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Gadgets that save waste rather than creating waste

 
gardener
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I have been thinking about this topic. Gadgets. New gadgets. Better gadgets. They are everywhere.

I am putting them into 2 categories.

1. Gadgets that may do something better, but is not needed because you have an alternative.
  A. A back scratcher vs a wooden spoon or stick.
  B. A potato peeler or avocado peeler vs a knife.

2. Gadgets that save waste.
  A. Silicone storage bags vs throwaway zip type storage bags.
  B. Reusable grocery bags vs throwaway bags at stores.
  C. Vacuum attachment for mason jars vs zip type or vac seal bags.

So many new gadgets in recent years. What have you found for category 2,  gadgets that save waste?  I thought I could list 20 items but I am struggling.
 
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Would a retort burn barrel that creates biochar fall into that second category?  It converts waste into something that is ultimately saveable.  Once wood is charred, it remains for a long, long, long time.

I wish someone would create something small, portable, and easy to use in this regard.  In the same way that compost tumblers made making compost less daunting to suburban home owners, and do-it-yourself worm farm kits made worm composting easy and accessible for people who wanted to keep these under the kitchen sink, I'd love to see a wheelbarrow sized "Biochar-o-matic".  Simply fill the burn barrel with wood scraps, close it up, light it, flip the lever once the thermometer says you've reached optimal temperature, and then close the baffle after 10 additional minutes.  Bada-bing, bada boom.  Simply and (relatively) cleanly produce small batches of charcoal that you can then throw into your compost tumbler.

Order today!

I'll trade you 10 stupid kitchen gadgets (juicer, anyone?) for a lightly used Biochar-o-matic.
 
pollinator
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I was thinking about the same thing Marco.

I always wanted to build a liquid bottom boiler that would turn trash into electricity so that I would have zero waste, zero emissions, and generate KW's for my home.

As for those kitchen gadgets, I am a minimalist so I am not drawn into those marketing ploys, but my mother sure is. She buys so much junk based on that..."look what this does Travis", she will say, and then wonders why she has garage space for 8 cars, and is building more space for another 2 cars. Who has a 5280 sq ft home, and a 10 car garage? (People who have a lot of gadgets)
 
pioneer
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My approach to reducing waste is:

Buy as much second hand as possible. Anything that you can't find second hand, buy the most durable product on the market. Here's a few high quality things I own:

- Levis jeans (bought 8 years ago, no tears in fabric)
- leather boots
- 18/10 stainless steel pressure cooker
- Expensive hiking tent with good zippers and ripstop fabric
- Expensive sleeping bag
- Thick plastic glasses with lenses replaced twice so far, and sunglasses, lenses replaced once

Long term electronic gadgets:

- Nokia 8110
- Ipod classic
- Sennheiser headphones (just threw them out after 7 years).

Things on my list to buy are a cast iron skillet, glass containers with clippable lids and resusable freezer bags

 
gardener & author
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I find that insulated vacuum flasks that hold either drink or food (such as Thermos ones) help me to reduce waste while away from home - if I have a flask full of stew or tea with me in cold weather, it makes it easier to avoid take away food and drinks, so these have resulted in reduced packaging waste as well as saving money.

I haven't tried those silicon bags yet, but once we have a freezer running again I'd be interested to try them for packing up bulk meat.

A sausage maker helps reduce waste because I make salami and chorizo as meat that can just hang in the larder without any electricity or plastic.

Everyone has different ideas on which gadgets reduce waste. There's a lot of fuss about reusable takeaway coffee cups, and for some people that buy a lot of takeaway coffees they make sense, but there's always the option of refusing to buy takeaway coffee. Same goes for reuseable straws and basically everything else I see in the zero waste section of shops - there's usually a way to refuse it in the first place, or a homemade alternative.
 
master steward
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Rechargable AA batteries
Mason jars in general
Tattler mason jar lids (reusable)
Maybe one of those soda stream things if it keeps you from buying soda
Berkey water filter if it keeps you from buying bottled water
French butter saver to keep butter in water so it's soft and won't go bad in the heat of summer (maybe it's not Frech but that's what I was told)
Wine bottle resealers
Clothes line
Smart phone that takes the place of a digital camera and gps.  Maybe.  If it lasts more than 4 years...
Chickens
Compost bucket or countertop bucket if you're currently throwing food scraps away
 
wayne fajkus
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These are the silicone storage bags. So far they are a success. They can be turned inside out to wash them. They appear to be water tite. The closure slips on and off.

