Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How do you...?

Some questions from The Conscious Shopper

One of the awesome bonuses to having a blog is the amazing support group that comes with it. Have I mentioned how awesome I think you all are?

So today I want to pick your brains...

Photo by Andreanna

There are some subcategories of "going green" where my family is pretty good (like the food category), and there are some subcategories where we just plain suck but we're trying (like the transportation category). And then there are some subcategories where we're doing okay but we could do better.

I've made a goal this year to push myself a bit in those categories, but in some cases, I have some questions that are holding me back.

For example:

:: Those of you who have cut out paper towels: How do you deal with grease?

Like when you've cooked bacon and you have a pan left full of grease...I was taught that you leave the grease in the pan until it congeals, and then you wipe the grease out with a paper towel and throw the whole thing in the trash. That way, you don't get grease leaking out the bottom of the trash bag. But if you're not using paper towels, how do you clean up the grease?

Or bugs? (Doesn't everyone grab a paper towel, smoosh the bug, and toss it in the trash?)


:: Those of you who bake bread: How do you store your bread?

Once a week, I make a batch of four loaves (and it's almost always gone by the end of the week). But I'm storing them in plastic bags. I wash and reuse the bags, but eventually they wear out. Has anyone figured out how to store bread without bags?


:: Those of you who keep your house really cold in the winter: Do your houseplants survive? And how do your pets handle it?

We've been going 60 at night with a space heater in the boys' room, and my plants seem fine. But I wonder if colder would harm them. Has anyone else had trouble with that? And what do you do with your pets?


:: Those of you who go without A/C in the summer: Does it affect your food storage?

Everything I've read says you should store food at 68 to 78 degrees. I think the cold probably doesn't matter as much (?), but I can see why you wouldn't want your food storage to get too hot or humid. If I try going without A/C for a month this summer, is it going to make my wheat and oats and beans rot?


:: Those of you who have gone "no 'poo": How long did it take for your hair to adjust?

The concept of no poo fascinates me, but I've got to tell you: I'm kind of vain. I like looking nice, and the idea of weeks upon weeks of ugly hair is a total turn-off. How long did it take for you?

And here's an admission of a total eco-sin that I promise I'm going to work on eventually (see the vanity comment above): Can I go no poo if I dye my hair?


:: Those of you who have given up "convenience" foods: What kind of snacks do you give your kids?

My family is totally addicted to the humble cracker. I could start making my own crackers, but I already make my own bread, granola, yogurt, and muffins every week, tortillas, bagels, and pitas on occasion, and dinner ever night. It would be nice if I could come up with some unprocessed snack foods that my kids will eat that aren't totally dependent on me. I'm thinking dried fruits...What other suggestions do you have?


:: Those of you that pack no waste lunches: What do you pack in your kids' lunchboxes?

We are already doing no waste lunches, but I feel like my poor son's lunches reside in Boredomville. It's a cheese sandwich or quesadilla every day with a side of carrots or celery and a fruit. (He requested that we don't pack him peanut butter and jelly because then he can't sit next to his friend Lauren, and because I thought that was so darn cute and thoughtful, we complied.) Do you have any more creative suggestions that don't require heating?


I can't wait to hear your input!

45 comments:

Eco Yogini said...

i know we talked about this over at my space- but:

for grease (and no paper towel): we don't cook often where there is grease, but the other day we cooked bacon. (a treat!). while it's still runny, we drained it into a glass jar that we keep under the sink. when that's full some people throw it out, but I was thinking we could make suet for the birds... :)

for bugs- i use a book or something to squish them, then i use kleenex or TP to pick em up.

if you go "no poo" i totally admire you!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Grease we let cool in the pan, scrape it into the compost with a scraper then wash the pan...not ideal but better than some alternatives...

Bugs?
Ummm, this should gross you out but its also sattisfying when youu finally get that fly thats been driving you nuts! Swat the bug with a plastic fly swat (plastic not ideal I know but I've had ours forever) then feed them to my goldfish!(they do eat bugs natually after all..... they also love lettuce leaves (the fish that is!!!))

We store our bread wrapped in a teatowl (clean of course!) in a plastic lunchbox in the fridge

:: Those of you who keep your house really cold in the winter: Do your houseplants survive? And how do your pets handle it?
We dont get that cold where I am (Australia)its perhaps an average of zero centigrade in winter and while the outside fishponds freeze over, goldfish can survive in those temperatures under the ice.

:: Those of you who go without A/C in the summer: Does it affect your food storage?

Hmmm, we've just had a week of 40 centigrade (110 farenheight I think?) and I havent noticed the food being too unhappy.... the bananas are ripening a bit quicker than usual I supose. Lots of my perishables are normally stored in the fridge. My flour, lentils, grains etc are in the pantry though and they seem fine. They are in airtight jars and out of the light but it still gets warm.

