World’s largest collection of ocean garbage is now twice the size of Texas
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Happy Wednesday Everyone!
Whether you are a cat person or a dog person, you know that our fur babies come with a certain level necessities: food, accessories, grooming tools, litter, toys, treats and more. So how can we make their routines a little more green? By shopping a little smarter and putting in a tiny bit more effort, you can make leaps and bounds in your pets sustainability.
Switch out your pets toy’s with some sustainable alternatives. Rope toys will be the easiest item to find for your pooch. Many of these are hemp, jute or organic cotton. Jute is a renewable fiber resource which has a very small environmental impact since it does not require irrigation or fertilizers to grow. As for hemp, there is growing demand for other aspects the plant in North America, meaning that there is a surplus of the stems and stocks available for textile use. Both jute and hemp are some of the oldest fibers in the world and are known for their resiliency and strength. Additionally organic cotton requires 71% less water then conventional cotton and cannot be fertilized or treated with harmful chemicals during growing or in post-harvest manufacturing. As always, look for pet toys made in or near your country to reduce their transportation-related carbon footprint.
If you are into DIY check out this great tutorial on how to make easy rope toys out of upcycled t-shirts and sweat pants! And as always, supervise your pets with their toys to avoid unnecessary accidents!
And although cats are typically less needy than dogs, they also enjoy a good play! Look for toys stuffed with organic catnip, hemp or cotton fabrics which are dyed with non-toxic chemicals. I love this hemp mouse toy by From the Field.
Sleeping is a huge part of our pets lives, in fact cats can sleep 16 to 20 hours per day. In that case it is even more important for your pet to have a good place to sleep. These universal pet beds are made from 78 recycled plastic bottles in the US. Durable and washable, they will withstand a lot of abuse and will be more resilient than other beds.
Feeling crafty? Well check out this no-sew DIY dog bed project from Miss Frugal Mommy. To green it up a little further, I would personally use thrifted fleece blankets or fleece blankets which are going unused in your home (why waste a brand new blanket on a dog or cat?) Just be sure to launder them thoroughly on hot. Additionally fleece is a great option because when it is cut, it doesn’t fray at the edges, which means no flyaway threads.
All dogs are going to go, and it is our job to clean up after them (as good citizens) but don’t hermetically seal your dogs business in a plastic bag, make sure it can compost away with these corn-based baggies from BioBag. Another note about compostable poop bags is that they aren’t all created equally. Some bags need a composting facility which brings the waste to a certain temperature to break down. Most backyard composters won’t reach that temperature. Plus due to potential health risks, pet waste should never be used on edible garden spaces, only on ornamental plants. If you are interested in backyard waste composting, check out Ensopet’s Waste Composting Kit.
Let’s not forget about our kitty friends. Most cat litters are clay based, dusty and heavy. Try an ecofriendly kind like Blue Naturally Fresh litter made from walnut husks! There is also litter made from pine chips, newspaper pellets, wood shavings, coconut husks, and corn husks. The choices are endless! Additionally, I have seen some individuals use shredded paper from their shredders, though I am unsure of it’s effectiveness in odor control.
Let’s face it, the best part of having a pet is spoiling it to pieces. However given the face that our dogs and cats are carnivores, they are subject to that same meat-related carbon footprint. Many pet treats are produced from the by-products from human-destined meats. This means there is a lot of mixing and matching of these by-products like chicken meal or beef meal aka meats unsuitable for human consumption. In actual fact, this eliminates a great deal of edible meats from going to the landfill. As long as these treats are made by quality producers, I personally don’t mind this! Our girls really enjoy freeze dried liver, tripe and raw bones (both the cat and dog!)
Have any green pet hacks of your own? Share your ideas in the comment section below! Thanks again for reading everyone, and have a great week!
Jiminy Cricket! Why bugs may soon be on the menu and to the shelves of Loblaw!
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Happy Thursday Everyone!
I’ve got a confession… I stink… I have been a avid antiperspirant user for 18+ years now and I am not even sure if my body knows how to sweat properly anymore, so the days that I forget to use it, I realize my mistake mid way through the day with a horrified whiff.
So what is the deal with antiperspirant? Is it really bad for you? You will read many articles which demonize the ingredient aluminum, the active ingredient which physically prevents perspiration. However, although there are correlations to health issues like breast cancer and neurological diseases, the science behind those studies are weak and generally unsubstantiated by the larger medical community.
