Monday, February 19, 2007


Here she is!

And the lucky winner is...

this lovely lady that I met at the store just about half an hour ago!

I had so much fun with this pledge that I've amended it. I will give away another bag made from a sustainable resource for every 10 people who sign the pledge between now and June 3rd. The pledge count is now at 11, so if 9 more people sign up I will be giving away a second bag.

How are you all doing with your monthly goal(s)?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spreading the Word on Reusable Bags

I'm putting my money, time, and energy where my mouth is by making a pledge at
Please take a minute to check it out and see if you'd like to participate!
Carolyn in CO

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Waste reduction challenge

Our main waste problem is food packaging. We use calico bags for grocery shopping and I recycle all the cardboard and paper that comes with the shopping but there seems to be so much of it. In the winter I use the cardboard to help get the fire started but in the summer months it is overwhelming. I keep paper like butchers paper to drain oily food on and notices from school and the like are clipped together to be used as a message pad by the phone.

Plastics are a big problem. They just go out in the rubbish. I try to buy things with minimal packaging but there is still too much. Our milk comes in plastic bottles , they can be recycled but with a family of 5 we go through a lot of milk.

So the challenge for our family is to cut down on food packaging.

Friday, February 9, 2007


As I mentioned a few weeks ago, paper seems to be a big problem in my
home. Between the school papers, DH's papers, my work for school, we
seem to have a lot of paper come through my home. I also read in an
old copy of Plenty (magazine) that 35% of waste comes from paper

We recycle paper, but I still feel guilty about doing so. So, I have
found new ways to reduce and reuse paper.

1) I have started to post assignments on the web (WebCT) and allow
students to turn in their work online rather than printing off papers.

2) All paper which is not used on both sides is cut into quarters and
used as notepad paper

3) I have started to make paper out of paper that we cannot reuse.
This weekend the kids and I made valentine cards for school. I plan
on also making a bunch of thank you cards for the future (which will
also cut down on purchasing thank you cards!)

reducing paper waste one step at a time!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Make Lemonade

This is a yummy, yummy lemonade.

5 Organic lemons squeezed
1/4 Cup organic maple syrup
1 Quart of water

We make this about every other day and so we're not buying any more juice. Try rolling the lemons on the counter before squeezing them, they release more juice this way. We use filtered rainwater for drinking and we try to use as much of the pulp as we can. It's really yummy!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Waste Not, Want Not (February)

These are the things I want to work on for February:
  • Citrus Peels (yes, really)
  • My Fabric Stash
  • Books

We usually toss our orange and grapefruit peels into the compost pile, or dry them and grind them up for various baking projects. I recently learned how to turn them into tasty treats by candying them. My plan is to save the peels as I use the fruit, slice them up, and freeze them to cook at my leisure. DS has already requested a care package of candied orange peels to be mailed out post haste.

The fabric stash is made up of the curtains and tablecloths snatched up from thrift stores to be made into gift bags. Since I already have enough for my own use, I want to make up bag sets to be given away for Christmas. When I'm tired of that, I'll be making new covers for toss pillows, dish towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, and whatever else I can think up! Pre-Compact, I would've just folded up the fabric and sent it back to the thrift store.

I've been a very active bookcrosser for the past 3+ years, and I've made sure that people know that if they have books they're not going to reread I will be delighted to pick them up and release them for new readers to find. I've been slacking off lately. Where I used to release up to a hundred books a week, it's been more like five since before Christmas. I was just given two huge bags and a box of paperbacks, and it is clear that I need to take some time to register and label them so that I can move them out the door.

These are the targets I'm shooting for. I might not get everything where I want it to be by the end of the month, but making this public commitment will serve as a reminder to at least try!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Ups and Downs

My progress in seeking a sustainable lifestyle is so up and down! I suppose this is another one of those progressions where I should enjoy the ride without just focusing on the destination, but I'm not too good at that. I like quantifiable results, things like being able to see how much my outgoing trash has shrunk, or how many plastic bags I'm sending to the landfill each week. Just
saying that "I'm moving in the right direction" doesn't satisfy me.

