My Liebster Award

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Wow – this is exciting! I was recently nominated by the brilliant A Lazy Girl Goes Green for a Liebster Award. Sadly the award doesn’t come with a cash prize, a sports car or a trip to the Caribbean, but hey…! The point of the award is to introduce people to other blogs with similar themes by responding to some questions posed by your nominee, and then writing more questions for other bloggers of your choosing. Kind of like one of those chain letters that used to go around when I was a kid, only not as sinister.

So without further ado, thank you very much for my nomination Trudi, and here’s my post-awards ceremony (no, there wasn’t actually one of those either!) interview…

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1. Who or what inspired you to start your blogging journey? 

This is actually the third or fourth blog I’ve had (although the only one I’ve stuck with for any length of time!), so I wasn’t inspired by anything or anyone in particular, it just felt like a natural thing to do as an introvert who likes to write and reflect! Initially I wanted to focus on my experiences of taking Summer 2014 off from work to volunteer. My blog has now developed beyond that… It’s probably got a bit of an identity problem, to be honest, as now I blog about all sorts: food waste, food poverty, cooking, healthy eating and homelessness, as well as the voluntary work I do.

2. What’s your top lazy tip for living more sustainably?

1. Reusable water bottle. I never, ever buy water (total waste of money, never mind plastic/resources) and know the location of drinking fountains all over Heathrow airport! People still look at me suspiciously when I start swigging from my own water bottle in airports or on planes, as I don’t think they’ve cottoned on to the fact that while you can’t take water through security, you can take an empty bottle! In the absence of drinking fountains, cafes will happily top you up; I’ve never been refused yet.

2. A spork. A relatively recent purchase, but one I wish I’d made years ago. No more horrid single use plastic cutlery for me. I’ve taken great delight in telling the person serving me tea on my last three BA flights that I won’t be needing their stupid plastic packet containing a stupid plastic stirrer, (plus giant paper napkin and packet of sugar) because I have my own. I also take my own snacks to avoid eating sugar/crap/processed food – which is another story entirely, of course – but in conjunction with number 1 above does go some way to explaining why I get very, very odd looks when I fly! Try jauntily peeling a banana on a plane and you’ll see what I mean!

3. A foldaway, reusable bag. This one speaks for itself, but the trick is to use it everywhere, not just supermarkets. Even in clothes shops. Yep. You’ve guessed it. More funny looks.

I don’t go anywhere without these items. If they live permanently in your handbag (rucksack, in my case, since I acquired this), you always have them with you, hugely reducing the amount of plastic you use.

3. How do you react when your ethics and beliefs are challenged in a disrespectful way?

This has yet to happen!

4. What’s your favourite guilty pleasure?

I’m struggling to think of one, but it may well be eating a bowl cheesy, ketchup topped potatoes for dinner, which I know does not constitute a healthy, nutritionally balanced meal in any way at all, but it’s my favourite comfort food.

5. How would you define “green living”?

Obviously this means different things to different people, and is a concept that people can adopt to varying degrees. I’d guess compared to a lot of people out there, I’m probably not all that green. However, I’m increasingly trying to live in harmony with the environment around me and to make better choices when it comes to living sustainably. I think all it really comes down to is doing the right thing by the planet in as many ways you can manage as an individual, which sounds incredibly hippy, so I’m going to shut up now.

6. What do you see as your biggest blogging achievement to date?

Erm…being nominated for this award?! For me it’s been an achievement to have blogged for over a year now, as I’m easily bored! The fact that I’m still writing about the things I write about has made me realise I obviously care a lot about them.

7. Name the 5 websites you visit the most

I use BBC Food, BBC Good Food and my recent discovery, Epicurious, as a starting point for recipe inspiration, but I’m really just mentioning those as I’m in denial of the fact that I spend far too much time on Amazon! Right now I’m on the hunt for a dog to rehome, so I’m trawling through cute pictures on websites like the Blue Cross and RSPCA in search of the four legged friend for me!

8. Where in the world would you most like to do a cooking class and why?

After watching a couple of TV programmes on Malaysia recently I’ve developed a real fascination with their cuisine as it’s incredibly varied and being Asian, I’m all about snack-y street food! I’d like to learn how to cook a good laksa, as I haven’t been able to get the flavour quite right at home yet. Saying that, I’d be more than happy to stay here in the UK and do a vegetarian/vegan cookery course. Or something on raw foods. I’m becoming a big fan of eating raw.

9. What still baffles you about the world of green living?

That with so much information available, advertising, campaigns, etc the majority of the British public know and care relatively little about sustainability. And that people think it’s acceptable to throw litter. I have no idea why they do that.

10. If there was one thing you could guarantee all people of the world would commit to in 5 years’ time, what would it be?