So, why am I ditching the antiperspirant if it isn’t a health issue you ask? Well, for one, I kind of think the body is meant to sweat. Call me a hippy, but I think if the body didn’t need to do it, it wouldn’t sweat. So that is one aspect, and the other is the environmental impact of aluminum sulfate on the environment. We often overlook the origins of ingredients in the products we use. But the basic building blocks of our hygiene routines start in the earth. For example borax, sodium sulfate, boric acid and sodium carbonate (all used in cleaning products) are mined directly from the earth, in the case of Searles Valley Minerals, they are pumped out of an underground lake in the Mojave desert. It’s tailings pond is an enormous salt lake which is extremely dangerous to waterfowl, trapping and killing birds regularly.
But I digress, we were talking about aluminum. Aluminum isn’t like many metallic minerals, you don’t just find a vein of aluminum in the earth, it is found in the mineral bauxite. Bauxite must be processed through heat and electrolysis to render the aluminum. Almost 5% of the electricity used in the US is used simply in the manufacturing of aluminum, or 23.78(45.21tf) kWh/kg of aluminum.
I know you’re like “Woah! Don’t throw numbers like that around at me for a discussion about deodorant!”. But that’s the point I like to make to my readers and clients. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, comes from something and therefore we shouldn’t disassociate ourselves from the simple things in life and take them for granted. Everything in our lives comes with an environmental cost. So where does that leave us? Well, with deodorant which has some major plus’s and minuses including efficacy, scent, and application beyond environmental friendliness.
I highlight environmental friendliness because the active ingredient in most natural deodorants is baking soda aka sodium carbonate, the very same mineral mined from Searles Lake, so it isn’t exactly environmentally neutral though it does require much less processing than aluminum sulfate. However, what I will say is that (all but one) the natural deodorants that I list here have essential oils which have been both farmed sustainably and are organic. In addition, they tend to have ingredients which are non-irritating like benzoates and fragrance.
Nonetheless, the upside of switching to a natural deodorant brand is that many of the do not contain petrochemicals like mineral oil, don’t test on animals and are vegan, so it means you are doing a lot more for yourself and the environment than using contemporary antiperspirants.
I have tried upwards of 5 deodorant brands over the past two years and only just recently found one that works really well for me. But I will give you a run down of the pros and cons of each one, however, I have noticed it has a lot to do with your specific chemistry. What works for some individuals may not work for others, so it is still trial and error.
Let’s start with the deodorant I recommend the most: Lafe’s. This US based company started out small potatoes in the 1990’s and has grown significantly without losing sight of its goals in quality and sustainability. They pledge that all of their products are:
・Proplyene Glycol Free
・SLS/SLES/Sodium Laurel Sulfate Free
・PEG Compounds Free
・FD&C Colors/Dye Free
・Mineral Oil Free
What I really like about this product is the liquid roll on. It doesn’t leave a chalky residue or muck up your dark shirts. Most importantly, it works! The active ingredient is alum mineral (different than aluminum sulfate.) This naturally occurring (and manufactured) mineral is like a salt or crystal in a sense and absorbs moisture and neutralizes odor. It’s smell is fresh and clean and the formula doesn’t cause any irritation (something that will come up here later.)
Pro: Great initial scent, non-irritating and best longevity.
Con: Can only be purchased at Natural Foods retailers and those alike. Pricey.
Our runner up is a Canadian product called Green Beaver. I had really high hopes for this brand since it is produces my favorite mineral sunscreen. The smell (Geranium) was amazing, floral and delicate. I also liked the idea that it was a pump spray, not a rub on product and I thought it might leave less residue, which it didn’t. The Green Beaver had a longevity of 6 hours before I could start smelling myself under scrutiny but after 8 hours I could smell myself without a lift of an arm. That wasn’t good.
Reapplication worked in a pinch, but once stress sweat kicked in, it really couldn’t stand up to any scent I produced. Too bad, because it’s formula contained organic and responsibly sourced ingredients and was made on Canadian soil.
Pro: Great initial scent, non-irritating.
Con: Can only be purchased at Natural Foods retailers and those alike.
Our third runner up was Tom’s of Maine brand deodorant. Tom’s has been a household name for decades and was one of the original natural personal care brands. I used the scent “beautiful earth” although I wasn’t able to pin point what the actual scent was supposed to be. Nonetheless it didn’t offend my nasal cavity, so I went with it. This traditional swipe on type of deodorant is a bit more chalky than I would have liked. It does not contain baking soda to odor neutralizing power but states that they have “odor protection by using hops and zinc ricinoleate, sourced from castor beans and the mineral zinc, to help absorb bad smells and neutralize odor. ”
During the time of this testing period, it was summer, so the Tom’s had a little more work to do than the other brands. However, it didn’t stand-up long term, similarly to the Green Beaver. Within 4 hours I was getting unpleasant hints and I would be forced to wash and reapply halfway through the day. Not exactly ideal in a public restroom on campus or the office. Additionally, the scents mixed together to create a sort of clean laundry gym clothes melange. Not good.
Pro: You can buy it at most large grocery store chains and pharmacies.
Con: Lack luster longevity. Weird smell after a while.
Our fourth contestant was Adidas Cotton Tech Aluminum Free Women Deodorant. When I first purchased this product I was pleased to find it at Save On Foods, where it is next to impossible to find women’s deodorant. The cotton scent is also very pleasant, however, I wasn’t sure what cotton was supposed to smell like so the moniker isn’t great. I suppose the closest description would be that it smells like clean laundry, not bad, but not great and I worried about the amount of fragrance which was used.
This product had one of the worst rates of longevity. Within several hours I was stinking up a storm on public transportation and I felt terrible for everyone around me. I spent the day at school constantly worried about my odor, eventually succumbing to shame and washed my underarms three times throughout the day. Terrible. Just. Awful.
In addition, it caused a great deal of underarm irritation, which was probably worsened by my constant washing. But I wasn’t sure which came first: the itching or the washing. Nonetheless I give this product a D-, and it would be the worst on the list if it wasn’t for the next ridiculous product.
Pros: Can be bought at the grocery store.
Cons: Literally everything about it. Longevity, irritation and smell.
Lastly is a little pot of disappointment called Schmidt’s. Look past the trendy label and alluring promise of Bergamot and Lime scent and you will see what a joke this is.
Now, most of you know by now that I am fairly diplomatic when it comes to my product reviews (more or less) but this product was stupid. This little pot was $12.99. It comes with a tiny little plastic spatula (better suited to a Barbie kitchen) which I was not sure what the intention was. Was I supposed to ladle it on to my skin? Nope, it is just to transfer it to my palms according to the instructions on the back. You are meant to warm the hard, chalky paste in your hands for a minute prior to trying to smear it into your underarms.
The first attempt on scooping the paste from the jar resulted in the spatula snapping in half and leaving its embedded end in the center of the white blob.
I then subsequently had to scoop it out with my fingers which meant it all ended up under my nails. I warmed it as directed and tired to smear it on my underarms where 50% of it promptly crumbled off on to the floor, 30% of it stayed on my fingers and 20% ended up where it should be.
After washing my hands, I noticed my underarms beginning to itch. And itch. AND ITCH. It was horrible. Even after removing it with a facecloth and soap, I was left with irritated underarms for a week. After a little research I read that baking soda based deodorants can be very irritating to some individuals and can cause over-drying as well. So perhaps that was the issue with this product.
Pros: Cute Label.
Another point I want to address is the notion that one needs to “detox” their armpits to increase the efficacy of natural deodorants. The idea is that antiperspirants have been clogging up the glands in your armpits and therefore you must remove the toxins which have accumulated there with a mask. To provide you all the a great baseline, I humored this idea and went for it despite the fact I couldn’t find one lick of evidence to support it. Many of these detox recipes call for activated charcoal and bentonite clay. I fortunately have a face mask of both those ingredients by Sukin, and applied it for twice a week for two weeks like directed by various natural gurus. Did it make my natural deodorants more effective? Nope, not at all but my pits were silky smooth and blemish free haha.
What have I learned? Well for one that everyone’s chemistry is different and the bacterial on our skin varies from person to person. When speaking with a sales woman from Pomme Natural Foods about it, she insisted that what works for one person may not work at all for another.
I hope I have shed some light on the mysterious and at times aggravating world of natural deodorants. Whether you’re looking to change due to potentially harmful health issues of antiperspirants or because you want to avoid petrochemicals or looking for a vegan option, than perhaps one of these would work for you! Personally, I would start with the Lafe’s.
As promised, I decided to post climate and sustainability related news to the blog from time to time. Have a read over this little piece.
The North Pole Has Gone Above Freezing in The Dead of Winter, Stunning Scientists. According to recent measurements, the region is sitting 30º Celsius above normal temperature (2º Celsius)
Such extreme warm intrusions in the Arctic, once rare, are becoming more routine, research has shown.
Happy Thursday Everyone!
January was a crazy month wasn’t it? I feel that normally it is pretty quiet for me, but this year it has been the polar opposite. I have been working on several projects and collaborations, working with clients in person and online and some general chaos in our household.
Unfortunately we lost our sweet elderly cat Diesel last week which has impacted us all greatly. We adopted the scraggly old cat several years ago anticipating he would only live out 6 more months of his life with us, but we wanted to make those last months his best. Two and a half years later, Diesel far exceeded our expectations on how much his life would impact ours and lived to the ripe old age of 16 or 17. He was forgiving, loving and a gentle giant. We were lucky to spend that time with him and we will miss him so much.
Part of January’s busy schedule was receiving all of my YouTube episodes of our feature on Health, Wellness & Lifestyle TV. You can see my previous episode and a recap of the products I discussed here. Next I will share with you guys my second episode with Tammy-Lynn where in which I discuss 5 things you can do today to be greener tomorrow.
In this episode I discuss 5 ways to be greener tomorrow with changes today. Many of these ideas are things we have discussed at length, however they are always worth reiterating! Here are the 5 products I recommend in episode 33:
Klean Kanteen Straw Set
There have been headlines lately which report communities, restaurants and bars opting to serve drinks without straws. I personally don’t mind drinking from the side of my glass (we do it at home everyday) but for those of you with sensitive teeth, want to preserve your lipstick or just have a strong attachment to straws, you need to pick up this Klean Kanteen Straw Set
. You needn’t be worried about cleaning them, this set comes with a straw brush for easy cleaning!
Reusable Snack Bags by Evercoast Handmade
Along side of the discussion of banning plastic straws in municipalities, is the conversation of banning plastic bags. Did you know that oil capital of Canada Fort McMurrary banned plastic shopping bags back in 2010? I feel like communities like mine should be following suit, though it is very late. So take it a step further and ditch the plastic produce bags along side the plastic shopping bags. I personally use these flip & tumble bags, but you can always sew your own if you are handy like that! While you’re at it, switch from traditional zip-loc bags to food safe fabric bags like those from Evercoast Handmade (formerly It’s Sew Kara.)
Switch up your laundry routine by switching from those heavily scented detergents and fabric softeners to a healthier and more environmentally friendly options. I loved my Ecos brand detergent and just recently switched to a refillable brand. In addition these Moss Creek Wool Works balls are a great softening options as they naturally remove static and manually move laundry in the dryer to prevent wrinkles. I personally put scented oils on my felt balls to add a subtle scent which doesn’t aggravate my allergies or asthma.
If you get a chance, please “like” and share my episodes after you have watched them on YouTube as I would greatly appreciate it!
Next week I will be discussing a topic which is “the pits”, arm pits that is! Do you know what you put on your skin? How about what those products do to the environment? Next week I will be sharing my deodorant hunt with you guys and what products stink and what ones didn’t.
So yesterday I was asked a great question about the environmental impact of paper towels versus washing and reusing bar mops. Is it really better to reuse them or does tossing a paper towel equal to the amount of energy and water used to wash a reuse a bar mop? I was also asked what the difference is between a dish cloth and a bar mop? Really there isn’t, one is just for cleaning up in general (bar mop) and it’s what they are called in the restaurant industry. But feel free to call them whatever you like.
As for the first question, that’s a complicated one to answer because manufacturing of paper towels and mops vary so differently from place to place. But if you break it down into two factors, water consumption to produce paper towels and compare it to the amount of water to wash towels then we can get a bit of a insight into the issue. I am using information found of the web and from my own personal HE washing machine to do the math here, so this isn’t 100% definitive due to variation in manufacturing, roll size and what not. Just basic numbers to give a general idea with a margin of error.
So let’s start with some paper towel numbers. So it takes 20,000 gallons of water to produce 1 ton of paper towel. If a roll of paper towel is approximately 1/2 lb, then there should be about 4000 rolls of paper towel per ton. That makes each roll consumes 50 gallons of water each in production, which doesn’t include the water needed in the production of the fossil fuels to create the towel nor the fossil fuels to transport it to the store or any of the water needed for its packaging.So, that’s about 1 gallon of water per sheet of paper towel.
In comparison a bar mop in our house can be used 5-8 times before needing to be washed (as long as it wasn’t soaked or used for raw meat etc). So for easy math, let’s say 5. So one bar mop is equivalent to 5 paper towels, but can be used for 5 years before needing replacement. 5 paper towels a day, means the average home uses 3 50 sheet rolls of paper towel a month, 36 rolls per year (the Bounty website actually says Americans use 4 times this amount! I am going with my personal households estimation of use), making that 180 rolls over 5 years. And that is 9000 gallons of water in paper towel use in 5 years.
Okay, so we got that down. Let’s see how the bar mop does over 5 years
Now my HE washing machine uses 13-15 gallons of water per large load of laundry. My front loading HE washed accepts 18 lbs of clothing, or in a measurement of bar mops, 4 bar mops per pound, so 72 bar mops per load (but I only own 10, so they generally go in the laundry with other dish towels, this is just for the sake of math). With a usage of 15 generous gallons of water per load, that’s 27 oz of water per mop per wash.
So, that’s one mop per day, or 30 per month, so 600 single mop washes per year, and making that a grand total of 125 gallons of water used to wash the bar mops for the year and 625 gallons of water in 5 years.
There you have it. Paper towels 9000 gallons of water used in production (not including packaging and transportation) over 5 years on comparison to 625 gallons of water for the wash and reuse of cotton bar mops.
But wait, there is more! Some of you are going to say, what about the production of the cotton?! It’s a heavy water user! Yep it sure is! It takes on average 350 gallons of water to produce one pound of cotton from seed, to farm to fiber. That is about 88 gallons of water per quater pound mop.
So let’s wrap this up. 88 gallons of production cost plus 625 gallons of washing is 713 gallons of water for the production and maintenance of a bar mop compared to 9000 gallons of water for paper towels over a 5 year period.
Could we talk about the water use of detergent sure! The cost of chemical treatments for both sure! But we would all probably be asleep by the time I finished here. The question was about the overall use of water and the impact on the environment. In that catagory, bar mops win over and over again.
So, even with a generous margin of error, I think we can agree what the numbers tell us.
Something to mull over right?
Happy Tuesday Everyone!
Sorry about my delay on Mix it up Monday! I have been dealing with my neighbors renovating their townhome and it sounds like WW3 in here and I can’t seem to focus. Anyway… I decided on doing our MIUM on a Tuesday!
Today’s swap is a fairly easy one, but I challenge you all to step outside your routine to do this. For YEARS I was buying Ecos brand laundry detergent from Costco. It is $16.99 for a 210 oz bottle and says it does 210 loads. But honestly, for a large load of laundry it required 4 oz, not 1oz, so the label is a bit deceptive. You can also buy it from well.ca for $11.06 right now on sale. There isn’t anything wrong with it, it is great detergent free from harmful chemicals, vegan and palm oil free.
However, I recently ran out of my gigantic jug of it and decided now was the time to switch to a brand which I could buy in bulk/refillable. Introducing an amazing, local, Canadian company: Live for Tomorrow!
I purchased this little bottle at The Chuckling Duckling in Fort Langley where they have bulk soaps, salts, shampoo bars, deodorants and much much more! To use it, I have been using 4 pumps of the soap in our HE washers dispenser. That’s it! 4 pumps!
For the same number of washes and the same price as the Ecos brand from Costco, you get a refillable option which takes up less than a quarter of the space! Look at the size difference! You can also buy LFT products online through their website and at other dispensaries in Vancouver and around the lower mainland!
So if you are still using conventional brands, give a brand like Ecos or Live for Tomorrow a shot. They are just as effective in cleaning and getting stains out, but are biodegradable and are safe for our lakes and oceans. If you want to know more about the detriments of detergents to our oceans, read up on it via my hair care blog (yep, the same detergents used on your hair as your clothes… yuck.) If you aren’t sold on the bulk options yet, don’t worry. Take a smaller step which works with your routine and just try a ecofriendly brand instead such as Seventh Generation, Ecos, and Live for Tomorrow (you don’t have to buy it in bulk, just recycle your container.)
So happy laundry day folks!
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So I have recently had a lot of questions in regards to worthwhile swaps, and what I mean by that is how and which products are worth getting rid of and which are great alternatives. So I am going to introduce Mix It Up Mondays! These will be posts which are quick and easy to read and I will post fantastic alternatives to everyday disposable items with the locations in which you can buy them or links online of where to pick them up!
