Pencils are the new pens

Pencils are PALL, cheaper, don´t need replacing so often, great for note taking, shopping lists etc. And they don´t leak in my bag!

I also quite enjoy sharpening a pencil. Strange as that may sound…

These were plastic free as they came in a cardboard box (I´ve since lost)

I started using pencils a while ago, when my job involved a lot of note taking. But I was dubious…  Why?  I´ve no idea!  As I was use to using pens I suppose, and pens were “normal”. Now, I can honestly say, I don´t like pens that much, they´re a bit scratchie and not so nice to write with.

I much prefer using pencils and have started using them all the time.

I´d been PALL 7 years before I caught on to them, some habits are hard to break, but a simple habit change can save a lot of plastic. Pens break, they run out, I´d loose the lids. I´d loose the pens!  Where did they end up? Who knows…  I never bought pens, not in the 7 years. Oh no, I just “acquired” them, but someone was buying and replacing the ones I´d end up with. I still have quite a few hanging around, if I need to sign any thing official. Other than that, it´s good ol´ fashioned pencils all the way.  (Which, funnily enough, I now seam to “acquire”!)

Give pencils a try, you may be presently surprised.


“Remember, every refusal adds up!”


Partying PALL – Plastic A Lot Less

We’ve just had New Year, so maybe I should post this in a month or two, when people have given up the fitness kick and wanna go out again.  Though in the Southern Hemisphere it´s Summer, so party time!

When I look at other blogs sometimes I get the impression people are perfect and live pintrest wholesome lives. Well I’m not and I don’t.  This is a subject close to my heart, I like going out & partying, I love a good boogie. OK, currently I’m not partying like in the past, I’m not and never have been as hardcore as I’d like to be, but that’s not to say the “feral party chick” (as myself and a couple of other friend were once known…) has gone forever.

So can you party AND PALL?  Yes you can. I’ve done it, many a time over the last six years. Remembering we’re talking PALL-ing  Plastic A Lot Less. Not plastic free here (though that’s possible).

I totally understand when you’re letting your hair down plastic in the oceans isn’t the first thing on your mind, but partying is enjoyed by a lot of us, that’s a lot of plastic. Every day I went on the beach in Portugal I´d see plastic cups that had washed up.

If you’ve thought of it before you’ve left the house, you can just get on with it while you’re out. You remember your keys, you remember your phone, your lippy, you can remember a couple of others things and after a few times it becomes habit.

(OK, if you’re at the age/stage where even standing up and remembering your name is a problem when you’re out, then forget it, but if you can do that then you can manage.)

You may be the only one not drinking or eating from plastic, I have been many a time, not always, but a lot. I can handle being the odd one out and not following the crowd. The apologies from friends at one point did (after 4 years!) get a bit much. Though it was after that I talked with Arrifana Restaurant and they commissioned the mugs in the header picture, Saving 5000-6000 single use plastic cups, every year!  No plastic cups, also means no apologies! Had friends taken mugs along and not apologised to me a thousand times I might not have spoken with them, so it was worth it in the end!

Depending on where you’re going or what you’re doing means you need to consider different things:

  • If you´re going out, or out out. 
  • If there’s food involved
  • A festival, for the day or weekend
  • House party as a guest or a host

I´ll discuss them all here so scroll down & hopefully you´ll find what you´re looking for. Let me know in the comments what you do to PALL – Plastic A Lot Less – your partying!

A night out on the town is pretty simple

  • Request your drinks without straws. Easy.  Do straws add up to that much? Yes they do, or they wouldn’t wash up with every tide.
  • If you´re getting a cocktail that you feel needs a straw to stir, a caipirinha for example, ask for a spoon instead. It´s the stirring you need, not the sucking.
  • Take a small bottle of water with you, alternatively ask for tap water at the bar, in a glass or a mug if they have a coffee machine.
  • Food at the end of the night, depending what takes your fancy, all though most chippies have now opted for polystyrene most still have paper too. Ask for your food to be in that, rather than a clam shell for every portion of chips. If you’re a burger type of person, again ask for paper.
  • If you go to a fast food outlet and you need a drink, get the drink without the lid or the straw.

Local festival where there’s food involved.

