Tag Archives: Plastic free

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.

Plastic free nail polish?

So I was lounging around the other night and could feel spring in the air. I started thinking about things that come with the weather change; sundresses, shorts, cute tank tops, sandals….Sandals, ohhhhh time to paint my toenails! Wait…..there’s a plastic cap on nail polish……And I think there’s even plastic in some types of nail polish, and in the glitter versions. I tried reading this article to get a picture of what exactly is in some polishes but find myself a bit overwhelmed by all the chemical names. I’m not a huge nail polish fan like I used to be, but I’ve always been pretty devout about having my toenails painted. I do my own (I’m weird about my feet being touched) and my pedicures last me about 2-3 weeks with a pinch of in between maintenance.

I have used henna on my toenails before. Not for any cause, but just because I’m a henna head, I was bored and had henna left over. I slapped it on my toes numerous times, one time I even slept with henna applied to toenails, covered with cotton balls and taped to each individual toe (did I mention I was bored?). The color came out underwhelmingly bad no matter what I seemed to do. My mother and boyfriend kept casting my toenails the equivalent of the evil eye. I didn’t keep them up however, some henna heads freshen their hennaed nails often with new henna saying it keeps the stain going. Seems most people end up with a brownish hue at the darkest, orangey or nicotine yellow at the lightest.

But anyways, yeah, nail polish. I have quite a bit left. I don’t know if I’m going to get rid of what I have or not. I do have a few reds that could float me thru for awhile. I decided to scour the Google planet and see what I could find in the way of plastic free nail polish. I didn’t find plastic free (sorry if you got excited), but I found two companies that use a wooden lid, both still have the inner plastic wand and bristles however.

I’m excited about a new business I found on Etsy. L’Essentiel nail polish, shop name OfficialEssentiel on Etsy. Here’s one of their pretty polishes.

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I contacted the seller to ask specifically about the cap and the owner responded quickly with: “Thanks for reaching out to us. Our caps do not contain any plastic besides the little wand portion and bristles. The actual cap is made out of 100 percent bamboo and yes, we ship in 100 percent recycled cardboard boxes!” I also asked if they could use a plastic free way to seal the package and owner was more than willing to find a plastic free solution as long as it worked with the post office’s shipping method and requirements. I like the bamboo cap, the customer service, and I like to see a new business with great earth ethics and aspirations.

I also found Sheswai Lacquer.

Seswai

Their cap is wood as well; I assume the wand and bristles are plastic though. They also wanted to reduce the use of plastic in their packaging in the interest of sustainability. They state that they donate a portion of their profits to different organizations like the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Foundation. I contacted them rather late today to inquire about their packaging for shipping and other product details and didn’t hear anything back yet. I’ll edit the post when they get back to me.

So there you go, some less plastic nail polish options. Alas not plastic free though. But seeing companies that are trying to minimize their use of plastic in their product containers is definitely a good thing. Now if only other companies would catch on and follow suit.

Please comment if you know of any other less waste companies or alternative ways to color your nails! Found this in Wikipedia about the history of nail polish “During the Ming dynasty, nail polish was often made from a mixture that included beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum Arabic.[1][2]” Where are the people from the Ming Dynasty when you need them?

Documentaries and such

Hey there everyone! I thought it be a good idea to add any documentaries we may have seen. This can include Ted talks and other types of discussions also. Anything pertaining to plastic-less, zero waste, and any other green living stuff.

1.) Plastic Paradise: the great Pacific garbage patch. The title says it all. Goes through learning about what plastic is made of and various aspects of it. Gets down to the nitty-gritty of the direct effect of plastic on us, and animals. Available on Netflix and I found it on YouTube.

2.) Addicted to Plastic- Discusses the beginnings of plastics, and goes over new bioplastics. Available on Netflix and YouTube.

3.) Plasticized- The 5 gyres institute goes on a scientific expedition through the gyres. Available on YouTube.

4) Beth Terry on TEDx Great Pacific garbage patch

5) And I just have to add this one:

The Majestic Plastic Bag

Don’t forget to add anything good that you’ve watched (or read) and want to share with others!


Deodorant questions and other stuff

Ok, I’ve still been experimenting with the homemade deodorant.  My current formula is coconut oil,  neem powder,  and baking soda.  It is green,  but doesn’t show up green on my skin once it’s rubbed in. And neem powder doesn’t smell bad to me unless a kind of grass like smell is bad to others? Maybe I have tame neem powder or something? Anyways, it works alright for about 5 hours and then I get breakthrough odor. How often per day do most of you reapply? Do you rewash your underarms before applying again, to wash away the bacteria?  I have always been excessively paranoid about smelling bad so this is a bit of a trial for me. I went to Lush yesterday and bought their T’eo. It smells super tasty, and it would be a double great thing if it works well. But I’d really like a homemade formula that’s inexpensive and effective. And I could save the Lush one for special dates.

It’s time for me to buy blades for my saftey razor. Which brand do you use? Or is any old blade ok?

Ok here’s a shameless advertising plug for a place I love dearly. Chagrin Valley Soap I’ve been shopping here for a couple of years. At one point I was doing the all natural thing with my hair and I love their shampoo bars! Ok, and a bunch of their other stuff too. And they’re all natural, have vegan friendly products and the packaging is plastic free.
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I’ve been using my Nettle shampoo bar since the beginning of February and still have close to half left, so even though they cost a bit, they last quite awhile. I don’t wash my hair every day, and have to wash it less using the shampoo bars. I think commercial shampoos strip my scalp of all oils and then makes it go into overdrive to replace natural oils. I wish I’d had the patience and fortitude, or a bad sense of smell to wait and order Chagrin’s deodorant. At least it’s an option in the future.

