While not considered a national holiday, this past Wednesday was still one of my top three favorite holidays. Christmas and Easter vie for first and second place because, you know, Jesus is awesome. And then there’s Valentine’s Day, but that one’s really only in contention because it has the most cheerful color palette of all (and love is pretty cool, too).
But colors alone aren’t enough to win that coveted third spot, especially when a day celebrating our gorgeous planet is in the running. Because Earth Day? I love Earth Day. And I’m one of those unapologetically crunchy people who doesn’t think it should be celebrated only once every year, but rather every single day. (Kind of like Christmas and Easter should, at least in spirit. Although I could definitely do with more twinkle lights…)
And I know I’m a couple of days late, but we’re going to celebrate anyway. First with some recent eco-friendly changes that have been implemented here in the house, and then with a recipe. Sorry, no tasty food recipe is on tap for today, but instead I offer you another one of the all-natural concoctions that I love so much. (You can find more of them here.) Things really don’t have to be complicated, and Mother Nature constantly reminds me of that. In fact, the simpler, the better. In my book, anyway.
My Green World
So I realize that I haven’t actually written a post that’s begun with something other than a reference to the coronavirus in weeks now, and sadly, this one is no exception. But once again, while the virus is wreaking havoc elsewhere, here it’s still just clearing out more of the unnecessary debris that has somehow accumulated in my life. Debris that I’m actually much happier and lighter without. But then, at the same time, it’s also doing a really nice job of tidying up what’s been left behind. It’s kind of like an intense spring-cleaning. Like, really intense.
But luckily for me and this post, some of that unnecessary debris falls squarely in the “every day is Earth Day” category, and I thought I’d share some of those today. Don’t get too excited, though, because they’re really nothing huge or spectacular. It’s quite likely that they’re even things that many of you are already doing. But even though they’re small, they make me feel good; they make all of us here feel good, actually. And since I always like to share the happy things, let’s talk about how I’m greening up my already green world just a little bit more.
Small Change #1
First up…paper towels. Because it wasn’t only toilet paper that we were struggling to get our hands on recently, but paper towels, too. It quickly became apparent, as we fruitlessly scanned empty shelves, that it wasn’t only me with a paper towel habit, but a majority of the population. (Which does not mean good things for the trees.)
This shortage, however (unlike the toilet paper situation, which really stressed my husband out), ended up being super helpful, in a pushy kind of way. It forced me to finally remedy something that’s been bothering me for a very long while now, but until I was compelled to come up with a better solution, I couldn’t (find the time to) be bothered.
I was distressingly comfortable with patting myself on the back for the green efforts I was already making, while ignoring all the rest. Since I only buy recycled and unbleached paper towels, this somehow (in my own head) made my waste acceptable. Or more acceptable, anyway. I just figured I’d be better in other ways. Ways that were easier, and definitely in ways that didn’t make more work for me in the now.
But isn’t that how a lot of bad decisions are made? With thought only of today and not of all of the tomorrows that come next? Until a virus sweeps in and somehow creates a situation where I can’t find certain daily staples anywhere, and the urge to conserve is no longer simply an option, but now a need. And with the need, also came the necessary adapting. Which was quickly followed by the realization that things weren’t nearly as complicated (and messy) as I thought they were going to be. Actually, they were surprisingly simple.
If You Care
My solution was so simple that I’m almost ashamed to write this. I’m even more ashamed to admit that I’ve used them in years past, but then stopped for reasons I can no longer recall. But the now-remembered answer to my problems? These nifty, economical, reusable, and eco-friendly natural sponge cloths.
If You Care is one of my favorite companies because, you know, they actually care. (You can read more about them here.) I buy a lot of my baking goods from them, so I was super happy to find they craft these cloths, too. I made a very small investment and bought enough cloths to get me through a full week (plus a couple extra in case of a messy emergency).
Maybe the average person wouldn’t need quite so many, but I’m somewhat of a clean freak, and it makes me uncomfortable to use them for longer than a twenty-four hour span.(Some things are just gross to wipe up, what can I say? I can just picture microscopic things multiplying by the millions.) So each and every morning the grimy one gets tossed in with the dirty kitchen towels and dishcloths for washing, and I cheerfully pull out a clean one. Fresh cloth, fresh day, happy me.
