Last year a farmer’s market finally opened close enough to make it convenient to visit every week during the summer when it’s open. Safe to say I was exceptionally excited about it 🙂 They continued this year and even have a few new vendors.
This past week I went and checked out the different stands with everything from fruits, veggies, honey, and other home-made goodies. I made out like a bandit!
Normally at the regular grocery stores or even the health stores tomatoes are easily 50 cents or more per tomato. At the farmers market I spent about $10 on tomatoes and ended up with more than 25 tomatoes of various shapes and sizes. I also got five pounds of fresh blueberries and a bucket of potatoes.
With the tomatoes I made some home-made spaghetti sauce. Tomatoes, onions from the garden, oregano from the bulk section, salt, and almost a whole head of garlic and voilà, a whole pot of sauce. With all the tomatoes combined I ended up with 8 jars of sauce (there are 9 in the picture because I still have one left over from a smaller test batch I made a few weeks ago), easily enough to last the whole winter 🙂 The best part is they’re delicious and I made them for about a dollar a jar, which is less than store bought jars.
*helpful hint- tell the vendor/farmer that you’re canning the tomatoes, and they might just have a bucket to the side of “uglier” tomatoes they’ll sell you for cheap. Usually they’re just a bit riper and have a few discolored skin spots, but if you’re canning the skins come off anyway, so win-win!
Now with the blueberries I went ahead and rinsed them before letting them dry off a bit. I then laid them out in a single layer on a glass baking dish in batches and froze them just enough they wouldn’t stick when I switched them to the mason jars. Once I knew they wouldn’t stick to each other I scooped them out and put them in the jars and back into the freezer. Five pounds ended up giving me a bit over 10 jars of berries which I can defrost as I need/want them and add them to smoothies or even just eat them plain as a tasty snack.
The potatoes were the easiest, going straight from my reusable bag to my potato bowl.
All in all I now have enough blueberries and tomato sauce to last most if not all of the winter, and it took only a few hours of prep and cooking the sauce to make it happen.
If you haven’t checked out your local farmer’s market I recommend you go, you never know you might find a hidden gem or two. Bonus- you get to meet local farmers and support their business in your own community. (It always tastes better when your food has travelled a shorter distance and has been picked within only a day or two of getting to you)
Extra bonus- no produce stickers 🙂
P.s. Don’t forget your reusable bags!
Have any of you scored at the Farmer’s market? What’s your favorite thing to get fresh from the market? What’s your favorite thing about the farmer’s markets near you?
I’ve been noticing a few articles floating around that, in my opinion, completely misrepresent the lifestyle….hence today’s post on the myths of Zero-Waste.
Here we go…
Zero-waste is a movement for only middle to upper class Caucasian women who are single and childless.
The Zero-waste movement is for ALL people to participate in. Now it does seem as though a majority of those blogging and promoting it do fall into that stereotype, but there are men and other ethnicities as well as parents living the lifestyle. There’s a comprehensive list of bloggers around the world who live it at zerowastebloggersnetwork.com
I personally fall into the stereotype, except for the middle/upper class thing…which brings me to my next myth…
You need to have at least a middle class income to attempt Zero-waste.
I personally skate by each month on a very small income. Zero-waste has helped me lower my spending because I no longer need to buy things like tissues, lotions, hairspray, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.
That’s right, Zero-wasting has helped me SAVE money. Ka-ching!
You need to buy fancy matching Mason jars, bamboo cutlery, and a butt-load of stuff to start your Zero-waste journey.
This one irritates me the most because it’s total bull. You can go zero-waste cheaply by saving glass pickle jars or spaghetti sauce jars and wash the label off before reusing them. Instead of buying a pack of hankies, cut up an old T-shirt and use that. Instead of getting a fancy set of glass jars for storage, check out your local dollar store or thrift store. Easily 3/4 of my containers I got really cheap from both of those places. Or if you have a friend who uses glass baby food jars, ask if you can have the jars when she’s done with them to use for bulk spices.
The order of operations: Use what you already have, ask a friend, thrift, then lastly buy new.
I think I’ve made my point 🙂
It costs a lot of money upfront to start.
