Baby steps to a grown-up lifestyle change…

Back in February I posted about my plans (new year’s resolutions) to buy no clothes during the year and try out a plant-based eating regime.  I joined a few facebook groups relating to a zero waste lifestyle and a vegan diet, and became more and more interested in both. I have learned a great deal over the intervening months.

I failed the first test (not significantly, but I lost a lot of weight and needed a few new items of clothing), and I dipped in, out, and back into a plant based diet.

I am definitely on a ‘journey’ to zero waste, although I doubt I will ever reach my destination.  I have always been an ardent recycler and composter, but there was always food that wasn’t suitable for composting because it would be attractive to vermin, so inevitably some food waste ended up in our kitchen bin, and living in a hot climate that means the bin must be frequently emptied in order to avoid smells and attracting flies.  Food contained in a bin liner (even a biodegradable one) and emptied into landfill will  not rot.  The more I learned, the less I liked sending my waste to landfill.

But now I have discovered a new trick that enables home composting of all organic waste, including meat and fish, small/medium bones, dairy, bread, cooked food, etc.  It is called ‘Bokashi’ a Japanese word that means “fermented organic matter”.  It requires a system of using two Bokashi bins (one being filled during the period of a couple of weeks, whilst the already full one is fermenting).  I have been using this system for several months now and my compost heap is growing and looking very rich.  I won’t go into great detail here because if you are interested you can find plenty of information on the internet.  There is a setup cost involved and little more effort than just chucking waste in the bin but my plants will benefit from the rich compost that is developing at the end of the garden, and I am sending absolutely no food to landfill.

I am also trying very hard to buy as few plastic packaged items as possible.  I have made my own produce bags from an old net curtain so no longer need to use plastic when I am buying  fruit and veg and I always have a roll-up tote bag (or three) in my handbag when I go shopping.  I have had a few odd looks and deep sighs from cashiers at the supermarket – the first time I used the produce bags all the price labels fell off before I reached the check-out, but once I realised my fail, I applied a small patch to each bag that the labels will adhere to, and voilá no more problems.  On my most recent visit to the supermarket the cashier examined the bags closely and then complimented me on using them – I was ridiculously pleased that she acknowledged what I was doing.

I am washing and reusing ziplock bags, no longer using clingfilm and rarely using aluminium foil.  I have small bins for our recycling and no longer use liners to take them to the recycling points.  Our kitchen (landfill) bin is now a recycled tea caddy that only needs emptying every few days.

I have started to make my own cleaning products, am using wooden/bristle brushes and a loofah for washing up (all natural compostable items), have virtually given up kitchen paper (probably my hardest sacrifice), use solid (bar) shampoo with no packaging, a crystal deodorant that will last for years, and will soon experiment with making my own toothpaste and body lotion – all so that I am not buying unnecessary plastic that will end in our ever-growing landfill sites.

Is it easy?  Well it’s not difficult, it just requires planning, discipline and a bit of time.

Can I do better?  Without a shadow of a doubt.

Do my friends think I’m a bit batty?  Certainly.

Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

Why am I doing it?  Not for myself – I’ll be ready for my grave before all our inconsiderate misuse of the planet over the last umpteen years affects me personally.  But I have a great concern for my children and grandchildren (and of course everyone else’s children and grandchildren).  We must all start to take serious responsibility for our actions and try to reverse some of the terrible mistakes we have made.

I feel passionate about all this and could write a good deal more, but I’m sure you get the gist, and I would like to sincerely thank you for humouring me and reading this far.

As for my diet, since returning from my camino at the end of May I have stuck fairly rigidly to a plant only diet – no meat, fish, eggs or dairy.  There have been only a couple of unplanned occasions when I have eaten dairy.  I cannot call myself vegan because I still wear leather products (but don’t think I will buy any new items).  A true vegan wouldn’t wear wool or silk either.

But I am comfortable that I will stick with this eating regime, not because I suddenly decided I didn’t like the taste of animal products, but for ethical reasons, relating both to animal cruelty, and the damage that animal agriculture wreaks on the environment, and of course for health reasons.

I probably wont write about this again because it is not what this blog is about, but it is what I am about, so I thought you might be interested.  I won’t be preaching or flag waving.  Just quietly getting on with my chosen lifestyle.

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

(As many have before me, I misquote the words of Hillel the Elder “If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”)

Oh, and I hope you like the header photo – a sunset snap I took last week

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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29 Responses to Baby steps to a grown-up lifestyle change…

  1. Net curtain for home made produce bags a brilliant idea! Our 2 major Aussie supermarkets will phase out plastic shopping bags next year, so I’m crocheting string bags at present, but it’s a slow process!
    Greetings from Trinidad de Arre on the CF – just starting my slow walk to Burgos.
    Margaret.