We have gotten to where we are not buying plastic containers anymore (coffee, butter tubs, yogurt, etc). So they are not in easy reach. Take fishing as an example. Some fish are cut up into bait. Then they go into freezer for next time. This turns into zip style plastic bags or vacuum sealing bags. This is a viable no waste alternative. That bag will always be the cut bait bag. Lol.
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silicone storage bags
silicone storage bags
 
wayne fajkus
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Kate Downham, a year ago i bought a yeti 36oz thermos. In times when i was driving a lot I would stop 1 or 2 times a day for a bottled water (or mountain dew). And why not get a honeybun while i am in the store. I am surprised i did not list that. 500 plastic bottles saved a year? And excluding the mountain dew and honey bun made me....healthier? It is amazing how quick one person can make a huge disaster.


Coffee. I made this change when elemental ecosystems was here doing earthworks. Every morning Ben made his cup of coffee with something similar. We were k cup people because we only made 2 cups each morning. We switched to a pour over coffee maker as pictured.

This saves a minimum of 700 k cups per year. It's probably more like 1,000 as my wife enjoys an evening cup.
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pour over coffee maker
pour over coffee maker
 
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Large "gadgets", but roof racks and hitches on our small cars increase their capacity several fold, saving significant amouts of fuel over a larger vehicle.

Electric fence chargers significantly reduce the amount of materials needed to control livestock.

Chainsaws make wood heat a reality, saving fossil fuels.

 
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1. Gadgets that may do something better, but is not needed because you have an alternative.

I’ve inherited many old ‘gadgets’:

Sliced versus loaf bread: A very sharp, serrated bread knife that my Great Grand Mother used. It comes from the 1800’s and is as good as the day it was made. I regularly slice fingers open with it!
Hand mincers versus food processor: one for meat and one for chutney/salsa making. The meat one (circa 1890’s) is actually used to make chilli (hot Indian variety). These are superior to food processors as they tend to irregularly cut and bruise the ingredients which increases flavour extraction. Food processors tend to extract a lot of the cell moisture and make slop.
Mortar and Pestle versus electric grinder: the M&P is FAR, FAR, FAR superior than an electric grinder. Similar to the hand mincers, it extracts and mixes essential oils and flavours without overheating the ingredients.
Corded electric power tools: may not be as convenient as battery operated ones, but show me a battery version that’s lasted +50 years!


2. Gadgets that save waste.

Us, the chooks, worm farm, compost bin and garden: that’s the ‘life-cycle’ in this household, no organic stuff gets wasted. If we can’t eat it, it goes to the other streams.
Worm farm: probably the best investments I’ve made – those little buggers create a very gentle fertiliser/soil conditioner that can be used on all plants.
Commercial Compost Bins: good space saving alternative to the traditional pile. They can be strategically located to save on labour.
Wood fired BBQ: a bit of a hassle, but superior in flavour to gas/electric
Plastic Garbage Bins: I’ve wasted a lot of chook food by storing it in those plastic flax-type bags because of mice and rats. Now I empty it into a series of bins for safe storage away from vermin and moisture. They’re kept out of sunlight, so should last decades if not longer.
Water and Light: we get government rebates to install water-saving devices on taps and showerheads, rainwater tanks, hot water tanks, solar PV power, changing CFL/Halogen globes to LED; upgrading fridges, TV’s and Air Con. I believe some States also include household insulation and buying locally sourced materials. The dual flush toilet is a basic requirement in homes now.
‘Keep Cup’: a reusable thermo glass or ceramic cup with silicon lid to replace takeaway paper/plastic lined cups. All Cafes accept these now – just hand the cup to the Barista, they do their magic, voila! How nature intended - drinking coffee/tea out of glass/ceramic is so civilised!



 
pollinator
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Reusable stuff is great as long as it isn't a hassle to clean.  I have a small swing arm towel rack on the side of my kitchen cabinet so it swings out over my kitchen sink.  I use this to hang dry my reusable baggies.  It is also great for hanging buckets and large stock pots to dry since I have limited counter space.

The ever useful cleaning rags, dish towels, and cloth napkins.  




 
wayne fajkus
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Here is what i consider the best strainer ever. It is made for straining honey out of the combs. It has replaced virtually every other strainer i have and prevented me from buying other "specialty"strainers.

