Saturday, February 23, 2019

Downsizing for Good

Calling all not for profits in New Haven County! I have an opportunity for you.

As the recipient of an Innovation Grant from RecycleCT, I am contacting not-for-profits in New Haven County seeking wish lists of gently used goods that will benefit their organizations. I will be compiling this information into a resource called “The Downsizing Donation Guide,” a best practices guide for donating goods to not-for-profits in New Haven County. 

This project’s major goal is to keep useful items being downsized or discarded from people’s homes out of the waste stream and out of recycling bins, directly benefitting groups that can use them. 

Anyone who has tried to downsize their own belonging or those of a loved one is familiar with the problem. There are so many potentially useful things and the prospect of finding them a good home is daunting. 

It is my hope that this e-guide will benefit both agencies (who need specific items) and those who are downsizing (who don't).

The material will be organized in the form of a pdf booklet, broken into two alphabetical sections. 
  • The first part of the booklet is a listing of goods, arranged alphabetically by category, along with the agency(ies) accepting a given type of item, such as “books."
  • The second part is an alphabetical compilation of participating agencies. Each agency has a page that includes a mission statement, a wish list, and clear instructions for making donations.
I am working with HomeHavenVillages.org, a not-for-profit serving Greater New Haven, whose mission is to support its members’ desire to remain in their own homes as they grow older.  When completed in April, “The Downsizing Donation Guide” will be shared with the participating agencies, distributed through HomeHaven’s email list, and posted on such sites as RecycleCT, public libraries, and the recycling section of each city and town’s website.

If you would like to participate in this project or have a suggestion for an agency to include, please email DownsizingDonationGuide@piroet.com for more information.

I am trying to publicize as many agencies as possible and to solicit as wide a range of donations as possible. So please participate!

Thank you! I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Getting Your Recycling Right



Recycling has been the law in Connecticut since 1991. In 2015 residents and business recycled and composted about 35% of our state’s waste, a rate that has remained relatively flat over the past decade. Each of us is sending about about 4 pounds of trash per day, or  ¾ ton of trash a year to be burned or buried. We can and we must do better.

If done correctly, recycling saves our cities and towns money; recycling costs less than landfilling or incineration. Residential mixed recycling collected curbside or at transfer stations is brought to one of five material recovery facilities (MRF)  in Connecticut. The MRF employs people and technology to separate out aluminum, tin/steel, paper, plastic and glass containers. These materials are processed and baled or boxed and sold to manufacturers looking for those raw materials to make new products.  

If recycling is done incorrectly, it can contaminate the entire batch sending it all to the incinerator to be burned instead of being sold for reuse.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has issued a universal list of what belongs in your recycling bin and what does not. This graphic has been branded for distribution in New Haven, but the rules are the same whether you live in New Haven or Coventry, Greenwich or Hartford. You can get your own printable guide here. Forget trying to recycle by using the numbers stamped on plastic containers. Use this guide instead. You can read more here to learn why. 


The guide is not perfect. The wording is at times confusing. As an example, what is a “spiral wound container?” But the guide is a good start, and if you have any questions about what is in or what is out, just ask the RecycleCT Wizard found on the RecycleCT website

There’s more…

Just because something is designated as an “out,” that does not mean you should put it in the trash. Check out the site’s “Beyond the Bin” tab. You can either use the “Wizard” or search alphabetically to learn how to recycle items from antifreeze to yoga mats.

FYI For those of you reading this in the New Haven area, you only have a few more dates (October 13, 20, and 27) to get your hazardous waste to HazWaste Central before it closes for the season. To be sure your items are eligible, review the online user registration form. It will save time if you fill out the form in advance, print it out and bring it with you. Since 1990, HazWaste Central has collected over one million gallons of waste from more than 113,000 households. 

Here is something we can do that will make a difference! Just how big a difference depends on how many others we can get to do the same. Spread the word in your home, neighborhood, city. For inspiration check out the materials promoting CT Recycles Day on November 15. 

In the words of the Lorax:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” ― Dr. Seuss

Monday, May 7, 2018

Meatless Monday: Discovering The Beyond Burger


There is something about the smell of meat being cooked… If you have ever in your life enjoyed a burger or a steak, you know what I am talking about. Decades have passed since I have grilled a burger, but a faint whiff of meat wafting from the restaurants up the street still makes my mouth water.

Over the weekend I tried a product that fully satisfies this primal craving while harming no animals in the process. The product is The Beyond Burger,  a product of Beyond Meat, touted on the company’s website as being “the revolutionary plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef.”

In the package, it looks like two generous, well-formed beef patties. They sizzle and smell like burgers when cooked according to the package directions. And they have the mouth feel and taste of a fine burger. They even bleed (beet juice). If you serve them with a leaf of lettuce and a slice of onion, you will not know the difference — I kid you not (as my dad used to say).

Pea protein isolate is the source of the protein — 20 grams or 32% of your Daily Value. The world has come a long way since the early meat substitute HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein) of the 70s.

I had first heard about this product from relatives in the west who wanted to cut back on meat consumption but loved the taste so much that they had found it impossible—until they discovered Beyond Meat. The vegan cashier at Whole Foods told me that for them the product was a real game-changer, something really satisfying that could be enjoyed without guilt in the company of friends. And there is the mother I met while waiting for a delayed flight at JFK. I do not recall how the conversation started, but she told me her college-age daughter was changing her major to chemical engineering after getting hooked on these burgers, with the hope of working in this growing new field when she graduates.

Drawbacks? There are a few. Beyond Burgers run about $6.00 for two, making this an expensive option for a family with teenagers. They also come with a lot of packaging.

To learn more about the company and its mission to create “mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein, listen to CEO Ethan Brown (a vegan) discuss the company’s vision on npr.

You will have to check the company website to see whether these fresh burgers are available in your area; they are gradually making their appearance in supermarkets and restaurants nationwide. If you decide to give them a try, you will find them in the Meat (yikes!) aisle.

Enjoy! “See you” again soon, I promise. My posts have been far between, I know. But I have been busy! Stay tuned to learn some of things I've been up to.


On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”