Archive for June 22nd, 2008

Independence Day Update: Spotlight: Minimizing Waste

Sharon June 22nd, 2008

Rather than just listing off what I’ve done, (which I’ll also do in a minute), I thought it would be worth meditating a little bit on one of the nine categories of activity each week.  And the obvious starting place for me is the “minimize waste” one, because I think of it as the forgotten middle child, the one that is so easy for everyone (me too!) to just say “oh, I composted” or “nothing new” on – well, the whole point of this is for me to try and do new things regularly.  So I thought I’d talk a little about minimizing waste – ways I have tried and those I should, and about some ideas for incorporating regular waste minimizing strategies into my life.

Now I’m assuming nearly everyone who doesn’t live in an apartment composts, and some of those who do probably find ways to do it – worms, bokashi, etc….  I see a lot of the updates mention composting.  And that’s good – but what else?

 Well, in our house there really is no food waste in one sense – between the chickens, the dogs, the worms and the compost pile, nearly everything gets eaten.  On the other hand, it does behoove me to ask myself “is there a less expensive way to feed chickens than on potato-leek soup and asparagus that I really meant to eat before it got icky?”  Or, “Is it possible that I could reduce the sheer quantity of fuzzy things that are not peaches in the back of my (non-electric) fridge?”  Sure, composting is great, but wouldn’t it be better if we did a little less composting?

I’ve been letting this category go, and I need to watch that.  So this coming week I’m going to make a serious effort at the minimize waste project.  Some of my plans:

1. Eli has a tendency to put down his apples (of which he eats 3-4 a day) in random places, where they are then not found until they are scary and horrible.  I will not give Eli another apple until I have located the remains of the previous one, and confirmed that it was entirely eaten.

2. I will work much harder at reminding the boys not to put plates into the sink with food on them.

 3. Little bits of leftovers often are put in the fridge, but because they are not enough for an actual meal for six people, they get left there when meals are planned and eventually move past the eating stage.  I will remind myself that it is not mandatory that all of us eat exactly the same meal, and that a little of this and a little of that is no bad thing.

4. The dogs have a tendency to pop their food out of their dishes and chase it around the room.  I will put my toddler to finding the bits they’ve chased into corners that they can’t get at, and putting them back in the bowl.  Since my toddler will really, really enjoy this game, this is a win-win situation. 

5. I will clean out my fridge more often, both to minimize waste and so that I actually can tell whether we’ve got an open jar of pickles before I go ahead and open another jar of pickles.

Ok, on to the update:

Planted: Raspberries, tomatoes, more lettuce, more arugula, winter squash, more cucumbers, brussels sprouts, cabbages, peas, more basil, blueberries, cranberries, a fig.

Harvested: Many, many strawberries (from the pick your own nearby – the sheep ate mine), arugula, lettuce, bok choy, peas (snap and shelling), broccoli, nasturtium seeds, beet greens, baby beets.

Preserved: Much strawberry jam (28 pints) and rhubarb compote (16 pints).  Froze some strawberries. 

Prepped: Scored a pair of free wall-sconces for non-electric lighting. Pretty, too.  Stacked a lot of wood, bought a pair of high quality Goodwill flannel sheets. 

Managed reserves: Finally figured out how much rice we actually have.  A lot.  Otherwise, no.

Cooked something new: I tried a new shortcake biscuit recipe for Eric’s birthday strawberry shortcake.  Twas good – and they were great for breakfast with butter the next day.

Reduced Waste: Finally have all four kids trained to shut off the water while soaping hands.  For now. I expect regression any day now. 

Learned a new skill: Not a one.

 How about y’all?