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

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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

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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

Five Free Zero Waste Swaps

A lot of people see the perfect pictures on Instagram and think they can’t be zero waste or low waste. The stainless steel containers, the perfectly matching glass jars, it all seems to good to be true. So I came up with a list of zero waste swaps that don’t cost a thing.

1. Save your jars

This is the best tip because saved jars can be used for so many things. When you buy tomato sauce, peanut butter or anything in a glass jar keep it. Just wash it out, take the label off and you have a great zero waste tool. You can use them to freeze soups/veggies/fruit in, pack your lunches in, as a reusable water bottle, as a reusable coffee cup, it’s endless what you can do with it.

2. Save your veggie scraps

You might have seen my post a couple weeks ago on making your own vegetable scraps, but if you haven’t and you want to try check it out. It is a great way to reduce food waste. Instead of tossing your scraps out right away you get to use them.

3. Bring Your Own

Bring your own jar and cutlery with you to festivals, markets, whatever to avoid disposables. Just use the cutlery you already have in your home and bam you have a zero waste kit. It’s better to use what you have than buy a fancy set online.

4. Make your own

Making your own lunches for work, or your own dinners saves a lot of trash (and money). Take out at its best involves cardboard, and worst Styrofoam. You produce less waste by making your own and it’s probably better for you too.

5. Refuse

When you’re offered free samples of food or drinks in plastic cups or paper plates try and refuse it (I know it’s hard to say no to free food). When you go to an event with free things you wont use refuse them. Don’t take the free pen, pencil, magnet if you don’t need them.

Add any other suggestions below!!

Oat Milk: Easy Vegan Milk

If you follow me on Instagram you know I made some oat milk a couple weeks ago and absolutely loved it! It’s probably as easy to make as my easy nut milk. Oat milk can be made without a high speed blender. As someone who doesn’t have a couple hundred dollars to spend on a blender (I assume most of you are in the same boat) that’s important to me.

In addition to being tasty oat milk also has a low environment impact. According to anstudy on impact of milk ESU services study oat milk is the winner of environmental impact.  The chart is based on making the milks in Switzerland. In Canada we can grow oats, soy and hemp easily which means they have less travelling to do. Almonds can be grown in Niagara but most almonds (80% of the worlds) are grown in California, and need more water. Coconuts and rice have to be imported.
When you make your own milk you can lower the impact more by going plastic free and keeping the “pulp” that’s left over. I always use it in overnight oats but there’s lots you can do.

 Ingredients:

•1 cup of soaked and rinsed oats
•3-4 cups of water
You can flavour it with: one date, vanilla , cinnamon, or coco powder

Method:

•soak your oats in water for 10ish minutes

if using dates pit and soak one overnight (or use boiling water to cut the time)

add all ingredients to a blender

blend on low until smooth

strain once using a mesh filter

strain twice using a mesh filter lined with a nut milk bag, a mesh produce bag, or a cheese cloth

 

Low waste Lazy Soap

I got a ton of soap molds for Christmas and my birthday last year and haven’t used them! IMG_5593So I decided to give it a go. I wanted my first soap making experience to be so easy a child could do it so I used a soap base. I found a natural honey soap base at my local farming supplies store by chance and bought it. For only a couple dollars of soap base, some dyes and essential oils I made fifteen soaps so I was happy. The soap base was wrapped in plastic but it is still less packaging than fifteen soaps individually wrapped would have had.

I originally made uncoloured soaps but I found that boring and melted them again to add colouring. To add some texture I added some dried lavender from my garden to some, and coffee to an other. I think dried citrus zest would work great too.

All you have to do is melt the soap base. I did so using a double boiler (a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water). I have a specific metal bowl I use for all DIY things so that I don’t have to worry about it being soapy or beeswaz covered and then using it for food.

Once you melt the base pour it into your molds and add whatever you want to it. If you don’t have a mold you can use a silicon icecube tray or make a mold using a box/baking dish and line it completely with parchment paper ( I havn’t tried that yet so if it doesn’t work I’m sorry) and then cut them into squares after.

Have you tried melt and pour soap?

Shampoo Bar Review

I’ve been using the Avocado Co-wash from Lush for a couple of weeks now, and it’s not bad. Before we get to reviewing the product, I have a little problem with the shipping. Part of reducing our waste is reducing the distance products travel to get to us. I ordered from Lush online assuming that the bar (and other products) would be coming from the factory in Toronto (which I am a two-hour drive from), but it came from British Columbia! That is a huge difference in the size of the carbon footprint made. But other than that the packaging was completely zero waste, so I guess you have to pick your battles.

