It’s the Weekend!

Happy Weekend! We’ve had different family members in town for the past two weeks and it’s been lovely. So nice to slowly return to pre-Covid times and spend time with loved ones. This weekend, our family is celebrating a wedding anniversary so we might take a day trip to Maine. Our younger one specifically asked if she can dip her feet in the ocean. If you’ve been to the ocean in Maine, you know it’s freezing this time of year but I love she’s excited for these simple pleasures. I hope to keep cultivating this joy as she grows. One way is by teaching her to love and protect our Mother Earth. Let’s see what’s happening in climate news this week

As someone who recently learned to ski and loves it, I can totally understand the concern in this article. At the same time, I like how people are brainstorming to protect an industry during changing times. Preserving winter: Climate change and the uncharted effect on N.H. tourism. The effect climate change will have on winter sports and tourism is an uncharted terrain for New Hampshire. Several industry experts gave their ideas on what Granite Staters and out of state tourists who love the winter and the activities that come with it can do to alleviate the effects of a warming climate during a panel discussion last week organized by the League of Conservation Voters. Ideas included forest protection, voting green, move to renewable energy sources, including electric vehicles and installing solar panels.

So many of us cleaned out our closets when we were staying home and looking for things to do. However sending everything to Goodwill isn’t the answer. Especially if the item isn’t in “buyable” condition. “We are really thankful that people think of us and don’t directly go to a landfill, ” said Amanda Herr, an assistant manager for Goodwill who was at the Concord store Wednesday. “But it does make it tougher for us.”The problem is similar to “wish-cycling,” in which people put non-recyclable items in their recycling bin because it makes them feel better than throwing something out. In both cases, this wishful thinking not only fails to do good but does actual harm.

Animal extinction is never a fun topic to discuss but it’s an impending reality if we don’t make some changes. Lemurs and giant tortoises among species at risk if global heating hits 3C. If the world manages to stick to 1.5C of warming, just 2% of land-based endemic species would be at risk of extinction, compared with 20% at more than 3C, according to the analysis of hundreds of existing studies. Species are endemic if they are only found in one place, such as an island, mountain range or single country.

To end on a positive note, it’s great to see both sides of Congress starting to agree that climate change is real and needs addressing. Why the House Republicans’ plan to fight climate change matters. House Republicans plan to unveil their own plan to fight climate change later this month, according to three people familiar with the matter, a reflection of the pressure on the party to come up with solutions to a problem it had previously denied or ignored. The legislative package, being spearheaded by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, is still being assembled but is expected to include a plan to plant as many as a trillion trees, said two of the people who asked not to be identified in describing private communications.

And now here’s a recap of other topics Hannah and I discussed this week on GreenLifeNH!

Like what you see? Make sure to subscribe (look on the bottom of the home page) and tell us what you thought about the articles. Which did you find most interesting or important? You can also follow us on instagram – @greenlifenh. We are all on this journey together. – Rachel

Why does it have to be so f-ing hard sometimes?

I just spent an embarrassing amount of time figuring out what to do with a bunch of empty dog food bags. I’m sharing this story because I want to illustrate how hard it can be to be low-waste in our wasteful country and because I know we, as consumers, have the power to change that. Some low or zero waste changes are easy. This one has not been easy at all.

Here’s the sordid tale…

We have two big dogs so we go through a lot of dog food. We usually fill one bag up with as many other bags as we can cram into it and then put it in the recycling. The bags have the recycling symbol on them and we’ve always just assumed they were recyclable. But you know what assuming does…

My dogs did actually chase buffalo when we lived in South Dakota, and I can assure you they would never, ever be able to capture and eat one. But don’t tell them that!

