Cindy’s Eagle Rock

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and find it impossible to go zero waste. You get seated and there is a paper placemat and paper napkin starring right at you. You can tell the server to reuse it but chances is, once it’s on the table, they will dispose it even though you did not touch it.

As such, I will be highlighting places where it is easier to dine zero waste. My first write up goes to Cindy’s Eagle Rock at 1500 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90041. What I love about this place is the fact that every table has a section pictured below.

Cindy's Eagle RockEven though they do serve single use disposables, you have the option to not use it. If you want sugar in your coffee, you can choose between the sugar dispenser or individual sachets. They also make their own jam and it is served in small reusable stainless steel containers. They serve water with straws on the side so you can choose not to use the straws.

The food at Cindy’s Eagle Rock is also good. I like the fact that at 11am, you have the option of having either breakfast or lunch. The house potatoes were good and flavorful. The fried chicken was also good.

The ambiance is also very cute. It seems inspired by The Jetsons. The restaurant is not very big. It can get crowded pretty fast and service can be slow. If you are not in a rush, this is a great place to eat and have conversations. They also have their own parking lot which comes in handy.

OhmConnect Review

OhmConnect is utility energy saving program which is similar to the programs offered by the likes of Southern California Edison (SCE), PG&E and SDG&E. The premise is that you will be rewarded for reducing your consumption of electricity at specific times. You will have to link your utility account with OhmConnect and you have to choose which energy saving program you want to participate in since you cannot do both.

I signed up for OhmConnect in March 2016. Since then the rules pertaining to the program has changed at least twice. The current idea is for you to sign up with the program and you will receive notification on when OhmHour will occur. During OhmHour, if you reduce your electricity consumption to be less than the forecasted use, you will be rewarded with points and if you do not reduce your electricity consumption, you will have points deducted from your account. Several months ago, they changed the system to deduct points if your electricity usage during OhmHour is more than the forecasted use. I have since cashed out before they rolled out the new changes to the system because I find that I am better off with the savings program by SCE.

OhmConnect is a great program for those who have a high electricity bill and for those who turn on every single equipment in the house because their forecasted use is very high to begin with. When you turn off every single equipment, the reduction in electricity consumption is substantial which results in a lot of points. However, since my electricity consumption is relatively low about 0.07kWh, my electricity bill is not that high and for some reason that baffles me, I find that my electricity consumption is higher than my forecasted use during OhmHour even though no one is at home at that time and everything is turned off except for the fridge and cat fountain.

Since my electricity consumption is so low, I find that it is not worth my effort in arguing with OhmConnect about my forecasted use. Also, some effort is required in order to participate in OhmHour which happens quite regularly. For example, if I know that OhmHour is to occur at 6pm on Monday, I will have to make plans so that I reduce my electricity consumption substantially during OhmHour and even after all that effort, I still exceed my forecasted use, I feel that I’m better off spending my time doing something else.

Instead, I have decided to re-enroll with the Summer Savings Discounts and the Save Power Days initiative by SCE. Save Power Days does not occur as often as OhmHour and I can actually see substantial savings in my electricity bill. In fact, there are times when I receive substantial credit to cover my electricity bill for at least 3 months. Based on my experience, I believe that SCE has the better program for me and OhmConnect is probably better for those with higher electricity bill.

Turns out the only way to close my OhmConnect account is to email the support team. I have since messaged them and it has been 4 days and I have yet to hear from them. I’m looking forward to closing this chapter on my experiment.

 

Minimalism: The Documentary

Minimalism, the documentary, is now available on Netflix. There is no real new information if you have read the books, the blogs, watched the videos on YouTube or listened to the podcast. However, it is great for those who have not done those.

Watch it because it is inspiring and it will motivate you to want to figure out what else you can minimize in your life. I wish I did this in my younger days. Can you imagine all the money I would have saved and all the stresses I would have avoided.

Silk Dental Floss

Silk Dental Floss

This was unfortunately a fail. I bought this because I like the idea of flossing my teeth using silk which is biodegradable and compostable. Unfortunately, the silk floss is still packed in plastic so it is not an entirely zero waste option. The silk floss tends to break easily and it does not clean the sides of the gap as well as the regular dental floss. We still have a lot of silk floss and it will probably take us months to use up all of it.

Currently, I am on a lookout for another zero waste option for dental floss.

Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists

This book is written by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. The book is about their journey to become minimalists. If you want to get a gist of their story without having to read the book, check out the video below:

There are some parts of the book which I thought as a little too extreme for me. Joshua writes about living without his laptop and the internet. Instead, he plans his time so that he uses the computer in the library. Eventually, he did succumb and got himself a laptop.

I was not particularly fond of Joshua’s writing style. I am not sure if I like the idea of Ryan writing footnotes for his side of the story. Maybe it is a better idea for Ryan to write his side of the story at the end of each chapter. That is probably a better way for his voice to be heard. Honestly, how many people would check out the footnotes when they are in the middle of a story. It’s a memoir. Not a reference material.

