Transition

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.  

The Ever Evolving Debate Around Climate Change!

We hear a bunch about climate change, global warming, and rising sea levels; but do we know what these terms actually mean?

Do you know where these terms originated? Do you know the different opinions and sides of this particular conversation?

I certainly didn’t until a couple of months ago. After talking with a friend of mine and visiting a class on biodiversity, I realized that there was a ton of information about climate change that I didn’t know about.

Now, I do believe that this is an important issue; but it’s important to note that many don’t believe this is an actual issue at all.

To many, including myself, climate change is a problem that will set back our ability to help restore the natural balance in our planet. This will lead to an increase in natural disasters, rising sea levels, and other issues concerning our planet.

Climate change is a change in global or regional climate patterns. More specifically, it has been a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. The popular belief is that these fossil fuels are man made and a big reason for the increase in hurricanes, wind storms, snow storms and more.

However, many believe that climate change is natural, and there is nothing we should do to help stabilize the global and regional climate patterns because doesn't need to be stabilized. When someone says that Climate Change isn’t real, they are explaining that they don’t believe that these changes in climate patterns are an issue. (Check out more information on both sides at ProandCon.com.) This may be the less popular side of the debate, but many still believe in it.

So, why is it important to show both sides? It’s important because you will probably encounter people who don’t believe that climate change is a result of human activity - namely, the use of fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases. No matter how many times you want to yell and scream at them, it’s important to understand that change doesn't come from anger.

Will all of that yelling and screaming actually make anyone change their mind, or just stress you out? This is especially important if you have a friend, family member, or someone else in your life that you have to be around on a daily basis. Very similar to when talking with people about Zero Waste, take a deep breath and do your research!

Did you know that the term Climate Change goes all the way back to the 1800’s. In 1896 to be specific, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius was the first to suggest that fossil fuel combustion may eventually result in enhanced global warming. Before plastic, factory farms, and oil spills had become daily news, Arrhenius had already known that the use of fossil fuels would cause severe issues for our planet. He and Thomas Chamberlin calculated that human activities could warm the earth by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This research was a by-product of research that was being conducted on whether carbon dioxide would explain the causes of the great Ice Ages. However, it has been said that this wasn't verified until 1987.

Unfortunately, after these discoveries, the topic of climate change wasn’t talked about for a long time. It was during this time that many thought that human influences were insignificant compared to natural forces, something that many still believe today.

It was also believed that the oceans were great carbon sinks that they would automatically cancel out our pollution. I don’t believe that many feel like this is true anymore, however, people do deny climate change as it is seen as a natural force that we can’t do anything to prevent from occurring. Despite all of our fossil fuels imitation, it was going to occur because that’s what mother nature has planned for us.

In the 1940’s, there were developments in infrared spectroscopy that measured long-wave radiation. At the time, it was proven that increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulted in more absorption and warm up the planet. It was also discovered that water vapor adsorbed totally different types of radiation than carbon dioxide.

In 1955, Gilbert Plass concluded that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would actually trap the infrared radiation that was getting reflected off the earth’s surface and back out into space. In the 1950’s and early 60’s, Charles Keeling used the most modern technologies to produce concentration curves for atmospheric CO2 in Antarctica and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. These curves have become one of the major icons of global warming. They showed a downward trend of global annual temperature from the 1940’s to the 70’s. At the same time ocean sediment research revealed that there has been no less than 32 cold-warm cycles in the last 2.5 million years. As a result, many began to fear that the development of a new ice age might be near. Many believed that the media and scientists ignored the date of the 50’s and 60’s in favor of global cooling.



keeling_curve200-dcfcf0795da7688b757ef6224b24476134b8186f-s6-c30 (1).jpg

In the 1980’s, it was acknowledged that the climate was warmer than any period since 1880. The greenhouse effect theory was named and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. People began to question the theory of an upcoming ice age, especially in the late 80’s when the curves began to increase so steeply that the global warming theory became headline news. Environmental NGO’s started to advocate global environmental protection to prevent further warming. This press gained an interest in the topic of global warming. However, it seems like nothing has really changed.

