February Round Up

I’m often coming across news items, recipes, environmental stories and things that give me pause for thought, but aren’t enough for a whole blog post on their own. So I thought it would be nice to collect them together and share them with you each month. It would been more satisfyingly ‘neat’ to have started this in January, but never mind!

February has been an exciting month because SPRING IS COMING! Just when I was starting to think that it really was going to be muddy, cold and miserable forever, the first flowers are finally peeking their heads up. Here are the celandine and snowdrops on my way to work:

The river where we go swimming is still a chilly three to four degrees Celsius (around 38 Fahrenheit) so I know ‘proper’ spring is still a way off, but it turns out it isn’t going to be winter forever.

Reading

I’ve just finished How To Read Water: Clues & Patterns from Puddles to the Sea
by Tristan Gooley. The perfect resource for anyone looking for an opportunity to have a quick dip when you’re out and about, but also great for anyone interested in understanding natural signs better, so I would also recommend it for walkers, campers and explorers of all kinds!

Next up is The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. I’ve already learned how trees are naturally social and that they talk to each other, and have started sympathising with the lone hawthorn in our front garden.

Cooking

My neighbour gifted me a pumpkin, which I used to adapt this Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Coconut Curry recipe from thevegan8.com. I swapped the sweet potato for pumpkin, spinach for some purple sprouting broccoli, and added a bit of garam masala at the end. Delicious with short grain brown rice, flaked almonds and a handful of fresh coriander. The pic here is my version, but I’d recommend visiting the link above to see how beautiful it looks when being photographed properly, and not by a hungry person with a camera phone.

coconut curry

We finished off January with an entirely vegan Burns Night, with veggie haggis, neeps and tatties made using olive oil and mustard rather than butter, and a surprisingly delicious vegan cranachan, made with whipped coconut cream.

Articles

I’ve discovered Anthropocene Magazine, who have some thought provoking articles, my favourites of the moment being:

  • The unforeseen consequences of killing ‘prize’ animals – I cannot get my head round the idea of hunting as a pleasurable activity personally, but this article explains how shooting the the ‘best’ animals is weakening the gene pool and is an interesting counter-argument to the ‘hunting as conservation’ idea.
  • Reusable or Disposable: Which coffee cup has a smaller footprint? – It turns out that it can take as many as a thousand uses for a reusable cup to have less of an environmental impact than a disposable one. I don’t think this is an argument for disposables, more of a case for buying once, making it last, and being frugal with the washing up liquid and hot water when keeping it clean. But a powerful reminder that reusable really needs to mean reusable.
The most shocking news story I’ve seen this month is, as unbelievable as it may seem, that Cape Town is preparing to run out of water. On what is being called the apocalyptic-sounding ‘Day Zero’, the city will turn off its water supply, leaving citizens to visit water ration points to collect their daily allowance of just 25 litres of water. A stark warning to us all that seemingly infinite natural resources are anything but. Could you live on 25 litres of water a day?

Blog posts

Sarah’s post Zero Waste Myths: Are sustainable lifestyles only for middle class people? is a great read, and something I worry about myself. I think those of us promoting ZW and environmentally-friendly activities do need to keep trying to check our privilege – if we’re creating most of the waste, we need to make sure we’re addressing that.

I always love Lindsay’s posts, and got some good ideas from 5 Ideas for Donating Stuff You Don’t Need (But Is Still Useful).

 

I’d love to know what you’ve been up to, and your eco reading/watching/listening/doing recommendations, please leave a comment and let me know! 

 

Finding a new swimming home

First off, a quick apology to the blog for having neglected it for so long! So many things have popped up – we’re turning a back wasteland into a proper garden, I’ve started a new job after eight years of working at the same place, there has been honey to harvest from our bees, and I took up running (and then subsequently got an ankle injury).

But where I’ve idled away the most time, when I could have been writing, is at this beautiful spot above – the Great Ouse river in Olney, Buckinghamshire. It’s different from my former swim spot, the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond in Hampstead, London. Kenwood has its own character, through a sense of bohemian ideas, and a strong identity through the women who swim there. It’s unashamedly London – alternative, feisty and bold. When I moved away from London in May 2016, I didn’t know what I’d do without it. Luckily, a tip from the Open Water Swimming Society  pointed me to a bend in the river, behind a rugby club, 10 miles up the road from my new home. Continue reading “Finding a new swimming home”

Countdown to book launch: Zero Waster’s Travel Companion!

So I’m counting down the hours, because Friday, 14th October is the day that the Zero Waster’s Travel Companion goes on sale! A helpful guide to take you round the world whilst looking after it 🙂

This project was the idea of the lovely Inge, who blogs over at www.gruenish.com and is the brains behind the Zero Waste Bloggers Network. She has worked her socks off, and lots of us have been helping, each contributing a chapter on where you can eat, shop and live zero waste in a whole host of cities across the world!

The book will be available as an ebook, and you’ll be able to purchase and download it from http://zerowastebloggersnetwork.com/products/

I am very proud to be able to have written the chapter on London, covering all the way from Bloomsbury, through Camden, Kentish Town and up to Highgate. Continue reading “Countdown to book launch: Zero Waster’s Travel Companion!”

Restaurant review: Silo

silo-philosophy
A Silo philosophy: Waste is a failure of the imagination
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to find myself in one of the very nicest cities in the UK, Brighton. It has pretty much everything I could want in a city – the sea (with accompanying gorgeous views), market stalls, indie shops selling one-of-a-kind vintage items, enough vegetarian cafes to make it seem like a normal lifestyle, and a great approach to life (they elected the only Green Party MP in the UK, which makes them pretty awesome and progressive in my book).

There is a huge range of places to eat – the wonderful Terre à Terre makes some of the most exciting vegetarian food I’ve ever tried, or the excellently-named Wai Kika Moo Kau (say it out loud), but there was somewhere new that I have wanted to try ever since it opened…

Silo is a restaurant with a rather unique and exciting way of doing things – the zero waste way. It oozes out of the room itself, which is furnished with functional second-hand furniture and repurposed items. All food is delivered in refillable or reusable packaging, and any waste that created is compostable, although Silo’s website says they create so little of it that they also offer their composting services to local business and residential neighbours! Continue reading “Restaurant review: Silo”

Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 2 – sustainability

Ljubljana_panorama
Panorama across Ljubljana

So, in my last post I waxed lyrical about some of the many, many joys of swimming in this gorgeous country and its amazing countryside. However, I was also really impressed with how green, clean and sustainability-minded it also seems to be.

At home in London, I can often spot on my way to work what people had for breakfast, or for dinner the night before, because the packaging and unwanted remnants of fast food are ‘handily’ left out on the street for other passers-by to see. I think a lot of people are aware that Britain has a serious litter problem, but I’d kind of got used to it. Visiting Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, has suddenly made me very aware of it again!

The one bit of rubbish we saw touring round the Slovenian countryside
Rubbish seen in Slovenia: item one of two

The place is pretty much spotless Continue reading “Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 2 – sustainability”

Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 1 – swimming

Paradise, also known as Lake Bled, Slovenia
Paradise, also known as Lake Bled, Slovenia

Hello! It’s been rather a long time since I last wrote a post here. Happily, there’s a good reason for that and it’s because we’ve been away on holidays, living it up in the green and beautiful Slovenia. I must admit to knowing very little about the country before we went, but I left besotted with its gorgeous green landscapes and equally gorgeous green attitude.

A place so lovely deserves more than one post, so I’m going to break it down into two, covering my two favourite things, open water swimming and sustainability/eco-stuff.

Now I love a good swim outdoors, and can be found Continue reading “Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 1 – swimming”