Category Archives: green living tips organization

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ditch Those Frozen Fruit Plastic Bags – How To Make Waste-Free Smoothies

WHY plastic Bags SUCK-IT! 
Okay, we all know plastic bags are terrible.  I hate them (and I don’t use that word lightly).  So come smoothie time of year I really, really, REALLY try to NOT purchase any frozen fruit in plastic bags.  I mean, yes, it’s difficult during the off season when fresh fruit (err, organic fresh fruit) is not in season.  But during the summer it’s everywhere. So no excuses.

The easiest way to avoid packaged frozen fruit is to purchase loose fruit and freeze it.  When I say loose fruit I am talking about fruit that is not packaged in any plastic.  This is how fruit is sold at my local Natural Foods Coops here in Northern California.  Sometimes you can find a Farmer’s Market that is really good about selling loose fruit.  I use these Care Bags for my produce/loose fruit, again, NO plastic bags are used at any point in my purchasing process.  Listen, I don’t have a panic attack if I have to purchase fruit in plastic.  For example, Costco has great deals on blueberries and raspberries.  But at least those plastic containers ARE able to be recycled.  Frozen fruit plastic bags are not – they go right into the landfill.  So think about what will do less harm.  

See below for some other suggestions on how to make a fabulous smoothie without the use of bagged frozen fruit.  

Here is how I freeze fruit.  I wash, dry, and freeze on silicone mats.  Then I store the fruit in air-tight glass containers in the freezer (not in plastic bags). 

Here we have mango and bananas

Bananas, apple and strawberries… 
Bananas, blueberries, raspberries
Strawberries are everywhere this time of year 
Fresh, loose picked, frozen strawberries for a fraction of what the packaged frozen strawberries cost! 

Okay, moving along
See HERE for my bulk green drink.  
I like to freeze little cubes of this green drink and use in smoothies.  For the smoothie, add in the frozen green drink cubes, some nut milk (or coconut milk), fresh fruit, your choice protein powder, and blend.  What a fabulous way to start the day.
I still have my old BPA/toxic free baby food containers (yes, I made all my kid’s baby food from scratch).  I knew these would be put to good use and below I have them full of homemade walnut milk for smoothies. 

Homemade nut/seed milks from The Tasty Alternative: 
We are surrounded by citrus here in California   So when harvest time comes, I like to freeze lemon and orange juice for smoothies (or for like a million other uses). 
These silicone (BPA free) ice cube trays are awesome.  They make small portions of frozen nut milk or coconut milk. 

Here I have some banana puree.  I had four bananas that were ready for something (super ripe)so I pureed them with a little water and made little frozen banana cubes for smoothies.  With the banana you can also add in a handful of spinach or fresh fruit  (such as an avocado or strawberries).  Just make sure you add in some water so you can pour the mixture into the trays.  

It is possible to create low-waste or no-waste smoothies.  It depends on where you live and what you like, but it is possible.  The point here is to become more mindful of the waste-free options and get creative. 

~Smoothie/Milkshake Recipes by The Tasty Alternative~

Top of post bags of fruit Image Source 
Shared on: Allergy-Free WednesdaysWellness Weekend 
Posted by Amber at

Labels: green living, green living tips organization, smoothie, summer cuisine.


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Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Everyday

So today is Earth Day.  What’s that mean to you?  Personally, I’m glad we have a day set a aside every year to raise awareness regarding environmental issues and the ongoing struggles and assaults on our planet.  That being said, I do not support or enjoy attending huge waste-producing Earth Day festivals.  I used to, but one year I was in line for some food and I was given a Styrofoam to-go box with a plastic fork and knife and said, forget this!  This is ridiculous.  It’s so counterintuitive.  Here is a massive event “celebrating” the earth with information about what materials are damaging to the earth and yet they are serving food on these very materials.  Not to mention the thousands of plastic drink cups and straws, and cans thrown out, and everywhere you turn there are overflowing trashcans full of landfill waste.  Terrible.  No-waste events are TOTALLY possible.  In fact, I attend one every year here in my town.  Check out last year’s Whole Earth Festival, a ZERO waste event.  It can be done my friends.  
Our family treats everyday as Earth Day.  If you follow my blog, you know a portion of the information offered on this blog is green-related and environmentally mindful.  I have a low-waste, green kitchen.  This means I do not use any disposable plastic, foil, or paper products.  You can read here on how to decrease kitchen waste, and here for part 2.  Some examples are bringing your own container to the store for your meat, freezing fruit for smoothies, and purchasing reusable fabric lunch bags.  It’s all about decreasing waste.
Environmental blogs that inspire me
1.  My Plastic Free Life
2.  The Plastic Free Chef
3.  People For a Plastic Free Planet
4.  Going Green Mama
5.  Non-Toxic Kids
6.  Green Kid’s Guide 
7.  Safe Mama

8.  Good Girl Gone Green 


Here are my favorite environmentally mindful resources 

1.  Earth 911 
Have something to recycle?  

Find out HOW and WHERE!

