Blog post 16: Free “cider”?

Home made “cider-taste drink (left) and “ginger ale” (right) from water kefir.

Are you dreaming of free, tasty, slightly sparkling, alcohol free “cider”? It would be nice if this would also be excellent for your intestinal flora, he?

Here is one solution:  WATER KEFIR

I received it from a friend of mine who is expert in alimentation (orthomolecular medicine). She is explained me that if your intestines are always “irritated” (inflamed by light intolerance or imbalanced bacterial flora), you can feel continuously tired. And she was convinced that by modifying a little bit the way of eating, it could be better! I must admit that I didn’t believe her at the beginning… but we tried… and know she is our hero! (there are some interesting recipes on her website)

What is Kefir? Kefir is a mixture of yeast and (probiotic) bacteria who work together (symbiose). They “eat” the sugar and produce lactic acid, ethanol (0,1% => considered alcohol-free), and carbon dioxide (making it sparkling). This process is called fermentation (as in beer).

You’ll find online many sites selling water kefir, but don’t buy it, just ask around, use social media to ask friends who can give you some! (If you live in Antwerp, contact me).

You’ll also find a lot of recipes; where you have to weight all ingredients. But we want quick and easy recipes, right? So, let’s not be exact (no problem for this recipe) and let’s take it easy. Your final product will always differ anyway, even if you add exactly the same amount of ingredients.

What do you need?

  • A glass container (that you can close, but not obligatory sealed)
  • Sugar: I use cane sugar, but you can experiment with all kind of sugar, except honey as honey will kill your kefir (antibacterial).
  • Sweet dried fruits NOT TREATED (or biological). I use figs, but you can try with apricots, raisins, dates,…
  • A PLASTIC sieve (NL: zeef; FR: passoire). Do not use metal as the kefir gets bad from it (I use my old plastic juicer).
  • A NON METALIC spoon

Recipe (3 min + 2-4 days waiting):

  • In the glass container, add 2 spoons of kefir with one spoon of sugar. Add water (about 10x more than the kefir). Add dried fruits (for this quantity of kefir I would add 1 fig). If you close the lid hermetically, DON’T FILL COMPLETELY the glass container (or take a bigger one).
  • Put the lid on it (can be loose; be careful if you close it that you don’t forget it…it produces gas and could explode…)
  • Let it sit for 2-4 days (I do open it once in a while as I’m scared of the gas production 😉). Room temperature, no direct sun (can be in the dark too). From day 2: the dried fruits will be “swimming” and some “foam” will be at the top. If you stop after 2 days, it will be sweeter and less sparkling.
  • Filter
    • keep the liquid to drink (you can keep it for some time in the fridge)
    • rinse the kefir grains with cold water
    • keep some kefir to make new one or keep it in the fridge (See scheme below).


  • Water kefir and milk kefir are 2 different kefirs grains. You cannot keep a culture of water kefir using milk, neither the other way around.
  • Some people add lemon (together with the dried fruits). I didn’t try it yet.
  • If you want ginger ale, add candied ginger (NL: gekonfijt gember, FR: gingembre confit) to the filtrated kefir (the liquid) and let it sit for one more day.
  • If you leave it too long, it will get more bitter.

Blog post 14: Zero waste presents?

Present from my daughters for their father (birthday)

I don’t like to feel obliged to give presents, although I like giving and receiving them when I’m sure the person will be happy with it.

Some people started the concept of “Green Friday” to fight the “consumption fever” of the Black Friday 😉 I love it!

Idea of the Green Friday: Think different:

More ecological, more sustainable. Where was the product produced and how does it comes to me? Which material is it made of? Is it durable or cheap-breaking-after-2-hours? Is there a more sustainable alternative (not too expensive)? Can you find it in second hand?

The most difficult is to find ideas of zero-waste/sustainable/eco presents. And don’t get fooled by the increasing market using those words to sell their products… We don’t need 100 reusable of cotton bag, nor 30 straws of all kind, so many reusable cans or bottles… It also costs a lot of energy to produce them!

