Use What you Got!

Using a mason jar to contain my coffee for my trip to the park with the kids. I did not want to take time staying home to drink it (I needed one!) but I also did not need my travel mug to keep it steaming hot. Not a fan of the travel mug we have. It’s big and bulky. Good for long travels to keep the coffee hot, but this time round, I just wanted to drink the coffee right away when I got to where we were going.

The rubber bands are being reused, and will again, to keep my fingers off the hot jar. But, like I said, it does not stay hot too long.

Not fancy, but it works!

 

Freezing Extra Pancakes

Pancakes and waffles are great to have on hand for kids! You do not need to buy store waffles/eggos. Next time you make pancakes or waffles, make a double batch so that there leftovers. Simply let them cool and then lay them on a pan to freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a container. I reuse a cake tray I once bought (Birthday cake). Turn it upside down to turn it into a container rather than a tray!

Just pop them in the toaster and add your favourite topping!

Pancakes
Waffles

Recipe for waffles

Recipe for pancakes (need to add it to my recipe page)

 

Meeting With Our Local Dairy Company

Me and a couple friends (one came this time round) I met on the Zero Waste PEI group got together to have a meeting with our local dairy company. (They want their name to remain silent on this article).

Our main concern was about the waste that the milk cartons they sell, generate. The tetra packs, are recyclable on PEI, but recyclable or not, it still creates waste one way or another and resources for processing and recycling. We had a nice chat about how much the company has improved its energy efficiency over the recent years with upgrades. Though, natural gas is used instead of oil, it would be nice if a better source of energy was used.

Firstly, we questioned about bringing the milk man back. The response was that the demand was lacking. People do not trust others as they used to, “everyone trusted the milkman”. I myself, if was being delivered milk at my door, would have to make sure I am home to refrigerate it once delivered. Many homes, besides myself, may not have someone home to receive the milk right away, and no one is going to leave their door open either for security issues. Bringing the milk man back in these days is more problematic. The distribution area is also much larger than it was before. These are some of the issues brought up. We need to find solutions or another way.

Secondly, we talked about the bottles themselves. They is not set up to handle a different size container. They would have to overhaul and rebuild the production line basically. They would need to outsource bottle cleaning/sanitizing. No one is in that business close by that they are aware of. The amount of energy to go into the production of using bottles, cleaning and transporting would rise. If a grocery store took on selling the bottles, they could/would need to set up for bottle returns. More problems needing solutions to keep moving forward.

Thirdly, we talked about a third party selling the milk in the large recyclable bags (the kind dairy bars use to fill the ice cream machines) and dispense to customers as a refill program, lets say at the Farmer’s Market. The company themselves could not go about selling the product as they would then be competing with other stores such the grocery chains. A third party would be needed. Did you know that milk prices in Canada are regulated like gas prices are!? I would like to see a dairy farmer do this at the Farmer’s Market themselves, all set up with a refill station or bottles that are returnable.

So there are a lot of issues at hand, which means lots of doors are open. I later sent an email (sometimes I need time to think things through more, I can be slow on the spot) asking about doing a test pilot project at one of their stores (at Read’s Corner). Start small, right!

Something that was mentioned was very alarming to me; school milk. Children receive milk orders at the schools which come in the 250 ml milk cartons. Apparently the children have a real hard time opening the milk cartons (the carton flap one spreads open and then pull out to drink out of) and end up making a mess by using scissors to cut open the carton, causing particle mess and spillage. The teachers are requesting for the addition of the plastic cap and pull tab to these cartons for the kids! I was near speechless when this came up. My thoughts now are, where are the teachers to help open these cartons for the handful of individuals who need the help. The kids need to be taught how to open them. 3 of my kids receive these cartons and do not have a problem, and if they do, the teacher was there to help. Adding these pull tabs will unwisely add a convenience that an individual should learn, let alone the extra waste created, single use plastic.  Now I am not being hateful to the teachers, they are amazing in so many ways, but really, 3-5 seconds to help open a carton of milk. Choosing the easy way out is not the way to go. I mentioned in my later email about my displeasure about this situation and stated that maybe a perforated tab to push in or pull out of the carton to create an opening may be a better option.

Early in the conversation at the meeting, there was  talk about a company in BC was doing a test pilot project with bottles. I have not yet read into it, but will in the near future. Our suggestions will be brought up to the team.

We also talked about butter, cheese and ice cream.

