The true cost of convenience

If you’re anything like me, you’ll struggle to balance convenience with ‘what’s right’ – whether that’s right for the environment, your health or your bank balance.

I’ve been living the ‘green life’ for around 10 years now so I’ve done the reusable bag thing, got our household landfill waste to as small as it can be and do my fair share of charity shop bargain hunting!

Reducing your carbon footprint is a bit like losing weight – the first pounds or stones come off relatively quickly, but once you’re nearing your target it seems to get more and more difficult.

I don’t really have a ‘target’ per se for my carbon footprint; needless to say I just keep striving to getting it lower and lower and now my mantra is ‘every little bit helps’ because, apart from getting rid of the car (which I’m not about to do) we’ve done all the ‘big things’ and now it’s down to doing those tiny things that add up to significant impact.

This week I had a bit of an epiphany and frankly I’m shocked I hadn’t figured this one out before.

I cook a traditional Sunday lunch on the weekend and Little Miss Green had too much on her plate. If you follow the blog you’ll be aware I have a bit of a think about food waste. I always state proudly that I offer food from dishes, we take what we want with the knowledge we can always go back for more. This means any uneaten food is ‘untouched’ and can be reused on other days.

When it comes to serving up Sunday dinner I find it a bit stressful if I’m honest. The kitchen is usually blisteringly hot by that point and juggling getting all the meals onto warm plates takes it out of me. My lovely Mr Green has been getting fed up of me needing to sit with the door open by the time my meal has reached the table (regardless of weather!) so he’s started to offer to help with dishing up.

He asked Little Miss Green what her appetite was like and she said ‘about normal’. Hmmm, his interpretation of ‘normal’ wasn’t the same as hers and she ended up with too much to eat. I said we’d cover the plate with foil and reheat the food the following day.

The following day arrived and I heated up the food in the oven. It was while it was cooking I realised what I had done. How easy at the time to cover the plate with foil and throw it in the oven the following day – but what a waste of energy! If I’d taken the time to put the food into a pan I could have reheated it on the hob for a fraction of the energy. But worse was to follow. Saucepans are pretty easy to clean, but a plate that has been heated in the oven with gravy on it? Well it ends up looking like this:

The plate had to be soaked and scrubbed and it was so hot when it came out of the oven I ended up scraping the food into a dish anyway, otherwise LMG would still be sat here now waiting for it to cool down.

So here is an instance where what I perceived to be ‘convenience’ wasn’t convenient at all. I wasted electricity heating the oven for one small meal, more electricity and water for cleaning the plate and I used foil instead of putting the food in a saucepan with a lid (although I did reuse then recycle the foil).

When was the last time you fell for the convenient option, only to realise it didn’t pay off in the end?