Do you really need that new shirt?

Here is a video of the recycling portion of the thrift store where I work. There was about 500 bales in the warehouse at the time of the video. One bale of clothing weighs about 1000lbs on average. Some of the clothes in the bales have been sorted and others haven’t. Which means last season’s already out of style trendy top that was sent off to the thrift store could likely be in this pile.

You would think the majority of my clothing would be from the thrift store but sadly I figure only about a 1/3 of it is. I have a little bit of trouble finding things due to being an unfashionable size. And lately I’ve just slacked off on my thrifting. I do wear the heck out of my clothes however.

Anyways I leave you my completely unprofessional video to contemplate on your own. I had racked my brain on how to write this post. I thought of adding all kinds of facts about fast fashion and such, but I’m sure you’ve already read about that stuff. Here’s the clothes on their journey after they’re sold and then discarded.

If you know of or have written any articles pertaining to the topic of fast fashion and solutions for reusing clothes I’ll add links to my post if you put them in the comments.

Here’s Secondhandtales  post on why they shop secondhand.

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Discouraging discouragement

 
It has been a bad month for meeting my less waste goals. I have been a combination of busy and under the weather. This has resulted in not getting to the farmer’s market or the grocery store. And the lack of groceries has led to a lot of take out and eating out. Grabbing food on the go is almost always a trashy affair. My boyfriend grabbed a lot of it so trying to personally avoid some of the trash was unavoidable. While my boyfriend is supportive and even has been converted to skipping straws and most plastic bags, he is not open to trying to get food placed in my own container hehee. My biggest failure was quite a few trips to a Chinese food place I love. This happens mostly when I’m pmsing, it’s my Achilles heel of created waste so far in this journey. They use Styrofoam containers for their takeout entrees. They skip the Styrofoam for any shrimp or wontons and put them in a paper bag instead and I’m super grateful for that. The owner also has a large bag of bulk fortune cookies that I can actually enjoy, instead of those individually wrapped cookies. I also ordered a pizza. First time I’ve ordered one since my journey began, and I forgot about that little plastic thing in the middle. (I look at that thing every time and think, wow this would’ve made a great table for my Barbie’s hahah). I inspected it and discovered it actually has a recycle code on it. So be aware of that if you accidentally get one or forget to ask that it not be used for your order.

 

I did succeed in proving to myself that if you try hard enough you can find a way to create less plastic waste from junk food. I was pleased that my local quickie convenience store carries loose donuts. I had to find a way to avoid the dumb plastic bags they provide to put them in though. It was easy enough to ask the cashier if they had any paper bags and they produced the little ones they use for alcoholic beverages. Avoiding the plastic sheets you’re supposed to use to grab your donut was as easy as grabbing a napkin over by the hot dogs. So I have now successfully shown you that if there’s a will to eat crappy and still avoid plastic, it can be done. You will still have to log time at the gym, sorry.  

 

Yet again this series of failures reaffirmed that one of the largest waste creators is still surrounding the packaging of food. It can be tempting to fall into a mindset of feeling like, why bother, there’s still plastic and trash everywhere. However if all of us made small changes I still believe those would add up to something beneficial. Plus if more people protested the use of certain packaging and stopped purchasing those products companies would be given incentive to reach towards change. There just has to be enough of us. I also think that going forward in spite of whatever failures you feel you’ve made is crucial. 

 

Well instead of finishing this with a listing of all my failures thus far this month I’m going to close out with a list of my less waste achievements.

 

1.) Avoided at least 5 of those dumb plastic sleeves they put over sandwiches to go. I haven’t had a problem with a business refusing to do this yet.

2.) Didn’t accumulate any plastic cutlery.

3. ) Didn’t get any single use bags.

4.) 0 straws

5.) 0 disposable cups or plastic bottles

6.) 0 on the go junk food wrappers

 

I have more victories regarding waste in other areas but those are the ones related to this period of failures. Well I’m off to the grocery store, so all this waste can end!

