Saturday, August 31, 2013


Most of my garbage is plastic, so I decided to really take a look at the amount of plastic I recycle and throw away each week and find ways to do better and reduce  it.

This past week (8/24-8/31/13) I had over 70 pieces of plastic.

The plastic on the left 2/3 of the picture is recyclable, the right third is not and goes to the landfill.

Here are some ways I am going to reduce my use of plastic:

  • Bring cloth bags and get as much as possible from bulk bins (pasta, rice, cereal, flour, etc.). I started using these great organic cotton muslin bags
  • Bring glass bottles and fill in bulk (maple syrup, olive oil, body soap, dish soap, almond butter, etc.)
  • Use cloth bags or no bags for produce items (and try to support the local farm markets)
  • Continue to bring my own cloth bags for lugging the groceries home
Not only is buying in bulk better for the environment by saving huge amounts of packaging and shipping costs (for the manufacturer which provides savings to the consumer), it costs me less money. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


We've been composting all our acceptable food scraps, yard waste, etc. for several years. Did you know you can compost cat litter (as long as it is natural)? Meat and fish bones? Not in the same pile you compost your food scraps and yard waste, but it can be done.

Found a great blog with tips on how to compost cat litter: glenbrookzerowaste Got mine set up today and since it was such a beautiful day I turned the regular compost (it's lookin' and smellin' good). The EPA has helpful tips on composting too! Click here.

Tomorrow I will be digging the hole to bury the chicken carcass we had for dinner last night and was used today to make broth. I'll keep you posted on how it works out. Click link for tips on composting meat bones.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Picked the last of the organic blueberries of the season with Taylor and Papa at Blueberry Hill Farm yesterday. Delicious no sugar jam made in my beautiful Weck canning jars (no plastic or BPA).

Blueberry Jam Recipe
8 cups mashed blueberries
1 1/3 cups thawed apple or grape juice concentrate (I used Cascadian Farm Organic apple)
1/4 cup bottle lemon juice (I used organic, not from concentrate)
6 Tblspns Ball RealFruit Low/no sugar pectin

Combine fruit, fruit juice, and lemon juice in large saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin and bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Taste. If you must, add a little sugar, honey, or maple syrup to sweeten further.

Ladle into hot jam jars (no need to sterilize - they should be clean and hot) and leave 1/4-1/2 inch headspace (refer to your specific canning jar instructions). Apply seals and place into a canner of hot water (jars must be covered wtih 1-2" of water). Bring water to gentle, steady boil. Process for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude). Remove jars and cool. Check lids/seals per manufacturer instructions.

My Waste:
Blueberries - none
Pectin -  came in a plastic container (which I can recycle) so I'll need to figure out a way to can without pectin to avoid plastic or find a brand in a cardboard container (Pomona's?). You can go without pectin if you use sugar (which I am trying to avoid). It is easy to find sugar in bulk. For more info:
Lemon Juice -  bottle can be reused or recycled. Not sure why you can't use fresh lemon juice for canning. I'll need to research this further.
Juice Concentrate - The juice can is recyclable except for the plastic (ugh) pull thing that seals the container.

Okay, guess I have some work to do. But, a good start and I can't wait to dig into my jam!
Follow me on Twitter: Renee Slonaker @EcoM8sRenee Slonaker


“Life is short, Break the Rules.
Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY.
Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably
And never regret ANYTHING
That makes you smile.”

~ Mark Twain

In June I spent two weeks with my husband and 11-year old daughter camping and hiking the canyon lands of Utah and NW Arizona. It was so wonderful to be disconnected from the "real world" and to leave our technology devices turned off and put away (for most of the time). Camping forces you to simplify, reduce your waste, and to pack lightly. Hiking and quiet driving time allowed me to reflect on what is important to me (and my family) and where I/we go from here.  I decided I want to laugh more, spend more time with my family, find more time to travel, and to simplify my life. So, I've embarked on a new journey...I quit my job (since I wasn't happy there) to take time to change my journey and life for the better.

My goals (for me and my family) are:

  • to laugh more often and not stress over the little things and make them bigger issues.
  • to simplify life by working towards significantly reducing our family waste, especially plastic.
  • to spend money wisely - buy the things we actually "need" rather than on things we "want."
Let's get started...