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Shampoo

Oh my goodness. Shampoo aisles are teeming with plastic bottles. Their life span is too short (~6 months) and their fragments, once discarded, last for centuries:

Can it really be true that half the plastic ever made was produced in the past 15 years? That a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, with an average “working life” of just 15 minutes? That some nine million tons of plastic waste go into the oceans every year? And that estimates for how long plastic endures range from 450 years to forever?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes— those grim facts, and more, are all true.”

National Geographic, Planet, or Plastic?

There’s another way: shampoo bars!

Not all of these are created equal. I’ve tried two so far:

Ethique:

Pros:

  • Great sample sizes
  • Excellent bamboo container for your bars that protects and enables them to air dry easily so you can avoid the “soap slime” blues
  • Assortment of scents and bars for hair types
  • Cons:
    Left my colored hair dull and lifeless
    Not easy to lather
    Samples disappeared quickly

Lush:

Pros:

  • Amazing scent!!
  • Tin recyclable containers
  • Easy to lather
  • Cons:
    Unbreathable containers increase the “soap slime” factor
    Heavily scented…hazardous to health?

Miss shampoo?

When you’re done with your bottles, rinse them out and take them to your local PCC, Recology store or bulk grocer (I love Central Co-Op on Capital Hill in Seattle). Fill it up with a bulk brand shampoo or other useful bulk soap product, like dish soap! Castille soap is a cool option as you can customize the scent by adding drops of essential oil. I’m down to my last shampoo bottle and will be reusing it – with its handy pump – for dish soap when it’s empty! The way I see it, I can toss it and hope it gets recycled, but there’s a very real chance it won’t (over 40% of plastic is used just once), so I think I’ll let my bottle hang out for awhile and work for me. 💪

Plastic Sandwich Bags

I have a two tiered approach for plastic bags. I’ve had a lot of friends ask me whether I would be throwing away all of my plastic this year based on my plastic free goal. The answer to? No! Of course not! The way I see it, the plastic can either continue to exist in a useful way, or exist in a garbage dump. Since it’s going to be around for 30,000+ years, I opt for the former because I would rather keep trying to use it in a constructive way rather than clogging up our landfills. I will use and reuse plastic until it breaks down and becomes unsafe for my family, or a nuisance (holes in the plastic bag that leak what I’m trying to store).

Unhealthy: when plastic sandwich bags are introduced to acidic or oily materials, they begin to break down. When they begin to break down, they can release harmful chemicals into the food you’re attempting to store. I highly recommend throwing away plastic that becomes soiled with any oil or acidic foods like spaghetti sauce.

Onto my 2 tiered approach:

1. Wash and reuse plastic bags.

I know of of 3 ways to wash plastic bags:

  • In the dishwasher (haven’t tried this)
  • In the washing machine (ditto)
  • By hand: my method! I fill the sink up with soapy water and let my bags soak for awhile. After they’ve soaked sufficiently, I rinse them out one by one and hang them to dry on nearby plant leaves I have stationed near my sink. I’ve also taken to putting chopsticks in my plant soil and inverting my bags atop these to dry.

2. Use plastic bag alternatives:

These are my favorites:

  • Glass/metal containers. Baby food jars are fantastic as they present a wonderful “no plastic” option! Daiso also carries some nice small metal square, rectangular and circular options, but their lids are plastic.
  • Etee: These muslin bags are covered in bees wax and pine resin. They Cold food quite well and biodegrade nicely over time. Like them quite a bit!

Airplanes serve 5.2 million plastic cups a day

Plastic abounds on airplanes.  Every passenger receives a plastic cup, sometimes TWO (if you order tea, they hand you one for your teabag!!)that’s promptly thrown away after a few hours.

“Every day, the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) provides service to more than 43,000 flights and 2.6 million airline passengers across more than 29 million square miles of airspace. With an airspace system as vast and complex as ours, it is helpful to have an easy-to-reference source for relevant facts and information.”

Air Traffic by the Numbers, Federal Aviation Administration

Solution: Bring your own!  I was delighted to find that when offering my own, they not only filled it up, but I received more when they did!  More water for tea, more tomato juice!

 

Toilet Paper – UPDATE

Purchase from “Who Gives a Crap,” a natural, dye-free, earth-friendly toilet paper wrapped in… paper!

