Adding “Sustainable” to Our Biographies

We’re still in the process of moving.  Life’s hectic.  Our “stuff” is everywhere – the car, the condo, the boxes, the bags, the bedroom – just everywhere.  What does that mean for you?  1) Limited posts as I try to unpack, organize, clean, and complete hw assignments.  2) No photos.  I have my camera.  I do not have my camera charger.  Dead cameras don’t take great pictures.  3) No Wednesday Wines this week once again.  Wine costs money.  Money I have not.  So wine I do not have.

But wait! Before you wander off, sad and depressed with my lack of photos, posts, and wine updates, you might be interested in learning about some major changes we’re making to our living arrangements.

Dustin and I have made the decision to move in with our dear friend Brittney and her fantastic boyfriend, Spenser (he’s my cousin, too!).  Now, if any of you know Brittney, you know that she LOVES being in the kitchen.  She has many wonderful cooking plans and makes delicious, hearty meals.  We recently discussed how we both have grandiose plans that are never carried out.  We blame this on our living situations – it’s so hard to make big meals and fabulous desserts when you’re a family of 2.  But the tides are turning.  No longer are we 2 families of 2, but a family of 4 (and 5 actually, since Brittney’s brother lives with her as well)!  What does this mean??

Cooking! Lots and lots of cooking.  We have ideas up the wazoo, and they’reactually going to happen.  Here is a list of ideas we’ve recently talked about:

  1. Healthy, hearty meals, every night of the week.  We’re talking Braised Whole Chicken w/ Stuffing and Pureed Vegetable Sauce, served with Sauteed Garlic Asparagus and Herb Potato Gnocchi; Roasted Halibut w/ Potatoes, Lemon, and Thyme served atop a bed of greens; Grilled Porter-soaked Short Ribs w/ a Maple-Rosemary Glaze served with a Quinoa and Brown Rice blend and Sauteed Green Beans w/ almonds.
  2. Creating a sustainable household.  What does that mean?  Limiting our use of electricity, hanging laundry out to dry, leaving the lights off during the day; using mason jars to store our goods and bringing our own bags and jars to the grocery store; growing our own vegetables; purchasing locally raised, grass fed beef and free-range chicken, cage-free eggs from local farmers, and crops we can’t grow from farmer’s markets.  These are the things we can easily do to limit our impact on the environment, so we’re going to make the effort to actually do them.  You should do your part too!
  3. Growing our own produce and herbs- tomatoes, potatoes, corn, lettuce, carrots, onions, radishes, strawberries, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
  4. Making our own foods that could easily be store bought – tomato sauce, salsa, pesto, corn tortillas, bread, cookies, cereals, soups, and stock.  These lists are certainly not all-inclusive.
  5. Limiting our trash.  Have you ever heard of trash free living?  Check it out.  While we know going completely trash-free is nearly impossible, we do want to limit the number of trash bags that we fill.  You might be wondering how one goes about decreasing the amount of trash produced.  Here’s what we’re thinking of doing:
  • Buying bulk foods- not BJ’s kind of bulk, rather co-op bulk… almonds, cashews, peanuts, granola, oats, flours, baking soda/powder, beans, pastas, etc.  You can purchase the amount you need, rather than buying two, three, or four boxes/bags/cans of needed items.
  • Using our own mason jars to collect the bulk items.  Many of the natural food stores around will tare jars and bags that you bring in so that they may be used to transport dry goods back to your home.  This eliminates the plastic bags used to purchase items from bulk bins, as well as the plastic, cardboard, metals, and resins used to package canned and bagged goods on the shelf.
  • Bringing our own cloth bags to the store – many grocery stores even give you bag discounts if you bring your own.  3 cents off per bag is an easy way to save a few pennies here and there.
  • Bringing reusable coffee mugs to the coffee shop – this could be gas stations, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Bruegger’s, the grocery store.  Think about it: one cup of coffee / day at the gas station on the way to work means approximately 250 cups, lids, and straws (if applicable) thrown out every year on your behalf.  With a reusable mug?  Zero cups, lids, and maybe 250 straws.  Eliminating the straws? Zero cups, zero lids, zero straws = zero waste.  Yes, you will still have your sugar packet scraps if you use them.  But! The packets are paper and can be recycled.  Don’t just throw them in the trash! Recycle them!
  • Going without – do we really need soda?  Absolutely not.  If we do, we don’t need 12 aluminum filled cans of the stuff, that’s for sure.  Maybe we want a root beer float.  Sounds delicious.  We’ll go out and purchase some good old-fashioned, glass-bottled IBC or some locally brewed Vermont Root Beer.  These beverages are packed in glass bottles that can be recycled or reused as flower vases or craft projects, with labels made of paper that can be recycled.  There are some goods that we may just go without.  Oreo cookies packaged in plastic trays wrapped in more plastic?  We’ll pass.  We may just go without Doritos and Lays.  Is this really a big deal? Nope.  Think about how many calories and preservatives you’re protecting yourself from.
  • Shopping at farmer’s markets.  You can purchase so many great items from these events – fruits, vegetables, meats, soaps, baked goods, honey, syrup, greeting cards, crafts and the list goes on.   Why not support your local honey maker, rather than the guy from Illinois whose bottle was shipped across the country to arrive in your local store, and then your kitchen.  Chances are, the individual selling the honey at the market is the beekeeper herself.  So not only do you know that the honey was produced just down the road, you can actually speak to the woman who collected it, packaged it and who is now selling it to you.
  • Composting.  We will soon begin collecting our food scraps (except meat – you don’t want to be composting rotting meat) and then composting them in a bin in the backyard.  With a charcoal filter compost pail for the kitchen, the stink stays in the bucket and not the air.

Of course there are things we’ll keep on doing, even though we probably shouldn’t.  I really enjoy the convenience of K-Cups.  But talk about wasteful! Nothing is recyclable… not the plastic, not the foil film.  I do hope that soon Green Mountain will change their production ways.  The Vue cups are already one step ahead, with a part recyclable cup.  I only just purchased my Keurig, though, and can not yet afford a new Vue Machine.  Please GMCR, make K-cups more environmentally friendly very soon!

On the topic of sustainability, there’s one more thing I’d like to throw out there that I just got wind of: Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging program.  Amazon is working with manufacturers to eliminate the additional packaging that comes with products… think all the plastic ties holding the item to the cardboard and the impossible to open plastic casing – gone!  Well, Amazon’s helping make that happen.  Not only does this eliminate the frustration customers experience trying to get into the packages, but also eliminates the additional materials used to get the items from the factory to you.  Neat!

Earth’s resources are limited and we’re doing our part to help make them last longer.  My goal for you: try to take one of these ideas – any one, it’s up to you – and implement it into your life.  Maybe you’ll use a reusable mug once a week.  Maybe you’ll stick bags in your car to use at the grocery store when you remember them. Any step in a sustainable direction is a good step forward.

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