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I'm curious... What's the best change you made that reduced your garbage?

 
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We are blessed with a good recycling program in our country. Plastic separation is still a thing due to contaminants but that is actively being worked on.

Most urban areas have underground containers for paper, plastic and glass. Cans go with the plastic but those are easily seperatable at the processing facility with magnets.

The Youtube channel not just bikes made an excellent video about it:

 
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About a year and a half ago we used an embarrassing amount of paper plates, and plastic spoons and forks.  Now I never buy it.  Compost, worm bin, and chickens get most of the food scraps.  All cardboard, paper, toilet and paper towel rolls get shredded and go into the compost, or I give it to my niece who use to buy it for there Ginny pigs.  We have been recycling can and plastic bottles for years. We live in the middle of orchards, and the chemicals used through the years made our well water unsafe to drink.  With covid-19 I had a very hard time getting water. We put in a reverse osmosis (a water filtration system that goes under the sink).  Now we don't have tons of plastic bottles.  Thinking out of the box.  Like using the bags pet food come in for garbage, taking labels off glass and plastic containers to use instead of ziploc bags, to hold screw, fill with freezer jam, and anything else we can think of.  Making more from scratch and buy bulk to reduce packaging.  Repairing clothes we would have thrown away before.  We are producing less than half of the trash we used to, and I'm super proud of us.  As a family of 5 1/2 (middle daughter lives half at home, half with boyfriend). We still produce a lot of trash, but we are working on it, and now instead of me nagging  and getting the eye roll and comments about mom trying to save the world, the family is starting to get into it.  So I hope to keep improving.🤞
 
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A question not only to Jen, but all US-Americans:
Help me understand why normal families would use disposable plates and cutlery.

I know from trips to the US (OK, years ago) that motels provide disposables only for their breakfast buffet, which shocked me.

In the last year during the pre-election I saw a documentary from one of the most important TV anchormen in Germany who is married to an US American. He was at a wedding and the hosts provided plastic champagne glasses!
Then he was at home at his FIL and the latter served whisky in plastic cups.

And not sure if what you see on TV counts, but it looks like in office kitchen you also have disposable cups for coffee and water?

All this is hard to understand for me. So what is the reason behind this?
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I forgot to tell you the best change.  A few years ago I watched a documentary on food waist.  It talked about the fact that American could feed the rest of the world with what we waist.  I was very affected by this, and I knew our household was guilty of a great deal of waist.  I was talking to my husband about it.  He came up with the idea to attach a cord to a marker lid and attach it to the refrigerator.  Most things that go in should be dated.  It makes a huge difference.  Before everyone assumed things were old and didn't eat it.  Now we know how old it is.  Strange enough permanent marker works best, because it doesn't disappear, but most of the time it will scrub off.  It works for us. If leftovers, or lunch meat, or what ever doesn't have a date, 9 time's out of 10 it ends up in the compost, better than the garbage, but still wasteful.  We also switched to loose leaf tea.  Mostly I was worried about the micro plastic in the tea bags.  Now I don't worry about that, and there's a lot less packaging.
 
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Anita Martin wrote:A question not only to Jen, but all US-Americans:
Help me understand why normal families would use disposable plates and cutlery.


