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Food & Drink, Kitchen Staples

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It goes without saying that Britain is a nation of beer lovers, with 8.5 billion pints of beer sold in the UK in 2018.

8.5 billion pints of beer is a lot of water, but that’s not the whole picture. Did you know that to industrially brew one single pint of beer, this process typically requires 8-10 pints of water? So, to produce those 8.5 billion pints of beer requires around a staggering 855 billion pints of water.

As someone who enjoys the occasional beer, I was over the moon to hear about South Bermondsey based craft brewers Small Beer. As well as producing great tasting vegan low alcohol ‘small’ beers, they have ingeniously designed a brewing system that requires just 1 ½ pints of water to brew one pint of Small Beer.

How has Small Beer managed to save so much water? In most commercial breweries, waste products are drained on to the floor, which is then hosed down the drain.⁠ Instead, Small Beer operates differently – with the country’s only ‘Dry Floor’ policy that saves hundreds of litres of water every day.

So much so, that since their first commercial brew in 2017, Small Beer says they’ve saved 1.4 million litres of water.

Why Stop At Saving Water?

Small Beer hasn’t just stopped at saving water. All aspects of sustainability have been considered. From the obvious, such as the beer labels, boxes, and business cards being made from 100% recycled materials; to the other sustainability aspects that are often overlooked, like the efficiency of their packaging.

You see, all Small Beers are packaged in stubby bottles because their design allows 672 litres of beer to fit on one pallet vs. the usual 480 litres. This helps them to reduce their carbon footprint by maximising the volume of stock per delivery. This is the kind of thinking that really impresses me.

Zero-waste principles are also employed. Spent grain is delivered to a partner farm, for use as feed for cows. Even their grain sacks, which their malt supplier can’t refill, are donated to BOST, a social and environmental charity, based locally, who use them for storing and moving gardening materials across their neighbourhood programmes.⁠

Small Beer has been recognised by their ethical production and responsible brewing practices, by, in 2019, becoming London’s first B-CORP™ certified brewery. This is a certification that recognises businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and help build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

The Moral Fibres Taste Test

eco friendly beer

Of course, as Small Beer themselves say: “We’re not a ‘sustainable beer’. We’re a great tasting beer that brews with our world in mind“.

Impressed by Small Beer’s eco-credentials, and intrigued by low-alcohol beer, my partner and I sampled a few of Small Beer’s selection to test them on their taste claims. I know, I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

We tried:

  • The 2.1% Lager – described as a classic pilsner-style, with a crisp citrus bite.
  • The 2.5% Session Pale – a pale ale, full of juicy bitterness and a balanced tropical finish.
  • The 2.7% Steam – a rich amber style beer, bridging the gap between lager & ale.
  • And finally, the 1.0% Dark Lager – which looks and smells like a stout or a porter, but drinks like a lager.

I always imagined low-alcohol beer to taste quite watery, but this was definitely not the case with Small Beer – each beer is ram-packed full of flavour. We were blown away by the Dark Lager, which was hands down our favourite, with its hints of chocolate and coffee.  The refreshing citrus flavours of the Session Pale came a close second, however, we certainly wouldn’t turn down the Steam or Lager if offered!

As well as the flavour, what we really appreciated, being people that, let’s just say, are not in their twenties, or, ahem, thirties anymore, is that you can (responsibly) enjoy a few great tasting craft beers of an evening, and not have a sore head in the morning. All the joy, and none of the consequences!

Keen to try out Small Beer for yourself? Visit the Small Beer website, where you can shop for their beers online for home delivery, and follow them on social media. Find Small Beer on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Food & Drink, Kitchen Staples

Zero-Waste Snack Ideas

Are you looking to zero waste your snack habit? I have put together over 30 zero-waste snack ideas to keep your taste buds and your bin happy! 

This article originally appeared on Kempii – a great site with advice and products to reduce waste – and we thought it would be great to share here too as part of Plastic-Free July.

Favourite Zero-Waste Snack Ideas

Fruit

how to keep cut apple fresh

The original zero-waste snack. You would think that fruit should be a simple and cheap plastic-free snack. However, buying loose fruit is, depending on where you shop, a little tricky. What’s more, buying loose can often be pricier compared to prepackaged fruit. Sometimes the plastic packaging is there to prolong the lifespan of the fruit, preventing food waste. It’s certainly a minefield, and you can only do what you can.

If you have the choice then opt for the most seasonal and local fruit you can find – here’s a handy month-by-month guide if you’re stuck for ideas. Seasonal fruit is often the cheapest and the tastiest option. Whereas out of season fruit has normally been grown energy intensively in heated hothouses and is low on flavour.

