Last week I went to Wilderness festival. I have been mostly blissfully ignorant of the rubbish problem when I have attended festivals before. I’m sure I felt a little bothered by the bins full of disposable cups and plates, and the massive piles of perfectly good items that attendees leave behind. But now my eyes are much more open to the problem.
I armed myself with my vacuum flask, water bottle, keep cup, metal straw and cutlery. This was quite a lot of equipment to have with me at all times, but I brought my beloved yellow backpack along largely for the purpose of carrying these items. Aaaaand…. like the best laid plans of mice and men, it went completely out of the window.
I learnt that I actually find it very difficult to make a special request for myself when the infrastructure is not set up to deal with it. All of the plating was set up and I just felt bad asking the vendors to change it so that it would fit in my containers. Wilderness has a lot of ego-massaging placatory messages, such as the dishes being compostable, but of course there is a lot of upstream waste associated with making the disposable items.
Because I am extra af and dangerously addicted to espresso, I took my stovetop coffee maker and milk frother for my morning flat white. So I at least didn’t use any coffee cups during the weekend.
One thing that the zero waste mindset helped me with was with making purchases. Wilderness is a festival where people feel very free to dress outlandishly, which I am very much on board with. This year was one of my first festival experiences where I had some disposable income available. It would have been very easy to spend a lot of money on items that are just not wearable in any other context. I was very much enamoured of this pompom headdress.
In the end, I bought a vintage beaded jacket that was actually very restrained for the festival, but just about straddles the line between jazzy and useful in my real life.
I also bought some little sparkly jewels to wear on my forehead because I couldn’t resist getting a little something.
The festival did allow me to get out some much-loved but seldom-worn items. I wore my rocket Southport dress for just the second time and it was perfect for this event.
I brought the circuit sentiments kit I have had at home for years and used it to fashion my own light-up headdress using a flower crown I bought a few years ago on eBay. The LED kits are the kind of impulse craft purchase that I would like to stop making as much. I used a few of the items to make my Port Charlotte jumper light up when I was pretending it was a Christmas jumper.
Last week I got my second OddBox delivery.
You may notice that there is a kohlrabi hiding within the more ordinary British produce. I had never eaten it before but used the stir-fry recipe included with my box as a jumping-off point. I had vegetable stir-fry for breakfast four times and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I always think of myself as hating vegetables. I never liked them as a child, partly, I believe, because they were typically served with most of the goodness boiled out. I must admit to being a convert since I was happily chomping down five different types of root and leaf in a single meal. Due to my narrative about not liking vegetables, I tend not to buy them unless I have a recipe in mind. As I had hoped, a great bonus of the OddBox is encouraging me to go beyond my food comfort zone.
I had in mind that this pie (separate post here) would mostly come from the box, but in the end only the courgette and pak choi did. I’ll write a separate post about the aesthetically pleasing rainbow quiche.
My adventures in experimenting with reducing the amount I waste continue. Not least of which is coming up with a name for this new feature of my blog. Since I’m planning to write on this topic weekly or, I was considering Trash Tuesday. Waste Wednesday was also an option but I already have an intermittent alliterative Wednesday feature. It’s also a worrying imperative, though I suppose trash Tuesday is too. Ideas on a postcard (or in the comments).
I did get a little sucked into the hipster lifestyle/aesthetic on my second visit to the Source, due in large part to the biggest enabler in the world aka my flat mate.
I had managed to resist this beautiful vacuum container on my first visit, but it made its way home with me on my second. Look how cute it looks though. I love this thing.
We got completely hooked by the beautiful little recipe booklets they keep by the till. I experimented with making the most hipster meal ever.
However, it turns out that I am not a huge fan of random vegan powders. This contains lucuma and mesquite (which I understand is another name for maca), neither of which I will be troubling myself with again. However, I might conduct some experiments to see if I can develop a chai-spice chia breakfast pudding. That could be delicious.
Coincidentally, I am working on cutting out tea bags. I seldom have tea since I’m more of a coffee person and I have an easy system for low-waste coffee. But I do like the occasional cup of green tea. I’m trying out a few different teas from the Source. I was so pleased that I managed to find this novelty tea infuser I bought a few years ago.
I also made a big pot of dal makhani this week. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe since returning from India in January, but I really struggled to find black lentils (urud dal). I finally managed to pick some up in a random store in Finsbury Park, in plastic of course. Source sells beluga lentils but I’m not sure if these are the same thing.
I used this recipe doubled and followed fairly closely. The dal was tasty and I would make it again.
A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.
- My local council does not offer a food waste recycling scheme. Hammersmith and Fulham boasts about its low council tax rates but I feel the level of public service on offer as a result is significantly worse than in other boroughs. I would rather pay more and get more.
The latest step in my quest to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics has been to make some cloth bags to carry with me. I mainly intend to take them when I shop at the Source, but I also think they will be very useful just to keep in my various bags for incidental purchases. I always try to keep a clean empty container with me, but I still get caught out quite often.
I used this tutorial as a jumping-off point. I accidentally got given an extra length of the cotton I bought to make a summer blouse, meaning that I had a little over half a metre left over. Since I have learnt to my cost that white is a terrible colour for facings, I decided to put it to use here.