I come from a family where this is very normal (although personally it is shocking). I understand there to be two main reasons:
1- cleanup after guests-- not for everyday, but when there are big groups, either to facilitate cleanup (see #2) OR because you don't have enough real glasses made of glass or real plates or nice silverware to serve everyone. I can think of events on poorer and richer sides of my family where both were the case.
2- dishwashing problems- either no structure to wash dishes, disabled/painful person who would rather not, no time. A relative of mine lives in an institutional setting and prompt cleanup can sometimes be a problem. They use all disposables, it's cheaper than hiring another staff person just to wash dishes. For some people who have serious issues (live in an apartment with sink problems, bad water quality, etc) they may not have the energy/resources to fix the problem.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Anita I would say primarily it's laziness.  Some will say convenience.  I  was working full time my husband is pretty much bed ridden with chronic pain, (all household and child responsibilitys were on me) and I had 4 preteen/teenagers.  At that point in my life it was easier to buy disposable then do, or try to get someone else to do dishes.  Then for me it became a habit.  At some point I realized how much waist we were producing, and at a high cost as well.  I just stopped buying all of it.  We manage to keep the dishes clean.  The next step is to stop using the dishwasher so much.
I'm sad to say Anita America is a disposable Nation.  It's all about quick and easy. Seems nothing is made to last.  Unfortunately most of what you read on this post is the exception not the rule.  The good news is  Permies is here to help change that.  To help people like me see a better way.  Make a better world.
 
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It depends on what you may call 'waste'. When I was young, waste was everything that went out in bags. Then recycling was a thing and we got progressively green (glass), blue (paper) and yellow (recipients) bins, and they were called waste no more. We were happy with a single 30l bag of waste stuff every two days, and that's before we learned about composting and filtered water was cheap enough. If I only focus on the black container (anything not recyclabe) then yes, composting has been the most successful strategy. But then, after learning how recycling is actually handled, I cannot consider the bags that go to the recycling bins as 'not waste'. Metal and plastic containers are by far the biggest contribution to waste in my house.

I tried to buy in hulk, bring my own containers to the shops, reuse bags, and still... living in the upper side of a big city, it is very inconvenient to buy anywhere that is not a supermarket. Yes there are a few shops that sell products in bulk, but they are in the city center, where it's hard to drive (guess I could carry the groceries in the city bus?), it takes too much time, and to be honest, I don't have that much space in the storage room to keep bags of beans, rice or whatever, and this is not what produces more waste anyways. It's milk bottles, fish and meat plastic trays, cans, yogourt cups, and several other kinds of plastic packagings. I want to reduce these, but I also don't want to lose too much comfort at the same time, for me and my couple. I fear that if something becomes too inconvenient we might end up not doing it.

Once thing that recently has reduced the yogourt cups was discovering the kefir. It's so easy to make (unlike yogurt that requires some machinery), that it has replaced a couple of our dairies a week, with no effort. That's 6 plastic cups less wasted per week (but one milk bottle more every three weeks). It doesn't look like much, but it was effortless. Yeast we tried, a couple of times, but it ends up dying, so no homemade bread for us.
I don't think we can manage a zero waste objective living in a small appartment in a big city, but I am positively certain that we produce far less waste than any of our neighbours.
 
Anita Martin
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Thanks Thereza and Jen for taking the time to explain.
I didn't want to come across as smug because sorting the trash, never using disposables and managing our leftovers is part of my lifestyle.

I am sure there are things where I could improve and that others are doing better already! Also due to laziness, or because you just did not have a good example to follow.

Abraham, I hear you on the packaging vs. bulk produce.
I have gone back to buying milk from the farm (one nice walk), and with that I am making buttermilk (I like it even better than kefir!), yoghurt, cheese, and with the cream in reusable jars I make sour cream. The flavoured yoghurt for the kids comes in reusable containers as well.
That leaves cream cheese, other cheese and lots of non-dairy stuff with their packaging.

But the biggest change I could make would be to buy for me alone and following my own guidelines. Today with husband and teenage kids I have to make more compromises than I feel happy about. All in all, we get along. I serve lots of homemade food, breads, snacks, sweets, fresh fruits and veggies, and to humour everybody also buy food which comes in a package.
 
Abraham Palma
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I have gone back to buying milk from the farm (one nice walk),


Lucky you! My nearest milk farm is 60 km away, not practical for 2 litres every three days.  :(

As I said, we city dwellers can't play in the same league.
 