The only upfront costs I had were for a few jars from the dollar store, my divacup, cloth pads, and a safety razor. These were all investments that have paid for themselves in the past year since I am no longer buying their disposable counterparts. These products will last for years and years to come since they are resusable, so I expect they will pay for themselves multiple times before they finally wear out.
The other zero-waste purchases like bamboo toothbrushes, soapnuts, and alum stone deodorant are going to be repeat purchases, but their cost is similar or even less than the regular products.
You are failing if your trash doesn’t fit in a Mason jar.
If you are even reading this post you are already winning and one step ahead of the game. Most people simply aren’t conscious of their waste- or, more likely they don’t WANT to be conscious of their waste. So they ignore it. Even if your only step has been to bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, you are contributing to having less waste. EVERY STEP COUNTS!
My personal trash from the past two months does happen to fit in a small jar, but I don’t include pet waste in that factor because my pets do make quite a bit of litter waste and such. Which, for obvious reasons, I am not collecting in a jar lol.
But like I’ve said, I have been on this journey for over a year already, each person’s situation is unique and individual to them. Some have pets, some don’t, some have kids, some don’t, etc. As long as you are trying, you are pretty awesome in my book.
You have to have special equipment to go Zero-waste. Bamboo utensils, jars, produce bags, etc.
So, okay, I have a glass water-bottle. I also have some jars for storage, and a reusable tote to take to the store. But do I have portable bamboo utensils to take with me to restaurants? No. Have I bought specific bags just for produce? No.
If I want to go out to eat, I pick a place with reusable flatware. If I want to buy produce I put it loose in my cart and loose on the cashier belt, and then loose in my big tote.
Now, that being said. There are things you will find you use and would be convenient to have for Zero-wasting. I personally like my water-bottle, and would it be nice to have bamboo utensils? yes, but I don’t need them right now.
The only things you will NEED to go zero-waste are a few containers that you can refill with bulk purchases, and a reusable tote for going to the store. End of story. Everything else can be improvised. (Except if you’re a woman who happens to PMS, then a menstrual cup or reusable pads are kind of necessary. The joys of being a woman, huh?)
To go zero-waste you have to give up everything good like packaged chips and candy-bars, and the only way you’ll ever have good food again is if you become Suzy Homemaker.
Oy, where to begin. I do not buy chips, personally, since none come in packaging I find acceptable for ME. But I do cut up a potato and throw it into my little deep-fryer I have at home. Or a skillet. A few minutes later, voila, fried potatoes!
I also make things like salad dressing, because it’s easy to make. I have the skills to make my own mayo and barbecue sauce as well, but given that I use so little of them and they have enough ingredients that it is easier to buy BBQ sauce in a glass jar with a metal lid than make it myself, both materials being completely recyclable.
If I want a chocolate bar I make sure to find one that is in paper packaging that is easily recycled. (I simply won’t give up chocolate, sorry guys, I need it for that time of the month 🙂 )
If you Zero-waste, you must not use contraceptives or toilet paper.
Whether you use contraceptives or not is a personal choice, I personally am a fan of not spreading diseases or getting pregnant unexpectedly. The trash that comes along with that is inevitable unless you get fixed, which isn’t an option if you want to have children.
Toilet paper is a touchy subject. I still use it since everyone in my household does. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to look into other options just yet, but I’m sure I probably will eventually. For now the best options are if you can get it wrapped in paper, or at least without the inner cardboard tube. Recycled is even better, but it depends on what your preferences are.
You have to have tons of free time in order to worry about all the extra “work” that goes along with Zero-waste. I.e. grocery shopping, making products
Zero-waste grocery shopping is no harder that regular shopping once you have your system in place. I have little labels for my jars, and except for the first trip to the store where I had to get them weighed, grocery shopping takes me the exact same amount of time it did before. No big deal. You just take your jars or bags (if you are buying bulk items), fill em up, and pay for them. Easy peasy. It just takes a little big of gusto to make that first trip, but once you get the hang of it it’s a breeze.
You don’t have to make your own products to be zero-waste. It’s easy and convenient to make them yourself mostly, but it isn’t necessary. I only make one product regularly, toothpaste. 30 seconds, some coconut oil, baking soda, and peppermint oil, and I’m done. That’s it.
