Rachel’s Blog

Compost Cart Cleaning

This day we got our compost cart cleaned. We did not have to drag out the hose or deal with any nasty bits and smells either. Top Notch Bin Cleaning is a new company on PEI who specializes in cleaning the carts for compost and waste, and apparently blue bins! Not just home owners but commercial too. Shaun Laybolt is the guy!

A while back we decided to stop using compost bags. We have a bowl or empty box stationed on the counter for compost waste which gets emptied daily. There is a cloth pad under the bowl so we know that spot is the destination for compost. The compost cart has had quite the beating with gunk. Not everything gets dumped out upon pickup day by the garbage truck.

Island Waste Watch Corporation says for compost, no bags are best.

To save us time and hassle, to support a local business, we decided we would give Top Notch Bin Cleaning a call. I sent a message and we were scheduled in the same week. The cost was $25.00 and his service was grand!

Thank you Shaun!


Farmer’s Market Trip and a Little More

This weekends haul from Downtown Summerside.

    • Apples from Brady’s Farm. So good and juicy! I bring my own bag and refuse theirs. Although, the paper bag provided is welcomed to be returned for reuse!
    • Broccoli and carrots from Crystal Green Farms were bagged, but I asked for them unpacked and the farmer will reuse the bags. Actually, all veggies bagged can be unpacked or you could call/message them before market day to arrange the items packed in a paper bag for pick up.
    • BBQ sauce from High on the Hog. I have been wanting to make my own and have not yet, so here I am supporting local!
    • Eggs.
    • Micro greens from Our Old Island Market Farm has containers of micro greens which can be returned and/or I can give my own container to be filled for the following week! This is much their norm to cut waste and reuse.
    • Vinegar Hill Bakery will bring goods in paper bags instead of plastic bags if you ask for your order the day before the market!
    • One Stop Healing makes lotions for many uses and more. You can bring her a container which she can fill from the workshop and bring it back to the market the following weekend with the product you chose.
    • Turnip.

Coconut culture in the glass jar for making coconut yogurt. One step closer! From the health food store on Water street.

  • South Shore Soaps bar soap I bought from the Three Oaks Craft Fair.
  • A couple puzzles for Thomas and Chris to enjoy as well from LIL’ Buddy Puzzelz at the fair too.
  • 3 Pj sets to split up with the girls at home from Frenchy’s. Was looking for pj’s for Jack, no luck.

Great weekend supporting local!

Making Our Own Fresh Orange Juice

Nothing like having a glass of orange orange juice; freshly squeezed!  I feel like I’m not getting enough Vitamin C so I decided to start having fresh juice available.  Though, it reallymstarted when me and Chris were making drinks. Bahama Mama is my favorite alcoholic drink. I did not want to buy a jug of orange juice, a box of aluminum cans would be too much. So, making my own juice would work. I took the same idea with pineapple juice. Skip the cans and go straight for the fruit!

Peel and core and pop into the blender with a bit of water. After the fruit is blended, strain through a cheese cloth. Lots of yummy fresh juice! We did the pineapple first, and next was the oranges. Instead of adding water like above, we added some pineapple juice to the oranges. Blend, strain and taste. We thought the taste of orange and pineapple was pretty close to Five Alive!

This day, I peeled 6 oranges. Blend 2 at a time with 1/2 cup of water each time. Blend, strain with cheese cloth and stir in a container. At first I was storing the orange juice in a reused sunflower oil bottle, but Chris felt that the kids (Thomas) was too young to have a handle on it. If it dropped, lots of sharp pieces of glass. So, I found our juice jug and stored over a liter of orange juice in it.

The kids are not a fan, it does not have any added sugar of course. Thomas will have some and Jack is so-so. I want to experiment with adding other citrus fruits and see what flavors we can come up with!