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Solutions that are working for me:

Milk delivery in bottles

Making my own apple cider vinegar from apple scraps - I use this for conditioner and cleaning

Shampoo bars - I use ‘friendly soap, travel soap, 4 in 1’ which seems to be one of the cheapest shampoo bars available and I use it for shaving, shampoo and some bathroom cleaning.

Reusable toothbrush and toothpaste tablets (so admittedly this is annoying, they have fluoride in them but my teeth are so crap that my dentist has prescribed me extra high dose fluoride toothpaste in plastic tubes)

Single blade steel razor - saves so much in replacing razors. Blades cost literally pennies each, and cause less skin damage I reckon.

Using reusable produce bags and growing some of my own produce. I meet issues with sustainable options e.g organic bananas being in a plastic bag, and the ordinary produce being loose. Which issue matters more . . . ?

Composting (my worms manage to cope with onions and citrus so I just give them a mix of everything just with plenty of paper waste also)

My problems currently though:

Instant coffee - doesn’t seem to be a plastic free option and I should probably just cut down. But I find that hard . . .

Oatmilk - I want to not drink so much milk but the oatmilk comes in tetrapak containers. I haven’t found homemade oat milk to be a decent milk alternative - i find it is a bit bitter and watery.

Interesting that other people have this issue too - my partner. He approves of the plastic reducing, but is not invested in it himself. I don’t want to constantly nag him anytime he buys himself something plastic coated, or worse, a treat for me that comes in plastic i.e. a bunch of flowers.

Presents - I’d managed to convince my close family I don’t want plastic stuff to some extent, but like my boyfriend they’re not particularly invested in this and might see nothing wrong in buying me clothes that are polyester for instance. Worse, I now have to sum up the courage to talk to my boyfriend’s gift-giving but slightly scary mum and family who keep buying me a ton of plastic coated gifts. I especially have so many fluffy socks, hats, scarves and clothes that are made of plastic.

Work - having a boss who is not invested in caring for the environment because he’s trying to scrape enough money together to keep running profitably as an independent business. The amount of waste is so depressing it might be enough for me to change jobs. It’s frustrating as he actually cares for his staff and it’s a nice place to work in other ways.

Health issues - I’m inclined to make allowances for the specialist inhalers and eczema creams I use, and I think the change probably needs to come from government and pharmaceutical companies.

 
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These are all great ideas and I appreciate so many of them.

So many of these practices are already a part of my life and have been for years. I appreciate this thread.

Unfortunately for those of us who live with others, it is a heavy learning curve.

Sometimes people do not want to, or are unable to, learn how to compost or to live in a way that reduces waste. I know, because I have tried for years with the members of this household.

This causes impatience, judgement, feelings of frustration for others who live with them. It is very discouraging.

I no longer have the energy to teach the other members of the household to do things that I have asked them to do for years, like separating their recycling material or composting their food.

Those of you who do not live with other people have no idea how hard it is to come to agreement about these things

Everyone makes it sound so simple and common sense, which it is not.

What choice do I have? The New Age means community and teamwork gets things done in this world and none of us can go it alone


Peace and blessings
 
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The biggest change for me was when I stopped buying vegetables at the supermarket. Now I buy them at an organic farm. In the supermarket everything is packed in plastic, at the farm I can buy the vegetables just like that and pack them in my own shopping-bag. And I also started growing my own veggies ...
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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... and of course, toilet paper is waste too when it goes down the drain! A few years ago I started using 'pee rags', washable pieces of cloth, instead of toilet paper for wiping away the 'droplets'. And I started using water (in the Indonesian way) and only a little piece of t.p. after pooping (sorry to use p-words in my message)
 
Abraham Palma
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Well, well, if I have to make a full list of everything I did in the past years to help reduce waste, I fear it is going to be long, and the amount of saved waste maybe not that much. So far...

