my minimalist dining essentials

So earlier I blogged about our kitchen revamp and some plans for minimizing and streamlining my cooking and baking supplies. I am back with a post on my minimalist  dining essentials. Until I started listing all my kitchen items, I never realized how much I still have! Since my last post, I’ve unloaded about 10 more items (through donating and selling locally).

Everything on my dining essentials list, and my last post about my minimalist cooking and baking essentials, are of the “buy once” mentality. The idea is if you invest in good quality, timeless stuff, you won’t have to switch out and upgrade constantly! As things in my kitchen need replaced, I am replacing with the mindset of only replacing it this one last time – so I’ll invest in things that will last forever.

It’s so easy to go overboard collecting dishware. It’s functional art, after all. If you love it, keep it. But if you are out of space or don’t use half of your stuff, it’s always a good challenge to pare down. A good tactic may be to pack up anything you aren’t sure about, and if you don’t retrieve anything from the box in 6 months to a year, consider selling or donating it.

Here is my absolute dining essentials (these are not the exact items I own, this is just my #goals collage):

mnmlst-dining

  1. Entree plates and dessert plates (mine are Fiestaware and I also have a “set” of mismatched thrift store plates and dessert plates for when I have a lot of people to feed). If it did it over again, I’d forgo the Fiestaware; while it’s fun, I actually find the rainbow explosion of color kind of limiting when I’m trying to go for a minimalist aesthetic..
  2. Wooden serving utensils.
  3. Cloth napkins. I only have everyday ones, but I plan to make or buy a set of nicer napkins for entertaining.
  4. Stainless flatware.
  5. Basic (nesting) small glass tumblers that work for water, juice, and cocktails. (No fancy bar ware collection needed.)
  6. Soup bowls.
  7. Stemless wine glasses. (These copper ones are amazing! I’m not sure if I’d miss the clear glass; currently I just drink my wine from small jelly jars, but I may start acquiring proper glasses.)
  8. Mugs. I’d love a collection of handmade mugs. Boo to perfectly matching mugs.
  9. Serving bowls. The soup bowls and a nice mixing bowl can also perform the job when entertaining and serving multiple dishes.)
  10. Large platter. (Extra dinner plates, a wooden cutting board, and small prep bowls can be used for serving appetizers.)

I listed most of my additional kitchen goods in my last post, but I didn’t mention that I also own the following serving/dining items (the asterisk (*) means they are on the chopping block):

  1. Gravy boat*
  2. Nesting bowls*
  3. A long melamine platter*
  4. 2 misc serving bowls
  5. Stainless ladle
  6. Stainless serving spoons
  7. Stainless serving spatula
  8. To-go dining items like stainless water bottles, stainless coffee cup, metal tiffens, glass food containers, bamboo utensils, and a stainless lunch box. This kind of stuff is pretty critical to minimizing trash, but does tend to take up real estate..
  9. Toddler food dishes, utensils, and cups (I could further pare down the cups). We are using RePlay brand dishes which are sturdy and made from recycled milk jugs. In hindsight I wish I’d have invested in stainless dishes, but I won’t be upgrading, as ours are perfectly functional for as long as we will need them.

This post (and my last) are the kinds I wish I’d seen when I first began to set up a household. Do not trust the wedding registry suggestions, the “off to college” guides, etc, unless they were written by minimalists! Had I invested in good, classic, multifunctional cooking and dining items 15 years ago, I’d have saved myself a bundle of money, not to mention all the resources. For example, now on my 4th set of skillets in 15 years, I finally invested in cast iron, which means this set will actually outlive me.

