7 Things

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Do you want to start helping reduce your environmental impact but don’t feel like spending any additional money? Seems impossible, right? Well, here are 7 things that are zero cost & zero waste.

Put a recycling bin in your bathroom

It can be hard to remember to bring the empty lotion or shampoo bottles downstairs to the recycling bin (most likely in the kitchen) and so those shampoo / conditioner and lotion bottles often just end up in the trash. I’ve been there, but those are actually good recyclable (#1 or #2) plastics so definitely worth the effort to recycle. Don’t forget to add the toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes to the bin. We just use a cardboard box for our bathroom recycling so we didn’t buy another plastic waste bin.

Skip or Reuse Produce Bags in the Grocery Store

I once used plastic bags for everything in the produce section but now simply put fruits and vegetables directly into my grocery cart. I mean, c’mon, they already have a natural wrapper on them and were outside laying in dirt before they were in the store! So avocados, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes, mangoes  etc. all go bagless until checkout. I use my own cloth produce bags for most everything else but if I don’t have those with me or run out, I will just throw food like apples or broccoli into the cart. I always give them a good rinse with a gentle organic soap before we eat anyways! If you want to keep them contained and don’t have your own produce or grocery bags with you just go ahead and grab a paper bag from checkout to use while shopping. Paper bags are way more recyclable than the plastic produce bags!

Buy What you Can in Jars or Plastic Containers Instead of Packets

Packets are one of the worst offenders in terms of their recyclability. Skip the applesauce, baby food or yogurt pouches and buy in a glass jar (first choice) or in a plastic container. I have yet to find yogurt in a glass jar but if you have a grocery store that carries it, lucky you for that eco win! There are also sotres that carry bulk yogurt, so you can fill your own jars up. You can pack the applesauce and yogurt in a small glass mason jar with a spoon for your child’s lunch or directly into a bento box. As a bonus, your child will get extra fine motor skill development from using a spoon versus a pouch.

Buy in Bulk

These mangos are in the plastic bag Whole Foods uses to fill their bulk bins.

These mangos are in the plastic bag Whole Foods uses to fill their bulk bins.

Whether that means going to the bulk section of a local store or to Costco, the more you can get within one plastic package the better. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a bulk store nearby. In reality, the items that get put into the bulk bins at stores like Whole Foods don’t come in that large of a plastic bag so sometimes Costco isn’t that much worse of an option depending on what you buy. If purchasing from Costco, I try to find the items that are in one large package versus a big package of lots of little packages.

Ditch Disposable Snack Bags and Make Your Own

Whether that means reusing glass or plastic packages you already have or buying Stasher bags or metal snack containers, try and avoid purchasing those big boxes of snack bags. The extra effort to go to your pantry and put food in a small package for you or your child for lunch matters.

Say No to the Straw

It’s not an actual drinking necessity! If you think it is though, you can purchase your own. I’m a straw chewer (if you know, you know) so the ones with silicone on the end are game changers.

BYO On the Go

Remember to pack your own to-go cup, bag and cutlery. You can get a fancy to go cup or are just bring an old mason jar or coffee cup you already own. The same goes for cutlery. You can purchase a sleek bag with bamboo cutlery inside or simply throw silverware that you already own wrapped in a napkin into your bag. And I know you already own at least one canvas grocery bag that you can pack, but if you don’t sign up for ours here!


What are some zero cost, zero waste switches you have made?






Eco-Conscious Personal Care

After I finally felt that I had conquered my kitchen and shopping habits to rely less on plastic, I knew that my personal care and beauty routine needed to be next. The personal care industry makes 500 billion dollars a year and relies mostly on fully or partly non recyclable plastic. Globally, an average of eight million tons of plastic escapes collection systems, winding up in the environment and eventually the ocean (B.A.N.). Once there, sunlight and currents shred plastic debris into smaller particles called micro plastics which absorb and concentrate toxic chemicals up the marine food chain and into our bodies. Many companies have prioritized our health and sustainability and have reconsidered the nature of the products, packaging, and supply chain itself. I have chosen to highlight these companies and their products that are either refillable, made from reused plastic or in a better recyclable material like glass or stainless steel.

Toiletries

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Approximately1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the United States, leading to 50 million pounds of toothbrushes added to landfills annually.

Switching from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush is pretty easy. I will admit that I miss the smoothness of the plastic compared to the bamboo, but you wear it in and get used to it and think about how much non-recyclable plastic you are preventing from going into landfills and oceans and move on. The glass contained mouthwash, refillable dental floss, toothpaste in recyclable aluminum and bamboo cotton swabs are no brainers. Everybody’s body chemistry is different, so one deodorant might work for one person that doesn’t for another. I love the deodorants by Meow Meow Tweet (and I just love that name!). Meow Meow Tweet sells their stick deodorant in cardboard and their cream deodorant in a glass jar.

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Skincare

I had been using Revision Skincare for my face routine. The products were great but I knew I needed to find something new because all Revision products are in black plastic and black plastic is completely non recyclable. Plastic items are sorted by optical scanners which use the reflection of light to identify the types of plastics. Black plastic doesn't reflect light, so cannot be seen and sorted by the scanners.

