Monday, June 20, 2016

biting off a bigger challenge

If you've been following my blog for a while you'll know I've done the Plastic Free July challenge for the last couple of years. This year will have an added twist as I'm catering for our Junior Young Friends Camp for Quaker teenagers for a week during the month.

Can I produce food that will satisfy over a dozen potentially picky eaters on budget without amassing a huge pile of non-recyclable plastic? What's more can I do it in a kitchen I've never been in before, in a place where I don't know the shops?! Thankfully I have a wonderful local ally who is doing some research for me, and has promised to ring me from the kitchen of Friends House Waiheke so I can ask 'is there a....' to make sure I can round up in advance all the dishes and utensils I'll need etc for cooking from scratch on a bulk scale.

I did the catering for JYF Camp in 2006, and still have some of my recipe sheets from then with bulk quantities for baking scones and biscuits already worked out which will save me some time and mental energy. That time we were in Totaranui, Abel Tasman with no easy access to shops to top up if we ran out of anything, thankfully I won't have that challenge, but I won't have a nice big commercial kitchen this time - some you win, some you lose! The menu will be vegetarian, and a lot of it will be vegan and gluten free so that I don't end up cooking multiple versions of things. My main motivation for saying I'd do the cooking is because I wanted to try to keep what I ate as close to what I would usually to improve my chances of getting through the gathering with my insides happy. The other challenge will be getting enough sleep, but that isn't something I can do much about in advance!

As the years pass by the impact of plastic on our environment is becoming more and more evident. And as with many development 'solutions' the solutions often cause more problems themselves. Who would've thought when they came out that using microfibre cloths for cleaning which can reduce the chemicals being flushed down our drains, and wearing fleecy clothing made from recycled bottles would end up simply shifting the environmental pollution rather than getting rid of it?

It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is no such place as 'away' to throw anything, and whilst we grapple with ways to deal with 70 year's worth of debris that isn't going to biodegrade the challenge is not to add to the problem. But you have to pick your battles, or your priorities, otherwise we'd all get completely bogged down trying to get through even a single day without some detrimental effect on our environment. Where we live and what we do in life changes what is possible and most effective. The trick is in supporting each other in whatever we can do rather than being critical for what 'others' don't do. There is no one size fits all solution, and if the 'solutions' simply end up shifting the problem then it is probably better that we don't all try to solve it in the same manner anyway.

So I'll be doing my bit to keep the amount of non-recyclable plastic to a minimum at a vegetarian gathering that will bring Friends together from one end of these islands to the other (Kaitaia and Dunedin!). The aim of the event is to inspire our young people and help instill in them some of our Quaker values, hopefully 'let us try what Love can do' coming through loud and clear. And to those who want all Friends to stay at home and not fly anywhere, fine, you stay home and make your point. We'll get on with doing our bit the best way we can, together.

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