7 Essentials for Travelling with Less Plastic

Annemieke from Plastic-Free Tuesday is back as a guest blogger today! As most of us in Dahab travel at some point during the year, we appreciate her tips for travelling with less plastic. Read on.


Summer means travelling! While visiting and exploring new places is fun, it often comes with a lot of plastic. Plane trips are especially notorious for producing plastic waste. But you don’t have to give up travelling to live with less plastic. Here are 7 essential tools to help you keep your plastic footprint small while travelling.

#BringYourOwnBag

I always stuff at least one reusable shopping bag in my daypack. I love to buy fresh fruit and sample local delicacies that I find in bakeries, groceries, and markets. Bringing my own bag is a small effort, yet saves many plastic bags. It also signals to local people that I care about their surroundings and that I try to not add to their waste piles.

#BYOB helps you REFUSE plastic bags!

#BYOB helps you REFUSE plastic bags!

Stainless steel water bottle

When I first saw the Klean Kanteen Reflect bottle, it was love at first sight. I had other reusable bottles before, but they would always deteriorate in one way or another. The Reflect bottle is not just beautiful, it is also very sturdy, which makes it perfect for travelling. We’ve been together for about three years and it doesn’t leak or anything. If I travel by plane, I make sure to empty it before security and then fill it up again before boarding.

A refillable water bottle is a must!

             A refillable water bottle is a must!

Food container

Because it’s generally hard to find healthy, plastic-free food at train stations and airports, I usually bring my own meals. I have never had any problems taking my food through security checks at airports, but I am always prepared to show the security guys my food and I always make sure it has no noticeable liquids in it. Good, home-made food can really be a lifesaver on long-haul flights where only plastic-packaged, not so tasty food is served.

Cutlery

Previously I always brought a spork when travelling. A spoon is a hybrid of a spoon, fork, and knife. But after three broken spoons I gave up on it. I didn’t like the plastic anyway. Some brands sell titanium spoons. These are a bit expensive, so I now simply carry a regular spoon, knife, and fork from home. We have second-hand cutlery, so no big deal if I would somehow lose it.

Snack or sandwich bag

A while ago I purchased a lovely snack-bag at Etsy. I use it for bringing along hard-boiled eggs, nuts, cherry tomatoes and other to-go veggies, and sandwiches. When buying a sandwich bag, make sure to avoid material such as nylon and Velcro, because that is plastic too! Of course you can also make your own, just type something like “how to make your own reusable sandwich bag” in Google to find instructions.

Easy to carry in a purse or backpack!

          Easy to carry in a purse or backpack!

Produce bags

Because some food items don’t easily fit in my snackbag, I also carry around a couple of produce bags. Of course you can also use a food container, but these bags weight much less and easily fit in a daypack. Also, sometimes shops (pretend to) don’t know how to tare the scale. In such cases, it’s better to have a lightweight bag than a stainless steel container. I use the produce bags for all kinds of things, for example when buying snacks such as peanuts and strawberries.

Lightweight bags are great for buying your snacks in!

        Lightweight bags are great for buying your                                         snacks in!

Reusable shoe bags

One of my new year resolutions for 2015 was getting reusable travel bags for shoes. I often found myself using plastic bags, but in the beginning of this year I bought a reusable bag. Soon I realized that I could also simply put my shoes in a reusable cotton shopping bag. Before I pack my shoes, I make sure that they are more or less dry. I haven’t been in a situation in which my shoes were wet, but I could imagine that I would then simply wear the wet pair and pack the dry pair, assuming that not all of my shoes are wet.

Hope these tips help to keep your plastic footprint small while travelling. I would love to hear your plastic-free solutions during vacation time. Please leave a comment below and join the conversation. Happy Plastic-Free Tuesday!

Five Tips for Introducing Plastic-Free Tuesday to Others

Once again, we are pleased to have Annemieke from Plastic-Free Tuesday blogging for us today. Today she shares tips on how to talk to friends, family, and strangers about the practice of skipping plastic one day a week. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of plastic we use and aren’t sure how to start eliminating it from your life, starting with one plastic-free day a week is a great idea! So if you’ve already begun this practice, read on to learn how to convince others to join you. If you’re still new to Plastic-Free Tuesday, be sure to read the 7 Tips to Get Started with Plastic-Free Tuesdays.


