The business card. Useful but wasteful. Those tiny cards add up in piles around your home, wallet, car, and office — sometimes used, sometimes forgotten. Why don’t we move on from this somewhat antiquated (and wasteful) form of exchanging information?
I know some fancy paid apps exist where you can create/share/collect specialized digital business cards. But I prefer to keep it a bit simpler than that. I used Canva (feel free to use your editor of choice) to create a super basic image with my contact information. Then, I keep the image on my phone and backed up in my email. And that’s it. When anyone asks me for my information at a networking event, I’ll either quickly text or email them my business card image file or, (in a pinch), let them take a photo of the picture.
Similarly, I also decline other peoples’ business cards and opt to take a photo of their card instead. So. There you have it. An easy way to avoid accruing tiny pieces of papers with peoples’ emails listed.
While I would love to eat healthy, organic home cooked food every day… that’s not how life goes. I travel, I PMS, I get lazy… so yep, sometimes, I get fast food. Everything in moderation, right? However, fast food isn’t the most zero waste choice around. BUT. There are ways to drastically reduce the amount of trash you produce from your fast food jaunts. Here are my tips:
Go inside to get your order instead of going through the drive through. My experience with the drive through is they regularly miss you saying no to straws, napkins, etc. When you go inside, you can better articulate that you don’t need any of the extra items that are automatically thrown into the bag. Which leads me to tip two.
When inside, order your food “for here.” This way, the bag, the napkin, etc. aren’t provided to begin with (most of the time at least). You can then just take your (usually) paper wrapped items, put it in your own reusable bag, and walk out.
If you order a drink, bring your own tumbler or mason jar to fill up at the soda fountain (Whataburger even has their own fancy tumbler). I’ve never had any issues doing this. But more often than not, I forego the drink, and drink whatever I have at home.
Keep your preferred condiments at home or work so you can say no to the tiny hot sauce/ketchup/mustard/red chili flakes/etc. packages.
Compost your paper wrappings such as those that surround burgers and tacos. Compost pizza boxes (or at least recycle the portions of it that aren’t greasy).
And finally. Know your local joints. At this point, I know which taco place gives take out in paper bags versus plastic. And which burger joints give fries in paper wrapping instead of the plastic-lined cartons. Order food accordingly.
Have you heard of the Feng Shui idea that moving 27 items can change your life? I think “change your life” might be a bit of a stretch BUT moving 27 items can get you out of a rut, make you feel less stuck, and just allow for better energy in your home. Moving can entail both getting rid of things or shifting an item’s position in your home. This is something you should do at least seasonally. I find that it allows you to evaluate the items in your home consistently and ask yourself whether you still need it/love it/want it. And sometimes moving an item can make it feel “new” in a way. Here are the items I tend to move around the house on a seasonal basis (some of these (such as laundry) are done weekly).
Candles: recycle or reuse empty glass jars; move candles to different spots on your coffee table or kitchen counter.
Coffee table books: restack your books or trade out books from your bookshelf to coffee table.
Cook books: donate the ones you no longer use; reorder the ones you keep.
Throw blankets and pillows: shake them out; run them through the dryer; move them to the opposite end of the couch.
Photographs/Artwork: switch out the prints in your frames; move a painting to a different room.
Baskets: move your catch call or blanket basket from one corner of the room to another.
Benches: swap the entryway bench with the one in front the bed.
Small plants: reorder the plants/succulents in the patio and bathroom.
Fruit bowl: move the bowl to a different part of the kitchen.
Lamps: swap/move floor or desk lamps to a different spot that allows for light to hit in a new way.
Toothbrush: ditch old toothbrushes or brush heads.
Laundry: put up any clothes that are still sitting in the basket; do a load of laundry with whatever is sitting in the hampers.
Seasonal bedding: swap out heavy blankets for lighter ones or vice-versa depending on the season.
Old pens/writing utensils: send old writing utensils to Pen Guy Art.
Bags of items to donate: take those bags of unused items that you’ve collected to the donation location of your choice.
Electronics to recycle: take old batteries and electronics to local electronics recycling center.
Trash cans: empty these out.
Duplicate items: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
Single purpose items that are never used: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
Pet beds and toys: shake these out; give them a wipe; move them to a different spot on the floor.
Small electronic device like an Apple TV: wipe these down; move over a few inches or to other side of the tv.
Tsotchkes: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; move the rest to other spots in the house.
Mugs: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; rotate the rest between mug holder and cabinet.
Coats/outerwear: rotate order in coat closet.
Canned food: take unopened cans to local food pantry.
Snacks: take unopened snacks to local food pantry; compost stale or expired items.
Oh yeah. We’re gonna talk about it. Like most women who get their periods, I used to use tampons… but ~20 tampons (or pads) a cycle? That’s a lot of waste. And a lot of money. So I started exploring the world of reusable feminine hygiene products. And color me impressed. While initially kind of scary, once I got the hang of all the products (and learned about the different options) — I can confidently say that my periods don’t feel quite so arduous. So let’s go from easiest to hardest with three different reusable period products. 1. Cloth pads 2. Period panties 3. Menstrual cup
1. Cloth Pads
Exactly as it sounds. Cloth versions of old faithful — pads. When you’re ready to change out the pad, rinse in cold water, and wash/dry as usual. I think cloth pads are good as a backup to menstrual cups (more on that below) or on light days. I recommend getting a patterned or dark solid colored pad so that any stains don’t show (if that grosses you out!).