After writing a post on recycling thin plastics, I got curious about our practice of recycling dog food bags and called our local recycling company to see if the bags were, in fact, recyclable. Turns out they aren’t! In fact, those bags can jam the machinery at the recycling plant. So, I called the dog food company and asked how they would suggest I recycle the bags, since our curbside wouldn’t take them. The lady seemed baffled by my question and said the recycling symbol meant they were recyclable, end of story. So I asked my Facebook Zero Waste group and found out this was a problem for a lot of people. I got some good suggestions for repurposing the bags as trash bags or even sewing them into tote bags, but the only suggestion I got for recycling them was through Terracycle, which I’d already researched.

Our dogs – Frankie and Jake – are a BIG part of our family. We adopted them when we lived on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and they have been with us through thick and thin. Now, if only their food was low-waste!

I love Terracycle, but the problem with the program is that it requires either the manufacturer or the customer to pay for the service. In the case of our chip bags, the company pays for the service, so we just request a packing label and send them on their merry way. But to recycle random dog food bags (i.e. not from a participating company), I would need to spend $110 for a special pet food Terracycle box, so I wrote to the store where I buy the dog food and suggested they get a Terracycle box for their store. Lukewarm response. Since that is likely not happening, I am still stuck with all these bags.

So, where do I go from here? Clearly I am not going to be paying $110 to recycle my bags and clearly I am not going to turn them into totes (it may seem like I have tons of time because I hang my laundry on a clothesline, but I don’t) and I can’t use them as trash bags (we are required to use trash bags that tie), so I guess they are going in the trash. After all that f-ing work.

My next steps are going to be 1) switch to a participating dog food company, so I can use Terracycle for free, and then 2) look for a dog food that comes in a paper bag so I can compost or recycle it as paper instead because, as much as I love Terracycle, I’d rather not be mailing plastic bags unnecessarily. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve already tried doing an Ecosia search for “dog food in paper bag” and nothing productive came of it (I did, however, find bird food in a paper bag at Agway, so I made that switch). My third step will be to create my own dog food company and distribute the food in bulk bins and people can fill reusable bags or containers*.

My real question is this – why does it have to be so f-ing hard? I need to feed my dogs and I’d like to be able to do it with as little waste as possible. Why should I, as the consumer, have to work so hard to make this happen?

And this is just one example of the many, many roadblocks we encounter on our quest for a low-waste lifestyle. I’m sharing it with you not to discourage you, but to encourage you. The more we, as consumers, can act as squeaky wheels, to question wasteful business models, and to speak up for ourselves, the faster businesses will adopt sustainable practices. Businesses want to make money. We want low-waste dog food. We should be able to make that happen!

– Hannah

*If you’d like to steal the refillable pet food idea, please, please, please do because I am actually never going to do it and I will totally be your first customer and biggest supporter.

And, if anyone has figured out a solution to this problem, please let me know in the comments!

Guest Post! Why You Should Join a CSA

Today we have a guest post from Melina Caron of Local Harvest! Melina is the public face of Local Harvest and coordinates everything between the farmers and members, while ensuring smooth operations throughout the seasons. We were connected by my friend Barbara, who also helps the collective by teaching some cooking classes. Learn more about CSAs and how you can help your local farmer while also receiving the benefits of fresh produce. Please reach out with any questions. Enjoy! – Rachel

We all know that eating fresh vegetables and fruits is a healthy choice that we can make for our families. By purchasing these crops directly from local farmers, we can help nourish not just our bodies, but our communities too.  Local, family-owned farms play an integral role in NH community health and well-being. Our farmers grow the food we eat, steward the land we inhabit and contribute to our local economy. We can support our local farmers by becoming CSA members, shopping at farmer’s markets and choosing local when possible. 

We are fortunate to have lots of local food grown in NH. Local Harvest CSA is a cooperative of five, certified organic, NH family farms in the greater Concord area. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a partnership between farmers and members rooted in reciprocity. Essentially, by purchasing CSA shares (also called farm shares) in the early season, members are providing farms with a loan that is paid back in affordable, fresh, organic vegetables and fruits over the course of the growing season. 

