Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Zero Waste Halloween Treats

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Halloween is quite a challenge for zero wasters with many unhealthy treats packaged in wrappers that are difficult to reuse or recycle. So instead our household prepares our own treats in compostable/recyclable food grade wax envelopes. We also staple a note to each one so the recipient knows exactly what they are getting, where it came from, and how to properly reuse/recycle the note and packaging. And we have a nonfood option as well for kids who have food allergies.

Here is the note we gave out this year with our treats:
Dear Trick-or-Treater,

Thanks for stopping at our house!

This year we are giving out non-food treats (worry stone and $1 for your college fund)  or organic food treats for you to savor (cashews, dark chocolate almonds, or raisins) all packaged in compostable wax paper bags.

Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Reduce -- We need to conserve our world’s limited resources. Treats are extra special when you get just a little. So take it slow and easy and savor every little bit.

Reuse -- Please reuse this printed paper and the waxed paper bag. Reuse conserves resources and minimizes trash. If you don’t want the treats we’ve given you, we’re sure your parents would love them!

Recycle -- If you cannot reuse this paper or plastic bag, please recycle / compost / food cycle them (paper into paper recycling bin, bag into compost / food cycle bin). Please dispose of everything in the proper place to keep our world safe and clean.

Trash Nothing -- Unfortunately most regular candy wrappers cannot be reused or recycled and just end up as trash. Much of this trash goes into our streams and ocean -- killing wildlife and eventually getting back into our own food -- yuck!

To learn a few simple ways to take better care of our world, see:

For more advanced tips on how to go zero waste, see:

Please take care of yourself and our world, you are precious and deserve the very best!

Thanks!

Sincerely,
Tim & Pat Oey
Allison Way
Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Here is a picture of our sidewalk sign outside our house:


Our front porch:


The treats we purchased in bulk in our own packaging:


The note we printed and cut up (2 sided):


And the treats all ready to hand out:


In the past we have also given out mandarin oranges and homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. For more about nonfood options, please see the Teal Pumpkin Project.

We hope you all had a great Halloween and will try zero waste options in the future!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Great service and reducing plastic waste at Safeway!



This is the face of great "can do" customer service as well as sustainability. This is Vince the meat manager of the Safeway at 20620 W Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014. Vince can tare your container (so you only pay for the contents) and put any of their meats into it that otherwise would go into their store packaging. Please bring your own clean container and say hi to him at the butcher counter and thank him for reducing disposable plastic waste. Thanks!

BTW, 
​in case you get someone not as experienced as Vince at the butcher counter, here is what they need to do to enter the tare for your container (the order here is important):

  1. Weigh container first to establish its weight
  2. Take container off scale
  3. Enter product code
  4. Hit tare button twice in upper left corner of keypad and then enter the tare weight obtained in step 1
  5. Put container on scale
  6. Notice correct tare and net total weight at or very near zero
  7. Put product in container
  8. Print label and apply to container
  9. Notice that correct tare is also printed on label

You can buy any of Safeway's meats this way.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Super Healthy and Sustainable Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the new healthy and tasty chocolate chip cookie recipe I use. It is an updated Olive Oil version of the Canola oil version I did back in 2008. I've determined that olive oil is better than canola oil for a variety of reasons (local, sustainable, healthy). It now also includes making your own brown sugar instead of buying pre-made brown sugar.


Ingredients

1 cup - Organic Unrefined Sugar (instead of brown sugar)
1 tbsp - Organic Molasses (instead of brown sugar)

1 cup - Olive Oil (instead of butter, my current favorite is California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin)
2 tbsp -Water (instead of butter)
(Alternatively use 1 cup of softened organic butter)

2 tsp - Vanilla Extract (either natural or artificial)
2 - Large Organic Eggs

2 cups - Organic Rolled Oats
1 1/2 cups - Organic Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp - Baking Powder, Double-acting, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate
1 tsp - Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp - Salt

12 ounces (0.75 lbs) - Organic Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet

Optional: Also add some pecans or walnuts, up to 1 cup.


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

A stand or other electric mixer works best. Otherwise this is very, very good exercise for your arm. In a large bowl mix sugar and molasses until well blended (this turns it into brown sugar, it takes quite a lot of mixing to evenly distribute the molasses). Add oil and mix. Add water, vanilla, eggs and mix. Add flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Mix until well blended. Add chocolate chips (and optionally pecans) and mix until evenly distributed.

