Compostables, But No Composting at Work

The kitchen at my workplace is stocked with compostable plates and bowls.

Which is awesome.

But only if there is actually somewhere to compost them.

As you can probably already tell where this is going, there is nowhere to compost these items at work.

While I applaud facilities for going for what seems like the right choice, they need to take it a step further for it to achieve the desired result.

Our break room has 2 clearly labeled waste cans; one for recycling and one for waste. All they need is another for compost.

Since I do compost at home, I end up smuggling the occasional plate or napkin home in my lunch bag to add to my compost bucket. One less thing in a landfill, right?

 

work compost

Banana peel and compostable plate ready to head home with me

 

The next step is to talk to Facilities about providing composting services. Someone has got to be the one to bring it up? Might as well be me.

Beach Clean up with Zero Waste Chicago

Cool things are happening in Chicago, and the creation of Zero Waste Chicago is one of them.

They host monthly events and this month they asked me to lead a beach clean up since I am an Adopt-A-Beach Team Leader. (Check out my other clean up posts here, here, here, and here.)

We headed down to 31st Street Beach, a beach I have not been to or cleaned up before.

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For a Tuesday night, it sure was hopping. Families were out barbequing and kids were splashing in the water, trying to squeeze the last few days of summer before back to school.

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A great crew of volunteers showed up and spread out all over the beach armed with bags and litter monitoring surveys.

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Overall, we collected 35.66 lbs of trash, recycling, and compost!

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Some highlights:

  • 609 cigarette butts
  • 221 food wrappers
  • 200 pieces of plastic
  • 135 metal bottle caps
  • 110 pieces of foam
  • 94 pieces of glass
  • 69 balloons
  • 56 pieces of paper
  • 54 plastic bags
  • 46 straws
  • 18 band-aids
  • 7 hair ties
  • 1 razor
  • 1 tampon
  • 1 condom

 

 

Buying Local: Week 15 & 6th CSA

We have really been rolling with our box this week.

K made a tasty veggie ragu Saturday night, then we used the cucumbers in a tangy yogurt sauce Sunday, and we also tried our hand at cooking green beans two different ways.

CSA week 5

We are going to attempt to finally get through an entire box without any of it going to waste. I will keep you updated if we accomplish that. Fingers crossed.

What We Bought:

  • Bell peppers
  • Red thumb potatoes
  • Mix tomatoes
  • Jersey mac and pristine apples
  • Mira sweetcorn
  • Candy onions
  • Newhall Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Assorted cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Jalepenos

    veggie sauce

    veggie ragu sauce

What We Learned:

  • Thank goodness we have compost because we are creating a lot of food waste when we don’t get to something on time.
  • To use up some of the veggies from the previous week and a couple of the new ones, K made a fantastic red vegetable sauce. We ate some and then froze the rest.
  • You can freeze corn! We got 6 ears of corn in our box so we are going to save a few by cutting the kernels off the cob and freezing it for later.

Up North for the Grayslake Flea Market

I made a pretty arduous flea and vintage market schedule this spring. Although I have been slacking, for the most part, I  did visit Randolph Street Market last month and over the weekend took a drive North to the Grayslake Flea Market.

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It was a pretty cool, but nice, Saturday and I enjoyed walking through the outside vendors over the ones in the main hall.

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This sign caught my eye right away and I just loved it! Old things are awesome and we should enjoy them!

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For instance, check out this awesome wallpaper table. It would look so awesome in an entryway if I had one of them. By the time I made a second lap back through the outside vendors, this baby was snatched up. It was a steal at $125!

I did not end up getting much, but I did find a vendor who used to be a science teacher. She found the below 1970’s science posters in her classroom one year and loved the graphics so much that she kept them.

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Thank goodness she did because I absolutely loved them! The “Our Environment” one caught my eye first.

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After sifting through a pile of them, I purchased my three favorites. K loved all the posters when I brought them home and he was actually upset I did not buy them all!

