Sharpener

Our very old knives recently became very dull. It happens. So, I went to Facebook to ask for recommendations for a new set of knives. My smart friend Stephanie suggested I get them sharpened. Of course! That’s the “reduce” thing to do. So, we packed up the knife set and brought it to the Highland Square Farmer’s Market on Thursday to get them sharpened. Turns out, we have a vintage set of good quality knives that just needed a little help.

It only cost $38 for all  5 knives, and they were done by the time we finished wandering around Highland Square (20 minutes). That’s much better for us and the environment than getting a new set.

Kevin Noon of Noon Sharpening and Wood Working (“the environmentally friendly sharpener”) did great work for us on his old foot-pedal sharpener.

farmer's market

P.S. When I got them home and made dinner, I didn’t cut myself, but I did pour boiling water on my arm. Ouch! (I’m ok, just very clutzy.)

999 bottles

We all know how bad bottled water is, right? Here’s a little reminder

  • In 2006 the global consumption of bottled water was 177 BILLION liters.
  • At 42 billion liters, the U.S. accounted for about 23% of that.
  • It takes two to three liters of water to produce and distribute one liter of bottled water
  • For most of us, bottled water is of no better quality than our tap water (which is more highly regulated and monitored).
  • In the U.S. alone we use more than 17 million barrels of oil to create those disposable bottles (this does not account for the fuel used to ship bottled water across the globe)

I’m sure you “recycle” your water bottle, but look at how wasteful it is to simply produce that bottle… 2-3 liters of water is used to make 1 liter for you to drink, and 17 million barrels of oil is used to create the bottle. (That means you’re drinking out of a container made from oil. Yuck!)

Why not choose a reusable bottle instead? 999Bottles is a cool project that helps you track how many resources you’re saving each time you refill the reusable stainless steel bottle. You advance the counter each time you refill, and you can use an app or the website to find out how much you’ve saved. If you refill just 8 times, you’ve paid for the bottle; 15 refills is a stack as tall as a giraffe. “At 147, the bottles you non-consumed have saved you $326 and 7 gallons of oil.”

The 999Bottles is currently a Kickstarter project so you can’t buy the bottle in stores yet. They need to raise about $47,000 in order to start production. You can follow 999Bottles on Facebook or contribute to their Kickstarter goal.

– Artefact

 

Easy iced tea

DSCN2560I’ve been making the easiest iced tea lately. The instructions on the box of tea says to use 2 tea bags, boiling water and ice. But then I use up all my tea in twice the time. I don’t like that.

Instead, I just take 1 tea bag, add about 3 cups of water, and store it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. It will steep while you’re at work or overnight, and you’ll have tasty tea whenever you want it. Add a squeeze of agave nectar (about 1 TBSP) to sweeten.

I like to have a little green tea in the afternoons, just to wake up a bit. Or some lemon-ginger lemonade. (Aren’t those the cutest tea boxes you’ve ever seen? I got them from Marks & Spencer in Prague.) Wild Berry Zinger is like cool-aid for grown ups. Today I’m trying Nettle tea, to help ward off the allergies.

I got that fabulous jar at a tag sale last year. Love it!

Lifehacker inspired this tea.

New (to me) sink

For at least 5 years, the hot water in my bathroom has leaked. So, I just turned it off to save water. But that means I haven’t had hot water for washing my hands and face for 5 years! That’s a long time. I’ve replaced gaskets, seals, and rings, and cleaned every piece of the faucet. Nothing helped.

A few months ago, I decided to end this self-inflicted torture and install a new faucet. I got a cute little faucet from a big box store, which I am no longer patronizing (they know what they did). The faucet reminds me of a bird. It’s so cute. Anyway, the previous homeowner did things his own way, so nothing is standard and I couldn’t replace the faucet myself. Around this same time, I realized that sinks and pedestals are not that expensive. Our sink was gargantuan and our bathroom is tiny. It just didn’t work. So, I decided that I needed a new sink. Hey, it’ll go with the faucet and make the bathroom look normal.

New sinkDetermined not to buy a sink from a big box store, we started looking at the local retailers. Trumbull Supply had a beautiful sink that I really loved, but it was more than $150 and I wasn’t confident that I could install it myself. I kept looking, and finally found one at West Hill Hardware. It’s a used sink, but basically, the homeowner had it installed and decided they didn’t like it, so they sold it to West Hill Hardware. It’s an American Standard sink and it cost me only $60. Woohoo! It really pays to be green, and to reduce/reuse.

Our favorite plumbers, Walter Plumbing, installed the sink and faucet for us. It wasn’t cheap, but they’ve helped us in the past, and the owner is an active member of Plumbers without Borders, so we like to give them our business.

So, my new (to me) sink project was pretty successful. We now have hot water, a reused sink, and we supported local businesses.

