Tag Archives: repurposing

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 8)

In light of reading The Jungle Effect, I’m thrilled that I have already incorporated some of Dr. Miller’s findings from exploring indigenous diets around the world. For example, I am:

  • Growing much of my food
  • Learning to prepare and store food
  • Purchasing mainly whole, unprocessed, local-grown, organic foods
  • Reading labels to select the healthiest versions of processed foods
  • Preparing whole and simple processed foods in combination for synergistic health effects
  • Eating many of the foods she recommends on a regular basis such as organic milk, kefir, cinnamon, honey, vanilla, organic meat, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, cabbage, squash, green beans, olive oil, garlic, flax seed, vinegar, oregano, kale, kefir, potatoes (small, waxy, with skins), lemon, walnuts, free-range eggs, raisins, apples, ginger, and dried fruit.

I will build on these healthy habits by integrating new ones and more of the foods she recommends. I definitely need more fish and greens. In fact, this book has solidified my plans to undertake a small-scale aquaponics operation at my rural homestead because it is growing increasingly difficult to find nontoxic fish. I assume the fish recommendations Dr. Miller provides in the book are outdated given recent nuclear disasters and oil spills. Thus, I’m not willing to trust any third-party sources of fish, although I am hopeful that the organic fish market will become a viable option soon.

In general, I’m buoyed by the myriad of food and sustainability movements in the world that may deliver us back into a healthier era. Industrialization has given us lots of great inventions and social improvements but has introduced new problems for which solutions are desperately needed. Upon reflection, changes for the good are possible when the masses are paying attention and poised for change.

As for my sustainable living goals, I caught an illness earlier this week. It’s been running its course through most of my students and settling on my husband who had almost recovered when I caught it. I mistakenly thought it had passed me by, but alas, it got me. With extra doses of apple cider vinegar and ginger-infused tinctures, I was able to conquer it in a few days versus the 2- to 3-week cycle I’ve witnessed in others. Despite the illness, I managed to make cereal bars from The Homemade Pantry (easy, convenient, and delicious), order low-sugar pectin to make the jam I need for the toaster pastries, order organic vanilla beans for making homemade vanilla extract, and order seeds to grow an indoor lemon tree.

Additionally, I was able to care for and transplant seedlings. I was delighted to learn that my 12-year-old planted some seeds in science class, and we were able to compare results. Now that his seedlings have sprouted, he seems more interested in our growing efforts around the house. What a relief from the usual video-game mentality! The imitation instinct is alive and well!

My goal for next week is to master the art of composting, or at least learn all I can. I’ve begun to save some organic materials for it (banana peels, coffee grounds, veg waste, egg shellsetc.), so I need to get started. This effort will further reduce my weekly curbside contributions to the garbage collectors.

Thanks for reading and sharing your sustainable living experiences!

A.M. Tuesday

I think this will be the most helpful, practical “diet” book I’ve ever read. I’ve never read one all the way through until now, but I believe I will use this one every day for the rest of my life. It just makes sense.

In the beginning, Dr. Miller confesses to trying to handle her patients’ health problems as any doctor would, offering the usual diets, exercises, and prescriptions. But they rarely worked and sometimes made the problems worse. The typical health issues she witnessed in her San Francisco practice included depression, heart disease, respiratory disease, bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, and the like. Dr. Miller gives several reasons for her inability to lend patients reliable diet advice: (1) nutrition contributes to overall health in the long-term, and few studies run long enough to determine the outcomes of consuming certain nutrients; (2) foods with the same name may contain vastly different…

View original post 1,383 more words

Advertisements

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 7)

I returned from a weekend away to find kale, pepper, carrot, and zucchini sprouts. The terrarium planting worked beautifully! Now, I will wait for more sprouts before transplanting into larger pots.

During our weekend away, my husband and I spent all day and night Saturday loading and hauling lumber from an urban building. The building is being remodeled because the previous business moved to a new location, and the owner is splitting the building into four units for lease. The developer (our connection) had instructed the remodeling crew to toss all the “scrap” lumber into one room, knowing we might want it. He notified us last week that the project is almost complete, and the lumber had to be moved over the weekend or else it would be hauled to the dump. Typically, the lumber would be hauled to the dump without any attempt at allowing someone to reclaim it.

