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.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Plastic Free July--take the challenge!

It is approaching my favorite time of year--Plastic Free July!  This will be the third time I am participating.

What is Plastic Free July, you ask?

From their website: "Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it."

Basically, it asks us to examine the amount of disposable plastic (any plastic that is meant to be used once or very little and thrown away) we are using and encourages to find alternatives.

 Some things you can do:

1. Bring your own bag
2. Bring your own water bottle
3. Refuse a straw when you go out to restaurants, or bring your own glass straw
4. Bring your own utensils
5. Bring your own travel mug for tea and coffee
6. Say no to coffee pods!
7. Shop from the bulk bins for dry goods (rice, beans, grains, etc.) using your own cloth bag or mason jar
8. Use vinegar, baking soda and bar soap for cleaning
9. Compost your food scraps
10. DIY personal care products
11. Shave with a safety razor 
12. Use glass storage in the kitchen--Pyrex, mason jars, etc.

Some posts to get you started:

How to shop the bulk bins
Plastic-free shaving: using a safety razor
DIY deodorant
De-plastify the bathroom
Less-toxic & plastic free laundry
General plastic free ideas

I will be posting some helpful tips in the coming weeks for those of you who are going to go plastic free with me :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bring your own to go zero waste

Happy Earth Day!  In honor of the occasion, here are some things you can do to reduce your waste today.

Bring your own to go zero-waste today:

Bring a bag for groceries, produce, the bulk section, shopping for anything!
Water Bottle
 Bring your own glass or stainless steel water bottle.
Coffee mug
Or make your own at home (just don't use those pesky pods :)!
Keep some real utensils in your bag or car so you don't get stuck with the disposable plastic variety.
Or ask for no straw.
Cutting down trees for disposable napkins is silly.
You'll end up using much less packaging if you bring lunch from home.  And get a more satisfying meal.
Take-out container
Going out to eat? Avoid the styrofoam, and bring a container for the leftovers.
Hand towel
No more decisions between using perfectly good trees for a one-use disposable product or a hand dryer that never really gets your hands dry.  Bring your own pocket-sized towel.

One last super-important thing you can do: Compost!  Composting drastically reduces the amount of waste you will be putting in the landfill, and takes pretty much zero extra time. 

If you have even a tiny backyard, you can do it!  Also, many municipalities now have city-wide composting if you are an apartment dweller.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to use less paper in the bathroom

Cutting down new trees for things we will use once and throw away seems pretty silly.  Here are some ideas to reduce your paper use in the bathroom.

Get some handkerchiefs.  And put them where you'll use them.
No more tissues.  No more tissue box, with the plastic inside.  I found a small basket from Goodwill and stuck some in there.

Buy recycled toilet paper.
Seventh generation has some that is not sold in plastic packaging.  I get mine at a local store, but you can also find it on Amazon.  (Also, look for something with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled paper content).

Use reusable cotton rounds instead of cotton balls.
You can either try your hand at making them, or Etsy has a pretty large selection (these and these, for example).

Use a real hand towel.
This should go without saying, but I have seen those horrible disposable-paper-towels-in-a-box that are marketed to families keep making appearances, so I'm going to say it--there is nothing wrong with cloth hand towels.  You will not get germs from using a hand towel in your own house.  Throw them in your wash when they get dirty (or if someone is sick)!!

Clean with reusable cloths.
Instead of disinfecting wipes or paper towels to wipe down the counter, use reusable cloths and a spray bottle of homemade cleaner.