The 2 strainers work in conjunction (stackable) to minimize clogging. Big stuff stays in top compartment, fine stuff goes to bottom compartment.

In the pic it is straining a gallon of homemade yogurt. Alternative is cheesecloth or a not very well made plastic strainer made for the purpose. I suspect if it does yogurt, it will do cheeses. The adjustable bar will allow it to hover over pots, buckets, mixing bowls. The greek style yogurt can flip out leaving very little residue behind. I'll follow up tomorrow when it is done. It held a full gallon of yogurt.

Other uses:
Straining broth.
Draining pasta.
Juicing (separate pulp from juice for winemaking)
Honey (of course)
Draining homemade salt (dump salt in if not completely dry from evaporation)
Other uses i haven't tried like pushing cooked tomatos through to get the pulp but leave the seeds.
Lots of gadgets can be replaced with this. It seems tuff.
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Steel strainer set
Steel strainer set
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Making Greek yogurt with a steel strainer
Making Greek yogurt with a steel strainer
 
wayne fajkus
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This one totally blew my mind. It's an an example of an oldie being the goodie. Ice trays !

When i needed to start making my own ice, i immediately went to the new tech.

The pair on left is plastic on top, silicone bottom. It had a lid so it doesnt get stale which was a plus. Theory is you push the silicone bottom to push out the ice. I still had to twist the tray to break it free, then push it out. It doesn't push easy. Some broke on the initial twist. Fail

Middle tray is all silicone.  Comes with or without a lid. Ice came out better than the first tray but it's almost like you are peeling it off. Taking the tray to the freezer is almost impossible as it has no rigidity. The water can spill out. It is not stackable unless you get the lids. Fail.

As i was scrolling through Amazon, the last ice tray had like 16 million reviews and almost 5 stars (4.8?). It was the old standard Rubbermaid tray. No lid which is a slight negative for my needs. I can figure that out or look deeper to see if it is made. They do stack. Plenty of rigidity to get it from counter to freezer without spilling.  The ease of releasing the ice was amazing.  Very little effort needed. Reviews talked about them still releasing after a decade. The smooth surface seems key, I would not clean with an abrasive sponge.
Comparing-ice-trays.jpg
Comparing ice trays
Comparing ice trays
 
Kate Muller
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wayne fajkus wrote:Here is what i consider the best strainer ever. It is made for straining honey out of the combs. It has replaced virtually every other strainer i have and prevented me from buying other "specialty"strainers.





I love mine.  
I last used mine for saving seed.
 
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A good knife (or a couple of good knives of different sizes)  and a cast iron skillet. You can use the knife as a knife, as a peeler, and a chopper, as a garlic smasher, to open hard to open lids, as a screwdriver, to slaughter chickens, for protection, as a spatula, as a bread dough scraper, as a cheese slicer, as a hard boiled egg slicer. I used to work in a restaurant and a knife was sort of an extension of my hand. I'm pretty good with a knife. You can use the cast iron skillet as a skillet. If you put a lid on it or some foil, you can use it as a pot. If it's seasoned correctly, you can use it instead of a Teflon skillet. You can use it as an omelet pan. You can use it as a pie pan or a casserole dish or a cake pan or to make corn bread in. You can use it as a bowl. You can use it as a brownie pan in a chocolate emergency. You can use it a hamburger press or to tenderize meat. You can use it as a weapon. If you have good knives and a good cast iron skillet, you don't need much else in your kitchen to make a meal.
 
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Being able to do minor repairs on the spot wastes less time and travel.  I don't like to have to choose between pliers or knife, and have two hands, so I carry separate pliers.  The absolute champions for this are the slip-joint Channelock models, particularly the rare #546.  With the hinge set for "wide" the handles fold together, making a nice slim package.  The jaws are very versatile, with tips that are like cross-hatched linesman's, but without the weight and bulk, a big round or hex gripping section, and a cutter
 
Bob Stuart
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Marco Banks wrote:Would a retort burn barrel that creates biochar fall into that second category?  It converts waste into something that is ultimately saveable.  Once wood is charred, it remains for a long, long, long time.

