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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

20 Positive Steps to Celebrate Our Earth

Today is Earth Day.  It is the one day a year when everyone is encouraged to treat our earth kindly.   Today,  I encourage you to do something kind for our environment:

  1. Reduce - do you really need it?
  2. Refuse - You don't really need it!
  3. Reuse - You got it?  Use it again and again.
  4. Recycle - After you are done with it - Recycle it.
  5. Upcycle and/or repurpose
  6. Get outside - relish the wonder that is nature
  7. Go to a farmers market (with your own bags)
  8. Don't forget to use your reusable cups / bottle
  9. Bake something from scratch
  10. Plant a garden
  11. Install a rain barrel
  12. Ride your bike to the store
  13. Plan your errands to reduce driving
  14. Turn over that paper and use the back side
  15. Set your printer to two-sided printing
  16. Take old batteries to be disposed of properly.
  17. Ditch the paper towels for cloth. 
  18. Take a shorter shower
  19. Consider products like LUSH - solid shampoos with no packaging!
  20. Try very hard to stop using disposable products.
Want to learn more about Earth Day?  Attend an Earth Day event.  Roseville has one on Saturday in Mahany Park.   Come by The ReCreate Booth and make a boat from "junk" and see if it sinks or floats!

I leave you with this quote from John Muir:
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
 We only have one earth.  Let us take care of it every single day.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Green Cleaning - Eco-Friendly and Clutter Busting Recipes

My favorite part of making less trash is finding ways to have less clutter.   Over the past year, we have pared down our cleaning supplies to a few items, by making some of our cleaning supplies.  I used to think this would be time consuming - and depending on the concotion you choose to make, it can be.   but, I have found you can make very effective cleaners with just a few minutes, a few supplies and an empty container to hold it.  

Many people think a place isn't clean unless you can small the chemical cleaners - but that really isn't true.  You can have a clean and nice smelling house - with a few simple ingredients.   In the past,  I have made a simple counter-top cleaner  and our own laundry detergent, both work really well!

You can make virutally any type cleaner with these ingredients:
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Peroxide
  • Castile soap 
  • Borax 
  • Essential Oils
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemons

You can make furniture polish with olive oil and lemon juice!  Essential oil is optional.   Click on the image to link to the recipe. http://askannamoseley.com/2013/04/green-cleaning-cleaning-with-lemons/

There are literally thousands of recipes out there to try for all purpose cleaner, anti-bacterial  cleaner,  bathroom cleaner, glass and mirrors and more.  Apartment Therapy has a compilation of 25 recipes here.   Keeper of the Home has a list of over 67 recipes here. 

My favorite "cleaning" tip is for hotel rooms - I used to always wake up in hotel rooms with a sore throat and stuffy nose from the air fan.  Now - I grab a tissue the minute I check into my room, and I put about 10 drops of lavender essential oil on the tissue.   and I stuff the edge of the tissue into the vent.  The air is cleaned by the anti-bacterial and antiseptic qualities of the essential oil.  And the room smells like I am on a spa vacation.  I usually add more drops to the tissue just before bedtime. 

 What is your favorite DIY green cleaning tip?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Food Waste - A Month of Trying Harder

As you can see in the previous post, my intent had been to take a picture each week of any food that we let go bad at our house, and didn't eat due to spoilage.  The last few weeks got away from me, so this post is a catch up.  The first week, we did not do terribly.  Below,  you will see the ends of a loaf of bread that went bad.  I was mad about wasting the squash, because I forgot I bought it.

After Week One I realized that much of our food waste comes from lack of organization.  When things are in glass containers,  we see it and tend to eat it.  When leftovers or purchased food is in opaque containers, or is put in the wrong place, we end up with waste.

Week Two we did much better.  We did toss a few things.  There was a small amount of sour cream that was past its expiration date, and didn't look right.  We also had an apple and a few stalks of celery that went south before we ate it.  We also had some shredded cheese that my daughter forgot to put back into the refrigerator, so we had to toss that.

Week Three - Life got crazy and so did our waste.  We went to a restaurant, and forgot our reusable leftover containers.  Luckily, our leftovers were put into a compostable container.  We did eat part of it, but left some in the fridge, and that ended up being tossed.  We also wasted some mushrooms.  I thought we would use the package I bought,  but when it got busy, we ate out.   I need to plan better when I know it is going to be busy, and not try and convince myself that I can juggle a busy schedule and cook every night.  That error caused double waste.   I also found two mushy sweet potatoes and the last sandwich slice of ham that was no longer fresh.   

All in all, I feel like we are doing a decent job in our food waste, it may be because we all know we are measuring it.  We are questioning "fresh by" labels, and taste testing things before tossing them.   We are also buying smaller quantities of the things that perish quickly  knowing that we are at the grocery story often, so we can always replenish if we run out.

Looking for more tips on how not to waste food?  Check out this PDF made by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

What are your tips to not waste food? 

Friday, February 14, 2014

February's Sustainable Challenge - Reducing Food Waste

Coupon clipping seems to be all the rage these days.  Clipping Coupons and buying at stores like Costco can save you a bundle on your food costs, right?

MAYBE.... if you consume it before it goes bad.  