  • Butter. They use a foil wrap (plastic type foil), it is considered waste. They once tried paper, but the paper flaps on the side do not stay put, leaving a bad seal. They are unaware of any other options. We suggested some sort of wax wrap, biodegradable.
  • Cheese needs to be completely sealed to stay fresh. There are no other options known of for wrapping. Again, we talked about a wax wrap, biodegradable. (Air tight is a must though).
  • Ice Cream. I mentioned that the ice cream containers used to be recyclable. The containers were switched a couple years ago to a wasteful type; cardboard with a plastic coating. If the containers were recyclable, or reusable for something else around home that would be a better option. I asked about having steel containers and have them returnable, but there is concerned about the price. If the price goes up for ice cream because the type of container is more expensive, competitors would have the upper hand basically.

My thoughts, were highlighted in bold through the article, briefly. I truly believe that a big company like this one can certainly pull this off. I know there are barriers, but with time I believe they can overcome them. We and the environment need them too! Certainly we can have third parties selling milk in glass bottles and refills, but this company is so big and there is so much recyclable material produced from them, the dent in reducing dairy waste with the third party would be so small; but worth the try.

May Recycling Inventory Check

Every now and then I like to take inventory of what is in our blue bag. It is amazing that our family has gone from 2.5-3 blue bags of recyclable plastics to 1 a month! This time round, there are no K-Cups as my husband has switched to using the reusable cups like myself! Yay!

Here is a link to the last inventory done back in February and another in there linked to Novembers’ inventory.

Milk cartons and one large pack of toilet paper package. A tin tray that the Mc. Cain cakes used to come in, but now I think they are just plastic trays. (this one is old, was in the kids room to be reused for something  . . .  one time ).

Raspberry trays, cat food cans, soup cans, a tangled/bent up slinky, hash browns (must make my own), and a few random others.

I have been keeping any large containers, like vinegar jugs in case I need something like that someday, or if ever there is a refill station of some sort for soaps/detergents. Then I can use them or share them out to who ever needs one! I have a blue bag almost full now. I do not want to recycle them but reuse them if I can. I am also saving any strawberry clam shells as they make great storage for kids puzzles (when the box breaks enough or current bags rip). I sent some sunscreen to Grammies for Jack the other week and put the sunscreen in one of those containers for safe keeping in case it got squished and leaked. No way it will get squished in that and it was a perfect fit, No baggy needed! Sometimes I receive a grocery bag and I immediately put it into recycling, first mind thought is I don’t need this! But this time round, my second thoughts were I should keep it to reuse, so in a drawer it goes for storage.

Finished the last of the molasses as well, but I could not recycle it. It is a great container that can be reused again, probably molasses from Bulk Barn.

 

Another Take Out Restaurant Win

Its been a strange week. Busy I guess. Time was not on my side for supper plans tonight, so we ended up eating out. This time KFC.

We do not usually order any of the side salads. No one really likes them so they end up wasted. Instead I order gravy, as one medium dish is not enough for our large family.

When I decided to get KFC, I immediately thought about the gravy packaging. Plastic, as well as the cover. I picked up the phone and spoke to the manager at KFC. I asked if I could bring my own containers for the gravy as our family is cutting out plastic waste at home. To my surprise the answer was yes! Though, they had to use one of the plastic bowls to measure the amount of gravy to put into my dish, “company policy”. I thought one plastic bowl wasted is better than 2 or 3 bowls and lids. 

Once again, we had a waste free take out meal at home!

In case you missed our latest experience, here it is.  McDonald’s plastic free.

Farmer’s Market Trip

My Saturday morning routine starts at the Farmer’s Market. I don’t have any pictures but maybe next week I can bring my tablet to take some. Off the vendors allow their pictures taken. I am a visual person, I would live to show what I get and from who.

I posted about Clohossey Farms a little while back, allowing me to purchase carrots package free. Here is the post relating.

Today, Clohossey Farms had a separate table featuring 2 lb carrots bundled by an elastic, loose potatoes and loose onions! Each in their own basket, for sale individually. I was so happy to see that!!

I bought more apples from Brady’s Farm, and returned an egg carton to the vendor selling local eggs. I am bad with names!

I started, this weekend, to purchase our bacon plastic free from Pleasant Pork. Also a kolbalssa sausage for Chris. No more plastic wraps. Yay!! Bacon is more pricey, $8.00 per lb and kolbalssa $10.00 per lb (I bought $3.00 worth). But, its local, does not travel a long distance, and plastic free.

I also, bought a popcorn bag!! Inspire Essential Oil Heatable Bags. This vendor sells all kinds of cloth bag products.

