Even though I gave away and reused as much as I could, my kitchen renovation a year and a half ago generated a dumpster of construction waste and I still feel guilty about it. I have been trying to atone ever since by adding as little more to landfill as possible.
I have to say that I have been doing pretty well with recycling and composting. Many weeks, I don’t even roll my trash bin out to the curb on pick-up day, as it is empty, or nearly so.
A couple weeks ago, I gave a large party and was delighted to discover that by using my stash of mismatched wine glasses, metal forks and plastic plates, I ended up with only numerous empty wine bottles (a given in Napa) plus a couple compostable bags of food scraps and paper napkins.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to being so environmentally sensitive, as my dislike of waste also caused me to recycle all the edible party leftovers through my mouth and directly onto my hips.
I’m not worried, though. I’m sure my virtue in protecting the environment will be repaid by the universe, which will melt off those 5 pounds through no effort on my part.
While waiting for that to happen, I was rummaging through the back of my closet the other day, hoping to find something that would spark joy (or at least still fit, which, come to think of it, would definitely spark joy), and came upon my cache of old jeans.
I don’t know about you, but I find jeans hard to throw out. My favorite pairs tend to wear out before they go out of style. But since I usually replace them a few moments before the thin spots develop into holes in embarrassing and not at all flattering locations, I tend to tuck them away rather than toss them, just in case I need to wear them one more time.
Besides, what else is there to do with them? They are too stiff for rags, their degree of wear makes them a bad candidate for Community Projects or Goodwill, and the solutions of my youth — cutoffs and skirts made by picking the seams apart and sewing in a panel of cloth — do not really fit my more mature lifestyle. Out of sight, out of mind always works, so my solution has been to stuff them into the back of my closet.
When I pulled them all out, I realized that not only were they worn, but the relaxed-fit boot cut that made me feel chic and hip a decade ago seemed bulky and outdated today. Plus, some of them appeared to have shrunk a size. (The ability of clothes to shrink while sitting in the closet is an amazing phenomenon, worthy of a major scientific study.)
I concluded it was time to get rid of them. Storage space, even in a hard-to-reach cubbyhole, is a rare commodity in my house, one that could be put to better use (for example, to store all the boots I will never wear again, but can’t bear to throw out).
On a whim, I Googled “recycling blue jeans” and made an amazing discovery. Did you know that there is a company in Nevada called Blue Jeans Go Green that turns old jeans into insulation, and is happy to accept donations?
Not only that, but once I boxed mine up (handily recycling one of those Amazon cartons that also make me feel guilty), I followed a link that offered a free pre-paid shipping label, courtesy of Zappo’s. It was almost too easy.
I felt pounds lighter after I dropped the box at the UPS Store. The universe was indeed rewarding me. I haven’t stepped on the scale yet to verify it, but I’m pretty sure my donation did the trick.
But for insurance, I’m going to keep on going with the closet.
Did you know there is a company in San Francisco that recycles old T-shirts?
Green Bean Salad with Feta and Mint
Taking a break from clothes sorting, I headed to the kitchen for lunch. Judging by the size of the T-shirt pile I culled, I will likely be svelte by tomorrow, but I figured there was no harm in nudging it along with a healthy salad.
Out of sight, out of mind may work for old clothes, but it’s a very bad idea in the fridge, where forgotten items tend to turn to sludge. I believe in composting, but prefer it to occur in the brown bin, not inside my house.
Thanks to generous friends who garden, I had several appealing, but perishable, items in my veggie bin. So I killed two birds with one stone, creating this delicious green bean salad while using them up.
1 lb. green beans
1/2 small red onion, sliced very thin
1 lemon cucumber, halved or quartered and sliced thin
6-8 oz. feta, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. high-quality olive oil
1 Tbsp. high-quality red wine vinegar
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar with some fresh ground pepper. (You likely won’t need any salt in the dressing because of the feta.) Set aside.
Trim and cut the beans to whatever size you prefer. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the beans until just tender, about 4 minutes. While they are cooking, preparing a bowl of ice water.
As soon as the beans are cooked, drain them and put them in the ice water. When they are cool, drain them again and transfer them to the bowl that has the dressing in it, adding also the red onion, cucumber and mint leaves. Toss to mix, then carefully mix in the feta cubes.