I cut the fabric to various sizes. My only criteria were to have the print the correct way up, have bags that seemed of a sensible size (given that I don’t use them yet, so I don’t really have a sense of which sizes will be most useful) and waste as little fabric as possible.
I experimented a little with the construction because I wanted to use French seams on the inside of the bags. I found a way but I imagine there’s a better method so I won’t bother posting pics of how I did it. This is how the inside ended up.
Love me a French seam.
You can see that the top right corner looks a bit weird due to the way I
botched constructed the drawstring opening. They lie flat when right-sides out so I’m not bothered by that.
A fun aspect of this project was that I felt very free to make mistakes. On the second bag I sewed the seams on the top incorrectly, so that the channel for the drawstring was on the right side rather than the wrong side. I considered unpicking the overcast stitches before realising that it really didn’t matter which side the channel is on.
I used shoelaces as the closures. I took part in a colour run nearly four years ago and took a load of the laces they were giving out. I’m quite relieved to have finally found a use for them!
I have a rough colour-coded system to differentiate the sizes.
Blue = big
Pink = petite
Y = yeah, I couldn’t think of one for that colour
I am now aware of just how white this fabric is. I am planning to make a second set of produce bags so that one can go in the white wash and the other in the coloured wash. Being in your thirties is so boring and domestic at times.
After my last post about exploring the zero waste lifestyle, I followed up on some of my pledges. I ordered my first OddBox.
I decided to try out the recommended recipe for the sorrel. I must say that next time I have to taste unfamiliar ingredients before cooking with them! I had no idea how lemony sorrel was, so regretted my decision to substitute the recommended lemon sole for a fillet steak.
I also made cauliflower puree for the first time.
I used up some of the tomatoes and courgettes making this healthy egg recipe I discovered when I was gardening last year.
I also went for my first zero waste shop at the Source Bulk Foods in Turnham Green. I’ve got to say I got unreasonably excited when I was shopping at the Source. It just felt like the way I want to shop. I wonder if the novelty will wear off when I’m lugging jars around west London, but for now I’m loving it.
One slight concern is the cost of all the delightful organic produce. Even though I make a comfortable living in my day job, I was raised in a proud tradition of miserdom.
I decided to do a little price comparison with supermarkets on items I am likely to purchase.
With three jars and an Illy coffee can clanking around in my tote, I finally understood why people use cloth produce bags. One of my plans for the summer is to make some using some of my fabric scraps.
It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. One of our bottles of milk got broken in the street. I have a phobia of bad milk, so this was a challenge for me.
It’s only been a week so I am remaining cautious, but so far I am really enjoying the lifestyle changes I am making to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics.
Reducing the impact of my life on our beautiful planet has been something I have been getting more and more interested in, especially over the past year. Travelling to India was a real eye-opener because you could see garbage absolutely everywhere. I know that we produce a lot of waste in the UK too but the problem is hidden away and sanitised. In India, it is literally in your face.
I went through the photos I took in India and was shocked to discover that there were almost none containing garbage. To me, this is very indicative of our response to the waste crisis. Even though rubbish is a huge issue, people don’t want to see it. The problem is hidden and if it not hidden, it is wilfully ignored. Even though our group commented regularly on the trash everywhere- we often saw the cows that roam city streets eating it- I didn’t want this ugly stuff cluttering up my lovely holiday snaps so I framed it out. You can only see the rubbish in these pictures because I was focused on the monkeys. Note that the location is the top of a hill in Pushkar, which we had climbed around an hour to reach.
I wrote a little earlier in the year about reducing the amount that I waste as a maker. When making a recent project, I was very aware that I probably threw away as much fabric as I used to make my finished item. Writing that has reminded me to start collecting my scraps and seeing whether any of my schools might find a use for them.
More broadly, I have made a few lifestyle changes to reduce waste already, mainly around reducing my usage of single-use plastics. I almost always have my keep cup, water bottle and spork with me. I have also mostly stopped using disposable sanitary products.
This year I would like to add the following:
- Stop buying milk and juice in plastic packaging
- Shop in bulk wherever possible
- Subscribe to Odd Box
I feel especially excited about subscribing to Odd Box. Aside the issue of food waste in relation to supermarket standards, I have been becoming more and more mindful about the level of unnecessary packaging. Why do cucumbers need to be wrapped in film? Why do five lemons have to be put together in a plastic net?
I think the box will encourage me to be more creative with recipes. Growing my own vegetables last year did the same thing. I tend to get stuck in a rut of making the same prep-friendly meals over and over again, which is okay but very boring. I may even post the odd recipe!
I don’t think that I will ever be truly zero waste and I think even zero waste bloggers acknowledge that this is an impossible aim. However, I would like to consistently take the small steps that I can to reduce waste and support businesses with practices that are more in line with my beliefs. Starting to reduce waste (and plastic usage) comes with other mini-dilemmas too. For example, seeing pictures of beautiful pantries piled high with matching glass storage jars always tempts me to chuck away the old jars that I store most of my food in.