Blog

Growing Greener: Plastic Free July Challenge

Grow Greener with 25 Plastic Free Swaps

For plastic free July this year I want to make sure I’m keeping up with my past changes and adding some new ones. I wanted to hold myself accountable and what better way to do that than show you all my #growinggreener plans for the month! Instead of doing something everyday I’ve come up with 25 plastic free changes for the month and I’d love it if you guys joined me. If you try out any of these swaps please let me know by commenting below and using the hashtag #growinggreener and tagging me @GrowingGreenGirl on instagram.

1. Use a Water Bottle

We’re starting off easy with the most common plastic free swap. Making sure you remember to bring a resuable bottle with you is a great way to reduce plastic. My tap water is not the greatest so we had to get a brita filter but now I can drink all the tap water I want. I always remember to bring a bottle with me but I think what I need to start doing this year is bringing more than one if I know I’ll be out long. I’ve been out with an empty bottle and no way to refill it and that sucks.

2. Replace your Ziplock Bags

I’ve recently found some great deals on reusable plastic baggies. Now I know I’m replacing disposable plastic with reusable plastic but it still makes an impact. I could use jars and containers but I just love how light weight and easy baggies are. I have some thick silicon Stasher bags and some light weight Russbe bags but I’m not picky on the brand these ones were just on sale. I recommend searching at Winners for stasher bags they don’t have them often but I’ve found two there for half price.

3. Buy Better

When shopping for things like beans, sauces, tomato paste, pesto, really any food, I try and buy the option in the best container. Most of us don’t have access to all of these things in bulk so try and buy things in glass jars instead of plastic, or cans instead of plastic. This way you can reuse the jar or recycle the can. Metal and glass can be recycled forever but plastic has a limited amount of recycles so avoid it when you can.

4. Use Resuable Bags

Another easy one! Swap out plastic bags at all stores with a resuable one. I know most people do this at the grocery store, but try and do it every where. I found when I’m shopping at other stores (like clothing stores) I get some confused looks for not wanting a bag but we need to avoid them at more than the grocery store.

5. Use Resuable Produce Bags

To go one step further from the last tip try and replace all your plastic bags. I buy food at bulk stores with resuable cotton produce bags and I have some mesh (see through) bags for buying fruit and veggies at the grocery store. I recomend leaving the bag open even if it is see through because I find most of the time they open it up to check what it is anyways, and if you leave it open it speads things up.

6. Stop Sucking

Another easy tip is to stop using plastic straws if you can. Try replacing them with stainless steal, reusable plastic or silicon straws, paper straws, bamboo ones or glass. I use stanless steal, plastic and paper straws. I try and keep one in my purse all the times but really you don’t need a straw for most drinks. My city has a straw free initive right now so most resturants won’t give you a straw unless you ask and most have paper straws which is super cool.

7. Switch to Bar Soap

Not to plug my own company but I do make zerowaste plastic free soap. But you don’t need to buy from me! I just really recomend bar soap to everyone. I love it! It’s all I use for my body, face and hand soap.

8. Buy as Big as You Can

This one is more of a reducing than eliminating plastic. I don’t have bulk access to dish soap (and I haven’t perfected my own recipe yet) so I have a resuable small soap pump and I refill it from a giant soap I bought. I found the largest dish soap I could buy and honestly it’s probably the same size that bulk stores use. You can do the same with buying giant things of rice, flour and other foods. If you buy it in a giant bag it really is the same as what the bulk stores buy it in.

9. Bring your Reusable Coffee Cup

A lot fo people do this and most stores give you a discount (Starbucks is 10 cents off) so it’s a pretty easy one to do. What I need to do to step this up is to also do it for my iced coffee. I always have a coffee cup on me but I don’t have a tumbler with a straw on me. So that’s my new goal for this July.

10. No More Sponges

This is one I never really thought of. You just don’t think about sponges being made of plastic but they are and they are disposible. I still have some but I am already replacing them with dish cloths, knit “sponges”, and scrubbing brushes made of wood.

