Forget Christmas – peach season is the most wonderful time of the year!

Ah, the peach.  The sensitive, juicy, magnificent August fruit that fills me with joy, excitement, and anticipation!  No, seriously!  You don’t get it?  Then I guess you have never had the privilege of digging your face into a freestone peach from the Creston Valley.  Though it brings me sadness that I am not posting about the freestone, but rather the redhaven peach, it’s still friggin’ delicious.

One sunny, alluring August morning, my husband and I set off for the beautiful Creston Valley to pick some peaches and apricots from one of our favourite farms: P + T Chopko.  This is my favourite time of year because the orchards and local fruitstands are in full boom with plenty of perfectly imperfect produce ranging from eggplants and potatoes, to peaches and apricots!  Creston has an abundance of beautiful food, and offer many U-Pick and We-Pick farms.

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This was our second time at P + T Chopko; I picked cherries there with a friend last summer.  This was all about the peaches though.  And boy, oh boy, did we get what we came for.  Thirty-two pounds of peaches and apricots, and the orchard was just bursting with ripe fruits for the picking.

And now I had 32 lbs of peaches and apricots… did I think this through?  The answer is YES.  YES, I THOUGHT IT THROUGH.  Because food waste is a thing avoided in our household (and a huge global problem – hello!).  It would honestly break my heart if I had to waste one of these peaches…

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Here is what I did with 32 lbs of peaches and apricots so they wouldn’t go to waste:

And of course we stopped at my favourite local fruitstand, Wloka Farms, for some eggplants and garlic, because a) they’re awesome.

Peach season is ongoing until September, so I will probably go back to the same farm and get some more.  Did you get your peach fix yet this summer?  What are your favourite ways to use up those delicious spheres?  Please share here!

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Music Festivals & Waste Reduction?

Summer is the time for sun, beaches, hiking, fruit picking, camping, bonfires, gardening …markets …biking…kayaking……swimming…okay, so pretty much insert any fun activity here that you cannot do in the winter!  Summer is of course main season for MUSIC FESTIVALS!  For nearly every musical taste there is a festival to suit your tunage needs.

Personally, I have not been drawn to music festivals until recently, but now that I live a very eco-conscious lifestyle, I knew that there would be obstacles in the way of waste reduction, as I have seen the destruction that a mob of humans can leave behind at any such festival, such as this disgusting mess at Pemberton Music Festival, and this grossness at Glastonbury.  Also, read this post from treehugger referring to music festivals as an “environmental disaster”.

Music festivals are a time to relax, dance, eat good food, be with amazing people, meet new people, and just have a crazy good time.  At what cost are we experiencing this though?  Why do we seem to lose all self control and basic manners while attending music festivals or other large events?  And how are the music festivals themselves promoting a more sustainable way of attending a celebration of music and good vibes?

In my experiences, there are festivals that value sustainability and encourage attendees to act responsibly whilst getting their jam on.  In July, my sister and I attended the Vancouver Island Music Festival in Comox Valley.  My eyes immediately caught a glimpse of bins that were placed all around the grounds, collecting garbage, recycling, and COMPOST (yay).  Another thing I was happy about was that most of the food vendors offered cardboard or paper trays/plates, and compostable cutlery (win!).  I had my own with me anyway, but I would not have been hooped had I not prepared!  There were also plenty of watering stations where you could refill your water bottles.  Oh, and did I mention the tunes?!

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In Seattle we had a more wasteful experience, especially within the beer gardens, as there were lots of vendors set up selling beer and cider, each in their own plastic cup; I found no recycling stations there?!  A little disappointing and surprising.

A couple of things you could do to lessen your impact on the festival clean-up:
1. definitely bring a reusable water bottle.  You will need it!  If you can fit it, bring
2. bring your own travel cutlery and wrap it in a napkin; these are light and small enough to fit into your bag.
3.  try and stick to vendors that offer smarter packaging/serving options!  Basically, anything not plastic is preferred.
4.  remember your responsibility, and try not to always choose the most convenient option; you’ve got time, you’re not going anywhere, so relax and think green:)

A few more tips from Trash is for Tossers.