The February Zero-Waste challenge is to consider how much food you throw away due to spoilage.  Lately, my family has not been doing well on this, so we are redoubling our effort to be less wasteful in the food department.

Last year I ran across a great blog called Simply Being Mum.  For four years now - Jo has been focusing on reducing her family's food waste.  Her ideas are simple.... and brilliant!  Her tips are great:
  • Meal plan 
  • Shop only from a list 
  • Check to see how it is going along mid-week - to be sure you are on track. 
  • Post and use a shopping list all week for condiments, etc.
  • Clean out your fridge every Friday.  She blogs about her waste to be accountable!
  • Have a "use it up week" if the fridge is getting too full.  
Simply Being Mum got her original inspiration from The Frugal Girl. 

The Frugal Girl posts pictures and explanations for her waste (what went bad this week in the fridge), and what she was able to rescue - because she found it before it was too late!

I know why we waste food in our house.

  • We buy too much of something.  We justify the purchase, because of the great price.  
  • Our fridge is too full - and we forget about things we have, until it is too late.  
  • Last - we just can't seem to pass up the Buy One Get One Deals that seem like a great deal at the time... but when one of the two go in the garbage - that isn't good for anyone.   
To try and break our old bad habits of food waste, I am going to photograph each Friday with what I must throw away, until our efforts to reduce waste start to pay off.

Here's the thing, if we could all stop wasting so much food it would be really good for the environment!  Here is an eye-opening video that explains not just about the food going into the dumpster but about the energy and resources that go into producing the food. It was made by Lovin Spoonfuls, a food rescue organization in Massachusetts.

This video makes me want to learn more about the successes and challenges of our local food banks. It also makes me want to be more mindful about the food we buy, and the waste we generate in our family.  We commit to reducing food waste, and hope you join us on this quest to make less waste!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Guest Post - Valentine Shadow Boxes

Today's Talking a Little Less trash is from Heather Lee.  She is a master at re-purposing materials, and one of our artists in residence at ReCreate. 

Ok, so like me you probably have plenty of pictures laying around with the only real means of displaying them being in a photo album...but lets be honest, how many times do you really LOOK through that album? All of those gorgeous memories sandwiched away between book bindings (or digital albums) got me thinking about creative ways to display them, thus leading to my newest Blog Craft!

 I had taken these Adorable pictures a few years ago of my daughter and niece, but had never printed them out.   I figured it was about time but struggled with how to display them. I mean sure, I could frame them in typical black frames, but I was looking for something more creative.

Earlier this week,  I was walking through the ReCreate warehouse, I noticed some totally neat heart shaped chocolate boxes, and got to thinking that they were just about big enough to fit pictures in! Maybe with a little tweaking and some fancy connecting it would work, so I set on my mission and here is what I did and what I used:


* 2 large & 2 small Heart Shaped Chocolate Boxes
* Red Ribbon (left over from Christmas)
* 4 pieces of Black Cardstock
* 1 8x10 & 2 5x7 pictures
* 6 Small Red roses
* Red Heart beads & tiny mixed beads
* Poem printed about Cousins
* String for back
* Black paint
* Glue gun
* Scissors
* Exacto Knife

Step #1
Pick your photos
I had my local box store print me a couple pictures...It only cost $4.59 but could have been even less expensive had I already had them printed or used my own printer.

Step #2
Arrange your boxes in the configuration you like best!
(I personally like odd numbers for displaying things, so I ended up using 7 total)

Step #3Cut out the card stock to fit the INSIDE of the hearts that will be BEHIND the photos
I used black since it coordinated with my black & white photos but you can use what you prefer.

Step #4
Trim pictures to fit the inside of the frames as best you can

Attach them to the cardstock, but Do Not glue them down into the frames just yet

Also, since I wrote a poem to go with my pictures, I trimmed those as well...the poem reads:

We are COUSINS by Birth
But we knew from the start
Fate brought us together
Forever SISTERS in Heart


Step #5
Hot glue the frames together where they are touching each other
In my arrangement I have all of my frames touching at at least 2 points for stability

Step #6
As I was getting ready to glue all of the pictures in place it just needed SOMETHING...that something for me was coordination and of course nothing coordinates as well as the uniform color BLACK

So no surprise, Step #6 is paint your frames all the same color (if you are not as particular as me, then just move right along to Step #7)

Step #7
Now that your frames are dry (or you skipped ahead)...
Secure the cardstock, photos and poem if you wanted one into place.

Step #8
Add embellishments

I chose to use a little of the red ribbon for the inside lining of the Large box, tiny roses & small beads to accent.

Step #9
You may choose to mod-podge or decoupage the pictures in at this point.
I didn't feel the need for it, but thought I would mention it as an option.

Step #10
Attach some twine, string or wire to the back, hang it up and YOU ARE DONE!

Total cost: $8.59
Time: Approx. 2hrs

Now you have something to do with your boxes after you have indulged in all of those Valentine's Day treats...don't just Toss them, RE-CREATE them!

* And if you are like me and don't particularly care for chocolate (crazy I know), stop by our warehouse store...we have extras and all kinds of other shapes too!
As always, I welcome any and all feedback and questions!

Until next time...be mindful of what your throwing out into our landfills and what YOU could be ReCreating instead!

Happy Crafting!
~Heather Lee