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!

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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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BEFORE:

 

 

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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:

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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 😉

 

 

 



Frugal Friday- April 25th, 2014

As the weather warms, I’m enjoying being in the garden and eating fresher home-grown foods, while still using up the bounty from last year’s garden. We ate beets, carrots, parsnips, green onions, lettuce and spinach this week, and because Michael’s chemo treatments don’t allow him to eat raw foods, I tried a new recipe for Creamed Spinach. It was really, really good. With a lot of sunshine, we cooked outside this week, on the grill and in the solar cooker, and even went to a picnic last night, so I know summer’s on its way. As you know, frugality isn’t just about saving money. It’s equally about saving time, resources, and energy (both personal and grid type). This week was a strange conglomeration of all of those things, with less about money than usual.

Monday: Got my old washing machine repaired, and it only cost $120, and that included two visits to my home-one to diagnose the problem, and the second visit to replace the part that had to be ordered. It’s running great, and I’m happy that it wasn’t the kind of repair bill that made me question whether I should fix it or buy new. Savings over new: Geez, who knows? The point is really about taking care of, and using up, what we already own, rather than buying new.

Tuesday:  Every freaking day is Earth Day as far as I’m concerned. We cannot ‘save the earth’ only recognizing it one day a year and after 40+ years of ‘celebrating’ the day, I see more environmental destruction and degradation than ever. That said, I still feel a ‘thrill’ when it’s mentioned, or when I know deep down inside that I’m living it every day, in every way, that I possibly can. In light of that, Earth Day is always the time of year that I’m trying to get my garden plot ready for planting and heavy summer production. Living in a downtown urban area doesn’t lend itself well to finding animal manure for composting and fertilization, unless you count the piles of dog shit in the park. But a fellow gardening friend took pity on my whining about the lack of poo,  and we were both able to drive our trucks on a beautiful spring morning out into the country, to a local alpaca farm, where the animals’ owner filled both trucks with huge loads of FREE composted manure with her little mini front loader! Not only did I get to personally meet the gang responsible for this wonderful windfall…

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…when I got back to the community garden, I got help unloading it from several friends that happened to be in the wrong right place at the wrong right time! Priceless!

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Wednesday:  Expecting company for dinner, I decided that my stove top could use a good scrubbing and cleaning. I like to line my burner pans with foil to catch drips, mostly because I’m lazy and don’t want to scrub them. It was time to change the foil. See how clean it looks now? This was a 15 minute job (I should’ve taken a before picture for comparison but forgot to) Savings? Hours of scrubbing!

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Thursday:  Remember my telling you about how Michael and I enjoy volunteering with our local university’s arts department? Not only is it a great way to support the arts, we earn free tickets for our time too. But all of the volunteers were invited to a wonderful end of year ‘thank you’ picnic last night, complete with an old-time band and contra dance after the meal! The catered meal was fabulous, we got to meet and eat with old friends, and then dance off the calories afterwards. Savings? Priceless!

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Friday: Continuing the cleanup of my oven required me to use a Brillo-type steel wool pad on some spots. I always cut the new pads in two, which sharpens my scissors and results in fewer pads being thrown away due to rust. 1/2 a pad almost always does the job. Savings? Well, it’s like getting a free box cutting them in half like that, AND it cuts down on the waste they make since they rust badly if  you try to ‘save’ them after a use. Just sayin’…

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As  you see, there were no big dollar savings this week to speak of, but again, all the little things do add up to  big savings in all the areas of our lives. Whether it’s cutting brillo pads in two or dancing and picnicking with friends, I consider it an art to live my life in an abundant and meaningful way as I transition to a lifestyle that is based on lower energy, less money, climate changes and an economy that will NEVER return to “the way it used to be”. I hope my blog  inspires you to find your own ways to become more creatively resilient, and to use your own local resources to their fullest. Have a beautiful weekend!



Ding! Ding! Ding!

 

Image I recently touched on a concept called “The Green Triangle” that was put forth by author, editor, and simple living adherent, Ernest Callenbach. Seems he was able many years ago to put into words a principle that I’ve often used to guide me in my daily choices and decisions concerning my money, my health or the environment. The principle that relates these three points is: Anytime you do something beneficial for one of them, you will almost inevitably also do something beneficial for the other two – whether you’re hoping to or not.