 

Slowly Switching to a Plant Based Diet

While shopping at Sobey’s tonight, I scanned the shelves for non dairy items. I have been wanting to try oat milk a long while now. I tried making some the other week, but I did not enjoy it. This time I’m trying this kind to see where to go with making my own. I’m going to give it a go making coconut yogurt. There is a starter culture I need to pick up tomorrow at a health food store, in glass! I picked up some non dairy cheese and butter. Be nice to make my own. I chose that bag of tortilla style chips, hoping it was paper packaging,  but sadly it is lined with plastic. I also am trying the frozen dessert treat, which comes wrapped in paper!

So yeah, I’m looking at cutting out animal products and moving to a plant based diet. This will take time and small changes. I will be looking at making my own products where I can, I dont want to add more packaging to be honest. Switching has been on my mind for quite a while, probably about year now.

I need to focus on as much local as I can. One of my rules is supporting local and keep the carbon footprint as low as possible. I have already made steps towards this new journey. I stopped eating sea food/fish. I stopped drinking milk, except for cereal and baking/cooking needs.

So this is where I am at, I think Chris is a little on board, its definitely on his mind! Little steps and small changes. No need to dive in as it may be overwhelming and discouraging.

Black Box Waste

This day is garbage day. Every two weeks the black carts filled with disposable waste are picked up. I can proudly say it took 12 weeks to fill our watse cart! Though I am certain it could have waited another 2-4 weeks as we had to toss a mouldy box of books, which took a good chunk of space in the cart.

Our waste bins in the house are not lined with any bags. Super simple to just wipe out the garbage can’s once emptied. We do not have meat trays and nothing wet goes in the garbage cans to make smells. I buy our meat wrapped in paper (which is considered compostable on PEI, as long as it rips easily). If by chance I have a meat tray/wrapping there is a extra large garbage bag in the waste cart outside it would directly go to.

Once the waste cart is emptied on garbage day, it will sit empty until the household waste needs to go out. I take an extra large garbage bag and start filling it from the house. I set it in the waste cart untied. It will be full after about 2 more fillings from the house. For us, our household waste gets taken out every 2-3 weeks. I can fit 2 of those extra large garbage bags in the waste cart with a bit more room.

I have created a page showing most of what we buy now instead of the wasteful practices we used to buy into. It’s not complete, still a working progress. Take a look here.

  • Much of our groceries come from Bulk Barn and The Summerside Farmer’s Market.
  • By bringing your own containers and cloth bags, much waste is avoidable.
  • Making your own products and switching away from most cleaners helps your health and keeps money in your wallet.
  • Focus on reusables and use what you have.
  • Purchase in compostable packaging as much as possible
  • Purchase in non plastic packaging to stop the support to the plastic industry,  jars and metal containers.
  • Reuse the jars for food storage, vases, dry storage, body products etc . . .  (Glass is grounded up and used as aggregate on PEI for construction, not turned back into glass products).

Refuse unwanted items. Reduce your consumption of purchases. Reuse what you can. Repair your items. Purchase compostables. Recycle what you can but try and keep it minimum. Dont forget to shop second hand and purchase long lasting good quality items.

Editing to add: I strongly recommend that waste gets bagged, otherwise light plastics will be blown around by the wind or scavengers.  Whether it is by dumping the waste in your bin, the truck dumping it out of the bin, the truck driving down the roadways or at landfill, there are lots of opportunities for the plastics to litter the land and water. This is why I choose the extra large bags, I get more waste contained in them, and buying bulk is best. Instead of 8-10 small garbage bags, we use 2 garbage bags. Saves money for us as well.

Switched Oils

As much as I looked, I could not find vegetable oil in glass or refill style for the recipes that I use at home, mainly bread. I decided that I would try using sunflower oil, it is in glass, but more expensive than vegetable oil. I will have to ask around at the farmer’s market and see if anyone makes oils, or maybe see if anyone is interested!

