By the Squishy Monster
In our household, we were “Green” before it was the trendy thing to do. Mom instilled in us the importance of something as little as turning off the light switch in the same way she taught us the importance of maintaining good dental hygiene. As adults, these lessons inevitably stick with you. It was the subject of much embarrassment when friends would stay the night and ask why we had clothes hung up everywhere and why Dads old Cotton Tees were crumpled up in each corner of the Kitchen floor. For us, repurposing and conserving was just our way of life. Sure, the practice bloomed from us being poor but it implemented in us from a very young age that old expression, “waste not, want not.”
For me, I spend most of my time in the Kitchen so that’s where most of my “Green” initiatives are spurred. Take a quick survey of what’s already around you and there may just very well be multiple hidden uses for things you already have.
Food Waste is something that is oftentimes overlooked. Banana Peels and Apple Cores alike get tossed into our Compost Bin where they replenish the soil for our tiny but abundant Garden. I feel that this truly encourages our brave little sprouts of Veggies to grow. We water our bed with rain water that we collect, precisely for the purpose of watering the vegetation outside. When it comes to actual cooking, pre soaking Rice/Grains/Beans helps reduce the cooking time and we like to shop in bulk and use up everything--again with the “waste not, want not” philosophy. I also try to keep the peels on almost everything, especially when it comes to local produce. Not only is it healthier, it’s delicious and saves times and reduces waste. However, if I just must peel, I gather all the scraps and either freeze them for Veggie Stocks or to fortify stews later or toss them together to compost later.
After you’re done with the cooking, adopt the “Green” take when cleaning up, too. Make sure you turn off the faucet when you’re scrubbing dishes or soaping up hands. It also helps a great deal to fill a double basin sink with one side full of water so you can quickly rinse off soapy dishes without the use of excess water. To further conserve, we’ve also fitted nearly all of our faucets with Aerators, which also aid with water conservation.
There are just so many things that you can make at home for yourself. Some may argue that it’s a matter of convenience but I personally think it’s due to the fact that virtually everyone thinks that a lot of “DIY” projects are difficult. I feel like driving all the way to the Market, waiting in line and dishing out a boatload of money for things that you can easily make for yourself at home, control the quality, while producing more product that’s less harmful to the environment or your family at a lower cost is priceless. Now that should be a Mastercard Logo, am I right? I love making my own Brown Sugar and Vanilla Extract. I reuse the same containers over and over again (after sanitizing between uses, of course) and just that alone must save bundles on material. Take another look at the container that your deli meat came in or the empty carton of Yogurt. They can quickly and easily become the next vehicle for your take-along Salad for work. No bag should go unused, either. We use it to hold our lunches or reline trash pails. I’ve even come to the conclusion that those stiff brown paper bags that hold your Milk from the Market come in handy for laying strips of Bacon on and zapping in the microwave to catch excess grease and make for a quick and easy BLT on the go. Mason Jars are particularly wonderful. They double up as containers for pickling in the Winter and Juice Jars in the Spring and Summer. Similarly, boycott packaged Water Bottles! Not only is it a rip, it’s so much better to refill a reusable water bottle yourself (this way you can flavor it with Lemon or Cucumber, save the environment and quench your thirst at the same time). You never realize just how much packaging goes into one product to make it look aesthetically pleasing on the shelves. My old Mason Jar may just very well be 100 years old, but he’s a trooper and he’s here to stay.
I hope that the “Green” act is here to stay as well.
Your cool, green friend,
The Squishy Monster