“Green” eyes: contacts vs. glasses

Glasses vs contactsIn February, the eye doctor told me I need to start wearing glasses all the time. It was bound to happen. I’m over 30 and I’ve spent most of my day in front of a computer for the last 10 years. Anyway, after less than 6 months, I’d had it with glasses. Time to try contacts. Being the ecogeek that I am, I had to look into which was better for the environment, glasses or contacts. It turns out, not many people are interested in that (I couldn’t find much), but there’s a pretty good discussion on Slate.com.

The plastic used for glasses weighs 35 grams, which is the equivalent of almost four years’ worth of daily contacts (9.125 grams for daily lenses). But when you throw in all the extra stuff you need for contacts — the cases, solution, and a backup pair of glasses, glasses seem to be a greener choice. And glasses can be donated.

In the end, the article finds that the difference between glasses and contacts is minimal and can be offset by recycling the plastic and cardboard associated with the contacts.

Animals

My other main concern with a new product is whether it’s made from animals or tested on animals. Turns out, contact solution has an animal byproduct and is tested on animals. Ew. The good news is, Clear Conscience offers a contact lens solution that is free of animal products and testing . Yay! It’s available at Mustard Seed, Whole Foods, and more. (Check with your eye doctor before switching solution.)

After a trial run with contacts, it turns out I’m a glasses girl.

New Salvation Army

A new Salvation Army store will open on July 30 in Montrose. It’s moving into the old carpet and tile store near the Toys R Us on Rothrock Road. The hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday.

You can take donations there now and after the store opens. This store will sell electronics, appliances, bedding, drapes and towels, clothes and more.

Akron area Salvation Army stores fund the Adult Recovery Center, a facility for men who struggle with substance abuse, chronic homelessness, unemployment, etc.

See the Beacon Journal for the full story.

Moneysaver Monday: Bring back the hankies!

Tissues were introduced to the American consumer (and marketed to women) around 1910 by Kleenex. In “1927, Kleenex advertisements used the phrase ‘for colds, never again use handkerchiefs.'” I say, let’s bring back the handkerchiefs!

Hankies

Handkerchiefs

My husband had seasonal allergies and used to go through tissues like water. It’s hard to find precise numbers on tissues, but the typical American family uses 2,460 lbs of paper each year, including tissues. Only 10% of that is recycled. When we noticed this wastefulness, we decided to change. We bought handkerchiefs. They cut down on purchases (saved us money!) and reduced the trash pile to almost nil. They’re great for traveling too!

You can find handkerchiefs at any big box store. But the real gems can be found at antique stores or estate sales. I found the pictured hankies at an estate sale this weekend. Oh, there were more. All equally beautiful. They may even be hand embroidered. These will be so cute in my purse. Better than a bulky tissue paper pack. Definitely helpful for watching Harry Potter 7.2. When you’ve used one, just throw it in the wash. I hung these to dry, to preserve their lovely stitching. Husband uses about 1 a day and always has one with him. They get softer over time and he doesn’t miss the tissues at all.

So, won’t you ditch the tissues and try handkerchiefs? You could even make your own with old bandannas or pillowcases.

P.s. Disposable Kleenex hand towels? No, thank you. See 3 wasteful products and their eco alternatives.

Summer heat

IMG_0952

hot sun

It’s hot hot hot in NE Ohio. We talked about tips last summer. Here are some more.

  • #1 recommendation – never ever leave your dog in the car. Ever. The temperature in the car can quickly rise to over 130 degrees, even if the outside temperature is in the 70’s.
  • How to prevent/treat heat exhaustion.
  • Wet your clothes, like the sleeves of your shirt, to stay cool. But don’t waste water – a little water should do the trick.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Use your stove less. Grill your dinner, or make cool meals during hot summer days. Using the stove or oven will heat the whole room, sometimes prompting the A/C to kick on and waste energy.
  • Use peppermint soap or lotion. Peppermint on the skin has a very cooling effect. (think IcyHot or BioFreeze)
  • Go to the library. Chances are, the A/C is blasting in there. Learn and cool off at the same time!
  • Remember, it’s summer… it’s ok to be warm. Turn down the A/C to save energy and money. You’ll also feel cooler when go you somewhere that is air conditioned.

Wikihow

Mushroom solution

Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms

It turns out that diapers are nearly as bad for the environment as styrofoam. They take centuries to biodegrade. But, scientists may have found a solution… oyster mushrooms! Oyster mushrooms grown on soiled diapers break down 90% of the diaper in just 2 months. (The mushrooms can be eaten, but I’m not sure even I would go that far.)

Oyster mushrooms were tested because of the other things they grow on – straw, coffee grounds, tequila-making leftovers, and more. They seem to just want to grow somewhere. Why not diapers?

The mushrooms don’t need to be edible to make this a valuable discovery. The fact that they can break down the diapers is worthwhile.

Source

More about mushrooms

Mushrooms pictured here were grown from used coffee grounds. Check out backtotheroots.com to get your own mushroom growing kit.

Lifehacker helpfully tells us how to tell if a wild mushroom is safe to eat.