This is a simple 3 bean salad recipe which can be kept in the fridge for a few days. It can be constantly nibbled at or used as a salad as part of a full dinner. It’s quick, cheap, tasty and super healthy.
Step 1 – choose your beans – 3 tins/cans.
This is up to you, I like to go with 1 can of Cannellini Beans, 1 can of Butter Beans, 1 can of Farver Beans or Borlotti Beans. I find this combo looks nice and works well together as sizes and textures. (Use your preferred beans).
Drain the beans and rinse them if you wish. Put them in a mixing bowl with the oil, red wine vinegar, Oregano, salt and pepper.
Step 2 – chop the beetroot
Purple fingers time. Chop the beetroot into cubes about the size of a stock cube. Mix it in with the beans
Step 3 – Chop the tomatoes
Chop the tomatoes round the equator and mix them in with the beans and beetroot.
Step 4 – Add the rest
Chop the parsley/coriander and chop and de-seed the chilies, mix this in with the rest of the salad.
And that’s it! Simple, cheap, fast and tasty. It will keep for a few days in the fridge for snacks, and works perfectly well as a side dish or a main course.
Time to Science…
Microbeads to plastic free products
This week we look at microbeads, something which is in a lot of products we use every day, products which end up washed down the sink and into our water systems. I’ll start with a definition:
“Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than five millimeters in their largest dimension. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene”
Yep that’s right tiny bits of non degradable plastic. That can’t be good I thought. It’s not. Here’s why; according to Greenpeace, about 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year and not an insignificant portion of this is microbeads. Marine biologist Professor Richard Thompson states 680 tonnes of mircrobeads are used in the UK alone every year. That’s substantially more than all of the litter we pick up on our beaches in voluntary beach cleans each year.
Plastic which is then ingested by marine life such as whales, sea turtles and sea birds. One study suggested 90% of seabirds have plastic in their digestive system! Microbeads are too small to be filtered by our sewage systems so they find their way into our ocean. Too small to be filtered, difficult to clean up and adding to the pollution.
So what are they in? It turns out quite a lot. I had a look around our house and found we’ve been inadvertently adding to plastic pollution. Our exfoliating face wash? Tick. Toothpaste? Tick. My anti-aging facecream that doesn’t work? Tick. A detailed list of the offenders can be found here.
So how do we avoid them? Anything that claims to exfoliate should raise suspicious, in addition to some toothpastes and wrinkle cream. I think the theory is to fill your crevices with plastic so you’ll look more youthful! No thanks. Many detergents contain them too so if you have done so already consider a change to soap nut shells. When you’re out buying products look for this logo:
Thankfully authorities are seeing sense and are working towards banning the manufacture of products containing microbeads. The UK is set to have banned them by July 2018. That will be a ban on manufacturing products containing microbeads and a ban on sale of such products including imports. Yippee!!
That is a year off however so we don’t want another 680 tonnes of microbeads entering UK seas in the interim do we? Have a look and what you’ve got in the house and bin the offending items!
Regular bulbs to LED bulbs
When considering this week’s topic I thought, “I’m pretty sure I already have energy saving light bulbs.” I then had a look around the house to confirm. Yes some of the bulbs are LED but actually there’s a few cheeky conventional bulbs snuck in. The spot lights in the kitchen, the trendy industrial lamp in the study and a couple of other lights were the culprits.
So a hand full of bulbs? What difference would that make on the grand scheme of things? Well an LED bulb uses around 75% less energy than a conventional bulb and lasts around 30 times longer (i.e. 30 less bulbs need to be made) and thus saves enough CO2 over its 25 year life to be able to cover the CO2 emissions of a short plane journey. So that handful of bulbs in our house quickly starts to look significant when you think of their collective carbon footprint.
75% less energy to run effectively means an extra day of running for free every three days when compared to a conventional bulb. How much money this saves is completely dependant on how long you have your lights on for, your energy supplier and how many lights you have on. One resource suggested running a single bulb for 5 hours a day would cost about £10 per year thus switching to and LED bulb would save around £7.50 per year per bulb.
Of course it’s important to switch lights off you don’t need, use lower lightingwhere possible and make the most of natural light in the summer months to limit energy use.
We’ve made the switch to LED bulbs. Have we convinced you?
Whilst making a journey towards greener living we’ve found that we reflect on everything we buy. From picking up loose vegetable rather than plastic ones to changing the products we use which you can see across previous articles. We’ve had lovey weather recntly which mean we’ve had the luxury of drying washing outside (I know I’m a loser to be excited about this). Most of the pegs we had were either rusty, broken or a bit rotten in the case of the wooden ones. Again with my new green head on I researched into what I could buy.
I found these ecoForce pegs on ebay. Yes they are made from plastic which is not biodegradable but they are made from 93% recycled plastic. That’s less plastic going into landfill and interestingly manufacturing them from recycled rather than “virgin” plastic uses 70% less energy. They’re also made without a spring so last longer, thus less waste. They are also 100% recyclable and made in the UK. Buying local is always good when it comes to green credentials.
