Tuesday Open Thread ~ The Capacity of Abundance


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“Should consumerism be the last thing we accomplish as a species, after all this evolution and the miraculous series of accidents that granted our sentience? Would that not be an utterly dull and inane end to our history?” ~ Robert Wringham, Escape Everything!: Escape from work. Escape from consumerism. Escape from despair.

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As someone who does a lot of cooking, I have a lot of leftovers. Back in the old days, my large collection of Tupperware was my first go-to in terms of food storage. But as the years passed, I eventually began using Ziplock plastic bags. My reasoning? They were easier. So imagine what my attempt at sustainability looked like as I proudly handed over my food scraps each week in several brand new Ziplock bags to Christine Lenches-Hinkel of 301 Organics as she helped me with my composting?

To her credit, she never said a thing. Instead, after she emptied the plastic bags out, she would subtly fold them in half, hand them back to me and quietly say, “for next time”. The first time she did that, I vaguely remember understanding the intent but conveniently forgot about it after she left. We are, after all, creatures of habit and I just didn’t see myself as a person who was “crazy” enough to wash out Ziplock storage bags and re-use them. I mean, the whole idea of using them to begin with, or so I thought at the time, was so that I didn’t have to wash them, right?

Fast forward to the following week and there I am handing Christine another pair of spanking new plastic Ziplock bags filled with food scraps. I can only imagine what she was thinking but whatever it was she never gave herself away. Again she emptied the contents into the composting bin, neatly folded the plastic bags in half, handed them to me, and quietly said “for next time”.

Week three and I’m in the kitchen ready to place my food scraps inside a new Ziplock bag when I thought to myself, “Christine is going to know I didn’t use the ones she gave back to me from last week; this bag looks way too new”. So, what did I do? Well, at first I let out a big groan, and then with a good deal of irritation, I scrounged around my trash bin looking for a used Ziplock bag. Begrudgingly or not, what started out as simply re-using my plastic bags has now grown to a greater awareness of the other things I buy, use, and waste in my household. Suddenly, as I did more research, the ramifications of over-consumption began to sink in.

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“In the past three decades alone, one-third of the planet’s natural resources have been consumed. Gone. We are cutting and mining and hauling and trashing the place so fast that we’re undermining the planet’s very ability for people to live here. Where I live, in the United States, we have less than 4% of our original forests left. Forty percent of the waterways have become undrinkable. And our problem is not just that we’re using too much stuff, but we’re using more than our share. We have 5% of the world’s population but we’re consuming 30% of the world’s resources and creating 30% of the world’s waste. If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planet. And you know what? We’ve only got one.” ~ The Story of Stuff

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The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “watch your actions, they become your habits”. Or as my Mother used to say, “If you want to change your life, change something you do every day”. Maybe quoting my Mother alongside the ancient wisdom of a Chinese philosopher to talk about re-using plastic bags might seem like a bit of a stretch, but what if we applied that idea to the vast population? Because that’s what it would take. One person at a time. Whether you observe your actions as it relates over-consumption, or what steps you need to take towards zero waste, laying the foundation towards fostering better habits begins with what you are doing today. Baby steps, folks. So how about in addition to washing out our plastic bags, we begin to think about what we buy, use, and throw away?

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Well, that about wraps things up for this week's edition.
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What’s on your mind today?
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Anja Geitz's picture

Good Morning C99’ers! I’ve got a little favor to ask of you. I’m blogging over at 301 Organics but I’m not getting much foot traffic over there, so any “likes” you can spare would be greatly appreciated and make me look good for my client!!!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Turning organic waste into food growing media via composting is a great approach. If Kroger is signing on, is there an option to use their toss-outs directly to feed the hungry? Restaurants would also be a good candidate for that.

Good luck!

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Anja Geitz's picture

@QMS

Thanks for popping into 301 Organics. They do some great work and I really believe in what they are doing as a business. Guess I’ll have to do a little SEO research to figure out a way to drive traffic to the website.

Hope all is good in your neck of the woods. Probably getting a little crisp weather wise, eh?

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

@Anja Geitz

Than the weather, as far as I know.
Our compost bins have been working many years now.
Feed the gardens, bushes and trees with it.
The challenge is to keep the critters out.
So have made a rectangular cage with hinged doors,
two bins side by side. One works while the other gets 'stuffed'.
Flip the salad on occasion and feed the earth.
Wink

Thanks,
qmess

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I reuse plastic bags, foil, and plastic wrap. Consumerism drives me crazy! Just remember, though, our economy is based on a consumer economy. Just imagine if we all stopped consuming - it almost worked through the pandemic that people began to realize how much they consume and, perhaps are trying to curb their enthusiasm - we could save ourselves so much.

As a person in transition, I am cleaning out what is no longer necessary. Luckily, the past six years have seen me curb my consumer enthusiasm, which has helped in my packing and moving exercise. However, now it's up to my children to decide what they want and don't want and then let's all just live as minimally as possible.