Can I go no poo if I dye my hair?
I heard that hair dye was a major cause of bladder cancer in hairdressers? As for no poo, I tried once but it really didnt work for me, good luck! Mum used sunlight soap (plain basic soap) and has beautiful hair. I've heard that a vineger rinse can serve as conditioner.

:: Those of you who have given up "convenience" foods: What kind of snacks do you give your kids?

My kids are still young and at home most days so:
Loads of fruit and vege, dried fruit, yogurt (with fruit mixed through it sometimes), muslie with yogurt instread of milk, cherry tomatos, rough chopped salad vege (think cucumber, capsicum, celery etc), chopped cheese, maybe homemade muslie bars if we go out or homemade biscuits as a treat.

JAM said...

I am certainly not an expert at any of this stuff, here's what we do - bacon or other grease we pour into a can that we've taken from the recycling and then we throw that away - not ideal since it takes it out of the recycling stream, but that's what we do - I like the idea of scraping it but I hate to leave the pan sitting out that long - I'm a compulsive cleaner!

For bugs, we hardly get any so we use a few squares of TP and put them in the compost, but my mom lives in a house where she gets a ton of bugs (mostly spiders) so she has a handheld vac they use only for bugs (they call it the bug zapper) and she just vacs them up and they die in the cup and she empties it periodically.

I just reuse bags for my bread - there is no way I'll be able to stop my husband from buying the occasional fresh loaf somewhere so I keep getting new bags here and there.

Heat and cold are no problem - we keep our house at 55 at night and 62-65 during the day and the cats are fine, and the plants are too, and in the summer I've never had a problem with things going bad - we do keep bread in the fridge in the summer though. Most of our pantry items are in the basement due to a lack of a proper pantry but it's cooler down there in the summer.

I tried no 'poo but couldn't handle it!

Snacks and lunches - we have a lot of plastic containers that we use for lunches - Bagels with sprouts and hummus is a good one (you could make all or some of those ingredients), homemade granola (either fancier and baked or just mix walnuts, craisins and chocolate chips), fruit, cut up veggies, homemade cookies or brownies on occasion, etc. I do cave in usually for something like pretzels since a kid can only eat so much fruit!

Of course, most of that is for my older daughter - my younger one loves to buy lunch, hates repetitive home food, and won't eat most of the healthy food I make. So I'm only at a 50% success rate with the kids!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Ecoyogini - I know I asked the paper towel question on your blog, but I forgot to subscribe to the comments so I never saw your answer. I'm glad I asked again because that's brilliant. I knew it would be an easy solution but couldn't figure it out.

@Anonymous - Great ideas! Regarding hair dye - there are lots of reasons why dyeing hair is not a good idea, and I know I'll have to face it eventually. I'm just not ready yet. Baby steps...

The Raven said...

Ideas instead of going "no poo" are using baking soda for shampoo and cider vinegar for conditioner--or using a shampoo bar (usually packaged in paper). I go back and forth. The bar gives me a lot more body and the baking soda, vinegar gives me a lot more shine.

The Mom said...

Bacon grease is something that I use in my cooking. It gets poured into a jar in the fridge. That bacon grease is wonderful for sauteeing veggies in.

Bugs aren't a major issue, but any bugs are fed to the chickens here.

Bread is something I've been looking at as well. I bought a cloth bag for it, but it was too small. I still need to get around to making a nice cloth bag for my breads.

My plants do well even in the cold, it seems to be lack of light that they like less.

Most of our food storage is in our basement, which is cool year round.

Can't wrap my head around the no poo yet.

My kids eat yogurt, homemade muffins, veggies, fruit or cheese. Sometimes they have toast with peanut butter as well.

Can't help on the lunches. We homeschool, so it's not an issue.

kikiverde said...

The Skin Deep database does list some natural hair dye in the no-low hazard area, so maybe it's time to try one of those for a change.

Everyone else has pretty much offered up what my responses would be for the other questions, so I won't bog you down with those :)

greeen sheeep said...

Baking soda works awesome for cleaning up grease! Just sprinkle it on and let sit until all the grease is absorbed, then just dump it into the garbage. Nice and dry. My dog once chewed the cap off a quart of motor oil and left a nice big oozing pile of it in the middle of the living room floor. Baking soda to the rescue! As for bugs, we are more of a catch and release family. Spiders we scoop up in the dust pan and shoo outside. Box elder bugs (which we have a lot of!) we have just learned to live with. The ones that do not get eaten by the dog don't really bother us. Oh! Another thing we do with grease when it's mixed with a lot of other liquid - like when you've made something in the slow-cooker and get that funky greasy mess left - is stick the vessel in the freezer until garbage day and then plop the whole chunk out into the trash when it is time to take the garbage out. You could also use newspaper instead of tissues/paper towels.

