Review

The History of Ziploc bags & A Zero Waste Alternative!

The average American family uses 500 Ziploc bags every year. This seems insane, since ziploc baggies are created to hold something for a moment of time. After the person removes that item from the bag, it is discarded in the trash or recycling. Yes, many ziploc baggies can be recycled, check out to see if your city recycles them in my Recycling Guide HERE!!! Needless to say, these baggies can’t be recycled an infinite amount of times. When they do end up in the landfill, oceans, or other areas of the planet they can be detrimental to our health and the environment. In this post, I will be going through the history of the plastic baggie, and an alternative that will help you reduce your waste and save you money in the long run.

In 1951, an inventor named Borge Madsen applied for a patent for a plastic slide fastener, which was the precursor of today’s familiar zip lock bag. His original design was slightly more complex than the current version and it looked like a traditional zipper with a tab. The same year, the company Flexigrip was founded with the intention of developing and marketing a product based on Madsen’s invention. As a result, he came up with the “press and seal” type of zipper that we most commonly use today.

Currently, the Ziploc is a brand name for plastic storage bags and many other products made by SC Johnson. The baggie is made out of either a low-density polyethylene (or LDPE, which corresponds with plastic #4) or high density polyethylene (or HDPE, which corresponds with plastic #2). Most film is recycled into composite lumber, a highly durable building material that is used for decks, benches, and playground equipment. These are great items, but they can’t be recycled again. All of the recycled plastic baggies will eventually end up in the landfill.

What if I could give you an amazing option that was waterproof and does NOT contain lead, phthalates, BPA or brominates and is tested for contact with foods! The Etsy shop BeegoHandmade creates amazing food pouches out of lightweight cotton and a Food, Medical Grade and Waterproof fabric for the inside lining of the pouches!!! They come in amazing patterns, including my personal favorite below!

I take them everywhere with me, including on weekend get away trips to ensure that I always keep snacks on me at all times! They are easy to clean with some soap and water, no washer machine or dishwasher necessary!!! These pouches do start off at $10 dollars each, which can be a little pricey. When you add up the amount of money you pay per year for ziploc baggies, these bad boys pay for themselves! Best of all you are supporting a thriving small business run by a women named Adriaan who currently lives in Richmond VA, where she creates all of the baggies!!


Best of all, she has offered a Coupon Code: ZERO15 for 15% off from now until March 24th 2018!! If you are in the market to purchase some amazing, durable, and waterproof baggies, I highly recommend checking her shop out!

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/

 

 

 

 

All About Zero Waste Tea

I have received a lot of questions regarding the tea companies I support. Especially since I can't find an bulk tea places near me, except ones that are super expensive. Unfortunately, many in the zero waste community have explained that all tea companies in the world use plastic in their bags to make sure that they don't biodegrade. Though many do, there are some companies that don't use plastic in their tea bags. 

Instead, they use a corn starch compound that when mixed with the paper, forums a bag that wont break when put into hot water. Companies like Tea Pigs, Yogi Team, and many others found in the natural food section of your local grocery store all have corn starch instead of plastic in their tea bags. Now, it's always a better option to purchase tea package free. Unfortunately, it isn't regularly available to everyone. I enjoy supporting these companies and their efforts to try and make more sustainable products available to everyone. 

I have decided to enclose a list of tea companies who are biodegradable and the prices of these teas, to ensure you that their really is a company for everyone! 

Yogi Tea-

This is my personal favorite because I can find it everywhere, including Walmart for $3. That is insanely cheap for a sustainable product. They also make all of their packaging out of paper, cardboard, and soy ink. Everything, including the box, can be put into the compost. A lot of their teas are also organic and all of their tea is fair trade! 

Tea Pigs- 

This company is another favorite, but is definitely on the more expensive side at $8 a box. I can only find it at my local health food store. The tea is organic and fair trade. They a pretty good selection of teas, but unfortunately their bags are put in a plastic bag to ensure they stay fresh instead of paper. This is the biggest reason why I have decided to stop purchasing their tea. 

Traditional Medicinals- 

This company is a great one if you are looking for some classic remedies! They are regularly available at many stores, including my main grocery store. They are usually around $5 a box. I personally love their Lavender and Chamomile Tea for at night, which is all organic and fair trade. They entire box and tea bags are compostable and the company itself runs on renewable energy!! Better yet, they explain all of their companies information on the box itself so no research necessary! 

Choice Tea- 

I haven't yet to try this company out yet, but I find that they are available at my local health food store. Like the ones above, they have remarkable values and packaging! They also have an organization that is attached to the company and make sure that their farmers are satisfied. They aren't too expensive at $5 a box and are completely compostable and organic. They also now have mushroom teas for people who are interested in mushrooms for anxiety and depression. 

Numi Tea- 

Like Tea Pigs, Numi Tea is on the expensive side at $8 a box. They do use a lot of turmeric and ginger in their tea. I personally enjoy their turmeric and black teas once in a while. The company is very similar to the ones above, and continues to work with farmers in India to bring sustainable and organic tea to the rest of the world. They also have a rooibos tea that I was obsessed with in college. Unfortunately, my local health food store stopped caring it. 

Reshi Tea- 

This is another company on the higher end, that makes a lot of interesting Tea Blends. You may have heard Catlin Shoemaker from FromMyBowl mention their Turmeric and Ginger tea. They are around $7-8 a box. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find them at many of my local health food stores. 

