Plastic Free July: 5 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

Sustainability

July is Plastic Free Month so I thought it would be a great idea to share some ideas on how to easily reduce how much plastic we’re using. It can be difficult in this day and age to avoid plastic. It seems that everywhere I turn everything is wrapped in plastic – even vegetables! Sometimes using plastic is unavoidable because of this but there are some easy ways that you can reduce your plastic usage that we can all do not only for Plastic Free July but every month of the year.

Swap Your Plastic Utensils

This is probably one of the easiest swaps you can make – instead of using the plastic utensils at work for your lunch (or anywhere when you’re eating out) carry your own reusable utensils. This can mean you have an extra set at work that you use, wash and reuse, or maybe you have a set you keep in your purse. Whatever method you prefer, this is a quick and easy way to reduce your use of plastic every day. And really, who really likes using plastic utensils anyway. You can find loads of silverware and utensils at your local thrift store, or if you’re looking for something new I suggest checking out Etsy for some of the cutest reusable sets you’ve ever seen. Both options are inexpensive and a great way to reduce your plastic usage all year long.

Reusable Bags

This is a no-brainer in California, since our free plastic bags are no longer allowed, but in other areas it may be an important switch you can make to reduce your plastic waste. Reusable bags can be anything from grocery bags, produce bags, zip-up bags to lunch bags. Whether you’re reusing your stockpile of plastic bags or purchasing washable replacements this can be a quick and easy way to lessen your plastic footprint. There are loads of options that can be purchased at local grocery stores for fairly cheap and of course Etsy always has cute and unique options that you can have shipped to you. Stock up on grocery bags, mesh produce bags and even reusable snack bags for lunches. Also, did you know you can wash zip-up bags and reuse them? I’ve been doing this for months now and have even been putting them in the dishwasher. Simply flip the bags inside out and place on the top rack of your dishwasher. Wedge them between a few cups to keep them in place and before you know it your zipper bags will be good as new!

Plastic-Free Produce

This tip can be a bit more difficult to follow depending on where you shop, but it’s also important to let our grocery stores know that we’re tired of all of our food being wrapped in plastic for no reason. I like to try and do my best to purchase only those produce items that come without any added plastic. For example, often times there are english cucumbers wrapped in plastic wrap at my local grocery store, instead of purchasing those, I’ll buy the regular cucumbers that are plastic free. Same goes for bagged salads, herbs, and things like broccoli, carrots or green beans. The easiest way to avoid plastic produce? Shopping at the farmers markets! This is also a great way to get organic produce locally while supporting your local farmers and community. Avoiding plastic wrapped produce can have a big impact per trip depending on what you normally buy and can be also be a great way to encourage us to support our local agricultural businesses.

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk means that you can use reusable containers or bags to purchase things like rice, pasta, flour, nuts and other dry items. This greatly reduces waste and is usually cheaper too! Most grocery stores have a bulk area and if you’re lucky you might even have a dedicated bulk store in your area. Simply weight the container or bag you are using before you fill it up and subtract that from the total weight of your purchase before you buy. Sometimes this can be tougher to figure out depending on where you shop, but if you speak to your local grocer they should be able to help. I’ve seen people use everything from cloth bags to mason jars to purchase items in bulk. Not only is it easy but they look better sitting in your pantry too!

Quit Single Use Water Bottles

This tip is probably the easiest and most impactful of all – purchase a reusable water bottle to refill instead of using single use plastic water bottles. This tip is huge because it can reduce a crazy amount of plastic being thrown into landfills. It’s inexpensive to purchase a nice water bottle, whether you like stainless, glass or another plastic option. Most airports, gyms, public events etc. now offer water refill stations for your reusable bottle so it’s easier than ever. Don’t like the water from your tap? That’s easy. You can either buy a filtered pitcher or sink attachment, OR purchase your water in larger amounts to fill up your reusable bottle. There are over 50 billion water bottles purchased each day that end up in the garbage. Purchasing a reusable bottle can make a difference and help greatly reduce our plastic footprint.

So there you have it! 5 Tips to reducing your plastic footprint for Plastic Free July. All of these tips are so easy and don’t cost much if anything to implement. I hope you’ll be inspired to make small changes to help our environment not just for July but for every month of the year!

Garden Check-In

Sustainability

One of my resolutions this year was to become more sustainable by growing some of my own food. I started mostly everything from seed and I am finally starting to see some of the fruits and vegetables of my labor! Here’s a quick recap of my process: I germinated most of the seeds to start. The only ones I started straight from seed were the sunflowers and the green beans. After germinating I started the seeds inside the house to make sure the weather didn’t beat them up. The beans were the only seeds sown directly outdoors. I did have a few plants die which I replaced with organic seedlings from Green Acres Nursery & Supply. The ones I replaced were the yellow squash and one of the cucumbers (only one of mine survived). I also ended up purchasing a butternut squash plant and an eggplant along with some herbs. The herbs I bought were basil, sage and oregano. I even ended up planting some green onions in a garden bed that were from the grocery store. I think I had a very successful turnout overall and am so happy that things went so well with my first season starting from seed.

