Automatic for the people

Recently at work, we were informed that — for a dozen different reasons that don’t really matter because the result is the same — we will be providing all of our own content for our special home and garden sections that start back up in March and run through October.

Already miss you, AP.

One of these things is not like the other. Seen on my last shopping trip.

Anyway, last Wednesday, when I was working from home and unable to reach anyone because literally no one was at work (I can handle snow, it’s the ice that worries me. Apparently, I’m not alone), I thought about that special section and started to brainstorm ideas. I kind of missed the boat on our holiday gift guide publication as far as spreading the zero waste and minimalism messages, so mostly I was just trying to come up with stories that A) could be classified as “home” (writing garden stories is easier, so we always have eight of those for every one home story) and 2) would inform our 5,000 subscribers or so on the benefits of waste reduction without actually using those words.

‘Cause “zero waste” is scary. “Reduction” is too — who wants less of something?! (Uh, that would be me, but we’ve already established I like weird stuff.)

I was thinking about y’all as I started writing three such stories: What can and cannot be recycled in our county (with a couple of, “Hey, you can’t recycle batteries curbside, but did you know the hobby shop is a collection site?” sidebars), alternatives to disposables (“Reusable produce bags are amazing! So are hankies!”) and how to make your own cleaning products (our trash service actually has recipes online. We have come a long way, baby). They’re very basic stories. Well, you have to start somewhere.

Since we have nine total issues, I want to write one waste reduction article per edition, stockpiled so they’re ready to go. Other ideas I haven’t gotten to yet: An introduction to the local Buy Nothing group and what that’s about, and how to put together a reusable shopping kit.

Now I just need five more ideas. Ready, set, go! 😉

I’m not sure I would have thought of doing something like this without the encouragement of this group — not too long ago, you were all like, write articles in your paper! and I was like, huh, I guess I am a reporter, interesting suggestion.

So thank you is what I’m saying.


I’ve probably said this before, but there’s something to be said about going to the same grocery store since you were 9.

I stopped by customer service on Saturday for tare on my jars — I always go there first thing and no one even bats an eye — and got the nice lady who always says, “Do you need a marker?” whenever she sees me. She’s not opposed to taring them, but for some reason she doesn’t like to write on the jars herself — maybe she’s worried about messing up the lids or something, I don’t know (I’m not really the sort of person who cares about her lids all that much, pressure off). So she’s handing me a pen as I line up my jars on the counter, and she sighs and says to the other nice lady who will write on my lids, she is always so organized. I need to start doing this. And the other nice lady agreed.

Huh. It’s good to know they don’t see me as a giant pain.

THEN, in the bulk aisle, I was laughing at these two kids who were doing their own bulk spice shopping (“How much do you think this is going to be?” one said. “I have a dollar.” I so wanted to hand them some cash, but I was afraid that would be too weird. I try to pretend I’m normal, anyway) because it was just so awesome, and their mother looked at me and then my jar (I was loading up on nut butter from the machine) and was all, you bring jars. Not a question. So I said, yes! It’s great, I go to customer service first and get the tare so I only have to pay for the food inside, and she was like, I’d not have thought of that.

And then I overheard her telling her husband about this bold new idea like it was genius.

Sometimes, it’s almost too easy.

Also, I’m getting so brave about talking about this in public!

Hey, incidentally, I tried to start using produce-style bags more in the bulk section, just because they’re so much lighter to carry in — a bag filled with jars can be awkward — but I’ve decided that for me, jars work best. For one thing, I like that I can bring in different sized jars and get just that amount of whatever (I can’t be the only one who has problems with estimation), and I really like just having to toss that mess into the cupboard when I come home instead of taking the extra step to decant … into jars. Out of curiosity, what does everyone else use for bulk? I can see how smuggling in bags would be a plus in places that won’t do tare (the whole “ask forgiveness, not permission” kind of thing) … and I certainly like bags for produce.

I just think it’s fascinating is all. Probably because I need more hobbies.

Next up: Kitchen tour for shiz.

P.S. Michael Stipe, if using your album title is unacceptable, let me know and I will change it ASAP. Love you, by the way. You’re the first person I ever heard mention Dr. Bronners … in Sassy magazine … in the ’80s.