November 24, 2009

Vegetable Overload

One of the things I started doing when I moved into my new house was take a 'subscription' on a weekly vegetablebag from the local eco-supermarket (unrelated to the No Impact Week, even!).

I'm really enjoying it. Although I don't mind cooking, I'm not very creative in my kitchen and usually make something standard with mushrooms/leek/zucchini/bell pepper.

For the past month or so I haven't been able to cook with that combination at all - I can't remember when I had my foolproof, unimaginative pasta-with-veggies-and-sauce for dinner last. Because at the moment I'm forced to cook with parsnips, brussel sprouts, endive, winter purslane (winterpostelein in Dutch, no idea what this is in English), cabbage, beets etc etc.

This means that most nights when I eat at home I need to find a recipe and work with that. And it is actually working!

Or rather, it would really work if I'd eat at home more often. I realized today that I really have an overdosis of vegetables at home right now. If anyone has any bright ideas on what to make with all this food that can freeze? I'd love to hear! (and yes, I down-graded to a smaller selection as of next week)

Still, fun though!

November 23, 2009

No Impact - how it ended

Uhoh - I realized I never continued my daily No Impact posts.

I guess part of it is due to guilt - the last couple of days became a lot harder to properly 'do'. Day #5 was 'energy', day #6 was 'water'.

But on those days I was also pretty much constantly out of the house which made it almost impossible (excuses, excuses - I know). But fact is, I can't turn off the lights in my office - they are always on in every room. And I need my computer also.

Then again, I could've done better: planned my dinner instead of rushing out of the office to pick up some snacks before jumping on a train to an evening event. And drinking coffee from plastic at that event! Eek!

Complete failure. Right?

The water-day, I'm embarrassed to admit, wasn't much different - I suppose it is also to do with not wanting to sacrifice some things: like a dishwasher and a washing machine.

But it's not all bad news - even now that I've finished, I do pay more attention to what I do: not buying unnecessary plastic, buying biological food and eating local as much as I can, taking the stairs instead of the elevator - and of course doing the usual things that make sense: turn off the light in rooms I'm not using, keep the doors closed so the heat won't leave the different rooms etc.

And I think that's what I wanted to get out of it also - a better sense of what you can pay attention to, and awareness of what you can do (even if I'm not losing my washing machine).

Another good thing: I sent out the manual to loads of people, spoke to a lot of colleagues about it, and did a speech on it last week. So: Impact. I hope :)

November 11, 2009

Day 4: Food

Today's challenge: eat local!

This was actually difficult, and I don't think I've kept to the challenge very well. Part of the reason is that my work seems to limit my commitment to this week.

Being in the midst of another manic week, I don't have much time to stop and think about other stuff while in the office. So when I only have 20 minutes to have a quick lunch, even if I take care not to pick anything wrapped in plastic, I don't make the effort to ask the kitchen staff to find out what from the different food choices were produced locally. And I wonder if they would even know....

I did better for dinner: all the main ingredients were locally produced - endive, potato, milk, cheese, and I think also the mushrooms. Courtesy of this week's vegetable selection ;-)

And one good side-effect: I'm making others stop and think about this as well. Colleagues who look at me strangely when I am agonizing about how to take down my lunch if I can't use a plastic throw-away plate. But also friends, and it seems some of them might be taking this up themselves :-D

November 10, 2009

Day 3: Transportation

Ah... an easy one! I don't have a car, and since I had no out-of-town appointments I could happily cycle to and from work. I've not been in an elevator either today, but that's helped by the fact I never have to be higher up than the fifth floor, which is still somewhat manageable.

The trick is everything stacking up. Today is not just about transportation, but also about not creating any trash, and no consumption. Whereas yesterday was fine without trash, that was partly lucky: dinner was Sunday's leftovers. Today, however, I did need to shop for new food. I had to go to the eco-shop anyway to get my vegetables for the week (only one thing in there I didn't recognize this week luckily). But it's amazing to find that even in that supermarket almost everything is wrapped in plastic!

So it becomes a choice of either eating very very basic meals (and even then it gets tricky) or just trying to stick to a minimum usage of plastic for biological products (such as parmesan cheese for tonight's risotto...).