Enough recap, let’s show you how everything is looking!

Here is one of three sunflowers. The first image is what the sunflower looked like when it first bloomed. The second shows the seeds forming inside of the sunflower. Stay tuned for a post on how to harvest the seeds.

There are green beans galore in the garden right now! I picked this handful last night and have many, many others waiting to ripen. I can’t wait to use these as a side dish or in a salad. I ate a couple of them raw while I was picking and they are so delicious. Even the ladybugs love them!

Since I bought the squash plants and eggplant later in the season they haven’t produced yet, but the zucchini has not disappointed. This is one of two zucchs I’ve harvested so far, and they are so delicious! And even though only one of the original cucumber plants survived it already has a baby cucumber hiding in the trellis. I can’t wait for the other to start producing too!

The tomatoes haven’t ripened yet, but the plants are loaded with babies! I just know they are all going to ripen at the same time and I am going to be overloaded with tomatoes. I am going to use this as an opportunity to learn to can them into fresh tomatoes and sauces so stay tuned for that! I have cherry tomatoes and larger tomatoes that are coming in – 6 plants total – which is going to yield me a huge crop!

The only fruit items we were looking forward to this year have either already produced or have been taken by the heat. The apricots survived and were delectable. Unfortunately, the peaches seemed like they may have gotten too hot and started falling off the tree while they were still green. I didn’t expect our trees to produce this year at all since it was their first year, but happy that at least the apricot gave us some fruit. What will be sort of cool is picking our neighbors fruit off the limbs overhanging into our yard – figs, plums and grapes oh my!

I’m so thrilled with how everything has been going and can’t wait to see more growth. Stay tuned for more posts on sunflower seed harvesting, canning, pruning and more! Until then, happy gardening!

MelissaRose

Tips for Using Reusable Bags

Sustainability

The plastic bag ban took place in California in 2014. California was the first state to pass legislature prohibiting stores from offering single use plastic bags. This was a huge step because other states have started to follow suit either by presenting their own versions of this legislation or by trying to get similar laws passed by their local governments. Actually, as of today, New York has become the second U.S. state to implement the same plastic bag ban. There are several other states still trying to get similar bills passed. It’s a big step towards becoming more environmentally friendly, but there are other points that should be considered when making the switch to reusable bags.

Plastic Bags for Purchase

There are still plastic bags available for purchase at most stores in California. These thicker plastic bags are more sturdy than their previous counterparts, however they are still made of plastic. For those of us that forgot our bags every time we went to the store in the beginning (we tried, we really did!), we ended up purchasing the newer thicker plastic bags offered by grocery stores at $.10 a pop. This is not to say that the thinner plastic bags are better, but the thicker plastic bags seem to be even worse because of the material. In order to make the newer, thicker plastic bags worth the switch, you must reuse them. I’ve seen statistics online that say you must use them at least 4 times to make the switch worth it, but I know for a fact that these guys will last for several more trips. Be sure to use these plastic bags as many times as possible to make sure they aren’t being disposed of as quickly as the thinner plastic bags. The thicker material makes them less susceptible to holes and also makes it easy to wipe them out if they get a little dirty. It’s not necessary to throw these out right away to opt for canvas or fabric bags. Create less waste in the beginning by using up what you currently have before giving them up entirely.

Plastic Produce Bags

While the plastic bag ban is great, for whatever reason the plastic produce bags are not banned. It’s easy to pile up in the produce department, using separate plastic bags for each variety of fruit and vegetable you’re purchasing. I’ve tried not using them in grocery stores and sometimes get irritated looks from the cashier when they realize all of my produce is floating around inside of my reusable bags. My tip for this, again, is to reuse the bags you already have before buying reusable produce bags. Bring them with you in your grocery tote and use them instead of pulling new ones in the produce department. Once they are no longer usable, you can purchase the netted, mesh or other fabric reusable produce bags (or make your own!). Want to make the switch right away? You can still reuse the produce bags you already have. They work great as dog poop bags, bathroom trash bags (or any other smaller trash cans), and I’ve even used them during travel to hold body wash or other liquids that may leak into my suitcase.

