Thursday 31 March 2011

Click and the lights go out...

Today I joined the local Food Co-op in Manly and, to be frank (he won’t mind), my first thoughts afterwards were “I miss Coles!”. I like speed-shopping, mindfully of course ;) I like to go  to the stores where I know my way around, get what I need, and get out.

The Food Co-op isn’t that kind of place. But it is actually kinda cool. The main benefit of it is that it reduces packaging: I bought muesli and pasta without having to throw away any plastic, yay! The only way you can buy stuff like this at the co-op is to BYO containers. Glass containers, I realised when I got there – I took plastic former-takeaway-tubs (d’oh!) because they were lighter to carry on my bike.

The other main benefit is that most of the produce there is organic. And locally sourced – except the pasta sauce; I had to choose between the pasta sauce made in the UK or Italy. I chose the UK. There are nuts and legumes I’ve never heard of before. There were lots of empty barrels – my boyfriend said it was like shopping in a Russian supermarket. But the people were super-friendly and helpful. I signed on as a member and if I do three hours of voluntary work a month, I get a discount on everything I buy there. 

Tonight, we are turning off the lights – or, actually, just not turning them on. And going electricity-free (thank the gods we have gas to cook on), just for tonight. That means no TV, no laptops, no electric kettle for a late night chamomile tea (we have hot water in a thermos, though). Pity it’s a rainy evening; it’s only 6pm and it’s almost too dark to read by daylight already. Oh well. Here I go. We have the beeswax candles, we have games to play, books to read. I’m…unplugging…now. I'm really going now. 

Op-shopping and beeswax

Day 2 of the project, and I've already had lapses and a few wins for the No Impact project.
I’ve started calling it the Low Impact project, to soften it when telling people, or am I just chicken?
Speaking of which, I ate some last night – our first lapse. I never eat chicken, or red meat or pork or any other kind of meat, except fish and only occasionally. But 7pm came and went and I was hungry and Craig was going to be passing (by bike, tick) the chicken shop, so I asked if he’d pick up a quarter bird for dinner. We put it in the stir fry, but it tasted of remorse. Oh well, could have been worse. It could have been steak.
Gains so far and little creative ways to save energy or waste:
1.      Boil kettle once in the morning, pour hot water into thermos and make tea for the rest of the day without using any electricity.
2.      Cancelled weekend newspaper subscription to reduce waste. Sometimes I have to get the SMH or Sun-Herald because I have a story in the travel section, and I might have to subscribe again later because when I’m away it’s a good way to ensure I don’t miss any of my stories in print. But for now, it feels good.
3.      Shopped at Vinnies and it was so much more fun than going to a “normal” shop. The two ladies there were nice and so were the other customers, who commented on the dress I bought for $15; Craig bought a T-shirt for $7 and we bought a corning ware jug for making beeswax candles. By the way, this is more stuff than I’ve bought in the last six months. I never shop. So it’s ironic in a way.
4.      Tried to go to the Food Co-op (or the “food coop” as I like to call it) and found it closes at 3pm. But we needed bananas for tomorrow’s breakfast, so rode our bikes to Pure Wholefoods also in Manly, and bought two organic bananas (at $16.90 a kilo! How does anyone afford organic all the time?!).
5.      Bought beeswax candles from Queen B (drove there, but I do offset my car’s emissions using Greenfleet). Beeswax candles are the most environmentally candles you can buy: unlike soy or palm oil candles, there’s no need to convert oil to wax (which also happens with petroleum-based candles, the most common kind of candle on the market, even the pretty-fragranced ones). The bees make the wax and Queen B makes it into candles at her honey-scented “factory” in northern Sydney.

Week One, day one

8.30pm, Saturday 26 March: Earth Hour. It begins.
It seemed as good a time as any to start this one-month No Impact Project. Craig and I walked in the rain down to Manly Cove and joined about 10 other sustainable living people listening to councilor Hugh Burns and Tully, the man with the soggy but tuneful guitar. And watched … almost no change in the number of lights on in the Manly area. It would have been more inspiring to go to the Harbour Bridge and see the city change, as it apparently did, but hey, at least we didn’t use any resources to get down to Manly. And actually it was really nice to connect with some of the people who run the Manly Council “Green Up Your Life” program. They do so much good stuff there: docos, workshops, tours of Kimbriki tip…

Treated ourselves, for making a start, with a hot chocolate (well, it was late and it was raining), at Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man. Asked the guy behind the counter if they have any Fair Trade chocolate – see, we were thinking as well as indulging – but he looked at us as if we’d spoken to him in a language other than Earthling.

Then we walked home in the rain, happy to not have used any electricity entertaining ourselves on a Saturday night in Manly (except, ok, the lights and stoves at Max Brenner. Gee, this is harder than I thought…)