Plants - The past two years we kept our house at 55 degrees day and night. The only plant I lost was a palm tree. Now we are at 62 day/50 night. They don't really like it, but they do survive. I do move them around to find warmer spots in the house. Somewhere where the morning light comes in or near a heat vent - just beware that they will require more water here.

Sadraki said...

Bread I keep in a paper bag that goes in a bread box. It's a wooden box that looks real basic but I swear keeps bread fresh longer. My Mom got it years ago at a yard sale.
It doesn't get supper cold here in winter but my plants and cat do fine. My kitty sleeps with me at night so we both stay warm.
Not hot summers here but I use to live in West Africa and my food kept fine there so long as I kept the bugs out. But I wasn't storing tons of anything.
I do a shampoo bar it's my middle ground on the hair issue.
I'm with you on needing better convenience snacks.
Lunch ideas: hummus or other bean dip spreads on bread, I like pita pocket sandwiches-can have all sorts of filling--veggies, cheese, I cook and crumble a boca burger (I know packaging there!) and do cheese and veggies, cold pasta salad, hearty salads like chicken salad or egg salad (if your kiddo will eat those), I love smoothies in lunches instead of fruit some days. Soups if you have a thermos are good too. Is your kid old enough to help you brainstorm ideas? Or make their own lunch?

Good luck with tackling next steps!

DramaMama said...

I think most people have mentioned what I was going to say...we pour grease into a can lined w/foil. When full we put in freezer and when frozen, we toss it. We drain bacon on a towel, which gets soaked and washed in borax/fels napthsa. Rags for bugs, they can be washed too. Our house is 66/58 day/night and all the houseplants are fine in a sunny spot. In summer we just keep some things like fruits in the basement on a shelf or in the fridge if it gets weird, but I haven't noticed too many problems. We use shampoo bars and eat a lot of homemade trail mix, granola bars, fruits and veggies, guac, hummus, etc...sometimes if kids are hungry I just give them leftovers! Snack/small meal - what's the diff? Have a piece of leftover quiche or some corn rolled into a quesadilla? They don't seem to mind as long as they get something. And that way leftovers don't take forever to eat up! We do cheese cubes and apples and PB too...I have lots of ideas but I think you get what I'm saying. I think it was an awesome idea to ask questions! I think I may do that on my blog soon, just to get more ideas. Good luck on your journey!

underbelly said...

I am a no poo-er and a vain 22-year-old, so believe me, I was skeptical before I gave it a go, too. I've given up on the apple cider vinegar as a conditioner, however. I live in Florida and sweat loads nine months out of the year, and I couldn't deal with the vinegar smell every time my hair got a little damp. So, for now it's baking soda for shampoo and Aubrey's Organics conditioner. Maybe you northerners wouldn't mind the acv as much?

My hair didn't really go through a gross transitioning period. I had a few bad days b/c I tried to use coconut oil as a hair gel, but other than that, it's worked great. My curly hair is much softer and less frizzy than it used to be, too. I will say that it takes a tad longer to "shampoo" my hair with baking soda, but since it feels so good to save $ and keep a few more chemicals & plastic bottles away, it's no biggie.

As for bread, I wrap it in a towel and put it in the microwave.

Wonderer said...

I make my bread dough once a week, and bake one loaf at a time. I keepo the dough in a 6qt square rubbermaid in the fridge - could a similar container hold your baked loaves? (I know it's plastic - not a perfect solution!)

I do no poo, and I love it. Took less than 2 weeks for my hair to adjust. baking soda wash, diluted apple cider vinegar rinse. My hair is super soft and shiny. :-) As for how it will effect dyed hair, I've always thought that the baking soda and vinegar were more gentle than shampoo/conditioner, but I'm know knowledgeable about hair dye at all.

For lunches, we send yogurt in small, well sealed containers (specimen collection cups, actually - that never collected specimen). Frozen veggies, applesauce, etc. I get lots of use out of those specimen cups! My oldest went through a salad phase, and those cups carried theperfect amount of dressing. (these http://micro-distributing.com/prod_cups.cfm are plastic #5)

Julia (Color Me Green) said...

*How do you store bread?
I make one loaf every week or two weeks and freeze it in a plastic bag bc we couldn't eat it all before it goes stale. But if you are going through 4 loaves a week! You could just store it in a bread box and it would be fine. AFter a loaf has been sliced, store it cut side down in the box.

*Snacks
I don't have kids but here are some thoughts. Nuts. Dried fruit. Vegetables and homemade hummus. As for crackers, I think you could make a triple recipe, store the dough as logs in the freezer, and just thinly slice and pop a few right in the oven as needed to bake fresh crackers for snacks. I have yet to try this but I'm pretty sure it would work and be took very little time.

Anonymous said...