Changing oils did not make any noticeable changes in the bread flavour or texture. It’s all the same in my eyes! I will keep the bottles as someday I hope there to be liquid refill stations for products. They would make cute vases too. If ever I make fermented drinks or re start apple cider vinegar, they will make good storage options. Glass on PEI gets recycled by means of crushing and reusing as aggregate for construction. I believe we need to focuse on reusing a product as is, rather than adding more energy to its process or making it unreusable indefinitely.

Reuse Bags for Bread

Our one bread box does not seem to be enough to store our bread needs. Its fine to store the homemade bread and sub buns I make, but there is no room for bagels. Often I don’t buy bagels because there is no room at home. The other problem is that I don’t have enough counter space to give for another bread box. Today I decided to use cereal bags to store the over stocked bread items! Sometimes it is the simplest ideas that make great solutions!

I use cereal bags for litter picking when I’m outdoors. I also use them instead of  boxes for storing toys or packing donations.

Cereal we buy are Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerioes, and Corn Flakes. Recently Rice Crispies. I buy Bran Flakes and Shreddies from Bulk Barn. The kids do not eat much cereal lately, they have a lot of toast or buns instead. I like adding raisins, dried cran berries, dried blue berries and pumpkin seeds to bran Flakes for a wholesome snack.

When there is no room in the bread box for both bread loaves, the one being used will sit on top of the bread box, cut side down. It will stay fresh until it is gone or a couple days. The bread in the box will stay fresh for about 3 days after that. Normally I make bread 2 times a week, but I feel as of late, it’s been 3 times a week.

Halloween of 2019

Happy Halloween!

Our household decorations are very simple. We did not decorate outdoors this year, just inside. We reused decorations from previous years. I cut up some streamers from construction paper which can be reused next year. The kids made some ghosts with Google eyes which were repurposed from other crafts. If need be, we can reuse them again. We used masking tape for hanging decorations, on PEI masking tape is compostable. We also used my homemade glue, still going strong since I made it back in March of 2019 or before then. I got the recipe from Bea Johnston, here is a version online I found. It is found in her book too, Zero Waste Home. The only difference I do, is take some of the water from the measurements, and mix it with the dry ingredients first before heat is added. No clumps this way!

Our kids got their face painted for Halloween at school this morning. Tonight as well for trick or treating. Last year I found that coconut oil is a great product to use to get the face paint off! The paint just smears off with so much ease! I get mine from Bulk Barn. I did buy more face paint, which will last us a long time. I want to find more natural paints, I really did not like buying into these fake paints.

Usually we are out trick or treating, so there is no need to stock up on give away treats. Though it’s good to have some on hand. This year I chose treats wrapped in foil from Bulk Barm, not Nestle brand. Next year I need to get more creative, I feel like I fell off the ball.

I sent some homemade cookies with the school kids to school. I had to make 2 batches yesterday! Decorated with falls leaf sugar sprinkles.

Daniel dressed the same as last year basically, Zombie. Home outfit.
Alaina dressed as The Joker, though she doesn’t really know who The joker actually is 😉. Home outfit.
Julia dressed as a vampire. Already had the outfit.
Jack is going as Spider-man. Already had the costume.
Thomas is, well, he does not want to dress up! I have a traditional dragon costume everyone used when they were young and he did not want it! Nor a skeleton. I guess maybe paint his face a tiny bit?

We got some pumpkins yesterday. We were very late getting pumpkins this year. One farm had none, the stores had none. The last place did, thank goodness! Though, they did not have the traditional round orange pumpkin we normally try to get. Instead, they had different kinds, weird shapes and different colors! Instead of stressing out trying to find the 7 best ones (one pumpkin for everybody), I decided we would have funky pumpkins! Not one alike, all strange looking! I love the look of it! We carved them up after supper, though me and Chris were too tired to carve ours. Mine looks good as is anyways, it’s full of bumps and looks creepy without added decoration. Chris’s pumpkin is wacky! I don’t think it is really carvable! Again, it looks good as it is!