2.  TerraCycle  
Where to send ALL your wasteful packaging 
 from packaged foods and other items 
3.  Plastic Free  

(a book) by Beth Terry 

4.  How To Store Produce Without Plastic  
A great post with great suggestions
5.  Buy Green 
A trusted resource for green products 

Additional Information
If you’re interested in more resources and information, you can follow my Pinterest Page dedicated to environmentally-mindful information.
I also encourage you to get out there and garden  
And I also have a Pinerest Page  dedicated 
to all-things gardening.

Happy Earth Day from The Tasty Alternative 
Shared on: Fat Tuesday
Posted by Amber at

Labels: green living, green living tips organization.


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Friday, April 19, 2013

Organize Your Space: The Mail

Hello friends.  Are piles of obnoxious mail scattered around your house?  Do you misplace bills or important pieces of mail? Do you have like 500 old papers lying around?  Do you have like 500 coupons to Jiffy Lube around?  Do you feel like the mail is taking control of your space?  Well then, my friends, this post is for you. 
We all get mail.  Unfortunately.  As you know, 99.9% of it is junk.  If you do on-line baking, than you really aren’t receiving much in the way of bills these dayspretty much just junk.  And if you do get a letter from someone, it’s from your sweet awesome 90-year-old grandmother who doesn’t know how to work a computer (and she still sends you $10 cash, and she rocks).  Thank you Grandma for sending me a letter (sniff, sniff).  
First off, if you have these said piles of mail around your house, this is evident of a behavior.  The behavior of not going through the mail adequately.  You might open a few “important” items, but then leave the remaining obvious credit card advertisements unopened, thinking, “I will get to that later.”  Well folks, this is later.  
First, if you are not happy with the piles of mail and paper, then start today, start now!  Don’t wait.  Taking the leap from thinking about doing something to doing something is the biggest leap ever.  But don’t be afraid, it will be great and very rewarding.  So let’s do this!
Before we start I want to show you how I organize my mail and space and a few very inexpensive items that help keep things organized.  
1.  The first thing here is not an item, it’s a behavior.  You have to commit to going through the mail everyday, you must change your habit and behavior.  When you bring the mail from the box to your house, NEVER put it down and forget about it.  You must immediately attend to it.  This is the only way to ensure it will not start building up again. And trust me, this will become like second nature in time, but you have to start somewhere and allow yourself the practice of this behavior change.
2.  Get yourself a small box for coupons (I found these at Ikea).  I also have one for all my recipes.  
3.  Get yourself a shredder.  I found this one at Costco (look for one that will shred 5 or more pieces of paper at at time).
4.  Get yourself a small cork board.  This is a MUST space for informational items such as invitations, important dates to remember, community events, etc. 
5.  Some sort of visible holding system where you can put mail in 3 different categories: (1) OPEN (2) PAY (3) FILE.
I found this at Target.  

 Here is a  closer look:

6.  Create a place for those miscellaneous items.  I use a top to a box from Ikea.  This space is STRICTLY for things I plan to pay attention to in the immediate future.  These items USED to go on my cork board, but I am disciplined enough now to put them out of sight (as I know I will not forget about them).  So, what’s in this miscellaneous space you ask?  Well, this week, an old envelope with notes on it regarding an product I want to buy, a nice letter from my son’s childcare that I will show Scott later when he gets home, a rolled up piece of paper with a recipe on it (that I will blog about later), a piece of business I will discuss with Scott when he gets home, and some pictures from my friend’s wedding (that I plan to frame and make into a gift).  All things I don’t want cluttering up space, so I put them in their own box or a “to take care of box.”  They will not be forgotten. 

And here it is all tucked away in my desk

Okay, we’ve covered some essential items to organize your mail.  Let’s get started organizing shall we. 


Organizing your mail:

First, get a large empty box and put ALLLLLL the mail from all over your house in the box.  And I mean everything, grocery store ads, coupons, magazines, papers, etc.  Everything.  