Most things have a purchasable replacement. Like bars of soap free of packaging versus body-wash, an alum stone instead of deodorant, soap nuts instead of laundry detergent, etc. It just takes a little experimentation to figure out what works the best for you.
There is no point to Zero-wasting because the planet is already doomed and one person can’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
One person can make a difference. It might not be a ginormous impact, but you can impact yourself and the people around you. I’m not a perfect environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but every single time I go to the store I always get asked about my jars, and those two minutes spent talking to another person may or may not end up encouraging them to try it, or it might just remind them to bring a reusable bag to the store.
I might not save the planet, but I’m saving one plastic bag for each jar I use. One plastic bag every time I use my reusable tote. One plastic water-bottle every time I bring my own reusable one. One disposable toothbrush for every bamboo toothbrush. One more bit of empty space in my drawers for every cheap freebie I turn down.
It adds up.
I’d also like to think I help out by spreading the word through this blog, for those of you who read it.
So, if any of you have any comments or any other myths you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
It’s that time of year again, Plastic Free July, a time when individuals are encouraged to forgo single use plastics like straws, cups, bags, etc. in favor of reusable.
Now, honestly, I never really did the whole plastic free July thing when I started transitioning towards zero-waste. But I think its a great place for people to start learning about the impact they can have on their environment.
It amazes me how many people are simply ignorant of their waste, or on the other hand those who ignore it purposely. I was told at the checkout today of my favorite bulk store that I am the ONLY person who brings in their own jars…yep, the only one. Little ol’ me. Everyone else uses the provided Plastic bags. (insert facepalm here)
It made me sad.
Why? Because its so EASY to cut down on your plastic waste and consumption. It just takes a few easy steps to cut out the junk. Here are a few easy beginner tips:
Ditch the plastic bags…they’re ridiculous and entirely unnecessary. I bet if you go look right now you have that one giant plastic bag FULL of other smaller plastic bags. Go take a look at how ugly that thing is, don’t worry I’ll still be here when you get back……………You can’t tell me that horde of plastic looks pretty. Reusable bags are the way to go. I have a big old sturdy canvas tote myself. If you’re afraid you’ll forget, keep some in your car, by your shopping list, fold one and stuff it in your purse. Personally, I write my list and get my bags ready right before I leave for the store so I don’t forget anything.
Get rid of those plastic disposable water bottles, it is easier and cheaper to get water from the tap. There are different things you can replace them with like metal canteens or water bottles, I personally prefer glass (mine is pictured below during a trip to the park)
At the park
Next, let go of your love for disposable straws, stainless steel and glass options are better for the environment, but they also look better and you kids love them, they even have colored options if that’s more your style.
Here’s another crazy idea for you beginners, leave your fruits and veggies loose at the store, don’t put them in little plastic baggies, let them breathe. I promise, they’ll be just fine. I buy my potatoes loose and put them on the conveyer belt loose, the simple solution is to simply wash them when you get home, easy peasy.
All right, some of you are reading this like “I already know this, how bout some tips for those of us a little further along in the journey.”
Here’s some mid-grade tips:
Buy in bulk. Not in giant bulk packages like costco, but from bulk BINS. Big difference. Bins let you get exactly how much or how little you need, no muss no fuss. You may think there are no bulk stores near you, but I guarantee there probably is one and you don’t even know it. I found 2 near me when I was convinced there were none.
Better yet, when you buy in bulk…..bring your own jars or bags! Tare them when empty, write the tare (aka weight) of the empty jar on a sticker or tag. Fill em up, and then they’ll take off the weight of the jar at checkout. (Be warned though that just because they have bulk doesn’t mean all the cashiers will be trained on how to deduct tare weight, if in doubt have them ask a manager)
For those fruits and veg scraps you have left over, regrow them! Once potatoes sprout you can plant them in a pot of dirt and they’ll regrow into many potatoes. Green onions will regrow if you keep the bulbs in a jar with a bit of water, same goes for leaf lettuce bottoms and celery. Sprouted onions and garlic can be planted to go to seed then you have free seeds to plant for next year 🙂
Now, there are some of you who scoff at those tips above. Those of you that are on another plane of zero-wasting entirely. Here are a few tips for you…
Plant a garden. Window box, potters, or a good sized backyard…it doesn’t matter. You can make space to plant food. Best part, is it’s automatically organic if you keep it clean and don’t use any pesticides or fertilizers. Cheap organic produce is the bomb. I am lucky enough to have a yard where I’ve planted potatoes, onions, green beans, lettuce, spinach, peas, spaghetti squash, carrots, and watermelon. I also have chives, thyme, peppermint, and spearmint that grow back every year on their own. If you don’t want to go gung ho on the veg, try out a small herb garden first. Fresh herbs are the best anyway, and bonus because they don’t sprout out of the ground wrapped in plastic.