From my ecologist epoque:
- Waste oil soap. The formula I use is for skin use. I still produce more waste oil than I can use, but this helped.
- We wash clothes only when they are dirt. They are hanged out in the sun, which removes most bad odours.
- Filtered water, no more water bottles. We had to buy a few plastic bottles for the kid, but we refill them as much as we can.
- Good quality tools. They last for longer, thus less waste. I'm especially fond of my steel pans and pots.
- No shaving. Scissors are better for the skin and a little beard hurts no one.
- Anything not perishable is purchased in family sizes if available, then poured into smaller containers for daily use.
- Grocery plastic bags were reused as waste bags.

Then I learned about plastics, the lies about their recycling:
- Watch the fiber material before purchasing. Avoid plastic fibers if possible.
- Preferred products sold in non plastic containers. But still... so much comes in plastic.
- Stopped purchasing toys with batteries. If the toys were made of plastic, at least they should be durable.
- However, we are gifted clothes and toys more than we buy them, so more than half of this stuff is not how we want them.
- Used homemade soap for the shower too (the trick is to not use a sponge).

Then I learned about permaculture:
- Decided that the best way to get rid of the containers where we buy our food is to produce some of our own food.
- Tried in small flower pots with very bad results.
- Included homemade kefir to our diet.
- Preserved some cabbages and peppers I was gifted, more than I could eat. Now I have several glass bottles for preservation purposes (olives, jams and prickles).
- Started compost in a small bucket, kind of worked, but most my organic waste still went to the garbage.
- Found a way to use my homemade soap in the washing machine (grate it!) and convinced my wife to use it (it's me who grates, lol).
- Found a nearby food garden where I can compost all my vegetables. Also, I gathered some food from the garden, greens and olives, mostly.
- Applied permaculture to the food garden, trying to grow food where nothing comes now due to the lack of water, still a WIP.
- Built a planter for my terrace, now I have seeds waiting to germinate. Hopefully I'll eat some of that this spring.

Wow, that was quite a trip just for the environment sake.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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You want to know what amount of waste I produce? As one person alone that is:
one bin (official town plastic and cans waste bin) of mostly plastic waste in about half a year;
one small bag (I think it's 1 liter) of all other waste in two to three weeks;
I don't know the amount of waste water, there's no way to find out;
paper goes to recycling, one bin in about half a year (same kind of bin as the other from town council).

BTW do you count the waste that goes to recycling (here that's plastic, cans, cardboard and paper) as waste or not? I do.
To see my official bins, have a look in the PEP Nest BBs. recycling bins

I have a compost heap, so food scraps a.a. are not waste.
 
Tereza Okava
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Abraham Palma wrote:....yogurt that requires some machinery)


We're getting a bit off topic, but if you want to try yogurt again I know we have several enthusiastic yogurt makers who can help you troubleshoot. I make mine using a pot, a big glass jar, and an insulated picnic bag, but you could easily use just a towel/blankets/etc.
 
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Years ago, I had a recipe for yogurt which used a thermos bottle too. Also seen grains done that way, not overnight oats. I’d forgotten about that. Thanks!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Abraham Palma wrote:Well, well, if I have to make a full list of everything I did in the past years to help reduce waste, I fear it is going to be long, and the amount of saved waste maybe not that much. So far...
...


I did not make a complete list of everything I changed during my lifetime (I'm 65 now). And a lot of things I see other people changed, I never did (or only did very long ago, when I was young), so I never had to change.
 
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Hi all,
nice readings and so many suggestions, ideas. Thanks!

