Belladonna Bess

An edible garden in Wellington, NZ

What’s wrong with spring? October 17, 2009

Filed under: Environment — belladonnabess @ 6:21 pm

Freezing southerly again. Apart from trying to support some of my battered seedlings, I couldn’t be bothered doing anything much in the wet (4cm since yesterday evening) and cold. I did uncover a few plants that the blackbirds had buried, but that’s it.

Instead of writing about what I didn’t do in my garden, I though that I would do a bit of an audit on some of the good and bad things I’m doing for, or to, the environment. I’ve been trying quite hard for the last year or so, so it is useful for me to document some of the things I have done, and also document that things that I’m doing worst at, in the hope that it motivates my to do better.

Good – I take the bus to work, and don’t live too far away (10-15 minutes if traffic isn’t heavy).

Bad – I still drive everywhere in the weekend and in the evening. Given the quality of the after hours and weekend bus service where I live, I don’t feel like I have much option. My car is probably about average for fuel efficiency, but it could be better.

Good – my diet is probably a lot lower impact than most. I don’t eat too much in the way of processed food, grow lots of my own vegetables and my most frequent shopping trip is to a farmer’s market (bad – it’s 15 km away). I go to a supermarket about once a month to buy things like toilet paper, cat food, flour, butter and cleaning products.

Good – I use a lot of low toxicity cleaning products like baking soda.

Bad – I love my dishwasher. I’m sure that the detergent I use is horribly toxic and that it uses more energy than washing dishes by hand.

Good – my garden is currently providing well over half of my vegetable needs, and that is a lot because I really do eat 5+ a day. It is largely organic and provides habitat for lots of insects including the native praying mantis, bumble bees, various wasp and fly species, and stick insects, which are very cute but do tend to eat my raspberries. The garden also provides some fruit for me and next autumn should provide a reasonably proportion of my carbohydrates (it won’t be anywhere near 50% though). It provides almost none of my protein and, because it is a very small garden, it never will unless I start eating snails.

Bad – I eat meat and/ or dairy products most days. These are far more resource intensive than vegetables. But…

Good – the actual volume of meat and dairy products I consume is probably only 20% of what it was a year ago. Also, I used to waste a lot of milk, because the supermarkets stopped selling the type I wanted to buy in volumes less than a litre. Not any more, since I buy powdered milk, making up only what I need.

Good – I create very little landfill and recycling rubbish. Mostly I achieve this by not buying stuff with excess packaging, even if it is recyclable (recycling is a poor substitute for not creating the rubbish in the first place). I’ve had the same supermarket bag as a bin liner in the bin in my kitchen for about a month. I wash and reuse many of the plastic bags that I can’t seem to avoid. I think I think I’ve got my food waste volume below 10% (it has been shamefully bad in the past) and all except meat waste is taken care of by composting and worms. I think that I put out a council rubbish bag and my recycling bin some time in the last couple of months, but I don’t remember when. I won’t be putting them out again any time soon.

Even better – I take some rubbish that other people would send to the landfill or recycling and give it another life: I take 15-20 litres a week of coffee grounds from a cafe in town and use it in the garden and the compost bin; I scrounge cardboard and old newspaper from work and other random places to use in the garden; if I need plastic supermarket bags to use as bin liners etc, I scrounge them off anyone who has excess; I use old plastic milk bottles from work to make up powdered milk.

Note quite so good – I hoard, including some stuff that I really should throw away. If I’m not sure what to do with it, I just leave it lying around until I get thoroughly sick of it, when it becomes quite likely that I will toss it in a landfill in frustration.

Really so bad that it’s embarrasing – did I mention that most of my good work as outlined above is cancelled out by daily 20 minute showers? At Scott Base, I managed to have my showers under the requisite 3 minutes, so I know it can be done. I’m steeling myself to add “showers under 10 minutes” to the New Years resolution list. Even that seems daunting though.

This is only a partial list, there are plenty of other good, and bad, things that I’m doing. I’ll do another list sometime, if I get around to it…

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