Friday, August 30, 2019

Reducing Plastic, Zero Waste, and other environmental efforts

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. Now with the Amazon Rainforest burning, seems more urgent to get this information out. We have been wanting and trying to reduce plastic in our lives for a while. Matthew has been on his no plastic backpacking mission for several years now and is pretty close. The environmental impact is the biggest concern for me. Climate change is a huge problem, I think the number one problem we face right now on the planet and we are loosing. That's why we have also been working on going Zero waste, to limit how much trash we create.

I want a better future for her.

Grocery Shopping:
1. BYOB - we bring our own bags. It's simple, it's not new, you probably see people do it all the time, maybe doing it already yourself... at the very least they are in the car and you keep forgetting them. We take it a step farther, we are lucky enough to have a Co-op with an amazing bulk section, so we bring our own jars to fill up on flour, spices, beans, etc. We also have our own reusable cotton bags for veggies. To top it off we walk. We live 0.5 miles away, so even in rain, snow or sun, we can be seen walking with our groceries on our back.

cotton veggie bags

large mason jars for bulk shopping

walking home with groceries!

2. Don't buy plastic - We have not perfected this. I could do it if we were vegetarian... or vegan. It's hard to find meat and cheese not wrapped in plastic. We buy in bulk to minimize packaging. Otherwise, if it's wrapped in plastic we avoid it. I've made my own tortillas and make my own bread. On rare occasions I buy chips. We buy loose leaf tea because even if it looks like paper 90% of the time that tea pouch has plastic that breaks down into microbeads. Don't believe me? Do the research. We buy a lot of things (even milk) in glass and you know we reuse and recycle!

whole wheat homemade bread!

3. Farmers market - one of the easiest ways for us to not buy plastic is getting our fruit and veggies straight from the farmer, and we are buying local! It makes us very happy to take our basket and cotton bags to the farmers market and fill up on delicious local foods. Even here though we have to be careful because some vendors put things in plastic.

farmers market basket

Hygiene products:
I could go on about this for a while... there is so much crap out there that isn't actually good for your skin or your hair and costs insane amounts of money!!

1. Matthew turned me on to apple cider vinegar (comes in a glass jar) for my hair. It's the same pH as your skin, it's gentle on hair and works well. It's not always enough for me. My hair is different from his so occasionally I need something more. I have an old shampoo bottle (reuse!) that I put a small amount of organic, all natural bar soap (package free at the Co-op) in with water, shake it up and wash my hair with that about once a week when I have significant build up. I don't use any other products in my hair. I only wash my hair about twice a week. People over wash there hair. By doing this it allows my natural oils to moisturize my hair and it is super healthy and happy. Someone recently described it as "full and luscious". So I know I'm doing something right lol There are actual shampoo bars you could try or Nohbo drops with dissolve if you want to try that..

2. Skin care is close to the same. I use vinegar and that watered down soap in the shower. I do have dry skin so I use coconut oil (glass jar) and Emu oil (plastic sadly but very effective, only use small amount so lasts a long time and I can recycle the bottle). Almost forgot to mention I have a handy rock I specially picked on a hike that I use for exfoliating my skin, I do that about once a week as well.

rock, apple cider vinegar, soapy water

3. Teeth I do have a plastic bottle of toothpowder (haven't used paste in years) but I hope to make my own when that runs out and reuse the plastic bottle. Sadly I have a plastic toothbrush but once it dies out I plan to get one like Matthews that is compostable.

4. deodorant is the same, I use plastic but just ran out! I reused the bottle and made my own deodorant. It's a mix of 2oz hot water, 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp Himalayan salt, and 2-3 drops essential oil. It seems to be working great, I've asked and so far no stink.

My shelf in the medicine cabinet. emu oil, deodorant, toothpowder

5. I use a diva cup for my period. It's made of medical grade silicone, reusable, comfortable, creates the least amount of waste (whenever I have to replace it, don't know when that will be, I've had it for years) and is nontoxic unlike those scary tampons. I also have two pairs of Thinx underwear - reusable period panties. I use them mostly for light days.

6. Shaving - when I shave I actually have a plastic razor, sadly. It was given to me by someone so I'm using it and will try to recycle it if I can at the ARCC(mentioned below). Otherwise, I usually use a straight razor.. very carefully.

7. Makeup - I thought I'd just add this in. I RARELY wear makeup these days but I know a lot of people do. I don't have anything sustainable here... unless you consider having the same things for years sustainable lol I did find this video on youtube Zero Waste Makeup Routine, that I found helpful for future purchases. 

You may have seen that I committed to #boycottfastfashion and not buy anything new for a year. I mentioned in my post that it would be fairly easy for me since I'm already close to it already. I buy at thrift stores whenever possible. I'm a minimalist so I don't shop often. If I buy new I do a butt load of research to make sure the company and product I buy meets these criteria...
1. Sustainable process obtaining materials and in making clothes
2. Ethical working conditions for employees
3. No plastic!! (in clothes and packaging to deliver)
4. reasonably priced
It's expensive. Fast fashion has spoiled us. This is another reason I have chosen minimalism. I don't feel bad spending more for a product to meet my criteria for ethical shopping. My new favorite brand is They have gone 100% eco this year. is also a great company that does a lot of recycled plastics, but they also have some great cotton and hemp items.

Rocking my Toad and co dress while hanging with my fam

When you end up with plastic:
sometimes you can't help it. We are not perfect but we do a lot, and every bit helps!! What do we do when we end up with plastic? Sometimes it does end up in the trash, because its not something we can reuse or is not recyclable. That's always a sad moment. Often we are able to recycle. For weird items that don't go in normal recycling I am happy to report there is a ARCC (Additional Recyclables Collection Center), only 15 minutes away. It's worth looking into if you have an equivalent. They accept things that might not go into the normal recycling like bike tires, instrument strings, beauty product packaging, bread bag tags, etc.

Tissues - Generally I use a bandana, but you could get fancy and use a handkerchief.

Eating out - I order what I will eat so I don't have to take the plastic or styrofoam to-go box, OR if I'm good I remember to bring my own tin takeaway container.

Coffee shops - bring my own thermos

Water bottle - Reuse!! I have a thermos for hot things and actually two keene canteen water bottles (a small and large) that I use for water on the go. I cringe whenever I see someone using a disposable plastic water bottle.

Kitchen - I use reusable wax wraps (etee and bees wrap) for bread and veggies, Stasher bags to replace ziploc, and Wegreeco reusable bowl covers instead of saran wrap. Only have wood cutting boards, wood or metal cooking utensils, glass or ceramic containers for baking or leftovers. We don't buy paper towels, just use rags made from old T-shirts or kitchen towels.

 Etee wax wraps, well used. Had them on the road

 Long baguette sized bees wrap, solely used to wrap the whole wheat bread

 Stasher bags are great! haven't missed ziplocs

These wegreeco bowl covers were a gift, and very useful

compost - We are happy to, but also have to here in Vermont there is a composting law. I love this because it reduces waste in the landfills.

Lastly, VOTE. We need to vote for someone that believes in science and will take action on cleaning up the mess humans have made. I don't have kids, nor will I. I do have a niece and I fear for her future. I fear for all the children of my family and friends. What world they will inherit...

Ok, that's all I have so far. PLEASE ask me anything or let me know if I've missed topics you are curious about. I would love to share. I know this is a lot and there is so much more! It's just about taking those small steps towards being better. I know what works for me won't work for everyone or isn't feasible. Again its about make little changes. For example, my mom used to buy large packages of those nasty disposable plastic water bottles. I'm happy to report she has diligently been using a glass water bottle. *Angie does happy dance*