In the 90’s, many scientists started to question the greenhouse effect theory, because of some uncertainties in the data and model outcomes. Cooling trends were not explained by the global warming data and satellites showed completely different temperatures recorded from the initial ones. The idea began to grow that global warming models had overestimated the warming trend of the past 100 years. Currently, this idea is being widely debated by scientists, politicians, and people all around the world. That is why many don’t believe that Climate Change is an issue. What if you ask them about their thoughts on the amount of trash the produce. Would they like to limit their trash as much as they possibly can? The majority of people would think that this a good idea. Especially since many cities and towns around the United States don’t have curbside garbage or recycling.

By limiting your and others’ trash/consumption, you are not buying into capitalism, which part of what perpetuates the consumption of fossil fuels that negatively impact our planet. If you encounter someone who doesn’t know a ton about Climate Change and are wondering why people don’t believe that this is an issue, you have the research to explain the other side of the debate. You are also able to have a very well-researched debate on this issue that is more than just trying to tell them that we have to save our planet. I am not telling you to agree or believe in their point of view, or to even support it. I believe that by exploring the other side, we are more likely to have constructive conversations with people about these issues and show others that we have explored the two main sides to the argument/debate. In layman's terms, if you listen to the climate deniers/ skeptics, in return they are most likely to listen to you.

I also want to add that this will allow you to become more passionate about the topic of Climate Change. I had no idea that this term began in the 1800’s. As a result, I have continued to do more research on the scientific papers and research that had come out during that time and compare it to the type of research that is coming out today. This has allowed me to continue finding research that supports and possibly contradicts the point of view- which is that Climate Change is an artificial man made issue that has increased the amount of hurricanes, storms, and other natural disasters. This will help me strengthen my argument when it comes to discussing this particular topics with people who don’t have the same opinions and point of view.

Here are a list of websites that will be more helpful in your research on Climate Change and the ever evolving debate.

http://www.climatedebatedaily.com/

https://www.livescience.com/16388-climate-change-debate-man-nature.html


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/

 

 

 

 

Living with Non-Zero Wasters

Introduction:

(Disclaimer: We all have different experiences when it comes to living with non-zero wasters.)

About a year ago, I found the zero waste lifestyle and wanted to get rid of all of the plastic and trash in my life. The big problem was that I live with my parents who aren’t zero waste. When I first talking with them about the lifestyle, I hopped that they would be completely on-board. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. As a result, I began to argue with them about why they continued to use plastic water bottles, to go cups, paper napkins, cleaners full of chemicals, detergent, dryer sheets, and other wasteful things that I didn’t want in my living space anymore. These arguments made me annoyed, discouraged, and stressed out, because I felt like I couldn’t be zero waste as long as my family were continuing to produce a ton of trash. However, their trash isn’t my trash.

By preaching to my parents and getting into arguments, I was explaining to them that everything they do is wrong and I know how to fix it. Adults don’t tend to respond well to this type of explanations, since they believe they are suppose to teach you. As a result, these arguments just made it unpleasant to live with them and made me feel inferior. The Number 1 Most Important Thing to Remember is that Their Trash Isn’t Your Trash. As long as you are doing your part to reduce your waste, then you have to let go of some of the stuff that you can’t control. This will allow you to de-stress and not feel so anxious about living with non-zero wasters.

Support:

Support is the number one key factor when it comes to living with people. If you are living with people who don’t support who you are, then you can’t live with that person. It doesn’t matter how many conversations you have with that person, if they can’t be supportive then it’s not going to work. That goes for anything in life, not just the zero waste lifestyle.

Now, your probably wondering how can you tell if they are supportive? If they are constantly asking questions about the lifestyle, talking with you about the lifestyle, or even go right out and tell you that they support you in your decision to be zero waste, then they support you! This is integral to all conversations that you will have with them about the lifestyle. 

Once you understand that they support you in your decision to be zero waste, try to do as much research as possible. Ask them to watch some documentaries with you, or send them a few articles that have really interested you. Just as long as you aren’t spamming them with zero waste, they will begin to become interested in the topic and your new lifestyle without feeling pressured to start the lifestyle.  

Questions:

When they start asking questions, try to answer it to the best of your ability. If you can’t, then look it up and you two can have a discussion about it! A family member of mine asked me what are the essential items for the zero waste lifestyle, I gave them a list of my top 10, but I also explained to them that the lifestyle can’t be done with just these products, it’s an ever evolving lifestyle that becomes a part of you. This way, you provided them with an answer to your questions, while also leading them with wanting to learn more.

