Sustainable – Minimalism – Compatible?

Sustainable – Minimalism – Compatible?

Does Minimalism leave room for Sustainable?

Welcome to our Sunday Snacks with Sam and Ellie! Today, Sam is wondering if sustainability, which includes her efforts to store a minimum of 30-day supply of food for her family of 4, works with Minimalism. If you follow our conversation, you’ll realize that these two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive. Sam in her 3 bedroom house and Ellie in her 400 sq ft apartment share their ideas. Sam’s ‘hot disaster’ description of her trying to minimalize is given some ‘breathing space.’

illustration of before and after - messy to organized kids room - by sabelskaya

At the same time, we also share that maybe the ‘beautiful photos’ of minimalist rooms and as Sam says, “Marie Kondo’s vision of organize and keep only what ‘brings you joy’!” are just that – images. Join us as we tackle these concepts and help Sam see her ‘hot disaster’ as a lot ‘cooler’ than she realizes!

Enjoy this video and let us know if, and how, you make it work. CLICK HERE to read the transcript while you listen.

Sam mentions our friend, Mary Ratzesberger, and her business – organization! Do visit your website and FB page.

Mary’s “WHY”

The practice of helping others eliminate clutter and create streamlined and calm physical surroundings brings me joy! I am committed to reaching my client’s organizing and simplifying goals.

If she’s not close enough to work with, her website gives some great steps to working on it yourself.

NOTE: If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common-sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. Visit and like our youtube channel and our Facebook page. Sign up for our newsletter  – the form’s on the HOME page. Share your thoughts with us on youtube or FB. And share us with your friends. Here’s to your peace of mind because you’re prepared!

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience, and Sam’s only 40!
If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common-sense approaches to
sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.

Sustainability Returns

Sustainability Returns

laundry hanging on a clothes line

Sustainability is the ‘in’ word today. But as we share our Sunday Snacks with Sam and Ellie, you’ll realize that sustainability has been with us for a very long time. From cleaning and flattening tin cans during WWII to grandma taking the vegetable peelings out and throwing them in the garden.

Sam shares how she learned to sew and now patches jeans and fixes buttons on their clothes. While Ellie shares stories from the ’70s when homesteading was a trend.

You can download the transcript with this link: Sustainability_Returns

Recyle – Reuse – Reduce

Although each generation likes to think what they’re doing is new, it quite often is not new! But our consumerism economy makes sustainability an ever more important concept today. What were common sense and practical decades ago is now a priority to save the planet. Even more importantly, many of these ways to recycle, reuse, and reduce are helping families and seniors to balance their budgets. Here’s a sample of how important small efforts can be.

Tin Cans Go to War

CLICK HERE for a great article from the Orlando Sentinel about salvaging tin cans to help win the war (WWII):

A 1945 magazine article said it all in two sentences: “Nothing is more American than the tin can; and Yankee ingenuity never stops. GIs use empty tin cans for literally everything….”

Ellie and Sam share some thoughts on their personal memories. Sam learned many tips from her grandmother that are very helpful and practical today. While Ellie shares favorites books from the 70s including the Whole Earth Catalog and Living the Good Life. The following quote from Wikipedia in reference to the Whole Earth Catalog gives us a taste of ’70s attitudes for many Americans. The resources in these old catalogs are still valuable although I imagine many of the resources are no longer available. But like perusing seed catalogs in the middle of a snowstorm gives one hope, browsing the pages of these catalogs can be just as hopeful to those interested in sustainability today.

The Whole Earth Catalog (WEC) was an American counterculture magazine and product catalog published by Stewart Brand several times a year between 1968 and 1972, and occasionally thereafter, until 1998. The magazine featured essays and articles, but was primarily focused on product reviews. The editorial focus was on self-sufficiency, ecology, alternative education, “do it yourself” (DIY), and holism, and featured the slogan “access to tools”. While WEC listed and reviewed a wide range of products (clothing, books, tools, machines, seeds, etc.), it did not sell any of the products directly. Instead, the vendor’s contact information was listed alongside the item and its review. This is why, while not a regularly published periodical, numerous editions and updates were required to keep price and availability information up to date.