Tomorrow is food - no clue yet what the challenge is exactly. And am curious to see what comes after that.

So far I seem to be coping. Or maybe I'm not strict enough on myself?

More inspiration

Over the past few weeks I've been talking and thinking with different people about sustainability, and 'greening up' my life a bit. Not because I'm being swept up by the hype, or because I want to be the next environmental hippie. But because it makes sense to use a little less energy if I don't need it, to eat vegetables which aren't sprayed with pesticides or flown half way across the world if we can grow them here, to use the stairs a bit more often.

So I was very curious to see cheruchan's stories about her No Impact Experiment.

It coincided with my trial subscription to a 'vegetable basket' - a weekly bag full of fresh vegetables, from local (or sometimes not-so-local) farms. Apart from it being healthy, it's also forcing me to expand my culinary comfort zone. I've cooked with parsnips, red beets, misome - for the first time ever during the past week. Challenging - but fun, at the same time.

This week, of course, I started my own No Impact Week - so far so good. Even if I haven't been able to completely dismiss trash out of my life.

Today I came home to a very surprising package in my mailbox: A Life Stripped Bare. It seems that No Impact Man wasn't the only one with the idea to live Impact-free for a while... Looking forward to this read!

November 09, 2009

Day 2: No Trash

After an 'easy' first day of the No Impact Experiment, today was a bit harder. The challenge was to not create any trash during the day.

And although for the most part I could manage fairly well (bring a mug to the office, eat fruit instead of wrapped snacks) I've discovered that living 'sustainably' takes planning.

For instance, although I think I could manage lunch reasonably well in my office canteen without anything plastic - I need to have time to actually sit down upstairs and eat. And not have only 15 minutes in which to rush upstairs, start wondering what I could possibly take back to my desk: because I couldn't resort to the other stuff like salad, soup, warm meals which would all be served on actual plates and stuff.

Oh well, more luck tomorrow if I manage to find some time.

What I did notice is that I've started paying attention mroe to things. And for me, this week is mostly about that: thinking about living 'greener' and becoming aware of what I would do otherwise, and what little things I can (and want to) change.

I was actually feeling guilty about having to use paper coffeecups to get coffee/tea for my guests today. Maybe I should get my own collection of mugs in for the week :)

November 08, 2009

Day 1: Consumption

The first day of my No Impact Experiment is about consumption - and listing the things you need to buy that week. But do you really need those things?

I cheated a little bit as I didn't exactly start immediately when I got up (part of today is also collecting trash). When I did get around to making my list I got stuck very quickly.... I'm either doing something wrong - or I have a very low intensity consumption week ahead of me.

The only things I could think of that I needed to get where new tights and a baby gift for friends. Apart from the 'necessary' stuff = food.

Do I really buy so little? Hmm.

One dilemma was: do I list the new sofa that is arriving on Friday? I still need to pay it off on Friday so technically it is a new purchase this week. But the purchase itself was already months ago - and I can't really do anything about it now.

I also chose to list only material items. Then again, buying tickets for a dance performance on Wednesday is also 'consumption' - except that I'm not spending that money on something tangible. Or do I need to take into account how 'sustainable' that particular dance troupe is? If so, buying tickets will need a lot of research beforehand...

To get back to my very short list: instead of buying something standard from HEMA or somesuch for the new baby boy, I'm using a friend's Etsy shop for something original & cute. Much better - even without this challenge!

[edit - 10 minutes later - I just realized buying something from a friend's Etsy will make a great gift. But it's going to be sent over from Japan. Hmmm. Not a very good score on day one huh.]

No Impact Experiment

Have you ever considered how much trash and waste you produce in a week? How much energy you use in your house? Basically, how big your carbon footprint is?

Inspired by Cheruchan's No Impact Week, I got curious and I'll be spending a week - starting today - to become more aware of my impact on the environment, and more importantly, what I can do to decrease that. But also how I can fit it in in my current life.

A week, instead of a year as 'No Impact Man' did. Very curious what this week will bring.

November 04, 2009

Ja, dat is Den Haag

Getting to know my new city - and discovered the local hiphop crew apparently.

Via Ongetemd