What are you working on?

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zoebird zoebird
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What are you working on?

We just did our big Autumn declutter -- we do one each season! I can't wait for declutter season.

Here is what we did today:

1. Decluttered the bathroom and learned that it is time to replace the tooth-brushes! Time for bamboo!

We are already minimalist on care items, so that's not new. I also use family cloth with DS and myself; so we go through 1 roll of TP a month (we buy two at a time, wrapped in paper).

2. decluttered the kitchen -- made sure that all of our plastic containers (recycled from yogurt, etc) had matching lids and everything was in good working order; made sure all of our jars were in good shape and recycled any that had broken; did an inventory of bulk goods as well as dishes, etc.

3. Decluttered the closet and drawers -- recycled some clothing into family cloth and other rags; clothing that was too small for DS went into the consignment bag and clothing that is too large for DS was labelled and repacked; proper clothing for the season was switched out; did the mending of the clothes as well (one sweater, two yoga tights, one PJ pants).

Things left to get to work on:

1. set up compost -- we are currently part-time composting using a friend's bin. most of our trash is compostable! we also recycle a lot of paper/cardboard -- which I want to use as the carbon for the compost!

2. refuse more -- we currently buy 13 items wrapped in plastics.

I need more jars for our meats, as this would cut away 6 bags! I'm struggling to find a place that will provide whole roasting chickens without any wrapping (2 bags).

I have no idea how to get rid of the remaining 5, which house frozen broccoli, green beans, and berries. It can be argued that we do not need these things -- but it would take an adjustment. We eat 85% seasonally, and then purchase these items to fill in any gaps that we might have that we didn't fill with fresh produce.

If we get the composting online, the paper-waste (that we recycle) would become carbon. that's a fair bit of office paper (that's been reused) and egg cartons (5 dozen a week).

It would essentially take us to recycling: 1 amber cod liver oil jar per month (no bulk source) -- though sometimes I rescue these to house spices -- 1 flax oil bottle (plastic) per month (I haven't found a bulk source yet); 28 plastic bags from frozen veggies/fruit/chickens.

That would be a great reduction from the present amount, which is a tall bin full once a month (because of extra plastics and lots of paper).

It would also reduce our actual trash down to very, very little. I started dividing the trash into "compostable" and "non-compostable" and all that's in the second pile is one band-aid.

Another goal that I have is to decrease waste at our offices.

When we started, we'd taken over an existing business and they would fill a 30 gal trash bag every-other day. It now takes our offices (same number of people working) 6 weeks to fill the same sized trash can.

We have lead the charge in "bring your lunch to work" and also "share your lunch" opportunities wherein we use the dishes at the site, rather than going and getting take out which creates waste. And, we provide coffee (french press) and tea (loose, with tea balls) for everyone to use, as well as mugs.

That has decreased a great deal of the waste, and somehow the previous folks just seemed to create a lot of trash. It was really strange. They also used a lot of power. Our first power bill there was over $450. Our current power bill was $80. Last winter -- when it was coldest -- our power bill was $125. People are very mindful about power use in our offices, thankfully!

So, many of our initiatives are working well -- I'd like to decrease the amount of waste even further -- see if we can get it down to next-to zero. :)
Alexa Alexa
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Re: What are you working on?

Whole Foods and other stores carry the frozen foods brand Stahlbrush Island Farms. They have a blueberries, mixed berries, sweet potatoes, squash and broccoli. All are organic. All come in a compostable wrapper. And not one that is supposedly compostable, but one that actually starts rotting in my mini kitchen compost bin even before it's gotten mixed in with everything else.

Yes, a bit pricier than other brands, but the quality is excellent, again, its organic, and the packaging really is compostable.
Sandra Sandra
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Re: What are you working on?

In reply to this post by zoebird
Wow, sounds like you had a successful decluttering session this season. Reminds me of the spring cleaning I need to do around the house:) BTW, I've been referring to your post on reducing workplace waste to see how I can incorporate these ideas at my office. Great tips, thanks!

