I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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August 12, 2010

a less impact project

Perhaps experiment is a better word for what’s coming up around our house starting this week. But it’s definitely a project too.

Here’s the very quick backstory. On the way up to Yosemite, my parents and I (Brock came up a few days later), listened to No Impact Man. Have you heard of it? I saw an article about him in The New York Times a while back, but we just now got around to the book. On iPod. The only way to road trip, really. Anyway, he and his family spent a year making virtually no ecological footprint. In New York City. Which means, among many things, no paper products (toilet paper included), no non-human powered travel (including subways and buses), a worm composting bin in their apartment, and all sorts of other things that you have to be a real champ to endure. But it had me thinking about something that I’ve always wanted to try, but never do because, well, I don’t know why. I’ve just never gotten around to committing to it. So here’s the project:

We’re going to spend the next month with no disposable things in the kitchen, and no commercially packaged food. Of course we’ll be buying flour and essential ingredients… I haven’t found a way around that. We’re not milling our own wheat, after all.

But it means no store-bought bread, crackers, tortillas, canned beans, hummus from whole foods. I can only buy whole ingredients. Everything else we will be making at home. Exceptions include booze, coffee, and perhaps a bit of aged cheese if the meal REQUIRES it.

It sounds sort of silly when I see it written down, but it’s an extension of that Deborah Madison quote I posted a few weeks ago. It’s an effort to slow down when it comes to the kitchen. To only buy what we mean to consume and to really appreciate what it is we’re having for dinner. And to waste less. So much waste happens in the kitchen, doesn’t it? Paper napkins and towels, plastic baggies, shopping bags, uneaten food. It’s like No Impact Kitchen. Ish. Okay, LOW Impact Kitchen. Plus I’m secretly hoping it will make me magically lose the rest of my pregnancy weight (no chips and crackers, after all), and it might even save some monies. (No filling the cart at Whole Foods with all sorts of delicious pre-made treats.)

Plus it’s a fun way to force myself to try making things I rarely, if ever, do. Like baking bread, making crackers, maybe even making cheese? I hear fresh mozzarella isn’t that hard. And butter. Shoot. I forgot about butter. For baking and cooking I think we’re going to make an exception, but perhaps for eating on bread I will try making my own.

Doesn’t it sound like fun? I will be reporting in throughout the month with our progress.

Hope you all had a glorious weekend. We were prepping food for the week. AND someone got to leave for most of the day on Saturday to have lunch with her girlfriends. For the first time since February. Pretty big things happening around here. It only took six months, but my baby will finally take a bottle on occasion. Hallelujah.


  1. Ashleigh said on August 17, 2010

    AWESOME idea! Looking forward to the updates & progress reports (and some new recipes?).

  2. betty said on August 17, 2010

    The timing of this is just TOO funny. I'm finishing up the book right now, and it's got me itching to live a lower impact life too.

    Unfortunately for us, with only 53 days to the wedding, it is going to have to wait a couple months.

    Hello, New Year's Resolution!

    Can't wait to hear how it goes.

  3. Emily said on August 17, 2010

    Love that you're doing this! My husband and I are attempting the same experiment in our kitchen (though our rules are slightly more lenient than yours). We've been baking our own bread for the past week, and we just bought ingredients to make cheese. Good luck to you! Looking forward to following along.

  4. Rachel said on August 17, 2010

    Fun! I'm tempted to join in. We just switched to a new CSA and we've been super diligent about staying on top of our produce. Which means we eat out less and we need fewer foods from the store. Cheese + bread + beer have been our only purchases lately.

    Um, could not give up the cheese or the beer, ever. But I'd be willing to put in the extra work and give up the bread in favor of making my own. I can do it, I just get lazy.

  5. Olivia said on August 17, 2010

    Sounds interesting, I will definitely be reading your updates.

    I do love making my own bread and now I'm inspired to make cheese.

    Question: do you have a garden or where do you get all the fruits and veggies?