What’s on your must-have list?

a fresher, lighter kitchen

Fun news: we are revamping our kitchen this month! We moved into this house 6 years ago, and we always planned to make the kitchen nicer. But I am weird, and I settle in/nest where I am, and have been perfectly content with its imperfections. But now that we are rolling, I am really looking forward to the new-and-improved space! On the agenda is staining the cabinets, replacing the tile, tiling a back splash, and getting solid-surface counters. My husband is doing all the work (minus counter installation). For the sake of later comparison, here’s what the kitchen looked like (this was a while ago, but the finishes are the same):

kitchen2

While our kitchen’s torn up, we have moved into the basement, where we have a second kitchen area with some refinished secondhand cabinets. (My brother-in-law’s family used our basement for a couple years while they built their house). The basement kitchen is much smaller, so I am taking this opportunity to pare down to the very basics for now. This means fewer place settings, only a handful of gadgets, utensils, and bake ware, and a pared down pantry. (The irony is not lost on me that I am striving for a minimalist kitchen while having TWO kitchens in my house, trust me).

downstairs-kitchen

Right now I LOVE my smaller, efficient kitchen, multi-tasking tools, and simplified menu plan. It’s a great lesson to remind myself how little I really need to cook for our family. I’m always happiest when I can simplify! It’s inspired me think about how I’d set up my kitchen now, knowing what I now know. Obviously it’s not practical to just discard and replace everything I already have, when it’s all perfectly functional. But I am definitely thinking about my eventual goals for our kitchen, especially now that it will be spruced up and sleeker. So my plan is to keep everything additional packed away (except for food), even after we move back in upstairs; I will get out other items as I need them, but if they are still packed away in six months, I’ll seriously consider parting with them (some maybe sooner if I can sell them).

I thought I would do a few posts on setting up a more minimal kitchen, if doing it from scratch. Today I’m focusing on just the cooking-related items. I will do a later post for dining essentials and cleaning essentials! Here are my essentials for cooking (I don’t own all of these exact items – this is just my #goals collage):

mnmlst-cooking

  1. A nice wooden cutting board.
  2. Wooden cooking utensils, a silicone spatula, and a metal whisk.
  3. Kitchen scissors for cutting greens, herbs, etc.
  4. Three good knives.
  5. Stainless measuring spoons.
  6. Stainless measuring cups.
  7. A box cheese grater.
  8. Glass prep bowls. I have various sizes from a thrift store and I use them all the time.
  9. A medium cast iron skillet.
  10. A graduated, pouring measuring cup.
  11. A heavy mixing bowl.
  12. A metal colander.
  13. An enamel Dutch oven. I have this exact one from Lodge, and I love it. I use it all the time.
  14. Salt and pepper grinders.
  15. Mason jars (and other glass/stainless storage) for pantry item storage, produce storage in the fridge, leftovers, picnics, taking food to people, and to drink from when hosting large groups (so you don’t have to store more glassware).
  16. A good food processor. I love my 9-cup Cuisinart. I’ve had it for almost 10 years and I still use it regularly.
  17. Stainless pots. I have 2, but 3 would be more practical.
  18. A glass French press. I love my Mr. Coffee, but French pressed coffee does taste better..
  19. A Vita-mix or other blender. I use ours almost daily for smoothies, and also to make almond milk, peanut butter, dressings/sauces, and grind coffee beans.

And my baking essentials:

mnmlst-baking

  1. A half sheet baking sheet (and cover)
  2. Cooling rack
  3. Rolling pin
  4. Silicone baking mat
  5. Baking dish
  6. Loaf pan
  7. KitchenAid stand mixer
  8. Bread machine (yes, I really do use mine weekly!)
  9. Silicone muffin cups

I own far more than those items. I also own the following probably non-essential items (the asterisk (*) means they are on the chopping block):

  1. A toaster*
  2. A juicer*
  3. Deep fryer (given to us, never used)*
  4. Yogurt maker*
  5. Electric mixer*
  6. Tea kettle*
  7. Second 9×13 baking dish*
  8. Tart pan*
  9. Multiple loaf and mini loaf pans*
  10. Mini muffin pan*
  11. Tortilla bowl makers*
  12. Ramekins*
  13. Stock pot*
  14. A citrus juicer*
  15. Sifter*
  16. Tortilla press*
  17. Pizza stone*
  18. Nesting mixing/serving bowls*
  19. Mesh strainer*
  20. Salad tongs*
  21. Multiple silicone spatulas*
  22. Dough scraper*
  23. Cocktail shaker*
  24. Tea ball*
  25. Sun tea jar*
  26. A toaster oven
  27. Belgian waffle maker
  28. Crock Pot
  29. Kitchen scales
  30. Immersion blender
  31. 9×9 baking dish
  32. Muffin pans
  33. Donut pan
  34. Large cast iron skillet
  35. Cast iron pizza pan
  36. Second cutting board
  37. Tile trivet I use as a cutting board for garlic
  38. About 10 various knives
  39. Vegetable peeler
  40. Can opener
  41. Jar opener
  42. Ice cream scoop
  43. Small metal colander
  44. Silicone tongs
  45. Pasta server
  46. Ladle
  47. Silicone flipper
  48. 5 cookie cutters
  49. Pastry brush
  50. Cork screw
  51. Wine stopper
  52. Various BBQ tools
  53. Cooking thermometer
  54. Mortar and pestle
  55. Nut milk bag
  56. Silicone bowl covers (to replace cling wrap/tin foil)