I wish someone would create something small, portable, and easy to use in this regard.  In the same way that compost tumblers made making compost less daunting to suburban home owners, and do-it-yourself worm farm kits made worm composting easy and accessible for people who wanted to keep these under the kitchen sink, I'd love to see a wheelbarrow sized "Biochar-o-matic".  Simply fill the burn barrel with wood scraps, close it up, light it, flip the lever once the thermometer says you've reached optimal temperature, and then close the baffle after 10 additional minutes.  Bada-bing, bada boom.  Simply and (relatively) cleanly produce small batches of charcoal that you can then throw into your compost tumbler.

Order today!

I'll trade you 10 stupid kitchen gadgets (juicer, anyone?) for a lightly used Biochar-o-matic.



I've been thinking of a rig to make biochar from logging waste, and would appreciate any news of similar efforts.  So far, I've been thinking of a system based on 45 gal drums with clamp-on lids.  It would release a bit of carbon getting going, but then run continuously.  Two barrels go in an oven, stacked, on their sides.  The upper barrel is getting pre-heated, while the lower one cooks off its own gas by burning it at the bottom of the oven.  By the time the bottom barrel's burner dies, the top one has started, so the bottom one is removed for cooling and a green barrel goes in the top.  The cooling barrel might pre-heat the incoming air.  A fourth barrel would be getting loaded.  For wet wood, a condensing chimney could also help with pre-heating.
 
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The tools that I use for recycling buildings, has saved many tons of building materials. About 15,000 so far.

My wide array of cordless electric tools mean that I'm not dragging extension cords and I'm not breathing gasoline fumes when I work on trees and hedges. I had someone question weather my cordless hedge trimmer was up to the task. I showed a picture and I explained that I charge $60 an hour for that service.
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I've been thinking about making a plastic chopper for my town at the local dump and give it to them: I'm seeing dumpers-full of plastics and assorted recyclables which, I am told, are *not* being recycled  [Aaaargh]
As a civilization, we are in danger of being swallowed by our own garbage and at the dump might be the best place to start. I'm pretty sure the technology exists and I've seen U-Tube footage of machines that can grind plastic to tiny pieces. It seems like a worthwhile project. At least, this horrible garbage would take a lot less room, if nothing else. Perhaps even the plastics could be remelted and extruded into usable shapes if it could be resold at a tiny price to folks that can create new things out of this compacted trash .
Besides making this waste into smaller pieces with saves precious dump space, even if it were not recycled it might save a number of ocean and wildlife species that are getting trapped and die long agonizing deaths. It could even create jobs. Our dump is open twice a week, and we actually pay 3 people on those days to look at us bring our trash [to make sure we put it in the right bins]. Sorting out all the plastics and grinding them can be done locally at a small price and we'd all be better of for it.
 
pollinator
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My solution for those flimsy plastic produce bags is to reuse the plastic bread wrappers from my favorite store-bought bread: Dave's "Good Seed" bread. The brand name is used here for a size reference. These bags are stronger, and can be washed out and reused many times before they wear out.

Another bag that is very handy is the  bags used for oranges. it's an open weave, and is very useful for gathering bulk potatoes, onions and other fruits and vegetables. I turn the bags inside out, but I usually have to warn the cashier that I am reusing the bag, and to avoid scanning the bag's original barcode, I use a permanent marker to obscure the old bar code.  the bar code can also be cut out of the bag, but sometimes small items can slip through the hole.

Since I'm getting these bags from something I buy anyway, I just keep a few of these bags in my oversize shopping bag. I also reuse the large plastic peanut butter jars I get when buying Costco's Kirkland organic peanut butter. These jars make great containers for buying bulk items such as rolled oats, dry beans, etc. I have had my empty jars weighed at the cash register, and I mark the Tare on each jar/lid combination. Since the tare for the plastic containers is very consistent, the variation is very slight.  The biggest problem is teaching the cashiers how to deduct the tare weight from the total weight. The registers used by the larger chains actually have a routine for doing this, but that bit of training does not seem to be part of a cashier's basic training.

I have a guilty pleasure in making waves in the supermarket checkout line: I see it as a small mini-protest at being forced into using so much one-way packaging. It becomes a teaching moment for all the people waiting in the checkout line while I explain to the cashier what I am doing and what I need them to do. It pays to have a thick skin to ward off the irritated stares. I'll take that hit in the cause of promoting the reduction of throw-away packaging.