One of the impression i got is that we try to find a way to reuse or dispose what we take home.
But.. as someone pointed out, i feel the very first point to reduce waste... is reduce buying...reduce what you take into your house... but don't say that around, buying stuff is like a religion in many countries (here in Italy for sure)

For me:
buying second hand clothes and use old ones as much as i can (now, working from home because of covid it's really easy )
Food: here in Italy we have GAS - ethical purchasing groups (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruppi_di_Acquisto_Solidale) so we buy some food thorugh this channel; you get bigger packages, unpackaged fruit/vegetables.
We replaced paper dishes/glasses used for kids party with a hard plastic set, so after some kids party most of the rubbish is wrapping paper.
A few years ago i went back to cotton handkerchief instead of the paper one (rest of teh family still using them).
Food: leftover food goes back on table for the next meal..  food scrap into teh compost bin.
Garden: grass, branches or leaves are staying in the garden.. so to reduce the need for a collection system (bins in the streets, trucks, processing plants...).
We try to recycle all the plastic, glass, paper that we take home (and honestly it is still quite a lot ).
We take out the trash bin once every 1.5-2 months (instead of every 2 weeks)... so it is not so bad.

Still, a long way to go.

Again, thanks for the ideas!!

 
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I went paperless. I don't buy anything paper.

Handkerchiefs instead of kleenex

Unpaper towels, tea towels and flour sack towels instead of paper towels

Family cloth with a portable handheld bidet

I don't buy any cloth.

I'm also investing in silicone bags so when my plastic containers die,  I'll already have replacements.
 
Morana Revel
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"Like using the bags pet food come in for garbage"

I use my bags to set reusable bags and totes for groceries
 
Morana Revel
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Anita Martin wrote:A question not only to Jen, but all US-Americans:
Help me understand why normal families would use disposable plates and cutlery.?



Honestly,  absolutely no idea.  I grew up in rural KY.  Cloth diapers,  handkerchiefs... the only paper in our house was TP.

We would bring home disposable plates and silverware if we went to a cookout and they were there.  She would wash them and use them if we gave food to a neighbor or took something to the funeral parlor.
 
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We coughed up for a soda Stream (carbonates water) a few years ago and after the toaster oven and microwave, is likely our most used counter appliance.

This eliminates any and all soda cans/bottles. The secret is NOT to go with the "trade in" option on the CO canister but to refill it at a place that refils paint guns. HERE that means 6 bucks a fill instead of $20+ for a "trade in.

Of note both canisters and bottles have a quit date where they can/should no longer be used for carbonation due to potential failure.

Soda concentrates can be purchased, but we use concentrated juice or juice syrups (frozen lemonade concentrate is fabulous!) like Ribena or homemade. I think it is healthier too!
 
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Anita Martin wrote:A question not only to Jen, but all US-Americans:
Help me understand why normal families would use disposable plates and cutlery.

All this is hard to understand for me. So what is the reason behind this?



America is full of a lot of people who only eat at fast food places.  They don't cook meals at home.  Just look at how many fast food places there are.

At lunchtime, the drive thru's all have long lines (at least pre-covid).

People eat with throw-away drinks and food containers so why not make their lives easier with paper plates and fork?

While we were building our house, I bought paper plates and plastic forks because I did not have any place to wash dishes.  I still have those paper plates and plastic fork and that was 2013!

I had more fun washing dishes outside and watching the deer who watched me.
 
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I started making my own dish soap from a recipe I found on you tube. That and laundry soap. The plastic waste is abhorrent. I already compost and sheet mulch with cardboard boxes. I do try to think twice about buying anything in a plastic bottle.
 
Anita Martin
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Anne Miller wrote:
America is full of a lot of people who only eat at fast food places.  They don't cook meals at home.  Just look at how many fast food places there are.


The US American eating/cooking culture is a lot different from ours, but I am (a bit) optimistic about the disposables. The public opinion may change with all these documentaries about plastic pollution and some states apparently changing laws for plastic bags etc.

Not so long ago disposables could be found at parties, school events or similar here in Germany.
But then private and event hosts started either organizing real plates (you can rent those) or ask the guests to bring their own.
For example at kindergarten or school events every family brings their own plates, mugs and cutlery.

At Christmas bazars, you get a mug - depending on the size of the event you have to pay a token which you get back when you return the mug or for smaller events (in my town) it is on a trust-basis.

