We have all seen pictures of amazing earthships, but last night I saw this wonderful video which shows how they are actually made. It was built back in 2010 in France, and when I searched for it on Google I found that it was actually for sale a couple of years back, which made me wonder about the feasibility of the dream of self-sufficiency. It’s still an interesting programme, though
When most people talk about being ecological they think, recycling, public transport, perhaps saving water? Not many people think about food. I didn’t really used to think about it either.
I grew up being an avid meat-eater. I hated vegetables, and I am currently working on introducing more and more vegetables in my diet. Like so many other things I’d never thought about, I think my turning point was Japan. A bit of background information: I am a coeliac (not a big problem in a country with a rice-based diet, right?) and meat there is outrageously expensive. Luckily my wonderful boyfriend being the resourceful man that he is managed to make great gluten-free, vegetable-based dishes… and they were delicious! We did have eggs and poultry, but that was about it. And I have to say I actually really enjoyed these dishes and realised I felt better when I didn’t eat meat (who would’ve though it!).
Back to Spain: I have to confess my main problem with meat was actually animal welfare. I love animals and, as some people would say, I’m over-sensitive. Being the city girl that I am, I had always managed to picture meat and animals as two separate things. So, a bit of Internet research brought me to the RSPCA “Freedom food” seal (that doesn’t cover slaughtering, right?) and slaughterhouse campaigns. I guess it’s a good start! My little step in the right direction on the animal welfare front so far is just eggs: going from factory-farmed (category 3) eggs to category 1 (free-range), although that’s only because I can’t find category 0 (ecologically fed) eggs for sale. In fact, finding free-range is not that easy either…
Having to read all the labels to check whether I could eat them was a real eye-opener though. Most of the snacks for sale here in Spain come from Turkey, China and Argentina. Take peanuts, for example. It looks like Pepsi started plantations in Spain in 2012, yet my peanuts come from China (?). Obviously it’s all down to the money and there’s only so much you can do, and this is perhaps the biggest challenge in cutting down food emissions, I guess cutting down on meat just isn’t enough.
A couple of months ago I started using soapnuts, something I have read about for several years but have also found really hard to find. I eventually had to order them from Feminine Wear. I was a bit worried about the size of this pack, as I’d had my eye on the Living Naturally website and there were larger packs, but shipping costs were too high. Fact is the 225 gram box will still last for many months, especially if I just use them for washing!
So basically soapnuts are berries that come from trees in the Sapindus genus, and are generally dried out (though I have also references to fresh soapnuts on the Internet, it looks like dried berries are more frequent and popular). I bought them in order to use them for washing, but they have many other uses. The box of soapnuts includes a little muslin bag and some recipes.
So far I have only used them for laundry, and I have to say that I’m happy with them. You can make liquid with them or just throw them straight into the washing machine tied up in the little bag, which is what I have done so far. They release natural soap and all my clothes come out smelling of nothing (if that makes sense!), nice and clean. You can also put some essential oil in for scent, but I really don’t see any point in doing so, as part of my reason for wanting to use soapnuts, apart from avoiding chemicals, was that I wanted to cut down on waste. Using the soapnuts alone has given me no trouble whatsoever. I always use them in the bag because I think the liquid has to be kept refrigerated, and although they’re in with the clothes during the whole cycle – rinse included – they leave no sort of residue. I will probably be trying to make some liquid just to see if there’s any difference, and I am considering using it for other purposes too (namely natural pesticide). More on that sometime…
So my first post is going to be about furoshiki, and there is a reason for starting off with this: I spent half my childhood being embarrassed because I was told always to take some reused plastic bags to the bakers (we’re talking 20 years ago) when no-one thought of the problem we would have with plastic. And it was while I was visiting Japan that I actually stopped to think about the trash and tried to be a little greener.
So, back to 2010. Before actually setting foot in the land of the rising sun I saw something amazing in Amsterdam airport, as I was about to board. As expected from a flight to Tokyo, there were rather a lot of Japanese people. Shortly before boarding there was a family who started taking off sweaters and so on, and, unlike me, started folding them neatly. Then the mother put the pile of sweaters on a large piece of cloth, tied up the four corners and flung it over her shoulder. This, as I found out later, is a furoshiki: a square piece of cloth which they use to wrap and carry things. They basically have different kind of knots which they adapt to what they need to carry or wrap, making one single piece of cloth very handy!
Since coming back I noticed this concept had been introduced by a certain company specialising in hand-made soaps amongst other things (no names!), whether it was there before and it never caught my eye I do not now.