Tennesseetransitions


Zero Waste Week Fail
December 7, 2014, 4:48 PM
Filed under: Eliminating Waste, Reduce Reuse Recycle Repair, Reducing Waste | Tags:

I wrote last Sunday about how I would attempt to go through the week without creating any waste. You can read about it here. I honestly thought I could go just seven days without putting anything in the bottom of my trash can. Not only did I end up with a whole bunch of crap in it, there was more than usual. The woman that writes the blog “Zero Waste Home” , and inspired me to take this challenge, must be a big fat liar. She’s a model, and lives in Paris, so I already hated her. Now  that I know she’s a liar too… well! I’ll unsubscribe from her blog for sure.

Rather than take a picture of my now-garbage, I’ll just list it here:

  • A used razor blade-what does the lady do with HERS? I converted to a double edge razor years ago to reduce the environmental impact of disposable razors, but all I can say is that lady and her family must be super hairy. (Remember, she’s a model.) Just sayin’…
  • Empty toothpaste and dental floss containers…I used up both this week. It figures…
  • Used dental floss. And toothbrushes. Maybe the zero waste lady doesn’t brush or floss. I plan to go back to buying Preserve brand toothbrushes that have handles made from recycled yogurt cups. They used to be quite pricey but have come down since I last checked. When you buy them online, they send you a return mailer to return them in. Check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Preserve-Medium-Toothbrush-Mailer-Assorted/dp/B0041576DO/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1417985147&sr=8-6&keywords=toothbrush+preserve
  • Empty medicine bottles. My city’s recycling will not take #5 plastics. I save any food grade #5 containers for sending home leftovers with family and friends, but pill bottles? Maybe the lady never gets a headache? She gives me one.
  • Flea med tubes. The first day of this challenge was December 1st, the day I needed to apply the meds to my pets. Damn! Why didn’t I start this on December 2nd? Maybe the lady doesn’t have pets.
  • Hard plastic lids from stuff like soymilk, ketchup and vinegar. I bet that bitch doesn’t cook either!
  • Tear Strips. I bet she doesn’t eat either.
  • Rubberbands from the newspaper. Gah! I’ve saved 25 or so and don’t need or want to save anymore. What can I do with them? We prepaid for a year’s subscription to the paper, so when that runs out in June, I’ll just get the e-edition. Until then, let me know if you need some. I already know Zero Waste Woman wouldn’t DREAM of taking the newspaper.
  • Used tissues. I used to be good about using handkerchiefs, and slowly have gotten out of the habit. Time to sew up another batch. (and no doubt, the zero zealot has made color-coded stacks of them for all her family members)
  • Restaurant napkins or straws. We went out to eat Monday night and before I could even think about it, much less protest, our server had set our glasses of water on napkins and laid 2 straws down on the table. Health regulations won’t let them ‘take them back’, so the damp napkins were thrown away at the end of the meal, but I brought the straws home, still in their original paper wrapping. I plan to tear one end off of them when I meet HER and blow them in her face. pffftttt!
  • A phone charger that mysteriously quit working on Tuesday. Just effin’ QUIT. Oh wait, I guess that zero blowhard doesn’t have cell phones in her house either. No wait, I bet they have one of those emergency crank type of chargers. Surely even THOSE break once in a while though. I (briefly) considered offering this useless piece of shit to one of my enemies just to keep it out of MY trash can but was afraid they might strangle me with it when they found out it didn’t work.
  • A bent nail. I hung a Christmas wreath this week. Of course I bent the damn nail. I got it out of the trash can and straightened it out as best I could. Maybe I can use it in drywall to hang my feather duster on.
  • A Christmas light string that freaking wouldn’t work, even though it did last year! The string was 30 years old but still-THIS WEEK? That Scrooge doesn’t decorate for Christmas, I’m certain of it. Merry Christmas lady.
  • A bubble mailer. I have several of each size stored away for my own (re)uses, and yet, THIS WEEK, a book I’d ordered (Title: 100 Ways To Reuse Bubble Mailers) arrived. Sigh. I’m trying to find that lady blogger’s home address so I can mail her some straws and nails in it.
  • Aluminum foil. Like my grandmother and mother before me, I save this stuff, wash it, smooth it out and reuse it until it falls apart in the oven or something. Yeah, this week I was ‘foiled again’ by one of my carefully saved pieces. The good news is, I buy Reynolds brand RECYCLED foil, so sue me.

