I saw this over at The Zero-Waste Chef last week in a post about making tofu. The words just stood out to me and I wanted to share them with you.
I’ve always been careful with the environment. I’ve never been one to litter, I seamlessly jumped on the recycling train (so to speak) and started composting before a city-run program started. I’ve been using a washable silicone cup and cloth pantyliners for years (is that too much information?) – heck, I even chose to cloth diaper my kids! I also make most of my food from scratch.
Have you ever made cheese? When I started on this zero-waste journey of mine, I decided that I would try making my own cheese at home (because I loooooooooove cheese!). I figured that if I could do away with the non-recyclable plastic wrapper that systematically comes with any cheese I buy, then it would be a positive step (granted, I had also always been curious about cheese-making and wanted to give it a go). I picked a recipe that didn’t need any fancy ingredients: just whole milk, vinegar and salt.
To say that I was astounded by the amount of whey left over from the process would be an understatement. I had never fully appreciated how much milk was required to make one small brick of cheese. Since I didn’t want to waste it, I stored the whey in the fridge and promised myself I would use it. Except there was so much that I was a bit overwhelmed and I ended up pouring it down the drain a couple of weeks later (whoops!)…and feeling guilty about it.
This is just one example, but it is just one of many! Making nut milk? You’ll have some meal left over. Making tofu? You’ll have okara left over. Making tomato sauce? Blanch, peel, season, simmer for hours, purée, cool. Making kale chips? Wash, rinse, cut, season, cook, cool (and sometimes, something is off and they’re inedible which is super frustrating!) – the process is a lot longer than just buying a bag and opening it up! Do you boil or steam food to cook it? The leftover water generally finds itself going down the drain!
The bottom line is that now, when I do purchase something that has already been transformed for me (because, I am human, have a limited amount of time in a day and can’t conceivable make absolutely everything from scratch), I am more conscious of all of the resources that were used for my convenience. I am more conscious of both the energy required to make the product (ie: the electricity used to power the appliances) and the by-products created by the process. And when I’m planning on making something that will create a by-product, I try to take the time to plan what I will do with it beforehand. I’ve also reevaluated my “needs” and have reduced my consumption of certain products that I enjoy (like cheese and almond milk), but can live without having as often as before.
What have you read lately that has helped you become more mindful of one aspect of your life?