Make your own stuff, whether it be deodorant, apple cider vinegar, salad dressings, or homemade mayo and ketchup. Try out new recipes. I guarantee the first one will probably be a failure if your luck is anything like mine, but don’t give up. I made 7 different BBQ sauce batches before finding ratios I liked.
Ditch the plastic from the rest of your house, I got rid of unnecessary plastic tupperware and opted for glass jars instead. I also ditched plastic storage containers and utensils. If you can’t let all the plastic go, please at least try to keep it away from your food. Nasty leaching chemicals are not good to ingest. Glass and metal are much better for food storage. 🙂
Ditch the harsh cleaners. Opt for soap nuts, castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, and bars of soap. Better for you, better for the planet. Cheaper too, which is just an extra bonus.
Are you participating in plastic free July? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Hey hey, I can’t believe it’s been like two weeks since my last post. Life is to blame, I’ve been extra busy these past few week with a sick relative, and time just got away from me.
Besides that, it has officially been 1 year since I started my minimalist/Zero-waste journey!
Anywho, I wanted to share a big win that I had today when I went grocery shopping. I’ve blogged before about the grocery store that I normally frequent and how they won’t let me bring my own jars…but they do let me bring cloth bags. I do enjoy shopping at the Better Health Store still, mainly for organic produce and my juices. But recently I found Fresh Thyme farmers market (which is actually a brick and mortar store, with something like 30 locations in the midwest!), they do let people bring their own jars, tare them, and the biggest bonus…their bulk section is amazing! Not only do they have a few hundred dried bulk bins with everything from coffee, to beans, nuts, flours, granola, and candies. They also have liquid bulk in the form of honey, syrup, peanut butter, oils, and vinegars 🙂
Safe to say, I was extremely excited when I first checked them out. But today I finally went for a big shopping trip so I could stock up for a few weeks. Here’s what I got…
Between the two stores, I got:
Raisins (in bulk)
Raspberry Lemonade (Glass container with deposit, so i’ll return it to the store for them to reuse)
Juice (from the health store, glass jars and metal lids will be recycled)
Coconut flour and Garbanzo flour (bulk)
Raw energy bars (bulk) made with dates, coconut, cocoa powder, etc.
And out of all of that I only had this much trash:
The trash was produce stickers (I try to avoid them, but sometimes it is inevitable) and a plastic tag that the spinach was bundled together with.
Recycling: Two glass juice jars, two metal lids, and 1 sneaky little plastic rim that came on the lemonade.
Food waste: All scraps will be composted.
It may not seem like such an accomplishment, but as someone who used to produce a huge garbage bag of trash each week a year ago, to now producing…
…this much trash in over 2 weeks, it’s quite the accomplishment for me. 🙂
Every little bit helps.
The best part is that I no longer am in the rotation for taking the trash bags out at 7am, mainly because I don’t produce that much trash anymore. Not my garbage, not my walk to the curb lol
Besides the zero-waste aspect of it, my diet has now allowed me to incorporate minimalism into my shopping. I can make my grocery trips to two separate stores in less than an hour, since I know exactly what I will be buying and where it is located in the store, it minimizes the time I used to spend “perusing” the aisles looking for something tasty.
I don’t consume processed foods for the most part, and have almost entirely eliminated processed sugar from my diet….except for that jar of lemonade, dear god is it sugary! I never would have even noticed the taste of sugar in it before, but now it is almost overwhelming since I’ve cleansed my palette. It’s something I don’t see myself buying very often, and if I do it will probably last me an entire month.
