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Tamara’s Trio of Food Smugness

This week’s post is a celebration of food and community. First pat on the back in my trio of food smugness goes to Foodcycle Portsmouth and my friend Alexa, a fellow Green Party member, who organised a Portsmouth Green Party meal ‘takeover’ of Foodcycle which I participated in recently.

Portsmouth Foodcycle

 

Foodcycle is a fantastic food waste charity that creates free meals for the community from donated food waste. Foodcycle  Portsmouth provides the local Pompey community with tasty, free vegetarian meals made from surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. They do this twice a week: on Tuesdays at the John Pounds Centre and Thursdays at King’s Church on Somers Road.

 

It was a blast! A group of us Greenies were welcomed with open arms by the regular volunteers and guided by a calm and knowledgeable Team Leader, we cooked a three-course meal of veggie soup for starters, pasta bake with potato wedges, garlic mushrooms and wilted spring greens for mains and fruit salad for dessert. The entire meal – the cooking, prepping, serving and cleaning up – took about four and a half hours and was attended by about 45-50 guests. The evening was both wonderful and exhausting. I took the mountain of veggie scraps for my compost and left on a complete high and with the vow to volunteer there once a month.

 

Trash Cafe Food Hamper

Credit: The Real Junk Food Project South East (Facebook)

 

The Real Junk Food Project South Coast run a number of pop-up ‘trash’ cafes in Gosport and Portsmouth dedicated to collecting and repurposing food waste.  They are part of a global network aiming to abolish surplus food through a variety of Pay As You Feel concepts. I bought my first veggie food hamper from their Portsmouth pop-up cafe, which can be found at  Buckland Community Centre on Wednesday afternoons, for a £10 Hamper fee paid in advance when I ordered online and a Pay What You Feel on collection.

There was so much food – a great mix of fruit, veg, proteins such as tofu and also snacks. It was so fun to receive as it contained foods and brands I haven’t tried before. There was some fancy fake-chicken that I would not have bought in the supermarket as it is rather pricey! All that perfectly good food would have been destined for the bin but instead was destined for my belly! Double win! They also offer gluten and dairy-free hampers and can deliver for an extra fiver. As you know, I’m not a big fan of leaving the house, especially now winter is coming, so I will definitely be using their delivery service!

Being Neighbourly

 

At the Dutchman’s (my hubby) work, his office has a plastics-free fruit box delivered each week. I hadn’t realised that if the fruit isn’t all eaten or taken home by a colleague, it goes in the bin. Sacrilege! About 40 apples and pears were destined for the bin. Not on my watch!  I offered the fruit on the  Zero Waste Portsmouth discussion group on Facebook, with Foodcycle Portsmouth and the Olio app as my backup.

In less than an hour, the apples and pears were collected by a Zero Waster who turned out to be a neighbour who lives on the same street as me! We’d never met before and both happened to be members of Zero Waste Portsmouth. And as a kindness, the next day she gave me a bag of parsnips that she’d won in a hamper and did not want. It gave me the warm fuzzies and I am loving the green community in Portsmouth!

 

And what about you, dear Reader? Have you had any experiences with FoodCycle or the Trash Cafe Network? Or any tips and tricks on reducing food waste? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below. We really do LOVE hearing from readers. It gives me such a buzz! Byeeeeeee buzzzzzzzzz 🙂

Keeping Southsea Beach Clean

Most of the blog posts at Shades of Green are focused on the small changes that Tamara and I (Emma) are making to create a greener world (i.e. buying organic food or cutting down on water usage), but this month, we are highlighting the work of local community activists.

This time we are focusing on the efforts of Lara Skingsley, the organiser of the Southsea Beachwatch since 2015, who is helping to keep our beachfront free of litter through monthly clean ups with large groups of volunteers (sometimes up to 400!).

These cleanups, which take place on the first Saturday of each month, are part of an initiative by the Marine Conservation Society to keep all human-made rubbish (and recycling) out of our oceans while leaving natural materials in place to support wildlife.

Lara sat down with me in late February (via Twitter) to explain why she organises these cleans, what we can do as individuals to keep our seaside litter free, and what Portsmouth City Council should be doing to reduce the amount of rubbish on Southsea seafront.

Keeping Southsea Clean

Beach clean volunteers ❤️

A post shared by Southsea Beachwatch (@southsea_beach) on

Lara, a former student of Marine Environmental Science, explains that she’s always loved nature, particularly coastal wildlife, and wanted to do something practical to target marine pollution, which is why she got involved with the cleans.

She said: “Beach cleans ‘do good’ instantly, and help to raise awareness of environmental issues… As well as keeping Southsea looking beautiful, cleaning the beach of litter makes it safe for people, pets, and wildlife.”

Throughout the course of the beach cleans, Lara and her team have collected tens of thousands of items of rubbish – including a catheter and colostomy bag, a bovine skull, and an intact light bulb as large as a child’s head – but the vast majority of the waste is plastic, as evidenced in the 2017 Great British Beach Clean Survey.

