Friday's Food For Thought

When faced with the subject of environmental issues,
I often hear people say,
"Well, I recycle... so I am doing my part."

Are we really?
Are we really doing our part?
Is recycling enough?

While recycling is absolutely good and beneficial for the environment,
it is only of benefit if done properly -
(and ultimately, if what is being recycled is actually reborn into another useful item...
and so on, and so on...)

I often write about the need to reduce the use of plastics -
because some plastic is not recyclable, and many that are recyclable
are not recycled. 
With profit driving the manufacturing train, it is cheaper to make new plastic
than it is to recycle old plastic.
And because those countries who used to take our plastic no longer do so,
we need to rethink our use of this in packaging.
We cannot continue to allow plastic to end up in our oceans,
and to bury it in a landfill is not much better!

(I seriously think they should compact it and ship it to the dark side of the moon..
and then stop making it.... Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are you listening?)

I mentioned in an earlier post that 2020 is the year that I have made it my goal
to eliminate all plastic from our household.. as far as is humanly possible.

I have done a little research to find alternatives to the items that we use.
With an ultimate goal of reducing our consumption,
I look at items I am thinking of purchasing in this way:

1:  Is the item something that I want or that I need?
Can I live without the item?
Is there a substitute item that I might buy second hand that would serve
the same purpose?

2:  If the item is food... where was it grown?
 (with the ultimate goal in  shortening the supply chain)
Can I get by without the item?   Can I substitute something that is grown closer to home?

3:  Is this just a convenience item?  Could I make my own?  

4:  How much packaging does the item have?
Is there plastic in the packaging? Is it recyclable packaging?
Are there alternative items with less packaging, or returnable or reusable packaging?  

I find, now, as I stand in the grocery store looking at a shelf of condiments,
that I am choosing to find glass packaged alternatives to plastic squeeze bottles.
Nowadays, it seems like everything comes in a plastic squeeze bottle.
But, through searching, I have been able to find substitutes.
I also find myself saying..." I can live without that."

As citizens of a modern, industrialized nation,
we have gotten used to (spoiled, actually) being able to buy
whatever food (or other) items we crave at any time of year.
The price of this is many-fold.
Because we have to ship items long distances, they are heavily packaged for the trip.
Produce has been specifically bred so that it still looks fresh by the time it eventually
reaches the grocery store.
The thing is... although it looks good, taste and nutrients are sacrificed...
not to mention the fuel used in transporting it halfway around the world.

So, if we eat more seasonably and rely on more local produce,
we are actually eating more nutritiously.
Sadly, not everyone has access to local, seasonal produce...
or the time and energy to process their own.
But still... every little bit helps.
I am also aware that not everything in a Farmer's Market is local.
Much of it is shipped in just like in a grocery store.
I don't look at the stands like a cornucopia of taste,
but rather try to stick to what I can get that is local.
The rest will be in season in the coming months.

It seems to me that if we are willing to simplify our lives
and our diets, as well, we can effect a change that is necessary for the
sustainability of our food production and the health of our planet.

I have also given a lot of thought to being a more conscientious traveler.
I have made a mental plan to pack my own bar shampoo and conditioner, as well as soap,
so that I don't have to use the tiny sample bottles that are
provided by hotels.

And although we don't eat much fast food, we do like to grab a quick
meal on occasion.
Last year I showed you a set of bamboo utensils and straw
that I was going to carry in my purse.
I found that they came in very handy, but with time, they began to get a moldy
appearance to them.  Yuck... not sustainable.

Yesterday, I decided to make my own... using second hand stainless that I have on
hand for picnics.
I sewed this holder...

a couple of napkins...

and placed them all inside...

flipped over the top flap (to keep them from falling out),
rolled them up, and stuck them in my purse.

I am going to make a little cloth pouch to include for bringing the used
 utensils back home to wash.
This was a quick and easy project.
Let me know if you think it would be of value to stock in my Etsy shop.

As for plastic recycling (until this is no longer an option),
please remember...

*research exactly what items are recyclable in your municipality.
*don't place anything that shouldn't be recycled in the bin... when in doubt, toss it out.
* don't place plastic items in the recycling bin that have any food waste on them.
* consider buying a re-fillable metal container to carry water, or coffee or tea, etc.,
so that you don't buy water in plastic bottles (this is a biggie!!)