The biggest event apart from Oktoberfest (called Tollwood in Munich) started going completely without disposables many years ago and Oktoberfest itself banned disposable plates and cutlery in 1991 (wow, had to look this up, I wasn't aware it was that early).

Worldwide we have to change first attitude and then bevaviour that shuns use of disposables like we are doing with smoking.
Twenty years ago going out at night or even for a dinner meant that you came home with clothing that would smell of cigarettes. Today this seems like a different era!

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Anne Miller wrote:...

America is full of a lot of people who only eat at fast food places.  They don't cook meals at home.  Just look at how many fast food places there are.
....


Here I can tell about what's in my mind for some time. It's just a little off-topic.
I watched a video (a channel of videos interesting for my hobbies) and the lady told she visited the Netherlands. She liked the Netherlands (although she only visited the western part, Holland). But she had a remark: why weren't the coffee-shops or lunchrooms open early in the morning, for breakfast? My first thought was: of course they aren't open for breakfast, people eat their breakfast at home before they leave. But then I realised: many US people don't eat at home. They even have their breakfast and their morning coffee in a coffee-shop! (as I found out later, in another episode of that same lady: she's used to go to her favourite place for her morning coffee... but then because of covid that wasn't possible ...).
 
Posts: 65
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So we really just don't produce that much garbage. At the moment we are still in Oklahoma City and in our neighborhood, my trash can goes to the curb about once for every 3 or 4 times that my neighbors have their cans filled and out there. Basically, everything that can get recycled does get recycled. We repurpose a lot of stuff. We don't order out much and I cook from scratch pretty much every night. Scraps either become stock or get composted. We eat very little that comes out of a package. Just that keeps our trash production pretty low.
 
Patrick Edwards
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:We coughed up for a soda Stream (carbonates water) a few years ago and after the toaster oven and microwave, is likely our most used counter appliance.

This eliminates any and all soda cans/bottles. The secret is NOT to go with the "trade in" option on the CO canister but to refill it at a place that refils paint guns. HERE that means 6 bucks a fill instead of $20+ for a "trade in.

Of note both canisters and bottles have a quit date where they can/should no longer be used for carbonation due to potential failure.

Soda concentrates can be purchased, but we use concentrated juice or juice syrups (frozen lemonade concentrate is fabulous!) like Ribena or homemade. I think it is healthier too!



I was considering one of the soda stream thingmajiggers. Y'all like it a lot?

I have a weakness for the fizziness but I don't really care much for most sodas. I'd sure love to be able to make my own from fruit juices and whatnot. Wasn't sure that it was worth it but if it is, ooh boy! It's on!
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Truthfully, the machine is ridiculously expensive for what it is; a stand that holds a carbonation bottle and a place to screw on an also very expensive bottle. BUT it is the only option out there for simple home carbonation.

We have had ours about 4 yrs now, not a lick of trouble and works well. I just HATE anything that uses proprietary stuff; being locked in to purchasing from a sole supplier...
 
Patrick Edwards
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Truthfully, the machine is ridiculously expensive for what it is; a stand that holds a carbonation bottle and a place to screw on an also very expensive bottle. BUT it is the only option out there for simple home carbonation.

We have had ours about 4 yrs now, not a lick of trouble and works well. I just HATE anything that uses proprietary stuff; being locked in to purchasing from a sole supplier...



I have a feeling that someone on this site could macguyver one out of an old paintball gun or something but I don't think it will be me. I am with you on the proprietary stuff. That and built in obsolescence are two of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the marketplace. I'm still considering one though. hahahaha.

Maybe some celebrity will make a tiktok video about it or something and they'll become popular enough for other companies to get interested and it'll drive the price down for a while.

In the meantime, homemade carbonation infuser thingie may become a new homework subject.  
 
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Truthfully, the machine is ridiculously expensive for what it is; a stand that holds a carbonation bottle and a place to screw on an also very expensive bottle. BUT it is the only option out there for simple home carbonation.

