Going Green Is Easy. Tales of a Single Day of Greenery!

by Tammy Taylor~

It’s no secret I have an environmental bend. But many people think that ‘going green’ is complicated or requires special equipment.   But you don’t need special equipment or to do anything complicated to be Eco-friendly.  I thought it would be fun to rattle off things I did that are a typical day that just flow with my regular chores.  No extra effort needed, no special equipment. On this day we have a few errands to run and I need to make yogurt for breakfasts & a supply of boiled eggs for RancherMan’s snacking.

Now I’m not casting stones here, back in ‘the day’ I’d buy those highly-marketed convenience items with nary a thought. But I’ve come a long way in my environmental-awareness maturity over the years. And maybe there’s someone else out there that had never thought about how easy it really is in their regular ole day-to-day.  Let’s see how smoothly this environmental thing can be done without much thought at all!

Combining Errands

Although it was time for me to make yogurt, we were out of milk.  Seems like the perfect time to run to the store.  But instead of hopping in the car & going to the store, we combined all our errands into one big loop.  First off to the hardware store to pick up supplies for another water barrel project.  Then we needed to stop by the thrift store to drop off a few things in our continuing effort to Declutter And Keep It That Way.  And finally to the grocery store to pick up the few items I needed. By combining errands we saved both gas as well as time away from our Homestead.

No Single-Use Plastic Bags When Shopping

When shopping I refuse plastic shopping bags. I love to use my handmade Wicker Basket When Shopping.  I’m able to carry my planned purchases around the store with me & take them up to the counter in this basket.  Once I’m at the register I unload the basket and request the clerk reload as they scan each item.  They love that it stands wide open to easily pack away those items.  I always get many compliments on it.  And best of all?  No disposable plastic shopping bags.  Eco Score!

Making Homemade Yogurt

Now that we’re back home it’s time to make the yogurt, I typically make a half-gallon of yogurt at a time.

But wait a minute Tammy, isn’t making yogurt complicated? 

I dunno, you tell me:  Heat milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit; chill to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, stir in yogurt culture (available at any grocery store); pour into 1/2-pint glass jelly jars, incubate in warmed oven for 4-5 hours.  DONE!  Yep, making yogurt really IS just that easy! (You can find my homemade Yogurt Recipe Here)  Since I’m making it in repurposed 1/2-pint jelly jars I still get single-serve convenience without all the trash of plastic yogurt tubs.  Chalk up another Eco score.

But before starting to make my yogurt I poured that milk into my lidded pan and sat it out in that hot Texas sun for about 15 minutes to get it closer to room temp.  During that time I put away groceries from our shopping trip & gathered my supplies for making yogurt.  That stint outside warmed the milk for me, sped up the time it took to heat the milk to 185 degrees and of course used less propane too.  Eco score coupled with time-saving score!

Frozen Water Bottle To Chill My Water

After the milk was heated it was time to chill it before adding my yogurt starter.  I have a large bowl that I’ve already filled with water.  I dropped in 2 frozen water bottles, gave a little stir & gently lowered the pan of hot milk into the water.  These bottles chilled the water, which then chilled my pan of milk.  That way I’m not having to use that precious ice that RancherMan & I need to stay cool during these dog days of summer. When the milk was cooled, a quick rinse of the bottles & they go back into the freezer for next time.

Chilled Water to Water Potted Plants

After my yogurt is placed in the warm oven to incubate I began straightening up the kitchen.  This bowl of now-room-temp water was carried to the front porch to water the planters there.  How ’bout that – even the cooling water wasn’t wasted!

Boiling Water to Kill Grass

Next on the chore list is to boil up some eggs.  I’ve learned to bring the water to a boil, then lower the chilled eggs into the water.  The pan is then covered & I bring the water back to a boil for 3 minutes.  Finally I turn off heat (conserving propane) and set timer for 10 minutes. The eggs finish cooking in that water that’s already been heated up, no additional fuel needed! (Save propane?  Check!)

After that time, with a large slotted spoon I move the hot boiled eggs to the same bowl/frozen water system I use for chilling my yogurt.  While the eggs are cooling I take the pan of near-boiling water out front & pour it on the cracks between the bricks on our sidewalk.  Bye-bye weeds!  No need to pour that water down the drain when it can serve yet another purpose!

Sun Tea Brewed On Picnic Table

I also have a repurposed picante jar filled with filtered water and a tea bag on our picnic table.  That’s how I brew sun tea for RancherMan!  No fuel is needed to brew the tea, that Texas sun is plenty hot enough #thankyouverymuch.  And tea is a much more eco-friendly choice than other beverages sold in plastic or even glass bottles.  After my tea is brewed the used tea bag is tossed in my compost to make more of that black gold for my veggie garden!  No trash produced for this delightfully cold summer drink.  And it costs only pennies too.

