The thing that has turned out to be the hardest in this experiment of mine is food. I've got the cleaning covered (baking soda fixes all evil!), and apart from Galumph's shirts and whatnots the other day, we're not really buying much of anything else.
But the food involves a lot of walking around to gather ingredients that don't come plastic wrapped, and a fair bit of frustration as it's quite common to get to the shop and discover the milk is late in coming again. Thank goodness I live in the area I do, though - for example, there's an organic grocer, three independant bakeries for bread baked goods, a fish shop and a cheese shop, all in walking distance from chez Jorth. I think this experiment would be nigh on impossible if you lived in a very small town or in the country, where these food opportunities didn't exisit. It would also, I dare say, be rather difficult to achieve if you worked outside of the home (not that being a full-time mum isn't working, but at least I have the freedom to scoot off to the shops whenever I can).
The other food issue is expense. It's certainly not cheap to eat this way, although I dare say the food is far better for us, and tastes much better too. Having reread that sentence, a thought has struck me - maybe the food isn't actually that expensive. Maybe I'm just paying the real cost, rather than a 'watered-down, government subsidised farming, buy in bulk and rip off producers' cost. Excuse the pun, but it's definitely food for thought.
Since this post is all about the food, I'm going to jot some breakfast ideas down. It seems to be the meal I'm having the most trouble with. Dinner is fine, and lunch is usually dinner left-overs, but breakfast is turning into a bit of a nightmare! Yesterday, for example, I had soup for breakfast, because I was too tired to think of anything else. How hard can it be, I hear you ask. Well, while most cereals come in a cardboard box, they also come with a plastic liner on the inside, so they are out, and we are running out of our supplies that we started with. And if I haven't kept on top of our bread situation, then it all goes up you-know-what creek. So, some breakfast ideas, for us all.
Note: The below list presumes that all ingredients come in paper/glass/nonplastic packaging.
- Porridge, by itself; with raisons + cinnamon + grated apple; with stewed rhubarb + apple
- Toast, with butter; with jam; with coleslaw + cheese; with tinned sardines; with baked beans; with feta + cucumbers; with chutney + cheese
- Eggs, scrambled; poached; fried; on toast, mixed with dinner left-overs
- Fruit and yoghurt, either fresh, or stewed i.e. apples, quinces, pears
- Pancakes with honey; lemon + sugar; jam + cream; maple syrup; compote + cream
- Muffins; with rhubarb + apple; apple + sultana; orange + chocolate; feta + spinach
Whew! Any ideas you guys have would be greatly appreciated, so c'mon - leave a comment!
Oh my. More plastic free eco-confessions:
On Saturday the Galumph bought two new shirts - both of which featured plastic buttons and those silly little plastic inserts which supposedly keep the collar points straight. Not really quite sure how we could have avoided that one, besides not buying the shirts, but he really did need some new ones for work. However, we did decline bags or tissue wrapping, and just bundled them straight into the pram, so points for that, ja?
He also got a new foil for his electric razor, which came - dum de dum dum - cased in plastic (and cost $50! Geeeeeez! He could have bought a whole new razor for that price!) Still, the old foil (which is the bit that sits above the blade) had so many holes in it that it was kinda shredding his face as he shaved, so we deemed the plastic a necessary evil. Much better than buying disposable razors or razor heads every other week, and much safer than letting old Parky Hands handle a straight edge razor blade. I don't even want to think about how many cuts he would suffer if he tried one of those - eeeeeew!
Enough of the Galumph's misdeeds - I have a confession of my own to make. I'd been trucking along nicely, not making too many mistakes, and then a friend rang yesterday and invited me out to the movies to see Becoming Jane. "Woo hoo!" I said, being a bit of an Anne Hathaway fan. But then we struck trouble - Galumph informed me that he had a meeting until 6, and so couldn't get home until 6:30, which meant I would miss the movie which started at 6:45.
So the movie was off. Until the Galumph emailed at 5:51 saying "Leaving now!"
