Update on sustainable practices

Over ten months ago, I wrote a post about becoming more sustainable. This post was a  resolution/goal list of sorts so I decided to include updates on how I’m doing.

Stop buying non-recyclable and non-compostable items.

So I haven’t exactly stopped buying these things. I buy a lot of things online and it’s a  habit I need to stop. While some stores have all sustainable packaging (Mountain Rose Herbs and Grove Collaborative are two examples) and most have gotten rid of styrofoam packing peanuts, many still include inflatable plastic bags.

Has anyone considered the difference in cost between buying online and driving to the store? Seriously, I’d like to know. All stores are at least a 20 minute drive from my house so I consider buying online and shipping to my PO BOX to be my best bet.

Reduce Plastic Purchases

I have definitely done this!  I try my best to purchase the most sustainable packaging in the store.

Buy used, organic, fair trade, or sustainably produced clothing and shoes

I made an actual New Year’s resolution to purchase clothes made in the USA or that were used. So far, I’ve done this at 90% of the time. One major slip up was when I had to buy something for a funeral but I consider that an exception.

I’ve recently discovered thredUp and I love purchasing quality used clothes online.

Shoes were definitely harder. I was shopping for running shoes this last winter and couldn’t find anything that would work for my feet. I finally found these Newton Running Shoes that are sustainably made. I’m considering purchasing these Softstar Shoes for running as well.

Only buy organic and biodegradable toiletries and beauty products

Check ✔︎and Check ✔︎

Only buy food in bulk

This has not happened, but I’m working on it. I try to visit Winco as much as possible. I rarely buy processed foods and generally make everything from scratch.

We are working on getting all of our meat from sustainable sources. Currently, we buy organic chicken and eat elk and deer hunted by ourselves or friends. We hope to replace hunted Grouse and Turkey for the chicken this fall.

Make my own:

I make my own granola, bread and vanilla. I have made my own cheese, crackers and yogurt. I’ve also purchased everything to make my own chopsticks but I haven’t done it yet.

Soon I hope it make my own beer and wine. This will have to wait until we have the space at new place.

Drive less, bike/walk more. Combine trips.

In my new job working for a Conservation non-profit I drive less because I work from home and I also combine trips when running errands.

Grow my own tea and drink less coffee

I have not bought a tea plant yet but it’s on my to do list once we move to our new place. I do drink less coffee.

8 Ways to become more sustainable

I consider myself pretty ecoconscious and take the impact on the earth into account for purchases and decisions. But, I know that I can improve. So I made a list of goals

  1. Stop buying non-recyclable and non-compostable items
  2. Reduce Plastic Purchases
  3. Buy used, organic, fair trade, or sustainably produced clothing and shoes
    • Used is going to be key here, these things get expensive
    • Natural fibers are better as well
  4. Only buy organic and biodegradable toiletries and beauty products
    • Or make it myself
    • I’ve been doing pretty good with this one, but I’m not 100% there yet.
  5. Only food in bulk
    • Just imagine the savings in packing!
  6. Make my own:
    • Almond/nut/non-dairy milk
    • Vanilla
    • Mustard
    • Chapstick
    • Crackers & Chips
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Bread
    • Cereal
  7. Drive less, bike/walk more. Combine trips.
  8. Grow my own tea and drink less coffee
    • I NEED caffeine to survive, but it looks like I can most likely grow a hardy tea plant in Zone 6.

What are some ways you feel that you can improve?

Wear my Shoes and be a Hippie Too

How to Wear Shoes and Be a Hippie too

I just wanna do good. Be a good person, do good things and feel good about it.

Sure, I’m doing good things now. I recycle, try to reduce my consumption, drive less, buy and grow organic. But, there’s always more good to be done. I could work for a non-profit (believe me, I would if someone would hire me). I could purchase an electric vehicle (if only I could afford it). Even purchase a vehicle with better gas mileage – “but the extra space is so convenient and my current vehicle is paid off.”

In a conversation the other night with BF, we were talking about being fed up society and money. He mentioned that only Hippies have the guts to really get out of society. I exclaimed that we should be hippies! However, he shot back saying he needed his shoes, he needed his Keens, specifically. But that’s not at all what I meant when I said we should be hippies.

I want to wear my shoes and be a hippy too. 

(As a side note, my BF has the nickname Hippie, but it was because of his long hair and because he smoked lots of weed in his younger years. Only one of those things has changed.)

It’s taken me a little while to realize my views of hippies was pretty idealistic. I’ll blame Bellingham and Portland for that one. I never actually thought of hippies as dirty or freeloading. I’ve always thought of hippies as loving, caring, peace and conservation minded folk. Or maybe my view is more correct and I’ve been spending too much time around undereducated, Faux News watching, Walmart shopping sheep. That’s mean, sheep can be good people too.

Often, being good is inconvenient. It’s not the easiest thing to do and can be a burden. We are in this mess because convenience. It’s just easier to live life and not worry about anything else.

So how to do you be Hippie and still keep your shoes?