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That will probably be the only time he will be mad I did not buy something from a flea market. I hope to frame them someday when I have more walls to hang stuff on. Right now we are kind of out of wall space!

Sometimes You’re Gonna Be Wasteful

Not that I need to share this with the internet world, but I had “minor surgery” this week.

I diligently go to the dermatologist annually to keep an eye on my fair skin and my numerous moles, but this year a mole on my back decided to grow, and my doctor thought it was best to remove it.

So “minor surgery” it was. And minor surgery means major waste.

Between the individually packaged sterilized tools and the gauze, and who knows what else (I was keeping my eyes closed. I DID NOT want to see what they were doing), there was already a bunch of waste just the day of the procedure.

For the next two weeks, I have to clean and change my bandage twice a day. That’s a lot of band-aids.

I know this is wasteful and legitimately all of it will end up in a landfill. We all have to make concessions sometimes, especially when it comes to our health.

Trying to make this situation less wasteful is not something I am up to doing. I am not making my own cotton band-aids and I am not risking infection, so landfill-destined bandages it is.

No pictures for today’s post. No one wants to see my stitches!

Buying Local: Week 14

CSA week 4 (2)

We have eaten just a bit of everything so far, but haven’t been able to fully get through any produce from last week’s CSA box. I had a couple beet smoothies and made a big batch of roasted veggies to take for lunch this week. For dinner the other night, K made some omelets with a mish mosh of veggies folded inside.

week 14

As usual, I ate most of the fruit from last week, so popped over to the farmers market to get some more this weekend.

What We Bought:

  • Dozen eggs from Benton Harbor, MI
  • Raspberries from Benton Harbor, MI
  • Blueberries from Bangor, MI

What We Learned:

  • We are getting better at incorporating our produce into basically all of our meals. A piece of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, can easily have something from our box in it.
  • Basically, any vegetable chopped up and added to an omelet is delicious!

5 Reasons Why I Love Living in the City

I have lived in two major cities in my life so far.

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The nation’s capital, Washington, DC

Planetarium

and the pride of the Midwest, Chicago, IL

While living in the city does has some setbacks (so many sirens), city life has become a part of me in many ways.

Without further adieu, here are

The 5 Reasons Why I

Love Living In the City

1. Being able to walk everywhere

I can pretty much access all of life’s necessities via my own two feet. Within just a few blocks are my gym, the mailbox, the bank, the pharmacy, a grocery store, tons of restaurants, a farmers market, a zoo, and Lake Michigan.

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Just steps away is Lincoln Park Zoo

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A few steps more and I can dip my toes in the Lake

In DC, I had the ultimate luxury of being able to walk to work. The 20-minute walk to and from was my favorite way to begin and end the day. In the year and a half I lived there, I never once took the Metro to work. I walked rain or shine.

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Not many people actually live in downtown DC, but I lived smack in the middle in Chinatown

2. If I can’t walk, public transportation is always an option

Yes, there are some things that are a bit farther outside the radius of the distance I would casually walk to. But there are also some times I will make a day of it if it is nice out, like the one time in DC where I decided to walk 4 miles to and from Trader Joes.

Our location here in Chicago is right near the L and many bus lines heading into the Loop. In DC, I lived a block from the one Metro stop that could connect me to all other lines.

3. Never far from something interesting

Living in a city basically means there is ALWAYS something going on, much to the chagrin of drivers and people trying to go about their daily lives without getting stampeded by Lollapalooza attendees.

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See a movie in Millennium Park

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Go to antique and vintage markets

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Play softball on the National Mall

 

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Attend a march for a good cause

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See your favorite sports teams play

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Pick up your produce from a farmers market

4. So many spaces to exercise & explore

A lot of people think that when you live in the city it becomes harder to exercise. That is absolutely not true. While I am a bit further away from acres of undeveloped green space, I do have access to some of the greatest spaces to work up a sweat.