As a community we share recipes, prep & storage tips, and offer workshops to help each other make the most of the harvest. Everyone shares in the bounty and eats along with the season. Most importantly, organic, locally grown food is absolutely delicious. Because it’s harvested at peak-ripeness, the produce retains all the flavors and nutrients that too-often are missing in commercial agriculture. CSA is a great option for those that enjoy eating and being creative in the kitchen. Throughout the season members can expect to receive fresh leafy greens, herbs, juicy tomatoes, fruits, sweet corn, crunchy roots, winter squash and much more. 

We hope you’ll consider joining us for the upcoming season and support your local farmers! For more information on share sizes, pickup locations, and other offerings please visit localharvestnh.com. Together we’re growing a strong, resilient food system for our community. 

DIY Backyard Vegetable Gardening so easy my Five-Year-Old is doing it!

I have been organic vegetable gardening at a community garden for the last five years and it has been wonderful, satisfying, and productive, but it hasn’t been particularly easy. Oh, some things (garlic, snap peas, and kale, for example) seem to grow themselves, but others (I’m looking at you, potatoes, squash, and melons) take a lot of work and attention. It’s been a labor of love.

But vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be hard. I’ve been researching an easy method called Square Foot Gardening and I’m excited to share our square foot garden with you this year. Anyone with a bit of time, a bit of money, and a bit of yard can do it, including my five-year-old daughter, who is totally committed to the project.

Square foot gardening was developed by Mel Bartholomew to increase garden space and time efficiency. The method helps take the guesswork out of planting and simplifies the process. You can read more about it on the Square Foot Gardening website or borrow his books from your local library.

The genius part of square foot gardening is the way it divides the garden into a grid and tells you how many of each plant can be planted in each square foot. For example, you can plant one tomato plant or 16 carrot plants in the same amount of space. This really takes the guesswork out of gardening and gives you maximum yields for limited space, like a raised bed, which is Bartholomew’s preferred garden structure.

This chart show how many of each plant can be grown in one square foot of garden space.

My daughter and I measured and divided our homemade raised bed into square feet using leftover yarn from a knitting project instead of scrap wood, as he suggests because a) we didn’t have the right size scrap wood and b) I was feeling lazy. It was good mental and physical exercise for her (she enjoyed the hammering much more than the measuring).

Once we had the bed divided into sections, we planted our snap pea seeds. Snap peas are seriously the best plants for kids because you plant them early (like now!), the seeds are big and easy to deal with (just stick your finger in an inch deep and drop in a seed, then cover), they are fun to pick, and they taste delicious. If you do nothing else, plant some peas! We planted 8 per square, as recommended. We’ll add a trellis later to support them.

I start most of our plants inside these days because it’s cheaper and less wasteful (I reuse the same flats and pots over and over), but if you’re new to gardening, I would recommend buying tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and herbs from your gardening store. These plants need a longer growing season than New Hampshire can give them and need to be started inside. You can plant squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, corn, and greens directly into your garden. You can find a super helpful seed-starting chart on SquareFootGardening.com.

My daughter really enjoyed planting the snap peas. She has planted them in her plot at the community garden before, but in a less organized way. Square foot gardening appealed to her sense of order. 🙂

I hope square foot gardening will help jump start your vegetable garden this spring. Stay tuned for more square foot gardening as the spring and summer progress. I’ll also share about my own much bigger and much less orderly garden.

Start planting!

– Hannah

1000 Hours Monthly Check-In

I’ve always striven to be honest on this site so I’ll just say it – I’ve lost count of our hours! I can give an estimate, because I know how much recess my girls get at school and what we do during our free time. So my guess is roughly around 155 hours to date. Not sure we’re well on our way to 1000 but we’re trying! And here’s the thing – we’re definitely getting outside way more than we were in previous years. My husband likes to joke that he hibernates in the winter and I used to bribe my girls with hot chocolate for 30 minutes of outside snow play. But now they know at least one hour of outside time is expected on the weekends if they want “screen time” (man, oh man) and they get it done unless it’s bitterly cold or windy (I’m not that cruel). Point is that we’re definitely spending more time outdoors, and even if we don’t make it to 1000, I’ll still call that a win.