I found a few great brands that I have been alternating between for my skin routine: Tata Harper and S.W. Basics. Tata Harper’s products are mostly in glass and the plastic resin from the tubes is derived from corn, a renewable resource. Tata Harper’s products smell like a dream and feel amazing on my skin. I use the Clarifying Cleanser as my face wash and use the Rejuvenating Serum, Rebuilding Moisturizer and the Illuminating Eye Cream to keep those wrinkles at bay. I love the Revitalizing Body Oil as one of my body lotions. I have found that body lotion is hard to come by in a non-plastic material. The Plaine Products body lotion is fantastic. We also use their haircare products. S.W. basics has prioritized using plastic-free packaging from their start. Adina Gregoire, the founder, chose glass for her primary packaging because of its nearly infinite recyclability, even though the bottles and jars she used cost about 10 times more than a comparable plastic alternative. The products have a more realistic price point for everyday use than Tata Harper and also feel wonderful on your skin.

 

Haircare

I have found four great options for haircare: one with no packaging, one in recycled packaging, one contained in glass and one in refillable aluminum. The most eco-friendly options are the shampoo and conditioner bars for obvious reasons. No packaging at all! I bought some and will use them every once in a while, but do find them a little drying for my color-treated hair and not quite what I am used to. I was already using Kevin Murphy products before this journey and was both relieved and delighted to read about their efforts to create a circular supply chain by using recycled-ocean plastic for all of their packaging. I have always loved their products! Plaine Products is an awesome line of refillable haircare and body wash in aluminum bottles that both my husband and I use. They smell wonderful. O-Way Haircare is an Italian line of haircare products in 100% glass and aluminum containers. They are committed to sustainability in all aspects of their production. O-Way has a huge line, including skincare and men’s grooming. I have loved their haircare and can’t wait to try more of their products.

 

Have a favorite personal care rec? Please share!

BYO On the Go

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Photo: OneGreenPlanet.org

Photo: OneGreenPlanet.org

Americans purchase over 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles every year. This averages to about 13 bottles per month for every person in the United States. Across the U.S. plastic bottles, including PET (#1), HDPE (#2) and PP (#5), are recycled at a rate of 29.7%. Recycling of plastics is competing with cheaper “virgin plastics”, which is affecting the value of recycled material worldwide (B.A.N.). “Paper” coffee cups are a problem for the environment as well. Most recycling facilities don’t recycle paper cups because to do so, they would have to separate the plastic lining from the paper and most facilities find that process to be more trouble than it is worth. This makes the cups effectively non-recyclable, so the cups end up in landfills or the environment. Some once beautiful beaches in Asia are inundated with plastic. Whales and marine life are dying from mistaking these single use plastics for food. This is a horrifying and unnecessary pollutant, a hazard to marine life and our own health, as well as a waste of our natural resources. Simple actions like refusing single-use plastics and planning ahead to bring your own cups and cutlery can make a huge difference. In this post I’ve lined up some of my favorite on-the-go items.


Water Bottles

Getting a water bottle for on-the-go drinking is an easy way to help prevent unnecessary waste. It is one of the easiest switches I have made and truly a better way to live life. The water stays cooler longer, the bottle is easier to drink from and there is no worrying about the plastic roasting in the sun and leaking BPA into the water. Did I also mention that they are way better looking with so many options to choose from depending on your drinking preferences? I prefer a flip top sport style for when I’m working out and then carry an insulated tumbler with a straw for the rest of the day. I currently use a Camelbak for my workouts. I have had it for four years and don’t plan on buying new unless necessary. I have heard great things about HydroFlasks so I included it below as a workout option. The Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler with straw is what I use for smoothies or any other on-the-go beverage so it’s nice to already always have with me as my water bottle. S’well water bottles are a perfect combination of form and function and great for throwing in your purse for the day.

HYDRO FLASK
Klean Kanteen
Klean Kanteen
S'well
CamelBak Products LLC

Coffee Cups

Another on-the-go switch is to-go coffee cups. This switch is even more important than water bottles in my opinion since to-go coffee cups are considered non recyclable items by most recycling facilities (except TerraCycle of course). Because the coffee cups are a mixed plastic it is considered too costly and time-inefficient to take them apart in a recycling facility. I have  tried a couple of reusable coffee cups that I have enjoyed drinking from so much more than the plastic carry out option from the coffee shop. Frank Green is my favorite. The cup fits nicely in my hand and the drinking spout feels very similar (yet better) to drinking out of a single-use coffee cup. The push button on top opens or closes the drinking spout from within so you can throw it in you bag and not worry about it spilling. It has been very reliable. KeepCup is another popular and eco-friendly option for coffee. I also love the versatility of Yeti and Klean Kanteen tumblers. There are really so many great options out there to choose from. What is most important is to find something that works for you daily life. For instance, if someone does a coffee run for your office in the morning, maybe have the office invest in several reusable cups for them to take to the coffee shop?

W&P
Hydro Flask
Klean Kanteen
FRANK GREEN

FRANK GREEN

YETI

carrying multiple bottles not your thing?

My husband doesn’t like to carry around a bag so it was a challenge for him to carry around a to-go coffee cup and water bottle. He decided to use one mug for both and just rinse out in between. The Yeti or Klean Kanteen tumblers are great for this since you can transition to a different top + straw if desired but keep the same base. It can take time to make any switch feel right for you and your daily routine, but its worth the effort to reduce these single-use plastics we have grown so reliant on.


check out these other zero waste on the go items

What’s your favorite single use replacement?