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Free Zero Waste Staples!!!

According to Instagram- Zero Wasters have to have a ton of mason jars, bamboo bowls and utensils, glass containers, cotton handkerchiefs and napkins, and a bunch of other zero waste products that are really expensive. You don’t have to own anything of these things to actually be zero waste. Zero waste is a mindset and a lifestyle. If all you do is carry around a reusable water bottle or pick up plastic at the beach, you are still just as zero waste as the person who has the perfect instagram zero waste feed. So, why spend money on items that you already own?

When many find the zero waste lifestyle, they want to live the perfect instagram worthy lifestyle. But, they already own a ton of plastic containers, old rags, old produce bags, bowls, plates, utensils, old rags, cloth napkins, and towels. Not to mention that you can reuse many of the old tomato sauce and spice jars. Why get rid of these items just because they don’t fit the “perfect mold”? Even if these items may not be the most Instagram worthy, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful. The first rule of the zero waste lifestyle is not to throw anything away that you can use!

These items are all free and things that you probably have around the house that will help you take the first steps to your zero waste journey!

Old Sauce and Spice Jars

Whenever we go shopping and grab some tomato sauce or spices we usually will chuck the glass jar into the recycling- or worse the garbage. I have decided to clean them up and start storing my bulk items, granola, plant based milks, and even leftovers from restaurants into them. Why toss something away when you technically paid for it to just to end up purchasing mason jars from the store. Save your time, money, and resources and just reuse what you already have! I also give these to other people who are looking for more glass jars but don’t purchase tomato sauce and other items that come in glass jars that often.

Use the Bags that You Are Given at Parties and Events

So many zero waste bloggers talk about these amazing white organic cotton produce bags. Guess what, I don’t own any white organic cotton produce bags. They are expensive and I already own bags that I use on a regular basis. Yes, some of them are plastic, but hey I helping them from ending up in our oceans and the landfill. I may end up purchasing some of those organic cotton bags when my current ones ripe, tear, or just can’t hold anything anymore. For now, I have continued to use what I already own and save my money on more important things!

Plastic Containers

Unless you are just moving out of your parents house and don’t have any plastic containers, I find it hard to believe that people don’t have perfectly good plastic containers that they can hold take out food and leftovers in. Many zero wasters tell their followers to donate their old containers and then replace them with more sustainable options like glass and rubber. The majority of those containers will probably never get purchased from Goodwill, so unless you're dropping them off at a homeless shelter- which many don’t accept plastic containers. I think it’s better to just use those containers until they break and then begin replacing them with more natural alternatives! If you are worried about the plastic chemicals leaching into your food, just heat it up on the stove or oven before eating it.

Old Rags and Towels Make Perfect Natural Alternatives to Paper Towels!

Forget about purchasing organic cotton napkins and handkerchiefs- use what you already own! I have a bunch of old towels and rags that I have specially for cleaning up messes. They work just as well as paper towels and I just chuck them into the laundry to be washed and used again! I am not sure what nutshell invented paper towels and why they are such a large part of our society today. When you stop using them, you release that they aren’t necessary at all. Our grandparents and our parents all grew up using old rags to clean the counter and floor with. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! I have also turned a few of my old tee shirts into rags to clean messes with so I can give them a new life!

Bring Your Metal Utensils With You Wherever You Go

Many zero waste bloggers, like myself, constantly carry around bamboo utensils that are lightweight and great for travel- especially when you are going on a plane. As your metal utensils may send off a red flag at TSA. If you are going to the office, out to eat, a friends house, or anywhere else where the TSA won't be, take your metal utensils wrapped around a cloth napkin! This will help you reduce your waste whilst on the go, stop you from having to use single use plastic utensils, and better yet, will make you feel better about investing a little extra money on a special meal for yourself. You already own a bunch of metal utensils in your house- so why not take a few with you on the go!

Confessions of a Zero Waste Mama

By Laura from The Mindful Mama Blographer

“MAMA!”

I hear my name being called as I’m doing dishes in the kitchen.

My 2.5-year-old is sitting on the potty, and needs my help doing, well 2.5-year-old potty things.

I go in and do my mama thing, help him wash his hands, then say:

“Go into your room and get a new pull-up”.

I take the old pull-up and throw it in the trash.

Yes, you read that right.

The trash.

Yes, you are reading a zero waste article.

Yes, I consider myself a ‘zero-waster’.

Before I get any judgy comments or emails, let me explain.

When my family and I first started our zero waste journey, my son was a couple months shy of turning two. We had tried using cloth diapers when he was a newborn. For three months, every single diaper style we tried leaked and he was going through 5-8 outfits a day. After three months, I threw in the towel (pun intended), and we switched to disposables. As a new mom (and dad) with a newborn, leaky diapers were just one extra thing we felt we didn’t have the energy to allocate. Despite how wasteful we both know disposable diapers are, it just made our lives a whole lot less stressful and easier. When it comes to having a newborn less stress definitely trumps zero waste.


Once we started adopting more zero waste ways, the thought of making the switch to reusable diapers when we (hopefully) would be starting the potty-training process in the very near future seemed more trouble than it’s worth. Do I feel guilty? Yes, a little bit. But I’ll admit, it feels good to confess and get it off my chest.

