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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Drive like a Woman and Shop like a Man!

With the lazy hazy days of summer already well upon us and the fact that I have been ignoring the temptation to read the daily blogs that I follow - I have built my book pile high with summer reading hopefuls.
This little gem is right up my alley - and to be perfectly honest it should be right up yours! If you do not have a copy, please try to source one at your local bookshop.
Mary Mulvihill
Drive like a Woman,
Shop like a Man
Greener is cheaper
So what exactly is it all about? Well, in the hopes of boring you much further to tears I have decided to give you a little more information than I normally do when I do a book/movie/wine/food review. You see the author has pulled together 101 things you can do starting today to save you money and time. You will lead a healthier life and do your share for the environment while you are at it. I have decided to just pick ten things out of this book that you should already be doing and if you are not - then shame, shame, shame on you! (I will also mention that some of these we are doing and some we aim to accomplish soon!)
Before I get started the author made a little comment about how there is no need to mention the 'bring your own reusable grocery bag each time you shop (anywhere for anything) as everyone in Ireland already does that. It is true. So - if you are not already toting your own cool reusable shopping bag or trolley - then start right now!!!
OK - lets start at
Number 10: Eat less BEEF and Dairy products!
I know, this is a shocker to me too - but here is my reasoning behind this one - and it is worth consideration. Rearing Beef is one of the most inefficient ways of producing protein. One acre of land could feed twenty vegetarians but only ONE beef-eating carnivore. Eating beef (when it comes to Eco-crimes) is on par with driving a huge gas guzzler! I am not saying give it up completely - but try to eat less of it. Imagine your diet with less meat and dairy and more fruit and veg. Good for you, good for the planet and lighter on your wallet too! If you are a total carnivore - then opt for chicken or pork. Make the meat a side dish! Do what we have done - make a commitment to buy only organic meats and dairy produce. It is considerably more expensive - so we buy less of it - but savour it all the more and trust me - there is never any waste!
Number 9: Tap water for me!
Think about this next time you lift that icy bottle of Evian or San Pelligrino to your lips in order to quench your thirst.....................How may miles did it travel? How long has it been sitting in that plastic bottle that probably contains traces of chemicals added to the plastic to make it flexible?? Bottled water has the highest mark up of any item on ALL restaurant menus around the world. They are laughing all the way to the bank! If you really really want to drink water from a bottle - then I suggest you choose
Enough said!
Number 8: Paper, Paper, Paper!
Which do you reach for more than 85% of the time when you want to wrap up a piece of food? Cling Film, Aluminium Foil or Parchment Paper??
The sustainable option for wrapping your food is Paper! Aluminium Foil is mined from underground and very expensive to produce, cling film is made from petrochemicals which also comes from deep underground (it is also a PVC plastic and cannot be recycled). That said next time you microwave something with cling film touching it, or unwrap a piece of cheese from the fridge that has been wrapped in plastic wrap - I'll bet your tasted buds will be salivating as you think of all the traces of the toxic plasticisers that have leeched onto your food - rights as you get ready to tuck in! (this is all news to me and upon reading that page in the book I have thrown out the plastic wrap, bulked up on my parchment paper and am going to save and reuse my butter wrappers from now on!)
Number 7: Open the window - let the fresh air in!
Fresh air is important to our healthy daily functioning. That is, if you are breathing in fresh air. Kiss your scented candles and air fresheners goodbye! They do not freshen the air - they pollute it! Some air fresheners are made up with incredibly toxic substances such as terpenes (pine or lemon scented) and can react to produce formaldehyde which is a powerful cancer causing chemical. There are thousands of studies out there showing that children living in homes that have air fresheners were sick more than other children. Need I say more??
If you think there is a smell in your house - place a small bowl of baking soda on your table or counter top, or spray down with white vinegar. Problem pleasantly solved!