foilSo, I failed to meet the Zero Waste Challenge this week. The good news is that the experience really did manage to make me hyper-aware of just how much stuff really is going into the landfill because of me each week. My city doesn’t recycle metal cans either, and though I’ve almost stopped buying food in metal, I still have to occasionally. This week there was not one, but two cans. I’m going to wash them, punch holes and make luminaries out of them. Merry Christmas!

diy-Christmas-craft-Luminaries-made-from-recycled-tin-cans

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Frugal Friday- May 16, 2014

This weeks’ rain and cooler weather have been welcome visitors to my spring garden! Bok Choy, spinach, cilantro and broccoli have been the stars this week, with peas in full bloom. We’ve tried to plan our meals around these seasonal treats, because they’ll be gone soon, at least until fall.

Monday: Speaking of cilantro: I had such a surplus of this pungent spicy herb that I decided to try to preserve some it. After reading over several different methods, I took the easy way out by shoving handfuls of the plant, tender stems and all, into my blender. I simply poured enough olive oil to help the process, added some salt, and pureed it to a thick paste. Then I scraped about 2 Tablespoons of the green goo into empty ice cube trays and froze it. When solid, I popped them out and into freezer bags. I tried two of the cubes last night in a curry dish that called for fresh cilantro. Maybe not quite as good as the fresh, but definitely a nice flavor.

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The only thing I’d do differently would be to simply drop the thick paste by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet instead of ice trays. Less cleanup and easier to remove. Savings? With organic cilantro selling for 99 cents a bunch, I think I must’ve cut at least 5 bunches from my little patch, leaving enough to continue using fresh for a while longer and enough to go towards reseeding. One time years ago I bought a little tray of these little frozen cubes (only MUCH smaller!) at Trader Joe’s for about $3.00. Based on that, I’d say I saved at least $9.oo on this easy project.

Tuesday: On my daily walk I saw that my neighbor had put out a couple of carpets and rugs for trash pickup. I brought home the smallest one because it was very pretty, clean and just the size and combination of colors I needed for a bedside rug in my bedroom! I returned a bit later to take a picture of the larger one to show ya’ll how nice it was but it had already been claimed from its’ street-side ‘grave’. So I took a pic of the one I got. Very pretty I think:

rug

Savings? Well the main reason I hadn’t bought such a rug was because the ones I saw in the stores and admired were always too expensive for my tastes, running from $25-$45. I always say if I’m patient enough, I’ll find just what I want for a fraction of the price, or better yet, in the trash!

Wednesday: Michael’s favorite old gardening shorts had gotten a hole worn in them. I spent a few minutes patching them with an old scrap of muslin I had (which is what old feedsacks and consequently, our grandmother’s long-wearing dresses were made from) and I expect he’ll get plenty more garden mileage out of them. Savings: Does anyone REALLY need new shorts to garden or cut the grass in?

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Thursday: Michael loves A-1 Steak Sauce, even though we never eat steak. He likes it on eggs, hash browns and more. A-1 is expensive. (I mean really, what the hell’s wrong with ketchup???) Anyway, he bought a store brand this week for half the price and likes it just fine. Savings: $2.25 a bottle.

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Monday through Friday:  We’re eating more and more fresh food from our garden and the remains of last summer’s bounty that’s left in the freezer so it will be fairly empty when the space is needed again. This requires creativity on the cook’s part. This week we’ve enjoyed Shepard’s Pie, stuffed with broccoli, beans, greens and carrots and topped with mashed potatoes made from the last of the 50 pound bag I’d bought for a few dollars, Pasta Primavera Sauce simmered with frozen tomatoes, peppers, squash, and mushrooms, Fish Fillets with corn on the cob and homemade slaw, and after a long day in the garden, we enjoyed big fruit smoothies for supper one night, using up frozen bananas and berries that I found hiding in the bottom of the freezer! Savings: A week’s worth of meals using whatever’s on hand saved enough money to enable us to eat out one night! Priceless

There are many benefits to living frugally. Being a mindful consumer and an even more mindful NONconsumer inspires an attitude of gratitude and contentment within me, it increases my resilience to be better able to withstand shortages, inflation, losses or emergencies in life by encouraging me to be resourceful and to find creative ways to ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without‘ and is better for the environment because I generate less waste and consume fewer resources. Oh yeah, it saves me tons of money too 😉

 

 

 



Lean In

When we were kids, my group of friends would always say “Lean in!” when we had something earth-shaking we wanted the others to hear. We all knew it was time  to ‘listen up’ and ‘pay attention’. So, lean in, I’ve got stuff to share. I’m noticing more and more and MORE that average, every day folks are beginning to transition their lives. In some cases its subtle, in others, major. But, as Bob Dylan sang to us 50 years ago, “the times they are a’changing”.

