Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #1

We are now two weeks into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were over 80 people signed up! Woohoo! Not bad if I do say so myself. But that, of course, begs the question – how are you doing with it? Are you finding it harder or easier than you thought? If you are having trouble with it, what is tripping you up? If you are breezing through it, do you have any tips to share?

I never did reveal what I decided to ditch for the challenge, so here it is. I’m done with disposable menstrual products. I’ve been working on making the switch to the Moon Cup for the past few months, but had been dragging my feet. This month however, with the exception of two disposable pads used as back-up at the beginning of my period, I did it! You may recall that I was having some trouble getting the hang of it initially and it took me a few months to fully adjust (I’ll write another post about what finally helped me find my happy place with it), but I’m now a Moon Cup lover! In addition to the Moon Cup, I also am using cloth panty liners on my heavier flow days as back-up because I’m not 100% confident using the cup alone yet (and am unsure if I’ll ever be).

In addition to ditching disposable pads and tampons, I’m also going to try to kick the Kleenex habit. I tend to go through a lot of Kleenex, and although I compost some of it, it’s still generating a lot more waste than is necessary (not to mention all of the trees used to make the Kleenex in the first place). I’ve asked my mom – who is much more skilled on a sewing machine than I – if she would make me a bunch of smallish cloth hankies and she agreed (thanks, Mom!), so once I get those I am going to cut back significantly on the Kleenex.

I had considered getting rid of toilet paper, at least for a week or two, but haven’t convinced myself to give it a try yet. Glad to see some others are though! ;) My hat’s off to ya.

Anyway, I hope you will check in. Let me and everyone else know how you are doing. Don’t worry if you have regressed a bit or if you are still working on making the switch. I think just being aware that you are striving to make a change is important. Also, if you have questions about something particular, let me know. Maybe together we can come up with something that will work for you as we all try to reduce the amount of disposable products we consume.

We’ll have another check-in on Sept. 28. Keep up the good work and thanks for being a part of the challenge. :)

Best Granola Recipe Ever

So maybe I’m biased and maybe I haven’t really tried all that many granola recipes, but that’s only because I LOVE this one, so why should I bother with others? ;oP

The Best Granola EverI’ve been making this granola recipe for at least a year now, though I’ve taken the summer months off because I didn’t want to heat up the house. Now that it’s cooled off here in Colorado (at least for now), I’ve been craving the granola again, so while Julian napped one day this past week, Ava and I made a big batch.

I actually got my recipe from USA Weekend, but I’ve experimented with ingredients and tweaked it here and there, doubled the recipe (since my family always eats it up in no time flat) and made it my own.

Here’s what I now call the…
Best Granola Ever.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. oil, vegetable or canola
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbs. molasses
4 Tbs. maple syrup
(Or you can just use 1/2 cup of maple syrup and omit the molasses)

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup wheat germ
4 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. ground flaxseed
2/3 cup coconut
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds can be substituted)
2/3 cup almonds (chopped or whole)

Adjust oven racks to middle positions. Preheat to 275 degrees. Coat two metal cookie sheets with cooking spray or oil and set aside.

Bring oil, syrup, molasses, cinnamon, water to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat.

Mix oats through almonds in a large bowl. Pour oil/maple syrup mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine.

Pour mixture onto two prepared cookie sheets. Working a handful at a time, squeeze granola to form small clumps.

Bake for 30 minutes. Stir and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer.

Let cool. Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Enjoy!

Makes (roughly) 2 quarts.

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And if you’re looking for a great granola BAR recipe, try this one I wrote about a couple years ago. ;)

Ditch the Disposables Challenge – Sept. thru Oct. 2008

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s time for another green challenge here at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. I was thrilled with the participation in the 5-minute “Quickie” shower challenge over the summer and I hope we can do even better this time around!

For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables! We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. Like in the last challenge, I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. I’ll let ya know what I’m giving up in the comments soon.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Sigg or Camelbak bottles or the Kleen Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Sigg or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags

Or, for the really adventurous:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!

*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Edited to add: For help kicking the paper towels habit, check out my post on SKOY cloths (with a giveaway).

Making menstruation a little greener

Since I’m still trying to get my vacation summary post put together (hundreds of pictures from two different cameras take a long time to sift through let me tell you), I thought I’d talk about something else that has been on my mind lately. It may be TMI for some, but I’m not letting that stop me, so consider yourself warned. The topic is menstruation and reusable menstrual products.

