The Perfect Cup of Coffee

I was always a tea person until I met my husband, who taught me to love coffee. Now my morning routine is not complete without a large mug of steamy coffee. Recently, I started to wonder, what kind of coffee is the most environmentally sustainable and healthy. This question should be very easy to answer, but it isn’t. We all have our favorite brands and ways to drink our coffee. In the last years we have seen an explosion of choices mostly focused on “convenience”.

Personally, my favorite cup of coffee is the one I make at home, using organic, fair trade, dark coffee beans, filtered water, and brewed in a French Press. That way I can totally control the temperature of the water, the time it is in contact with the beans and I know for sure my coffee hasn’t been in contact with plastic. This is also a zero-waste process.

There are also other coffee makers that don’t contain plastic and they are mostly waste free: The Chemex, the Stovetop Espresso Maker, the Percolator, the Turkish coffee pot, among others. Personally, I have only have tried the Turkish pot, that makes a delicious strong coffee but I haven’t tried any of the other methods because they all look harder than my French Press Coffee Maker.

K-Cups taking large shelf space at a local grocery store

The worst way to make your coffee for your health and the environment is to use a K-Cup pod. The pods contain an undisclosed blend of plastics and an aluminum cover. Not only they create unnecessary trash, but you are heating plastic and aluminum which leaks into your coffee and probably messes up your health. K-Cups are not recyclable, and even if they say so, most municipalities don’t accept them.

What about compostable K-Cups? Unfortunately, these are not better. Each K-Cup comes individually wrapped in foil, creating more unnecessary trash, and they need to go to an industrial composting facility in order to break down.

What about traditional electric coffee makers? Environmentally speaking, these are better than K-Cups. After making your coffee, simply add the coffee grounds with the filter to your compost pile. Because they are wet, they will decompose fairly quickly.

Plastic and Film Packaging

Did you know that in addition to plastic shopping bags, you can also recycle plastics bags like cereal box liners, dry cleaning bags, bread bags and paper towel wrap? Please note that we cannot put plastic bags or film in our curbside recycling containers. You have to find a store drop-off center. I have done the research for you. In the Metrowest area these are the places where you can bring your plastic bags and film: Target, Whole Foods, Lowe’s, Staples, Market Basket, Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Roche Bros. and Best Buy.

Please recycle only clean, dry plastic bags and film. Remove receipts or any other items from bags.

Almond Milk Made at Home

Almonds are one of humankind’s most beloved nuts. Compared to all other nuts, they are the most packed with nutrients and beneficial components. They are high in protein and filled with B vitamins, magnesium, copper and vitamin E. This milk is my son’s favorite. He insists I make it for him every week!

Ingredients:

2 cups of raw almonds

8 cups of filtered water

4 teaspoons vanilla essence

4 tablespoons of agave, maple syrup, honey or stevia to taste

4 pitted dates (optional)

Supplies:

Blender

Nut-Milk Bag

Large bowl

Pitcher to store your milk


Preparation
:

First, soak your almonds overnight for at least 12 hours. The next day, discard the water, rinse your almonds and place them in the blender with the water, vanilla essence, agave and pitted dates. Blend for about 3  minutes. If you have a small blender, you will need to do it in two batches. Then, add the mixture into the nut-milk bag and squeeze the milk directly into your bowl. Transfer to your pitcher and refrigerate. You can either compost the remaining almond pulp or add it to your oatmeal, smoothies, and muffins. From personal experience, my milk keeps fresh in the fridge for at least 1 week.

Community Composting Facility Opens in Framingham

I am very happy to announce that our Community Composting facility is now open! Everyone is welcome to bring their food scraps to this facility at no cost. Just follow the guidelines below.

This project is possible thanks to the partnership between Framingham Compost Crew, a project of Transition Framingham, and One Earth Collaborative, a project of Open Spirit. The goal is to keep “food scraps” out of landfills and turn it into “black gold”. Food doesn’t belong in the trash. This new soil will help maintain the newly constructed Edible Forest Garden recently built on the grounds of Open Spirit and Edwards Church.

Not throwing food scraps in the garbage is one of the most important things we can do not to contribute to the warming of our planet. The decomposition of food scraps in landfills create methane gas. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in our atmosphere and contributes to global warming. It is more potent than carbon dioxide and one of the most dangerous to the environment

The bins are located inside the playground, in the corner by the cemetery side,  across from The Open Spirit parking lot. The address is 39 Edwards St. Framingham, MA 01701.

Please follow these guidelines when bringing your food scraps:

Accepted:

Raw or cooked fruits and vegetables

Raw or cooked grains: rice, cookies, cake, pasta, bread, popcorn, etc.

