It's January 2020 and I thought it was about time a make a list of tips for you. These will be added every few days until January 31th, 2020.
Step 1: AWARNESS
This is my first tip to starting the journey to low waste lifestyle. That's what I will call it today. It's less intimidating and more attainable for most people. Start thinking of everything you use weekly and become more aware of what is single use. Take recycling out of the equation for now and really look. Do you want to start using less this year? Do you want to be more eco-responsible with your choices? Do you want to save money? Do you want to eat healthier? There are many reasons to cut down or eliminate waste. Everyone is different be honest with yourself on your reasons why.
Going through your day see what things you can cut out. It's late you really want that cup of coffee but can you wait until you get home? Do you have a reusable cup? Can you go into the store with your reusable cup? Did you know that many drive through coffee places stage your coffee in a disposable cup until you get to the window? Maybe just say no today. If everyone said no for one day that would save over 43 million coffee cups.
Be aware of the waste cycle of items starting with manufacturing all the way to end, or grave.
Step 2 - BEING PREPARED
This kit takes a little more time to get used to but creates more good habits.
The large tiffin containers have been great to pack up restaurant leftovers and for us taking food to markets. I use unpaper towels for napkins until they get to stained and then I use them for unpaper towels. The straw bags we make are big enough for silverware, chopsticks and numerous straws. Bags and misc jars are a plus in the kit as well. I bring enough for more than just my husband and I. If it's just you and you are on a budget bring one fork, one straw, one bag (a plastic bag is fine to if that's all you have) ,one cup and one container (old sour cream, butter, pickle jar).
Step 1 was awareness so you should be aware of how much you use conveniences when you are out and what you can sub the single use items for.
A couple of other tips:
A basket works nicely if you have glass jars they tend to be more steady.
How cute would a zero waste car kit be in a vintage train case!?!?!?!
I leave my items that go back in the car on the kitchen table so as to annoy myself until I take them out.
Need a cup check out the thrift stores.
Happy kit packing my friends!
Step 3: Reusable shopping Bags
I know this is a hot topic in Cleveland right now since Cuyahoga County banned plastic shopping bags.
A few things to know about the bag ban:
1. Some cities opted out of it.
2. Bags are still available for things like meat and dry cleaning.
3. Paper bags are usually available for a small price, $0.10.
There are and have been so many options for reusable shopping bags for quite a long time. My mom used hers when we went to Aldi when I was growing up so it was not a hard change for me.
Do you want plastic types, non woven poly bags, canvas bags, nylon bags, or cotton? Here are the benefits of each and price ranges.
1. Plastic bags that are firm and larger. Made of virgin plastic so oil and resources bare used to make the bags but they are strong, big, and last years. Easy to clean in a large sink our with the backyard hose. Marc's stores carry these for around $0.69.
2. Non-woven bags are the ones usually given out for promotions. Small but strong and will last 3-5 years. Man made materials so oil and resources used to make the bags. You can find these at thrift stores or at grocery stores from $1-$10. @ohiooceanfoundation has some for sale if you want your proceeds to go to a great non-profit.
3. Canvas bags are tough and should last many years. Canvas is made from many different materials but the most popular is cotton. Material uses a lot of water when being made so finding one preused would be best. These can range from $7-$20 and can be machine washed. We have two left in out store on sale for $9. You can find in better quality stores, online, and at thrift stores
4.Nylon bags are super strong and light weight but they are also made of man made materials which again take natural resources. These are my husband's favorite. He uses @chicobag because the fold back up into the attached little bag. You can find these online and in some stores for $6.99 - $14.00.
5. Recycled bags are great and we personally love the Vita Repete bags from chico bags. They are stronger than the classic and a little bigger but made our of plastic water bottles. Find online or in our Canton store for $14.99- $20.
6. Reuse bags you already have!
Tips to remember your bags: Put a hook right by the door you leave our of and put the bags there as soon as they are empty. Grab when you leave the house. If you forget your bags in your car walk back and get them or take the paid groceries out in just the cart and pack in bags at the car. This work too if you forget your bags completely just put it all in the back until you get home. If you do this enough you will start to remember to bring them because this is more of a hassle.