While I’m at it, here are other things we DON’T do as ‘zero wasters’:

  • We don’t buy groceries in bulk. For budgetary reasons, we shop at Aldi almost exclusively. For those who are unfamiliar with Aldi, they do not offer any type of bulk section, and most of their produce comes in some sort of packaging.

  • We have pets. Pet waste contributes to a lot of our trash. Does that mean we’re going to give up our pets? No. And while there are some sustainable pet waste supplies, they are super expensive and not in our budget right now.

  • We sometimes buy take-out, it is a rare occurrence, but we do. Have you ever noticed just how much trash is produced with takeout? Sure, there are restaurants in our area that serve items in compostable packaging, but we don’t always choose them.

So why has this article turned into a zero waste confessional?

While my family and I have made MANY changes to our daily lives to reduce waste (in the last nine months we have reduced our trash by 25-30 lbs a week), there are still certain areas that we are working on. And, there are areas that we won’t be working on. At least not right now. The zero waste movement (as it is named) is not always appropriate for people in their current season of life, and that’s OK. I am a firm believer in doing what you can, with the resources you have right now. We are making changes wherever we can. It isn’t any one’s business how little or slowly we make these changes because it is still leaps ahead of those who aren’t doing anything!

So while I may not be able to fit my trash into a mason jar this month (maybe someday!). I will continue to throw my son’s disposable pull-up in the trash knowing that my family and I are always working towards reducing as much waste as we can.

Bio:

Laura loves all things Harry Potter, edible cookie dough, and musicals. Additionally, she is a mom, wife, nature photographer, proud Minnesotan, outdoor enthusiast, self-care advocate, and so much more. Laura blogs over at The Mindful Mom Blographer and helps others REDUCE mental clutter through mindful and intentional living, minimalism, and zero waste living.  

Why I am Vegan for the Environment~ My Diet History!

When I tell someone that I eat a mostly plant based diet, I get a lot of mix reactions. Some people think that it is a great idea but explain that they could never give up cheese. Others ask me how I get my protein, calories, etc. There are even people who think I am some sort of weird hippie that is going to get into an argument with them about their personal diet. The last on is a little bit less popular, but does still happens. 

Now, many people are vegan or plant based for ethical reasons. However, people are very shocked when I explain to them that the main reason I don’t eat a ton of meat, dairy, and eggs are for health and environmental reasons. For years I have been flexatarian, vegetarian, dairy-free, and even completely vegan before. I honestly believe that eating a mostly whole foods plant based diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies is best! I do also eat a ton of whole grains like steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, beans, and legumes. Not to say that I don't eat processed food, but I try to keep it to a minimum. It's most important to note that I am doing this completely for my health and environment.

In the video below, I talk a lot about why I have decided to start eating some animal products to help save them from going into the landfill. However, in this article I will be focusing on my personal diet history. This will hopefully help motivate some of you to start researching various kinds of diets, the destruction factory farms have on our planet and health, and most importantly that no one is perfect. 

When I was in high school, I took an environmental science class that really opened my eyes to the issue of factory farms and animal products in general. At first I wanted to get rid of all the animal products in my life. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to go vegan correctly, so I decided to only eat meat, dairy, and eggs from my house, since I knew they were organic. When I went out to eat, I wouldn't order any sort of meat, dairy, or egg product. This is something that I was ok with doing, but was also somewhat difficult when going out to certain restaurants that didn't have may vegan friendly options. Eventually I went back to eating the normal Western Diet. 

When I was in college however, I decided that I would become a Flexatarain. This meant that I wouldn't eat meat products unless I knew they were organic. As a result I never got sick from the mystery meat that was found in the dining hall. It was also during this time that I realized that dairy played a significant part in my cystic acne, especially on my chin and jawline. So, I decided to cut that out as well. This was the best, considering that I didn't eat many eggs that often. However, I found that I would still cheat occasionally when I was home with my parents.

While, I was in college I also started binge watching a ton of amazing vegan documentaries, like Cowspiracy, What the Health, Food Inc (the documentary that first opened up eyes to the dangers of the meat and dairy industry), and a few other ones. As a result, I decided I would try veganism for my last year of college. This was amazing! My anxiety began to lessen, despite having a harder work load than in previous years, and I even saw a reduction in my acne.

For a while after graduating from college, I stuck to a mostly vegan diet. However, after learning about the zero waste lifestyle, I absolutely hated seeing perfectly good food going into our landfill just because it had meat, dairy, and eggs in it. I believe that we can all do our best to help save our plant. I have decided to do what is best for my health and the environment by only eating meat and eggs to help them from going into our landfill. That means I eat animal products about 2-4 times a week. Which, according to many health nutritionists, is around the recommended amount for most people. Above that, these products can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, clogged arteries, and a bunch of other health issues. I know that this isn't a very popular topic to explore, especially since many Zero Wasters are also Vegan. However, I believe this shows that we all have to do what is best for ourselves. Hopefully, when I move out of my parents house, I will be able to go fully vegan. For now, this is what makes me happy! 

