Waste Not

attempting to waste less and live more deliberately

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Cold Day, Hot Tea: DIY Rose Hip Tea


Several months ago we harvested rose hips (you can read about that here, Rose Hips: A Simple Snack). The day of harvest, the rose hips were eaten out of hand. Tasty as they were, I found eating an entire bag of hips a bit daunting; so we chose to preserve them through drying. Here is what we did:

Preserving Method: Drying

Drying is one of the most ancient forms of preservation. While it likely took place earlier, 12,000 B.C. is the first record of drying by inhabitants of the now Middle East and Asia regions. By removing the water through evaporation, drying inhibits the growth of bacteria, this extends the foods shelf-life.

ImageWe chose to air dry the hips by spreading them evenly on a baking sheet and letting them live in the oven for a few days. While some put the oven on its lowest setting, we chose to just keep it off. There are many methods, you should explore them all and see which best suits your needs.  If we needed to use the oven we simply took the pan out and then put it back when we were done, letting the residual heat give the drying process a boost.  Learn more about drying in your oven here: The Kitchn Blog.


Like so.


One week later, the hips are dry and ready to be stored in a cool, dark place.

Very Simple Rose Hip Tea

To keep things simple I have chosen to use my dried rose hips whole. Another option is to pulse them in a food processor and then use a colander to remove the hairs and seeds, leaving just the beneficial flesh. If you choose this method, don’t skip the colander step, the hairs and seeds will cause your throat to itch, a lot!


Step 1: Place a spoon full of hips in your mug and swirl them around for one minute. This will help remove any prickles, hairs, dirt, or dust. After you are done, remove the clean hips and rinse out your mug.

ImageStep 2: Return hips to mug along with a wedge of lemon and a spoon full of honey. Buckwheat honey is from Bill’s Bees, yum!
ImageStep 3: Let steep for 5 minutes or so and enjoy. The tart rose hips and lemon are balanced by the sweet honey, what a treat!

Rose hips are abundant in vitamin C, perfect for aiding your immune system as it wards off illness in this sniffly season!



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Waste Not Baby: Cloth Diaper Update

Several months back, our friend Amanda shared her excitement for parenthood, baby, and cloth diapering! Check that out here: Waste Not Baby Since then, we have had many wonderful visits, fallen in love with baby Jasper, and watched our friends grow into wonderful parents and cloth diapering pros!

ImageJohnston Family – Jess Cadena Photography

You have been parents for a few months now, how is it going?

Being a parent is the most amazing job in the world. I love getting to watch my son experience the world. My husband and I agree that if we can get our son to just smile once each day it makes the entire world stop spinning for that time.  I think that means it’s going pretty well for us.

What do you know now that you didn’t know 6 months ago?

As a new parent, you learn to live off little sleep and lots of coffee.  I knew there would be a learning curve to figuring out what would work best for us as parents, but one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned as parents is to trust ourselves and ignore the noise.  Of course some of this “noise” comes from loving people trying to give you their “expert opinions”.

I have learned how patience is non-negotiable when starting a family. Patience with myself, patience with my husband, patience with our son, patience with our pets, patience with the drivers behind me who don’t realize that I NEED to drive 25 mph in the 45 mph zone because I have precious cargo (yes I’m one of those people).

I never realized how much my heart would break whenever my son was in pain and I can’t do anything to fix it except to kiss him and hug him, it is a totally different love.

I have also learned that each moment is incredibly special and to not worry so much about keeping my house spic-and-span and enjoy my time with my sweet family. Deep, right?

 On to diaper talk. You have had a few months of practice now, what have you learned? Any tips?

The process of diapering your baby with cloth versus disposable is no different.  Prior to switching to cloth diapering, I started to feel apprehensive.  How much more work was I getting myself into? Did I spend all this money on diapers that I wasn’t sure I could handle? Do I really want to put poop in my washing machine? Are they actually going to work or would there be more messy blow-outs? Was I doing this to spite my mother and all other nay-sayers? My brain was filled with self-doubt, I had done all the research and had asked questions of all sorts of people and still I was scared….of diapers? My husband reminded me that we had spent all this money on these diapers and I agreed that we needed to commit.  I didn’t want to be that person that quit something before I ever actually tried it.

Now that we have been exclusively cloth diapering for about 3-1/2 months, I can’t even think of diapering any other way. We’ve already almost broken even on our diapering costs. In your first Waste Not Baby Post, I quoted that we had spent $415 on cloth diapers.  If I was using disposable diapers, I would have spent approximately $370 thus far and thrown away approximately 1,220 disposable diapers (not including baby wipes). I think that is great news! If we continue cloth diapering past this point, we are just saving money!

