I Wonder If I Can Make That?

Several years ago I became keenly aware of the amount of trash my family generated. Sure, we put out maybe half the amount of trash as our suburban neighbors. But as I headed down the ally on my way to work that morning I noticed with sadness the mammoth trash cans lugged to the edge of the ally by every household. Several houses even needed two trash cans. And even those were filled to capacity, spilling over to the cement below.

I thought to myself – this is just one street and only one of the
TWICE PER WEEK collection!
Wow, that’s a lot of trash.

So I got to wondering…

It's surprisingly easy to elimate large amounts of trash from entering your home. I thought to myself "I wonder if I can MAKE that?" I found it's easy! #TexasHomesteader

Excessive Product Packaging

They say a change begins with just one step, and that realization was my catalyst. Suddenly I began to notice excess packaging, purposely done by clever marketing executives to make their product look bigger or better to the consumer.

I noticed the numerous items sold shrink-wrapped in plastic for the convenience of the stores. And single purchases were often thoughtlessly double bagged by rushed grocery store workers. Even items that actually had HANDLES made into the product were double bagged!

Eliminating Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags

Now this was way before the feel-good days of responsibly placing your purchases into a designer reusable bag. So I obtained several plain but heavy cloth bags for free at business conventions. Then I resolved to reduce or eliminate plastic grocery shopping bags from entering the waste stream from our home.

Reducing landfill-bound trash from entering our home. No single-use shopping bags are necessary. I always have my fabric bags with me. #TexasHomesteader

I now keep fabric bags and even my favorite handmade basket in my car. So even on an unscheduled stop, no plastic bags are needed when we shop.

No need for plastic shopping bags. It's surprisingly easy to eliminate large amounts of trash from entering your home. #TexasHomesteader

But how else can I reduce landfill trash that comes from my household? There are only two of us here now. Our household trash is typically the size of a miniature bathroom wastebasket every two weeks.

But I know there’s still more I can do – it’s a challenge I make to myself. I already use fabric bags or my basket for 100% of my purchases. Plus I reject overly-packaged products and avoid paper products in my kitchen. I buy quality, and I reuse, recycle & compost…  what else can I do?

I Wonder If I Can Make That?

So I began to look even at the small amount of packaging contained by the products that had already passed my keen packaging-police eye. And I thought about that product itself, “I wonder if I can make that myself?”. To my delight the answer was almost always YES!

I’m now more likely to whip up cream soups instead of opening a soup can for a recipe. I prefer to use fresh jalapenos instead of buying them in cans. I have homemade seasoning mix that I use to make my own fresh salsa in less than 3 minutes. And my salsa uses fresh garden tomatoes and vegetables in a blender instead of buying salsa in jars.

Fresh salsa from the garden in minutes? Yes please! It's surprisingly easy to eliminate large amounts of trash from entering your home. I thought to myself "I wonder if I can MAKE that?" I found it's easy! #TexasHomesteader

Not only do these actions bring me much satisfaction, but the products are typically healthier, less processed, significantly cheaper and almost trash free!

I’ve learned to make cheese and yogurt, homemade pasta noodles and seasonings, Heck I even learned to make homemade soap and personal care products.

Homemade Yogurt is easy to make. It's surprisingly easy to eliminate large amounts of trash from entering your home. I thought to myself "I wonder if I can MAKE that?" I found it's easy! #TexasHomesteader

I’ve found that I derive an immense amount of pleasure and pride from providing these items for my family. And I’m amazed at how simple some of this stuff actually is!  Have the marketing folks really convinced us that buying is the only way?  I had certainly swallowed their story.

It's surprisingly easy to elimate large amounts of trash from entering your home. I thought to myself "I wonder if I can MAKE that?" I found it's easy! #TexasHomesteaderMaking some of the things your family uses regularly is usually very quick and very easy to do.  I challenge you to give it a try.  Start small and try to make something you typically buy.  It can be as easy as a seasoning mix or cake frosting, or more complex like making your own cold-pressed soap. You may be very surprised at how easy it really is! Your wallet and the environment will both thank you…


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5 thoughts on “I Wonder If I Can Make That?

  1. Hannah

    Thanks for sharing this with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! Hope to see you again today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/02/bunnys-bento-box-eco-kids-tuesday.html

  2. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Tammy – what a coincidence – we were having pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches the other day and I contemplated making hamburger buns for them. (I didn’t) Good to know they’re easy and turn out great. Thanks for commenting. ~TMR~

  3. Tammy/Our Neck of the Woods

    I love your ideas! I am trying to make as much as I can instead of buying it at the store. If I get produce at the store, I don’t use the plastic bags to cut down on that waste. Last night I even made my own hamburger buns for our dinner! They were surprisingly easy and turned out really well. I would love to get to the point where I don’t have to go to the grocery store at all, but I know it will take a while to achieve that. We are working towards it every day!

  4. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Karen – I feel your pain about the peppers – I’m out of our garden peppers as well and like you I hate buying them. I do most of my own stuff now that it’s just me & my husband (bread, applesauce, canned veggies, homemade meals & desserts, etc) but I didn’t always. When my kids were small & I was in a corporate 9-5 environment, much of what we needed was purchased. Even now I refuse to beat myself up if I don’t “feel” like making bread and we buy a loaf at the store – it’s all about balance. Each family is in a different stage & has their own dynamic that works for them. But I really have found that the longer I try to provide for my family myself, the easier & quicker it is. ~TMR~

  5. KarenLynn@Lil' SuburbanHomestead

    I was raised by fairly conservative parents and they were fairly frugal but they were Buy, Buy, Buy….a garden for us was mostly tomatoes, and cucumbers and it was small and my Mom made freezer jam every year but the concept such as we do where we can applesauce, and jellies and make homemade bread etc… etc… I did not grow up with when I had that magic light bulb moment it was very exciting and then at times now it can be tiring because I am like I can’t buy the store bought stuff because the homemade stuff is so much better but I work full time and I’m tired….so becoming more efficient is a huge goal of mine. I am so sad too because I am all out of my own peppers this year…….I hate buying peppers when they are sooooo easy to grow! Thanks for sharing your story with us at “The Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post” blog hop this week!


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