Green and local and saving money : a personal testimonial
(Posted by Jenny on behalf of TJ)
Sometimes being green and acting green and local are not about spending money, sometimes it’s about saving money – like using cheaper cuts of meat and seasonal veg in a slowcooker that uses much less energy than conventional cooking. I do personally think that if you can spare the extra cash to buy a fair trade, freedom food, or just generally more ethical food you should try to – often where we spend our money is taken more notice of than anything else we do, including protesting and voting. Big Business has a lot of influence and when it comes to Big Business you vote with your wallet.
Sometimes though, lack of money leads to being green, and you can still make choices about how you spend the money you do have. Two years ago at the height of the crash in 2008 my husband found himself out of work and we found ourselves with a mortgage and entirely reliant on benefits. We had £30 a fortnight to feed ourselves. It was not easy – but we managed and we were relatively green in doing so.
We would walk to the local market and buy veg that was in season – if we were lucky there was fruit slightly past its best going cheap and we’d have fruit then, but not all the time. Often, though not local, the food had been grown in this country and not required extra energy to produce – as it was in season and so the ‘carbon footprint’ was lower. We also bought the food that would otherwise have been on its way to landfill – past its sell-by date, but still edible – and scoured the reduced fridges in supermarkets for meat and cheese to supplement our lentils and beans from a weigh store – meaning much less packaging. We would buy flour, rice and porridge oats from the weigh store too, reducing the amount of packaging even further. Most of the things we did we did through lack of money – and I am glad that we do not still live like this now, but it is a lesson living in that way, and we managed for a little over a year. I’m much more aware of how I spend money now, and what I’m spending it on. If anything I pay a little more for some food than I did before – but if I can’t afford the extra on fairtrade coffee – I do not buy it until I can. If I cannot afford the free range chicken I wait and save a little – it took a crisis for me to see things in this way and it’s not something I would expect everyone to rush out and do – but it is another piece of the puzzle and something someone else is doing. Everyone can play their part in small ways, it’s how it starts, even if you are starting by separating the paper from the plastic you are a part of the change we need to be.
TJ Jan 2011