We used disposables for the first month we were at home with our son.  We were taking out the trash every day, and filling up our curbside dumpster at the end of each week.  Since switching to cloth diapering, we only take out our trash once to twice a week.  We estimate, from these last 3-1/2 months of cloth diapering, that our curbside dumpster only gets half full after two weeks or more.  That’s a huge reduction in waste from our household, and that waste was just diapers and disposable wipes!

We switched to cloth wipes within a week of cloth diapering.  Using disposable wipes expended extra energy on our part. We’d use three to four wipes during diaper change, throw them in a separate trash can and put our cloth diaper in the wash.  I don’t know about most people, but I prefer to be efficient about the things I do. I don’t want to have to walk to point Z to throw away a wipe and then walk to point B to put diaper in diaper pail and go back to point A to play with baby.  So out of our efficiency (laziness) we started to using cloth wipes.  We can put the used, dirty wipe into the diaper pail after a diaper change and bada-bing!  bada-boom! All done! We also end up using only one wipe per diaper change as they seem to work much better.  I keep my cloth wipes (which consist of cut up old t-shirts, nice wipes from amazon, and wash cloths) in a wipe warmer we received at our baby shower.  I hated using this wipe warmer for disposable wipes, as it dried them out and the wipes were always cold when they got to baby.  This wipe warmer is THE BEST when it comes to using cloth wipes.  I stack my wipes in the warmer, and add my wipe solution and my wipes are ready to go!

If I was to give any parent considering cloth diapers tips:

  1. Find a local resource through the Real Diaper Association, friend, or local cloth diaper store. If you have any questions, they have answers or they can help you find answers! I have a friend from grad school that runs a cloth diaper store in Washington and she is always helping someone trouble shoot.
  2. Don’t be afraid of putting the diapers in your washing machine. I promise that your washing machine will not turn into a poopy mess! Your cloth diaper washing routine is as easy as your regular clothes!
  3. The extra five minutes of folding your cloth diapers after they are done is not a huge commitment. I like folding my son’s diapers (maybe I’m a little weird), but it’s something I get to do for him, plus the prints and designs on the cloth diapers are pretty dang cute.
  4. Spread out your cloth diaper purchases if you need to. Don’t feel the obligation to buy everything you need right that second, because that will be a deterrent from starting. Don’t be militant with yourself when starting out, you can always supplement with disposable diapers, as needed. You can cloth diaper on any budget, really!
  5. Do not buy just one brand or type of cloth diaper thinking you’ll love it. I bought several different kinds and brands of diapers; prefolds with diaper pins or “snappis”, all-in-one diapers, pockets, and fitted. You’ll find out which you like, and then you can buy more from there.
  6. If it doesn’t gross you out, BUY USED! Our used diapers work just as well as our brand spanking new diapers, and they were about 25% of the cost!
  7. Be patient with yourself, find a routine that fits you and your baby and go with it.

Do you have a favorite brand or style of cloth diapers?

We love our pocket diapers! No pinning, no folding on baby, and they work just as easy as a disposable.  We have several brands we like including Rumparooz, BumGenius!, and Just Simply Baby.  We prefer diapers with the double gussets, as they seem to hold in those messy number two’s that our son has waiting for us.


What other gear should parents who plan on cloth diapering consider purchasing?

I love my wipe warmer (like I gushed about earlier), and if they want some really nice wipes, they are a great addition to a cloth routine. I make my own wipe solution using a couple different products, but you can also use just water.  I use a diaper sprayer attached to my toilet to rinse off diapers, no dunk and swirl necessary.  A waterproof diaper bag and waterproof wipe pouch is worth its weight in gold when running errands to contain dirty diapers and the smells that come with them, I love mine! We keep a trash can in our laundry room that we use as our diaper pail.  We line our diaper pail with a great water proof diaper pail liner that gets thrown in the wash with our dirty diapers.

Are there any other low-waste parenting practices you have adopted? 

We have been lucky enough to be successful at breastfeeding with my son. This has cut down on a lot of waste that comes with using formula. We have been given a lot of toys, clothes, and various baby contraptions from neighbors and friends that were previously loved.  This has not only saved us money but has prevented something used from going into the garbage.  Our son has been growing so fast, and to keep up we have started buying some clothes from local thrift stores.  The price is right for something he may only wear a handful of times.

What is the funniest thing your little babe has done to date?

He loves to laugh at our pets.  Our dog will roll around on the ground and Jasper just lights up. It is hilarious, and then Patrick and I start laughing and it’s like a circus in here, with everyone laughing.


