Plastic Free July Time

I just got back from an epic trip to Japan and South Korea so forgive the lack of posts! I have a lot of travel related content coming up soon. In the meantime, since it IS Plastic Free July — I’ve updated last year’s post. Enjoy!

Happy July! AND Happy Plastic Free July! Started in Australia, Plastic Free July now reaches over 2 million people across the globe. During the month of July, participants commit to reduce and eliminate plastic use. You can choose to 1. Avoid single use plastic packaging 2. Eliminate use of takeaway items (bags, bottles, straws, coffee cups) or 3. Go completely plastic-free. I highly recommend registering here and committing to even one small change! The Plastic Free July site also has great tips on reducing your plastic waste. Read on to learn about some of the easiest changes you can make this month and links to some past posts if you want to go even more in depth!

  1. Bring your own shoppings bags as well as canvas or mesh produce bags to hold fruits, veggies, and bulk items.
  2. No straws! Learn to say “no straw please” whenever you get a drink at a restaurant or bar. If you MUST have a straw, bring along your own stainless steel one.
  3. Avoid plastic cutlery during your summertime picnics/bbqs/events. Use your usual washable flatware or get compostable wooden cutlery.
  4. Say no to the single use plastic water bottles. I guarantee you have some reusable water bottles laying around the house from some event or another. Commit to using it!
  5. Make your own coffee and tea at home OR bring your own cup to the coffee shop.
  6. Avoid plastic wrap when storing food. Use reusable beeswax wraps, glass storage containers, and compostable parchment paper.

And if you are looking to REALLY get into the plastic free or zero waste life, check out the following:

An exhaustive list of common household items and less wasteful alternatives.

How to entertain with less plastic.

Avoid unnecessary plastic waste at your local fast food joints.

Common swaps you can make for a less wasteful summer.

Ladies — how to have a more eco-friendly period.

Traveling this summer? Check it out.

Have a dog? Get your doggos in on the eco-friendly action.

Need some less wasteful, more reusable items? My zero waste wish list.

Create a zero waste car kit!

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An Ode to Freecycling

Goodwill and other thrift stores have seen an increase in donations recently — which seems great as households minimize their lives — but can ultimately be a problem as clothes and household items go unsold and may ultimately end up in the trash anyways. As much as possible, I try to donate items to places that only take specific items (i.e. shoes to Zappos, old towels to the animal shelter) — that way I know that the donated item is more likely to get used. But what about those completely random items that, yeah, could go to Goodwill but maybe, just maybe, has a better home out there?

Enter Freecycle.

It might not look like much but, man, does it work. Freecycle is a “grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” Pretty great, right? AND — there are online groups in most states/cities. I’ve had a 100% success rate of getting rid of the most random items. Some items I’ve Freecycled:
– Hangers
– Craft supplies
– IKEA chair
– Builder grade light fixtures and ceiling fans
– Shower curtain rod
– IV pole
– Towels and blankets
– Planters
– Foil insulation bags
– Cordless drill

You can also ask for items. For free. (But nothing crazy.) Just as I was about to pitch a bunch of old candle wax (the dregs from the bottom of the jar), a man posted a “wanted” listing for candle wax! His daughters got the supplies needed for their school project and I kept candle wax out of the landfill. Win-win. I find Freecycling incredibly easy as well. I take a picture of an item, write a sentence about it, and post it to the group. I also say the item is only available for porch pick up. Usually within hours. I have a handful of emails of people willing to pick up the item. I go with the person who can pick up the soonest and leave the item on my front porch. It’s gone by the end of the day and I know it’s gone to a home where it’ll be used.

If you have a pile of items waiting to be taken to the thrift store, try posting it online and see if you can direct your stuff to a good home!

Anyone else use Freecycle (or something similar) before?

an ode to freecycling pinterest pin image

What I Learned From Doing A School Recycling Audit

One of my responsibilities as a Recycling Ambassador for my city involves conducting “recycling audits” on local schools. These audits aid schools in bettering their recycling practices by pointing out areas of improvement. After auditing schools, I gained a better understanding of what works in encouraging large groups of people (kids and adults) to properly recycle. So use these tips if you are looking to encourage better recycling practices at your office, school, or other community space!

