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?

Advertisements

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. 

Gift Sets

To help your Christmas shopping I’ve created some gift sets. These sets include some of the most popular items in the shop but they are matched and wrapped just for you.

If you don’t see what you’re looking for you can always customize an existing set or order a custom set.

All gift sets are available in a gift bag or gift box.

Please remember to order early so I can deliver items to you on time. There is the possibility of products selling out before Christmas so please order soon.

Order by email growinggreenco@gmail.com or messaging me on Facebook or Instagram

Oh Honey Gift Set

oh honey gift setIncludes an oh honey soap bar, pure beeswax hive candle, and two lip balms of choice $20.00

Oh Honey Deluxe Gift Set

oh honey deluxe setIncludes: an oh honey soap bar, pure beeswax hive candle, two lip balms of choice and a healing salve $25.00

The Bath Set

bath setIncludes: one bath soak, one soap of choice, and one pure beeswax duck candle $20.00

The Deluxe Bath Set

deluxe bath setIncludes: one bath soak, one soap of choice, one pure beeswax duck candle, and a soap saver of choice $25.00

The Christmas Set

christmas setIncludes: a pure beeswax Santa candle, a lip balm of choice, a candy cane soap, and a 100% cotton soap saver for $20.00

The Deluxe Christmas Set

christmas deluxe setIncludes: a pure beeswax Santa candle, a lip balm of choice, a candy cane soap, a 100% cotton soap saver, and a pure beeswax tree candle (available in green) for $30.00

How to Stop Food Waste at Home

Food waste is a huge problem for many reasons. It wastes your money, and it’s bad for the environment. It can be a hard problem to fix at first, but once you get into some habits and try some simple DIY’s, it won’t be long before you don’t waste a thing. Don’t forget nobody is perfect so if you waste something it isn’t the end of the world (try and compost it though!).

1. Buy Less Food

Try and plan what you want to eat for the week and buying only what you’ll use. When I lived alone, I walked past two grocery stores every day, so I only bought what I needed and didn’t have to do much planning. Now that I have to drive to a store it is a bit harder, but I try to plan what fresh produce I buy. This is even harder for people with family members adding to the list, but can be done with some practice.

2. Freeze Your Food

frzen herbsAs soon as things start going bad try and use it up or freeze it right away. You can freeze most berries, fruit, and vegetables by laying it flat on a cookie sheet to freeze, then once frozen you can put it into a jar or container and it won’t stick together. I did this during blueberry season so I’d have some frozen ones to add to oatmeal during the winter. You can also freeze herbs by putting them in icecube trays with butter, oil or water. You can then throw the frozen cubes straight into a frying pan or pot, or you can thaw them out right before use. I use water or stock if I’m planning on using those herbs for soups, but butter or oil if I want to use them for stir-fry etc. I also freeze leftovers. It’s nice to have lots of stews, soups and curries in the freezer ready for a lazy night.

3. Dry Your Food

If you’re lucky enough to have a dehydrator you can do this easily. I don’t have one yet (but I plan on getting one soon) so I use a couple other methods. I hang herbs and lavender in bundles upside down, I use a low heat in my oven to dry out some things (mostly kale chips), and I use the sun. I dry out orange, lemon and lime zest by placing it in a thin layer on a plate in the window sill. It takes a while but it works.

4. Store Your Food Properly

greensYou can look up any fruit or veggie to see how to store it, and there are tons of charts available online (and one I liked below). You can always try printing out one of these charts and leaving it on the fridge. One big tip I have is to leave your greens with a damp cloth. I always wrap any kale, collard greens or napa cabbage in a big damp tea towel. It helps keep them crisp.

I store loose spinach with a dry tea towel to absorb moisture. If you have bananas or avocados getting too ripe put them in the fridge. Keep your tomatoes on the counter.

storage_chart_rev_grande

 

5. Cook It

If you see something is starting to go try and use it up. Even if you don’t have a recipe in mind you can use it in lots of ways. One way to use older veggies or veggie scraps is to make a broth/stock with it (you can find the recipe here). You can also make jam with old berries, tomato sauce with old tomatoes, pies with old fruits and berries, applesauce with old apples, banana bread with brown bananas, or so many other things. The key is to get creative. You can also freeze all of those things to eat later.

 

What other tips do you have to add?

.

Zero Waste Food Festival Tips

Last weekend I went to the Peterborough Vegfest and tried to be as zero waste as I could. Vegfest was amazing with over 70 vendors. I wasn’t perfectly zero waste. I bought vegan loaded nachos from Rescue Dog on a paper plate, and a vegan mac and cheese pizza pocket wrapped in saran wrap from The Hearty Hooligan. I also took a gift bag… I know I should work on my ability to refuse which leads me to the tips.

vegfest

1. Refuse

-Try as best you can to refuse plastic and disposables

-Try and refuse any samples that involve plastic cups, mini spoons etc. Or do what I did and share the sample with a friend if you really wanted to try it

2. Bring a Water Bottle

-Bringing a water bottle was the best idea. It was so hot we were melting and the fest had a refillable water station

3. Bring a Jar/Mug

-I brought a mason jar with me so I could buy drinks and didn’t need to worry about finishing them

-I got an iced oat milk latte and an iced lavender oat milk cappuccino from Kit Cafe and both times got 25 cents off because I brought a jar

4. Bring a Container

-I brought a stainless steel tiffin set with me and used it when I bought a donut vegfestttt

-I wanted to use it for all my food but the line up for the nachos was insane and I didn’t want to add to the chaos. Make sure you try and time using your own containers so that you don’t add any stress, and you don’t have to worry about it

5. Bring a Tote Bag

-This is the most important tip.

-I brought a canvas bag with me and used it soooo much. It made buying things easier and I could keep my water bottle in it.

I hope that helped! Add any more tips you have below.

How to use a Shampoo bar

I switched from normal liquid shampoo to my home made shampoo bars a couple months ago. I love my shampoo bars but I know there can be a bit of a learning curve.

I recommend using an apple cider vinegar rinse before you switch to a shampoo bar. That way any build up from your old shampoo goes away. Traditional shampoos can leave a residue on your hair so to truly test the bar I think a rinse helps. Just use a couple tablespoons to a quarter cup of ACV and poor it on your head straight or mixed with water, then rinse it off. I do this about once a month now just because it leaves your hair super soft.

To use a shampoo bar all you have to do is get it wet and lather it up on your hands. Once your hands are all sudsy rub your hands through your hair like a normal liquid shampoo. Then rinse it off really well. Any unrinsed shampoo will leave your hair feeling greasy. It’s that easy. The only thing not to do it rub the bar straight on your head, it won’t feel great and it won’t work well.