Fortunately, our developer friend recognizes win-win-win scenarios. In this case, he saved on two dumpsters (~$600-1000 for each 30-yard dumpster). We get excellent old-growth hardwood lumber to repurpose. The lumber is about 30 years old, and it’s not even possible to buy this quality of lumber in stores anymore because all the old-growth forests have been cut. The environment benefits from decreased cutting and waste. The only cost to us is gas to haul, time, and toil. In the last few years, we have benefitted greatly from this practice by adding several room additions to our houses at little to no cost. Thus, it is well worth the cost. (Also, my husband experiences no greater joy than encountering a beautiful piece of wood and transforming it into a work of functional or aesthetic art.)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take all the lumber. About one dumpster full will go into the trash heap, which I consider tragic. My husband said the lumber will take many years to decompose. I wish more people would be proactive in trying to prevent construction waste. Last summer, we collected two 20-foot U-Hauls full of lumber (and other useful material) from the building that the business I mentioned previously moved into. We took all we could and watched as six 30-yard dumpsters were filled with mostly reusable material and hauled to the dump. I suspect we did not witness all of them. My husband told me that he has seen thousands of tons of useable material go to the dump in his 30 years as a carpenter. He always felt bad about it but rarely had the ability to load, haul, and store it himself.

For the sake of expediency in reconstruction or demolition, no one is ever asked to collect and sort the material for repurposing. I would like to see and will work toward a law that forces contractors, businesses, or waste companies to hire someone to collect, sort, repurpose, or sell the useable material from construction jobs. Just as we need a network for collecting and redistributing food waste, we will need a network of people and businesses to deal with construction waste in a less destructive manner.

What do you think? Any ideas for how to preserve more construction waste? Please share your trash rescue experiences. I’d love to hear about them!

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 6)

Just a quick update today. With Easter and husband’s illness, I’ve not had enough time to fulfill all my goals from last week. My peas, green beans, and tomatoes are taking off, and I will have extras to give away. Sharing is one of the great joys of my life. (Unfortunately, some people take it the wrong way or misconstrue my intentions. I really only have one motivation for sharing. I feel good about it; no strings attached—really, that’s all! Weird, I know. When a trade can be made, that’s fun too!)

To my dismay, many of my seeds sprouted and died from lack of moisture. We can’t stay at this house every day of the week, so the sprouts burned up. I figure terrarium-style planting will solve my problem. (Gardening is trial and error, anyway, right?) Reusing my eggshells, I replanted the kale, peppers, carrots, and zucchini in clear containers with lids. I planted the potatoes in the Smart Pots and placed them in a sunny spot. Next week, I intend to plant three more veggies: cucumbers, butternut squash, and some kind of onion (suggestions welcome). Other than that, I plan to nab some herbs from a neighbor to plant by the kitchen sink and be done planting for the season (except for flowers).

As for The Homemade Pantry, I’ve got my ingredient list for toaster pastries made out. I hope to get to the store sometime this weekend, so I can have everything on hand when I make them next week. My other goal is to get my seeds to sprout.

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 5)

Because of another obligation, I was not able to publish a post last Friday, so I will write two this week. Honestly, I’ve been reading more than writing lately. Ever since I quit grad school (long story, dirty scam!), I’ve been devouring books for pleasure. (It’s been five long years of deprivation from one of my favorite pasttimes!) I’m now reading three books at once, one fiction and two nonfiction. I finished a fiction novel last week for which I intend to write a book review on my other blog. Actually, I intend to write reviews of all the books I read from now on.

I mentioned one of the books in a previous post. I am so glad I purchased The Jungle Effect. The more I read, the more sense it makes. I intend to follow its philosophy for the rest of my life. I will write more extensively about it soon.

As for my goal for last week, I cared for my seedlings and planted the Amish snap peas in their permanent pots today (with the help of my husband, of course). On Wednesday, I will transfer any ready sprouts to their permanent pots. I think the rest of the peas and the Brandywine tomatoes will be big enough to plant. I received my order of Smart Pots last week, and I will use them to plant potatoes on Wednesday, too. I learned about a method for growing potatoes in the Smart Pots from fellow blogger GreenEggs, except I am planting in two larger pots (golds and reds). I’m growing my entire garden in pots because I’m hoping to move mid to late summer.

My other goal of making some recipes from The Homemade Pantry got pushed into this week because some of these recipes are quite complicated. Each recipe is made from multiple homemade concoctions. So, I really need to plan out how I’m going set up the infrastructure for making all this homemade food. I did get all the ingredients to make cereal bars, which do not require any other homemade item. I’ve made these before a few times and have altered the recipe to my liking. My goal by Friday will be to generate a list of all the ingredients I will need to complete at least one of the recipes from the book.

To conclude, I want to mention a new invention over which I am extremely ecstatic—a machine that converts plastic into oil or gas. As my overall waste production continues to dwindle, I can’t help but notice that the number one waste product I can’t seem to reduce much is plastic. But here is a viable solution I hope goes mainstream.