Pie chart of today's beach clean and survey results!

A post shared by Southsea Beachwatch (@southsea_beach) on

Lara advises that there are many ways to reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up on the beach, but the most important would probably be cutting our dependence of single-use plastic, which is why she’s made the decision not to use any plastic straws, takeaway cups, or single-use plastic bottles in 2018.

The role of Portsmouth City Council

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Another issue of key importance to Lara is what Portsmouth City Council can do to keep Southsea clean, from improving the designs of bins on the seafront (so that rubbish can’t blow out and wildlife can’t get in) to strengthening regulations on local businesses and construction projects with regards to waste disposal and secure storage of materials.

Lara said: “PCC should ensure that local construction and businesses keep their waste and materials appropriately secured. For example, recently an open skip next to South Parade Pier was left uncovered for weeks and despite people reporting it to PCC, nothing was done to cover it, so the material littered the beach. We also find a lot of disposable and novelty items, like take-out coffee cups, lids, straws, and balloons. Seafront business should be encouraged to be more responsible for the products they buy, sell, and throw away.”

Want to get involved?

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Southsea Beach Watch is always looking for new people to join their ranks. If you’d like to get involved in one of the upcoming beach cleans, then check Southsea Beachwatch’s Facebook and other social media pages for upcoming dates (next one is 10am-noon on April 7th!), locations, and any cancellations/amendments due to inclement weather.

Yours truly tried to attend the March event, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to the Beast from the East. Good thing, I checked their Insta!

If you’re planning to attend and can bring your own thick gloves (the sort used in gardening) and/or litter pickers then please do, as Lara has limited supplies of both. She does provide bin bags for collection though.

Lara said of the volunteers: “I’m always inspired by the thoughtful and positive local people who join these cleans and who enthusiastically care about our shoreline and wider environment.”

What about if I can’t do those Saturday beach cleans?

Some of us will have other commitments on Saturdays (work, sporting events, etc) which make it near impossible to make Southsea Beachwatch’s events – I once couldn’t get a Saturday off to go to Pride, so I don’t think my boss would have let me take the morning off for this.

That’s why Lara recommends the Two-Minute Beach Clean; an initiative where you do what you can in the time that you have.

Waiting on the beach for a friend to meet you? Pick up some litter and pop it in a bin.

Walking home via the beach? Pick up any litter you spot as you walk.

Going to the beach? Volunteer to take the rubbish to the bin for your friends/family so that none of it gets dropped en route.

 

Now, dear reader, I turn the floor to you. Have you gotten involved in one of the beach cleans? What do you think we can do to reduce rubbish on our seafronts? And what should PCC do to combat the problem? Let us know in the comments section.

18 Green Resolutions for 2018

Every January, social media feeds are full of people pledging to run more often, learn a new language, or how to sculpt their eyebrows perfectly. I (Emma) can help you with none of those resolutions but if you want to learn how to be more green in 2018, then I have a few ideas of where to start.

Beauty

1. Bypass toiletries with microbeads: The UK Government has recently banned the use of microbeads (tiny plastics) in cosmetics/toiletries because they’re a big contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans. However, the ones that were already produced are still on the market. Don’t buy them! Need a good scrub? Look for products with salt or sand instead.

2. Save your bathwater: If you have a bathtub- even if you use the shower all the time- try leaving the bath plug in and save the water. You can use it to water the plants, clean your sports equipment, or even flush your toilet.

3. Turn off the tap: You’ve heard it before, but don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, shaving your face, or removing your makeup.

FOOD AND DRINK

4. Meat-Free Mondays: If you’re not already vegetarian/vegan, consider cutting out the meat for just one day a week. Not only is it kinder to the animals but it’s also better for the environment because producing meat uses more energy and creates more greenhouse gases than a plant-based life.

5. Avoid clingfilm: Instead of keeping your food fresh with clingfilm, use reusable sandwich boxes or even put one plate on top of another.

6. Refuse straws: Many people don’t use straws at home but it’s a little hard to escape them when you’re out and about. Ask your server not to use a straw when you order a drink- you could even put a note in your purse to remind you.

7. Make it reusable: Not all plastics are created equally. A reusable bottle to fill up with tap water is going to be 100% better than disposable bottles. The same is true of reusable coffee cups because takeaway cups are hard to recycle and most end up in landfill.

Shopping

8. Refuse plastic bags: I know, I know. They already have the 5p charge on plastic bags so you’ve definitely got your reusable one on you at all times. The thing is that the plastic bag charge doesn’t go far enough. Smaller shops and takeaways are exempt from the charge, which means that the cashiers there often bag your purchases without asking. Produce your reusable bag before they start packing and let them know that you have it.

9. Cut down on packaging: When you’re shopping, look around for items with less packaging or packaging that is easily recyclable like buying loose fruit or snacks sold in cardboard boxes rather than plastic/foil wrappers.

