Friends and waste

Since starting this blog nearly three months ago, I have undertaken several lifestyle changes. Most of them are private – in the sense that they don’t have an impact on my flatmates, friends and family. I have made all my changes discreetly and no one would have noticed, had I not told a few friends about it. The people I interact with in bakeries, supermarkets or local shops might think me a bit odd, but I don’t justify my actions or explain why I am behaving differently from other people (such as holding up a queue of frustrated customers at supermarket self-checkouts because I have to weigh 14 types of fruit and veg).

This reluctance to speak about my zero waste goal might come from wanting to fit in, or being reluctant to stand out (please read WaitButWhy’s post on Why We Should Stop Caring What Other People Think), from wanting to be everyone’s friend, from a slight feeling of doubt (am I doing this to be different? to be better? to be cool?) or shame (am I a brainless sheep following a trendy lifestyle? why did it take me so long to start this?).

But it also comes from not wanting to dictate how other people lead their lives. As I said previously, I don’t want to go into a house and start pointing out all the ways someone could change the way they consume. I have always hated that type of attitude and find it very un-constructive, invasive and aggressive.

Most of the time for the last three months, I’ve been privately leading this lifestyle without hiccups (or any hiccups are entirely mine), doing research, looking into alternatives, learning new ways of buying, eating, doing things and thinking.

A difficult part of the zero-waste lifestyle, therefore (apart from learning to be prepared 100% time), has been the good will of other people. I’ll be posting about this soon.

In the meantime, enjoy your day, wherever you are.
















Veg box week 1


On Friday, I went to pick up my first veg box from Locavore. Veg boxes are seasonal produce grown from Locavore’s farms, as well as other local organic farms. Each week I will pay £5 and will receive something different.

I have been researching farmers markets in Glasgow for a while, but couldn’t find anything conclusive or satisfactory. Since I live close to Locavore, I decided to trust fate and subscribe to a veg box.

This means that I don’t get to choose what I am given; I simply have to make do with what I receive. This pleases me, as it will enable me to discover new vegetables, think up new recipes, and explore my culinar-adventurous side. Certainly in a few weeks, when my work load will have cranked up, I will be damning the kohlrabi or cabbage I’ll receive. But for now, I plan to have a great week of fun dinners.

And obviously, I like knowing my food doesn’t have any air miles; that I am supporting local farmers; that setting up a direct debit means I don’t produce receipts; that I can bring the plastic bag back next time; that I walk to Locavore and back…

This week, I received potatoes, carrots, a cabbage, onions, and sprouting broccoli.

Bulk M&Ms

In my last post, I mentioned that I crave M&Ms.

A part of me feels like I really shouldn’t even put such foodstuffs in my body anyway – and I could probably make them from scratch (Hello recipe. Nice to meet you.)

And then, I remember that I am transitioning, that I have already cut out kilos of food I would usually eat, and that I can’t expect myself to flip over like a pancake and be a new person.

I also remember that I am heading to London soon, and that I have always looked away in disgust at M&Ms world on Leicester Square, criticising that place for being the pinnacle of junk food, consumerism, and aimless eating.

But they have bulk bins.


Full of M&Ms. I could stock up for a year. Until I’ve weaned myself off them. Until I come back to my senses, as an adult. Until the sugar oozes out of my pores.

Funnily enough, I’m not trying to be super healthy – or not anymore than I used to. I eat loads of chocolate. I eat loads of brownies. I eat loads of snacks other people offer me. I eat. I like eating. I talk about food. Passionately.

So my transitioning and learning how to live differently will also include slip-ups (deliberate or not) which will continue to teach me what I am looking for, and what I am working towards.

These might be the last batch of M&Ms I get.


Zero-waste lifestyle: foods I miss…

… but only slightly:

  • M&Ms
  • readily available biscuits
  • gnocchi
  • that trashy pizza that day when you’re upset or exhausted
  • chickpeas/beans/lentils that you don’t have to soak
  • buying chocolate/crisps/bread when being spontaneously invited to a friend’s house

So basically, apart from the M&Ms (yearn), letting myself be unprepared is the thing I miss the most.


Developing a “zero-waste filter” at the wrong times

Last week was the kind of week where my brain decided to switch off and go to sleep. I worked crazy hours, came home, dropped everything on the floor, and crept into bed. It was a miracle I left my flat every day having had a shower. I very rarely realise the toll it takes on me to live a week like this; at work, I joke, walk around with a spring in my step and smile. By the time I crash at the end of the week, I need a day of no activity.

I feel guilty every time this happens – I spent the whole day in bed watching a TV series. Today I told a friend about that day, and she said: “that’s what I like about you: that you are so proactive, but that you also have days when you shut down”. I guess I haven’t found my happy medium yet, and at the moment I work very hard, tiring myself out, at all hours, and the trade-off is that a few times a month I have to shut myself off like a hermit to recuperate.