I was just about to suggest freezing fresh broccoli, green beans and berries as a way to bypass the frozen foods baggies. I've been buying large amounts of blueberries when they are cheap and in season, and freezing them in a single layer on a baking sheet (so they don't clump together when frozen). I then transfer the berries into glass canning jars and use them throughout the year.
Sandra Sandra
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Re: What are you working on?

Just wanted to add that the National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/gen_freeze.html) has a section on their website on freezing fruits and veggies. They recommend blanching broccoli and green beans before freezing.
Jay Jay
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Re: What are you working on?

In reply to this post by Alexa
Alexa, thanks for the info on Stahlbrush! We are down to getting one veggie frozen: peas. Ever since the "kids" were small it's been our fallback veggie when time or circumstances call for something quick and easy. Just picked up some Stahlbrush. Transferred to glass jar (not sure how long the bags'll last) and the veggies look great! Price acceptable, too. So, thanks!
Alexa Alexa
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Re: What are you working on?

Great, so glad you like their products too.

As for the bags, as long as they stay cold and frozen, they last indefinitely. But if they thaw out, the bags do get soggy and start degrading.
Jay Jay
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Re: What are you working on?

Good to know!
zoebird zoebird
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Re: What are you working on?

Great stuff!

I live in NZ, so the brands that are available in the US are not available here. Though we are blessed that ALL of the plastics are recyclable.

While I would love to freeze our own, etc, there are currently two realities at play: 1. actual volume that we consume and prices when in season; and 2. actual freezer space.

We have one small fridge -- it is about 1/3 the size of the average american fridge. There are lots of reasons why the fridge is small (space being one of them, another being the cost of power), and while I could try to ask the landlady to remove the dishwasher (that we don't use) and put in a
 front-door loading freezer into that space, at this point, it's not in the budget in regards to both buying the object and running the power on the object.

We meter our power because it is very expensive in NZ, and the bulk of our power runs an (ancient) hot water heater (we don't own our own place, obviously, or I would have replaced it!).

So, for the first one, blueberries in season and local -- cost $6 per small container (i haven't been able to find them loose) -- about 1/4 a kg. I can buy a big bag of frozen blueberries -- also from NZ -- 3/4 of a kg for $7. In the alternative, we could go berry picking, but it is a matter of time (we do run our own business, so. . . that would be tough to manage right now).

For the second, the freezing process would be a challenge. First, we lack the freezer space for  hat we do have. It fits *exactly* in there. We measured out using jars, and we'd be able to use our jars, but so far not our bags. If I then put our veggies in jars as well, we'd have a problem because not all of it would fit in the freezer.

Second, there's no way that I can both freeze cookie sheets of anything (a cookie sheet wouldn't fit in the freezer, as it's too small)< and store the food that we need to in there.

I did do these things when we lived in the US, when I could go to the CSAs and farmer's markets on my way home from work, and $6 bought you a crap-load of blueberries. LOL

DS eats 1 Kg of strawberries, 1 kb of blueberries, and 1 kg of other berries for the best price that week PER WEEK. DH and I usually have about 1 bowl each (mixed) during the week comparatively.

DS, who is 3, is tall, skinny, is active as all heck, 90th percentile for height, 20th percentile for weight, strong as an ox and *always* hungry. He easily eats 2500 calories per day, mostly in veggies and meat, but he gets at least two bowls of berries plus raw yogurt plus cod liver oil or flax oil, plus chopped brazil nut (selenium) *per day*.

Other fruits are so sugary, comparatively, that he goes *haywire* as if we gave him candy. By adding the fats and protein and having a low glycemic (relatively) food that he can eat relatively slowly (and treats like ice cream!), we are able to keep him from being too . . . hyper! LOL

I don't htink he's hyper. I just think I'm tired. But, it's going to be interesting when he is a teenager, and I'm going to have to feed that extra testosterone! LOL

I don't think I could afford to purchase freeze 40kgs of blueberries, 40 kgs of strawberries, and 40kgs of boysen berries in their season, and store them to make sure that we only have 1 kg per week in the other 10 months that the berries are not in season.