 

 

 

My Personal Trash Story- Zero Waste or Low Impact

About a year ago when I joined the Zero Waste movement, I focused all of my energy on creating zero trash because that’s what I thought you had to do. As I have talked about before, this made me stressed, aggravated, and full of anxiety. However, over time my family has made me realize that I can’t create Zero Trash. WHAT?! This was soul crushing to me, but also a big wake up call. If I wanted to embark on this lifestyle and movement, then I should do my research and explore ALL aspects of what it means to be an environmental activist.

Recently, Emmi from Sustainably Vegan released a video talking about how discouraging and limiting the term “Zero Waste” can be for many who are trying to reduce their waste. She also explored how a person shouldn’t concentrate on just their trash, but rather EVERYTHING that has to deal with the environment. This includes limiting your water and energy waste, carbon footprint, volunteering, and various other areas that will continue to help us make our planet a better place.

I polled my followers on Instagram and I was excited and shocked to see the amount of people who have decided to label themselves as low waste! However, I was also saddened by the amount of people who felt discouraged by the zero waste movement. I had a talk with Kaycee from @holistichue, once known as TheZeroWasteGirl. She explained how she was constantly receiving negative comments for not being zero waste enough to call her the zero waste girl. This made her feel discouraged and ultimately change her name. During this time she lost a ton of followers. However, she also felt more true to herself. She explained that the followers who did stick around were their because they loved her, not because they were looking for the someone who doesn’t produce any trash. 

This helped me realize that we need to step away from looking at the zero waste lifestyle as perfection and zero trash. The reason being that no one can actually produce zero trash. Better yet, many people who don’t have access to bulk stores, live with non-zero wasters, or who don’t have the financial capabilities to purchase a ton of the “zero waste” items, shouldn’t be pressured to do more than they feel comfortable with. We should also be concentrating on volunteering and advocating more for the environment. 

It’s important to note that if you have been following me for a while, you will know that the first 5 months of my transition I did try the trash jar. At first I got frustrated that I couldn’t start a jar right away. But a few months later, I had decided to try it again to see how much of a impact I was making in the amount of trash I was producing.  FYI I wasn’t able to fit more than a month’s worth of trash into a mason jar. The mason jar didn’t include any of the trash that I accidentally threw into my families trash can. It also didn’t include any of the waste that was created at the grocery store and restaurants I visited, and the amount of gas, water, and pollution I admitted into the air with having 2 part time jobs that forced me to drive everywhere. I am not sure many people take those into consideration when they hold up their fancy trash jar. Take a look at Sabrina from @sustainablesabs and her article on the trash jar! It will allow you to understand that despite how interesting the jar may be, it isn’t the “goal” of the zero waste/ low impact movements. 

Yes, even though I will be labeling myself as a zero waster, I am part of both movements. The zero waste movement is amazing to help encourage more companies to reduce the amount of waste that goes into the production of an item. However, it isn’t exactly ideal for many who want to reduce their waste at home. The low impact movement/ lifestyle allows and encourages people to do the best they can. The word itself is more inclusive for it’s members, and encapsulates many areas that the zero waste movement doesn’t. The zero waste movement has mainly focused on reducing trash; whereas the low impact movement focuses on how to reduce your water and energy consumption/waste, carbon footprint, and helps people want to get more involved in their local community! 

This zero waste/ low impact community has forced me to want to do more. I have a dream to create my own programs, co-ops, campaigns, and so many other big projects that will help make others become environmental activists and do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint, waste, and help save our planet! Please check out my video below that talks more in-depth about the two movements and the type of content that will be featured on this blog and Youtube channel! 

StrawSleeves Review

Side Note: I have written a blog post about the Plastic Straws and the Ocean, which was featured on Straw Sleeve website HERE!!!

When I started my transition to a zero waste lifestyle, one of my first reusable options that I fell in love with was a metal straw! There is nothing better than drinking your morning smoothie or juice out of a plastic free straw. Currently, I have 5 metal straws and one bamboo one that come with me everywhere. So, why do people use billions and billions of straws everyday? 

Drinking straws is one of the oldest food utensils in the world. It gained popularity in the 1800's, being made out of rye grass. But, the original straw came out over 500 years ago! "In the ruins of the Sumerian cities and tombs, archeologist managed to find straws made from gold and the precious stone lapis lazuli. These expensive 3000 BC artifacts can give us the proof that the more simple designs were used far earlier than that, most probably created from carved wood or natural hollow plants." It is said that they use to drink beer out of their straws. 

 In 1888, American inventor Marvin C. Stone created first model of modern drinking straw. The straw was made out of paper that was wrapped around a pencil and then glued to stay closed. Around the 1950's, when plastic items came into popularity, the plastic straw was born. Now plastic straws are made out of Plastic #7. This plastic isn't usually recyclable. When it is recycled, it can only be turned into plastic furniture, or semi-recycled bags. As a result, plastic straws are usually thrown into the garbage and many times end up in the oceans. Once in the oceans, they can be eaten, stuck in turtles noses, and even stuck in octopuses tentacles. How can we continue to use this item, when it is so dangerous to the rest of our world? 