I wouldn’t consider any of the above items to be critical to a kitchen, but many are really nice to have for my particular cooking habits (like the second cast iron skillet, silicone bowl covers, nut milk bag, and cork screw).  But looking at the list, there are plenty of duplicate-function items. Silicone muffin cups eliminate the need for muffin tins; we don’t need a toaster AND a toaster oven; we don’t really need two colanders AND a mesh strainer AND a nut milk bag; I can boil water without a kettle… The trick will be figuring out the most versatile items to keep.

What do you think? What’s in your ideal kitchen? Am I an insane person for listing out what I own? (Don’t actually answer that).:)

paper love (& hate)

I write this post to keep it real. When I follow zero waste bloggers, I can feel like I don’t measure up. But writing my own posts, I want to make sure I’m not only highlighting the victories and practices that I’ve mastered. I just want to write about how I’m being mindful; not perfect, but at least living with the intention of doing better. I have a love/hate relationship with the term “zero waste.” I understand that it’s an intentionally high bar – getting as close to zero as possible is the goal. But it can also make me feel inadequate or hypocritical when I don’t achieve perfection. But truthfully, I don’t even want to. I simply want to be the queen of my own castle. I don’t want toxic plastics, unsolicited junk mail, or sweatshop-made clothes taking over my life. But I’m ok with consumption that feels purposeful and truly makes me happy.

Stationary, journals, planners, scrapbooking.. I’ve always been partial to paper. My favorite gifts are of the paper variety, to give and get. I like tech to a point, but when documenting life or making lists, paper is my go-to. Productivity apps – I’ve tried them all – don’t cut it for me. Partly because my office was in a high-security (i.e. no cell phones and outside gadgets) facility, so I couldn’t fully rely on them. It was always paper and it’s likely that for me, it always will be paper.

I’ve tackled most other household areas by now; paper remains one thing I’m so tethered to. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I phase out the wasteful products in our household – is it ok for me to justify all the paper? I’ve decided that for me, it is. To a point. But whether it’s good paper or bad paper, it all comes from trees. I’ve decided to take a look at what I feel ok justifying and where I can make some real changes.

