Thursday, September 26, 2013

End Justifying Means?

What follows was written by my husband, first published on Flickr the other day. I use it with his agreement (of course), because it highlights something easily overlooked - especially in these days of water shortages. In our town recycling, on a grand scale, has come late but hey, better late than...

The recycling company engaged by town authorities demands that items for recycling and collection: paper, cardboard, plastics, cans, glass, should be reasonably clean. Husband's problem arose due to the nature of peanut butter, a food I seldom eat. My solution to his dilemma is: leave the glass peanut butter jars in the ordinary garbage bin without any pang of conscience - glass will not do the same harm to the environment as the demon plastic. Any other ideas?

First I scraped all the peanut butter I could from inside the jar, applying it sparingly to my toast. I licked the spatula too.

Next I soaked the jar and spatula in water and a squirt of detergent. I ran the water until it was hot. Cold water would not have made any advances toward loosening the peanut oil remaining in the jar and on the spatula.

I ate my toast.

I went back to the jar in the sink and ran more hot water into the jar, and scrubbed it with a sponge.

I wiped the spatula clean and dried it with a tea towel. The oil came off the spatula fairly easily.

But not so the jar, which required a third wash with fresh detergent and hot water.

Finally the jar was nearly clear of any remaining peanut butter or oil. I wiped out the inside with the tea towel just in case.

Now for the lid, it was the same process basically but some of the peanut butter had begun to dry out on the inner side of the lid. It took an extra washing and finally a wipe with the tea towel. I tossed the tea towel into the washing machine because it was rather smudged now and probably wouldn’t do for drying any dishes or hands.

Finally, I had the jar ready for the recycling bin. Just doing my bit for conservation.

That reminds me I need to add dish detergent and peanut butter to the grocery list.


mike said...

Well, I'm glad to know recycling is part of your community. Is it "free"? sisters in Kansas, two different towns, have to pay a hefty fee for the privilege, if they choose to recycle. It's "free" here...we pay for it with our garbage fee, whether we participate or not. Glass is not allowed (bummer).

I'm a huge fan of peanut butter...two PB sandwiches every day for lunch with a glass of milk. And yes, the residual in the used-up container was a problem for me. But, I soon learned that I could simply fill the container almost to the brim with hot water, add a squirt of detergent, put the lid back on and shake a couple of times...repeat shaking several times over the next 24 hours or so, then I dump the solution down the drain with the disposal on. I can see the PB change color from a darker brown to a light tan...indicates that the deterg-water mix is working. I do no prior cleaning to the container and I may have to give the container a light swipe with a sponge on the inside. Hasn't failed me yet. I use the cheap PB and it always comes in plastic...I assume it will work on your glass, too.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Quite a few years back, our city instituted a very extensive (and mandatory) recycling *and* composting program, which I LOVE (!!!), though like everyone else, we sometimes wonder about the logistics.

When it comes to peanut/almond butter, you're not the first person to wonder just how clean the jar has to be. First I scoop out as much as I can. Then I fill the jar with used, soapy dishwater (still hot is best), put the lid back on and shake it back and forth a few times before letting it sit for a while. After that I've found a hot soapy sponge (or even a small piece of used paper towel) works great for scooping out the rest. One last *very* quick rinse, then the jar gets tossed in recycling and *if* I've resorted to it, the *small* piece of paper towel goes into the compost bin (which we keep in a compostable green bag in the bottom of our fridge until pick-up day). We don't have a disposal, so any excess food is caught in our sink's removable drain and also gets dumped in the green compost bag. I've found glass rinses more easily than plastic and a small piece of paper towel allows me to use far less water, though I'd only recommend this if your area composts used paper towels.

The bottom line is that in most recycling facilities, glass, cans and hard plastic -whatever your recycling program happens to take- usually don't have to be completely cleaned out (or even *clean*), just reasonably rinsed.

Here's a link I found:

Mostly on account of the fact that other tenants in our building don't do any of this (or even know how to recycle or compost), every few months I briefly hose out our bins, sometimes adding a little vinegar and baking soda to keep them from getting smelly and attracting bugs and other critters.

It's great that your community is doing this.:) Kind of off the subject, but have you ever tried raw, organic Almond Butter? It's a bit more expensive but I prefer it.

mike's comment just appeared. Seems like I'm repeating what he said.:)

mike (again) said...

LB, I'm in the deep south of TX and for whatever reason, the city will not take anything that has residue on it. Aluminum foil has to be clean (why not just re-use it, then?), as does plastic, paper, and glass allowed here.

I've tried virtually all butters and haven't found one I don't like. I've made raw almond (and other) butter and, yes...LUV it. My favorite is cashew butter, but it has to be roasted to eliminate urushiol toxin. Homemade is easy and the cheapest. I'm not poor, but I'm not rich enough to go beyond cheap peanut butter, though! And I make my own WW bread.

LB said...

mike ~ So you never met a nut butter you didn't like, eh?:) That homemade butter must be yummy on that home-baked bread. I come from a family of bakers on my mother's side and still have fond memories of that wonderful smell. Like you, my mom baked using whole grains (and olive oil). Do you soak your nuts and seeds overnight?

Reading your comment about recycling in your area makes me grateful our city has such an all-inclusive program, though something is better than nothing. While recycling and composting are great and well worth the effort, my understanding is that most of the environmental harm caused by packaging is caused by its production rather than its disposal.