11. Buy Loose Veggies

This one has two meanings. When shopping for produce if you forget your bags you can just buy it loose. I never bring enough bags with me so I always end up buying some of my veggies loose. Just make sure when you give them to the cashier you keep all of the same things together to make it easier for them. Also when shopping at grocery stores or farmers makets pick veggies that are package free. At the market I’ll return a bag if they already have it in one, but at the grocery store I’ll just choose the plastic free option

12. Buy Local or Make Your Own Bread

I love fresh bread and it is made even better by being plastic free. You can make your own fresh bread, or shop somewhere local. My farmers maret has an amazing booth called Hard Winter that has the best bread and bagels. They sell it in a paper bag but have no problem with me putting it in my own reusable bag instead.

13. Swap your Deodorant

You can make your own but honeslty I’m not a fan of any of the recipies I’ve tried. I’ve found a plastic free brand with the cutest little jars that I like alot. These can be expensive so I try and stock up when it’s on sale.

14. Swap your Tooth Paste

This is another one where I’ve found the DIY is not my thing, but I know losts of people love they’re home made tooth paste or powder. I like the one from Lush but I’ve also tried other brands. They all work about the same for me.

15. Reuse Your Jars

Instead of buying new jars or containers just resue the jars you already have. I save jars from peanut butter, tomato sauce, pickels, really anything. They are great for using to buy things in bulk or for storing things you’ve made at home.

16. Bring Your Own Cutlery

This is one I’ve been trying to remember to do. When I go out and I know they’ll be plastic cutlery I try and bring my own. I keep a set of wooden cutlery in one of my resuable plastic baggies but I was just using normal metal cutlery before. You don’t need a fancy kit just use the ones you already have in your kitchen.

17. DIY Cleaning Products

I love making a cleaning spray out of vineger. It is so easy to do just add equal parts water and vineger. I’ll use orange peels to make a scented vineger or just add some essential oils to it. You can also clean with baking soda.

18. Reuse the Plastic you Have

Don’t go crazy with being plastic free and toss all the plastic items you have. It kinda defeats the purpose. Keep your plastic tuperwhere until it dies, reuse plastic baggies over and over. Make sure you get the most life out of the plastic you have before you toss it.

19. Swap Your Tooth Brush and Floss

This is another swap that is pretty popular. I use a bamboo toothbrush with plastic bristles but I think you can get them with better bristles now. I compost the handle when I’m done with it. I found  a silk floss in a glass jar that you can buy refills for and now the company makes floss out of plant materials so my next refill will be a vegan one.

20. Make Your Own Milk

Making your own plant based milk is so easy and saves you from using the tetra packs that store bought comes in. This is one I do in phases. Sometimes I always make my own and sometimes I always buy it. So my goal for this month is to stay on top of making it. I have a recipe for oat milk and nut milk on the blog.

21. Buy at a Bulk Store

If you have one near you take advantage of bulk stores or the bulk sections of stores. I’m lucky to have lots of options nearby. There is a bulk chang in Canada called Bulk Barn, and then I have two local stores called JoAnne’s Place and Country Cupboard. Also lots of grocery stores have bulk sections. If you feel to nervous to bring your own jar just reuse the bags they have at these stores.

22. Use Newspaper for a Garbage Bag

This will be a new one for me. I’m going to try and replace my small bathroom garbage with a DIY newspaper grabage bag. I’ll let you know how that goes.

23. Recycle the Plastic You Do Have

Going plastic free isn’t easy so when you end up with some new plastic in your life make sure you reuse, repurpose or recycle it.

24. Shop Second Hand

Buying things second hand prevents new plastic from being used and created. Buying clothing second hand is one you might not think of as being plastic free. Alot of clothing is made out of plastic and by buying used you aren’t contributing to the demand.

25. Switch to Plastic Free Beauty Products

This is one that can take a long time. I still have so many plastic beauty products I need to use up. But replacing items one at a time is so much easier than doing it all at once. Some of the easiest (and least expensive) ways to swap are with lip balms and hand creams. I find these have less of a price difference than eyeshadow or lip stick does. You can also try making your own products which is so much fun.

 

I hope this list gave you some good ideas. Let me know any other plastic free tips you have in the comments or on instagram (@GrowingGreenGirl).

Don’t forget if you’re trying out my Growing Greener Challenge to tag me.