You have to go through tons of stories before getting to some practical tips towards the end of the book. If you are looking for tips on becoming a minimalist, I recommend checking out their website instead. Overall, it was an OK read.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

 

Battle_Hymn_of_the_Tiger_Mother

Last weekend, I read “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua courtesy of the public library. I thought I was the product of a tiger mother but Amy Chua made my mum look a hundred times nicer. We were allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities and I enjoyed ballet and taekwondo. My mum allowed me to give up piano permanently and I have not missed it since.

There are some principles in the book which I agree with. I believe that younger children should not be given choices because they have not been exposed enough in order to make a good choice. A two year old is not going to know what he wants for lunch. Even if he wants chicken nuggets, this is your opportunity to expose his palette to other types of food. I imagine it must be stressful for a parent to cook different meals for each kid to cater to their wants. I rarely give Husband a choice when it comes to what I cook. I buy what I think is a good deal and that will be dinner or lunch. Sometimes, I cook based on what I have in my kitchen. If Husband doesn’t like my food (which is rare), he is on his own. Occasionally, I will ask him for his input when I run out of ideas or if I can’t decide what to get at the supermarket. Since I’ve known him, he has been exposed to so many new types of cuisines and it is fantastic. When we travel abroad, we are not limited in terms of what we are willing to try.

I believe that when children get older, they can start to make choices but they need to articulate their reasons for making that choice and it must be done objectively. This is to develop their decision making skills because they will come to crossroads in the future and they need to learn how to make objective decisions.

I agree with her in that children are stronger than we think. I understand her idea on how classical music instills discipline and other qualities which are the foundation to a successful future. I am not sure if I would drive two hours each way for one hour of music lesson. I agree that children should not be rewarded so easily because this creates a sense of entitlement which is unhealthy. I believe that children should not be allowed to quit easily. Yes! I quit playing the piano but I tried it for six years.

If my mum is given the opportunity to do redo everything, I wonder what she would change.

 

Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders

Waste Free Kitchen Handbook

This week, I read the Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook. This book teaches you how to buy less food in order to reduce food waste. One of the big reasons why people throw out food is because they are not sure whether or not the food is safe. Just because the food is passed its “expiry date” or it is wilted and mushy, it does not mean that it has to be thrown away. This book explains the science behind why food makes people sick.

Part Three of the book was the most useful to me. It is a directory that provides specific information on how to store food, how to freeze them, how long they stay at their best quality and most importantly, how to revive or use it up.  I learnt that, for most vegetables, it is best not to wash them until you are ready to use them. That is fabulous news for lazy people like me.  Also, when it comes to carrot and beets, it is best to separate green leafy tops from the roots. If not, the tops will draw moisture away from the roots.

There was a point when I would buy everything that I saw at the supermarket and I also find myself throwing away all the mushy fruits and vegetables. Nowadays, I tend to limit myself to two types of vegetable and one type of fruit a week. This way, I am able to reduce food waste and change up my options every week. Occasionally, I find myself wasting food because there were last minute plans which results in me eating out or some days I come home and I really don’t feel like cooking at all.  I only buy more than two types of vegetables when I have a specific recipe in mind or when I am planning to cook a lot of food to freeze or when I am having friends over for lunch or dinner.

I thought this was a great book and it was easy to read. For those who need a recipe to cook anything should definitely check out the recipe section on how to deal with food that is left in the fridge.

Plastic Free by Beth Terry

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Just finished reading Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry and it was very interesting. I borrowed the book from the public library, of course.

Her book has a lot of information about plastic that I didn’t know before. For example, a product is not bio-degradable just because it is labeled as such. That I knew. There are third party companies who certify whether or not the product is bio-degradable and in what condition would the product bio-degrade. That I didn’t know. I also like her point that there is no reason to use a bio-degradable bag if the item (such as cat litter) is going to end up in the landfill anyways. It makes sense because in the landfill, the conditions are not ideal for the bag to biodegrade.

I went through almost every website she refers to in her book and pinned it on my Pinterest page to keep track of all the references. Hence, it took a while for me to finish the books especially since I got distracted looking at the different websites.

I recommended the book to my friend who lives in Australia. Turns out, he is moving towards zero waste too. It was a pleasant surprise to find friends who have similar ideals. Birds of a feather do flock together.

Trashed – A Film

Just watched a film, Trashed – No Place for Waste. It was slight more than 1.5 hours long. It talks about the effects of dumping waste in landfills, using incinerators to burn rubbish but at the same time producing tons of dioxins which is embedded in everyone’s body and cannot be removed unless you get pregnant and all the dioxins are concentrated and transferred to your child. It ends by mentioning a growing movement whose goal is to generate zero waste.

The website has tips and list of people who are supporters of zero waste. A lot of counties in Northern California are on the list and so is San Bernardino and San Diego. I hope Los Angeles starts doing something about this. If San Francisco can generate so many jobs managing waste and forcing people to recycle, Los Angeles may want to check if it’s a viable option for them.