#HaltonWasteChallenge While Camping (With a Baby!)
Hello Friends of Halton Green Screens!
Only a week left of the #HaltonWasteChallenge, and I have to say I cannot wait to replace the garlic press that broke so early on. And my whisk. The other things that broke, it turns out I didn’t really need them. For example, turns out I didn’t need 5 pairs of sunglasses. Seriously though, that garlic press… does anyone have one they don’t use anymore? Because I would like to buy it from you on October 9. The moment the challenge is over.
The goals I laid out for myself are going to wait until my post next week about the end of the challenge (read: I haven’t done very well at some of them and would like to have more positive things to say!) I will say though that I finally made toothpaste, and it was tasty and effective.
With the #HaltonWasteChallenge ending on October 8 we have my public weighing coming up. I will share the results at two screenings of “Greenvaders”, which is a waste-themed film based in Ontario that even features some footage from our film screenings last October! Catch the film and hear about my challenge firsthand in Milton on Wednesday October 12 and in Oakville on Thursday October 13.
Now on to today’s topic: camping waste-free, with a baby.
Hand-washing cloth diapers
Washing the diapers was not the huge feat I imagined. It was actually kind of nice, since it was mindless work and I was outside the whole time enjoying what is one of my favourite places. We were only gone for 5 days, so my mom suggested using a separate wet bag for poopy diapers and bringing them home to wash in the machine. So I was left only with the wet ones and they were so easy. I washed them with our natural, biodegradable detergent in our little one’s tub. I only brought the organic cotton diapers with separate waterproof covers so that I could pour boiling water over them without causing damage. After several rinses I hung them in the sun to dry. I would definitely do this again, even post-challenge.
Food waste and the related packaging is one of the biggest for camping, especially up in bear country where it is so important to store all food and waste properly. It is dangerous to throw compost into the woods near the sites and there are no compost bins. So food waste often ends up in the landfill waste, even for families who normally compost. I’m sad to say that some of my compost ended up thrown away when others were cleaning up and I was still eating. I am so used to my family composting that I hadn’t thought of this when preparing, and I didn’t think to take empty containers for my compost. I did, however, prepare some food in advance and bring it in airtight containers so once one of those was empty I started storing my compost to bring home. Next time I will be better prepared and take one empty container to last me until I start using up my prepared food.
Waste-free vegan s’mores
I couldn’t go camping without making s’mores, especially now that I have a child. So what if he can’t eat them yet? It is possible to buy vegan versions of all of the components of s’mores, but not without excess packaging, some of which goes straight to the landfill. So we made everything from scratch. I made little discs of chocolate in silicone cupcake liners a few days before we left, but didn’t get around to making the graham crackers and marshmallows until pretty last minute. It’s hard to get enough dedicated kitchen time with a demanding baby around. The chocolate was super easy, and the marshmallows were way too difficult. I called Neelan in to make the dough for the graham crackers.
The chocolate discs were so easy to make and so delicious that I don’t think I will ever again give in to the temptation to buy a chocolate bar.
I made the marshmallows while Neelan made the graham crackers. Neelan did a great job on the crackers and we were both very pleased with his work, but he doesn’t cook or bake very often so he asked a lot of questions. Each one of which sent me into a panicked frenzy as I tried to make the marshmallows happen. The marshmallows were extra hard to make because I didn’t have some of the equipment I needed, and I am not allowed to buy stuff for myself.
First of all, I had to boil sugar, meaning I needed a candy thermometer. All I have is a meat thermometer, which doesn’t go up high enough. For anyone who’s ever boiled sugar before you know that a difference of a few degrees can turn nice fluffy marshmallows into stretchy taffy or hard candy. Or a burnt mess. I did my best with the meat thermometer, guessing at the actual temperature once the needle went past the highest one on there. That was the most stressful step – Neelan’s questions during the boiling step made me feel like a brain surgeon being interrupted during surgery. Then came the fluffing stage, which requires beating the boiled sugar into the other ingredients with electric beaters. Except my electric beaters broke before I even started the challenge, and I wasn’t allowed to replace them (that’s another thing I will find secondhand once I am done!) I used my immersion blender, but it didn’t mix air into the marshmallows the way electric beaters would. At the end of it all, I was left with a very tasty pile of goo.
The goo wouldn’t toast properly on a stick but I managed to roast it by placing it on a graham cracker balanced on a skewer.
In the end, the s’mores worked out pretty well. Were they worth the effort? Absolutely. Will I do it again? Not with a 4 month old to care for and a camping trip to pack for. And not without finding a secondhand candy thermometer and electric beaters. But yes, I probably will.