Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Disposal of the Daily Dirt

I was over at The Greenists today (which is a really cool site- thanks to The Daily Tannenbaum for the link) and I happened upon an interesting post that looks at the environmental impact of plastic grocery bags. This is an important issue and one for which I would like some insight. I posted something similar in the comment section over there, but thought that I might post it here as well in an attempt to get some suggestions.

I live in the city and have two dogs. Two dogs that poop. Being a good resident and neighbor, I pick up that poop. Normally for that purpose, I use the plastic bags that I get from the store-or that my parents get (they give me their extra for that purpose)- so I’m re-USING, but not really re-CYCLING since in the end the bags still end up in the trash. The greenest option for shopping is of course the re-USABLE bag- I have one and use it when I remember to bring it (Note to self: get better at remembering this!)- but reusable bags don’t help me pick up and dispose of the dog poo I'm faced with on a daily basis.

I would really appreciate any suggestions on the greenest way to clean up after your pet. Just to give you an idea of what I have to work with, I live in a small row house with a tiny backyard, so space is at a minimum. I’ve seen biodegradable poo bags, but are they truly ‘green’?

Please leave suggestions in the comments if you have any ideas for me. I would really appreciate any insight and would like to make whatever earth-friendly change I can while dealing with a daily chore.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Taking the Steak Out of Cheese Steak

This is yet another post about food. Whee!

Friday I had a dilemma...it was my stepmom's birthday and in keeping with my family's long and glorious history of Celebratory Subs...we were going out for cheese steaks for her birthday. Now normally...this is one of the times, like at Five Guys, where I give in and eat meat just because it's easier. Unless I want a pizza sub, there aren't tons of veggie sub options that appeal to me- and lets be honest, sometimes you're not in a pizza sub kind of mood. Added to that is the All Meat All the Time mindset of my dad's family, and I'm a 'go along to get along kind of person'. I wish I was one of those people that could just do what I do and not worry about the comments of others...but unfortunately...I am definitely NOT one of those people when it comes to my family and I dread the 'So you're not eating meat now?' convo. Yes...I'm a wuss...I'm working on it. (My mom is easy though- she's already a vegetarian. I'm trying to learn from her.)

So, for all of those reasons, I woke up kind of indifferent to my vegetarian goals that morning- Hey, it happens!- and was thinking I would just go ahead and get the meat, but then...as I arrived...I thought 'HEY- what I really like on subs is the toppings anyway!' Just like at Five Guys! SO why not just get the toppings for the cheese steak! BRILLIANT! (Like I said...I don't always think of these logical solutions first...)

So I got a cheese steak sans steak- lots of cheese, fried onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo...the whole bit. It wasn't so vegan, but it WAS meat free- and DELICIOUS! I will definitely get the same in the future.

Full disclosure: When faced with the peculiar looks from the family when I nixed the steak on my sub- did I proudly say it was because I have goals of going vegetarian?! No...*sheepish*...I used my post pregnancy weight loss goals as the explanation (which is true...but also not the Whole Story.)

Apparently...standing up for my beliefs is ALSO something I will be working through on this blog.

(Actually...my dad's family is interesting, they eat mostly organic and use tons of natural products in their homes- including using essential oils for ailments!-but meat is a touchy thing with them...I think they think of vegetarians as all crazy militant environmentalists- I know...environmentalists!- what terrible people THEY are! ;-) - and it's a hard preconceived notion to get past. I HAVE talked about how I don't agree with the factory farming practices in this country and so forth, and they mostly agree; but VEGETARIAN is a word I will have to get used to bringing up. I'll let you know what kind of progress I make on that front as well.)

Five Guys Go Vegetarian

Confession: I love Five Guys Burgers. I think they are the best burgers on earth and it is one of the few restaurants that I frequent that I do not even consider a vegetarian option. The burgers are just TOO good.

BUT...since I'm writing this blog and keeping track, I feel like it's holding me accountable, so when a friend and I made plans to go to Five Guys last Saturday...I was determined to find a vegetarian option.

Besides the Yummy Factor of the regular burgers, another reason I had never gone veg there was a perceived lack of veggie options. There is a grilled cheese, but WHO gets a grilled cheese when what they WANT is a greasy burger!? Not I.

There is also a 'veggie sandwich' but it's not a veggie burger- it was described to me as 'veggies on a bun'. Now, I like veggie burgers, but I am NOT a fan of grilled vegetables. I'm just not. Grilled veggie sandwiches first of all, usually contain veggies I don't like- namely peppers. I HATE peppers of any kind unless they are used in a recipe. I hate them by themselves, grilled or otherwise, so most veggie sandwiches just don't do it for me unless it's like a Powerhouse type thing. So in the past, when an employee described it thus, I said 'screw it' and got the burger.

However, given my new goals, I was determined to find something- so I did research on the Five Guys website. There I found a different description of the Veggie Sandwich, which said basically, that it was a bun on which you could load as many toppings as you want.

