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

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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.

 

 

 

10+ Green New Years Resolutions

Here are some easy ways you can green up the new year. Try them all or a handfull. As long as you try something you’ll be making a difference. Every little change you make adds up to something big.

1. Say No to Plastic Grocery and Shopping Bags

plastic-pollution-infographBring your own reusable bags everywhere. I always keep a small cotton bag in my purse, and a couple bigger bags in my car. I also plan ahead to bring a bunch with me when I go grocery shopping or shopping at the farmers market. Not only does this save you money (in most countries they charge 1-25 cents per bag) it’s also more fun and customizable. You can design your own, or just buy some with designs you like. I have bags covered in cactuses, or with logos from sustainable business I support, or from places I’ve traveled. Tote bags are my favourite souvenir.

1.5  Say No to Plastic Produce Bags

 

producebags-wI just got a bunch of reusable produce bags for Christmas and I am excited to start using them. You can just use small canvas/tote/cotton bags, but I like these because they are made for produce. I prefer them to be see-through and light-weight so I have no problems at the cash register.

2. Say No to Plastic Bottles

This means more than just water-bottles. I see stats and infographics on plastic water bottles all the time. I know they are the main culprit but we need to stop using all plastic bottles. My university (like many) is a water bottle free zone. You can’t buy them anywhere, but you can buy pop, juice, and sports drinks in plastic bottles. Bring a reusable plastic bottle with you everywhere. I have a lot of them. It’s best to get them in glass or metal, but BPA free plastic is also good. Use an old jar if you have to.

I have a plastic bottle that rolls up and takes up no space that I use for travelling, a small metal one I bring in my purse, and many more. I change them depending on where I’m going (will it fit in the cup holder of my car?) and how long I’ll be gone (all day = a bigger bottle). I even have one with a place to put fruit/herbs/cucumber for infusing the water. Just get whatever kind you like and use it instead.

3. Say No to Any Disposable Cup

That means coffee cups, frappachinno cups, pop cups, you name it get rid of it. I always have a reusable coffee cup in my car, as well as a cute mason jar cup with a straw for iced/cold drinks.

4. Bye Bye Straws

We use thousands and thousands of straws, and they’re almost all made out of plastic. It’s such a silly thing to use such a horrible material for. Why on earth should we be digging up dinosaurs and turning them into a plastic straw? They would be upset. Either ask for no straw when you go out, or be super cool and bring your own reusable one. I hate asking for no straw. Sometimes they don’t care, but sometimes you get weird looks. It’s the price we pay for the planet.

When I make my own drinks I use reusable BPA plastic free straws, and I have stainless steel ones coming in the mail. They are easy to clean. I just rinse them out as soon as I’m done (especially with smoothies) and throw them in the dishwasher. Once my new straws and cleaning brush come in the mail it will be even better.

5. Go to the Farmers Market

Find whatever one is closet to you (I’m positive there is one, they’ve been poping up like crazy) and go to it. Even if you have to wake up early on a Saturday or day off. I work at the farmers market so I can tell you not all booths are organic, sustainable or healthy (I sell deep fried Russian food in paper bags or styrofoam, clearly I’m not in charge of the packaging), but there are lots that are. Even if they aren’t the best environmentally no one will stop you from using your own containers or bags (I use a reusable container nearly every Saturday and reusable bags constantly, since my customers are the best).

You’ll find seasonal produce, fresh produce and you can actually see the person who grows your food. You can ask them questions. It’s great. They might even have recipe ideas for you. You can find produce, cooked food, baked goods, meat, cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs, candles, soaps, knitted stuff from sweet old ladies, honey, seamstresses, and it goes on.

Not to mention “go to a farmers market” is on every article listing cool date ideas.

6. Change One Part of Your Routine

This could mean changing your bed time routine so you use an organic toothpaste, getting sulfate free shampoo, using locally made soap, or using zero-waste lipstick. What ever it is, pick one small thing you do everyday and change it for the greener.