bookshelf

  1. Books. I’ve made a big dent in this already this year. I got a Kindle for Christmas, which I LOVE. My library loans eBooks that deliver to my Kindle, which means my YA fiction can be read on the DL. (It’s a truly great time to be alive.) I still love physical books though, but again, my library is so great. I have donated many books in 2016, but have only bought one second-hand. One strategy that made it easier for me to part with the books taking up my shelf space was determining how difficult they’d be to find at the library. No more hoarding books I may never read (or re-read). The picture above shows the remaining books I own (aside from about 20 cookbooks in the kitchen). This is less than half of what I had a year ago (but let’s not discuss Hannah’s growing collection of books..)
  2. filoOrganizing/Productivity. My lists. My Filofax. Nothing else does the trick to making me feel in control of my day than keeping a paper agenda and to-do lists; I don’t think it will change. I have used planners since the 7th grade. My notes, calendar, lists, contacts, work info, ideas, doodles, etc. all fit in a small binder, and my supplies in a small canvas riggers bag. As far as hobbies go, it’s a minimalist and functional one that keeps me sane. Sorry, trees. I am, however, trying to lessen my gravitational pull toward stickers and embellishments, instead working on my doodling skills. (A girl’s still gotta decorate all the things.) I also avoid over-printing the fun printables, and use scrap paper for notes instead of post-its and virgin paper.
  3. Recipes. I am a recipe printer. I know, the shame! I have a binder of favorites, knowing if I save them on whatever device I found it on, I’ll never find it again. I have failed at having a digital method that makes any sense. Not only that, but when people give me hand-written recipes or I tear one out of a magazine, or I copy one down in a notebook, they all have to go somewhere. I need to make it a goal for the near future to tackle this digitally or at least vow to only print recipes that are either zero-waste or absolutely critical to the happiness of someone in the family. 🙂
  4. hannah paintKid Art. This is a legit category in my home already! Hannah loves all things artsy, and I don’t want to ever discourage that. We use the backs of bills and junk mail, and single-sided print outs, and random stuff from the recycle bin, in addition to always having coloring books on-hand. I am going to try to use up everything we have before getting anything new in this category. It’s tempting to, with a desire to support all creative whims, buy all the supplies! I need to remind myself that the alternatives are truly more creative – nature crafts and using what we already have.
  5. Memory Keeping. No technology will replace physical photographs and albums. I love looking through old albums and I want to pass them on for future generations. I’m currently working my way through preserving memories from our wedding (2005) to present, as well as Hannah’s baby book, using the Project Life system. Scrapbooking can get pretty out-of-hand when it comes to supplies, but Project Life relies on printed papers and pockets for photos so there’s no need for extra embellishment. All my supplies used to take up several totes and drawers, but now fits in an IKEA Raskog cart. My ultimate goal is for all my paper crafting supplies to fit in this cart (I still have some using up and donating to do, but I’m not too far off). My albums are kept on the IKEA Expidit (also shown above).
  6. Magazines. I am kicking myself for signing up for all those free subscriptions last year! I haven’t cancelled them, as they are all ending soon(ish). But I currently subscribe to 6 or 8 magazines. I read them then pass them on to others (ripping out a few things here and there). I need to cancel them all. I also recently went through all my hoarded magazines, donating and recycling most. I haven’t been able to part with my back issues of Domino (from their first printing life in the mid-2000s). I’m not sure why, but I still love flipping through them! Maybe one day soon I’ll part with them.
  7. Bills, statements, etc. I have requested e-statements and e-billing where at all possible, but that doesn’t mean we prevent all the paper. It’s crazy that some places offer auto-pay but still send paper statements! UGH!
  8. Junk mail. Beginning now, and for about 2 weeks, I’m going to keep all junk mail in a stack, then spend a couple of methodical hours demanding that it’s stopped. This means phone calls or returning some forms with their prepaid envelopes. I’ve already put my name on the lists to stop junk mail, but much of ours comes in the name of prior owners of our home! It’s been 5 years! I’ll do a post on this battle later. I also recently found this post detailing how to stop unwanted phone books (which is all of them, as far as I am concerned). I haven’t applied the tips, but I plan to.
  9. Gift-giving/cards. I’m a re-user of gift bags and tissue paper, so when you receive a gift from me there’s a 98% chance the gift wrap was previously used. As I run short on it now (as my family and friends have so lovingly been gifting me with unwrapped gifts(!), I am not replacing. I have a good stash, so it will be a while before I come up with clever zero waste gift wrap. I also have a pretty good stash of paper (upcycled and otherwise) to make cards from. Until the Christmas season, this will be an area that will be easy to prevent waste. While I love and appreciate beautifully wrapped gifts, I never perfected the art anyway. So I guess now’s the time to practice the art of beautiful zero waste gift-giving.
  10. Work paper. The final frontier. I wear many professional hats, but all my tasks seems to require so.damn.much.waste. I’ve implemented many electronic systems, but I can’t entirely avoid the paper monster. One way to avoid as much as possible is to print everything possible to PDF and save to my hard drive. I also call vendors who want a faxed PO, requesting to email instead (mostly out of necessity.. I don’t have a fax machine). I do all the supplies ordering for my offices as well, and while I’ll never convince everyone to bring their own mug instead of purchasing those paper coffee cups, I can at least request minimal packaging, buy in bulk to cut down on the packaging-to-product ratio, buy items made from recycled paper, and pick up what I can locally and deliver when I go into the office anyway (reducing the carbon footprint where I can). None of it’s ideal, but at least it’s slightly better. I’ve got a long-term goal of proposing less wasteful practices, but I haven’t actually gotten around to it yet. Does anyone have any tips on this?