Reusable Tote Bags

The tote bag is a great swap for plastic bags. They can be used time and time again and can even sometimes become a cute accessory for those mundane grocery trips. Unfortunately, like every other fabric item, these things also take resources to make and to eventually dispose of. Again, make sure you are reusing your bags (plastic, canvas, fabric or otherwise) as many times as possible. This eliminates unnecessary waste and ensures that you’re not buying bags just because. Try not to overbuy these reusable bags simply for a cute pattern or because you get bored of your old ones. It can be easy to overload your pantry with reusable bags, but it’s really not doing any more good than the plastic bags if resources are being wasted to create and dispose of what’s taking their place. Try to use your existing bags as many times as possible before throwing them out or purchasing new ones to replace them.

It’s also important to remember to wash your reusable bags to keep you and your food safe from bacteria. This will also help with unsightly marks and stains that may deter your from using the bags as many times as possible. If you’re using the thicker plastic bags you can wipe them out with cleaner and if you’re using fabric or canvas you can throw them in the wash (hang dry them for an additional electricity savings). Also try to separate your tote bags by function. Save a few bags for groceries, a few for outings or other shopping trips and a couple for things that aren’t food related. Overall, you want to keep the bags separate to avoid any cross contamination. You wouldn’t want to keep a pair of dirty shoes in a bag you might later put tomatoes in.

Lastly, if you have to get new totes, try to buy bags that are made from recyclable or biodegradable materials. Several companies now offer totes made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled canvas or biodegradable hemp. You can often find tote bags at the thrift store as well. Overall, you want to be as environmentally conscious when purchasing the bags as you are when using them. Another useful sustainable tip is to upcycle old items such as t-shirts, pillow cases, old fabric, etc. into your new grocery bags. This method cuts down on waste but also saves money on buying new bags. I will try to do a separate post later this season on a few different projects you can easily do at home to make your own tote bags.

Overall the plastic bag ban is a great move for the planet. Reducing our plastic waste makes environmental sense as long as we’re doing it the right way. Always remember to use up what you own before hastily switching to something new. This can be the first and most important step in reducing waste in your own home.

Do your local stores still offer plastic bags? And if they do, do you use them or do you bring your own reusable bags? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Easy No-Sew Upcycles

Sustainability

Upcycling is a great way to take items you find at the thrift store and turn them into something new. This has become a popular topic on Youtube and the in the blog world as people recreate and recycle items all over the world. Items range from clothing, home decor, and furniture, but sometimes you just want something quick and easy to turn the drab old item into something new and fabulous. I’m all for spending time to recreate your new favorite piece, but sometimes I’m all about instant gratification. Give me a pair of scissors and 10 minutes and let me get to creating!

These two upcycles are very, very basic. Like, so basic that literally all you need is a sharp pair of scissors and 10 minutes (or less if you start getting good at this). They do not require a sewing machine or any other fancy equipment. You can also use these upcycle tips on all sorts of items including jeans, t-shirts, blouses, linen or cotton pants, and anything else you’re feeling brave enough to chop up. There are probably a thousand other tutorials you could read or watch to help you accomplish the same thing, but this is how I accomplish my end product so I hope you find it helpful.

The first DIY we’ll dive into is a pair of cropped jeans. These are super popular right now and range from skinnies, to wide legs, to boot cut, to bell. Luckily, the frayed hem look is also super trendy right now. You can have a slightly frayed hem, fray that hangs for inches or something inbetween. This makes it so that you don’t have to hem your jeans or pants after trimming them, and makes for a super fun and easy on-trend upcycle.

To begin, grab a pair of jeans. These can be an old pair you’re no longer loving or a pair that you grabbed from the thrift store that may need some extra love. The pair I’m using today are an amazing button-fly pair of vintage GAP jeans I found at the thrift store. The only thing I’m not in love with about them is the boot cut leg. I’m going to chop off the ends of the legs to turn them into a cool pair of cropped jeans with a slight flare at the end along with a raw frayed hem. Also grab a pair of sharp scissors. It’s important when you’re working with fabric, especially denim, to have sharp scissors. This ensures that you get clean straight cuts that will look intentional in the end. You can find good fabric scissors for relatively cheap on Amazon or at your local craft store. If you’re able to, I’d suggest buying some that are mid-range in price so that they last through many DIYs.

Once you have chosen your jeans, try them on and fold them up to where you’d like them to be cropped. Use photos of styles you like as a reference and a full-length mirror so that you’re able to get to a length that you’ll actually enjoy wearing. I looked up cropped jean images on Pinterest to give me a better idea of what the trend looks like and where to fold my jeans relative to my height. Once you have them folded, carefully remove the jeans without unfolding the legs. At this point, you really only need one leg to stay folded for measuring, but make sure you fold both when you have them on so you can imagine the finished look.

After removing the pants with one leg folded, use your scissors to snip a small marking at your fold line. This will act as a guide so that you can unfold the pant leg and still know where you want to cut your jeans. Unfold your pant leg and get ready to chop!

