Zero Waste Plastic Wrap

 

Plastic wrap is so annoying. Not only is it non recyclable plastic, but I find half the time it doesn’t stick to anything anyways. So I’ve found a zero waste solution: beeswax cloth wraps. You can buy these online, but they’re really easy to make yourself.

The only things you need are:

  • A double boiler (a pot with a metal/glass bowl on top)
  • Cloth (cut into squares)
  • Beeswax

I used old cloths I’ve been holding on to forever. Beeswax is easy for me to get (I’m a beekeeper) but you can buy it online, craft stores, or from honey booths at farmers markets.

First you need to set up your double boiler. All you need is water in the bottom and beeswax in the top. Bring the water to a simmer with the bowl of wax on top. Wait until the wax is melted. You don’t need to check the temperature as long as all the wax is liquid you’re good to go.

double-boiler

Second you’ll want to dip your cloth into the was. Dunk the whole thing in and stir it around. When it’s all covered use tongs/your hands (careful it’s very very hot) to pull it out. Grab two corners and spread it out dripping over the pot. The faster you pull it out of the wax and get it spread out and dripping the better.

Third,  if there are lots of places where the wax is thick redo it. If there are only a few spots carefully scrape them off.

cloth-wrap-drip-dry

Lastly, just let them dry a little bit. You can hold them until they’re no longer dripping than carefully set them on your counter. They dry very fast, but you want to let them sit before you actually use them.

cloth-wrap-done2

They’ll feel really stiff, but the more you use them the more malleable they become. You can use them for sandwich wraps, to hold anything you would normally use parchment paper for (like homemade cough drops), and you can use them as bowl covers.

If you try making these let me know

Advertisements

Coffee Cups Ruin Everything

I have been trying to avoid disposable coffee cups for some time now, but I have decided this year that I am not getting a coffee without a reusable cup, no matter how desperate I am for caffeine. I try as hard as I can to produce no waste when getting a coffee. I have a reusable cup in the trunk of my car at all times, and if I go somewhere and someone else is driving I bring my cup in my purse.

Despite my best efforts I still had a zero waste fail. My friend and I were having the perfect day. We went to a health food store that actually had zero waste options, I bought direct trade organic coffee, we thrifted some records, and we were ending the day by stopping at an organic coffee shop. The café seemed perfect. I love coffee and am devoted to organic coffee (I’ll make a post on coffee later).

We got to the coffee shop an hour before it was supposed to close, I brought my own reusable cup in my purse but we decided to have our coffee “for here”. I thought I had nothing to worry about since we weren’t getting our coffee to go. But sadly I was wrong. Even though I tried my best I still failed at being zero waste.

I was very annoyed. I tried to comfort myself with the fact that the cup was at least made out of recycled material, but I still felt bad. I was hoping to make it the whole year without using a disposable coffee cup and here we are in January and I’ve already failed.

I decided not to let it get me down. I tried my best. I meant to be zero waste. I didn’t actively try and use a plastic cup but it happened. The best thing I can do now is learn to ask about cups if I’m new to a café. If every zero waster gave up after each fail there wouldn’t be any of us.

My Journey

I want to add a more personal side to these posts, so in addition to my usual reviews, routines/swaps, and DYIs I’m going to add posts within the my journey tag that are specifically blogs about my own journey towards a more sustainable and zero waste life. You’ll already know from my about page that I’ve had an interest in going zero waste or being better for the environment my whole life and I’m trying to really focus on it now.

This tag and page will focus on the ups and downs of my journey (as cliché as that sounds). I plan on talking about my personal experiences doing zero waste and sustainable things, as well as any fails along the way. I hope you guys like these new posts.

 

Bulk Barn Canada Goes Zero Waste

This is probably one of the most exciting things to happen in my zero waste journey. I have been struggling without having a bulk store to go to, and as of February 24, 2017 Bulk Barn’s across Canada will be allowing customers to bring their own containers. This is a great day for zero wasters and environmentally conscious people across the country. In Canada zero waste options are rather limited, primarily being in Vancouver (probably the “greenest” part of Canada shopping wise).

When Bulk Barn agreed to have a test store in October for zero waste, I still had my doubts. Bulk Barn has been well known in the Canadian zero waste scene for being very much against bringing your own containers. When the pilot store was announced I was hopeful but assumed it would take much longer for a zero waste Bulk Barn to arrive near me.

There are 260 Bulk Barn’s across the country so it will be far easier for Canadians to get there zero waste on. There are two stores in my town and I plan on being there bright and early Febuary 24th to show my support for this great change. This is also a great way to make zero waste more affordable; their website always has tons of coupons, and sales in store.

The best thing you can do to encourage change is vote with your dollars. The test stores did really well and because of that the company made national changes! This shows the power of voting with your dollar. If you want more zero waste, and/or ethical options you have to choose as many of them as you can. The more popular it becomes the more likely a business is to follow through.

To find a store near you go to: http://www.bulkbarn.ca/en/Stores

They also have a useful guide on their website for what kind/condition of containers you can use and a list of what stores are already zero waste friendly.

