j4: (shopping)
Day 2 of plastic-free July involved a trip to the Co-op to buy potatoes for dinner and anything else from the shopping list that I could find in the 3 minutes or so before Img got tired/bored. This was never going to go well, because the Co-op (despite its supposed commitment to the environment) wraps pretty much everything in plastic, to the extent that I'm always slightly surprised to find myself not plastic-covered when I leave. So here's my shop:



Yes, literally everything I bought is plastic-wrapped. :-( But hey, I only said I was going to try this, not succeed.

Yoghurt and cream are, as far as I can tell, basically impossible to buy plastic-free. I bought the biggest pot I could get, i.e. the best yoghurt-to-plastic ratio. (Img particularly asked for the little Peppa Pig yoghurts.)

Potatoes: now this one was annoying. I specifically wanted big potatoes for doing jacket potatoes, and normally I don't need a plastic bag for those: I only buy 3 at a time (one for each of us), they're not squishy or wet or falling-apart-ish, there doesn't seem any reason to pack them. The Co-op had some loose potatoes, but these were the only baking potatoes in the shop. I could have just bought something different, but I was relying on getting these for dinner! (Although in fact in the end we had the quiche which I'd forgotten we still had in, and that came in a cardboard box, so the potatoes were not only unnecessary plastic but the cause of an unnecessary shopping trip. FAIL.)

The fish cakes were super-cheap (67p!) because they're nearly at their best-before date (I'll stash them in the freezer). I buy a lot of stuff that's nearly at the end of its shelf life because a) it's cheap, and b) I feel as though I'm saving it from getting thrown away. This is probably a bit irrational. (The strawberries were also reduced.)

Naan bread always comes plastic-wrapped. Even in our local shop which sells about 20 different varieties of naan, they're all wrapped in plastic so they last longer.

Now for the things I didn't buy. I had a long list of fruit and veg to buy but just couldn't bear to buy it all plastic-wrapped since I didn't need it right then; I'll try to go to the market tomorrow on the way home from work or at lunchtime. I was going to buy some bread but the Co-op only sells plastic-wrapped bread (and most of it is a bit plastic-tasting too, to be honest) so again I decided to wait. They didn't have any Coke in cardboard boxes, or any Shloer (glass bottles and bonus 80s nostalgia!), or in fact any non-alcoholic drinks I could see anywhere in the shop that weren't in plastic bottles or tetrapaks (apart from a few individual cans).

So what are the answers?

  • don't buy any dairy products
  • don't buy naan bread
  • be more organised about planning meals
  • don't give in to pestering (and/or don't take Img to the shops)


I guess nobody said it was going to be easy...
j4: (shopping)
I have a big backlog of things I want to post about, but I'm going to grit my teeth and pretend it's not there so I can get on and post about Plastic-Free July.

Last year I thought "oh yes, that sounds like a good idea, I'll try to do that," and then July caught me a bit by surprise, and on the first day I bought a packet of crisps (having apparently completely forgotten that the PLASTIC BAG counted as plastic) and was so fed up with my inability to remember a) what month it was or b) what things were made of that I gave up. To be honest I think that says more about my sticking power than about the all-pervasiveness of plastic.

This year July still caught me by surprise; I guess I've only had 36 years to figure out what comes after June. However I was working from home today so I was in a slightly better position to avoid accidentally buying plastic-wrapped food; in fact I managed not to buy anything plastic today because I didn't buy anything.

Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't use any plastic... far from it. Since I didn't buy anything, I tried just to keep an eye on everything I used, and make a note of it all here.

Very very long rambling account of all the plastic )

I think the take-home lesson here is "don't buy anything, ever; but even then you will be full of fail in some other way". But that's a rather depressing conclusion.

