Eco Lent: An Inconvenient Diet


Now that my pancakes have been flipped (and, in one instance, removed from the ceiling), it’s time for me to take up Caitlin’s challenge and observe my very own Eco Lent.

I’ve already decided what I’m giving up for 40 days. It wasn’t very difficult.

First, a little about me – and a confession. Of the whole EcoSalon team, it’s a safe bet that I’m the least eco-friendly. I recycle, I try to shop ethically, and I walk or cycle everywhere (I’ve never learnt to drive, initially because I never needed to, now because I just don’t want to). But am I truly “eco”? It’s a question I struggle with – because sometimes I find myself cutting corners, particularly with convenience food. And sometimes I’m horrified at the garbage I leave in my wake.

So. For 40 days and 40 nights, I’m foregoing as much pre-packaged and pre-prepared (by other people) food as I can. I’m halfway to this goal already, since I already try to minimize food-wrapping waste, and I adore cooking. But that other half…well, that will be a good, healthy stretch. Here are my self-imposed rules.

PhotobucketStay Loose. When wandering through the local markets or grocery stores, I’m only buying loose, unpackaged fruit and vegetables. I’ve lined my day-rucksack with a collection of cloth totes, and I’ll be using these to pop my dry food purchases into, instead of using the all-too-common filmy plastic bags ripped off a roll. I’ll also be sourcing out places in my home city of York that sell the freshest unpackaged food – farm shops, for example.

PhotobucketNix Plastic. Where it’s unavoidable, I’ll use paper bags or even cardboard wrapping (no, Amazon – your packaging is still way too much for me) and I’ll compost this paper when I’m done. I’ll SIGG (or use the best alternative). Glass that I can recycle? Sure thing. I’ll also carry a few square cloths and brush up on my furoshiki-folding skills. But plastic? Not on your nelly. Maybe plastic is unavoidable in today’s modern world – but I intend to find out the hardest way I can.

PhotobucketHave All the Fun. I truly couldn’t love cooking more – that alchemy of mind, soul and ingredients that delights the senses and makes you realise how tragically inadequate packaged food usually is. I love cooking but I don’t do enough of it, because I don’t plan ahead. Collecting the right ingredients and freeing enough time to cook requires forethought. So I’ll be doing a lot of forethinking over the next 40 days. (I’m also planning to trawl back through our archives and rediscover the tastiest recipes, starting with Vanessa’s Butternut Squash Coconut Curry. Ah, curry).

A month is plenty of time to iron out some bad habits and discover some new, better ones. That sounds like a recipe for a successful Eco Lent.

Useful links: WRAP;; Food Production Daily.

Image: dvs.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.