Friday, January 18, 2008

I'm Entitled to Change My Mind

I've been chewing over Chile's challenge for the last week now and have changed, to a certain degree, the way I approach reduction, re-use and recycling. Here's my wrap up.


Make Your Own
No matter how much we re-use or recycle, if we're truly going to make a dent in our garbage, we need to reduce. Inspired by both the Re-Think It Challenge and Fake Plastic Fish's post about plastic recycling, I decided to reduce the amount of plastic I go through - recyclable or not. The biggest culprits in my recycle bin are plastic food and drink containers. I'm still working my way through the milk but as for the food and juice, the best way to deal with it is to make you own. I've done this for jam and pasta sauce - why not the spicy cilantro chutney I load up on from my friendly purveyor of Indian delights at the farmer's market. Using my increasingly flexible cooking skills, I used farmer's market ingredients to whip up a damn good chutney - packed, of course, in re-used glass jars. Viola!

Doesn't that sound fancy? I'm not talking about an old house - though you could do that too. Just repair what's broken. The challenge motivated me to tackle the stack of items crying out for repair. I fixed three pairs of sunglasses that needed a new screw, mended three socks and two pair of pants. We need to get out of the mind set that a pair of pants with a hole or sunglasses without a screw are trash. They are just a project.

I broke a decorative glass jar used to store cotton swabs. The jar has been cracked forever and I guess it had finally had enough. Rather than tear out to Target for a new, better jar, I simply made do with a less attractive but equally functional jar.


I'm not opposed to re-use of materials but I don't relish the image of me as an old lady smothered by millions of #5 yogurt containers I've saved for years. For me, it only makes sense to keep containers you can use readily. Now that I am making more of our own food, I've found many a re-use for glass jars and the occasional plastic tub.

While re-using plastic containers is new to me, I've been re-using ribbon, wrapping material and buttons for years. I keep a ribbon box, button jar and wrapping box in the closet and any material that comes into the house that falls into one of those categories finds a home in the appropriate container until needed. I recently read that 38,000 miles of ribbon (enough to tie the world in a bow) is thrown out every year. That's a good reason to start a ribbon box. So is the fact that you can save money and still have beautifully wrapped presents every year. ;-)


I have a couple medium sized cardboard boxes in the garage to be recycled - too small to become houses or cars for the kids and too big to freecycle as shipping boxes. Other than that, here's all of my recycling for an entire week. Pretty good, eh? I've definitely learned to re-think stuff this week. Thanks Chile!


Chile said...

Glad the week worked well for you and got you (re)thinking, Green Bean. Keep up the good work!

me said...

i think this post was inspirational. We're greening up around here. Step-by-step things like this are very easy to remember. Thanks!

Sheri said...

hi - just found your blog through Crunchy Chicken. great post!

Erika said...

I notice you have a wine bottle in your recycle... There are tons of 'home brewers' around that drool over a case of free bottles :-)

Crafty Green Poet said...

excellent post, very well organised!

Green Bean said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad this was helpful for folks. This was our lowest amount of garbage and recycling yet and I'm hoping what I've learned will carry over in the future.

Erika: I had no idea! What do you recommend? Save the wine bottles and then freecycle them?

Erika said...

Green Bean -
'bout the bottles... I would craigslist or freecycle 'em, OR post at local co-op or store that sells brewing supplies. I found out about this when I was working in a coffee stand - folks would come through and ask if we had any empty glass bottles they could bottle their own wine in.

Green Bean said...

Sweet! Thanks for the reply, Erika. We have pretty much everything in the Bay Area - except co-ops. Lame, huh? I'll save them from now on though. Thanks for the tip!

MadeInUSABlogger said...

Great blog! I too am a recycle addict. I save glass jars and use them to store leftovers in the fridge, instead of buying or using plastic (don't want the leaching).

I have recently began to save my cardboard. The city accepts corrugated cardboard for recycling but not cardboard like cereal boxes. I discovered the local recycling center accepts all cardboard. I didn't realize how much my family and I wasted cardboard until I started saving it for recycling. Made a big difference in our trash load.

I recycle and repurpose lots of other stuff too.

BeyondGreen said...

Just wanted to share this workbook my brother just published.(I got the beauty he got the brains LOL!)It covers everything from how to measure the amount of energy that your car really needs!! (as opposed to how much gas it eats). It also shows you how to measure the difference of energy used at low speeds and high speeds, lets you calculate the engine’s energy efficiency, and how your car’s energy compares to other things like energy in your home. The measurements are really easy to do. It also compares and explains the use of solar panels, wind power and electric cars and hybrids. It is an informative workbook that links all this information in an easy to calculate and understand fashion.


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