Waste Not

attempting to waste less and live more deliberately


give it a rest: electronic media fast

It’s 7:30 am, I’ve only been awake for 10 minutes but have already checked my email, checked social media, and skimmed through 3 articles about how the world is falling apart.

It’s 3:45 pm, I’ve spent nearly 6 hours looking at a screen and the muscle behind my left eyebrow is starting to pulsate.

It’s 10:45 pm, Sam’s been asleep for an hour and I’m online reading recipes, job postings, and several humorous lists that make me feel nostalgic for the 90’s (I miss flannel).

This is pretty much every day…



A one week electronic media fast. Not all media…just media that requires a battery or an electrical outlet.

Books, OK. Newspapers, OK. Music, OK (live, made by me or another musician)

While I could explain this whole experiment to my employer, something tells me it wont fly. There, I will continue my glowing screen lifestyle. At work, I will ONLY work. Breaks will be spent walking or reading, not getting sucked into the internet black hole I so often fall into.


Three reasons, though I am sure there are many more.

  1. Study – When prepping for an environmental education volunteer orientation, I thought it might be nice to add some children-in-nature(or out of it)-esque statistics. What I found was quite disturbing. I won’t elaborate too much, I will just say this: The average amount of time spent on entertainment media by children ages 8-18 is 7.5 hours a day (a study from 2010, I can only imagine what it is now). My horrified feelings were mixed with a bit of guilt due to my hypocrisy. I don’t spend 7.5 hours a day on social media, but I am certain my number is not too far behind. If you would like to read more about this study, and I highly suggest it, you can find it here: If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online – NY TIMES
  2. Alaska – In May we spent nine days in Alaska. No internet, no phones, no connection to the outside world. Nine beautiful days spent kayaking, hiking, and cruising on a small boat; it was the most spiritually enriching and relaxing nine days I have lived.  Among the awe-inspiring beauty that is Alaska, we took a break from the buzzing, beeping, and clanging of our everyday life. My devotions were to the people I was face to face with and my eyes were open to the world around me; not to a small glowing screen.Image
  3. I’m exhausted, my eyes hurt, and my skin feels puffy and it’s always worse after I have played online for hours. Do you experience this too?



Based on my Alaska experience, I could hypothesize about the results of this experiment; however, that is not the plan. I will take note of my body, my mind, and my time then analyze and evaluate.


Note: This is just something I am trying. Please, don’t feel as though I am judging you if you enjoy your screen time.  To each her own.

Am I a modern day Luddite? I don’t think so, just someone who wants their eye strain to go away and see if there are any benefits to cutting back.

Happy weekend and week to follow!

♥ ali


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Stink-Free Trash

Composting and Convenience

There are certain waste-not habits that are just easier than others, though it might surprise you what they are. Who would have thought remembering a reusable mug for your morning coffee would be so darn difficult?  Other habits have been easier to maintain, like composting. Why so easy? I’m lucky, I work at a garden!


kinda circle


pileJust a few examples of the garden’s composting system. Great example of how composting can be beautiful!

While these very healthy compost piles are maintained by the horticulturists, I do provide them with the kitchen scraps they need to keep the process moving along. Someday, I hope to create my own compost pile (check out some BASICS and METHODS) but until that day, I am happy to enrich the garden’s soil.

From Kitchen to Compost

Having a container in which to place one’s kitchen scraps is an important step.  Our kitchen scrap bin is a blue ceramic container we found at Goodwill.  We line the container with an old plastic bulk bag and when the bag becomes full, the scraps come to work with me where they become food for the worms and other decomposers.  I rinse the bag, shake it out to dry, and use it again and again until it falls apart (then I recycle…did you know you can recycle plastic bags?!?).

kitchen binOur thrifty find (and a good example of just how yellow our counter tops really are…yikes!)

The Spice of Life


This one is fun! Apartment Therapy Kitchen Bins

stylish bins

Some other options. Apartment Therapy Stylish Bins

Work Work Eat Work

If you’re like me, you eat one meal at work and graze more than you’d like to admit, enter the work scrap bin! Made from an old coffee container, this little guy catches tea leaves, strawberry tops, and salad leftovers to name a few.


“Don’t throw me away! I’m still useful!”

work bin


Clean, punch a few holes in the lid for ventilation, and label (labeling is important, unless you are playing a joke on a co-worker a la Jim and Dwight).


In addition to creating less landfill-bound waste, this simple step of rerouting your scraps will completely transform your trash life. Just think about it for a moment, why is trash so stinky in the first place? Rotting food! Since composting, our trash is stink free! Success!

Do you have any waste not habits that come a little easier? Makes you wonder why they haven’t always been a part of your routine.



