Buying New

Dated June 27th, 2016.

I looked everywhere. Everywhere.

I couldn’t find a used kayak that was small enough for me to carry, but big enough to be a stable multi-purpose watercraft (I want to be able to at least do overnight trips, aka bungee straps on the front/back and a watertight compartment). So I just did it. I bought new. This is the first really big rule of being zero waste that I’ve broken, and you know what? I’m not even sorry. That’s right, you heard me. I’m not sorry.

And while I’m at it, I’m not sorry for driving my vehicle to work/ the city to get groceries/tools/my precious baby (i.e. kayak). And its sort of funny, because I can’t even come close to mustering the pang of guilt I feel when I accumulate a piece of waste.

After some thinking, I finally figured out why. A kayak, a vehicle, these are definitely material goods from a consumer culture, but they stand apart in that they are not a one-time use technology. Both are huge investments that sort of come with the tagline of “maintenance” because you don’t put that kind of money into something you’re just going to throw away.

I really think that’s at the heart of it for me, and in terms of the experiment I’m doing right now, I’m acutely aware of opulent waste versus footprints of existence. As long as I’m alive, I’m going to be leaving some sort of impact- I’ll never be able to get that down to zero. That’s the logical standpoint. But my own personal interpretation of zero waste doesn’t involve a suicidal conclusion, rather, a brutal honesty with myself about things I want so badly I “need” them, and going about fulfilling that need in a sustainable manner.

I have been wanting a kayak for a very long time, but my want had never passed into the realm of “need” until this summer, when I realized that my personal quality of life could be vastly improved by purchasing something like this for myself. I can now connect with nature in my usual quiet, but  physical way, and I can spend more time immersing myself in the environment that has pushed my entire waste free initiative. In some sense, I even want to talk about the fact that I purchased a boat without a motor, but at this point I think I’m just stretching.

And so, two months in, the first amendment to zero waste has been made: Sometimes buying new is okay.

All the best,
The Dirt Mouth

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BBQ Black Burgers

First off, I’d like to say they’re really good. Secondly, no, they do not taste like beef burgers.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can cut to the good stuff.

I am newly vegetarian/vegan because
A.) Finding meat in a small town without the packaging is possible, it just means I would need to approach a local farmer before they butcher the cow/chicken- and really, I’ve never been a huge fan of meat anyways.
B.) I’ve been in need of a diet change, I definitely have some ignored intolerances. Why not go with the zero waste flow?

I began by googling black bean burger recipes, but as per usual, just ended up scanning several, getting the gist of it, and doing my own thing.

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Ingredients:

  • 16oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced.
  • 1/2 a red onion, finely chopped.
  • A whole bunch of garlic (I love garlic)
  • 1 egg (so I guess its not vegan, but it could be with a flaxseed egg!)
  • 2 almond flour biscuits, crumbled.
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • A few dollops of sweet chili Thai sauce.

Instructions:

  1. Mash beans in a food processor or with a fork (the fork takes forever, persevere).
  2. As per usual, throw everything else in the bowl and mush until it seems well mixed.
  3. Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. If you’re making these on the stove, great, a pan is perfect. These burgers don’t exactly hold together in the same way meat burgers do, even if you add extra eggs. This means the widely spread bars of a BBQ are somewhat of a risk I’m not really willing to take. Therefore, I used a BBQ pizza pan to grill these burgers, but a cast iron pan would also do the trick.
  4. Cook until blackened (I love when the outside gets crispy), and serve hot. Don’t forget to turn off the BBQ!

Best enjoyed on the deck with a cat.

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All the best,
The Dirt Mouth

Dirt vs. Dirt

Okay, so I’ve talked on and on about food. While I’m aware that I have a slight obsession with food at this point, I have noticed another wasteful trend.

It would seem to me our culture has a little bit of a germ phobia.

Look under your sink. One time use wipes, kleenex in all sorts of plastic wrapping, and of course, chemicals so harsh it would take you longer to read the warnings than it would take you to actually clean anything.

But if you look closer, its not just our cleaning habits that exhibit an intense fear of germs; this is also exemplified in take-out containers from restaurants (with strict rules on not bringing your own containers), and of course, the plastic wraps and seals found on literally everything in the grocery store. Don’t be fooled, those seals aren’t for freshness, they’re for peace of mind.

Which leads me to my next questions: Shouldn’t we be able to tell when food has gone bad without all the excessive wrapping? Are we really that paranoid about germs that we need to be burning our walls and hands?

I’m going to be very honest here- I’ve never been that bothered by “germs”. Don’t give me that look, of course I wash my hands. But I was definitely that kid who ate dirt on a regular basis, and I’ve never really lost that mentality of dirt versus “dirt”.

Dirt Vs. “Dirt”

There’s two kinds of germs in my head: real germs, and shadow germs. When I used to cook with raw meats, I was always very careful of cross contamination, but that never required harsh chemicals- just some hot soapy water and enough cutting boards/knives to switch out. Salmonella is an example of what I believe to be a real germ. An example of a shadow germ would be trading out a piece of silverware that’s fallen on the floor or making your employees wear plastic gloves and throw them out after every use. What germs could you possibly be picking up in that time frame? Maybe its just my “there’s too many people in the world anyways” thinking, but I really don’t see the death toll rising with the frequent skin contact.

This sort of reminds me of the medical diagnosing computer program that out performed human MD’s in every possible way and still wasn’t put into practice because patients couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea of a computer handling such sensitive topics. Its a human thing, a cultural thing, and that’s exactly what our germ phobia is- in my opinion.

I’m not saying that germs don’t exist everywhere, I mean, you really could get sick from anything. But I think this overall idea of the germ always being there is similar to always saving your money in case you need it for something later. You’re so busy watching your back, you’re losing track of where the actual threats are. You aren’t learning anything about sanitation of cleanliness, you’re just a zombie following the rules, you know?

I use the handkerchiefs my mom pulled out of the closet with a smile on her face- “Now just make sure you wash it often!”- and I made the switch to a Diva Cup months ago (it served me so well abroad, I cannot recommend enough making that switch ladies. Seriously). I now find the idea of garbage gross, because really, it is. It’s just a bunch of germs that we’ve let sit there.

So yeah. Think about that, wasters.

All the best,
The Dirt Mouth