I’ve also written several times about ‘win-win’ situations. Here, here and here for example. The Green Triangle is a ‘win-win-win’ situation in my eyes and as someone who cares deeply about those three things, I find it a helpful tool. I’ve used it so often over the years that I rarely ask myself anymore, “Self? What does the Green Triangle indicate in this situation?” But, it wasn’t- and isn’t- always that easy, so I thought perhaps it might be helpful to you if I could tell you of a few instances when it’s been a guiding light for me.

I long fretted over “Which is best? Local? Organic? Grass Fed?” Where my food is concerned, my health was my first consideration. So with staying healthy as my primary motivator, I felt comfortable with answering those questions by adopting a plant-based diet. Period.  As it turns out, by not buying meats, I’m improving my arteries, while saving money (beans, grains, nuts, eggs and greens are far cheaper sources of protein than meat)  AND protecting the environment from the harm that Big AG conventional meat producers are causing. Green Triangle =ding!ding!ding!

Whenever I walk or ride my bike, I’m putting the Green Triangle into effect. I’m saving gas money and wear on my car, I’m improving  my clogged arteries, and not contributing to the CO2 emissions that driving causes. ding!ding!ding!

Occasionally though, it’s not so clear-cut or even when it is, it’s not so easy to adhere to my own principles. When Michael and I were dating many years ago we had an old, heavy cooler that I couldn’t give away, try as I might. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, we simply wanted to buy a lighter one, with wheels and drink holders and little dividers inside that kept your hummus from touching your lettuce or whatever. I distinctly remember standing in the backyard and Michael saying to me that he felt we are responsible for the things we purchase until the end of that things’ life cycle. That simple statement stayed with me, and  the longer I live with it, the more I see how true it is. We didn’t buy the new cooler then, nor have we ever bought another one, because the karma of keeping the damn old thing boomeranged, as karma does, you know. Years later, a friend was moving and offered us his ‘old’ cooler-and it was just what we’d wanted! We still have the ‘old old’ one, which I use for protecting tender young plants on cold spring nights ;),  as an extra camp seat, and  as storage for camping gear during the off-season. We never did have to spend the $30 dollars a new one would’ve cost us, the landfill is STILL minus one steel cooler, and  I rest easy knowing I made a good decision. ding!ding!ding!

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Before I close, I want you also to understand that making good choices, whether using the Green Triangle or by following the advice found in my fortune cookie, is still really hard. I don’t always make the best food choices or purchasing decisions (did I ever tell you about my weakness for chocolate chip mint ice cream or my Imelda Marcos style shoe collection??), and some days I don’t gave a rat’s a## about the polar bears (ok, that’s not quite true) but being ever-mindful about my consumption of every thing that comes through my life has saved me lots of cash, helps me stay healthy and hopefully, has saved a polar bear somewhere as well. Maybe this Green Triangle thing can help you make better choices too. ding!ding!ding!



Frugal Friday- April 4, 2014

Ahhh, another day, another dollar fifty cents-and my two cents worth. I hope you’ll share with me in the comments section at the end of this post how you’ve managed to save  your precious time, money or energy recently. And speaking of saving time, this’ll be relatively short because I’ve got a busy afternoon and evening planned-playing music with a friend and then going downtown for the monthly First Friday celebration-both frugal and fun choices!

Monday: We had our annual income tax returns prepared for free by AARP volunteers. This is the 5th year for doing so, and they’re always pleasant, well-trained and helpful. Savings: I just called a well-known national tax service to see what the basic charge is for a simple joint return and was quoted roughly $125-$250! So, I saved a lot going with AARP. You must be over 55 to qualify for this service. Um, let’s just say I qualify.

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 Tuesday: I’ve mentioned this several times before, but since it’s such an easy savings and I can make it basically from what would otherwise be food waste, I keep making  fresh  vegetable stock when I run out. This week I canned 7 quarts plus an extra 2 quarts for the freezer. Cost of a good quart of store-bought broth is $1.89. Savings: $17.10 plus tax and all those metal cans or tetrapaks!

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Wednesday: Because it was such a beautiful spring day, and because I knew I’d be hard pressed to get supper on the table with all I had to do that day, I decided to make a ‘Solar Stew’ of pinto beans, tomatoes and butternut squash. I put all the ingredients in the cooker about 9:30 AM, and when we were ready to eat at 6 PM it was perfectly done! Savings? Well, we’re often tempted to eat out at the end of a busy day when neither of us wants to cook so there’s that. And of course, the peace of mind that comes from knowing that I didn’t have to leave my crockpot plugged in all day while I was away is priceless.