Second, clear out your schedule, I would do an entire day (a Saturday or Sunday).  Get yourself some snacks as rewards.  Locate your favorite music to play as you go through this box of mail (and NO TV – too distracting).

Finally, with adequate time, a quiet house perhaps, snacks and music at the ready, it’s time to go through the box.  

Here we go

#1. Pick up 1 item at a time from the box.  Look at it and determine if fits into one of these five categories:

*Coupons/informational items

#2.  Make 5 separate piles on the ground.  Go ahead, spread yourself out.  Label the 5 piles so you don’t forget.  Just use a sticky note or something for the label.  

#3.  Now, one by one, go through this entire box and place the items accordingly.


When your big box of mail/magazines/paper is empty and you have your piles: 

#1.  Now take away the recycling and put it in the recycling bin

#2.  IMMEDIATELY shred everything you have in the shred pile

#3.  Place your “bills to pay” in the appropriate holding area

#4.  File what you can.  If you don’t have a file for that subject, write it down so you can make a file later.  Or store in the appropriate file holding area

#5.  Place all the coupons in your coupon box

#6.  Place all informational items on the cork board

#7.  Place everything else into your miscellaneous box (just DON’T forget aboutpromise!)

#8.  Tired of all those magazine catalogs?  Best way to stop them from coming is to call the phone number in the catalog and tell them you want to be removed from their mailing list.  I do this often.  Easy way to decrease waste too! 
Final Thoughts:

*Taking control of your mail is easy, you just have to stay on top of it.  

*Once you clean up all the mail and clutter that’s been sitting around your house for monthsperhaps years, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment.  You will feel light, happy, in control, calm, and centered.  

*You have to want this.  If you’re not ready to make the change and keep at it, then wait until you are.  Some people like having their piles of mail around, there is a method to their clutter, and that’s totally fine.

*This post is meant for those who are ready to make that change, ready to organize their space (mail in this case) but having trouble taking that first step.  This is truly the hardest part – that step from thinking about doing it to actually doing it.  It can even feel scary for some people.  This is all normal.  But you CAN do it.  Behavior can change.  And this small change might provide a great sense of accomplishment and control in your life.    

Here are some pictures of mail stations I found on the internet



The Home Depot
Mail SorterSource
The Container Store
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Labels: green living tips organization.


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Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring Inspired Organization: An Introduction

You might be wondering why organization is part of this blog.  Simply put, organization is a big part of my life.  Please allow me to clarify that I am not an obsessive-compulsive type of organizer/cleaner (despite what my friends and husband might say, ha ha).  If a spoon is turned the wrong way in the drawer, I don’t break out in a sweat and panic.  I do, however, put things where they belong the instant I make contact it, which has been a behavior practiced and reinforced for a long time.  Organization has been part of my life for 35 years.  My mom was (and is) a very organized person and she taught me how to organize things, but moreover, how to make it fun!  It’s also worth mentioning that I moved many times growing up, and because of this have learned to let things go – the less you have, the less you have to pack, right.  Purging became necessary and helpful, but also quite gratifying.  I consider myself a minimalist, I also consider myself a realistic organizer.  I keep only what I know will matter to me in 30, 40, 50 years, such as meaningful cards from family and friends, extra special pictures from my children, those heartfelt love notes my sweet husband (and yes, there is a special box for all of these things).  I create spaces, such as a “memory tub” for my children (each has their own), housing such items as treasured homemade baby clothes from my grandmother and their first year scrapbooks I put together.

Above all, organization make me feel productive, successful and balanced.  It’s part of my healing and my efforts to decrease stress.  It makes me feelhappy.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  It just makes me feel good and when something makes me feel good and healthy, I keep doing it.    

I will be sharing with you some main points of organization in my home over the next two months. Including: 

1.  The filing cabinet

2.  Mail & office space

3.  Hall closets 

4.  The bedroom closet

5.  Junk drawers

6.  The kid’s space

7.  Kid’s art/memorabilia

8.  General memorabilia

9.  Miscellaneous papers, instructions, etc
10.  The Kitchen
My hope is that these posts will inspire you to tackle one (or more) of your nagging organization/cleaning projects this spring.  It’s never too late to start, it’s really just a matter of starting.  I find that this is the biggest hurdle for people…just starting.  Once you’re in, you’re in, and there is a commitment involved to finish, and that can be overwhelming.  But I truly believe that taking on these little projects that can impact your life in a simple, yet profound way, and create happiness and a feeling of success.  We are so bogged down with material things, shopping for this and that, electronics, kids TOYS (don’t even get me started on that), and something as simple as taking control of your space and getting things in order can feel very rewarding and empowering.   