I have also had my fair share of “odd questions” like, well if someone gifted you a new item, would that be able to except that item? Does that item follow your lifestyle? Try to approach this question in a respectful manner by explaining that a gift is a great thing, and that you would never disrespect the other person by not accepting the gift. I also think it’s important to explain that you try to give everyone a list of gifts that you would really enjoy. This allows them to feel comfortable in still being able to buy you something, and makes you feel better by not getting mad at them for asking an odd question.

Make Changes in Your Own Life!

Start making changes in your life that wont effect the people you live with. By thrifting, purchasing package free items, and making your own you are starting your transition without making them feel like you are forcing them to change their lifestyle. This will also lead to more discussions and conversations with whomever you live with. People are naturally interested in what others are doing, and when they start asking more questions about how they can start making changes in their life to be a little less wasteful. This is your sweet spot to start asking them how you can start making changes in the common spaces.

What Changes Are They Comfortable With?

Talk with your roomies, family, or partner about what changes they would be most comfortable with doing that would help you all reduce your waste. I have heard people say that they started with getting rid of napkins and paper towels, or simply using reusable bags and water bottles. Whatever works for you, is how you need to start. Don’t feel like you aren’t doing enough because they aren’t doing enough. Everyone has to go at their own pace.

My parents have composted for years, so I started with the composting situation; since my family can be lazy and throw the compost in the garbage. This was an amazing start and allowed me to feel like I was making a difference in my zero waste lifestyle. I also began adapting a more plant-based diet. This wasn’t out of the norm as I was a vegetarian for four years in college, and my family doesn’t eat a ton of meat or dairy. About a year later, my family will still use paper napkins and towels, they don’t bring their own utensils, to go containers, or coffee mugs to places; and I am okay with that because their trash isn’t my trash.

Difference Between Roomies, Partners, and Parents

(Disclaimer: I have lived with roommates in the past, but not during my zero waste journey. This portion will explore how I have dealt with living with my sister, who is a year younger, since I believe many of the same principles can apply to a roommate.) 

For the first 5 months of my journey, I lived with just my parents. However, in May of 2017, my sister moved back home as well. This made it easier in some areas and more difficult in many ways. I believe that people who are around the same age as me are more understanding about the various changes within the zero waste guidelines then people who are a lot older than me.

Around the time that my sister moved back in I had also lost my job, so I wasn’t able to do the majority of the grocery shopping like I had done prior to her moving in. She also enjoys doing her own grocery shopping, As a result, there was a ton more packaged food products and other items coming into the house. Luckily, I was able to approach the situation without feeling as if I was preaching to them about my lifestyle. Instead, I focused on the fact that her garbage wasn’t mine. I also began to construct my grocery lists around what she was purchasing. This would allow me to feel better about using up what she already had, instead of it going to waste. This is one example on how you can help reduce their waste.

However, my sister also does a ton of online shopping, purchases clothes from fast fashion stores, and also buys a ton of body and face products. Yes, I can be there for her when she does ask me questions about the zero waste lifestyle, but I also can’t stop her from going shopping or doing something she enjoys. I also can’t make her feel bad about herself either. All of this would end up in the two of us having a big argument that wouldn’t go anywhere or make any sort of improvement. Instead, I go shopping with her when she asks, or I decide to do my own personal activity while she is shopping. We make it work by respecting and supporting each other’s lifestyles, instead of pushing our own point of views onto each other.

Roommates and Partners can definitely be different. Especially when roomies are friends, who aren’t completely on-board for being zero waste. At the end of the day, It’s all in the way that you approach the situations or topics, and how they seem to support you in your way of life. If they don’t support you, then this isn’t going to work; but if they do, then you will be able to make it work. You just have to start discussions and conversations, instead of arguing. Share information through a few articles and documentaries, instead of spamming their inboxes. Also, ask other zero wasters online or in person various questions that may help you get through a difficult situation that has arouse. This will make your life and others around you more stress free and enjoyable, especially when they decide to start making the transition themselves!

Focus on the Positives, Not the Negatives!

