Posted in Environment

Earth Day 2019

If you’ve seen my previous Earth Day/ environmental posts, you might remember my commitment to small steps every year that are beneficial for the Earth. If I can figure out the new blog format, I’ll share links here otherwise, search for EARTH DAY in my search bar.

Change 1: Bees Wrap

As much as I love baking bread, I’m uncomfortable with all the recipes that say “cover with plastic wrap and let rise.” My grandma used a damp cotton towel and if the bowl is big enough, that works pretty well, but if the dough gets into the towel, it’s a mess. I got Bees Wrap at Christmas and WOW! Bees Wrap is perfect for covering bowls. I also use it to keep the bread fresh on the counter. It washes up easily with cold water, and dough doesn’t stick! We still keep plastic wrap in the house but we’ve cut our household use of plastic wrap in half, thanks to Bees Wrap. They have an Earth Day special, which is a great excuse to check out Bees Wrap for yourself.

Change 2: Reusable Straws.

My kids are hooked on straws and they love sea turtles. After learning about the sea turtle found with a straw in its nose, they wanted to make a change. I bought stainless steel collapsible straws with fancy silicone covers so a) you could identify your straw and b) you could protect your lips from overly cold or hot drink temps. Frankly, this change has been a bust. We haven’t used straws at home for years and for the reusable straws to work away from home, you have to take the straws with you. We have remembered to carry them exactly twice. We’re not big straw people, so for us, it’s easier to decline straws at restaurants and other venues rather than carrying our stainless steel ones. If you are a straw fan and want to make the change to reusable straws, there are plenty of choices in various widths and most are dishwasher safe. For my family “refuse” turned out to be a more sustainable choice than “reuse.”

Change 3: Less Liquid Soap

I’m not going to lie, I love my health and beauty liquid soaps. Shared bar soap creeps me out. I picture little germs dancing on the bar and I hate picking up a slimy bar. It’s a tactile thing for me. Yet somehow, we’re making progress. Instead of traditional hand soap, we make our own foamy soap using liquid dish detergent. I found a pump at TJ MaXX that has lines for the right dish soap to water ratio. I cannot imagine giving up my favorite Redkin shampoo, but I am using less because I wash my hair once a week.

The biggest switch for me has been using bar soap in the shower. My household has to be careful with naturally made soaps because my daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Almond extract may sound wonderful to you, but it could trigger an allergic event in my house. If we can’t find an ingredient list, we won’t get it. My local grocery (Fresh Thyme) carries a fantastic line of bulk bar soap that is free of nut oils. My favorite has crushed up mint leaves for an exfoliation bonus, but other family members prefer different scents.

This Earth Day, I hope you commit to making a small change to help the earth. We are the stewards of this hunk of the solar system. Few of us are saintly enough to live a zero-waste lifestyle, but all of us can make more earth friendly choices some of the time. I grew up with the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but in the wake of straw and bag bans, I’ve learned of a new version “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse.”

Posted in Environment, Family life, Uncategorized

Kicking the plastic habit

Ever since a stint living in Germany in the 1990s, I’ve tried to be thoughtful about my use of plastic. Twenty years ago, cashiers didn’t know what to do when I brought my own love_birds_2pkreusable bags to stores. One even called a manager! Could you imagine that happening in 2018? I average one case of plastic bottled water a year. I do keep some in the house (and in the car) in case of emergency, but I never drink it at home (unless there is a drinking water emergency) and I rarely buy water out because I use a refillable water bottle. I buy resealable plastic bags for school supply lists, but lunchboxes I use these sandwich bags and other refillable containers.

With China’s announcement that they will no longer accept the world’s plastic for recycling, I’m looking for more plastic alternatives.  I’ll share a few things I currently do, a few changes I’ve started to implement, and a few wishes. I’d love to know how YOU reduce plastic.

WHAT I DO (in addition to those above):hk048-sap

  1. refuse straws
  2. use glass containers for storage
  3. skip plastic in home decor items
  4. seek out clothing and other fabrics made from recycled water bottles. If you are in the market for a new purse or backpack, I love Haiku bags. I recently bought a second one – not because the first wore out, but because after 6 years, I wanted a different pattern.
  5. shop the farmer’s markets. Less packaging = less plastic.

WHAT CHANGES I’M MAKING NOW:

  1. Switching back to bar soap. This one hurts. I love body wash and hate slimy soap, but I love our planet enough that I’m giving up the bottle.
  2. Bamboo toothbrushes.

MY WISH LIST: (Can you help?)

  1. Alternative to plastic wrap in the kitchen. I want something to protect oddly shaped food (say cut avocados) from the air and to cover bowls of rising bread dough.
  2. A peanut and tree-nut allergy safe place for buying food in bulk. Every single place I’ve seen has potential for cross contamination and I won’t risk my daughter’s life.
  3. plastic free toothpaste.
  4. Lip balm in non-plastic container.
  5. antiperspirant in non-plastic container.

I would love to hear ideas and suggestions from you. How do you reduce plastic in your life? I’m on the lookout for new ideas.