Posts tagged ‘vegetarian’

Living in Hippie Town

DroevendaalPhoto by Hedwig. And that’s not really our garden, its common space. And that’s not really my house either. And the stage was for a party.

So, remember a while back I told you guys I was moving out of my apartment? I even promised to tell you more about my new place… Yeah, I know I also hinted that my posting might become more regular, and we’ve seen how that turned out 😀 Well, here I am, keeping yet another overdue promise.

After more than a year cohabitating with ClosetBoyfriend, I’m back to living in student housing for a few months. And, believe it or not, its actually been a step forward in terms of greenness. All because I was lucky enough to end up in a house where everyone was already pretty green by my own standards, in a wonderful place called Droevendaal.

The house itself is a sort of a bungalow with a garden, in a little student complex of sorts. The toilets and washing machine use rainwater, and we use green electricity. But probably the main factor that makes us green is the strong communal component in our house. We eat together everyday and all the food is shared. Oh, and there is a strict vegetarian policy, which accounts for the fact that I only ate meat one time since I’ve lived here (at that conference).

But our eating habits also mean that we have an extremely high food turnover, which means food never goes bad and we get by with one very small fridge (the under the counter kind) for the 6 of us. And its enough! (And yeah, this surprised me too. So if you think you really need a ice-cube spitting monster for your family of four, really, let me assure you that you don’t.)

And this probably has something to do with the fact that our 6 person household only uses around 4200 KWh per year. Compared to 4600 KWh of the average European household and 11.200 KWh of the average American household (note that the average household typically consists of 3 or 4 people).

We have a compost bin in the garden, and though we don’t have anything growing right now, we still have a sizable stash of homemade jam in the pantry from this summer’s berries. But I have to say, my favorite thing is that, for the most part, my housemates are pretty committed to eating organic and that’s just such a relief I don’t have to persuade them, or, alternatively, always do the shopping myself.

Although, sometimes, I still like to grace the most dedicated vegetarians among them with horror stories of cow pus in their non-bio yogurt or baby cow stomachs in their non-bio cheese. Just to keep them motivated 😀

We also have 2 house cats that satisfy my cat-loving needs. One of them is really old and I swear, he’s the ugliest little feline creature I have ever seen. The other one is cute and slutty and likes to hang out in my room. Would be cuter if it wasn’t for the daily dead mouse in our kitchen. I lovingly refer to them as ‘the ugly one’ and ‘the slutty one’.

So there you have it, my new house. I quite like it here and that goes a long way towards enduring the absence of ClosetBoyfriend.

Ps: I think I’ll still add a some pictures to this post, so if you want to see just how ugly the ‘ugly one’ is, check back later this week.

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December 3, 2007 at 2:58 am 4 comments

Overdue post about that trip to Portugal

AveiroBack when my camera still worked.

Well, seems like that sign I put up on my last post was more than accurate… I didn’t mean to. I really did mean to write about my adventures that very day but then I never got around to do it.

In the meantime, I packed up all my shit and moved, my boyfriend left and now I’m more or less settled in my new place. This time I will not get sidetracked. I will tell you all about my moving and my new place on one of my next posts.

Anyways, I’m gonna spare you all of the “ahhh we went here” and “ooh we went there” and all that “it was so nice” crap and cheesy pictures of us in front of this and that and get right down to the environmental stuff. So lets get on with it shall we, in a neatly organized fashion.

It rocked:

The metro network.It is only a few years old, but its really really good. Most of the times, it is more convenient than driving because its faster and parking is a pain. My boyfriend arrived a couple of days after me and I decided to try the metro service to pick him up. I was pretty impressed, it was really fast, VERY close to the terminal and no parking (which, at airports, is quite a rip off). The bus network is very good as well, but its not as easy to figure out, and the schedules are less predictable.

The recycling. Recycling is slowly making its way into mainstream culture. Now you have recycling bins in most public places like the airport and metro stations, and it looks like people actually use them. The recycling infrastructure is quite good. I missed the composting bin that I was used to here in Holland, but I think they are working on that too, they already started collection biodegradable waste from large producers. My mom is a very thorough recycler. I got her into it when I was still a pre-teen. I am very proud of her in this matter.

The market. Whereas most of supermarket food in Portugal is imported, the food at the market, where I demonstratively bought vegetables, was very local, most likely organic and dirt cheap. Now I just need to convince ClosetMom to shop there more often.

ClosetFriends. I was very impressed that ClosetFriends have the habit of picking up old batteries, if they see them laying around in the street and depositing them in the appropriate recycling bin. Bravo, ClosetFriends. Something I can learn from you. (insert suggestion for Vanessa here)

It sucked:

ClosetMom refuses to use the metro. Her work involves a lot of driving around the city, including during rush hour. She could totally use the metro at least for some trips, if it wasn’t so much trouble to figure out where the stops are *roll eyes*.

Smog. ClosetMom picked me up from the airport (see above). The first thing I noticed on the drive home, was how smoggy Porto looked. I didn’t remember it being like that last year. The horizon looked yellow, and I’m not exaggerating. Coincidence or not, I got a sore throat about a week later, that quickly developed into a cold. Yes, it could have been just a cold, but I think it was pollution related cold.

Plastic Bags. Man, this country has a plastic bag problem! Even if you buy just one tiny little thing, they stuff it in a bag before you have time to open your mouth. I have to say, unlike in the Netherlands, getting away without a useless bag took considerably more effort. But at some point, I got very good at announcing “No bag, please” as soon as I hand them my purchase.