From their site:

“We’re determined to prove that toilet paper is about more than just wiping bums. We make all of our products with environmentally friendly materials, and we donate 50% of our profits to help build toilets for those in need. To date we’ve donated over $1.8m Aussie dollars (that’s the equivalent of over $1,300,000!) to charity and saved a heck of a lot of trees, water and energy. Not bad for a toilet paper company, eh?”

They have an incentive where if you order using this link, I’ll get $10 off my next order,and so will you when you order your TP.  https://www.talkable.com/x/6FPR1p

Happy plastic-free wiping!

UPDATE:  I am down to my last roll of Charmin.  I must admit, I will really miss  it.   But just 1 of those wrappers from my favorite Costco-sized package would take up a significant amount of space in my 20 gallon wastecan I’ll allow myself for plastic refuse this year. Though the “Who Gives a Crap” sheets are not as soft and thick as my beloved Charmin, I am determined to keep my plastic use to a minimum, and you can’t beat the fact that 50% (!!!) of their profits go toward building toilets for people that need them.  ♥️🚽

 

 

 

 

Protein Powder – UPDATE!

 

When a friend told me the single biggest impact I could have on my carbon footprint was to adopt a vegan lifestyle, I sat up and begrudgingly paid attention.  He’d told me – simply – that eating a hamburger would have a greater impact on the planet than driving a Humvee around for a week.  I was shocked and deftly changed my eating habits.   Enter Vega Organic Protein Powder… my favorite vegan protein supplement that happens to come in a gigantic plastic container!   It’s plastic-free 2019 and I must bid this friend adieu.😞

Vegan food options can be a challenge because so many vegan protein sources are wrapped in plastic (tofu, seitan, field roast sausages), but I’ve finally found some great plastic-free alternatives!

1. Bulk Vegan Protein Powder at PCC

Hard to believe they have this, but they DO!! They also have a soy and dairy alternative. Highly recommend the vegan protein first, then soy and finally the dairy version, hence the recommendation above to go vegan as much as possible.

2. Chocolate Magic, PlanetProtein:

Thanks to the handy “plastic-free discussion board” on myplasticfreelife.com, I’ve found an alternative, but have yet to receive my shipment! In PlanetProtein’s defense, I think they were low on supplies. Stay tuned (2/2019)!

Comes in a bamboo bag and even includes a bamboo serving spoon!

I’m not a big fan of chocolate powder, but my options are limited so I’m diving in.

3. Shelled hemp seeds.

Tasty nutty flavor and a nutritional power house! Great in smoothies.

4. Chia seeds.

Must try. Another nutritionally-packed power house! Add 1/2 cup of your favorite milk alternative to 3T of chia seeds, let it sit 8-10 mins and discover an incredibly healthy pudding-like snack!

5. Flax seed.

Also great in smoothies and YET ANOTHER nutritional power house!

6. Make your own vegan protein patties. These take some time, but  a good option if you’re so inclined!

5. Eat out! I dig the Happy Cow app for finding great vegan and vegetarian options in my area.

Have any other suggestions for plastic-free vegan protein options?  I’d love to hear all about them!

Bon appetite!

Why refuse to use plastic anything?

1. It’s getting hot.  I rent my basement and for about a week last summer it was tough for my kids and I to get a good night’s sleep.  I rent out my basement, so we were unable to escape the heat down there (and hey, we’re Seattlelites, so no AC either).  How hot has it gotten since you were born?  Read this NYT article to find out.  Plastic consists of oil and other toxins.  If we need to curb our dependence on fossil fuels to cool down the planet, we’ve got to curb our dependence on plastic too.

2. Marine life.  There’s proof that marine life from whales all the way down to phytoplankton are mistakenly choosing plastic materials  to nourish themselves and their young.   And it’s not working out so well.  

3. Food contamination.  Whatever the marine life in our oceans eat will eventually travel up the food chain onto our plates (if you’re eating seafood).

4. Unexplored toxicity in plastic resins.  Think your food is safe in its plastic container?  Think again.     Ever drank water from a water bottle that’s been sitting in your car for awhile?  If it tastes funny, plastic particles are definitely leaching into the water and you shouldn’t be drinking it.  This kind of thing doesn’t seem to occur in glass or aluminum and it makes sense because these materials are more stable.   Says smallfootprintfamily.com: “Because the toxins in plastic can cause health problems, it is important to avoid containers that leach chemicals like BPA, phthalates, lead and antimony into your food, water and the environment.  Click to learn 20 ways to do it.”

