Food

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!

Do you have any tips for reducing food and food packaging waste?

Plastic!

There has been a lot of talk about plastic recently. Firstly after Blue Planet highlighted the issue and then Drowning in Plastic left us all horrified!

I’ve made some fairly big changes in my life over the last couple of years, largely as a result of wanting to lower my impact on the environment. Cutting out single use plastic has been part of this.

However – with some things it’s not been quite as simple as just cutting it out. For example – I already had a large amount of poly post bags and throwing them away would just add to the problem!

When I run out of post bags I will be switching to a non-plastic alternative, but in the meantime your orders will arrive in one of these…

The dark grey bags are biodegradable so they can go in your normal waste and will break down over time. The spotty bags are poly. If you want to recycle them – in the UK you can take them to a supermarket that recycles carrier bags (check with your supermarket). I’m looking forward to replacing these with non-plastic so please order lots from my shop so that we can use them up quickly!

Outside of work I have made a few changes to cut back on plastic, but I know there is still more I can do. Any tips?

I’ve been trying to shop at the grocers for fruit and veg instead of the supermarket. It’s not completely plastic free, but it’s better. I mean – come on Sainsbury’s… do you really need to deliver avacados and bananas in a little plastic bag? And fish that is already packaged in plastic in another little plastic bag when we’ve specifically requested “no bags”?! I’m starting to get angry so I’ll move on!

I invested in a bamboo coffee cup earlier this year, which is great. Our local favourite places now only use compostable cups anyway – so we don’t have to feel guilty if we forget them. And I also bought a metal flask which I love!

Throughout the summer heatwave my flask kept water nice and cool in the garden. It also means that I don’t have leaves or bugs falling in my glass, cats drinking out of my glass when I’m not looking or the danger of knocking over and smashing my glass… the flask has taken a battering. I bought it for when I’m out and about (times that I might have bought a plastic bottle) but I actually use it all the time at home as well!

As you know – I’ve also been thinking more about my clothing and have been making as much of my wardrobe as possible. I do wish it was easier to get hold of nice organic cotton – if you know a good place to buy let me know! Watching The True Cost on Netflix has had a big impact on how I view fashion retail.

I’ve also made some changes to my diet. I stopped eating meat (apart from fish) at the beginning of the year and stopped drinking cows milk shortly after… but I’m still eating cheese. It’s a somewhat hypocritical diet I know!

Eventually I want to eat a mostly vegan diet and I find that gradual changes are more likely to become permanent changes. This is a change I’ve been wanting to make for a while but I was pushed over the edge by watching Cowspiracy and Carnage. I’ve also been inspired by Deliciously Ella (I’m a little bit in love with her).

Have you been managing to use less plastic/reduce your impact on the environment somehow? All advice welcome x