On Food Storage with no A/C: It consistently gets into the 100's here in So Cal during the summer and the last 2 summers we haven't used the A/C. Our house will get to the high 80's in the late afternoon as it is well insulated and we do the "window dance" daily. Fruit like bananas sitting out on the counter does ripen more quickly, but my food storage is in a downstairs closet that is under the stairs and is the coolest place in the house. It runs a solid 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the downstairs. I haven't noticed any problems with food storage there.

Laura in So Cal

Donna said...

Love your questions, and I have some of my own! For bread, I bought a plastic bread box years ago that holds one loaf of bread machine bread. It works perfectly. I wash it out between uses. If I was freezing bread, I'd reuse a plastic bag from something -- sorry, I don't have a better answer for that one.

I could get along pretty well w/o paper towels except for draining bacon. If I drain the bacon on a towel and then toss the towel into the wash, doesn't that send the grease down the drain? Also, sometimes there is just a too icky mess and I want something disposable to throw it away with. We don't have pets, but we do have a preschooler... I still buy paper towels, but I buy recycled paper and I try to make the roll last as long as possible.

Never had a problem with a house plant in a cold house because I can't keep a house plant alive, no matter what I do! We did have a big problem with mold & mildew, though, from keeping our house too cold, and after we solved the problem we had to keep the house warmer from then on. We live in a pretty soggy climate (western Oregon). I don't imagine mold is so much of a problem in a drier place, but it's something to watch for. We've never had a/c and so when it gets too hot, we run a big fan blowing the hot air out of the house all night, then close up the house during the day. Since we've had good insulation that works fine. I've never had food spoil, but I keep extra flour, rice, etc. in the freezer so it won't get buggy. Of course, it doesn't get hot here like it does in the southwest

One question for the no-waste lunchers: what do you use to package a sandwich? or raisins? or yogurt? Thanks!

2 Green Acres said...

We keep our house cold in the winter - 58 at night - and it has not had any noticeable effect on plants or cats. Although the cats do sleep on our bed in the winter :-).

Kellie said...

Lunches~ We use soy butter instead of peanut. Tastes almost exactly the same! I also make cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. My son likes burritos too.

Grease~ I let cool, then scrape into the garbage with a spatula. We don't do bacon often, so it's not a hassle.

No poo~ I gave up after a week, so I'm no help!

Cold~ Our houseplants seem to adjust to the weather inside just like the plants outside do. We get down to 55* inside in the winter and sometimes up to 80* inside in the summer.

The dog has a jacket. He looks like Elvis in it...or Elton John...I'm pretty sure the other dogs make fun of him.

Robbie said...

Here's what works on the snack front:

Dried fruits - and veggies. We buy in bulk, so that works. I couldn't believe my kids were fighting over the last of the dried okra last night!

Yogurt.

"Portable" fruit. Thinking bananas and apples!

Sliced cheese (you know the kind you actually cut) and crackers.

And my kiddos are fine with just a pb&j for a snack too.

Hope that helps!

Karen Moser-Booth said...

Great questions! We've gone without A/C for several summers now, including when our daughter was a newborn, and it has had zero effect on our non-refrigerated food. You *can* do it! :)

Bugs--catch them and let them go outside! Great science lesson for the kiddies, too.

Rosa said...

I live in Minnesota, we keep our house in the high 50's, and the plants mostly do fine - the thing that gets them is that they are too close to the radiator (drying) or they grow til they touch the windows & the leaves freeze, or sometimes both! We're getting new windows, so that might solve the freezing problem anyway.

No AC/food storage - I don't buy bulk stuff in the summer as much (it's OK, because we've got fresh veggies) - nuts and peanut butter, especially, go bad faster in the heat. Whole grain flour too - so I buy less at a time.

Snacks - I try not to buy processed stuff, AND we don't buy much out of season produce or fruit. The key to snacks is that they be *dry* so they don't get disgusting if you forget the container somewhere.

My son is 4. We eat a lot of dried fruits, fruit leather, roasted salted nuts, dried salty kale & dried salted summer squash. I make a lot of muffins in the winter, and we keep trying to make granola bars but they're never crunchy enough.

His favorite, though, is the "Smart Cookies" from a Molly Katzen picture cookbook. Well, or real cookies, but I never had an electric mixer til this winter so I hardly ever made anything that required creaming butter & sugar :)

Christina said...

When cooking bacon, we pour the grease off into a mug and then dump it in the city yard waste when it's solid. Some bugs we trap in a cup and take outside. I'll confess to using Raid on ants, which I can't stand in the house.

We use muffins as a snack food. Dried fruit and nuts. Fresh fruit in season. All these things go into our lunch bags, too. We also put yogurt in lunch - homemade in reusable containers. The tricky part there is finding the container that won't leak despite all the jostling.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Grease (like bacon grease) I let congeal and then scrape into the trash. It's pretty solid, and never leaks out. Then I wash the pan and spoon.

Bugs- I use the vacuum if it's a big deal (like a lady bug infestation) but otherwise I pretty much let them be. Sometimes I'll get my husband to smoosh them with his hands.