Steve Jobs compared The Whole Earth Catalog to Internet search engine Google in his June 2005 Stanford University commencement speech.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation … It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along. It was idealistic and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Then at the very end of this commencement speech Jobs quotes explicitly the farewell message placed on the back cover of the last 1974 edition of the Catalog (#1180 October 1974 titled Whole Earth Epilog) and makes it his own final recommendation : “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

Sustainability today involves best uses for many products we use regularly and consideration of ‘just how many do I need.’ In the video, Ellie mentions a full-circle recycling company. Here’s the link:

From the website of ForDays:

So, what’s the problem?

Fashion is one of the most pollutive industries. We’re producing more clothing than ever before and wearing it much less. Over 85% of all textiles end up in landfills, including clothing from resale and donation centers. What they can’t sell gets trashed or burned, causing major social and environmental problems. Most of it can be kept out of landfills if we’re thoughtful and proactive.

Luckily, we have a solution…

For Days is the first circular fashion brand. We’ve spent the last 4+ years building a network of expert recycling partners to keep clothing out of landfills. We design products for circularity. Everything is organic, non-toxic, and can be recycled into new fabric.

We collect, sort, and recycle used garments, linens, and more, from any brand through our best-selling Take Back Bag.

Ellie will share her experience using this site in a future post.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. What sustainable practice did you learn from another generation? Please share it with us!

If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. Visit and like our youtube channel and our Facebook page. And sign up for our newsletter  – the form’s on the HOME page. Share your thoughts with us on youtube or FB. Here’s to your peace of mind because you’re prepared!

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience, and Sam’s only 40! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.

What Does Sustainability Mean To YOU!

What Does Sustainability Mean To YOU!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been noticing that our food prices are starting to go ​up at the grocery store.

I am Sam ​Groff ​of Beyond TP and Milk. I’m ready to chat with you about some of the serious things about why Ellie and I created ​​Beyond TP and MIlk.​ ​So our original venture was the idea that during the pandemic, a lot of people were confused about what was going on and started buying up all the TP​ and milk and panicking.

There’s a lot of other ways to be prepared. And you know, one of mine is in my fluffy butts ​(chickens). ​They’re so much fun. Yes, they are cute and cuddly and fun and amazing. And some people would ​view them as pets.
I view them as a resource. They are a sustainable food source for myself and my family. Each chicken for multiple years will give me​ eggs​, and they’re amazing layers.​ ​I’ve got a bunch of different breeds that are here on our little property. And we have ones that are really, really good with our kids.
So they have a coop, which is the big green thing. And then they have a massive run. Now, again, chickens aren’t for everybody, not everybody has a whole lot of space, but for us, that was a sustainable easy way for us to be able to take care of things.
Now, am I the best chicken farmer? Probably not. There’s so much more​ ​I’m still learning. Like in the last year I pulled all of my old CDs that we weren’t using anymore and I put them out thinking that would be ​a fun playtoy ​for them.​ ​​We always hear that chickens need to be entertained​.
​B​ut ​an added bonus was by putting these up ​has actually help​ed us keep predators away​. The flash in the nighttime and during ​the day ​from the sun distracts the predators and keeps them away.
So that’s the beauty of the simplicity of sustainability and utilizing the resources that you have on hand and finding out how to make the best out of them.
So ​with Beyond TP and Milk, and with chickens, one of the simple tasks that we’ve done is try to make our yard sustainable for our chickens.​ ​Now, mind you, when we moved here, this backyard was entirely full of trees. ​That means our whole backyard is super​ lumpy. We’re missing chunks of ground because of roots riding out from the bottom and under the ground.​ ​But that means that our ground is super duper fertile. ​We have a lot of extra nutrients and things available to us in our soil, but it doesn’t look the prettiest for most people.
So that’s why we’ve mulched around the chicken coop and around the shed. But that mulch​,​ remember​,​ it was free.​ I told you about that.

​The second thing is ​it’s ​adding a layer of soil and nutrients as it decomposes into our backyard, into our landscape.​ ​Now, the neat part about what we did with this mulch is that it’s not just the mulch. ​We have straw in here.

​In the wintertime, what we do ​is around the base of our chicken coop, we have it open so that the girls can get in and out underneath there. ​They have extra living quarters where like, you know, their chickens. We want them to have as much freedom and free reign as possible. But with that ​it’s also ventilated all summer. So it helps keep the coop cooler. But in the winter ​when ​it gets cold​, we completely surround the base of our coop with straw bales.