Whenever you do anything, don’t concentrate on why your family, roomies, or partner wont stop using paper towels or toxic cleaners, but focus on what they are doing to make their life a little less wasteful. This year, my parents not only followed me zero waste list, but also got me a really nice and comfortable sweater from Patagonia, a sustainable clothing brand that I continue to support. My sister bought me a nutcracker, since I collect them, and a few clothing items from Goodwill. This was an amazing win for them and me because I felt good that they took notice and made sure that they gave me presents that I would love.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, you are in control of how you speak with your fellow non-zero wasters about the lifestyle. By talking with them in a calm and more supportive matter, you are going to get someone who is supportive and wants to learn more about the lifestyle. If you speak to them in an aggressive and pushy manner, then you are going to get someone who is constantly pushing back against the lifestyle. This will allow you to feel as if you can make a difference within your own personal space and continue to want to become as zero waste as possible! Please comment below if you have any questions or comments about your own transition and living with non- zero wasters.

Articles and Other Bloggers:

Sustainability Vegan Video on Living With Non-Zero Wasters:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvtdMjpyd6Q&t=2s

Gittemary Johnson's Living with Non-Zero Waste Roommates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYe4cR-jZvs

Going Zero Waste article on Living with Non Zero Wasters: https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/zero-waste-and-roommates

Paris To Go article on Going Zero Waste When No One Else Wants To: http://www.paris-to-go.com/2016/04/zero-waste-life-with-non-zero-waste-family-members.html

 

 

 

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. 

A Broke College Student's Guide to the Zero Waste Lifestyle

Recently, I have received a lot of questions from students in college, or recent college graduates about how to stay zero waste when you have LITTLE MONEY. The life of a college student is also a life where you totally lack expendable income. Zero-waste living may seem expensive, thanks to Instagram and advertisements. But, honestly, it's not as difficult as you may think. I graduated from college 18 months ago and I believe that the zero waste lifestyle has allowed me to be more financially free.

Here are my tips on how you too can live a life of more freedom and possibilities with less worry and stress:

1. Don't Let Anyone Intimidate You! You Are Doing Your Best!

I am starting off with this one because this is something that I tell myself every morning. Recently, on a Facebook group, someone asked if they should continue purchasing tea in compostable packaging, or if it was worth a 2 hour drive to their local bulk store to purchase bulk tea. Many people jumped on how they should have a bulk tea place near them because they are "EVERYWHERE". I immediately replied with, "my local health food stores has a very limited section of bulk items, and I have never been able to find bulk tea near me. I also swear by compostable tea because they are going right back into the earth.”

At the end of the day don't let anyone make you feel like your impact isn't good enough. Not everyone can find all of their items package free and put them in aesthetically pleasing mason jars. YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST AND THAT IS ENOUGH!

2. Try to Find as Much as You Can in BULK!

Now, I understand that you can't find everything in the bulk section, but that doesn't mean you should always rely on plastic packaging. My local health food store has a huge area full of package free fruits and produce that I can put in my own bags! They also sell package free rice, beans, dried fruit, and granola that I eat on a regular basis! By purchasing these times in bulk, I am letting them know that I prefer these items to those that have a ton of plastic packaging. My choice to “vote with my dollars” influences their decision to expand their bulk section.

That being said, it's also completely okay if you can't afford some of the bulk items. Think about buying items with a decent shelf-life in larger quantities. It’s better to get one plastic bag for 4lbs than 4 plastic bags of 1lb quantities. This, of course, doesn’t help if the food expires/goes stale before you can eat it. Think about this in terms of foods you can freeze, or items that are shelf-stable.

3. There are a TON of Items that Come in Compostable Packaging!!!

Just last month, I purchased some coffee in paper packaging! This is the most ideal kind of packaging because I am able to put it right back into the earth. I understand that many of you may not have a composting system in your dorm room or house. I know that it may seem as if plastic packaging is everywhere, but just look around and read some labels, you will be surprised to see what you can find!

4. Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, and Recycle!

For many of you who live in a dorm or at home, where you may not be able to compost, there are other ways to reduce your trash! By reducing, refusing, and reusing your packaging, you are also limiting a ton of plastic and other types of packaging from ending up in the landfill.

However, recycling is one of the most controversial topics within the zero waste lifestyle.

Many believe that sending things to the recycling center is just as bad, since it take a lot of energy to repurpose the items into new products. While, others believe that recycling is a great option for those who don't have a ton of bulk or package free items available to them. That being said, no one really shares how much they are actually sending to the recycling center. Until now: go check out Jane_and_Simple, an awesome zero waste blog run by a women named Jane. Every month she explains every item that she will be sending to recycle and landfill and why. These posts are informative and allow you to think about your own personal choices a lot more.