With the leg of the jeans lying flat, cut slowly and steadily in a straight line. If necessary, of if your pant legs are super wide, you can refold the leg and add another snip mark on the other side of the leg to act as a guide for a straight cut. If you’re comfortable with just going for it, simply cut straight across. A good rule to have with this is to always cut less than you originally intend. This way, if you mess up or cut a less than desirable line, you always have more to go back and cut off.

You’ve done it now! One leg is complete (well, mostly). Neatly fold the jeans in half so the longer leg is underneath the shorter leg. This will act as another guide to make sure you cut both legs the same length. Trim along the edge of the shorter leg, and voila! You have successfully cut off both ends in a symmetrical fashion. You could also use the first end piece you cut off as a guide. Lay the cut off piece on the un-cut leg and hold down as you cut off the longer leg. This will create the same symmetrical cut and ensure that your pant legs are both the same length.

All that’s left to do now is throw these babies in the wash. The more you wash them the more they will fray. You could also do this process by hand if you were short on time. Simply pull on the threads at the end of the leg over and over and over. You could also use tweezers to pull fibers from the end to get them really distressed, but I do suggest washing them at some point to get a naturally frayed look.

Onto DIY number two! This DIY is super versatile as well and there are SO MANY cutting options you can experiment with. For this particular t-shirt upcycle, I’m going to cut a v-hole (is that a thing?) in the neck to give my basic white t-shirt a more edgy look without sewing, dying or doing anything too terribly difficult or time consuming.

To begin, grab your t-shirt and your trusty fabric scissors. Again, sharp scissors are crucial with t-shirt fabric as well to get clean intentional looking cuts without any weird spikes of fabric jutting out.

Using a tape measure, measure out where the center of your neckline is. If you don’t have a tape measure, you could also either eye-ball it while laying the shirt out flat, or try the shirt on to determine where you want the center to be. I used a tape measure and pinched the material at the center of the tape, on this t-shirt, it was approximately at the 7 inch mark.

Using the center as a guide, fold the shirt in half down the front of the neckline, making sure the fabric on both sides of the fold is laying flat. Also make sure the ribbed neckline at the top is lined up so that your cut is even on both sides. Once you’re ready, cut along the messy dotted lined (stupid phone markup), or cut at whatever width and length you’d like your opening to be. You can follow the same rule as with the jeans, if you cut less now, you can always adjust later if you want the opening to be larger.

Using long smooth cuts, cut a triangle section from your shirt. After you’ve completed the cut, you can go back in with your scissors to cut away any weird or uneven lines, or to trim more away from the ribbed neckline if necessary. When you’re finished adjusting your cuts, stretch the opening slightly to smooth out your cut lines. Washing the tee will also soften the edges and make the shirt look like it was made that way from the store.

And there you have it! From plain, boring white tee, to edgy and trendy top. You could adjust your cuts in so many ways with this as well. Make the opening larger, cut slits in the shape of a triangle, make a larger cut in the back for an open back look – the options are endless!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these super easy no-sew upcycles. I know that there are thousands of tutorials like this out there, but I really wanted to give you guys something visual that didn’t require a video or a bunch of additional steps or materials. Let me know if you try out these upcycles or if you have any other favorite methods that I should try!

Until next time!

MelissaRose

March 11, NY19 Resolutions Check-In

2019 Resolutions

It’s been a while since I checked in with how my New Year’s resolutions are going, so I thought I’d write up a quick post to keep myself accountable. If you’re reading this, I hope it helps you to stick to your resolutions as well or maybe to pick back up on them if you’ve fallen off the wagon.

My first resolution is to keep up on my blog, which I am happy to say I think I’ve been doing a fairly good job doing. I’ve been posting almost once a week, and I feel like it’s really helped me to take more pride in the things I’m cooking, the plants I’m planting and the steps I’m taking towards living a more sustainable life. If you want to see what I’ve been up to, go to my home page to scroll through my most recent posts, or use the menu above to browse by category.

My second resolution was a two week detox, which ended a while ago, so I’ll be skipping to resolution #3: No New Things. Resolution #3 is basically a rule I set for myself to not buy anything new in 2019 unless absolutely necessary. So far, I am doing great, as the only things I’ve purchased new are a vacuum cleaner and some hair clips. Both of these items I feel are completely justified as I would never buy either of these things used, and the vacuum cleaner is a huge necessity in our house because of all of our fur babies. Also, I didn’t just go out and purchase a new vacuum for the heck of it, our old one took a crap and so it was necessary to find a replacement. I got an amazing pet-focused vacuum from Kohl’s which I’ve been thrilled with (major #adulting), and the Kohl’s cash program gave me $30 back which I was able to use to purchase new pads for my steam mop. To be honest, sometimes I miss buying new things, but it’s made me even more resourceful and more determined to find things used. I even found a Kitchenaid can opener at the thrift store!