25 plastic free swapsgrowinggreenerchallenge

Advertisements

How to Have a Succesful Craft Show

I’m currently planning my 2019 craft show schedule and it has me looking back on what I did last year and how I can improve for the upcoming season. I thought if I’m spending this much time figuring out my new plan I might as well share it and help someone else.

My first craft show ever was very last minute. A friend’s mom was running it and needed more booths to fill up the event. It was her first time organizing a craft show so it didn’t have the biggest turnout but I still had success. Moving forward I made my booth better and bigger at each show and paid attention to what other vendors did.

At one show there was another beekeeper and another soap maker and I couldn’t help but check out their booths. I noticed I had more customers than them. I’m not saying my booth was perfect but I take pride in it. I think my customers could tell how much effort I went through to look clean and professional. The other two vendors had fairly sloppy tables and no clear signs. If you look at my first table ever below you’ll see you don’t need much to look good.

 

craftshow
My First Craft Show Ever

 

 

As you can see I didn’t have that many supplies for my first show. I ordered my sign from Vista Print on sale and paid extra for fast shipping, I bought my baskets at the dollar store, the stand the candles are on is just a box covered in white tissue paper, the dish the lip balms are in was one I found at my grandpa’s house, and the table cloth is cheap plastic. But I still made sure to keep everything organized neatly and clearly labelled. I had a tester out for the salve, I kept my four-in-one bars on one side and my soaps on another, I made the most out of what I had time to do. I also made myself a cash box and bought plastic signs to explain a bit about my shop.

Things I don’t like about this booth is the way the sign didn’t lay flat on the table and had to be taped on, and I don’t like that the table cloth is not long enough to hide my boxes under the table. It’s a very simple booth and not very eye-catching. I think the honey and the candles adding hight to each end and the symmetry worked well.

My next shows I improved and expanded the variety of soaps I brought with me. I also think it’s important to plan for the type of event. Most shows I attended were Christmas themed so you need to keep the theme in mind. The burlap covering the top of the table will be at all of my shows to keep consistency, with either a solid or Christmas themed table cloth underneath.

 

christmascraftshow
A Christmas Craft Show at Skyhaven Equestrian Center

 

In the above photo, there are still things I’d like to change. I find the table a touch crowded and am looking into adding shelves of some kind so I can have these products without the table feeling crowded. It would also add some more hight to the display which will create more visual interest. To keep the Christmas theme I used a Christmas table cloth and brought Christmas themed merchandise with me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The most important thing is to have your prices and product names clear. People are very likely to just move on rather than ask for a price. I have my gift sets displayed on the table with pre-packaged ones underneath so I was ready as soon as a customer wanted one and didn’t have to alter my display.

From my experience, the best thing you can do is be ready to help your customer and tell them about what you do. I greeted each customer and gave them a quick blurb about Growing Green Co and myself. People are at a craft show because they want to support small local business, and they want a story. I always say something along the lines of “I’m Amanda I hand make all of the products you see here in small batches. I started as a beekeeper with my mom and expanded to making all of this from that. I use all natural ingredients and the traditional soap making methods our great grandmothers would use”. Keep it short and interesting. You can expand if they seem very interested or ask questions but no one wants to be trapped by a vendor. If someone’s looking at my candles I might add that I make each one individually, or mention some of the benefits of beeswax. What you want to do is encourage people to want to support you, but there is a fine line between helping and driving people away. Give them space to breathe and look around. No one wants to feel pressured or watched.

As long as you are organized, and friendly I’m sure you’ll have customers. I recommend starting very small like I did. I did several newer smaller shows which meant I could gain exposer and experience without much financial risk. Smaller craft shows cost between $25.00-$50.00 for a booth while some I will be attending this year are $100.00 for a booth. I would have never paid that much my first year. I’m hoping my new booth set up will help me cover my costs. There are still several shows I decided not to attend this year because they cost over $100.00, but maybe next year I can try them out.

I’ll post another day with a list of tips for craft shows but I hope for now hearing about my experience was helpful for you.

