Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reusable Paper Towels

After growing up together then living apart for a few years, my sister and I rented a studio together. In our years apart Lindsay had developed some environmentally friendly habits. Me, being a person that is not big on change reverted back to being the whiny little sister that I once was. Cleaning with vinegar. "Ewe, you clean so that your house smells better, not worse!" Cleaning with vinegar was something I stopped when I moved to my own house. But during my pregnancy to avoid the chemicals I started using it again and I have not quit. I put a few drops of citrus essential oils in my sprayer, the vinegar smell fades I am left with the smell of citrus. I like that when kids are in the tub or eating food off the table I am not worried about what chemicals they may be getting. I now love cleaning with vinegar!

Paper towels.... my guilty pleasure. Before this time of my life that Lindsay "deprived" me of paper towels I never thought about how wasteful they really are. Recently I have been keeping a roll of paper towels in the house but used them sparingly and feel guilty when I do. When I think about what it is that I love so much about them, I have narrowed it down to one reason, CONVENIENCE. I like that they are right there when I need them. No digging for towels, no rag that is cluttering my counter. When I am cleaning up something disgusting I like to throw it in the garbage and not have to deal with it. I have recently come up with a solution. I have set aside old rags that are on their last leg for the nasty clean ups. I saw this idea and decided I would make my own easy access reusable paper towels. DISCLAIMER!! I AM NOT A SEAMSTRESS! I can only sew in a line (notice I do not say straight line) so all of my projects must be very easy.

How I did it:
 I found a pattern that I wanted in my kitchen and few old towels that we didn't use anymore and washed them.

Measure the wanted size. I added a 1/2 inch around the edge to make room for the seam.
Sew fabric and towel together on 3 1/2 sides then turn it inside out through 1/2 that is not sewn shut.
I put one button hole in each towel (you could use snaps or Velcro). Then sewed a button on the other side. I decided to put 3-4 seams through the towel so that it would not bunch as much when I wash them.
Finished product is guilt free, easy access, cute, reusable paper towels.
With my leftover fabric I made a few dish towels.
Let me know if you have any questions :-)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reducing waste at the grocery store.

Grocery Shopping..... There are a few reasons it is not on the top of my "favorite things to do list". My biggest frustration is looking at labels while my little hooligans push the mini carts around, darting out in front of the elderly. Ahhh grocery etiquette is an ongoing teaching point in our family.  Recently I have enjoyed paying attention to reducing my waste in the grocery store. Taking notice of how products are packaged. Opting for cardboard over plastic and big over small containers.  Then looking at how much gas it has taken the product to get to our grocery store. We have recently decided we will buy all of our milk locally. We want to put our money where our mouth is :-) Shelter Family Dairy is a local business with many reasons to support them. The milk is healthier to drink, tastes better, is in glass reusable bottles and with their mission statement being:
"We at Shetler Family Dairy would love to be your personal farmer
Making you feel at home when you visit
Bringing you the healthiest, tastiest milk
products from happy cows
That will make you smile
Created by our care of the soil, animals and resources
that God has given us
To leave it better for the next generation of
farmers and community"

The milk costing a bit more it well worth the benefits. We have decided to drink one gallon of milk instead of two per week. And in the end we will have better milk, less waste, drink more water and support a local business that cares. I know that Shetler Family Dairy may not be a local business for you but I urge you to look at local business's that are doing good and support them. I am on the hunt for more! Please send some my way :-)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Heidi's Zero Waste Project- Plantings

 My wonderful cousin Heidi will be adding to this blog in hopes of givng a larger variety of ideas and thoughts. She is a wealth of knowledge and good ideas and we are very excited to do this together. Her family of four lives in southern California. Through there very busy schedule of both working full time and raising two beautiful little girls they have made the zero waste lifestyle a priority for their family.   
I live in suburbia, the classic San Diego suburban area where my neighbor’s garages are overflowing with “stuff” that they could never use nor find.  On garbage day, their bins are overflowing.  We have gone down to two small garbage bags per week with the use of glass jars and mesh bags only shopping in the bulk isle (foregoing packaged foods).  Certainly not perfect, we are working toward less every week.  A compost bin is located next to the garbage can, as an alternative to “trash” and the recycling bin is the second alternative.  We use the compost bin to fertilize the very poor soil in our area, which has increased the greenhouse’s productivity, as well as the succulents.  Here is a photo of beans growing out of pots in the backyard… 

I try and pick one zero waste project per weekend, given my busy work schedule, it can be a challenge to come up with fun kid projects with no waste-that fit our zero waste goal. Here is the latest project in the garden.

Here is a project for repopulating succulents in areas where the soil is too rocky for regular plants.  The secret is…creating new plants out of old plants without waste or a trip to Home Depot or other gardening centers and using egg cartons to start new plants.
Once the succulents start to grow roots, we will replant them around the house in areas where we can reduce the use of water.