I’ve been trying to make my hair care zero waste, but I just can’t get on the #nopoo movement (showers are life). My hair is thin, very straight, and gets gross fast. I love the way the shampoo bar smells, and I find the scent stays all day, but I can’t use it every day. I find the bar to be very moisturising, but for me, this leads to greasy hair.

I think someone with curly hair would love this bar, but I’m currently using it as more of a moisturising treatment. I have an organic, sulphate free, phosphate free, vegan, made in Canada… shampoo that I love but it comes in plastic. I have been using the bar and shampoo alternately, and that is keeping my hair soft and clean. Maybe I’ll try another bar next time. I love the stainless steal container I bought though!

 

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my bar in the stainless steal container, and the compostable wrapper it came in

 

 

 

Zero Waste Tea: Journey and How to

My First Zero Waste Tea Shopping: David’s Tea and Bulk Barn

I love tea. I drink several (minimum five) cups a day. I have always drank loose leaf tea but it’s only recently that I have completely switched to loose leaf. The only time I don’t drink loose leaf is when I’m at my grandpas house and he makes us a pot of tea after dinner. I find that I don’t really like black teas in loose leaf. Maybe I’m just not used to anything but Tetley’s orange pekoe, but I just can’t do orange pekoe, earl grey or really any black tea in loose leaf. I will do the odd chai tea though.

My favourite tea is green tea. This I will happily drink in loose leaf or matcha form. I also like herbal teas. Lucky for me these are easy to get in zero waste form.

Even if loose leaf tea comes in a non-zero waste container it is still producing much less waste than individual tea bags. Some people say you can compost tea bags and others say no, but if you don’t have a compost (I’ll be getting one this summer) than it’s best to skip the bag anyways.  I’ve talked about this a bit before in my kitchen swaps article, but I wanted to touch on it more now.

I’ve recently bought zero waste loose leaf tea from the Bulk Barn and David’s Tea. Bulk Barn is only in Canada, but similar bulk stores exist in most places. David’s Tea is available widely in Canada and some locations in the United States. To see more about Bulk Barn check out my last post.

The tea I choose from Bulk Barn is fair trade Chinese green tea. I bought .25 pounds of tea (or so the jar says, I don’t remember what the scale said). I am sad because their tea selection has shrunk over the years. They had many green teas, some black teas, and a few herbal teas. The green was the only one I was interested in. I sadly had to choose between a fair trade tea and an organic tea. They didn’t have any green teas that were both. I like the tea I choose. It was around $10 and will last me quite a long time. I use less than one tablespoon (maybe even less than half) for each cup of tea so such a large jar will last a long time and save me money compared to tea bags and cafes.

David’s Tea is one of my favourite places to buy tea (for any Americans reading this it’s similar to  Teavana which has many more US locations than David’s tea). They have a wide variety of tea. You can buy it in packaging or you can buy it in metal tins (with labels and sometimes plastic lids), but you are always allowed to bring them in (no matter how small) and have them refilled. I used two containers from a chia tea kit I got as a birthday gift years ago for my tea today. I love that they have lots of organic teas. They also organize everything by colour (all the herbal teas are in a yellow container). So it’s very easy to find a tea you like in store.

When you look online they have a filter for  kosher, organic and fair trade so you can see all the teas that fit which ever category(ies) you choose. I haven’t ordered tea online so I don’t know if you can get zero-waste friendly packaging. I use the online to decide what kind of tea I want because it takes me forever for me to make decisions.

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I really love the filter. It lets you pick the tea that fits your taste and values.

Once I’ve decided what I want I bring my containers with me to the store. They have a membership card so you can earn free drinks. They make tea for you (with no bag) and you can bring your own mug. I ended up getting organic chamomile, and organic serenity now. I find that both (especially chamomile) are strong so I don’t use too much for a cup. I bought $5 of each tea and it should last me ages. I only drink these kinds of tea in the evening, and not every evening.

I think the quality of tea I buy has improved since going (mostly) zero waste. I take more time to decide on what tea I want, and why, than I used to. This ends up in more ethical and environmental choices.

Let me know where you get your loose leaf from, and what your favourite tea is below.