something a little alternative


It all started when I lost my lovely wooden washing up brush.  No I don’t know how you lose a washing up brush either, but the fact is that I did.  As it happens I was not quite as in love with it as when I first bought it as the head had a tendency to come out just as I was giving it welly.  So I needed an alternative.  It needed to be:

  • effective
  • biodegradeable

Ta Da!!!

I bought a cheap loofah, cut it up into hand sized chunks and now I have an effective, biodegradeable and dead cheap pan scrubber.  And best of all, not one member of my family, including the very teenage Dancer and Singers have batted an eyelid.  Which, for them is pretty impressive.


So it got me thinking, I do like a good think, it beats a good workout anytime.  What else do I “misuse”?  There is a whole other post waiting to happen on things like vinegar, bicarb, cornflour, toothpaste and banana skins (yup banana skins).  I’m thinking more about long lasting stuff you have already …

graphite pencil

The scientifically minded among you will know that graphite is a crystalline allotrope of carbon (hey Dr Carpenter and Mr England – bet you thought I would never remember any of my Chemistry A-level!).  Consequently it is much used as a lubricant in industry.  You do not have to manage a factory to use graphite.  How often have you found yourself with a stuck zip?  Run a pencil up and down the zip and 9 times out of 10 your zip will magically unstick leaving you free, at last, to go to the loo.  If you have more time than sense you can also use graphite to unstick sticky drawers, but it would take an inordinate amount of pencils and it would be several hours of your life you will never have again – try a candle instead 🙂


This is one of the few occasions where I think our American cousins have a better word.  Don’t you think “pantyhose” sounds so much better than “tights”?  As I prefer stockings the point is moot, but nonetheless ….

I have been known to use a NEW pair of stockings as an alternative to muslin when making jelly and had run out of muslin.  It was not a good look.  The kitchen looked like an abattoir (bramble and red and blackcurrant juice everywhere) and in addition to three traditional jelly strainers I had four stockings hanging from hooks from the beams.  Unlike muslin,  stockings and tights … stretch … a lot.  As a last minute, desperate option they just about pass muster.  Personally I would recommend you keep a good supply of muslin to hand.


On the other hand.  Do you use soapnuts?  Do you regularly lose the little bag to put them in?  Pop socks/ stockings / tights are perfect.  They even help you remember how many times you have used the soapnuts.  I tie a knot each time I have used them.  When I  have a row of four knots I know it’s time for a new set.

newspaper/paper bags

Yes you can use newspaper to clean windows.  But I have some far less messy uses.



Green tomatoes.  I have a very strong memory of the pervasive tomato smell in my grandparents conservatory.  There were tomato plants everywhere.  But even in the south of England there can be a shortage of the essential light and warmth required to turn them a rich red.  Green tomato chutney is indeed wonderful, but if you , like me have as many apple and plum trees as I do there is a limit to how much chutney even our greedy family can eat.

My grandmother and my great aunt would carefully wrap the tomatoes in newspaper or paper bags and store them at the top of every wardrobe in the house.  By late October …. ripe tomatoes.  Newspaper is also essential in the storage of apples.  Wrap them up and make sure they are kept in a secure (from mice and/or rats) cool dark place.

Apparently they make a good deodouriser though I’ve never tried that.  Although they are the only way to dry out wet wellies and shoes.  Scrunch up and stuff boots loosely.  Leave overnight.  Hey presto.  Dry wellies.

There are more, but the Singers need to be picked up from the station and dinner will not cook itself ……