Please share your thoughts. Thank you for sharing in my journey!

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 4)

Sticking to my goal this week, I planted a variety of organic vegetable seeds in eggshells: green beans, kale, tomatoes, peas, carrots, spinach, sweet red peppers, and zucchini. They are sitting on a temporary shelf my husband installed for me in the big picture window among my husband’s rescued hibiscus and other plants.

DSCN1149 DSCN1152

In the next week, I plan to plant some herbs, potatoes, and flowers, and then I should be all set for gardening this summer.

While reading other blogs and sites on gardening this past week, I learned that I should not throw our coffee grounds and eggshells in the trash ever again. They make great fertilizer for the garden as well as for shrubs and trees. Saving these is one more practice that contributes to my goal of waste reduction.

Another practice I started this week will also help me reduce waste. In fact, I will no longer need to use toilet paper, which I have despised for many years. It drives me crazy that TP is considered necessary. I don’t know why I never figured out an alternative until this week, but I’m glad for it now. I was reminiscing about post-pregnancy activities (12 years ago for me), and I remembered that I had to use a squirt bottle to wash every time I used the bathroom. Voila! Solution to the TP dilemma found. It seems so silly now because I was prepared to wait for a time when I could install a bidet! Anyway, I will invest in some small dry cloths to set near the commode. Squirt, dry, done! No TP! Now to get the rest of my family to change their ways!

For next week, my goal will be to finish planting and start making some recipes out of The Homemade Pantry.

Thanks for reading!

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 3)

Spring has suddenly sprung, which has swiveled my sustainable priorities toward planting. In keeping to this week’s goal, I spent a lot of time sifting through The Homemade Pantry. I soon realized that I need to establish a household infrastructure from which to prepare, manage, and store our homemade stock: a variety of glass storage containers, some new cooking tools, a chest freezer, and most importantly, as much homegrown food as possible. After all, I decided I want to make my own granola, popcorn snacks, vanilla extract, toaster pastries, cereal bars, frozen pizzas, ketchup, salsa, salad dressings, and mayo. That list is but the beginning of a longer list of foods I want to make myself. Thus, next week’s goal is to decide what I will grow and how I will grow it.

I continue to be amazed at the inspiration flooding in from unexpected sources. A magical phenomenon emerges when one sets her intentions in a positive direction. For me, this intention-setting started last summer when I visited Peaceful Hearts Ranch in Temecula, California. It’s strange that riding a wild mustang can teach us about the strength of our intentions, but it’s true nonetheless. From Cochina the horse and Kedra the trainer, I learned that my intentions are strong, but my patience is weak, as demonstrated through my breathing. My impatience causes anxiety in the horse, which disrupts the path toward my intentions. I just can’t get over what a wonderful experience that was, so I reflect on it often. It brought me to my current mindset of setting manageable goals, breathing deep and steady until little by little my lifestyle is transformed. BUT I never anticipated how much good company I would encounter along the way!

In addition to the people I carry with me spiritually (like my brother the vegan, daughter the yogi/minimalist, and others too numerous to list), I encounter new people every week traveling parallel journeys. The latter are also too numerous to name, and in sticking to manageability (lest I become overexcited and have to take a lap around the block to calm myself), I want to mention one such encounter from yesterday. One of my students (hello and thank you!) approached me before class with a book, The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, M.D., containing everything I need to create my daily nutrient checklist I mentioned in a previous post. Prior to learning of my weekly goals and blog, this student spoke to me during a topic workshop about writing her research paper on planning for a sustainable life. (The Law of Attraction is truly amazing, isn’t it?!) Although I can’t take credit for her initial interest in the topic, I wonder what the effect of my enthusiasm for it will be. Her purpose is a noble one: why not learn everything I can about sustainable living now, so I can apply it throughout my life. If I’d only had the knowledge, direction, and maturity at that age (20 years ago), where would I be today?! I was so out of tune then, and so the law of attraction was not working for me. But now, to be in the right place at the right time for at least one young person to start now and take it all the way through, and to consider the people she will influence!!! Aaaahh! (I think I’ll take that lap now!) This experience fits right in with my intention to make young people (including students) my number one priority and my intention to live sustainably. Covering multiple purposes simultaneously is so rewarding!

As for my weekly goal, I’ve made some decisions about infrastructure that I will work on in the coming weeks. With garage sale season upon me, I will pick up as many secondhand containers and cooking tools as I can. I will look into purchasing a chest freezer. I started saving (and asked others to save) egg shells in which I plan to start my seeds. My goal for this week is to decide what and how to plant. Having the added complication of two households at the moment (which will be a topic of another post), the planning is not simple.

