Friday, 25 September 2015

Groceries and such

Friday is our main grocery shopping day, and I felt pleased with this week’s version.

First thing I went out to the farmer’s market. It’s got quite thin really – the lady who sells eggs and chickens is no longer there, nor the lady who sells her own lamb, nor the lady who sells raw milk.

The only meat stall sold game (so, wild, which is okay) and free range chickens – but she didn’t know the suppliers and had no idea under what conditions the animals were kept. “Free range” has a very broad interpretation.

The veggie man was there – and he will just put the things straight in my basket – no bags, be they paper or plastic. So that was good news.

On the way home, I stopped at the farm shop, augmented the veggies I’d got from the farmers’ market, and bought some cream, butter and milk from what I hope are local farmers.

There’s a better farm shop at no greater distance, and the farmers’ market was a bit meh, so I’ll go to the other one next week. Still, we did manage to stock up on packaging-free veggies, the butter was wrapped in paper (no foil), and though the cream and milk came in plastic cartons, their labels were small and plain – so no dye-heavy brightly-coloured big labels.

Then in the afternoon we went out to Penhurst to take our spare vacuum cleaner for Storm who was short of one. We mentioned that we intended going blackberrying along the lane, and she said we could take some apples from her orchard too – which we gladly did.

It was a beautiful day, and we found plenty of berries – the last chance before the devil stamps on them at Michaelmas!

On the way home we stopped at the wholefood co-op to pick up ingredients for our next batch of Deliciously Ella super-bread – which is soooo good; we eat it every day. We needed brown rice flour, pumpkin seeds and almonds – the flour came in a paper bag like flour usually does, the seeds and nuts in plain cellophane packs – again, little or no dyes involved and only the bare minimum of packaging.

When we got home, all the laundry had dried in the sunshine – so grateful, because we’d washed lots as the Badger has been away in America. He hasn’t been home for a fortnight and had lots of shirts and socks and so on, to wash.

Then we walked along to the woods to get a bottle of spring water for our new Berkey filter – which is brilliant.
This has been a good anti-packaging day, then. Veggies, apples, blackberries and spring water, all without the abundant plastic cartons and bags that usually go with them – and the fruit and water were organic and free, too.

The other anti-packaging measure we’ve taken has been with washing stuff.

We changed over from regular toothbrushes to compostable ones made from bamboo – which are very successful and do the job nicely.

Then – do you know the company “Lush”? They are such good news; really good quality products packed with wondrously fragrant ingredients sourced in ways that bless the Earth.

They work hard at reducing packaging, and things like body lotion that has to be in tubs, they’ll take the tubs back to re-use or recycle. But a lot of their things come with no packaging at all. Shampoo bars and conditioner bars, for example – they are solid blocks you rub on your hair: no containers at all. And their Toothy Tabs, solid toothpaste tablets that dissolve in your mouth. My favourite is the one called “Breath of God”.

They do some bath stuff called “Fun”, that you can use as soap or bubble bath or whatever you like really, and some of its fragrances are not too floral, so can be used instead of washing up liquid for doing the dishes. Again, it comes in a block so no packaging is involved beyond a minimal cellophane wrap. This is very good news as our regular washing up liquid, though Earth-friendly (Ecover) does come in a very stout plastic bottle. I’m thinking the “Fun” will do for laundry too, at least for hand washing.


Amy said...

Pen~would you mind sharing your Super Ella bread recipe? Oh and I just finished reading the third in your Hawk and Dove series. Oh mercy... dear dear Peregrine and Tom.....deeply moved.... You are a phenomenal writer. Thank you, Amy xo

Terra said...

You are being kind to our planet when you shop. I am going to the farmer's market Saturday, a five minute drive from our home. Everything there is organic and there is no or minimal packaging so we take our cloth shopping bags with us.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hooray for cloth bags, Terra!

Amy - her recipe book is fab, and the superbread is online here:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this! It is inspiring and gives me many details for thinking and thoughtfulness. :)

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Anonymous said...

Lush products are lovely. You can smell the shop a mile off! - in a nice way. :)



Pen Wilcock said...