Zero-Waste Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

It feels like the holidays just ended, but we only get a short break because Valentines Day is just around the corner (one month to be exact). I like to start planning for gift giving well in advance. Valentine’s Day is easier than Christmas or a birthday, but I still like to plan. To help everyone out I’ve decided to put this list of gift ideas together. These are mostly zero-waste, but some have small amounts of waste but are organic, sustainable or “not virgin” (made out of recycled materials).

1. Bulk Bin Goodies

This is the easiest option if you have a zero-waste bulk store near you. You can buy the traditional chocolates for your friend or partner and put them in a cute jar. The best thing about this is you can decorate the jar to personalize the gift from the packaged boring heart shaped boxes everyone else is getting.

You can move further from just chocolate. Give them a set of jars one sweet and one spicy. You can even give them a jar of their favourite loose leaf tea. One good idea is buying that expensive chocolate/candy/tea/coffee that they won’t treat themselves with but have always wanted to try.

Personalize the inside and outside to fit perfectly.

2. No Bulk Store No Problem

If you don’t have a zero-waste store near you, you don’t have to say no to chocolates.  It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without them. But you do need to find good chocolate. Try and find brands that organic, and more importantly ethical or sustainable. Like Theo, Alter Eco, or Green and Black. These are all fair trade. I especially like that Alter Eco and Theo use cardboard packaging (with foil inside) rather than plastic.

 In addition you can look for local chocolate shops. They may cost more but you can often use your own packaging. The best part is you’ll be supporting a local business.

3. Love Notes/Date Ideas

You see notes and think paper, but you can use scrap paper, old copy paper, or sustainable paper (made out of bamboo or sugar cane). Grab a mason jar and fill it with either a list of things you love about them, or a list of dates you’ll take them on this year. It’s a very thoughtful gift with minimal environmental impact.

4. Bake it Yourself

Rather than buying goodies just make them yourself. It shows that you put effort in and you can make their favourite baked good. This is my plan (don’t worry my partner doesn’t read my blog). I’m going to make him a peacan pie from scratch (crust and all) so fingers crossed I don’t ruin it.

4.5 Cook it Yourself

Last year rather than going out we stayed in and cooked our own fancy dinner. We bought organic ingredients from the farmers market and it still cost less than going out.

5. Buy Plants Over Cut Flowers

 House plants are far better for the environment than cut flowers. Unlike cut flowers a houseplant lasts forever, this means that they will have a reminder of you in there home forever.m

If you do get cut flowers try and get them from a local flower shop, or farmers market. When they’re done compost them.

Bonus Thoughts

 If you’re planning on drinking a nice glass of wine try and buy it local, zero waste and/or sustainably made. Like Banrock Station. They re-invest profits into environmental projects around the world.

The most important thing is to spend time together. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be consumerist if you use it as a reminder to spend some quality time with loved ones.

Let me know any of your own editions to my list!

Zero-Waste Kitchen Swaps

The kitchen is one of the biggest producers of waste (both food and packaging). By making a few simple changes you can easily make your kitchen more environmentally friendly, and zero-waste.

Coffee Time

bodummoka-potAvoid paper filters for brewing your coffee. There are so many different ways to make coffee and most of them don’t use a paper filter. You can use a Bodum/French Press, a moka pot, an automatic coffee maker with a mesh filter, espresso machines, manual espresso makers, and so much more. They all change the flavor of the coffee (really only coffee snobs will notice most of it) and it can be fun to have different options every morning.

If you use paper filters switch to non-bleached filters. This way you can compost your filters and grinds easily. Composting your used grinds is the best way to get rid of them. You can also throw them straight into your garden (tomatoes and kale especially love coffee grinds).

In addition you can use coffee grinds for many DIY beauty products. Lip scrubs, body scrubs, soap bars, and a hair treatment are some of the many things you can do with used coffee grinds, other than compost them.

Say No to Paper Towels

paper-towelPaper towels are awful for the environment. So many of them get used every time you cook a meal or clean the kitchen. It’s just as easy to use a dish cloth and wash it. I just throw them in with my regular laundry. It’s super easy. You can buy them in any colour you like, made out of sustainable/organic materials, and you can even thrift them.

You can also use old clothing to make cleaning rags for your kitchen and save the dish clothes for your hands, dishes, and produce. It’s a very simple way to limit the amount of trees that get turned into paper products.

Find Good Packaging

If you can’t find a zero-waste option near you, just buy the product with the best packaging you can. Look for items in glass jars instead of plastic (peanut butter is an easy one for this), pick cardboard over plastic (it stands a better chance of being recycled), and items made out of sustainably sourced materials or recycled  materials.

yeastOn the left are two different ways to buy yeast, one in a glass jar with metal lid, and the other in paper packets. The packets aren’t recyclable, but the glass and metal lid are. You can also re-use the glass jar. In addition one packet has enough for one loaf of bread while one jar has enough for several.

cerealSome companies try and package as ethically as they can. There are no zero-waste breakfast options for me (I really wish I had a local zero-waste store) so I try and find the best option I can. Natures Path Organic makes cereal that I really like. They use eco-pac for their bags, and have no cardboard box. Without the cardboard box there are less trees being turned into paper, and the eco-pac is biodegradable. It also just tastes good.