Reunited And It Feels So Good
So after being reunited with these compostable beauties and using them for several weeks now, what do I think? I think I love them. Like, really love them. (Especially paired with my All-Natural Lemongrass Cleaner–they make a glorious team.) And seeing that roll of paper towels now lasting me for days and days longer is perhaps one of the tiniest, yet most satisfying, blessings of this whole COVID-19 crisis.
Because now instead of going through a six pack of
trees towels per week, I’m “miraculously” stretching that same pack to last me two or even three weeks. And if I didn’t have a naughty little scamp of a ferret that likes to poop in random corners whenever she’s feeling sassy (or hungry or grumpy or tired…), then that pack would last even longer. And to make this towel conservation thing even better? The drastic drop in usage has greatly reduced the amount of garbage we need to dispose of each week. Which is really just icing on the cake.
Like I said, it’s small, but also…mighty. Because less garbage while at the same time saving trees? It’s definitely a change I’m sticking with.
Small Change #2
Change #2 isn’t anything more fancy than Change #1 was; just another case of taking a wasteful habit and breaking it. This one has to do with our food consumption. In case you haven’t already guessed, I cook. A lot. And lunch is made fresh here every day, with the leftovers becoming our much lighter (and much quicker) dinners. But sometimes those leftovers don’t get eaten at the end of the day. Sometimes they simply get overlooked, or pushed to the back of the fridge repeatedly until they’re long forgotten (or ignored in favor of something else). And come fridge-cleaning day each week, more than I like to admit makes its way out into the compost pile.
But it’s easily shrugged off because nothing is actually wasted. It heads back to the earth and our numerous groundhog/crow/squirrel/possum friends live a life of luxury feasting on it all. But it’s still wasteful in that I was spending this money on food that we weren’t actually eating. Then in sweeps a worldwide pandemic and I’m having a little bit of trouble finding my normal foods through my normal sources. And then add to this the fact that when we venture out once every week and a half to do the grocery shopping, the spots that usually hold my organic produce are growing distressingly bare. And just like the paper towels, I realize something’s got to change.
So We Do
This remedy was also lurking just below the surface. All I really did was embark on a self-created crash course in learning how to be more economical with the food I buy, in commonsense ways. Like how instead of making up only one batch of coconut milk at a time, now we make two. Using the same amount of coconut shreds. I mean, sure, it’s a little bit less creamy, but after the first couple of days I stopped noticing even that, and now each bag of coconut is going twice as far. And do you know how much that’s saving me?
Or like how we’re being more diligent about making sure that the leftovers get eaten before anything else, even if we don’t feel like leftovers. (Which, admittedly, it’s most often me turning my nose up.) Or how we make sure to completely finish off one batch of hummus before whipping up another. (I do love me some fresh hummus. Again, me.) How instead of dumping the beet greens directly into the compost because I don’t have the time to cook them, I now cook them. (Are you noticing a pattern here? Because I am. Apparently, I’m the whole problem…)
And fruits that might have been a little bit overripe and past their prime yesterday, are now perfectly fine today. As Jordan and I recently decided, our new motto is: Would Anne Frank have eaten this? The answer is usually yes. And so we do. This change is fabulous because we’re not only wasting less, but saving more. I’m also able to shop less frequently (borne out of necessity, but likely a habit I’ll keep), and my grocery bill has dropped. The wildlife might not be super happy about this recent adjustment to their compost dinner pile, but I am. I definitely am. Yay to saving trees and saving money!
Small Change #3
Okay, so the first two changes involve my kitchen and the food that lives there. Surprise, surprise, so does the last. (Weird how in the drafting of this post, I realized just how much of my life revolves around the kitchen. And it’s depressing how obviously wasteful I was in it.) But this change is different than the previous ones because it’s not about modifying an old habit, but creating a new one. And since this new one also utilizes “waste,” it fits in with my whole waste-not-want-not theme just perfectly.