There are loads of these in Portugal. Every week in Summer is one festival or another. Be it the festival of the sweet potato, the sweetcorn or the chestnut. I love these festivals, where every one turns up and hangs out together, but boy is there some plastic involved. They are literally drowning in SUPs – single use plastics.  When there’s food involved and there’s no fixed bar I admit it takes more effort, but these efforts really add up.

Lets not forget also, eating and drinking from single use plastic, is not only polluting, it’s horrible to eat and drink from!

  • Firstly, you need something to drink from. A metal mug works great as it’s light and won’t break when you drop it. (not saying you’ll drop it, but you never know). Try if you can to get one with an official measure so it doesn’t look as if your only reason to use it is to blag more booze. If you can’t, just explain you don’t need it full to the top, just what they’d usually pour. Be aware – they may use a plastic cup as a measure, which they’ll then throw straight in the bin, so be nice, you’re really not on the blag you just don’t want plastic. (You’ll find you often do end up with more booze, after the first one, Brucie bonus!)
  • Eating – Plates, knives & forks. This helps if you’re a woman and don’t mind carrying a huge handbag about. Alternatively put them in a canvas bag. Don’t take your Nan’s best china. Stock up at the charity shop, you can pick up plates and cutlery for nothing, then if you do forget them it’s not the end of the world. If you’re not worried about losing them, if and when you lose you mind, consider some nice metal camping style ones.
  • Water – take your water bottle filled up with you.Or if there´s a tap, drink from that.

The Medieval Festival in Silves in Portugal is a festival like no other, here it´s all beautiful terracotta!



When was the last time I camped at a festival (without the luxury of a camper?)  I do remember, it was a very long time ago! Maybe I’m not currently the best person to talk about festivaling, but in the past this is what I´ve done.

(the above pictures are thanks to Liz. Who remembered to take a camera and used it!)

  •  I would – like I have in the past at festivals take my mug. If I was staying a few days, I’d take a few… just in case I lost them ( I find them at bootsales & charity shops).
  • Water. This time I would leave my Klean Kanteen at home (I lost a Klean Kanteen at a festival once, which was annoying as it was both a present and expensive.) Next time I learnt and sourced a cheaper water bottle.
  • I struggled at at the last festival I went to to get in with my metal bottle, as it was metal. I explained why I had it, still they wasn’t having any it. So I  – politely, but firmly asked to speak to who was ever in charge at the gate. I can’t remember exactly, I was probably already a bit squiffy, but then they let me in. It helped being nice, I had it for a reason, which I explained (The festival was very close to the Atlantic) they did recognize that once I was willing to take it further and not just give in.
  • Water costs a fortune at festivals, the extra 5 minutes at the gate was worth saving the money and also, time queuing for water once in.
  • I opted to eat at stalls with no packaging, or ate things that I could hold. I ask for paper. Maybe even take newspaper or paper bags with you, they’re light enough.
  • I always have a stash of almonds with me, generally where ever I go as well.
  • If I was going to camp, with out a camper next time I would try to find one of those huge metal water drums and take that with me (the one we used in the camper was glass). I’m not sure to be honest what else I’d do. Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life does an amazing job at The Burning Man festival, so obviously it can be done!  This is what she does here:  My Plastic Free Life. Burning Man Festival, part 1.

House Parties – As A guest

House parties are a difficult one. You don’t want to be rude. Generally over the last few years house parties I’ve gone to I’ve known the people so it’s easy. They know me, if I get a plate out of the cupboard people are used to that. Also some friends have stopped using Single Use Plastics – SUPs at parties :-).

Recently though I went to a party of someone I didn´t know, being taken by a friend of a friend who I also didn´t know. It was in Cambodia, I have posted about the plastic in Cambodia here. Traveling PALL I noticed it was all single use plastic so, when the guy asked me what cocktail I wanted I offered to help. Once in the kitchen I asked for a ´bigger´ cup. No one can argue with bigger! (Personally I don´t think it´s rude to ask for a bigger cup, it makes perfect sense).  We had a laugh while making cocktails, so it also worked out a good way to get to know my host.

When the food came round it was a meat chilli (I had been warned & eaten before I went) had it been veggie, I probably would have asked – nicely for a normal plate, and made sure I´d washed it up. If not I would have re-used a friends after they´d finished, saving one set from being used at least. There was cheesecake going around, (I forgot about the eggs in cheesecake, whoops) & just ate off my hands. I´d eaten it within 30 seconds, so really didn´t need a plate or fork of any kind.