On Plastic-Free Tuesday, hundreds of people around the globe refuse to buy plastic and do not throw any plastic away. This means, for example, that you #BringYourOwnCup for to-go coffee on the way to work, buy unpackaged veggies at the local farmers market, have your own reusable water bottle, and of course #BringYourOwnBag when you go grocery shopping.

Since the launch of Plastic-Free Tuesday in spring 2014, thousands of people have shown their support. It would be fantastic if even more people would join the movement and cut down on plastic consumption and plastic waste. To help you spread the word, here are five tips to introduce Plastic-Free Tuesday to others. Will you help us convince people to try a day without plastic?

  • Lead by Example

Don’t preach, but lead by example. Simply don’t buy any plastic on Tuesday and don’t throw any plastic away. Instead, bring your own shopping bag when you go shopping, get a reusable cup for coffee at work, and only buy those veggies and fruits that are not wrapped in plastic. So choose, for example, plastic-free pineapple instead of plastic papaya. Be flexible. If you can’t find what you’re looking for plastic-free, try another shop or check out the local market. If you need more tips for plastic-free living, check out this guide by Don’t Mess With Dahab.

Plastic-free pineapple vs plastic papaya… easy

  • Ask for a plastic-free alternative referring to Plastic-Free Tuesday

I love this strategy. I use it frequently on Tuesdays.

A few weeks ago, for example, I was looking to buy some nails to put together my pallet compost bin. In the store, I asked for packaging free nails. The sales person showed me a plastic box that was way too big and had way too many nails. I told him I couldn’t buy it, because it was Plastic-Free Tuesday. Surprised, he apologized: “I didn’t know there is such a day. You’re the first one to mention it.” We talked a bit about plastic and then, he suddenly remembered that the shop does sell screws in bulk. I bought a handful.

Mentioning Plastic-Free Tuesday as if it is the most normal thing in the world is a great conversation starter.

  • Share your plastic-free activities on social media

Be a Force for Good. Share pictures of your reusable cup, favorite tote bag, strawless cocktail, jars, and lunch bags on your social media. Pictures are an easy way to draw attention to the problems of plastic consumption. Focusing on the solutions rather than problems is especially powerful.

Sometimes I question the effect of my plastic-free campaigning, wondering why I spend so much time on an issue no one seems to care about. But frequently, people tell me that what I share online has made them pay more attention to their plastic consumption.

In fact, people have told me that they have started to bring a reusable bag when grocery shopping and that they got themselves a lunchbox and reusable water bottle. Most of these people I meet very infrequently in real live. The influence has really been through social media.

So keep sharing your plastic-free solutions on social media! Make sure to use #PlasticFreeTuesday.

  • Hang Plastic-Free Tuesday posters at work, school, libraries, and shops

To get people to reflect on the vast amounts of plastic consumption and waste in our society, we have created posters that challenge the audience to try live a day without plastic. To reach as many people as possible, the posters are available in ten different languages, including Arabic!

You can download the posters by surfing to our website and clicking on “download posters.” If you put up a poster, please take a picture and share it with us. Leave a comment on the website or share your poster experience on social media, using #PlasticFreeTuesday.

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  • Buy plastic-free gifts

Often people comment positively on my plastic-free tools. I frequently hear things like “nice bottle!” and “those reusable bags look such much nice then plastic, where did you get them?”. Following a similar comment, I bought a family member a reusable snack bag. The person, in turn, showed it to others who then also started to reconsider their own habit of using plastic-bags for snacks.

Help us spread the word!

Only with your help can the plastic-free movement grow bigger. Please support us by introducing Plastic-Free Tuesday to others. Remember to be kind and avoid preaching. I would love to hear if and how you discuss your plastic-free habits with others. Any tips on how to go about bringing up this topic in conversations with family, friends, and shops are very welcome. Wish you a happy #PlasticFreeTuesday!

How Refusing Plastic on Tuesday Helps Save our Planet

I’m thrilled that we have Annemieke of Plastic Free Tuesday back for another guest blog! Today she shares the story of why she started her plastic-free Tuesday habit, how it helps the environment, and tips for for joining the Plastic Free Tuesday movement.


