Living with less waste – Phase 2

7734098726_903a1cb610_zMy journey of using less plastic and producing less waste is trucking right along. Phase 1 consisted of easily implemented steps I had already taken. But those acts are just scratching the surface of a potential that I haven’t even realized yet. As I dig deeper into this lifestyle, I happily discovered  practices that I didn’t realize I was already doing:

  1. Using a french press for coffee, rather than pods or filters.
  2. Using washcloths rather than plastic puffs in the shower.
  3. Making my own skin toner (I use 1 part organic apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water. It’s been great on my breakout-prone skin).
  4. Using coconut oil as make-up remover.
  5. No more magazine subscriptions.
  6. Cooking with a cast iron skillet, which can last forever if properly cared for (as well as avoiding potential hazards of  teflon coating).

But I can’t pat myself on the back just yet. I’ve got a lot more work to do! Here are my next steps:

PHASE 2
Paper towels
  • I put the paper towel holder away in the closet to encourage using microfiber towels instead. To my surprise, it’s not a big deal.
  • Any kitchen and bathroom cleaning previously done with paper is now with cloth and I just wash them every few weeks.
Kitchen sponges
  • I still have a stash of them, but when those are used up I’m going to try a wooden scrub brush, which should last much longer and contains no plastic.
Bulk shopping
  • I’m not talking about a Costco binge, but buying food from bins in the grocery store. No packaging needed!
  • The key to getting the most of this practice is to avoid using the plastic bags they offer and bringing your own cloth bags or glass jars. More on my experience with this in a future post.
  • The website Zero Waste Home created the Bulk app to help find stores in your area that have bulks goods.
Coffee cups
  • I usually make coffee at home in my travel mug. About once a week, I do like to hit up my local coffee shop for a vanilla treat. I now bring that same travel mug for them to fill and even get a small discount!
  • When drinking coffee or tea at work, I’l use ceramic mugs and skip the paper cups.
Toothpaste
  • There are tons of personal care products that can be made at home. Trash is for Tossers has a toothpaste recipe I’m going to try out.
  • Her recipe consists of baking soda, coconut oil, and essential oil. That’s it!
Menstrual Cup
  • Ahem. Sorry fellas, but I’m going there. When I first heard about menstrual cups, I was completely not interested. But I did some research over the past month and the weirdness factor is diminishing.
  • They produce no waste, last a year or more, can be worn up to 12 hours, and will save me money on liners and tampons.
  • I ordered a Ruby Cup and am awaiting it’s arrival. The extra bonus of this company is that for every one sold, they donate one to young women in Africa so they can stay in school while on their period. Too cool.
  • The Precious Stars Pads YouTube channel is flowing with useful information (pun completely intended) on how to buy and use these.

All of the above changes are manageable for me right now. I plan to implement them as I go and discover my maximum time and mental capacity limits.

PHASE 3 – The Future

The number of changes you can make towards this lifestyle are HUGE and can be overwhelming! I came across even more ideas that I might consider, but am not ready to do yet. Once I master phase 2, perhaps I’ll take these next steps.

  • Switching to homemade, chemical-free household cleaning products.
  • Replacing tissue with cloth handkerchiefs.
  • Replacing plastic baggies with cloth bags.
  • Stop using plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
  • Refusing to accept styrofoam containers for restaurant take-out or left-overs.
  • Buying meat at the butcher and putting it in glass containers.
  • Buying just about everything used (thrift stores, craigslist, eBay).
  • Making my own shampoo, deodorant, and make-up.

If you’re interested in creating your own Phase 1, Life Without Plastic has tips to help get you started. Have fun!

(Image: j_ortner)

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