Consume Not

Consume Less = Waste Less

Flipping through the latest glossy magazine, I am gripped by the promise of order and beauty. Everything seems so nice and neat. My life could be that nice and neat if only I had that perfect product. The temptation to run to the container store is palpable; I can almost smell the freshly molded plastic trays.  Have you ever felt this urge? I certainly have! An urge that could only be summoned by a top notch advertiser paired with a photographer who’s got a knack for catching just the right light.


Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there are some wonderfully designed products out there that really can help simplify one’s life. However, in my experience most of what I buy eventually turns into more stressful clutter, not to mention a complete waste of money.

By consuming less, we are also wasting less…less packaging, less shipping energy, less energy and resource that went into making the product in the first place.

How can one consume less in a world that is constantly telling us to buy more?

Before I buy, I like to take a minute and ask myself, do I need this? Will my life be substantially better if I own this product? Is there something else I already have that could do the job? Could I make something myself to fulfill this products promise?


I love the idea here of working with what you have. Triple duty organizer/baking dish/bookend! (HERE)

Just some Friday kind of thoughts. Happy weekend!

Do you have any consume less ideas?

♥ ali


Fill ‘Er Up

In an effort to make less waste, one can’t help but explore the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  However, there is another R that deserves a little more attention, Refill!


On average, how many containers would you say you throw away or recycle a year? If you’re like me, it’s probably quite a few. Kelley Skumautz, of Refill- To-You asks you to reconsider pitching those perfectly good containers.  Her business, located in Carpinteria, California will give those containers the long life they deserve! No matter if you’ve got an old tomato sauce jar, a lovely antique jug, or an empty laundry detergent container and vinegar jug as I did, if you supply it, she will fill it. She is so great that even if you don’t have an old container (hard to imagine) she will supply you with one! Visit her website HERE!


A Word From Kelley:

“Refill to You is a labor of love made possible by big life changes. After nearly 20 years of enriching and rewarding work in environmental nonprofit management, I decided to trade a regular paycheck and unique office spaces — from adobes to yurts — for freedom, flexibility, and room to try out something new.

I have not purchased new containers of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair spray, laundry detergent, or dish soap in more than three years. I have refilled these and other goods in empties instead.

What I strive to do with Refill to You is to discover others who also find this attractive and become a supplier of bulk goods via personal delivery to homes and businesses. I know people are busy and sometimes doing the right thing is cumbersome, and I hope Refill to You is a convenient and valued service to the greater Santa Barbara community.”

~ Kelley Skumautz


Visiting Carpinteria is a treat in and of itself, so I was doubly pleased when I found Kelley’s business was located in the cozy beach town. While I am sure I looked quite silly lugging around large empty containers, I didn’t care, I was getting new soap, sans waste! Score!

Kelley and I met at a wonderful café where we chatted, drank coffee, and completed our refill transaction. There is nothing better than getting to know the people you buy from (can’t say that about a big box store).  Her Subaru trunk, home to a very large amount of bulk containers served as her store for the day. Once she filled my containers, I paid (.30 an oz) and was on my way! What a wonderful experience!

The Product

I was in need of dish soap and liquid laundry detergent and lucky for me, Refill to You carries Biokleen products (amongst others). Biokleen products are biodegradable, vegan, and VERY effective!

Click HERE to check out the Refill to You website and store!



Laundry soap container and vinegar jug – Refilled and safe at home!


Two empty soap bottles, would have been trash!  Get ready to be reused!


Funnels are helpful!


Saved from the trash: One Laundry Jug, One Vinegar Jug, Two Soap Bottles. Lovely!

Exactly zero extra miles were traveled in order to make this purchase.  We were already in Carpinteria for a visit with friends and family. So, the only extra energy burned in order to make this purchase was the calories I burned walking down the street to meet Kelley at the cafe (though I am sure I earned those back quickly from the yummy croissant I enjoyed!)

Having difficulty finding a refill shop in your town?  Consider buying your products in larger containers! Less waste, less trips to the store, more money saved in the long run!

Happy Refilling!

♥ ali

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What’s better than two legs? Eight!


I realize this doesn’t quite follow the waste not theme, but I couldn’t help but share!  I work at a botanical garden (lucky, I know!) where I am surrounded by birds, butterflies, and blossoms on a daily basis, but today…today was a spider kind of day.  While they may cause the hairs to stand on the back of your neck, the majority of spiders are quite harmless, beneficial even! Spiders are a sign of a healthy garden and if you can learn to identify and avoid the dangerous ones, you can live quite harmoniously with these little eight legged friends.


