Cheap and Green

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I often read blogs reviewing and recommending eco-products.  I usually find that the product either is only eco-branded; meaning that it looks like a green product, but dig a little deeper and it’s just a standard product with some great packaging.  Or maybe it really is a great product, but it’s so expensive I just wouldn’t buy it for myself.  Why is it that eco-products tends to have fewer ingredients, but will also tend to be more expensive?  I guess better quality ingredients cost more, but that isn’t always true.  My friend has a theory that the more expensive the product the more we are likely to think the product should be amazing.  If it were to be inexpensive, the product would appear to be junk.  Maybe that’s true, but it’s annoying for this eco-girl on a budget.

 

I’m picking a random example- http://www.ecocandleco.com/index.html

Eco-Candle-Co-8052_2

Priced at $21-$31 per candle, they are pretty pricey.  These candles are made of soybeans grown in the USA.  American grown soybeans are probably better than other countries where soybean agriculture is blamed for de-forestation and endangered animal habitat loss.  However, most of the soy grown is genetically modified and 80% of it is destined to be used as cheap food for livestock.  Soy is cheap, and so is soy wax.  It’s one of the cheapest options out there, so why is the candle so pricey?

Inevitably I start thinking that I can just make candles myself in a much more eco-friendly economical way.  In the past I went to the local candle making store and bought all the supplies I needed.  This time I decided I could be even more eco-thrifty minded.  I asked friends and family to save me the wax from candles that they had burned.  I also posted on craigslist that I wanted to start a small wax recycling program.  Within a few months I had a large box full of wax and jars.

candle-recycle

I jimmied up a double boiler with a pot and a frying pan and started melting waxes to make the colours I wanted.  When the wax was between 180-200 degrees, I’d add the scent oil and pour the wax into jars.  Pop in the wick and the candle is pretty much done.  I decided against buying jars and cleaned out old candle containers and mason jars.

So far I have made about 10 candles, and have used about half of the wax.  The wax and jars were free, the wicks were $2 for 25, the fragrances were about $20 for about 15 half used bottles purchased off craigslist.  For the cost of one eco-candle, I can make 20 candles, and I have stopped a heap of stuff from going into a landfill.  I also have a fully stocked candle cupboard, and I have a stockpile of emergency Christmas gifts!  I think in comparison to my candles, eco-candles aren’t very eco at all.

diy-candle

If you have eco-thrifty projects on the go I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

CSA box week 12

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week 12

 

Another killer box from my farmer.  Beets and onions went into the stock pile.  Tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and onion became fresh salsa which I put on beans, rice and topped with avocado.  The blueberries I was so excited for!  The last time blueberries were in the box I gave that box away because I was on vacation.  They were delish!  I’m always so sad when blueberry season ends, it’s a long wait until they are available again.  Luckily for me I bought 30 pounds of frozen blueberries to get me through the winter.  I had already stocked up on raspberries and bananas and wasn’t sure I could fit it all into my freezer at once.  It wasn’t easy, but eventually it all fit.

packaging up for smoothies.  2 cups per bag

packaging up for smoothies.

My freezer from last month:  40 lbs bananas, 30 lbs blueberries and 10 lbs raspberries

My freezer from last month: 40 lbs bananas, 30 lbs blueberries and 10 lbs raspberries

Back to the CSA box, butter lettuce was such a nice change from the endless red leaf lettuce.  I made lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, avocado sandwiches with gluten free Portuguese buns from the farmers market.  It’s been about 7 years since I’ve sandwich in a bun, gluten-free baked goods have come a long way.  Next week I think I’ll buy some more.  More carrots, some of these I juiced, the rest went into stir fries.  Finally there was kale.  I actually didn’t know what it was!  I thought it might have been some sort of collard, but it’s flat leaf kale.  It seems all I ever see in the stores is curly leaf kale, I figured that just how all kale was.  I chucked it all into my morning smoothie.

Throw It Out Culture

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Last weekend I had an unfortunate accident where I dropped my phone in a river.  It sort of works, but isn’t very usable.  I assessed all my options and decided that I would just go back to my previous phone (iPhone 3).  Unfortunately my wireless provider no longer supports that phone and I can’t switch back to it.  Had I kept using it there would have been no problem, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but after two hours with technical support this was their final answer.  The only option they gave me is to buy a new phone and dispose of the 2 iPhones.  It really bothers me that I can’t use a perfectly good phone.

I don’t tend to buy the newest thing, I’m perfectly happy to spend less and buy an older version.  I had been looking to buy an older used DLSR camera so I could do some better blogging pictures, but that will have to wait.  I think I’m just going to buy a used phone from someone.  If nothing else it will keep their phone out of the landfill and I can use my iPhone 3 as a ipod at work.  I refuse to throw it out!

 

Where did this throw it out culture come from?  I remember my grandmother stockpiled cottage cheese containers in her basement even though she could recycle them, she preferred to keep them.  I don’t know what she used them for other than storing her false teeth in them on the top of the toilet tank (true story).  She grew up during the depression, and I think she and her siblings didn’t have much, so she was pretty thrifty.  Somewhere between her generation and mine something changed.  If you have ever tried to donate a microwave, TV or furniture then you know what I’m talking about.  No one wants them, thrift stores won’t even take them.  I tried craigslist and garage sales but in the end I decided to keep the microwave even though I hardly ever use it.  The furniture I eventually put beside a dumpster, and the TV went to a recycling depot.  I love looking for items on craigslist and facebook auction pages, but maybe this is something that is dying out?  Will the throw it out culture eventually disappear or is this the way it will be?  Is reduce, reuse and recycle a motto of the past?

Self Sustainability

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After a couple hours spent in the my garden I was relaxing on the patio reading green-themed blogs. I found myself down a rabbit hole reading about stockpiling food. The blogger was living off the grid and had purchased this product :Emergency Survival Food Supply 275 Meal Pack

275 servings of dehydrated food. The user reviews on this product are very entertaining.  It sounds like there are a lot of people who are stockpiling food and they are very worried about the future.

 

It got me thinking about what I would do if I had to feed myself for a long stretch of time.  In my mind I’m in an episode of The Walking Dead.  I’ve fought my way into an abandoned grocery store and I head straight for the produce section and all the produce has long since rotted away.  I go to the canned foods section, but I don’t like canned veggies and the Alphagetti isn’t gluten-free.  Would I have to give up my vegetarian/vegan ways to survive?

 

Aside from dehydrating and freezing fruit, I’m a total failure in the food stockpiling department.  I cannot cook beans from dried to save my life.  I am a vegan failure! Looking around my garden I’ve got strawberries, raspberries, peas, zucchini, swiss chard, kale and lettuce growing in small quantities.  I could do a bit of scavenging, but I’d be a goner by the end of the week!

 

Am I alone in this?  Unless you live on property, we are so dependent on the food producers.  Although in theory it’s a green idea to be self sustaining, is it practical? Is it eco-friendly to hoard 20 years worth of food just in case?