We have had ours about 4 yrs now, not a lick of trouble and works well. I just HATE anything that uses proprietary stuff; being locked in to purchasing from a sole supplier...



There are actually a number of ways to hook in a regular CO2 tank to the various home carbonation systems. You're still using the proprietary bottles for your water, but no more silly little CO2 tanks. Here's one decent tutorial:

https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/08/11/how-to-cheap-homemade-seltzer-with-a-modified-sodastream/
 
Jeff Sullivan
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Patrick Edwards wrote:

Lorinne Anderson wrote:Truthfully, the machine is ridiculously expensive for what it is; a stand that holds a carbonation bottle and a place to screw on an also very expensive bottle. BUT it is the only option out there for simple home carbonation.

We have had ours about 4 yrs now, not a lick of trouble and works well. I just HATE anything that uses proprietary stuff; being locked in to purchasing from a sole supplier...



I have a feeling that someone on this site could macguyver one out of an old paintball gun or something but I don't think it will be me. I am with you on the proprietary stuff. That and built in obsolescence are two of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the marketplace. I'm still considering one though. hahahaha.

Maybe some celebrity will make a tiktok video about it or something and they'll become popular enough for other companies to get interested and it'll drive the price down for a while.

In the meantime, homemade carbonation infuser thingie may become a new homework subject.  



Not sure about the paintball gun, but you can put together your own system with some common parts. Requires being a bit more handy than hacking one of the countertop systems.

https://www.rootsimple.com/2014/02/how-to-force-carbonate-at-home/
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Soda Stream:  Yes, there are lots of ways to McGyvor home carbonation - but truthfully, most of us have neither the knowledge or space to house such a system...

The hack of NOT buying the already filled canisters, and refilling at sports stores is the simplest option; unless you want to add a shed and are super clever/handy.  The issue is the pressure caused by the carbonation process - and containing that while you fizz the water.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Perhaps slightly off topic...

DISHWASHER VS HAND WASHING:   Can hand washing be as efficient as a dishwasher?

"The short answer: maybe. First, let's look at water usage alone. The average faucet flows at 2 gallons per minute, so if you can successfully wash and rinse eight place settings -- plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons, glasses, etc. -- and those six serving dishes that your dishwasher can handle without running the faucet for more than 2 total minutes, then, you might be better off hand-washing. Assuming you're washing 54 pieces of dishware (that's 48 pieces of dishware -- 6 pieces per setting -- and 6 serving dishes), you've got about 4.4 seconds of wide-open tap water per piece, or about 9.5 ounces of water to wash and rinse each dish."   https://www.treehugger.com/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener-4858791

Oh, and don't pre-rinse those dishes before putting in the dishwasher; assuming you have a relatively modern machine, the dirt sensors within the machine detect and adjust the length of the cleaning cycle to deal with this.  Putting in pre-rinsed dishes and actually make the dishwasher LESS efficient and effective.  They also say it is better to run the dishwasher half empty or to do a quick rinse cycle than hand wash - who knew dishwashers were an eco-machine!
 
Jennie Little
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I spent some time on the Hopi reservation. Those folks haul their water 13 miles; it's precious. To rinse dishes? In a plastic rectangular bucket, pile the dirty dishes carefully in a pyramid. Flatest/biggest on the bottom, up to small bowls on top. Pour about 1C (or what your smallest glass or bowl holds) of warm, clean water in the top dish. Wipe it out with a clean rag. Put the dish aside. Tackle the next. Continue until you get to the plates at the bottom. Wipe them out. Toss the water in a slop bucket or what have you.

Clean the bucket well. Do it again, this time with steamy/soapy water. Do it a 3rd time with very hot clean water. You use about 3T of soap, 3C of water and get clean dishes. Takes a lot of hand work and time. What else are you doing?
 
Lorinne Anderson
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The biggest bonus with the dishwasher is the sanitizing.