Ohhhhhh TOPPINGS you say!!! Now that's DIFFERENT!! I LOVE toppings! In fact, when I get the burger there, it's the cheese, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato that make the whole burger in my opinion. So...that's what I got: A yummy toasted bun piled with grilled mushrooms, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and mustard. And it was FAN-tastic!

So there you have it- my affair with Five Guys (hee hee) does not have to be at the expense of my Veg Goals.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taco Tuesday Success!

Wondering if I succeeded in making Taco Tuesday dairy free? I did-and it was EXCELLENT!!! I didn't even miss the cheese and sour cream, which is amazing because I. LOVE. CHEESE. I had three soft tacos with black beans, tomato salsa, medium salsa, corn, lettuce, and guacamole. So yummy. WAY yummier than I had anticipated. I shall make Taco Tuesday dairy free in the future.

Faux Ham is Good Ham and Taco Tuesday Goes Vegan

Well...Operation Recycle is still in the Find a Bin stage. Yes...I know. How hard is finding a receptacle to throw your recycling in?! Not hard. But unfortunately...this is Wants to Be Green meets Huge Slacker with More than a Pinch of Procrastination. Basically...I suck. I just haven't gotten down to my basement to find something to put the stuff in so that we're not All-Trashcan-All-the-Time. I'll get there- I promise...

So why don't we talk about something else. Lets talk about...SMARTDELI!

I love it. I have been trying to be budget conscious and take my lunch to work with me...an idea that usually dies within two days because I get so bored with what I pack, but not so this time! It's been almost three weeks (a record, believe me) and I attribute that to the fact that I love the sandwiches that I make with Smartdeli faux ham slices. Just Smartdeli (I don't even need a full serving which is four slices. Two are plenty, which helps the package last longer) a slice of cheese or two, mustard, and a dab of mayo. So...not so vegan, but vegetarian for sure. I'm sure you're thinking from that description...boy she's a simple soul and...you're right. It's not even fancy mustard. It's YELLOW. What can I say, I have cheap taste, but if it helps me keep my spending down by bringing my lunch (in my reusable lunch bag of course!) and helps me keep lunch vegetarian...than whee! I shall rock on with my simple cheap tastes.

Speaking of vegan however...today's project is VEGAN lunch. I bring my lunch every day but Tuesday- which is Taco Tuesday for me and a friend. We go to Chipotle and usually I'm not even quite vegetarian because I get the pinto beans...which have bacon in them. So I have been trying to get the black beans instead...but it's been a slow change because the pinto beans are slightly yummier. Probably BECAUSE of the bacon. DOH. Today's challenge though is to go VEGAN with it...just to see if I can find a combination of ingredients that will still get me as revved up for Taco Tuesdays as my former combination, but without the cheese and sour cream (which...I'm not going to lie...are kind of my favorite part).

Wish me luck and I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Operation Recycle Continues

Well, I got to the store to get a receptacle for recycling and realized...that I didn't want to buy a receptacle for recycling. I was much more intrigued by the soy candles that were WAY cheaper than those of the Yankee variety. I also realized that I needed a new shower curtain liner because (TMI alert) mine is turning orange, and new shower curtain liner plus soy candle (even on sale) equals no more budget for recycling bin.

But THEN, I realized...why am I BUYING a receptacle for recycling (even if it's the cheap kind) when I could just as easily dig something out of my basement that would work just as well. Yeah I know....DUH.

This brilliant idea might have come about because I spent my recycling budget on a candle to make my house smell like candy corn (I didn't know they made such a thing either!), but that's ok, it's my usual habit to think of the most logical solutions last.

I also found a bug spray that's supposed to be ok for babies, and as far as I could tell from the ingredient list, wasn't full of chemicals. I can't remember what it's called, and I'm too lazy to get off my couch to go look, but I'll be sure to post whether of not it works at a later date.

Random fact about me unrelated to the purpose of this blog but related to what I'm doing right now: I will suffer through the first 3/4 of Walk the Line just so I don't miss the scene where he sings at Folsom Prison.

Operation Recycle

Ok, today begins operation recycle, which entails the monstrous and muy difficult task of...finding a receptacle. My neighborhood has recycling pick up, we don't even have to sort it anymore, so all it takes is one bin. Seriously? Is that all that's been keeping me from doing the number one easiest thing to help the environment?!


But...ah well. I'm doing it now right?

The other project on my list for today is to find a bug repellent for a three month old that doesn't make me feel that slathering him in it will cause him to grow a third arm. It's been really wet this summer and the mosquitoes are killer, and to make it worse, my front porch seems to be where they all congregate to loiter around like juvenile delinquents. So he really needs something, but I have no idea what would be ok for him and which isn't made from 100% scary chemicals. If anyone happens to be reading this (...anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) please let me know if you are aware of an effective natural mosquito repellent for a wee babe.