All that waste is such a waste …

Last time I was talking about getting an e-reader, because it might be a bit better for the environment. Today I would like to discuss some other products to reduce your amount of waste. We throw away a lot of trash every day, most of it involves paper or plastic. Plastic is a non-renewable resource that never breaks dow. Not only is it bad for the environment, is’s aslo very hurtful to animals.

So, what about some alternatives?

In the bathroom:

  • Recycled toilet paper
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Shower hourglass (to save some water)

For the ladies (sorry gentlemen, this might be some information you do not want to know about):

  • Menstruation cups
  • Washable feminine pads
  • Washable cleansing pads

If you have children:

  • Washable diapers
  • Washable wipes
  • Re-usable nursing pads

In the kitchen:

  • Cloth towels (for drying hands and dishes)
  • Re-usable lunch bags
  • Shopping bag
  • Bread bag
  • Fruit bag
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Cloth napkins
  • Real plaids, forks, spoons etcetera (instead of plastic ones)
  • Make your own cleaning products and put them into old bottles

If you would like to read more about reducing your plastic waste you might like to visit http://myplasticfreelife.com and http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com

Cheapskate tips

I spend a lot of money on all kind of things. Do I like it? Not really … For most of the time I buy things I do not really enjoy, so that’s actually just a waste of money. So I’ve decided to find some ways to save a bit of money in a way I like. I’m not a cheapskate, but I do like more money left on the bank at the end of the month.

So here are some saving tips and tricks I like:

  • The sun will dry your clothes for free, the dryer won’t. Just hang your wet clothes outside to dry when the sun is shining. I don’t even own a dryer and just hang my clothes inside when it’s raining or really cold. Yes, it takes longer to dry, but it also saves a lot of money.
  • Don’t use as much detergent. Really, there’s no need for it, your clothes will get clean with less detergent.
  • Wash on a lower temperature. I only was underwear on a higher temperature, everything else gets washed on 40 Celsius degree. My washing machine doesn’t have a 30 Celsius degree option, but if yours does, you can use that one and still get nice and clean clothes.
  • I’m a cat owner and I love my cats so much, I would give my life for them. What I do not love so much however is the smell of the litter box. To help reduce the smell I just sprinkle used, dried tea leaves in the litter box.
  • Carpet can get a bit of a nasty smell sometimes, so what I like to do is to sprinkle some dried tea leaves on them, crush them a bit and let sit for 10 minutes, then vacuum. This will refresh the carpet and deodorize your vacuum cleaner and bag (especially useful if you have pets like I do).
  • Sometimes there are a bit of unpleasant smells in the fridge. I like to place dried, used green tea bags or leaves in a small open bowl in my refrigerator to help absorb odors.
  • I’m not a big fan of toxic cleaning products, but I am a big fan of a clean and fresh house. So when I’m done with squeezing a lemon, I use the rest of the lemon for cleaning the kitchen. Just sprinkle the area your would like to clean with salt or baking soda (to act as an abrasive) and then rub with the lemon halves (be careful using lemon on sensitive surfaces such as marble).
  • I drink a lot of tea and after a while mineral deposit build up in the kettle. So after I’m done using the lemon left overs to clean, I fill the kettle with water and a handful of lemon peels and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let sit for an hour, drain, and rinse well.
  • I don’t eat a lot of potatoes, but when I do I like to use the peels to make some potato crisps. Mix the potato peels with enough lemon juice and olive oil to evenly coat them. Spread the peels in a layer on a baking sheet and cook at 200 Celsius degrees, stirring once, until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Season to taste if you like.
  • To save money, I like to set myself the challenge of not spending any money for a week every once in a while. By not spending money you’ll have to take a good look into all your cabinets to see what kind of food there’s left. You will make some creative meals and also get rid of all the food that was still in your house.
  • If you have some food left but don’t know what to make with it, just go only to find a recipe in which some, or all, of the food is used.
  • Take your own bags when you go grocery shopping. Not only is it better for the environment when you don’t use the plastic or paper bags at the store, but if your supermarket is like mine and while charge you for the bags, you also will save some money.
  • I use re-usable lunch bags to take my lunch with me. It’s better for the environment and for my wallet.
  • Don’t use a credit card. I don’t own a credit card and yes, I can survive without. By using a credit card you most likely will spend more money than you think. Just pay with a debit card or pay cash.
  • I put all my change in a jar to save it for when I want to go do something fun.

 

It’s a kind of magic!

I love books, I adore books, if I could I would marry books! I have dozens of books just sitting on the shelves, watching me with their wonderful covers …

So here’s a situation I often find myself in: I’m reading a book, a wonderful book, and I’m almost finished! Just a few pages left, and I can’t wait to reach the end. But I have to go somewhere. No problem, I’ll just take the book with me. But I only have a few pages of entertainment left … So I’ll bring another book with me to read. So, two books and some other stuff in my backpack. Not that much, but quite inconvenient.

Another situation I’m well known to: I’m going on a holiday, and of course I’m bringing a book. I read about one book in two days or less, so I usually bring a lot of books with me on vacation. The airline companies love me! I always have to pay extra because my suitcase is too heavy.

So, what are the downsides of these two situation? Although the airline companies like me very much, my back isn’t that pleased with me carrying around all those books. Also, despite me bringing a lot of books, I usually still find myself left with nothing to read anymore (it’s amazing how much one person can read in a short period of time …) and I go on a hunt for some books in English (because when going to a foreign country, the chances that you will find a book in Dutch are not that big). I have a hard time saying goodbye to books, so I take them home with me, where they start to collect dust.

I think books are wonderful. I’ve always been an avid reader and I’m pretty sure I always will be. But lets face it, all those books may be good for our minds, but not so good for the environment. Think about all the paper that you need for making books and all the ink to print them. I’m pretty sure I have a few trees worth of books lying around the house.