For example, yesterday I read a blog post from an ordinary suburbanite mom that was encouraging her readers to prepare for emergencies by putting together bug out bags for each family member, complete with a list of suggested items to include. In part it reads: “I am not talking fear or panic.  I am promoting intelligent, practical, thoughtful preparation.  I don’t know what is around the corner, but I must admit to a growing need to learn all that I can and adjust my outlook to one of greater self-sufficiency and resilience”.  I totally agree with her, and have had my own bug out backpack for over 10 years now, but her post reminded me that I should recheck and update it. With the extreme weather we’ve been experiencing over the last few years, and becoming more extreme it seems with each passing season, it’s a suggestion that every person should consider. My friend in Pensacola, FL is unable to get to work due this week due to washed out bridges and roads from Tuesdays’ storms, while many in Mississippi and Alabama are devastated and homeless after getting hit by tornadoes. This ‘before and after’ picture is from his Facebook page…

storm

Are you prepared for such things? Lean in and take heed.

I’ve noticed an uptick in local community gardens and food forests. There’s keen interest in the canning classes I enjoy giving…

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…as well as a renewed desire to learn other kitchen skills such as pie and biscuit making and cooking meals from scratch. Classes are full for cheese-making, bread-making, fermenting foods, as well as making yogurt, kombucha and kefir. Workshops on everything from organic gardening and building raised beds to woodworking and soap-making are sold out. The local beekeeping school had 400 people attend this year, by far the largest number ever, and clandestine chicken coops are all over the city now. I  went to a well-attended lecture Tuesday night at the local college, called “Brightening the 21st Century” given by ‘The Solar Sister’. Her story of turning an old chicken coop located on the nunnery grounds where she lives, into an environmental learning center was enjoyed by the room full of folks that were there. During April, our local university held a month-long calendar of Earth Day celebrations and events for the first time ever. When I left the lecture hall, I saw this out in the hall and wanted to show you too: the ‘Mixed Paper’ and “Cans&Plastic” bins both had stuff in them, but the container on the far right which was marked “LANDFILL” was empty.

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In the two years I’ve lived in my urban neighborhood, the number of red recycling bins I see out on the curb on Monday mornings has quadrupled. (That’s not saying a whole lot, since I had to call the truck drivers almost every week for the first month or two we lived here because I was the only one on the street at the time that was putting it curbside and they would ‘forget’ to stop), but the point is, lean in here, more people are recycling, growing some of their own food, and using renewable energy than I’ve ever noticed. I received an email from a friend just this morning: “I finally ordered my own solar cooker today!” Lean in friends, this is all good news!

People are also learning to reuse and repair again, as well as recycle. The local shoe and bike repair shops have long ‘wait times’ they are so busy. I recently went to a small engine repair shop to pick up new belts for my 23-year-old tiller and  was fifth in the line of customers buying their own parts to repair their own stuff. My youngest daughter has recently begun to renew her long-neglected sewing skills, and the Bernina sewing shop that opened downtown a couple of years ago seems to be always quite busy. Lean in: people are indeed transitioning to a future that is based on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being.

I am thrilled to see the changes taking place! Not only are we taking control of our lives again, according to recent articles I’ve read, we’re also saving more for retirement and carrying far less debt than we were when the ‘economic depression’ began in 2008. That downturn has brought about some rather nice changes in my own life: in response to lower incomes and higher prices, my circle of friends has been getting together for potlucks and cookouts and birthday celebrations more often these days, ending these festive times with board games or music jams. Fuhgeddaboud cover charges or drinks by the glass. We brew our own beer or wine or herbal sun tea and enjoy the comfort of being in our own homes, saving clubs and restaurant outings for rare special occasions. Now there’s even talk of forming an intentional community, right here in our urban area! There’s hope and light everywhere, you just gotta lean in to find it.

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