Large Plastic Pkg for Waste Basket Liner

Our household trashcan is tiny, the size of a bathroom waste basket.  With a desire to reduce plastic, we buy the jumbo family size bathroom tissue.  It’s still encased in plastic but at least it’s less plastic than buying the same quantity in individual 4-roll packs.  Plus these bags are big enough for us to put to another use.

The package is carefully opened & when it’s empty I use that packaging as a trash bag.  No new plastic is purchased by us just to hold trash.  An eco-friendly as well as budget friendly option!

So Many More…

So in these few tasks alone I’ve made eco-friendly choices in the natural rhythm of my day.  There were of course many more that are just part of our lives now.  Writing about each one of them would make this post way longer than it already is.  But add that this morning after I brushed my teeth I used my own Homemade Minty Mouthwash. Then I got dressed in my cute thrifted garb – nice jeans and a cheery top.  We ran those errands in a car we bought because of its great gas mileage.

When we got home we enjoyed several eco-friendly things about our house.  For instance we keep our AC set on the highest temperature where we can remain comfortable, utilize the passive-solar design of our home for lighting instead of turning on lights.  And the lights that are turned on are energy efficient LED’s.

Then we enjoyed a homemade meal.  It was easy since I pulled out pork roast from my previous Cook-Once, Eat-Twice cooking session.  Just pull meat from freezer, add a couple of sides, pour some of that delicious sun-brewed iced tea and DONE. Homemade, delicious, inexpensive and FAST.  Plus I pulled out more than we would eat tonight so I can bibbidibobbidiBOO turn that leftover roast today into Carnitas Tacos tomorrow  So supper tomorrow night will be on the table even faster. Planned leftovers, baby!

Now You Share Too

My point is this:  Once you start down the Eco-friendly path, it’s beyond easy to incorporate it right into your life seamlessly.  It doesn’t take thought for us anymore.  It’s just our natural rhythm. 

These are a few things I did today, but I’m sure there are lots of things I haven’t even thought about.  We can all learn from each other, what did YOU do today to give good Ole Mother Earth a big wet kiss right on the mouth??!

~TMH~

C’mon by & sit a spell!  Come hang out at our ~TMH~ Facebook Page. It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea.  There are lots of good folks sharing!  And you can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or GooglePlus.

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8 thoughts on “Going Green Is Easy. Tales of a Single Day of Greenery!

  1. Miss B

    *This post got a lot longer than I first intended, so just stop reading when you tired of my ramblings! You are, by far, more ecologically conscious than I am, so I always enjoy reading your tips! It’s just a matter of changing the way we think about our resources. I use washable grocery bags, but I also use washable mesh produce bags. Since I love fresh produce, these can save 6-10 plastic bags per grocery trip. I purchased my mesh bags, but you could also sew some from scrap materials. Just remember to keep them lightweight since you don’t want to pay for the extra weight. An added bonus is that stores that issue an instant credit for reusable grocery bags also credit my produce bags. It’s not much, but it’s free money. Another way to cut back is by being smart about cleaning products. Most laundry loads do not require the recommended amount of soap listed on the container, and too much soap isn’t good for our washing machines anyway. Dial it back a little, and you might notice that your clothes come out a little cleaner. Now, some people make their own cleaning products, and I do too, BUT you have to make sure that your homemade cleaners don’t do more harm than good. For example, some homemade laundry and dishwasher detergents contain seemingly harmless products that can damage the machine workings, and then you’ll just end up with a hefty repair bill and some ruined parts bound for the landfill. Also, some homemade laundry soaps don’t readily rinse from clothing. This means that your clothes end up looking dingy and worn, so you end up replacing them prematurely. On the other hand, I do make my own hand soap, bathroom, all-purpose, floor, and kitchen cleaners that are safe for those surfaces and cost just pennies all while not harming the environment. The added benefit is that I’m not constantly throwing out plastic bottles or breathing in harmful fumes. I can clean my tile floors and not have to worry about my dog picking up any dangerous residue on his paws. As long as you do your due diligence, you can maintain a clean home without too many store-bought cleaners. Speaking of laundry, one strange, but effective, change I’ve made is a way that I’ve found to reduce the number of loads I do. Towels can take up a lot of room in the washing machine, so I’ve switched from using a full sized bath towel to a smaller, but much better quality hand towel to dry off with after a shower. It sounds weird, but even the largest, most luxurious hand towel takes up far less room in the washer than the skimpiest bath towel. For those of us who don’t necessarily want a bunch of clothing – In order to cut clothing costs, consider buying more solid color, basic pieces that might cost a bit more but fit well and wear well rather than items that have an easily identifiable pattern or cut. This way, you can change the look of an outfit with inexpensive accessories rather than purchasing new clothes often or feeling like everyone knows you’re wearing the same outfit for the umpteenth time. Don’t buy anything unless you know which clothing item it will replace in your closet (and then repurpose or donate the old item), and don’t buy it if there is anything in your closet that provides the same function unless you need a spare. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it, because you won’t wear it. My last tip is one with which you are very familiar. Learn how to do stuff! In this age of information, use the Internet, a library, or a friend to gain some DIY skills. If a homemaker can cook, sew just a little, bake bread and desserts, garden, and preserve foods, that will go a long way in saving money and reducing waste. In addition, you can make surprisingly nice home decor and gift items from materials you would ordinarily throw out and from materials that you would find out in nature. A quick Internet search will turn up a hundred different ideas that you can customize to fit your needs, and no, your holiday decor and gifts will not end up looking like girl scout projects gone bad. Really! You can even learn how to do basic household and car maintenance from Youtube videos. And, don’t forget about podcasts. There is a podcast to teach anyone about anything! As you always say, “Use whatcha got!”, and we have access to more knowledge than we could ever possibly use. As a side note, I just remembered that your blog post on making ranch beans was one of my first bulk recipe victories! I frequently make a big pot of those and freeze them for later use. Love ’em! Anyway, my point is that a little knowledge goes pretty far.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Such great tips, Miss B! Thank you so much for sharing. I especially like “Most laundry loads do not require the recommended amount of soap listed on the container”, you’re so right there! They have everything to gain by suggesting you use their product quicker so you can buy, buy, buy! Thanks for sharing your own eco-tips. ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Lisa Miller