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hola Margaret. Thanks for finding the time to comment whilst you are on camino. I hope all is going well and the weather is being kind. Two of my tote bags were originally bought for use on the camino – they are waterproof, so good for the shower, as a laundry bag, etc. Multi-task items. Crochet bags wouldn’t work so well in these situations 🙂
      Buen camino!

      Like

  2. Rosanna Steele says:

    Very proud of you Mum, as always reading and watching with great interest. I think what you are doing is brilliant, 💗

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  3. Food for thought

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  4. Interesting post Maggie, we are since february of last year on a similar journey. Vegetarian though, not vegan, and we’re trying to limit landfill, especially the use of plastic. I have changed my water bag in my trusted Camino pack for two stainless steel bottles that can be refilled endlessly. It feels good and I am not missing the meat for a moment. On the other hand I don’t think the world is black and white. So if someone has done a great effort to make me a meal and it includes meat, then I wont be as blund to say that I won’t eat it. Whenever possible I will let hosts know of my vegetarian preference. On the Camino that was not always easy and if needed I will backup to fish over meat. Progressing in the right direction, still a lot to gain …

    Liked by 1 person

    • magwood says:

      Hi Peter…our paths cross again! Definitely not easy to be vegetarian/vegan on the camino…there is a saying that the Spanish consider pork to be a vegetable! Hopefully by next year I will be sufficiently committed to the diet that I will find a way to stick with it. Hope you are all happy in your new home.

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  5. Maureen Gillespie says:

    Fair play Maggie, wish I had your level of commitment. I try but fail miserably! Must check out that compost making system.

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    • magwood says:

      You were ahead of me. I remember when I stayed with you that I threw a roasting pan-liner in the bin, assuming it was disposable. It was weeks or months later that it dawned on me what I had done…and I never did apologise. Sorry! I use them all the time now xx

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  6. You are an inspiration! Mel

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    • magwood says:

      There are many who have inspired me and continue to do so – there is so much info out there. Only problem is that I seem to be reading internet items all the time – I can’t remember the last time I read a book.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OzAnnie says:

    Wow Maggie –
    I like to read things like this that pull me up and make me see.
    I also hate adding unnecessarily to landfill and try in my own way to recycle a lot but you have given me a good prod on other possibilities.
    My main ‘wow ‘ was for you losing so much weight post camino . I have been gaining! Sad for me, but thankyou for the inspiration.

    Very good post
    Annie

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    • magwood says:

      I lost most of it pre-camino Annie, by following the example of your compatriot Andrew Taylor on his ‘spud fit’ diet for a month. I didn’t actually lose any weight whilst walking, but I guess it moved around a bit (the weight that is). But the good news is that since returning I have maintained that loss and dropped a little more – now down 11 kilos since 1 January. Now, if only I can keep it off until 31 December – that would indeed me a record for me.

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  8. Patricia says:

    Hi Maggie
    I thought you may be interested in this organisation. I thoroughly enjoy your posts and you have motivated us to walk five Caminos. Thank you. Patricia
    http://boomerangbags.org/

    Liked by 1 person

    • magwood says:

      Thanks for the link Patricia, I shall take a look. Wow, five caminos…which routes have you walked!

      I just checked out the link – what a great idea, I really like it. I will keep it in mind and share with my fb community.

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  9. Maxine McMillan says:

    Great idea using net curtains for product bags.

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  10. caminojakke says:

    Thanks! Useful ideas.

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  11. This is great Maggie – we’re on a similar journey, but way behind you. It’s great to pick up your ideas – like you say, one baby step at a time! Love the net curtains idea, I just wish we had some old net curtains to follow suit but it’s instigated me to find something else we can reuse.

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    • magwood says:

      I am so very pleased to read your comment Jo, so good to hear from you. There are usually net curtains available at charity shops if you can’t find anything suitable at home xx

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  12. lynharrison4wind says:

    The net curtain bags could be a world best seller. Brilliant idea. Patent it quick while we think of routes to commercialisation! When it comes to cleaning up the world, I’ve become convinced that zero-waste done large scale is the affordable way to go. Leaving a habitable world for the next generations has to be the right thing to do, but to be sustainable it also needs to be financially viable for society, present and future. Lots of food for thought, indeed. Thanks for sharing, Maggie. Where the people lead, the leaders will follow (eventually).

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    • magwood says:

      As already admitted Lyn, I can’t claim credit for the idea of using nets. Anything lightweight will do (you don’t want to add any unnecessary weight to the scales). There are so many initiatives around the world that I have read about. Maybe a good subject for a future Divas’ meeting? I like the phrase “where the people lead, the leaders will follow”…I’m sure it has started to happen. Looking forward to seeing you soon xx

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  13. Lisa says:

    Very good post which I read from start to finish. Thank you for sharing your journey. You are a good steward of the earth.

    Like

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