I thrift my clothes. With the exception of underwear and socks, all clothes are thrifted. Why do I need new clothes? I don't. Period. All these holidays are ways to separate us from our money - consume and decorate your house and then store the damn stuff and buy more next year and the next, etc. What's wrong with people? Are their lives so empty they must consume to be happy? Time to change that trajectory!

Enjoy the day! Pleasantry

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"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

Anja Geitz's picture

@Raggedy Ann

Good on you! I came a little late to this way of thinking, but now that I have I’ll never be able to go back. Must find ways to get more people to become aware and start proactively doing their part!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

I am a lot like Raggedy Ann and try to recycle reuse or compost everything I can. The condo I have in Santa fe has a community garden and so I compost there. I collect my scraps in a lidded pitcher and a large coffee can. Easy enough to rinse out. In texas it is same process but no community garden. I have a bin that I turn and move the processed scraps to an area nearby where I add it to soil and also add leaves from my trees. I have not yet taken up gardening but think I have a nice prep plot going
It is hard to convince some how easy it is to add that small step of recycling and composting to their food consumption routine.
Have a good day and thanks for bringing up this topic and link to 301 organics.

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Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

Anja Geitz's picture

@jakkalbessie

It’s been an interesting journey for me. I’ve only been composting for a month but already my perceptions have changed. Good to hear of your efforts. We should start an unofficial club! Lol.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

ggersh's picture

we as a people have been warned forever where it all was leading

https://www.reddit.com/r/WayOfTheBern/comments/jer0am/the_republican_and...

“The Republican and Democratic parties, or, to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.”

Eugene V Debs 10/20//1926

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Buy a Bible don't read it and you'll be a Catholic
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enhydra lutris's picture

and other plastic bags, and foil, but find we still use plenty of "tupperware" and old fashioned lidded glass/ceramic containers too, depending upon purpose and such. A lot depends upon whether it is going into the fridge or the freezer and is it leftovers or something we're making for later.

Congrats on your 301 blog. Will that be daily, weekly or what? You probably should make sure that you have a few FAQs for the FAQ section of the web page, even if they're silly, just so there is something there for browsers and inquiring minds, maybe "what is composting?", "does it stink?", "can I compost styrofoam?", etc.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

@enhydra lutris

I still use my Tupperware too. And you’re right, it depends on what I’m doing with it. So glad to hear people re-using stuff. Of course, you are less of a surprise when it comes to that. Must be your time in wilderness that made me think that Wink

Right now I am blogging for 301 Organics on a weekly basis. But that might be contingent on how much traffic the blog gets, and how long my client is willing to wait for that to happen. This is all new territory for me. Will have to do a little digital marketing research and see what I can make happen. In the meantime, a few new likes on that page will help. Thanks!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

usefewersyllables's picture

@Anja Geitz

those ubiquitous plastic deli containers (think hot and sour soup) for everything under the sun, and we use them until they crack- at which point I then promote them into a role sprouting seedlings or rooting cuttings. They will all eventually fail and have to be sent down the road in the recycling bin, of course, but we get many, many reuses of them prior to that. Our fridge right now probably has 15 of them just from this weekend's cook, all parceled out into lunch or dinner portions for the week. And the deep freeze has two full shelves of them (pro tip: after they are frozen, you can turn every other one upside down in order to close-pack them and fit one more row and column in). The half-pints are great for mise en place for our big cook days, too.

The very best use of a quart deli is that our favorite Mexican restaurant will quite happily make us a quart of our favorite Silver Coin margaritas in one for Covid-distanced carryout. Yum!

Our wedding-present tupperware finally got brittle, cracked, and was retired to the recycle bin a long time ago- but their spirits live on. And on. And on!

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Granma's picture

@usefewersyllables sell soup containers in 2 sizes that can be re-used many times. They are made to hold very cold or hot foods. They can be frozen or go in microwave and are quite inexpensive. Some people use almost nothing else to store food. It sounds like you are using something similar that is working well for you.

At least some of the restaurant supply stores are open to regular retail customers.

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travelerxxx's picture

@Granma

Not certain whether they are considered "soup containers" or not, but our main storage containers are stock restaurant items. They are sometimes referred to as deli containers. These come in many sizes. Usually the quart-and-under sizes all use the same size lid, which make life more simple.

They'll take many, many re-uses, can be filled hot, can be frozen, microwaved, and ours can stand a dishwasher with no problem. Oh, they are dirt cheap. You might have to order several dozen at once, but family loves getting our excess as gifts. Further, we don't feel bad about sending leftovers home with family or friends, and then worrying about getting our containers back.

We use them practically daily, and in the past decade or so have only discarded a few. A few got badly discolored due to not paying attention to them while in the microwave when filled with tomato products. A couple of them finally developed splits or cracks.

We've got around 40 of them in the cupboard along with their lids. Since they nest and stack, a large number of them takes up little space. Naturally, they stack in the freezer or refrigerator as well. They aren't clear, but rather opaque; good enough to tell what's in them.