(I carry one like this all of the time... filled with water)
If we can just vow to change one thing at a time... like no drinks in plastic bottles...
we can see how easy it is to make a change.
And then we can go on to the next thing, and the next, and the next.
It's easier than it seems!

Janie, you asked about non-GMO foods last Friday.  I am going to direct you
to this article, which has a really good explanation of the subject.
Bob's Red Mill seems to be a good company, but I do not have any information
on the farming practices of their growers.

And of course, eating organic foods is not going to keep health problems
from knocking at your door.
However, I, personally, like having a little say in what I do and don't put into my body.
(That's not to say I don't cheat on occasion!)
Fresh, warm glazed donuts from the Amish bakery on Friday mornings don't lie!

PS.. Happy Valentine's Day...
you make my heart happy!


ligirlva said…
I would definitely purchase the utensil pouch. I would also love a smaller pouch just for the reusable straws that I could throw in my purse.

I love your blog and it is part of my morning routine. Every morning I look forward to reading the happenings on the farm while I drink my coffee. While I love all the animals the runner ducks are my favorite.
colleen said…
Maybe every Friday could be a food for thought day?? I try to do my part but wish I were able to do more. But as you say every little bit helps. I run the water into a container while it is warming up or getting cold (our wood heat keeps the cold water pipes warm). In the winter I use this water to fill the humidifier or in the summer I use it for plants/flowers. I only wish we had a farmers market available to us in the winter. Love, love, love your utensil holder and napkins. We only use cloth napkins and only have paper towel on hand for nasty clean ups. A roll lasts us about a year. Even in freezing weather I use the clothes line or use the clothes rack. I have never understood why anyone would buy individual bottles of water. Well I guess this is way too long of a comment so I will stop now lol. This didn't have anything to do with food but....
Happy Valentine's Day to you!! You make my heart happy too.
daisy g said…
The pouch is brilliant! I admire your ability to create such things.

I recently found out that Trex (decking company) collects some plastics that cannot be recycled elsewhere. The plastic bags that store-bought bread, for example. I have started saving these additional items and taking them to our local grocery store, where they have a bin for just that company to collect.
We were hoping to get water delivery so that we could stop buying the large plastic totes of water, but it is not cost effective for us. Our tap water is undrinkable. This is a problem that really bothers me. For how long will we be able to keep recycling?

Keep moving us in the right direction, Bev, with your encouragement and great ideas.
Hope you have some sunshine this weekend!
Anonymous said…
YEAH! Bev! I'm with you in your line of thinking-I hate plastics. I was just researching films to present at an Earth Day Film Festival (I'm trying to organize). One film tells us we will not be able to recycle our way out of this mess. We need to go after the BIG guys. In our town, there is a plastics manufacturer (E-R-R-R). Guess who is going to paying them a visit-yep, me!
One thing we've started to do is when we eat out, we take a container with us into the restaurant so we aren't coming home with more plastics and styrofoam-have I mentioned how much I hate plastics? The container comes in the house with us, gets washed and then placed by the door to be returned to the car for future use.
Oh, one last thing...I HATE PLASTICS!!
This N That said…
Happy Valentines Day to all at BHA..xxoo
Happy Valentines's day Bev!

I have missed you so much. I think this post is great, and I believe that this pouch would be a wonderful addition to your Etsy store.
Take care,
Moggie said…
I love the silverware pouch, I hope you add it to your shop. I keep cheap silverware at my desk at work, but I'd like to carry some with me, too.

You do so much research for us, I'm always learning something on your blog. I'm afraid I use too much plastic, mostly in the form of trash bags, but I'm trying to cut back. I take shopping bags with me to the grocery store, but I need to stop using the veggie bags they provide. And I've stopped buying bottled water, I use two filtered water pitchers (although they're plastic), one for myself and one for the animals.
I admire your efforts - I've been drinking our tap water from a glass instead of the plastic bottles, and I'm thrilled that Connecticut has adopted the plastic bag tax and many people are now bringing tote bags with them to do their shopping. We have heard from our trash collector that all those recycled plastics aren't necessarily recycled, which was discouraging. I look to buy humanely raised meats/eggs, antibiotic free, too. Supporting local farmers/ shop owners has been a priority for me also. We do use a lot of plastic trash bags here, and with the farm animals I buy alot of grain, which comes in large plastic bags. For a while I knew someone who took them and made tote bags out of them. Any steps taken is another in the right direction.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for the non-GMO link. Also love the silverware pouch.