As with all categories in my life, this once seemed overwhelming. But now I actually look forward making a significant dent wherever I can (and then continue to refine and improve).

So this is going to be my zero waste focus for the month of August. Here is my to-do list; I will update at the end of the month with how much progress I’ve made.

  1. Ensure I’ve signed up on all junk mail lists (for myself and my husband).
  2. Apply the phone book opt-out tips here.
  3. Hoard any/all junk mail, paper statements and bills for 2-3 weeks, then spend the time making phone calls, sending emails, and returning postage paid envelopes insisting to opt out.
  4. Cancel all the magazines I am subscribed to.
  5. Find something to propose cutting out at the office, or at least look into some alternatives to make the office a bit greener (where I can control it).

 

 

 

zero waste – february recap

February is the “loviest” month, with Hannah’s birthday, my niece Darcie’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day. Lots to celebrate, and this year I felt like we showed the planet a lot more love, too, by keeping the celebrations pretty eco.

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Hannah’s Birthday Gift

For Hannah’s birthday, we made our own yummy baked donuts instead of a cake (knowing we were going to have cakes with each of our families in celebration later), and I took her to the library. She got one gift – a tricycle that she should be able to use until she’s 5 or so (with a helmet – I guess that’s kind of two gifts). No wrapping necessary (at this age it’s silly anyway, I suppose). We just gave it to her assembled. She loves it. A fun and low-key day.

Valentine’s Day has never been a holiday that is super important to me. I don’t want diamonds, I don’t care about chocolates, and if you get me flowers, get me the kind I can plant in the ground, please. 🙂 So this year we didn’t even exchange cards (except the one Hannah and I made for her dad with scrap paper). I shopped the house for red and pink stuff to decorate the mantle and kitchen shelf. That was the extent of it, and while it felt slightly weird to not really celebrate in any (consumer) way, the day after was so nice because it was over with no guilt.

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Hannah’s Birthday Gift

The majority of our household waste before I began this journey, was food and food packaging. Changing the way I grocery shop has made a massive dent in this, to where any garbage generated is very minimal (almost all the kitchen trash generated is from using up pre-zero waste purchases in the pantry and freezer.) Most new garbage is essentially just produce stickers and milk caps (the bottles are returnable but the caps can’t be recycled). As we use up everything bought before zero waste, we have less and less trash each week. Using it all up is a great exercise in patience. I want a zero waste household NOW! But it’s nice to see how far we’ve come in a short time.

Here’s a list of my zero waste actions and victories in February:

Kitchen/Grocery:

  1. Made my own tortillas (since they are impossible to find without plastic packaging).
  2. Made homemade baked donuts for Hannah’s birthday treat.
  3. Made my own sour cream and yogurt (again, these are only sold in plastic, so making my own was an amazing victory!)
  4. Made vanilla extract (when did they stop packaging extracts in glass? :()
  5. Made sauerkraut.
  6. Bought a reusable mug for fountain sodas (a vice, but this way is less guilt-inducing..)
  7. Made cloth napkins.
  8. Got a second-hand bread box for plastic-free bread storage.
  9. Bought bagels in my own cloth bag.
  10. Bought bamboo utensils to carry when we are out of the house.

Continue reading “zero waste – february recap”

zero waste – january recap

January came and went, but my zero waste efforts are paying off more and more each day. It’s like I had trash-blinders on before, and now I can’t miss it. Every day has been a mission to simplify my life and detox from wasteful habits. Not that we’ve done perfectly. But we have done so, so much better. And because we didn’t just light a match to our possessions, we will be dealing with them in various ways as we phase them out: using them up, donating them, or repurposing them.