I’ve been looking for some idea for you ;-):

  • Some activities (cinema, museum, overnight in B&B, excellent meal at your home,…
  • In summer: Zero waste flowers or fruits where you can pick up the flowers or fruit you like in the field, and just pay what you take (based on trust of course!)
  • Chocolate in your own container: I usually go to the pralines shop with my own box; they love it! (my husband and kids; as well as the shop who saves some money).
  • Bake cookies! I’ve a lot of quick and easy to make recipes; but there are for sure plenty as tasty on the internet!
  • Home-made beauty or cleaning products? For beauty products, you have to go to other sites than mine (promise, I’ll search for easy and quick recipes, but not now…); the website from the list of my favourite blogs/website have plenty of recipes. Give some home-made laundry with the recipe so that they can make it themselves! (it is as giving a win-for-life as they will save so much money with it!)
  • Cooking lessons or book: seasonal vegetable or vegetarian dishes. My favorite books (in dutch: “de moestuin van Mme zsazsa”, the “Lekker ecologish” van Velt.
  • Reusable stuffs (bottle, straw, tea bags, toothbrush, ear bugs, lunch box,…). But check first if this is the 23th reusable bottle that the person will receive, or is there something that he/she would really like or use frequently. My favourite is the reusable baking paper. It is very cheap, and you can use it for years (I’ve mine more than 10 years!). You can also use it to protect your oven for spilling, to lay under a pizza in the oven, to grill vegetables,…)
  • If you know what you will and you have time, you can search in second hand shops.
  • Or if you need more inspiration, I found a website with 101 ideas, even for kids.

IF this is too difficult, why not try to reduce the packaging by wrapping it in fabric left overs? (you take them back afterwards for next time). Or even old t-shirts or home-made gift bags?

Enjoy giving and receiving presents!


PS: Please, if you have some excellent ideas, feel free to post them here below (it doesn’t appear directly as I’ve to approve the comment first).

PPS: Follow me on Facebook if you want to be updated for nice tips, extra recipes, order washing products,…

Blog post 10: Ecological personal hygiene

For personal hygiene, there are many changes possible; you can test them one by one 😉

What do I use? I use palmarosa essential oil for deodorant, washable pad cloth, baking soda for toothpaste (since few days), hard soap for hands and body and refill of liquid shampoo at the zero waste shop, and papier-cotton ear sticks. New bamboo toothbrush are ordered to be tested.

Picture (from left to right, up to bottom): menstrual cups, bamboo toothbrush and baking soda, peppermint-like hard toothpaste, cotton-paper ear stick, palmarosa essential oil, hard soap (with a condom drawn on it… receive at a AIDS conference many years ago, hihihi), and washable pad cloth.

Toothbrush: There are now many brands (and “fake copies”) of bamboo toothbrushes. I tried the “humble brush” and the “hydrophil”. Unfortunately, I’ve switched back to a classical (plastic) toothbrush. The ‘hairs” of the toothbrush are a little but too hard for my gums and they suffer of it. I want to give another try with the “toothbrush Bam Boo”. They propose “soft” toothbrushes. (Update Oct 2019: Bam Boo is as hard as the other ones…)

For the Dutch speaking, you can read the excellent blog of “Ma vie en vert” (she has two post on toothbrushes: 1st post and update).

Toothpaste: Here again, there are many options and I’ve tried some of them. Many DIY toothpaste require some preparation time (just what we want to avoid, he?) and some “exotic products” as coconut oil (not so ecological at the end…).

We bought the “lolly toothpaste”: you just have to go over it with your wet toothbrush. It is not foamy, so you have to get used to it. There are different taste. The one I tried, were not tasting very good…I was literally feeling sick of it.  We also tried the “candy toothpaste”: it looks like a small mint and you have to bite on it until it gets a paste. Then you can brush your teeth. I’m not fan of this neither (and I came in a tick plastic packaging…). But if you travel a lot it is very easy! You might find it without packaging at a zero waste shop.

For the purpose of the blog post, I decided to start using baking soda (commercial toothpaste have been proven better than toothpaste not containing baking soda by scientifics). It feels you are emptying completely your salivary glands in 2 seconds 😉 It cleans theeth very well (my theeth feels so smooth!); but you might want to try it for few weeks if you have sensitive gums. You can use it as it is; or add some peppermint extract or peppermint essential oil (if you limit the amount of essential oil, your toothpaste will be cheaper than a regular toothpaste). It is quite salty… but you get used to it. An if you prefer a paste, add little by little some water and mix well.

Deodorant: I only use a drop of palmarosa oil. I wrote on it here.

Reusable pad cloth: I love it! I use those from “Eco Femme”. Why? Because it is a social project for women empowerment in India, it saves a lot of waste… and the push button (to keep it in place in your uderware) is very thin (… if you bike every day it might be more comfortable). The cons: it comes from India… but yes… one makes choices… I’ve about 12 pieces (3eur per piece). But the quality is excellent.

Menstrual cup: there you also have a lot of choice. Big of small (according to your flow). And with different end… up to you… I like better the one with the small “button” end (blue one on the picture). The longer end felt uncomfortable to me.