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Thursday: I try really hard not to take advantage of this freebie because I don’t want to abuse it and lose the privilege for everyone: at my local library, no late fees are due if  you are 60 or older. (Yet another reason to enjoy being a senior) I had borrowed a book a few weeks ago that I needed as a reference for a presentation I was giving and was late returning it. Fines forgiven: $1.60!

Friday: We don’t make many new purchases but when we do, we always do our homework first and that’s how we managed to save big bucks at the register when we bought our new gas grill today. A completely unadvertised fact is that Lowe’s gives a 10% discount if  you present your Veteran’s ID card at checkout. Tonight: Grilled Portobello sandwiches on Onion Faccocias, with the mushrooms bought from Kroger on Tuesday with a 5% senior discount, and the buns bought from the day-old bread store at 75% off regular price. We’d been using charcoal for the last two summers, but I like the additional security that a gas grill offers me in case of an extended power outage. But listen up: new gas grills don’t come with a propane tank. That’s an extra $49.95, which you lose when you exchange it for your next filled tank anyway. So, I drove over to my local recycling center where I picked  up what looked to be an almost new (empty) one for free. We took that with us when we went to buy the grill and exchanged it for a filled tank for $19.95. Savings: With the veteran’s discount, we saved a cool $25 on our total purchases, plus I saved $30 on a the tank. A total of $55 saved just by practicing a bit of mindful consumerism!

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This girl loves saving money, but I also love reusing, repurposing, reducing and recycling resources. I find it more than coincidence that these activities often seem to be interrelated. I also find it pretty cool that choosing what’s best in terms of money or the environment often turns out to be best for my health as well. That concept is called ‘The Green Triangle’ and is a useful tool when you’re trying to live lightly. We’ll talk more about it next week, ok?

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Good to the Last Drop

It’s been said our next wars won’t be over oil, but water. When I lived in California a dozen years ago, everyone living in the suburbs had sprinkler systems, set on timers, that would come on and go off at predetermined times and days. Most houses didn’t have individual water meters, and were only billed a set fee each month. This of course led to serious water wastefulness and more than once I witnessed sprinklers running while it was raining. I also witnessed sprinklers that had gotten knocked awry and were simply filling the gutters. I saw first-hand the giant irrigation sprinklers on wheels that covered entire fields, the canals that had been built EVERYWHERE to channel snow melt water down to the valley from the Sierra Nevada mountains, and yet more growing fields that were customarily flooded to give the food grown there the moisture it needed to survive. I even remember seeing road side signs in some areas asking voters to ‘say yes’ to allow water to be channeled from the Colorado River to the Central Valley. It’s a freaking desert there folks, yet it’s considered “our nation’s breadbasket”!

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Meanwhile, record-breaking droughts are occurring on the West Coast of North America, as life-changing flooding is occurring in England-both events that have long been warned would occur due to our changing climate. And we here in the modern world keep right on shitting in our clean water supplies and using tremendous amounts of water to extract shale oil from rock for crying out loud! I know I’m not alone in my concerns about the ability to grow enough food to feed ourselves in a water-challenged world, not to mention the health challenges and risks that such a scenario will pose. It’s no longer a matter of IF this comes to pass, but WHEN. Looks like it’ll be 2014.

So, what can we do, as individuals and as communities? I say WE because if you are alive, you’re part of this conversation. There are many small things we can do in our homes and daily lives to reduce our water needs, and even though I suspect I’m preaching to the choir  repeating them here, just consider them ‘gentle reminders’. I disagree that individual efforts to use fewer resources of any kind are for naught so I’m always looking for creative new ways to conserve them. And with water savings, I often get to see the tangible results, whereas with other resources it’s not so immediately apparent.

1. Shower Less-because Michael has had surgical wounds and vacuum systems and chemo pumps attached to his body since last June, out of necessity he’s had to shower less often. NO ONE has refused to hug him yet, so it’s a water intensive ‘habit’ we Americans need to seriously reconsider. As per their custom, his English family only bathed him once a week as a child.  gasp! yet he STILL managed to survive!

