File Under "Reduce"

Do you ever find yourself buying or not buying things because of the packaging? I only buy grapes at the store maybe once a year because I hate those new, non-recyclable plastic bags they put them in. I buy the giant-est natural peanut butter because it comes in a glass jar and isn't pre-mixed with other fats. I buy mustard in glass bottles. Relish. I tried to buy the yogurt that comes in glass, until the price broke me. I hate buying bags of salad greens (non-recyclable), squirm when I see potluck offerings in storebought plastic containers, and light up with delight when I see unpackaged foods, or produce in cardboard containers. As if I needed another reason to love most of the offerings at the Market.

[Photo by  Giuseppe Famiani  on  Unsplash

Yes, some plastic is recyclable, and you can find what to do with which form of plastic on King County's website, but even recyclable plastic can only move "down the chain." It can only be re-made into something else, not the same thing again. That's why all those plastic containers become fleeces and fake-wood for decks and furniture. 

I love how some of our berry farmers offer $1 off your next purchase if you return their bigger cardboard carriers (if only I could remember to bring them). And I love my reusable mesh produce bags, of which I don't have enough, and which can also double as a "delicates" bag to go through the laundry. These can be found online or at certain grocery stores.

If the following is true--

[Photo by  Jon Tyson  on  Unsplash

[Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

and I suspect 500 years might be optimistic--why not save plastic for making things that we'd like to have around for 500+ years?

I might have mentioned that it was time to clean out my in-laws' house, an activity that must rank right up there with root canals and knee-replacement surgeries. Some items were sold. Some items were donated. A very few items could be recycled. Much, much, much was thrown away. But a couple things we kept, like this deer:


It must have been bought by or given to my husband's grandmother because it's that super lightweight, translucent early plastic (celluloid) that would probably go up in flames. One of a pair that used to reside in my mother-in-law's hutch. The other deer must have gotten crushed and will spend the rest of its remaining 400+ years in pieces in the landfill.

Another keeper was the Seth Thomas Adamantine clock:


See the faux marble on either side of the clock face? Plastic. From around about 1895. Plastic can be marvelous. Its longevity can be a good thing. Just not the way we use it now.

As I look out on another smoky day on our not-very-disposable earth, I think the little choices we make, the little differences we make, continue to be so very important. Reduce - Reuse- Recycle, these things remain. But the greatest of these is Reduce.

Green Threads and Ham


So how did your ham-in-a-crockpot fare? I've decided six hours was too long for ours, even on Low, but at least it didn't dry out. And we had plenty left over for several more nights of meals. In a past post I suggested for your leftover ham the very tasty Ham and Sweet Potato Hash (which is on the menu for tonight), but this year I'd like to add a new favorite. photo (2)

This recipe makes a lot. Like 8+ servings, so feel free to 1/2 or 3/4 it. Because it's not a classic Alfredo, it reheats nicely, without the sauce separating, even in the microwave.

Pasta Alfredo with Leftover Ham and Peas

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp butter, divided

1/2 onion, chopped small

3 Tbsp flour

2 cups half-and-half

1/8 tsp salt

10 ozs pkg frozen peas, thawed (I actually don't use the whole pack)

1/4 to 1/2 lb leftover ham, chopped

3/4 c parmesan cheese

1 lb pasta, cooked (I used macaroni and leftover spaghetti noodles)

Fry onions in oil and 1 Tbsp butter until softened and lightly browned. Toward the end, throw in the ham. Remove.

Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter in same pan over low heat. Add flour, stirring constantly for two minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and add salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add onion-ham mixture, cooked pasta, peas, and most of cheese. Toss thoroughly and serve.

So much for the "ham" portion of this post. Now, to entirely switch gears, if you've been doing a little spring purging around the house, you might have clothes and linens you want to discard. Now, we all know that clothing in good condition can be donated to the usual suspects, but what about the stained stuff? The hole-y socks and underwear? The threadbare threads?photo (3)

It turns out that, in King County, we can also recycle unusable clothing and textiles. Threadcycle that vest with a broken zipper (to name one example in my closet)! Threadcycle those beach towels with unraveling corners (to name another)! As long as the items aren't wet or mildewy or soaked in flammable, hazardous material, they can be recycled into insulation or "industrial wiping rags" or even pet beds.

Bellevue Utilities News provides the all-important details:

To threadcycle, it’s just two simple steps for Bellevue residents:

  1. Call Republic Services, the provider of garbage and recycling services in Bellevue, at 425-452-4762 to arrange for a pickup day.
  2. Put the clean, dry clothing and household textiles in a clear plastic bag and place next to or on top of their recycling container on the arranged pickup day.

Of course, if you already have garbage and recycling services at your home, step #1 is not necessary. They'll just pick the stuff up on your normal recycling day. (The recycling brochure put out by the city ONLY lists step #2.)

So celebrate spring with a clean fridge and clean closet--enjoy some green threads and ham.