 

 

Getting started with Zero Waste–Giveaway

Hey there! Looking to add a few items to your waste-free arsenal? Tired of crummy plastic cling wrap? And those nasty plastic toothbrushes that end up in landfills? Well you can be one of 7 lucky winners of Bamboo Toothbrushes or Bee’s Sandwich and Kitchen Wraps, two products we LOVE!

We’re a group of Zero Waste Bloggers and thrilled to host this giveaway. You can enter to win between 5/11 and 5/22 and give your own zero waste lifestyle a kickstart.

My fellow Zero Waste Bloggers are:

Ashley with Whistle Pig Hollow
Kara with Kara goes green
Stephanie with Waste-Free PhD
Andrea with Near-O-Waste
Inge with Grunish

What is there to win?

One of four BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH 4-PACKs (Value $19.99 each, Product details)

StarterPack1

Or one of 3 Bee’s Sandwich Wraps (Value $10.00 each, Product details)

Sandwich1

How to enter?

  • Click the logo below
  • Tweet about the give away
  • Follow up to 5 Zero Waste Blogs

The more blogs you follow, the higher the chance to win.

zwb_giveaway

Terms & Conditions

Open to Residents of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Winner will be selected randomly and be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Please note that the blog you won a prize from is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.

Each sponsor is represented here with the expectation that they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly.

We will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you. The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary.

My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to the blog authors only. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

Less waste hair

Ignore cat sniffing my shoes

Ignore cat sniffing my shoes

This post is partly to commemorate my soon to be cut long hair, and also to show that having healthy hair doesn’t have to mean a large box of hair products. I lived with two female roommates a long time ago and we had a small coffin like shower. The floor of which was almost half filled with shampoos and conditioners. We had male friends marvel at the amount of our products, and lack of standing room. Our bathroom was small so we kept the rest of our hair products in our bedrooms, and that took up a whole other chunk of space.

I’ve always been a bit of a hippie regarding my hair and hairstyles. I’m lazy and hate hairstyles that consist of blow drying, straightening, or curling my hair. That includes the endless sticky hair products that go along with those methods. This hatred could have something to do with my mother’s obsession with doing my hair every morning before school. My hair was curled and hair sprayed to the hilt, I often remember choking in the haze of hairspray and heat. She even curled my hair with an undiagnosed collapsed lung one time. My mother points out that I’m lucky to have had a mother who cared about my hair and I’ll go ahead and agree with her. Although I will maintain that she was still a bit too fanatical.

I’ve been bouncing between using shampoo bars and commercial shampoos for many years now. I also have about 5 or 6 applications of henna on my hair. After my dad died of cancer in July of last year, piles of my hair fell out like dried pine needles. I decided to switch back to shampoo bars as I could at least pronounce what was in those, and I needed my hair to quit shedding! Due to my bad experiences with hair products like hairspray and such I’ve had no trouble giving my one bottle of hairspray up. I have been somewhat into shampoos and conditioners most of my life. I still have a bunch in my shower that I haven’t quite figured out what to do with yet. I’ve been re-purposing some of the shampoo into hand soap haha. Have no clue about what to do with the conditioner yet.

My new less waste and natural hair regimen consists of: Shampoo bars, apple cider vinegar, and coconut or jojoba oil for frizz. I’ve been too worried about the dryness I’ve heard about to try baking soda alone for shampoo. I’ve used it to clarify my hair on an occasion but that’s it.

I get my shampoo bars from Chagrin Valley Soap. They come plastic free and in little paper bags. My favorite is the nettle, and herb garden. I only lather my roots up once and give my ends a swipe or two while soaping up with the bars. I get too much buildup with soaping the ends so I just let the lather clean the ends most times. I use about two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted with water in an old 32oz yogurt container. Pour over hair, and gently separate hair while doing this to get to hair underneath. I let mine sit on my hair for a few minutes, then rinse well. I sometimes use a bit of oil to cut down any frizzies. Be very cautious when using oils as you could end up having to wash your hair again if you go heavy. I put a tiny amount on my palm and rub together and get in between your fingers. Then run your fingers and palm very lightly through the ends of your hair. As the oil gets absorbed you can head up to your roots if you need to smooth those.