So to recap, bulk is amazing, produce stickers are a pain, and I have cut down my trash to practically nothing .(except for my cats trash of course, which I will not be keeping in a bucket lol)
Hey guys, it’s been a very interesting week. Before we get to the tutorial I wanted to share a few updates…first off on the vegan challenge…
I failed, miserably..
I think it was more a product of #1 living with other people who eat meat and just happened to offer me some leftovers, and #2 lack of meal planning for the week. I am determined to try fresh this week and see how I do…more updates to come.
On a side note I wanted to share with you that as a family of four (three of whom are not zero-waste/minimalist) we have cumulatively decreased our amount of trash from 3-4 garbage bags per week down to 1 which isn’t even 100% full. I’m pretty excited about this 🙂 The rest of the family is finally starting to get on board remembering what is recyclable/compostable, etc. Yay for baby-steps!
Now, on to the tutorial. It all started when I noticed that most of the “reusable” bags they sell at the grocery stores and such are 1. Not very sturdy 2. Made of synthetic fabrics and 3. Kind of ugly…just sayin.
Then there is always the fact that the stores I frequent do not allow you to bring your own jars…but they don’t have any problem with you bringing bags!
So, being the thrifty person I am I did what any self-respecting eco-conscious person would do…I went shopping in my basement 🙂 As a family we always tend to have things in our home that aren’t being used that I conveniently find new uses for. For example…the extra garbage can that I DIY’d into a compost bin. And now I found a few yards or so of 100% cotton as well as a spool of 100% cotton thread and a bit of scrap crocheting string that happens to also be 100% cotton. So I whipped out my home-made sewing kit and voila, reusable cotton produce and spice bags! The best part is that they are super simple and easy to make.
What you’ll need:
Fabric, natural and eco-friendly is a plus such as cotton, hemp, etc. You can also get really crafty and use old towels or sheets to make your bags…even an old t-shirt will work.
Thread, again I used 100% cotton, none of that synthetic stuff.
A string of some sort for the drawstring, I used crocheting string.
Sewing machine * optional, Patience is definitely needed if you are sewing by hand 🙂
First things first I cut strips of the cotton to the size I wanted and folded them over to look like little rectangles. Then I pinned the sides together to hold them while I sewed a semi-straight line down the sides. You can use a machine if you like really straight lines, but I found it easier to hand sew them (that and my sewing machine hates me, it never works when I need it to)
Once this part is done there should be three closed sides and one that is still open. There are now a few different ways you can make closures for the opening, firstly you could simply fold over the top edge on both sides and sew it to look like a small pillow case (if you don’t need a closure) I would use this type of finishing for a bread bag or for bags that are going to be larger and hold bigger produce like potatoes, etc. The second way is to do what you would do with the first, but to add a button on one side and a opening on the other for the button to go through. I use these types of bags for lettuce or green onions, etc. Things that won’t easily fall out. 🙂
The third way, which I will show you today, is to take the final edge and make a drawstring closure. It sounds complicated, but all it takes is a little string and a hole. Take a look…
Once you finish sewing underneath the thread, make sure that both ends of the string are threaded through the little hole and then flip it right side out. You now have a snazzy produce or spice bag depending on the size you made.
Notice that I did not use a ruler or even a straight edge for that matter, I simply eyeballed it, and it turned out semi-symmetrical. It doesn’t have to be perfect since it is just a tool to hold spices and such at the store. If you want you can always be super precise and make them fancier if you like. But for me I enjoy my plain white cotton bags with cotton thread and string. Simple and easy 🙂
The best part? When they finally rip and die I can compost them and return them back to the earth!
I don’t know about you guys, but I had the hardest time when I started Zero-wasting….I always forgot to bring things with me when I went out, which led to the purchase of wasteful items. I have since learned that the best way to go about it is to have either a checklist or a bag that already has everything you will need when leaving the house.
For me, depending on where I am going, I might need to bring a variety of things….for example, if I am going shopping I will have to bring a few reusable bags with me, along with my glass water-bottle for drinking in the car. Where it would be different if I was going to the park, I might also need a snack, a book, etc.
What I have found to be helpful, especially since I am a forgetful person on occasion, is that I have a reusable tote bag in my closet, that always contains a few zero-waste must-haves for when I go out, I also have a mental checklist that I run through to figure out what I might need that day.