My utility bill frustrates the heck out of me! We live in a house that is over a hundred years old, and we've been trying to make it more energy efficient as time goes on. We've remodeled the bathroom to include a low-flow shower, changed out the toilet for one that uses less water, bought Energy Star appliances, installed better windows, and gotten a furnace that should be about 8x --I may be exaggerating here--more efficient. You'd think I would be able to see how these changes are paying off, wouldn't you?

Well, I can't. There's no way to tell by how much money we spend on energy. Petroleum prices have gone up and down, we've opted to buy some shares in wind-produced energy, some months are hotter, colder, or windier than others. We also can't really judge our progress by number of units of energy consumed. Sometimes, despite our most determined efforts, things happen that we can't control. Last month, the Roto-Rooter guy came to unclog the sewer line.
When he was doing that, we had to facilitate the process by running as much water as we could through the line. Last month, our furnace shut down and we had to have a plumber come out
and fix things. While he was doing that, he had to turn the heat on and off several times, making our gas consumption unlike what it normally is. Can't I have just one "normal" month? I have
no idea what normal looks like!

Today, I'm setting the trip odometer in the car on zero. I want to see how many miles we drive in a week...THIS week. I just want a number I can hold onto. I know our car is mostly used to get DH to and from work. We also use it to run errands that can't be done on foot. Since we joined the Compact [last February] we've done pretty well at combining trips, and I'm certain that we've cut our usage a lot, but I want to see that number to compare our car usage with "the average American family's car usage." Anyone here know an "average American family?"

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Husband on Board!

My husband is totally into this reduction of waste effort. He just came from the grocery store, a trip he combined with a business meeting and other errands. We live far, far away from everything so we are the king and queen of combining trips. As we were unpacking groceries, he said that he was so aware of the packaging that everything comes in that he didn't want to buy anything and chose to leave the store without some of our regular purchases. This is a big step for him. He checked out the bulk tea department today and the bulk cereal department and has already purchased granola in bulk and pointed out that we can buy flour from the bulk section for the home-made oatmeal cookies that we have been making the past couple of weeks to get us off of our organic fig newmans.

He's agreed to cut meat consumption to once every week or every couple of weeks. We haven't bought any meat in over a month! I was a total veg until I met him and now since I've stopped nursing, I can go back to it.

I've learned a lot and am completely convinced that humans don't need/shouldn't eat meat anyway. Cutting out meet will greatly reduce the waste/garbage in our house. Our goal is one bag every two weeks instead of every week.

For February:

  • Stop buying Tea in packaging.
  • eliminate feminine paper products
  • eliminate diapers and pull-ups--yeah potty training
  • Eliminate yogurt containers(these can be recycled if you return them to Stoneyfield Farms, but then there's the cardboard box and postage)
  • Eat more oatmeal to cut down on cereal.
  • Stop buying juices and squeeze our own.
  • No personal care products;
    • baking soda for toothbrushing
    • soap for body/hair
    • no styling products
    • bar soap for shaving
    • no lotion for face/body- make own from Vit E and Olive Oil and essential oils using washable glass container
    • Using radius recyclable toothbrushes(these have replacement heads so you don't have to toss the entire toothbrush)
    • Finish all packaged cleaning products and use only baking soda, vinegar, salt, lemon, etc for all cleaning.
  • Trying to think of more ways.
Happy reducing!

Waste Reducing Goals

This is what I'm focusing on reducing for the month.

  • Feminine products

  • Paper towels (down to one roll in the house)

  • Paper napkins in kids' lunches

  • Junk mail

  • Buying fresh food or food in bulk to reduce packaging

  • Reuse glass & plastic jars

  • Unsubscribe from magazines & read at the library

  • Save newspapers for garden

  • Keep cloth bags in car to reduce amount of plastic bags