Tag Archives: Sustainable Living

Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions

It is that time of year.  The scramble for the big Christmas day is underway!  You are in one of two positions this time of year: One, discount cialis view you are frantically trying to get your shopping done (or started) or two, you are struggling to get everything wrapped.

For the first, I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to check out some of my last minute sustainable gift ideas, or websites like World Vision, Uncommon Goods, and Ten Thousand Villages for unique and environmentally-friendly gifts.

For the second, I found myself in this boat and looking for some better solutions to wrap all the holiday gifts this season.  According to the EPA, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25% and it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills (EPA and Use Less Stuff).  That doesn’t feel good in a season where we are trying to give better lives.

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Waking up (early) to Sustainability

Last month, best viagra cialis I hit the open road for our island’s annual garden tour.  And unlike past years, buy cialis I thought I should embrace alternative transportation and bike to each one of the gardens (a 25 mile tour with hills, valleys and more hills).

What I miscalculated was 1) my level of conditioning 2) the weight of my road bike on all the hills!

Let me just say first, it was totally fun, but exhasting!  But let me also admit, it got me thinking why I don’t get around town by bike more often.  The answer boils down to the reasons outlined in points #1 and #2 above.

So #1 is just about getting out there and getting back in shape – I will admit that the last year has had me in front of my computer more than working out.  But as much good intention I have, every time I think about biking somewhere, I remember the killer hills near our home and my ambitions to be a biking road warrior quickly die.  So that leads to point #2 – getting a better bike to help me get up the hills.

So wrapped in a cloud of Bengay, I head to my local bike shop for some coaching and purchase support.

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Meet Tom – Our Thanksgiving Turkey

Reducing waste is something humankind is starting to think more about – but in a “them” not “me” sort of way.
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I recently watched “Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage” and was mortified to learn that in the U.S. alone we produce 250 million tons of garbage a year – that is enough to cover the state of Texas twice!

You may have even heard about this “landmass” of plastic floating out in the Pacific and for a brief moment you think, viagra sales see “Yuck! We have to do something about this!”. But then life happens and you find yourself lugging packed trash bins to the end of the driveway every week as your donation to the garbage collection Gods and don’t think much about it.

Habits like weekly trash take-out are hard to break. This was most likely one of the first chores you had as a kid.

“You can’t watch cartoons until you take out the trash”, viagra canada cheap was a common phrase around our house. Given the direct association with something much more enjoyable, like watching cartoons, this chore was done as quickly as possible and didn’t involve much thought or time. Just stuff the sack full and pull it to the end of the driveway. Done! Time for “Bugs Bunny”!

But the hard truth is all this “habit” is staring to stack up. Sure there are holes to dumb it into and it will just disappears, right? Out of sight, out of mind, right? If we don’t see it, it is not really there. It is like an advanced version of peek-a-boo for all of humanity.

So what can you do?

First thing I suggest is take a month off from the weekly “take out the trash” ritual. Go ahead; I grant you permission to just let it pile up in your garage, cans and bins. Just think, a whole month of not worrying about this chore.

Now, at the end of the month take a look. Still think you are not part of the problem?

Don’t forget to multiply by 12 (for the months in the year) and then by 77.9 (life expectancy of an average Middle class American) and then subtract zero.

Yep- subtract zero because garbage in a landfill takes roughly 100-150 years to breakdown one quarter of the way (depending on composition and landfill environment). Okay you math majors and engineers, it is probably is not “zero” but I am not mathematically motivated to try to calculate this. It is close enough to demonstrate the fact that we are producing more garbage in a lifetime that will be reduced in one.

So now what?

Now start a household challenge. Take one trash can (32 gallon) and that is all you can fill over a course of the month. Recycled items don’t count against this quota, so get a recycling bin for this. Sound impossible to just use the one can for garbage? It is easier than you think.

When we moved to Camp 4 we had no idea how much we were throwing away. After putting our trash can out one Monday for collection, we learned when it was not magically collected that it was not a free service on our island

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. We researched and found out that it would cost us $30 a month for curbside pick up or we could just run it down the road to the landfill for $4 a can/bag.

So with me being the perpetual cheap skate, I insisted that we would save this money and just take the garbage the 3.2 miles (round trip) to the dump. After all, we would breakeven if we only had 6 bags of garbage a month and there was no way a family of two was going to produce that much garbage, right?

Wrong! First month we hauled 10 bags to the dump and that was with the recycle bins also overflowing. I was shocked! We had to reduce this.

So then we started super-sorting our recyclables. We posted a chart of all the things that could be recycled and put it near the kitchen garbage can. Anything that could be recycled was sorted. It took a while to learn what was “in” and “out”. I spent a few moments daily quizzing my husband, “Is this recycling or garbage?”

We are lucky to live in area where the are markets for many different recyclable materials so that easier to recycle materials. Believe it or not, most items can be recycled but many waste management companies won’t bother if they can find a market for the materials. They are a business after all that need to make money and if they can’t sell the post-consumer waste, they won’t bother with the sorting and processing and it will be garbage too.

