Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Sustainable Switches

Last week (the week before? I don't know) I asked if people would be interested in the actual products I use at home that are more sustainable/less waste. People said yes and here we are. Amazon links are affiliate links - I earn pennies if you buy through them, it costs you nothing, and it goes to keeping this site running.

Disclaimer - this is stuff I use in replacement of things that are single use (mostly plastic or paper products) - but to live more sustainably, you don't have to buy a lot. We throw out jars food come in every day and they can be used for so many other things! Think about what you want to improve in your waste making, and change a little at a time. If you feel the need to buy something, first look and see if you have anything that would work in its place. 

This also goes beyond what you own and use to what you consume and the trash you are personally responsible for creating. Yes, things can be recycled, but we should be in the mind of reducing as well. Reducing even the amount of waste you that can be recycled. Before I buy anything I think about the packaging. Convenience has spoiled us. I need to be filling and bringing my own water bottle, not buying a plastic one with a plastic lid, neither of which decompose. We need to be asking supermarkets why they are wrapping bananas in styrofoam and plastic to sell when bananas are self contained. I also think a lot like is this a need or a convenience? Mostly a convenience and lack of preparation.

Reusable bags instead of plastic bags. I do not take plastic bags anymore, period. I have my own bag or I carry whatever I got out and if I'm not self bagging I say right away, "I don't need a bag." There is no need to take a plastic bag. I keep mine in the trunk and if I forget them in the trunk I march out and get them. If I forget them at home I go to the store another day or carry everything out by hand or cart. I don't like the grocery store bags because they split along the seams quickly but will use them in a pinch. I got this foldup box bag, I forget where. I have two green ones from a Food Lion in the south too and I love them. I also love canvas bags because they're sturdy and easy to clean, I just throw them in the wash. 
Mesh produce bags instead of thin plastic store bags. I have these Flip and Tumble bags. If I forget them, I don't bag my produce or I get it at another time. I also use these as shell collectors and to hold my face cloths. They're machine washable. 
Stainless steel cups instead of getting the logo single use plastic cup. I don't do the Yeti. I use Members Mark brand and they keep things cold almost as long as the Yeti - ice lasts overnight, etc. You can get them on Amazon ranging from $19-30 for a two pack of the 30 oz cups depending on the color. I haven't seen them in Sam's in a while but then again I haven't looked. They are probably cheaper in store. I've been using the same four for years. I mainly use the 30 ounces because a large iced coffee fits in there. I take these (clean, come on now) to every coffee shop and ask them to fill it with my order. If for some reason you ever want to get rid of them, you can google stainless steel recycling and drop them off somewhere. 
Stainless steel straws instead of single use plastic straws. I use these longer ones or these shorter ones because they're rainbow and who doesn't like rainbows? I loathe paper straws. Glass straws rock too, I have one from here that I got as a gift. I am not for banning plastic straws, some people with disabilities need those. I am for those of us who don't need them refusing them and bringing our own. When the demand is less, less will be produced, and they will be used as they should - by people who need them. 

Stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic bottles. We have two big Swell bottles and I have two little ones as well as some I don't know what brand they are little ones. You can get the Swell brand on Amazon, Nordstrom, lots o'places. I cart these to the beach and they keep my drinks cold as long as I'm there. They take a licking and keep on ticking. I don't ever leave home without one, even to go to the grocery store. I'm deathly afraid of being thirsty and having no water. I must have died crawling across a desert in another life. 
Huge recyclable water gallons instead of single water bottles - If you can't drink your tap water and don't have a filter on your faucet, think about a water cooler with those big ass recyclable jugs (we have one at the shore). If that's out of your price range (they're about $150 for the cooler), what about the gallon jugs of water instead of the single plastic cases of little bottles with all the little caps, none of which break down?

Utensils in a pack instead of single use plastic utensils. I throw a pack in my bag for use on the beach. We carry everything else in our bags, why not a little pouch? I always say no thanks to single use plastic utensils. I have a bamboo set and a stainless steel set.