I’d like to see a reduction in household food waste. Yes, supermarkets throw away tonnes of perfectly good food, but if everyone did their bit individually, we’d make a huge difference. That being said, the UK definitely needs to adopt France’s recent surplus food legislation. I’d also like there to be a closing of the gap between food waste and food poverty. There are lots of amazing national charities like FoodCycle and The Real Junk Food Project, as well as local ones, that intercept and use surplus food, but I still think more needs to be done. It makes no sense that there are people going hungry because they can’t afford to buy food, when there’s a ridiculous amount of surplus food out there that ends up in landfill.

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Phew! I think that’s the closest I’m ever going to get to being interviewed! And now over to my own Liebster Award nominations, which go to:

Questions:

  1. What are your top tips for reducing food waste?
  2. What green/sustainable change has had the greatest impact on your daily life?
  3. Apart from blogging, how do you persuade those around to also adopt some of your sustainable habits?
  4. What’s your most frequently used kitchen gadget?
  5. What did you have for dinner last night?
  6. In what ways do you eat differently to five years ago?
  7. Describe your kitchen in three words.
  8. What do you think is the biggest food related issue in the UK?
  9. What really gets your goat?!
  10. Do you consider yourself to be an extrovert or an introvert?

Rules:

  • Thank the nominator
  • Display the badge
  • Nominate ten more bloggers with ten new questions
  • Answer the questions

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Two Saints: visiting a local homeless charity

Last week I went along to a local charity called Two Saints, which helps people who are homeless by providing a variety of services and support. I was there to find out more about volunteering, but I confess that part of me was just curious to see what their day centre (the hub of the organisation) was like, having heard about it before.

On my arrival at the day centre, I was given a tour of the premises and further information about the services Two Saints provide for the people who come there. These include basics like mobile phone charging, laundry, showers, a clothing store, access to GPs, housing and debt advice and help with job searches/CV writing. The centre also does a simple breakfast and a cooked lunch (for a nominal charge), with hot drinks available throughout the day. I felt like I was back at Crisis Christmas, but on a far smaller scale.

It was good to get an idea of what life at the day centre is like, and to hear about how I could get involved if I volunteered there. After a few Christmases with Crisis and a year at my local food bank, I feel like I’m ready for a new challenge and would like to take the experience I’ve already got working with homeless people further. Surprisingly, Two Saints only has a handful of volunteers at its day centre; fingers crossed I’ll be able to join the small team very soon!

Super sorting with FareShare

Earlier this week I had a fun afternoon volunteering to sort food at my local FareShare warehouse. If you’re not familiar with the excellent work FareShare does…

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FareShare recently had a Neighbourhood Food Collection, in association with local Tesco stores, to boost their stock. The idea behind the food collection is that when people enter the supermarket, they’re given a shopping list of things FareShare needs, so that if they want to, they can pick up extra items on their way round the aisles.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m no stranger to sorting out tinned food, so spending a few hours getting an insight into how Southampton’s FareShare distribution centre operates didn’t seem like a bad idea for an otherwise unoccupied weekday afternoon! It’s been a year since I was volunteering at the Trussell Trust’s warehouse, and although my role at Southampton’s food bank does involve sorting out food, it’s on a far smaller scale, so I’d forgotten just how weirdly therapeutic organising cans goods into different categories can be! My friend Ania and I were supposed to be there for a four hour shift and didn’t even realise around three and a half hours had flown by, we were so into our sorting! I just wish I’d taken ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the crates of food stacked on pallets, as between us and two other volunteers, we’d made a noticeable dent in the huge mound at the back of the warehouse by the end of the day. It’s always nice when you’re volunteering to see the difference you’ve made! 😉

Ania and I agreed we’d enjoyed being temporary super sorters and wouldn’t mind popping back again later on in the year. It’s nice to know we’ve contributed (in a very small way) to FareShare’s brilliant work. But after hours of separating baked beans from biscuits, canned carrots from custard, and sweetcorn from sweeties, we definitely needed a nice cuppa!

Chillies ahoy!

It feels like my chilli plants have taken forever to produce any actual chillies. Then again I’m not the world’s most patient person! Having outgrown both my indoor greenhouse and my living room window sill, I’ve relegated the plants to the floor, where they seem quite content:

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I think they might have sprouted chillies sooner, if I’d actually done some homework and found out that you should start feeding them as soon as they begin to flower. A bit of research also revealed that to get a good crop of chillies, you need to pinch out their leaves. Nope, I had no idea what that meant either. Basically it involves removing some of the plant’s leaves to encourage them to get bushy rather than just tall. Bushy is good because more stems means more chillies. And more chillies means I have to buy less from the supermarket!

IMG_0066As I ended up with more plants than I had space for, I gave a couple away to friends and family. I like the thought of other people enjoying the fruits of my labour, as it were! I’ll let you know how the chillies taste when they’re big enough and ripe enough to eat… hopefully that’ll be soon!