Sunday, March 18, 2012

A rather permanent hiatus

Hello, darling readers!

After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that I'm putting See Jane Go Green on a rather permanent hiatus. I have done what I can at this point for my ecofriendly life, and graduate school is straining my free time.

I'll be posting sporadically over summer, but I'm just not able to keep up my twice-a-week schedule with any regularity.

Thank you all for reading, and please feel free to leave comments if you have questions. I'm still doing my best to be green, and so should you!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

See Jane Pickle

I love bread and butter pickles. The problem with being a green eater is that I've yet to find any bread and butter pickles that don't have high fructose corn syrup as their second ingredient. So, in an explosion of curiosity, I decided to make them.

I tried two different methods for refrigerator pickles, using a base of pickling cucumbers from the local market.

Version One: From a Packet
This used a package of Ball's Bread and Butter Pickle mix. Just follow the directions on the back.

The verdict: These were rather sour for bread and butter pickles. Excellent texture, though, and very easy to make.

Version Two: Microwave Bread and Butter Pickles

  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

    1. In a medium microwave safe bowl, mix cucumber, salt, onion, mustard seeds, white sugar, distilled white vinegar, celery seed and turmeric.
    2. Microwave on high 7 to 8 minutes, stirring twice, until cucumbers are tender and onion is translucent.
    3. Transfer to sterile containers. Seal and chill in the refrigerator until serving.
    Yummy. The onion  was too small and really annoying, though. I don't like pickled onion and I got a lot from this which I have to pick off my pickles. I substituted celery salt for the celery seed/salt, and it turned out pretty yummy. The texture is more floppy than the Ball's recipe, but the flavor more than makes up for the difference.

    I have a friend, Kate, whose family cans and preserves vegetables and fruit by the gallon when it's inexpensive. She's going to teach me how to oven can - which is faster and easier than water bath canning and lets you make larger batches at a time. I'll be sure to share how it goes!

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Graduate Greening Tips

    About as much effort as I have a chance for at the moment (Via PHD Comics):

    There will be recipes next week. I promise!

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Product Review: Ecotools Makeup Brushes

    I decided to do a girly splurge and buy some makeup tools. I'd been working without them, but a couple of the cheaper brushes which came with my makeup just were not cutting the application. I did a little poking around and decided to check out Ecotools.

    Ecotools makes brushes and other body equipment (body brushes, scrubblets, bath and body tools). I bought a retractable kabuki brush and a set of eye makeup brushes with case. What I liked was that the handles of the brushes are bamboo, not plastic, the metal parts which hold the bristles are recycled aluminum, and the bristles, while synthetic polyester (plastic!), are extremely soft for being vegan. The case for the makeup brushes was made of cotton and hemp.

    The price was a bit higher than some brushes, but not by much. The kabuki was $5, and the eye brushes were $6 for five brushes and case. I bought them at a supermarket, so no shipping costs. This is actually on the lower end of cost for makeup brushes, even considering the "green" packaging and image.

    I think the neatest part for me was the packaging. They don't put it in paper-backed plastic like a lot of brushes, which often can't be recycled. Instead, they put it in a recycled plastic pouch. While I'm a bit leery of plastic packaging, they make the pouch extremely sturdy and encourage you to reuse it for whatever you need. The smaller one from my brush is being used as a travel pouch for my toothbrush. I think the larger one will be a cosmetics kit for travel, too. If you don't want to reuse them, the plastic itself can be recycled.

    As far as the brushes themselves, I'm not the best comparative person to ask. I've never owned makeup tools before. I can say, however, that they are soft, get the job done with no holes in the application, and are easy to use.

    Finally, Ecotools donates 1% of their overall profit to EarthShare and the Wildlife Alliance, two charities that work to promote sustainability and protect forests and wildlife.

    The verdict? If you need a new makeup tool, I'd recommend these. They're about as sustainable as available, fairly plastic-free, and their business practices seem rather legitimate. 

