Making crackers

As you may have noticed, we make many items from scratch and buy very little processed food.  However, crackers are an exception to that general practice.  We don’t eat all that many crackers, probably in part because they ARE processed and involve a good bit of packaging waste.

Once a baby entered the picture, crackers went on my mental “things I could make from scratch, but since I’m not in the habit of doing so, and life is now crazy, I probably never will” list, along with making soy milk and a few other things that I don’t remember right now.

A few weeks ago, Matthew printed out this recipe for homemade crackers.  I set it aside, assuming nothing would come of it.  Shortly thereafter, he took a turn staying home with our sick little Sir.

When I returned home from work that day, I found a fresh batch of homemade crackers.  (In case making crackers and prepping dinner while caring for a sick baby weren’t enough, he also made homemade croissants, ensuring that I would look like a complete slacker on my days home with the baby — just sayin’).

Anyhow, I tried my hand at the crackers over the weekend, giving them a multigrain twist, and making a double batch, because we noticed that a single batch disappeared very quickly.  Continue reading “Making crackers”

Taking the Challenge!

Several weeks ago, I wrote this post about plastic and how we can (and must) reduce the plastic waste we generate.  In that post, I provided a link to some useful information on Beth Terry’s blog Fake Plastic Fish.

Today I committed to doing Beth’s “Show Your Plastic Challenge,” where I will collect, photograph, and catalog all the plastic trash (including recyclables) that I produce in one week.  This particular week I’ve chosen has a few twists that will keep things interesting and challenging.

The idea for the first week is to “live normally” in terms of your plastic waste and use that week as a guide for how you might begin to reduce.  Anyone else out there want to join me?

Diva with a party in my pants

For 10+ years, I never really questioned the standard of disposable menstrual products, other than some vague curiosity when reading historical fiction.  My lack of questioning was due, at least in part, to the fact that for most of those years, I never bought any tampons or pads because my bargain-hunting mother stockpiled a lifetime supply (or so it seemed).  Between coupons, sales, and rebates, she never paid anything near full price for said items, and our bathroom cabinets were overflowing with feminine products.  (Hi Mom, I love you!)  I’m not complaining, because my mom’s savvy shopping and generosity no doubt saved me a lot of money, but it may have delayed my exploration of alternatives.

But four females can go through A LOT of tampons, pads, and liners, and the supplies eventually dwindled.  Plus, oh hey, I haven’t been living at home for more than 8 years now.  I’m an adult, maybe it’s time I bought my own tampons.  So I’m buying my own, halfheartedly looking for coupons and sales, experimenting with the cheaper generic options, all while trying to reduce my environmental impact, and I start to wonder, “What did women do before we had disposable menstrual products?  There have to be some alternatives out there.  What are my options now?”

Forty or so years of tampons and pads adds up to quite a bit of trash, but this, as with most “disposable” products of various types that cram store shelves today, represents a relatively new phenomenon.  Today we have non-disposable options that are just as convenient as disposables and more technologically advanced than just using a rag.Continue reading “Diva with a party in my pants”

Green confusion

Trying to green your life but not always sure what the green choice is?  You’re not alone. “Delusions Abound on Energy Savings,” a recent post on the NYTimes Green blog, shares some results from a study about our energy saving beliefs and behaviors.

One common misconception involves laundry.  What saves more energy, line-drying clothes instead of using the dryer, or switching your washing machine from a warm water wash to a cold water wash?

Most people picked line drying, but washing in cold water actually saves more energy.  Mr. GreenLife provided this explanation: It takes a lot of energy to heat water.  Compared to heating enough water to fill a washing machine, the process of removing that water from the clothes in a dryer consumes less energy.  (I’m sure his explanation included more scientific details that failed to make it through my important information filter.)

Your best bet?  Cold water wash AND line drying.

I took most of their findings with a grain of salt, because they focused simply on energy use, not overall environmental impact.  For example, buying energy-efficient appliances saves more energy than switching off lights or unplugging appliances when not in use, but they don’t factor in the environmental impact of discarding what may be a perfectly functional, but older model refrigerator, just to upgrade to a new energy-efficient model.

I’m also not sure how “driving a more fuel-efficient car” comes out on top of “biking or using public transportation.”  Again, they omitted some important details on the overall environmental impact.  I highly recommend driving a more fuel-efficient car, but not driving that car at all is even better.

The complete journal article is available here through the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Yeah, PNAS.  Maybe they should have thought that acronym through a little bit  more.  Or maybe research scientists/academics do have a sense of humor?

Plastic

My wait for a copy of Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man at the library finally ended last week.  I’m only 70 pages into the book, but I’m comfortable recommending this read.  In fact, go to your library website and request it now (maybe you won’t have to wait as long as I did).  Then come back here for more.

Book requested?  Okay.  Colin’s book inspired this post, and will, perhaps, inspire other posts if I get around to writing them.

I found this bit on plastic particularly horrifying:

“A thousand miles off the coast of California, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is a swirling soup of floating trash twice the size of the continental United States.  [It] contains six times as much plastic, by weight, as bio-matter.”

And

“In the North Pacific alone, an estimated 100,000 sea turtles and sea mammals, a million seabirds, and countless fish starve to death each year after plastic blocks their digestive tracks.”  (Emphasis added.)

Plastic wreaks havoc not only on the environment, but also on human health.  (I won’t go into detail on that here.  If you want to know more, one possible read is Slow Death by Rubber Duck.  I haven’t read it, but Rebecca reviewed it here.)

Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish dramatically reduced her plastic consumption.  Click here to read her guide for some great places to start.

A recent TreeHugger article lays out an argument for eliminating disposable plastic while acknowledging that there may be some situations where plastic IS the best material for the task.  It took me forever to find that article again, but I did it for you because it’s worth a read, so click the link up there.

This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition.  One change I’ve been focusing on over the past several weeks is buying more food (food that I would normally get in plastic bags) from bulk bins so I can reuse the rather large number of plastic bags I’ve accumulated.

So, what will you do to reduce your plastic waste?  See Beth Terry’s guide (link above) if you need inspiration, and then share your action step here.

Quotes from No Impact Man by Colin Beavan, p. 54.