Drop tablespoons of cookie dough 1.5 inches apart onto baking sheets (greasing with a light coat of olive oil is optional). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Let stand on baking sheets for ~2-4 minutes before scraping cookies off baking sheet with spatula. Put on racks or plates to cool if desired.

Makes about 48 cookies.


Notes

The sugar, flour, oats, chocolate chips, pecans, salt, and cinnamon can be purchased from Whole Foods and possibly other supermarkets in bulk (bring your own container if possible to eliminate disposable packaging -- alternatively flour and sugar are typically sold in recyclable paper). Whole Foods and some other supermarkets also sell molasses in glass containers and 3 liter California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other olive oils) in metal containers. Even if you don't use organic ingredients for some or all of the above, it still is very healthy and minimizes trash. Double check to make sure the olive oil you are buying is really olive oil as many commercial brands have mixed in cheaper oils.


Copyright 2017 Tim Oey. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My favorite easy whole wheat waffle recipe

Why buy frozen waffles when you can make your own fresh ones or freeze them yourself? Plus in addition to these being zero-waste, they are healthier for you too. Here is my favorite easy whole wheat waffle recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron while making the waffle batter.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and oil.
  4. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. The batter may be a bit lumpy.
  5. Cook the waffles as directed in the instructions that came with your waffle iron. For my Cuisinart waffle maker I cook until the steam mostly stops.
  6. Yield: 6 round standard 6.5" waffles or 3 round deep-pocket Belgian-style 7" waffles.

I get my whole wheat flour, sugar, and salt in bulk in my own reusable containers from Whole Foods but even from a regular grocery store they are usually packed in paper which is pretty close to zero waste. I currently use California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil as my main oil -- grown and made in California near where I live and certified to be real olive oil (many other olive oils have been shown to be falsely labeled, google around for the latest on this). My baking powder is just from a local supermarket. My eggs and milk are usually organic from a local supermarket or a farmers market. While I can get milk in glass bottles it is somewhat more expensive and pretty heavy/fragile so I usually get standard milk containers that I recycle. Paper egg cartons can be recycled/composted or reused if you get eggs from a farmers market as I sometimes do.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why buy syrup when you can make it?

Here is a super easy and tasty syrup recipe. I use this syrup on pancakes and waffles and as an ingredient to my favorite granola recipe. It is much cheaper than store bought commercial syrup and has zero high fructose corn syrup. While I love natural maple syrup, it is extremely expensive and uses a lot of fossil fuel to ship it to where I live.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (white or unrefined)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavored extract
Directions:
  1. Bring the water, sugar, and molasses to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Take off heat and stir in the maple extract. 
  3. Let cool until no longer hot.
  4. Store in a sealed glass mason jar in refrigerator (since it does not contain preservatives like store purchased varieties).

I buy my sugar in bulk in my own reusable container from Whole Foods. However, even from a regular grocery store, white sugar is usually packaged in paper. This greatly reduces the disposable plastic from buying syrup in plastic bottles. The least expensive high quality maple flavored extract I've found was at https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B008OGD194 but availability varies.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

After a break, I'm back. And retired!

2016 was busy, hectic, and I ran out of time to post on this blog. However, after working at Harvard UniversityBank of BostonFidelity Investments, Apple ComputerSun MicrosystemsAdobe Systems and Silver Spring Networks (all world class companies), I decided to retire early at the end of 2016.
  1. To spend more time with my wife, family, friends, dogs, reading, writing, and outdoor activities. We'll rarely remember how great it was to work late, but we'll always remember the great times we had with family and friends.
  2. To do more to make our world a better place by helping:
  3. Trump shock:
    • I was shocked my country could elect someone so unqualified and harmful to the American values I hold dear: science, environment, health, education, children, equal rights, truth, justice, and professionalism. I realized that money was now less important to me than time and doing the right thing.
    • I chose to devote my professional skills and energy full time to make our world a better place rather than just making money -- to counter the evil in the Trump and Republican agenda.  
Thanks for reading! I hope to post more regularly going forward.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Zero Waste Resource List

I'm maintaining a resource list of good books, websites, and blogs on my website at http://www.timoey.com/articles/zero-waste.