Yes! xx

Heaher said...

Pen - this is a very inspiring post. I am moved to try to do this myself. Time is the theif that makes it difficult- I have to rush to the supermaket en route home and shopping, like you have here, selectively, would be difficult if not near impossible but I do envy you the time for it because you are absolutely right.


Pen Wilcock said...


You have put your finger on it - the time is key, and this has been a personal choice that I've had to work towards with great determination, accepting a very low income and a shared home as the trade for space, peace and simplicity. The strategies put in place in the work I do and how I live have taken me all my life to put together. I don't know how it could be achieved quickly without a sudden lottery win or legacy! Time is so, so precious a resource, and vital to living in simplicity. But it can be done. xx

Rapunzel said...

Pen, this is going to be a bit long. Delete is if that suits you, I don't wish to hog your blog but this is the fastest way to catch up a little bit.
I've been off the interwebs for awhile as I've been moving and don't have internet hookup in the new place. I've missed your sacred space here and am back-reading to catch up.
Your tribute to your dad was so lovely, so moving---you come from good people and create good people both in the physical world and the world of story.
I've been watching your experiments of living more lightly on the earth for some time now. I first found you through my own research into Plain Dress. What a journey it has been--and what insights you're shared with us--this is a most peculiar blessing in bringing many of us further along in our journey to our own simplified lives.
Well...the move. I'm no longer such a Rapunzel in an isolated forest tower. I've rented a small bungalow in town, four blocks from my work. Eight minutes to walk to work in the morning instead of the half-hour drive it used to be. For now I'm contentedly doing without a car, as my job provides a free bus pass and in town it's also not so difficult to walk to many things. This simplifies my life a lot, and in less than a month I can feel a big difference in my health. I have started dreaming again (after years of no dreams) which means I'm getting better sleep!
In moving to a smaller space I've parted with a lot of things and fully intend to part with more. I've taken to unpacking boxes with a big Goodwill box beside me to chuck un-needed things into so they can go to where they're needed. It's a very refreshing practice.
The sweet pinny you sent me years ago is still with me. It suits me. It's been my 'modern' clothes that are getting new homes somewhere. The goal is that everything but my work uniforms be home sewn, mostly by me because I like doing it. I've got a couple of lovely dresses and some slips from Katie's Mercantile that I love though. Am curious about your Kari Thorne dress....could you post a pic to cure our curiosity? I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering.
The new house is old (1926) and you would have loved the look on my dear landlord's face when I explained that it's very sweet of him to offer to gut and totally replace the original kitchen, but that for my purposes all I will be needing is a can of paint. I am going to be experimenting with how simply I can do things and for that sort of life 1926 is modern enough for me.
Until I can get my wringer washer brought in from the Manimal's house I'm doing my wash in a trio of 5 gallon buckets with a "Breathing Washer" and clotheslines and drying racks.

Great fun! It's so very encouraging to know you're on a similar path your side of the pond and your blog lovers are recreating earth caring practices in homes throughout the world.
Life is sooooo Good!

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh! Hello friend! Thank you so much for the update!
I also have been less on the blogosphere this last little while, as our Granddad's death (he was my father-in-law by my first marriage) has occupied my attention. Just today we had his funeral, and the whole journey has carried immense emotional freight for me in the network of associated relationships and memories.
So interested to hear about your new home! Once you are back blogging, I'd love to see some pics!
I've looked through my email contacts and I don't think I have an email address for you. I had a street address - would you be willing to post another comment here with your new street address (and email if you want to), which obviously I won't publish but will update my address book.
If I have your email address, I'll write to you - it sounds as though you have made some big changes, maybe not all appropriate for blogging - and I'd love to catch up with your news.
Kari Thorne - she is the lady who makes the dresses for The Kings Daughters. Her sewing is fab - so also is Elizabeth Lowell's at Graceful Threads. Really lovely.
I may be able to post some pics, if I can figure out where to stand the laptop so I get a whole-me photo!
Thank you so much for your update - God bless your new home and unfolding journey. xx