For the last four years we have participated in Buy Nothing New Month, founded by Tamara DiMattina. It dramatically changed the way we view ‘stuff’. Our initial participation actually inspired us to continue to try to buy second hand, which has been far easier than initially expected. We now buy about 90% of our stuff second-hand, mostly from charity opshops. Benefits include saving resources, our money going to good causes, far cheaper goods, develop our creativity, resisting ‘trend’ purchases and the delight of a good opshop find!
In previous years we have only bought second-hand goods, but this year we decided to take it up a notch and try to only buy food. And we also decided to think carefully about how our food purchases. So I set LM a few challenges over the last two weeks to develop her understanding of groceries and shopping.
The first challenge was conducted while her friend CB was visiting. Their challenge was to shop for movie night snacks without buying anything in single use plastic packaging. I sent them off and loitered at the front of our local store. I heard the audible groans from afar as they discovered that all of their usual selections involve single use plastics. They got there eventually though.
The next task was set when LM went to the fridge and cupboard and declared that there was nothing to eat. So I set her a challenge of helping me make a full day of meals with what we had around. We searched for recipes that included key ingredients e.g. peanut butter and banana. Where necessary we tried substituting ingredients as well. We spent the day peeling apples to stew, roasting bits of leftover veg, baking muffins and raiding the freezer for items to defrost. She was rather amazed that we managed to create six meals from cupboards that she declared bare.
A similar challenge followed the next day where I gave her $15 and suggested we plan a visit to our local store to buy as few ingredients we could to make the most meals possible. Se had to mentally calculate the added costs of the products as we went. We ended up with oats, bananas, eggs, pasta sauce and… chocolate. Again we embarked on another baking day.
A few days later we ran out of dishwashing tablets. I thought about buying some more but I decided to search for DIY dishwashing tablet recipes online instead. There are SO many and it was hard to choose so we used our recipe method and typed in ingredients we had on hand. Fortunately, one of our staple cupboard ingredients is citric acid. We mixed together our ingredients, squished them into ice cube trays and ended up with amazingly cheap and awesome dishwashing tablets! We finished off with a per wash comparison of our tabs to various supermarket brands. We’ll never buy them again!
Our inner kitchen-scientists began to run amok. We started to really get to know how different ingredients worked, what ratios would be effective to ensure they remained solid and that we wanted to combine ingredients that had different functions – from cleaning, to binding, to scrubbing. From there we made bath melts, body scrubs and bath bombs by grating old soaps and mixing them with all sorts of things from our kitchen – including the mornings coffee grinds. We both have splendid, silky, soft, sweet-smelling skin now.