Showing posts from April, 2018

Day 30/30 what's next?

Wow! We made it 30 days! I really hope you have learned a lot and have considered the information I have provided over the last month and are able to make changes that work for you. This is a process. It will take time. Tyler and I have been working on reducing our waste for years! And we are not perfect. I forget to say "no straw" or forget my coffee mug. I also still buy some items in plastic (I've been super into gardening lately so the dirt and seeds and fertilizer all comes in packaging that will go to the landfill (which seems counterproductive given I'm working with organic material). I think the best thing is to gain awareness.Once you know better, you'll do better.

So what's next? Look in your trash. What items do you see? Do you have a lot of the same items? Is there possibly a way to replace it with less packaging that will go to the landfill? Your trash will tell you what type of lifestyle you live. Do you have a lot of fast food containers? Do you…

Day 29/30 Less Waste Challenge: Reduce Your Emissions

Next month kicks off May in Motion, which encourages using public transportation or your own 2 feet! I live in a city where we don't have great public transportation and most people driving are solo drivers. I live 8 miles away from work and I typically go between buildings and carry items with me. It makes it challenging. However, I want to try to bike more often when I'm going somewhere that is 2-4 miles away. If it's 1 miles or so I'm going to try to walk. The last thing I am hoping to experiment with is riding the bus downtown and then using the city bike rental to get to work. Of course it will take more time but I think it might be nice to not have to drive and then maybe I can get in some extra reading time! 

The thing I also struggle with is travel. I love traveling and I know that it's not great on the planet. In general, if you can go for longer periods of time then the drive or flight makes it more worth it, for your time, money, and emissions. Any one ha…

Day 28/30 Less Waste Challenge: Upcycle

If you can't repair something, you can upcycle it! I admit, Tyler is the king of that! It's tough because I tend to think if it's not being used, that get rid of it. I don't like keeping stuff that has no purpose. I'm not good about the "one day..." concept. But Tyler is and I am trying to keep better at it (without becoming a hoarder). Here are some things he has upcycled: He took an old belt that was broken and made it into straps for a pirate shield for our cousin's daughterHe took an old bicycle and a large bowl and made a bird bath for the gardenHe has taken old license plates and made clocks, Idaho signs, flowers, yard art, and otherMy brother brings Tyler wood left over from cabinet and stair making jobs and will make cutting boards and other use-able items. 

Day 27/30 Less Waste Challenge: Repair

In today's world, goods are so easy to purchase that the second something breaks we tend to replace it. If you are frugal or short on money, you may have tried to figure out how to fix something and or create a work around. I have to admit, I tend to not have the "fix it" mind so when something stops working I think to buy new rather than call a repair person. But my dad and my husband are truly Mr. Fix Its, so if they are around I generally ask them first (probably why I don't fix things ;). Here are a lot of examples of this: Shoes-you can get them repaired and it's very reasonable. The people that specialize in this are called cobblers and the work they do is quite amazing! If you purchase high quality item you can generally repair them for quite some time.Learn to mend. I have this coat I love but the buttons keep falling off. Instead of buying a new coat, I keep sewing those bad boys back on. You can hem pants and sew holes, which will help your clothes and o…

Day 26/30 Less Waste Challenge: Line Dry!

Now that you have purchased your clothes second hand (see what I did there?) a really great way to reduce energy and resources is to line dry your clothes. Drying clothes in a dryer not only usually includes a dryer sheet (which goes straight to the landfill) but also uses a lot of energy. There are alternatives to the dryer, such as wool dryer balls (which I personally have not used), but the energy is still a factor. When you line dry your clothes the dry pretty quickly on warm, sunny days and the clothes smell so fresh! I throw a little vinegar in the fabric softener hole to help soften the clothes while they wash so my clothes are soft coming off the line. Tyler installed a retractable line in the backyard, which is fantastic as we don't get "clothes-lined" walked through the yard. 

