zero waste (part two)

” … [W]hen we say ‘we threw something away,’ what do we really mean? … After all, our discards don’t just evaporate because the garbageman whisked them off. Our waste end up in our landfills, spoiling our precious environment, leaching toxic compounds into our air and soil, wasting the resources used to create the discarded goods, and costing us billions of dollars each year in processing.”

Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson

Above is how the second chapter of Zero Waste Home begins, detailing why eliminating our waste output is imperative. As gathered by the title, this is my second post in my newest zero waste series. In the first post, I discussed composting for the first time, utilizing a clothesline, our septic field, and collecting rainwater. Looking back, I focused on reducing our waste outdoors. This time, I will examine bringing it indoors- from recycling, to phasing out paper towels, and cleaning products.

Let’s begin with recycling. I am fortunate enough to have access to bins in the city where we can take everything there to recycle without having to sort it out beforehand. This has made going from recycling nothing only a few months ago, to now recycling practically everything! Geoffrey and I always have cardboard boxes or reusable bags in our home that are dedicated to these items. A couple of times every month we drop them off at the depot on one of our trips into town.

These depots accept all paper, plastics, aluminum foil, tin cans, milk jugs, cartons, glass bottles, jars, and bagged plastic bags. The only items that they don’t accept are hazardous materials, electronics, clothes, food, and tires. Having a depot located on the side of town that are closest to makes this an incredibly easy and rewarding experience.

We also have a collection of recyclable bottles in the bottom of our pantry that we drop off at SARCAN.

Let’s move on to cleaning supplies- or more specifically, vinegar. Growing up, my mum had always used vinegar and water as a cleaner, so by default when I moved out on my own, I did as well. Yet, I didn’t realize the power of vinegar or how all-purpose it is until only recently! In Zero Waste Home, it lists what vinegar can be used for and how to use it. For example, vinegar can be used as: an adhesive remover, bathroom cleaner, colour set, drain cleaner, eraser sponge, flower food, glass cleaner, herbicide, insect repellent, jewelry cleaner, kitchen cleaner, laundry booster, mildew remover, nicotine stain remover, odor neutralizer, pet repellent, quick mop, rust remover, stain remover, toilet cleaner, upholstery freshener, vinyl cleaner, and wood renewer. Simply dilute 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1 cup water (for added scent, you can also add citrus peels to vinegar several weeks before diluting it).

Of those, I was using it as a bathroom and kitchen cleaner, pouring it down my drains with baking soda, pouring it over weeds to kill them, in my laundry to boost colour, in bowls to eliminate odors, on my floors when I washed them, and to clean my windows- all without a second thought. It really is just an incredibly simple and versatile cleaner to have on hand! (I will return to window cleaning in a moment.)

Now if I am writing about cleaning products, at some point I need to address the elephant in the room. That is the notion of paper towels. Paper towels are a huge zero waste problem. In my research I found that paper products account for roughly 25% of landfill waste. Additionally, the US produces over 3000 tonnes of paper towel waste each day, which significantly increases methane gas. Cutting out paper towel would save trees, water, the atmosphere, and us money!

Until very recently, I was horrible when it came to buying and using paper towels. Being somewhat of a germophobe, I proudly used an entire roll every two days. I used to think more paper towel equaled a cleaner home. I loved the idea of spraying something down, wiping it with those fresh white sheets, and then throwing them out and thus getting rid of the dirt. Now, I shudder at the idea.

When I began this journey a few months ago, I knew that I would have to eventually stop buying paper towel. I was anxious and a little grossed out at the thought of using rags to clean up my dirtiest messes, and then having to touch and wash said rags with our clothes that we wore. I know what you’re thinking, ‘princess, get over yourself’. So one morning I purchased one more six-pack of paper towel with our groceries, and announced to Geoff that it would be our last. I also told him to start collecting every piece of old clothing in order to cut it up into rags. We went through one roll, then two rolls, then slowly went through the third and fourth. Then somewhere along the lines, I completely stopped using them. In all honesty, I can’t even tell you when I did this. Opening our kitchen drawer and grabbing a rag to clean quickly and seamlessly became second nature. I thought that it would be such a hard transition having to break a thirty-year habit, but it really was one of the most natural things that I have done in a long time. We still have those last two rolls laying around our home, but I have no intention on ever using them.