I love pasta salad or cold homemade pizza for lunch. You can switch up the dressing on the pasta salad (mayo, ranch, italian style dressings), protein (chicken, tuna, cheese, hard boiled egg), and the veggies you put in it (onions, celery, cukes, tomatoes, peppers, etc). Do the same with toppings for the pizza and there's a lot of variety.

ehmeelu said...

As to no-waste lunches, just google "bento" or search for pictures on flickr.com - boxed lunches can be amazing!

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Okay, I feel fairly sucky here...most of these things we haven't gone to yet. We use a/c in the summer and don't let our house get THAT cold in winter. And we sleep with the dogs in the bed at night--it's the only time the little wiener butts earn their keep around here. We still use paper towels (though I'm hoping this might be the year to stop). We don't have plants in the house during winter, mostly because we have no good southern exposure windows. (I want one. It still might happen...) I use shampoo.

Just a couple of things--for the bread, I've gone the "artisan bread in five minutes" route, which means I only make dough every week or two but can bake a loaf every couple of days so it doesn't have time to go stale or need much storage. (And we usually wrap it in a towel or put it in a used again and again ziploc during the time it lasts.)

For snacks for the kids--we eat a lot of yogurt and I make a lot of snack cake type things--gingerbread, zucchini cake, stuff like that--that get snacked on. Or we eat homemade bread. I haven't been able to sell them on granola yet.

For our waste free lunches I use little reusable tupperwarey things or wrap-n-mats--we do a lot of cheese and crackers and/or bagel sandwiches (cheese, jam, or honey--I have picky little eaters) for the "main" course, apples or bananas for a fruit, and sometimes yogurt. I make it myself plain and we alternate between chocolate syrup, maple syrup, and/or honey drizzled on it. In my house, that is what we call "variety."

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

We do not eat greasy food often and we do not fry so the few times we do, we just pour it over the chicken we give our dog (raw diet). It gives her some fat that she needs. Sometimes I use paper bags that I have accumulated some how and lay them flat. I will let my cookies cool on them and they absorb some of the grease.


I bake 1 loaf of bread a day. The parts that we dont use I throw outside to the birds. I have a fabric bread bag I use to keep my bread in, works great. I have yet to try to freeze my bread.

Convenience foods-We eat fresh food mostly. Fresh fruit, veggies, or muffins I make. Cheese crackers are our only junk type of food so my kids will eat some of those. Nuts or dried fruit are good options. I pack my kids lunch each day and have had no comments yet about it. Usually consist of a sandwich made from homemade bread and jelly with peanut butter. Fruit of some sort. Crackers or granola. Follow up with water.

Lunches-reusable fabric bags (snacktaxi.com or reusablebags.com)for sandwich and snacks. Tupperware or stainless steel cups for anything else. Our silverware works fine they just take it home to get washed. BPA free water bottles are used. I pack a fabric napkin for them too. Everything is taken home and washed each day.

GetSoiled said...

We have not bought paper towels for over two years now. To clean up serious messes we use (depending on the mess):

* The paper wrapper toilet paper comes in.

* Old socks cut in small pieces (those are reserved for bad bad stuff like cat puke...we throw the piece of sock out afterwards)

* For grease I keep the paper napkings some restaurants insist on giving out. It would gross me out if it was somebody else's used napkin but since it is ours it doesn't. I keep a stack in the kitchen drawer (they are not awfully dirty, I must clarify) and after we wipe off the grease we throw them out and clean dishes with hot water and detergent so it is still higienic. It saves TONS of money on kitchen sponges!

* Basically anything we can save and reuse prior to throwing out we keep. Pieces of gift wrapping tissue (lots during Christmas and birthdays)and old clothing pieces that cannot be donated to charity and we keep in drawers cut in smaller pieces right in the kitchen. We don't always throw them out...only when we clean up pet messes.

First time coming by your blog and I have a feeling I'll be one of your 'regulars' ☺

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Wow, everyone! This is such amazing feedback! You've definitely answered all my questions and then some.

@Donna - Check out Jenn the Greenmom's comment and Surviving and Thriving on Penny's comment for tips on packing sandwiches and yogurt.

Condo Blues said...

I gave up paper towels years ago. I use compostable sponges to do dishes. I have old towels cut up for rags under the sink to mop up spills. I don't cook bacon but when I have a messy pan with baked on ick I dose it baking soda and fill it with a bit a water and let it soak. Then I easily wipe up the gunk with a sponge. I rinse out the sponge and if it's still icky I run it in the dishwasher to prolong it's life.

I have a programmable thermostat that goes down to 58 degrees during the day. It gets cold but my dog doesn't mind too much. He's a double coated Pekingese. If he's cold he lays in a sun spot on the south side of the house. I open the shades and use passive solar heat to heat my bedroom.

