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      News — How to start zero waste

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      Mend Along- Let's Mend the World Not Trash It

      Mend Along- Let's Mend the World Not Trash It

      There are so many reasons to mend and we hope you'll join us in Feb to be inspired and connected with fellow menders.    We'll be posting on social media tips and tools as well as putting together videos with techniques and DIY.

      Here's the schedule for the month-

      Week 1

      Patches- we'll explore fixing knees and elbows, crotches and reclaiming ugly jeans 

      Week 2 

      Sweater Mends- dealing with moth holes, rips and tears and fuzz balls

      Week 3

      Stains- decorative patches, embellishment and dying to add new life to worn clothes

      Week 4

      Socks, Gloves and Mittens- toe and heel holes and repurposing items that are too far gone

      We hope you'll join us.  "Clothes worth wearing are worth repairing."

       

      Food Waste Free Tips for October

      Food Waste Free Tips for October

      October is a world wide focus on not wasting so much food and we have some easy tips for you.  

      First steps are always the hardest but trust us it gets easier.  We’ve included a few of our favorite tips and tricks for reducing your personal food waste.  At the bottom of the blog you can find links to learn more about food waste, the consequences of not changing our habits, and other people and organizations working on this problem.

      Tips to stop wasting food.

      Let's start with garden guilt.  When our garden dreams in the spring are bigger than our stomachs and when fall rolls around and food rots on the vine or languishes in the back of the fridge.  Our gardens were just too big.  But the problem is even bigger than that. Beyond our kitchen garden waste 1 in 5 grocery bags of food is wasted; thrown into a landfill.  It’s a massive problem both in terms of economics but also for the health of our planet.  If food waste were a country it would be ranked third in terms of CO2 emissions.  This is such a huge and pervasive problem that it's hard to even wrap your head around the numbers, the sheer quantities, the mountains of wasted food.  But as with all problems, little first steps add up to huge change when we all work together. 

      Tips to reduce food waste

      Food Scrap Stock: this is a simple and tasty trick to make great homemade soups, stews, and risottos.  Keep a mason jar or bag in the freezer.  Every time you have scraps from cooking: carrot ends, squash tops, onion bits, tomato ends etc.. add it to the freezer bag.  When the bag is full it's time to make stock.  Get out the slower cooker and add your scrap bag, a hunk of seaweed (we recommend sugar kelp or oarweed), and your favorite blend of spices and some water.  Let it simmer for at least a few hours but the longer the better.  If you want a meat stock then save your chicken, ham, or beef bones or lobster shells and add them in as well.  When the stock looks and tastes good, chill it, strain it and turn it into your favorite comforting soup or stew.  If you're not feeling like soup then freeze the stock.  A friend of mine just gave me an awesome tip for this.  Pour your stock into a freezer or silicone freezer bag.  Close it tightly and freeze it flat on a baking tray.  When it is frozen solid you end up with a little sliver of stock that takes up hardly any room in your freezer!!!!  For more details check out our blog Easy Peasy Soup Stock

      Too Much Garden Produce Freezer Meals: Ready to go homemade freezer meals are a mainstay in our house in the winter.  They are the perfect way to make sure that we use everything in the garden and are eating lots of vegetables all year long.  The three I make every year are vegetable lasagna (which is awesome cause you can use extra tomatoes by making the sauce yourself and an overabundance of eggs by making homemade noodles), chicken pot pie, and shepherds pie.  The key to all of these meals is they start with roasted vegetables.  I throw everything that is ready to be picked onto baking trays and roast away.  You can add in summer squash, carrots, beets, potatoes, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, winter squash, eggplant, and tomatoes or whatever combination is ripe.  Even if you don’t have a garden but bought too much at the farmers market or have a CSA box that you can’t finish, this is the perfect way to make sure that nothing goes to waste and you're eating well in the winter.  My pro tip is freeze everything!!!  Do you have too many peas, beans, carrots, kale...you name it.  Blanch it, spread it on a baking tray and freeze it.  When it's solid, scoop it up and put it in a freezer bag then any time you need some veggies you just have to reach in and grab the perfect amount for any meal. Spice up eggs with some frozen kale and corn, make your soups swoon worthy by adding in all your summer veggie favorites. Veggies are expensive in the winter here in Maine and come from far away. By freezing my garden I am able to eat well and eat locally all year long. We have LOTS of recipes on our blogs including Zucchini Tots.

      Tips to eliminate food waste.

       


      Cheese Bin: This is a trick that Claire learned from watching a Jamie Oliver program.  Keep a bag or jar in the freezer where you can stash ends of cheese.  Many households end up buying too much cheese and it molds.  Especially if you are single, buying the right quantity of food is super hard and lots goes to waste.  The cheese bin means that all your cheese gets used.  Use the harder cheeses for soup stocks or save up until you have enough to make a bomber mac and cheese.  Freezing cheeses can affect the texture of some types of cheese so it is best to make something where the texture doesn’t matter. 

