Posted on April 10, 2014
Waste is a bummer. Waste, aside from being disappointing in general, is a huge source of money loss when we’ve missed the opportunity to reuse something and get more bang for our buck. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to food items, like fruit and produce, which we often purchase based on weight. Bananas and oranges, for example, are weighed at the register, we pay based on that weight, and proceed to go home, rip off the entire outer layer of the fruit, and throw it in the garbage. This goes for carrots and potatoes that we peel, onions and turnips that we chop the ends off of, and rinds from melons that we huck into the rubbish bin. We’ve paid for all of those bits and pieces, but we routinely trash them without much thought, and while we might only waste a few cents here and there in so doing, those cents add up over time. And right now, we’re only talking about food. Watch this:
What do you do with plastic cups after a party? Wine or beer bottles? Egg cartons? Those 100-year-old raisins and oats that you bought to make Christmas cookies that one time? How about that coffee can of used cooking oil or fat that you keep around for future cooking use that doesn’t seem to happen? The case of mason jars you bought for canning, but you did it once or twice and decided “eh, I’m not into it,” and have just had them in your cabinet ever since? Maybe you cleaned out a shed or basement and turned up a bunch of old wood from a home improvement project, or maybe you just got a sweet new pair of loppers and consequently, now have a pile of branches you don’t know what to do with (or, if you had the experience a lot of us had this year, you’re still wondering what to do with the Winter 2013-2014 tree limb aftermath strewn around your yard). Now, we’re starting to see some dollars disappear.
Guaranteed, you have stuff all over your home that can have a second life and save you both the money you’ve already spent on them AND money you might potentially spend in the future on a product you could make yourself with your discard. The obvious answer to a lot of these waste woes, at least in terms of organic waste, is start a compost bin. That’s still a major way to recycle and keep organic waste from mucking up the environment by rotting in a landfill, and if you’re concerned about waste, you need to compost. But, ideally, even the compost bin should be a last resort for some items. The key to limiting waste is creativity, and giving your garbage as many lives as possible before committing it to its final resting place.
This winter has been dreadful for not only those of us in Frederick, MD, but for everyone pretty much everywhere. In our area, the awful ice storms resulted in substantial tree damage if not total tree destruction for many people. While most of the damage has been cleaned up, there is still a lot of detritus laying around, including some pretty nice sized branches. Here are some suggestions about how to make the most of your fallen branches:
When you go online and see all of the ingenious things gardeners are doing with wine bottles, you won’t let them touch the recycling bin again. This goes for soda bottles, beer bottles, and any other discarded glass bottle you may come across with a really cool color or interesting shape.
I don’t know if you know this yet, but you can actually make everything in the entire world with canning jars. You know when you read something or see something on the internet or in a magazine that’s so good and so simple and so clever, and it makes you want to scream because OF COURSE! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?! GRR! THAT IS THE BEST THING EVER!!! That’s what happens when you see the creative things people do with old jars. Don’t ever toss glass jars—there are so many projects out there for you to try!
Really quick: if you don’t make your own soup stock, you are missing out big time. Vegetable stock at the store is expensive, especially since a lot of soup and stew recipes and mixes require you to use multiple cans and cartons of stock. And if you love soups, you burn through your stock quickly, and you never have it around.
Making your own vegetable stock is a piece of cake, and you can use a lot of those peelings, trimmings, and choppings you are throwing into the compost bin. The stems of broccoli and cauliflower, that top onion layer, the parts of asparagus that you snap off, all of the peelings from your carrots, the ends of garlic cloves, leek leaves, celery leaves, and that stuff in your crisper drawer that you’re afraid is going to go bad before you figure out what to do with it. Put it in a bag, and freeze it. When you’ve amassed a good amount of vegetable leftovers, pull it out, chop it up, and boil it in water with whatever seasonings or herbs you’d like to throw in. The stock you create can be strained and used immediately or frozen. The boiled vegetables can then be added to your compost, provided you didn’t put a bunch of salt, oil, or fat in your stock. You can also run your vegetables through a food processor or blender to make a kind of bouillon that you can freeze and pull out whenever you want to make a quick broth.
More ideas on the way in Part Two!