Recently I saw something that the Wapiti Music Festival is doing in Fernie, B.C., which I think is a BRILLIANT idea.  They have switched to 100% recycled, reusable steel pint cups to use for their beer and cider.  What a promising initiative, and great example for other festivals to show that plastic-free can be done!  Sustainability win!

Next week I will be heading to the Invermere Music Festival, and hopefully there I will also find some happy alternatives to plastics!

In your festival experiences, have you found more wasteful or sustainable venues?  What have been some really promising things you saw, or some very discouraging ones?  Please share your experiences!

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And We Are Out of Resources Already: Earth Overshoot Day 2016

At Waste Not Want Not, Marguerite has done a great job to create a different perspective on how much of our resources we are using up, and that this is not a sustainable action. We need to think of future generations, think of the big picture, or there will be nothing left. Had to reblog this!

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A slightly hypothetical situation:

Every day I am out and about for the afternoon between lunch and dinner. Since I can barely go 2+ hours without eating, I know to always pack some snacks in my bag. The longer I am out between meals, the more snacks I know I need to bring. Say I have an apple tree that I use to supply my snacks for in between meals, and I am only able to snack on what my apple tree produces. If my apple tree produces 365 apples, then it would be logical to have only one pre-dinner snack every day of the year.

A not-so-logical and gluttonous way to handle my hungry/hangry situation would be to eat more than one apple per day, fully knowing I will run out before the end of the year.

Well, we as inhabitants of Earth have been handling our resources in a…

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sharing is caring: the Sharing Economy

One of my favourite childhood treats was a traditional Hamburg cookie called the Hanseat.  It was a simple, round, delicious cookie with a half pink and half white glaze; you could get them plain or filled with jam.  My sister and I ate these all the time when we were growing up in Germany, so during my trip I bought her one to make her smile.  Homeward bound, I finally arrived in Calgary, stayed with a friend, and drove myself home the next stay, stopping in Invermere at my sister’s work to present her with my gift!  I did not prepare myself for the drive in terms of food, so I was starving.  She had to leave her office for a minute.  I broke off a chunk of cookie and ate it.  She has not forgiven me since.  My response?  Sharing is caring.

Months ago I was driving, listening to CBC Radio and a segment came on about “The Sharing Economy”.  It was wildly interesting to me, as it was completely relevant with my interests in zero-waste and minimalism.  Some of the information was astounding, but also promising.

North Americans have too much stuff (obvi).  The U.S.A leads in having the biggest self-storage industry, and Canada is in close second.  Apartment dwellers tend to have limited space, so renting a self-storage unit may be applicable.  However, our homes nowadays have basements, attics, and we tend to have garages, etc, yet people are still feeling the need for more space for their stuff, so they pay money to rent another garage to store more of their crap, instead of downsizing and re-evaluating (check out Andrea’s post on minimizing and a resourceful read).

One piece of the segment I found particularly interesting is the lifetime use of a power drill.  In the average home, a drill is used an average of 13 minutes in its entire lifetime.  Thirteen minutes!  And there are over 80 million North American homes that house a power drill.  Perspective?

In comes the Sharing Economy.  There are more and more sharing capabilities coming about nowadays, such as car-sharing, home-sharing, tool libraries, public libraries, clothing swaps, garden/land sharing, and, heck, even cheese sharing (as Tammy suggested on Gippsland Unwrapped)!  This definitely fits into the zero-waste and minimalist lifestyle, as you are not having to purchase new items that probably come wrapped in copious amounts of plastic packaging, and will end up taking up space in your home, probably collecting more dust than actually being useful.

Sure, the Sharing Economy will not benefit big companies, such as car rental, self-storage, taxi, etc, but there are always more than one way of doing things; specifically, there are always more sustainable ways of doing things.  Think back to your grandparents’ days.  I just got back from visiting my Oma who remembers her childhood during the second world war.  Everything was shared within the community.  Families cooked extra and used up every piece of an animal or vegetable, and then delivered leftovers to those who had very little.  Items were traded either for other items, or for services (i.e. I will help you harvest your potatoes and you will give me part of the harvest).  Things were not wasted.  They were used.  They were shared.  They were made to last!