Try to find items you can reuse over recycling, if there’s an option.

5. Bring your Own Containers and Bags When You Are Eating Out or Getting Take Away!

I have found that many still feel a bit weird about doing this, but I have never been treated negatively for doing so. As a matter of fact, every restaurant that I have been to compliments me for bringing my own containers and some even reduce a certain percentage of my bill. You are saving them money by refusing their plastic to-go containers and plastic bags.

Whenever, I go to a coffee shop to do some work, I always bring a cup in case they don't have normal coffee mugs available. I have also been able to put bagels, donuts, and other items in my own bags as well. It's awesome what people will do when you ask!

6. You Don’t Have To Explain Yourself!

When I first started my zero waste journey and a person asked me if I wanted a plastic to go container, I would try to reply with "I am allergic to plastic and can't use your containers." This is a trick that many have used from Bea Johnson's book the Zero Waste Home and it may never fail, however it is lying. Do you want to go through life lying to others. Over the past 2 years, I have learned that it is better to just say “No, I have my own container.” You may get some weird looks, but don't worry about it as long as you get what you want! As far as I know, using your own containers doesn't violate any health codes or violations because you aren't asking them to clean or store your containers, just put your items into them.

7. STOP THE FAST FASHION MADNESS!

You may or may not have a full time job that probably pays you $40,000 a year at the most. You are probably paying off loans, rent, bills, and other important items that your money should go towards. Fast fashion items aren't manufactured or constructed well and are marketed for people who always want to be fashionable. Those items have a closet lifespan of about 4 months before they’re tossed to a thrift store or worse, a landfill. By purchasing items from thrift stores you are giving them a second life and promoting a circular economy. You are also not placing your dollars into the hands of corporations that are promoting unethical practices, and lack of environmental responsibility.

8. SPEND Your Money on Adventures and Memories, Instead of Items!

This has been a weird subject on Facebook. Many have begun asking, how do I talk my family into not getting me any gifts when they are so materialistic?

Many respond with, "Don't get them anything because people who are materialistic are shit heads" or my personal favorite, "Why would anyone ask that question?" As a result of years and years of marketing and influencing, our society has become largely materialistic.

Now, we all agree that this does have to stop; but that also doesn't mean that everyone who doesn't agree with this idea are "shit heads who don't deserve anything.” Instead I recommend writing them a list of activities that you would like to do with them as presents!

This allows them to still think that they are purchasing you something, while also spending time with you! The adventures and memories that I make with family and friends are more important to me than any items that I have been given. When I was in college, I enjoyed taking trips, hosting parties, and having fun with my friend's far more than getting lots of presents on my birthday and other holidays.

9. Forget about the TRASH Jar!

I know that everyone wants to be like Lauren Singer, who claims that she hasn't produced any trash in the last 4 years or so. That idea isn't exactly realistic for everyone (or anyone)! Especially when it comes to college students and recent grads who are concentrating too much on trying to find a job, a place to live, paying off their loans, and a bunch of more important things.

However, that shouldn't be a reason for someone to give up on trying to be zero waste! Even Lauren Singer withholds items from her trash jar, that are trash. Many people who promote a trash jar don’t put in items they are accidentally given (they say no straw, the waiter brings a straw), medicine, moving materials, etc. More so, a trash jar doesn’t show that there is plastic behind the scenes. In our beloved bulk bins, those package free items we joyously buy most likely arrived at the store in a large plastic bag.

10. NO ONE IS PERFECT!

If Lauren Singer was the perfect zero waster, than she wouldn't have a single item of trash or carbon footprint. She wouldn’t fly or drive. She wouldn’t use non-renewable energy sources like electricity. Her store would be 100% clean energy powered, etc. There is still a ton of waste that goes on behind the scenes, especially in New York City.

You shouldn't stress out about not being perfect either! It's amazing when you join a community full of people who believe in what you are trying to do and want to make the world a better place. I love that this lifestyle brings people together, instead of dividing them! It makes people want to do more and be better. It creates conversation and helps us all think about our actions!

You aren't perfect, but you are doing the best you can for now. Maybe in a few years, you can do more. Maybe not. Don’t freak out about it! We are all in this together, and together we can bring about positive change.


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!



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! 

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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