Also take you bags everywhere NOT just the grocery store. ANYSTORE!
Any tips from you?
Step 4: Reusable Water Bottles
This is in the beginning of the list because once you get into the habit ofbringing a full water bottle with you it is a huge help to the environment and your finances.
The amount of bottled water purchased every week in the U.S. could circle the globe five times.
1 gallon of bottled water costs 2,000 times more than a gallon of tap water.
It takes three time the water to make the bottle as it does to fill it.
All plastic is made with oil.
Many bottle water companies use tap water that is filtered and treated.
My habit: I used to take a glass liter jar with me but have switched to a yeti cup as the water stays colder longer. Here is the kicker. If you drink more or may drink more than your reusable bottle then bring an extra one. If I am going for longer than and hour or two I have a 21 ounce or 32 ounce than I bring filled up with water. If I go all day like at pop up markets I take my gallon yeti..
I have not purchased a bottle of water in over two years!
Just refuse to buy it and refuse it if given to you. You will get in the habit. *Obviously you know your body and it is not worth risking your health to refuse water if you need it.
We offer free filtered water at our Canton store so if you are in the area and need a refill stop in. No purchased necessary. I am waiting to hear back from "Refill not Landfill" to get on the list.
I filter water at home with bamboo activated charcoal sticks. They are in one glass pitcher and once it's filtered (at least an hour) I pour it into a larger glass pitcher in case we have visitors. It takes my yucky Akron water and makes it taste and smell like spring water.
If you have a big concern with you water quality Berkey filters are pretty awesome but expensive.
Bottles are recyclable but it is widely discussed that only 8-10% of items actually get recycled.
It is also not recommended that you refill the plastic water bottle. These single-use items can leach chemicals into your water if heated (leaving in a hot car) or scratched.
Step 5: Switch to Bar Soaps.
This one is pretty simple and straight forward. Save the water and packaging when you switch from products like liquid cleaners and shampoos.
These items tend to cost less and last longer as well.
Everyone is different so finding a shampoo bar that works for everyone is impossible. You just have to set out and try a few to see which works best. If you have a few friends that are interested in switching you can each get a bar from a different company and cut then into the amount that you need and all share. This is the most economic way to find your next beauty product. I tried about 6 different ones before opening the store. I cut them in half and shared with my step daughter.
Make sure that you have a good draining dish or hang your soap to dry in between uses. This will greatly extend the life of your natural soaps.
Please note that I have received bars wrapped in plastic that I had to return. Make sure you are telling companies that you want no plastic and minimal shipping contents.
Shipping a bar instead of a liquid is much better for our environment!
My favorite bar soaps:
@redbudsuds 4 in 1 bar. Shampoo, conditioner, body, and shaving.
@bestowedessentials package free shampoo bars and stain sticks.
@notoxlife has amazing dish washing bars, detox bars, and package free deodorant.
@albatross_sailing has great shaving barsl that come in tins.
Step 6: Thrift Stores
I will be talking about resale and consignment shops later in the month.
I started going to thrift stores in 1990 when you could find vintage dresses and cool stuff constantly. I've the last 30 years the stores have gotten more popular and it's more of a hunt when you go.
Buying used clothes aligns with zerowaste perfectly because you are keeping textiles out of the trash and no buying into the fast fashion of the season .
The average American throws out 81 pounds of clothes every year.
Wearing secondhand clothing creates environment benefits from few carbon emissions, saves water, and reduces trash.
My top tips:
1. Figure out which day of the week is best for you. I seem to find more on Tuesdays.
2. Give yourself plenty of time so you don't make impulsive purchases. If you have a big cart full go over it and eliminate at least a few items.
All the drip dishes in the store are from the thrift store. My favorite find, for $6, is a counter top composter pail!
Fast fashion is a big problem that a lot of people do not know about. Most of the store that sell clothes in our area are full of items in style, not meant to last, and made from synthetic fibers.
I like the Village Thrift and Goodwill. I know there are others around. Get furniture, dishware, decor, etc at your local thrift shop!
What is you favorite thrift store?
Step 7: Reusable produce bags!
These are a favorite of mine because I love making them. I use curtains and tablecloths to make each bag unique.