Cheri said...

For the grease in the pan. I use a paper towel that is made from recylced paper, Seventh Generation brand. I rarely use paper towels. But, I wipe out the pan and then where we live we can put it in our Yard Waste container which now takes all kinds of things that can be composted.

For bugs, get them on a piece of paper and let them outside. Or I use a bit of TP, wich is also Seventh Generation.

Truffula said...

RE: no poo... I've been using just baking soda and ACV for well over a year now. I didn't really have a transition period, just a wash here and there when I had my "recipe" wrong - not enough or too much baking soda. When my hair is dry, I give it some olive or mustard seed oil before washing. No complaints, and one benefit is being able to go longer between washes.

CM said...

No paper towel at our house, very rarely do we have bacon then the grease just gets scraped into the compost.

Bugs- smack them with the fly swatter or vaccuum them.

Bread - I have 6 kids and bake 12 loaves a week, they are kept in used plastic bags, I'm looking for another way too!


The cats and the plants don't mind a cold house at all, dh and I sleep with the window open pretty much all winter. We like the cold.

No AC here either, it only usually gets into the 90's here, and our food storage is downstairs.

No poo - not trying it with my long thick hair, I do wash my bangs with plain old soap every morning though and it works well.

We are not big on snacks here, if the children want snacks they can bake their own. Tonight my 15yo ds asked if he did the dishes (my chore) would I let his 12yo sisters make cookies??? Didn't take long for me to say yes to that LOL.

Lunches - we brainstormed on these. Made a list of bread type stuff they like: buns, bagels, muffins, pitas etc. and listed every filling they could come up with. Another list of fuits and veggies, another of snackie type things like trail mix, sweet baking... Then when it is time to pack a lunch we can choose one item from each list. Only thing is everybody gets the same except for dad as he can have peanuts at work and the kids can't have them at school.

HTH!

knutty knitter said...

We always use the bacon grease for other cooking. Any other fat gets given to the birds.

Snacks are mostly chunks of cheese or apples. Other fruit also is good. Those who are starved (teen mostly) get themselves 2 minute noodles. Maybe not the best but filling gaps cheaply. All normal meals are home made at least.

We have been no poo for around two years now but I've never bothered with the vinegar, just the baking soda.

I'm afraid I just live with bugs. I put them outside if I can but I do cultivate the spiders on my upper windows as they dispose of most of the bugs. I just clean up the detritus every so often.

Bread evaporates round here - its called walking food disposal units. I'll tackle that problem when they've left home :)

The cats have a choice of beds and use them. Chainsaw prefers my youngest and Skillsaw likes my husbands feet! But seriously we don't get very hot or cold.

Baaaad messes mostly tp and flush. I keep a range of rags for anything else including pee but not poo. I haven't got up enough courage for that yet.

viv in nz

Tammy James said...

I just posted some fabric bread bags I made on my blog. I have heard that using stale bread for bacon grease is good.

I think they are my only real areas of helpful advice here. : )

SusanB said...

Bacon -- we don't eat it often but when we do, we either use the grease for cooking or scrape it into something that is already going in the trash. I do blot cooked bacon with one paper towel square (brown untreated) and then either put that square in the compost or use it to start charcoal.
Bugs -- we live with them mostly except for fruit fly infestations and then we resort to the vacuum.
Bread -- we only use one loaf a week and then not every week. I store it in a paper bag inside a "bread bag" that my assistant gave me. It's a two layer bag, cloth and plastic and can be washed. Excess I freeze.
Houseplants -- Our house is 62-52 days and 52-42 nights (one side is 10 degrees cooler than the other). In the winter I keep sensitive plants in the warmer south or east facing windows. They do okay. Some of them love it. They get a little unhappy when we have a string of cloudy days but recover. Watering may need adjusting depending on how dry your air is.
Storage -- we don't buy bananas in the summer. Most of our storage is in the basement which stays cooler most of the summer and where the main summer issue is humidity (we run a dehumidifier). In the kitchen we have to be careful with counter storage and monitor things. But really no problems.
No poo -- I have long fine hair, I wash it every week or every other week with shampoo and that's as close to no poo as I can get.

Pure Mothers said...

You got such great recommendations already I don't think I can add to the list! I wanted to let Christina know that orange oil will kill ants instead of Raid.

Carla said...

I think it's ok to have one roll of Seventh Generation (or comparable brand) of papertowel to have around the house. We have one roll that lasts between 6 months to a year. There are just some jobs that require paper towel though we use cloths and rags for practically everything

I don't know how to say this without sounding snarky, and I really don't mean it to sound that way. I truly am a happy vegan and I aim to open minds with positive attraction rather than shame and guilt.