I also read about menstrual underwear: a underwear keeping the menstruation without leaking or stinking…I didn’t try it, but find it a cool idea  😉

Ear stick: you can find quite easily bamboo or paper ear sticks with cotton at the end. Check at a bio/zero waste shops. I guess it will arrive (if not yet) in supermarket sooner or later. You can also use reusable sticks from inox or bamboo (e.g. oriculi). It looks like a mini spoon. But if you need time to changes your habits, as I do, you can start with the paper/cotton ear stick (it is more expensive in the long term, though).

Washable face scrub: yes, it does exist too. Either from cotton, Hemp or bamboo. Or if you can sew, just make some with old towels.

Soap and shampoo: I started with refilling my old bottles at the bio shop. But when I heard that the plastic packaging was not reused (OK, 1 big container of 20L is still better than 30 small bottles), I promised myself to look for an alternative. So I switched to hard soap…. Great. You can probably even promote local fabrication (Belgium: check one of my old flatmate new hobby/job). For Shampoo, I tried hard shampoo (2 different brands)… but I don’t like it. With long hair, I don’t get it everywhere and I don’t like the feeling of it in my hair. So I’m still refilling my bottle once in a while. I read about people using eggs, vinegar, not washing at all… But I’m not so far yet. Bu I succeeded to train my scalp to be less greasy (washing now every 3 or 4 days instead of every other day! When the become greasy, I rinse my hair with water only).

Good luck!


Blog post 3: DIY cleaning products

Most of my cleaning products…

Did you try to make some cookies? I hope it was a success. Each time you make some, it is a packaging less. If you don’t have time to bake every week, why not alternate?

Ready for a new challenge?

Cleaning products… we collect so many of them. Strangely enough, we can reduce them to a few of them: laundry powder, “all use cleaning, dishwashing detergent, and dishwasher soap. You’ll also need to store some of the ingredients for your home made-products (citric acid, soda, soap, vinegar), but you need very few of them.

First a funny story… I wanted to try the recipe from a friend called “toilets bombs”: I had to make some “ice cubes” with a mixture of baking soda and citric acid; and add a little bit of water to bind the mixture; but not too much otherwise the baking soda gets transformed in carbonic acid (H2CO3) and then in H2O and CO2 => bubbles).

 I thought “it will take me no more than 5 minutes”… yeah… I added much too much water… and it has been “making bubbles” for about 1,5 hours!!! I’m happy that I used a huge cooking pot…I had to keep stirring otherwise it would rise and get bigger and bigger and go over the pot every 2 minutes… so to go to the toilet, I had to run 😉


Let’s starts with the one I like the most, and the easiest: the laundry powder.  I mix baking soda, crystal soda and soap flakes… done… 

You can also make liquid soap if you want; but I’m not fan of it. You have to cook your mixture, let it cool down and pour it into a bottle (hum… always a mess with me). Not so quick, so I’ll not share it on this website.

I’m probably like you: I want to be more ecological, but it fits my family life better if it doesn’t take too much time!

You can also do your laundry with Ivy or horse chestnuts! Very easy and free!

As softener, I only use vinegar! Easy, he?

All purpose cleaning

According to me, the second best time/quality product is the “all purpose cleaning”. Mix vinegar and water. That’s it. I promise that the smell of vinegar doesn’t stay in your house! I reuse spray bottles, and I’ve added a mark with a permanent pen to indicate the volume of vinegar I’ve to add. So, when I need to refill: Vinegar to the mark, and water to the top… And done!

If you want it to smell better when spaying it, you can add pieces of lemon or oranges for a couple of weeks (then remove it before it gets rotten); or add some drops of essential oil.

You can use this for cleaning your bathroom, windows, remove the dust in your living room,… Don’t use it on natural stone!!! (The vinegar destroys the limestone in your natural stone…I’ve done it once…don’t try it).

I’ve found a lot of other fancier recipes, but this one is very easy and quick and I’m happy with it!

All along this blog, I’ll try to keep to easy and quick solutions, hoping to motivating you to use some of them.

Toilet cleaning

For cleaning the toilet, I follow the advice from the “famille zero déchet”: a tea spoon of citric acid that I try to stick on the side (if you do it after flushing, it works). They add flour; … I tried it too, but as I’m always forgetting it for too long… the flour gets very sticky into the toilet…. You can alternate with baking soda and vinegar.

I also tried a recipe of “toilet bombs” (as explained here above). But, in fact, it contains citric acid and baking soda (+ essential oils). Water is to make it hard and have nice looking cubes. But if it is for yourself, you don’t need a good looking product, right? Just working products. If citric acid works, why make good looking cubes?