1/3 cup bag size. I do not recommend jumbo popcorn kernals. They take too long to microwave and burn as well leaving lots unpoped.
She told me start the time less than the instructions, 2.5 minutes to start.
small size popcorn kernels
3:45 minutes in microwave and this bag is full!
Barely any kernels left, same as popcorn machine.

My Farmers market bag. Consists of the sturdy jute bag itself, an extra reusable grocery bag just in case, 4 produce cloth bags, a pencil and paper, 2 paper bags (for soap bars will be reused over and over),  my money pouch, water bottle, bar soap and hand towel and any empty egg cartons go in here to be dropped off asap to the egg vendor. I want to find a long container to use for the bacon. Will start looking for options. I will start brining my own utensils as well incase I end up eating some amazing foods! Me and Alaina had a crepe the other weekend and we got caught up into using plastic forks and knife. I was not pleased. They suck! Also, if I have time, take a break and have a coffee. Take my own mug and spoon and see if the coffee stand will accommodate my request and maybe plant a seed or two. Who knows who may be around to talk to as well!

Our Month Worth of Recyclables in February

Back in November of 2018, I emptied one of the two blue bags to see what was actually in them. Its good to take a step back and look at the big picture. I have to say, since then, we made a ton of progress! We are down to one bag, keeping in mind, I am keeping good size containers for home storage. Containers such as yogurt (no more news ones though as I make my own), vinegar and oxygen bleach containers (they would make great watering cans for the kids and possible candidates for refillable soaps if I find any stores selling them).

So this day, February 19, I emptied our bag. I think we are doing quite well. 2 bags of salt for the driveway and walkways, we are on our 3rd. We bought the biggest bag, bulk is best. It would be nice to find a place where I could scoop my own into a few large containers. That will be a goal for next year.

A few balls of foil, not sure where all that came from exactly. I know one ball is from Christmas, the foil wrapped chocolates. We saved as much foil as we could in a container and then wrapped it in a used piece of foil. small balls of foil will not due, they need to be tennis size balls for recycling, so I hear . . . We rarely use foil anymore, so I will have to keep an eye out for the usage.

We have some raspberry clam shells. I do not really have a use for those. I have been keeping the strawberry shells, as they are great storage options such as puzzles. I am also currently using one to hold cleaning supplies such as rubber gloves and old toothbrushes. I must say, we have cut back on the amount of berries we buy. I am focusing on bring naked fruit home as much as possible and getting the kids to try new fruits. I would say we cut back on berries by half.

K-cups are currently still used. My husband has not made the switch to reusable k-cups. Though I know it is on his mind. To keep these pods out of landfill (hopefully), we purchase the kind that has the recyclable symbol. Though, take note, the pod itself is not recyclable. Here on PEI, Waste Watch Management can not recycle these pods as there is still plastic attached and the filter. Those will highly contaminate a recycling load. With agreement from Waste Watch Management, I cut the top off the K-cup pods. The cover goes to waste and the filter and coffee grinds go to compost. Check out this link to see my process. At least the pods have a chance to be recycled instead of put into landfill. Update April: Done with K-Cups! He switched to reusable like me!!! Yay!

Lots of milk cartons. lots of milk covers and pull tabs. I was wondering if it would be better to buy the 1 L of milk to avoid the caps and tabs, but that would result in more cartons and more money spent out of our pockets. I am not sure which is best.

In this bag, there was a body wash container from Dove. It finally got finished this past month, and I rinsed it out the best I could. I could not believe the odor from that container. So strong. I am not used to fragrances anymore and I find I am getting sensitive to them. Chokes me up and my skin gets super dry if there is contact. Today I picked that container up out of the bin, and then placed it back in the bin after I took the pictures. I had a hard time washing the odor off my hands!!! I washed 3 times and scrubbed with a cloth, but it still lingered on my skin. I don’t know how we washed out whole bodies in that stuff! My mind is blown.

I decided at last minute to keep a few bags and a vinegar container that mysteriously ended up in the blue bag. Two yogurt containers and a Nutella container will be staying as well. 

My storage space for containers. Lots of yogurt ones. I use these for powdered products from Bulk Barn as well as coffee. Cloth bags do not work very well for those. Messy and the powder sticks to the type of fabric I use. The coffee smell seeps into nearby products when using cloth bags. I do love my van smelling like coffee on my drive home, but not so much eating almonds for example and tasting coffee! Lol!!

Jack, my good helper.