This week Yes! Magazine has launched a project called No Impact Week, that people the world over are encouraged to participate in. We couldn’t resist, and this post is a summary of Day 1 — all about consumption and literally where this family has been experimenting over the past month. Can we find new ways of reducing our over-all consumption of goods, energy, and water?
Yesterday was a good day for us, as the No Impact project got us started on several new ideas. We were asked to make a list of what we needed this week:
Suet for birds
School snacks for the kids
Food wasn’t deemed by the project as necessary to put on the list, but we’re trying to grow/make most of our own food and so we think it’s a good exercise every few weeks to consider whether you really need to go to the market to purchase food that week. Is there enough in your larder to support your family’s needs for the week? If so, save yourself the trip and make do. You’ll likely find new recipes you never dreamed of making because you’ll have to work with the veggies and foodstuffs you have on hand. We decided to take our list of needed items and, well, make them!
Suet for Birds: Okay, I admit we purchased the beef fat a day earlier in preparation for the suet-making experiment. But the truth is, we’ve been trying to figure out a zero-waste option for suet. It’s now fall and the birds outside desperately need more fat in their diet, to help them through the winter. At our local store, the butcher happily put chunks of beef fat (about 2 lbs came to $2.00) in a large jar I brought. At home, we rendered the fat, strained it through a fine mesh colander, then mixed in raisins, peanuts, whole grain chicken feed, hulled sunflower seeds. We spread it all out in a glass pan and…there’s suet enough for at least 2 months for our woodpeckers, Steller’s Jays and chickadees. When suet is out, even the Pileated Woodpecker comes right to the window.
School Snacks for Kids: This one was easy. With nuts, organic chocolate chips, rolled oats, and raisins all bought in bulk, we pulled out the large glass jars we store our bulk items in, put them on the table around the candlelight (no impact lunch!), gave each child his/her own jar and they made personal trail mix jars using wooden spoons for dipping. Each morning they make their own lunches, so pouring from their personal jars into their lunch canteens is easy.
Pickles: We ran out of pickles last week, a fave of the kids,’ and so we made our own this week! They’re delicious. By bartering 18 eggs last week, we received from our friend Carol some gorgeous pickling cucumbers. It was incredibly easy to make refrigerator dill pickles and we know these will be consumed in a matter of days. We used this recipe, substituting with organic turbinado sugar, and we definitely recommend using grape leaves for pickle crispness!
Bread: It’s a twice-weekly tradition. We make all our own bread and are happy for it. It’s yummy, full of great ingredients, and much cheaper than anything we buy from our favorite bakery. We still support our local bakery, occasionally, too. Here’s our killer bread machine whole wheat walnut raisin bread recipe:
1 cup warm water
3/4 cup liquid (combo of egg, yogurt, milk, whatever you’ve got)
1 heaping teaspoon good sea salt
2 tablespoons flax seed oil
3 cups flour (any combo you like)
4 handfuls walnuts (or any nuts)
3-4 handfuls raisins
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon yeast
Laundry Detergent: Stay tuned for our zero waste detergent, coming up in a future post.