Day #196: Imperfect Produce

Have you tried Imperfect Produce? It’s a company that specializes in distributing and delivering the “ugly” fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. So far, our deliveries have been beautiful. The prices are less than we pay in the store, we get to choose what we want, and we select how often we want a delivery. We most often choose organic but we love the variety. Our most recent box (with no plastic packaging) brought pears, tomatoes, cucumbers, pecans (such a deal!), olives, limes, celery, artichokes, apples. Yum! I’m grateful for the mission and methods of this company … and the innovation of people who are doing their best to help the earth.

Imperfect Produce

Day #175: Toilet Paper

This may be my most mundane GJ post yet, but it’s an important one. For years I have been bothered by our use of tree-based toilet paper. Cutting down old-growth forests for this purpose is disturbing and non-sustainable. So we’ve tried to find the best substitute. At this point, we can recommend Silk ‘n’ Soft, which is 100% bamboo. It is $4 more expensive for the pack than tree-based TP, but the cost of deforestation is much higher. At this point, it is only available on Amazon (even their website steers you to Amazon) but we need to talk with our grocery stores to stock bamboo toilet paper Is it as soft and fluffy as tree-based, heavily-bleached toilet paper? No. But it’s not bad. Not bad at all.

Silk 'n' Soft bamboo toiilet paper

Day #162: Waste not, want not

For several years, I considered writing a blog called “What Would Grandma Do?” In our striving for a life of less consumption, less waste, less harm to the planet, I realized that my grandmother often made do: creatively solving needs for new clothing by sewing and mending; making her own cleaning solutions; growing, canning, and making food to feed large numbers of visitors; re-using everything she could; making gifts designed to please the recipients; and buying as little as possible. She was a wonderful role model, providing hundreds of lessons and examples. I’m grateful for my grandmother for many reasons, but her role as chatelaine of her two-bedroom, one-bath manor guides me now. (Photo: my grandmother, my mother, my great-grandmother, and me)

Four Generations

Day #140: A Long Reach

I am my mother’s daughter. She loved gadgets and I follow in her wake. You may have surmised by now that I will search relentlessly for just the right tool to make cleaning and maintenance easier. We have a vaulted ceiling and several nooks and crannies that are impossible to reach, even with a ladder and a dust mop. My checklist: 1) it should use our washable flannel-fingered dust cloths (an earlier post), 2) it should reach at least six feet, 3) it should have no plastic parts. Finally, I found the closest thing I could. I am grateful that we will at long last have dust-free (and arachnid-free) corners and ceilings that can be cleaned easily and regularly. This Swiffer duster has a six-foot reach. It easily accommodates those reusable flannel dusters. The expanding pole is aluminum, but It does have a plastic handle and a plastic swivel mechanism. How to justify buying plastic? Well, if we refrain from using the duster for sword play practice, it should last for the rest of our lives. We won’t put this plastic back into the waste stream. Not a perfect solution, but very close.

Day #97: Our Coral Reefs

I am grateful for the research and awareness-raising that scientists, science writers, funders, and volunteers have committed to saving OUR coral reefs by recognizing the threats to their existence and developing new methods for rehabilitating the reefs that have been bleached. We can all help this vital part of our ecosystem, no matter how far away we live. This article, “Saving the Coral Reefs,” provides background, information about what’s being done, and concludes with contributions we can make. It’s our earth!

Saving Our Coral Reefs

Day #55: Cloth Napkins

Many years ago, we stopped using paper napkins. Cloth napkins feel so nice and they dress up even the most informal table. A number of our guests look at us askance and eventually ask something like, “Why would you want to wash napkins?” Well, you know, that landfill thing.

We have white napkins that go with any table setting. Some of our tablecloths have matching napkins, but I love the variety because a tablescape can always look different. And you can sew your own!

And then there’s napkin folding! What a joy! I always reserve five or ten minutes before guests arrive to sit down calmly and enjoy folding napkins. I have a book that I flip through for inspiration but just try looking up “folding napkins” on Pinterest! Wow. Endless inspiration.

I am grateful for opportunities to make everyday life and special occasions beautiful.

Day #49: Glass Storage

Roughly 10 years ago, a dear friend of ours was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor advised her to stop using plastic storage dishes immediately and never again cook in plastic. She relayed this to us and even gave us several glass dishes to substitute for prizes from a lifetime of Tupperware parties. We took her seriously and I am grateful for her advice. As we could, we switched over to using Ball canning jars to put up food in the freezer. (We donated our Tupperware—and my mother’s and grandmother’s—to Goodwill.) We switched to Pyrex for other types of storage. (Pyrex has plastic lids but they are sturdy, haven’t cracked, and don’t need replacing as other brands have.) We don’t fill either the jars or glass storage dishes with less than an inch of head room, so we’ve never had an exploding jar or cracked dish (and the plastic doesn’t touch the food). Smithsonian magazine wrote about Pyrex on its 100th birthday in 2015. 

Ball jars and Pyrex

Day #23: Composting

composting

As we cut up vegetables for a winter stew this morning, I find myself grateful for composting! It’s not hard to do.

If you don’t enjoy getting your hands dirty, you can make a one-time purchase of a turnable compost bin (which can be placed right outside your back door … and you can roll it away if you don’t like it out for company).

Inside the house, a compost pail receives all your food scraps (no meat, no bones, no invitations for raccoons and other foraging critters). You can even purchase biodegradable liner bags for the pail so you can lift the scraps out and take them to the compost bin. No mess!

Turn the compost several times and wait until it becomes black gold. Spread it over your garden as a marvelous soil amendment. If you don’t have a garden, cast it over your lawn. Your lawn will find it yummy. And if you don’t have a lawn or a garden, many areas in the country have a community compost service.

We keep trying to reduce what we put into the waste stream. It’s all about saving our Earth and every little bit each of us can do will help.

Day #19: Straws

A practical tip for this day: straws. Another form of plastic that contributes 500 million straws into our landfills every single day in the US. We only use them when eating out and we often ask the wait staff to skip the straw … but sometimes that glass doesn’t look friendly. Consider taking along your own straw. These bamboo or stainless steel versions are affordable, tuck easily into a purse or backpack or portfolio. By request, I’ve included manufacturer names so you can order your own. I am grateful for the ingenuity that is finding practical ways to lessen our impact on our Earth. For more info, The Last Plastic Straw

bamboo straws and stainless steel straws