Number 6: Laundry Chill
I myself have been doing this for quite sometime now. If you are still washing every load on a higher temperature - it is time to stop. All clothing items can be washed wonderfully at the magic temperature of 30 degrees Celsius! Procter & Gamble released a study showing there would be millions of euros/dollars saved globally if everyone dropped their laundry washing temp. by a measly 10 degrees! Do it! On a side note, I still wash my bed linens on a high heat just to make sure I get the dust mites (I am a freak, I know!)
Number 5: Don't Dirty as you CLEAN!!!
Why not try to use household cleaners that are safe enough to eat??? OK - I realise I am pushing the limits here (even for my own household use) but I have made sincere efforts over the last five years to only use non-toxic biodegradable detergents. One of my favourites here in Ireland is Anyway - Polish with Olive Oil . It works, and it leaves a lovely scent. Bread soda will scour away most problems in the kitchen or the loo (and use the mesh bag that your onions come in as a scrubber). Vinegar and warm water is the best window washing solution out there and sweet on your counter tops too! Just try!!
Number 4: (one of my favourites) Shop like a Super CHEF!
Granted, this is something I may have a slight advantage over y'all with - but listen to this! According to the Environmental Protection Agency the average household dumps more than a quarter tonne of food (in waste) each year! That my friends could equate to more than 30% of what you buy! You may as well just sit down, open your wallet and throw it all into the fire! What this means folks is that we are buying 50% more than what we need!
Just think - all that food that has been produced, packaged, chilled and trucked around the world just for us to own it for a little while then chuck it in the bin! STOP NOW!
All this takes (from one who knows) is a little bit of planning. My handsome Chef is very big on making a list and checking it twice. I actually do most of the weekly shopping and on a very tight budget to boot. We always have enough food to entertain 5 out of 7 nights, we never have a wasted crumb - and trust me when I tell you - we are not wasting away to nothing over here.
Plan, budget, buy local, in season and grow your own. You will waste less. You have too!
Number 3: (OK, another favourite) Shop NAKED!
Going back to the start of this where I begged you to start using that lovely toteable reusable bag you have - bring it grocery shopping with you! Do you usually buy a lot of pre-packaged stuff at the shops? Little boxes of raisins, bags of apples, pre-washed salad instead of a head of lettuce? If so, you need to start Shopping Naked!
Loose fruit and veg are way cheaper than the prepackaged ones and you get to select the ones you want! (Do not get me started on why you are not shopping at your local farmers market!)
Buying a tub of fruit that has been prepackaged is most likely several days old and has had a helping handful of antioxidants added to keep it fresh!
Buy food with as little or NO PACKAGING as possible!
Number 2: Stop PRINTING!
Seriously. Just stop it. Do you really really need to print everything you work on or read?
If you have to print something, stop printing in color, only use recycled paper and set your printer to draft copy or greyscale. All printers are set to print in the highest quality when manufactured giving the ink companies literally license to print money!
Number 1: Moooooooove over plastic, you are outta here!
I know that for most of you finding milk in a glass bottle is virtually impossible these days. Most of the white stuff comes in large plastic containers and most recently in paper cartons. The plastic containers are made from non-renewable oil. Left sitting in this container for any amount of time - you are drinking plastic chemicals. The cartons are made from mostly sustainable cardboard, which also helps its shelf life as it gives the added protection from the sun.
And not to beat a dead horse on this one but here is an interesting little fact on milk. It takes THREE times more energy to produce a litre of conventional milk than it does organic milk. This is mostly because of the energy used in producing fertiliser for the pastures (and if you are paying attention you are now starting to realise that you are eating pasture fertiliser every time you drink the conventional stuff - yummy yum!) I know (all too well) that making the switch to Organic makes you dig a little deeper into your wallet but I also know for a fact that once you do - you will buy only what you need and savour every last drop!
OK, if any of you are still awake and have made it to the end of this - well done! Please go to your local bookshop or library and have a read of this little book. It is wonderful!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today!


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