Saturday 14 September 2019

Zero waste

On this Our Titanic World, where the water-tight compartments [work; home; holiday; ethics; health; sport] have been ripped open by anthropogenic climate change, the orchestra is still sawing away in the ballroom and the deckchairs put back into neat lines. KLM is bombarding us with ads asking us to book with them - via Amsterdam [because nobody can pronounce Schiphol] - to a Dream Destination - Cuzco or Kilimanjaro, anyone? When will the advertising standards authority implement a Flight-Shaming warning to such encouragements to conspicuous carbon consumption? Not soon enough!

I never believed in an Annual Summer Holiday; never gathered up Package Holiday brochures shortly after Xmas; never the discussed the virtues of Dubrovnik vs Casablanca; never bought a kiss-me-quick hat. It would be ridiculous, and untrue, to claim that I haven't had a foreign holiday in 40 years but I didn't feel a need or compulsion, let alone A Right to have a week near a hot beach each year. Vacations happened because we got invited to share a gîte or a cottage in Biarritz, Almuñecar, Mull; or when we went to hang out with friends-and-relations in Cape Town, Boston, Bloomington, London, Bath. If I had done all those extra air-miles to spend time in a marginally ropey hotel with little to do except eat, tan my inner thigh and dice with melanoma, then I might be feeling a twinge of regret or even guilt that I had spend so much [cash and carbon-foot] to have so little fun.

The Beloved is all subbed up to Zero Waste Chef, which recently had a list of 49 thrifty options for saving money and leaving less mess behind. Less mess includes all the invisible detritus of participating in a packaged world. I'll abstract and comment on some of the ZWC 49 articles. No not the 39 Articles that's a different matter.
  • The average US family contributes $1500 to the economy in food waste. Not me. I am religious about making meals from what I find in, and behind, the fridge. The Beloved spends several nights a week minding her aged father Pat the Salt; that's when standards are let slip. If you eat out of the saucepan there is no plate to be washed! All that wasted food is actually an icon of the capitalist way of life: 
    • advertise a gizmo that nobody needs so everyone wants it
    • make a shit-ton of the gizmo [or here new breakfast cereal with neither gluten nor lactose nor peanuts]; robust enough to get home [suitably packaged in extra plastic and cardboard] but not strong enough to function very long
    • let everyone toss the gizmo because it is yesterday, the wrong colour, or useless [or here tastes 'orrible and even the dog won't eat it]; to make room for . . .
    • repeat cycle.
    • my inventory of shame from LALDL includes: electric chain-saw; e-waffle-iron; self-standing chip-fryer; numerous metal brackets; one-time use walking boots [they lasted a week in the garden];
  • Tetrapak of soup €2.99. Not me. There is nothing more forgiving than soup; everything can go in starting with the chicken carcase. No onions? use garlic. No garlic, use chives. The last wretched sprouted potato is a great thickener. No chicken? an inch of a bit of salami, diced. Half a cup of lentils. Something green scavenged from the garden. The outer leaves of cabbage; the brocolli stalk. If you have stale bread butter/oil both sides and fry for croutons.
  • Half a kilo beef-steak $9.99. Not me. I cannot justify eating any meat but beef is the very worst because of the methane produced in the rumen. 30% of Ireland's carbon foot-print can be laid at the door of cattle [prev], if we could just park the beef and dairy we could drive our cars round and round the block and still be ahead. ZWC recommends chick-peas on a kilo-for-kilo swap for adequate protein. We most of us eat more protein than we need.
  • cornflakes, weetabix, frosties, rice-crispies Not me: porridge oats. The former are sold as a convenience food but are at least 4x the price of reg'lar [keep you reg'lar] porridge. Which can be cooked and in a bowl in about 4 minutes from a standing start. Call the price differential 50c saved vs 4 minutes spent valuing my time at €7.50/hr. Less than our minimum wage. But it scales up. You can cook 4 bowls of porridge in exactly the same time to feed self, spouse and 2 kids. Now you're talking €30/hr.
  • Bread! lawks a mussy me, for the sake of sanity make your own bread. Elapsed time may be overnight, but actual work-time is a little as 20 minutes.
  • Lunch at work. My works canteen serves a heaped-to-groaning plate of meat-and-two-veg for €5 which is a good deal compared to restaurant meals. But that would require a drooling siesta of at least half an hour from me and I teach most afternoons. Not me I make a cheese [and what I find in, and behind, the fridge] sandwich - from my own bread, in the morning before work [cost? 30c?] That's plenty enough to power the last 3 hours of the working day. You don't need a chocolate bar! You're not 6 y.o.
  • Paper napkins $10. Not me. I've got a sleeve.
There y'are. YMMV but we can all do better to tread lighter on the Earth.

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