Resolution #4 is sustainability through food. This is a multi-faceted goal including more cooking, less eating out, as well as starting a larger garden. So far, the cooking has been mostly on point with the exception of a few unplanned cheat days. It’s been fun to try new recipes like bagels and lobster tails in lieu of purchasing these items premade at the store or in a restaurant. I’m also finding that the more recipes I try, the more my confidence builds in the kitchen. The more confidence I have the more fun it is for me to try new things and see how many things I can make that I never thought I would before. The lobster tails and bagels (not at the same time LOL) are definitely the most daunting things I’ve tried, but both turned out wonderfully and make me excited to see what I can do next. The gardening has been going pretty great too. I will be getting ready to harden off my seedlings this week to get them ready for the great outdoors. I have one more bed to prep in the backyard before they can move in which I’m hoping to get done either this week or next weekend. The longer days should now help with having more time to get things done. Also, the weather is looking excellent (finally!) so I’m definitely looking forward to spending some time in the yard.

My fifth resolution is a pretty standard goal for most people around New Years, and that is to take better care of my physical form. It’s been a rough go the last couple of months since we’ve been getting a TON of rain. Each weekend that is hasn’t rained though, my husband and I have been taking river walks with our German shepherd Nixie. It’s about a 3.5 mile walk/hike round trip and it’s always a nice little escape and a joy to be out in nature. Also, my new gym finally opened up last week! I’ve been once so far, but I am so excited to continue to go. The place is so clean and new and I love how the machines are set up. It’s been a while since I visited a gym regularly, but I just know that if I can keep myself going for the first couple of weeks I won’t want to stop.

So that’s pretty much it on how I’m doing so far this year. Overall I’m pretty proud of my consistency and progress. I definitely think having this blog and having a place to document everything I’m working on is super helpful.

What about you? How are your resolutions going?

Until next time!

MelissaRose

5 Tips for Sustainable Gardening

Sustainability

Gardening is sustainable. You are growing your own food, thus eliminating the use of plastic or other packaging that is often used in the grocery store, the fuel that is used to transport said food to the grocery store, as well as all the pesticides and other chemicals used to grow that food commercially. But have you ever thought about how you might save other items while boasting a home garden? I’m going to give you 5 ideas for making your garden and your process more sustainable, and in many cases, cheaper too!

1. Reusable Containers

This is by far the easiest way and cheapest way to be more sustainable when starting your garden from seeds. I’ve mentioned this in a couple of my more gardening process centric posts if you want to check those out. Basically, this step is reusing items that otherwise may be thrown out as garden containers. This can mean using them for seeds, seedlings, small plants (or I guess big plants if you have large containers) or storage. The first reusable container I used for my garden was egg cartons. I used old egg cartons to start my seeds in. This was extremely cost effective and reduced my waste. Other items you can use are old plastic containers, such as for yogurt, spread, cheeses, old solo cups, or even plastic containers from previous plant projects. I’ve seen posts online using old roasted chicken containers as greenhouses, which looked and seemed like a good idea, but since we don’t eat chicken we don’t have those containers. There are also ways to make origami cups out of old newspapers to start seedlings in. For all of these versions, just make sure that when you water your plants, that there will be adequate drainage otherwise you could kill your plants.

2. Secondhand Supplies

 

I am a huge believer in buying secondhand. Most of the items I own are pre-owned and purchased from a thrift store. The same can be said for many of plant pots. I have several terra cotta pots, a few larger plastic pots and other clay pots that were all purchased at the thrift store at a fraction of the cost of my local hardware store. The big breakable pots are usually an especially good deal in comparison, so be sure to always look for those! This not only saves you loads of money but keeps these beautiful and non-biodegradable items out of our landfills. Another tip if you’re using planters that are less than gorgeous is to place the plastic planter inside of a cool basket. This hides the boring plastic container and can also be purchased for super cheap at the thrift store.

I’ve already mentioned buying pots from the thrift store, but have you ever thought about buying other larger supplies secondhand? Believe it or not, some thrift stores have outdoor areas where you can buy other gardening supplies. You could also visit your local flea market where you can sometimes find used tools such as shovels, wheelbarrows and other useful supplies. This cuts way down on cost and you can save these items from making it into our landfills. Other items to consider are reclaimed wood for planter boxes, leftover bricks and pavers for paths and borders, I’ve even seen old trellis and support pieces that you could pick up for cheap. Another great place to look is garage/yard sales. I think many people would rather be able to make a buck off of an old rake they no longer use than to dump it in the trash. You may even find old potting shelves or storage options for your stored seeds and other supplies. 