Here are a few points to think about before we start: 

1.  Make a list of things you want to organize.  Keep it realistic.

2.  Carve out some time to complete the object.  Running out of time is your biggest enemy.  Once you start, it’s important to follow through until your finished.

3.  Start small.  If you’re not used to organizing things, start with a small project, such as under the kitchen sink, or the bedside drawer.  Start small and get yourself accustomed to the behavior of going through things, looking at things, and (perhaps most important)  letting things go.

4. Tell someone about your project/intentions.  This is a great technique in preventing procrastination.  When you verbally express your intentions to do something to someone else, there is not only personal accountability but someone else will have knowledge of your intentions and hold you accountable.

5.  Include others.  I prefer to organize alone, but for the starter, you might want to include your partner or children.  I always include my kiddos when we clean and organize their art bin or play room.  Together we decide what we are keeping in their art journal, what are we hanging up on the wall, what can we give as gifts (grandparents just love getting those sweet pictures), what we can donate or sell, and what goes into recycling.

Goals of Organizing:

1.  Purge.  You want to get rid of stuff.

2.  Recycle or sell what you don’t need/want.  

3.  Cleaning.  Diving into a space you don’t pay much attention to allows for the opportunity to clean it. 

4.  Make room for more important items.  If you clean out a drawer, you might very well make room for something more important in that space.  For example, your bedside table can store books you’re reading opposed to old papers, magazines, mail or old socks.  

5.  Take inventory of what you have.  This is a great point to remember when organizing your closet.  Above all, the goal should be to KNOW what you have.  It’s like going shopping. “Oh, there’s that super cute little summer dress I haven’t seen in five years.”

So keep a lookout for these posts over the next few months.  One will come your way next week.  Until then, take a moment and look at your space/home.  Does it make you feel calm, happy, balanced?  Does it make you feel tense, overwhelmed, angry?  Think about how your home looks now, and think for a moment what you might want it to look like.  Then finally, make your list.  
And I’ll see you next week.   
Posted by Amber at

Labels: green living tips organization.


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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Guest Post from Online Education (.net) Get Serious about Recycling

Hello Friends.
Please enjoy this guest post today from  
In today’s consumer world, plastic is everywhere—from plentiful stores of bottled water to disposable plasticware to the containers that hold our store-bought food. It seems like you can’t go out shopping without running into a good deal of plastic. And while this material is strong, reliable, and undoubtedly useful, we also may have way too much of the stuff that isn’t being reused. Recycling plastic uses much less energy than creating new plastic, and it conserves our valuable resources. Despite this, however, only about a third of our material that could be recycled actually is. Among younger generations, the problem of our overconsumption of plastic has been prevalent for as long as some can remember, and yet little has changed or progressed in alleviating the problem. Statistically, people in the Millennial generation (today’s high schoolers, college students, and young adults) are much less likely to properly recycle plastic and other materials than those in older generations. If you’re of student or Millennial age, take a look at the following infographic—the reality is that younger generations need to start getting serious about recycling, or the future will be robbed of some very valuable resources.
 Plastic Infographic
(The above text and included graphic are not my original content, they are property of Original source can be found here)
Posted by Amber at

Labels: green living tips organization.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Waste-Free Grocery Shopping – Tips and Suggestions To Inspire a Green Kitchen

My green kitchen didn’t happen overnight.  I made little steps toward decreasing my waste, and today I’m proud to say I have a well functioning, green, low-waste kitchen.  Trust me, I’m not perfect, and I would LOVE to be more like one of my eco-friendly blogging heros, Beth @ My Plastic Free Life, but I work within my means, do the best I can and what I feel comfortable with.  

So what does it mean to have a green kitchen?  This definition is different for everyone.  For me it’s about creating as little landfill waste as possible.  For example, you won’t find any disposable plastic in this kitchen.  I don’t use plastic lunch baggies/Ziploc, plastic freezer bags, plastic wrap, plastic bags or plastic food containers.  When I can (and when in season) I freeze fresh fruit instead of buying frozen bagged fruit, and overall, I don’t purchase many frozen food items.  Other items you won’t find in my kitchen are napkins, paper towels, foil, dish sponges, or those bleach “wipes. But as mentioned, I’m not perfect.  I do purchase dish soup, rubber gloves (due to my husband’s eczema), dishwasher soup, bagged chips, I use non-toxic plastic popsicle molds, and non-toxic plastic baby food containers (from my homemade baby food making days).  Other things I do to save money and decrease waste is make my own window cleaner from vinegar, use soap nuts as my laundry detergent, use baking powder as an abrasive cleaning scrub, and I stopped using bleach (that was a hard habit to kick).  

