Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Plastic Free July

It is quickly approaching my favorite time of year again--Plastic Free July!

If you don't know what Plastic Free July is, it's a challenge to stop using disposable plastic for the entire month of July. 

Plastic Free July

This will be my fourth Plastic Free July (but now I have Plastic Free Augusts, and Septembers, and...).  In 2013, I took the challenge for the first time.  From there, I was hooked, and I felt so much better and my life felt simpler for having removed so many of the disposable products from our life.

So, I encourage everyone to give it a try!  You don't need to be perfect.  You don't have to find a solution for everything all at once.  But you might be surprised how much disposable plastic waste you are actually able to reduce!

Register here to participate!

Some suggestions to get started:

1. Bring your own bag.  (Try to use ones made out of natural fibers.  If you don't have any, EcoBags makes some nice ones made out of organic or recycled cotton, and Life Without Plastic has a portable one that folds up).
2. Bring your own water bottle (glass or stainless).
3. Say no to straws--ask for "no straw, please!" when you eat out or go to a bar.
4. Use a French press or a Chemex to make coffee--it will taste better (and is cheaper!) than disposable coffee pods, anyway.
5. Bring your own mug or mason jar for coffee or tea out.
6. Bring your own utensils.


1. Bring your own cloth bags and shop the bulk bins in your local store.  Bring your own container for meat and cheese.
2. Shop the farmers market!
3. Buy milk in returnable glass bottles.
4. Find ways to make kitchen staples instead of buying them in a plastic lined tin.  Try soaking and cooking dried beans (it's really easy, I promise!), make your own yogurt, tomato sauce, salad dressing, etc.  Even try just one of those things.
5. Use glass storage containers in the kitchen.  Mason jars work, so do old pasta sauce jars.  Take a look in your local thrift store.
5. Compost!

1. Replace your bottles of shampoo and conditioner with a shampoo bar.
2. Use bar soap instead of body wash.  Look for a soap with natural ingredients.
3. Use coconut oil instead of lotion.
4. Find toilet paper wrapped in paper instead of plastic.  In the U.S., Seventh Generation makes some.
5. Shave with a safety razor.
6. Use a bamboo toothbrush.
7. Make your own deodorant.

1. Use vinegar, baking soda and bar soap to clean.
2. Soap nuts to do laundry.  Try dryer balls instead of fabric softener.
3. Use bar soap to wash dishes.
4. Make your own dishwasher detergent.

A small (but important) note: Before buying something new, see if you can find something you already have or check your local thrift store.  It is a balancing act--it is important to not contribute to the massive amount of "stuff" that already exists, but it is also important to support small businesses who are doing the right thing and producing long-lasting products in a sustainable way!

Note: This post contains affiliate links to Life Without Plastic, a company whose mission and products I fully support.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Preserving summer food to reduce packaging in the winter

My recycling bin changes with the seasons.  In the late fall and winter, it is fuller than I would like.  And that has to do with the lack of local produce in the colder months.  I live in an area with four distinct seasons, and our farmer's market is only open from the end of May through early November.

Preserving summer food to reduce waste in the winter

Some things I end up buying at the store off-season which are not zero-waste:
  • Salsa
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Jam

To prevent some of this waste, I would like to take advantage of my farmer's market this summer and preserve some of the wonderful locally grown, organic veggies I can get there.  Even if I can't preserve enough food to get me through the winter :), I can at least reduce how much I rely on some of these grocery store items.

On my list:
  • Fermented salsa (recipe from Zero Waste Chef) (I tried this already with some out-of-season tomatoes, and it was delicious! I can't wait to use the local tomatoes.  This isn't canned, but can keep for several months in the fridge.)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Strawberry Jam (The canned recipes use a lot of sugar, so I think I am going to stick with freezer jam)
  • Fermented pickles
 What are some things you like to preserve? Any tips for someone new to canning?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Shaving without plastic: using a safety razor

One of the best things we have done to reduce waste in our personal care routines was to start using a safety razor.  We are still on the same box of metal blades that we bought almost three years ago!  If you are curious about making the switch to shaving with a safety razor, click here to go to my post for more information and answers to some frequently asked questions!

Plastic free shaving: Using a safety razor

Friday, April 22, 2016

Five things you can do for Earth Day

Five things you can do for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!  Looking for some ways to celebrate outside of the usual "use the recycling"?

1. Refuse disposable plastic
Bring your own bag, water bottle, coffee mug or jar, reusable utensils.  Refuse plastic straws.

2. Get outside!
Instead of shopping, spend the day outside with friends or family.  Take a hike or a bike ride.  Picnic.

3. Check what your town actually recycles
Putting things in your recycling bin doesn't mean they will magically get recycled if it is not something your town or city takes.  Check your town's website or give them a call to find a list of items that are recyclable.
Some things our town doesn't take:
  • Bottle caps (plastic AND metal)
  • Cereal boxes
  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • Aluminum foil
  • Toilet paper tubes
4. Start composting
A great way to reduce the amount of trash sent to the landfill is to start a compost pile for food scraps and paper products that can't be recycled.
Some things to compost:
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grinds
  • Used loose leaf tea (no teabags, as most of them contain plastic!)
  • Paper products the recycling does not take (dirty part of the pizza box, toilet paper tubes, etc.)
  • Parchment paper

5.  Choose personal care products that are more natural and have less packaging
Try a shampoo barReplace your disposable razor (that costs a bajillion dollars in replacement cartridges) with a stainless steel safety razor. Use a bamboo toothbrush and make your own tooth powder.  Make your own deodorant.  Replace lotion with coconut oil.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Washing the dishes without plastic

How to wash dishes without plastic

Use a wooden dish brush with natural bristles that can be composted when it has reached the end of its life.
I use this one from Life Without Plastic.  It has replacement heads, which I compost when they are worn out.

Use dish cloths.
My sister knitted me some dish cloths from organic cotton yarn that I also use to wash dishes.

Use a copper scrubber to get off tough spots.
We use this one from Life Without Plastic.  They can be recycled after they are worn out.

Use bar soap instead of liquid dish detergent.
I buy bar soap made for cleaning dishes off of Etsy.  You do not need a plastic bottle of detergent to get your dishes clean!  It is a natural bar soap (no artificial ingredients, fragrances or dyes) that is not super moisturizing so it can cut through the grease.  Early on, we had been using Doctor Bronners, but this soap works much better, just as well as conventional liquid dish soap! (I also use this bar soap when I have clothes that need to be hand washed:)

Make your own dishwasher detergent.
I use this recipe, which requires baking soda, salt and citric acid.  The citric acid came in a large plastic bag, but we still have not finished it over a year later, so I consider it a success.  I might try this recipe when we run out, because it uses just lemons, salt and vinegar.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Life Without Plastic, a company whose mission and products I fully support. - See more at:
 Note: This post contains affiliate links to Life Without Plastic, a company whose mission and products I fully support.
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Life Without Plastic, a company whose mission and products I fully support. - See more at: