Tips to reduce your spending; reduce, recycle and reuse your waste; and help your pocket and the environment along the way.
Awareness of the environmental impact of our consumption-driven society is slowly increasing. Whether we are talking about clothes or other goods, every new item we purchase has cost the environment in some way. The raw materials used have come from the earth. Equipment has been manufactured to craft the products, is run on electricity and requires maintenance and parts. Once made, products are packaged in plastic, paper and cardboard. More resources like oil and fuel are used in their transportation, often from overseas. Then there is the human cost. People are very often exploited in factories and sweat shops, and work under poor and sometimes dangerous conditions for very little pay.
Too often, items are purchased, briefly used and enjoyed, and discarded. Little thought is given to the environmental and human resources that have gone into their making.
There are 3 things we can all do to help. Continue reading
I was once waiting for a colleague to pick me up at a location opposite a well known drive through coffee business. During the 15 minute wait I was astonished to see the volume of traffic that snaked through the carpark into the drive-through lane and back out onto the street. The cars numbered in the dozens in this short timeframe. The sight actually left me feeling a sense of despair. It made me wonder about the lives of people who don’t have time for a cuppa before leaving the house. And if there wasn’t time to make a coffee it’s unlikely they Continue reading
Last week on the blog I challenged you to think about the work-earn-spend-waste-repeat cycle that characterises the lives of so many of us these days. Whilst I would not describe myself as particularly frugal, I try to make thoughtful purchases and not waste money. Spending less money means I don’t have to work as much in order to support a consumer lifestyle. It also means I don’t accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’. The weekly shop is a good place to begin decreasing overall expenditure. Here are 5 tips you can try in order to reduce your grocery bill. Continue reading
Food waste is one of the scandals of the modern age. Tristram Stuart highlighted this problem in extraordinary detail in his book entitled ‘Waste: Uncovering the global food scandal’. He practiced freeganism for many years, to prove a point that it was possible to eat extremely well by rescuing discarded food from the bins behind the supermarkets and gourmet food stores. I truly wish I had the guts to go through the bins behind the supermarkets in my area, but I just don’t. So I do the next best thing and trawl the cold food section of my supermarket every week looking for items that have almost reached their ‘use by’ or ‘best by’ date, are heavily discounted, and will be thrown out if not purchased. Here’s the food I rescued from the last 2 weeks’ grocery shop:
The ABC’s Landline did a fabulous story recently about how some Queensland carrot farmers are turning their post-harvest waste into profit. The farmer interviewed stated that 15 – 30% of their crop is being wasted or fed to animals. Why you may ask? Because supermarkets refuse to accept anything but packets of straight and unblemished carrots of uniform size. And why is this? Mostly because consumers won’t buy carrots that are oddly shaped, have a split, a bit missing off the end, are broken in half, or look a bit small or a bit large. The farmer realised that the industry is top-heavy with males and that the perspective and voice of the primary grocery shopper and cook was missing in the search for a solution to the problem of waste. So he did a skills audit of the wives of farmers and managers in his region. Not surprisingly, he discovered that they had diverse backgrounds including education, law, banking, journalism, and marketing. This perfect combination of skills resulted in a small consortia of women turning imperfect produce into packaged grated carrots and carrot sticks.
I applaud this innovation, its positive impact, and particularly the recognition and utilisation of women’s skills beyond those they need to have in order to effectively manage the home and children and contribute to the running of the farm. However it is concerning that this innovation reduces one lot of waste (food) and creates another (plastic packaging). It seems to me that the consumer needs to make a shift in their attitude toward imperfect produce. A young mum I know told me recently that one of the major supermarkets is now selling wonky-looking fruit and vegies. Perhaps this is a step in the right direction, though I remain skeptical about their motives….
Of course, the discarding of imperfect produce is just one small aspect of food waste from field to fork. If you are up for a very heavy read on this subject, I’ve just finished Tristram Stuart’s book entitled Waste: Uncovering the global food scandal. Be prepared to be alarmed, as well as enlightened in extraordinary detail. And you can read the carrot waste story here.
Do you give much thought to what you throw out and where your rubbish ends up? As our population and economic wealth grows so too does our consumerism and ‘throw-away’ tendency, and with it the amount of waste that goes into landfill and therefore our environmental footprint. The food waste facts on the OzHarvest website succinctly outline the extent of this problem and the profound impact it has on people. In addition to food waste, cans, bottles, and takeaway plastic and coffee containers are an increasing problem for our environment.
I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce household waste, and aim to minimise as much as possible what goes into both landfill and the recycling bin. Mr Simply Will complains that there are ‘so many rules about rubbish’, but seems to keep up quite well with my rubbish rules most of the time! Here are my top tips for reducing waste and rubbish.
Food waste: Continue reading
Michelle publishes some great stories on her Keep Calm Get Organised blog. I was particularly interested in her $50 grocery challenge which she introduces with some alarming statistics on just how much food is wasted by Australian households each year, and the impact this has on the environment. I thought I would give the challenge a try. Now let me tell you I’m a minimalist and an under-buyer – definitely not one of those people whose fridge contains not one inch of space and with a pantry to match. So I did wonder if this challenge might be a little ambitious for me, given Michelle’s requirement that we make use of what we already have. She further suggests that a couple or small family limit themselves to only $30, but because I bought organic fruit and veggies that week I felt this justified giving myself the higher grocery allowance even though we are just a couple!
My inventory revealed a freezer containing lamb shanks, pumpkin pie filling, and a recipe of pate brisee pastry. Items already in the pantry selected to build meals around included canned chick peas, coconut milk, rice and quinoa mix, dried fruit, and nuts. The garden yielded pumpkin, heaps of sweet potato, and eggs from our chickens. Michelle suggested making your own bread, and I agree with her that it really is very easy – it just requires a little forward planning. I spent $31.50 on fruit and veggies at the markets; and just $18.60 at IGA.
So what did we eat that week?
Lamb shanks with prunes & apricots
Grilled salmon & vegetables
Thai fish curry
Quinoa, rice & sweet potato salad
And for treats and guests – Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin & Prune cake, and Date cake. When I bake cakes I usually cut them in half and put half in the freezer. Mr Simply Will has something of a sweet tooth, and this stops them disappearing so quickly!
The $50 grocery challenge was a great exercise in being more thoughtful about the food we eat, minimising waste, meal planning, creating a grocery list and sticking to it, and using what is already available.
What are your thoughts about Michelle’s $50 challenge? Would you or have you tried it?