A vegan diet is a very "green" diet and partially why I chose to make the switch. No bacon grease requiring paper towel, no plastic around which to wrap the bacon, no pig to raise and slaughter inside industries notorious for environmental pollution. Perhaps you buy your bacon from a small, local farmer and that would be the best way to buy bacon if you're going to choose to eat bacon.

How about trapping that bug and releasing it outdoors. I know some people are afraid of various bugs, but with the right technique, some of these fears can be overcome and then the bug doesn't get destroyed just for being its buggy self.

Peace. xo.

Rosa said...

@Jenn the greenmom - don't feel bad, you'll notice most of us didn't post on every issue, because none of us do all of it.

And I will say that despite our freezing-ass house, we live in such a cold climate and have such a big, old house, we still use about the same amount of heating energy per person as the average American (according to Sharon's calculator.)

Debra said...

I store my bread in an old Christmas cookie tin, or a big plastic container that my mom bought a cheesecake in from Costco. I had no adjustment period when I went no poo in April of 2009, though I only washed my hair twice a week prior to that. My hair is the best, softest, shiniest, and prettiest it has ever been in my life! Hurray for BS and ACV one time per week. Maybe henna or indigo for the dye question.

Cayce said...

We haven't used single-use items in the kitchen in a long time. But I can't help you with the grease idea...don't eat bacon here or cook with grease. We have a "cloth drawer" that the kids can reach too. Microfiber drinks up spills. Regular terry cloth do the every day wiping jobs.

For food storage I make and sell (and use...and use... and use, lol) reusable sandwich baggies that are just like their plastic counterparts...but reusable. I also make bulk food bags with built-in ties that work great for homemade bread...and ripening tomatoes...and large snack storage...and grocery shopping.

For no-poo...it took 1 week. Before I thought I had greasy hair. Nope...that was all a scam from the shampoo industry. I LOVE only washing my hair 1-2x/week. Seriously, it's not gross.

We also don't have a/c but live in the mountains. We have to be careful with fresh produce left out on the counter. We can really only have it out for 1-2 days. But we have a garden so that's fine...we just go out there as needed instead of keeping it inside.

I don't seem to notice how it works with most packaged snacks. We do some, but they're from the health food store. We mostly snack on fruits, veggies, leftover breads/muffins, etc. That's a great tip....bake mini muffins and store them in the freezer. They will thaw in less than an hour sitting on the counter and you can make them ever-so healthy and what kid doesn't like a muffin?

I love this blog! I just found it!

Satsuki Rebel said...

We don't use grease for cooking, only oils or butter. If I make bacon I save the grease by straining it through a piece of cheesecloth. I then use that in place of oil in my recipes... depending on what I'm making of course.

For bread I think people used to use bread boxes. I know you can still buy them. Maybe wrap it in cloth first.

I actually use old magazine pages or junk mail scraps to squash the bugs.

Not sure about the heat since I keep the temp pretty normal here but I DO leave the a/c off most of the summer. I haven't had problems with food spoiling but I keep the temp cooler with blinds and ceiling fans as needed. We're also in MN so that might make a difference. My cat is fine too btw. Just make sure you leave out plenty of fresh water. Heck, get 'em a trim if need be.

Good luck on the no poo. That is one area where I don't mind being greedy. I'm testing out nontoxic homemade shampoo recipes instead.

Our ideas of snacks are homemade sweets (when I feel like baking), apples, raisins, cheese, and sometimes organic crackers or chips if they're on sale and I have a coupon. There's yogurt too, even non-dairy. I know Stonyfield accepts their yogurt cups back for recycling.

I'm not at the lunch box stage yet but one thing to look into would be bento box lunches. There are a few good parent bento blogs out there which should provide inspiration. Oh, eggs, hard boiled eggs are always good cold. Deviled eggs too for that matter. Cold homemade pizza still tastes good.

And that's about all I've got. ^^

Kara said...

I'm in Western Australia, (but am originally from Illinois) so, depending on where you are, some of my strategies simply may not be possible.
For grease: (You'd be speaking of free-range bacon grease??? :)) ) We don't often cook meat that produces more than about a tablespoon of grease (we only eat free-range, so bacon is a rare special treat). If the grease isn't overly seasoned, I will drain it off onto the dog's kibbles or over some stale cereal to feed to the chickens. If it's much more than about a tablespoon, I pour it off into a container and let it cool, then keep it in the fridge and either use it to cook veggies in later in the week, or spoon it out a little bit at a time to flavour the dog/cat dinner!

Bugs - we usually just catch them and take them back outside! There are some bugs though (poisonous spiders, centipedes, etc.) that we will squish with a shoe until MORE than dead and pick up and dispose of with toilet tissue!

Bread - wrap it in a brown paper bag. If you find it drying out,place a slice of apple in the bag with it!

Cold house - we don't have many house plants, so that's not an issue. Our house is heated with a small, portable gas heater only, so pets tend to cuddle up with us under blankets or in their own beds near the heat. Our little dog has a jumper and wears it when WE put on ours! Mostly the pets learn to find warmth all on their own (it's the humans who seem to have lost this ability!)