Day 25/30 Less Waste Challenge: Buy Second Hand

Today's post keep in the same theme as the last 2. Now that you are making better purchases and you are making less of them, consider another option that uses up the existing stuff we have instead of creating new! I used to think going to second hand stores was only something you did for funny occasions like, bowling, ugly Christmas sweaters, themed parties, and the like. I donate to them all the time. Why I thought there would be no nice clothes is just beyond me. It's true that it tastes time to sort through all of the items. It's also difficult to know what they will have so sometimes you can't get something you need that day (crazy, right?). You can find a LOT of great stuff shopping at thrift stores. There are clothes, housewares, silverware, pots and pans, picture frames, books, furniture, kids stuff ranging from furniture, toys, to clothes. Thrift stores are such a great option because if you need something for a short period of time (like kids' clothes) the…

Day 24/30 Less Waste Challenge: Buy Less

Today's post is connected to yesterday's "Make Better Purchases." As a country, we are serious mass consumers. We have Black Friday and Cyber Monday and every single holiday has some sort of sale associated with it. We are suckers for deals. Often times the deals are for purchases we otherwise would not have made. And when we purchase something we don't use, eventually it makes it's way to the Goodwill or the landfill. I'm going to repeat what I said yesterday: we have so much power when it comes to the market based on our spending habits. Stores want to make money so they will carry things that sell. If we stop buying the cheap stuff that breaks, there will be less of it in the market. When you make a purchase, it typically took resources to create the item. By making a different selection, the market changes to favor your new choices. So when you are considering your purchase, ask yourself: do I need it? Is there something I have that can be used that …

Day 23/30 Less Waste Challenge: Make Better Purchases

This is sort of a big concept but it is super important. We live in a world where we have so many options. As consumers we have so much power. The all mighty dollar has a significant impact on the world we live in. There are so many things to consider when buying goods:

what is the quality of the item?what is the cost?is the purchase worth the cost?how was this product made?where was this product made?was it made in a sustainable way?what is the packaging look like for the item? Can I compost it? Recycle it? Or will it end up in the landfill?I used to be a huge fan of stores the sell really inexpensive clothes and shoes (Payless, Target, Old Navy, Forever 21, etc). Their items are super cute and they are reasonably priced. Were they the best quality? Did the items last? Was the product made in the US? What were the working conditions? What is the fabric? It is plastic? I never used to consider any of these questions. I actually first started to question my purchases when the cheap shoe…

Day 22/30 Less Waste Challenge: Eat More Plants

Happy Earth Day, my friends!!! Today's topic is near and dear to my heart. Many of you know I am vegan/plant-based and have been for a little over 5 1/2 years. It started as a way to decrease my cholesterol and then has turned into so much more. I am not here to convince you to become vegan. Unfortunately PETA and other extreme vegans have put a really bad taste in people's mouths! But I am hear to encourage you to up your plant intake and decrease your meat consumption. This is the Single most important thing you can do to create less waste. Why do ask? Here is some data:

Here are some facts you may not know (all from the book, "Whole" by Dr. Colin T. Campbell):  "Animal protein production requires eight times as much fossil fuel as plant protein."
"The livestock of the United States consumes five times as much grain (which is not even their natural diet) as the country's entire human population."
"Every kilogram of beef requires 100,000 lit…

Day 21/30 Less Waste Challenge: Try Reusable Menstrual Products

Ladies of child bearing age (or for any one who knows one!) this post is for you! The average women has her period for for over 30 years. That's generally once every 28-30 days, lasting 4-6 days, involving 4-6 tampons or pads. Add that up and you've got about 13,000 feminine hygiene products disposed into the landfill per woman! We're currently at about 4 billion women on this planet so I'd say this is definitely an area where we can reduce our waste! There are a few options:

1. A menstrual cup. There are several different versions on the market, made from silicon. These items really should last for many, many years. They can be used up to 12 hours (depending on flow) and can be cleaned with soap and water and sanitized by a short, low boil. I bought the Diva cup a couple years ago and I love it! Easy to insert and remove, I've never had any spillage, easy to clean. Overall-I've been satisfied! 

