Monday, October 17, 2011

Day Two-- Let's Do Some Trash Talking!

     Today's subject is trash, kind of appropriate as this is the night I take my trash to the curb.  In the past, I used to look at my pile with a great pride, especially the trash night after a big holiday. I would see trash containers spilling out up and down my street and then give myself a big pat on my own back for our one can of trash with nothing spilling out and our HUGE pile of recycling.  "Oh look at all that recycling, you are one recyclin' fool, you are!" I would say to myself.  Until one day it hit me... I WAS a recycling fool. I was foolish to think that putting out a great big pile of recycling was something that should make me feel proud.  Making very little trash AND very little recycling was something to really aspire to.
     So I embarked on a wild and wonderful trash journey, which I continue on today. I started a compost bin, which in a household of vegetarians, turned into many compost bins!  My garden thanks me for it every year.  I started shopping differently. First of all, I vowed to never buy another bottled water. We bring water with us in mason jars in a soft-sided cooler when we are out and about and it works great. We try not to buy juice boxes (we did get weak while on a long car trip to Florida and one to Chicago, I'll admit it) and when we buy juice, we buy frozen juice in the little containers instead of the ones in the gigantic bottles. We do a lot of bulk shopping, and I found that most places will let you bring your own jars and weigh them before you fill them so you don't have to use those plastic bags. This is great because I buy the amount I want to store and don't have to repackage it when I get home. I also learned to bring my funnel with me because there was the "great couscous disaster of 2011" in aisle 8 that one time. Embarrassing.
     I shifted to cooking from scratch more, including making our bread (not nearly as hard as I expected it to be), reusing jars and bags. I learned to make cool tote bags by cutting off a tshirt's sleeves and sewing the bottom shut. A kid's shirt takes up very little room in a purse, so I always have a bag handy and I get to appreciate old favorite tshirts long after they are outgrown by the kids.  I shopped our house for all those free tote bags that I got over the years and put them in one place. They make great lunch bags.
      We have become trash-free lunch black belts in our house. We start off with our tote bags. We put yogurt in a small jar, have glass containers for our salads and entrees. We *gasp* take real silverware and cloth napkins (made from an old worn out sheet, but hey, it was a Ralph Lauren sheet, and it was only 25 cents at a garage sale because it had a tear).  My roundhouse kick to trashy lunches was discovering stainless steel straws for the kids! They came with a tiny little brush and are dishwasher safe and they. are. awesome.  Any fruit rinds come home in the yogurt jar for composting--take that, trashy lunch!
     I decided to take the plunge today, in honor of trash day, and start something new that I had been putting off... vermicomposting. Indoors.  I know, worms. Sounds gross, stinky, way too granola. But while out at the discovery center at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, I saw that they were vermicomposting with a gadget called Can O'Worms. I put it on my birthday list and forgot about it.  My supersweet Husband, Matt, actually got it for me!  But, it sat, unopened from July until today (yes, my head hangs in shame). My generous and brilliant neighbor, Ann, offered me a herd of composting worms! I quickly prepared their future home.
Preparing the coconut coir bedding 

Look at those glorious Red Wigglers

Ann, proud worm mama and my generous benefactor
Then I headed over and gratefully received my worms (funny, usually it is not a  good thing to get worms). I am all set up and ready to begin my experiment with vermicomposting in my basement. Thank you NIW Challenge, Matt and Ann!
     Where do I need to really look to making changes related to trash? I work weekends, and I notice that come Monday morning, there is usually some leftovers or produce gone bad that needs to be thrown out or composted. I need to pay careful attention Friday night to freeze large amounts of leftovers and prepare produce for the family or cut it up and freeze it for use later in the week. I would also like to learn to make our yogurt, which would cut down on a lot more packaging,
     I hate to say it, but I am squeamish about switching to different, less wasteful types of  feminine protection.  I need to look into that with a more open mind. There are a lot of different options, even including ones with less packaging or even recyclable packaging, which wouldn't be as big a deal as switching to a Diva cup or the moon cup.

Fun trash tidbit for Day two:
What about too brown bananas? Just throw them in your freezer, right in their skins!  Then defrost them and squish them into this delicious recipe.  The best part? This recipe is also freezable, so you don't have to worry about eating the whole cake at once (ummmmm, I never have that problem.)
 Granny Shanny Bananny Bars 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt (I use lowfat vanilla, plain would work just as well)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour (even better, 1/4 cup of ground flax seed and 1 3/4 cups ww flour---yummy!)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
3 medium bananas smooshed (I freeze them in their peels when they go brown and just nuke them for 10 seconds when I need them.  Then they squeeze out like tooth paste, already mashed for your pleasure)

1 package of cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 3/4 - 4 cups confectioners' sugar 

1.  Mix 1/2 cup butter, softened and 1 1/2 cups sugar.
2. Add 2 eggs, 1 cup yogurt, and 1 tsp vanilla.
3. Mix in 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 Tbsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt
4.Mix in 3 medium bananas smooshed.
5. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 min. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.
6.  Let cool and proceed to frosting it in the pan.
7. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter or margarine softened and 2 tsp vanilla extract
8. mix in 3 3/4-4 cups confectioners' sugar until desired consistency
9.  lick beater like no one is watching.
10. Spread over top and enjoy! (Refrigerate this cake as it has cream cheese frosting, and it is really good  cold) Freeze it right in the pan if it has a lid, and enjoy it later! If you can resist it's temptation!

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