My DD and I have been trying to figure out three sanitization of  her reusable pads on our trip.  Let me tell you it hasn’t been fun.  But we’re getting through it, learning from it, and all the reasons above make the work so easy.  It’s the least we can do.

Pads. Period.

I no longer need them, but I’ve got a couple of incredible growing  girls that do/will!  Thankfully, we have options!  Commercially produced sanitary pads have some bold promises, but these features are backed by a toxic cocktail of harmful chemicals that impact the earth and air as pointed out in this article:

“The plastic layer which is used to make a disposable sanitary pad stain-free and the chemicals used in producing it get further transferred between soil, water and air..”

Here is a list of sanitary napkin alternatives ranked by choice:

1. Sea sponges.  I know, right?!  WTF?!   But yes, they can serve as an effective absorbing mentrual tool.  PROS: natural, about as zero-wastey as you can get!   A few snips for comfort and you’re off to the races!  Last as long as a tampon.  CONS: No string, so much squat to remove or sew on a loop of cotton thread.  Removal at work is tricky… must have a baggie to place it in or sink to rinse.  I’ve done both!  Cleaning these with peroxide between use is EXTREMELY important and  hydrogen peroxide, to my knowledge, only comes in plastic bottles.  🥺😢😭  Get more info here.

2. Thinx  My best girlfriend asked me if I’d heard of these today. I had not! Fast forward 45 minutes later and I have an order for three pair for my oldest. Excited to check these out! The absorbent pad is built right into the underwear! There are all kinds of different styles and even different colors.  The reviews are incredible! Check them out! PROS/CONS: We’ll let you know!

3. Cloth pads: We purchased Wegreeco Bamboo Reusable Sanitary Pads. PROS: Not plastic! Cool designs!  Can use them over and over!  Easier on your body… no chemicals from pads touching your body.  CONS: Washing on the road is not easy!  My DD got her period the day we left for our road trip! 😬

4. Diva cup: I purchased this awhile back and it didn’t work for me.   I like the idea, but it popped out pretty easily.   If you’ve used one and have had a good experience, I’d love to hear about it!

I believe the Thinx will be a game changer for us.   DD is looking forward to trying these out!

Below: Our last “pad dash.”

 

 

 

Day 3 – Deodorant Results Are In!

A clear winner has been confirmed!  Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care – you can rest soundly knowing you can not only SMELL good, but avoid using pit stick with harmful chemicals AND save the planet at the same time!

Both the Primal Pit Paste and Kaiame Naturals deodorants had some impressive results, but one emerged as my clear favorite!  Watch to learn which!

Day 2 – Deodorant

I’m giving up plastic in 2019, and just yesterday, I ran out of deodorant! According to the 2017 census, there are currently 247,813,910 adults living in the United States. If the average American adult uses 10 deodorant sticks a year, we’d be throwing 2,478,139,100 empty deodorant applicators into the garbage dumps. Even if we did recycle them, they present an added challenge because deodorant applicators are mixed material items – items that contain different kinds of plastic (such as the dial on the bottom of the tube, the plastic insert that moves the deodorant stick up and down, the cap, and the protective insert that you removed before you started using the product). Not all these “parts” are labeled with a resin identification code so it may be difficult to tell whether your local trash company will (attempt to) recycle them, and can result in a contaminated batch or recycle stream, which can cost cities 1,000s of dollars. So… I’m currently in search of an alternative with more sustainable packaging. I’ve found 3 options to try next week:

  1. Kaiame Natural Deodorant: fairly good ratings on smile.amazon.com (when you purchase your items at Amazon Smile, a % of your $ will go to the charity of your choice), and I love their packaging! Appears to be a glass jar with a metal lid – totally sustainable! Yay!

2. Primal Pit Paste: Also has fairly good ratings, so I’m inclined to try both and see which actually works. Their packaging doesn’t appear to be as sustainable as the cap appears to be… duh duh duh…. PLASTIC! The jar is glass, and it’s still 2018 (not officially in my non-plastic buying mode yet) so I’m going to indulge myself with this product to see if it lives up to its good reviews in my pits!

3. DIY “no-waste” options: After watching a most entertaining account of one woman’s attempt at using her own DIY zero-waste deodorant in a very hot climate, she revealed an intriguing option: LEMONS!! So guess who will be slapping some lemon juice in her pits tomorrow morning?? 😀 Apparently this works surprisingly well in the Thailand heat, so I’m inclined to give it a shot!

I’ll keep you posted as I “pit” these deodorant options against each other!

Cindy