Small efforts.

Sometimes taking steps for the environment seem like massive sacrifices. Sometimes we think it’s only worth it we make a big impact. Today I thought I’d share a few things I’m trying that still count towards my effort, however small they may be.

 

20170215_100305
Spring onions and a leek 🙂

The window sill shenanigans are starting again! I know it doesn’t really make a major difference to the amount of food I have in, but re-growing veg in water is the first step in what I hope will be the beginning of growing food. It’s pretty amazing watching things grow! In a week my spring onions went from an inch long to a foot long and I chopped them up to use in a curry (below); now the roots are back in water again! Next week I’ll find a use for my regrown leek, and I also want to get a lettuce growing. See here for all the veg you can regrow in water.

img_20170223_152003
‘curry’ made completely from scratch!

I was eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch today when I noticed the peanut butter has palm oil in it. It’s so annoying! Ever since I watched Before the Flood (see my review here) I’ve been super motivated not to endorse that industry, but I haven’t been too successful. It’s in so many things! However, the next time I buy peanut butter I’m hunting down one without palm oil.

20170123_152207.jpg
The debris from a paper cull I did recently…

In general I’m alright at avoiding printing. My train/plane/coach tickets are always on my phone, and other than that I have very few reasons to actually print anything… eeeexcept for uni. We get a lot of handouts, which there isn’t a lot I can do about, but I also have to do a lot of reading from online books. I used to print out the readings every week so that no matter where I was, I could get to them. A week ago, I decided to just try and read off the screen and take notes instead, then print if I really felt the need. I have yet to feel that need. I think I used to tell myself ‘it’s all very well trying to be better to the environment, but I NEED to print this stuff for my degree!‘ when actually it turned out not to be such a massive thing. Hoping to keep this not-printing thing up as much as possible going forward!

img-20170222-wa0021
Sneaky cinema shot!

Every Wednesday I go to the cinema on my own to watch a foreign film. It’s my me-time. Part of this mid-week treat is buying myself some popcorn. I could make it myself, but I don’t have that much time on a Wednesday, plus it’s nice to give back to the uni cinema whose prices are insanely cheap and staff are lovely. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been bringing back the same box that I bought popcorn in for the first film. They refill it and at the end of the film I pop it back in my bag for next week. The cardboard has softened a little but it works just fine, and I must’ve saved a good dozen other boxes from going in the recycling. It’s super simple and easy, but it all helps!

snapchat-283632977545170484
GO WORMS GO!

I got a worm bin back in the Autumn, and whilst that has helped to absorb a bit of my food waste, they don’t eat quite fast enough at the moment to deal with everything I create (and then there’s the odd thing they can’t eat like onions and citrus). I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to chuck that stuff in the general bin in the kitchen until it hit me recently that I could take it into uni where they have food waste bins. About once a week, when I have a decent amount of scraps, I’ll take them onto campus and put them in one of their bins. Landfill diverted again, woo!

 

 

Little things.

Today I thought I’d take a leaf out of The Beauty in Simple‘s book and share a list of small things that I am grateful for or excited about at the moment. I really love the fact that you can find beauty and value in the every day, mundane details and I’m trying to get better at it, so here goes…

5 simple things that have made me happy this week:

snapchat-4562748337242138963

  1. On Mondays I get the majority of my food from the market on my uni campus. I bought a beautiful baguette off a very nice lady who complimented me on my baguette-shaped cotton bag. My day was made and it hadn’t even hit 12! snapchat-3653081788801760395
  2. My worm bin finally arrived! Watching all the little wriggly babies settle into their new home and giving them their first load of food scraps was really amazing yesterday. I may have stayed there watching them until the very last one wriggled underneath the surface of the soil before I reluctantly put the lid back on… Expect a post soon about how I’m getting on with this new compost method! snapchat-6525766345540802439
  3. Having a cold really blows, (GET IT!) but since I’ve been using handkerchiefs instead of tissues, I don’t get that sore red nose thing that I thought was inevitable. Plus I keep them in this jar in my room, and all the colours and patterns look so nice together. snapchat-314470562345266043
  4. Today rounded off week 3 of my final year at university, (eek!) and whilst it’s pretty hectic, I’ve managed to minimise the things I take with me. I have one bag (a year ago I would’ve been rotating at least 3) one notebook and one folder for all my lessons. It is really nice not to have to empty and refill my bag and risk forgetting things, because I just carry it all around every day.snapchat-3383675782844297014-1
  5. Breakfast for me consists of jumbo oats soaked overnight in nut milk, 1 chopped banana, 1 chopped date, a handful of nuts and a sprinkle of vanilla/cinnamon. It’s filling, refreshing, yummy, healthy- I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

Small steps.

snapchat-5729582597488694293

I am reluctant to even mention the word ‘gardening’ at all in this post, because what I’ve been doing feels pretty far from it in many ways, but it’s exciting and a small step in the direction of gardening!

