Monday, June 10, 2013

What Can You Eat?

Some friends invited us over for "beer o'clock" yesterday. One of them felt bad for a number of years and went through the whole see-saw of investigations until it was finally discovered that she had multiple food intolerances. She said that these days when people ask her what her dietary restrictions are, she prefers to tell them what she can eat.

I asked her what she can eat and she told me. It was obvious to me why she answers that way; while there is much she can no longer eat, there is still a lot she can eat so why dwell on the negative. I've written many times about what I no longer buy. Sometimes that frustrates the family and it becomes a case of having to point out what there is to eat, instead of dwelling on what there isn't. No, we don't have chips, dips and sweets. We do, however, have fruit, nuts, bread, crackers, cheese, veggies, wraps, rolls ... No, a lot of it isn't instant gratification. Not much in life is.

Trying to live in an eco-friendly and ethical way opens a can of worms. There is always more that can be done. I'm with my friend on this one, though. I don't want to focus on what we're not doing. I want to focus on what we are doing and feel proud of it. I've always said that it's more than some people and less than others. I'm just glad we're doing something. Furthermore, the better we feel about it, the more likely it is that the positive energy will carry us over into doing more.

It's been nearly two years since we decided to make the lifestyle change. There has been both progression and backslide. Nothing is set in concrete; we're writing it as we go along. I'm not very good at sticking with things so, for me to have been doing this for two years is quite a feat. It's still something I'm very passionate about.

As I write, the front garden is a disaster area. That's because we're in the process of having it turned into a productive garden. We still have our front door veggie patch, which is still giving us eggplant after eggplant after eggplant, and our raised beds in the back garden. That gave us no end of basil over the summer and is still giving us chillies. Over the weekend, Husband strung up several batches of chillies in our sunroom to dry out. I don't know how we're ever going to get through them all. Our winter lettuces and cabbages are growing well but the pea plants don't seem very happy.

The Ubiquitous Chillies

My laundry isn't going to dry on the line today so I'm using the dryer. Since it's running, there is no need to have the heater on.

The fridge and pantry are full of ethical and locally grown/produced food items.

I'm planning a trip to the Salvos soon to fill in some gaps in my winter wardrobe.

I've discovered that Gallery M is a treasure trove of interesting objects made by local artists that make great presents.

Now that Daughter has her drivers license, we share my car and that has cut down on driving and, thus,  carbon emissions.

It's all ticking over quite nicely. There's a lot we're doing.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shopping in Bulk

I've been putting time and energy into shopping ethically. It's no secret that when environmental and ethical concerns clash I choose the latter. The on-going dilemma is packaging. Sometimes the brands I buy come heavily packaged and looking at what I'm putting into the bin week after week is disheartening.

That being the case, I've been buying in bulk again over the last few weeks. We've got a great little shop ten minutes away where I've been going. My reluctance in the past was being unable to ascertain who made the products I'd be buying. Having done this for awhile, however, I've come to learn which products are usually owned/made by multi-national nasties. Most of the things I buy in bulk are the kinds of foods that are unprocessed and, therefore, much more likely to be made locally by a local company.

At this store, one still has to fill plastic bags, rather than bring their own containers. I've just been using the same bags over and over again. I know that they'll eventually make landfill but there are many weeks in between where I won't be contributing to the problem. They'll probably be demoted to rubbish bin liners or dog poop bags before landing at the dump. It's not ideal but it's preferable to the packaging some of the products come in which can neither be reused nor recycled.

The one item troubling me is couscous. If I buy it at the supermarket it comes in a cardboard box which can be recycled. This means I'm putting a box in the recyclables nearly every week. (We eat a lot of couscous.) Recycling raises its own environmental issues of energy usage and, thus, carbon emissions. If I buy it in bulk, I can buy more, less frequently and reuse the bag numerous times. In the end, however, the bag is rubbish. I don't know which is preferable. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.