Jake Barnes is one of the researchers for the ARTS…
Check out part one here
Since I had failed to find bread in my first waste-free shop, my meal plan of toast for breakfast was looking unlikely. On the plus side, this means I got to eat pancakes for breakfast! A rare treat.
I had a quick search of Brighton and Hove city councils website to confirm my doubts that my butter container wasn’t recyclable. In this search I also found out I can’t recycle tetrapaks in my household recycling, so I’d have to make a trip somewhere in the city to recycle it if I wanted to drink it this morning.
I made pancakes, forgoing butter for some coconut oil in a glass jar I had bought at the beginning of the year for its supposed health benefits but promptly forgot about. Just another example of potential waste.
For lunch I cooked up a massive curry. I used half a can of beans, a red pepper, onion, a jar of curry sauce, various spices and the rice I got from HiSbe. I ended up making three portions, and having it for dinner as well.
After dinner, I went to my nearest supermarket – Sainsburys. It was due to shut in an hour. I was determined to get bread, butter and cheese. I picked up some real butter wrapped in paper. Then I went to the cheese counter, with a plastic tub I brought myself so they didn’t have to give me a bag. To my dismay, the server couldn’t give me cheese outside of a bag because of “health and safety”. I grumbled and had to accept – my first failure was due to my love of cheese. My second came quickly – I went over to the bread isle, and the only loose bread were overpriced luxury rolls.
Instead, I thought it would be less wasteful to buy the bread that would have been thrown out when the shop shut, despite it being wrapped in plastic. I bought four bread rolls for 14p, paid, and went on my way – I still spent less than the £6 I had come in with from my initial budget.
I started my day with a bread roll with real butter, and some left over marmite (for European readers, it’s a British yeast spread that divides opinion here – personally I love it.)
Between lunch as I worked on more of my seemingly endless university assignments, the post arrived. The previous week I had smashed my jar of “chariTEA” from bluebird tea co, a Brighton based tea shop. I tweeted them in desperation and sadness. They we’re incredibly kind and sent me a jar of tea in an un-smashable and eco-friendly tin.
Enjoying my new tea, I made some brownies using the chocolate from the HiSbe dispensers, butter from the previous night’s sainsburys shop and ingredients left over in the cupboard. My housemates promptly ate them all in a fit of exam related madness (I will never forgive her).
After that, I had some left-over curry for lunch, and cooked up mushroom pasta with chopped tomatoes and cheese for dinner, making an extra portion too.
-Roll for breakfast
-Leftover pasta for lunch
-Leftover curry for dinner
7th of May
I started my day off by making another bread roll, and going down to my local polling station. This was the day of the UK General election.
To calm my nerves, I had a lot of tea and tried out Bluebird’s “cold brewing” idea in my reusable water bottle. I give it my wholehearted approval and it found a great second life for my tea leaves. In my excitement at the election, I entirely forgot to have lunch and just had plain pasta for dinner.
8th of May
As midnight rolled around across Britain, we we’re predicted a new conservative majority government. It was unexpected, to say the least. At 5am I made conciliatory pancakes using up the last of my eggs, and had a nap that ended up lasting for 12 hours. As I woke up and it was time for dinner, I decided to leave my hole of sadness and explore the green oasis of Brighton in the newly conservative nation.
Luckily, I found Burger Brothers. It’s been called the best burger joint in Britain, and I’d be in no position to disagree. Even their packaging was made from recycled materials and was fuly recyclable. An eco-burger lover’s heaven. As evening hit, I went on the hunt for more cheap bread that was about to be binned. I grabbed a baguette for 19p (down from 95p) from the co-operative, and headed home to face more essays.
Breakfast and lunch comprised of my baguette, with marmite for the morning and a cheese sandwich with an old apple for lunch. I was lacking vegetables certainly.
I blended up the butternut squash, carrot, garlic, leftover onion, chilli powder and salt and pepper. I’d never made soup before, and it went surprisingly well. I did end up throwing away some of the skin of the squash, which was a disappointment however. I had enough for three portions of soup, and happily had it for dinner.
10th of May
On the last day, I felt I had learnt a significant amount. Firstly, it was quite difficult to live without waste. Once you begin to look for packaging and wastage you see it everywhere, and the scale of the problem becomes obvious. Secondly, cooking proper meals isn’t nearly as time consuming as I thought it was and my reliance on plain foods beforehand was simply a form of laziness. And thirdly, living waste free is far more affordable than I thought. I still had significant amounts of rice and pasta left at the end of the week, and when only buying as much as you need everything seems to stretch further. I didn’t throw away anything because I had planned what to eat and what I needed. The planning also allowed me to focus on the 12,500 words of essays I had to do without worrying about what to cook.
Now, as I write this almost a month later, I realise many of my habits have changed. I buy far less when I go out to buy food and I question the necessity of what I do buy. By being conscious in how my food choices affect both the planet and me, we both waste less and do better out of it.