Update October 2019: I’m now making my dishwashing powder.

Up till now, those are the recipes that I’m using often. It is maybe enough for you to start?

To buy the ingredients, I either buy at the zero waste shop in Antwerp ( Marseille soap flakes, baking soda) or ask the bio shop to order for me (paper bags of crystal soda from “la droguerie ecologique” But I’m still looking around for more packaging free. If I find a zero waste cheap solution, I’ll let you know. If you leave in Antwerp, I can buy it for you (I buy in big quantities to reduce transport pollution and transport cost).

If you have good tips, don’t hesitate to write me ( or via the contact form).

Have fun,


PPS: and if you liked my post, don’t hesitate to “like” it, and to share it to friends and family!

Blog: tips

Blog post 1: How to start?

While trying to write my first post, I’m probably sitting with the same question as you… how to start?

Let me give you an advice: don’t be too enthusiastic! … It sounds a weird advice from someone who wants to inspire you to a more ecological way of living. But yes, keep it in mind.

Take small steps, one by one. Give it time to integrate all those small changes in your live. If something doesn’t work, don’t worry, step back and take another step.

I’ll try to give you some direction. Hopefully, in some months/years, all topics will be covered in this website. If you really miss something, or are interested in a specific topic which I might find relevant, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Pick one of the bullet point here below and think how you could easily adapt your current life.

  • You are a shopping queen? Check for ecological and fair trade brands, exchange clothes with friends, you could even make new clothes from old ones if you can sew.
  • Ready to reorganize your kitchen-cupboard? Maybe you can try to find some zero-waste shop or bio-shops offering packaging-free food. Dry food is very easy. Do you really need 3kg stock of rice, quinoa, pasta, bulgur, lentils…? (because there was 10% off when buying 3 pack). Don’t throw away your plastic boxes, but use them until they are broken. You’ll save place, and money (not wasting expired ingredients).
  • Holidays… a sensitive topic. Yes, we all need a break once in a while. But did you check for alternative instead of the plane? Will you really enjoy more being on a weekend city trip in Spain than going by train in your own country or neighboring country? If yes, go; but at least you’ll have thought about it. 😉
  • Sweets... yes… being ecological doesn’t means no sweets… I love cookies, so I’m baking them myself. Either it become a activity with the girls on a weekend day, or I make them in the evening when they are in bed… it gives me satisfaction to have done something “useful”. And the zero waste shop where we go even have excellent candies!
  • Need place? You probably have 2m² with cleaning products as I did. But you probably can do with a 1/5 of it: laundry powder, “all use cleaning”, hand and dishes soap, dishwasher tablets, and small bag of the ingredients for your home made products (citric acid, soda, soap, vinegar).
  • Kids @ home? This is a difficult one… I must admit. Bake with them, try to make wild animals or other craft with “nature treasure” (of course, you go on treasure hunt before: feathers, nice stones, tree branches of dry leaves, walnut shells, pine cones,…), make self-made salt-based modelling dough, start a small vegetable garden (on your window sill or inside if your don’t have a garden).
  • Smartphone addicted? There a plenty of interesting and motivating apps; making you realize the ecological footprint of your choices (then it’s up to you to decide what to do with it; but at least you know it ;-)). I do have “For Good”. Great app!!! Did you hear about the Fairphone? (I want to make a post on it; all phones should follow their way of thinking… however the phone itself is not (yet) the best on the market).
  • Just bought a house? Renovating it? Do you know that there are ecological alternative for most of the building material?
  • In the bathroom… there are soooo many bottles, tubes, pot, and beauty-day-night-after sun-(…) cream. Often most are unused; and for many of them home-made or zero-waste alternatives are available. But to be honnest, I find this one a difficult one… there a so many alternatives or you need of some time (and ingredients) to make them yourself. Up till today, I save 3/4 of the space of the bathroom closet: hard soap; one bottle filled in with liquid soap and shampoo from the zero-waste shop, palma rosa essential oil instead of deodorant, washable sanitary towels, and the reusable “cup” for menstruation.
  • think LOCAL & veggie: I’m not vegetarian, and I’m not aiming at it. But we are not made to eat food at every meal… if someone in your house (i don’t…) can cook well, you’ll not miss meat in your plate! We also try to eat local and seasonal food: vegetables (including from our own garden of course), once in a while meat from a cow grazing or running in grass fields (not locked inside their entire life) in our own country. Of course we prefer to use biological products, but we also struggle to decide bio strawberries or “normal strawberries” 4 times cheaper…