Have you heard of Misfits Market? I think it’s currently only available in about twelve eastern states, but I know there have been similar things in warmer locales for a while now. But what happens is that you purchase a subscription box based on your needs. Your choices include: The size of your box; how many boxes you want; what day you’d prefer to have it delivered on; and how often you’d like it showing up on your doorstep. And each week (or two) a box of organic produce is delivered right to your home (in very eco-friendly packaging). But you want to know the very best part? They’re rejects. The Charlie Browns of the produce industry.
But so far they haven’t been Charlie Brownish at all. In fact, they look like any other vegetable that would come out of my garden. They’re all of these lovely fruits and vegetables that would normally have been thrown out because they’re not pretty enough or perfect enough for supermarket shelves. Isn’t that the biggest (and most ridiculous) waste you’ve ever heard of? So Misfits remedies that. They collect all of these unfairly-discriminated-against foods and ship them directly to me.
But Wait, There’s More
But wait, it gets even better. Better than salvaging perfectly good foods? Yes, even better. Because I’m buying them for up to 50% off of the price that I would pay in the stores. Seriously, is there anything wrong with this ingenious idea?
And while it’s not an option yet to pick or exclude certain foods (you get what you get), I’m loving it this way. (Minus the juggling when it comes to menu planning; that’s been a little tricky. But it keeps me flexible, so I’m okay with it.) Opening that box each week is like unwrapping a Christmas gift; I never know what I’m going to find.
We’re getting veggies that I can’t buy organically at my local grocery store, and we’re feasting on new and tasty things. Just this past week we enjoyed a Napa cabbage (my first time), roasted up with a sweet and sour sauce. Another day we enjoyed some baked celeriac root. And let me just tell you about the mangoes, which aren’t a new food, but one of my husband’s favorites. You should have seen his eyes light up when I pulled four out of our first box.
Currently, due to the pandemic and the surge of new customers, Misfits is taking much longer to deliver than usual. My first box didn’t arrive in one week, but closer to two (or three?). The second arrived closer to the day than the first had, and the third box was right on time. I expect this is just a temporary glitch, what with all of their new safety measures and the current workplace restrictions. But once they get things all settled, and adjust to their quick spike of new customers, just think about all the rescued veggies now finding forever homes. It’s a fabulous idea, and I kind of wish I’d thought of it myself. But I’m just happy to be a part of this organic food waste revolution.
And there you have it: just several more of the pandemic-inspired changes around here, and these are a most lovely shade of green. And my apologies if that was annoyingly cheerful, but eco-talk has that effect on me. Especially because the Earth needs as many advocates as she can get right now, and I happily volunteer my services. Honestly, I might even love her more than I love my husband. But since he somehow “can’t find the time” to read my novel-length posts, he’ll never have to know I said that.
Melinda + Planet Earth = True Love Forever. (Sorry, Scott.)
Have a beautiful week, my friends, and Happy Earth Day–today and every day! (Just a little more annoyingly cheerful to send you on your way…)
Peace & Many Blessings ~ Melinda
- 1 cup water
- 1 lemon
- ½ tablespoon vodka
- 12 drops essential oils (see notes below)
1. Chop the lemon into thick wedges.
2. Bring the water to a boil, boil for 1 minute, and then reduce heat to simmering. Add the lemons and simmer until the lemons are soft and the water has been reduced by about half. (This took 25 minutes for me.)
3. Remove from heat. Use a tight mesh strainer to strain out the lemon pieces, saving all of the liquid.
4. Pour the liquid into a clean spray bottle and add the vodka (used as a preservative).
5. Add essential oils if desired. Shake well before using.
Here are several essential oils that are great for the hair (make sure to be using only 100% pure essential oils!)
- cedarwood - promotes hair growth
- citronella - eliminates excess oil; adds shine; fights dandruff
- patchouli - may prevent hair loss; strengthens hair
- rosemary - increases hair growth; may help prevent baldness; slows the graying process; treats dandruff and dry scalp
For more of my green recipes, please visit my Eco page!