7. Buy Something Sustainable and Ethical this Year

One way to convince yourself to become a greener person is with a reward. I know the minimalist zero-wasters wont be a big fan of this one, but it will work. We like new things, and we like getting ourselves treats. Pick one thing like organic fair trade coffee instead of cheap chemical crap, or sustainable and ethically made shoes. If you turn going green into a gift to yourself you might stick to your resolutions this year.

8. Shop Mindfully

I know I just told you to buy something, but you really should be buying less. It’s hard. Try and buy only things you need or really really want. When you do buy something buy the version that is the best for the planet and the people making it. Also buy something that will last.

Follow this handy chart I found:

f4a2a93a12163fe00c38d8973ad65a01

9. Eat Less Meat and No Factory Farmed Meat

Eating meat is a tricky subject, but we all know the less of it we eat the healthier we are. If you want to become a vegan or vegetarian, if not just eat less meat. If you do eat meat, make it ethical. Spend more on good quality meat. If it doesn’t cost a lot than you know its from a factory farm that does not treat its animals well. An animal died so you could eat it, so we should at least take care of them well before that. The farmers market or a local butcher can be a good place to start.

This also goes for eggs. You can tell just by looking at an egg yolk if the chicken was treated well. The deeper and orangier the colour the better treatment the chicken had. A happy free-range chicken actually produces an egg with more nutrients! That’s just crazy. So make sure your eggs come from happy chickens, and your meat comes from happy animals.

10. Replace One Item with a Sustainable Version

This means things like switching from a disposable razor to a safety razor, switching from normal printer paper to sustainably sourced paper (certified wood, bamboo or sugar cane). There are a lot of options here so find a need in your life and swap it.

11. Bonus One: Plant Something

Growing something means more CO2 being turned into lovely breathable air, and it’s just fun. Make it a veggtable garden so you really know where your food comes from, a flower bed to make things prettier, an herb garden to spice up your meals, or a houseplant to make some clean inside air. Whatever it is, growing a plant can make you feel closer to nature, which is good for encouraging you to go greener. They’re also just pretty.

Let me know if you’ve tried any or all of these resolutions.

Five Night Time Routine Swaps

The best way to go green is to incorporate it into your everyday routines. One of the first things I changed was my night time routine. It was easy. I’m going to show you a few simple swaps that have made my night time routine better for the planet and better for me.

I wanted to try and switch to organic ingredients and zero-waste alternatives (the more local the better). The hardest part about this was researching what I could change. I decided that washing my face, brushing my teeth and flossing could all be made better.

Before I get into the swaps, the easiest thing to do when making your night time routine greener is obvious: turn off the tap when brushing.

Now into the swaps:

The Teeth

1. Toothbrush

toothbrush-with-packagingOne thing you can do is switch from plastic to bamboo. You can find bamboo toothbrushes at zero-waste stores, health food stores, and online. Mine is from brush naked. I really like it. At first I found it too soft, but I think my gums actually like it better. This company is great if you’re Canadian because it’s one of the few places that ship to Canada for free.

There are lots of different brands you can choose from. There are even ones with traditional nylon bristles, but with a biodegradable body or with replaceable heads, if you don’t like the feeling of bamboo bristles. There are also recyclable plastic toothbrushes. Choose one that’s right for you.

2. Toothpaste/powder/tablets

night-routine-copyI’ve been on a mission to find zero-waste toothpaste. I wanted something that still did the job, tasted good and came in as close to zero-waste packaging as possible. This was hard. I found natural toothpastes at my local health food store but nothing zero-waste. I made zero-waste the priority in this and eventually found Lush. I’ve bought bath bombs and bubble bars from them before but never looked at anything else. They have zero-waste toothy tabs or tooth powders. I read a lot of reviews and a few youtube videos and decided to give it a try. I went with the powder and I’m happy I did (see my full review here).