A few years ago I stumbled upon a TED video in which plastic-free pioneer Beth Terry tells about her plastic-free life. I was intrigued. During the years that followed I increasingly often read and heard about how plastic kills animals and ruins the planet. After seeing yet another photo series of bird stomachs filled with plastic, I decided to do something about it. Because I strongly believe that “we should be the change you want to see in the world,” my goal was to reduce my own plastic consumption and waste. Like Beth Terry, I decided to document my journey towards less plastic. So, in April 2013 I started writing on my Dutch weblog Plasticminimalism.

Tiny steps towards a smaller plastic footprint

Because at that time I had no idea how much plastic I consumed, I began (again inspired by Beth Terry) with weekly tallies of the plastic our two persons household threw away. I put any plastic waste in a separate garbage bag. Every week I took the big black garbage bag with plastic waste, turned it upside down and divided it into categories such as veggies, legumes, and nuts. I would then take pictures of each category, identify key problem areas, and decide which product or category to tackle in the week ahead.

During the week I would try find plastic-free alternatives for each and every product or product group. For example, my goals after the first tally included using reusable bags for all my veggies and fruits as well as buying bananas at the organic supermarket rather than at the mainstream grocery store. Over the course of ten months all these small steps contributed to a great reduction of our plastic footprint. I believe that key to my success was that I only took a little step at a time. Only when I felt that I had created a new habit, I would plan the next step.

Plastic-Free Tuesday = one day no plastic consumption, no plastic waste

Over the course of ten months all these small steps contributed to a great reduction of our plastic footprint. We barely bought or threw away any plastic. Nonetheless, news about plastic pollution kept appearing on television and in the newspapers. I started wondering how I could get more people aware of the problem of plastic pollution.

Suddenly, the concept of Plastic-Free Tuesday came to my mind. Inspired by the success of Meatless Monday, I thought this would be an easy way for people to test what it is like to skip plastic. I discussed the idea with some close friends and then launched the concept on my Dutch blog. Soon my close friend Marlies joined, and in the following months, Gerda and others got on board too.

On Plastic-Free Tuesday we skip plastic to reduce our plastic footprint. That means we don’t buy anything that is made of plastic or contains plastic. We also don’t use anything made of plastic that we have to throw away after using it. So no bananas wrapped in plastic, no plastic bags, no take-away coffee in plastic cups, and so on.

Tips for your first Plastic-Free Tuesday

Before you go for a Tuesday without buying or throwing away any plastic, I would highly recommend to first document the plastic you use throughout a Tuesday. Collect all the plastic you buy or throw away during the day and take pictures of it. If you have a camera on your telephone you could easily take pictures throughout the day, for example of that plastic wrapping around the sandwich you bought for lunch (and the plastic bag you got with it!). You will be surprised how much plastic waste you create. This will definitely be an eye-opener. It will also help you plan your first Plastic-Free Tuesday. Here are five tips to get you started.

Make sure to never leave the house without extra bag(s). I have a couple of shopping bags hanging next to the door. This works fine for me. I always carry a few wherever I go. Other people put an extra bag in their purse, backpack, or in the car.

Get some reusable bags for veggies and fruit. Countless small plastic bags are used for fresh produce. Put your items in your own bags. Stick the price tag on the bag. If you buy only one or two items, simply put the price tag straight on the products. No bags needed! My favorite are Re-Sacks, but you can also try find a local alternative or make your own.

Think beyond the regular grocery stores. Those are filled with plastic. Once you pay attention, you will be amazed by the amounts of plastic in your supermarket. For more plastic-free options, check out local markets and specialized stores such as tea shops and bakeries.

#BringYourOwn bottle, jar, or mug for water, coffee, and tea. For health and environmental reasons, choose one made of glass or stainless steel. A budget option is to reuse a glass bottle you got at the grocery store (for example those for fresh juice or pasta sauce). Living plastic-free doesn’t have to be expensive.

Be creative. Forgot your bag? No problem. Ask for or look for an empty cardboard box to put your products in. Or just simply carry the items in your hands. If you do shopping by car, put the items back in the shopping cart and unload it straight into your car.

Yes, you can make a difference!

While some argue that on a global scale, this won’t make any difference, I strongly disagree. First of all, this argument does not make sense if you reflect on the core of our plastic problem. Where does the plastic come from? How come birds are building nests made of plastic? How did the plastic get into the living environment of the bird in the first place?

Exactly. It’s because you and me are supporting the use of unnecessary plastic in our society by constantly accepting and buying it and then disposing of it. If you and me would not buy any plastic, there would not be any (or at least a lot less) plastic.