We have already talked about the wasteful plastic bags and this goes right along with those. Plastic produce bags do not keep your veggies fresh or last longer. They simply travel home with you so that your veggies and fruit do not touch the cart.
Place these inside your reusable shopping bags and you will be ready to go.
We have the repurposed produce bags, cotton string bags, and cotton bulk bags at the store. I do not recommended using nylon or polyester produce bags. These are made from virgin materials and container plastics. Washing those bags releases microplastics into the water and out of your drier vent.
I personally do not worry about the tare weight since the bags are so light. You can even make your own out of bed sheets or pillowcases!
Do you take produce bags to the store or will you start taking produce bags?
Step 8: Reusable Utensils.
This seems like a silly thing to talk about because most of us use reusable silverware at home. I personally do not like the feel bamboo in my mouth so I carry extra silverware in my straw bag. I also carry stainless steel chopsticks, a stir sticks, and of course straws.
They are a bunch of different cutlery, utensils, and silverware on the market that are eco friendly. There are bamboo sets in bags with a carabineer, wheat or corn ones that are biodegradable, and super lightweight titanium ones.
I sell two out of three of these but still recommend getting items used from estate sales, family, or thrift stores.
Please try to make this a new habit this year and refuse to use any of the 44 billion plastic utensils used in the USA every year.
You can grow your own food in many ways. I am a vegetarian so I will only be speaking about plants. Growing veggies and herbs does not have to be a large commitment. You could have a small herb garden in your apartment window or a full hydroponic set up in your basement.
Here are a few tips I have:
1. Make sure you are gardening with a purpose not haphazard. Plan or map our your garden.
2. Make sure to grow companion plants next to veggies. Marigold with basil and basil with tomatoes.
3. Get organic and non GMO plants and seeds.
5. Only go as big as you have time for. You want to enjoy growing your own food and saving money. A garden that is too much of a chore may be neglected.
6. Grow lettuce and herbs indoors in the winter.
7. Have a small yard or no yard? Container garden. You can grow lots of veggies in pots. Get pots at yard sales.
8. Only grow what you will use. If you have extras share with friends and neighbors. Additionally learn how to can so that you can enjoy your garden even in the winter.
9. Start plants indoors. Make sure to get your seeds by the end of February, some plants need to grow big and sturdy indoors before they can be planted outside. Lettuce is an early plant and can withstand colder weather.
10. Think outside the box. Grow interesting things like loofah (it's a plant!!!), patchouli, quinoa, or a small pine tree for Christmas.
You have plenty of options even in our cooler climate.
11. Check out local growers, they can offer advice and plants that are good for your growing area.
12. Turn your front yard I to a garden!!!!
13. There are a bunch of organizations that can offer tips on gardening like @deliohio . They do classes on growing garlic and other things.
We have a 80 foot square garden in two raised beds that are 4x10 and a trellis that connects them. Some years are better than others and we are still figuring it out! We also have two rain barrels got watering and four different types of compost containers.
Step 10 : Zerowaste Lunch
The opportunity for no waste lunches varies by what positions and job you have. At my store and previous jobs I have had easy access to a refrigerator or had my own dorm size one which makes bringing lunch pretty easy. I bring in left overs or make lunch while I am making dinner and package it up to come with me to work.
Pick a day to prep , like Sunday, and get items ready for lunches for the week. Some simple changes, make your own pudding or buy large glass jar og applesauce etc. You can save so much money by packing your lunch.
1. The containers you can use are endless. Silicone bags, Mason jars, glass dishes, stainless containers, reused plastic tubs, fabric sandwich bags, wrap a sandwich in a scarf or napkin.
2. Also bring your own silverware whether those are metal, biodegrade, or bamboo.
3. Cloth napkins or cut up old clothes are great for lunches.
4. Always always always bring a reusable, fillable cup or bottle.
5. Leave a plate and bowl at work to use and clean after each use.
6. Get co-workers to do the same.
7. Speak to your boss about cheaper reusable options like a filter for the Keurig instead of pods.
This post is a difficult one for me. I have been doing it for so many years that I can not think of any really good tips. What do you use for zero-waste lunches? @ Empty Bin Zero Waste
Step 11: Multi Use Items
Save space , waste, and money by having items that have more than one function.