Just do the best that you can. I get a little be jaded and forget that every little bit counts. I say, keep the idealistic view and create a better world with that view.

Drop in the Ocean

Wannabe Quit Piece – Financial Analysis of Organic Farming for a Living

Confession: I’ve been spending way too much of my time planning for the future and NOT living in the NOW.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 12.22.41 PM.png

I’ve been reading how we are going to make enough money if I quit my job. I’ve been reading too many quit pieces. I’ve been running the numbers and rerunning them, too make sure my math is correct but also to try and quit my job sooner then the numbers are telliIMG_0780ng me too.
I’ve read a lot about how you won’t make any money through farming (just google it) and I’ve read a few pieces, especially this one, about how you can.

I’ve created a financial analysis, or feasibility study, for my personal goal of farming for a living.

Expected income or net profit

From what I’ve read, a profit of 40% to 50% is expected, if the business is managed properly.

Here’s a summary of my plan

  • Selling 3,000 – 4,000 lbs of mushrooms – $20,000
  • Money saved by not having a job – $5,000+
    • More detail below
  • Sell 500-1000 heads of gourmet garlic – $3,000
  • Farm stand with veggies, flowers and mushrooms for sale – $2,000 to $5,000
  • Start a CSA – eventually go from 10 members to 30 – $3,000 to $9,000

Total: $33,000 to $42,000

Shiitake Mushrooms can sell for $8/lb.

What I make at my job now, including benefits, is at the higher end of that range.

Right now we are still in the process of remodeling and both of us need steady jobs, especially me, since the BF does all of the remodeling himself and obviously can’t work for profit when he is doing so.

More of my ideas on how to make money

  • Craigslist buy and selling
  • Blogging (yeah right)
  • Crafting (not my best skill)
  • Selling t-shirts – we have some awesome design ideas that might be able to pull in $500 a year or so
  • Selling specialty items such as decorative gourds, edible flowers, hardy kiwis, extremely hot peppers, candied fennel, etc

Monthly money saved by one member of the household not having a job (in a Zero Children Family)

  • Growing our own food – $300
    • Includes spending less on on convenience food, coupons, timing sales, etc.
  • Gas – $100
  • Job related expensed – $75
    • Nice clothes, eating out, etc.
  • Performing bookkeeping and other admin tasks for Honegger Construction – $50

Total: $525/month or $6300 per year

Other ways we could save money – mostly because I’d have enough time

  • Thrifting!
  • Firewood chopping
  • Home repair
  • Brewing our own beer
    • Sometimes this can be more expense than buying but make your malt can greatly decrease the price
    • Wine is definitely cheaper to make
  • Making some of my own dog food from elk and deer scraps
  • Teaching Naturalist and other courses

I’m sure you could add another $10,000 to $15,000 with children, but since I’m not a parent, I really have no idea.

Saving money on food – the breakdown

We spend at least $400 on food each month, for the just the two of us! This is a breakdown of what we could save every year by making our own.

  • Bread: $125
  • Yogurt: $250
  • Cheese: $60
  • Cereal: $30
  • Tortillas and Corn Chips: $25
  • Cut our own lunch meat from roasts: $150
  • Condiments: $25
  • Potato Chips and Crackers: $40

This is almost $60 per month saved, just by cooking, which I really enjoy.

Now, this doesn’t even take into account the quality of life. Currently, neither of us barely have enough time to sleep enough hours, get in a good workout and generally  enjoy life. I work at least 50 hours per week (50 is required at my job) and commute at an hour each day, at least three days a week (except when I work out of town all week, which is at least 30% of the time).

This means, that on a weekday when I commute to work, I have 4 hours left over after sleep and work for cooking, cleaning, eating, getting ready, and relaxing <—doesn’t happen.

Usually, one day on the weekend is devoted to getting our lives in order: cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, precooking rice, beans, etc. for the week. Then maybe we’re lucky enough to enjoy the other day, but mostly we work on the remodel.

I need a nap.

Wild Yeast Semolina Sourdough Starter – Getting Started

I starter some sourdough starter the other day. It’s pretty simple to make, just equal parts water and flour, let it sit in a warm spot until it starts to bubble (a week or so) and feed it again. It’s kinda like getting free yeast and getting very tasty results as a bonus.

Wild Yeast Semolina Sourdough Starter

Wild Yeast Semolina Sourdough Starter

The hard part is keeping it up. Last time I make some wild yeast sourdough starter, I eventually got busy lazy and stopped feeding it, so it got all watery and gross, then it went bad. Lucky for you, I don’t have any pictures of that.

Last time, I make some super tasty bread by adapting this super fantastic recipe and guide to my own liking.

Using the sourdough starter resulted in the bread with best crust I’ve ever made! I ate half of the loaf the day I made it (but that’s not super unusual). And I make bread pretty frequently, usually with 5 minute/overnight recipe. I also made some pretty tasty pancakes.

Super Tasty and Crusty Sourdough Bread!

Super Tasty and Crusty Sourdough Bread!