Secondly, you are not alone! Over the course of the past year or so, people around me noticed my plastic behavior and started to change their behavior too. Amongst the first to do so were my husband, family, and friends. And in turn, they too inspire others to change habits and are creating awareness about the plastic problem.

So please join us next Plastic-Free Tuesday! Living with less plastic isn’t as daunting as it may sound. Take small steps at a time. For example, start #BringYourOwnBag on your first Plastic-Free Tuesday. Once you’re used to doing that, get yourself a reusable water bottle. And so on.

Small steps matter. Together we can make a difference. Please share your plastic-free story on social media using #PlasticFreeTuesday. For more tips and inspiration, visit our website, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter or Instagram and join the conversation!

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Perfect for Christmas: Swedish Sourdough Bread

Have you made your sourdough starter yet? Annemieke, from Plastic-Free Tuesday, joins us again with more sourdough recipes. This time for Swedish bread. A perfect holiday treat!


I love sourdough products! Sourdough has such a rich flavor. Last month I shared with you a recipe for delicious pancakes (highly recommended!). This time I want to introduce you to one of my favorite sourdough breads. The recipe comes from a Swedish cookbook. Ingredients include walnuts and apple, which makes it a perfect bread for Christmas breakfast/brunch or as a starter/side dish for Christmas dinner.

Ingredients for two loafs of bread:

  • 150 milliliter (rye) sourdough starter – click here to learn make your own
  • 1100 milliliter whole-wheat flour
  • at least 200 milliliter lukewarm water (23-26 degrees Celsius)
  • 150 milliliter pearl barley (or barley)
  • 100 milliliter raisins
  • 75 milliliter coarsely chopped walnuts

  • 50 milliliter deciliter wheat bran
  • another 375 milliliter water
  • 1 apple
  • 0.5 tablespoon salt

For plastic-free wheat bran (rough or fine and enriched), raisins, barley, and walnuts you can buy them from the bulk bags, for example at 1,000 Items, using your own reusable bag or container. You can purchase whole wheat flour in paper sacks from Chef’s.

Baking the bread in three stages (over 24+ hours)

Step 1

In the morning right after getting up or in the evening before going to bed, pour the rye sourdough starter in a large bowl. Add the whole-wheat flour and the lukewarm water. Knead the dough for about five minutes. I use a Bosch MUM kitchen machine for this. Of course you can also use your hands. Make sure to spread some flour over your hands and the dough so that the dough is less sticky. In the end, the dough should form a nice round ball that does not stick to your hands. If the dough keeps falling apart, add some extra water (lukewarm) until the dough sticks together and forms a ball.

Take the dough out of the bowl. Spread some flour at the bottom of the bowl. This helps prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Put the dough back in the bowl. Put a clean kitchen towel over the bowl and let the dough rest for 24 hours, at room temperature.

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Step 2, twelve hours after kneading the dough

Take another bowl or pot. Put the pearl barley, raisins, walnuts, and wheat bran in it. Boil 375 milliliter water and pour this in the bowl. Blend together using a big spoon. Let rest for 12 hours.

Step 3, 24 hours after kneading the dough

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Turn on the oven (250 degrees Celsius). Add the mix of pearl barley, raisins, walnuts, and wheat bran to the dough.

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Rasp or grate (coarsely) a washed apple (don’t peel the apple!). Add it to the dough. Add also half a tablespoon of salt.

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Knead the dough again. Use a kitchen machine if you have one or if you can borrow one. Use your hands if you don’t have a kitchen machine. It takes a little longer, but it is doable and a nice workout. Be sure to pour some flour over your hands and a little bit on the dough so that it does not stick to your hands.

Knead until the dough is well mixed. This time the final result is not a nice round ball (as after step 1), but a sticky mess. Put parchment paper in two bread loaf pans. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the two pans. Place the pans in the oven (lower part of the oven). Decrease the temperature to 200 degrees Celsius.

Take the bread out of the oven after 50 minutes. Let cool down a little while and then take the bread out of the pans. Carefully remove the parchment paper. Wrap the bread in a clean kitchen towel.

The shelf life of sourdough bread is longer than regular bread. As opposed to regular bread, sourdough bread matures and becomes tastier over time.

Being Dutch, I enjoy eating this bread with peanut butter or apple syrup. But I imagine it tastes excellent with goat cheese or something else too.

Merry Christmas and bon appétit!