    Great tips! I hate plastic bags too. I always keep my shopping bags in the car so they will be at the ready. Once they are unloaded they go straight back into the car. I am getting ready to try your yogurt recipe. I picked up everything at the store yesterday. A long time ago I was given a yogurt maker as a gift and it has been sitting unused in the cabinet taking up space. I am going to try to incorporate it in this process as it already has the glass jars and lids. I am trying to declutter the things in the back of the pantry that never get used. I have purchased a solar oven to try to make meals. I work away from home during the week and try to play catch up on the weekends so by the time I remember its there, I think it’s too late to use it. Any suggestions for vegetarian meals that you like to cook in it? Thanks for the great ideas!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      You’re gonna love the yogurt Lisa. These days I typically make it unsweetened & put a dollop of homemade jam in the bottom of some our jars so I have a fruit-on-the-bottom style, but still single-serve convenient. The other jars are used as sour cream substitute and with my biscuit recipe. You’re gonna love your solar oven. We cook lots of meat in ours so I’m not familiar with vegetarian meals, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised how the solar oven cooks brown rice (as with my SW Chicken Casserole with herbed brown rice) I’ve also cooked a marinara sauce with home grown tomatoes (you know how long marinara has to simmer – might as well do it outside). I’ve baked potatoes and of course I bake bread in it often. Check the SOLAR COOKING tag to see what all I’ve cooked in it. ~TMH~

      Reply
      1. Lisa Miller

        Thanks! I am looking forward to trying the bread recipes also. Are you able to cook with your solar oven in the winter?

        Reply
        1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

          Oh yeah. The solar oven isn’t dependent upon the outside temps, just that there’s sunshine. Here the sun is lower in the southern sky during winter months so I align the reflectors to the sun and BOOM!

          Reply
  3. Pam Kaufman

    Great tips Tammy! I hate to admit it but we are still pretty wasteful. My daughter and I try but my husband doesn’t. He wants quick and easy which makes it difficult. We lapse a lot but we keep trying. I really hate all the garbage we send to the landfill the most. We do compost and separate paper products to be burned. We have reusable bags but they never seem to be in the car when we shop so we end up with plastic. I keep the plastic for waste baskets or to return to the store to recycle but I hate using them and feel like a failure every time we use them. I do reuse glass jars for lots of things and like them better than plastic containers. I could go on and on but I will end saying thank you for your tips. I will use them and I will keep trying. One day we will get there!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      You’re not a failure Pam! You’re aware of your environmental impact and striving to lower your waste. That makes you a winner! Don’t give up. That’s actually a big part of the reason for this post – showing that it can be easy & effortless. Just take one baby step at a time. I realize it’s more complicated when not everyone in the house is on the same page, but many a success can be had by leading by example. Do what you can, it’ll get noticed eventually. Avoiding plastic shopping bags is something that goes a long way for the environment too. Here’s some things I do to make it super easy: When I unload my shopping basket it goes right back into the car. That way it’s always with us even when we make an impromptu stop at a store. BUT I also have a small fabric bag rolled in a protective plastic sleeve tucked into the small space between my car seat and the door. If we’re only picking up something small I often reach down & grab it as I’m exiting the car. Then use the same procedure as with my basket – it’s emptied when we get home & tucked back into the car. It takes a short time to make something a habit. Start by focusing on one thing until it’s habit, then focus one something new. ~TMH~

      Reply

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