2. Flush Less- “When it’s yellow let it mellow, when it’s brown flush it down”.  Better yet, install a composting toilet. Here’s a download for a FREE book to help you in that direction: http://humanurehandbook.com/contents.html

3. If  you MUST water the lawn, convert it to food growing areas first. Then MULCH those areas to prevent evaporation and run off. Most municipalities will deliver a load of shredded leaves in the fall for just that purpose. Mine does anyway.

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4. Harvest rainwater-in barrels, buckets, ponds or whatever you can manage and use it to water your garden, house plants, etc.

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5.  Use low-flow shower heads and flow restrictors on all your faucets. They’re easy to install and will pay for themselves quickly.

6. Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when full. If  you need more dishes or clothes to last until they’re full, figure out a way to get enough extra to make that happen-yard sales often have dishes, glassware and clothing to make that an inexpensive and earth friendly option.

7. Use a phosphate-free laundry detergent, then reroute the drainage from  your washing machine to a home orchard or garden or permaculture swales. I used to do this when I lived in Florida, and had THE BEST oranges and grapefruits with no other irrigation used. This concept is called “Gray Water” and there are lots of books and websites that explain it in detail.

8. Wash your own car at home, with a spray nozzle on the hose. Save money, save water, get exercise and free Vitamin D while you’re at it!

9. Water your garden or landscape plants in early morning, and at soil level rather than from above. If watered during the heat of the day, much of the water can be lost to evaporation.

10. Route the water from your dehumidifier to somewhere BESIDES the drain. Taking the drainage tube off completely will fill the reservoir, allowing you to capture it for watering houseplants, filling the dog’s bowl, filling the washing machine or flushing the toilet. You can do the same with water harvested from window air conditioners, rinsing dishes, washing vegetables, or rinsing sprouts.

11. Plant native and drought tolerant vegetables, berries, small fruits and trees. They naturally use less water.

12. When rinsing recyclable food containers, don’t wash them separately. Rinse them when  you are already hand or electric washing the rest of the day’s dirty dishes. Try using one of the other sources of ‘free’ water I’ve mentioned above. I’ve watched people quite devoted to recycling use 5 gallons of water to rinse out one ketchup bottle before placing it in their recycling bin. REALLY?

13. Cover cooking pots, preventing much evaporation and preventing the food from .

14. Protect your water shed: Don’t flush drain cleaners or medications. Don’t use drain cleaners, bluing agents or garbage disposals. Don’t spray your lawn with weed killers or other poisons-there are many environmentally-friendly alternatives available now. Fence your cows, horses or other livestock out of creeks and streams. 

These ideas and practices are small steps, but there are much larger ones that can be taken to protect our oceans, rivers, lakes and streams as well. For example:

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE LARGE OIL TANKERS.

LINE YOUR COAL ASH PONDS TO PREVENT LEAKING INTO PUBLIC WATER SUPPLIES.

MAKE SURE YOUR FACTORY’S WASTE REMOVAL PIPES DON’T HAVE LEAKS. 

DON’T BUILD OIL PIPELINES THAT ARE 2,151 MILES LONG WITHOUT PLANNING FOR SPILLS AND LEAKS.

wait! INSTEAD, DON’T BUILD OIL PIPELINES TO BEGIN WITH.

AND FINALLY, WHEN YOU BUILD YOUR NEXT OCEAN-SIDE NUCLEAR REACTORS, MAKE SURE YOU INSTALL THE POWER GENERATORS ABOVE SEA LEVEL. YOU KNOW, JUST IN CASE THERE’S AN EARTHQUAKE OR TSUNAMI OR SOMETHING. 

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Frugal Friday-January’s over!!!

I spent most of this week just like last- trying to stay warm. In between times I cooked a fair amount, wrote some long overdue letters (on yard sale stationary and mailed them with ‘salvaged’ stamps~read on!), and did a lot of reading. Not too much excitement when it’s this cold.

Monday: Mailed my annual bundle of used greeting cards to St Jude’s Ranch. Children that live there use the card fronts (if they’re not written on) to recycle into new cards that they then sell to earn money. I wrote here about it last year, but I have a lot of new readers since then, so I thought it might be something they’d like to know about too.  Repurposing those cards is even better than recycling them, and makes me even happier when I can mail them for free. Yes, that’s right…this week I mailed the cards and a small package to my daughter, all free, because I keep getting things in the mail that don’t have their stamps canceled! And just to add frosting to the cake, I was even able to reuse the original envelopes that those uncanceled stamps were stuck to, which meant I didn’t have to peel off the stamps, nor buy mailing envelopes!  Postage savings: 8 stamps at the new rate of 49 cents each= $3.92 plus whatever new mailers might’ve cost me!