I found out recently that you can grow certain vegetables (spring onions, leeks, lettuce etc.) from the root in just water. So in theory, if I planned it right, I wouldn’t need to buy any of these again! I started off with spring onions, saving about an inch off the bottom and submerging its root in some water in a jar. Just over two weeks later I have these babies!

snapchat-7963595438386112581

The longest one (which I’m assuming I planted first)  has had about 5 inches of regrowth! In the next few weeks I’m going to chop it up and see what it tastes like. In hindsight, I might still be buying spring onions in the future, as the yield I’m currently getting is considerably smaller than you would get if you bought them. However, I’ll add a shoot or two to the shop-bought onions I’m using, why not. Eventually when I have a nice big collection, it’ll pay off, especially when you consider that they are organic.

snapchat-1375214487017306229
several of my growing onions has started to sprout another stem!

I have enjoyed watching these little guys shoot up so quickly, and it’s nice to have something low-maintenance to look after to ease myself into it! This week I’m adding a leek root to see how that does alongside the spring onions on my windowsill. See this article for a list of veggies you can regrow from water with tips 🙂

 

Food shopping part 1.

Snapchat-480627310829583934

Last week I bought this beautiful wicker basket which makes me feel like Little Red Riding Hood! After weeks and weeks of envying the trolleys and baskets paraded by my french neighbours, I went on a mission to a second-hand furniture warehouse thingy with the sole purpose of finding myself one of those babies. Apart from the obvious aesthetic reasons, I can vouch for the fact that my basket has made market shopping WAY better. I used to carry a couple of totes, meaning I would be constantly unhooking the straps off my shoulders and trying to organise the produce so none of it would be squashed by anything heavier. It was doable but complicated, and I could never find all my produce bags! I now feel like I have my system sorted, so without further ado… Here’s how I shop zero waste at the weekly farmers’ market in Rennes, France!

Firstly, it’s all about preparation. On Fridays, the day before market day, I plan all the meals I want to make for the week. From that list I make another list (I like lists, guys) of things I need to buy for those meals. The second part of the preparation involves lining my basket with a tea towel and filling it with mesh bags for produce, and any other containers needed. The above image shows what I took yesterday; aside from the mesh bags, I took a paper bag for dates (they’re so sticky!) and a jar for olives.

When I get to the market, I work my way through my shopping list being sure to specify ‘no bag please’ (‘sans sac s’il vous plait’) as many vendors provide paper or plastic bags and automatically fill them when you order. It took me a while to have the courage and foresight to master this, but I’m a pro now! If you ever do end up receiving something in a bag you didn’t want (happens to the best of us), just immediately empty the contents into your bag/basket and give it back to the vendor, they’re fine with it. Larger fruit and veg like broccoli, sweet potatoes and bananas I generally tend to put straight in my bag/basket loose, whereas I use my mesh bags for tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms etc. to keep them together and protected a bit. The people at the olive stand are more than happy to weigh my jar and subtract it from the end price, but before this I used to bring back the plastic container they provided me with the first time to reuse.

Snapchat-4251419408317809546
Clockwise from top let: green beans (in bag), potatoes (in bag), tomatoes (in bag), carrots, kale, lettuce, broccoli

Contrary to my fears when I began to shop package-free, I’ve found market vendors to react positively to my bags (or at least indifferent, which is also fine by me!), in fact I’ve received more compliments from them than anyone else! Also, getting home and storing my purchases before returning the bags back to their place and not being left with a load of plastic is a sweet satisfaction. This week I treated myself to fresh apple juice which comes in a glass bottle that I reuse to store my rice, pasta, grains etc.

Snapchat-4481958414875490555
my rather adorable bounty

As for non fruit and veg groceries, I do a second small shop on Mondays at a package-free supermarket which I will explain next week. Until then folks!