Do you use vases or candles? A glass jar can be a vase, a drinking vessel, a food container or house a candle.
Do you have a need for 3 swimsuits, five coats, and ten pairs of shoes?
A couple good coordinating neutral garments can create many outfits.
Minimalism is about using less and wasting less.
Think about these tips the next you go shopping or perusing online:
1. Do I need it? Do you have something else already that can solve this need?
2. Do they need it?
3. Do I love it enough to keep of for years?
4. Can I afford it?
5. Can I use it for more than one application?
6. Can I buy it used?
7. How long will I have this item?
Marketing only exists to convince people that they need to buy something or join something. See beyond the pretty advertising and ask questions that businesses don't want you to ask. Is this an item I can use for many things?
I do have a retail business but at the beginning and end of my day all I want is to make a difference for my grandchildrens future.
Step 12: Oral Care
I struggle with zerowaste oral care. I have a teeth/dentist phobia and started clenching at night and cracking teeth when I started my business. I still use conventional toothpaste and an electric toothbrush. Head in palm, ashamed.
1. Bamboo toothbrushes are n alternative but far from perfect. The stem can be composted but will take take some time. The bristles need to be removed and thrown away, they are castor oil and nylon. It will be a better option once they find a better bristle.
2. Natural toothpaste are flouride free and better for you. Tom's of Maine and Dr Bronner are both good brands.
3. Tooth tablets are pretty trendy right now. I have tried Bite and it was pretty good. A little weird the first time. I have been looking for a few months for a bulk version to have at the store.
4. Toothpowders are also popular. I am not a fan at all but some people really like it. We have two kinda at the store and you can add xylitol to sweeten it or coconut oil to make a paste.
5. There is a stick that you can use to clean your teeth called a cleaning twig or chew stick. My mom loved hers.
6. Dental floss can be found in glass containers a is biodegradable and made of silk with vegan wax.
7. Google diy toothpaste or mouthwash for some recipes for natural products. We have some bulk ingredients at the store that might help you out.
I hope this has helped to introduce you to options that exist for healthier and zerowaste oral care.
*I have a Terracycle box at the store for recycling any oral products.
Step 13: Farmers Markets
Get local food and help the local economy by shopping at neighborhood farmers markets. It is winter and there are a few options even in mid January!
When you shop at farmers market you are buying directly from the farmer or maker. This allows you to ask for plastic free or special order items. Many markets have plastic free bread and veggies. Start shopping a build a relationship with the people that help feed your family.
I have been a vendors at many farmers markets and it feels like a family of the nicest people.
Plastic waste in food is a huge problem and even if you only gonna few times a year it's better than never going.
How to remember days and times? Put in a calendar that you check daily or set an alarm. You can also shop around your market. Shop on Wednesday at the market and then get what you need at the store the same day. Make a grocery day.
Current winter markets that I am aware of.
Countryaide at Northside Sundays 10-2pm Akron
Countryside at Old Trail School 9-12pm, Bath
Haymaker at United Methodist Church, 10-1 Kent
I will be making a page online of the local farmers markets this spring. I will also have a list of local CSA programs.
You can also Google your local community to see where the closest markets is.
Step 14: Plastic Wrap Replacements
I do not recommended using plastic for any food storage. Plastic, even BPA free, is full of chemicals but especially DEHA which has been shown to cause liver tumors in mice and transfer into fatty foods like cheese. I have noticed that as time goes on and we as a society get curious we find out that more "safe" things are not safe at all. Because of this we decided years ago to replace any plastic food containers. I also do not clean and reuse things like butter containers for food. There are a bunch of other, what I believe to be healthier and, less wasteful alternatives.
1. Wax food wraps. We use these for cheeses, different veggies, and as bowl coverings. We sell @earthologyfoodwraps at the stores, after I tried to make them 5 times!
2. Diy- make your own wax wraps. All you need is organic cotton, pine resin, vegan or bee wax, and jojoba oil. Google for a recipe. It never worked right for me, the pine resin would just clump. You can use only wax but these will not last as long or be as moldable.
