So…New Year…new blog.
Don’t you just love those great anti-consumerist ideas people have for a blog? ‘My Year Living on One Penny a Day’ or ‘My Year of Not Buying Clothes,’ ‘My Year of Living in a Caravan in the Woods and Chewing Bark.’ I love them! Every year I think I wish I’d thought of that– so this year I tried to think of one.
‘My Year without a TV’? Been done, anyway the family said they would rather I went than the telly.
‘My Year of Not Going to the Supermarket’? Very tempting but currently totally impractical.
A week into new year I was still trying to come up with an idea and deciding I had probably missed the boat for this year and that ethical living might need a bit more forward planning.
The problem is that, as much as I hate the consumerist quagmire we are all sucked into, we as a family are a perfect example of the way the system self-perpetuates. My partner and I work too many hours in order to earn the money to live and therefore never seem to have the time to find an alternative solution. In truth we do try, we have for many years grown a lot of our own food, we keep hens and burn scrap wood for extra fuel but we also run two cars, shop at Tesco and close our eyes to the fact that the kids cheap school uniforms have probably been made by another kid missing out on their own education.
So what could we as a family do (alternatively read, ‘I, as a tyrant impose’) that would make a small difference and still be manageable for a whole year? We have three children aged 8, 12 and 19. The 8 year old is at that lovely age where she still has a smidgeon of enthusiasm for things her parents suggest. So when, last week, I suggested we make New Year’s Resolutions the older two rolled their eyes and slid under the table, but little E said ‘I’m going to make a resolution to finish everything on my plate so it doesn’t get wasted.’ Her Dad and I smiled hopefully at each other, smiles which said ‘Maybe it will be third time lucky’.
Perhaps because I was having an indulgent parenty moment I didn’t listen to what she was saying but this morning those lovely, lovely people at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (I love writing things which have never before been written) sent forth a survey which chimed with her 8 year old wisdom.
The survey found that:
Overall between 30%and 50% of what has been bought in developed countries is thrown away by the purchaser
I may no longer be 8, but even I know that this is bonkers and quite possibly, actually evil. Then, finally, I had my lightbulb moment.
‘My Year of Not Throwing Any Food Away.’
I love it!
This year we will endeavour to eat everything we buy. We will not allow crumpets to go mouldy in the breadbin, bananas to go so black that even the smoothie maker refuses to eat them or half eaten tins to lurk around the back of the fridge with their other half eaten tinny friends.
It seems sensible to start with a perishable foods survey: i.e. What’s in the fridge that should have been eaten already? (My fridge has a distinctly post-Christmas feel)
A small amount of leftover cooked lamb which is three days old
Two opened jars of pesto
Half a camembert (out of date four days ago)
A large slice of St Agur with a couple of days left
Three slices of cooked ham
Some crème fraiche, opened
Some leftover Christmas double cream, 10 days out of date but tastes ok
Some plain yoghurt, out of date yesterday
A pot of brandy butter
A jar of pasta sauce opened yesterday
Half a pack of coriander
Half a small onion
Everything else in the fridge is fresh or well in date but we also have lurking in the kitchen:
Two crust of bread
A black banana
I am enlisting the help of Little E in this as she is tenacious and scary. Tonight we will tell the rest of them – Nearly Teen Queen will no longer be able to eat half a piece of toast before tossing her head and declaring ‘Marmite is so yesterday.’ The Loafer (who to be fair does eat almost everything that crosses his 19 year old path, provided it is placed between him and his computer screen) will no longer be able to consign a can containing three baked beans to the fridge to save him having to rinse it out and put it in the recycling bin. As for their Dad, the Ref (because he is, and if he wasn’t everyone would think he was anyway – and the other alternative was OCD Man but I thought he might get twitchy about it) well he might like to consider that it is not actually physically harmful to eat the same thing two days in a row…alright, I may have my work cut out there.
And me? I’m just pleased that there are still plenty of chocolates left over from Christmas that need finishing off..
Progress report tomorrow.