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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A busy month

June has flown by and I’ve somehow not managed to blog at all, until faced by the prospect of not even having a single post this month, I decided I’d better pull my finger out and get typing! My absence has partly been due to technical difficulties (ie. a rubbish computer!), but partly I’ve just been busy with more outdoor, sunshiney activities than blogging.

Anyway, here’s a quick roundabout of some of my activities…

  • Curb cooked a thank you lunch for the volunteers at our local repair cafe. I’ve always been curious about the cafe, so it was good to see it in action. The idea behind the cafe is to encourage people to fix broken household items, rather than throwing them away and buying more. We cooked a Mexican themed meal, which was accompanied by smoothies and a fruit crumble to finish.
  • Last week, Curb also had a stall serving snacks at Southampton’s first upcycled fashion show. It was awesome to see the creations that local volunteers had worked so hard on, as well as to experience a fashion show – albeit without any supermodels! Among my favourite outfits were two dresses, one made from a re-purposed table cloth and the other from net curtains. It was inspiring to see what can be done with a bit of imagination and a sewing machine.
  • Almost a year after I started volunteering at the food bank, I finally got round to having my induction!! It was nice to meet people from the other food banks, and I did actually learn the odd new thing or two, but let’s face it, when is health and safety aspects of lifting trays of tinned food ever going to be exciting?!
  • In July, Curb is taking over the Community Corner at our local wholefoods co-op, Rice Up. We’ll be displaying posters and information about what we do to raise awareness of food waste and ways of preventing it.

I’ll have to try harder to balance being in the garden with being in front my laptop next month, although I could simply combine the two…!

Fancy drinking your coffee in a cup made of… coffee?!

Earlier this month, I mentioned the edible Scoff-ee cup, designed to reduce the waste created by disposable hot drinks cups. Instead of throwing away your cup after your coffee, you just eat it! When I first read about the Scoff-ee cup, it did occur to me that some people might not actually want to eat their wafer, sugar paper and white chocolate cup though (I’m not sure I would), which might lead to them binning it. As a cup you can eat has got to count as food (right?!) that can’t be a good thing.

So here’s a much better invention, (although admittedly one that addresses a slightly different hot beverage related problem to the Scoff-ee cup); the rather handsome c2cup.

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As this article explains, the c2cup is a reusable drinks mug

made […] from the coffee chaff, a byproduct derived from roasting, and an unregulated residual that usually goes straight into landfills.

Fantastic – a product created from materials that would normally be wasted. You can find out more about how the c2cup was designed and made in the company’s Kickstarter video. Unfortunately, I’m not a coffee drinker, but if somebody could just design a mug made out of tea, I’d definitely buy one!

Southampton’s Sustainability Festival: Part 2

Saturday saw Curb’s very first pop-up event at a Sustainability Festival, organised by Southampton Hub and I’m pleased to say it was a success! As I mentioned previously, Curb is part of The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP), which aims to reduce food waste by preventing it from going to landfill. In a nutshell, TRJFP volunteers collect surplus food, use it to make yummy meals and then serve them to people on a pay as you feel basis.

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Our first job of the day was to set up a makeshift kitchen and serving area. Given we had limited space and equipment (ie. we didn’t have an actual kitchen to work from!), we managed surprisingly well, heating food on a camping stove and going back and forth with kettles to fill our washing up bowls. Our ‘kitchen’ didn’t stay very tidy, but the addition of the flowers – rescued from a supermarket bin – were a lovely way to brighten up our counter.

So, what was on our first ever menu? Cooking from ‘waste’ means planning your menu around the food you have, rather than deciding what to cook and then buying the ingredients. Other members of the Curb team had put together a delicious Moroccan tagine the previous night, leaving us with various odds and ends for sandwiches. After much discussion of potential flavour combinations, these included brie & grape, hummus & roasted peppers and Quorn chicken & salad. Although we ‘sold out’ of all our food, we couldn’t believe how popular the toasties were and could barely get enough made in time before people were asking for more!

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Around 100 people attended the festival, and as well as making lunch, we provided snacks (and banana smoothies!) during coffee breaks as well. The washing up and drying kept us pretty busy too, so I wasn’t able to go to any of the workshops that were running. Everyone I spoke to said they were enjoying themselves and learning lots though, which was great to hear. And Curb also got some positive feedback…

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The festival itself, as well as our first pop up, went really well and I don’t think I’m the only one who’s excited about our next event and being able to turn more surplus food into healthy meals soon.

Southampton’s Sustainability Festival: part 1

Tomorrow Southampton Hub are running their annual Sustainability Festival at the University of Southampton. Many local and national organisations are involved in the day-long festival, including the Environment Centre, Labour Behind the Label and the super cool Repair Café (I keep meaning to pay them a visit!). The aim of the festival is to give students, in particular, a better idea of how they can make a difference to a host of issues related to sustainable living. It should be a fascinating day of interactive talks/workshops, and it will be nice to have a chance to speak to likeminded people in the local community.

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Most excitingly, though, is that I’ll be helping out with Curb Kitchen’s first pop up, which is catering the event. New to Southampton, Curb is part of The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP) and is a street stall that turns surplus food into meals offered to people on a pay as you feel basis. As part of TRJFP, Curb will be helping to rescue some of the city’s food waste from being sent to landfill.

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A group of volunteers will be serving lunch and snacks to around 100 people at tomorrow’s event – entirely from surplus, of course! I’ll be blogging about how the festival went (and how our food was received!) over the weekend and am looking forward to helping to spread the ‘feed bellies not bins’ message!