 

3. Composting

Composting is a more complicated way to be more sustainable with your gardening process. It allows you to discard your plant based kitchen waste into containers to compost for use in your garden. There are several different methods you can use depending on the size of your yard, the time you have available and the effort you want to put into it. The Farmer’s Almanac online has great info on composting if you want to learn more and start implementing this process in your own garden. The EPA also has a site that outlines the benefits versus letting your scraps go to the landfill.

4. Seed Sustainability

Swapping seeds with friends, family or neighbors is a great way to save money and be more sustainable. Check your local online sites for local gatherings of like-minded plant lovers – usually Facebook or NextDoor has groups with these interests. I’ve even seen these take place online – maybe someone who lives in the same zone, but a different area would be fun! You could send the seeds through the mail without too much trouble. You could also speak to people you work with or go to school with to find out if they share the same hobbies of planting and growing their own food. Luckily for me, many of my friends and family like to garden so I’m able to swap with them. Swapping seeds not only saves money and time wasted on going to the store, but helps to eliminate waste caused by over-buying seeds. This includes the packaging that the seeds come in, the transportation, the trip to the store, etc. I also like to save my seeds from year to year. Seeds don’t really go bad, unless stored improperly. I am storing my leftover seeds from this year to try and sprout for my garden next year as well. This will also give me the ability to log what seeds were successful, which ones were the tastiest and which ones I wouldn’t mind swapping next season. In the end, I’m saving money and finding like-minded individuals that share the same passion for growing their own food.

agriculture-crop-cultivation-95215.jpg

 

5. Water Conservation

The last sustainable tip I have for you is something that has become a huge issue here in California – water conservation. It may not seem like a big change, but adding a drip irrigation system to your garden or something similar can save big when it comes to water and your water bill. Watering the conventional way with a hose or a watering can can actually waste water. Instead of the water being concentrated in the right areas, like you can with a drip system, the entire bed gets watered when it really doesn’t need to be. An irrigation system can also be set on a time to ensure you water at the right times, whether you’re available or not and make it so that your water is being used in the best way. Installing a system may require an upfront investment, especially if you have someone else install it for you. But the investment is worth the cost when you think about the time, effort and precious resource it saves in the long run.

Those are all the tips I have for you today. Let me know if you have any additional tips for a more sustainable garden or if you are using any of these practices currently.

Until next time! 

MelissaRose

 

Transplanting Seedlings into Larger Containers

Sustainability

Since starting my seedlings, I wasn’t really sure how the entire process would turn out. It’s my first time starting my garden from seeds, and while I was up for the challenge, I couldn’t help but be nervous that I might somehow screw things up. I am happy to report that so far, everything has been growing according to plan. I presprouted my seeds a few weeks ago, moved them into egg carton planters after about a week and today I moved them into bigger containers to continue to establish strong root systems. It is exciting to watch them grow and see how quickly some of them begin to become recognizable. If you’d like to see more of that process, be sure to check out my other blog posts under Sustainability.

Last year, I started my garden from pre-grown smaller plants from my local hardware store. Doing it this way was definitely convenient, but I found it had been a bit more pricey than I had anticipated. I mean, sure, it’s great to be able to grow my own food, but why were these little plants so expensive? To top it off, they weren’t organic plants, so I couldn’t even really be sure of what I was really getting – what kind of pesticides may have been used, if any weird processes had been used to grow them or if anything had been done to the soil that they were in. Starting my garden from seeds was an easy choice, even if it meant starting the gardening process months before I needed to with the pre-grown plants. Today I feel like I really got to enjoy some of the first fruits of my labor. Moving the tiny seedlings into larger containers gave me the ability to see how much they had grown, not only above the soil, but in their root systems as well. The entire process was so gratifying, and I cannot wait for the next steps coming up within the next few months.

Since starting this process, I knew I wanted to be as cost-effective as possible. After all, this was one of the main reasons I was starting from seeds in the first place. I did this by repurposing items that otherwise would have been thrown out, and this step was no different. The plants I purchased last year for my garden all came in plastic planter pots – nothing too substantial but sturdy enough that I had decided to save them. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what I might reuse them for, but luckily had saved every single one of them anyhow. When I remembered I had stowed them away in our backyard shed I was thrilled. I was able to repurpose almost every single plastic pot so far for my garden this year. I’m also hoping, that if I’m careful, that I may be able to save them for yet another go ‘round next year. These were a perfect solution since they already had drainage holes, and were easy to label on the outsides with a permanent marker. This alleviated any need to buy additional markers for the new plants. I did not have any drainage dishes for them, but I was able to use the same black vegetable snack tray I used to place my egg cartons on when I started. They are now sitting in my living room, under the window that gets the best light, and hopefully, living their best life until it’s time to be planted outside.