So that’s about it. No more endless bottles of shampoo and 100 different conditioners. I’m going to try making my own vinegar soon, so that should eliminate a bottle from the apple cider vinegar. It will be weird to see my shower so bare!

Please share any of your natural hair care recipes or tips with me. I’m also in the market for a good natural brush soon so I need advice on those as well.

Tips on eating out with less waste

I’ve encountered some perils and failures eating out since my lifestyle change.  While my boyfriend has (mostly) quietly accepted most of my madness, I think he would draw the line if I said no to eating out. I like eating out too, so I’m not partial to giving up on our restaurant date nights.

I never thought there would be a learning curve to eating out, but living less waste takes a bit of work. Here are my tips to help you avoid the challenges and failures I’ve encountered so far.

1.) Carry your own napkin if you’re opposed to paper waste.  Some restaurants have cloth napkins, others not. I found a set of 4 napkins for $1 at a thrift store.

2.) Get some cutlery, and chopsticks.  I went out for sushi with my sister and before I knew it, I had cracked open a pair of the single use chopsticks out of habit. At least they aren’t plastic and now I have a pair in my purse! If you’re broke you can almost always find silverware at a thrift store.  They’re also often sold at discount stores in singles. If you have some extra cash you can find portable sets on Amazon.

 3.) Ask for the dressing either on your salad when served, or specifically state you’d like the dressing in a small dish. Or this will happen to you

Hello Dixie! Plastic cup that is.

Hello Dixie! Plastic cup that is.

This particular restaurant and the one across the street side swiped me with these stupid single use cups. I don’t know if the owner’s talked together and decided these cups would be a great idea and save on dishes or what. By the end of this meal our cup tally due to my boyfriends extra sides of butter and such was four non recyclable single use Dixie cups.

4.) Skip the sandwich toothpicks. Even if your sandwich can’t hold itself together you’ll probably still manage to eat it. This picture is from the same restaurant with the Dixie cups. I thought I was clever and had diverted disaster by making sure the blue cheese for my sweet potato fries came in a bowl.

Floofy plastic tipped toothpicks are your enemy

Floofy plastic tipped toothpicks are your enemy

5.) Load up your leftovers fast! Bring your own container for any leftovers.  But more importantly get them off your plate before an especially attentive waitperson can set the customary Styrofoam container with accompanying plastic bag down. I’m not positive but I think once the container touches the table even if unused they have to throw it away. Or it gets left and the bus person dumps it.

6.) Request no straw. I’ve done this and have still ended up with a wrapped straw on my table. If you get one hand it back as I suspect if left on the table it gets thrown away when the bus person cleans up.

Please clue me in if you have any other tips I’m forgetting or haven’t encountered yet. I hate being surprised!

10 questions you always wanted to ask Zero Waste Bloggers

I was tagged to answer these questions by by Inge of http://gruenish.com/
The rules for the game put forth by Inge are: Answer 10 questions about your Zero Waste experiences and then tag 3 other Zero Waste Bloggers who will then answer and tag 3 ZWBloggers as well.

Ok I’m tagging:

Mailyne – https://adreamlivedgreener.wordpress.com
Katja – https://wenigerabfall.wordpress.com
Ashley – http://www.whistlepighollow.com

How / Why did you first start switching to a Zero Waste lifestyle?

My dad passed away from cancer in July 2014. As did his brother, and his father, and his Uncle. I started becoming much more health conscious. I don’t even remember what I ran across on the Internet first, plastic-free living or zero waste. They seem to be siblings or close cousins at the furthest. A culmination of health concerns and a love of nature spawned my revolution.

Since when are you pursuing a zero waste lifestyle?

I started out with more of a using less plastic mindset and it’s wandered into a less waste overall goal. I started eliminating certain things in December 2014. I still have a LONG way to go on getting waste under control. Seems the minute I think I have something cleaned up, 20 more things pop up!