Pros: reusable, easy to use, machine washable
Cons: may not work great on super heavy days, will still “feel” period
2. Period Panties
Period panties are what got me in to the whole zero waste period world. They’re so easy to use and provide great protection. Like cloth pads, you rinse these out in cold water and wash as normal — however, these need to air dry and shouldn’t be thrown in to your dryer’s high heat. I personally use these on my end of period/light days when a cup feels like overkill.
Pros: reusable, easy to use, machine washable, can work for different levels of flow
Cons: will still “feel” period, can be pretty expensive at around $30 a pair (and if you’re only using period panties, you’ll probably need at least 5 pairs even with a mid-week wash)
3. Menstrual Cup
Ah, the menstrual cup. The tiny little cup that strikes fear in to the hearts of many women. But don’t be afraid! It might take some trial and error, a good amount of leaks your first few cycles, and moments of “HOW DO I GET THIS OUT?!” BUT. It works out. And hey — this might not be for everyone, and that’s okay too. But if you haven’t tried it, at least give it a shot. The cup is what truly reduced my period week waste to ZERO. And I was awed by how well it worked. Okay, so insertion isn’t a cake walk. But. Once it’s in properly — I can go 8 hours on my heaviest days and 12 hours on every other day without having to empty out the cup. Also, the best part — if it’s in correctly, I really can’t feel it, which makes the week just a bit better. Alright — so you want to try it out? Here are some tips.
There are a LOT of different cups out there, with different sizing, materials, handles, etc. It might take some time to figure out what works best for you. But this quiz is a good start. Based on the quiz, I ended up getting the MeLuna and it’s been great so far.
Watch a ton of Youtube videos to learn about the different folds to get your cup in. I watched this video a million times. The punchdown technique is what worked best for me initially but then I ended up switching to the C-fold (which, for me, allowed the cup to pop open easier). But you’ll need to find what works best for your body.
Once you get your cup, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for sanitizing it before use. I boil my cup for a few minutes before the start of every cycle. During my cycle, I mostly just rinse out the cup and re-insert.
Practice, practice, practice! If your cup isn’t inserted properly, you’ll pretty quickly feel a leak (hence why having a backup pad or period panty the first few times is crucial). If this happens, remove the cup and re-insert. If the cup is in properly, you shouldn’t be able to pull it out super easily. The cup needs to “pop open” in the vaginal canal from whatever fold you’ve created to insert it.
I have found that inserting and removing my cup in the shower both cuts down on mess AND actually helps me insert and remove the cup better.
Pros: reusable, works for different levels of flow, don’t “feel” period, easy to sanitize, gain tons of knowledge about your body (trust me, you’ll get REALLY familiar with all your lady parts)
Cons: will leak if not inserted properly, learning curve for insertion and removal, can be messy to remove/re-insert especially if out in public or traveling
As someone who travels a fair amount, I really do try to be mindful of the trash I produce while exploring the world. But. Reducing waste while traveling is HARD. Between all the trash created during long haul flights, hotel toiletries, quick meals out in a new city… it’s easy to create a significant mound of trash during a week-long trip. So… what do we do? Nope — we don’t need to be perfect. My primary reason for traveling is to explore. And if exploring leads to a bit of waste… it’s okay. However, I am mindful to not create too much unnecessary waste. Here are my tips for reducing even a tiny bit of “travel trash”.
Bring a travel water bottle. I use a Que bottle that compresses down to a fairly small size and doesn’t have a risk of shattering. Flight attendants have had no problem filling my bottle for me on flights and I continue to refill the bottle at airports, hotels, restaurants, etc. to completely avoid having to buy water bottles or getting the plastic cups of water on the plane.
Avoid plane snacks (i.e. the peanuts, pretzels etc.) on short flights and bring your own. For long-haul flights, I haven’t gone as far as contacting the airline to not have a meal for me on the flight but this may be an option if you are really looking to cut down. (My understanding is that if you just refuse a meal on the flight, the meal just goes to waste. Anyone know anything more about this? Any other ideas?)
Save your recycling. I find it odd that most hotel rooms don’t have a recycling bin. Anyways, I tend to save whatever can be recycled throughout my trip and then find a recycle bin on the street to empty everything in to.
Eat at restaurants (instead of getting take out) as much as possible. Even if I’m super tired, I try to eat at the restaurant as much as possible while traveling instead of getting something “to go” to avoid creating the inevitable waste that comes along with pre-packaged or take out food.
Ignore the hotel toiletries. Unless the hotel has toiletries in large refillable bottles, I avoid using the travel sized toiletries. I bring my own soap (bar), shampoo (bar), lotion (de-potted), etc. (It’s probably better for your skin anyways to use consistent products!).
Save your transit cards. I’ve had the same Oyster card to use in London for the past 10 years and I have no plans to toss it any time soon! Saving this card has helped me avoid getting a new card at least 8 times now.
Pack a reusable grocery bag. This takes up almost zero space (I fold mine in my purse) and helps avoid gathering shopping bags while out shopping in a new city. And on that note…
Avoid purchasing knick-knacks. Listen. I love picking up unusual things on my travels. However, let’s be mindful to not get things that’ll ultimately end up at Goodwill. Some favorite (and useful) purchases on my travels include skincare and personal care finds from local pharmacies (preferably in recyclable glass bottles or, at the very least, #1 or #2 plastic), biscuits and loose leaf teas in cardboard or aluminum tins, and thoughtful coffee table books from a local bookstore.