And We Shall Change The World (If But Slowly)

Sort of as a follow-up to the last post, and because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about the last few days, I wanted to make a list of all the things I’ve done/am doing to work towards my manifesto. It’s nice, when things get overwhelmingly BIG, to focus on the small picture sometimes. In fact, I’ve found that works in all aspects of life; invariably, when I’m getting overwhelmed it’s because I’m tired (though that too) focusing on either the big picture of the little details too much. Rebalancing is often as simple as remembering to look in the opposite direction for a bit.

But anyway, list.

1) Get rid of excess stuff.

The facebook declutter. Basically, I rounded up a whole bunch of things I no longer wanted (a lot of clothes and books), took photos, posted the pics in an album on my FB, and people could comment to claim things they wanted. Not everything was claimed, but at least 2/3 of it was, probably more like 3/4, and it was FUN! I knew my stuff was going to ppl who actually wanted it, and I got rid of stuff. This was so much fun I definitely plan on doing it again at some point.
2) Find homes for rest of stuff.

Yeah, nothing much acheived here. Really need to do something with my floordrobe, and the front room.
3) Eat more sustainably.

I convinced the Boyo to join me at the local farmers’ markets, which I had just discovered, a few weekends ago. With much protestation, he came – only to discover that lo, the food was better quality, fresh, tasty, and pretty much an equivalent price to supermarket goodies. #WIN. Though we have discovered also that it IS important to be careful which stalls you buy from, because some of them are not farmers, but agents, and their food might as well be supermarket food. But the potatoes and honey in particular are worth the trip.
4) Eat real food.

Ever since the Boyo discovered how easy it was to make your own butter (i.e. I casually mentioned it one day, and he latched onto it with verve and enthusiasm), he has been making it for us – which has two benefits. 1), no artificial crap (though to be fair, we’d been buying mainland spreadable for a while, which has only cream, water and salt) and 2) we’re actually eating a lot less butter, because it’s been hard to get the ‘spreadable’ bit right (we still haven’t), so while it’s more spreadable than pure butter when we add a bit of water, it’s still not great for nonsense bread*.

Making our own bread. This is a bit of a long story, revolving around the fact that I’ve developed a yeast intolerance in recent years. I can eat small amounts of it, but if I eat too much, especially paired with sugar to feed it (and by ‘too much’ I mean maybe two or three times in a week, depending on how much sugar I’m having – a ‘time’ being pizza for dinner, or a sandwich for lunch, or a croissant, or something – or once a week consistently for an extended period of time), I end up with debilitating exhaustion (which is JUST what I need with a 7 month old), blood sugar crashes (so I have to eat every couple of hours or CRASH), and if I let it go on long enough, depression. Yay! Sigh. ANYWAY, this paired with the fact that Boyo has apparently long been entranced by the art of breadmaking means we’ve successfully grown a shoggoth and today made our first successful loaf of fully-sourdough bread. YUM!!

Also, because I got really quite sick with the yeast-thing in 2010, I became a compulsive label-reader (sugar hides in everything), so we tend to avoid anything that isn’t ‘real’ food now too (which is to say, food made exclusively from ingredients your grandmother would recognise, or that are pronounceable for the average six year old, or that are not highly processed, etc etc, pick your definition). This has also extended to making our own baby food, which is so ridiculously easy it’s hard to see why you’d bother buying a packet of the stuff, especially when, for example, we have soup for dinner and ‘baby food’ just means taking some soup out before I add the salt at the end.

*Nonsense bread: any overly-fluffy bread that tears if you even hover a knife near it, made so overtly soft by the inclusion of such wonders as plaster of paris (I kid you not). Especially refers to white bread, which has so little substance so as to render it nonsense, but also any over-processed, additive-packed, easily-torn bread-like-thing.
5) Consume less/waste less.

Boyo has developed a rather passionate loathing for my Tupperware lunch containers, mostly from having to deal with one too many left on the bench too long mould episodes, and the fact that the container never seems to come 100% clean. He’s been on at me for a while to replace with glass/pyrex, and a few months ago I gave in and bought some glassware, and it’s so easy to clean and sterilise, and is environmentally friendly, and isn’t going to leech anything nasty into my food when I heat it (plastic is okay at cold temps, but when you heat it it leaks into your food). So, it seems we are now on a mision to progressively replace plastic with glass, at least for anything likely to be reheated (pantry will stay Tupperware, though I insist on the actual expensive Tupperware, because the cheap stuff I have noted makes the food smell like plastic, which quite besides all the stuff that means it’s leeching, tastes gross).

We’re also slowly making the switch to cloth nappies. A friend recommended the Bambooty brand, and we ordered a day’s worth to test, and we LOVE THEM. Well, I love them; Boyo is probably merely satisfied with them, as I don’t think it would ever cross his mind to love nappies O:) 😀 hehe. So, we have ordered more, and will progressively add to our collection.

I’m also in the process of trying to work out a better system for replacing disposables like paper towels and wet wipes, at least on a partial basis. Nearly there.
6) Consume responsibly (sustainably).

I take this to mean ‘use things that will not irrepairably damage the environment’, among other things. I’ve tried using eco-friendly laundry detergent and dish washing detergent at various points; but despite my protestations to the contrary, Boyo couldn’t deal with the fact that the dish liquid didn’t foam enough, and who can compete with super cheap bulk laundry powder at Costco? HA! One of my most recent discoveries can: soap nuts. After ordering a sample pack for a mere $7.50 the other day, I completely forgot about them, and was puzzled by the parcel on my doorstep on Friday. But I opened, remembered, and trialled – and promptly fell in love. All-natural detergent that literally grows on trees, is eco-friendly, reusable, cheap, low-allergenic, and leaves my clothes at least as soft as if I’d used fabric softener (which I basically never do because of the effort :P)? #WIN.

Also, there was the freak-out over small person’s bubble bath wash stuff thingo, which has led to me slowly going through my stash of bath and beauty products with www.ewg.org/skindeep and putting up for regifting products that I’m not happy to keep using. I’ll use up the stuff I have left, but then I’m planning to investigate natural alternatives, especially for shampoo and hand soaps, since detergents (basically, think anything that foams) are the worst culprits both environmentally and human-healthily. Apparently bubbles = bad!!

(Also, it’s ridiculously, laughably easy to make your own body butter – one recipe I found is just 50/50 cocoa butter and choose-a-vegetable-oil, like coconut or grape seed.)
7) Spend time intentionally.

I’m trying to put the computer away earlier at night, make sure I enforce my ‘no coulds or shoulds’ attitude, and prioritise my time better. No specific strategies here, though.

Wow. This was a long post, but I guess it just goes to show that little steps really do add up. I feel like I’m still doing so much that I want to try to avoid – but looking at this list, I guess I’m doing pretty darn well compared to where I was a few months ago. Hurray! 😀

(Also, when the Boyo is next to me and comments on an ad for microwave meals by wondering how many preservatives and other rubbish must be in them, I am MADE HAPPY 😀 #PROGRESSWIN.)

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