NH: Where we still wear snow pants in April

Plus, the days are getting warmer and longer! My older one is much happier once winter is gone and then naturally gravitates outside without some maternal pushing. Playground season has also returned, soon to be followed by lake and pool time! In Barefoot and Balanced, Angela Hanscom talks about the perils of relying too much on a swing-set. She believes that children should be swayed away from the physical structure and pointed more towards the woods, imaginative play, physical risk taking etc. What do you think? I can see her point but that rule can be hard to follow in practical life. One of my children loves the woods and nature walks; the other could happily swing on the monkey bars for hours. I’ve therefore decided not to be strict about what my kids do outside. Instead I’ve concluded that outside is outside, and fresh air combined with physical movement is good enough for me. What are your thoughts? If you don’t have kids, have you tried this challenge for yourself? I’m working on pushing myself outdoors more, too, and my mental health has benefited! – Rachel

Happy Easter Weekend!

It might be cold today but spring is officially here and it’s Easter weekend. We might try dying some eggs for fun using alternative, natural agents like coffee and tumeric. If all else fails, it’ll be a fun experiment to do with the girls. Also, if you’re still looking for Easter basket ideas, Hannah offers some low waste yet kid-approved options. Regardless, the weather will be nice so I hope you get outside. I’m always itching to get onto the trails this time of year, but was cautioned that we should refrain due to mud and route preservation. Do you follow that practice? It’s so hard to stay away! In the meantime, let’s see what’s happening in eco-news. I’m especially excited about an infrastructure announcement that the Biden administration made this week.

First, let’s get the negative out of the way…

Most couples may have to use assisted reproduction by 2045. The professor of environmental medicine explains how chemicals in plastics are causing our fertility to decline – and what we can do about it

We’re drowning in single-use plastics. A problem this big requires large-scale action. The numbers are massive: 100 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. each year, with just 1% recycled. Add that to 100 million plastic utensils a day and 120 billion disposable cups per year and the scale of the problem starts to come into focus even before you talk about straws and takeout containers and plastic bottles and so many other single-use plastics we wouldn’t need to use if only they weren’t so inescapable.

On a more positive note…

Annual Recycling Conference via the Northeast Resource Recovery Association. It’s a new year, and NRRA’s annual recycling conference will be held virtually over two mornings: Monday, May 10th and Tuesday, May 11th from 8:00 am-noon. We are inviting solid waste and recycling operators and supervisors, department of public works staff, town administrators, select board members, recycling committee members, government officials, legislators, school teachers, administrators and students, and residents interested in recycling and waste reduction to join us.  

Amtrak wish list includes passenger rail to Concord. Passenger rail up to Concord is part of a wish-list map of new and improved routes issued by Amtrak in response to President Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan. The map, titled “A vision to grow rail service across America,” includes new service from Boston through Manchester to Concord, as well as “enhanced services” along the Acela line that runs up the Atlantic coast from Boston into Maine and the north-south line from Springfield, Mass., up the west bank of the Connecticut River to Burlington, Vt. Yes yes yes! Let’s do this. I would LOVE a train into Boston for so many reasons. I hope this plan comes into fruition within the next few years.

And now here’s a recap of other topics Hannah and I discussed this week on GreenLifeNH!

Like what you see? Make sure to subscribe (look on the bottom of the home page) and tell us what you thought about the articles. Which did you find most interesting or important? You can also follow us on instagram – @greenlifenh. We are all on this journey together. – Rachel

Be the Change – Join these two challenges today!

The family and I have been working hard this spring on our new Square Foot Garden (post on that to follow). Our goal is to plant salad green and snack foods close at hand so we don’t have to bike to our community garden every time we want a snap pea or cherry tomato. We are also planning a Pollinator Paradise (post upcoming on that too) to replace a random gravel rectangle near our new house.