There are many other recycled products we have switched to such as ecoLeaf toilet paper, it turns out loo roll is responsible for mass deforestation and is one of the most wasteful products modern homes use, see more here. We’ve also changed to a recycled kitchen roll but are increasingly using reusable washable cotton cloths to reduce waste further. We use recycled sponges from ecoForce which manufactures sponge from off-cuts which would otherwise go to landfill. Ideally we’d like to find something which is biodegradable but thus far have found nothing in the UK that is fully biodegradable (w e will keep looking).
I appreciate I’ve just talked about the very non-glamorous world of loo roll, dish sponges and clothes pegs but these are all things we ALL use every day. It’s our everyday products we need to change to make big differences to the environment over time.
Do you have any household products that are green-minded? Have you made any eco-exchanges after reading our blogs? Do get in touch via our contacts page or in the comments below.
Long showers to timed showers
An average shower uses 7.75 litres per minute with power showers using 17 litres per minute. According to waterwise the average shower is about 8 minutes. This is about accurate for us. When I thought about it I realised I spend a fair bit of time dawdling in the shower. I really don’t need 8 minutes so I wanted to shorten this and searched for a solution.
I bought this handy easy to use timer from the Amnesty international online shop.
I know, I didn’t know they had a shop either until writing this article. They’ve got loads of ethical bits and bobs on there, well worth a look. Anyway I digress, the timer is really simple- you hold the respective button down for how many minutes you wish to shower and it beeps after that time.
It turns out with the pressure of knowing it’s going to beep I really get a move on. My morning shower is done in three minutes, and that includes hair conditioning. That’s 5 minutes less for Rick and I each day which is a staggering saving of 77.5L per day!
There are other things that could be done if you don’t fancy shortening your shower such as reducing the flow with a Waterwise shower head. The water is aerated thus they claim you don’t notice the reduced volume of water and could save 4L water per minute.
So there we have it short and sweet just like our showers!
A nice simple, nutritious and delicious breakfast recipe. This makes 4 huge portions if you’re greedy like us or 6-8 normal sized bowl fulls. We make a batch to last a couple of days. It reheats fine in the microwave.
150g porridge oats
40g milled linseed (optional)
1 can coconut milk
350-450mls water depending on preferred consistency
2tsp vanilla essence
2 bananas (optional)
Slick everything into a pan, slice the bananas and put them in too. Cook low on the hob stirring frequently. It’s done after 5 minutes!
Sprinkle brown sugar or maple syrup over the top and add your favourite fruit. We like ours with strawberry compote. This is simple: strawberries with a dash of water simmered on a low heat for a few minutes!
Easy-peasy and scrummy.
Shop bought to home grown
After last week’s stat filled article we’ve decided to keep it short and sweet. With everything that has happened this week we want to share with you something light hearted that you can do together as a family. It’s lovely and sunny out there which is perfect weather for a spot of gardening…
Buying any food from a shop has a carbon footprint from it’s packaging to it’s transport. You can lessen these but shopping for local, seasonal and organic foods but the greenest way to obtain food is with your green fingers!
Not only is it greener but it’s also immensely satisfying too. It’s a great way to teach little ones about where their food comes from and, in Kitty’s case, it’s great fun to “help” with the planting.
We’ve been growing our own beetroot and parsnips for a couple of years but this year we’ve been more adventurous! We’ve got a good selection in our garden of fruits, veggies and herbs. Kitty loves blackberries so we’ve planted a thorn-less bush which she’ll be able to pick at her leisure when the fruits come through.
A neighbour of ours had a tonne of strawberry plants going spare so they’ve gone into half a dozen spare pots we had.
There’s some aubergine seedlings in the porch and some sunflowers along the fence which will give us some tasty seeds to eat as well as the bees some tasty pollen. We use a lot of fresh herbs in our cooking and they are a staple in our garden. Bees and butterflies love them too. In addition we’ve created two veggie patches which have tomatoes, chillies, peas, lettuce, winter squash and potatoes all due in the next few months. Aren’t the leaves from the potatoes just beautiful? We can’t wait to sample the food!
The beauty of growing your own is you really don’t need much space. Cherry tomatoes and strawberries are happy enough in window boxes or hanging baskets. Herbs are content on windowsills (as long as you put them in a bigger pot than the ones you buy them in). You can even put herbs on a living wall as they like free draining soil. We’ve bought a patio cherry tree and pear tree which will happily live in pots or in borders so there’s plenty of options with planting whether you have a large garden, a small patio or just a window box!
I can honestly say as someone who’s been growing food for a few years, it’s much tastier coming straight from the garden and onto your plate. No matter how big or small your space is; have a go!
Meat to Meat Free
In honour of vegetarian week we’d like to delve into the reasons as to why one should consider reducing their meat intake, or stop all together.
