Sustainability Project: June 2019

As I wrote sometime last month, I would like to keep up with the sustainability swaps, and do about one a month. It turned out I did something different than I was thinking about, as I ran out of coffee. Since this post is about coffee, I have to admit something: I have a Keurig.

I bought it a few years ago, after breaking every glass coffee pot I tried to make it work with. I don’t know why I have this problem, but I will also say that I am the only person in the house who drinks coffee from home on a regular basis, so most of the time, if I made a pot, it would go to waste anyway.

Now, of course, I wish I didn’t buy a Keurig. I was weak and annoyed at spending so much money buying single cups of coffee from various shops. But I feel terrible about all the plastic K-cups that go into the landfill. And I did try the kind of K-cup that allow you to peel off plastic part, and then that portion goes into the recycling, but it wasn’t great.

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This is the variety pack!

So after some searching, I found this company: Tayst. The beans are sustainably sourced and the pods themselves are 100% compostable!

The only downside to this plan is that I do not yet have a compost area, as when I bought my house, the backyard was paved. I do have a small front yard, and since coffee is good for plants, and I only drink about three cups of coffee a week at home (most is at work), I am wondering if I can’t literally just bury these little suckers and let them feed the tree that lives there? I plan to try this and see how long it takes them to break down. A possibly fun experiment?

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Just adding this photo of Samir from 7 years ago for fun–but note I still have the same coffee cup!

Meat-Free May: Week 3

We are into the third week of Meat-Free May! I am still feeling good and have not eaten meat nor wanted to eat meat. I do have a few health updates that may or may not be related. Because I was at the doctor’s this morning for my annual, I know I lost two pounds. Also my blood pressure, which has never been a concern of mine, was 118/75, so now it is even less of a concern (previously had been 120/80). At some point this week, I remembered that in the past when I was vegetarian or vegan for years-long stretches, I became deficient in vitamin B12, so I did start taking that as a precaution.

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Hiking in the woods near our house!

This week I ate out a lot, but forgot to take photos every single time! We went hiking, biking, went to a show at my son’s school, and I went to a concert and spent a lot of time hanging out with horses. One night I ate Chinese food out at a fancy place. We had an assortment of things, but my favorite was Shao Kao Fu, which is seitan with mushrooms and peanuts. I also ate Thai food out with my family, and had Massaman Curry with tofu and vegetables. And finally I had Italian food out with my family, and I had eggplant rollatini.

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These were actually really good!

I’m trying to remember what I ate this week at home and mostly failing. There were a ton of my favorite salad: kale, avocado, cucumber, tahini, and hemp seeds. I made orange seitan with broccoli for the family one day. And I finally got to try jackfruit, which I’ve been curious about for some time. It came four cakes to a pack, so I made them all, and ate two on successive days for lunch. I liked the jackfruit, even though I’ve not into crabcakes that much. I would definitely be interested to try jackfruit in a different format!

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This was my favorite thing I’ve made in a long time, and I ate it two days in a row!

Sustaining the Sustainability Swaps!

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It’s been a few weeks since my month-long sustainability swaps, so I thought I would check in. The five swaps I made were: (1) Reusable water bottle, (2) Reusable bamboo utensils, (3) Recycled and bamboo paper products, (4) Reusable beeswax sandwich wrapper,  and (5) Reusable wool dryer balls.

All have held up, and I would like to make some more sustainability swaps, but I have to do some more research, which is time-consuming. I thought perhaps I would aim to do one swap per month, as that seems pretty doable. There are a few things I’m in the middle of researching, so if anyone would like to provide personal insight, I would appreciate it!

Here are a couple of things for which I am trying to find alternatives:

  1. Deodorant: Mostly because of the plastic tubes, so any product that replaced this would have to be in some other packaging, but I’m not particularly sweaty and I have sensitive skin, so I am also looking for something with fewer harsh ingredients. I also have an relatively new deodorant I am going to use up first.
  2. Razor: Again, this is all because of the plastic. I am looking to buy a safety razor, but I am very nervous about using a safety razor. Also, I keep finding boxes of razor “heads” in random cabinets, so I am going to use them up first.
  3. Toothbrush: Once again, the plastic. I know there are bamboo brushes out there, but I just bought a new toothbrush a few weeks ago, so I am going to get its full lifespan use out of it before I swap it out.

Since I am participating in Meat-Free May this month, I’ll probably not decide and write about my next swap in June. Looking forward to it!

