Category: Green Living

Read. Watch. Go. Do 29/04/13

I got a job! A really exciting, grown up communications job in a renewable energy company. April resolution achieved.

READ: My blogpost for Grateful Chorus on the Bank of England’s decision to remove the last woman from the nation’s banknotes.

WATCH: The Gatekeepers! Go to the cinema and watch this right away! This breathtaking documentary brings together the last six former chiefs of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency.  You have to keep in mind throughout that they are trained spies, but it’s still astonishing to see them talk so frankly about the failure of Israel’s fight against ‘terrorism’, citing a war which has “no strategy, only tactics”. I learnt a lot.

DO: Switch your energy provider away from the Big Six with their disgusting profit margins and lobbying for continuing to rely on fossil fuels. There are quite a few available, but the company I’ve always had the best experience with is ecotricity. They use customers’ bills to build new green electricity, turning bills into mills. Switching is unbelievably easy and the prices are absolutely comparable to the Big Six. They also have a crystal clear pricing structure with just two plans. Switching your energy provider is a big individual action against climate change.

Read. Watch. Go. Do. 30/03/13

It’s been an unexpected fortnight including a funeral, a Speyside wake, applying for a job that makes me feel a bit icky and a family member slipping on the ice, breaking their ribs and puncturing a lung. They’re out of the woods, but we’re hoping for a calmer, healthier April. And a great job please.

WATCH: Winter’s Bone is available on BBC iPlayer at the moment. It’s a pretty good introduction to the wonder that is Jennifer Lawrence. An incredible actor and someone you could enjoy a pint with. I’m just waiting for her to get political a la Matt Damon and my crush will be unstoppable.

GO: Be organised and book tickets for Leaving Planet Earth as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in August. A site-specific production from the critically acclaimed Grid Iron, the evening involves a bus ride to a mystery location (Ratho) for a performance about future humanity’s migration to New Earth. Can’t wait.

DO: It’s still snowing in Scotland. Defy the calls of ‘Merry Easter’ by planting some seeds for a summer harvest. Because you believe summer will come. One day. I’ve got tomato, cucumber and basil seeds potted up in old yoghurt pots and a couple of empty Quality Street tins from Christmas (I will know I’m an adult when I actually buy plant pots).

A domestic

Having missed Meat Monday (the one day of the week I guarantee my boyfriend I will cook a meal containing meat), we had sausages for tea last night from the butchers a ten minute walk away in posh Hove. I accidentally made slightly too much mashed potato, say half a portion.

As we plated up, my boyfriend divided up the mash, looked at the remainder in the pan and threw. it. in. the. bin. 

I can only imagine what my face involuntarily did because he looked horrified and totally unaware of what he’d done wrong.

‘We don’t throw away food’.

‘It was just a tiny bit’.

‘We don’t throw away food’.

Cue me revealing my plan to make a solitary fishcake for my lunch the next day, lots of ranting information about food releasing methane as it decomposes in landfill sites and a grown up version of ‘there are children starving in Africa’…

Sometimes being all environmental and ethical is deeply unsexy.

Meaty resolutions

Growing up we ate nothing but chicken, turkey and fish like haddock and cod. Absolutely nothing else entered my family’s white meat and two veg British diet. It was little sacrifice to become a vegetarian from the ages of 11 to 17. But then, just shy of my 18th birthday on holiday in Greece, my friend offered me a bite of her steak, perfectly cooked rare red meat. And I was hooked.

I adore meat. Little makes me happier than steak, venison, game and haggis. But I know the environmental impact of meat and eating it as much as I’d like isn’t an option that wouldn’t make me a total hypocrite. For the last four or five years I’ve been really aware of consciously choosing to eat meat as a treat, but I’ve noticed that since moving in with my boyfriend in October the frequency and quantity of meat I’ve been eating has increased again.

So one of my new year’s resolutions is to get back on track with meat reduction. For me that means:

  • no more than two portions of meat a week – preferably bought from the local butcher
  • learning to cook more low-dairy meals so my diet isn’t a high-fat, high-carbon cheese fest
  • cooking vegetarian meals for other people to prove that non-meat meals can be tasty and fancy.

The last one sometimes feels the biggest struggle. When we have people round for dinner it feels natural to cook ‘dinner party’ type food which usually revolves around meat. Because meat is the most expensive part of a meal I worry it’ll make me look cheap if I don’t cook with it or that my friends will do that awful ‘it’s not a meal if it’s not got meat’ rant – or even worse ‘men need to eat meat’. On Monday night my French-born, South-African raised friend came round for dinner and I held firm, cooking aubergine parmigiana from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Veg Every Day. Although it took a while, it was delicious and she had seconds. If she cooks that meal as a replacement for a meat meal once a month then that might be better campaigning than banging on about the carbon emissions of pesticides or deforestation for soy plantations.

But that’s still a bit small isn’t it? I always think that the Meat Free Monday campaign, whilst well-intentioned, is disingenuous because it implies that cutting our meat consumption by a seventh (or even a fourteenth if they presume most people eat meat for lunch as well as dinner) is enough. When actually the reality is that Western meat consumption will need to halve to deliver the carbon reductions we need to meet our 2050 climate change targets. So what’s the solution? Answers on a postcard…