This is my sister’s genius idea.She has a superhero power that enables her to stretch a dollar and make it two, while at the same time, spring cleaning her kitchen.
She is onto something.
Here is one of her tricks…
For the month of February, she does not grocery shop.
Let me explain…
She still makes her growing family almost every meal they eat but only uses what she has in her pantry to do so.
This delicious idea saves them a bunch of money.
This fabulous idea prevents a lot of packaged food from expiring.
This crazy idea pushes her to experiment and tryout a bunch of Pinterest ideas.
This genius idea sneakily cleans a part of her house that a majority of us would like to close the door and not think about.
From what I understand she “shops” from her pantry weekly and takes the stuff she wants to focus on and work with, over to a cabinet by the stove. From there she picks and chooses what she will create today, making soups and casseroles, snacks and treats.
Her Pinterest boards are pretty amazing.
She admits to one loophole. She can buy something from the grocery store in order to make a dish but the bulk ingredients have to come from her pantry.
She does the same thing with her freezer.
Then BOOM she is already ahead of the game when it comes to spring cleaning.
Now, if I ever figure out how she is able to buy 27 large bags of M&M’s for a total of 27 cents with all these coupons and code words and secret handshakes…
I’ll let you know.
Every month I pull out the trash I created over the past calendar page and sort into piles. Kitchen trash, bathroom/medicine trash, out to eat trash, clothing trash, travel/hobby trash, gift trash, mail trash, etc.
I take the largest pile and create a goal as to how I am going to make this pile smaller in the next month. I have been consciously minimizing my trash for 7 years but I have used this particular system for the last 2 1/2 years.
It works for me.
It helps me stay focused.
It helps me accomplishing a huge goal, in workable steps.
What I never expected to happen with this system of elimination was the friendships it would help me form. For example: the cheese lady, the ice cream lady, the bulk food store gentleman, the antique store couple, and the hardware store men. These are not just people who I buy my goodies from to prevent making trash, but they have now become my friends.
They know me by name.
I know them by name.
We can talk about something other than the weather.
We can swap books.
We can swap thoughts.
We can swap laughs.
Striving to live trash-free has been so ingrained into my daily life that I forget I am living an extreme until someone points out and asks why I am doing this or not doing that. Needless to say, it becomes a conversation starter in some of the most unusual times and places.
On one such occasion, I found I was in the presence of a man whole makes his own beer and wine. Brewing is his passion.
Instantly, I pulled out my photo of last month’s trash and asked if he could help me eliminate the alcohol trash. I had a few beer caps and a wine seal and cork. Not much, but still trash I would prefer not to make without depriving myself of fun drinks.
Together we worked out a system, where I can have my jars filled with his latest creation. When I am done, I bring them back for a refill. He can reuse both the bottles and caps leaving us without trash.
But the benefits do not stop there. I also can give away my bottle opener! That is one less thing I own. Living in such a small space means you must only keep what matters. Letting go of several small things results in a lot of extra space.
Of course I now have an unique contribution to gatherings as well. Sharing the wine is sharing my lifestyle and hopefully bring about awareness without being in someone’s face about the epidemic trash problem in our culture.
I am panting seeds of awareness and seeds of change,
I now not only have one less item in my home, a source of trash free drinks, but I have another friend too.
Cheers to trash-free drinks.
Cheers to people helping me obtain the goal.
Cheers to friends.
I’ll let you in on a little secret.Making produce bags chill me out.
When I am upset, I make produce bags.
When I am frustrated that my body can’t move as fast as my mind, I make produce bags.
When it rains, I make produce bags.
I give them as gifts for friends.
I give them as gifts to strangers.
I give them as gifts to myself.
They can hold produce from the store, obviously.
They can also hold bread from the bakery.
They can hold cookies from the cookie store.
They can hold a handful of odds and ends.
When I realize that I have to much to carry from the car to the house in one trip, they come to the rescue.
They can hold toys.
They can hold crayons.
They can hold special rocks and leaves gathered on hikes.
The best part about my handmade, reusable produce bags, is at the end of the day, you can just throw them in the washing machine.
Then they are ready for the next adventure.
Well, of course I saved every produce sticker that crossed my path this year!
I am sending them off to Barry “Wildman” Snyder, an artist who is using produce stickers to create fabulous, large scale work! With a name like that, how could you not take a moment to look him up and support him!?
A super big thanks to my brother-in-law, Grant, who found this guy and sent the info my way last year! Thank you for following along on my trash-free journey and helping me brainstorm ideas for lowering my trash production!
You are so cool.
Slowly, I have been replacing all of my belongings with handmade items. Either made by me or a local artist. At the very least, handmade in the United States.
I have been tossing this idea around for over a decade. I remember being in high school, contemplating how long it would take me to remake everything myself. What I had not realized at the time, was the process could be accelerated if I first minimized my needs. Now, the vision of handmade objects surrounding me throughout my daily life, has started to become a reality one object at a time.
Including other artist’s work in the objects that surround me, has helped me create relationships with the other makers I have had a chance to crosses paths with. It gives every object a story and a personality to go with it. While striving to live in the moment, I have realized that objects trigger memories. When an object holds a memory it grants it with a level of value. When you value an object, you take better care of it.
This is the case with my washcloths.
As an object usually overlooked and rarely ever appreciated, the washcloth is one of the last objects we think to value. I use mine multiple times a day, washing breakfast dishes, wiping up spills and cleaning out the back of the refrigerator. Since they receive so much use, I find I need to replace it with a fresh one everyday. I let it dry on the indoor clothes line at night and toss it into the laundry bag in the morning.
The lovely thing about my washcloths is they remind me of my friend and colleague. Over lunch one day, she shared that she was learning to knit and had an over abundance of washcloths from her days of practicing knitting and purling. Luckily, she was willing to share them with me! I have had them for years now and think of her often as I wash my oatmeal bowl in the morning.
Her sense of practicality.
Her willingness to say what needs to be said.
…is all held together one stitch and twist at a time.
The washcloths triggers a happy moment in my day, everyday.