The receipt holder fad. Now this was annoying. Since last time I was in Portugal, apparel shops developed this new fad. Now instead of just handing you your receipt, now they put it in a nice little cardboard receipt-holder thingy. WTF?? This time, I didn’t manage to develop a defense against this one because I was too perplexed to react, but next time I’ll be prepared. Bastards…

My camera may or may not be broken. It died on me in the middle a shot. I still have hope that it could have been the batteries (even though there was no indication that they were getting low), so now I am dreading the moment of truth, when I change the batteries and realize that I have to do something about the matter. In the mean time, I have no camera, and have already recurred to borrowing from strangers once. (Before, I was using ClosetBoyfriend’s digital to take all those fabulous pictures of my groceries). Now I’m thinking of buying a crappy second hand one to tie things over.

Greatest Accomplishments:

Refusing mom’s well meaning ride offers and getting around quite easily by metro, bus (1x) and walking. Managed to keep use of car to a minimum. Used the metro to go to the beach (thanks, global warming), the airport and city center bunch of times. In almost 2 weeks, used the car 5 times, including 2 trips to the airport and one ride from friends.

Addressed ClosetMom’s bottled water habit. She claims tap water is bad for the kidneys (bullshit) and it tastes bad (tasted just fine to me). Explained how bottled water has less quality and how plastic gives you cancer. Refused to drink bottled water thus proving there is nothing wrong with tap water. Before she used a plastic cup to drink from the water cooler in the office. Now keeps a cup there and explains to co-workers how plastic gives you cancer. They don’t believe her, saying “they wouldn’t deliberately give us all cancer”. So naive…

Got 2 ClosetFriends more interested in vegetarian food, and even got them to try some meatless cooking by themselves. Score. ClosetMom is more resistant to the idea, but I’ll get to her too… eventually.

Resolution of the washing machine ordeal.This one requires a little more background explanation. When I got to Portugal, I was informed that our washing machine was broken and that a new washing machine was scheduled to be delivered the next day. I, of course, was shocked that ClosetMom, despite being broke, ordered a +-500E washing machine, without even trying to fix the old one (age 7, and a very good brand, so technically, its still middle aged in washing machine years). I explained how the washing machine must be a cheap fix, and that ClosetMom was too quick to cough up 500 euros she didn’t have. However, it was already too late. However, it just so happened that ClosetMom was buying the display model and that the delivery guys were dumbasses. Because it was the display model and they were too lazy to pack it up, they were delivering it without any packaging, and then tried to fit it through the building door. Sure enough, when my mom saw her brand new washing machine all banged up around the sides, she knows nothing more than to say “well then, you can take your ~@?$^%*# washing machine and stuff it (…)”. And so, I had ClosetMom call the official repair service and for 50 bucks the thing was good as new. If that ain’t Karma, I don’t know what is. Now, whether this was a good or bad outcome in terms of greenness I don’t know. I really don’t know what they will do with that banged up washing machine. Maybe they’ll fix it. Maybe they’ll sell it. Maybe they’ll just recycle it. All I know is that ClosetMom wasn’t having a banged up washing machine. And I don’t think I would either.

For next time:

Get ClosetMom and ClosetFriends to Bring Their Own Bags when they go shopping. This time I didn’t have time to go shopping with ClosetMom, so the plastic bags issue didn’t “come up”. I’ll get them all next time. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Get everyone DivaCups for their B’days. I already started psychologically preparing ClosetMom, showing her my Diva, telling her how great it is… I think I’ll get her one for Xmas now. MauAUauahahAAHahAHA!!

Lessons Learned:

  • You must know your enemy and be prepared to strike back. It’s the surprise attacks that screw us over.
  • When trying to get someone to change their ways, people always respond better when you put things in terms of “What’s in it for me”, like “save money” or “NOT get cancer”. I found that “its better for the environment” crap gets you nowhere, so I don’t even go there.
  • It’s not that people are trying to harm the environment, its just that sometimes they don’t know any better. Most of the time, they just don’t know there is a better way. Like ” you don’t HAVE to take bags every time just because they try to give you one”.

And so, even though I didn’t offset my trip (partly because I’m broke, partly because I still haven’t made up my mind on offsetting), I would say that the overall impact of my trip goes a long way towards canceling out the plane rides. Or at least I prefer to think so.

 

 

October 8, 2007 at 1:55 pm 5 comments

Warming up to tofu

tofu

Ok, so remember I said before I couldn’t stand tofu. Well, seems like things are looking up on the meat replacement front. I still can’t stand plain tofu. But it has been a learning curve. I have discovered that I can tolerate firm tofu if it’s nicely pressed and well seasoned. And by well seasoned, I mean with it’s natural flavor well disguised under a thick layer of sauce. It has to pressed though because it’s natural texture is pretty gross… IMHO anyway.

But then I tried smoked tofu. Which was actually good enough to swallow without any preparation and all… And I…. I… dare I say it… I LIKED IT! It was quite a revelation, actually. Normally I never buy anything that is pre-made, or pre-seasoned or pre-cooked or pre-anything. But this flavored tofu stuff might actually be a good thing!

And there are all these different flavors to try… Teryaki… Indian… Thai… Ah… a world of possibilities has just opened itself to me.

I admit that the crumbly kind still scares me a bit… But, we’ll get to that. Baby steps, it’s all about baby steps…

So if you excuse me, I gotta go eat my tofu now 😉

Tofu prepared by DeathByBokeh, on Flickr.

August 1, 2007 at 10:07 pm 6 comments


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