Use Produce Bags and Shop Locally

Bringing your own grocery and produce bags is a super easy way to reduce your waste. The thin plastic bags your produce goes in stand little chance of being recycled so skip them as often as possible.

Shopping at smaller local stores and farmers markets can help you reduce your waste (they are usually less picky about you using your own bags/jars/whatever) and help you reduce the carbon footprint of your food. If you’re buying locally the food had to travel less. You don’t have to give up all far-away foods but try and buy seasonally and locally when you can.

Tea Time

tea-2Tea bags are not compostable. It’s best to switch to loose leaf tea. You can buy loose-leaf tea at bulk stores, David’s tea, and health food stores without packaging. If you can’t find it zero-waste than buy it in a metal or glass container. I have loose leaf tea from Twinnings and from For Teas Sake that is not zero-waste but come in metal tins that I plan on reusing after words.

I use to find loose leaf tea annoying, but it really isn’t that much harder to empty a tea ball than it is to throw out a tea bag.

tea-ballsThere are also a ton of different tea balls you can use. I have gotten so many as gifts. You can get them in nearly any shape and made out of nearly anything. Plastic isn’t best but if you buy one plastic thing to replace thousands (that’s really how much tea I drink)  of tea bags it’s not a bad option.

My favourite one is my round metal one that I found in my grandparents house. No one was using it so it became mine. It has a finer mesh on it so I can use all my teas in it. I find with some of my others tea gets out.

Use Jars to Store Food

lemonWhen you store food properly you won’t end up wasting it. I prefer to store everything in glass jars because they are recyclable and reusable. I also didn’t pay for my jars. They are all old food jars that held nut butters, sauces, coconut oil, and juice. It’s much better to use what you have than go out and buy new jars.

I store my lunches, juices, coffee, and any chopped up produce in a glass jar. It’s super handy and looks nice. I make lemon water most mornings, so I chop up a lemon throw it in a jar and I’m set for the week.

Make it Yourself

breadx2One way to reduce packaging is to make things yourself. This is really only good if you have the time. I like making home made bread but I don’t do it all the time. Baking is an easy way to reduce waste because breads, cookies, pies… almost always come in plastic bags.

If you don’t bake there are a lot of easy things you can make at home in large batches and freeze to save time (pasta sauce for example).

 

Have you tried any of these swaps? Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

Four Common Excuses for Not Going Green

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for not going green. I’ve even thought them myself, but I’m here to debunk them. These are common excuses and problems for not going organic, zero-waste and every other shade of green.

It Won’t Make a Difference

Just today I was told that there’s nothing I can do to make a real difference because the problem is too big and my actions are too small. So many people quit before they even begin. The only way you won’t make a difference is if you do literally nothing.

Every small change makes a big difference. If every person who thought they couldn’t make a difference made one zero-waste swap, or switched one grocery item to organic than billions of of changes would be happening. You may be just one person, but one person, plus another person, plus another equals change.

One person changing will inspire others to change. They’ll see you bringing your own grocery bags, or  using a reusable coffee cup and be inspired to do the same. The more people who do something the more normal it becomes, and the more people who want to do it.

There are too Many Things to Change

You’re not wrong! There are a lot of things that need to be changed to have a greener world. Just remember that you don’t have to fix everything, and especially not all at once. If your goal is to become zero-waste change one thing. That’s it! Make one zero-waste swap and once it becomes a habit make another. Change is easier when you start slow.

Slow change is better than no change

If you want to go organic, pick one thing to change. If you pick food as what you want to change, switch to organic only for the “dirty dozen”. If it’s your beauty routine change one product.

What ever your green goal start slow and small. You’ll be better at sticking to your goals this way.

It’s too Expensive

Going green is only as expensive as you want it to be. If you want to go out and buy mason jars than do it, but you could just save the jars that are already in your recycling bin. You can thrift almost anything on a zero-waste essentials list. You only have to buy what you want to to go green, because odds are you already own most of it.

Not only that but what you do buy will save you money in the long run. A safety razor may sound expensive ($30-100CAD) but it’s better to pay that once than pay for new disposable razors every couple of months. Organic produce sounds expensive but I’ve always found it cheaper at the farmers market than conventional produce at a grocery store. It’s even cheaper if you grow your own.

Sustainably made products (especially clothing) is expensive but it almost always lasts longer. Try and invest in green products when you can.

What Will I Do With All My Stuff?

This is one I struggled with. You want to go green but you already own non-organic makeup, tea in bags, toxic candles, paper towel, plastic tuperwear, whatever. Use it up, donate, or give it to a friend. I use only loose leaf tea at home, but I didn’t throw out my tea bags. I gave a lot of tea to my friend, and kept some to leave in my office. You already own it so it’s too late. Don’t waste what you already own in the name of going green. Use it up and use it as much as you can.