Spring cleaning is done and I'm ready to go!

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Marrena Lindberg Marrena Lindberg
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Re: Spring cleaning is done and I'm ready to go!

Bother, organic ketchup was only sold in plastic bottles at Whole Foods.  But I did buy a hunk of colby cheese in my own container, although they complained that it might be unsanitary and violate Massachusetts health laws.
Jay Jay
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Re: Spring cleaning is done and I'm ready to go!

This post was updated on .
Oh, Mareena, I was just thinking about posting on that! I had the same experience. There are recipes for making ketchup, but my Hubby seems to drink the stuff, so not too practical. The only alternative I could think of is to get one of those big (recyclable) cans and decant. I'm going to research if you could re-can the stuff. Some claim ketchup is shelf stable even after open, but....

You are doing Great!
Roberta Roberta
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This is all so inspiring!  We're using one kitchen trash bag a week, but I know we can go lower!

Mareen, if the colby isn't accepted on the pizza, stick the mozzarella in the freezer for a little bit before you grate it -- it will firm up enough that you can grate it normally.
Julie Julie
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In reply to this post by Marrena Lindberg
You are sooooo lucky to have found the bulk soaps and shampoo. I'm still on the search for detergents in my area. I'm thinking that I'm going to try to talk the local organic market to offer them. We'll see how receptive the owner is. ;)
Marrena Lindberg Marrena Lindberg
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It's going to take me a while to get through my liquid Castile soap since I switched from that to bar soap for washing my hair.  The Castile soap, while great at getting my hair squeaky clean, really harshed it out.  I use Dove soap for my bath, and I tried it on my hair and it works really well if I use the Dr. Bronner's Rinse afterwards to balance the pH.  I'm green even more than I'm zero waste, so I like the idea of using ultra-concentrated products to cut down on CO2 emissions from shipping.

My older daughter has very curly hair so I need to buy her a particular brand of shampoo and conditioner, there's no getting around that, can't buy it in bulk.  I guess I'm giving my kids a pass on the zero waste thing, except for some modifications in what I cook and the lack of paper towels and paper dinner napkins.  They do have their own reusable shopping bags at least.  I am glad I saved some of my plastic containers from food--my youngest did an elaborate "science experiment" this weekend involving many of them.  They both were a little flummoxed with the new glass milk bottle, getting the top off, but they got the hang of it.  I'm sure they think I'm a little nutty with this.

Pizza went very well, they both liked it very much.  I think they prefer the new cheese.

I think I've reached an equilibrium where I will stay for a while and keep watch on my trash and recycling.  Must figure out what to do with the ketchup and am still in the waffling stage about composting and canning tomatoes, but my other habits have changed.  I haven't missed sandwich bags or tissues, for example, in fact I find I much prefer using handkerchiefs and durable washable cotton makeup remover pads.

It's frustrating, though, with my elderly mom.  She sends me packages filled with styrofoam.  I love getting mail from her, I sincerely appreciate her sending me things, and I know at least the styrofoam is being reused (it's discarded at her workplace).  But I already have a trash bag of the stuff in my basement in case I need to ship something, so I have to throw it out.  And styrofoam especially seems like the worst sort of trash, not including actual hazardous waste.  I guess this is my trash confessional.

This week, though, I'm starting my trash watch anew!
CMD CMD
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Re: Spring cleaning is done and I'm ready to go!

My recycling center offers some information on where to recycle packaging materials (not zero waste, but better than throwing it out):

Generally, mail service centers accept Styrofoam® "peanuts" and bubble wrap for reuse. To locate a "peanut" reuser close to you, call the Plastic Loose-Fill Peanuts hotline at 1-800-828-2214. There are no recycling options for white foam food packaging, but some day care centers need such items for art projects. Call first.


They also say some UPS stores will take peanuts and bubble wrap, as well a white styrofoam, on an as-needed basis. You'd need to call and find out.





Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by Marrena Lindberg
Sounds like you're right on track!

I found [real] corks at a local winemaking shop which fit our milk/cream bottles. I've kept a few of the bottles instead of returning and use for Kefir, Buttermilk, whatever. Maybe a cork could be an alternative for your kids?

Agree with CMD about the styrofoam. A little research and you might find a home for it. Otherwise ask your mom if her office recycles the stuff, and tell her you'll pay for alt. packing. Get her on board (bet she's no [or not much] older than I am!!)
Sandra Sandra
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Sounds like you're doing great, Marrena! You've inspired me to keep my own trash and recyclables tally and see how I can further my waste reduction efforts. Plastic produce tags and the (recyclable in my area) Tetra-pak containers for heavy cream are two items that are consistently on my list.    

Maybe we can walk each other through the tomato canning process, once tomato season arrives. I plan to test out a small batch early in the season and see how it goes. I'm reading more about the canning process, and I think pressure canning may allay some of our fears. I'm looking at pressure cookers right now (my favorite is the Fagor model you suggested). I think the 6 quart version will work if I use small, 350 ml Le Parfait jars.
Dawnie Dawnie
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Can you put the butter wrappers in your back yard compost?  I thought they were kinda waxy and wouldn't breakdown.... if so Yeah!

Thanks
Sandra Sandra
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Re: Spring cleaning is done and I'm ready to go!

Dawnie, I found out that certain butter wrappers are compostable through Bea's tips on the blog. I tested it out in my home composter and it works. She mentions that only the waxed paper wrappers and not the waxed plastic type are compostable. The way to tell what kind you have is by ripping the wrapper. If its rips, it will compost.  
Dawnie Dawnie
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THanks Sandra....I think mine will compost then whoopie!  Thanks for the tip another problem solved
Jay Jay
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In reply to this post by Marrena Lindberg
Yay! Fixed some homemade ketchup tonight, just as a trial. Success! Doesn't taste exactly like Heinz/Hunts/whatever, but was a winner. No more big plastic squeeze bottles :-))
Julie Julie
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Count me in for the canning group. I've never done it before, but with 17 tomato plants about to go in the ground, I'm going to learn how this year! I'm curious to hear what you guys decide about the pressure canner. I'm in the market for one as well.

