Last night our three families gathered once again for a meal prepared and enjoyed with as little input from fossil fuels as possible, and this time it was our turn to host. That meant no lights, no heat, no screens, no stove, no oven, no dishwasher, no blender, no power from 4pm until the next morning.
Yes, you can make your own tortillas! Before you roll your eyes and click on, this is not a “hand-mill the flour then let rise for 72 hours before gently roasting over an open fire” kind of DIY recipe. I promise. Continue reading →
Well, it’s March and I finally feel like we’re settling into a routine with our family’s goals for reducing our carbon footprint. Although I know I could always do more, my shopping bags are loaded with reusable containers for the grocery store, I never leave home without my travel mug (because – coffee!), I’m really trying to stay away from all plastic, and contacting my representatives has become a weekly ritual. Things were humming right along, that is until we went away for the weekend recently. Continue reading →
A couple of days ago I desperately needed to get my boys (and myself) out of the house after a rough rainy week, so I was grateful when Lily and Marilyn invited us to go for a hike at a nearby park. My 3 1/2 year old was thrilled to get out and explore with his bestie. He practically ran the entire way up the path, fueled by excitement and fresh air. Continue reading →
One side effect of avoiding plastic packaging is that sometimes you have to make things from scratch. I enjoy cooking and creating so I really don’t mind making things from scratch, if I can possibly find the time (which is rare these days because my two little guys keep me pretty busy).
We typically go through a lot of yogurt. Yogurt with fruit or granola, in smoothies and sauces. But yogurt is really hard to find not in plastic. There is one local brand of yogurt that is sold in glass quart jars. It’s delicious and organic, but SO pricey. So I thought, it can’t be that hard to make yogurt, can it??? It turns out it’s not very hard at all.
There is a lot of info out there about yogurt science, cultures, timing, temperature, etc. But ultimately, it’s pretty simple: heat some milk, add a little bit of yogurt, let it sit in a warm place, and voila – you’ve got yogurt!
I did some research and reading, but ultimately used the technique described on one of my favorite cooking websites, The Kitchn.
I used local organic non-homogenized 2% milk (plus a ½ cup of plain organic yogurt)
I used a probe thermometer with a long cord (like this one), so I could monitor the temperature periodically without opening the oven (but, to be honest, the temperature was a little off and it still came out great!)
My yogurt sat for about 6 hours (which produced a thick yet pourable consistency and mildly tangy taste)
Don’t forget to save a bit of your yogurt for the next batch!
Well, here we are six days into February and I’m just getting around to my January progress report. Pretty typical timing for my crazy life right now. Better late than never, right?
Change is hard. Overall, I feel like we – as a family – are just still trying to get in the groove of our global warming goals for the new year. I am inspired daily by my co-conspirators Lily and Missy, and am hoping to do/save/commit more each month. Let’s look back at those goals:
Fewer resources I’ve tried to consolidate car trips and have been walking a bit more, but we’ve had so much rain lately that’s been hard. We got our new smaller trash can and I scheduled a home energy audit, which will happen in February.
Less plastic I’ve been doing my best to buy ONLY in bulk (using re-usable containers), and when an item isn’t available in bulk, only purchasing things packaged in recyclable glass, cans or paper). And when those options aren’t available, I’ve either done without or tried to make my own (stay tuned for a post about making your own yogurt)! Lily wrote a great post about zero waste grocery shopping here.
I’ve made fewer trips to stores in general, only making shopping trips when absolutely necessary. That has majorly reduced impulse/unnecessary purchases. When I really needed to get my shopping fix, I hit up our local Goodwill store (where I scored a cute jacket for my littlest guy and a funky leather purse), and found some jeans at a great price at a local consignment shop I’d never gone into.
Spread the word!
