This Sustainable Life


468: Alexandra Paul, part 2: How to Reduce Something (Wasteful) You Enjoy, to Improve Your Life

Ep. 468

Alexandra's commitment illustrates a result I keep finding. People who have acted to live sustainably the most already find new ways to act more than people who haven't. People who haven't done much, or acted for extrinsic reasons like an article suggested "one little thing you can do for the environment" instead of intrinsic, say they can't think of anything.

I conclude that reducing polluting is skills you learn, not a target you reach. As with all skills, mastery brings joy, self-awareness, satisfaction, and expectation of more success through more practice. Alexandra has been mastering these skills for decades and shows mastery in this episode. How does mastery show in sustainability? In this case, I heard her having fun, connecting with people, learning, and enjoying the process.

When last we heard from her, she shared how much she loved a particular hummus. She and her husband ate a container a day. A plastic container, that is, meaning a pile of plastic that would exist for centuries, maybe millennia, before breaking down.

Yet anyone can make hummus. Why not her? She could get the ingredients as well as anyone, maybe better ones. She committed to making hummus from scratch.

The challenge resonated with me since avoiding packaged food started my journey of acting, which led to finding pressure cooking chick peas beat the texture and flavor of canned. Plus my mom makes amazing hummus and baba ganoush. Alexandra shares how she got advice from me and a chef friend for her results.

EDIT: At a reader's request, here are my mom's recipes, quoting her email to Alexandra


Put about 2 cups of cooked chickpeas into food processor

Add juice of one lemon...

Tahini (about a teaspoon or so)

Add olive oil...I am guessing that I use about 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil, maybe more? Add several cloves of garlic (I do chop before adding; start with less, you can always add)

Add salt (really important for flavor, cannot skimp....)

Process until smooth; may have to stop and push down the sides. Start with less oil and add as you process to get the right consistency

Taste and adjust whatever needs adjusting.


Baba Ganoush (Israeli style)

I start with medium size eggplant and zap for a couple of minutes in microwave, just to get the inside a bit warm.

Grill eggplant over an open flame burner (don't know how to do this with electric burners)

Stay with the eggplant; you will have to turn it often to get all sides cooked. Don't worry about charring; that only adds flavor. Use a skewer or long tined fork to check for interior doneness.

Remove and let cool on a plate.

Carefully pick off (and discard) charred skin; don't worry, though, if you miss specks (adds to the flavor)

Remove to chopping board (mine is wooden)

Start chopping the eggplant; as you do, add some salt, minced garlic, olive oil, juice of lemon (to taste)

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