Wednesday, August 15, 2007

LOAFing Update #3

I haven't written an update on the progress of my LOAF plan - my attempt to be a ethical consumer - for a while. I'm still hanging in there and making slow but steady progress. In fact, I'm no longer just LOAFing; I've become a LOAFER

Locally produced
Most of the contents of my organic fruit and veg boxes are grown fairly locally - in the same region, at least. Gaps in the boxes are filled with imported produce, but the provider never uses air-freighted goods and keeps imports to the minimum necessary to ensure a reasonably balanced selection. I still plan to start buying some meat from our local butcher's shop but haven't got there yet. I'm going to start this once I start walking into town regularly (see toddler days plans!) as I will pass the shop.

Organically grown
I'm definitely an organic fruit and veg box convert. I like the taste, I like that I am supporting small businesses and responsible farming practices, and I am getting used to having a fridge full of mud (all those freshly picked potatoes and carrots ...). I now have a regular weekly order for a medium veg box, a fruit box and a fruit bag. This just sees us through the week. I'm managing to keep wastage to a minimum, though I currently have rather a lot of chard in my fridge I have no idea what to do with. Other organic food is hit and miss because of the cost, though I do try and buy at least some organic items. For example, today I bought organic milk for Little Cherub and organic butter, along with my decidedly non-organic bagels and appallingly over-priced Invisible Crust bread, which is the only bread Star will eat without whining. (I'm not sure which I resent most: paying over the odds for icky bread, or the sense of shame that I cave in to the whining.)

Animal friendly
I still hanker after buying organic and / or free-range chicken, but haven't managed to screw my budget up to it yet. Meanwhile I still avoid the large supermarkets' meat as much as possible and stick to Waitrose.

Fairly traded
I am more aware than I used to be of fairly traded products and try to pick them off the shelf more frequently. I now only buy fairly traded coffee, and occasionally tea. I bought sultanas (golden raisins) from the Traidcraft stall, but couldn't bring myself to pay that much for chocolate. I know. I should.

Environmentally friendly
I am gradually switching over to environmentally friendly cleaning products. Maybe half the products I use are now Ecover versions. I think I have Ecover washing up liquid, dishwasher rinse aid, spray cleaner, toilet cleaner, fabric softener and a couple of other items. I have not yet managed to take the plunge and buy Ecover dishwasher tablets and washing liquid (powder clogs my machine) as they are so very much more expensive than the non-environmentally friendly versions.

I have been quite a committed recycler for a while. We currently have an "orange bag" system, where we put certain recyclables into an orange bag to be collected by the council along with our other rubbish (trash). Next month the system changes to alternate weekly collections - standard wheelie bin one week, an orange-topped recyclable wheelie bin the next. Quite how we are going to fit two weeks worth of rubbish into the one wheelie bin I don't know, despite my best efforts at recycling. The orange bin takes cans, plastic bottles, paper and card, and we also take bottles to the recycling bank. Old clothes and books go to charity shops or recycling bins (clothes go to the Salvation Army and books to Oxfam, I think). The boxes from the fruit and veg are returned weekly, and most of the produce is packed loose or in recyclable card cartons rather than plastic. On the other side of the coin, I have also started buying recycled paper products - no point in recycling if nobody will buy the products. And I freecycle. I love freecycle! Such a genius idea, using the internet to put people who have things they don't want or need in touch with people who do want and need them. One thing I keep meaning to do is to make a dent in our mountain of plastic carrier bags by remembering to reuse them instead of accumulating more.

Overall, I think I'm doing quite well as a LOAFER. Small steps, but definitely heading in the right direction.


Elizabeth said...

Good for you!

I've recently discovered our local butcher. Wonderful stuff, and great service, as they obviously realise they've got to work hard to compete with supermarkets.

Just a suggestion with Ecover dishwasher tablets -- they work just as well if you break them in half ;-)

Mary Ann said...

I am taking a similar path here lately. Tomorrow we will (hopefully) make our first trip to a local farm for raw milk. It is 32 miles round trip, but I plan on stopping at a farm stand on the way back, too.

And I have also decided to (finally) boycott China since I think they are really trying to poison our children!

Katherine in TX said...

Our priest is totally green and he went to a "free-range" chicken farm and saw that the chickens were cage-free, but they were piled on top of each other in a barn and could barely move around and were pecking each other to death. :( He now has his own chickens.

I'm a bit frustrated and am trying to figure out the labels. In the States it seems that the labels don't mean much. The USDA/FDA requires a "cage-free" or "free-range" chicken to have her door open for at least an hour a day. It's really ridiculous. Hopefully you guys have higher standards in the UK. I found eggs from a local egg farm sold at our Whole Foods. Hopefully they're being humane.

And as a remark to Mary Ann's comment, boycotting China is commendable. I sometimes think we're all burying ourselves alive in plastic from China. :)

The Bookworm said...

Katherine, you got me curious ... I had just assumed that free range chickens were, well, free range! I found this:

It seems the regulations here are more stringent, in that the birds must have free access to outdoor runs for 50% of the time. The minimum space specified per bird indoors still seems pretty poor, though :(. Interestingly to be labelled organic the standards in which the birds are kept must be higher than just basic free-range. Also there is a designation of "traditional free-range" which has a higher specification. Although the UK standards for free-range are just about barely acceptable, IMO, I had imagined they were better than they are. It looks as though organic or traditional free-range birds and eggs justify their higher price in terms of animal welfare.

Thank you for making me look into this ... but, oh dear, this whole green thing is more complicated than I realised :(.

Katherine in TX said...

I know, it is more complicated than I thought it would be. But it really makes sense of the higher prices, doesn't it?