What are some of your favorite ways to avoid trash?

I gave up the water bottles, uggghh what a mess they were! Gave up plastic bags (including produce bags), another mess. I think another huge one for me was restaurant to-go containers. My boyfriend and I eat out quite a bit and all those stupid Styrofoam and plastic containers really stacked up. I take my own containers now. I’ve learned you have to be fast though or else the wait staff will plop a container on your table before you can protest, and once it touches the table I think they usually just throw it away. I also used those stupid plastic flossers, I hate imagining how many of those I’m responsible for in landfills.
I’m really into strategic challenges. I love casting an eye into the future and calculating how certain actions will propel other events and actions. I get a kick out of something as small as my boyfriend skipping plastic bags and not because I’ve pressured or guilted him. Think of the change if we all took on small challenges!

Why do you have so much time to make all that stuff from scratch?

I skip a few Netflix episodes of something. Spend an hour less surfing or playing a stupid game on my phone. You wouldn’t think it but some of the things you don’t spend time doing anymore, aimless shopping, extra cleaning of your 500 unneeded items, taking out trash or separating it to recycle, leads to a balance in time. And certain things really don’t take super long to make. If you make a batch of something there’s generally enough left over to freeze for future meals, especially if you’re single. Making deodorant takes less time than it takes to walk 20 aisles in a store to find it, not to mention maneuvering around the shopping cart traffic lol.

How much garbage do you / does your family produce per week?

It varies. I’m still throwing out about a ¾ of a small can a week. Most of it is food scraps that I can’t throw in my green bin or reuse somehow. Unfortunately I’m not able to compost. I’m still eliminating things. I also have medical condition(s) that generates some trash.

Must be expensive to cook from scratch. Are you rich?

Ahahhahahaha, I live very close to the poverty line speaking honestly. The farmer’s market isn’t too much more pricey than the grocery store produce. Those small bags of premixed salad greens are more expensive than what I spend on getting a head of romaine, arugula, kale, and celery. And that usually costs me about $4, and it gives me a ton of salads. I can get a pound of walnuts for $2, I can rarely afford them in grocery stores. Being mindful of what I’m wasting has led to savings on my grocery budget. I wasted a ton of food before. I’m not able to afford most organic foods.

What were the hardest things to give up?

Uhhh I’m still working on some things I’m having a REALLY hard time letting go, but that’s another blog post.
I miss convenience foods as I’ve never been a big cooker. I also miss underarm deodorant. And tampons!! (Read previous post for details). I can’t really think of anything else that’s been a huge tragedy to lose.

What are your compromise items (not zero waste but you still buy them)?

Milk, cheese, bread, and one package of about 8 chicken breasts that lasts me a month. Gum (a whole other blog post lol). Sometimes I buy bulk items that may have plastic on them to cut out 10 other plastic items in the future. As one blogger put it, using plastic to cut plastic.

What are your favorite Zero Waste Blogs?

Oh gosh there’s really too many good blogs out there! Each person has some unique advice or experiences I find either helpful or amusing.
When I kicked off my quest I spent a lot of time on Beth Terry’s blog, http://myplasticfreelife.com/
The http://zerowastechef.com/ has a ton of advice on combating food waste that’s helped me.

What’s one random fun fact about you?

I lived in a bit of a bad area in 1994. I had a beat up 1980 Toyota Corolla that people kept trying to steal for some unknown reason. My neighbor caught thieves in the car after they had pulled my whole ignition out which led to me having to start my car with a flathead screwdriver. I also pulled the coil wire off the distributor cap to act as a crude car alarm. So my purse often contained a screwdriver and coil wire. The goofy thing is that the thieves continued to try to steal my car; I’d find it pushed into the alleyway every now and then. Guess they were trying to pop the clutch?

I don’t love my menstrual cup



I feel like a betrayer of all womanhood.  A letdown to women everywhere who are trying to free themselves from the tyranny of the man’s tampons and pads.