2. Reusable pads. I found these below on Amazon but Etsy has a ton o…

Day 20/30 Less Waste Challenge: Collecting Water

Another bathroom waste? Water! Water is truly a very precious commodity. Many areas of the world know how precious water is. Even though I technically live in a desert, we rarely have a drought. Snow and rain fall are quite plentiful. All of the convenience of clean water readily in your home has made many less aware of water saving strategies. So here are a few!

In the showerDon't dilly dally! I get that warm showers just feel good sometimes. And maybe on the occasion, take the longer shower. But on the reg, try to get in, get clean, and get out! Showers really shouldn't be longer than 3-5 minutes. That's plenty of time to wash your hair and body and rinse. If you want to shave, turn off the water, shave, then turn on and rinse.Don't shower daily. It seems we have gotten into this habit of showering every day because we're supposed to or something? I remember my grandma would shower every other day or so and wear the same clothes a few times before laundering. She …

Day 19/30 Less Waste Challenge: Use a Safety Razor

Another bathroom item that men and women utilize a fair amount is a razor! At some point it was decided that plastic razors were better than the safety razor? Claims or closer shaves and less cuts I am sure were the drivers of change. However, I am hear to tell you that the safety razor is plenty safe and I do not have more razor burn or cuts. I bought mine and Tyler quickly fell in love and we got him one as well (I thought it best not to share for hygiene reasons). After we bought these, we bought a big box of bulk blades and we are set for years to come. The blades can be recycled too! 
P.S. You don't need special shaving cream! I use castile soap, which is what I use to clean myself, and it works great! 

Day 18/30 Less Waste Challenge: Simple DIY Toiletries

After the kitchen, the bathroom is the next room that seems to accumulate the most waste! Nearly all the products we use are plastic! From the shampoo bottles, to soap, to toothpaste, deodorant, and so on. As a woman, I admit I have tried lots of different products in order to give me "shinier" hair or toothpaste promising it will whiten my teeth, or buying a whole lot of makeup. Turns out, most of this can stuff you can do without (seriously, how many different types of shampoo does one really need?!) or you can make yourself. 

The first thing to do is start with your garbage can. Take a look. What are you tossing in there? First, could you be recycling or composting some of those items? What about the empty TP roll? Or the cardboard box the soap came in? Or the hair you cleaned out of your brush? Then assess the rest. Can you find alternatives that do not make as much waste?

The items I realized I could find alternatives for are:

Make my own deodorant. I tried a few but I lik…

Day 17/30 Less Waste Challenge: Compost!

Now that you are eating less packaged stuff, you're probably going to have more produce. Hopefully if you are buying from the local farmer's market, you are getting fresh items, and are eating them up quickly to avoid food waste. Food waste is a big problem in this country. Tyler replaces beer orders at local grocery stores, and this past weekend saw 10-20 pallets FULL of food that was going to be tossed. We are so fortunate to live in a time when food is plentiful. We do not have to go far to find some, in most cases. Now, whether all can afford it is another issue, but food itself is found throughout our grocery stores. But many consumers are interested in the "normal" looking produce and will over look oddly shaped fruits and vegetables. For example, lonely bananas are rarely taken as people prefer a bunch. Those single bananas are then tossed. We always try to get the funky shaped, lonely items because they need love too! And taste the same! But what happens when…

Day 16/30 Less Waste Challenge: Ditch Ziplocs, Saran/Cling Wrap

Where would you guess in the most wasteful place in your house? The kitchen! We've been focusing a lot on preventing waste from coming in, by buying our groceries at the farmer's market or in the bulk bin and using our reusable bags. Now what happens once it is in your house? Here's a scenario:
You're making a salad and decide only to use half a bell pepper, half a tomato, and half an avocado. What do you put the produce in so it doesn't go bad? If you said, a Ziploc bag, then this tip is for you! Replace your Ziplocs or plastic bags for small glass containers. Over time Tyler and I have been gradually buying glass containers to replace our plastic ones. They are more expensive so we've taken our time to lessen the financial cost up front. The ones that come with multiple sizes are great because the small ones are perfect for leftover produce! Glass is 100% recyclable and is sturdier than you think! I've never broken one of my containers. I did break one gla…