No A/C - we don't have A/C, and we get well into the mid 30s and even into the low 40s (centigrade - which is 90-100F). Humidity rarely is a factor here though so my pantry items are usually OK. I store everything in airtight containers (glass or plastic) and don't leave things like flour and beans in the plastic/paper bags though. In the summer, things like chocolate, dried fruit and other things we usually keep in the pantry but which have a bit of moisture go in the fridge. Occasionally the salt goes solid, but you can still scrape off what you need! :)

Kid snacks - I'm not sure kids used to chips and crunchy snacks will go to dried fruit all that easily! Even I occasionally need a crunchy, salty treat. Making your own tortilla chips and crackers isn't all that difficult, and they taste MUCH better! Or try veggie "chips" (carrots sliced into circles rather than sticks) dipped in home made dip or Dhukka (middle eastern blend of ground nuts and spices). Dried fruit is also nice...especially mixed in with nuts, banana chips and chocolate chips in a trail mix!

No-waste lunches - our boy doesn't eat bread, so sandwiches are out! Try sushi rolls (if you can keep them cold) which are easy to make at home, if you can get the ingredients. Our boy's favourite lunches usually contain cold cooked sausages or cold chicken drumsticks, cheese bites, trail mix and a piece of fresh fruit all packed into re-usable containers. Soup stays warm til lunch in a thermos if you put it in at the "too hot to eat" stage too!

Lisa Sharp said...

How do you deal with grease?
I cook bacon in the oven on a cookie sheet, I either pour it in a jar like Eco Yogini or scrap in to the trash (never had problems with it leaking).

Or bugs?
Don't have many bugs, normally just grab a bit of tp and flush the bug when we do have them if they aren't one that I know if they are good or bad. Lady bugs and good spiders are carried outside in a cup or my hands.

How do you store your bread?
I store already sliced bread in a large reusable food container (right now BPA free plastic but hope to switch to glass at some point).

Those of you who have gone "no 'poo": How long did it take for your hair to adjust?

I'm not totally no poo, I use shampoo once or twice a week. It took about a month maybe for my hair to get used to less shampoo. Now my hair is in much better shape!

:: Those of you who have given up "convenience" foods: What kind of snacks do you give your kids?

We aren't great about this but I enjoy an apple with raw honey as a snack and hubby likes cheese. Fruit smoothies are good "sweet" snacks too.

Dillon said...

How do you deal with grease?
We love to go camping and so we use bacon grease (when we have it) to make fire-starters. We pour it over dryer lint (from the things we don't hang dry) in little paper cups (or condiment cups, or newspaper molded to cup form). We put it in the freezer and then store them in a cool place until our next camping trip. They light right up in a pile of kindling.


Or bugs?
We don't really have bugs - I guess we would use toilet paper.

How do you store your bread?
We don't really eat bread either - that's strange. I used to eat bread? If we did have it, I would store it in linen and then a bread box.

Those of you who have gone "no 'poo": I'm waiting until after my wedding to attempt no-poo. I have started making my deodorant though and love it.

Those of you who have given up "convenience" foods: What kind of snacks do you give your kids? What do you pack in lunches?

No kids, but my partner and I eat fruit, cut up vegetables, cheese and crackers, yogurt, or small portions of leftovers. Same with the lunches I pack for work - those snack foods or leftovers, occasionally a big salad.

utahlawyer said...

I went no poo last August and love it. I posted a couple of articles on my blog about the experience:

http://greenfornothing.blogspot.com/2009/09/i-quit-shampooing-my-hair.html

http://greenfornothing.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-quit-shampooing-my-hair-update.html

Those posts give extensive information. Basically, I use the baking soda and vinegar method. I rinse my hair every time I shower and scrub my scalp with my fingers, then rinse with vinegar. I condition a couple of times a week and wash with baking soda every 7 - 10 days.

With rinsing, my hair never got overly greasy. I started out washing my hair with baking soda about twice per week. It took about six weeks until I could reduce the washing to once per week or so. My hair is holding steady at that.

If you try the baking soda method, make sure you only wash you scalp. The baking soda will really dry out your hair.

Paula Hewitt said...

after reading this the first time I could think of anything to add that hadn't been already mentioned.

but then i remembered i used to collect grease and leftover cooking oil in a tin in the fridge, and when it reached a critical amount I would clean it (by heating and straining through a fine sieve or cheescloth) and make soap from it- I would usually use half and half preused oil and clean new fat. the soap doesn't smell like bacon or hot chips - i promise. i need to start doing this again - very slack I've been.

btw: someone mentioned pouring the used oil into a glass jar - you need to make sure the oil is cool before you do this. my friend got dreadful burns from pouring hot oil into a glass jar which cracked open.

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