Since moving to Ireland and beginning recycling, which is What’s Done Here, Ted and I have discovered that we produce very little *garbage*. Once we get a composter going, we’ll produce almost *no* garbage.

What we do produce, or have a lot of, is *packaging*.

Most (all) of that’s recycleable, but it’s been starting to get on my nerves. It seems so incredibly, incredibly wasteful, and so I’ve been finding myself trying to think of ways I can cut down on packaging. There are some things that could be pretty easy to do if I’d just *do* it: peanutbutter, for example. We’ve got an extremely spiffy food processor. If I want peanutbutter, there’s absolutely no reason I shouldn’t buy peanuts (in a small recycleable plastic bag), dump them in the food processor, and let it go for several minutes. No more glass jars. Similarly, mayonnaise can be made in the food processor, although it’s got a really short shelf life, so I’d have to think about whether it’s worth it. I really miss making jam, too.

We’re buying more veggies and nearly all our meat at the market now, which means very little packaging aside from plastic bags. That pleases me. What’s starting to really grate are things like cereal boxes and milk or juice cartons*, which are just plain bulky, even when crushed down. My sister apparently makes a very good granola, so I’m thinking of getting her recipe (which I suspect is something like, “Oh, you know, throw however much of X, Y and Z look right together and bake”) and seeing if I can’t replicate the granola crunch cereal Ted likes. In a fit of hopefullness I picked up a bag of organic bran flakes and a bag of sultanas this afternoon and have combined them in a glass jar as homemade raisin (well, sultana) bran. If the bran turns out to have a nice flavor that’s a win on several levels: first, two very small plastic bags instead of one large cardboard box and a plastic bag; second, as many raisins as I feel like having in my cereal; three, the damned *flakes* won’t be pulverized to bits at the bottom of the bag.

Anyway, it’s a start, I suppose. I have no idea if any of this thinkfulness will go anywhere, or if trying to make a granola breakfast cereal will end up seeming like too much work after I try it once (like making graham crackers did, although I think if I got the knack of those that’d be great),

I suspect this all also eventually ties in to “don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”, which, I think, is something I’m vaguely trying to work my way toward. We don’t eat a lot that my grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food, but I think part of my brain does interpret that as “try to avoid as much packaged food as possible”, even when “packaged” is crackers and whatnot–things that could theoretically be made at home. Anyway, I’m rambling and sleepy, so I think I’ll stop writing now and maybe go stare at the tv until it’s late enough to sleep.

*Ireland does not appear to have frozen orange juice concentrate like is available in the States, so you basically end up buying cartons or once, if you’re unlucky, this quite dreadful concentrate stuff that comes in a metal tin and makes you wish you’d never heard of orange juice…

miles to Minas Tirith: 314

8 thoughts on “packaging

  1. Chickens are good for eating stuff which you can’t compost (cooked food). Cats and Dogs are ok, but chickens, or a pig, are much better if you live in the country. Avoid Geese – Geese are evil, sleep on your doorstep, and poop undigested grass everywhere. For chickens, find or build a ‘chicken tractor’ which is basically a mobile coop.

    Most food packaging will compost, or even better shred and compost or mulch. Plastic, obviously, is plastic but cardboard and paper can be shredded and use for compost, mulch or even compacted and made into little bricks for use in a stove.

  2. I think that’s an excellent goal! I’m still working my way off processed food (premade entries are SOOOO tempting to a working single mom) and into way more produce and grains. My son won’t eat whole wheat pasta, but he loves veggies, so I’m ahead there. Mostly it’s time and overcoming my 1970s Midwest US upbringing, where “TV Dinners” were a treat and procesed food was New and Cool!

  3. From what I hear, the new Egloo chicken system is becoming accepted for urban chicken keeping in Europe. It’s a self contained environment for keeping a few chickens happy and safe.

  4. I wouldn’t eat whole wheat pasta either. I ate open-faced sandwiches. I preferred white bread.

    My father made fun of me at the time, but it turns out that I had celiac disease, and I was simply trying to minimize proteins that would destroy my intestines.

    I’m not saying your son has it, but recognizing wheat-protein-avoidance behavior might help someone else save their bowels before things got as bad as they did in my case.

  5. What I need is something like that for my daughter’s hamster. I think the locals would freak out if I put chickens in the backyard, even if they were neatly contained. We have neighborhood rules against hanging laundry outside on the weekends and using black plastic mulch…

  6. My wife has a really good granola recipe too, but it basically amounts to ‘take whatever ingredients you like, add this much honey/syrup/marmalade/jam/whatever to it, mix it all up, put it on a cookie sheet, bake.’

  7. If you’re feeling rich, I suppose you could squeeze your own orange juice, too — The only way to get it when I was a child, if memory serves. Burns a lot of calories in the making, too :D

    I always used to think I’d make more things from the basics up once I had children, but instead I’m generally stressy and/or tired enough that adding a can of veggies makes anything count as a healthy meal, at least during weekdays. And my big project for never having cereal boxes in my home but only putting the contents in pretty glass jars stranded on a) storage space and b)having to wash them and then not being able to refill them until dry. Seconds, maybe minutes wasted!

    Anyhow, good luck on the project of less waste!

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