reduce

No Lid, No Straw, Please

starbucksThe other day I ended up having to work from Starbucks, which is cool and all, but I do not like coffee.

Since I was spending 2+ hours parked at their table using their wifi, I obviously had to purchase something.

It was a bit of a surprise event to be working at Starbucks, so I did not come prepared with my own beverage container. ūüė¶

 

Although that was a bummer, I did, for the first time ever, remember to ask for my iced tea without a lid and a straw. I felt pretty proud of that! So next time I will hopefully bring my own cup, and if I don’t, I will remember that simple request!

Plastic Free July

I am really late to this, but it is Plastic Free July!

Join me and other bloggers on how you can avoid plastic this month (and every month after)!

The Gift of An Experience

Father’s Day was a few weeks ago and so was K’s birthday. Both received the gift of an experience from me. My dad has always wanted to do an architectural¬†boat tour on the Chicago River and K got a much-needed massage gift certificate.

Overall, I consider myself to be a pretty good gift giver. I listen throughout the year and make notes on my phone about things people would be interested in. Did you mention in a conversation you would love to learn how to scuba dive? Awesome! I will be taking note.

As I have gotten older, my wish lists have gotten shorter. I would rather receive an experience or activity rather than another sweater. I have even had to make actual requests to my mother to tone it down at Christmas. (sorry mom!)

I don’t need too much anymore, and right now I legitimately have nowhere to put it in our tiny apartment.

If you are having trouble thinking of good “gift of an experience,” here are a few I have either given or have received:

  • tickets to hockey games
  • tickets to baseball games
  • trapeze lessons
  • massages
  • segway tour
  • flight in a WWII plane
  • indoor skydiving
  • cooking lessons
  • money towards specific honeymoon activities
  • tickets to see Anthony Bourdain
  • knitting lessons
  • yoga passes

 

WinterClassic9

The Winter Classic in Washington, DC

 

trapeze

Learning trapeze

 

anthonybourdain

Anthony Bourdain at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago

The point is, I do not need/want a tangible item for every occasion. Being able to do/see things I normally would not spend my money on is the real joy. The gift of an experience has allowed me to I swing on a trapeze, learn to cook pasta, and knit a million scarves!

 

C3 Week 4: Waste

Obviously, I was very interested in this class topic since it covered waste and the point of this blog is to not be so wasteful!

First of all, why should we care about waste?

  • it does not go “away”
  • litter is ugly
  • sanitation
  • water quality is diminished
  • climate change due to more methane from landfills
  • these are just a few reasons!

waste pyramid

We have all learned about the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but there are more important steps that need to be included as well.¬†The conversation we usually have starts with recycle, when we really should be starting at the top with refuse. If we refuse something, it cannot become waste in the first place. Zero-wasters are very familiar with this part of the pyramid! So refuse those plastic bags and straws, for they will never go away!

Chicago throws away 7.3 million tons of trash annually.

In 2009, the city conducted a waste characterization study, where our trash was sorted into 81 different categories.

The top three items by weight were:

  1. Paper (29.5%)
  2. Organics (29%)
  3. Plastic (12.5%)

All of these things can be recycled or composted, not sent to a landfill!

We have a big issue with recycling in this city if you have not noticed from my posts on my experience of trying to get a recycling cart.

The biggest issues we discussed in class are access, expense, contamination, and education.

Access

As I discussed here, residential buildings with 4 units or less have access to the city recycling service. Larger, multi-unit buildings, on the other hand, use a private hauler. So depending on what type of building you live in, your recycling rules may be different.

Expense

We do not pay to recycle our materials, unlike the tipping fee required to dump one ton of trash into a landfill. So the City is actually saving money when every ton of recyclables does not go into a landfill. Last year, the City saved $4.5 million.

In Illinois, It is cheap to dump into a landfill compared to other states. New York, for instance, is running out of landfill space and thus charges much more per ton.