      Baking sweets with vegetables

      Cupboard Crisp/Veggie Baking: Yesterday both Claire and I ended up making an apple dessert.  The really good farm stand apples we had bought a week ago weren’t so crisp anymore and we only had a few left.  Instead of chucking them in the bin Claire made a small apple crisp and I made an apple cake.  Everything got used, nothing was wasted, and we got a tasty dessert.  Another great way to use up extra fruit that is a little past its prime to is make and then freeze fruit desserts.  That way you don't feel like you have to eat a whole pie, crisp or cake.  Freeze individual desserts like hand pies, slices of cake, or turnovers, which means you can always have the perfect portion of dessert. Another great dessert trick is to make desserts using vegetables.  In Maine, it's much much easier to grow vegetables than fruit.  We always have too much summer squash, carrots and beets.  All of these make fabulous desserts, cakes, cupcakes, even frosting.  The best part is that all these desserts freeze great too!!!  Here's the link for our beet and seaweed cupcake recipe.


      Don’t Follow the Recipe: The last tip is that recipes should just be a guideline.  Sure for baking you should take less liberties since it is a science but everything else; change it up.  If you have more veggies then add more veggies.  If you have one ingredient but not the other substitute instead of a shopping trip.  Get creative and use what you have.  Especially these days when going to the grocery store is a scary ordeal you really don’t need that special ingredient. 




      To learn more check out the following:

       1 Million Women: Food Waste Free October

      Jamie Oliver’s Food Waste Campaign

      Plastic Free July in the Age of Corona, 5 Tips to Get you Started

      Plastic Free July in the Age of Corona, 5 Tips to Get you Started

      Going zero waste and becoming plastic free is always a dance of two steps forward, one back and some spinning around but since the start of the Corona pandemic this journey has gotten a lot harder.   Plastic Free July is a global movement focused on everyday solutions to plastic pollution.  

      Plastic Free July Tips

      Our first ever blog post about reducing your waste was Plastic Free Friday- BYOB.  Published in July of 2016, it was about bringing reusable shopping bags.  Now reusable bags are banned in my state.  I do wonder why you can shop without a face mask but not use a reusable bag?  But that's a subject for another blog.

      Here are some tips to help you navigate the new realities while continuing to reduce your plastic consumption.

      Tip 1- Be registered and have a plan to VOTE.  If you've followed us for awhile I start just about every blog with this statement.  We need elected leaders at all levels who care for the planet and recognize we are ALL CONNECTED.  A cleaner planet means a shift from business as usual in all areas including social justice, education, manufacturing practices, tax breaks and incentives,  a diverse economy, etc, etc, etc.........

      Plastic Free July tips

      Tip 2- Practice self care.  It's harder to take care of others when you are tired or angry.  Take time for a breather from the chaos and uncertainty of the news. Being outside and connecting to nature is one of the best ways to help ourselves and have the energy to help our planet.  Be mindful of your social media use.  I have a personal pledge to not check emails at night.  It doesn't matter if the news is good or bad, I don't need a rush of energy before bed.  Realize that social media is a double edged sword, and "doomscrolling" is real.  Protecting your physical and mental health is vital for this marathon we find ourselves in.

      Plastic Free July tips

      Tip 3- Practice good hygiene.  The sooner we can contain the virus, the sooner we can begin to return to the "new normal".  Wash your hands frequently and use good soap.   "Soap works better than alcohol and disinfectants at destroying the structure of viruses."    We need to be sure we don't grow complacent but remain vigilant to protect ourselves, others and ultimately the world.

       

      Plastic Free July Tips

      Tip 4- Wear a reusable face masks.  "Namaske"- the mask I wear to protect you recognizes the mask you wear to protect me.  I've seen posts on social media about the litter created from disposable masks and gloves.  It's maddening!   A washable reusable mask helps protect others and the planet. 

      Tip 5- Pick a place to start and recognize you're on a journey, made more difficult by the realities of Covid-19.  Start small, be forgiving and realize you'll have to make adjustments and compromises.  Our pre-Covid blog 20 Zero Waste Tips for 2020 is a great place to start.

      Remember it's a dance, forward, backwards and some spinning but in the end you'll be in a new and better place.

       

        

      Spend Your Money Wisely, Vote With Your Dollars, Invest in People

      Spend Your Money Wisely, Vote With Your Dollars, Invest in People

      There are two ways to vote.  First, in the election booth.  If you want positive environmental and political change then make sure you get out and vote.  The other way to vote is when you spend money think of each dollar as a vote for the world and values you want.  

      According to Green America "Where you spend and invest your money is a powerful way of voting each day to support local communities, fair wages, and a healthy planet."  

      tips to shop small

      The first priority is the question- "Do I actually need this?"   You can save money, buy better products and support businesses that value workers, the environment and our planet while sending the message to the world economy that we don't want a bunch of plastic crap.

                                         Do I Need It?  How To Buy It Guide

      • Refuse
      • Reduce
      • Upcycle
      • Borrow
      • Share
      • Repair
      • Swap
      • Sew or make
      • Grow
      • Buy second hand
      • Buy small, local and indie

      You can shop small locally and on line- either way is good.  Locally keeps your community vibrant and supports your neighbors and friends.  Online gives you access to a wide variety of products that might not be available in your hometown. 

      Zero waste tips for beginners

      Do both- pick local products where it makes sense and shop online for ingredients and goods not easily available.  Either way- you'll feel good by doing good.  Don't forget even if you're not able to make a purchase support small businesses you love by posting, sharing and commenting on social media.  Every small step has a big impact.