If you just want something natural than get whatever you want, but I like the zero-waste aspect. There are lots of brands that sell organic and/or natural toothpastes like Radius or Green Beaver. Depending on how I feel at the end of my toothpowder container I might try some of these.

3. Floss

radiusI bought Radius natural silk floss from my local health food store Jo Anne’s Place, but it can be found online. There are other brands but this is what I have. The floss I bought was a little misleading. The box it comes in says 100% biodegradable, but the biodegradable floss is inside a plastic container. This is still better than traditional floss, but I felt mislead. I now know that you can buy them in sachets and therefore can avoid the plastic.

The Face

4. With Make-up

I used to use disposable make-up removing wipes, rather than washing my face. I mostly did it out of laziness. Now, rather than using makeup removing wipes I’ve bought a make-up remover (before I realized I wanted to go plastic-free) with fair trade ingredients. If I can’t have plastic free at least it’s partially fair trade. I also cut up an old plaid shirt to use as my new make-up wipes. I pour the make-up remover on them. I just throw them in my laundry basket after I wipe my face off. Another alternative is coconut oil. When I finish my bottle that’s what I plan to use next.

I still own disposable wipes so I cut them up into smaller wipes (so I use a quarter or half instead of a whole sheet) in order to make them last longer. Now I only use them when I’m not at home. I think this is better than throwing them out. Throwing away an unused product in the name of zero-waste is crazy.

5. Without Make-up

kalamazoo2-2I use a zero-waste face wash from Lush called Kalamazoo (to see my review of it click here). I love the packaging and the product. I use this on its own if I haven’t worn any makeup, or use it after using my makeup remover. When I’m done washing my face I use a face-cloth to dry off. I know some people use paper towel for “cleanliness”, but if you wash your cloth often than you don’t need to worry about that.

I used to hate washing  my face at night but now I treat it more like a pampering/self-care part of my day. Now that I put thought into my routine I enjoy it more. After getting new products I put research into I was actually excited to get ready for bed (just the first couple times).

I hope you found these swaps helpful. You don’t need to do them all but making one change in your routine can make a difference over time.

 

 

 

 

Lush Face Wash Review

Kalamazoo Beard and Facial Wash

I decided to switch, as much as I can, to zero-waste and/or environmentally friendly bath and beauty products. I wanted a face wash that smelled good, was zero-waste, made locally, and was moisturizing. I found this Kalamazoo beard and facial wash from Lush. I know I don’t have a beard, but the featured ingredient is pineapple. I love pineapple. I read some reviews from the bearded and non-bearded alike, and decided to order it.

I’ve organized my reviews in categories with a score out of five, lets see how Kalamazoo does. (Local and Packaging are similar or the same as some of my other reviews for Lush products)

Local 3/5

Lush is made in Toronto (amoung other locations) so its factory is as close to local as I could get. Toronto is only a couple of hours drive from me, and the closest store to me is an hour away. I hate driving so I didn’t go in person. It was ordered online.

Packaging 4/5

kalamazooI asked for the face wash for Christmas so I can’t show you the packaging it came in. I have ordered from them before and can tell you the packaging is pretty close to zero-waste. It all comes in a cardboard box (recyclable), and has biodegradable packing peanuts. Any bars, bombs, or other loose objects are in biodegradable wraps, and containers are just in the box with everything else.

I love the containers! I had not noticed until writing this post that the containers are “not virgin” meaning they are made from recycled materials. Lush also has a program where you can bring back five containers for them to reuse and you get a free face-mask. If I bought this in person the packaging would get a 5/5.

Ingredients 4/5

You can see the full ingredients list online. They only use safe synthetics and natural ingredients. I like that I can pronounce most of the ingredients like almond oil, apricot kernel oil, and fresh pineapple. What I wish was different was if the ingredients were organic. The only organic ingredient listed is jojoba oil. I do like that they have detailed descriptions of the ingredients and why they use them. They also support ethical buying, meaning they try and buy ingredients that are best for the environment and people.