The night of carving went so fast and we were so tired, I didn’t even think to stop Chris when he took out the compost to save seeds. It was my plan all along, but I totally forgot until this morning. I’m not going through our compost bin now, but, oops! I’m going to ask some farmers from the Summerside Farmer’s Market on Saturday to see if anyone wants our pumpkins for the animals. Composting is great, but if we can feed some farm animals that would be awesome. Even if we went for a little drive and throw the pumpkins in the woods for the wild animals.

Thomas and his “warty” pumpkin
Jack and his pumpkin, one of my favourites! Yellow with orange stripes!
Julia! Dark orange/red pumpkin.
Alaina and her white pumpkin. Guess what colour the insides were? Green!
Daniel chose the regular pumpkin, though it is not orange!
My pumpkin, super bumpy all over!
Chris’s pumpkin, I love its design!
Thomas
Jack
Julia
Alaina
Daniel, Minecraft Creeper

Vampire Julia, Joker Alaina and Zombie Daniel
Me and my Earth face. Love the Earth!

 

Trick or Treating Time!

Daniel went out with one of his friends so Chris and I  took the other 4 out and about. Thomas finally let us put the dragon costume on, I was so exited! The costume was handed down from my cousin and all our 5 kids wore it in the past 6 years!

We did not go too far. Maybe about 30 houses. The young boys had enough and I stayed home with them while Chris took the girls out for another half hour.  It was raining a bit when we started, then tapered off to a bit if a mist. By the time Chris and the girls got back it was training pretty good. It was not cold, which really made a big difference staying out, forecast called for 15 deg. celcius. The kids had a great time!

While sorting the candies and undoing the treat bags, a thought came across me. I always rip the treat bags to empty the treats inside. This time, I untied the ones with twist ties and set aside the good treat bags. They can be re used next year or for something else!

Thomas as dragon
He likes it now!
Jack as Spider-man!
Shooting webs!
Julia as a vampire! Scary!
Alsina as The Joker. “Why so serious! “
Hahahahaha!
Daniel as a zombie.
Treat bags to be saved for reuse, plus 4 more from Daniel’s take home.

We had about 15 visitors to our home, more than usual.

Reparing the Elastic Belt in Kids Pants

My husband Chris took a leap today and fixed our daughters pants! Her Jeans have somehow lost the elastic belt, which made the waist way too big for little Julia. Chris asked if we had some old pants with an elastic belt around, and sure enough I did. Julia had two pairs of pants that had become worn out on the back, and i could nkt throw them out. I had plans to repurpose them somehow, like a bag or something.

Chris removed the elastic band from the old pants gently. Cut it to size to fit the good pants. I hand sewed the end so it would not fray. Chris put the band into place and now Julia’s pants fit just right around the waist!

1 pair of pants partially repurposed, and another saved to be continually used. Love my man!

Old pair, elastic belt removed.
Old elastic belt repurposed into this good pair of Jeans

Make Smart Choices

Often times while shopping, we are presented with products packaged with plastic. Single use plastic most times. Whether its recyclable or not, any plastic is not a good choice. We buy in plastic, another one comes to take its place. Our dollars vote for what we want available, right!

Scan the whole shelf. Look for options of the same product in a diffeent package. Plastic container vs jar, can or a box. We must demand for better packaging not just with our voice or social media, but with our daily actions as well. Often times one must switch brands or even stores!

My featured picture is of construction paper. At Walmart there were two choices: paper sold loose without packaging or a bigger bundle wrapped in plastic. This choice is easy to make. Another example is laundry soap. Choose powders over liquid. Look for refillable options, such as Down East Cleaning Products. If you can not find plastic free options, choose bulk options if available. As a last resort, I choose recyclable options over non recyclable options, at least there is a chance the packaging can stay out of landfill.

Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Repair. Rot. Recycle.