Also, now I've written all this it's probably too late at night for me to have a bath. My shampoo, of course, is in a plastic bottle. :-/
j4: (roads)
I swear if one more person has a go at me for being unhappy about our boiler having broken down (along the lines of "Surely you wouldn't put the heating on this early in the year anyway?" with optional extra snark of "I thought you were one of those green/eco-warrior/hippy types?") I will not be held responsible for the violence of my response.

Our house has basically no insulation apart from the double glazing. There are blinds instead of curtains in most of the rooms. Yes, these are things we need to fix, but we only moved in 8 weeks ago, we only have finite amounts of money, there are only 24 hours in a day and we both work full-time. Our energy usage has been consistently much lower than the national average for the last few years, and we're still working to decrease it further. We don't fly, we don't drive, we don't have a vast home cinema, we don't run servers at home that have to be on all the time. I'm not suggesting we're some kind of saints, but we're already doing a lot to reduce unnecessary energy use. We don't generate much waste.

No, I wouldn't have the heating on all the time at the moment (all the time we're there, I mean -- obviously I wouldn't have it on when we're out!), though I would use hot water for washing (and I bet all the people who are having a go at me do too). Yes, I can wear extra jumpers. Yes, I can wear gloves in the house. Yes, I can make cups of tea and wrap my hands around them. But I'm sleeping in two layers of thermals with a hot water bottle and I'm still cold at night, the floors are cold even with socks and slippers, my toes are usually numb, and there's a deep cold in the air that makes me even more tired and miserable than I already am. Also, in cold conditions my extremities basically stop circulating properly (Reynaud's syndrome). Fingerless gloves don't really help, and there is a limit to what I can do when I'm wearing full gloves. I'd do more baking (which would help to heat the kitchen and adjoining living room) but we don't have a working oven, and when we use the hob (portable one-ring electric) or toaster it sets the smoke alarm off, and Owen doesn't like any of the food I make so cooking is always just misery anyway. Maybe we should be living and sleeping in one room, and blocking up all the doorways, nailing blankets over the windows, eating nothing but porridge (he doesn't mind that). Maybe there are better ways to fix the problem more permanently. Every morning I cycle along the towpath, and most mornings I find myself wondering if one quick and straightforward way to save energy and solve a whole host of other problems into the bargain would be to fill my pockets with heavy stones and just cycle straight off the path into the river.
j4: (badgers)
On Saturday 6th December we went on a Climate Change March as part of the Global Day of Action. We carried "No new coal" banners, didn't do much shouting (but sang along with Smallbeds' excellent improvised protest songs), and listened to speeches from Nick Clegg and Caroline Lucas before going to find somewhere to defrost our fingers and toes.

I don't know how much difference such demonstrations really make (Kate Griffin asks the same question, and provides a far better commentary on the issues than I can) but going to this one at least meant that I had a good reason to mention climate change in conversation at work, and as a result found a fellow 'greenie' to talk to. I already knew he was a Good Egg but it turns out he was also involved in all sorts of environmental initiatives in his previous job and has good ideas to bring to the newly-formed Energy SIG. So Green Bloke and I have agreed to do a screening of The Age of Stupid at work when it's available to hire, which might be more useful (and would certainly be more interesting) than me ranting at plane-happy colleagues.

We got back from London just in time for the Oxford Bach Choir concert that we'd booked tickets for -- Vaughan Williams, Holst, and Parry, a rich-textured mixture of mysticism and majesty -- and found to our delight that not only were other friends of ours in the audience, but they had brought mince pies to share. Doubly welcome for us as we hadn't had time for dinner, but we made up for that after the concert by nipping to the Organic Kebab Van for an incredibly tasty burger before joining our friends from the audience (and other friends from among the performers) at the Far From The Madding Crowd for tasty beer.

I fear that a culture that includes Vaughan Williams and mince pies and tasty organic burgers and beer (and the internet!) is not globally sustainable, though I wish it could be, and will keep on hoping that it is; but if it isn't, I hope I won't selfishly cling to the specific good things that we have now instead of working towards a fairer future for everybody.

May 2017

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