Want to Detox and Declutter Your Home? Try this Eco-Friendly Trend in Your Bathroom

With most of the products in our homes, we don’t spend much time thinking about what’s in them, but that’s beginning to change. It’s never been easier to learn about what our current bathroom products are doing to the environment, ourselves and our families. One of the best ways you can avoid toxic chemicals and cut down on the number of products you have is to shop for all natural zero waste products.

If you want to avoid clutter and chemicals, switch up your shower routine. The main chemical you want to avoid in soaps, face washes and shaving gels is triclosan an

img_1217
Travel size 4-in-1 bars lather up perfectly

antibacterial ingredient originally meant for hospitals, but now it’s in most of the products in your home. According to Slow Death by Rubber Duck, triclosan builds up in human (and animal) bodies and on top of that has made its way into our waterways. Although there haven’t been enough studies on its effects on our bodies, it is helping create antibacterial resistant bacteria from overuse. Even though we may not know precisely what triclosan does to our (and our pets) bodies, we do know we don’t need to to make perfectly good soap. Try and find triclosan-free bathroom products from a local business. It’s easier to ask questions and find out what’s really in a product when you can talk to the person making them face to face. Try visiting small businesses, farmers markets or online business to find the perfect product for you.

To avoid clutter and toxins try a four-in-one bar. Growing Green has four-in-one bars in unscented, lavender and orange. These bars replace your shampoo, conditioner, soap and shaving cream in one plastic free bar. All of Growing Green’s products are triclosan, paraben, and sulphate free. By minimizing to one product, you are saving money, creating less waste, and makes your morning routine easier. The main ingredient of these bars is organic fair trade coconut oil, and they are gentle enough for your face and perfect for children* since these bars eliminate four products at once, they are the perfect first step to a more eco-friendly bathroom.

 

 

*, Of course, all soaps should be tested on a small portion of the skin (such as your wrist) before use

Shampoo Bars Not for You…

…It Might Be Your Water

I’ve never had a problem using my 4-in-1 bars for my hair. I always feel clean afterwards and love the way it works. All I need is an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week to keep my hair nice and soft. Once I moved into my bosses house to housesit, I started having problems.
My shampoo bar was not working for me anymore. I would wash my hair like usual, but my hair would still be greasy (if not greaser!). I tried using a vinegar rinse more often, and it did nothing! My hair was looking horrible, and I couldn’t figure out why. I tried washing my hair less often or more often, and nothing worked. I started using normal

img_1217
My travel size 4-in-1 bar lathers up nicely

shampoo again (Live Clean Organic) which worked. Eventually, I finished house-sitting. Once I came home, my hair went back to normal, and I could use my shampoo bars again.

My house and the house I was sitting for are both on wells. I’m not sure what the problem was, but it seems to be the water. I think the other house didn’t have a water softener, but that’s all I can think of as the problem. I’m moving soon, so fingers crossed my new water and shampoo bar get along, or I’m going to be sad. If my shampoo bar doesn’t work at my new house, I am going to mess around with my shampoo bar recipe and give myself lots of options to test out.
Have any of you had problems with shampoo bars?
Related Posts and Pages:

Zero/low waste Gift Ideas

It’s officially gift giving season! It can be hard to navigate gift giving when you’re trying to be zerowaste, low waste or just more eco friendly. Here are some gift giving ideas to try and help you out! These are all gifts I’ve given or recieved over the years. 

1. Make Something

Some of my favourite gifts are hand made. My sister knits and paints so I’ve gotten knit socks, a coffee sleeve, and an amazing painting of my cat. My best friend also paints and does all kinds of creative things. She’s made me a doll of my cat, and paintings. I love them because it makes me think of them and it shows so much thought. Baking some cookies or brownies is also a great way to make a gift.
2. Support a Hobby

I love useful gifts, but I also want them to be fun. Supporting someone’s hobby does both. I’ve gotten bee keeping supplies for my mom, I’ve recieved soap molds, gardening supplies and embroidery thread. My sister often gets art supplies. 

I think this is great because your not just giving someone stuff that’s going to take up space but something they can use, and think of you when they use it.

3. Give Experiences

There are lots of experiences you can give someone as gift. The plus side is that then you get to spend time with them. Get the two of you concert tickets, a voucher for a yoga class, or a movie theatre gift card. There’s lots you can do.

