Saturday, June 28, 2014

Activity 3: Geocaching

Finding a geocache

We were new to geocaching a few years ago.  It is free, zero waste, adventurous and requires family bonding time.  For those that are not familiar, geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt all over the world.  To start was simple; I downloaded the geocaching app on my phone and searched caches by our house.  We then used my phone as a compass/map to find the hidden treasure. Ok, so the treasure is usually a piece of paper that you write your name and the date, but it is exciting to be the one to find the hidden cache.

Has anyone else geocached? Did you enjoy it? Find it to easy/difficult? If you are interested in more information, click this link.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Activity 2: Starry Nights Concert in the Park

For our second Zero Waste activity, we decided to stay in our town, Brentwood.  Every Friday evening from June until the end of August, Brentwood offers a free concert in the park.  This Friday was the Oldies but Goodies, the best of the 50's and 60's. 

This is the type of activity that easily, without too much preparation, can become a zero waste activity.  The park allows food and drinks, so we grabbed our ThinkSport water bottles, snacks in zero waste containers, blankets and headed out the door.  The park provides recycling bins for those that brought disposable paper, glass and plastic. There was even an entire section in the parking garage for electric cars. After living in several states, this was a first for us. Has anyone else seen this type of parking in their parking garages? Below is a picture.

My crew enjoying themselves in the park.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pay the Farmer Now or Pay the Doctor Later

"Pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later"

That is the motto my friends and family hear me say all the time when I am asked why I would want to buy only organic food.  The question I am asked the most is; how can you afford to buy only organic and free range food? Here is how my family of 6, with an average income, can afford to eat almost completely organic food.

1) Cooking from scratch and eliminating processed foods from our diet has dramatically decreased our need to go visit the doctor.  This saves us on co-payments for the doctor and medication. No one in my family is dependent on medication for illnesses due to poor diet such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes etc.

2) By shopping in bulk, the perimeter of the store, and avoiding processed foods, our grocery bill has not gone up and in fact I have noticed a decrease in our food spending. While cooking all of my own foods may take more preparation and planning than buying a frozen dinner, it is healthier, more cost effective and I know exactly what ingredients my family is eating.

3) Making my own laundry detergent and home cleaning products. While this saves us money, it also is better for our health and the environment.  Making detergent is also quick to make, my 12 year old can make it in 5 minutes. If you are interested in making your own, I would be happy to share which products we use to make our laundry detergent.

4) Living a zero waste lifestyle we are very conscious of buying second hand items whenever possible.  This is a huge money saver which allows us to manipulate more money into our food budget if needed.

5) "Couponing" has helped our family get the products we need at acceptable prices and often times even free. I started couponing a few years ago and it has dramatically changed the way we shop and helped us save hundreds of dollars on shopping expenses. While most food coupons are for processed foods, there are still some great coupons out there for the organic section at my local supermarket. Couponing doesn't only help us save money when it comes to buying groceries, either. It also helps us save on other expenses as well, for example: shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream and razors, feminine products, toothbrushes, and more. The best part is that with our advanced technology we can still cut back on waste by uploading the coupon to our smart phone and scanning our phone at the register, rather than printing out so many coupons and wasting paper.

Eating organic does not need to break the bank. It depends on how you budget your money and what is important to you. For us, eating food without pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and cage free is our priority. If eating healthier and being healthier is important to you, then these changes will become easier over time and you should start noticing a positive difference with your health and not your wallet.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Activity One: Tara's Organic Ice Cream

What better way to start our activities by seeking out an organic ice cream parlor on a hot summer day? While traveling to a nearby city for the weekend, we made it a priority to stop in Pleasanton, at Tara's Organic Ice Cream on the way.

Our first impression was great as we were welcomed in by friendly staff members. You can try any of the ice cream flavors on metal spoons that they clean and re-use, instead of the plastic disposable spoons typically used in other ice cream stores. They have bizarre, but surprisingly tasty flavors that are all hand made with raw organic ingredients. We sampled avocado, cilantro, and jasmine tea. The texture of the ice cream was not like your typical store bought ice cream, but rather it was very creamy and smooth. After debating for several minutes as to what flavors to choose, we decided on coconut, vanilla, mocha, nectarine, dark chocolate and cilantro. They dished it into a homemade waffle cone, which was pleasantly surprising how delicious it was- definitely the best waffle cone I have ever tasted. Their parlor had a compost for all trash considering everything they serve is compostable, even the cups they serve the ice cream in. Lastly, a nice touch was a sign on the napkin dispenser that suggested to be mindful of how many you take in order to conserve. This friendly reminder was a great idea for customers who are not as used to the waste free lifestyle.

All in all, the ice cream and cones were delicious and they go above and beyond to make their shop as eco-friendly as possible. They show how easy it is to avoid plastic completely. We will be sure to return for seconds and hopefully speak to a manager or owner to get some more information on this wonderful business. If you're in the Bay Area, be sure to take a little trip to Tara's Organic Ice Cream and enjoy your sweet treat- you won't regret it! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Save the Bay

Save the Bay
50 Zero Waste Activities Around San Francisco and East Bay

    After a year of competing in the waste war, being zero waste in our home has become habitual and automatic. We will continue to be zero waste at home, however it is time for a new challenge. 

   Moving to the East Bay area, we are on the hunt for exciting outings. The kids and I are searching for places that are zero waste friendly and companies that make a conscious effort to be eco-friendly.  Another aspect of our zero waste effort is to discover how to make your typical, everyday activities as waste friendly as possible. 

   Each week, we will document our experience with new zero waste activities as well as provide tips on how to easily and conveniently maintain a zero waste lifestyle whether you are at home or on the go.

   Tomorrow we will highlight the challenges a local ice cream shop endures in order to maintain a zero waste environment. We are going to take a first hand look at this relatively new business and explore the ways in which they are able to cut down on waste, in an industry where it can be difficult to be green.