With the abundance of THINGS in North America, I think sharing is a great way to not just lower your spending, or lessen our impact on the environment, but also to rediscover what it means to connect with those around you.  We are very far away from that, in my opinion, as we always seem to want things just for ourselves, to be able to call it mine, mine, mine.  Our economy is based on consumption, not sustainability.

The article on CBC is very interesting, and gives lots of resources in the way of apps and organizations that are based on sharing resources.  Give it a read and have a look if there is something useful for you or something that you did not know before.  And next time you need a power drill, maybe just ask your neighbour first!

What sharing resources are available in your town?  What have you experienced in terms of the Sharing Economy?  Please share!

Endlich mal was vernuenftiges im Fernsehen…; German T.V. highlights problems with plastic packaging.

The trip to Germany is nearly over and soon I will have to say my goodbyes to my Oma.  I will elaborate on the trip itself once I am home again, but for today I need to report on something I saw on the television last night; a) because I am missing the interaction with our blogging community, and b) because it was finally a spark of environmental love that has been lacking immensely during my travels!  The topic?  Plastic waste.  Plastic is such a jerk!

The network is NDR, which I think was the same network who reported on our friends from Alternulltiv ZW Hamburg.  In the program they were discussing the heavy use of plastic packaging in big name supermarkets (like Edeka and Aldi), namely of fruits and vegetables (also, Bio products, which in Germany is organic).  Featured produce included bananas pre-wrapped in plastic bags, zucchinis sold in threes placed in a cardboard tray and then wrapped in plastic, shrink-wrapped cucumbers as we know them, and others.  These were first presented to consumers, then the experts (environmental and packaging), and then the network attempted to contact the supermarkets, which responded with some very creative answers to the packaging nonsense.

Consumers were asked on their opinions of wrapped cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, bagged bananas, etc.  The reaction was similar: the consumer would hold the product, shake their heads, and respond with, “This is completely unnecessary.”  Promising, I thought!  People do not appreciate the wrapping.  One man pointed out that when he searches for Bio (organic) products, he also expects them to be environmentally friendly (isn’t that the point, he wondered).  One woman even said she would not purchase it if it came pre-plastic-wrapped.  Good girl!

Next came the experts, who also had similar reactions: the packaging was unnecessary and completely irrelevant.

Then came the interesting part in which the network correspondents contacted the big name supermarkets to explain their abundance and redundant use of plastic packaging.  Several chains were asked the same questions, none returned with the same answer.  If you know anything about Germany, you’ll know that things are done by the book, which made me think these companies are just making stuff up; otherwise, they would likely cite the exact protocol of how they are to sell their produce.  Some said consumers are more likely to purchase packaged products.  Others claimed it kept produce fresher longer.  Others still chimed in with a well-known answer in the ZW world regarding the evil “cross-contamination” (say in Transylvanian accent)!

The experts were again turned to with the supermarkets’ responses.  The conclusions?  They are full of crap.

So, what’s with all the packaging then?  Hm.  It could be that it’s a billion dollar industry and we support it daily.

That same evening I saw yet another program as part of the news that discussed the dangers of microbeads.  The headline: microbeads more dangerous than previously thought.  If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what microbeads are, you should know you probably send them into our water systems daily.  They are in types of toothpastes, facial scrubs and cleansers, body washes, and other body products.  These get washed into our water systems and are so small they cannot be filtered out.  The result?  They float into rivers, lakes, oceans, and our groundwater, and are absorbed by the environment including by fish, which end up back on our dinner plate.  Mmmmm carcinogens!

But why are they more dangerous than previously thought?  With ongoing, extensive research, it was found that microplastics act as a magnet for toxins, carcinogens, and other pollutants in our water systems, which were far less concentrated in the absence of microbeads.  It’s a new type of toxic multivitamin.  As I said, these are absorbed by the environment and are more than likely to be re-ingested by us.  Dang!  We so stoopid.