Plastic-free, healthy, and tasty: Home-made sourdough pancakes

Annemieke of Plastic Free Tuesday is back! This time she shares with us a recipe for sourdough pancakes.


Eating without buying or throwing away any plastic is easy and fun! Just Do-It-Yourself! #DIY! Home-made food is usually also healthier and more delicious than eating out or taking away. And it saves money.

Last month I shared with you how to make your own plastic-free sourdough starter. It takes about a week before the starter is alive and kicking. Your starter is ready to be used for baking if it is bubbling vigorously. Sometimes, my starter is so alive that it escapes the jar!

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Initially, I started to experiment with sourdough when I was looking for a plastic-free alternative to baking powder. The baking powder I used for my carrot cake muffins came in plastic and I wanted to get rid of it. On the internet I read that baking powder can be replaced with sourdough in combination with baking soda. In many parts of the world, the latter comes in cardboard boxes.

To keep the sourdough starter alive, I stir daily with a clean, wooden spoon. Every second day, I add new flour and some water (23-26 degrees Celsius/73.4-78.8 F) in a 1:1 ratio. Every week, I feed my starter a big meal. I empty almost the entire jar. I leave only about 1 deciliter in the jar. I then add about three times as much flour and lukewarm water (again, in a 1:1 ratio) and stir. This kind of big meals makes that the pH drops. This makes it easier for the bacteria to multiply.

It would be a waste to throw away the sourdough that I take out of the jar. So instead, I follow the instructions of Sandor Katz to use this sourdough to bake pancakes. It’s easy and super delicious. Just note that because this recipe involves fermentation, it is a two-step process. In the morning (or evening) you prepare the dough, in the evening (or next morning) you can eat the pancakes.

Ingredients

3 deciliter sourdough starter

4 deciliter flour (I use whole-wheat flour)

4 deciliter water (23-26 degrees Celsius or 73.4-78.8 F)

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

1 bell pepper (I prefer a green one)

coconut oil, butter or any other kind of oil

2 eggs

salt

1 tablespoon peanut butter

For plastic-free flour in Dahab, you can buy your flour from the bulk bags, for example at 1,000 Items, using your own reusable bag or container. The shop carries all purpose and semolina flour. You can also purchase whole wheat flour in paper sacks from Chef’s. Remember to bring your own bag or container and you can buy the onion, garlic, bell pepper, butter, and eggs without plastic packaging. Look for local peanut butter brand AHEF which comes in a glass jar.

Step 1.

In the morning (before you go to work) or in the evening (before you go to bed), transfer 3 deciliter sourdough starter from the jar in a bowl (preferably plastic-free) or pot. Add 4 deciliter of flour. Add the lukewarm (23-26 degrees Celsius) water. Blend everything until the dough is smooth. Put a clean kitchen towel on top and leave it to rest for at least a few hours so that it can ferment. After about 10-12 hours, there will be bubbles in the dough.

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Step 2

Usually I blend the sourdough starter, flour, and water in the morning and leave it to ferment the whole day until I come back from work in the evening. Once the dough is ready for baking, chop the onion and mince (or chop) the garlic. Cut the bell pepper into small pieces.

Pour some oil in a frying pan. Fry the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. In the meanwhile, add the 2 eggs, some salt, and the tablespoon peanut butter to the dough. Blend until smooth. Add the fried veggies too and blend again.

Heat some oil in the frying pan. Pour some dough into the frying pan. I prefer small and relatively thin pancakes (because they turn out nicest this way), so I do not fill the entire pan. I only use a little bit of dough for each pancake. Make sure you move the frying pan around so that the dough is spread out. You don’t want thick pancakes, because that means risking that the outside is done but the inside is not.

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Wait until the upper side has turned dry. Then, carefully flip the pancake. Once both sides are golden brown, the pancake is ready.

This recipe will make about 10 pancakes.

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The pancakes are still very delicious the next day if kept refrigerated. They are delicious served with peanut butter, vegetable based spread, and/or avocado.

This is a recipe based on the instructions of Sandor Katz in his book “The Art of Fermentation” (page 236).

Bon appetite!

How To Make Your Own Sourdough – all plastic-free!

We’ve got another guest blog for you today from Annemieke of Plastic-Free Tuesday, which she launched in 2014 “to create more awareness about the adverse impacts of our plastic consumption.” Today she shares instructions for making sourdough. 