Thanks for reading and circulating the inspiration!

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 2)

Last week, I started thinking of all the ways I have incorporated sustainable practices into my life within the last five years (prior to making the goal more intentional and systematic). This week, I thought more about how I can build on those practices:

  • Brushing my teeth with coconut oil. I started this practice about 4 months ago, and I am happy with the results. It is a different experience compared to brushing with toothpaste. I learned to brush with hot water to prevent the drain clogging from the oil. My dentist visits may become unnecessary, as no plaque has formed on my teeth since I began this practice. I do not need to purchase toothpaste at all anymore, thereby saving money, time, and waste. I bought a 30-ounce (reusable) glass jar of coconut oil and still have plenty left after 4 months. Because toothpaste contains fluoride and other toxic chemicals, the oil is a healthier option. I use it for cooking and in my daily smoothies, and I’m certain I will learn other uses for it.
  • Preparing and consuming a daily smoothie. I adopted this practice years ago, abandoned it, and picked it back up a couple months ago. After my daily workout (kickboxing/yoga), I make a smoothie. A few staple ingredients form the base: plain kefir, banana, honey, milled flax seed, nuts (whatever kind I have), and kale. The other ingredients vary but always include some kind of unsweetened frozen fruit or berries. To prevent respiratory and digestive illnesses in the winter months, I always grate fresh ginger root and sometimes lemon into my smoothies. I mainly use raw organic ingredients, and I may throw in anything that is about to go bad. Often, I freeze too-brown bananas for use in my smoothie. This practice contributes to my health, waste reduction, and efficient living goals. Smoothies take about 5 minutes to make/clean up and about 10 minutes to consume.
  • Taking a daily shot of raw organic apple cider vinegar. Prior to starting this practice 2 years ago, I got sick 4 or 5 times every winter and a couple times each summer with either cold or flu. I’ve gotten sick twice total in the past 2 years, and the illness lasted one day each when others around me remained ill for at least a week and, at times, continued coughing for several weeks. This practice eliminates doctor visits, time off work, etc.
  • Purchasing local organic eggs. Years ago, I raised my own chickens until one of my dogs killed them. I plan to raise my own again someday, but for now, I purchase my eggs from some friends of mine who raise free range chickens. We recycle egg cartons and avoid supporting corporate farms. The fresh eggs are so much more flavorful and nutritious than store-bought eggs, which can be up to a month old when purchased.
  • Buying secondhand clothing and other items. I’ve been doing this throughout my life. There’s no reason to buy new clothing etc. when used (and often new) items are available for about a tenth of the brand-new cost. I inspect items carefully for flaws and sometimes purchase items that require a bit of sewing to make them like new again. I find items of greater quality that last longer and allow for a unique style.

Overall, I think this list is a sufficient inventory of sustainable activities for now. It’s important to take stock of how one is already moving toward goals to more effectively select new directions for goal development. From thinking about my current practices, I have realized that I’ve got a solid foundation from which to build a sustainable life. Last week, eating became my top priority, and I ordered a year’s worth of locally produced organic meat.

This week, I researched joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) membership club. I looked at Small Family Farm, Tree of Life, and Two Onion Farm. I was disappointed to learn that my health insurance company discontinued the CSA rebate program and replaced it with a wellness program toward which I can earn points for healthy activities. Points are redeemed for gift cards, which could be used to offset the cost of CSA membership. I need to look into how my health insurance company plans to use the information from my wellness assessment before I partake in the wellness program. Plus, after considering the costs of joining a CSA, I’ve decided that I’m not sure if it is the most economical route for my family. Preliminarily, I think we would waste too much of our CSA share, and I would rather purchase what I know I will use. It’s just as easy (if not easier) to drive to the farmers’ market or the Driftless Market when necessary as it is to pick up a bi/weekly CSA share.

Although I decided against the CSA this week, I moved closer to two other long-term goals—finding healthy recipes and increasing my daily vegetable intake. The Two Onion Farm website lists recipes by vegetable or herb that I can use to plan meals. I have further speculated that I want to create a daily checklist of foods/nutrients for myself to ensure I am covering all bases. The list will reflect my individual preferences and nutritional needs and will contain a variety of options. (Variety is one thing I cannot live without!!) I will continue to look for ways to prepare and store food. A related goal I’ve been carrying for a few years now is to make more staple foods at home. I bought The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making a couple years ago, and I intend to start using it to fulfill next week’s goal.

All suggestions are welcome! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!