However, with the popularity of Bulk Food sections in many grocery store, the Supermarkets will adapt to more people using their own containers

A friend of mine cuts up those plastic "T"-bags into 1" wide loops, which she twist up into a plastic yarn for crocheting various useful items. She also fills plastic water bottles with dirt for use in building walls, which will be covered in cob or stucco.
 
Travis Johnson
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Mark Kissinger wrote:I have a guilty pleasure in making waves in the supermarket checkout line: I see it as a small mini-protest at being forced into using so much one-way packaging. It becomes a teaching moment for all the people waiting in the checkout line while I explain to the cashier what I am doing and what I need them to do. It pays to have a thick skin to ward off the irritated stares. I'll take that hit in the cause of promoting the reduction of throw-away packaging.

However, with the popularity of Bulk Food sections in many grocery store, the Supermarkets will adapt to more people using their own containers



The problem is, while you might sanitize your reusable shopping bas, many do not, so the stores are having people come through with maggots and bugs in them. This influx has started because all but one grocery store near me has had to stop using plastic shopping bags due to local city ordinances prohibiting them. Everything now is put into paper bags instead' that is if you do not use reusable shopping bags...at a 5 cent charge per paper bag.
 
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Marco Banks wrote:Would a retort burn barrel that creates biochar fall into that second category?  It converts waste into something that is ultimately saveable.  Once wood is charred, it remains for a long, long, long time.

I wish someone would create something small, portable, and easy to use in this regard.  In the same way that compost tumblers made making compost less daunting to suburban home owners, and do-it-yourself worm farm kits made worm composting easy and accessible for people who wanted to keep these under the kitchen sink, I'd love to see a wheelbarrow sized "Biochar-o-matic".  Simply fill the burn barrel with wood scraps, close it up, light it, flip the lever once the thermometer says you've reached optimal temperature, and then close the baffle after 10 additional minutes.  Bada-bing, bada boom.  Simply and (relatively) cleanly produce small batches of charcoal that you can then throw into your compost tumbler.

Order today!

I'll trade you 10 stupid kitchen gadgets (juicer, anyone?) for a lightly used Biochar-o-matic.



Hi all, new(ish) here (first time posting). Time to break the silence, as chance would have it, I just saw a YT video last night on how to make charcoal in your wood burning stove with a simple retort - a Gastronorm food container with lid Biochar-o-matic. In a video linked at the end he also does it with an old metal casserole. That way he also uses the gases of the charcoal to heat his house and stack a few other uses. https://youtu.be/jxBUqk2M3Y8.

In the No.2 category of gadgets I put my vacuum food preserver. It helps prevent food spoilage and allows me to buy dry goods in bulk (less packaging, cheaper). I currently use a Pump-N-Seal hand pump with mostly recycled twist-top jars. I used the little tab valves in the past (and made my own with electrical tape and strips cut from plastic bags) but now put jars into a larger container with their marenating lid to form a vacuum chamber. That way I don't have to pierce the lid which is a spot where rust can form, and the tabs can be damaged by critters. I lost a whole bunch of 1/2 gallon jars full of nuts and seeds that way :-(
 
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Judith Pi wrote:

Marco Banks wrote:Would a retort burn barrel that creates biochar fall into that second category?  It converts waste into something that is ultimately saveable.  Once wood is charred, it remains for a long, long, long time.

I wish someone would create something small, portable, and easy to use in this regard.  ...
... Biochar-o-matic.



Hi all, new(ish) here (first time posting). Time to break the silence, as chance would have it, I just saw a YT video last night on how to make charcoal in your wood burning stove with a simple retort - a Gastronorm food container with lid Biochar-o-matic. In a video linked at the end he also does it with an old metal casserole. That way he also uses the gases of the charcoal to heat his house and stack a few other uses. https://youtu.be/jxBUqk2M3Y8.



Judith, thanks for posting both very useful tips!
The video link you shared offers a decent solution to the problem with many home biochar setups, which is the nasty waste and pollution from the pyrolysis gases. I've also seen Chinese food cart stoves that produce biochar, but this is a very practical option for most cool climate folks.
Anyone trying this will want to ensure the retort (pan with lid) fits appropriately in their stove, and will safely burn without causing creosote (as you might get from smoldering fires) or overheating, for their specific wood stove.  
 