We are so lucky to have the land, the resources, and the knowledge to make these things happen. We are also lucky to have farmers markets and grocery stores nearby with tons of fresh, healthy, organic produce. Many people in the United States are not that lucky.

The Million Gardens Movement wants to create a million new vegetable gardens to fight food insecurity and empower people to grow their own healthy food. By donating to the project, you will help families in food deserts gain access to the resources they need to provide their own food. By adding your own vegetable garden to their database, you are helping to strengthen the community of gardeners. You will also gain access to tons of helpful gardening advice and resources, including a step-by-step garden planner and specific information on growing all kinds of vegetables.

The fight to protect pollinators is not just about saving beautiful butterflies, pollinators are responsible for 1/3 of the food we eat! Planting your own pollinator garden adds beauty to your yard and diversifies your local ecosystem. Not all flowers attract pollinators, but you can find your regionally specific pollinators and their plants of choice at the Pollinator Partnership (super helpful resource). Once you’ve planted your garden, you can add your garden to the Million Garden Pollinator Challenge, which seeks to create a national system of gardens to give refuge and food to pollinators of all shapes and sizes.

Not ready to start your own vegetable or pollinator garden? You can still be part of the movement by donating to the Million Gardens Movement and the Million Garden Pollinator Challenge. Encourage family, friends, and businesses to help too.

– Hannah

Guest Post! Make Your Own Soap

I’m part of a like-minded Facebook group of zero-wasters in NH and recently saw a post where Amy Lamb generously offered to give away some of her homemade soap. Of course, I jumped at the chance to learn more and asked Amy to share her recipe with us on GreenLifeNH. Amy graciously accepted and wrote this thorough and interesting post for us. I think this project would be fun to do on your own or with older kids. Thanks, Amy! I’m excited to try it! – Rachel

Hi All!  Amy here, member of the Zero Waste NH facebook group, avid DIYer, and guest blogger today on GreenLifeNH!  I have been making my own soap on and off for several years now, and I must say that every time I dust off the supplies and make a batch from start to finish, I remember how easy and inexpensive it is. I wonder why I don’t do it more often.  

Like many hobbies, the biggest investment is the supplies; to make your own soap, you will want to have a set of designated tools that you use for soap-making and soap-making only.  One of the ingredients in soap-making is lye, which is very caustic and can damage materials and utensils over time, and is also something you don’t want to consume!  But, don’t worry!  Once the chemical reaction of saponification, or creating soap, is complete, no lye remains.  It is just better to take precautions and be safe when working with and handling lye. 

The supplies that you will need for this recipe are:

  • Old crockpot (or extra ceramic liner) that is no longer used for food
  • Tempered glass measuring container such as an old coffee pot, Pyrex measuring cup, or Mason jar (I have only used the coffee pot method, but any glass that is tempered to handle hot liquids should work.)
  • Wooden spoon (must be a non-reactive material; avoid metal)
  • Kitchen scale (this doesn’t have to be designated for soap-making only)
  • Immersion blender 
  • Thermometer 
  • Gloves, mask, and goggles
  • Soap mold (This is the fun part!  Raid your recycling bin for OJ or milk cartons, boxes, cardboard tubes, and plastic containers.  If the material is not waxed/shiny, you will want to line with parchment paper.  You can also use a loaf pan or proper soap mold.)

Once you have your soapmaking kit, you’re ready to get started!  Creating soap requires three key ingredients: 

  1. Oils and/or fats 
  2. Lye (or more scientifically, sodium hydroxide)
  3. Water

Lye is first combined with the water, which makes it dissolve and also gives off heat.  Then, the fats/oils are melted.  Once the ingredients are about the same temperature, the lye-water solution is added to the fats/oils.  A chemical reaction occurs, which is sped-up by an immersion blender, and the mixture starts to get a puddling-like consistency, called “trace”.  In “hot process” soap recipes, the mixture is cooked in a crock pot to further speed-up the chemical reaction, and the resulting soap does not need to sit before using.  With “cold-process” recipes, the resulting soap has to cure so that the chemical reaction completes, which can take several weeks.  I like hot process soap because it is ready to use almost immediately.