  6. wishful nals said on August 17, 2010

    wow, what a great challenge! i've never heard of him. i'll definitely have to check it out :)

  7. Janssen said on August 17, 2010

    This sounds great! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

  8. Bluebelle said on August 17, 2010

    That sounds like such an interesting challenge, and very worthwhile. Looking forward to reading your thoughts – and recommendations about which ideas are worth putting into practise.

  9. fresh365 said on August 17, 2010

    Such a great, great idea! I have been wanting to read this book- thanks for the reminder. I can’t wait to hear about your progress this month!

  10. caitlindentino said on August 17, 2010

    I love this idea, but not sure if I could make the commitment. I am a bit of a whimp that way!

    I have been making ricotta lately and love how easy it is (just milk and buttermilk) – for sweet things or savory. Although I think next time I am going to whip it and make it a tad lighter. Just sharing this as I feel it is something you could use in many applications in the upcoming month.

    Cheers to your adventure!!

  11. iheartkiwi said on August 17, 2010

    good for you! i can't wait to see how the project goes :)

    i'm reading "animal, vegetable, miracle" right now and it's got me thinking about the impact our choices have on our bodies and the planet!

  12. Simply Mel said on August 18, 2010

    love this 'new project' and I will join in the efforts!

    By the way, my little one NEVER took to a bottle, so count yourself lucky! :)

  13. Fitz said on August 18, 2010

    Good luck!

    We ran out of paper towels a month ago and it's been surprisingly liberating not using them.

    I think aged cheese is a requirement for most every meal, though!

  14. Amy K said on August 18, 2010

    I think your project sounds so awesome! I bet you get used to it and won't miss most things! I rarely buy pre-packaged anything but am very guilty when it comes to plastic bags and paper towels.

  15. starrykick said on August 18, 2010

    for homemade mozz. I highly recommend the basic kit from Ricki the cheese queen:
    It really does take only 30 mins, if you have a microwave, and it's fun!

  16. Camila F. said on August 18, 2010

    I can't wait to hear the news on this project!

  17. simpleblissbycourtney said on August 18, 2010

    Sounds super interesting… can't wait to read it! I love that you and your husband are up for the challenge (especially as a new mommy). Looking forward to hearing about it on your blog (which I love btw!).

  18. Reyna said on August 18, 2010

    Brilliant! I grew up with a mom who did pretty much just that when I was growing up. College has thrown me off track, but I hope to jump back onto the whole foods idea this semester. Good luck!

  19. stephanie said on August 19, 2010

    Oh, good call to get that book on my ipod. I love this idea and I really want to do better about making things at home. It's been so hot around here the last few weeks that I have become extremely lazy in the kitchen. I think the fall is the perfect time for me to start this type of project! Thanks for sharing.

  20. kat said on August 20, 2010

    What a great idea! I've been slowly trying to do that, but due to crazy work schedules, some just things just aren't possible.

    However, that being said, you really should try roasting your own coffee. It's super easy and much less expensive than buying store bought… not to mention that it tastes sooooooo much better!

    You can buy green coffee beans that last for months, even years, and roast them at your convenience. It's my husband's new pet project. He gets a sampler pack from Sweet Maria's and roasts a little bit at a time. It's the first time I've enjoyed coffee without sweeteners (outside of Europe). I totally recommend it!! Look up Sweet Maria's!

  21. Stacy (Little Blue Hen) said on August 21, 2010

    Really looking forward to reading about your experience!

    We gradually started doing this without realizing it at first, then made a more conscious effort. My husband has been doing more grocery shopping lately so it's been a bit of a backslide, but it's never a failure, just an experiment!

  22. blake said on August 23, 2010

    super cool idea. Can't wait to hear how it goes, and possibly steal some ideas! :)

  23. Joslyn said on August 23, 2010

    i LOVED that book. what a cool idea. i can't wait to hear about your progress!

  24. annette said on August 25, 2010

    Good for you! I've been wanting to get away from paper towels but just can seem to find the guts to do it. Any helpful tips are welcome!

  25. annette said on August 25, 2010

    btw~ what are you doing about plastic baggies, aluminium foil, sarran wrap and the like?

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