It’s good to be back blogging! Apologies for my absence (or rather an explanation for my absence – I don’t want to assume that my readership has missed me desperately!). As well as planning and hosting a party – an update for which I will post in the next few days – I’ve been on holiday.
I’m now back however and delighted to be reunited with my laptop! Inspired by the terrible mess I arrived back to after my holiday, I’m going to to kick start Meaner Greener Me… Happily we weren’t burgled, I just lack the required skills to simultaneously pack, look after two children and get my house in order for a pleasant return.
So here are a few ‘meaner greener’ aims I have come up with to improve my life and tie in with my blog themes of ethical consumption and responsible waste disposal.
Part of the reason my house was such a mess is that I’d spent much of the previous week cooking my little heart out to try and use up as much of the food we already had in the house. We also had a few weeks’ worth of oranges from the organic veg box that were close to going off so I spent some time squeezing them for juice.
As an aside, although I prefer a tidy house, one parenting decision I made in the early days was that I’d always prioritise what my children ate over housework (although ideally, attempts would be made at keeping the place hygienic). I figured I could get by with a bit of clutter without scarring the children emotionally for life but if I were to feed them junk then I could jeopardise their future health.
However, despite all the cooking, I did come back from holiday to quite a lot of food waste – I’d over-bought milk, some of the veg box didn’t get used up and a half-finished juice carton was poured down the sink. Add to this the fact that on holiday, a few things inevitably ended up in the bin before we came home, I am feeling quite guilty.
I must do better. I’m going to have to set aside some time for meal planning – a thought that fills me with dread – and tailor my shopping accordingly. Because my veg box is a ‘surprise’ each week, I’m also going to have to be prepared to search for new recipes to use up the more unusual items. I’m a very basic cook but am happy for this excuse to improve my skills and extend my limited repertoire.
I got off to a good start yesterday and turned most of these onions into lentil soup!
Washing and ironing
I had forgotten quite how much washing I’d left up to dry in the house while we were away. I therefore came back to a mountain of ironing and had a suitcase full of clothes to go in the washing machine.
Surprisingly for this non-domestic goddess, washing is a task that I actively enjoy. I find it satisfying to clear such a large volume of work by simply putting it in a machine and then moving it onto a drying line – high return for little input!
I am realising slowly that I over wash and therefore over iron and therefore over consume energy – both my own and that which we purchase from our electricity supplier. I confess that I have got into a habit of washing almost everything I wear or use after one use (with the exception of bed sheets which I hate changing! I am pretty energy efficient in that area…). I would be interested to hear if anyone has any comments regarding how often you do your laundry – I need a guide as to what is ‘normal’.
By reducing the amount I wash, it should reduce my ironing but I am going to make a special effort not to iron some things that (arguably) don’t really need it. There seems to be an ironing addiction that runs in my family – afflicted members iron almost everything from tea towels to underwear to muslin squares. I iron none of the above (surely it is a moral issue to be wasting time ironing muslin squares?!) but I admit I find it hard not to give leggings, jeans and the kids’ bed sheets a quick once over. I’m cutting it out!
Although generally in our household we are good at getting rid of items we are finished with on returning home with fresh perspective after a week away we spotted some clutter that needs to go!
I do strongly believe that redundant items should be passed on to someone who can use them whether that’s by selling, lending or gifting. For example, we have our children’s first pram sitting around the house, literally gathering dust. Although of course it has sentimental value, the reality is that we are finished with it and now it needs to go to a good home. We have allocated some time to do a charity shop run next weekend.
Reduce supermarket shopping
As anyone who has read past blog posts will know, I gave up using the supermarket for 28 days a few months ago. You can read all about it here. Although I have gone back to using them, I feel really uncomfortable about it for ethical reasons (outlined in Supermarket-free Me: Day 16) and have tried to reduce what I spend in them. Recently however I feel that I have slipped, especially on holiday where we didn’t know what shops were nearby and so used the local supermarket for convenience.
I need to make a proper plan to enable me to avoid them as much as possible. Yesterday instead of writing my usual shopping list, I wrote a list for six different shops:
I tried to source each item as ethically as possible and only when I couldn’t find a realistic alternative option, would it then go on the supermarket list.
I admit this is a bit of a time-consuming task, involving visits to a number of shops but if I’m organised it can be absorbed within my week.
It is worth mentioning that the items I am most struggling to source outwith the supermarket are organic products. I need a few extra items of fruit and veg on top of my weekly organic veg box and I like to buy the organic option for food items such as cheese, milk, mayonnaise, humus etc wherever possible.
If anyone has any suggestions to make on this subject, I’d welcome them!