“A meat-eater’s diet requires 17 times more land, 14 times more water and 10 times more energy than a vegetarian’s.” (Ref)
Over the last two months of writing these posts we’ve looked at little changes which can together amount to big differences. This week is a little different because this is a big change for some people but the genefits are huge. We may inspire you to give up meat with this article or even consider less meat- think “meat free Mondays.” You have the potential to make a huge difference. Here’s why:
“Animal products cause more damage than producing construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as burning fossil fuels” (Ref)
Let’s explore some of the facts together of the various environmental impacts of the meat industry.
The production of meat uses vast amounts of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. In fact according to another UN report cattle rearing produces more greenhouse gases than transportation. It produces about 9% of all CO2 produced from human activity but more significantly 65% of all nitrous oxide which has 295 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2, and 37% of Methane production with 23 times the GWP of CO2. (source UN.org).
There’s a lot of stats here but I think it is important to know the evidence, not hyperbole that one often encounters on social media. If you really love your meat you may well need a convincing argument to give it up (or cut back) and we’re hoping this is it.
Not convinced? Here’s some more facts; livestock use THIRY PERCENT of the Earth’s entire land surface, either for cattle or to grow crops to feed cattle. Land that was once rainforest, woodland, grasslands i.e. land that was once natural habitat.
Agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption. Run off from farm land causes the pouring of nutrient rich waste into the water system. If you recall from our soap nuts article this leads to eutrophication and therefore loss of rivers, ponds and lakes. The ways in which agriculture negatively affects the water supply and approaches to tackle it can be found in this very deatiled journal paper. One of the conclusions from this paper was that if we are to neutralise the effect of agriculture on the water supply would be to reduce the farm land to just 20% of what it is currently in the UK allowing the rest to undergo re-wilding. How can we feed ourselves with 80% less crops? Eat more energy efficient food. Ok so an 80% reduction is probably not feasible or realistic but a reduction is still wherecwe should be heading.
What about eating fish? There is an argument certainly for animal based protein to come from fish rather than land animals; fish are 6 times more efficient at converting feed than cattle and 4 times more efficient than pork. Efficiency means less waste. However fishing is having a huge effect on marine eco-systems. Trawling destroys the sea floor and habitat making it very difficult for fish populations to recover after fishing and over fishing is leaving larger marine life without food. Many people try to be more conscious about the fish they buy thinking about more sustainable breeds. The issue is that human appetite for seafood is growing and this can’t be sustained. The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Sofia report showed that fishing at biologically sustainable levels dropped from 90% in 1974 to 68.6% in 2013. So if everyone opts for a breed of fish that is more sustainable, it too will become over-fished and the problem continues. I found this speech from the incredible oceanographer Sylvia Earle both informative and certainly inspirational on the issue.
One last stat;
“Going vegan reduces your carbon footprint by, on average, 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year!” (Ref)
So why not give it a go? The added bonus for is as a family is that we save over £100 per month on food! Not sure where to start? Well we’re proud to announce that we’ll be sharing some recipe ideas with you on our new recipe feed as requested by some of our lovely readers! Watch this space.
This week we’re going back to the basics of environmentalism. We all know that plastic is bad for the environment from drilling of oil to plastic production to and end product that doesn’t biodegrade for hundreds of years. We all know we need to reduce plastic use, but it is hard. The stuff is everywhere.
In the UK tap water is safe to drink and used 1/3 the quantity of water to produce. Yes you read that right; 1L water requires 1/4L oil and 3L water to produce the bottle and the water inside it. Facts courtesy of Greenpeace.
Before writing this article we really needed to pin down our habits. We didn’t think we used many plastic bottles yet each week there would be a couple in the recycling- here’s what we were doing:
Most of the time we don’t drink bottled water, at home we can easily fill a glass from the tap. We were however, buying water when out and about. When we go out hiking/cycling we often remember to fill a re-usable bottle before we go, but day to day we wouldn’t always think about it. We found that if we were buying food from the supermarket, we’d just throw a bottle if water in at the till for the journey home- bad habit. When going to to a cafe we’d often ask for bottled water or juice just because we felt we should pay for a drink when buying food. There’s no rule about asking for a glass of tap water- it’s environmentally more considerate and it’s free! Even when going for a long drive to visit friend we’d stop at the petrol station and fill up with fuel and bottles of water.
We knew we needed to make some changes. One of the big things that has helped us with this is our Chilly’s bottle. By the way we’re not plugging anything for anyone here this is just the one we bought and like. It’s a steel bottle which is light weight and keeps water cold for up to 24 hours. This means that the water from the tap stays lovely and refreshing and doesn’t develop that plastic flavour bottled water does if it gets a bit warm.
There we have it, short and sweet this week? Do you like us have any bad plastic habits you hadn’t thought about until now? How do you keep your plastic use down? Thaks for stopping by.