Many cities and towns have begun to ban plastic straws, bags, and other plastic items that aren’t usually considered recyclable. Guess what?! People didn't even notice that the ban had been put into place. They also didn’t mind the more environmental friendly alternatives, like paper bags, paper straws, reusable cloth bags, and even reusable metal and bamboo straws. In time, I hope that this will help inspire more cities and towns to ban more unnecessary plastic items. Until then, it's important to find companies that are working hard to provide more sustainable options to the masses. 

StrawSleeves, is a small online shop that has started to make big changes in the way of reusable straws, reusable utensil sets, and even reusable bags. All made of out reclaimed cotton, hemp, and denim. I own a reusable utensil set and one of StrawSleeves straws in the carrier case. The carrier case may not seem like a necessity, but it is definitely a nice thing to help keep your utensils and straws organized and clean while in your bag. I keep mine in my bag with me at all times, just in case.

The company is owned by Cheri Newcomb, a women who has dedicated her life to making reusable items more readily available to people who want to reduce the amount of plastic in their life. Their Instagram and Facebook pages are filled with information on their products, healthy recipes, and other resources that help you understand how beneficial living a plastic free life can be to our oceans and the environment.

I personally find these items to also make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for friends and family members who are travel a lot or are looking to help reduce their waste!!!

For more information visit the links below: 

http://www.eatingutensils.net/history-of-other-eating-utensils/drinking-straws-history/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/14/world/plastic-straws-ban-campaigns/index.html

https://www.tv3.ie/xpose/article/lifestyle/260549/The-end-of-singleuse-straws-is-nigh-here-are-6-ecofriendly-alternatives

https://earth911.com/home/food-beverage/recycling-mystery-plastic-straws/

 

 

 

 

Do You Know What You're Smelling? The Haunting Effects of Candles on Your Health and the Environment

 

During the fall season, I love lighting a candle to help bring a sweet smell of cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves into the air. Bath and Body Works and Yankee Candle are two of the most popular candle companies, especially around the holiday season. Are there candles actually safe? What are you actually smelling/inhaling when you light those candles? Can they be harmful to your long term health? 

Underneath the amazing smell, are toxic chemicals that are just as dangerous as second hand smoke. According to Wellness Mama, most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned (both are known carcinogens). In combination with the possible heavy metals like led in the wicks, even a few hours of burning them can create levels of airborne heavy metals and toxic fumes that are much higher than the acceptable limits.

According to Green America, other toxic chemicals may be present in the paraffin mixture and released in during the burning. These ingredients include Acetone, Trichlorofluromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Cyclopentene, Stryene, Synthetic Fragrances, and other ingredients that can found in paint, laquer, and varnish removers. Do you really want to be inhaling all of these ingredients?

Since, this is an environmentalism blog I would also like to talk about the impact that these candles have on our planet. According to the Postconsumers’ website normal candles can produce a number of harmful byproducts when burned (including greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide). As an added bonus, the petroleum found in many candles is the same chemical that is found in your car. Not to mention the chemicals that haven’t been widely researched for their environmental impact. All of this research has resulted in me starting to find more eco-friendly alternative.

Thanks to Etsy, there are a ton of small businesses committed to making natural, sometimes vegan, and amazing candles. Instead of using paraffin wax and synthetic fragrances among the other toxic chemicals; these candles are only made out the simple ingredients of soy or beeswax and essential oils for smell, health, and mood.

Thanks to Kate from the Etsy shop DecorbyAdorned, her candles are natural soy candles are handmade in Minnesota, and are made with the best essential oils. Kate uses essential oils from Plant Therapy, to ensure that her candles are 100% pure. The awesome doesn’t stop there. She goes as far as to package everything in paper, using packing paper to ensure that the glass jar doesn’t break during travel. I am currently trying the Clove, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg candle, I have to say that it smells like Fall in a little jar and will definitely be repurchasing!!!! 

Kate hopes to expand her shop to include natural fabrics, blankets, and even maybe some pottery. She is committed to everything being eco-friendly, and shares her passion for the environment. 

Check back each week for more posts on small etsy shops and how committed to the zero waste lifestyle!!!! Don't forget to continue Zeroing In On Your Impact!!! 

The Issue with "Sustainable" Clothing Items

Second hand items are cheap and amazing for the environment. It's can be difficult to find the diamond in the ruff of cheap polyester. Many have decided to purchase new items that are made out of organic cotton and bamboo. Are those sustainable options? Is it really organic? These type of questions have made me skeptical about purchasing items made out of organic cotton and bamboo. However, it's also very difficult sometimes to find items from thrift shops and second hand stores that aren't made out of polyester. What should we do? 

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At the beginning of the summer I purchased a white tee shirt made out of organic cotton and bamboo. I thought this was the best purchase I had ever made. It was soft, comfortable, and sustainable right?! I even posted a picture of me wearing it on my Instagram! What did I actually purchase? Bamboo grows everywhere and is one of the most sustainable products right? That is not completely false. It is a very sustainable product because it can grow anywhere and very quickly. It takes a ton of labor to make a sustainable product that isn't very soft, and a ton of chemicals to turn the planet into a soft piece of clothing. 