I notice that grocery shopping creates a lot of waste.  From plastic produce bags, to wrapped meats, plastic deli containers, to plastic grocery bags.  Over time I have found a way to create very little, to zero waste when grocery shopping.  It takes some planning, but living this way makes me feel good and balanced.  It’s something I can do within my means that helps me on my green kitchen journey. If you’ve been thinking about decreasing your kitchen waste, perhaps this post will inspire you.  Remember, it’s little steps toward that larger goal.

You can read more about the products I use and find links for these products here: How To Decease your Kitchen Waste: 101.  I’ve included some additional suggestions here: More Green Kitchen Tips 
Here’s a glimpse of my grocery shopping paraphernalia:

A nice big basket for all my produce.  I also take this to the Farmer’s Market and add in fruit and veggies as I stroll along.  So with my produce, when I get home I dump everything into a big bowl of filtered water and clean with a some hydrogen peroxide (apples, grapes, pears, lemons, squash, green beans, etc).  I use a separate bowl for leafy greens. 
Everything is clean and ready for the week.  
Carebags are my absolute favorite.  With Carebags I don’t need to use plastic produce bags.  They are super light and great quality.
For my bulk items I simply take my glass storage.  I weigh the jars, then fill them up.  So simple.  When I get home, I just put them away in the cupboard.  
I take whatever I have on land and fill with bulk foods.  I fill my glass storage with olives from the olive bar, nuts/seeds/spices, ground meat, and loose leaf greens. 
Glass storage with meats:
We have a bunch of to-go bags that hang on the back of the door that leads out to the garage.  This way, we never forget.  I have one big insulated bag I take and load up with cold items when grocery shopping.  And I like to take my big basket for produce (shown above full of produce in carebags).  
Each week before I go shopping I clean out my fridge.  I clean out each crisper, wipe down the fridge shelves and take inventory of what I have and what I need before I go shopping.  I shop for 6 days at a time (meals for Monday through Saturday) – I usually go shopping on Sunday.  I create a menu for 6 days of breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners, and from this menu I create my shopping list.  Cleaning out my fridge each week helps me save money too.  By knowing what I have I avoid double purchases.  Plus, I feel it’s really important to keep the fridge clean and organized.  
My plastic free crispers 

I hope this post has inspired you to try a few waste-free shopping tips, or at the very least, get you thinking a little bit about ways to decrease waste in your own home.  
Shared on: Melt in your Mouth Mondays, Motivate Me Mondays, Monday Mania, Mealtime Monday My Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Whole Foods Wednesdays, Whole Foods Friday
Posted by Amber at

Labels: green living, green living tips organization, how to decrease your kitchen waste.


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

SCD Friendly Strawberry, Cantaloupe & Ginger Green Smoothie (with a green kitchen tip)

Obsess much?  Yes, I have beenabout strawberries.  I’ve been making strawberry smoothies everyday for the past couple of weeks and experimenting with a bunch of different flavors.  I created one that I just had to share with you.  Everyone has their own smoothie texture, flavor, and slush preference, so please consider this while making any smoothie recipe.  If you like the icy type, then add more ice, especially if the recipe calls for fresh fruit.  If you like super sweet, add in some sweetener.  That’s the fun of making your own, right.  You CAN have it your way.  I hope you enjoy this recipe.  It has been my latest obsession.

-6 ounces frozen strawberries (see notes for my frozen strawberries green kitchen tip)
-8 ounces fresh cantaloupe 
-0.2 ounces of fresh ginger*
-1 cup filtered water 
-1 ounce fresh baby spinach (a heaping cup)
How To:
1.  Add above ingredients to your favorite blender (high speed or otherwise) and blend until incorporated.

*Add in a banana, and this makes a great breakfast smoothie – so creamy and filling!
*If you love the idea of incorporating more greens in your smoothies, but don’t want it overpowering your drink, add in some fresh ginger (just a little).  Be careful, it can make your drink spicy.  I’ve found 0.1 ounces to be just perfect for my kids.  But I like 0.3 ounces
*I really try to not buy frozen fruit when fresh fruit is in season.  First, the plastic bags, second, frozen is crazy expensive.  I save money buying fresh fruit and then freezing.  