If there are slim pickings at your local shop, then bananas, despite travelling a long distance to reach us, have a surprisingly low carbon footprint. They are grown in natural sunlight, which means that no energy-intensive hot-housing is required. And unlike softer fruits, like grapes, berries, and kiwi fruit, they keep well, so although they are often grown thousands of miles from where they are sold, they are transported by boats, which is less energy-intensive than air freighting produce.

Make it special: slather your fruit in a nut butter or chocolate spread. This could be homemade or shop-bought (in a glass jar) – whatever works for you.

Vegetables

Over 30 zero-waste snack ideas

Again, another of the original zero-waste snack ideas! Depending on the season, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and pea pods make for great low effort raw snacks. Again check out the month by month guide to what’s in season before you head to the shops.

To help ensure your vegetables don’t go to waste, prepare ahead by peeling and chopping your vegetables into batons. Then store your vegetables in a reusable tub for healthy snacking on the go, or to keep to hand in the fridge for when hunger strikes. It’s often easier to reach for a healthy snack if you’ve done all the hard work in advance!

Make it special: dip your vegetables in a homemade hummus or dip to liven things up a bit.

Zero-Waste Smoothies

zero-waste smoothie ideas

Smoothies are a great way to use up fruit and vegetables that are going off, and can even be frozen in jars or your old tupperware containers. Just take your smoothie out of the freezer the night before, defrost in the fridge, and it’ll be ready for morning.

You can create a smoothie out of almost whatever you have to hand – for inspiration check out the BBC’s Good Food recipe guide.

Bulk Zero-Waste Snacks

popcorn - one of many zero-waste snack ideas

If you have a bulk shop near you then here are some suggestions of what to look out for next time you are shopping:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate covered treats such as raisins and nuts
  • Rice crackers
  • Granola
  • Popcorn

If you’re London based then here’s a handy guide to zero waste shops in London.

If you don’t have a bulk shop shop in your vicinity then bulk shop what you can at your local supermarket. Lidl is good for loose nuts, and some Holland and Barrett shops do have a small bulk section.

Apart from those options, plastic-free snacks are definitely trickier. Things you can do instead are to shop smarter. Instead of buying individual boxes of raisins, for example, buy a big bag of raisins that you can divide up into small reusable tubs. One big bag of popcorn kernels lasts longer than a bag of pre-popped popcorn. A big sharing bag of crisps, that again can be divided up into smaller reusable tubs uses less plastic than buying individual bags of crisps.

Zero-Waste Sweets

zero-waste snack ideas

Sweet shops may sadly be few and far between these days, but some high streets do have an elusive sweet shop. Here you can fill up a paper bag full of your favourite sweet treats – some may even let you use your own container. The hardest part is deciding which sweets to pick!

Got a kids party coming up? Neary’s Sweets sell bulk plastic-free boxes of sweets and they ship without plastic too. This is a great option for party snacks and for filling party bags with. 

If chocolate is more your thing then many chocolate bars are zero waste. The good news is you don’t have to go far – some can easily be bought from your local supermarket or corner shop if you’re in desperate need of a quick sugar rush!

There is also a growing variety of chocolatiers, selling online and in specialist shops, that cater to vegan, organic, palm-oil free, and gluten-free diets, depending on your preferences. 

Seed and Bean is a particular favourite. Accredited as the most ethical chocolate producer in Britain by the Good Shopper Guide, not only is their chocolate fairtrade and organic, but the paper outer wrapper is recyclable and the inner wrapper can be composted at home.

Zero-Waste Snack Ideas to Bake or Make

zero waste crisps recipe

Finally, let’s not forget the snacks that can be baked or made at home. Some favourite snacks to make include:

  • Granola
  • Hummus
  • Popcorn
  • Crisps – this is a great recipe for zero-waste crisps (pictured above)
  • Roasted Seeds
  • Muffins
  • Biscuits
  • Scones
  • Kale Crisps
  • Tortilla Crisps
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Bread
  • Flapjacks

I’ve suggested some simple snack ideas here that you can bake or make with relatively little effort, but really, the sky’s the limit here. The internet is your friend – search for recipes or even try searching for a recipe based on what leftovers you have on the excellent Love Food Hate Waste recipe finder to help you reduce your food waste. 

Despite our best efforts, sometimes food does go bad. With most food that has gone bad, sadly it has to go straight into your composter, however if you’ve got some black bananas then don’t throw them out. Black bananas are super sweet and completely edible. This vegan banana bread recipe works best with the blackest bananas you can stomach – as the blacker the banana the sweeter it is. So if you forgot about those bananas languishing at the bottom of the fruit bowl don’t fret, consider yourself in luck! 

I’ve suggested over 30 zero-waste snack ideas here, but there are loads more out there too. Do share your favourite snacks in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out Kempii’s guide to plastic-free food storage for storing your snacks in!