Freeze it. Many things can be frozen without harm to their taste or texture. This includes raw and cooked meat, purportedly hard cheeses (never tried this myself!), tomato sauce, broth, cooked beans, whole and sliced bread and other baked goods, dry goods (flour, dry beans, spices, etc if you’re worried about rancidity or loss of flavor), and more! Many veggies can be blanched and then frozen.
Preserve it. There are many preservation methods to try! You can can, dehydrate, salt, ferment, smoke, or pickle. For example, turn milk into kefir or yogurt. Ferment cabbage into kimchi or sauerkraut. Smoke fish. Make jam.
If you are sick and tired of a particular food:
Take it to work to share with colleagues! Alternatively, share with friends and neighbors. This works especially well if you’re trying to get rid of desserts and snack foods.
On a similar note, have a potluck.
Give it away! You can do this on Freecycle or Craigslist (there is an area for free things under the sale section). There is also Olio, a food-sharing app for smart phones, soon to have a web app as well. Unfortunately, it isn’t as widely-used as Freecycle and Craigslist. I believe Olio is European in origin, so it is widespread in Europe. Amazingly, people also use it in Northern California! Lucky!
Feed it to pets. My grandparents always fed their cats table scraps.
Feed it to animals you’re going to eat (e.g. pigs or chickens).
Feed it to wild animals. Although not good to do frequently, at least some living being gets to eat it.
Compost it and use the compost to grow something else!
I’m at my parents’ house for the winter holiday season, and there’s a lot more junk mail here than I’m used to!
Today I unsubscribed from Valpak (a bunch of coupons for items my family doesn’t buy), Shen Yun (that Chinese dance troupe that advertises everywhere), and Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer (we don’t shop at Trader Joe’s). The links I’ve included go to the unsubscribe page for each company (scroll down for Trader Joe’s. There is an “Unsubscribe” section). It could certainly be easier to unsubscribe, but at least larger companies have online tools for this kind of thing. It doesn’t take as long as calling everyone separately.
Here‘s the online form for redplum, another excessive coupon packet.
You may have heard that Equifax accidentally leaked everyone’s names, addresses, and social security numbers. Darn.
Here are some really easy steps you can take to protect your identity from being stolen:
Step 1. Sign up for a my SocialSecurity account at: https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/. Signing up prevents hackers signing up for you, and getting access to more of your personal information. Unfortunately, signing up only works about 30% of the time, and you can only do it during the website’s business hours. If you fail more than twice, you get locked out forever. Sorry.
Step 2. Set up an initial fraud alert with one of the three credit unions. I would recommend TransUnion, because they have the best web interface: http://transunion.com/fraud. It’s free and lasts 90 days (you can renew it as many times as you like). If you do this, banks will call you to confirm if someone tries to open an account in your name. They’ll probably open the account for the hacker anyway though. Can’t be helped…
Steps 3-5. These can only be addressed during the blog’s business hours, 2pm – 2:15pm on every Tuesday with a full moon.
There is growing concern over the presence of plastic microfibers in the environment. Here is The Story of Stuff on the issue. Basically, when you wash plastic things (clothes, sponges, plastic containers, etc) or when plastic things degrade, they shed little pieces of plastic. These end up going down the drain to water treatment facilities. Unfortunately, most water treatment plants don’t have the means to filter these out, so they get released into local bodies of water and eventually end up in the ocean.
There’s a lot of worry among environmentalists and marine biologists about potential effects on marine ecosystems, upon which humans rely, and the environment as a whole. It seems reasonable to think that if humans eat fish that ate plankton that ate microfibers, humans might experience negative health effects. However, before now, no one knew for sure if people were being exposed.
A recent analysis established that most tap water contains microfibers (94.4% of all samples in the US). Additionally, another project found that sea salt from various parts of the world contains plastic microfibers.
What can you do to help?
Wash your clothes less. This especially applies to those made of synthetic materials, like polyester, lycra, nylon, spandex.
Buy clothes made of natural materials, like wool, cotton, linen, hemp.
Wash your clothes on cold. Higher temperatures cause the materials to break down faster and shed more plastic particles.
Likewise, line dry your clothes instead of using the dryer.
Use liquid detergent instead of powder. Powder is more abrasive and causes clothing to shred more.
Don’t litter. Plastic items, like plastic bags, break down into microfibers in the environment. While it would be ideal to not use these items at all, it’s better for them to be in a landfill than in the ocean. When throwing a plastic bag or other flyaway item away, tie it into a knot first to make it less aerodynamic.
There are other things you can do, but they require more of an investment. You can purchase a washing machine lint filter (I’ve seen this and this recommended). You can also purchase a Guppy Friend, a (plastic…) bag to wash your clothes in. They are supposed to filter out 99% of microfibers.
California is having a heat wave today and tomorrow. Around San Jose, it’s supposed to get up to 102°F or so! Whew! It’s time to take extreme evasive maneuvers, which means camping out in air-conditioned buildings!
J and I rarely use the air conditioning (or heat, for that matter). My preference is to leave the windows open at night to bring in the cool air or just tough it out if it’s too warm. If it’s too hot to sleep (usually > 83°F), we turn the AC on for a few hours before going to bed. If it’s too hot during the day even for sitting at a computer, though, I would rather just go somewhere else.
This topic is kind of complicated, because there are no obvious best answers. And you don’t wanna skimp on your teeth – like with health, prevention is a lot cheaper and a lot more effective than treatment. But I’ll give you all the information I have! Continue reading “Low-waste dental hygiene”
It can seem really daunting to try to reduce the amount of waste you produce. The extremes are so extreme: hoarders at one end, and the (unreachable) goal of zero waste at the other. Instead of trying to be perfect right from the beginning, make small changes that will have a big impact in your life! You’ll likely find that a majority of your trash is generated from just a few activities; if you can reduce the waste associated with those activities, your overall trash production will go down a lot!