For strawberries, wash and trim then place on a nonstick surface.  Freeze for at least 5 hours.  
 After they are frozen I quickly remove and store in a glass container in the freezer.  They won’t stick together if you freeze them separately like this (they do stick to the glass a little bit).
This gives me frozen strawberries for the week!
Shared on: Ruth’s Real Food 101 (Mondays), Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Thriving on Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursdays, Wellness Weekend, Fresh Bites Friday, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Friday, Friday Food, Lunchbox Love Friday, Feed Your Soul Friday, Potluck Party Friday, Super Food Sundays,  Sugar Free Sundays
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Labels: dairy free, drinks, green drinks, green living tips organization, SCD, summer treats, vegan.


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Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Green Kitchen Tips

Being green isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s a set of behaviors one practices everyday – it’s an approach to living. And being green looks different for everyone.  If you’re considering adopting a more green outlook on your home and life, it’s important to remember that the journey is different for everyone, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and change doesn’t happen overnight.  I recommend taking it slow, working within your means and comfort level. For example, visiting in an attempt to extend the life of your refrigerator would be a great place to start.  The refrigerator is a crucial part of any kitchen and it’s important to take care of it!  Moreover, broken appliances are extremely wasteful and are often discarded into landfills. 

If you’re interested in more green kitchen tips, check out this post: 
How to Decrease Your Kitchen Waste: 101

Today I offer you additional ideas that can be easily adopted into your green living repertoire.  

Keeping a Plastic-Free Crisper

This was one of the most recent things I changed in my green living quest.  I started using Carebags years ago and this solved my problem of using those plastic produce bags.  But it took a lot of willpower to refrain from purchasing pre-packaged produce (you know, the occasional bag of romaine, carrots or shredded broccoli).  The Natural Foods Coop in Sacramento does not carry any bagged produce, which I absolutely love and appreciate.  The Coop in my town does.  See here for a comprehensive list of plastic free food storage ideas. 

So the first step is arming yourself with lots of 
non-plastic bags for produce, such as my all time favorite, Carebags. 
I use this HUGE gorgeous basket to hold all 
my produce when I shop.  
When I get home from the store, I immediately wash and dry my lettuce and spinach and then store in glass containers.  
My greens stay fresh for up to 2 weeks 
(although we usually eat them up pretty fast). 

I then wash and transfer all my produce into the crispers.  I store strawberries and mushrooms in glass containers. 
I also just throw my beans and peas in the crisper (not shown).  

Getting The Most Out of Your Produce

I have the best neighbors!  They let me sneak into their backyards and harvest lemons anytime.  I come back to my kitchen armed with a ton of lemons (20-30) and just hate to see them go to waste.  My solution for this is juicing them.  I store them in my old baby food containers.  I pop several out at a time and defrost as needed. I also fill old jelly jars, freeze, and defrost these as needed.  

And don’t throw out those broccoli stalks! Push them through your food processor (on the grater setting) and use them in salads, stir fry, soup, etc.  

Alternatives to Frozen Fruit Bags

We are smoothie lovers, but okay, who’s not a smoothie lover?
 In the beginning I relied heavily on bagged frozen fruit. Sometimes it makes sense, especially if the fruit is out of season (another example of working within your means).  But here are a few methods I use to decrease my frozen fruit package waste:

1.  Depending on the season, freeze fresh fruit.  Apples, strawberries, mango, bananas, etc.  Just slice and freeze on a cutting board or tray of some sort, then transfer to glass containers and store in the freezer.  

2.  Puree or juice fresh fruit and veggies and store in old baby food containers or ice cube trays.    

3.  My favorite method is using seasonal fresh fruit and then adding cubes of frozen nut milk.  When I make nut milk, I make an extra batch for freezing and store in my old baby food containers.  This gives you the milk and ice in one!  Just add your fresh fruit, nut milk cubes, some water and bam – smoothie!  And without plastic bag waste.   
Utilizing Glass Jars  

I use old glass jars for all sorts of stuff, from beans and spices, to seeds and oils.  In doing this I decrease my use of paper bags for spices and other finely ground foods that won’t fit into my Carebags.  Now, I shop in bulk, which makes this possible. I take the entire glass jar with me and fill directly from the bulk flours.  But again, not everyone has this option.   