  • Put trash next to the recycling. Like. RIGHT NEXT TO IT. Don’t stick it 5 feet away. Otherwise, people will just throw things away in whatever is closest/most convenient.
  • Put trash and recycling cans next to all exits, under sinks, in hallways, and in bathrooms. These are the top locations that people will be looking to pitch items.
  • Signs, signs everywhere. Preferably with pictures. Make it very clear what items go in each container. You would be surprised to learn how many times I’ve been asked whether paper towels can be recycled. (The answer is no. However, it can be composted!)
  • Make sure your janitorial staff is aware of the recycling guidelines in your city (i.e. recycling must either be unbagged or bagged in clear bags; glass and paper should be recycled separately, etc.). Put up guidelines (with pictures) in any cleaning closets. Ensure that trash and recycling are ending up in the correct outdoor dumpsters.
  • Finally — educate those around you. Tell people WHY they should recycle. Find out what would incentivize them to recycle more. Teach them about better recycling practices.
Encourage recycling at your school or office pin.
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Zero Waste + Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions

Last year was a great zero waste/low waste/eco-friendly year for me. I started this blog, reduced our household trash production by A LOT, and became a Recycling Ambassador with my city. But we (I) can always do better so here are some goals/resolutions/whatever you want to call it for the coming year. And, also, comment and tell me what your green goals are for this year! 

  1. Become a Master Composter. My classes/training starts later this month!
  2. Find a facial bar soap I like. Makeup and skincare products are my “luxury items” — and while I try to buy in glass as much as possible, and recycle everything else with TerraCycle/Origins/L’Occitane… I can do better. So my goal this year is to go totally zero waste when it comes to face wash. I’m thinking this or this.
  3. Re-start my “buy no new clothes” resolution from last year. Last year, I went 10 months (after initially shooting for one month, then three) without buying any new clothing items (except underwear). And by “no new” — I mean, every clothing item I buy must be thrifted (whether at a physical store or from eBay/Poshmark/ThredUp). I’m hoping to go at least 6 months this year. 
  4. Save excess shower/bath water, pasta water, tea pot water, etc. in a bucket to use to water plants during the summer. It gets incredibly hot here in Dallas during the summer and my roses drink a lot of water during this time. So I’m going to make an effort to save water that would otherwise go down the drain at home to water the outdoor plants. 
  5. Repair clothes before replacing them. Darn socks with holes in them. De-pill sweaters, leggings, and t-shirts. Remove stains ASAP. 
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A Less Wasteful Gift Wrapping Guide

Brown paper packages tied up with strings… these are a few of my favorite things!

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy gift giving! So you picked out the perfect, thoughtful, mindful, gift — now what? I, like many others, love seeing beautifully wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. I also love watching the joy on people’s faces as they slowly (or not so slowly) unwrap their gifts. So how can we present beautiful gifts without producing waste that goes to the landfill? Here are your options! 

The Bad
First off — check to make sure your local recycling facility accepts wrapping paper. Most do with some caveats. If your wrapping paper has metallic accents or glitter, it is NOT recyclable. Also, bows, ribbons, tinsel, most tape, etc. are all trash. Basically, avoid getting super “extra” wrapping paper, sticking it together with shiny tape, and then putting bows and other things on it. 

The Good
As mentioned above, wrapping paper can be recycled if it doesn’t have metallic accents or glitter. So if you want to use wrapping paper, pick the simpler options at the store and recycle post-gift giving. The same goes for paper gift bags without any additional frills. The upside with plain gift bags is that they can be reused multiple times before being recycled. 

To wrap your present with wrapping paper, utilize washi (there are so many adorable, festive options) or kraft tape. 

The Better
If you’re going the wrapping paper route, you can do one better and use compostable kraft paper or eco-friendly gift wrap (like this one or this). Make sure to wrap with washi tape, kraft tape, or 100% cotton twine.

The Best
I always think the best option is what you already have. So if you have wrapping paper, old gift bags, beautiful shopping bags from Anthropologie, etc. — use those up first. However, if you are starting from scratch, there are some great zero waste wrapping options. Furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth), cloth produce bags, and mason jars are all useful and reusable. Add a little something extra with a small pine tree branch or beautiful leaves or acorns tied with twine. 

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