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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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!

Happy birthday to me!

It’s been just over a year since I started volunteering at my local food bank, and blogging about my experiences (as well as quite a few other things!). Thinking back on my year at Southampton City Mission, what stands out is how many lovely people I’ve met – both clients and volunteers. Talking to people while they wait to get their food parcels is one of my favourite parts of volunteering. I’ve had such interesting conversations with local people I’d never have otherwise come into contact with. I’ve also had some moving encounters with clients who have absolutely nothing and have been unfortunate victims of circumstance. These conversations have reminded me why I started volunteering at a food bank in the first place and, a year on, have made me realise that I’d like to be able to do something more than just offer a listening ear, so at the moment I’m finding out about other organisations I could volunteer with in Southampton, in the hope I’ll be able to make a bigger difference and to develop new skills.

In the past twelve months, I’ve also really enjoyed connecting with folks through blogging and Twitter who share my ‘love food, hate waste’ philosophy. But I’ve enjoyed discovering more generally how big the zero waste community is, plus how many people out there – like myself – are trying to declutter their lives by being more minimalistic. Something that’s had a big impact on me since I started my blog is Project 333; I own about 50% less clothes than I used to thanks to Courtney Carver’s website, and as I’ve never been remotely into clothes, shoes, handbags or fashion anyway, I now have a pretty small wardrobe!

Who knows what exciting things might be in store in my next blogging year?! I hope I continue to enjoy writing as much as I have this year! 🙂

Environmental Rock Festival 2015

Curb had a busy bank holiday weekend popping up at two events, including Southampton’s annual Environmental Rock festival – which was quite frankly great, as we got to listen to cool music throughout the afternoon! My personal favourite was Ukelele Jam, who are well known locally, and looked like they were really enjoying their set.

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On Curb’s menu was dhal with pilau rice and chutneys, bite sized kati rolls (filled with mushroom, or coconut and coriander) and peach cake and banana muffins. All our food had been wolfed down by the end of the day, with some people even coming back for seconds – always a good sign!

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We also had a food boutique, including a basket of our ubiquitous spaghetti – famous because we have so much of it we’ve been taking it everywhere we go to distribute it!

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Environmental Rock was well organised, had a nice atmosphere and it was fabulous being able to chat to lots of friendly volunteers and curious members of the public about Curb, the Real Junk Food Project and all things food waste. The level of interest people shown in Curb over the past few months has been very encouraging, with ‘So where exactly does your food come from?’ being the question we’re asked most frequently! I had an enjoyable day meeting new people and getting the food waste word out there.

Details of upcoming Curb pop ups in the city can be found here and more photos from the festival are here.