Judith Pi
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Erica Wisner wrote:
Anyone trying this will want to ensure the retort (pan with lid) fits appropriately in their stove



The beauty of those pans is, they come in several sizes, including height. There is one to fit almost any stove. The question is, just what size is optimum. I'd err on the small size.
 
wayne fajkus
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This instapot lid virtually eliminated saran wrap for me. It is a perfect fit on my honey sieve (first pic with my homemade salt being strained). If it doesn't fit perfect it still seals well by sitting on the bowl or pot (2nd pic covering pot of cranberry juice)
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Mark Kissinger
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wayne fajkus wrote:This instapot lid virtually eliminated saran wrap for me.



My Saran Wrap is my trusty plastic bread bag I use it to completely "wrap" my small Pyrex glass containers when the plastic lids that came with them have disintegrated.
Some of my small bowls also fit inside these oversized plastic bags. My leaf-lettuce fits in my bread bags, and the plastic acts as a mini-crisper. Buying lettuce "on-the-head" and storing it in the bread bag, the head stays viable for at least a week.

Many leftovers go into some small wide-mouthed jars that I have collected over time. Those small and large size plastic Talent gellato jars work great for this too, although the product is a bit expensive, i can justify buying it as a treat because I can reuse that wonderful straight-sided jar!.

I buy baked beans in the large cans, and a couple of these jars store about 2/3 of a tall can in my refrigerator for later use. (Sorry, I'm pretty much a heat and eat sort of cook.) I like sauerkraut with my brats, and I only use a small amount of sauerkraut at a time. The rest of the can fits nicely in a reused peanut butter jar.

This ability to store my favorite foods is literally a life-saver for me, since I have a eating disorder that makes most foods unappealing to my sour stomach. I have to have my favorite foods on hand for those times when I have to force myself to eat something.

I inherited a few square "Tupperware" type storage containers that I use to store my onion after I've skinned it for the first use.

Would I like to sop using plastic altogether? Yes, and no. Plastic does have some good qualities. It's light-weight and very durable. The problem is that it's so cheap, people don't value it enough to figure out ways to reuse instead of throw-away.

Instead of sending food to markets in individual containers, food manufacturers should supply food to the supermarkets in bulk, and provide reuseable "branded"  containers that can be refilled indefinitely by satisfied repeat customers.

I prefer glass, but I understand the weight and break-ability of the glass are drawbacks., while some products, like milk store much better in glass.


 
Joseph hackett
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A sewing machine could save a lot of waste through clothes and material repair
 
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i also reuse plastic bags as long as possible, for anything and everything, and that orange/potato net bag trick is excellent. I have a bunch I use in the produce department, the people in the store know me as "that lady with the bags." (i buy enough at the fruit/veg store that nobody is anything but pleasant....)

Produce in the fridge will last a lot longer if wrapped in a cotton dish towel that has seen better days or put in a fabric bag. All my leafies that I harvest are wrapped up and last much longer in the produce drawer. My mother in law makes bags out of old jeans (we have a lot of mechanics on the family- the front of jeans get demolished but the backs are almost pristine) and stores all her veggies in them in the fridge.

(and yes, I am that lady who will go through the recycling after a party looking for nice glass jars. Glass jars are expensive here too, and I use them for everything.)
 
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:I've been thinking about making a plastic chopper for my town at the local dump and give it to them: I'm seeing dumpers-full of plastics and assorted recyclables which, I am told, are *not* being recycled  [Aaaargh]
As a civilization, we are in danger of being swallowed by our own garbage and at the dump might be the best place to start. I'm pretty sure the technology exists and I've seen U-Tube footage of machines that can grind plastic to tiny pieces. It seems like a worthwhile project. At least, this horrible garbage would take a lot less room, if nothing else. Perhaps even the plastics could be remelted and extruded into usable shapes if it could be resold at a tiny price to folks that can create new things out of this compacted trash .




Most plastics can be turned back into a form of crude oil fairly easily, using a setup that's not too different from making moonshine.
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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Judith Pi wrote:

Hi all, new(ish) here (first time posting). Time to break the silence, as chance would have it, I just saw a YT video last night on how to make charcoal in your wood burning stove with a simple retort - a Gastronorm food container with lid Biochar-o-matic. In a video linked at the end he also does it with an old metal casserole. That way he also uses the gases of the charcoal to heat his house and stack a few other uses. https://youtu.be/jxBUqk2M3Y8.




