Allison Roberts of Exploding Tree is documenting her family’s self-imposed challenge to create zero rubbish for a whole year. If you would like to join Allison in her quest, or suggest some tips to help her achieve it, you will find her blog at www.explodingtree.com/cuttherubbish.
I think, like all new projects, the first bit is the hardest and then, all of a sudden, you start to get glimpses of smoother seas. That’s the way it has felt this month. The amount of waste that we have produced in the last few weeks has gone from little to very very little. Which is as much as I could hope for so early on in the project. We’re at about a tea cup of waste a week for our family of three, with a small bit extra from the businesses we run from home and very little recycling. I think the work of laying foundations the last few months is starting to pay off. We aren’t throwing away much in the way of stuff-that-was-already-in-the-house-before-the-project-started category anymore and we are finding it very natural not to buy things in wrappers. The market, local butchers, bakers and coffee makers are helping to ease the transition. In fact the only things that ended up in our trash pile this week was a styrofoam box a relative left and one (non reusable) plastic bag.
The things that keep surfacing in my mind are the awesome bonuses of this cut-the-rubbish project. And the main thing is the food. I love food so much. It gives me great joy. But as life has become busier over the last 10 years living here in Clonakilty, I have noticed a decline on the time I give to cooking. I’m not a baker, so we’re talking strictly savoury here. I used to make falafels and granola and homemade pasta regulary, and this is starting to make a comeback. One of the first things to go in this project was buying bags of dried pasta. Out out came the pasta machine – which is a beautiful thing and if you like the idea of making homemade pasta you should get one, or you can borrow mine if you want to try first. Homemade pasta is nothing like the dried stuff. It is fresh and soft and so filling. Ari and I made some nettle gnocchi last week and I’ve tried making crackers again (though they are never as good as Bridget’s). We’re making homemade crisps like my dad used to make and we are reconnecting, we are having fun with food, giving more time to food and I’m enjoying something again that had been slipping away. And it tastes so good.
I love the places I buy my food; the people, the passion they have about their produce, I love the human-scale of the shops on the main street in our town and that, like at the Centra down the hill, I can not only get bread, fruit and veg unwrapped but I can also invest in a family business, and in keeping our town centre alive and thriving. There is something magic happening in this project for me and I look forward to see how it keeps unravelling.
Now the big news and plug for this month is the talk on at the Olive Branch on Thursday, May 31. If you’re reading this it may have passed, but it also might be that you found out just in time! The beautiful Cillian Lohan from the Green Economy Foundation is going to be giving a talk on waste reduction and on the small changes we can make in our communities to improve the state of our planet. It’s on at 8pm and is sure to inspire. Cillian will be leading us in thinking about new ways to reuse, share and minimise the resources we have and ‘need’, as well as what’s happening at a policy level to try to support this. He spends his time between here and Brussels working on environmental policy, is the chairman of the Irish Environmental Network and is a member of the EESC.
Last but not least, what better way to cut-the-rubbish than by embracing greener modes of transport! The seventh year of the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival is on from June 7-10 and includes events like a cycle to the dunes picnic and scavenger hunt, remembrance cycle to Timoleague, nature estuary cycle and ‘To Will or not 2-wheels’ Shakespeare on bikes theater. Find out more on www.clonakiltybicyclefestival.org.