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Go for a run along the Lakefront Trail

Not only are there so many cool places outside to go work out, there are also so many different kinds of gyms that everyone can find something they are interested in. Aerial yoga? Got it. Trapeze lessons? Got it. American Ninja Warrior gym? Got it.

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Running the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

 

I became a part of a great fitness community while I lived in DC called November Project. It’s free and we worked out all over the Capital. From the Capitol building steps to underneath the cherry blossoms, we were everywhere. Now in Chicago, I meet up with November Project at the Bean and everywhere else in between.

5. Being able to be a part of so many different things

I am involved in almost way too many things. I serve on a non-profit associate board, regularly volunteer at beach clean ups, and participate in numerous environmental functions.

 

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Election day didn’t turn out like I thought, but I was able to serve as an election judge at my district’s polling place.

 

 

 

 

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Last year, I became a Chicago Conservation Corps leader. I can partake in projects that better my community and environment.

 

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Marching with thousands on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC’s March for Climate

 

 

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Cleaning up Montrose Beach

 

So that’s it! Do you have any additional reasons for why you love living in the city? Obviously, these are not all the reasons, and city living has some downsides, so let me know! What did I miss?

Keeping Food From the Landfill: ’17 Totals So Far

We are now in the 8th month of the year! Yikes!

And once a month I have been putting my food scraps out by my front door to be picked up by Healthy Soil Compost.

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Before I put it on our stoop in the morning before pickup, I weigh my bucket with a hanging scale and mark down the weight in a spreadsheet (nerd status over here).

Here are the totals from the past few months:

January 15.5 lbs

February 17.22 lbs

March 12 lbs

April 18.74 lbs

May 8.8 lbs

June 20.44 lbs

July 22.84 lbs

So far this year we have diverted 187.66 pounds of organic waste from the landfill!

Buying Local: Week 13 & 5th CSA

market saturdays

It was a CSA week this past Saturday and we got a pretty amazing box. My bag was exploding with produce as I lugged it home. It had to be the heaviest one yet!

CSA week 4

What We Bought:

  • Boone Green Beans
  • Cappuccino SweetCorn
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Pristine apples
  • Cauliflower
  • Red Beets
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Green Peppers
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Summer Squash
  • White Onions
  • Oberweis milk from family farms around IL and WI
  • Turano bread from Berwyn, IL

What We Learned:

  • K does not like Napa cabbage. We chopped some up for a slaw with our BBQ chicken tacos and after a taste, he promptly refused to ruin his taco with it.
  • Shelling peas is intensive work and that is why they sat in the back of the fridge until they were finally composted.
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Besides our CSA box, I picked up a vibrant sunflower at the farmer’s market. She’s so pretty.

 

Who Needs Cotton Balls?

I have not bought cotton balls in AGES.

 

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My cotton ball replacements.

 

From Friday’s post, you know that I have not been buying Ziploc bags because I have a solid replacement for them, but a replacement for cotton balls was not something I had found yet.

For a while, I just stole cotton balls from my parents, the bags just seemed to last forever. But now I do not even bother.

I never used cotton balls to take off makeup. Instead, I just used a washcloth. The only thing I really used them for was to remove nail polish, which I now just use some toilet paper for. It definitely was not efficient, but it got the job done when necessary.

Now that I am wiser, I know there are replacements for cotton balls and those are just reusable cotton rounds! They are basically two pieces of cotton fabric sewn together. cotton rounds

Currently, I do not own a sewing machine, so making my own was a bit more of an arduous option. So instead, I purchased them from a local business, WholeLoveOrganics. I currently use their deodorant too.

After using the cotton rounds, I toss them in a laundry bag for delicates (so I don’t lose them in the washing machine) and then wash and dry as normal.

Reusable and washable anything is pretty awesome, and I love that I have added these to my routine. They require basically zero effort and I will basically never buy cotton balls again, not that I have been recently!