Baby Jasper! – Jess Cadena Photography

Big thank you to Amanda for sharing her cloth diaper wisdom! So blessed to have this awesome family in our life!

♥ ali.


Grocery Store Games

Since going low waste, grocery shopping has turned into a bit of a game. 

The Rules: Buy what we need while avoiding as much packaging as possible.
Why? Food packaging often contains a variety of materials, making it nearly impossible to recycle. Also, it’s fun!
A few packaged items (cheese), but mostly a successful grocery game!
Some Findings
  • We are swapping unhealthy, over-packaged processed foods for more nutritious whole foods.
  • Cooking from scratch has improved our kitchen skills.
  • To minimize packaging further, skip the plastic produce bags. Fruits and veggies already come packaged by nature! Worried about germs? Don’t be, you will likely wash them off before eating anyways. 
  • Buying bulk? Skip the disposable plastic bags and use your own containers instead. Don’t forget to mark the tare weight! (what is tare weight? find out HERE)
  • Bulk isn’t just for beans and rice! Look for bulk teas, coffee, candies, granola, nut butters, flours, spices, etc.


  • Get to know your butcher!  If you bring them a nice clean container in which to place you deli meat, steaks, shrimp, etc. you can forgo the plastic bag! 
  • Bring your own bags (or basket) and never have to answer the “paper or plastic” question again!
And lets be honest, homemade just tastes better than the packaged stuff!
How do you stay low waste when it comes to grocery shopping?


Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?


Waiting in line, I people watch! How wonderful to see people sitting together and enjoying their coffee, completely enveloped in their conversations. I also spot a number of laptop users typing away while sipping on their beverage of choice.  The coffee shop is packed with life and it’s a lovely sight to see.


Sadly I cannot stay, my coffee and I must head back to work for another few hours of computer staring. But no worries, I brought my trusty and very cute ceramic mug…but wait…something seems odd now. I realize, everyone enjoying their coffee for here has a to go cup! What in the world is going on?  It’s as if I am stuck in some strange coffee shop limbo.


Not one single person is using a mug and I know the shop has a stash of lovely ceramic “for here” mugs.


I am next in line; enough time for me to get upset about this needless waste and enough time for me to work up the courage to ask the cashier about it!

I order my drink and say “There are a lot of people enjoying their coffee for here in to go cups, do they know you have for here mugs just behind the counter?”

She replies “A lot of people get their drinks in a to go cup so they have the option of leaving if they want.”

Ok, I get this.

However, as I wait for my pour over I see that the cashier isn’t even asking people if they would like a ceramic mug.  So while I understand that a number of people given the option would still choose a paper cup (lined with plastic mind you), I can’t help but wonder how many people might opt for the mug, eliminating needless waste from our already overflowing landfills.


The next day is the same. While I am waiting for my coffee I notice the barista is the manager. I take opportunity to engage. I am told that the mugs were moved to the espresso machine to make them more visible to encourage costumers to ask for them. I suggested that a verbal cue from the cashier might also encourage the mug use. It was a lovely and productive exchange.

You can do the same!

Action Item

  1. Be the change!  Ask for a mug if you plan on staying. If you plan on going, don’t forget your reusable!
  2. Ask the cashier if they notice how many “for here” people are using “to go” mugs. Politely remind them that a very large amount of waste could be avoided if they simply asked people if they would like a ceramic mug or a paper/plastic to go cup.
  3. Engage the manager. Discuss the possibility that the cashiers remind every customer to reduce waste by simply asking “would you like your beverage in a mug for here or a cup to go?”


Nervous about speaking up? Perhaps this math will give you the push you need…

Say there are 10 people who frequent that coffee shop a day that opt for throw away cups that could and would use for here mugs given the option…

10 mugs x 7 days a week = 70

70 mugs x 52 weeks a year = 3,640

If just those 10 people use mugs rather than throw away cups we could eliminate 3,640 landfill-bound cups a year…from one store!

It gets scarier…

There are roughly 11,000 locations of this very popular coffee shop.

This means if all the locations encourage just 10 people a day to use for here mugs, we could reduce our landfill waste by 40,040,000 cups a year!!!

It should be noted that these coffee cups are practically impossible to recycle due to their polyethylene lining.

Image Doesn’t this look much more inviting?