Price 5/5

kalamazoo-reviewI think the price is pretty good. When you consider how much you use each time you wash your face (pictured to the left). I assume if you have a beard you’ll use more than I do. I got the smallest size of  100g for $10.95 CAD and the large is 240g for $24.95 CAD. It sounds a bit pricy but I don’t mind paying for natural ingredients, and made in Canada wages.

I only use a small amount and lather it up all over my wet face. It only takes a bit to work.

Does it work? 4.5/5

My face feels clean every time I use it. I find it very moisturizing. If my skin is dry I let it sit on my face a minute before I rinse it off, and than it moisturizes even more. I like the way it feels and smells. Sadly it does not smell like pineapple, but it still smells good.

If you’ve tried this or other face-washes let me know your thoughts in the comments.

If I am ever fancy enough to get paid for a review I will tell you.

 

Lush Tooth Powder Review

Atomic Tooth Powder

It seems Lush is my go to for zero-waste bath and beauty. I’ve been on a mission to find zero-waste toothpaste. I wanted something that still did the job, tasted good and came in as close to zero-waste packaging as possible. This was hard. I found natural toothpastes at my local health food store but nothing zero-waste. I did my research and eventually went with the atomic tooth powder. Lush has many different options but I picked this for the flavour.

I’ve organized my reviews in categories with a score out of five, lets see how Atomic does. (Local and Packaging are similar or the same as some of my other reviews for Lush products)

Local 3/5

Lush is made in Toronto (amoung other locations) so its factory is as close to local as I could get. Toronto is only a couple of hours drive from me, and the closest store to me is an hour away. I hate driving so I didn’t go in person. It was ordered online.

Packaging 4/5

I asked for the tooth powder for Christmas so I can’t show you the packaging it came in. I have ordered from them before and can tell you the packaging is pretty close to zero-waste. It all comes in a cardboard box (recyclable), and has biodegradable packing peanuts.

I love the containers! The containers are “not virgin” meaning they are made from recycled materials. Lush also has a program where you can bring back five containers for them to reuse and you get a free face-mask. If I bought this in person the packaging would get a 5/5.

Ingredients 4.5/5

atomicThe full list of ingredients can be found on Lush’s website. As far as my research has told me the ingredients aren’t too important when it comes to toothpaste/powder/tabs. What I mean is, that it’s the actual brushing action that cleans your teeth and the toothpaste/powder/tabs are just helping. With these ingredients I am very happy. It does have the same basic ingredients as home-made toothpaste, but much more. They have detailed descriptions of the ingredients and why they use them (you just click on each ingredient on the list and are sent to a new page).

Out of the 18 ingredients six are organic and fair-trade. I think this is great, and beats every conventional toothpaste. Lush also support ethical buying, meaning they try and buy ingredients that are best for the environment and people.

Price 4.5/5

atomic-reviewI think the price is very fair considering the amount of organic and fair trade ingredients, in addition to the product being made by hand in Canada. The price is 35g for $9.95 CAD. This sounds crazy expensive for a toothpaste replacement, but trust me it’s good. Pictured to the left is how much I use each time I brush my teeth.

You wet your brush and tap it into the powder. It looks like you barely use any but trust me it’s enough. That’s what makes it much more cost effective than the toothy tabs they sell.

Does it work? 3.5/5

atomic-review2I feel like it’s working? My teeth feel clean after words. I think I need to use it a lot more and see a dentist before we really make a choice on this. It gets nice and foamy when you use it and the taste is easy to get used to. I think I might try a minty flavour next time. At first the flavour is gross but the gross lasts for a second and changes to cardamom. I do like the flavour but it is weird changing from mint.

Overall I think this is a good product. I havn’t yet decided if I’ll stick with it forever.

 

If I am ever fancy enough to get paid for a review I will tell you.