5 Awesome Upcycling Ideas of the Day 06/18/13

Sorry I haven’t been posting enough! This weekend was crazy, and last night was my husband’s 21st birthday. Here are some ideas for repurposing/upcycling!

stamping old credit cards into guitar picks

Turn old credit cards and gift cards into guitar picks! From Twisted Sifter.

old cd holder as bagel holder

Turn an old blank CD holder into a bagel storage device! From Twisted Sifter.

turning library card catalogue into bar stand

Old school card catalog turned mini bar! From Twisted Sifter.

using old barrels to make a drum set

Old barrels become a drum set! From Twisted Sifter.

old door frame used as standing mirror

Turn a door into a floor length mirror! From Twisted Sifter.

Chico City Council Tries to Kick Farmer’s Market out of Downtown Chico. My response:

Dear City Council Members and Mayor Goloff,

I’m writing to you concerning your decision to try to push the Saturday Chico Certified Farmer’s Market out of their current time and/or location in downtown Chico.

My father-in-law, Reid Seibold, is a long-time vendor and current board member for the Chico Certified Farmer’s Market. My mother-in-law, Ann Noble, is a long-time vendor. My great aunt, Lori Noble, of Noble Orchards, is a long-time vendor. My mother and father raised me on produce from the farmer’s market. As long as I can remember, I have always been involved with the market somehow. I value the sense of community that exists there, I value high quality produce and other locally produced products available to me there, and I value all the people who show up every week to make the market possible.

It would truly be a tragedy, if due to the complaints of a few people, the needs of our community would no longer be met. The farmer’s market is one of the only places left where you can buy local produce. It’s one of the only places available for local farmers to sell their produce.  In a world full of food of questionable safety, I know I can rely on the local farmers for safe, quality produce. With childhood obesity, diabetes, and many other diet-related diseases on the rise, I find it hard to believe that my city government, whose job it is to keep our community safe and healthy, would see fit to rid us of this beautiful tradition.

I also find it difficult to believe that downtown business owners cannot see how the farmer’s market is a positive thing for them. The complaints I’ve heard so far basically boil down to a lack of parking, yet every Saturday our parking structures are ghost towns. The farmer’s market reminds people that downtown is not just for vagrants and drunks; it is for families and the community at large to enjoy. In addition, many people do not come downtown for any other reason except for the farmer’s market. They often shop at downtown businesses when they are already there for the farmer’s market.

It is truly appalling that you would choose to “strong arm” the farmer’s market this way. The board of directors has been more than open to negotiations of moving to another downtown location that would be better for all involved. There’s no reason for you to act this way.

If the market does move, that parking lot will likely be developed. I know that’s been a topic of conversation for years. More malls and businesses that will fail is not what we need, when we already have a market that is flourishing there.

I’m asking, as a very concerned citizen, that you please reconsider asking the farmer’s market to move. It is has been a tradition for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine having to tell my children one day that the reason we no longer have good quality produce for them to eat is because 6 people made a bad and hasty decision.

I will see you all at the meeting on Tuesday to voice this opinion, alongside many vendors, patrons, board members, and citizens who care deeply for the market.

Yours,

Cassidy Noble

Eco-Friendly Father’s Day Presents and Celebration Ideas

As you all know, father’s day is coming up this Sunday. If you’re like me and you waited until the last second to get your dad something (oops!), here’s some tips for how to keep your dad and the planet happy!

CSA Subscriptions

This is a great option for keeping Dad healthy and keeping food local! Usually, the service costs somewhere between $75-125/month, and you go pick up a new box of fruits and veggies each week! It sounds like a lot, but $20-30/week isn’t much for quality organic produce. These boxes tend to be LARGE as well. A quick google search for CSAs in your area should turn up your options.

Juicer/Dehydrator

If your dad already loves fruits and veggies, or if he’s a jerky man, think about investing in a dehydrator or juicer! This is a great way to ensure none of the beautiful produce from your CSA subscription or local farmer’s market goes bad and goes to waste.

Hit the Thrift Store

Thrift stores always have quality stuff for low prices. If you’re on a tight budget, this is how to get the biggest bang for your buck. It works especially well if you are creative and crafty. You might find something you could upcycle or repurpose to make it extra special.

Make it Yourself

This is the most time consuming option, but probably the most appreciated and special. My dad loves collages of family pictures, and giant cards. He’s also a big SF Giants fan. Take a trip to your local craft store for inspiration, grab your glue gun, and go nuts!

Choose Green Wrapping Options

Consider wrapping your dad’s present in a reusable shopping bag, or in newspaper or wrap made from recycled content. No sense in waste just for the sake of aesthetics!

This is by no means the whole list. Your imagination is the best source of inspiration, and you definitely know your dad better than some random person writing a blog post. But hopefully you’ll choose something unique and eco-friendly for Dad this year! Feel free to share your ideas by commenting!

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!