Now that’s a two-fold exercise. What it does is it’s a windbreak, but in the springtime, what we use it for is to create a layer of ​soil for ourselves.​ ​So weput the straw underneath the wood chips and the girls then start mixing it all up because the​y’re chickens​.​ ​They ​love to scratch​.​​ That scratching, that mixing brings us a new layer of nutrients ​to the soil. It gives the chickens entertainment. It adds to the healthy ecosystem and sustainability of our yard. And it gives us an easy babysitter for the chickens when they’re out and about in the yard, because we do like to let them free reign when we’re out here working​.​
hand holding fresh eggs with chickens grazing in the yard in the background​S​o sustainability and worrying about the food chain is only going to get you so far until you actually start putting it in action.My husband and I started doing this and putting these things in action slowly, not everything’s going to happen overnight. That’s the biggest thing I can stress to you​.​ ​Try one small thing at a time​. ​We tried the straw bales underneath the chicken coop two years ago.​ ​It worked amazing.
We did it again this year​. ​The year that we did it the first time​,​ we put the straw directly into our garden beds and we made lasagna gardening. It was on your beds, whatever you want to call them. And that was effective. So now it’s every year, how do we sustain that sort of stuff to bring it about so that our land, our property is helping us continue to maintain our stuff. Well, everybody​,​ have a good one.
Again, th​is is Sam ​Groff ​signing off for ​Beyond TP and Milk. ​E​njoy one small step in sustainability because I’m telling you right now, we are on the verge of seeing things that we haven’t seen in a long time ​in this country with pricing. We gotta be starting to really come full circle and take care of it in our own homes. All right. 
Have a good one, everybody. Bye.
Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.
Strawberries and the Power of ONE

Strawberries and the Power of ONE

So why am I coming at you from the ground?

I’m sitting on the ground inside my berry patch. Um, so why am I down here? I’ll show you.
During the height of the pandemic. I bought 40 – and I repeat 40 -strawberry plants. They were bare root strawberry plants and let’s be realistic, only one of them survived! One.
Now I have two 12-foot long sections of my garden that are two feet wide full of strawberries from ONE plant that survived.
Am I the best strawberry gardener? No, evidently I couldn’t keep 40 plants alive, and they were bare roots, strawberry plants, but one survived.
And now I’ve got a plethora of strawberries, to the point that I actually shared them with other people. So what does that have to do with sustainability and Beyond TP and Milk?
Handful of delicious red strawberries
Well, here it is. What I’ve done now with my strawberries is I thinned them out and I’ve now separated them into two full garden beds from ONE plant.
I let the ONE plant take over last year, send runners out everywhere. It looked like a hot disaster nodule in this spring when everything was still like, just waking up, and pretty cold. My husband and I spent an entire day breaking up this bed that was full of strawberries.
So the strawberries are an amazing source of just awesomeness for us and our family. Our kids love them. We love them. And you know, we’re not gonna probably jam as much or do any of those kinds of things with it, but we do eat them like crazy.
What makes this sustainable isn’t necessarily that I have lots and lots of strawberries and strawberry plants from one plant.  What makes us sustainable is that I was able to then share this with other people. I had so many strawberry plants when we spread them apart that I was able to give them to two other families who now have deck boxes and put them in their garden at their house.

And that ONE plant will become even more prolific and in sustainability and looking at just the reality of how our environment and how the political scene is, and how everything is going on with our economy, we need to start really thinking about ​the people around us.

Now, mind you, I live in a community with a lot of people who are much older than me.​ ​So instead of trying to ​barter with them, what we have done is just built-in goodwill.​ We give away a good portion of our produce that we don’t eat?

We save, we store it. We do all the things that we need for our family for full sustainability for our household.But​ ​we also share our bounty and we share our wealth and our abundance and in doing so, we’ve gotten it back 10 fold in just the three years of living here.