The recipe I am sharing today is for a utilitarian soap: it’s great for washing dishes and creating your own powdered or liquid laundry soap (recipe at the end!).  It’s not recommended as a body soap, since it is only “superfatted” to 1%. That means that the recipe has very little excess fat, which is what gives soap its skin conditioning properties. Instead, most of the fat reacts with lye during saponification, making this a great cleaning bar.  That said, it is the only bar next to my kitchen sink and I have used it to wash hands with no adverse effects.  I also like that this recipe uses what is often thought of as a waste product – lard (pork fat) – which can be obtained from local farmers.

Recipe: 

2 lb lard 

4.4 oz lye

10 oz distilled water

***Note: You can also use tallow, lard, or a solid vegetable oil, but you MUST run the recipe through a lye calculator since different fats require different amounts of lye and oil.

Steps:  (For more detail, see this recipe!)

  1. Measure ingredients using kitchen scale, each in separate containers.  (Lye is best measured in an item rescued from the recycling bin, or a paper cup.)  Important: measure as exactly as you can.  Err on the side of less lye rather than more.
  2. Add the water to the tempered glass container.  Using goggles, gloves, and eye protection, carefully sprinkle in the lye, and stir with the wooden spoon until dissolved (DO NOT add water to lye, ALWAYS add lye to water, or else there may be a strong reaction!).  Allow to cool so that mixture is warm but not hot.
  3. Add fat to crock pot and allow to melt over low heat.
  4. Add cooled lye solution to melted fat, and stir to combine.  
  5. Use the immersion blender to thoroughly mix fat and lye solution for 3-5 minutes until mixture begins to thicken, or “trace”.  
  6. Cover crock pot and allow mixture to “cook” for one hour.  You can stir occasionally to make sure that mixture cooks evenly.  When done, mixture should look like the image below, a bit chunky and soap-like.  It’s a bit odd, but you can test for doneness by touching a tiny bit of the mixture to your tongue; if you feel a slight “zap” sensation, soap needs to continue cooking.  If you just taste soap, then it’s done!  Spit profusely.
  7. Prepare your molds (line with parchment paper if using). Spoon soap into molds and smooth over top.  Work quickly because soap begins setting as it cools.
  8. Allow to sit for 24 hours, then slice into bars.  
  9. You can use immediately, and/or store remaining bars in a cool, dry place and spaced well to allow for good air flow.  Use for doing dishes or you make your own laundry soap – recipe below. Enjoy!

DIY laundry soap powder: 

Grate soap using a microplane zester (works best and easiest to clean).  Mix equal parts grated soap with Super Washing Soda.  Add essential oils to your taste – I like lavender especially.  

(As always when working with chemicals and hot water, please do so cautiously and at your own risk. Thank you!)

My Low Waste Breakfast – An introduction to bulk buying

Chances are you, like me, eat the same thing for breakfast most mornings. For my family, it’s oatmeal. Big hearty bowls of oatmeal, flavored with peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, and a splash of maple syrup. When berries, apples, peaches, and other fruits are in season, we add those too.

In order to make our breakfast as efficient – environmentally, economically, and practically – as possible, we buy all of our breakfast supplies in bulk. Bulk shopping means we get the best price for items we would buy anyway. It cuts down on our trash because bulk foods come in large, recyclable/compostable sacks or boxes instead of small, plastic containers or bags. We used to fill containers at the Concord Coop bulk bins, which they fill from those big sacks and boxes, but realized, since we eat so much, we could just skip the middle man and buy the sacks and boxes directly from them.

Tea is our drink of choice and luckily it’s super green. We fill jar with tea at the Coop or Granite State Naturals and use our “tea balls” (there must be a name for those things) to steep the tea. The milk pictured here is homemade oat milk and yes, I do clean my stove top sometimes, but not this morning. 🙂

Through the Coop’s Buying Club, we buy 25 or 50 pound bags of oatmeal, 15 or 20 pound boxes of dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dates, prunes), 25 pound boxes of nuts, and 16 ounce bags of cinnamon (that’s A LOT of cinnamon). To make our lives easier, we usually transfer smaller amounts of these foods to jars in our cabinets. We also fill a giant glass container with freshly ground peanut butter, a big glass jar with loose tea (they have coffee too), and a smaller jar with local honey. When we can’t get up to KGF for our syrup, we refill our syrup jug at the Coop also. And we make our own oat milk for the tea from the giant bag of oatmeal.

The only plastic we have to deal with is the giant, reusable bags that the nuts and dried fruits come in (they work great as trash bags or can be recycled) and that little cinnamon bag. The cardboard boxes and paper sacks can be reused, recycled, or composted. We save a lot of money by buying this way, sometimes over 50% off the regular price! Yes, it is a larger cost upfront, but the savings are worth it on items we know we’ll eat (we also buy bulk flour, beans, rice, and a few other pantry items).

Is bulk buying for everyone? No! I don’t want to encourage anyone down the road to food waste, but if you know you eat something all the time, bulk buying makes a lot of sense for you and the Earth.

– Hannah

Questions or thoughts on buying in bulk? Please share them here!

Monthly Zero-Waste Wins

Happy Monday! As I’ve mentioned on the site before, I am somewhere in the middle of my zero-waste journey. I have some fast fashion clothes, still eat meat and drive a small sized SUV, but I’m working on making better choices for the future. In my opinion, little accomplishments add up to big ones and we should celebrate and recognize each change that moves us in the right direction. So here’s this month’s edition of my zero-waste wins!

My family is beginning to venture back out into the world a bit more and we recently went to Target early one morning. Normally, I’d scour the racks and look for fun bargains, but this time I tried to be thoughtful about buying things that I would actually use. I asked myself what I wanted to bring into my house and/or if I wanted to participate in the consumption of fast fashion. I am not perfect – I did treat myself to a new pair of lounge pants (it’s still Covid, after all!) – but I didn’t mindlessly fill my cart either. I really considered whether I needed that $3 piece of junk and if I would use it. I encourage you to ask yourself the same question. If the answer is yes, buy it. I don’t one believe that should totally deprive themselves; that type of life is unsustainable and where’s the fun? However I think that you’ll often find the answer is usually more likely “no”.” I’m proud to say that my children have started doing the same thing. Sure, they walked away with a few things (what mother doesn’t want to bring a smile to their child’s face right now?) but we didn’t over-consume and my kids do use and wear every single item that they bought that day.

Clothes waiting at the end of my driveway for Hannah to pick-up. She will pass on the items that she doesn’t want.

The other day, a friend texted and I asked if I wanted to look through her pile of clothing. She had cleaned out her closet in an effort to make it more streamlined and “capsule-like” and had a ton to give away. Rather than just bringing it all to Goodwill, she offered to pass t on to me. I had so much fun looking through the piles (she and I have very similar fashion taste!) and picked out a few things that I love. Hannah is now getting the rest and will pass on to another friend when she’s done. I love this little game – it’s like free and sustainable shopping – and want to keep it going in the future!

My family celebrated Passover this weekend. We weren’t perfect – there was a beef brisket – but I tried to be really mindful about the rest of it. All of the produce – carrots, potatoes, onions, greens, apples – were bought seasonally and locally. In the past, I would have purchased some fancier vegetables at the supermarket, thinking we had to have them. But you know what? I was perfectly content with this type of meal and it felt good to eat seasonally while lowering my carbon footprint. If you’re celebrating Easter this weekend, Hannah talks about ways that you can accomplish a similar goal during your meal.

That’s about it from me! What about you? What small wins did you have this month? Share with us! – Rachel