What can I do, you say?  You can educate yourself on products you use and use your power as a consumer to purchase products that are environmentally friendly.  Translate ingredient lists.  Avoid scrubbing “grains” in makeup and body products.  It is your responsibility as a citizen of Earth.

“But I need to exfoliate!”  Enter the WASHCLOTH!  Dadadadaaaaah!

My point?  It is being talked about.  Time to join the conversation.

Have you watched a related program on TV that gave you some hope in regards to our global waste problems?  Please share!

How to Respond to Zero-Waste Naysayers

I enjoy reading Zero Waste Chef, and this is yet another post I must share because of the multiple connections I have to her words. Every single thing on earth is connected and part of the same cycle, do everything we do, however small it may seem, will and does make a difference.

The Zero-Waste Chef

Perhaps you’ve taken the Plastic Free July challenge. You’ve banned plastic wrap in your home, started carrying your reusable water bottle everywhere and maybe you’ve learned how to make yogurt. You feel very excited about your progress (as you should)! Then your friends and family criticize you and burst your bubble. Sound familiar?

“You don’t make a difference.”

Well, if nothing else, I have made a difference in my own life. I don’t eat processed food. I eat more delicious and healthier food. I get sick way less often. My kids know how to cook—a valuable life skill. I am happy. No, I can’t save the world, but I have had friends, neighbors and followers on social media tell me they have adopted some of my habits. Beth Terry’s blog influenced me and my daughter when MK found it in 2011. Imagine all the people she has encouraged to change…

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Frozen coffee drink? Don’t mind if I do, but please ZW style.

We were spoiled at times on the island and in Seattle with fresh seafood, locally made cheeses, and delicious orchard fruits, but I felt a bit like roughin’ it during our camping nights with cold chili on repeat, peanut butter on toast at breakfast, and when one shared apricot was a luxury.  Since being home I have spoiled myself with hot meals and cold drinks.  Though it was raining and chilly when I got to my front door, the days have been warming up with the sun beating down on us like she’s angry.

Our culture loves coffee.  MUST HAVE JAVA.  Every day!  Every way!  I have friends who take lattes on hikes.  Now, coffee is indeed delicious, and summer brings with it the craving for blended coffee drinks.  These can be found everywhere, not just at chain cafes, but also local ones, and of course they all come served in a plastic cup with a plastic straw.  What drives me crazy (as ecogalwaygirl mentioned recently in a rant post), is that people who know they are going to be hanging at said cafe still get their drinks in to-go cups; come on!  Can you at least pretend you give a damn about where that plastic will end up?

Ah!  This is not a rant post!  No, no!  Somehow always manages to creep in…

This is a FIND post!  I have come across a delicious iced coffee drink that you can make zero-waste style all by yourself!  It will only take about five minutes, so do not tell me you do not have the time because it will take you longer to drive to a cafe, order the drink, pay, and wait for the drink to be prepared.

It’s super simples:

  1. freeze some coffee in half of an ice cube tray (okay, this is the only prep part)
  2. put coffee cubes in a blender
  3. add a banana
  4. add 1/4 cup oats
  5. add a tblsp. of ground flaxseed
  6. add a tblsp. of cocoa powder
  7. add a wee bit of cinnamon
  8. add a tsp. or your desired amount of sweetener
  9. add 1 cup of your choice of milk
  10. blend that shit!
  11. put it in your fave glass and drink it!

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View original recipe here.

How is this zero-waste, you ask?  Well!  I get my coffee beans in bulk, grind it up in a beautiful Zassenhaus, use a french press, and compost the grounds; no trash there.  I do not bag bananas because…umm…protective peel – magic!  I get my oats, flax, cocoa, cinnamon, and honey all in bulk.  My milk comes in a glass bottle.  I suppose the only trash was the produce sticker from the banana – NOOOOOOOO!

Oh, and it does not come served in a plastic cup or with a plastic straw… because I care, damn it.  I care a lot.

What is your favourite ZW bevy?