These are just a small list of the amount of teas that come in compostable packaging. I feel like everytime I go to the grocery store, I am pleasently surprised to see more companies moving away from using plastic in their tea bags. This is an incredible strive in the zero waste lifestyle and a great way to allow more people to start transitioning their lifestyle without breaking the bank or driving hours away to purchase bulk tea. 

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!!! 

Top 5 Best Sustainable, Vegan, and Minimalistic Documentaries!

There are a lot of documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. It is difficult to find great documentaries on sustainability, veganism, and minimalism that are actually trying to educate people on the lifestyle, instead of explaining it as a forum of entertainment.

It is also important that documentaries explore important issues in modern society, explaining how you could enter that lifestyle and ultimately bringing positivity into your life. It is always helpful when someone brings up an issue, or problem, to attach a solution to it. Introducing a problem with no solution may still be necessary but isn’t inherently productive, and it’s certainly not positive.

The reason I have chosen veganism, minimalism, and sustainability-centered documentaries is because there is a ton of overlap between these three lifestyles. Many who are sustainable are also vegan and minimalistic.

Here are my top 5 documentaries (in descending order) that I believe more people should watch to gain more knowledge and information about these three lifestyles:

5) Food Inc.

Food Inc. is the documentary that forced me to think critically about the vegan lifestyle, especially when it comes to the lack of current regulations in the meat and dairy industry.  The documentary follows the lives of farmers, parents, and many people who have seen the negative effects of the meat and dairy industry. One parent, in particular, watched her son die because of salmonella poisoning from uncooked chicken. This documentary shocked me into the vegan lifestyle, but it didn’t tell me how to go about pursuing the lifestyle. It just told me to stop eating meat. Since I didn’t know a lot about the veganism, I ended up eating a lot of salads and I actually lost weight very quickly because I wasn’t gaining the right nutrients that I needed. For those reasons, I have decided to place this documentary at number 5 on my list.

4) The True Cost

The true cost is a documentary that looks into the various issues concerning the fast fashion industry. The fast fashion industry includes H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, Target, and other cheap, unethical, and unsustainable clothing stores. The companies out source their employees to third world countries like Bangladash. The employees are not paid fair wages and are forced to work in inhumane working conditions. The documentary also talks about how the owners and CEOs of these companies reap all the benefits of their popularity. By showing you the horrors of the fast fashion industry, the documentary allows people to think more critically about our consumeristic society.

3) The Minimalists

Once I began eating a more plant-based diet, I began to understand the larger implications of consumerism. I decided to take my research a step further and take a look at the documentary, The Minimalists. This documentary explains positives and negatives of an extreme minimalist lifestyle, and how one can become more minimal. Instead of explaining minimalism as a trend, it reveals the various issues within the consumerist culture. The film is filled with footage of people kicking and screaming their way through stores on Black Friday. The two founders/The Minimalists, who created their website to spread the positive aspects of the minimalistic lifestyle also explain the unsatisfactory life that many consumers live. Stuff can buy happiness for that moment. Unfortunately, when the moment passes, one feels that they need to purchase something else to get that feeling back. This comes with even more intensity when people use coupons or only purchase things on sale. In the end, they have a whole bunch of stuff that they hate. We can combat consumerism by thinking critically about our purchases and really asking ourselves, “can we live without this?” When we as a society slowly begin to realize that what we thought we needed isn’t actually a need, we began to find ourselves spending less and less money and feeling more content.

2) A Plastic Ocean

We have finally reached the top two of the list! It was a difficult decision, but I have put this documentary at number 2 for many reasons. One in particular is that it ties the other three documentaries together, while also looking at plastic in a new way. I found that by trying to stay vegan and minimalist, I still continued to purchase things that were plastic. Plastic is an oil-based compound that can be made cheaply and molded into almost anything. However, it’s endangering our wildlife, especially those who live in the ocean. One of the most important facts about our world that no one can deny is that our planet is mostly blue. Unfortunately, scientists have predicted that because of the amount of plastic, including micro plastics that are in the ocean, every single underwater animal has some form of plastic in its body. When we eat these animals, we ingest this plastic material. Many have not considered or discussed this horrifying reality when talking about the plastic industry and veganism. The documentary also follows a family as they try to reduce the amount of plastic they use on a daily basis. Please check it out if you haven’t already, or don’t think you can give up some food items that are wrapped in plastic. This documentary will definitely have you thinking otherwise.

1)   The Human Experiment

We have finally made it to number 1! This documentary is one of the most eye opening documentaries that I have ever watched. Especially as someone whose family members have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This documentary may cross the fine line between educational and horrifying. However, it speaks to a larger audience, which I think needs to be done more often. Most documentaries are speaking to either a younger or older generation. This particular film takes stories from young people, older people, minorities, and people from varying backgrounds to explain how terrifying plastic, chemicals, and harmful toxins are to our bodies. For those reasons I have decided to put it as number 1. This is definitely not for people who have just started the zero waste lifestyle. Instead this is better suited for those who sometimes think it’s too difficult and need a bit of a push of encouragement to continue pressing forward. This documentary follows the lives of people whose health has been directly infused by chemicals that are mass marketed to everyone as safe and effective. It ties in elements from all the four other documentaries, while also touching on subjects that people usually turn away from wanting to learn about, since “everyone dies at some point in their life, right?” What if we could stop using plastic and chemicals and live longer?

Lucky for you, the majority of these documentaries are found on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

I am always up for watching and hearing more about amazing documentaries. Let me know in the comments if I forgot any!