House and Home

10. Print double sided: Many printers are still not set up to print double-sided automatically but very few documents will need to be printed on just one side.

11. Switch energy suppliers: If you want your energy supplier to use renewable energy and oppose fracking, then make the change to Ecotricity or Good Energy. Bonus: You can even get them to donate to the Green Party on your behalf at no added expense.

12. Use less energy: Whether its remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, drying clothes on the line rather than in the dryer, or putting on a jumper rather than turning on the heating, everyone can do something to cut down on their energy usage. Find out what your energy Achilles’ heel is.

13. Go paperless: Sign up for online banking and get your statements delivered via the internet (remember to check them) and use your mobile devices to store your tickets (you can’t lose them if they’re in your email account).

14. Recycle more: There’s no doubt that Tamara and I love recycling and that we dream of living a zero waste lifestyle, which is why we’ll continue to show you how to recycle more on both the PGP blog and Instagram. If there’s anything that you don’t know how to recycle, ask us and we’ll let you know.

15. Use your dishwasher: If you have an energy-efficient dishwasher, then running a full load is actually less wasteful than washing by hand in terms of both water usage and heating.

Community

16. Cut down on car usage: A lot of public transport is overpriced (#RenationaliseTheRailways), but getting the train or the bus may actually work out cheaper than the parking prices in some parts and it’s much kinder to the planet. Try buying season/annual passes if travelling for work (ask your company if they offer loans to cover the initial cost) or buying in advance, using discount sites for one-off trips, and walking/cycling wherever possible.

17. Do a beach clean: When rubbish gets into the ocean, it gets into the sea life and into the human food chain. If you live near a beach, volunteer a few hours a month to help remove trash from the area. Pro tip: Take separate rubbish and recycling bags.

18. Join the Green Party: One thing that we can all agree on is that while individual green acts are important, the real change needs to come from government. By joining the Green Party, you can help fund the election campaigns for the next round of Green councillors and MPs to pressure the government into making Green choices that will make your eco-friendly life a little easier.

Now I want to hear from you. Are you going to adopt any of these resolutions? Do you have more to add? Let me know in the comments.

Volunteering in Portsmouth this holiday season

It is December in Pompey. The days are crisp, mornings are frosty, the heating is on and I bought my Secret Santa gift at the Love Southsea Christmas Market on Palmerston Road. So for me (Tamara), the festive season is here!

 

I generally enjoy the activities and hubbub around Christmas but I definitely struggle with the consumerism that surrounds it. A gremlin who lives in my brain is awakened around mid-November who really wants me to buy the things, buy all the beautiful things!  Over the last few years, my husband and I have tried to create our own traditions that isn’t about ‘stuff’. We make homemade cranberry vodka, Guyanese-style black rum cake and he makes a very alcoholic knock-your-socks-off Dutch-style advocat. But our traditions don’t revolve solely around booze: we get a real, sustainable Forestry Commision Christmas tree from Queen Elizabeth’s Country Park which thrills my Trinidadian heart and we also go to the truly magical Cathedral Christmas Carol Service which soothes my soul.

As the years have passed and we have celebrated more Christmases as fully-fledged real-life adults, I started to become more socially aware and wanted to do something at Christmas that didn’t focus primarily on gift giving and stuff. There is very little I need and with my friends and family scattered across the country, I would rather see them and spend time together drinking some of that home-made cranberry vodka and advocat (but not mixed together…I tried that one year…and just – no!).

 

So for the last few years, my hubby and I have spent Christmas Day in Fareham, volunteering as a Christmas Day Lunch Helper. It is a wonderful initiative which hosts 100 guests who would otherwise find themselves alone at Christmas. I absolutely love helping out – the best thing is being able to chat, chat and chat a bit more with the guests. A traditional Christmas lunch is served, carols are sung and raffles are won. For me, this makes it a day that fills me with hope and joy and all the smushy stuff. Last year, fellow Pompey Green Party members Tracey and Mac also volunteered closer to home on Christmas Day at a joint event with Portsmouth Cathedral and FoodCycle. Tracey enjoyed it so much she is on the look-out for any Christmas Day volunteering opportunities this year.

 

I also participate in the the Rucksack Event which every November collects rucksacks full of useful everyday items for homeless people in the city. I have fun scouring the charity shops all year round collecting socks, sleeping bags etc. This year I wasn’t organised enough to get my rucksack together for their collection date in November but luckily I can still take the stuff I gathered to Hope House Hostel direct.

 

Of course, not everyone wants or is able to volunteer on Christmas Day or during the festive season. If you can, donate your time, money, food or skills to one of the many fantastic local projects and charities that help vulnerable, homeless and isolated people both in the winter and all year round. The projects I mention are ones that I have directly been involved in but there are many more that you can find through good ‘ol google or Facebook or however you find stuff out!

 

Have you volunteered on Christmas Day or during the festive season? Do you know of any Christmas Day volunteering events in or around Portsmouth that Tracey can get involved in? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.

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