Early in the month I did a massive cleanout of disposable items. Ziplock bags, plastic wraps, plastic containers, straws, napkins, plastic plates/cups/utensils leftover from parties.. I either gave it away to people who’d buy it anyway, and in the case of the random items, donated them to Food Services at the Salvation Army. I also began to aggressively use up pantry and freezer items (we’ve had some weird meals, admittedly) and buying in bulk with reusable bags, or at least in non-plastic/ 100% recyclable packaging. With only a couple of exceptions (like cheese and a starter yogurt to make my own) I’ve been able to avoid plastic. Most plastic getting thrown out (recycled if possible of course) has been from items purchased before January. Every item going out the door is a cause for celebration (with a little guilt of course for buying it in the first place).

For about a week, I felt like a crazy person, examining my trash to part with each item in the best way. I repurposed grapefruit peels by making my own grapefruit-infused vinegar for cleaning. I diligently separated things into the compost bucket, chicken scrap bucket, or recycle bin. Shortly into this, it became second nature. Granted, we already did these things, but not to the level of attention I now put in (the goal being that none of it ends up in the trash or down the garbage disposal).

Our fridge looks a little emptier (this was taken today – the day after grocery shopping!) because I only buy what we absolutely need that week. We have our milk delivered in returnable plastic bottles. I store leftovers in mason jars (along with my DIY coffee creamer). Zero waste produce storage is fun. Fresh herbs and carrots look like little bouquets. 🙂 We generally have a container of scraps for the chickens in there as well, but it’s being emptied today. The box up top is a Bota box of Moscato. Since we don’t have a local winery where I can get refills, a 100% recyclable Bota box is the best alternative. In the produce drawers, loose produce is wrapped in damp towels, or in jars or glass containers if needed.

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What you can’t see is the fridge door, full of plastic bottles of condiments from our pre-zero waste life. 😉 Those will eventually get phased out.

Here was a fun victory. Hubby gave our Master bathroom a makeover. He replaced the light fixtures, sinks, towel and toilet paper roll holder, and faucets; plus removed the shower door and replaced it with a curtain. All the items we removed will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. He cut down the mirrors and made frames for them with wood scraps leftover from our mantle.

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The only trash generated from this project was the old laminate counter top, the painter’s tape, and a bit of packaging (most could be recycled). It looks so beautiful now! (I just noticed we have a re-purposed Jägermeister bottle hand soap pump next to a repurposed Sangria jug vase. Ha!;))

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I have been writing down in my planner, every little zero waste victory or step I’ve taken this month and wanted to share them here. Some are swaps for the long term, and some are just little ways I met a particular challenge that I wanted to keep track of just to see how much those little things add up. January was meant to focus on the kitchen/food packaging so there’s definitely been more progress there then elsewhere, but I’ve been chipping away a bit everywhere. So, here we are (in no particular order:

January Zero Waste Victories

Kitchen/Grocery:

  1. Menu planning each Sunday and shopping exclusively from list.
  2. Took bulk bags to local bulk shop (multiple times); store bulk items in jars.
  3. Got rid of plastic containers, bags, etc. to family and donation center.
  4. Used jars and glass containers for freezing and refrigerating leftovers, and for storing loose produce (to replace plastic containers, plastic bags, and plastic food packaging).
  5. Upgraded to cloth napkins.
  6. Packed sandwich for the office, wrapped in a cloth napkin.
  7. Made (zero waste) almond milk; used remaining almond pulp to turn to flour, then to bake into Snickerdoodles!
  8. Made reusable food wrap (to replace plastic wrap).
  9. Found local glass recycling and used it.
  10. Replaced nonstick pans with two cast iron skillets (Costco has a great price); replaced plastic spatulas with bamboo. I haven’t done anything with the nonstick skillets yet; I am considering keeping them in the camping trailer.
  11. Replaced Hannah’s sippies and bowls with this brand. (Still plastic, but a better alternative. We already had the plates and loved them!).
  12. Looked for glass-packaged alternatives to items normally in plastic. Success with juice, BBQ sauce, white vinegar, and ketchup.
  13. Making my own yogurt and coffee creamer to avoid purchasing in plastic.
  14. Emailing local dairy re. switching to glass. Not a win for me, but they did tell me their returnable milk bottles are the safest grade of plastic.
  15. Air dried dishwasher loads instead of running the heated dry. Refilled the rinse aid compartment with vinegar.
  16. Learned and implemented loose produce storage tips from the Internet (herbs and carrots upright in jars of water (bouquet style in the fridge), mushrooms in glass containers draped with a wet towel, broccoli wrapped in a damp towel, etc. This article is the best I’ve found.
  17. Haven’t kicked the soda habit, but I’ve been washing and refilling the same plastic cup all month (I get a fountain soda a couple times a week) and using a stainless steel straw.
  18. Composting scraps, lint, egg shells, coffee grounds.
  19. Saving other scraps, bits of food leftover from Hannah’s plate, etc, for the chickens.
  20. Upgraded to stainless steel water bottles (from plastic reusables).
  21. Upgraded to stainless steel drinking straws.
  22. Only a couple of meals out/take-out. It’s nearly impossible to control the waste created by going out to eat! This is definitely something I need to work on – better planning when we go out.