I’d say this process is fairly simple. The most important part is to be as gentle as possible – we are dealing with babies here after all. As before, I will put this task in a step by step format in an effort to be as clear and concise as possible. Are you starting your garden from seeds this year, or have you ever? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for success.

Supplies

Seed babies (I guess the technical term would be “seedlings”. These are the ones you have in your egg cartons)

Bigger containers such as terra cotta or plastic pots. You could also get crafty and use red solo cups, old containers for food items such as yogurt, butter spread, etc – just be sure to punch some drainage holes into the bottom.

A small trowel or large spoon. I used a large spoon from my kitchen because it seemed to fit best into my egg carton cups.

Vegetable garden soil. I used Kellog Organic Plus Garden Soil.

A tray to place everything on once completed. This is solely for catching any water that drains out when watering your plants. If you are using a greenhouse or something that you don’t mind getting wet you can skip this supply.

Permanent marker for marking your pots. You can really use any sort of labeling system for these that you like. I’ve seen masking tape with writing on it, popsicle stick labels and even small rocks with the names of the plant written on top. Do whatever makes you happiest!

  1. Collect all of your supplies and mark your pots with the corresponding plant name that will be moving in.
  2. Paying close attention to the name on your first pot, fill the pot with garden soil and get ready to dig out your first seedling (deep breaths! And remember to be gentle).
  3. Once filled with garden soil set the pot close by and grab your large spoon. Use the spoon to carefully wiggle the seedling its roots and the dirt around the roots out of the egg carton.
  4. After you’ve removed the seedling from it’s egg cup, hold it gently in your opposite hand. This frees your dominant hand to dig a new hole in your new pot for your plant.
  5. Gently place the seed baby into the new hole of the new pot and fill around with dirt. Press this new dirt firmly into place, making sure your plant is able to stand upright as it did in the egg carton.
  6. Once firmly planted, water with your spray bottle full of water or use a watering can – whichever method you like best – get some water to the seedling. I actually transplanted all of my seedlings, and then watered them all at once at the end, but you can do in whatever order you like.
  7. Place seedlings in a place with lots of light and warmth and continue to enjoy watching them grow!

I’ve really enjoyed my process so far because I haven’t had to thin anything out this way. I know exactly which seeds sprouted and so I was able to move just one plant at a time. I’m happy to say that I only had a couple of seeds that did not sprout at all, and so I have a pretty wide range of seedlings up to this point. I will continue to keep my fingers crossed that these little seedlings stay alive long enough to provide a yummy harvest this summer. Until next time!

MelissaRose

NY19 Resolution #4: Sustainability Through Food

2019 Resolutions

When I was about 10 years old, my parents decided to escape suburban life and move to the country. We lived on several acres, had loads of animals (eventually) and my mom always had a huge garden. She would plant gobs of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, squash, berries, fruit trees and pretty much anything else you can think of. In the winter, she’d continue to garden by swapping out the beds with crops that could withstand the cold like lettuce, kale and garlic (to name a few). My siblings and I loved to sit in the garden and eat fruits and veggies right off the vine. The gardens were a great way for my parents to feed four kids and save a little bit of money, all while creating special memories.

Last year, armed with a shovel and a bit of nostalgia, I attempted a garden of my own. My backyard already had two decently sized raised planter beds that I filled with tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, squash, zucchini and a couple different types of peppers. The tomatoes went crazy as did the zucchini and the squash, the peppers didn’t do as good, but I was able to get a couple of items from each plant. It was so nice to be able to reach for organic homegrown vegetables and not have to pay outrageous prices. All it took was the starting money to buy the fertilizer and the plants plus a little elbow grease. This year, I want to make the garden even better and make the process cheaper too. I’m going to use the same two beds as last year, but this year I’m also going to dig up a planter bed on my side yard that I grew dahlias and daisies in last year. To save money, I am going to start my plants from seeds earlier in the year instead of buying plants. This will take a bit more work, but I think in the long run will be much more satisfying. Who knows, maybe I can grow extra plants and give them away!

This resolution is about becoming more sustainable overall when it comes to food in general. Not only do I hope to grow more of my own food, I hope to make more of it as well. I’ve already been learning to make my own breads, the next thing I’d like to start learning is sauces, pasta, and other items I can make ahead of time instead of purchasing from the store. I’d also like to get back into meal prepping lunches and breakfasts and being better at making dinners at home rather than ordering in. Lastly, I need to get better about physically going to the store to get my groceries instead of ordering online for pickup and delivery. Every once in a great while would be fine to use it, but the amount of money I waste on having things delivered is really adding up. This resolution shouldn’t be too challenging overall, and I’m excited to see what I can learn and accomplish while working through it.

Do you follow any of these rules regularly? How do you live a more sustainable life through your food?