In a pieces featured on The Guardian, it explains the ins and outs of the two different types of production. The first method involves crushing the plants into a mush, using natural enzymes to break it down and then combing out the fibers and spinning them into a yarn. This process is very labor intensive, expensive, and as I said, doesn't make that soft of a fabric. The second method, involves the plants being cooked into a cocktail of chemical solvents- primarily sodium hydroxide (lye, or caustic soda, as it's more commonly known) and carbon disulfide. Both are known to be harmful to human health, and sodium hydroxide can harm aquatic life when released into the water supply. After hearing both of these options, it seems impossible to get a pieces of clothing made out of bamboo without it being very expensive or full of chemicals. Is organic cotton any better? 

Organic cotton is grown just as wide spread as bamboo, but isn't as sustainable. In a pieces featured on the Fashion Hedge, explores the production of organic cotton and GMO cotton. Though the crop has been used for centuries, it takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans. 73% of global cotton harvest comes from irrigated land. 4% of the world's crop land is planted with cotton and yet it accounts for 24% and 11% of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively. The use of genetically-modified cotton varieties has increased in recent years. Organic cotton does seem like the better choice than cotton full of pesticides and other synthetic materials. It also isn't the most sustainable in the long term, because of the amount of water it takes to produce it. 

I have decided to go to option three, only purchasing items from thrift shops that are made out of sustainable products. As a result, I wear every item that I own. I use to donate 3 big garbage bags filled with clothes every season. Now, I only donate a small bag of clothes once a year! In doing so, I have been able to save up money and feel good about the purchases I do make. I have also been able to pay off a significant amount of my loans off and find new hobbies and activities to do, instead of going to the mall every weekend. 

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P.S- I will purchase "new" items that are made out of recycled materials, since I believe that they are a better and more sustainable option, similar to second hand shopping. Also, I have heard that GoodWill isn't the best company, in regards for wages and labor. I have invested the majority of my money in small business thrift shops and flea markets! Please let me know if you would like me to share my secrets in finding the best items at thrift shops! 

The Plastic Bag Ban!

One of the primary missions of the zero waste lifestyle is to limit the amount of plastic in the world.

Plastic is an oil compound that became popularized in the 1950’s with action figures, dolls, TV dinners, and a variety of other items that are labelled as both disposable and non-disposable. Plastic was a revolutionary innovation that allowed for people to have unbreakable containers, fast food in anywhere you want, microwavable dinners, action figures and games for kids to play with. Unfortunately, plastic isn’t indestructible, once these items break, start falling apart, or don’t work anymore- they are thrown in the trash. They will then either last forever in the landfill or turn into micro-plastics that will live forever in our oceans.

Yes, many of the plastic water bottles, containers, bags, and other items can be recycled. Do we know if they are actually being recycled. Currently, in the United States only 9% of all plastic is recycled. It wasn’t until the China recycling ban that the US didn’t start to become aware of their plastic waste.

Over the years, the topic of plastic has continued to gain buzz within activist communities but also popular media. Last year, the Huff Post published an article by Dana Ellis Hunnes, an adjunct professor at USLA Fielding-School of Public Health, titled Plastic: It’s What’s For Dinner, where she explains that “according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 30 percent of all fish have plastic in them.” This means that when you order fish from a restaurant or the grocery store, there is a possibility that you could be eating plastic. If that doesn’t gross you out, I don’t know what will.

At the beginning of August, Tesco, a popular UK grocery chain, made a statement explaining that they will be banning all plastic bags and providing reusable option that would cost customers an extra 10p (50 cents in US). Considering that most reusable bags usually cost a couple of dollars, getting a reusable bag for 50 cents is a steal. Back in 2015, Tesco started charging their customers 5p (25 cents) for plastic bags. By banning plastic bags altogether, they are reducing their environmental impact even more and making it easier for everyone to stop using plastic bags. Why can’t we do this in the United States?

When I walk into a local grocery store, I see people walk out with at least 10 plastic bags. Sometimes they have a bag for each item that they purchased. Not to mention the free plastic bags that people put their produce in whilst shopping. All of this plastic seems unnecessary when you could use reusable bags.

On August 14th 2017, Dana Ellis Hunnes wrote another article titled, Plastic Plastic Literally Everywhere. In this post she explains how 8% of the world’s oil goes to making plastic products. That may not seem like a lot of oil, but when you think about the amount of human rights violations, environmental, and cultural issues that have revolved around oil, it seems as if we should be limiting our use of oil as much as we can.

Everyone can make difference by using mesh bags for produce and reusable bags for their groceries. However, until the grocery stores stop stocking disposable plastic bags, people will continue to use them. Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, has also created a petition, that everyone is welcomed to sign and propose to their elected officials in the help to ban plastic goods.

It may seem that you can’t make a difference, especially in the current state of our political climate and government. That is not true. You can always make a difference. The more you talk to your local grocery stores and state officials, the more people you will inspire to do the same. I hope this petition inspires more companies to go plastic free! For now, take a look at your local food stores and explore your package free options.