Critical if you are immune compromised or engage in activities that mean not only human used dishes need washing. This ensures no cross contamination and the transfer of zoonotic disease.

If your back is buggered, or you suffer with arthritis OR a host of other issues; hand washing is painful.

If others in your household are unwilling to hand wash OR to do not do so in a water conscious manner OR insist on doing a lousy job.

If your time is better spent elsewhere...

There are a lot of reasons why dishwashers are a reasonable, viable and eco friendly machine to employ. I, for one, was surprised at how little water they used.

Hand washing, done properly, for a small household may, technically, be more eco friendly. But that does not pan out when most folks wash dishes and have the hot water tap running the entire time to rinse dishes; OR when someone fills a basin just to wash a few items; OR when someone does such a crappy job they have to be re-washed.

Truthfully, without a dishwasher the above is what would/did happen in our home, regardless of what efforts I made to address the situation. So for us, our circumstances (and for many others) the electric dishwasher is a very valuable time saver, water saver and health/safety device.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Perhaps slightly off topic...

DISHWASHER VS HAND WASHING:   Can hand washing be as efficient as a dishwasher?

"The short answer: maybe. First, let's look at water usage alone. The average faucet flows at 2 gallons per minute, so if you can successfully wash and rinse eight place settings -- plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons, glasses, etc. -- and those six serving dishes that your dishwasher can handle without running the faucet for more than 2 total minutes, then, you might be better off hand-washing. Assuming you're washing 54 pieces of dishware (that's 48 pieces of dishware -- 6 pieces per setting -- and 6 serving dishes), you've got about 4.4 seconds of wide-open tap water per piece, or about 9.5 ounces of water to wash and rinse each dish."   https://www.treehugger.com/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener-4858791

Oh, and don't pre-rinse those dishes before putting in the dishwasher; assuming you have a relatively modern machine, the dirt sensors within the machine detect and adjust the length of the cleaning cycle to deal with this.  Putting in pre-rinsed dishes and actually make the dishwasher LESS efficient and effective.  They also say it is better to run the dishwasher half empty or to do a quick rinse cycle than hand wash - who knew dishwashers were an eco-machine!


Hi Lorinne. I wash dishes by hand for many decades now (started as a child helping my parents). Never wanted to buy a 'dishwasher' (machine) and so I never did it. In the time the first dishwashers appeared in households, we were a family of five. But no matter how many people, how many dirty dishes (not much anymore now I am alone), I think washing them by hand  is the best way. I use only one small dish pan with a few liters of hot water and a tiny amount of (eco) liquid. As you can see in my BBs (Nest) the 'grey' water can be used to water plants in dry times.
 
Jennie Little
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When our power is out we still have a working stove. I wash our dishes the Hopi way, then dip them in a stew pot of simmering/steaming water. Sanitized! The dishwasher is easier because I don't have to keep a pot of water going and don't have to stand there clearing, cleaning, rinsing, sanitizing. But during our longest power outage we were also melting snow for water, so I always had a pot of water simmering on the cookstove.

It did make me yearn for an old fashioned cook stove with integrated hot water.
 
Patrick Edwards
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Jennie Little wrote:When our power is out we still have a working stove. I wash our dishes the Hopi way, then dip them in a stew pot of simmering/steaming water. Sanitized! The dishwasher is easier because I don't have to keep a pot of water going and don't have to stand there clearing, cleaning, rinsing, sanitizing. But during our longest power outage we were also melting snow for water, so I always had a pot of water simmering on the cookstove.

It did make me yearn for an old fashioned cook stove with integrated hot water.



We are looking for a good wood cookstove with a boiler. I have heard good things about the Pioneer series. Have you got any in particular that you think are better?

I am hoping to get a pretty substantial boiler as I have an idea involving radiators and radiant heat.

Also, have to ask - what is the Hopi way of washing dishes?
 
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