5 Awesome Repurposing and Upcycling Ideas of the Week!

Happy Friday everyone! Spice up your weekend with a DIY project (: Here’s some ideas:

craft ideas do it yourself (3)

From Dumpaday.com

Upcycled Doily Lamp, from Blogger ShannonSouth

Paper Flower Kusudama Ball by PinkOnHead

Pretty paper flowers decoration from Find Inspirations

Herb garden after 2

Turn old coffee cans into hanging herb gardens for easy access in the kitchen. From persephonemagazine.com

Made from an old CD case. From good.is

Whose Responsibility is it to Keep Food Safe?

My parents grew up in a generation that believed in plastic and canning to ensure food safety. Now, with BPA in everything from beer cans to water bottles, I’m not so sure canned food is the way to go anymore. Plastic wrapping can even contaminate food with dangerous chemicals. Remember “pink slime“? The stuff found in almost all ground beef? Makes you scratch your head and wonder, who is saying this stuff is safe?

The FDA is the agency charged with evaluating the safety of food and drug products. But have they truly kept us safe? In 2009, the CDC released a study that found BPA in 93% of 2,517 urine samples collected from people as young as 6-years-old. Food and drink are the main sources of exposure to BPA, which was even commonly used in baby bottles until recently. Chilling, since BPA is linked to hormone disruption, diabetes, cancer, and childhood obesity.

According to a 2007 USA Today article, the FDA is only testing 1.3% of all imported food, and yet regularly finds that imported produce, fish, wheat, and other products are not fit for human consumption. In it’s defense, the FDA released a special report in 2011 called “Pathway to Global Product Safety and Quality” explaining that between 10-15% of all food consumed by U.S. households is imported, nearly two-thirds of all fruits and vegetables are imported, and nearly 80% of seafood is imported.

That begs the question, are we consumers partially to blame for this problem?

I think we are. After all, who really needs to eat mangoes in December? We just want to. And it’s convenient to just go down to the supermarket and get one. I think consumers drive every market. In that case, isn’t it time we stop relying on an administration to take care of food safety for us and take on that responsibility ourselves?

You can reduce dependence on imported food by eating locally produced goods! Shop your local farmers’ market, and small, independent grocers. There is a huge and abundant variety of fruits and veggies and bread and everything else at the Chico Certified Farmer’s Market. I shop it once a week, and get more than enough produce to last the whole week.

Even better, grow your own fruits and veggies! Raise your own chickens! I just read a really cool article about a homesteading class being offered at Rutgers in New Jersey. I hope more classes like this start popping up in communities all over the U.S. There is something very American to me about wanting to DIY! My hope for my husband and myself is that we eventually become completely self-reliant.

I definitely think the FDA is in need of an overhaul, but I think we consumers have come to have unrealistic expectations. I don’t think it’s fair to point the finger and say it’s all the FDA’s fault, when we’re the ones who simply had to have apples in June. Eat what is local and in season, and take responsibility for your own food safety by growing the food yourself, or buying from local, reputable  farmers.

Compost for Dummies

Composting can be tricky! Believe me, I know. I live in a duplex and have VERY limited space both in and outside the house. Some people don’t like the smell, others think it’s just too time consuming. So I’ve done a little bit of research to find solutions for these problems and make composting practical for everyone!

What is considered “compostable”?

It’s more than you think. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list I got from Blue Bag Organics:

  • Pretty much any type of food
  • Yard waste
  • Meat/poultry bones
  • Paper cups, plates, towels, and napkins
  • Wax paper/ Parchment paper
  • Wax-coated paperboard packaging and containers
  • Eggs and nutshells
  • Fruit stones
  • Takeout and to-go containers (no Styrofoam or metal handles)
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Pizza boxes
  • Tea leaves and tea bags (remove staple)
  • Butter and margarine wrappers

Small Space Solutions

  • Worm Bins: Apartment Therapy has a how-to for making a small, indoor worm bin. These critters take your coffee grinds and food scraps and turn it into fertilizer for the garden! It’s cheap to start up and it beats paying for fertilizer at the store.
  • Basic compost circles: If you have any patio or lawn area at all, you can simply buy a few yards of chicken wire and some wood or metal stakes and make a cylinder to put your compost in. Very inexpensive start up, but can be stinky.
  • Under the sink bins: Keep a small closed bucket in the kitchen for food scraps to be taken to a larger compost outside. It makes it super convenient and easy to remember to compost.

Solutions for the Smell

  • Bokashi Composting Kits: These containers are amazing. Very small, odorless, and able to be used indoors, this is composting for the truly lazy (like me!). The kit comes with everything you need to get started, and you’re guaranteed to have compost in 2 weeks. Slightly pricey, it costs just under $55 plus shipping.
  • Placement is everything! If you’ve got some space, build a larger composting area, but do it away from your house and your neighbors to avoid unwanted odors and unwanted vermin attracted to these odors!

My research has shown that the hard part, like most things, is getting started. Once you start, you will be hooked! You will put less trash out on the curb each week, and end up with nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer for your garden. Talk about win-win! If you have other ideas for making composting accessible and doable, please share them by commenting below!