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:

EASY
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.

NEXT STEPS

FOOD
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!

BATH
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.

HOUSEHOLD
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