I have a Lunette cup size 2. The website instructed me to get this size even if I hadn’t had children since I’m over 30 and apparently everything goes slack or something the day after the big 3-0? I was considering a Diva Cup and I’m so glad I didn’t get that one as it seems to be the longest one out there. I’ve discovered rather belatedly that I have a low cervix, so the Diva would’ve been a killer.

I’m on round three of using this…thing. And I’m reaaalllly not fond of it. I’ve been assured over and over that I would grow to love the cup. I’ve even read through a ton of Amazon reviews trying to get a good range of opinions.  I’ve read articles where women sound like they might possibly have pictures of their cup adoringly placed next to their bedsides. So I wonder, why don’t I feel the love?

I’m not a squeamish person.  Investigating my body doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I’m not scared I’ll lose anything up there.  Nothing like that is going on. I’ve tried a couple of different folds. All of them kind of make me feel a little ummmmm…. abused down there, even with using lubrication.  Some folds don’t work with the lube as the cup just pops out of the fold from being too slippy. Taking the thing out is even more painful. Omg. Though I found some excellent tips on insertion and removal here . I’m 90% sure that I have the cup in a correct position. And to give myself and the cup credit I’ve only had it leak once from incorrectly placing it. I think I didn’t make sure it had opened all the way. Sometimes it won’t unfold without much maneuvering.  Some women say they can’t feel the cup. I can. Some say the cup is cleaner to deal with. Well not for me. Despite my efforts to shear off long swaths of toilet paper to lay aside before removal the whole thing gets messy. I’m so jealous of the women who are like oh if you’re in a public bathroom just empty it, pat it dry and reinsert. Uhh I’d have to carry lube in my purse, and not to mention I would have to get in a squatting position that would likely alarm fellow bathroom goers.

But, the good news is, that I can wear it for 12 hours with no problem, which is very cool. So it’s not like I have to deal with all these woes very often.  But that’s about the only highlight for me. I really do wish I loved the cup though.

I started this as a draft two days ago and since then I’ve decided I’m just going to try a different cup. I really don’t want to go back to tampons that are an environmental mess and not to mention the chemicals. So trying a different cup seems like a solution to all my whining.  I’ve decided to go with a Meluna medium classic for my next go round and I’m hoping I’ll have a picture of that cup beside my bed soon lol. “Ohhh cup, how I love thee…” I really wanna join the I-love-my-cup-can’t-believe-I-ever-lived-without-it club!

If you’re a hopeful cup user or just looking for info on cups, this video is helpful. She has a TON of videos on a range of period related stuff too.

Our ZWBloggers Network

I’m Not Alone!

Lots of other zero wasters, take a peek at their awesome blogs 😀

Near-O Waste

I was recently invited to join a network of zero waste bloggers and I must say I was honored. It’s so exciting to connect with other people who are on the same mission! Check out these blogs about zero waste, homesteading, and other similar ventures:

Grunish, out of Oregon (This is the blogger who invited me to join the network. Thank you, Inge, and sorry… I couldn’t figure out how to add an umlaut over the “u” in Grunish!)

Zany Green Quest, out of California

Zero Waste Familie, out of Germany (but if you don’t speak German, good luck reading this one!)

Whistle Pig Hollow, out of Tennessee

My Zero Waste, out of the UK

A Dream Lived Greener, out of Canada

Zero Waste Girl, out of Washington DC

Mixed Media Musings, out of California

Zero Waste Blog, out of Germany

The Homesteading Hippy, out…

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The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat

When I was roaming the internet for documentaries and movies about the garbage patch I ran across Boyan Slat and his ocean clean up project. I love seeing someone passionately tackling such a gigantic problem without seeming daunted by naysayers. Here’s a short video on his work. I was amazed at how he’s taken such a huge task at hand and came up with a simple idea. Why waste time trying to trawl the ocean with nets when you can let the ocean do what it already does, move. He states there’s still a ton of work to do on the project of course. And they actually have the full report of the proposal available for download. You can follow the project at The Ocean Cleanup
Here’s the original Ted talk:   
  More recent talk:   How We Showed the Oceans Could Clean Themselves