I love sourdough bread. It’s delicious. No other bread can beat the deep, distinct taste of sourdough bread. It’s Slow Food. Rather than being produced in a rush, as happens with most bread you find in bakeries and supermarkets nowadays, authentic sourdough bread takes days to make. And even after baking, the taste will continue to mature.

Besides the unique taste, sourdough bread is also beneficial for your health. Did you know that our bodies contain more bacteria than human cells? In fact, there are ten times more bacteria than human cells in our body! 100 trillion bacteria live in our intestines. In order to stay healthy, we must help the benign bacteria to thrive. Fermented foods such as sourdough bread feed these benign bacteria. Eating some fermented foods daily helps keep you healthy.

Real sourdough bread and #BYOB

You can of course try to buy sourdough bread at your local bakery or supermarket. I say “try”, because –at least in my home country, the Netherlands– it is not uncommon that bread sold as “sourdough” is made with regular yeast and only has some “sourdough powder” added to it. So if you do buy, please always inquire whether the bread contains yeast. If it does, it is not authentic sourdough bread.

If you happen to find real sourdough bread at your local bakery or supermarket, make sure to refuse the plastic or paper bag. Instead, just #BYOB. #BringYourOwnBag. While this feels awkward the first time you ask the shop assistant to put your bread in your own bag, very soon it will feel perfectly normal. I have never received negative comments on my reusable bags. People always say things like “so environmentally friendly,” “such nice material,” and “where can I buy these bags?”. #BYOB is a great conversation starter.

Making your own sourdough takes only 5 minutes!

If you can’t find real sourdough bread or simply enjoy making your own food, you can easily make it yourself. What you need is a high quality starter. Of course you could purchase this online or elsewhere, but in order to avoid any waste, best is to make the starter by yourself. All you need is water, flour (I use rye or buckwheat, but you could also use whole wheat flour), kitchen scale, boiled water, thermometer, and a jar.

For plastic-free flour in Dahab, you can buy your flour from the bulk bags, for example at 1,000 Items, using your own reusable bag or container. The shop carries all purpose and semolina flour. You can also purchase whole wheat flour in paper sacks from Chef’s.

Before you start, make sure to wash, rinse, and dry the jar thoroughly. Put the jar on a kitchen scale. Turn the scale on. Pour 100 gram flour in the jar. Be careful, you must be precise. Boil a little bit of water. Leave the water in a large bowl if it is chlorinated to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Blend the hot water with cold water until the temperature drops till 23-26 degrees Celsius (73.4-78.8 F). Add 100 gram of the water to the flour. Stir with a spoon until smooth. Put the lid on the jar, but don’t close it because air should be able to flow out if needed. Leave the jar outside the fridge. It takes about a week for the starter to be ready for baking. Make sure to stir the paste at least once a day with a clean spoon. I use a wooden one.

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Feed it like a pet

After two or three days you will find bubbles in the jar and it will start to smell sour (yet fresh). In order to keep your sourdough alive, you must now feed it regularly. The first time you feed it, best is to add 300-400 grams of both water (23-26 degrees Celsius) and flour. After this, you should feed your sourdough every two days. Add water (23-26 degrees Celsius) and flour in a 1:1 ratio (i.e. as much water as flour) and stir. Once your sourdough is bubbling vigorously, it is ready to be used in bread and other delicacies. In my next blogs I will share how to use it to make pancakes and bread using your own home-made starter. Much more on fermented foods can be found in Sandor Katz’s “The Art of Fermentation.”

Sourdough 2

How to clean your kitchen plastic-free

To kick off our discussion on REDUCING the amount of plastic waste from household cleaning and personal care products, we have a guest blogger! It is an honor to have Annemieke, founder of Plastic Free Tuesday, discuss her 6 plastic-free kitchen cleaning tips here on Don’t Mess with Dahab.


Since the launch of Plastic-Free Tuesday, a campaign to create awareness about plastic pollution and reduce our plastic footprint, I have been experimenting with plastic-free tools to clean my kitchen. I am so happy to share my findings with you today. Taking small steps, together we can make a big difference and help stop the plastic waste stream. Should you have other plastic-free cleaning tips, please share!

Sustainable, rubber household gloves

My hands easily become very dry and itchy. Water is one of the culprits. Therefore, a couple of months ago I started to use household gloves. It makes a world of a difference! I no longer have dry hands. They look and feel so much better now.

