Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Simple Life and the Environment

Over the last few weeks this little experiment of mine, of winding back and looking at living a more simple life, has started to become a real lifestyle.  In just a few short weeks it has had more of an impact than I ever thought possible.  What made me realise that the changes I have made are making a difference was my rubbish bin.  Yes.  I said my rubbish bin.

I put my rubbish out on the kerb on a Monday night, to be collected by the garbo on the Tuesday morning.  Each week we have to put out a smaller bin of normal household rubbish and every second Tuesday the recycling bin is emptied, which is done on alternate weeks with the 'green' rubbish (ie. the garden waste).  Normally my recycling bin is full to overflowing, to the point where I have to dump some on the garage floor and wait until the next fortnight before it can fit in the bin.  My household rubbish bin too, is usually bursting to the brim, which results in a very entertaining ten minutes for the neighbours as I try and lean my weight on the lid to attempt to squash all the bags down so that the crows can't access all the tasty tasty food scraps and spread mess all over the driveway. 

This week, however, when I put up my rubbish I noticed that I was able to close the lid with ease.  Incredible!  And not only that but I didn't realise it was the week to collect the recycling because the bin was only just over half full....by looking at it I thought I still had a whole week to go before collection.  It was only after dragging up the rubbish that I noticed the neighbours had their recycling bins out and I was astounded.  A weird thing I know to get excited about, but considering we are a family of six, we produce a decent amount of waste.  It was then that I realised that this change of lifestyle must be the reason , that by doing things like cooking from scratch was making a difference.

So what have I learnt and how can it help you?
Baking and cooking from scratch - I used to do the odd bit of baking but now I do a lot.  Every week I will make either a couple of slices, a batch of cakes, ice cream and biscuits.  I have a son at school who needs snacks in his lunch box, two pre-school boys with appetites like teenagers, and a toddler who likes to graze all day.  I use a lot of flour, sugar, eggs and milk.  All the basics.  As I am using a lot of raw ingredients I am spending less but I am also producing a lot less waste.  A packet of flour will last longer than one packet of store bought biscuits, plus it comes in a paper bag that can be flattened to virtually nothing, compared to a plastic tray and the plastic wrapping that comes with a packet of Tim Tams. 
 
By not buying pre-made or pre-packaged things I am not only reducing what I have to throw away but we are eating simple and healthy meals.  Fruit, vegetables and meat are the staples and make for a really easy meal.  I don't buy things like pre-made desserts, but rather make them from scratch, for example I made a big bread and butter pudding the other night with very simple ingredients that were already in my pantry.  If you have the basics you will find that there are a huge array of things that you can make and you will never go hungry. 
 Nude food - Nude food?  Yep.  I'm talking naked food here, things that are in their most natural state as possible.  Buying things that are in their raw state is not only healthier but cheaper.  Buying an apple is way better than purchasing some fancy little container,with it's own little spoon, with processed stewed apple in it that is most likely full of additional sugar and preservatives and basically a whole pile of crap.  Not only does it cost more, you most likely get less...and at the end of the experience...you have rubbish to throw away.  An apple core will rot away, and makes fabulous compost for your garden or veggie patch, whereas the little container and spoon will sit in landfill for say....ooohh....hundreds of years (??)  Who knows. 

My recent example is my cup of tea.  Normally I buy tea bags.  I drink a few cups a day and after using each tea bag in the bin it goes.  It doesn't take up much space, it seems fairly harmless, but it is still a little piece of rubbish that adds to the pile.  Last week I ran out of tea bags, so reached for the box of tea leaves that my husband had got from somewhere.  This little red pot was a present from my eldest son, it makes a single cup, and it does the job quite nicely.  This week I went to the supermarket and had to buy more tea.  I weighed up my options.  Box of tea bags, box of tea leaves.  I considered the ease of a tea bag, how quickly I can just dunk it and move on.  But then I looked at the box of tea leaves.  I could get twice as much for half the price and in the process have a fair bit less to throw away.  Not only that but it brings me back to the whole point of trying to live a simple life.  I am actively trying to slow down my existence, to take time over things and try to stop life from rushing by me with all it's time saving conveniences and technology....so I thought why don't I start by slowing down my ritual of making my daily cups of tea.  Boil the kettle, warm the pot, add the tea leaves and the hot water, let it sit, pour my cuppa, add the milk.  This all takes time.  Extra time.  Probably a good five minutes of extra time.  And you know what?  It's a great thing.
So...back to my rubbish, because that's such an earth shatteringly exciting topic.  Once I have my vegetable garden going (still waiting on hubby to build it for me....we are lambing now so that is taking all his time, and then he's off up north shearing for several weeks...) I will be able to have a compost bin, so all of those food scraps can make their way out to the compost rather than finding their way into my bin.  The composting won't be occurring just to lighten the rubbish load, but rather the veggie patch and the composting will be put in place to help further orchestrate this journey towards a simpler life.  But just as a side celebration, I'm enjoying not having to drag such a heavy rubbish bin up the driveway every week! 
 
Have you found any ways lately to reduce your household waste?






10 comments:

  1. Isn't it amazing once you realize how much waste you are actually tossing? When we jumped on the recycle bandwagon, per my parents nagging, we were astounded by how much crap we were tossing! Another way we've cut back on waste is by having a pet tortoise. Which is totally random and might not be in the cards for everyone, but she happily eats those veggie and fruit scraps that remain after dinner. (:

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    1. I'm getting fabulous images of your tortoise eating all your leftovers! Looking forward to seeing her!

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  2. I get rid of a lot of waste food by putting it out on a plate each night for the foxes and badgers ;o) x

    http://ditsysprinkles.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. That's a good idea, although my husband would go crazy if I did that! We are lambing at the moment so he is busy heading out every night to go hunt the foxes. They aren't native here, and are considered vermin. I do like the sound of feeding badgers!

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  3. I'm totally on the same page about nude food. Eating simply is so much better and i just feel better when I do too. Love this post!
    xx, Pia

    http://gymbagsandjetlags.com
    @ gymbagsjetlags

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    1. Thank you Pia. It is better, and not difficult either!

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  4. It's funny how just adjusting your cooking habits can inadvertently reduce your waste production. Good for you!! That's awesome that you can close the lid and aren't drowing in recyclables HA!!
    Spencer and I have always been packaging conscious but sometimes it's a matter of "can I help that I need to buy spaghetti and the box comes with?"..
    I'm wondering if I can do a post request. I'd really like to see a week meal plan or week of meals kind of situation that you do. Even if just for inspiration, it would be awesome to see what you make and eat in a week with your new lifestyle changes!

    Keep up the good work ;) ;)
    Much LOVE!!

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    1. Yes I agree, sometimes you have to buy something in a packet...it would be kind of awkward buying spaghetti one strand at a time! Thanks for the post request, I've written it on my list. From next week Lindsay is away shearing for three weeks so meals will be very frugal, so I will think about whether I do it during this time or after he gets back, which will be a representation of what we normally eat. I'll give it some thought!

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