Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

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I’ve started trying to cycle more recently. When I was a teenager, I cycled everywhere – almost every day of the week because it was my only form of transport. I went down about 2 dress sizes and felt better for it. Where I live, the local council has shut the main road for 4 months whilst major repairs are carried out. The resultant traffic jams are not something I wish to endure and so, I was encouraged to get my bike out again. I live a few minutes from an old railway cutting which is now used as a trailway and in the same amount of time it used to take me to drive and park to one of the nearest towns – I can cycle to it! The trailway is tranquil, full of wildlife and it’s now become something I really look forward to.

To aid my pedal-power journeys, I recently purchased this Cath Kidston bike basket (I’m not a brand snob, I found it dirt cheap in T.K. Maxx). On the up side, it’s mostly metal and can be removed and used as a shopping basket too – handy! I also bought this Gelpadz saddle cover, as after my first venture – my bum was killing me. I’ve had this gorgeous Hello Kitty Liberty Print water bottle for 2-3 years now – another T.K. Maxx find! On Cath Kidston’s website they were also selling a large, re-usable cloth drawstring liner bag for this basket. A great idea, as everything can be bundled in and then easily removed once home. I plan to make myself one ASAP.

Now, onto the important things, food – these cloth bags are homemade, I hope to put up a tutorial soon! They were made from fabric scraps and saved ribbons. That large blue print you can see is a Laura Ashley fabric – another passion of mine! I go to the local greengrocer and buy everything loose, placing it in my own cloth bags. I only have a few currently – need to make more – so I re-use brown paper bags for the rest. Today I bought carrots, bananas, apples and a cauliflower. We are lucky enough to have a choice of local butchers and they don’t mind at all if I take my own re-usable container for my meat – like for these tasty, local sausages.

Well, that’s all for today – I hope this post encourages you to get on your bike and shop locally. I’d love to see what Zero Waste gems you have found!

Remembering Priorities

It’s important to have time to reflect on life. This unexpectedly occurred for me, this evening- whilst reading Waitrose Weekend- 4th September 2014 edition. There were numerous articles within the paper which rang bells for me. Most notably, a series on Organic farming.

Did you know that the Soil Association was formed way back in 1946? I had no idea it was that early, just as the tide was turning in favour of more intensive farming methods. It was founded by a group of doctors, scientist and farmers who were concerned about these changes. That point also struck me because I had just assumed it was farmers who had formed the group. The fact that doctors and scientists were also concerned adds weight to the argument in favour of¬†organic methods, for me. Not that I’m belittling farmers in anyway, they are all their own disciplines with their own merits. What struck me is that all those different professions recognised the same truth. Even in 1946, when presumably they had less knowledge of the implications- they foresaw a negative impact. Still others, like chefs are proponents of buying the best quality ingredients you can for reasons of taste. And yet others will tell you to buy local, not only to support your local economy but also to reduce food miles and therefore, your carbon footprint.

Reading the articles made me remember back to when I studied Food and Nutrition, over 16 years ago. I was struck by the information I learned from books and my teachers around organic vs. non-organic farming methods. On top of that, over recent years- having watched programmes by the like of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall- I thought I would always go for the organic and free-range options. At my core, I still want that- I just got caught up in trying to save money, the realities of a budget and rising food costs.

However, pursuit of money is an empty thing in itself. Surely it should be guided by ethics and principles? I read too many other blogs, where that’s all their about- making/ saving money by whatever means possible- regardless of the provenance of the food they are eating or the working conditions of the person who made their knife which was sold to them for 99 pence.

Still, there are other minimalists who are using the cash and time they have freed up to pursue better and more noble ambitions. Like the things we have just been pondering; buying organic, locally produced food. So upon reflection, it’s time for me to start moving towards making those changes too. Maybe it means eating less crisps, chocolate and fizzy pop in order to afford great quality, locally produced, organic food? Maybe it means you stop having ready-meals? Maybe it just means you are going to allocate a greater portion of your budget to food and forgo some leisure activities or unnecessary luxuries?

These are just my short-term thoughts. Longer term, I hope that our minimalist lifestyle enables us to support children in developing countries to have the basic necessities for life- like food, water and an education. I hope that it means we can lend or give to friends and family to help them in times of need. Overall, I hope that these small decisions we make in the here and now, will have globally positive implications. Enabling producers to earn a fair wage, enabling the planet’s resources to be saved and only used where necessary, helping people to stay out of debt and enabling people to spend time on the things they need or want to spend time on. Fundamentally I still believe that minimalism has the power to change the world.