Those Pesky Plastic Bags

I had a friend ask me what I do with plastic bags that I eventually accumulate.

Not just the standard grocery bags, but the plastic packaging, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, or other types of bags that are labeled as plastic #4 and don’t belong in the curbside recycling bin.

These bags should not be tossed in with your regular recycling because they basically mess up all the machinery and cause all sorting to come screeching to a halt as they have to pull bags free from the machines.

plastic bags

As any normal person does, I hoard them under the kitchen sink until I have a full bag. Then I drop them off at my local grocery store, like Mariano’s, Target, Jewel, Walmart, and more. Check here to see what stores have drop-off locations near you.

In reality, we shouldn’t be using these plastic bags in the first place, but sometimes we get them. They get handed to us before we get a chance to even say something, or a friend sends you home with your leftovers wrapped up in a bag.

It happens. It’s okay.

But it is important to note that using plastic bags because you can bring them to the grocery store to be recycled is NOT THE ANSWER.

Instead, bring your own reusable bags to the store. You’ll also save $0.07 on the bag tax (if you live in Chicago, IL).

 

Advertisements

Registering for Things that Will Last

Apparently, the time has come for us to register for wedding gifts.

At first, I thought there was nothing that we really, truly, needed. Maybe some new towels and sheets. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized this was a time in our lives to upgrade to high-quality items that could legitimately last forever.

We have recently started figuring out where and what we want to register for. As we walked between three different options, K said: “I want the items on this registry to last the rest of our lives.”

And that has basically become the theme of our registries. We are looking for tools that are made from stainless steel and glass, not cheap plastic.

 

william sonoma

image: William Sonoma

 

For instance, K really wants a mandolin to slice vegetables nice and thin. As I have looked about for them, the only ones I can find are mostly made of plastic. I was shocked because the mandolin my mom has is entirely made of metal and that is what I thought all mandolins were made of.

Alternative facts. Fake news.

Just like my grandma’s, we want our pots and pans to able to be used by our grandchildren 65 years later.

copper pans

We use my grandmother’s copper bottomed pots that she received for her own wedding shower in 1955.

No matter what the stores tell us we need to register for, we are only going to register for items we are going to use in the long run. We don’t need fine china. We are not going to register for a fondue set because it’s on a list somewhere.

I have made it a habit to poll all my married friends and family on what they use the most and the least from their wedding registry.  Hopefully, down the road, we will be able to say we use absolutely everything.

 

 

Buying Local: Week 18

We are rolling a bit behind this week. We lost some produce due to mold (peaches, eggplant, tomatoes). Going out to eat for two meals over the weekend also did not help and kind of set us back on using produce.

CSA week 7 v2

What We Bought:

  • Hamburger buns from Evanston, IL

What We Learned:

  • Real food can get moldy FAST. Some of my peaches did not even make it 5 days, and some of our tomatoes and peppers had to go straight to the compost bucket.
  • Potatoes and onions should not be stored together. We are a bit tight on kitchen storage so we had both of them in the same drawer. Now we have them separated.
  • You’re not supposed to store cucumbers in the fridge. No wonder they didn’t make it.

Hole Filled Jeans Become Housing Insulation

Earlier in the year, I tried fixing my favorite pair of jeans by patching them.

jean-patch17

It worked for a couple months. but then this happened

jean rip

These jeans became beyond repair, but I couldn’t bear to just toss them out with the garbage when they were in no shape to be donated.

So I did what any rational person would do.

I hoarded them for several months until I figured out what I could do with them.

Enter Madewell.

Madewell3

They have partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green to execute a pretty neat jean recycling program. Bring in ANY type of jean to one of their stores and they will help turn them into housing insulation.

Madewell2

So far, they have collected over 1 million pieces of denim and saved over 600 tons from going into the landfill.

Right now, Madewell is running The Denim Forever Tour, hosting pop-up recycling stations at locations all around the country.  So check out if they will be anywhere near you between now and October.

Below is what my hole-y jeans will become! Insulation to warm people’s houses.

madewell1

Just for dropping off your jeans, Madewell will provide a $20 coupon towards a new pair of their jeans.

Check out this cool video about the program.

 

A Reuse Reminder from My Running Shoes

My old running shoes recently were given a new life.

Since the old ones were out the door, I kinda needed to replace them in order to continue running.

I decided to go with the same type of shoe I have had for the last 3 pairs of running shoes, the Saucony Ride. Sticking with what works.