Forget the Bagged Frozen Chicken
Instead of purchasing bagged frozen chicken, I take my snap glass storage (that I find at Costco super cheap) with me to the store and fill with meats; from ground to deli.  I usually purchase 8 -10 chicken breasts at time.  I bake them all at once, cool, place in glass storage, and pop them in the freezer.  I simply transfer into the fridge the day or night before to defrost. 

Reuse What You Can

Planting season is in full swing.  Egg cartons and old toilet paper rolls make great in-door seed starters.  
So there you have it friends.  A few more ways you and your family can “greenify” your home and kitchen.  

10 easy ways to decrease your food waste 
How to find a recycling center in your town 
The Pacific Garbage Patch 

Shared on: Whole Foods Wednesdays 

Posted by Amber at

Labels: green living tips organization, how to decrease your kitchen waste.


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Boots meet Bottles (how glass bottles can organize your closet)

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Labels: green living tips organization.


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Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Decrease Kitchen Waste: 101

Blogger inspiration for starting my waste-free kitchen journey: 
My Plastic-Free Life 

When you think of kitchen waste, what comes to mind? 

 I’m guessing food.  Yes food is a huge waste that adds a bulk to your garbage bag that turns against you rather quickly.  But what else?  If you live in a town that recycles, first off, hooray for you, but secondly, weekly recycling doesn’t take care of everything.  I’ve heard of some pretty picky towns where only cans, plastic bottles and cardboard is allowed. What about the bread packaging, inside the cereal plastic bag, frozen veggie plastic bags…if you eat cheese, the plastic around the cheese and don’t even get me started on PLASTIC BAGGIES.  The list goes on and on in the plastic department.  What about paper towels and napkins?  Foil?  Styrofoam?  The wrapping from your deli meat?   

These are all sources of unwanted waste.  I say unwanted because the recycle folks don’t want this stuff.  So it goes in the landfill

My kitchen waste revelation came one day a few years ago when my garbage can smelled so horrid I just couldn’t take it any more…okay, enough is enough.  We didn’t use those hefty plastic bags, we used recycled brown paper bags from our weekly grocery shopping for our garbage, so all our food waste and other gunk was exposed and oh boy it started to take on a life all its own.    

I said to myself…I know I can do better!

I started very, very slow and assessed my waste.  Food was at the top of the list so I started there and slowly worked my down the list finding alternatives and replacing old habits with environmentally frienldy behaviors.  So if you are new to the concept of decreasing kitchen waste, please see below for some very easy ideas to get you going on your journey.  


Problem: food scraps   
Solution: compost

*We made a very modest 5×5 box out of redwood in our backyard and started to pile in our uncooked kitchen waste with equal parts carbon and nitrogen.  And I read this quick, simple guide to composting.  There are so many other composting ideas, many I found in the book, but you can also research on-line and find what works best for you.  For example, we are going to start a worm bin soon for our cooked food waste!  

Problemplastic baggies
Solution: Stop buying & find eco-friendly alternatives

*Okay, let’s be real for a moment.  Plastic baggies are a hell-of-a-convenience, and if you have kids, well, they may feel like a must-have necessity.  It was difficult, but these were #2 on the list to go for me.  I stopped buying them and looked for alternatives.  

~Here are some easy replacement ideas~
a.  WasteNot Saks are the most amazing, wonderful alternative to plastic baggies.  I’ve had mine for nearly 5 years and they have held up great.  The design is fantastic and my kids can use them with ease.  
b.  SnackTAXI makes a fantastic sandwich pack.  They have not failed me yet.  I also used them for snacks, but they don’t seal all the way across like WasteNot Saks, so they are best for large items such as sandwiches.
c.  CareBags are by far my favorite thing found to replace plastic produce bags: see post here.  Here is a good post on the dangers of plastic bags.  Eye opening. 
d. Lunch Bots is by far my favorite stainless steel alternative.  My daughter and son use these daily for snacks.  These are my faves.

e.  ECOlunchbox three-in-one.  My daughter takes this for her lunch.  It’s lightweight and easy for little hands to use and maneuver. 
Problem: Alternative-milk containers 
Solution: Make your own milk alternatives

*This solution is three-fold.  First of all, milk alternatives are EXPENSIVE.  I did the math and I started saving serious money when I stopped buying packaged milks and started making my own.  Second, you have total and complete control of the ingredients when you make your own milks – awesome for you!   Third, and let’s be honest here, those milk alternative containers are not recyclable.  I shed a tear of guilt every time I had to throw away those huge cartons.  Okay, so problem solved.  Making your own nut milks is so super easy.  I make the following: almond milk, cashew milk, hemp milk and hazelnut milk.  You can find a slew of how-to videos on the internet.  And you don’t technically need an expensive high-speed blender to make these milks.  Before I purchased my vitamix, I used a Ninja Blender for years and it worked fine.  Don’t be detoured my friends!! 