3. Use a soft clean towels to cover dishes or wrap food.
4. Fabric bowl covers. Make sure you make or get a quality product if there is elastic. Elastic has plastics so you need to be able to use them to lots and often to offset the use of plastic.
5. Silicone bags are versitle and great for lots of uses. We carry @stasherbag at our stores.
6. Natural or organic food cloth bags.
7. Stainless steel or glass food containers. Or a glass jar like I have suggested in many of the posts this month.
I use a mix of silicone bags, wax wraps, and stainless and glass containers.
What do you use?
Step 15: Coffee & Tea
Zerowaste coffee and tea are pretty easy these days. Follow these tips for coffee:
1. Buy beans in bulk with your own container or bag. Grind at home or work when needed. Look for a second hand or vintage coffee grinder.
2. Use natural brown filters that you can compost or better yet a reusable filter ( I make these, they are available at the store).
3. Use a pour over for coffee with no plastic.
4. French presses do not require a filter.
5. Take clean reusable cup to coffee houses but you must go in. If you go through the drive through they "stage" your drink in a disposable cup if they are busy.
6. Have a Keurig? Use reusable filters.
7. Compost all coffee grinds.
Follow these tips for zero-waste tea:
1. Buy tea in bulk with your own container. ( I heard you can do this at Mr. Bulkies).
2. Use a reusable tea bag or metal tea infuser. Tea bags that are already made have plastic on them. (I sell reusable bags for $0.49).
3. Store in an airtight container.
4. Get a tea infuser pot or bottle.
5. Compost all used tea.
I am not a tea person at all, I occasionally have some turmeric or ginger tea 🍵 from @storehouse_tea . I love coffee and drink too much! ☕ We used to have a 12 cup pot but my husband switched to a pour over and I didn't like the taste. I was wasting alot that I was making so I switched to a Keurig (used) and a mesh filter so I use ground coffee. He gets whole bean I get ground beans. Once I am out of those we will just buy bulk beans.
Did you know you can roast your own coffee or make your own teas? You can find anything online .
What is your tea or coffee routine?
Today is Step #16: menstrual products.
I recommend watching YouTube videos if you have a lot of questions there are some great ones.
This switch is nerve racking for some women and it is understandable. We are taught to hide our period and to be ashamed of the fact that we can create life inside of us.
Here are a few zerowaste options for your period.
1. Menstrual cups. This is truly zerowaste. The silicone cups auction to the cervix and come in two sizes and many colors. The silicone is save and can be cleaned with water, cleaners, or boiled. Wear for 12 hours and they last 8+ years. We sell @lunettecup
2. Cloth menstrual pads. 100% cotton flannel, super soft and absorbent. I have make the ones we sell. They attached with a nickel free snap.
I have used ones that were not natural fabric and got an infection. If you don't buy from me make sur it's natural fabric!
3. Period panties. These are cool and I was really excited but I sent mine back. The material is too substantial for me and not natural fabrics which lead to microplastics in the environment. If you don't like the other options this might be a good one for you.
4. Organic biodegradable products.
5. Crochet tampons
6. Sea sponge tampons. I personally think the sponges should stay in the ocean.
7. Free bleeding. I do this after my first heavy days. I don't care if I stain undies and have endometriosis (probably from endocrine disrupters from plastics) and it makes my period a little difficult so I do not use the cup.
It may takes some time to switch but please consider it. Manufacturers of menstrual products are not required to put the "ingredients" on the box or online. Scents can be very harmful and as we know now, all of them have plastics that can not be good for our health.
Step 17: DIY recipes
I have been making my own products since 2015. I found out you could make your own laundry detergent and it was amazing to me. I started making cleaners, lotions, shampoo, bath bombs, lip balm, and the list goes on. I felt so good about using non toxic items in my products and sharing those with my step daughters. I feel.as though making your own products flows easily with zerowaste. You use your own container and ingredients that can be used for many different items.
I have a diy recipe book at the store and ingredients in bulk so you can make a little or you can make a lot. We have a complimentary essential oil bar that you can use as well. We will never use fragrances or have items with fragrances only essential oils.
Recipes can be found on youtube, google, in books, or by messing around. Most recipes are similar no matter where you get them from. I stated with books but they used a lot of food products so I started paying around and putting my twist on recipes online.