Anyway, when I opened the shoe box I found a great little surprise on the inside.

Saucony recycle box

How cute!?

Buying Local: Week 17 & 7th CSA

These CSA boxes/bags ARE GETTING HEAVY!

That’s also because we got a melon this week! CSA week 7

What We Bought:

  • Mixed Cherry tomatoes
  • Assorted slicing tomatoes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Shishito Peppers
  • Tropical melon
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Mirai Sweetcorn
  • Kohlrabi
  • Japanese eggplant
  • Zestar apples
  • Peaches from St. Joseph Michigan

 

corn chowder

K’s homemade corn chowder used up some CSA potatoes and corn

 

What We Learned:

  • More about vegetarian cooking. K bought a new cookbook so we could further utilize our boxes instead of relying on vegetables only as sides.
  • Meal planning is so important in order to use what we have available without wasting it.
  • Our compost game is STRONG! The last two months we have overflowed our bucket and had to have extra containers at pick up time.

 

vegetarian cookbook

K’s new cookbook

 

Garage Sale Finds into Framed Art

K & I have a small obsession with maps.

We already have a map of Cape Cod Bay and Washington DC in our apartment.

So when I stumbled upon a copy of the Charts of the Illinois Waterway at a garage sale, I knew I had to go back and get it. K also told me I had to go back and get it.

garage sale1

It has maps of the Mississippi, the Chicago River, the lock system, and the canals that helped reverse the flow of the Chicago River.

K was thrilled with the purchase. We knew right away they would make great additions to our growing map collection.

The maps hung around for a few months until I finally got around to finding frames for them, even though we did not have much wall space left anymore.

framedmap1

We picked our favorite two: one of the waterways of the U.S. and one of the downtown portion of the Chicago River.

framedmap2

They look pretty good over the TV and am happy with the purchase and placement of them. It is also always a way better story when you can say you got something at a garage sale!

framedmap3

How To: Stop Junk Mail

Getting stuff in the mail is awesome.

Getting unwanted stuff in the mail is not.

 

We all have experienced it. You open the mailbox and find something addressed to you or the current resident (whom you have never heard of) and have no idea why you are getting this piece of mail. You don’t even know what this company is that’s sending you catalogs.

Besides just tossing it in the recycling bin, there are a number of ways you can keep yourself from getting junk mail in the first place.

The biggest thing you can do is avoid giving out your address, but sometimes junk mail will find you anyway.

Below are some resources you can use to be removed from all sorts of mailing lists.

 

paper karma

Here are some of my requests I submitted to PaperKarma. Who are you King Ranch Saddle Shop?!

 

Another way to combat the onslaught of unwanted mail is to find the sender’s phone number, any number you can find, and call them to remove yourself from the mailing list.

Be warned that it takes over a month sometimes to be officially removed from mailing lists. A lot of the time, a catalog or a mailing is already in production and printed with your name on it before you make the call.

On another note, as much as I love giving money to a good cause such as a charity or non-profit, be careful. Sometimes when you donate, your mailing information can get shared with (or sold to) other organizations. For example, post-election, K donated to an environmental organization and now we get TONS of calendars, address labels (SO MANY), notepads, and more.

If you are looking for more, check out my friend Celia over at Litterless who also wrote a great post on getting rid of junk mail.

Buying Local: Week 16

We are ALMOST FINISHED WITH AN ENTIRE BOX!!

The cauliflower is on the meal plan for tomorrow, and I eat an apple every day. Now what to do with all those cucumbers?

Sixteen weeks into this journey K has finally figured that we should take a closer look at a more plant-based diet. We shall see where that takes us.

Our CSA box runs through October and it is already time to start thinking about signing up for a fall box that would last through December. It is definitely something to consider!

CSA week 16

What We Bought:

  • Brussel sprouts from Marengo, IL
  • Spring lettuce mix from Marengo, IL
  • Oberweis milk from family farms around IL and WI
  • Turano bread from Berwyn, IL
  • Corn from the Midwest (grocery store was not very specific…)

What We Learned:

  • How to freeze apples, beets, corn, and tomatoes. The apples and beets will be used in smoothies and the tomatoes for sauces.
  • How to blanch tomatoes.
  • K tossed some of the frozen corn into our chicken and bean quesadillas the other night and it was super convenient to have cut up corn on hand.
  • We did end up getting additional corn from the grocery store, but both of us have declared that farmers market corn tastes way better.

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.