So how do we keep our windows clean? Guys, have you ever used newspaper for this job? If you haven’t, please switch now! I didn’t believe people when I heard and read that it kept your windows streak-free. I thought that it would certainly leave ink or bits of paper behind. I was so wrong. It’s thickness and durability make for a wonderful texture to clean your windows (using vinegar and water for the cleaning agent, of course). I have never had clearer windows. Afterwards, you have the added bonus of throwing the newspaper in the recycling bin. I hope to never, ever return to paper towel and Windex.

If anyone was needing tips for ditching paper towel, you can find a cute and helpful website here.

Please join me on my next zero waste post in just a few weeks!

Emory

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eight months old

Wilder is eight months old today! Here are some recent developments in his little world.

He is mastering feeding himself finger food. From large rice cakes to tiny peas, he quite easily brings the food from the table to his hands to his mouth. In actuality, he prefers food that hasn’t been blended in our blender!

He loves to play ball with Remy. They sit on the floor across from one another rolling a ball back and forth. I posted a picture of them doing this on Instagram the other day. I also have a video of Remy doing it when she was around the same age.

He is also on the verge of crawling. When he is seated, he leans forward and puts his weight on his hands, rocking back and forth. If only he would swing his legs under and then go! He does the backwards crawl that Remy did, though. Pushing himself across rooms, and usually getting trapped under furniture.

Eight months. How is it possible that the time is passing this quickly?

Emory

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seven months old

Hello Tuesday readers! (I had intended on publishing this yesterday, but between our eventful week last week and just returning from a last minute getaway, I had to delay this post until today.)

Wilder is now 7 months old. 

Over the last month he has gone from three naps a day to now only two. He also no longer co-sleeps, preferring to sleep alone in his crib instead. This gives us all much more restful nights. 

Wilder eats a variety of fruits, vegetables, and meat. His absolute favourite is ham. 

He has said “mama” and loves to shake his head “no” when he doesn’t want something. He also has turned into the biggest hugger, often giving me several throughout the day.

He is growing up so quickly, it’s almost too hard to believe.

I love him I love him I love him.

Emory

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wilder’s baptism

Two Sundays ago, Wilder was baptized into the Roman Catholic church.

We spent the morning getting ready at home. I set out the food that I had spent weeks preparing. I made an appetizer tray, bread, macaroni salad for the adults, slow cooker mac and cheese for the kids, banana bread, cookies, and strawberry crumb muffins (TBA).

Remy and I had also created origami crosses the day before. After she painted them, I hung them on the wall.

The decorations- which included a tablecloth, dinner plates, utensils, religious garland, and cups- were all purchased from Party City in Saskatoon, SK. I did what I could to show our faith and love for our son!

We drove into the city and met my husband’s family for mass. Afterwards, my sister and her family and my step-dad showed up. I fed and changed Wilder into his outfit, and he, along with nine other babies, were baptized. It only took 30 minutes!

The baptism went very quickly and very smoothly as well. We had a reading a few words from our kind and humorous priest. Wilder was entertained by everything around him. He got oil on his chest and the most beautiful smelling oil on his head. He didn’t cry. Remy was her usual bratty self and hopped around entertaining everyone. She even tried blowing out the baptismal candles as they were being lit and made everyone crack up.

Geoff’s parents served as Wilder’s godparents. Afterwards, we were given a candle, certificate, and scarf. Then we left and everyone came out to our new home on our acreage. We had an early supper and the kids ran around inside and outside. It was just a lovely, lovely day. Most importantly, Wilder is now a child of God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Emory

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recipe: egg- and dairy-free dinner rolls

To my vegan friends- these dinner rolls are a great alternative to buns that may contain eggs or dairy. They are fluffy, delicious, and look exactly like regular dinner rolls. Be sure to make them if you are searching for a vegan recipe, or if you are curious to see just how amazing they taste.

Egg- and Dairy-Free Dinner Rolls

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp quick rise yeast
2 tbsp white sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup water
2 tbsp vegan butter

Steps:

1. Combine 1 cup of flour with yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

2. Put almond milk, water, and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat up until warm. Remove and add wet ingredients to dry ones. Mix until well combined.

3. Slowly add the remaining amount of flour, beating mixture until dough is soft. (You might have to alter the amount, depending on consistency.) Place dough onto floured surface, and knead for a few minutes. Then put into a bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.

4. Remove dough from bowl and cut into 12 equal pieces. Shape into balls and place into round or square greased baking dish. Cover again with a towel and let rest for 45 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Take out of oven, and brush with vegan butter. Eat when your heart desires!

Emory

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  • Welcome, friends! My name is Emory. I am a wife and mother to three (two on earth and one in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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