Meat-Free May: Week 1

It hasn’t been a full week yet, but since I didn’t take notes and am liable to forget, I thought I would check-in how I did for week 1 of Meat-Free May. In short, it went well! Meaning, of course, I didn’t eat any meat, and I felt fine and wasn’t craving it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I generally eat the same two things for breakfast and lunch every day: cereal with almond milk and a banana and kale salad and a peanut butter sandwich. My only weekday deviation was an egg salad with carrots and chips one day, as I was at the DMV all morning and didn’t want to bring my lunch with my.

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Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs: a yummy study in contradictions!

One night for dinner we had spaghetti and meatballs. Having two young kids, this is a staple at our house. They were hesitant when I told them the meatballs might taste differently because they were not meat, but they not only ate everything I gave them, but asked for seconds!

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They ate all this and asked for seconds! And yes, I let them eat in front of the TV, but in my defense, we were watching Kiki’s Delivery Service!

Another meal I put together at home was ready-made Indian stuff, also from Trader Joe’s. It was chana masala (chickpeas with tomato and spices), palak paneer (cheese cubes with spinach puree), and garlic naan (flatbread). This was too much for my older son, so I also made him frozen fish fingers. My younger son is a much more adventurous eater and proclaimed it “spicy, but not too spicy.”

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I was hungry and started eating before taking the photo!

Over the weekend, as predicted, I ate out twice. For lunch Saturday, we had pizza. For dinner Saturday, we went to a large food truck festival called the Queens Night Market. I was walking around and eating too much to take photos, but we mostly all shared everything. We had corn on the cob, a rice cake with eggplant and tomato puree on top, a corn cake with tofu and vegetables cooked into it, a spiralized potato with cheddar seasoning, and fried ice cream. I have to admit that I was nervous there would be no vegetarian options there, but there were plenty. I plan to go back many times this season!

 

 

Sustainability Project Week 5

Because of the way the days fell on the calendar this month, there are five weeks to this month-long project of sustainability swaps. I was happy to do one more swap than I originally intended! For the first week, I stopped using plastic water bottles, for the second, I stopped using plastic utensils, for the third, I stopped using first-use paper products, for the fourth, I stopped using sandwich wraps.

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There were four balls in this pack I got from Trader Joe’s for about $6.50.

This week’s swap is dryer sheets! The internet has a ton of information (whether it’s true or false, I am uncertain) on why dryer sheets are bad for you. I am undecided on that for myself, but the focus of this project is to swap out single-use products for multi-use products. Thus, balls!

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My older son impersonating a fly and showing the size of the dryer balls.

These wool dryer balls were bought in Trader Joe’s, but there are tons of similar products available elsewhere in person or online. Obviously, they don’t have a smell, and I’m not into my clothing smelling like a flower enough to go out and get essential oils to put on them. But they do seem to make the clothing fluffy and also reduce drying time, thus saving electricity. I recommend them!

Sustainability Project Week 4

Recap! Week 1 was single-use plastic water bottles. A person I was with bought one at some point, and I did have a few drinks from it, but then I made sure it was recycled. Week 2 was plastic utensils. I have used my bamboo set at work every day, and only once forgot to tell them not to include them when ordering take-out at home. Week 3 was toilet paper and paper towels. All good there!

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I found this for only $6 at a local farm!

For week 4, I am really happy to be writing about this bee’s wax coated reusable food paper. Just about every day for lunch, I bring to work a kale salad and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Since I don’t use plastic bags, I had been wrapping the sandwiches in aluminum foil, and then trying to reuse it for as many days as possible. But it was kind of gross after two days. I tried wax paper, but it was only marginally better.

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My naked PB&J!

Because it takes me a month to decide on even the most minute purchase, I looked at this and similar products online for a ridiculous amount of time. I was unable to decide if I should just get one or a multipack, what sizes, what pattern, etc. But I was visiting my local farm (yes, there is a farm in NYC, more than one, in fact) and I found a single pack of the large size on sale for $6. I couldn’t argue with the price or the fact that I wouldn’t have to have it shipped to me.

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A perfect wrap!

So, how does it work? It just sort of folds down with the heat of your hands, and when you’re done, rinse it in cold water and hand somewhere to dry. Since one is supposed to last about a year, I’m saving a lot of aluminum foil!

 

Sustainability Project Week 2

Last week I made a promise to myself to never again buy a plastic water bottle. So far, so good! This week, continuing the theme of eliminating single-use plastics, I made the switch to bamboo utensils!

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This set came with a nifty cloth bag!

Since I work full-time in an office, I usually eat one or two meals out almost every weekday. Whether I bring my lunch, eat at the office cafeteria, or buy something from the larger world outside, I usually need utensils. Carrying these around saves, on average, two plastic ones from going into the trash every day! I also carry them in my bag on the weekends, but usually if I’m out on the weekend I will go to a restaurant that has real utensils. But still, if I ever need them, they are in my bag!