Then, there was that one time in college that I tried to make sourdough starter. I had some grape laying around from my parents and though that wild yeasties would make some fantastic bread. I forgot to take into account that the we didn’t keep the main part of the house heated (I was in college and poor). So I kept using the oven to warm it up. Anyway, long story short, I killed the poor yeasties before they had a chance to make anything tasty.

Here’s the recipe. And cheers to keeping it alive and well this time!

Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter Recipe

  • 4 oz (1/2 c) Water
  • 4 oz (3/4 c plus 2 T) Flour (Rye, White or Semolina is preferred)
    • I’ve heard rumors that whole wheat can make it taste bad
    • I used half semolina flour and half white flour

Let rest, lightly covered with cheese cloth for a week or so, until it starts to bubble. Feed the sourdough EVERYDAY with equal parts flour and water. If you’re using a 1 Qt mason jar, you shouldn’t need to remove any for the first feeding, but afterwards, remove around half of the mother and discard (or use) before you feed it again.

Once you get it started and all bubbly, you should only have to feed it once or twice a week.

Note: If it starts to smell funny or turn funny colors, please discard it all. It should smell sour, like sourdough but not funky. Be safe when trying to harvest wild yeast, you could get some nasties (probably bacteria) in there instead.

I’ll post an update when the yeasties are alive and well in the starter!

Biodiversity

Thoughts on Biodiversity

Sweet Clover Sustainability

How do we promote sustaining the preservation of biodiversity? Why should we protect biodiversity?  If more people knew about the detrimental results of the decrease in biological diversity would it be protected? How do we protect biodiversity?

Lichen Diversity

We know that humans are primarily responsible for the decrease in biodiversity.  No I’m not making it up; it’s not some crazy propaganda. The six years I’ve spent in post-secondary education have taught me this and I’ve devoted my career to the preservation of biodiversity.

So why is it our responsibility to lead lives that don’t further the loss of biodiversity? You may ask why do we need to clean up after others.

I understand why you wouldn’t want to clean up after others but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to live as lightly and sustainability as possible.

We are all in it together, one earth, one atmosphere, one…

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Turmeric, Raw Honey and Coconut Milk Mask

This morning I make some homemade Thai Iced Tea. I vaguely followed this recipe using whole cardamom pods, black tea, coconut milk and raw honey. I added a bit of vanilla, cinnamon and black pepper to spice it up a bit. I also drank it hot. So maybe I made a Thai-inspired Chai Tea. Whatever it was, it was delicious!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures. I can’t be asked to think ahead B.C. (Before Caffeine) in the morning.

Yummy Cardamon!

Yummy cardamom!

I drank my tea slowly, ate some breakfast (I’ll share my fantastic whole grain pancake recipe soon) and realized I had been up for a few hours and hadn’t washed my face. I got to thinking about how much I had been seeing Turmeric in face masks recently and decided I needed to try one out myself.

Turmeric has tons of benefits! And there’s science behind these beneficial effects.

  • Anti-inflammatory
    • Similar to ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The strength is different though.
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial

Turmeric is currently being studied for its effects on cancer, Alzheimer’s, among other human diseases. It’s also being toted as anti-aging.

Raw honey also has tons of great benefits. It’s antiviral, anti-fungal and super moisturizing. We all know that coconut milk is great too. It’s super moisturizing,

Why do all of these plant and animal products has antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It totally makes sense evolutionarily; viruses, fungi and bacterial attack more than just humans. My hypothesis is that other organisms have evolved these properties as it has helped them survival longer (thus reproduce more, the driver of evolution).

Fun fact, Turmeric is in the Zingiberaceae Family, the same family as Ginger and cardamom. You can think of them as cousins. Maybe I’ll try some cardamom in a mask soon or a triple whammy – cardamom, Ginger, Turmeric Mask.

EWW!

EWW!

This mask looks absolutely terrible. Or maybe turmeric yellow just isn’t my color.

Turmeric is used as a dye. I was a little worried that my skin would turn yellow, but luckily it didn’t. I only left the mask on the 15 minutes.

It tasted pretty good though! Please don’t actually eat it, that’s weird.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this mask has some anti-aging properties but who knows how good one application would do.

The Microsoft Age Guesser sure thinks it works.

Younger After the Mask!

Younger After the Mask!

Potential benefits of this mask include:

  • Anti-Acne
  • Anti-Aging
  • Moisturizing
  • Calming and Soothing
  • Reducing hyperpigmentation

Here’s your recipe.

Turmeric, Raw Honey and Coconut Milk Mask

Mix together in a small bowl, apply a thin layer and leave for 15 minutes.

Note: Turmeric has been used as a dye. Don’t leave this mask on for too long. There is a chance it could stain your skin. You may want to do a test patch to make sure it doesn’t. 

Recipe Card:

Turmeric, Raw Honey, Coconut Milk Face Mask

Other references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric

Turmeric Root”Curcuma longa roots” by Simon A. Eugster – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curcuma_longa_roots.jpg#/media/File:Curcuma_longa_roots.jpg