There are times for everyone I am sure when the ‘ideal’ just goes out of the window, when all the best laid plans just refuse to come together. And you know what? That’s ok. What I personally have to pull myself up on is not letting that be an excuse that starts us off on a slippery slope. I have to be self-disciplined enough to keep making those plans, and keep striving for the ideal.
So in the last post I mentioned that we were going to be tackling our rubbish, the volume of which had started to creep up over the last few weeks/couple of months. I can make all the excuses, baby not sleeping, so a very tired me (so very very tired!), low energy, thinking through fog, school holidays - so our structure/routine is off etc, you get the idea. So we had fallen back on the supermarket a few times because I hadn’t made it to the greengrocers in time, or we had not been planning our meals as our days were more spontaneous so bread had been left to go rather hard... little things like this.
Two of the easiest ways we have found to cut down on our waste, is switching the supermarket for the greengrocers, butchers etc. Fewer plastic trays, plastic bags, horrible orange netting... Actually the packaging of fruit and veg is one thing that annoys me the most. Especially when I see people putting bananas in those little almost clear plastic bags... they come in their own handy packaging! They are even handily pre-tied (bunched) together for you! Why do they need to be in a little bag? What is the bag going to protect them from??
I digress! So yes, the greengrocers or farmers market has saved us a lot of packaging. I also like the feel of fruit and veg more from here. Is it just me? It is perhaps a psychological thing? But the fruit and veg from a supermarket always seems a little... sterile? Perhaps because of the uniformity or the extra packaging, or just the chilled clean supermarket environment? (Not saying that my local greengrocers is not clean!) it just seems another step away from nature somehow.
This is something that has been easier for me for the last couple of years, because I have been on (at least part time) maternity leave or a part time stay at home mum I suppose. So I have been able to pop out with the kiddilies during the day. When I had previously been office bound, this was harder to do and when I go back to being full time, I will have to have a think about how to make sure I don’t slip back to relying on the supermarket and their later opening hours. However, we intend to make our working life more flexible to fit in with the girls so with some intention and planning, I don't see it being a problem.
The other thing we did which had a massive impact on our waste, specifically food waste, was to plan our meals for a week. The thought of this horrifies my mum as she says she couldn’t stand to just know what she is going to be eating and be tied to it - she likes to get into the kitchen and be creative. But you do not have to be tied to it. If it is Tuesday and we were supposed to have spaghetti bolognaise, but no one fancies it, we will just swap it for Thursday’s risotto instead. And with some store cupboard basics always on standby there is room for some creativity too. Also, no two weeks need be the same. You can get all creative still, just not quite so spontaneously.
Not only does planning our menu save on waste in the form of throwing away food that has gone bad whilst waiting to be swept up in your creativity. It also saves money – not buying food you then throw away. And Time – wondering round the shops trying to think of what to buy and wondering round your shelves/cupboards trying to think of what to make! Yes, at some point you need to sit down and plan your menu, and that can be done in one fail swoop, or just left on the side and added to over a couple of days. We have been doing this for a couple of years now, and honestly it must have saved us tens or maybe even hundreds of hours. As if anyone reading this does have little people in their lives, you know those hours are precious. It also gives us the chance to include them in the weeks food, we can ask them if there are any meals they would like next week - Our 3 year olds favourite food is currently prawns! And when shopping they get a better idea about where their food is actually coming from, rather than just seeing everything as coming in a neat little plastic package.
Getting back on track with just these two things has dropped the amount of rubbish we are producing down along way.
Any food waste we do have we compost. We have in the past grown some of our own fruit and veggies, this is something that has gone by the wayside a little again over the last 2 years, but we still do some. Last year we had Tomatoes, Runner Beans, French beans, Strawberries and Raspberries. And the herb patch, which apart from some taming, mostly takes care of itself! Again the girls love it and there is something so satisfying about eating something you have grown.
Any cardboard waste we have (eg egg boxes) or yoghurt pots generally gets re purposed as arts and crafts materials by our eldest, or taken to nursery so that they can do likewise before it gets recycled. We have several beautiful sculptures adorning our surfaces that look (almost) like a rocket, or a house, or a ...doggy?
This is of course an ongoing thing and I would love to hear any ideas you have come up with for reducing waste around your home.
Action Steps - Make it Happen!
- Have a go at planning your next weeks worth of meals before you shop. See what can be used in the cupboards and then make a list of what you need to buy
- See if there are meals that you can batch cook and freeze to save you time in the future.
- See if you can schedule in some time to go to the greengrocers/farmers market/ butchers etc. If it is not possible maybe try investigating some veg box schemes near you.
- With spring approaching see what you could have a go at growing for yourself. You do not need much space or loads of time. You could simply start with a few pots or grow bags....
- As ever if you would like a chat about anything eco or have any questions please get in touch with us or your Wikaniko Distributor. (Links at the top of the page)