Thank you for that link. I'd been experimenting with smaller containers in the woodstove, but I was afraid of using too many because I thought they'd take too much room and put the fire out. The container he's using is more than 10X the size of the little soup can I use, and his is adding to the fire instead of detracting from it. I might have to try using several soup cans at once, and see if I can get the same effect.

To make a soup can charcoal maker, I started with a side-cutting can opener that doesn't warp the lid. That way I can use the lid as-is, without having to rig something to hold it on. Clean the can as best you can. There are 3 holes punched in my can, try to make them without bending the metal, if possible. One hole is in the lid. The other two are near the top, on opposite sides. There's a loop of fence wire attached to these holes to form a handle, which makes the hot can easier to pull out of the stove.  You might want to burn it empty once before using it with charcoal, as most cans these days have a plastic coating on the inside.

That's it, just 3 holes and a bit of wire, and the 2 holes and wire are optional. Stuff the can with whatever you want pyrolyzed, this time of year its bean vines for me. Set it in the hot stove, making sure to keep it upright. Make sure the lid is well-seated, but not pinned down. If anything clogs the holes, you want the lid to pop off easily so the can doesn't explode.

After seeing that video, I might see how many I can fit in the woodstove and still keep it going :)

Oh, added bonus when using non-woody materials: some of them produce more char per pound of raw material than wood does. With the bean vines, there is almost no visible shrinkage. They also cook faster than wood, and the char is easier to crumble.

(The reason I have so many bean vines is because the weather was so wet when my dry beans were ripe, that I pulled whole plants so they could dry indoors. The ones I didn't get in fast enough are already rotting.)
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:I've been thinking about making a plastic chopper for my town at the local dump and give it to them: I'm seeing dumpers-full of plastics and assorted recyclables which, I am told, are *not* being recycled  [Aaaargh]
As a civilization, we are in danger of being swallowed by our own garbage and at the dump might be the best place to start. I'm pretty sure the technology exists and I've seen U-Tube footage of machines that can grind plastic to tiny pieces. It seems like a worthwhile project. At least, this horrible garbage would take a lot less room, if nothing else. Perhaps even the plastics could be remelted and extruded into usable shapes if it could be resold at a tiny price to folks that can create new things out of this compacted trash .



Most plastics can be turned back into a form of crude oil fairly easily, using a setup that's not too different from making moonshine.



Really? What form of crude oil? Because if we have the option of converting all that trash to crude-ish, this country is sitting on a mountain of crude 'in the rough'.  And, we certainly know how to make moonshine!. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?)
Would you have a link to share?
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Really? What form of crude oil? Because if we have the option of converting all that trash to crude-ish, this country is sitting on a mountain of crude 'in the rough'.  And, we certainly know how to make moonshine!. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?)
Would you have a link to share?



A couple different setups shown here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WtZPuLUTl0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeBqH0BPNh0

An instructables page on how its done: https://www.instructables.com/id/Waste-Plastic-to-Fuel/

There are also ready-made machines for sale that can process several tons per day.

The problem right now is that, when done on a large scale, the revenue from selling the crude isn't enough to cover the cost of labor running the machines. There are people tinkering with different designs. When someone figures out how to make it profitable on a large scale, you'll probably see it being used more.
 
Mark Kissinger
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Really? What form of crude oil? Because if we have the option of converting all that trash to crude-ish, this country is sitting on a mountain of crude 'in the rough'.  And, we certainly know how to make moonshine!. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?)
Would you have a link to share?



There are people tinkering with different designs. When someone figures out how to make it profitable on a large scale, you'll probably see it being used more.



The problem with turning plastics back into crude is that it takes more energy to do that than the energy recovered by burning the crude produced. It would better to use the process to make new plastic products. Being realistic, we will probably always need SOME oil. The reason using this "fossil carbon" as a fuel is that it can only be burned once. However, we begin using crude oil ONLY to make lubricants, or other products like plastic, can potentially sequester much carbon into lightweight, flexible (or rigid), and durable plastic products.  The solutions are out there. We have only to decide to use them.
 
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I'm having a huge problem thinking of any gadgets that save waste in our house, (or create it). And that seems really strange so I must just be missing them. One of the first examples, a potato peeler is used but not on potatoes I use it for carrots and other root vegetables, it reduces the thickness of the peelings so to my mind that is a reduction in waste.  We always use reusable carrier bags mine are hessian and I pick them up when I go to the UK as there doesn't seem to be anything similar available here, they are very strong can easily carry 20lb plus, they also have long enough handles that I can carry them over my shoulder. When they start to wear through (which takes a couple of years) they get downgraded to recycling bags.
As to kitchen gadgets, the only one I can think of that does "save" is the potato ricer, it means you can use "boiling" potatoes to make mash with, meaning I don't have to buy special potatoes and can use whatever we have grown.