You probably recognize this one, the red hour glass is a dead give away. This is the Western Black Widow, and yes it is one of the dangerous ones.  If bitten, the neurotoxins in their venom affect the nervous system causing some not-so-desirable complications.  If you’re a healthy adult, a bite will not likely kill you. Phew.  This black widow was hanging out right outside, we didn’t kill it and haven’t seen it since. So, it either went away or is hiding out under my desk waiting to strike at any moment (just kidding…i hope).


This spider is awesome.  The Green Lynx Spider (even a cool name) is an extremely beneficial bug. A hunter who perches on flowers waiting to ambush its prey, the Green Lynx eliminates many garden pests, though sometimes it also hunts beneficials like this unlucky honeybee. Sorry honeybee. Bites from this spider are rare, non-toxic, but painful.


The two spiders you see above belong to the Orb-weaver Family, you can probably see why. This family includes Garden Spiders, those are what you see above. The first spider is the Black and Yellow Garden Spider and its friend below is the Banded Garden Spider. Garden Spiders mate once a year. To court the female, the male builds a small web near the females and plucks the strings of her web, always with a drop string ready just in case she decides to attack.


If you are searching for a spider in the picture above, don’t bother, you won’t find one.  This is a beautiful Matilija Poppy, some relief from the creepy crawly but oh-so-cool spiders.

Sorry to stray from the waste not theme, but to be fair, I am sure spiders lead very sustainable lifestyles…

If you enjoy reading about our waste not journey with some occasional nature musings, you can follow by clicking the “+follow” button in the lower right hand corner of this page OR you can just bookmark it.

“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.” –William Blake

♥ ali


Tiny Apartment – Casa Grande

Now that you feel comfortable with some basic principles of composting, it’s time to put those concepts into practice. Before you get started, it’s important to take a look at your dwelling space. What kind of composting method will work best for your home?

Do you live here?

ImageOr maybe somewhere more like this?


No matter the size of your space, there is a method for you. Lets explore a few.

Hot Composting – Great method for a home with a yard!

Hot composting is exactly what it sounds like, a process that creates a significant amount of heat. Also called active composting, this method ensures you will have your compost ready to enrich your garden in a short amount of time and any pathogens or weed seeds will be killed in the process due to the high temperature.  Some people even heat their water by running plumbing through a hot compost heap! Is this method for you? Click HERE to learn more about this hot method.

Cold Composting – Great method if you have a small lot or a side yard!

Cold composting is a much more hands off process. Piles or bins are fed when materials become available. This process takes much longer than hot composting and does not kill off harmful pathogens or seeds, for this reason it is important to only feed your pile appropriate material. Cold composting does not require turning and compost will be retrieved from the bottom of the pile when it is ready. If you would like to try this method, investing in an enclosed bin with a retrieving drawer at the bottom would be helpful. When using an enclosed bin, add handfuls of crumpled newspaper from time to time in order to encourage oxygen flow. Is this method for you? Click HERE to learn more about the cold method.

Vermicomposting – Great method if you live in an apartment!

Also called worm composting, this is the best solution for a small space!  Create a nice home for your new pets, Red Wigglers work best, and add your organic material.  Your new friends will eat your garbage and out the other end, they will leave you with nice rich fertilizer! Can’t say that about too many friends. Is this method for you? Click HERE to learn more about vermiculture.

Curious about bins and tumblers? Compost Mania has a great selection!


Say you don’t want to do any of these things, no worries.

Try researching your cities Municipal Waste Plan, they may offer composting as an option. If they don’t, give them a call and let them know they should start a composting system. Remember, they work for your community and your voice can make a difference!

If you have a friend who loves to garden and has a few square feet to spare, suggest starting a community compost system. You can rally a group of friends to help build a bin and start a composting club. Maybe you can make club t-shirts!

In addition to all of these practices, the one thing we should all keep in mind is simply to make less waste! Save vegetable scraps in the refrigerator, when you have collected enough, make a soup or stock. If you are a juicer, save the leftover pulp and add it to breads, muffins, and casseroles. Make sure you are storing your food correctly. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to throw away a peach because I left in on the counter, turned my back, and then when I turned around it was all moldy. Throwing away a peach in the peak of the season causes a heartbreak like no other.

Lifelong Learning

I’m no expert, just a curious person. If I ever get something wrong or leave out an especially interesting factoid, please feel free to leave a comment! Nobody can say for sure why we are here spinning around on this blue planet, but maybe learning and exploring have something to do with it. That being said, I am more than open to being schooled ☺

All this talk about learning is leaving me with one thought “Science Rules!” If you spent the majority of your childhood in the 90’s, you may know what I am talking about.  If not, please take a moment and enjoy the theme song to one of the most educational shows you will ever see! Thank you, Bill Nye!

Curious about composting yet? Don’t let your food scraps go to waste!

♥ ali