MelissaRose

NY19 Resolution #3: Sustainability // No New Things

2019 Resolutions

We live in a world that is driven by hardcore consumerism. Every holiday and event presents its own opportunity to purchase something new, whether it be a gift, a card, an outfit, a pair of shoes – pretty much anything as long as you’re able to find justification. It seems a little crazy to me that we are all so ready to spend crazy amounts of money at any time on things we don’t need or on things that we give to others that they don’t really need. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love gift-giving as much as the next person and I guess what this epiphany is for me isn’t necessarily about not spending money but about being more thoughtful about what I’m spending my money on.

Throughout 2018 I made a conscious effort to quit spending money on fast-fashion, and can actually proudly say that I did not spend a single dime on clothing from Forever 21, H&M or Target. I did buy some jeans from Levi’s and a couple things from Nordstrom but that’s another story about my fashion needs altogether. But this year I am upping the ante – no purchasing anything brand new, and this is everything – no clothing, home items, kitchen accessories, bathroom decor, etc. Pretty much anything that isn’t a COMPLETE necessity, I am not going to purchase brand new. This does leave open a loop-hole – notice I say “I’m not purchasing anything brand new” not “I’m not purchasing anything at all”. The second-hand market is absolutely incredible. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to check out my Videos tab and take a look at some of the things I’ve been able to score in 2018 alone.

So this year I’m going full thrift, and there’s a couple of reasons why. #1: Money – you can save a TON of money by buying things second hand. Sure, you may not find it exactly when you need it, but if you keep a running list of items you need and check the stores each time you go, you’re bound to find it eventually. This can range from clothing items, dish ware, kitchen appliances, blankets, decor and more. I have found some of my favorite clothing items, my most treasured home decor items and some of the COOLEST things at my local thrift store. And thrift stores aren’t the only place open for business – there are garage sales, online second hand (such as Poshmark, Faceboook Marketplace and Craigslist), flea markets, closet swaps, estate sales and so many other unique opportunities to purchase other peoples no longer loved items. Reason #2: The planet – tons of items we no longer love make their way to our landfills every day. The garbage piles up higher and higher while we continue to purchase new things, only to end up adding those to the mountain of possessions we used to treasure. This kind of consumerism needs to stop. There is absolutely no reason or excuse for it, and with all of the items already circulating from purchase to dumping, it seems a waste to not pass on our used items to other people who might find great joy in them. Let’s end this cycle of buying cheap and tossing quickly to help save our planet from being swallowed up by waves and waves of garbage.

This challenge for me is very exciting. I love thrifting and find great joy in the hunt for things that I need. I’ve even purchased gifts from the thrift store that would have been better than anything I could have afforded brand new, and felt great pride in being able to give something that was not only useable and of great value but was not something that was going to fall apart in a month or end up in the garbage. Being sustainable in this aspect is something that is very important to me, and I anticipate this will be a large part of my blog as well as my YouTube channel simply because it is something that I am passionate about and would love to educate and inspire others to do the same.

Today is the last day of 2018, and I am looking forward to starting all of my resolutions tomorrow. We are having some people over for a fancy New Years Eve party with drinks, games and food which should be an excellent time. I am excited to ring in the New Year with close friends and celebrate all of the strides I am going to take in 2019 to better my life and the lives of others. If you’re enjoying what you’re seeing or know of someone who might enjoy it, please share this page with them. I’m always looking for like-minded people to connect with and to help keep myself encouraged as well as to inspire change in others. I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year – Cheers to 2019!

MelissaRose

ThredUp Online Thrift Store

Sustainability

thredup.jpg

As I said in my last post, I LOVE thrifting – “love” may not even be appropriate as I have recently become addicted to the idea (and action) of buying everything in my life secondhand at a fraction of the amount I’d normally spend. But there’s another shopping method that shares thrifting’s spot at the top of my love list – online shopping. All of the online services such as Amazon, Prime Now, E-Cart (Raley’s) and more make it so easy to order everything your heart desires without having to get dressed or leave your house (with E-Cart you do have to pick up your order, but you don’t actually have to go into the store). I use all of these pretty often to buy everything from body wash to bluetooth speakers – seriously, I ordered a bluetooth speaker on Prime Now this weekend and had it within two hours – SO COOL. Most recently though, I found that my two loves had been combined by someone who must be one of the smartest people on the planet – allow me to introduce you to ThredUp – the Largest Online Thrift Store – otherwise known as heaven. I had not heard of them until I watched this video by Youtube vlogger thataylaa, where she shows all the items she bought and did a try-on video. What-the-what!? You can get super cute, cheap clothes online without having to put on any clothes!? I said to myself with a squeal of joy – I HAD to try it. And try it I did, and I gotta say, I’m impressed. Keep reading to see what I got, how it showed up and to get yourself $10 off on your order.