Problem: paper waste   
Solution: Stop buying & find eco-friendly alternatives

*Ahhh, this was so hard at first!  I had a very unhealthy addiction to paper towels.  I would use them for everything…if I had them I would go through them like crazy.  I had zero control.  So one day I just stopped buying them and also stopped buying paper napkins.  

~Here are some easy replacement ideas~
a.  Use cloth napkins opposed to paper napkins
b.  Use a cloth for cleaning the counter top, stove and other non-dish elements in your kitchen
c.  Cut up old t-shirts and use them for dusting
d.  Purchase a sponge you can wash in the washing machine multiple times before throwing away
Problem: Foil
Solution: Alternative products

*I used foil for so many things in my kitchen.  This was difficult at first too.  I tried very hard to clean the foil and recycle it, but it didn’t always work.  And my philosophy wasn’t, “well, it’s okay to throw it away once in a while,” it was to “never again throw anymore foil away into garbage ever again.”   

~Here are some easy replacement ideas~
a.  Use a baking sheet on top of dishes that require covering in the oven.
b.  Purchase a silicone mat for non-stick baking & roasting
(I also use a silicon mat instead of parchment paper for rolling out gluten-free dough).
c.  Use glass bakeware opposed to a baking sheet that requires foil for roasting.
d.  Use parchment paper if you need to wrap something up to bake in the oven (like fish).  This unbleached parchment paper is the best! And…IT’S COMPOSTABLE!! 
Problem: Packaging from meat in the deli
Solution: Glass storage 

One day I purchased a pork shoulder from the meat deli at our Coop and I was appalled when I got home, unrolled it, and saw how much paper and plastic waste was from this single (albeit rather large) portion of meat.  My next trip to the coop I was equipped with my snap glass and Pyrex storage.  It takes some planning, but if you know what you are going to be purchasing it’s not a problem – plus I highly recommend going to the grocery store with a plan and a list.  This saves time, energy and money.   

I generally have one glass storage for sliced deli meat, one for chicken or turkey breasts and one for ground meat.  I am always surprised by how supportive the meat folks are about me bringing my own packaging.  It’s so easy…they just put the glass container on the scale, add the meat, and then subtract the weight. 

Vegetarians can incorporate this concept when purchasing cheese.  Go to your cheese deli and have them slice out what you need into your glass storage.  Then it’s home and into the fridge.  No more fussing with a half (plastic wrapped) block of cheese.
Other easy tips you can start incorporating into your daily routine.
1.  Take reusable bags to the store….every time! 
2.  If you are going out to eat out, or picking up food to go, take a glass container for your food or leftovers…or else they will hand you your food in the most awful material EVER invented.  I cringe at the site of Styrofoam.  Why it is still being used is a mystery to me.  Okay, so just be prepared – think a few steps ahead.  If you are going to Panda Express, just take your own containers.  
3.  If you are going to use plastic bags for your garbage, use these compostable garbage bags.  
4.  Take your own utensils from home or keep these in your car/bag
5.  Glass straws are so wonderful.  And kids love them.  Perfect for getting smoothies on the go.
6.  Take a travel mug if you are picking up your coffee on the go.  Also use for smoothies or other drinks that require a wasteful to-go cup, just bring your own.  Again, planning ahead makes these elements so easy to incorporate into your life.  
So, okay.  There we have it.
We feeling good!  We feeling pumped and motivated to get going!  
You can do it.  
Start small.  As a behaviorist, I completely support the process of small approximations toward a larger goal.  In fact, it’s the optimal way to create behavior change.  So please don’t feel like you have to make huge changes tomorrow.  Go at your own pace.  Have a goal in mind.  Write it down if you must, just know what you are working toward.  
Good luck friends!!
Shared on: Healthy Second Wednesday, Pot Luck Party FridayHealthy 2nd Wednesday 
Posted by Amber at

Labels: green living, green living tips organization, how to decrease your kitchen waste.


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