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