July 2008 - Posts

Last night I had to throw out some spoiled food. There was no good reason for letting the food go bad. A while back I made potato salad for a beach picnic and there were leftovers--maybe enough to eat as a side for one meal each night for a week. Well, I don't like potato salad that much and potato salad doesn't freeze well (or rather, doesn't thaw well!), and I never got around to inviting someone over to help eat it, so it sat until it was too far gone to eat. Then there was the last couple servings of spicy red beans that I just... forgot about. I love beans, so I'm not sure how that happened. There was also some celery, and this came as no surprise to me since probably half of all the food I throw out is celery. Even though I like "ants on a log" for a snack, somehow, I never use celery unless I need it in a recipe. And I don't favor recipes that call for celery.

Growing up, my mom never had to use that cliche phrase about starving children in Africa (note, the phrase--not starvation itself--is the cliche). I loved to eat the food on my plate. And it's always bothered me to see people throwing away food they could save and eat later. So on the occasion when I let food go to waste I feel bad. I feel bad enough that I use tricks to keep it from happening.

--If I make large batches of something freezable, I freeze portions in smaller containers to use for lunches later.

--I pay attention to what amount of food I can reasonably expect to eat in two meals before I start cooking.

--When I'm thinking about what to eat for supper I take stock of leftovers first.

--I grocery shop with a list, and part of my list is always built around what is already in the fridge and waiting to be used.

--If I can't think of something I want to make with something that needs to get eaten, I look on the internet for new recipes to try.

I like to remind myself that I don't throw out that much food after all. And of course, I feel good knowing that when I do have to throw the celery out, it goes into the compost bin rather than the landfill. But even so, I'd like to reach the point of never throwing away food. One thing I've seen people talk about on their blogs is talking pictures of the food they throw away and then reviewing them periodically! Wow, that would really make me feel accountable. I already have a bad conscience about it, so maybe this is just the sort of thing I need to shame me into zero food waste compliance!

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You know junk mail can be annoying. You might have heard junk mail creates opportunities for identity theft (those pre-approved credit offers can provide a scammer with just about everything they need to get moving on a new line of credit in your name). Either of those alone are two good reasons to stanch the tide of junk mail in your life.

But did you know junk mail is also an ecological hazard? According to the Smithsonian, millions of trees and billions of gallons of water are used annually to produce that unwanted mail. Further, they claim the majority of junk mail is collected as trash rather than as the recyclable material that it is.

Easy ways to break the chain:

Have you name removed from national mailing lists. (You must renew your registration on this list every five years.) Send your name, address and signature to:
    Mail Preference Service
    c/o Direct Marketing Association
    P.O. Box 643
    Carmel, NY 10512

Have your name removed from pre-approved credit offer rolls. Call the opt-out line at:  
    888-567-8688

Notify your current financial institutions and credit card companies that your name is not to be sold or rented. Often they will provide you with a form to do this; if not, call or email. 

Many subscription to magazines, catalogs, and organizations offer an easy way to notify them that you do not want your information shared, rented, or sold. If you don't find this option in the enrollment materials, notify them by phone or email that you do not want your information shared, rented, or sold. You can do the same with warranty cards and contributions to causes.

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