zero waste wednesday

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^^^ my travel bag  i carry in my purse for use when disposables are present ^^^

do you know the number one largest component of american trash? one-time-use restaurant ware. think to-go coffee cups, napkins, disposable fast food wrappings, plastic drink cups, straws, paper linings for tables and trays, take out containers etc. etc. etc.

once you really start to think about it, it gets really scary. just one trip to restaurant can yield up to 20 pieces of trash that were used only once…that were precious resources…and more precious resources were used to get them to your table.

this is been an area of my life that i’ve desired to work on for a while. of course the easiest and our number one way of solving this {mostly for financial reasons} was to curb eating out. making meals at home is healthier for your wallet, waistline and the planet.

but sometimes eating out is unavoidable or rather just plain desirable. i’ve come up with a few strategies for reducing our waste when we choose to eat out. I’ll be sharing them here for this series. here is my first:

1. opt for restaurants that use real napkins & silverware when possible. if you have to choose between going to someplace like steak n shake or burger king for a burger then choose steak n shake. they use real silver ware, reusable cups and some still have cloth napkins. we try to eat places with better quality food but hey, you need these tips when road trips are involved. and maybe plan ahead and research quality food choices ahead of time for road trips. i am not actually very good at this but i know people who do. or skip this altogether by packing a cooler of quality food before you start.

another option is to make a small pack to carry around with you. i regularly carry a few kerchiefs with me so i just added a couples sets of silverware. this goes where I go and we’ve used them several times when some of our favorite eats only offer disposables.

making an effort to be more zero-waste, a little bit at a time.

starting our garden: seedlings

we took advantage of that one spring day this weekend to start our spring planting. i’ve never started plants from seeds before so i’m crossing my fingers and darla gave the dirt special blessings and then turned to the window and prayed for hades to let persephone go back to demeter because “we just can’t have any more winter, you know.”

we’ve been boning up on our greek mythology.

i’ve got a nice plan, packets of seeds and garden materials ready to construct once the weather is done doing its thing. i’m sending out some earthy vibes hoping this little garden of ours comes to fruition and helps us on the way to meeting some zero waste goals for the year.

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1. yeah child labor!  2. repurposed egg trays  3. finally getting to use my cute herb spoons my SIL gifted me years ago  4. a nice little variety of plants, herbs and flowers on that tray.

stock

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i’ve been making my own vegetable stock as part of my zero waste efforts. we eat a lot of soup in the winter months and i’ve cut down on a lot of cardboard veggie stock cartons. we also eat a lot of salad and fresh veggies so i just keep this pot in the fridge and any peelings or stems get tossed in here until the next boiling. soups have been extra yummy thanks to the freshness factor.  veggie peelings then get dumped in the compost after boiling is done. it makes me feel so savvy and smart to get three different uses from our food stuffs.

senses

i am playing along with the weekly senses photo feature from Mary Catherine’s blog this week.

i am a dreamer. i think big and dream bigger. the problem with this is that i find myself not being satisfied in whatever moment i’m in. i’m living in the future or the past too much. i feel that focusing on this photo exercise put some perspective in my day: if i’m experiencing something nice pertaining to all 5 of my senses in one day then i’m doing alright. i have it pretty good no matter what my ambitions are telling me. I was able to find all these little gratitudes in a span of about 60 minutes:

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^^^smell^^^

i’ve been making more of an effort to thoroughly use our fruits and veggies before tossing in the compost. the smell of grapefruit after scrubbing the sink with the leftover peel and the smell of fresh veggie stock helped me connect to our blessings in the nourishment department. (yeah, the pot boiled over. so much for the morning stove wipedown.)

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^^^taste^^^

darla and i have a little ritual of scooping out the cream from the top of our freshly opened milk jugs. we get them every other week so it’s a treat to each have a spoonful once in a while. the taste of this week’s spoonful helped me connect to this small part of our life that i hope darla will remember when she is older. just she and her mama sharing fresh cream and feeling it’s a treat every single time.

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^^^touch^^^

a touch of warmth is back in the sunshine. so that means it is real sunshine now. the kind that you can feel warm your skin. you can see my pasty white skin drinking in the vitamin d. the feeling of warmth connected me to the promise of springtime and brighter days to come.

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^^^sight^^^

the fiendish look of accomplishment my girl makes when she’s sneaked a treat. it’s impossible for me to be irked by her cookiesnatching ways. the sight of this smile makes me grateful time and again.

^^^sounds^^^

this one was a given. mike won tickets to Father John Misty & The Walkmen this week. it has been quite a drought since my last concert so i was feeling very thankful to get back to some live music. also, i am grateful to have a husband that has calling in to radio stations to win tickets down to a science. i missed most of father john misty due to a birthworkers meeting but made it just in time for 2 of my favorite songs so it was ok. have a listen to my fave above.

that’s all friends. hope you continue to have a grand weekend!!!! xoxoxoxo

zero waste efforts

on of my goals for next year is to dig further into the zero waste lifestyle and see what else we can implement here.

we’ve had a pretty good start this year: added our laundry line for use in good weather, started relying on our bikes as our main transportation during good weather and worked on our food system and grocery shopping. I think i’ll break it into two posts, this one being about modified containers and the second being the actual food itself.

of course the first step is to start eating more fresh foods – the whole shop the perimeter concept. but this made me cringe at how many plastic bags i was adding to the cart. so i bought these reusable mesh produce bags. no more coming home with 10 extra plastic bags inside my reusable grocery totes. they are very inexpensive and worth the peace of mind.produce bags

my next step was to visit the deli counter more. i knew i was against getting pre-packaged sliced cheese bc it would get under my skin every time i had to deal with the packaging and extra pieces of paper and think to myself “what a waste.” so i started getting our sliced cheese and meat at the deli counter and bringing our own containers.

i know for a fact that every house in america has an abundance of tupperware containers. so why not put them to use? I just have the deli counter salesperson put the barcode receipt on the paper, where it is clearly visible and scannable under the lid, and skip the plastic bag. plus it’s a lot easier to stack and store in the fridge that way.  on occasions that i have a more opaque top container i just have them put the sticker on the outside. it peels off very easily when i’m putting groceries away.

this also enables me to get a larger amount at one time instead of like 8 measly slices of cheese wrapped in 1 pound of plastic packaging thus less waste.

i also did this for the olive bar because i have to have a daily ration of olives.

reuse containers

the last step is a fairly new one for the year. I have started shopping the bulk items section and reusing the containers. one of our local grocery stores has an abundance of bulk items and i kinda went into a crazy reverie of zero wasting.

granola, cranberries, oats, snacks, trail mix. these are all things we use on the reg and we can avoid the packaging now thanks to market district. they have all kinds of grains, pastas, nuts, even honey. i filled up a honey bear that we can reuse from now on.

bulk items

they have machines that you can print out the stickers for them but we happened to have an erasable crayon that I brought along to write the PLU #s on the top. this wipes off easily to be re-branded the following trip.
bulkfood

now, i know this might sound like it’s a lot of extra effort. i thought so too when i first started reading up on zero waste efforts. like anything else, it just becomes a habit. yes, there are times i forget but most of the time we are reusing our containers and reducing our waste. even just a little bit helps.

do you take your totes with you to the store every time? if you don’t then you are a rotten human being….just kidding. but really you should. if you do then all you need to do is store your produce bags and a few chosen containers in your tote to ride along to the store next time.

next post i’ll talk about food choices – which i did touch a bit on here. I am REALLY interested in hearing about new tricks. what do you do? please tell me. i want to change what i can. thanks!

ps. my main resource and place of information = here. feel free to add any other websites that are good resources and inspirations in your life :)