Saturday, October 29, 2016

Be careful what you wish for... might just happen!

A saying that I've found there to be a lot of truth in over the years, and usually it presents something quite different to deal with than what was first envisioned.

I've joined a couple more Facebook groups recently partly for work, and partly for my own benefit, one of which is Zero Waste in NZ! Basically it's for folk who are on the same waste reduction, simpler living journey as myself. Although some would say it's a harder way making a lot of stuff yourself rather than simpler, but personally I'd rather spend an extra hour in the kitchen than trekking to and round the supermarket, not to mention walking home again laden down with stuff.

Recently someone posted a question about food storage that resulted in a flurry of photos of people's pantries full of jars, tins and baskets. It has to be said there was a lot of pantry envy going on in the group! I find it hard to envision what a pantry would look like with only my dietary requirements in it given that hasn't happened for over a decade, and I've gone gluten free since then, not to mention having relocated to the opposite side of the globe which does rather tend to redefine 'local products'. But I guess if 'my' stuff were all together in a cupboard rather than squeezed in and around everything else in our kitchen, it probably wouldn't look that different from those I was oohing and ahhing over. Anyway, I was particularly admiring some large glass jars someone had and I was thinking they would be great for my oats and my 'porridge' mix (which these days looks more like muesli, but it still gets soaked overnight and cooked up in the morning). But I'm trying to avoid buying anything brand new and large jars don't often show up at the market or in op/charity shops. Some re-jigging freed up a large tin to use for my mix, but not before I'd been eyeing up the jars I get my milk in as a possibility.

But the milk jars get cycled round between the farm, drop-off point and me so the only way they'd become available would be if I stopped getting the milk. Whilst I've been wondering for some months if I could manage without milk without reverting to buying imported tetrapacks of soy/rice/almond milk, I kept putting that decision in the too hard basket. But now the new dairy regs are about to kick in at the end of the month the farm milk is no longer available as the tests the Ministry requires are exorbitantly expensive. So, I now have two large jars! (the 3rd is still at the farm, some you win, some you lose). One is already full of rolled oats, the other is awaiting a decision as the tin is working out quite well.

So I got my large jars that I wanted, and I didn't have to buy them new, but now I have to figure out what to do about milk... I've enough milk either fresh or frozen to last a couple of weeks yet at least, so there's no rush. But I've got a bowl of almonds soaking which I'll then freeze so when I do run out I have no excuse and can whizz up some almond milk as and when I need it, as remembering to soak the almonds in advance has been my stumbling block in the past. And of course I can get Trade Aid organic coconut milk (which is rather nice) at the healthfood shop, but it's hardly local, and neither are the almonds, but I can buy organic almonds loose using my cloth produce bags rather than in plastic. It's all an ever changing juggling act of priorities....

I'm sure I can cope without yoghurt on my porridge, especially as I'm making sauerkraut again as our garden has gone into cabbage patch overdrive, so I can get a daily dose of probiotics at lunchtime instead. Although I could make yoghurt with coconut milk if I really wanted to. It probably means making more oatcakes or seed crackers and fewer pikelets again, but that's no big deal, and as Gill pointed out many moons ago you can make pikelets with water!

So after pondering what I should challenge myself to tackle next in terms of lowering my footprint on the earth it turns out the decision has been made for me. And I think that's probably enough to be getting my head round for now.

Friday, October 28, 2016

getting radical

When I was discussing Plastic Free July with a f/Friend who was also doing the challenge this year she said how when she couldn't avoid non-recyclable plastic for some reason she was aiming to write to the company in question and ask them to do something about it.

It says a lot about who we both are as a person that her first reaction was to engage in direct dialogue and try to bring about change, where as I've been boycotting Nestlé for over 30 years and have never told them, and they probably didn't notice any resulting dip in sales either. However I have told a lot of other people about what I'm doing over the years, and I know some others have followed suit as a result. I also hadn't contacted any companies about their plastic use until recently.

Inspired (and a little shamed) by Jane's example I contacted a toilet paper company who used to sell their products wrapped in paper, but now use plastic. Their response by email was they had to stop using paper for hygiene reasons (?????) but the weblink they gave instead makes more sense. However although compostable it is still plastic and perpetuates the need for oil extraction. I was well impressed with Sally's solution to avoiding plastic wrapped loo roll by using a box of tissues, presumably one without the annoying plastic film insert where you pull the tissues out from, when doing a sponsored month without plastic in aid of Ocean Cleanup with her friend Sarah.

Having got that emailed response made me feel a bit braver, and I've just posted back to the University of Auckland the plastic wrapper from around their alumni magazine with a request to go on their email circulation list instead, and a suggestion that they come up with an alternative wrapper, especially as the insert with the magazine was imploring us to change the world for all our futures! They were after scholarship funding rather than suggestions that they divest from fossil fuels and avoid plastic, but never mind! I don't expect a reply however.

Working my way through the Radical Spirituality course has made me think about the whole simple living and the 'Wear it as long as thou canst' advice and whether I'd got again to the point where I needed to have a rethink about challenging myself to go a step further in this direction. As my income has increased a little over the last year I've been able to buy more bulk bin items at the healthfood shop rather than wholesalers which has meant being able to use my cloth bags rather than bring home yet more large snaplock bags, but as with boycotting Nestlé it probably doesn't change much (if anything) in the greater scheme of things unless I speak up more about what I'm doing and why.

Anyway, I recently got an email from a researcher at Massey University who I've met a couple of times before (a former research assistant of hers is a f/Friend of mine - you've got to love the small world of Quakerdom!), and Corrina is wanting to do some more interviews up here about the way people live out their environmental awareness and I'm on her list! Having seen the sheet of questions she'll be asking it feels a bit daunting, but I've got until early January to have my head around my answers, so you may find a few blog posts popping up along the way as I get to grips with them...