I DO NOT say people should stop writing, publishing, buying, and reading books! Books are freedom, or at least, that’s how I think about it. But maybe there’s an other alternative for reading books …

For a long time I was very against e-readers. But after reading a bit about the effects of books on the environment I came to the conclusion that I would have to compromise. I don’t want to stop reading, but I also don’t want the environment to suffer because of me. So I got myself an e-reader. And o boy, I’m a fan! At first, it felt a bit strange, reading from a screen that looks exactly like the pages of a book. But after I got used to it, it was wonderful! I can carry around all the books I want, they don’t take any place up in my house, it’s not that bad for the environment and the screen is kind to my eyes. O yes, the e-reader is very minimalistic.

Having doubts about getting one because you like paper books so much? I know the feeling. But then I realized I can still borrow real books at the library!

Yes, an e-reader is a bit of an investment. I got myself a Sony Reader Wi-Fi PRS-T1 (I know the Kindle is big in the USA, but not in Europe), which is 150,00 EUR (that’s around 188 USD (although I’ve seen online that you can get one for around 120 USD) and around 120 GBP). I also got myself a vegan-friendly cover (I didn’t even knew that those things existed, until I went on a search for something different than a leather cover) to protect the e-reader.

IMG_7141My baby

Conclusion: I’m very pleased with my e-reader! I like that you can borrow e-books at the library, that you can find free books only and buy books online you can read right away. Maybe you consider getting one too? Go and see if you can try one out at the store or at a friend’s house. If you have any questions, just let me know.

Vegan chocolate banana pie

Vegan boring and tasteless? Well, think again! There are many nice things you can make vegan-style if you just do some research. I’m new to the whole vegan thing. As you can read in a previous post I only have experience with vegetarian dishes.

Some beginner mistakes when I first made the vegan chocolate banana pie:

  • I didn’t let the tofu leak until all the water was out. Result: moist pie that was falling apart.
  • I didn’t blend the tofu enough. Result: big pieces of tofu in the pie.

Recipe for 6/8 people

Cooking time: 30–60 minuts

Ingredients:

Stuffing:

  • 400 tofu
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons (soja)margarine
  • 1 bar of pure chocolate or 125 grams of cacao powder
  • 1 cup of sugar

Crusty bottom:

  • 1 package of cookies (you can go with what ever you like)
  • 0,5 cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (soja)margarine

Preparation:

Stuffing:

  • Melt the chocolate with 2 tablespoons of margarine OR mix the cacao powder with 2 table spoons of margarine
  • Mix the banana (you can blend it first with a blender or just use a fork), tofu (make sure you pressed all the water out and blend it in a blender until it’s smooth), sugar and the chocolate mixture until it’s smooth

Crusty bottom:

  • Crumble up the cookies and mix them with 6 tablespoons of margarine until the cookie crumbles stick together
  • Put the cookiemixture into a baking tin
  • Poor the stuffing into the baking tin and bake the pie for about 15/20 minutes at 150/175 Celsius degree

And that’s just how the cookie crumbles! Bon appétit!

Summer dreams ripped at the seams

Feeling a bit sad and down during the winter is a well-known thing. But feeling sad during summertime isn’t. Winter depression is pretty much accepted by society, summer depression isn’t. Summer depression, or sunshine depression, is a seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Usually people get a winter depression because the days get shorter and colder. About 10% of the people get it in reverse: summer triggers their depression symptoms. Some studies have found that in countries near the equator, like India, summer SAD is more common than winter SAD.

What causes summer SAD?

  • No routine. During the summer, routine goes out the window, which can cause stress. Also, vacations can disrupt your work, sleep and eating habits.
  • Body image issues. A lot of people feel terribly self-conscious about their bodies during summertime, because of the skin revealing clothing. Some people start avoiding social situations, like going to the pool, out of embarrassment.
  • The heat. Most people like it when it’s hot. They go sunbathing or enjoy other outdoor activities. For those who are not a big fan of the heat, summer can cause hiding out in your air-conditioned house, not having the energy to cook or to move.

How to deal with it?

  • Get yourself a schedule. Make sure you have everything fixed before summer starts. Figure out when you have to work, if you need someone to babysit your children, when you go on vacation or have some other activities etcetera.
  • Socialize. Consider going to that pool party anyway. Find a nice place in the shadow, bring a book or just have a conversation with someone else at the party. If you get hot, you can always jump into the pool. If you really don’t want to leave your house, try calling someone to talk to or invite someone over so you at least stay in touch with the outside world.
  • Sleep. Try to sleep at least 7 hours every night, but no more than 9 hours. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It will make you feel better. Try not to stay in bed for hours, it will increase your depression.
  • Move. Get some exercise. Running during the heat isn’t fun (for most people at least). So schedule your exercise program around the hottest hours of the day. Maybe you can run in the early morning or later in the evening, when it’s not so warm anymore. Or just go for a nice, refreshing swim. If you really can’t stand the summer heat anymore, you can always visit Snowworld.
  • Refresh yourself. Take a cold shower, sit in the shadow instead of in the sun, put your feet in a tub of water, get yourself an airco, make sure you park your car in the shadow so you won’t get overwhelmed by the heat when you get in. Put some ice in the fridge, make a nice, fresh salad, have a water fight. If you like to wear socks during summertime, take them off and put some clean once on. You will feel more refreshed right away.
  • Remember. Try to remember some of the nice memories you might have of previous summers. Maybe you had a wonderful summer at camp some year, or you remember running over the wet grass while the sprinklers are on. Maybe you went on a beautiful trip you have amazing memories of. Try to remember the good times, when summer wasn’t burning your spirit.

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.

– Anton Chekhov