Monday, October 27, 2008

Welcome to ice-free Chez SP

It was interesting to read Waste watchers: Save cash and the environment .

If there is one up-side to the 'credit crunch', recession, whatever you choose to call it, a wave of belt-tightening seems to be having a positive impact on the environment.

Our bills, like other households, have been going up and up. But there is nothing we could cut from our shopping. We buy roughly the same every week.

It reminds me of the 'epiphany' I had years ago. I made an undergraduate mission trip to Thailand. I was there for a month and packed everything into one bag.

Then I went to an undergraduate conference which lasted about five days. I still needed that same bag to carry the things I needed.

I chided myself for a few minutes for having packed too much for the conference. Then it dawned on me: Did I carry too much for my five-day conference, or was I travelling really light for the month that I was in Thailand?

The 'muchness' really came out the 'very little' in my Thailand trip.

So it was that we had to admit that it was not possible for us to 'cut back' any more because we have not been spending money on sweets, crisps, cakes, snacks, etc.

However, we are learning to be more creative with leftovers. Come Friday I 'run a little restaurant'. On the menu are ... and we have fun 'ordering' the leftovers from earlier in the week and pretending that we are eating out.

(My son has to have an early dinner before disappearing to Cubs, so this is great.)

Last week we had a most 'cathartic' experience. We defrosted the freezer.

It has been eleven years since the freezer was first switched on and it has never been defrosted.

Periodically a tiny gap of air (usually from flimsy plastic packaging) causes a build-up of ice. So the last two weeks had been re-discovering what we had been storing in there.

Leftovers we thought we would eat up, but had forgotten, bargains we thought we could make use of, but forgotten, bags of peas and sweetcorn bought by visitors for cooking their own meals which got left behind, and forgotten, one ice-cube of Dolmio sauce in a plastic bag (I used to freeze leftover sauce in an ice cube tray for when son needs a tiny portion of pasta, but now he eats a massive portion of pasta!).

It felt really good that we were getting rid of this 'stuff' that could remain for another eleven years. We put a bowl of steaming water in the freezer and shut the lid. Soon the ice sheets were falling away to whoops of joy from my husband.

Now we are starting afresh, with a freezer that is nearly empty. In fact it is so bare that we wonder if we really do need it.

We used to think buying in bulk and freezing the surplus is good budgeting. Part of me says I am not sure about this any more when we realize the energy that is being chewed up by the freezer and the current prices we are paying. Is it a false economy?

Perhaps when we can find a suitable fridge freezer it would be time to find a new home for the freezer (and the fridge). But then we worry about those rare occasions when we do not have enough room in the fridge for chilled foods when we have lots of guests and fear losing fridge space when we go fridge-freezer.

Hmm, how do we get around that?

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