Menstruation Products Around the World!

The average person who menstruates will throw away 250 to 300 pounds of pads, plugs, and applicators in their lifetime. That’s a lot of plastic, chemicals, and other non-biodegradable products that are going into the landfill. Pad and tampon users are also more likely to get toxic shock syndrome and other harmful infections from those chemicals and plastics.

One of the first zero waste purchases I made was a menstrual cup! Menstrual cups are made out of Grade A silicon and can be used for up to 10 years! There is zero chance of toxic shock syndrome and you can go up to 12 hours without having to change it, depending on your flow.

Recently, I have noticed more companies and organizations creating programs that will help change the world, by educating many on the importance of safe and healthy menstrual and reproductive care. It’s important to note that in many countries, the subject of menstruation is very “taboo” and is either not normally discussed/taught or is seen as unsanitary. In this post I will be concentrating on three major organizations that are determined to give more people sustainable and safe period products that they can use for the rest of their lives!

The Ruby Cup is a brand and a non-profit organization that bring menstrual cups into various countries in Africa. With their ‘Buy One, Give One’ program, every cup sold results in one being donated to help bring about positive change! The Ruby Cup trainers and partners create programs to help teach these adults and young people about menstrual care and reproductive health. They will also demonstrate how to use the cup correctly and provide support for them. Since the organization began in 2012, they have been able to impact the health of 24,000 people so far!

My Cup NZ is a New Zealand-based company that provides a selection of safe, healthy, and eco-conscious alternatives to disposable menstrual products. Their mission is to end poverty in New Zealand with their free cup program, student program, and by providing educational resources about reusable products! They sell menstrual cups, menstrual underwear, organic pads, and period product accessories like cleaning soap, pouches for reusable pads, and menstrual sponges.

The Cup Foundation is a non-profit organization that empowers underprivileged young adults worldwide by providing them with sustainable menstrual cups and comprehensive education on sexuality and reproductive rights. According to their website, in 2015 UNICEF and the World Health Organization estimated that at least five hundred million people lack sufficient resources to manage their periods. With insufficient menstrual solutions, many young adults miss a week of school each month, or they drop out permanently. Too often these people even engage in transactional sex to make money so they can afford pads and tampons. Since its inception, The Cup Foundation has impacted close to 10,000 young adults aged 11-16 in Kenya! These young adults now have higher attendance in school and are better able to concentrate during lessons. It’s important to understand that just because a culture doesn’t talk about this subject, that does not mean it shouldn’t be discussed. It is organizations like this that help bring safety and additional education into countries that would otherwise shame those who menstruate.

These are just three of the many organizations around the world that help provide sustainable menstrual products, like the menstrual cup along with education and continue to fight for reproductive justice. If you would like more information on additional sustainable period products please visit my article on “name of blog”.

(DISCLAIMER: I am referring to everyone as people instead of women and girls, because not every person who identifies as a women or girl menstruates. However, these organization’s do use the term women and girl through out their website. This choice was a personal preference and if you have any questions I would love to chat.)


Our Little Journey to Becoming a Zero Waste Family!

By Angela Matthews, Owner of Bee Sew Responsible, Middlesbrough, UK

Why did you start your zero waste Journey?

How can I tell you an exciting story about “plastic” without boring you so much that you get distracted from the sponsor banners down the side of this post? To be fair, if Ryan Reynolds was trying to sell me broadband from a side banner, I’d be distracted too! For those of you who want to be here: Namaste, Bonjour, Hola, Privet, Kalimera, Witaj, Hallo, Ciao, Salaam, Ola Folks. I’m glad to meet you!

I started my journey as an individual, before transitioning my family. It’s easier to do the children, but the husband needed some persuading! Now he actively approaches me with things and asks if something can be recycled or composted!! Monica, my eldest 2.5yr, picks up rubbish wherever we go and puts it in the bin; I guess she’s watched me too many times!

I first started to think about my impact when we found out we were having Monica, and a friend of mine told me the horrific statistics that occur with disposable nappies. She was pregnant at the same time and was planning on using Cloth Nappies, which I’d never heard about before. I convinced my husband, who eventually loved them just as much as I did. During my maternity with my first child I was stuck in the house and up all hours, Netflix was my saving grace at 1 and 2am! But it also opened my eyes to what we were doing. I knew, in my heart, we were deteriorating this planet; but actually seeing statistics and the footage of what we were/are doing was another matter. As a child, my mum and family members always said I was a “hippie" because I’d shout at people for littering.

When I was a teen, I guess I lost my way to follow the crowd, instead of my own path. Now I’m treading my own path again. Now that Malcolm, 10 months, is here, I couldn’t be happier. When I was a kid the hedgerows were clean, the streets didn’t have rubbish on the floor, there wasn’t plastic bags in the wind; now if you walk down any hedgerow, you will find all types of garbage, waste, and plastic! It deeply saddens me as I’m looking at the world in a different perspective. We are leaving this earth to our children. I don’t want them to see plastic in hedgerows as the norm, or see plastic when they go swimming in the sea. An ancient American Indian proverb that I think it is important to remember, "We do not inherit the earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our children”. It’s our human nature to want the best for our children, so why does it need to be so materialistic? We have forgotten that the thing we live on is a planet, we need the earth to survive and most of all we have lost our connections to the earth. When we give them the plastic bottles to drink from, we are starting our children off on a future of normalising plastic and all the chemicals that they are in them.

