Saturday, 6 February 2016

DIY Compostable Loofah Scrubbers

Did you know that loofah is a type of cucumber? For some reason, I always thought they grew in the ocean. Actually, they are the dried-out fibers of fully-ripened Luffa fruit. When left to dry on the vine, they lose their flesh leaving just the fibers, skin, and seeds. Once the seeds and skin are removed, you have loofah!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Life without Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap got kicked out of our household pretty quickly when we started trying to reduce our waste.  Plastic wrap is technically recyclable in Calgary, but I would guess that a pretty small percentage of the world's plastic wrap ends up anywhere but the landfill. Or in the oceans.

For the most part, ditching cling wrap hasn't been much of an inconvenience. Although widely used in many households, it really isn't necessary, and can be easily replaced by items you probably already have in your kitchen.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Waste-free Coffee

Pod-based coffee is a little bit wasteful; that's old news. K-Cups, Krups, Tassimo, whatever the kind, if every cup of coffee you drink produces a plastic cup for the garbage can, you're probably producing a lot of garbage. The pods we use at our office are slightly better, as you can easily compost the coffee, but each is still wrapped in a plastic wrapper (technically recyclable, but unlikely to be accepted by the City of Calgary's program).

Coffee-shop coffee in a reusable mug is an option if it fits into your lifestyle. For me, it doesn't really work. I don't live or work in an area with coffee shops near by, and I don't want to go out of my way to find one. I am not picky about coffee, so it is easy to make.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

In Lieu of a Christmas Tree

Many years ago, when I lived in a condo with a more open layout than our home now, I bought an artificial Christmas tree. It was to be my first time hosting Christmas dinner and I got caught up in the excitement of decorating. 

Since then, it has come out a few more times depending on our levels of motivation each December, and whether or not we would be hosting for the holidays. Since we moved into our house almost four years ago, it has been a struggle to find a place for it to fit, and I have become less excited by the look of an artificial tree. On top of all that, last year one of the feet twisted like a cork-screw and the whole thing fell down, smashing ornaments along the way.

This year, knowing we would be hosting, and nurturing the Christmas-loving child inside of me, we wanted to decorate, but I didn't want to buy another artificial tree. My ruined artificial tree is still squirrelled away in my basement because I feel terrible about sending it to the landfill; I certainly don't want to be responsible for the eventual discarding of another one. 

We considered getting a real tree, but the cost and the unknown growing practises turned us off. We considered chopping down a little tree growing in our back yard, but weren't sure where to put it in our house. Eventually, we found what I think is the perfect combination of space-saving and zero-waste: a Christmas branch.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Draft Beer at Home

Late last year, we finally got our home draft system set up. It was a project we had talked about for a long time but had a hard time getting done. There was so much to learn, so many decisions to make, and so many components to get a hold of. Or at least that's how it seemed, and so the project drug on.

As it turned out, it was a relatively simple project once we got past the learning phase, and has had an enormous impact on the number of recyclable cans and bottles our household generates. The two mesh bags that we use to store our returnables can hold a few months' worth now and our trips to the depot are much faster and easier.

With a draft beer system, or "Kegerator", you can enjoy cold, locally-brewed beer on tap, at home. No bottles, no cans, no plastic rings, caps, or cardboard boxes. Many people set theirs up in mini-fridges, and some people get really fancy with nice taps mounted on the top. We went the simple route.