cushy against his bits. Now I know how good it actually feels!!

Nora’s are known for it’s stay dry technology and stain proof quality and I have to say, after three cycles they still look as pearly as new.

Performance

In terms of performance, they get five stars from me. Not only are they soft but also leak proof. The outer PUL protects the clothing from getting wet and the leak proof edges prevents blood from seeping out.

The Nora Maxi and Bloom Mighty were the perfect team for the first day and night which is when my flow is the heaviest.

And Midi and Mini have performed excellently paired with my menstruation cup on long hikes and walks where there was no access to private toilet or cleaning facility. These pads successfully held any leaks from the overflowing cups and kept me dry and comfortable enough to finish my journey.

Life changer

One thing that I love about cloth pad is the fact that I don’t get any rashes. Disposables have the quality of drying out the skin which often left me with a rash. So not only did I have to go through the cycle (which in itself is an inconvenience) but also suffer in agony days after my period was over.

Washing

As a cloth nappy mama, it was no science for me know how this stuff worked, but for noobs I would recommended atleast three washes (no soap required) before use. This helps with the absorbency. You will see the absorbency improve with use.

After use, wash the blood off with cold tap water and put it either in your laundry basket or in the bathroom bag by Bloom and Nora, which is perfect to keep all the soiled pads together.

When ready, wash it on 40 degrees with a non-bio detergent. No need to tumble dry. Honestly, these pads dry in a flash and tumble drying may not damage the pads right away but will take away a few years of performance from it.

Price

Each one of the pads are less than a tenner and you will need about 10 to 12 pads each cycle. Less if you wash them more regularly. So a £100 for the next 5 years seems like a reasonable investment. That is less than £1.80 a month towards your period.

Conclusion

After having used both Bloom and Nora Pads, my favourites have to the bamboo Bloom pads. It felt the softest and most comfortable against my skin and felt light but sturdy. Nora had no performance issue but my skin was not necessary always happy with it. I felt the urge to change more frequently with Nora than in Blooms.

Also absolutely loved the poppers unlike the sticky wings of the disposables (often tore my knickers). They held the pads in place for hours and the wings were wide enough to prevent leaks but slim enough for comfort.

I also prefer Bloom for it’s colours, they suit my personality bold and bright.

Bloom and Nora is inspired by the daredevil feminist Amelia Bloomer who once said, “When you find a burden in belief or apparel, cast it off”

Disposable pads put a lot of burden on our environment and health, I think it is time we cast it off too. What do you think??