What are the ways your family is Zero Waste?

As a family, we compost our left-over food (and cardboard sometimes to balance out the green in a compost you need to add “brown” to stop smells and create a good compost! Who Knew!!). We recycle our bottles; cans; papers. We use Salveo Indian Soap Nuts in our washing machine at a low 30 degrees and on a low spin cycle of 1000rpm. We use 100% New Zealand Wool dryer balls on an extra spin cycle so that we can dry our clothes quicker. We use The Charcoal Company’s water filters instead of Britta filters, for example, which can be composted afterwards or placed in the fridge to absorb smells. We have a water butt in the garden that collects rain water for the plants, rather than use tap water. We also use loose leaf tea or TeaPigs Tea so that it can be composted and no plastic residue left for the plants. We also make our own nut milks in a nut bag, I have tried butter but need a churn to do this, unsure of whether I will try this again as the result didn’t last as long. We all have Bamboo toothbrushes and 100% Organic Cotton Bamboo Buds, which can be composted. We did use cloth nappies with our eldest, but haven’t in a while due to excessive washing with two little ones and no place to dry them when the weather wasn’t dry. We use steel straws when out with the kids and also have our own cutlery sets that we take out in our reusable shopping bags. I have Indian tiffin boxes for lunch and reusable cups to take to work with me, once I return, instead of wasting money on expensive convenience food. We both use a shampoo bar from Lush with their square tins and Reusable Safety Razor’s. However we still use kids soap/shampoo that come in plastic bottles (due to the abundance we have received over the years) and the best decision I ever made was starting to use a Diva Cup! I’m not going to lie, it takes a couple of cycles to get used to it, but after that hump it’s glorious!! And my periods are lighter and shorter as a result, a happy coincidence. I’m so glad I do not have to deal with the chemicals in monthly sanitary wear.

What kind of challenges do you face in your zero waste Journey?

On the business side, the challenges I face come from the lack of understanding or wanting to change from other people. In my personal life, the majority of the challenges come from my kids. My kids want everything that is either wrapped in plastic or a is a disposable piece of plastic! From the teether’s they use to get their teeth through, to the bottles they are drinking from! If you need to know why this disturbs me please I urge you to watch “A Plastic Ocean” or “A Mission Blue”.  Also, I will hold my hand up because my husband and I are Pepsi Max Addicts. We have tried to quit but it doesn’t happen. Instead, I am trying to find other ways to use the 2ltr bottles we keep accumulating each week!! It really is ridiculous now that I think about it! But it’s the only thing we splurge on. We don’t drink, smoke, or go on nights out any more, as we have two kids under 3. That’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it! I do know the statistics are bad. 15000 single use bottles are thrown away every SECOND and here’s me contributing to this. We have both vowed to cut down and eventually wean ourselves off the black nectar. I know the health implications are really bad.

Have you always been interested in sustainability?

I’ll admit that no, I haven’t. In my child/early teen, I had environmental books and such. When I got to secondary school (middle school) -- Bam! That’s when I fell into the mind set of “this is what we need to do…think…feel in the midst of trying to confine to normality." Not only has it become important to sell environmentally friendly products, but to talk about them and share the problems we need to address. This has awakened a source of excitement in me!

How long have you had your Etsy shop?

I started my Etsy Shop in March 2017, after realizing that zero waste items were too expensive for the people in my area to afford. Most people shop at the Poundshop (99cent Store) because there is one on every high street offering cheap, but nasty goods. It all started with our Beeswax Wraps, because I wanted to use an alternative to cling film. After seeing some DIY tutorials, I thought I could do this myself.


What do you think are the most difficult parts of the zero waste lifestyle?

Buying food! You can be starving in a supermarket and it’s so easy to grab anything from that convenient fridge at the entrance of the door! The snack packs for the kids, the individually wrapped things, so the toddler doesn’t eat it all in one sitting. The next thing for me is deodorant, I’ve tried quite a few brands and let’s say that I am less than impressed as I can still smell me or feel conscious of what’s going on. I can go days without using deodorant, only using it on nice nights out.

Why do you think more people haven't transitioned?

Honestly, my age group seems to be more aware of the difference from our childhood to what the world looks like now. As a result, I feel these are the age groups who are transitioning. Many from my generation still know what hedgerows or fields look like without unnecessary plastic or litter in them. We also went to the shop with our bottles and reused them and our parents cooked everything from scratch. I think the main reason people won’t transition is cost. This is why I want to keep my shop affordable for all budgets and recommend not transitioning straight away, slowly is key. I’m still replacing certain things like plastic lunch boxes and haven’t got anywhere close to growing my own food! As I mentioned earlier, when you can get a five pack of plastic toothbrushes for £1/1$, why would you look or think about the actions and repercussions behind this purchase? If the truth was shown to everybody on the shelves or regularly displayed I’m not so sure everyone would buy the disposable plastic. However when people are in a rush, hungry, or thirsty, it won’t matter what you offer. It’s a fast lifestyle we lead, without any patience or concern for the environment.