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Tuesday: After reading more than once about how the ongoing drought in California is forcing farmers to reduce their crops this year, and in some cases not plant at all, I decided that it would be prudent of me to increase my supply of almonds, which I truly enjoy eating as a healthy, out of hand snack almost daily. Sure enough, the price has already increased a bit, but not nearly as much as predicted so I stocked up and decided it was time to get out my Seal-A-Meal and vacuum seal them all in order to keep them fresh longer. Nuts will be stay fresh for 6-12 months in the freezer, but by sealing out all the oxygen they’ll last 2-3 years! Perhaps by then the drought will be over and almond growers won’t be forced to pay premium prices for the water their orchards need to survive. That is, if there are any bees left to pollinate them.   Anyway, this sealer came in handy, and I even made up some snack-sized bags to throw in our backpacks when we go hiking or travel. I bought my sealer and several rolls of bagging plastic for $20 at a yard sale, so I know they can be found second-hand, but it seems to me it would be one of those things that could be part of a ‘tool lending library’ since they’re not used every day. Just sayin’…

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Wednesday: Made my second visit to a ‘Discount Grocery Store” near my home. If I’m very careful, I can find some good bargains, but most of their stuff is boxed, convenience type foods, canned goods and snacks, all things that I try to avoid. They did have a small section devoted to some healthier things like name-brand organic products, protein bars and milk shakes, along with many condiments and international style cooking sauces. There were fresh Pepperidge Farms breads and buns for 99 cents, and lots of bulk packages of frozen foods like fish, chicken and burgers too. I didn’t find any out of date items though, so I got a few things that really were rock bottom prices but I’m sure their inventory changes daily and you may not be able to find the same things I did. The point is, there are more and more of these discount stores popping up, and perhaps you might get lucky enough to find one in your town too. They’re certainly worth a try! The first time I visited this little store, it was summer, and they had a fair selection of fresh fruits and vegetables too, but not any this week. I didn’t take a picture, but I was able to buy a Nutella equivalent, Jif brand Hazelnut Butter,  for $1.00 a jar! I bought five jars to give to my daughter who loves the stuff, but can’t afford  what I thought was normally $3-4 a jar, even though I now see that Amazon is selling it online for $10.00  a jar! Savings: $45.00!!! (and now that I see that ridiculous price, I may go back tomorrow to pick up some more jars for her)

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Thursday: Stitched up a long tube of fabric cut from an old curtain, filled it with sand and used it to block the cold air coming into my bathroom from the unheated bedroom connected to it. I could’ve used grits, rice, buckwheat or kitty litter, but sand was what I had on hand. Yeah, I could’ve rolled up a towel too, to stuff underneath the door, but the tube can also be moved around to different doorways and is easier to ‘move out of the way’ when I do want to open the door, and it hangs over the knob when not in use.

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Friday: Found a brand new 3M scrubber in the street when I took my walk. I’ll cut it into 3  pieces (sharpening my scissors at the same time) and use them for scrubbing pots and pans. Savings: $2 or so for three scrubbies?

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That’s it folks! I may not have any Frugal Friday tips to share next week IF the weather warms and I get to be outside more. As important as I consider frugality is to our being able to live well on less, living a simple life that focuses on mindful consumerism and built-in resilience is even more so. Reduce, reuse, repurpose THEN recycle is what I strive for in all my buying decisions. For example, before I bought the Jif for my daughter, I called her and made her promise me that she’d wash the plastic jars when they were emptied and use them for storing things around her kitchen and apartment, or at the very least recycle them. Being the good recycling Nazi that I am, I’ll take pictures of the ways she finds to use them and include them in a future post. And as much as I like the convenience of sealing bulk-bought foods in smaller quantities I really HATE using rolls of plastic to do it. So, I’ve decided to try ‘Oven Canning’ to get the same results and I’ll be reporting on that method next week. What are YOU doing to “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without?” Please feel free to post your comments and ideas below, and to share this blog with anyone you think might enjoy it-or not 😉




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