"Bingo!" I hollered, and quickly got ready, listening the whole time for the ring of Galumph's bicycle bell, which would announce he was home. Listening, listening, listening, all the while watching as the minutes speeded by. Finally he arrived home at 6:20, I rushed out the door and headed for the tram stop. Where I proceeded to wait 10 minutes for the tram. Finally it arrived, I got off at the stop closest to the cinema, met my friend and we ran in, got our tickets (1 minute to go!) and decided to get a snack.
Now, I can tell you, after all that running and rushing, I was feeling a little parched. In the rush of things, I hadn't had any dinner, and forgot to pack my water bottle. And when I say parched, I mean the kind of dryness of the throat that results in your tongue semi-swelling up and obscuring your breathing passages. I needed a drink, but after scanning the drinks fridge realised that EVERY SINGLE BEVERAGE on offer came in plastic.
"I neeeb a dwink!" I dumb-tongued to my friend. "Bub day all cohm in pwastic, andb I'm meant to be pwastic fwree!"
"Bwahahahahah!" she said, which wasn't really useful at all. There wasn't even time to dash off to the loo to stick my head under the tap and gulp away, so I succumbed and purchased a Coke in a paper cup, with one of those plastic lids and a straw.
And the irony of it all? About 10 minutes into the movie I grabbed the drink, and somehow managed to dislodge the lid and spill most of it all over my pants. Grrrrrrr! I should have just asked for no lid, and been done with it. 'Tis hard to enjoy a romantic scene between that hunky smoldering James McAvoy and the lovely Anne when you feel like you've wet yourself. Thank heavens the cinema was dark so nobody could see me sitting in a puddle of environmental evil!
As I looked into the cupboard this morning I noticed, to my horror, that our dried pasta supply was rapidly dwindling. This did not bode well for our Plastic Free month.
Oh dear. Only two days in, and I've already fallen off the bandwagon.
Yesterday was fine - I hit the local organic green grocer and got heaps of lovely fresh veggies, then popped on by the organic bakery for a loaf of rye, which came in a paper bag. So far, so good. The only hiccup was not being able to get any milk in a glass bottle at the supermarket, but they assured me that it would be in the next day, and we still had some milk left at home.
So for dinner I made a lovely rustic veggie and pasta soup with bread on the side, and we all toddled off happily to bed with full contented bellies.
This morning I went back to the supermarket, keen to get my milk and some ingredients for a dinner party we're hosting tomorrow night. Just to explain about the milk: milk in plastic is obviously out, as is milk in cardboard. I’ve done a bit research, and cardboard milk containers are created from something known as liquid paperboard, which has a thin layer of plastic on the inside. So glass it is. Heavy, yet nostalgic.
Alas and alack, the supermarket hadn't received their delivery of milk, and won't be getting it until tomorrow. Eeeek! So no milky cups of tea for me today - I'll have to save the dregs for Grumbles to have for her breakfast cereal and drink tomorrow morning, and she'll just have to survive with water for the rest of the time. Speaking of caffiene, we're out of coffee, and unless I can find some pre-ground beans in a paper bag, I'll have to be coffee free for the next month as well, as all the instant varieties have plastic somewhere on the packaging (usually the lids). Coffee free? This is getting much harder than I thought. How many days left? 29?!?
I also bombed out on the dessert ingredients - I'd planned on making a cheesecake. After all, Philly cheese comes in a cardboard box with foil on the inside, so it's safe. Too easy, right? Stupid me forgot, though, that the biscuits for the biscuit base all come in plastic packaging. ARRRRRRGGH! I could have made a batch of biscuits, then broken them up for the base, but I felt that was just getting ridiculous, so I'll be making a rhubarb and apple cake instead, topped with dollops of sweetened marscapone cheese at a handsome $7.64 a glass jar. Gulp. The things I do for people with newborns, I tells ya.
After the dessert debacle, I caved in and bought some smoked tofu, which, of course, came in plastic. The shame. I'm sorry, I know it was pathetic to fall off the wagon so early on in the piece, but we need our protein and the whole milk/biscuit situation left me demoralised. Bad eco-warrior!