So when you think about sustainability and you think about everything with the pandemic and things like that, and you hear the term ​’​prepper​’​ and homesteader​, think of it​ n​ot necessarily in those context​s. ​Think of it more as you’re building community, when you start really stepping outside of your box and you realize, okay, I want a sense of preparedness.​ ​I want a sense of being safe.
You can’t do everything for yourself. You can try​, but you’re going to​ burnout​. ​But if you build a community of people around you that you support and that support you tenfold, you’ve got a wealth of abundance that you never even knew you had.
And I can say that ​hands down from truthful experiences, just living here in my own neighborhood and sharing eggs with people.
And my husband was at work before the pandemic even happened. And our pipe burst. And I didn’t know where the shutoff valve was in our house, but I knew my neighbors did because they had been in our house before​ ​we had even owned it.
So I sent my kids to get my neighbor. He came over and helped me find the shut-off valve. ​He actually started helping us with the piping, not because he had to, but because he was kind and what we were able to do then was just get brand new pipe and fix it​. And all was good in the world.

But all that came from saying​ hello

…and giving a smile and a dozen eggs that I had an abundance of that anyway, at the time.
So when you think about sustainability, don’t just think about what you can do. Think about what you can do to maximize yourself through your community. And you’ll be surprised at what you’ll get. It’s just like my strawberries. ​ONE little strawberry​ became​ this whole garden.
Enjoy yourself. Bye-bye.
Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. 
Peas, Please

Peas, Please

Peas are amazing

…easy crop to grow and you don’t even need a trellis.

How do I know you don’t need a trellis?
This is the first year in umteen years of gardening that I’ve ever been able to trellis my peas. Now, when I say umpteen years, my husband and I had a garden up at our community garden for four years. And now we live here – this is our third year. We’ve had peas every year and every year we have never successfully trellised our peas.
First time ever trellising peas. Now, look, this is a really simple trellis system. It has three stakes. If you had bamboo sticks, you could use those, um, and some wire to hold it up. That’s all it is. We are not fancy people. When it comes to this kind of stuff, we just want simple and easy.
The funny part of trellising is that sometimes your peas do not want to listen to you. Specifically, they’re like … kids! (Watch the video.) This pea is like, so determined to hang on to this little garlic! (rather than the beautiful trellis right behind it)
As soon as the peas are done, we have the cukes that were started by our neighbor. They will then trellis up like nobody’s business!

So as you’re gardening, think about how you can maximize space.

This season I’m going to get a huge, massive yield out of it. And just by being able to put the cukes there, following the peas, it’ll actually put different types of nutrients in the ground.
So what do you plan with your space? You know, you really want to think about your garden. But don’t let the “thinking part” hold you back. Sometimes failing epically, like we did for almost six years, is worth the journey.
Take it (p)easy, everybody 🙂
Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. 
Grape Babies and Sustainability Fun

Grape Babies and Sustainability Fun

Let’s talk grapes!

I love a good grape. Never really grew grapes ever in my life until we moved into this house, I was like, this is something I want to do. I’ve always wanted to have a beautiful grape arbor and just think, think Italian Villa. I always wanted to have that little space and I thought it would always be so cool.

So my husband puts up with my shenanigans. And here we have it this year. It’s finally done. So it’s connected to our chicken coop. And as you can see, the grapes are happily growing on it. We use the tires not to keep in soil or anything. We use the tires entirely to keep our chickens out.
Now, when the grapes got put in, I bought them off-season. I know they’re purple. That’s all I know.
Whoa! I haven’t seen these before. Look, I think there’ll be grapes. We’ve never had grapes before. This would be our first year with fruit. So I’ll definitely have to keep you along for the journey!
So Beyond TP and Milk is so much about sustainability and living a life that you could control. I can go to the store and buy grapes, but think about all the wildfires that have ravaged the west coast, what happens? Grape prices go through the roof.
My son loves grapes. So we’ll try to grow some. I don’t know. I’ve never grown it. And yeah, it’s taken some time effort, and a little bit of learning, but now I didn’t even know these (buds) were here yesterday. This is so amazing.
Our trellis was a pretty simple task. It has a cinderblock base so that the wood wouldn’t be directly in the soil. It’s got pressure-treated posts and one massive pressure-treated T joint, regular 2x4s on the outside and a pressure treated 8′ in the center
So sustainability comes from a lot of ideas. You decide what it means in your life. You want to embrace it. It is more than just how much I can be prepared. It can also be about having fun. You want to have grapes? Want an Italian villa? Embrace it. Have fun with it. But enjoy the process!
Between us, we have over 100-years of experience, and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.