Reusable bag(s)…..for shopping, carrying my stuff, etc.
Water-bottle…..I hate feeling thirsty when shopping or running errands, so to avoid purchasing a drink, I always have my water-bottle with me.
Snack….with my food intolerances it is difficult to get something to eat while I am out, and most of the options are pretty wasteful anyways, so I always have a small mason jar with a snack in it to munch on wherever I go 🙂
Hankies…..I am so grateful for these during flu-season. I keep a clean one in my wallet, and another in my car.
Bamboo/regular Cutlery…especially if I plan on babysitting or going to the park, it keeps me from using disposables.
Now of course, there will always be occasions where more might be needed, but this is my basic on-the-go checklist for everyday outings.
So you have heard a bit about zero-waste, you want to give it a shot, but you have no idea where to begin! Bathroom, bedroom, groceries, simplifying, decluttering, composting?!
It can all be a bit overwhelming…but I am here to help. Here are 5 easy swaps to get your feet wet in the world of zero-wasting:
1. Glass Waterbottles v. plastic- The first switch I ever made was ditching the plastic waterbottles, and buying a cute glass one to take with me everywhere. It is really convenient, because I can fill it up anywhere, and I never have to stop to get something to drink.
2. Reusable bags v. plastic- Reusable bags are something that people tend to forget to take with them, I always keep my sturdy canvas tote on the door handle to my room (making it easy to grab on my way out). You can also keep one in your glove box in your car, or on your coat hook inside the front door. The more you get used to having it with you, the easier it is to remember to bring it every time you go shopping. Once you have a regular reusable bag down, then you can always go one step further and take bags for produce or bulk items as well 🙂
3. Bamboo toothbrush v. plastic- The average person throws away 3-4 toothbrushes a year, switching to bamboo is easy, and it is compostable. For a recipe for home-made toothpaste click here.
4. Cloth rags v. paper towels- swap out those disposable towels for some sturdy cloth rags, easily washable, and readily available (just cut up a few old bath towels, you know, the ones that are over 5 years old and have had better days).
5. Hankies v. tissues- This one grosses people out for some reason, but our grandparents used them all the time….hankies! You can buy a package of cotton ones, borrow some from your grandfather, or cut up an old cotton shirt to make your own. Easy to use, and easy to wash 🙂 For more on hankies click here.
I did a post last week on what was in my donation box, and I emptied it and took it to the goodwill. It is full again! Purging and decluttering are definitely ongoing processes for me. So here is a peek in this weeks box…enjoy 🙂
2 little make-up sized bags. I have a few others, and I no longer use these.
A small sleeping bag that I used to use for stuffed animals and Barbies, but now has no practical use.
2 sets of tall candles, they are duplicates that I do not plan on using.
A random shoestring, I have no idea why I have one random shoestring, but there it is.
3 random fake tattoos…..yeah, I have no defense for that.
A picture frame that I no longer use…
Shorts that are too big 🙂
A baby blanket that I do not like…
A duffle bag that is not used…
A bed skirt….for as long as I have had my queen sized bed, I have never used this thing because it is a dust collector and a pain in the butt to put on and take off, so off it goes…
A plastic zipper storage bag….
And last, but not least, 3 books I do not plan on ever reading again 🙂
I hope you enjoyed a peek into my decluttering effort!
Happy Friday! I just wanted to do a quick post about reusable shopping bags. In California right now they are fighting to ban plastic bags throughout the entire state, which is extremely exciting! To show my support I am going to show you my bags….well technically it is a bag and a wicker basket that I take to the farmers market 🙂
My kitty decided to get in on the action. The larger bag is a very sturdy canvas bag that I got as a gift years ago and I love it!
Plastic bags are harmful both inside of landfills, and especially if they find their way into marine life because animals can get caught in them. I no longer use plastic bags, I always bring my own bag and the great part is that most stores will discount your purchase total by about 15 cents or so for each bag you bring in yourself.
If you have already been tagged, then oops my bad 🙂
Please post a picture of yourself with your reusable shopping bag, tag three Zero Waste Bloggers, link back to the person who tagged you and make sure to include #MyBag in your pictures meta data and in your blogpost