In the past couple of months, I've tried out pretty much every glass jar out there. I'm trying to decide which I like best before committing to a pantry full of them. I really wanted to like the Bormioli Rocco Fido jars because they are less expensive, but after trying out a couple of Le Parfait jars, I can see the appeal of them. I think I'll be going with Le Parfait in the long run. Anyway, this fall I plan on canning tomatoes, cucumbers, and garlic, so I'm going to need a bunch of jars!! :)
Julia Julia
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In reply to this post by Marrena Lindberg
Chiming in here for the first time!  Just wanted to mention that my local egg farmers all seem accept returned egg cartons- of any kind!  The farm I like uses plastic- probably because it's easy to clean if need be.

Also, freecycle can be  a good place to unload packing materials.  The great thing is that people come right to your house (or wherever you want them to come) to pick the stuff up!

Happy Spring cleaning everyone!!  Hopefully I'll get crackin' soon myself!

Marrena Lindberg Marrena Lindberg
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I went with the Fido jars because I'm cheap.   

The ketchup recipes I've come across seem awfully complicated, with cloves and things.

I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now and so is my elder daughter who takes out the recycling as one of her chores!  Now that I'm watching carefully, it's only a matter of time before I buy one of those municipal composters that Boston sells at a discount--half my trash is compostable.  Of course ideally it would be nice if Boston had compost pickup and I could also get rid of my meat and bone scraps--my trash is basically just that and plastic bags, wrappers and films (that I am still trying to minimize as much as possible).

I too have produce tags and the occasional bag, even with a CSA!  I think unavoidable unless you shop at a farmers' market.  I also have the occasional cream carton.  Organic Valley sells cream in cardboard cartons, although there is that plastic ring for pouring.  Those Tetrapaks are recyclable here in Boston but I like cardboard better if I can get it..  For that matter even the glass bottles for milk that I get have plastic lids--with everything there is a trade off and I'm content to live with less than perfection.
Sandra Sandra
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Re: Spring cleaning is done and I'm ready to go!

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I'm learning more about pressure cookers/canners on the Pressure Cooker Suggestions thread. Will keep you posted on how it goes!

UPDATE: I've started pressure canning veggies and tomatoes with a 10 qt pressure cooker and the Le Parfait jars. So far, so good. It's easier to do than I thought it would be. I've posted more details about pressure canning in the "Pressure Cooking Suggestions" thread.
Sandra Sandra
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In reply to this post by Marrena Lindberg
Marrena, you make a good point. Finding what works for your family and will be maintained in the long run is key. I'm trying to remind myself that reaching zero waste is more of a marathon than a sprint, so better to pace myself than run out of steam:)

Where did you find Organic Valley cream in a cardboard container? I use the same brand with a pour spout, but it's always packed in Tetra Pak (a paper/plastic mixed material).
Marrena Lindberg Marrena Lindberg
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Re: Spring cleaning is done and I'm ready to go!

hmm...here in Boston the Organic Valley comes in waxed cardboard with plastic spouts--at least I think it's waxed cardboard.  It's not the Tetra paks like what chicken broth comes in.

I talked to my landlord and my neighbors about a compost bin.  I really am surprised by how much vegetable waste I produce, now that I've gotten rid of most of my other trash.  I'm going to go out and get one of the municipal ones this week.

Although I produce a small amount of trash now, I have to empty my trash twice a week because of the food scrap waste and the smell.  I do have a tight-fitting lid on my kitchen trash can, but even so, after three days the trash must go out.  To save on trash bags and having to take out the trash, I think what I'm going to do is save the few plastic bags I still get, and then put my meat scraps in those and tie them up tightly and put them in my kitchen trash can.

My goal is to get down to less than a quarter kitchen trash bag per week; I think I can do that now that I'm going to compost.
Sandra Sandra
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Ah, I see. I've been referring to the milk and cream containers as Tetra Pak but the name also applies to the aseptic containers that contain a layer of aluminum foil (like the ones chicken broth comes in). The cream container is a mix of paper and polyethylene plastic. I found this out the hard way when I attempted to compost it and had to sift the shredded carton pieces out of the dirt:(

Here's something that might help with the non-compost bound food scraps (e.g. bones, meat, dairy). I've been keeping a lidded container (admittedly, lined with a plastic bag) in the freezer and dumping my food scraps into it. Freezing the scraps cuts down on the smell, and then I can empty the bag into the trash at the end of the week (or whenever the bag is full). Not an ideal zero waste solution, but one that will do until my town has municipal composting.
AMY AMY
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In reply to this post by Marrena Lindberg
Yes, everyone keep posting!  Great ideas!  I especially love the splatter screen idea.  We don't do meat in my house, so it doesn't come up often, but does occasionally.  

I wanted to share about dental floss.  I have used what Bea uses in the past, but it really does not do the same job as dental floss, and I still feel strongly about using it.  At my food co-op they sell a brand called Eco-dent Gentle Floss.  It uses essential oils and enzymes, comes in a box of 100 yards, and the box is cardboard.  There is that small metal cutter piece on top, like with other dental floss, but it is easily removed when finished with the box, and I throw it in with my metal recyclables.  And the spool of floss is on a small plastic roll and covered with a tiny amount of plastic.  But most of it is recyclable and one box lasts me a long time.  It isn't perfect, but I've found it to be a high quality, lower waste product to use.  

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