Day 15/30 Less Waste Challenge: Simple DIY Foods and Beverages

There are a lot of foods and beverages that we buy for convenience. This is more obvious when we go out to eat, especially if it is fast food. The grocery store is another place where you can cut back your waste if you make good choices. By shopping in the bulk bins and your local Farmer's market, you cut down on waste, which is awesome, right? But now what do you make? Here are some items I make at home in order to reduce waste further (and save money and know exactly what I am putting in my body):

Plant based milksNut milks and other milk alternatives are really popular right now, which is so cool! One of the drawbacks to buying these in the store is the packaging. If you buy them in the dry aisle, they are in tetra packs, which are challenging to recycle. They are made from various recycled material, which is cool but then makes recycling it much more difficult, due to the varied materials. Also, these milks have preservatives in them, if they are refrigerated they contain oil, …

Day 14/30 Less Waste Challenge: Grow Your Own Food

This is one that Tyler and I have done for about 7 years now and I love it! It brings he and I such joy and pride. I admit that when Tyler first suggested we start gardening, I was nervous and a bit overwhelmed. I knew nothing, guys. Absolutely nothing. Over time I have learned so many things and I know every year I will learn something new! Gardening has become a really incredible hobby for me. It's therapeutic for me to get out there and plant, pull weeds, and harvest. It makes me so happy to pull up to my house. It's something my husband and I do together as a team. It creates a lot of food for us throughout the growing season, plus what we can and freeze. I love to share our homegrown food with others, either by having them over or bringing a bit of our garden to their house. Our canned goods make excellent gifts too!

The first 2 years I lived in my house I had the traditional yard. I took good care of it, mowed my lawn, watered it, had nice bushes, trees, and flowers. I di…

Day 13/30 Less Waste Challenge: Stop the Mail Madness!

It's crazy to me how much paper mail I used to get. I finally got with the times about a year ago and have all of my statements coming to me via email. I also do auto-debit or bill pay for all of our finances. I do have a checkbook but I only use it about once a month when I get my nails done (but I'm thinking she might enjoy cash so I will try to do that moving forward). This has helped so much! I feel so much more organized and there is less clutter! 

So what about junk mail?

Here are some facts to help explain why junk mail is such an issue, according to NYU School of Law (source) 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in US landfills annually.44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (22%) is recycled.The average American household receives 848 pieces of junk mail per household, equal to 1.5 trees every year—more than 100 million trees for all U.S. households combined.Junk mail destroys 100 million trees a ye…

Day 12/30 Less Waste Challenge: Shop at Your Local Farmer's Market

The Boise Farmer's Market just opened and I'm on a mission to try to shop as local as possible. Here are a few reasons:

The food is going to be local and seasonal, which means the food I am eating isn't going to be coming from across the country, which reduces emissionsIt is more likely to be organic or pesticide-free, which is important to meIt's likely to have less packaging than at the grocery storeI went this past weekend and there was such great produce. It is only April so I can't wait until there are even more options. We got almost everything package free, taking the twist ties off the radishes and the plastic bags off the carrots to return to the farmers so they can reuse. We ended up with 2 plastic bags- one for nettles (I asked if she could reuse and she said she had to throw them away... I wasn't impressed with this answer) and one for bread. We may need to get fresh bread at a bakery instead since all of their bread came packaged. 
It was really rain…

Day 11/30 Less Waste Challenge: Bulk Bins!

Now that you have your bulk bin bags (say that 5 times fast!), it's time to go shopping in the bulk bins! In my last post I mentioned the items that we frequently purchase. I'm looking to expand on some of the items I purchase in bulk. For example, Winco has Olive Oil and other oils available in bulk that you can pour but they do not let you bring in your own jars. This is frustrating to me because why would I want to keep purchasing a container? So I checked out the selection of liquids in bulk at the local Co Op and asked about bringing my own jar. They were super friendly and told me to bring my jar in, get it weighed, then fill it up, they would weigh it, subtracting the weight of the jar, and boom-Done! There are so many things in bulk bins! There is candy and chocolate, cereal, snack and trail mixes, dog/cat/bird food and treats, nut butters, agave, and more! Definitely check it out!