“We’ve increased our focus on shaping behaviors as a way to lower cup use. For example, this year we’re working to redesign stores to make ceramic wear more visible to customers, by positioning it in sight, right behind the baristas. Customers who want to enjoy their drink in the store will be reminded that they can do so in a ceramic mug that we wash and re-use. This is something that’s widely available today, but opted for less often than we’d like.” –Jim Hanna, Director of Environmental Impact

While I did see that the mugs were more visible, unfortunately, this particular store failed to remind customers that they can enjoy their drink in a ceramic mug. Have you  noticed the same thing at your coffee shop?  Let us remind the cashiers, baristas, and managers that they have the power to reduce a whole lot of needless waste!!!

Curious about what coffee shop I am talking about?  Click HERE to find out! I admire their commitment to “recycling, reuse, and reinvention”. However, one very important “R” is missing, REDUCE!

♥ ali

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What is nature? What are we?

As a result of our make-less-waste journey, we have learned quite a bit more about our stuff; what it’s made of, who made it, where it came from, where it’s going, and so on. One piece of the puzzle I have found particularly interesting is what our stuff does.

I don’t mean this in the sense that my deodorant inhibits my naturally stinky nature; anyone who has ever picked up a magazine or turned on the TV can tell you what products are advertised to do. What I mean (and what I find extremely interesting) is taking a very close look at ingredients and production methods to determine their effects on the world as a whole down to the cells that make up our bodies.

Through this exploration, one concept has continually arisen in my mind; mans relation to nature.  I had never given much thought to this idea in the past; I knew I loved nature, but had never set out to answer the questions, what is nature and what is my relation to it?


What is nature?

Sitting in the garden during a lunch break, I look around and decide that I believe flowers are nature, spiders are nature, lizards are nature, water is nature, trees are definitely nature, coyotes are nature, and I am like them.  I started as an egg, was born like other mammals, I am cut and I heal like a scarred tree, I commune like a murder of crows, and one day I will rot and decompose like an apple core.

Am I nature?

This question has since occupied my mind daily. When I learn the effect a particular chemical or ingredient (think polyethylene beads) has on the environment (what I would call nature), I find humans are not immune to the consequences. This leads me to believe that we are not separate from nature; rather, we are nature.

Embracing this idea has led me to the conclusion that what we do to nature, we do to ourselves.


I would love to hear more opinions on this matter.

What is nature? Are we a part of it nature? Are we nature itself? How do our answers to these questions impact the way we interact with our environment?

♥ ali

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Starting Small, Apartment Gardening

Living in a small space can leave one feeling a bit limited in regards to growing an edible garden. However, there are many people making do! This front lawn transformation is what finally inspired us to give it a try! http://www.viralnova.com/lawn-garden/


ImageSomeone out there can turn something like this….


into THIS…


Working with Your Space

Before ordering a boat load of seeds or heading off to the local nursery, it is important to take a good look at your space. Answering these questions should help you get started:

Where do I live?

When will I be planting?

Will I be planting in the ground or in containers?

What soil type do I have?

What sun exposure do I have?

How will I handle watering?

Here are some links to help you answer those questions and get that garden started!

USDA Planting Zones: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/how-to-use-the-usdas-planting-zone-map

Growing Calendar (just enter your zip code):



Sun Exposure: http://gardening.about.com/od/gardendesign/qt/SunExposure.htm

Soil: http://www.hgtv.com/gardening/understanding-soil/pictures/index.html?i=1

Small Space: http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetables/a/SmVegGarden.htm

Note: Don’t be intimidated! It is perfectly acceptable, if not full on admirable to just jump in a get your hands dirty!  I am a huge fan of learning by doing, it’s my favorite method!


Our Space

One small porch.

3-4 hours of sunlight.

Our Plants

Partial Sun/Partial Shade loving plants in containers.

ImageFour planters hanging on our railing helped us maximize sun exposure.

ImageButterhead Lettuce before thinning.


Arugula and Chard


Rather than composting, we chose to replant our organic green onion bulbs from the grocery store! As you can see there’s about an inch of new growth already!


Starting some Bok Choy, Broccoli, Cat Grass, and Catnip!


“did you say catnip?”


“did you say cat grass?”


What we are growing:




Butterhead Lettuce

Green Onions (great for miso soup!)



Bok Choy

Cat Grass and Catnip (for the kitties)

There are few moments better than when you find a seedling has emerged from the soil. We look forward to saving several bucks every time we need fresh herbs, avoiding a few trips to the grocery store, cutting back on packaging, and eating with the peace of mind that we know exactly how our food was grown and where it came from.

It’s a small start, but we look forward to watching it grow into something great! And hey, it’s more than we had before!

ImageCheers! Here is to dreaming of our future farm ☺

♥ ali