After a month of this new ritualistic Q&A behavior over the trash can, we were still in the 5-bag-a-month-club.

So then we started looking closer to what was going in the trash. Scarily a lot of the waste was food and paper and the rest was made up cat litter (from our three cats), un-recyclable plastics (plastic Ziploc bags, grocery bags, plastic films from food containers) and other things we didn’t think had a home beyond the landfill. And of course the items that my husband called “lazy trash” which would be me not following the rules and just being lazy and throwing it away.

After a few months of research, awareness building, and husband induced “spouse-pressure”, we got to some simple house rules to reduce our waste (listed in order of easiest to more challenging).
1) Call it what it is: Put a sign on your garbage can that says “landfill” – makes you think twice about what goes in that can.

2) Recycling Center: Set up an at-home recycling center with sorting instructions. You can easily find out what is accepted at you local waste management facility by getting on their website or calling them. You want an eye opening family trip, see if they offer tours!
3) Get a second life: things that you may think of as single-use can be multiple-use. For example, we wash out and reuse all plastic tubs (cottage cheese, yogurt), glass jars and plastic bags (like zip-loc). Even one more usage can help reduce.
4) Lose the paper towels and napkins: This is so easy to do – just use cloth! We have cloth napkins for eating with- not just for fine dining any more! Every family member has their own that they use all week and a personal napkin ring to avoid confusion. Also, keep a collection of rags and wash cloths for general clean up. I promise this doesn’t add that much laundry!

5) Create a grocery shopping kit: Keep reusable grocery bags, produce bags (cloth or re-use the plastic ones), and an assortment of reusable containers for other bulk foods. Keep this in the car that you take shopping (or one in each car).
6) Buy smart: Pay attention to your purchases and evaluate if you could buy in bulk or buy a product that uses recyclable materials for packaging. Remember “garbage in = garbage out”; if you don’t bring it in your house, you won’t have to throw it out.
7) Don’t feed the garbage can: food scraps can have a second life too.. Here are some potential ways to dispose of food items:
- meat and dairy or food with oils and sauces- your four-legged carnivores; will happily help but always in moderation. Also make sure that it is not toxic.This is good food and feeding Fido or Felix (or if you have a pig or two) a portion of table scraps IN MODERATION is something you can do. Just make sure to help them manage their diets (or I will have hundreds of angry veterinarians posting notes to me).

- vegetable, fruit, grain based food- compost or worm bins (or if you have them, chickens can process the vegetable and grains)
8) Find it a home: you have heard “that one man’s trash is another’s treasure”, it is true! Donate to local second hand stores, have a rummage sale, post it on Craig’s List. Here are some resources for your use:
9) Up-cycle: this is a fancy word for turning something into something else with another use. I have turned old ripped clothes into cleaning rags or braided rugs. Paper bags can be decorated as easy gift bags. Just Google “item + second use” and you will get lots of ideas of what that items next life could look like.

We are now to a point were we take only 1 bag to the dump. And this is mostly cat litter as I have yet to find a litter the cats will use and that controls odors. But the search continues.

It may seem like a lot of work and perhaps it does take longer than just throwing it into the abyss of the landfill, but start with # 1 and then move to #2 and then through the list and see the impact. I bet you won’t even notice until you take that one small bag to the curb and realize you don’t need to make multiple trips to get it done.

Reducing waste is something humankind is starting to think more about – but in a “them” not “me” sort of way.

I recently watched “Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage” and was mortified to learn that in the U.S. alone we produce 250 million tons of garbage a year – that is enough to cover the state of Texas twice!

You may have even heard about this “landmass” of plastic floating out in the Pacific and for a brief moment you think, viagra canada store “Yuck! We have to do something about this!”. But then life happens and you find yourself lugging packed trash bins to the end of the driveway every week as your donation to the garbage collection Gods and don’t think much about it.

Continue reading

Caprese Pizza

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Summer time is about grilling and being outside with friends and family.  We are very fortunate to live in an area where the neighbors are close (but not too close) and always good for a spontaneous get together.  Throwing the party is easy – call a few people you know and have them bring whatever they have for an appetizer and to drink – and you can get a few pizzas on the grill.

One of our go-to recipes for just such an occation is our Potato & Rosemary Pizza.  The ingredients are easy to come by and it gets the needed “oohs”, viagra canada sales “aahs” and “yums” from your guests.

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Potato & Rosemary Pizza

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Summer is finally here and the fresh vegetables are filling up the tables at local farmers markets.  This is the time of year that foodies live for – suddenly our culinary and artist pallets have so much to work with.

This is also the only time of year I don’t like being in the kitchen.  Who wants to add more heat to the day (or the house)?  It is a dilemma for sure, cialis buy check but not without a solution.  If you pour over any cuisine from countries where the heat of the day renders you a sloppy, cialis sales treatment sweaty mess, look you will find wonderful recipes that help battle back the heat without adding to it.  Gazpacho is one of my favorites.

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