mommyonthegreen

Converting back to a green life, one week (and nap time) at a time

Week # 43 – Give Piece a Chance

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I feel for the families of the soldiers that were slain so senselessly, and my heart breaks especially for the children. The events of this week left me rattled enough that it has taken me some time to even think about writing a blog post for this week. What I’m doing seems so trivial compared with world events, that my impetus to keep going is waning.

Whenever acts of terrorism occur, I am often reminded of a post-September 11th lecture by our environmental ecology prof on the environmental impacts of warfare, which makes me even more depressed. Although we might destroy ourselves one day the planet will keep going. Which makes me wonder, if it’s really the planet I care about, why am I doing this “year of green”? Without our interventions screwing it up, the planet would heal itself, eventually. Maybe my motivations are anthropocentric after all?

Of course they are. I want to be healthy to see my daughter grow up healthy, and leave something for her and her children. When the world gets crazy, it’s my daughter that keeps me going. And while I am still getting used to the idea that I can’t protect her from everything, evolution has programmed me to try.

As with everything else in life, we can’t let our fears and anxiety of what a select group of crazies might do interrupt our daily activities, for then they have won.

So I move on to this week’s challenge. In continuing with this week’s theme of waste reduction, I thought I would finally write up a little research I did last winter when I first started this blog.

One of our favourite foods is pizza, and every Thursday night in our house is pizza night. A little celebration that the week is almost over, and that at least one meal is taken care of. Every week we try a different pizza, or enjoy one of our favourites (Hawaiian).

Last winter I started experimenting with different kinds of pizza crust and toppings, both for this blog and as a little activity to do with my daughter (she loves to cook and to be my helper). We usually buy the pre-prepared frozen pizzas, and I wondered if there was another way to make them that was both fast and cost effective and also reduced packaging.

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The pre-prepared frozen pizzas cost between $5-7 and take 15-25 minutes to cook. They come in a cardboard box, wrapped in plastic shrink wrap and a cardboard base.While we had been putting the cardboard bits in the compost, I recently learned that we probably shouldn’t be doing that because of the waxy layer on most frozen food boxes. We also put the plastic in recycling, which is also questionable because it isn’t really a “bag”. The cardboard base is corrugated so recycling should be ok. (See HRM What goes Where) This doesn’t even include the carbon emissions from shipping the pizzas in refrigerated trucks, or the source of the toppings. So overall probably not the best option.

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Pre-baked crusts, cost around $3, with about 10-15 mins of prep time (depending on how fancy your toppings are) and about 20 mins of cook time. The benefits of this option are that the crusts are shelf-stable, and allow you to select local toppings like mushrooms. There is also less packaging – plastic shrink wrap (which may be able to be recycled with plastic bags?) and a thin piece of cardboard which could be shredded with recycled paper. The downside is the extra prep time. Also, some of them came with a plastic packet of tomato sauce- the used packet would have to go in the garbage. (I also wonder what they do to the tomato sauce to make it shelf-stable and not have to be refrigerated, but I’m not sure I really want to know). I also thought this option was the tastiest, and two crusts in the package means we’re actually getting more bang for our buck (and less packaging per pizza overall).

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Pillsbury-style crusts also cost around $3, and also have about 15 mins of prep time and 20-25 mins of cook time. (Unrolling the dough and because the dough is a bit thicker adds to the prep/cook time.) But they also have the advantage of choosing your own toppings. The packaging consists of metal ends (which I have been recycling) and the cardboard tube. The paper from the outside of the tube I put in the compost, which I think is fine. But the inside of the cardboard is covered in a foil layer, which must go in the garbage. Also, there is the refrigeration-factor to consider. But I also thought this option was one of the tastiest, and was easier for my daughter to help spread the crust and add toppings.

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Finally, there are the powdered dough mixes that you just add water to. This option has the least packaging, is shelf stable, allows you to pick your own toppings, and costs the least (around $1-2). But the prep time and cook time added an extra 20 mins to the whole production. This option is fine if you have lots of time, but not for our usual

Thursday night. The dough is also harder to work with, so the crust was not consistent from one end of the pizza to the other, so the fussier members of the family didn’t like this option as well either.

One other obvious option isn’t presented here – and that is making the dough from scratch, with locally sourced flower, eggs etc. This option should reduce packaging and carbon emissions (though I haven’t done the full life-cycle analysis), but would significantly increase prep time and cook time. When I envisioned myself as a Mom, this is what I envisioned myself doing. Unfortunately, being mom who works outside the home makes this option unpractical.

Of course, this leads to the argument about whether women’s returning to the workforce has lead to a throw-away society – but I’m not going to go there. Not today, anyway.

Ok, so I can’t leave it at that without getting myself in trouble. For the record, I am 100% supportive of women being in the workforce, but I also believe someone should be home to make dinners from scratch and hang laundry on a clothesline. And here I said I wasn’t going to go there . . . so for now I’ll leave it at that.

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