Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ice Cream and Freezers

Two days, two conferences. Much to chew over. The first on Monday, Catalysing Innovation for Sustainability, marked the end of the UK Economic and Social Research Council Sustainable Technologies Programme. Four central themes were explored: technological and social transformation, sustainable consumption and production, sustainable energy, policy and governance for sustainability. Highlights included Prof Elizabeth Shove's paper on Embedded Practices in the Kitchen and the Bathroom. Appliances transform our practices. Back in the 1970's the average household had 17 appliances, today it is more than double that, and replacement and upgrading happens with increasing frequency - all of which brings increased energy use, disposal and waste implications. Take the freezer. Why do we have them? To beat the seasons, facilitate bulk buys, save time and convenience, use it as a dumping repository for food not eaten?

This got me thinking. Thus I have resolved to embark on a personal experiment. Here is the challenge: to eat my freezer empty, switch it off and survive for three months without resorting to using it. I reckon it will take me until christmas to eat through it's contents, and embark on life freezer-free from January 1st. Updates on my progress will follow and I am curious to see just how inconvenient it is to do without. Will it change my food-buying behaviour? Will I end up eating more (thus not letting uneaten foodstuff go to waste - that which would normally just end up in the freezer)? Or will I buy less, to ensure less waste? Will I end up fatter or slimmer? Will this prove to be a more environmentally friendly/efficient way of living or just a pain in the ass? How will I cope without my ice cream stash? All taxing questions which will be answered in the course of time.

There is a nice twist to this tale - the conference was held in the London Canal Museum, a former Ice House, where ice cream was made and food was stored way before the days of freezers.

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