They say that it takes 21 days to break a habit. With this in mind, I have decided to break my habit of using plastic. The funny thing is, I'm quite careful about not buying things in excess packaging, but having a look around this morning I noticed just how much of it there is in our house regardless. It's everywhere! In the fridge, in the laundry, in the cupboards, all of it ending up in the bin, much of it unable to be recycled. Enough! And it comes from fossil fuels, which are evil enough, not to mention running out (peak oil, anyone?). While I know that biofuels such as corn oil can now be used to make plastic, the thought makes me feel sick - growing corn for packaging whilst millions die every day of starvation. Talk about screwed up values.
So, for the next month, I pledge to buy nothing that comes in plastic. And if it only comes in plastic, then we don't purchase. Pretty simple. I know there will be some hiccups along the way (deodorant is going to be interesting!), but these challenges shall only serve to not only make life more interesting, but also to get me to use my noggin to think of ingenious solutions.
There is, however, a caveat: If no alternative can be found, and that is impacting on our health or hygiene needs (note the use of the word need there, not wants), then plastic is allowed. For example, if one of us falls quite ill, then I'm not going to deny us medicine that comes in a plastic bottle. That would just be silly. But for all the rest, it's plastic alternatives all the way! Hopefully, after my month of plastic-less living, the new habits will have stuck, and the old ones gone forever! Not only shall we be tv and car free, but plastic free as well. Woo hoo!
So, wish me luck! Any thoughts, tips or suggestions are, as always, more than welcome. Now I'm off to rejig my monthly menu plan to incorporate my new way of life. And so the fun begins!
I have an absolute derth of crafty goodness to show you. Trust me, when I say derth, I mean derth: not one stitch have I sewn or knitted in days. And to think I call myself a crafty chicka. Shame, shame. Instead, I'm going to tell you about my Saturday night. Oh baby, what a night it was!
It started out simply enough - my beloved cousin N was down for a few days from Brisbane, and was hanging out with us for a bit. She arrived mid-arvo, and we all sat down peacefully to enjoy a lovely light bottle of rose (Grumbles being on the milk, her drink of choice). N remarked at one stage that she had to go out that evening with The Lovely Miss G (known from now on as TLMG) to see some shows at the Comedy Festival. "Awwww", I groaned in mock jealousy. "Why didn't you tell me? I could have booked some tickets and come along!"
"Well", snorted N as she swilled her drink, "why don't you?"
"Oh, I couldn't impose!", I declared. "Besides, you should spend some quality time with TLMG. I'd hate to be the third wheel."
"Third wheel my sweet arse", replied N. "TLMG is working for the festival, so she's going to be all mingle here, network there. Trust me, I'll be bored out of my head - I need you to come and keep me company!"
I needed no further assurances. We glanced out our watches, realized we might just have time for a spot of dinner before the first show, and away we flew, leaving poor old Galumph scratching his head and wondering what became of his Saturday night (don't worry folks, he reformatted his kernal or somesuch geeky thing).
Meanwhile, N and I hit the first Mexican restaurant we came upon. And boy, was it gooooood. Although I think the two margharitas certainly helped. Silly us made the mistake of ordering ribs, and when they arrived a scant 10 minutes before we needed to leave, we turned into scary prehistoric meat munches, frantically tearing the meat from the bone with our teeth in a bizarre ribby frenzy (and then, of course, spent the rest of the evening clutching our stomaches and moaning "Oh, the ribs! The ribs!").
Then on to the first show. I was a bit worried about getting a ticket at such short notice, but I forgot: We were with TLMG! Three comps (that's complimentary tickets, oh I'm so hip with the jargon now) later, and we were seated on a table (no chairs left) for The Department of Humour Services. Woohoo, belly chuckles all the way, which you do have to be careful of when you are precariously perched on a table with a gut full of Mexican spices.
Then, after snaffling a quick drink at the bar, we headed off to see Josh Thomas in Please Like Me. Oh Josh, I do like you. Very much. And I never thought I'd say this, but I very much enjoyed hearing about your disasterous sex life. Don't worry, you're only 19, and there are plenty more fish in the sea, and hopefully you'll find one who won't have an asthma attack right at the crucial moment. Hopefully.