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Granma's picture

@travelerxxx We're talking about the same item. I have only recently learned about them and am eager to get some.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@Granma

We buy enough take-out Chinese food (and margaritas...) that our supply is essentially unending. We don't need to go seek these out to buy separately, because they just show up now and again when we're too lazy or tired to cook. As old ones become brittle and age out, new ones appear with the hot and sour soup, as if by magic.

However, things are changing- our homemade hot and sour is starting to catch up with what we get from our favorite Chinese place. We already stopped buying Tom Ka Gai from the the Thai place in favor of making our own, so we're getting fewer and fewer of them in as time goes on.

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Anja Geitz's picture

@usefewersyllables

Thanks for stopping by! I am really enjoying hearing the different ways C99 members re-cycle and re-use their stuff. Your take out container idea is quite brilliant. Talk about making good use out of stuff everyone else is throwing away. I tell ya, it’s crazy!

Btw, how old was your wedding gift Tupperware, if you don’t mind my asking? Some of my Tupperware pieces are over 30 years old, and while they look a little worse for wear, they do what they’re suppose to!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

usefewersyllables's picture

@Anja Geitz

over 30 years old, as well. The real problem was that they weren't actually Tupperware- they were some import knock-off that simply looked the part. Long story. I misused the term generically, like Kleenex or Band-Aid.

I do have one or two pieces of real honest-to-goodness Tupperware (probably blessed by Earl Tupper himself) that my mother sent with me when I went off to college in the 70s, and they were old even back then. They have to be well over 50, and are still going strong. But they are the wrong size for our daily/seasonal use (of course- otherwise, why would she have parted with them?), so they mostly stay in the back of the cupboard...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Anja Geitz's picture

@usefewersyllables

I’m old enough that I actually went to Tupperware parties where my sister was Tupperware Lady. Which is where I bought my collection of Tupperware in the early 1980’s. And yes, we taught women how to “burp” their bowls.

They have to be well over 50, and are still going strong

Pity they were sizes you couldn’t use. But seriously, how many things can you say that about today?

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

usefewersyllables's picture

@Anja Geitz

and the lid is so tight that it will remove your fingernails in trying to open it (and using vise grips in the kitchen is frowned upon by my long-suffering wife). And who saves back 1 or 2oz of anything, especially if it makes you bleed to open it? If I'm prepping onions and there's that little left over, then it goes right into the pot...

Those teeny ones are not as useful as one would hope, especially when they get old and stiff. Of course, the same thing could be said for old-and-stiff me, even though I'm far from teeny. (;-)

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Anja Geitz's picture

@usefewersyllables

that's what I put in those tiny containers.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

travelerxxx's picture

@Anja Geitz

Before I met her, my wife was a Tupperware user, so we have a good amount of the stuff. I'm particularly impressed with the containers we're using for flour, sugar, etc. Critters and various bugs are totally stopped by our Tupperware, which is a big deal.

You pay more for their products, but it looks as though our stuff (thirty-plus years old) will easily outlive me. In the end, they're cheaper than throw-away shoddy products.

I've been suspicious of the multi-level marketing (MLM) of Tupperware, but perhaps it's saved the company from predators*. I know the company has been sold a few times over the years, but I understand it's once again a single entity. I'm guessing that the virus situation has adversely affected the Tupperware Party sales model. However, and oddly enough, there is a brick-and-mortar Tupperware store within a couple of miles from our home. Or at least there was before the pandemic began. It's the only one I've ever seen.

* [Regarding "predators," it's not always a competitor who is the predator. Read here of the destruction of Tupperware competitor Rubbermaid by Walmart. Something similar happened to Vlasic ...and many more.]

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Lookout's picture

Trade day was booming this AM. When there is so much stuff I enjoy the longer stroll and seeing all the goods. Saw someone buy a dozen (live) chickens in one deal. I only bought a few lemons. It is important to learn to buy only what you need rather than what you want. My good friend put it well, "the less you want, the more you'll have".

I avoid plastic as much as possible. But it is pervasive in our world. I freeze produce, meat, and leftover prepared dishes in plastic bags, but store and can in glass. I take my own bags to the grocery (except when the garden is in high production and I'm giving food away - then those bags are reused).

We have a simple recycling area using paper bags lined with paste paper boxes to collect glass, paper (mainly junk mail), plastic bottles they claim to recycle, metal cans, and aluminum cans. We've been doing that for decades so it is just habit and not difficult. We do have to drive those sources to different sides of the mountain cause some centers accept things that the other does not.

We use a bowl with a silicone sealing lid beside the sink for kitchen scraps. It isn't rocket science but sadly is part of the US mind set. Good on you for helping folks see their way to a more sustainable approach!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

magiamma's picture

And accessible to people who are not aware yet. Thanks for this.

Easy to heart your blog. Will pass it on to my climate compadres.

Fogs already rolling in at 4:30. Must be hot in the valley. Any word on the fires in norcal?

Just found this. Never hit save. Lol. Have a good one

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Anja Geitz's picture

@magiamma

Really appreciate your kind words and sharing my work!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma

Just found this. Never hit save. Lol. Have a good one

I cannot tell you how often I do that, sometimes not findig it until the next day.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

@enhydra lutris

And your quirky ways...

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier