Dear Readers, as many of us live in the city including myself, Ive been looking at ways to live in a more environmental way, if by necessity on a small scale, what with living in a compact one bed apartment. So here are some of my endeavours so far.
I started by looking at replacing that most of insidious of substances that is everywhere around us, in the very air we breathe, the water we drink, the food that we eat and the oceans we swim in, plastic.
We have all heard of how plastic is turning up in the stomachs of birds, dolphins, whales and other sea-life, as well as strangling and killing smaller animals such as seals and turtles.
Plastic micro-beads in all types of packaging, make-up, shampoo, shower gel…these end up in our water and eventually everything imaginable.
Plastic is a source of toxins and takes many hundreds of years to be broken down. Plastic in all its forms is causing disease and death and if left unchecked, will be one of the factors in the destruction of our home, our planet.
Looking at how plastic is everywhere, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the task ahead and then I remembered that if you are going to try to change the world, you need to first change yourself and how you live and where better to start than my own home.
I started by looking at my kitchen and how I store food. Previously I had stored all food in the plastic bags they came in, which on consideration was an ineffective, wasteful, dodgy and dangerous method. Food goes stale more quickly on exposure to air, sunlight, moisture and heat and ends up been thrown out, thus wasting valuable resources and causing more expense. All types of insects and creatures like mice and rats will be drawn to any food left unprotected. I’m not a fan of insects and rats and would rather not have them in my home and definitely not in my food and since I would never use mouse traps or deadly insecticides, prevention is really better then cure.
I have discovered the wonder of mason jars and glass storage, clean, effective, safe and pleasing to the eye! 🙂 There is literally no downside! Glass is completely recyclable, durable and is a millions types better then plastic. I have been steadily building up my collection of glass mason jars in a variety of sizes, some with typically mason clasps and other with vacuum style lids.
There is so much that you can store in mason jars, dry food like beans, legumes, grains, rice, pulses, cereals, dried herbs, spices…pickled vegetables, chutneys, jams and other preserves. You can make up ready to go mixes for breads, cakes, pies… which save time in the long run.
You can use them to create beautiful homemade gifts such as layered bath salts, herb infused vinegars and oils, freshly baked cookies or sweets…the list is endless, limited only by your imagination. Best of all is that the container is completely reusable so in effect its the gift that keeps on giving.
In terms of cost, there is a bigger outlay for glass as opposed to plastic Tupperware but in the long run, it will benefit your health, your diet and the planet. You can search for mason jars in car boot sales, charity shops, discount stores and often friends and neighbours may be happy to give you their unwanted jars. Your cupboards will gleam with cleanliness and order and allow you at a glance to see what provisions you have.
Last tip for changing from plastic to glass is to buy affordable label stickers to mark the contents and best before date, which can be simply washed off when the jar is empty and then the jar is reused.
Ultimately I would love to go trash free with a mixture of recycling plastic, paper, glass, tins and also composting left over food scraps, as well as finding new ways to reuse trash. One lady who is doing this already is Lauren Singer, creator of Trash is for Tossers, an excellent website with loads of inspiring ideas.
I want to find out where locally I can go to buy my food using my own containers such as hemp or organic cotton bags from bulk containers, thus cutting down on waste. I know co-ops often over this type of shopping but I think in my city, health shops might be my best bet for the moment. Will keep you up to date on my progress.
Another way to replace plastic in ones own home is to change to sustainable wood for everything from cooking utensils, chopping boards to furniture such as chairs, tables, bookcases and to smaller items like toothbrushes.. Yes it is more expensive but you will start to think more about what you buy and why.
Fair-trade and sustainable goods are something that is critical for people to think about and choose. Its not just about the product but how it arrived in your home, what it is stored in, the person who made it and their lifestyle. It is about raising awareness and consciousness of the effects of the choices we make as consumers.
Coming up in the next few weeks, I will be talking about making household cleaning products from spirit vinegar, lemon juice and bread soda, making your own beauty products from natural ingredients you can find in most kitchens, the healing power of herbs and plants from improving our air to improving our health and mood. I will be testing out all these recipes on myself and those of my family and friends willing to be guinea pigs.
I will be investigating the surprisingly shady world of the majority of ‘honey’ brands on our shelves, the importance of raw honey and its many amazing properties for conditions such as skin burns, wounds, hay fever, coughs etc… I will be reflecting on my own experiment with feeding menses blood to my plants and the pros and cons and I will be finding new ways to reuse items that cannot be recycled and doing extensive research on ways to go more green in the city.
I attended the Galway Food festival last weekend and went to fascinating talks from beekeepers, to chocolate makers, to foraged foods and the many ways they can be utilised, so will talk more about this next time.
I’m really excited at this and amazed at how the few small changes I’ve done so far have had such a positive effect on my quality of life and solidify my passion to live a kinder, more compassionate and more thoughtful life. Saving the planet doesn’t just feel like a marketing slogan but something meaningful and obtainable. The more I change how I live, the more I feel empowered. If I can make these simple changes, anyone can.