Continue reading “zero waste – january recap”

green grocery-getting

green grocery getting

I’ve blogged about my grocery-getting routine before and not a whole lot will change since heading for zero waste (other than being more diligent and committed!), but I thought it was worth updating on.

I still use my favorite muslin bags and Envirosax (the pattern I have is no longer available). I’ve added to my zero waste kit these big canvas bags with jar sleeves and mesh produce bags. The canvas bags are so sturdy, and they will also be great for picnics since they hold up jars/wine bottles perfectly!

At the store, rather than use provided plastic bags for produce and bulk items, I use the mesh and muslin bags (I previously only had a couple of each so I’ve added to my stash to completely prevent having to use plastic). At home, I decant the items into glass mason jars or Glasslock containers. I use a bit of Washi tape and a Sharpie to label them. A lot of produce can stay loose in the fridge or fruit basket on the counter. No more ugly bags!

I’ve yet to need bakery, dairy and deli items since beginning zero waste (I am trying to use up things in the pantry and freezer before shopping), but those items will definitely be more challenging. I already have a good practice for some things, or a plan in place to at least minimize the waste:

  • Milk – We already have this delivered weekly in returnable/refillable bottles.
  • Almond milk/creamer – I make my own.
  • Yogurt – I now make my own with milk.
  • Eggs – We have chickens, so we just collect the eggs in recycled cartons again and again.
  • Cheese/meats – Hoping I can ask deli counter/butcher block to fill my glass jars with no funny looks or refusal!
  • Bakery – I’ll ask to have my bread order put into a bag/pillowcase I will bring with me (or just make my own bread). Again, a bit nervous about asking!
  • Toiletry items – Look for a bulk source (possibly will have to make a biyearly drive to the nearest to stock up?) and make my own as much as I can. This will be a fun challenge to me because I’m odd like that.
  • Anything I can’t find in bulk – buy in glass or paper packaging. No more plastic!

I’ll do another post with actual photos of my haul next time I do a grocery trip, but so far I have been working on using up what we already had accumulated so I haven’t done a grocery trip since December 28 (and even then for only for 4 items!).

I’m not even close to perfect, but with a bit of pre-planning I’ve already prevented a LOT of plastic waste from heading to the landfill. It adds up so quickly. I’m still beginning and if I can find items I need loose, or in glass/paper packaging I feel like I’m doing pretty well. However, the bar gets higher for myself each day, which is a great thing!

the raspberry finsbury 

I’m a paper lover.. Lists, letters, calendars, journals & scrapbooks. I keep a lot of scraps and notes, and I don’t remember a thing if it’s not written down. I’ve recently taken on more work (still mostly at home- I’m so lucky!) but it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed when I juggle so much. It always helps to plan ahead, and to plan for balance. I recently bought my dream planner- a personal Filofax (the raspberry Finsbury, to be exact) and I LOVE it. I anguished over which Filofax to buy (it’s a big investment for a planner, and I had to carefully budget for it so I didn’t make the decision lightly). But I am content with my purchase. Here’s the outside. Such a pretty color. I’ve been really into shades of purple lately. Here’s the inside, right out of the box (I’ve modified it quite a lot):

Continue reading “the raspberry finsbury “