4. Support Local

When you do buy something for someone I feel like buying something local is thoughtful. I will self promote a bit here. I keep seeing plastic wrapped gift sets at Wal Mart and other big stores and to me they just seem so lazy, but if someone gave me a hand made or locally made gift set I’d love it.

It’s also easier to find plastic free choices from local shops.
5. Get Some Zerowaste Supplies

I ask for zerowaste goodies most years and now I have so many stainless steal tiffins, reusable bags, reusable bulk bags, travel mugs, and reusable straws. They help me keep up with my zerowaste goals and because it’s something I can use I think about the gift giver whenever I use it.

What are the best gifts you’ve given or recieved?

It’s Ok to Buy Things

I’ve seen so many posts this week telling people not to buy things and many are very patronizing. They are right in some ways but not all. I do think it’s important not to mindlessly buy new things just because of a sale or discount code, but sometimes you just want new things. I love thrift shopping and trying to buy second hand first but there are many things I just prefer to buy new. I think it’s important to love the things you own. I’d rather buy a new bed set (which I just did) than find a used one I don’t like. Now I’m not saying I want people to go crazy with consumerism, but I don’t think shopping is inherently bad.

What’s important is buying things to last. I’m taking advantage of Black Friday, small business Saturday, and cyber Monday deals to buy things that I both need and want. For example I bought a cast iron Dutch oven for $30 (regularly $120) and I will be using it the rest of my life. I could have waited to find one used for the same price, or been happy with the ceramic ones I have but I love cast iron and I’ll take care of it. I also stopped myself from buying lots of other things. It’s important to go into these sales with a list of things you need and try and stick to it.

I also bought a bed set from H&M. They may be a fast fashion brand but the bed set was 100% cotton, from their conscious line, and on sale. I’d rather buy a 100% cotton set I’ll love new, than a synthetic set used. When I buy new things I try and be mindful of the materials used. I would have preferred to buy a set from a sustainable organic brand but I can’t afford that. It’s important to choose the best option in your budget.

When we tell people not to shop I think we’re forgetting all the people who rely on shoppers for their jobs. I know from starting Growing Green Co that I’d be pretty sad if no one ever bought anything. So one way to have your cake and eat it to is to shop local. Supporting small business when you need to buy something is great. I buy lots of things from small business when I can and I think it’s a great way to vote with your dollar. I’ve bought several Christmas gifts from local business this year and in the past.

My main point is be mindful when you shop and don’t feel bad about buying new things. As long as you need them and take care of them I don’t see a problem.

How I Winter my Bees

Winter is the easiest time of year for beekeepers because once you get your bees tucked in for the winter there really isn’t much you can do, but this also makes it a scary time of year. Of course we still check on them but you can’t open up a hive until it’s over 10 degrees so no hive inspections. We use a plastic tube as a kind of stethoscope to listen to them and see if they sound strong instead of an inspection. But before this we get them ready for winter. 

In the fall once the honey is off we treat the bees. We use Apivar strips to treat for varroa mites, and a powdered oxy (oxytetracycline) for foul brood. Usually we do both in the fall and spring. This year will be the first time we didn’t treat with oxy before winter, so we’ll see how that goes. The treatments need to be done after the supers are removed and before you get the bees ready for winter. When we take the strips off its a sign we need to get ready for winter.

We do three things to get the bees ready. First we put insulation in the inner cover. I want to experiment with using wood shavings instead of insulation next year. We then wrap the hives in tar paper. I know some people use the bee cozys you can order from bee supply stores but I’ve never tried one. You don’t want your bees too bundled up or moisture won’t be able to get out and your hive could get moldy. 

Finally we put an entrance reducer on the hives. The reducers help prevent robbing, they prevent mice from getting in and they also keep them a bit warmer by letting less air in. We are using both wooden and metal entrance reducers and I think I like the wooden ones better but I haven’t decided. I worry the metal ones don’t provide a big enough space for the bees to clean out dead bees. You can make the wooden ones yourself or buy either kind at a bee supply store. You could also just block the hive door with whatever you have on hand. This isn’t the best option because the real reducers are secured to the hive. 


And that’s it. Now you just need to cross your fingers and hope everybody makes it through the winter.