Day 10/30 Less Waste Challenge: Cloth Produce and Bulk Bags

Here is another really easy swap. Instead of grabbing a plastic bag at the grocery store, bring your own cloth bag! The weight is negligible, it looks so much nicer, and who wants all of those bags? I got a variety off Amazon, because I have a prime membership, but I want to try making some. We also use a bag we got when we tried having worms for compost (we are hoping to try again because we failed big time!) We use these for produce as well as bulk bins. I fill them up, store the items when I get home, and then throw them in the wash. I admit I am still using the twist ties for bulk items because I am too chicken to put the numbers on my phone and read them off to the clerk. I don't know why though. I'm the consumer! I also have gotten a lot of compliments on the bags when using them or at check out. Here in Idaho (and other Western states) we have a great grocery store called Winco. They have so many bulk bins! And their prices are great! So this is generally where we find …

Day 9/30 Less Waste Challenge: Refuse Plastic Straws

Are you starting to notice how much unnecessary waste there is everywhere? We were at the grocery store today and there is so much packaging on everything! It's bananas! 

My aunt recently went to Florida and she did a beach clean up. She said that most of the trash were straws! She said they had bags just full of them! And for what? They are so unnecessary. Did you know Seattle is going Straw-Free? I love that! I find that anytime I order a beverage (or not, sometimes water shows up on my table with a straw already in there!) there is a straw or a stir stick or something I don't need with my beverage. 

I admit that I do like straws, mostly for thicker beverages like smoothies or milk shakes. So I got myself a set of metal straws! I love these bad boys. They are a great alternative and will last! They came with a brush to clean it out and it was in cardboard packaging. I did order them on Amazon and I'm not in love with all of the unnecessary packaging that is used. I encoura…

Day 8/30 Less Waste Challenge: Ditch the Paper Towels

Paper towels are totally a convenience item and are not necessary. I thought you had to use them for washing windows and mirrors (you don't- a cloth rag or newspaper works fine) and I thought they were necessary for all things in the kitchen-spills, preventing messes in the microwave, wiping the counter, as a napkin, and I'm sure so many others. But it turns out a kitchen towel works just as well! Sure it means I go through them a bit more but then I have a full load of laundry to make sure I am using my washing machine efficiently! We haven't bought any in months now and I don't miss them at all. 

Day 7/30 Less Waste Challenge: Good ol' Handkerchiefs

This is one that I was skeptical about. My grandpa always used hankies, which I thought was a grandparent thing. Let me tell ya, the Veteran or Traditionalist generation knew how to make less waste! A lot of the items we, as Generation X, Millennial, and Generation Z are familiar with came of age during the Baby Boomer generation. Side note- I find generation studies to be fascinating! I took a class in Nursing school where we talked about generations so we could understand the generalities of the people we would be caring for. One thing that stood out to me was my instructor's positive outlook on the youngest generation (at the time), Millennials, which is quite the contrast to how most people perceive this generation. She said that this generation was born way after WWII, the civil rights movement, and the feminist movement, therefore being born into a world where those disparities are not as common place (we know they still happen but these children were taught in school that t…

Day 6/30 Less Waste Challenge: Cloth Napkins

Keeping with our food theme, another great item to have on hand is a cloth napkin! Thanksgiving before last my mother in law and I sewed these napkins together to use for dinner. They made dinner feel so much fancier and they are super cute! Since then I keep them in my napkin holder on my dining room table. Tyler and I use these instead of paper napkins and towels and I just throw them in the laundry with the other kitchen towels I wash weekly. I bring one with me to work too. I just throw it in my lunch bag. It's handy as well for taking my glass containers out of the microwave so I don't burn my hands. These are just so versatile! I keep one in my person too because it doubles as a handkerchief too (stay tuned for tomorrow's post!). This is a pretty simple switch since cloth napkins are not hard to find or make yourself. Even bandannas would work (and be cute!) as a napkin. Tyler does all the time since he keeps one in his pocket (something my grandpa did, which I love)…