Please let me know if you have any advice on the deodorants or razor blades 😀

Victory!

Ok well maybe I’m getting carried away as I didn’t really fight a war. But instead a small war towards a lifestyle change.  I went to an event tonight with a friend and afterwards we went to a local cafe. I decided on a chai tea, and after I ordered I remembered to ask to skip the lid. I was told no, that they legally couldn’t give my drink to me without a lid, and that it’s a liability issue.  I don’t think this is a law, maybe the cashier was told that at some point? So at this point I’m struggling and that useless plastic lid is looming large in my mind. I was also trying not to make a huge stink in front of my friend. Other than the times I’ve had to use my jars, and only had other shoppers hate me for it once, I’m not totally used to creating a ruckus yet. Or rather making myself inconvenient to others. So I ask if I can use my own container, and was told yes. Yay! I’m a bit confused as to what the difference is in being handed my own container minus a lid versus their container, but whatever. Now I’m just marveling at how long it took me to even process enough to ask if I could use my own water bottle I had. I’ve gotten so used to disposables it’s like I was mindless for a minute. 

I’ve been really good at avoiding plastic bags. It’s so funny to me that I’ve been met with close to astonishment by cashiers the few times I’ve forgotten my bag and I’ve had to smash items in my purse and carry quite a few things out in my hands. I had a bag almost forced on me just to carry out one small sealed container I brought myself to take home leftovers.  It’s as if people have forgotten we have hands!

The supplies are in

I ordered some things awhile ago to get this plastic-less party on the road.  I decided to get some reusable produce bags to use for the bulk bins as bringing in outside containers isn’t allowed, I’ve just been flying under the radar. I worry that having so many jars will call that much more attention to me, so I’m going to be using these. They did come in plastic sleeves though. But it’s using plastic to cut plastic.  I also got my new safety razor. Pretty good I must say. I was worried while shaving my legs but no, it actually works great.

I’ve been using my deodorant concoction of coconut oil, neem powder, and baking soda and it’s going well.  It’s still strange feeling moisture under my arms though.

This is month two of dealing with the menstrual cup and yeah wow I kinda wish I could light it on fire and perform a jubilant dance in honor of its passing. I’ll keep at it though as there isn’t a suitable alternative really.

Unfortunately I had to order jeans online. I have one pair of jeans and I have a hole on the inner thigh, I have fat thighs ok! I tried patching it and it wouldn’t stay. I didn’t find anything at our thrift store, so caved and ordered them. The first pair has already arrived and was wrapped in a plastic bag and in another bag arrrghhh. At least I keep most of my jeans until they die so I’m trying not to feel to guilty about the purchase.

Challenging

I haven’t been doing so well on reducing the plastic this last week. Yesterday it was Chinese food in Styrofoam, I did manage to refuse all the soy  sauce packets, fork, and napkin.  The cashier lady did sneak a fortune cookie past me though.  Today it was makeup products. My foundation had run dry, and my eyeliner. And I bought the remaining two Bonne Bell Lip Smackers Dr.Pepper chapstick the store had left in stock (they’re discontinued). No bag though, yay! My boyfriend left some plastic wrapped snacks here that I ended up eating, even though I didn’t buy them I feel responsible for them as I snarfed them down.

Does anyone know of any affordable environmentally friendly makeup options? The foundation would have to be under $15. I have rosacea and am older so I don’t feel it’s something I want to do without. I’ve heard of letting a candle burn under a spoon, scraping that off and mixing with a little coconut oil for eyeliner, so I’ll begin experimenting with that. I’ve been experimenting with the homemade deodorant again. I was just using coconut oil with a bit of baking soda dashed over it, but developed irritation. I found some neem powder that I’m going to mix into my next experiment with making deodorant. It is green powder so I’m a bit concerned haha.

Onto my achievement now! After shopping around and reading reviews I decided on this bamboo toothbrush.

20150225_151754

So far so good, works great! I really hope that plastic-free items become more affordable in the future. I think it would be a large challenge to convince the average plastic consuming consumer to pay $10 for 2 toothbrushes when you can get a 6 pack of plastic Colgate toothbrushes for $6.  If anyone has any budget friendly alternatives for plastic-free commonly used items, please post!

Timesaver?

I’ve been lounging around and trying to determine whether a plastic-free and zero waste lifestyle saves time. I know that it definitely doesn’t save me time in the kitchen.  I am one who rarely used to cook. I grabbed a frozen meal and popped it in the microwave most times. Now I actually have to cook. :GASP:  So, yes, I’m spending much more time in the kitchen. I have to say that it’s not as bad as I feared it might be. I’ve actually had to do something else foreign to me, get creative. I’ve got some stale heels of bread left that will probably become bread crumbs soon. I’m making an effort to use the food I have on hand which has led to some interesting meals. I’m guessing I’m doing what our plastic-free ancestors did, making do with what I have. Novel concept with the way we live today.

I made my own granola!  I realized I had some oats floating around and a bunch of other doo dads I’d gotten from the store. A quick Google trip sent me here, and I was on my way to hippy granola land! And it turned out great. I think I’ll reconsider the use of flax seeds next batch as I really didn’t enjoy the few times I’ve choked on one. Tiny little devils! Here is a picture of my fancy granola.

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Pretty nice, eh? Tonight I made a burrito bowl, and made rice pudding with the leftover rice. These are cooking adventures I never would have done before my new lifestyle.  So, how have you guys gotten creative (doesn’t have to be the kitchen)? Do you think you’re saving more time now than before? Let me know!