Reusable food storage bags instead of ziplocs - I use these full circle gallon bags or stasher silicone bags in smaller sizes when I need a good seal on something (chips, sandwiches, etc). You don't need a lot of them because you're going to wash and reuse. I have two of the gallon size and two of the quart size. I still have a box of ziplocs and I re-wash those too LOL. 

Reusable bags instead of paper gift bags - Functional like an extra little gift and beyond single use. I got a green and red set to use last Christmas. 
Boie body scrubbers and toothbrush instead of loofahs and nylon bristle brushes - I checked these out for a full six months before I bought them. Full disclosure I hate using washcloths on my body. Face fine, body no. The body scrubber is great: lathers well, exfoliating, BPA-free, antimicrobial, lasts about six months, and when you're finished it's fully recyclable. The toothbrush is also BPA-free, antimicrobial, lasts about six months, and when you're finished it's fully recyclable. The head lasts twice as long as a typical nylon bristle brush and you can buy replacements. I thought it would feel weird, but it doesn't. I switched from a bamboo recyclable toothbrush but I had to pull the bristles out and it was a mess. The toothbrush body is recycling code 5, and the scrubber and toothbrush head are recycling code 7. If your recycling system does not support that, you can send them back and they will recycle them. Both products are made in the USA.
Flannel face cloths instead of makeup wipes or cotton balls - Imagine if you had to discard your single use makeup wipe onto a pile and keep them in your house and live with them for many years. Would you still use them once and throw them out then? No need. What did women do for hundreds of years without makeup wipes? Take their damn makeup off without so much freaking waste. I buy these flannel cloths from Etsy. They sell versions on Amazon. You can make them out of things you have. I don't buy makeup wipes, cotton balls, etc. I use these or washcloths and they just get washed with the towels. 
Cloth napkins, dishcloths, + Swedish dishcloths instead of paper napkins and paper towels and counter wipes - To wipe counters and clean: washcloths. To mop up spills: towels or swedish dishcloths - they are machine washable (that's where mine are so you get the stock pic), compostable biodegradable, super absorbent. They're sort of magic in a mundane household way.. Napkins: washable cloth over paper, I buy on the cheap at Marshalls and they last an eternity. Why throw out what you can wash? 
Try to revive instead of buying new - I always try to save something before getting rid of it. I just repainted our night tables in our room. I was going to get lighter ones and then was like WTF paint the ones you have you lazy, frivolous ass. So I did. The rolling cart at the shore rusted so I cleaned it, painted it with Rustoleum, put a sealer on it, and it'll last a little longer. I think we're conditioned today to buy new new new. And some things definitely need replacing, but I always try to save something or reuse it elsewhere first. I also shop for a lot of wood furniture second hand. 

Big-ticket change wise, at the shore we have a tankless water heater, and I love that it conserves energy without me even thinking about it. We have a while before ours goes here, but I'm already doing research on brands thanks to articles like these. I want solar paneled everything too so the next home we buy will definitely be keeping that in mind. And I'm hoping electric cars are more of a thing in the near future. 

When I am out in stores, particularly where you get food, I always let them know I appreciate if they use recyclable materials or encourage you to bring your own cup or food transport container. Feedback is important. Let's let the businesses we patronize know we're interested in less waste. 

The above is about what I can think of swap-wise, I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff because the beauty is once you make a change that is less wasteful, it is so seamless that you forget that you used to throw more shit out. I've made small changes over the years and they've added up to a lot less waste. I'm always looking for ways to do more though and I love when people share how they live daily with less waste on blogs, instagram, in facebook posts, etc. It's inspiring and it gets me thinking about other ways I can cut down on waste. So if that's you, share! Please! 

Oh! And I am finally going to start composting. People who do it, I am looking for a composter that has a turner but I don't want it to be huge and I don't want to go poor buying it. Does anyone have any recommendations? 

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