Why has our society become reliant on disposables?

I feel that our society has become more disposable simply because the option is there. Our human nature is to take the shortest route possible to get what we need, expending the least amount of energy possible. Whether this is to cut across the field instead of walk around it, or to microwave our food rather than to source the ingredients and then cook it. Many of you will say, “I’m not lazy, I am efficient”!!! In the UK, we have banned the plastic bag; instead we charge 5 pence for the smallest one. This allows people to question if they want to pay for the small bag. People only have a certain amount these days to spend after bills and they spend it on what they feel is worthy. Ask people to spend £10 on a bag of Soap Nuts that will last them anywhere from a year to 3 years on washing, when they have £10 for the week is not feasible. However I can only speak for my experience of my area and the type of people surrounding it, I am from a small town in North East England, 40 mins south of Newcastle and 1 hour north of Leeds. In my town we have been hit hard by unemployment and we are now one of the poorest towns in the UK. This also prompted me to begin thinking about sustainability. Our town’s citizens need a reusable revolution to utilise the little money it has to invest in necessities.

How can I improve my impact?

We can all improve, right?! Nobody’s perfect. My family and I have certainly failed on many occasions this Plastic Free July, especially on our minibreak! It made me realise how daunting it can be for someone who is starting out on the Zero Waste journey! We did not plan well, even though we thought we had! I think we could start to use cloth nappies again. In the future we could convert my diesel car to a gas car or hybrid. I can stop buying food that has been heavily processed, as my kids shouldn’t really be eating it anyway. I could also lessen my pointless journeys in the car to shops I don’t need to go to, to buy things I don’t need. I could religiously buy fruit and veg without a plastic wrap and bulk buy goods. I could also only buy clothes from charity shops, online like Ebay or Facebook groups, the same with the kid’s clothes. I could also, when needed, get the kids wooden toys instead of plastic ones. I could also source our milk in glass bottles, as I am aware that this still occurs somewhere! Oh god, I could actually go on and depress myself with how little I’ve done! Hah. The main thing I take from our little zero waste journeys is the fight and passion in me to raise awareness and to set our family on the right path. As long as that path steers true it doesn’t matter how long or how far it will go! Everybody can start to be zero waste just try it you might like it!!......

If you want to follow me on facebook @beesewresponsible or Instagram @beesewresponsible5456 please do! No trolls though! haha I gave up playing with them in primary school! Love and hugs guys and gals. Angela and family! xxxx

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Trendy and Sustainable: Adidas Sports Fashion Company

I always loved fashion and clothes! During my transition into a more sustainable and zero waste lifestyle, I stopped purchasing “fast-fashion” items because of the extreme negative impact the clothes have on the environment.

For more information on the issues of the fast-fashion industry, please watch the True Cost on Netflix. Fast fashion can quickly be defined as trendy clothing that is often cheaply manufactured and consequently enabled to remain inexpensive due to unethical practices and lack of environmental consideration. I made the decision to only shop at thrift stores, goodwill, and other second hand stores.

When I couldn't find a pair of sneakers that I liked and came in my size, I decided to widen my search to sustainable stores. I was shocked to hear that Adidas, a trendy sports company that is plastered on every billboard in the world, could be a sustainable, eco-friendly company that cared about the environment.

Here are four different approaches that helps make Adidas a more sustainable company.

Here are four different approaches that helps make Adidas a more sustainable company.

Here are four different approaches that help make Adidas a more sustainable company:

Adidas is a famous sports company. Since 1989, they have made strides to make their company more eco-friendly and sustainable. In 2016, Adidas was listed fifth among the ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World’ and was recognized as the leader in its industry. It was the third consecutive year that the company has been included in the Top 10 of the Global 100 Index. They are also a plastic-bag free store.

Despite using some new plastic, Adidas continues to try and use organic cotton, recycled nylon, ocean plastic, recycled plastic, and other reusable and natural materials. This new Sustainable Strategy, has become their holistic framework for the production, manufacturing, and purchasing of all current and future items. This has allowed them to look into using recycled nylon for their swim wear, all recycled plastic in the heel of their sneakers, and many other sustainable innovations. Adidas also partners with various environmental, textile, and human rights organizations.

I don't usually support trendy companies that are scattered around fashion blogger's Instagrams. If more sustainable and eco-friendly bloggers talked about Adidas's positive impact --> fashion bloggers might consider to do the same to gain more followers --> then we can inspire other companies to do the same. Unfortunately, when you look on their Instagram and other social media platforms, it doesn’t look like the majority of their influencers, celebrity speakers, and the company stores don’t talk about the environmental practices that Adidas is trying to enforce in the fashion industry.

Next time you are thinking about getting some new sneakers, work-out gear, or even a cool t-shirt, vote with your dollar for sustainable companies!

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