Making it work

We planted a garden in the spring and though we tried hard we did not get nearly the yields I had hoped for. Some of it was that we just didn’t plant things properly, some of it was that we were rather consumed with wedding stuff, some if it was being gone, me having surgery, etc. Our garden has certainly had some neglect issues this summer.

We have still managed to do a little bit of our own preserving though not of things we have grown ourselves. We bought a 25 lb. box of peaches and canned peach slices and froze peach cobbler filling and peach sorbet. We got some good deals on cherries and made several batches of cherry pie filling and also just plain cherries that we froze. We made some Triple Berry freezer jam (blueberries, blackberries and strawberries). We made some delicious berry popsicles.I got a good deal on zucchini and canned a batch of zucchini relish.

But, it is certainly not the rows and rows of beautifully preserved fruits and veggies I had hoped to see in the pantry at the end of the summer. So, now I am looking for ways to gain some more raw materials to work with. I’ve posted on freecycle (and replied to someone with a shopping bag full of peppers – I really hope I get that!) asking for garden leftovers or permission to pick fruit trees/bushes. I’ve posted the same on craigslist. Green beans are about $1 a pound right now and I am tempted to buy a whole bunch and can them. I mean, I canned peaches while on crutches so it shouldn’t be as difficult now.

I guess I will see if I get any bites on the things I’ve posted. It would be really great to find some good sources to can and freeze.I just hope it’s not too late in the season for it all.

The crazy place I live

Lately we have been generating a lot of trash at home. I guess between things getting used up, various gifts/stuff in the mail, loads of cooking and all, we have just created a lot of waste. We do not have curbside recycling. You might think it’s the norm these days but our small, local trash removal company doesn’t do it. So, we’ve been searching for places to drop off the recycling. We are in an unincorporated portion of a city which does offer curbside recycling. So, said city doesn’t have drop off locations for recyclables.

I dug around on the web and found two options. Our county does offer drop off bins in several of the smaller towns, one of which is about 5 miles away, so that is doable. Also, my husband learned that as a volunteer firefighter for a local municipality (not the one we livein ) he can have access to the recycling bins behind that town hall, earmarked for their recycling. The bonus about this is that he goes to the fire station a few times a week (scheduled) so we can send recycling at those time without making an extra trip.

Next to decide is how we want to store/sort the recyclables. We can drop them off unsorted, so that is nice. I have currently repurposed the box the kitchenaide mixer came in (it was a birthday present my husband received recently). It will do for now. I looked on Amazon for some ideas and found some bags to sort things into. The bags velcro to each other at the top with tabs which keeps them upright. They have a water resistant fabric on the inside.

I like this option for several reasons. The bags are machine washable. Since we have to transport our recyclables further than just to the end of the driveway it’s nice to have them already in bags. If we find we need fewer bags, storing those we aren’t using won’t take up much space. And, if, at a later time curbside recycling becomes available and we are given a bin, these bags can be repurposed into something else. Washed I can see them useful as clothes hampers or toy receptacles for our future children, holding sports equipment or camping equipment in the closet, even carrying wood for camping trips and stuff.

So, the husband got online and ordered 2 sets (6 bags). That should be plenty. We plan to save our newsprint type paper for composting.

Between the composting and the recycling I’d like to get us down to only one or two bags of trash per week. We currently produce at least four or five which seems enormous for two people but a lot of it ends up being cardboard boxes from deliveries and such and all that which are bulky.

I need to also find out if the cleaners the husband goes to recycles wire hangers since we have tons and usually they get thrown away.

I am looking forward to the day when we have this stuff figured out and a system in place so it’s not so much work to get going. Currently I’m trying to get on top of some of the mess that has built up in the house since the wedding, moving in of my stuff and all of that. And also reducing the amount of stuff we both have. Yikes. There is a lot of stuff. Anyone need any books?!

Small Steps

My husband and I are working on being more green at home. It’s a slow process as old habits die hard and we’re still trying to integrate our daily lives into a normal pattern (since the wedding).

We recently discussed vastly reducing the number of paper towels that we use. We have a cleaning lady that comes bi-weekly who will not give up the paper towels but if we can reduce our dependence, we can save money and reduce our trash output.

Today, we were at Costco and found a 36-pack of microfiber “automotive towels” for $14.99. Through a batch of mega cooking/vacuum sealing this evening, I used 2. One to wipe up messes and one to dry clean things like bowls I washed and reused or my hands. So, one “clean” one “dirty”. It worked pretty well. We have already been using the cheap white dishcloths for things like cleaning off the George Foreman grill.

Paper towels overall are not something that will make or break our budget. But, if we can reduce some of the small things it will have a big impact overall – on our budget AND the planet. And I’m all about that.

What small steps are you taking to fatten your wallet and thin your trash pile?