A friend of mine posted an interesting link on facebook this week, telling us she was going to take a challenge: Zero Plastic Week. The idea is that you don’t buy any new plastic for a week, whilst you’re allowed to use any plastic you already have. The challenge forces you to think carefully about everything you buy, as a lot of products come in plastic wrappers, bags or bottles. Plastic, as they teach you in primary school, is so harmful to the environment because it does not biodegrade, it is often more difficult to recycle than, for instance, paper or cans, and the production process is a lot more polluting.
I thought this Zero Plastic week was a great idea, and since I read about it on Monday morning, before I had done any sort of shopping, I could still jump the bandwagon and give it a try. It’s going pretty well so far. Fruit and vegetables are easily bought without plastic, especially if you go to the wee shop rather than the supermarket. Eggs come in a carton, so that’s fine too. I guess I can live without cheese for a while, so no plastic involved in that this week, either.
The only thing that I really don’t want to cut down on that is hard to come by without plastic, is bread. Most loaves come in a big plastic bag, and even the freshly baked ones from the bakers’ come in bags that, although made mostly out of paper, contain a plastic window in the middle through which to ogle your newly purchased bread. That’s no good, so I’m making my own bread today – all the ingredients come from paper or glass containers, so if you still have to buy any of the ingredients, you should be absolutely fine.
The recipe is a basic bread recipe from the BBC and it’s pretty easy, which is good because I’m more of a cook than I am a baker. For one loaf, you will need:
- 500 gr wholemeal flour
- 7 gr dried yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 300 ml warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
Put the flour in a bowl, add the salt and the yeast and mix it all up. Mix the warm water with the oil and honey, then add it to the flour and mix well with a spoon. Once most of the flour has been absorbed into the dough, use your hands to incorporate the last little bits, then tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until the dough is no longer sticky.
Once you’ve got a smooth ball, grab your loaf tin, oil it up with some olive oil and stick the dough in. Press it all the way down so that it covers the entire tin evenly.
Now stick it in a bag – the recipe dictates a food bag but I don’t know what that is, and moreover I don’t own one and obviously can’t buy one this week. Instead I used a normal carrier bag, of which I own about a hundred (stop judging – I use them as bin bags because I’m too stingy to buy real bin bags). Just stick the loaf in, then tie a knot in the handles, and leave it alone for an hour. The dough will rise up to and beyond the height of the tin.
Once the hour’s passed and the loaf has risen properly, stick the loaf in the oven, 200°C for about 40 minutes.
Take the loaf out and tap it with a wooden spoon to see if it’s done – it should sound hollow. If it is, take it out of the tin. Double check that it’s baked properly by tapping the bottom, then leave it to cool. Eat within the next few days, or freeze (part of) it if you think you won’t finish it any time soon. Store it in a breadbin, an old carrier bag or a paper bag that you’ve fashioned out of old ShortLists.