Nuts and eggshells

Spices and dried herbs

Tea bags, coffee grounds, coffee filters

Grass clipping, dry leaves, ash, sawdust

Shredded newspapers and paper bags

Food soiled paper towels and napkins

Not Accepted:

Plastic bags

Meat and dairy products

Diseased or poisonous plants

Oil and grease

Pet waste

Composting Tip:
Put a piece of newspaper or old paper bag at the bottom of your inside compost bin. When you go to dump it outside everything will slide out much easier than without this aid.

This is Time for Action: My Action Plan for a Trump Presidency

  • Support real good quality journalism like The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Atlantic and Harper’s Magazines. Stay away from fake online news.
  • Keep social media uncluttered and interesting for everyone. Before posting ask yourself: Is it necessary? Is it true?
  • Speak up when you see someone being harassed for their sexual orientation, race or religion. Stay with them, offer your help, film if you can.
  • Educate yourself about climate change and the importance of renewable energy: solar, wind and water.
  • Join a grassroots organization in your area that aligns with your values. Are you interested in the environment? Mothers Out Front is a very active organization working on environmental issues as well as 350MA. Are you interested in animals rights? Join the Humane Society of the US. Are you interested in helping people in need? When you walk by a homeless person, don’t ignore them, talk to them, ask them their names, how they feel, what they need. Are you interested in making biking safer in your community? Join a committee in your home town. Etc.
  • Even if you don’t join an environmental movement, individual actions count towards reducing our carbon footprint and our effect on the planet climate. These are things you can start implementing today:
  • Eat less meat, especially red meat. Animal agriculture is at the heart of our environmental crisis. The meat and dairy industry currently occupies over half of the world’s land resources, uses the majority of our freshwater, and is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector. Red meat (beef, pork, lamb) is not healthy either. 99% of the meat we eat in this country come from factory farms, and 80% of antibiotics produced in this country go to the animals we raise for food.
  • Compost at home or at the Community Composting Facility at Edwards Church in Framingham.
  • Place reusable shopping bags into your car, bag and purse, so you have some handy when you’re at the store. Avoid plastic bags.
  • Bring your own mug to the coffee shop or ask for a ceramic cup.
  • Replace single use serving items like plates, cups and utensils with reusable mugs, cups, bowls, plates, and silverware.
  • Live simple, don’t shop by impulse, unplug the TV and the video games and bring back the board games.

How I Ended My Paper Towel Addiction

587ddd40c8320c76b6d4b39ec6c960bbWhen I started composting and reducing disposables, I noticed that one of the most prevalent items in our trash, were paper towels. I even switched to using paper towels made with 100% recycled content and bleached without chlorine, but still I was not feeling great about using so much paper. It took me a long time to start looking for alternatives because, I have to admit it, paper towels are very convenient. How did my mother and grandmother manage to cook three meals a day from scratch and raise 2 kids at the same time without paper towels? I have no idea.

So, one day when I was shopping at Trader Joe’s, I saw these reusable cloths that come in fancy colors. I was skeptical but decided to give them a try. After two months of using them, I am happy to tell you that my life hasn’t become more complicated, my kitchen is still sparkling clean and I am saving money. I haven’t replaced all my paper towel needs because I have a cat that makes messes so I still use my paper for that. But for most other things, these reusable towels do a great job. I even cleaned the interior of my cars with these towels and tossed them in the laundry machine afterwards.

I found my solution at Trader Joe’s but I am sure most stores carry paper towel alternatives. Let me know what you find and like.

If In Doubt, Throw It Out: Recycle Right

Last week, The Happy Bee organized a tour at the Recycling Facility in Framingham, MA with Stephen Sarnosky, Recycling Coordinator. Here are 3 important things to remember. This applies to all communities in the Metrowest Area:

  1. Do not place plastic bags of any kind in your recycling bin. They do not belong there. They jam the machines at the recycling facilities and they will end in the landfill. If you want to recycle plastic bags, you need to bring them back to the stores to be recycled. Most grocery stores have recycling containers for plastic bags.
  2. If In Doubt, Trow It Out. Please recycle right. Only put in your recycling bin what you know for sure your town will take. Just because something is made of metal, doesn’t necessarily mean it belongs in the curbside recycling bin. The same applies to plastic.
  3. Flatten all cardboard before placing it in your recycle bin. This is important to save space and energy.

Know what your town accepts in your curbside recycling bin. Click on this green link to view the RECYCLING & WASTE DISPOSAL GUIDELINES for the Town of Framingham. This applies to all communities in the Metrowest Area.