Continuing my series of blogs about minimalism and sustainability…
Minimalism may not have had the same direct impact on my food choices as it has had on fashion/clothing, but the back-to-basics ethos of simplifying life has definitely inspired me to change my diet and food shopping habits in the interest of eating more healthily and reducing my impact on the environment.
I’m not going to focus too much on changes I’ve made diet-wise because I think that’s such a personal thing and what works for me might not work for you! I know that a lot of people (myself and Beardie included) have gone veggie over the last few years and I’m loving the fact that there are more veggie and vegan choices when eating out.
I was never a big meat eater, but I did used to consume a lot of dairy. There aren’t enough words to describe a diet that sits in between vegetarianism and veganism so I’ve drawn a scale to show you where I’m at (apologies for the incorrect spelling of vegetarian)…
Vegan-ish? Flexigan? Suggestions in the comments please! I want to keep shifting towards the left on this scale, but I’m pretty happy with my current diet so I might just stay there for 2020.
Over the last couple of years a lot of us have made changes to reduce plastic waste. For us – food packaging creates the majority of our plastic waste. With a lot of this waste I’ve felt like I don’t have other options… unless I grow it in the garden then it’s likely to come in packaging that’s difficult to recycle!
So we started to make eco-bricks as a way to make something useful from the not easily recyclable plastic. That lasted about two weeks! For one thing – we didn’t have anything to build with the finished bricks and hadn’t found anywhere local to donate them, but also – it was such a faff! Each bit of packaging needed to be cleaned and thoroughly dried before going in the eco-brick – so we had drying plastic everywhere. If you have more space and time than us then eco-bricks might be worth looking into as they might be a good option for you.
Although we didn’t stick with the eco-brick making, it showed us just how much non-recyclable packaging was going in the bin… and it was shocking. For those two weeks we hardly put anything in our general waste bin and that was the motivation we needed to change our shopping habits.
The main culprits were dried food such as pasta, rice, seeds and nuts which generally come in plastic packaging. We’d started making an action plan for how we could shop differently… and then the wonderful new shop Waste Nott opened literally round the corner and made it so much easier!
We’re definitely sacrificing some convenience in order to reduce packaging waste as we’ve replaced our one weekly ‘big shop’ with smaller shops at the supermarket and three local shops: Thompson Bros Greengrocers, Waste Nott and The V Spot. But it’s great! We’ve massively reduced our packaging waste and haven’t increased our carbon footprint because we do the local shopping on foot.
Shopping in local independents is always much more enjoyable than going to the supermarket and it’s fantastic to see these shops busy. I hope you’re lucky enough to have some good independents near you?
On the subject of waste… I’ve also been focusing on reducing food waste. We don’t really have cooked food waste that needs to go in the general waste, but as a keen gardener, I always hated putting fruit and veg waste into the bin that could be going back in to the garden. But at the same time I was aware that compost heaps attract rodents and so I wasn’t keen on having one near the house.
So when I found this compost tumbler I thought it was the perfect solution! It was compact, off the ground, contained (so it shouldn’t attract rats) and a lovely shade of green. But it was also super expensive and very flimsy!
We got one tumbler’s worth of compost from it before the base started coming out. After less than two years the whole thing had collapsed.
We’re now on our second attempt at small household composting – we bought a Mini Hotbin at the end of the summer after seeing one in action during Sherwood Open Gardens. I’m having problems getting it up to temperature – but it’s breaking down and full of worms so I think it’s okay for now and hopefully it’ll warm up in the spring.
In theory – once it’s above 40 degrees, you can put cooked food waste in as well. If this doesn’t work out I think I’ll get a wormery instead!