Who can make products? Anyone! And I hope everyone. You pay a premium by having items premade and then you really do not know what is in them. You can buy ingredients to make 18 lip balms for about $4-$5. Make stuff with your friends, kids, spouse, or parents. It's amazing the money you will save and the containers you can reuse!
I can help you gather ingredients but do not have the ability to make the items here, hopefully in the future.
Step 18: Composting
Compost is decomposed organic matter. It requires two main things greens and browns. Greens are veggies scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, juicing pulps, etc. Browns are leaves, cardboard, bamboo, and paper.
I am not an expert on compost, not even close, my husband is the composter at our house, I do not fancy bugs. I love what we end up with and we usually have a lot of kitchen scraps due to being a vegetarian.
Compost fruit and veggies, coffee grounds, tea, eggshells, vegetarian animal manure, yard waste, cardboard, paper, jellies and jams, flowers, nuts, and grains.
Do not compost cat or dog manure, meat, dairy, diseased plants, plastic, foil, coated paper, newspaper ( my opinion due to the inks), fats, and oils, treated woods, or Ash.
Composting is a wonderful way to reduce your waste. Once we started we saw a large decrease in the amount of garbage we had.
We have two tumble composts one tub that we use, and one open topped wood yard waste compost.
You can even compost in your apartment.
We live in a small .16 acre city lot in Akron. If you need help start your own neighborhood compost club, one or two people can compost a few houses. Compost services are starting to pop up in larger cities like @rustbeltriders in Cleveland.
Step 19: Shaving Alternatives
There are a bunch of low waste or zerowaste shaving for both men and women. Why not get a zerowaste option and share it as a family or couple?
1. Straight razors
- you can get the strap now as well. I think I met one person that uses this type. The strap will eventually wear out but the razor should last years
2. Safety razors
- there are hundreds of these available. We carry three, Leaf, Ecoroots, and Albatross. All razors can be used for any gender but some have a longer handle with is easier for shaving legs. My husband uses Albatross and I have a Leaf. I am also trying to use up the disposable head ones. I rarely shave so it takes me a while. These will last years.
3. Electric razors
- used electric to charge batteries or used batteries. Last for years
4. Vintage razors
- I always recommend reusing and buying used. These you would need to clean and sanitize. I have a few and will take them to the store to sell when I find them.
5. Don't shave
-this really doesn't need explaining but we are a made a certain way, who decided that shaving was the norm and sexy?
6. DIY shaving cream
-check out recipes on search engines or on my website blog. There is a fun one that you use a blender to make it.
7. Use regular or 4in 1 soap to shave
- good old bar soap or @redbudsuds for shaving.
8. Buy zerowaste shaving soap
- again there are ton of these on the market. I sell Albatross since it is vegan and a decent price.
**"We have a Terracycle box at the store for many razors or parts. Disposable razors, blades, heads, and even packaging.
Step 20: Cleaning Products.
Cleaning Products can be a difficult switch just because of all the options consumers have. Another issue is what is important to you.
What is your list to pass on? Anything with palm oil, animal products, parabens, fragrance, sls, sles, or phthalates?
Most big name household cleaners and even some "eco cleaners" containers toxic or carcinogenic ingredients. It is important to know which of the top items are most important for you personally to stay away from. I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and always want to be vegan so animal products is the first thing I look for. Next I look for fragrances, they are so so bad. Side note-many cosmetic brands even small local companies use fragrances and fragrances are known for carcinogens.
I make most of my cleaning products with Dr. Bronner brands. And have tried at least a couple diy cleaners for each different areas of the house. Here are just a couple for you.
1. I make dish soap with 1 part Sal's Suds, and one part water. Or use a dish block
2. I make hand soap 1 part distilled water, 1 part Castile liquid, 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil, 1 teaspoon vitamin E. We also sell a natural brand in bulk.
3. Kitchen cleaner I use whatever dish soap I am using.
You can find cleaner recipes all over the internet, give them a try, you have very little to loose.
Change out toxic cleaners as soon as you can. This is for your health and your families. Speak with your money or lack of money and let brands know that it is not okay to poison us or our environment. Plastic is the go to container for most cleaners as well. When will it end?