Contamination

In addition to the list of what should be recycled, there are also a lot of items that do not belong in our blue carts. Here is where you can recycle common things that are not allowed:

Education

There are different messages for different audiences, especially if they use city recycling or not. Language is also an issue, but for the most part, there is a lack of staff to help implement. Maybe they need to hire someone like me!

Additional Recycling Resources:

 

 

How To: Compost in Your Apartment

I have never composted before and I am so excited to start!

I originally met Farmer Jon at Environmental Industry Night in January and when he told me about what he did, I was amazed. Not only does he personally collect composting from around the City, but he does it BY BICYCLE! How cool is that!?

Since I have a bit of a cycling background, I was all about supporting his endeavor and knew when I moved to the City this was something I wanted to try.

After being in the apartment for 4 days, I signed up for Healthy Soil Compost¬†and received my 5-gallon collection container the very next day. While we don’t have any green space, we do have a fire escape, and that is where I will be keeping our composting.

I signed up for pick up once a month, which comes out to only $0.50 a day. Not too shabby.

For the time being, I am using a plastic screw top container to hold my food scraps until it becomes full, which is a lot faster than I thought it would be. The container does not smell (yet) unless you actually stick your nose in the container, which I advise you do not do.

It was surprising how quickly we filled up the compost bucket, which is sitting out on my fire escape landing currently. When the kitchen container is full, I pop open the door and dump the contents inside!

We are only 2 weeks in and so far we have collected:

  • carrot peels
  • banana peels
  • apple cores
  • green pepper insides
  • egg shells
  • flowers
  • asparagus ends
  • bread crusts
  • potato skins
  • onion skins
  • lettuce/spinach

Healthy Soil Compost provides a handy guideline for what they can and cannot take. If I am unsure about something, I always check it first.

I always have to remember that you can compost egg shells, but not eggs!

Read more about Healthy Soil Compost in the press here:

My Favorites: Second Hand Things

I pride myself in having filled probably 75% of our apartment with second-hand things. I don’t really see the point in buying something brand new when there are plenty of other options out there.

There was a time when I was living in DC where my roommate moved out and took all the living room furniture with her. I was left to furnish it myself, and since I was on a budget, it all came from either craigslist or the dumpster behind my apartment building. I traveled around the District picking up a kitchen table and chairs, coffee table, couch, arm chair, and end table. All without a car.I ended up furnishing the entire place for under $250.

Now that I am on to my next apartment, it is no different. I love having pieces that are old, tell a story, and remind me of how I acquired them. As much as I love Home Goods, I would much rather have knick knacks that have a meaning/purpose.

These are my favorites:

Our copper bottom pots and pans were a wedding gift for my grandma and grandpa in 1953 and still going strong! My cousin used them for a while after college and now I have them! A little copper cleaner and they still look and work great.

copper pans

The metal cabinet was found while scrounging through a family friend’s warehouse that needed to be cleaned out. Read more about its transformation here.

cabinet done

Our couch was originally my aunt and uncle’s. Their labradoodle, Murphy, had a specific spot he would sit in and you can definitely see that spot in the leather.

couch

The blue end table was bought on craigslist in DC. I took the metro out to a part of the District I wasn’t familiar with, picked it up and walked a couple blocks with it. Once I found a taxi, I shoved it in the trunk and headed home with my new find. It needs a new coat of paint and then will look brand new!

end table

These pillows came with the couch I found on craigslist in DC and they were super ugly, but I did not want to get rid of them so I just got crafty. Can you tell I was homesick for the Midwest?

pillows

The bedroom set was my other grandmother’s set that my dad had refinished. Since she has passed away, it is a nice memory of her and makes my mom happy that it is being used. It is also quite in style now!

dresser

A bowling pin my parents picked up at the Randolph Street Market because they thought I would like it and an IU 1976 NCAA Champs 7Up bottle I found at a garage sale in Indiana. Go Hoosiers!

