In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.


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Because Somebody Should, and I Can

A friend mentioned to me last week that the vast majority of roadway litter is fast- or convenience-food related. After picking up two bags of garbage in a thirty-minute walk today, I am inclined to agree.

Roadway Litter Seems to be Primarily from Fast- or Convenience-Foods

The irony was, most of the litter I collected was in front of a waste management facility offering residential and commercial trash removal. Most of the garbage had been in bags. The former owners had been trying to do the “right” thing – reusing plastic grocery bags to throw away their trash. But, by whatever means, the bags ended up on the ground outside the waste management facility, where weather degraded and shredded the plastic, spilling its contents everywhere.

Which got me thinking: what if every man, woman and child in the U.S. used reusable packaging for their food just once? That would be over 325 MILLION pieces of garbage that didn’t get thrown away in the first place.

OK, ok, I know realistically that everyone would still throw away the next piece of industrial food packaging, and we’d be back to square one.

But what if some people cut back on food packaging several times a week, by reusing water bottles or buying more food in bulk and repackaging it themselves in recyclable containers?

What if some people opted out of the fast- and convenience-food industries altogether?

What if some food manufactures started packaging their products in containers that were biodegradable, compostable, or able to be repurposed for an entirely different use?

Or what if more people just picked up litter from the roadsides and in the process, inspired others to do likewise? I know my two bags don’t make a “real” dent in the litter problem, but somebody should do something. And I can.

Not Bad for Only Half an Hour … Oh Wait, it is Bad

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Terrible Names for Good Ideas

I’m listening to the audiobook version of How to be Alive by Colin Beavan. So far it has been enjoyable with lots of interesting perspectives and insights. And the book is read by the author, which I definitely prefer.

[Side note – the audio is free through hoopladigital.com in partnership with my local library, and it does NOT include all the “enhanced digital content” that would have been on the actual disks if I had purchased them in the store.]

Anyway, while I like a lot of Mr. Beavan’s ideas, I find his names for them, um, less than inspiring. Take for example, the “Ukulele Approach”. This is his term for small, easy actions that one can take to help bring your life more in line with your values. Even if you can’t solve big issues like world hunger or universal clean drinking water, anyone can smile more, help an elderly person carry their groceries, etc. He provides a list of 19 examples and they are all great suggestions. Just … the name for them … hmmmmm …

[Side note 2 – I finally know how to spell ukulele after writing this post.]

But the point is, Mr. Beavan’s list inspired me to compose my own. Some of the items are on his list as well, because I liked them so much. Without further ado, my own list of 19 easy small steps I can take to live a life better aligned to my values:

  1. Pick up litter while walking
  2. Eat a more plant-based diet
  3. Feed my family more locally sourced food
  4. Forage more to learn about my local ecology
  5. Drink less booze
  6. Eat less sugar
  7. Eat more fermented / cultured foods
  8. Buy more clothes used
  9. Shift what clothing I do buy to be more natural fibers rather than synthetic
  10. Improve the energy efficiency of my home through insulation foam, caulking and weather stripping
  11. Watch TV less
  12. Buy less stuff, especially things which are ‘labor saving’ gadgets or ‘convenience’ devices, or only serve one highly specialized purpose
  13. Spend my dollars at local and / or ethically and socially conscious businesses
  14. Give more complements
  15. Smile more
  16. Support my daughters’ unique personalities and individual traits and empower them to be strong women
  17. Buy seeds evolved for my climate so the garden needs less energy to support
  18. Participate in seed exchanges
  19. If given the choice, use and buy things that can be ‘returned to the soil’ at the end of their functional life

How will it go? Only time will tell, BUT I can definitely say, it has been a while since I last composed a list that made me feel excited, rather than anxious!


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Backyard Summer Salad

Summer time and the eating is easy! The more I learn, the more I am amazed just how many wild edibles are available even in one’s own backyard. The photo below shows the variety of greens I could collect one August day to make a salad for lunch, with goat cheese, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. The smallest/youngest leaves are the most tender and best for consuming raw. Remember, before you forage – have 100% identification (no even the picture below does not “count”), and know the environment (pesticides, pollution, laws, etc.).

summer_backyard_salad

Summer Backyard Salad Greens. (Photo used with permission of PrepperGeek.org)

 


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Ceci N’est Pas Une Diet Blog

I know, I know, I’ve been blogging about food and diet a lot lately.

Just a reminder, this is NOT a diet blog, even though it looks like one from time to time.  Or a lot, even.

This is a personal productivity and effectiveness blog.  It’s an exploring-ways-to-be-more-awesome blog. It’s a getting the most out of the short time we have on this planet blog. Finding ways to do things smarter, not harder.

The best way to know if things are getting better, is to have metrics that you can record over time. This allows you to make small adjustments, measure results, and then change accordingly to see if the numbers are reflecting the desired change. To do this effectively, you need to have a good starting baseline.

One my consistent failings in all my year’s gardening has been tracking yield. My beloved journal/calendar/diary keeps me straight on timing, but I have no way to know if things like succession planting or different vegetable varieties is really impacting my yield.

This year, I’m committed to better tracking to establish that baseline. To that end: behold! My first measurable garden output of the year!

Asparagus fresh from the backyard

Asparagus fresh from the backyard

(Note this is not “subsistence farming” or even significantly impacting my grocery budget – this much asparagus sells right now for probably 5 USD or less.  Frankly, if it’s in season for your home garden, it’s in season for the farmers around you, and they have economies of scale which allow them to sell the same produce for WAY less than it costs you to grow it yourself. But a backyard garden is noble and worthy for other reasons… probably that will be (yet another) future blog post.)


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This Is Not the Post You Were Looking For

You were looking for the post on dietary habits and sustainability.

Instead, this is a post on me giving up on coconut milk yogurt.

It wasn’t hard to make. But in the several batches I made, I never felt like it was, well, cultured enough.

Normally the bacteria eat the sugar in cow’s milk.  Coconut milk is low in sugar, so I added maple syrup to give the little guys sugar to eat. But adding extra sugar – even “natural” start like maple syrup – feels wrong to me.

Then the results were never as yogurt-y as it seemed they should be. Even after 24 hours of incubating.

And I never found a store bought coconut milk yogurt that tasted good either, so….back to cow’s milk yogurt (and sinus congestion) for me.


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Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Yes, I’m eating dairy again. No, the world didn’t end. It’s just once more congested. Of course correlation does not prove causation… But I’m still cutting back on dairy even if I’m not removing it all together.

Future post to follow on diet choices and sustainability, i.e., when drinking milk makes more sense than the alternatives, sinus congestion be damned.

In other news, I think I’m going to open a restaurant, called Free. With a purely allergen free menu.  We will serve, water, air, and lettuce.

Last but definitely not least, I made a thing! Tentatively calling it “Chili Pie with Corn Free Corn Bread.” My first experiment using plantains as a corn / cornmeal substitute.

Chili Pie with Corn-Free Bread

Chili Pie with Corn-Free Bread

I haven’t found the perfect recipe to use as a starting point for a plantain “Corn Free Corn Bread” so I’m just making this up… probably needs a few more revisions before sharing the results. Which is to say, I enjoyed it but the less adventurous folks in my house did not think it a viable substitute for Jiffy Mix.