So for my first Mix It Up Monday I present Ressube zip-loc bag alternatives. These reusable zip baggies are great for wet foods and snacks that traditional fabric baggies can’t handle. In fact, I use them for storing things in my freezer because they have a much higher volume capacity than traditional baggies and take up less room in my freezer than my Anchor containers. Win! For $6.38 for 4 of them, you can’t lose. Plus they are dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to worry about getting them clean. So if you’re not ready to let go of plastic baggies altogether, give these ones a shot!
Merry Belated Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!
So, yes, I know there is a joke in here somewhere about procrastinating and New Years resolutions, but I have been super sick over the holidays which is why my annual Resolutions post is more than a little late… But as they say, better late than never, but not me because I still have laryngitis!
We spent our New Years away from the city at Steve’s family cabin on the Sunshine Coast. Having the flu meant that I basically bundled up in front of the fire with the dog, played Scrabble and went for a couple chilly winter morning walks. It was a great time to sit back and reflect on 2017 and all that I accomplished including graduating from my program at Simon Fraser, starting the ball rolling on Cedar Coast as a business and being a expert guest on the Health Wellness and Lifestyle show. I am really looking forward to working with new clients and on new projects in 2018, which I will announce in just a little while here.
Now I’m excited to share with you 18 easy resolutions that you can implement (some or all!) in 2018. I myself will be taking on a few of these resolutions, so check back on the blog and Instagram for progress reports!
4. Brush Wisely. Try something new with your oral hygiene routine by switching to either bamboo tooth brushes which can be composted or to a toothbrush with a reusable handle. Bamboo toothbrushes are an excellent way to have the traditional toothbrush feel, while being greener. Some brands come with plastic bristles which need to be removed before composting, while others come with bio-based bristles which biodegrade. We personally use Radius Source toothbrushes which have reusable handles made with recycled fibers and resin. The heads of the brushes can be recycled.
5. Be safe. Safety razors are fantastic option to switch to this New Year. Disposable razors or razors with disposable cartridges are wasteful as they cannot be recycled due to their mixed material natures. Safety razors use only a stainless steel double edge blade which can put directly into the recycling bin. I personally collect our blades in a clean tin can and dispose of them once or twice a year. Although they are usually marketed to men, I find that safety razors do a fantastic job of for my needs as a lady. I do recommend that you use a good quality shaving cream to get the closest shave possible. I personally I love shaving lotion bars like these from Enfleurage Organics and lotions from Lush.
6. Get organized. Now, I know I am a bit biased when it comes to organization (it is part of my business) but I believe a large part of personal environmental sustainability can be achieved from minimalism and minimalism can’t be achieved fully without organization. By choosing a small task such as cleaning out and organizing under your kitchen cabinet or laundry room, you get the chance to evaluate what you own and why. Expired cleaning and beauty products should be emptied and properly recycled while things such as unused paint and stains should be taken to your municipal recycling depot for properly disposable. Not feeling up to the task of purging your home of environmentally harmful products and getting organized? Contact me for your consultation!
7. Get local. Make an effort to shop locally. Not only do you support your local community, but you get to discover new designers and companies. Buying local can be done in many facets of your life. From produce and meats, to jewelry and clothes, shopping local can be a great adventure. We switched to locally growth meat last year by purchasing through Meridian Meats and Hopcott Farms. This year my goal is purchase my clothing from Canadian designers only by locally owned shops like Be So Real.
8. Think outside the box, big box that is. Last year’s resolution list included breaking it off with Dollar Stores. They sell cheaply made products which have a faster failure rate than a Trump immigration policy. This year I suggest you take that idea one step further by avoiding big box stores. Many of the retail giants pay their employees unfair wages (remember the in-store food banks Wal-Mart started for their employees because they didn’t earn enough to feed themselves?) In addition they also sell poorly made products which are designed to fail after a short amount of time. Start weaning yourself off the big box stores by doing a little research about alternatives in your area for household items (or what you would normally buy there.) Write a list of these alternatives for yourself and post it to your fridge. The next time you need a new duvet or blender, make an effort to shop at these alternatives first. It may not always work out, but it is the small steps that lead to great strides eventually.
