How to do more for the environment

organic porkI’ve worked out that the less we hang out with people who are trying to do all they can do reverse climate change and show others that modern life in the UK can be sustainable the more we revert to being ‘normal’ in our shopping habits.

I hadn’t even realised it until I wrote the post about bulk shopping mentioning how I’d been delighted to get so many bargains from an online discount store when comments from a friend reminded me that by shopping there I was continuing the support the massive industrial globalised food production machine I believe to be unsustainable and damaging.

For the first time in nearly half a decade I have found myself buying occasional ‘prison meat’ products of reduced price ham knowing that no-one who cares about such things will spot me doing so and therefore no-one will raise an eyebrow.

My kids raised an eyebrow but I notice they didn’t debate the purchase too strongly after years of ‘Why aren’t we allowed ham in our sandwiches?’ questioning and wishing they didn’t have such a strongly opinionated parent. But by explaining to them where my principles came from they grew up knowing that unethical unsustainable production is a bad thing.

Our society are generally not made aware of the misery that creating mass produced meat from barely legal low standards in animal husbandry, harsh chemical toiletries and cleaning products which will naturally end up in our water systems nor the impact of  growing and flying perfect vegetables around the planet so we can have whatever we want to eat whenever we fancy.

On the contrary we are fed a very biased view towards these harmful shopping items via multi-million pound advertising campaigns and very rarely towards their alternative competitors.

Since we moved away from the lovely town in Mid Wales which seemed to have so many free thinking simple lifestyle folks as its residents and started living as unknown new people in a more standard town I have felt myself pulled towards the ‘norm’ which means away from sustainable choices. This does not sit well with me and I am interested to observe it in myself.

We do not watch television and so are a little more removed from media pressures than others but my kids do note that they are the people who do not have plastic bags, cling film or processed foods in their lunch boxes each day. Thankfully they gave up a long time ago asking if I would buy them cheese strings (yuck!) so some such other horrible product after countless ‘No, I don’t buy those nasty things’ but the pressure is there at school and around us in other places too.

Thanks to Andy’s comments on the piece I wrote the other day I’ve been reminded of how every pound we spend is essentially a vote we use to ensure the thing we buy stays in production. If I buy ‘prison pig ham’ it is a way of saying to the people in charge of those poor poor animals that I am fully supportive of their operations and wish it to continue. Similarly if I were to buy brand new clothing of unknown provenance I would be casting my vote in favour of polluting factories, possibly underage factory workers in an unregulated  and global transportation systems.

In order to bring myself back into a place where I am mindful of where my money is spent I have drafted a short list to help me remember to shop in line with my own ethics and to continue to raise our children with full explanations of the choices we are offered and why we choose what we do in this household.

More Of:

- Staying put – less holidays. We don’t go away very often anyway due to animals and also loving it at home where there is so much gardening to do.

- Planning ahead – cooking and freezing meals (to create our own ‘ready meals’ in the freezer when a hungry cold family of five walks in after a long day out of the house)

- Shopping in bulk from organic local suppliers to create our own stores from which to make weekly snacks

 

Less of:

- Eating mass produced foodstuffs /packaged

- Meat eating

- Buying new

- Buying prison meat

- Buying new mass manufactured goods

 

Already

- Use my own fabric/string bags but occasionally I forget them so I need to have them stashed in my handbag at all times

 

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5 comments to How to do more for the environment

  • I hope I haven’t opened a hornets nest and your kids will hate me next time we visit ;-) Sure not!

    I think YNAB (previous post) and food and other spending complements each other. Even if you have a slightly larger food budget because you place higher value in what you eat, you can manage it well. I reckon the worst bit for us is spending 200 quid at Suma and seeing a big hole in the bank balance however if I really knew exactly how much I’d spend on average each month on food, could allocate it in advance!

    Andy

  • Shelley

    Hi
    I’m also trying hard to vote with our (little) money, this Is the first month of not spending money any money in a supermarket !!! Using local butchers , bakers and candlestick makers okay I made the last one up !.Doing my first ever suma order next week although don’t know exactly where we’re going to put it all or how long it’ll last, guess it’s trial and error. Veg and milk from able &cole, great milk . Sometimes have to top up at market. My girls don’t ask for cheese strings anymore either . Another thing is our bin is pretty Much empty. Great blog

  • Ackers

    Thanks Andy, Shelley!

    It’s certainly easier to make the pounds stretch when you don’t visit a supermarket with children. I had to post a parcel today – should have gone before collecting kids from school but ended up going there with hungry small people after school.

    The post office is in the supermarket and suddenly I had three people badgering me with PLEEEEASE can we try a Pot Noodle/Microwave pasta/sauce combo…

    I agree that knowing exactly how much you have to spend and sticking to that budget is the key. I’ve allocated £50 to spend at Riverford on veg, fruit, a small amount of meat and dairy and the rest can come from our stores of dried goods bought in bulk from Naturally Good Foods.

    It’s then a case of being organised and making sure I cook ahead for people coming home from school – breads, soups, biscuits and at this time of year use the slow cooker with a small amount of meat but loads of veg and pulses to make a hearty meal or two (either my lunch the next day or a frozen ready meal when I need one) and loads more dhals, risottos, pasta dishes. I have such a massive challenge with my underweight fussy eating children and myself having a horrible starch intolerance that I often end up making several meals each evening just to make sure people have eaten.

    I probably needn’t though as all three children would love to have porridge for tea most nights – it is just convention that tells us this is Wrong. I often give them eggs for breakfast to ensure they have sustaining protein to start their day so it wouldn’t matter a jot if they had warm soothing milky oaty goodness to end the day & I could stop being such a heartbroken martyr each time they turn their noses up at another meal I’ve crafted!

    I really need to get into making bread. I used to do it occasionally by hand, often with the bread machine, still make pizza dough but never make our own bread. Such an obvious way of keeping costs down but quality high.

  • Shelley

    Nope I’m spoilt I have a post office (does sell penny sweets and naff cards) .

    Mine will eat porridge for any meal also, or toast or pancakes ( all with honey)

    yep lots of soup, mash potatoes and slow cooking , our ovens thermostats gone so only does really hot does a great yorkshire pud, not great for bread or cakes unless I turn it off then back on again halfway through,the landlords measured up for a new one but we’ll see ! Then I’ll tackle bread there will be no excuses then!

  • I totally agree that how we spend our money is a kind of vote for the product or service we are buying and think that is a great way to put it… My children are still really young and they don’t seem to mind what that the food I give them doesn’t come in a package. I used to buy packaged cheeses, bags of biscuits and crisps, but have stopped doing all that and haven’t had any complaints. I’m hoping this continues as they get older!

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