With that in mind, one of my goals for this coming year is to *try* to purchase more bulk food items using reusable glass containers and to buy fewer soft plastics and glass disposables - which is something not everyone has access to or can afford. Thankfully, we're not poor either, but our income is *very* limited so we need to conserve.

We already reuse our plastic vegetable, fruit and oatmeal bags but could do better. Now we're thinking of buying our olive oil and peanut/almond butters in bulk, using reusable glass containers. Bulk doesn't always mean larger amounts.

It's funny looking back. These days, our weekly garbage bag usually fits in one of those small plastic bags dispensed at the supermarket, the ones used to hold vegetables. It wasn't always this way. It's amazing how much garbage we used to make and how much stuff I used to buy. We're also trying to limit our overall consumption - of everything.

Along these same lines, can you imagine the environmental impact of Apple producing and selling 9 million iphones this past weekend? It's mind boggling:

Planned or not, I'm thinking today's post ties in pretty nicely with yesterday's, Twilight!

anyjazz said...

I wish I could do the cheap peanut butter route. My diet bans all sugar (except fructose) and most of the cheap brands are 10% to 20% sugars of some origin. They often hide it by saying it is molasses, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice crystals, Dehydrated beet juice or the worst one for me, maltodextrin. Shaking a jar half-filled with hot water and detergent seems like a good idea.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I've been waiting impatiently for Okies to catch up on the re-cycling front ever since I arrived here. So, almost 10 years later.... ;-)

We pay for it on our utilities bill. Just for "rental" on the big "poly cart" itself the charge is $5 a month, not sure how the cost of collection is spread. There's a system of "giving back" based on coupons and such and the amount of re-cycling materials collected in a given area. We haven't got into that part yet.

Until this year we'd been ferrying bundles of newspapers and aluminium cans to Lawton whenever we visited - they have had some communal bins there for a while.

As anyjazz has now responded - re the price of peanut butter - believe me, he'd have the cheapest if he could (it's usually me who demands "the best" (spoiled brat) LOL! He has been advised to stick to a low glycaemic diet (he's not diabetic though), and sugar is a no-no.
I don't dislike the stuff (PB), but wouldn't eat it unless there were no alternative on the shelf. It was never a staple food back in England when I was young, so I never did really acquire the taste.

Twilight said...

LB ~ thanks for the link - that's a very helpful article. I did suspect that husband was being far too fastidious with his cleaning of the jar, and it seems that could be the case.

I'm not a nut lover - or not the kind we're talking about anyway :-) I do like "nutty" people, as a rule though.

In natural form I'm afraid of breaking teeth and crowns on nuts (been there done that) and as I've said to mike, I never did acquire a taste for nut butters.

We've noticed a vast difference in how quickly our garbage bin fills up now!

Oh yes, all the scrap computer and cellphone equipment is another headache waiting to happen isn't it? I always admired Dell for their offer to take and recycle one's old PC when buying a new one. Don't know whether they still are doing so.

There is a tie-in with yesterday's - yes. It wasn't planned, just happened due to husband's post and my deciding to second it. :-)

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ There ya go then -you were being far too fastidious.
A good trait usually, I have to say, but in these days of water rationing discretion has to be the better part of valour.

mike (again) said...

anyjazz, not half-full...fill the jar with hot water almost to the top...maybe a quarter or eighth inch to spare, then squirt the liquid detergent and shake...then shake a couple times more over the next 24 hours or so.

The peanut butter you buy (Scudders) is better than the cheap stuff. I eat a lot of peanut butter, so it gets expensive even when I buy the cheap stuff. It's very easy to make, if you can purchase peanuts at a reasonable cost in bulk and it tastes so much better than anything at the store, since it's fresh. I don't have a source of inexpensive peanuts here or I would make it all the time.

LB, I don't make my own cheap supply of peanuts. There was a peanut shortage a couple of years ago and the price of peanuts soared and hasn't come back down, even though the shortage ended. It became far cheaper to buy the ready-made than homemade once the prices rose. I may start buying the far cheaper sunflower seeds in bulk quantity online and making my own again. Sunflower butter is even easier to make, as the seeds are softer than peanuts.

Anytime there is a "shortage", that commodity's price sky-rockets...a year later when there is a bumper crop the price remains high and never returns to its original lower price. The coffee shortage four years ago almost doubled the retail shortage now, but the prices never came down. Just about everything I purchase comes in the same sized package, but contains about 75% the weight it contained two years ago and the price has risen at least 25%.

Twilight, peanut butter is delicious with sliced, sweet-tart, and crisp apples. Once in a great while, usually in the fall when apples are in season, I make a dinner of an apple sliced-up, sliced cheese, and a pile of PB...all accompanied with nice crackers. Just put a glob of PB on the apple slice and eat...yum.

mike (again) said...

Twilight, I thought most Europeans ate hazelnut butter. Not so?

Twilight said...

mike~ Thanks - I have passed that on to Himself. I'll watch carefully the next time he empties a peanut butter jar and remind him - lest he forget.:-)

Hazelnut butter? I never tried it, but do recall seeing pots of..."Nuttola"(?) or some such name, which was probably made from hazelnuts. I don't know how popular it is in the UK, or in Europe. I didn't get the impression it was anything like as popular as PB here though.