House party – as a host

Back in the day myself and house mates hosted quite a number of big house parties, they were SUPs affairs, I wasn´t to know then. It´s obvious isn´t it, who wants to wash up after a house party?  The last one I held, I did!  Now I´d rather a bit (OK, a lot) of washing up and mess rather than sending bags of SUPs cups, plates and crockery to landfill/the ocean.  I just had to have a re-think of what to do., I talk about it under the pictures. It was a fantastic party, as well as being PALL!
(I wasn´t blogging at the time so didn´t record any of the PALL efforts.)

  • The cups. I borrowed a load of glasses from a friend, who´d recently had a 40th & also didn´t use SUP cups (we are adults, who wants to drink out of crappy cups anyway?)
  • (I made sure there was a dustpan and brush close by, just in case.)
  • I simply didn´t buy or provide any straws.
  • Plates I asked every one to bring a bottle AND 2 plates, one with food, one without. (I have to say for this party people went all out & the food was lovely!)
  • Cutlery. For some reason the owners of the house left enough for a party 4 times the size. If not, I´d have borrowed some or picked some up at a bootsale or charity shop.
  • I borrowed fairy lights and decorations.
  • I bought vodka that had metal lids.( Thankfully they also didn´t have the plastic pourer thing inside, but that was more luck than judgement, you’re never to know who´s put them in unless you remember the brand.)
  • I stocked up on fresh strawberries from the local market, in cardboard boxes and froze them in advance (to go with the vodka.)
  • I borrowed a fridge and a freezer a couple of weeks before.
  • I prepped ice, just making it in tubs then smashed some before & some on the night.
  • On the day I made lemonade. I´d never done that before and it was easy & tasty!
  • I got a couple of boxes of oranges (this was in the Algarve) & juiced them.
  • (Naturally, I bought everything using canvas bags or old cardboard boxes.)
  • The real drinks. On the night myself & friends blended the strawberries and mixed with sugar & vodka. The strawberries worked a treat to cover the taste of the cheap vodka, and people loved it and enjoyed themselves!
  • This was a massive FAIL though. I should have blended the strawberries before the actual night. Instead we overworked the blenders, to the point where 2 blew up. Not good on the PALL side of things. I did after manage to replace them secondhand, but still I´d rather not have blown them up in the first place!
  • The cake was one of the most amazing cakes ever made. It also was one of the tastiest, which is not normally the case. (It was made with a friends free range eggs.) Though on the PALL side of things was also a FAIL. Bumma!  The part that wasnt cake (the top) was polystyrene underneath. The girl who made it was lovely, I´m going to send her this & see if she can find another way in future.
  • I offered friends beds and sofas.  They in turn helped me tidy up the next day, and made breakfast!
  • I dusted down the dishwasher that I never used otherwise, and it was pretty busy that day.


Talking to a bar, event or organisers.

Of course taking our own mugs and cups to events over times really adds up, but there is more we can also do: talk to the organizers. I briefly mentioned Arrifana Resturant  at the beginning of this post. Arrifana restaurant now have customised beautiful terracotta mugs. Saving 5000-6000 single use plastic cups, every year!  That´s PALL-ing on a massive scale!


Then there´s the other naughty thing that goes hand in hand with drinking. Assuming my Mum hasn´t got this far down, but just incase, hypothetically speaking what can you do?  Cigarette butts, if you didn´t already know – are plastic.  There´s nothing good to be said about them… we´ve been told a million times before, what more can I say?  In Portugal you can smoke PALL. Look around for tobacco in paper, use cardboard as roach hey presto! A box of matches works too, or possibly a zipper, not sure how you re-fill them though.  (Please note; I’m not suggesting smoking is good or rollies are better for your health.  I’m talking about PALL-ing, this isn’t a post about health tips.)

Let me know how you PALL your partying, I’d love to hear from you!

 Every refusal adds up. Happy partying!! Happy PALL-ing! 

Traveling PALL – Plastic A Lot Less

I´ve just got back from a trip to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. I´m staying in Singapore so it´s relativly close.