Now, you'd think that would be enough excitment for one evening, right? Oh, WRONG! N and I must have looked like we were wilting and ready to go home after a big night of chuckles, snorts and weeps of hilarity, because TLMG suddenly insisted that we head back on into the special bar in the Town Hall, and meet her friend Mark. "Oh, boring!", I thought. "Some knob who will keep us out for hours with boring stories, which we'll listen to politely all the time wishing we were home tucked up into our nice warm beds. Greeeeat".
Well, thank heavens above that Mark turned out to be Mark Watson - only one of the Britain's funniest people, with cool accent and funky hair and sidies to match. It was like hanging out with the cool kids, only on a much larger scale. In fact, it was like hanging out with a really truly famous person, and we were in the inner circle whilst everybody else who came up to say hello were just sad little groupies. Oh dear, trust me, there were heaps, all of whom seemed intent on showing Mark just how funny they were, and surprise surprise guess what, they weren't! In fact, some were so UNFUNNY that I almost wanted to take them aside and say "Dude, just leave it. It's painful to watch"
So there you go. What a blast! What with the famous peoples loving being with us (and you know, who wouldn't, bwahahahah!) and the not-so-famous peoples giving us green envious looks, and TLMG swishing her passes so we could get in anywhere we wanted (the power!), it was a top night. We were even told to come along to the HiFi bar after, where only the creme de la creme of comedians got to hang out in some special secret room, but I knew when enough was enough. I mean, how could I ever settle down to normal everyday life after such dizzying highs? Nah, best to remain with the unfunny mortals, and treasure my one evening of seeing how the other and much funnier side live.
So... do you remember the French lacey jumper that I was going to knit for my sister-in-law? With the fancy schmancy organic non-dyed alpaca wool? Well, I got the wool. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS of it, and did my swatch and gueeeeeeeeees what?
Another public holiday, another bike ride! We set off from home, rode into the city, then took the Bay West rail trail all the way to lovely Port Melbourne:
Rump report: I can't decide if I'm feeling tender or sore. How many ks have we done so far? And how far to home? And why is Grumbles suddenly in charge of the map? If she gets her way, we'll have to turn back and look at those damn trams again. I'm not sure how many more trams I can take!
"It's a lovely day!", we declared yesterday. And it was - one of those magical, perfectly autumnal days, where the sun is warm in the sky, but the air has that bite of crispness to it, and you can't decide if you should keep your jacket on or take it off or on or off...
So, to celebrate the loveliness of the day, we decided to take a stroll down to the Exhibition Gardens, and do a bit of kick to kick with Grumbles. I'm not quite sure exactly what tipped us off - maybe the bazillion cars circuiting the streets, each in vain trying to find a parking spot, or the hordes of people strolling past carrying all manner of garden plants - but we felt that maybe, just maybe, we weren't the only ones heading down to the gardens. Then, once we got past the musueum it hit us - the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show was on. This, thankfully, explained the plant carriers - I was beginning to wonder if some large scale plant pilfering was happening.
"Woohooo!", I exclaimed. "I love me a good bit of potting mix. Let's go in!" So over we sauntered to the ticketing booth, only to stagger backwards in alarm at the prices. "19.50 each just to get in? Screw it, unless they're handing out gold-plated watering cans then I'm too tight to pay that!"
"Agreed!" said the Galumph, who's not quite as into potting mix as I am.
So, instead, we indulged in some people watching instead (I can report that petunias are looking big this year, judging by the amount of people carrying them) and let Grumbles enjoy some good old fashioned fun: Puddle Jumping!
(Note: what with the water crisis here, puddles have been somewhat thin on the ground, and yes, I do realise that sentence is a bit off)
Blurry puddle action shot, taken by Parky Hands.
At last count we made 8 grandmothers very happy (well, that was the number who stopped to comment on her grumboots/jumping skills/oh my dear what a mess she's making!). And we were only jumping for about 10 minutes - that's almost one grandma per minute. Score!