Day 5/30 Less Waste Challenge: Reusable Utensils

On day 3 we challenged ourselves to stay away from plastic bags and on day 4 we challenged ourselves to bring our lunches in a reusable container. Now it's time to challenge ourselves to bringing our own utensils! Even before trying to reduce my waste, when I would be stuck without a utensil I would be so annoyed! Then the cheap plastic ones would inevitably break on me. I love having silverware in my lunch bag! I also have a set at work as well as a set in my purse. And utensils are plentiful at thrift shops and are so cheap! This is a super simple thing to do. I also keep a plate and a bowl at work so I am prepared for potlucks! I have a shelf at my desk that these items fit on nicely. I've gotten a lot of comments too from people and how they had never thought to bring their own but it makes so much more sense than using all the plastic options in the break room.

Day 4/30 Less Waste Challenge: Reusable lunch containers

So now that you got your groceries without using plastic bags, let's make lunches and put them in reusable containers! Bringing your own lunch is a great idea for not only monetary purposes but also for your health (you likely will eat less calories, more nutrient-dense calories, and it will be less processed) and the environment. When you go out to eat, especially if it is fast and in take out form, you are likely going to get lots of packaging. Whether it's a plastic cup holding your soda, a Styrofoam or plastic container holding your sandwich, your fries, your quesadilla, your sushi, or whatever else you got for lunch, it is likely going to go straight in the landfill when you are done.

Like with any change, it takes some planning ahead. We are surrounded by marketing that tells us to choose convenience. When you're hungry, the last thing you want is something super inconvenient. I get it. So if you can bring your own lunch to work, it's going to be convenient that …

Day 3/30 Less Waste Challenge: Bring Your Own Bag!

Maybe this should have been the topic day day 1 since plastic bags are seriously just the worst! Here are some facts about plastic bags:

1) Americans use more than 100 billion plastic bags each year, more than 300 bags per person per year. 
2) Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes, but a single plastic bag has a life expectancy of up to 1,000 years (!!!!)
3)During the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers collected 120,450 pounds of bags in the United States. In Massachusetts alone, CLEANSWEEP volunteers collected 5,712 pounds of plastic bags, one of the most common forms of litter found. 
4) In the ocean, plastics break down into small, plankton-sized particles that can outnumber plankton six to one. These pieces collect toxins like PCBs and DDT at levels up to 1,000,000 times the levels found in seawater. 
5) Marine wildlife often mistake plastic bags for food, especially sea turtles hunting jellyfish. In fact, high amounts of plastic material, especially plastic ba…

Day 2/30 Less Waste Challenge: Reusable Coffee Mug

Today's post is similar to yesterday's. Think about your consumables. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Do you frequent any where you get a to-go cup, such as coffee shops? This is a common item found in the garbage and then eventually the landfill. If you are a daily consumer, which many people are in this country, your habit is costing you 7 to-cups in the garbage a week. Then I think about the hotels I've stayed at recently and they a k-cups AND Styrofoam cups and it makes me die inside a little bit. I love the places that have mugs! For example, I went to this tea shop and they have an amazing set up with tables and couches and I thought this is the kind of place that has nice mugs! Unfortunately when I asked the answer was no. Ugh. I realize this means you have to have a travel mug (or real one) on you so this does require some planning. There have been times I am at work and there's free coffee and I am tempted to pour myself a cup. But then I think about using th…

Day 1/30 of Less Waste Challenge: Reusable Water Bottle

According to

According to the Container Recycling Institute, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014, or 315 bottles per person.57% of those units were plastic water bottles: 57.3 billion sold in 2014. This is up from 3.8 billion plastic water bottles sold in 1996, the earliest year for available data.The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container.14% of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher
I remember growing up in my teenage years having plastic water bottles ready to go in the fridge. And many of those bottles made their way into the landfill. Fortunately my mom had us save them to reuse them so it could have been worse. Plastic water bottles seem to be everywhere! I see them in people's grocery carts, they're provided at races, they are provided if you are a Hilton Honors member (why? this just ha…