Unfortunately, household gloves are almost always packed in plastic and made of plastic. Watertight household gloves are usually made of vinyl or latex. Vinyl is a kind of plastic. Latex can be either natural or synthetic.

The production process of both synthetic and natural latex gloves includes chemicals to process and dye the material. It is unclear to me exactly what chemicals are being used, but they might not necessarily be healthy for me or our planet. Moreover, latex sourced from rubber plantations is a source of deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

Thankfully, there are sustainable household gloves on the market. If You Care produces gloves made of FSC certified latex. These gloves are available through Amazon. Ideally, you would buy these or other household gloves locally. If you can’t find them in your area, ask your local sustainable shop to start selling them. If you order the gloves online, make sure to request reused packaging material and zero plastic.

Wooden dish brush with replaceable head

The best plastic-free dish brush is one made of wood and plant-based fibers, has a replaceable head, and is sold without packaging. While you would normally ditch the entire brush in the waste bin, once it is time to buy a new brush, you only need to replace the head. Saves a lot of waste, especially if you cook frequently and thus generate a lot of dirty dishes.

The most durable brush of this kind, I found in a home decoration & kitchen store that sells most of its products without packaging. It’s heaven for those into cooking and plastic-free living. The organic supermarket in the city we previously lived in also sells this kind of dish brush, but I found the quality inferior.

Dish brush

At the moment, I live in Beijing, China. Here it was hard to find a plastic-free dish brush. At some point, my sister (who also lived here) bought one for me from a salesman downtown. Unfortunately, the brush wasn’t of such good quality… it fell apart… so it ended up in the waste bin way too early.

Plastic free cleaning and other tools II

Baking soda and vinegar as dish detergent

Some plastic-free bloggers make their own dish wash detergent. These recipes commonly include so called Marseille soap or household soap. However, here in Beijing I haven’t seen any healthy, plastic-free soap here. By healthy I mean a soap that does not include harmful chemicals.

Instead of making my own dish detergent, I simply use baking soda and vinegar. Unfortunately, Chinese supermarkets only sell baking soda in plastic bags, so I buy imported baking soda in cardboard boxes. Vinegar is easy to find and cheap. Any supermarket sells it. I usually buy vinegar with a high acid content.

To save dish wash detergent, it is crucial to fill bowl, pots, and pans right after usage. So right after cooking, I transfer the food to our plates and then fill the pots with warm water. This way dish washing becomes a lot easier.

To dish wash, I simply spread some baking soda in an empty (no water!) pot or bowl and then use my brush to scrub the item clean. For products made of glass, I pour a few drops of vinegar on the item and them use my brush to clean it. After brushing, I rinse the item and let them dry on the kitchen desk.

Baking soda

Dishcloth made of organic cotton

Disposable dish wipes might be convenient but are an environmental disaster. They not only come in plastic packaging, but also generate a lot of completely unnecessary waste. Instead, I opt for a washable dishcloth made of organic cotton that comes without packaging. When I still lived in the Netherlands, I found some of these at the same decoration & kitchen stuff store where I bought my dish brush.

Here in China, I haven’t been able to find dishcloths that are not packed in plastic, let alone dishcloths made of organic cotton. So, here in Beijing, I use some small towels as dishcloth.

Vinegar as cleaning detergent

We haven’t bought cleaning detergent for ages. Instead of buying cleaning detergent in a plastic bottle at the supermarket, I use vinegar. I just pour some vinegar on a dishcloth and use this to wipe the stove and kitchen countertop. Vinegar excels in removing grease stains. Fantastic tool after baking pancakes or cooking Chinese food.

Vinegar + baking soda for a hygienic cutting board

Some foods, for example garlic or onion, leave your cutting board smelling after usage. Other foods such as meat leave behind potentially dangerous bacteria. In order to erase any odor and bacteria, I spread some baking soda on the cutting board. I then pour some vinegar on it. What follows is a chemical reaction with bubbles and a sizzling sound. After a few minutes, the chemical reaction is finished. I then brush the cutting board clean and rinse with warm water. The result is a clean and hygienic cutting board, ready for the next meal.


Many thanks to Annemieke and Plastic Free Tuesday for all their hard work in spreading awareness and practical tips regarding plastic! Be sure to check their site for more great info and inspiration:

Plastic Free Tuesday

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