9. Wiggly squiggly worm bins. I often hear from owners of condos or townhouses that they can’t compost or their buildings do not participate in a municipal composting program. There is a solution! Worm bins are self-contained units which rely on the hard work of worms to compost your green waste. The compost and worm castings can be either used in patio gardens, given to friends, used in house plants or just returned to nature. The blog Chunky on Chia by Sarah Claire has a wonderful post about how to build your own worm bin here. I am also a HUGE fan of Hungry Bins by Greentools Canada, their self-contained units come all ready to go, just add green waste so check them out if you are serious about reducing your overall food waste.
10. Aerosols. Ditch the aerosols. Using aerosol hairspray and dry shampoo is convenient yes, but is also damaging for the environment and atmosphere because their propellants are harmful. I found that Giovanni brand hairsprays are excellent options for those looking for great distribution without an aerosol. Additionally, Captain Blankenship makes a great smelling dry shampoo for those days in between washes.11. Buy bulk more often. This is a weird one and will require more explanation. Sometimes the bulk bins aren’t the most economical for things like flour, sugar and pasta. So I suggest that you buy the largest quantity of the item you need instead to cut down on packaging. Instead of buying 6 1lb bags of flour this year, buy the largest bag you can get at your grocer (I think 10lbs is the largest at my store.) It will save you packaging overall!
12. Eat your veggies. Take up a meatless Monday! Buy reducing the amount of meat that one eats, you can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. A single pound of beef requires 6813-9462 liters (1800-2500 gallons) of water to produce and the livestock industry in the US uses more than 50% of all corn grown to feed animals. That is a lot of agricultural land that could be used to produce nutritious and healthy veggies instead.
13. Gift smarter. Buy better. Next time you’re invited to a baby shower or house warming, try to buy one or two quality items. For example, instead of loading up on cheap onsies from Wal-Mart, buy some quality pieces that will be wearable once the baby grows out of them. Baby clothing swaps are a big deal (I hear) so why not make sure that the items you give don’t need to be turfed after a month of use? If you are crafty, or know someone who is, give a meaningful gift which is handmade. I love these adorable nursery wall hangings made by Aly. She upcycles fabric and uses foraged driftwood for these adorable cloud hangings which add personality to any nursery. Contact her for more information!
14. Pick something to recycle. This is a big one and it’s easy! Try to find an item in your grocery list or pantry to swap out for a recycleable. For example, if you buy eggs in the Styrofoam carton, try to buy them in the cardboard (even better buy cage free and organic, but it’s up to you) instead. Cardboard is much more easily recycled or composted compared to styrofoam, so one switch can go a long way!
15. Go Organic, beyond the plate. You have heard me talk about the environmental detriments of conventional farming techniques for food; well, those also apply to crops like cotton. So try switching from conventional cotton balls and swabs to organic ones, even at regular grocery stores, the cost difference is very little. Organic cotton uses much less water throughout its processing, doesn’t require synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and has marginal differences in yield when compared to conventional cotton. Other options include using jute or hemp dish scrubbers rather than steel wool or plastic scrubbers and making an effort to buy organic cotton, wool and sustainably made vegan leather.
16. Pick something to not buy. This was a tough one for us, but we are making the plunge into not buying chips in traditional foil-plastic packaging. I love chips. I love chips and wine together. But from now on we are purchasing tortilla chips because they come in paper packaging. This can apply to lots of items such as granola bars and crackers (make your own or buy in paper boxes) and even feminine hygiene products (switch to a Diva Cup and Lunapads!) Overall, it is a great step to reducing your packaging related waste.
17. Donate. Donating your unwanted goods and clothing not only gives a new life to your items, but it gives someone else access to an item they may really need. Along with buying quality items for your own use, when you’re done with them they can keep going with someone else and not end up in the dump. Don’t like to have to drive to a donation center? Groups like Big Brother will come to your house and pick them up for you! It doesn’t get easier than that. So next time you go to turf that old suit, don’t! Donate it.
18. Waste Less or Wasteless Wednesday. This is a fun one that Steve and I are taking on this year as well. Every Wednesday we plan to not produce any waste. This doesn’t mean we are keeping our garbage on the counter until Thursday, this means whatever we cook or do can’t produce actual garbage. Compost and recycling only! I will be chronicling it on IG for you guys, so follow me there for ideas and progress! Find it daunting? Try to produce less waste on Wednesday (hence the Waste Less Wednesday) by planning a meal in advance with bulk ingredients and produce!
Alright guys! Now feel free to share this post with your friends and family, encourage them to make some sustainability goals for themselves this year. I myself am going to make a large pot of tea and lay on the couch with the dog… if there is room for me…