I suppose our phones would count, both the husband and I have 7 year old dumb phones. I have a smart phone for business it's second hand and 3 years old now.
 
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Judith Pi wrote:... I currently use a Pump-N-Seal hand pump with mostly recycled twist-top jars. I used the little tab valves in the past (and made my own with electrical tape and strips cut from plastic bags) but now put jars into a larger container with their marenating lid to form a vacuum chamber. That way I don't have to pierce the lid which is a spot where rust can form, and the tabs can be damaged by critters. I lost a whole bunch of 1/2 gallon jars full of nuts and seeds that way :-(


We lost a jar of food to similar rodent intrusion, and solved that by putting a slightly larger piece of metal tape (used in HVAC, for example) over the electrical tape/tab valve. Simpler, takes up less room than putting jars into an outer container.
 
Mike Haasl
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:Most plastics can be turned back into a form of crude oil fairly easily, using a setup that's not too different from making moonshine.



Really? What form of crude oil? Because if we have the option of converting all that trash to crude-ish, this country is sitting on a mountain of crude 'in the rough'.  And, we certainly know how to make moonshine!. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?)
Would you have a link to share?


Just saw this in my email.  A desk top machine to convert soft plastic into #1 diesel.   Wastebot
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Mike Jay Haasl wrote:[quote
Just saw this in my email.  A desk top machine to convert soft plastic into #1 diesel.   Wastebot



Wow! this sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up.
 
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Erica Wisner wrote:

Judith Pi wrote:

Marco Banks wrote:Would a retort burn barrel that creates biochar fall into that second category?  It converts waste into something that is ultimately saveable.  Once wood is charred, it remains for a long, long, long time.

I wish someone would create something small, portable, and easy to use in this regard.  ...
... Biochar-o-matic.



Hi all, new(ish) here (first time posting). Time to break the silence, as chance would have it, I just saw a YT video last night on how to make charcoal in your wood burning stove with a simple retort - a Gastronorm food container with lid Biochar-o-matic. In a video linked at the end he also does it with an old metal casserole. That way he also uses the gases of the charcoal to heat his house and stack a few other uses. https://youtu.be/jxBUqk2M3Y8.



Judith, thanks for posting both very useful tips!
The video link you shared offers a decent solution to the problem with many home biochar setups, which is the nasty waste and pollution from the pyrolysis gases. I've also seen Chinese food cart stoves that produce biochar, but this is a very practical option for most cool climate folks.
Anyone trying this will want to ensure the retort (pan with lid) fits appropriately in their stove, and will safely burn without causing creosote (as you might get from smoldering fires) or overheating, for their specific wood stove.  



How about this?:



We discussed it in this thread. It's a pyrolising pellet stove that produces biochar. I don't like the pellet aspect, but if you're in a market where they're common, and better yet, local, I think it's a great example of a safe function-stacking source for biochar.

-CK
 
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Using  my impact driver with torx deck screws has diverted a lot of waste from land fills.
I'm currently disassembling and reassembling a greenhouse, a task made possible by the impact driver,  and easier due to the screws.
I have even retrieved and reused these screws from a burned out rocket stove mold.

I am considering purging all screws that are not "standard" and replacing them, to ensure future compatiblity.
I would donate the purged screws to my local reuse center,of course.

 
William Bronson
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On the topic of plastic to fuel,  I  think the price point should be compared to disposal fees.
You still won't get a good return compared to the cost of just burying the stuff, but what if the producers/consumers  of plastic waste were held to account?

I alway compare air pollution or solid waste to sewage.
People understand why they are not allowed to poop in the water supply, micro plastic and particulates are like spraying poop into the air,soil and water,  only far more persistent.
I'm not innocent by any means,  
My own efforts at conservation come from  frugality more than anything.
Right now I'm looking for a way to recycle refrigerant without paying an arm and a leg.
I will note,cost is a relative thing,  until recently our water local water system spent money to truck sewage across town and BURN it, because it was cheaper than building more treatment facilities...
They only  stopped doing that because the law forced them to.



 
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