I made a lot of phone calls to my representatives in congress to express my serious concerns about climate change and many other issues that have come up since the new administration began. There are so many issues that I am frightened/concerned/saddened/maddened about it’s hard to think straight some days. Calling and voicing my concerns feels woefully inadequate given the immensity of the problems, but it does feel good to do something. For info, ideas, scripts and contact info for your representatives, check out these websites: http://dailyaction.org/http://5calls.org/http://thesixtyfive.org/http://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
A quart of garbage. That is what zero-waste guru Bea Johnson’s family of four produces. In. An. Entire. Year. The image keeps popping into my head each Tuesday night, when I drag our trash can out to the curb. Let’s be honest, we’ll probably never get there, but I did take a baby step towards zero-waste today….I called and ordered a smaller trash can. Now we’ll have no choice but reduce our trash.
When we sort out recyclables and all compostable materials, there’s not a whole lot left, especially with our goal this year of reducing/refusing plastic. There is one BIG caveat though, and it’s a dirty one: Disposable diapers. I’ll spare you the photos of our overflowing trash can, because I’m kind of ashamed. And it’s just freakin’ gross.
When our first son was a baby, we used cloth diapers, but the second time around I guess we got lazy. But I’ve also heard the argument that cloth diapers can be just as bad, environmentally, as their disposable counterparts. I’m no scientist, but there are some convincing points. Obviously, the greenest option would be to go diaper-free. Apparently, this is a growing trend, but let’s not get crazy. Maybe if we had no carpets, no rugs, a full-time housekeeper, etc…Let’s face it, for our family, disposable diapers are part of our life right now. We do, however, opt for “greener” products, which use naturally-derived materials, with no chlorine or added chemicals. There are a lot of options out there these days, and lots of reviews and info on the web (like here and here and here).
Maybe another goal for 2017 should be to get our little dude potty trained. That would mean no diapers by the time he’s 22 months old. That’s possible, right??? And in the meantime, we’ll just have to really reduce all the other garbage so it can fit in the new smaller trash can that we’ll have starting next week. I’m up for the challenge.
I’m making 2017 the “Year of Less”. Less resources, less plastic, less stuff. Sounds fun, doesn’t it??? In all seriousness, though, it’s time we did something to help create positive change – especially with the current state of our government, politics and nation.
My “Year of Less” will involve making sacrifices, saying no, and resisting temptation, but it isn’t about deprivation. I’m setting goals for my family that are within reach, goals that we’ll meet (and, ideally, exceed!), goals that make sense for us. Here are my four simple goals for 2017:
1. Less resources Drive less, walk & bike more
Assess and improve home efficiency 2. Less plastic Avoid plastic products and unnecessary packaging
3. Less stuff Acquire fewer things
Choose used, handmade, local, green options
4. Spread the word!
Document my experiments, research, ideas and musings (on this blog)
Encourage stores and companies to “think greener”
Write/call/email law- and policy-makers
Less is more, right??? I truly believe that by lightening up on those things our family can create more room for the most important things in life – more creativity, more time outdoors, more joy. Who could say no to that???
I grew up in the country, with hippy parents who grew their own food and made their own tofu. My sister and I spent more time outdoors than in during our early years, exploring the creeks, woods, and wild blueberry patches surrounding our home in upstate New York. Exploring the natural world was an important part of my elementary school education, I spent summers at farm camp, and my family spent vacations watching the wild horses at the beaches of the Chesapeake, swimming in the Long Island sound, and camping in the woods of Maine. No one called it “environmentalism”, but I grew up with a great respect for the earth and its creatures. And I’ve always wanted the same for my children.
When Lily and Missy approached me with the idea for this challenge and the blog, I have to admit I had gotten a little off track. Life with two small kids is all-consuming and I’ve found myself compromising on a lot these past few years, just to get through each day. But our kids are the most important reason for why we should care about what happens to our planet. What’s that saying?? We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. Well, we haven’t been taking very good care of it, and I want to do something to change that.
Although it may seem that we are each such small players in this big picture of climate change and global warming, I am an eternal optimist and I truly believe that everyone can do something. How can we afford not to???