Photo courtesy Greencolander
Photo courtesy Greencolander

Thanks to breastfeeding, I had many, many moons free of periods after Julian’s birth, but now my cycles are back I’ve been trying for the last few months to get the hang of using a Moon Cup. I am not a fan of disposable diapers for many reasons including the fact that they fill up the landfills, and don’t feel that disposable menstrual pads are much better ecologically either. So in the name of green living, I decided to try out a Moon Cup from Glad Rags that I received (while I was pregnant with Julian) to review. It’s just taken me a long time to get to doing that review (and I’m still not ready yet).

Truth be told, I’ve never been fond of tampons and have avoided using them except on rare occasions. I’ve just never liked the way they felt and preferred to use pads instead. So I have been a little reticent about trying to make the switch from pads to a cup that must be inserted and I haven’t found my happy place with it yet. I find it often feels like it’s falling out or it actually does slip down and starts to come out. Maybe I’m not inserting it high enough? Maybe my va-jay-jay isn’t right for a Moon Cup?

Any experienced Moon Cup, Diva Cup or Keeper users want to chime in? Has anyone gone from being a pad user to a cup user with success? I need success stories to motivate me to keep at this.

I’ve also considered using mama cloth (reusable cloth pads), but I’m not sure I want to go that route. I already wash cloth diapers on a weekly basis and am not sure I want to add cloth pads to the laundry list too. The Moon Cup would certainly be a whole lot less maintenance if I can get more comfortable with using it.

So what say you? I need advice. And if you don’t use reusable menstrual products, would you consider them? Once I get better with my Moon Cup I plan to have a challenge and a giveaway to help motivate you to give it a try too.

Help me have a happy, green period. ;oP

And while we’re on this subject, have you donated to Goods 4 Girls – a program to help young women in Africa gain access to better menstrual product – yet?

A very, very crunchy weekend

As if throwing my very first zero-waste party tomorrow (Ava’s 4th birthday party which I plan to blog about it in detail another time) wasn’t enough, Golden Showers Garden PartyI’ve also decided to participate in Crunchy Chicken’s latest challenge. You know what one I’m talking about? No? It involves um, ah, errrr, basically watering your garden with diluted urine. Yep, you read that right. Apparently it’s really good for the plants. Something about the nitrogen. Free organic fertilizer. You can’t beat that, right? I figured I couldn’t very well call myself crunchy if I couldn’t participate in this. (The urine has to be diluted – 1 part urine to 10 parts water.)

I joked that I could ask all of the party guests to pee in a bucket and I’d haul it back to my house (gives a whole new meaning to “zero-waste”, huh?), but um, NO. I’m NOT going there. ;oP So if you are coming to the party, don’t worry. I’m NOT going to ask you for your urine. LOL You can keep your pee for your own garden. ;)

Are you up for the challenge? You know you want to. ;) (I can picture several of you squirming in your seats right now at the very thought.) Well, if urine you’re in, there’s still time to sign up over at Crunchy Chicken’s place. And let me know urine you’re in too by leaving a comment here. I’d like to know I’ll be in good company. :)

Buying Nothing – an update

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008At the beginning of the month I wrote about joining the Buy Nothing challenge sponsored by Crunchy Chicken for the month of April. The rules are simple, buy only necessities to live – basically food and gas – for the month.

It really hasn’t been all that hard for me to keep from spending, since I don’t buy much outside of food as it is. There are a few things I’ve been wanting to buy, like new sun hats for the kids and a jacket for Ava, but I’m holding off for now though I may look at the consignment shops, since buying used items if you really need them is allowed.

The part I’ve found particularly challenging is staying away from takeout food, which we generally have once or twice a week. While Crunchy Chicken says going out to eat is OK, depending on where you go, etc., takeout food, because of the amount of waste produced, is off limits. It’s been a challenge for me to cook dinner every night (and I can often be found complaining about it on Twitter), but with the exception of one meal out at the start of the challenge and one trip to Taco Bell (I know, I know and I confessed it) last week, I’m proud of myself at how well I’ve done.

Not only is this challenge keeping us from producing unnecessary waste, it’s saving us money, which I’m really appreciating.

There’s still time to join in for the last two weeks of the month. Head on over to Crunchy Chicken and sign up. Or if you are feeling really adventurous, check out her Extreme Eco Throwdown challenge for the month of May. You might notice even I haven’t signed up yet. I’m still procrastinating trying to figure out what I want to commit to. ;)

Edited to add: I just remembered that I am going to spend some money this weekend. My friends and I are having a moms’ night out tomorrow (woot!) and Sunday is my anniversary (7 years), so Jody and I will probably take the kids out to eat to celebrate that day. So I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. ;)