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!

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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!

Banana “Ice Cream” (Plastic-free, of course!)

For those of us wanting to REDUCE the amount of plastic waste we produce, finding plastic-free alternatives to snack foods can sometimes be challenging. The easiest way, of course, is to MAKE YOUR OWN. And to make our snacks 100% plastic-free, we must purchase the ingredients without plastic packaging.

One of my favorite summer snacks is ice cream. Since the locally-produced-and-packaged ice cream is not very tasty in my opinion, it it easy for me to REFUSE. Instead, when I am craving something cool and creamy, I head to Nirvana Indian Restaurant for their tasty homemade ice cream. As far as a take-away snack, I think this is a great option – you can order the ice cream in a cone and it’s plastic-free!

But is it truly a 100% plastic-free snack? What plastic packaging is thrown away by the restaurant when they make this ice-cream? Which milk are they using and how is it packaged?

I often make my own yogurt at home and will mix it with fruit and honey to make my own frozen yogurt. But making my own yogurt involves buying milk in Tetra Paks, which are not recycled here in Dahab, so I began to wonder how I could make a frozen snack without any plastic waste. I found the answer in bananas!

It was news to me, but it probably won’t surprise any vegans out there – bananas make a deliciously creamy frozen dessert!

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my banana “ice-cream”

Basically, you chop and freeze bananas and then blend or process them until they are smooth and creamy. You can refreeze the mix if you want or eat it straight away. I followed this recipe and added a dash of nutmeg and a few drops of vanilla oil to the bananas. (I purchased both the nutmeg and vanilla oil in bulk in my own containers so there was no plastic packaging. I did not use a bag to purchase the bananas, just carried them in my hands.) The possibilities, though, are endless when it comes to other flavors and ingredients you want to add. For my next batch, I plan on adding peanut butter.

The only drawback to making this plastic-free “ice-cream” is, of course, the fact that you have to have a decent quality blender or food processor. I don’t have the best blender, but it did the job. I think next time I will not freeze the bananas overnight before blending; I’ll just freeze them for a couple of hours instead. If you don’t have your own blending or processing device, ask a friend who does. Sharing these kitchen appliances is also good for the environment!

What are you waiting for? Buy a bunch of bananas and have fun experimenting with different flavored “ice creams”!

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

Shopping for Spices and Skipping the Plastic

If you enjoy cooking or baking as much as we do in our house, you probably purchase a variety of spices, which are usually sold in small plastic packages or in small glass jars. That used to mean that we would come home from the supermarket with numerous plastic packets of spices, some holding barely a tablespoon of spice. If we happened to shop in Sharm el Sheikh, we might purchase spices in glass jars (with plastic tops), some of which we managed to refill or reuse.

Spices, then, were high on our list of priorities for foodstuff we wanted to purchase package-free. We are lucky here in Dahab because there are several different shops in town that sell spices from bulk bags. But, of course, what we shoppers have to remember is to bring our own containers!

Our favorite shop to buy spices from is the spice/nut/candy shop directly next to Ralph’s German Bakery in Assalah Square. (I have no idea what the name of this shop is. Must ask the next time we are there!) When we started purchasing our spices in bulk, we brought along our own REUSABLE plastic boxes, like the ones pictured below.

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Anise and ginger – two of the most-used spices in our house.

Then I came across a post in Dahab Gives and Wishes on Facebook where someone was offering three empty tea tins for free – so I grabbed them! They are perfect for filling up with spices and skipping ALL plastic. 🙂

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This amount of cinnamon should last a couple of months.

This shop next to the bakery offers a variety of spices in bulk: cinnamon, ginger, anise, cardamom, cumin, coriander, pepper, and more! And, yes, like all of our plastic-free adventures, it sometimes involves some persistence on our part to REFUSE the plastic bags. But as we continue to visit this shop and request that they use our own containers, the shop keepers get more used to us and have an easier time dealing with the scale and boxes. So, as always, be patient in explaining your request and wear a smile on your face and most shopkeepers will be happy to fill your containers.

What spices do you use most in your kitchen? Are you willing to try buying spices in bulk? What would make this easier for you?

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

Plastic-free Flour

I posted recently about food packaging and if you have had a chance to look at the trash you “throw away” you may have noticed that a lot of it is plastic packaging from food. And while some of it may be recyclable, most of it is not.

So, it’s finally time to talk about some changes we can make in our food shopping habits (other than taking our own reusable bags) that will help reduce our plastic footprints!

I love to bake. Waffles, cakes, cookies, bread, tortillas, muffins – yum! This all takes flour, of course, which is most commonly available and purchased in plastic bags. What, then, are the alternatives?

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I often use whole-meal flour which is available in paper sacks from the company Five Star. This company packages many types of flour in paper as opposed to plastic. In the past, I would stock up on several bags of the whole-meal flour whenever I went shopping in Sharm el Sheikh because it wasn’t always available here in Dahab. In Sharm, you can find it at Carrefour and Metro Market (and maybe Ragab Sons, I can’t remember). But now you can find a variety of paper-packaged flours in Dahab at CHEF on Peace Road! They also sell a lovely variety of other flours and grains, but so far they are all packaged in plastic so, although tempted, I have not purchased any of these. 

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Another plastic-free option for flour is bringing your own bag or container and buying flour from the bulk bags available at many stores in Asalah. This is something that we have only started to do in the last couple of months. We use one of our many cotton bags – freshly washed – and purchase plain flour and bran from the bulk bags at Alf Sunf (1,000 Items) in Asalah Square. At home, I empty the flour into a large glass container for storage. Last week, the store also had Five Star semolina flour in bulk bags!

You can either weigh the flour yourself or give the clerk your container and he will weigh and fill it for you. The clerks at Alf Sunf are used to us and our plastic-free ways by now, but other stores and clerks won’t be. So remember to ask politely and be patient. This is as new to them as it is to you!

TIP: Weigh your bag or container first, then add the flour until you have the desired amount. Our bag weighs 65 grams and we typically buy a kilo of flour. So we fill until the scale reads 1065 g. Sometimes, if a clerk is assisting, they will tare (or zero) the scale with our bag on it. This allows you to just worry about the weight of the contents (in this case, the flour) not the container.

Buying the flour in paper bags is obviously the easier way to go, and buying from the bulk bags takes a little more time and effort on our part. Are you willing to purchase flour from the bulk bags? Why or why not?