So I watched Freaks and Geeks. I had always wanted to watch that series. The whole series is on Youtube and is hilarious. I loved all the characters, their flaws, their motives, their thought-processes. I loved the soundtrack. I loved the humour, the geekiness and the freakiness.

But I caught myself looking at how they were consuming. At times, I would pick up on their bottled drinks, their packaged food… and then focus back on the narrative.

I strongly believe in culture’s socialising force (especially cinema) – the idea that we take our cues from the movies we consume and learn from them. We analyse the characters’ body language, their attitudes to the opposite gender, their reaction to bad news etc and embed those behaviours in our own. I remember when I began reading up on feminism I would watch a film and sometimes red flags would start waving in my brain (“so he’s saying her worth only lies in her physical appearance??”).  I would be extracting myself from the storyline momentarily in order to privately process the implied messages within movies or series.

In a way, it’s such a shame this happens. I wish I could go back to a time when I would watch a film and enjoy it for what it was – a story. Now, I can’t help but split my consciousness in two, watch a movie with one part, and let the other part sleep until it hears something it doesn’t like (“Hey, what was that? Huh? No way. I’m going to store this for later and be really angry about this”).

Anyway, this was probably my favourite scene in the whole series. I love Bill. But notice the individually wrapped cheese slices? The packaged bread and mustard? I kinda wish I didn’t.


Plus, this was filmed over 15 years ago. Me noticing these things isn’t going to change the world. But could we have a movie where there is a zero-waster character? What would that mean? How would that change people’s perceptions of this lifestyle? Of their own?

Past self’s decisions

I have this insane habit of ferociously stocking up on food. It’s like I am terrified of running out of food at a critical moment, or of running out of money and being unable to eat. I don’t know where this comes from. My friends make fun of me and of my piles of food under my bed.

So this is why it is only now that I am finishing a few packets of food that I had bought about 6 months ago (seriously).


Do you ever feel frustrated about your past self’s decisions? There are big things you can be angry about, like that partner you should have separated from earlier or that letter you really shouldn’t have sent… And then there are the small things, like a comment you made a few months ago that lacked empathy, or buying a £13 cheese when you really need a hairdryer so you don’t go out into the cold with wet hair…

And then there’s a slightly ridiculous habit of having vast amounts of food stashed in ever corner in case disaster strikes.

Needless to say, I will now buy ground almonds from the bulk bins!

Maybe I’ll just have glass jars full of food under my bed from now on… Old habits die hard…

Galette des rois – or when homesickness for another home produces trash

I don’t celebrate any religious festivities – however since a few years I make a galette des rois on the 6th of January (recipe below). Because it is the most scrumptious thing on this planet and I will take any excuse to make a cake, especially in grim and grey Glasgow.


It’s a French puff pastry-frangipane delight, light enough to eat bucketloads of and tasty enough to make even the meanest kid smile. Normally, bakers add a porcelain figurine somewhere in the frangipane for a lucky eater to find (Peau d’Âne style). Typically, the youngest child scrambles under the table and dictates who gets which piece of galette, so that there can be no peeking. When someone finds the figurine during eating, they become “king” and don a golden crown.

This is the first year when I consciously took stock of how much trash this tradition produces in my household. As you can see in the picture above, the puff pastry came with its own baking sheet. It also came in a plastic wrapper and cardboard box.

This time of year has probably been the hardest so far on my quest to reduce my trash production – and not even because of presents, which we don’t really do in my family. Simply because of all the foodstuffs that I chose to bring back from France or Switzerland (heaps of chocolates) and that sustain me for the time I am away in my other home. A friend often comes back from Italy with 2 litres of olive oil. Another French friend brought lots of raclette cheese back and had a raclette party a few years ago. All of us who have left home to find another home use food as a reminder of what’s left behind, and what we carry with us everyday.

So how can I produce less trash, whilst still fulfilling this need of mine?

Galette des rois recipe (via)

  • 1 rectangular puff pastry
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 50g butter at room temperature
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk

Heat oven at 210 C.

Cut the puff pastry in half. Put one half aside, and lay the other one on an oven dish. Prick the latter with a fork.

Mix the almonds, sugar, egg and butter (and almond extract) to form a paste. Spread the paste evenly on the pastry. Cover with the other half, and seal the edges well (I see a fork).

Dilute the egg yolk in a bit of water and spread on the surface and edges of the galette. Using a knife, lightly trace decorations on the top of the galette. Prick the top a few times, to let the air escape.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes (start to monitor from 25 minutes onwards, don’t hesitate to leave it in for 40 minutes if it needs it).