I hadn´t been there long, and I was reminded why I´m PALL – Plastic A Lot Less…

River round the corner from where I first stayed
River round the corner from where I first stayed

I´ve travelled PALL – Plastic A Lot Less – before, most recently to India. It´s not much different to Being-PALL, it just takes a bit of preparation. Some very simple, some takes a bit more planning. If you´re already started Being-PALL this is pretty much what you´ll be doing anyway, it´s just remembering to take those habits with you. If not, a holiday and being out of your normal routine can be a good place to start.

(please note; I know how flying is bad for the environment, but if  you´re going anyway you may as well make a bit less impact.)

Firstly I have my toiletries. These are all things I use at home anyway.  Another bonus is they´re solid, so no problem with the liquid carry on at checkout.

  • Solid shampoo, deodorant from LUSH
  • (LUSH have so many PALL products. If you´re not near a store or the smell bothers you, shop online)
  • My toothtabs (rather than toothpaste) also from LUSH
  • A bar of soap (simple changing shower gel to soap saves loads of plastic)
  • Wooden toothbrush
  • My trustie Mooncup (for the girls)
  • Suncream and lip balm from the lovely people at Bee Cool Organics
  • Tea tree antiseptic soap
  •  Then my Klean Kanteen water bottle, which I empty before going through check out and fill again in a bar or restaurant the other side.
  • Light weight canvas bags and a few paper bags. Which I pack in to my daily bag or rucksack so I´m never without.  Just incase I come across tasty things unexpected, no point carrying them all the way there, to then leave in your room!
  • SteriPEN. This amazing little thing meant I could drink any water while I was in India & I didn´t get ill!! It´s a UV light, simple to use. I found out about it via a blog I follow: Plastic is Rubbish and got mine second hand of ebay.
  • Cutlery and a drinking mug (not in picture) the drinking mug I used loads in India and would of had to go with out a lot of chai otherwise (that or accept lots of SUP – single use plastic – cups).

Some habits die hard. We were always made packed lunches as kids so this is normal to me.  Food on short flights is crap and over priced (as well as packaged in plastic).  The food in the airport is also overpriced, though I´m sure can be nice. Still, I hate being ripped of for it so take a packed lunch.

(I hadn´t flown long haul for over 12 years before this year, the food on that is a different story…)

Filling my Klean Kanteen is easy once on the other side.

I understand, that when you arrive on holiday or a trip refusing SUPs might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Unless of course if the first sight you come across are sites like these, which was basically every place in Phnom Penh I went to.  It makes it easier to remember when it´s so in your face!

As always, I refused a straw with every dink I ordered.  They remembered every time to not give me one. Even not speaking the same language, I managed to nicely & rather visually..! – get my message across.


Luckily the first place I was staying there was this amazing grocers downstairs.  I used my canvas & paper bags. The salad was some of the nicest I´ve had in ages.

Loose veg
Loose veg

Near to the second place I was staying I wasn´t so lucky. This day I was with friends in a supermarket so couldn´t just head out & look elsewhere (which is what I would have done if I was on my own, there were local markets everywhere I would have found something quick).

I actually really wanted and onion and a pepper for my dinner that evening, but as this was all the choice I had I went without and made something different.  Sometimes when your BeingPALL – Plastic A Lot Less – you go without, but I survived to tell the tale! Those two trays would have still be on the streets and then the rivers of Phnom Penh forever…

Plastic Pollution was all to obvious in Phnom Penh. Where plastic isn´t moved from site, and instead is piling up, covering the streets & filling the rivers,  it´s hard to ignore how much plastic we´re using.

There are many problems in Cambodia, way more than I´ll ever understand, but the amount of plastic pollution, that they as a poor country are paying for, was staggering.

I wonder, if our rubbish wasn´t being taken away so regularly would we happily use so many single use plastics – SUPs?

It´s easy to criticise other nations, but I meet many westerners who lived and worked in Phnom Penh and used a lot of  SUPs.  Maybe hoping there is still a magic place called “away”? Who knows, but eventually we could run out of space, this is a reminder of where we live could look like, if someone wasn´t removing it out of sight for us. It´s also a harsh reminder to how much we are consuming and is ending up daily in the oceans…

Every refusal adds up, happy travels, happy on PALL-ing!