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Of Kleen Canteens and Water Bottles

    It's important to consider your reusables before you switch to them. This is a fact and a simple one. Everything is going to cause some form of environmental harm unless you grow and make it yourself, which isn't possible on a macro scale. So, often the Average Janes and Joes among us have to make choices about getting reusables, and those choices often ignore a key part of the switch: will you like it enough to use it all the time?

    For example, I'm picky about water bottles. They have to have a certain feel. I've inherited a Kleen Canteen and given it a good workout, so I'd like to list the pros and cons of my three favorite water bottles over the last year to help you find the water bottle that's best for you.

    Image copyright Kleen Canteen
     pictured is the 8oz size. 
    The Kleen Canteen
    I have to admit, the durability and size of this guy is a definite plus. It's solid, doesn't squish, won't break if I drop it, and holds the most of all my bottles - 18oz.

    The downsides? It's metal. Which is great for cool drinks, or room-temperature drinks. But hot drinks will scald, cold drinks can get the metal too cold,  and if it's a hot day your water will get warm very fast. The lack of flow control also means that I spill more on myself if I'm drinking quickly. I use this one when I'm biking and want maximum water for minimum space, but it's not my favorite.

    The Plastic Sports Bottle
    The pros of this is that it was free at a school event. It was the first bottle I carried regularly. The plastic nozzle and squeezable sides make it easy to drink quickly without mess. It's also fairly light.

    The downsides is that it's plastic, and I'm not sure how recyclable. It also doesn't keep water cold very long, though slightly longer than the Kleen Canteen. It will wear out faster, and it can absorb tastes from the water.

    The Insulated Thermos
    This is my absolute favorite. Mine is made by Contigo and is quite solid. It has the nice controlled nozzle, doesn't pour unless the button is pressed, and keeps my tea warm for about three hours and my lemonade cold for even longer. It stores 14oz.

    Downsides? It's big and a bit heavy because of the insulation. It also has plastic parts, which aren't ideal but a necessary evil. The nozzle is a bit small. I'm not sure if it's possible to get them in recycled materials.

    The conclusion: 

    Water bottles are a personal choice based on your personal needs. I hope this makes it easier for you to use one; using a bottle is a great way to help reduce your impact. Remember, using a metal bottle at least 25 times makes it more ecologically friendly than the same number of plastic bottles.

    Oh, and a random tip - any of the metal bottles can be used as an impromptu rolling pin - which has some other fun applications.

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    Eating Green Can be Cheaper than Fast Food

    Thought for the green eaters:

    It's not so hard to pick the good choices even on the budget of a college student. It takes more prep time and a bit of know-how. It also requires shopping sense! I've never seen Morning Star burgers that cheap. Still, a little planning and the ability to turn raw ingredients into dinner can go a long way. All that's needed in this picture is showing the little incidentals (oil, spices, bread) that can make this into a series of delicious meals.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    A Bicycling Challenge

    I've been biking for more than a month now. It's definitely getting easier as I go along, but I've been pushing myself lately to bike further before catching the bus, or bike the hill outside my apartment once a week - it's a doozy and half the reason I ride the bus.

    What's caught my attention is that Saturday is Moving Planet's Rally to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels. They challenge us to bike, skate, or walk to work or school, to do our errands, or in a rally march to various renewable energy sources.

    There isn't a rally planned for my area, and with midterms approaching I'm not sure I could organize one this quickly. So, instead, I'm putting forth a challenge to myself and to you. Do one errand that seems "a bit too far" by a non-fossil fuel method.

    My plan is to bike to the Farmer's Market. It's four miles each direction. Since planning this, I've had a mechanical problem with my bike and will be trying to get it fixed in time to participate. It will probably take me 45 minutes each way, but I'm willing to try; plus, I need the exercise. If you can, join me in seeing how fossil fuel-less transit can be an option.

    Edit: My bike is out of commission for three days, until the pedal bearings can be replaced. So...I guess I'm experimenting with fossil fuel-less transit by walking to the bus for the next few days. I'll try to repeat this next week, when the bike is functional.