bowling pin and bottle

Rival Ice-O-Matic ice crusher that was in my grandmother’s basement and thought was super cool looking.

ice o matic

Vintage Coleman cooler we searched for and found at the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market. Right now it is being used for storage.

cooler

 

 

Bye Bye Bye: Donation Pick Up Day

Today, our donations are being picked up by Amvets (see earlier post for where everything else is going). So I got to spend most of yesterday afternoon hauling bags up from the basement. The majority of this stuff had already been piled to be donated, or had yet to come from my closet. Right now I have the basement divided up into numerous piles:

  1. To be moved with me
  2. To be donated to Amvets
  3. To be donated to Neat Repeats
  4. To be recycled

Luckily (sarcasm) we have a room in the basement that has essentially become our holding area¬†of stuff. We just call it “The Room” and usually if anything is in there, it is meant to be donated, stored for the time being, or we just are not sure what to do with it.

donate pile

Here are some things you can see in the above picture that are heading out the door to someone else who may need/want it:

  • Alarm clock/ipod player from college that woke me up for the past 7 years
  • Some pots and pans that I am not even sure where they came from
  • 2 yellow Target pillows from college
  • Denim loveseat cover
  • My brother’s old bed spread
  • Old Christmas decorations that have to be 20+ years old
  • Lap desk that I did lots of homework on and occasionally use as a meal tray
  • Lamp base I bought at a garage sale in IN

We do not use this stuff sitting in “The Room” and I am sure someone else could. So I am glad my pillows will get to¬†spruce up someone’s home instead of sit in my basement.

 

Where Is My Stuff Going? Donation and Recycling Centers

My move is coming up in just a few short days and I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed with what is coming with me and where other things are going to new homes.

I had to make a list of where everything was going just to keep track!

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  • Small Appliances– Amvets¬†and Neat Repeats

I am in the Chicagoland area, so my list is based off of what is available in my area.

Do you have a list or know of a list of recycling and donation centers you have used in your city?

Buzzfeed: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Waste

Do you love Buzzfeed? I do! Then check out this post by Shauna over at Zero Waste Teacher about the zero-waste lifestyle in Buzzfeed Community!

If we generate enough buzz about this post by sharing and liking it, Buzzfeed Community may make it a regular topic and help us reach a whole new audience!

Check it out: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ZWshauna/10-ways-to-reduce-your-waste-25dei

My Favorites: LL Bean Canvas Tote

When I lived in DC, I did not have a car. Anywhere I went was on foot, bicycle, Metro, or

BE16

Rolling Around DC on Capital Bike Share

bus. Since I knew I was going to be walking a couple blocks to the grocery store every week, I needed a good sturdy bag to haul my goodies home.

This is where my LL Bean tote comes in. It’s seriously the best bag ever and I love it more than any human being should love a bag used for groceries.¬†It always fit everything!

My tote was so sturdy, I never worried about the bag ripping and the zippered top was helpful on windy days when receipts could go flying across the street. I will definitely have that bag for the rest of my life!

I took it with me on weekly trips to Safeway and monthly trips across the District via bus to Trader Joe’s. I needed this bag not only because I walked/bused, but because DC had banned plastic bags!

My tote helped me limit my purchasing because I knew it had to fit in that bag in order for me to get it home. Most of the time I could fit an entire weeks worth in it, except for the time I thought it was a good idea to buy a large pumpkin for Halloween.¬†Seeing me struggle down the street with my bag of groceries, a gallon of milk, and a big ol’ pumpkin, what a sight!

(Side note: due to lack of car, I have carried a number of odd items down the street and on the metro. That includes an IKEA Lack coffee table, end table, and a chair. I am strangely proud of this.)

Anyway, if you are in the market for a durable bag for your groceries, I highly suggest a canvas tote from LL Bean. It is guaranteed to last.

Besides LL Bean, what is the best way to carry your groceries around town when using alternative forms of transportation?