Wasteful Shit In Your Home & Useful Alternatives.

As my zero waste endeavor continues, I’ve been taking note in my home of the wasteful things I’ve been using all my life and how easy the solutions to them are. Here are 14 wasteful things I’ve taken note of in my home and am on my way to eliminating.

  1. Bottled water. This is an absurdity and no one should be succumbing to the temptation of bottled water. Watch this short film about bottled water. Hopefully you’ll never want to touch a bottle of water again. There’s no lack of tap or fountains from which we can refill our own bottle.
  2. Paper Towels. Hang a towel near each sink to remind yourself to dry your hands with it instead of paper towels. Make sure to have plenty of rags on hand in the kitchen, bathroom, and near your cleaning supplies to remind you to use rags. Paper towels can be handy for gross messes but rags do the same job and can be washed in bleach or vinegar to kill bacteria.
  3. Aluminum Foil. Aluminum foil makes a lot of things easier – grilling, baking, and storing food. But why waste money on it when you can buy reusable parchment baking paper and thermal food covers.
  4. Ziploc bags. Very handy for travel and storage, but reusable sandwich bags are cuter and less wasteful. There are a lot of great ones on Etsy.
  5. Mail. You can try the App PaperKarma to opt out of receiving mail. What I ended up doing instead was to call the phone numbers provided on the mail every time I sat down to go through it. It was not as painful or time consuming as one would assume.
  6. Food packaging. Buy in bulk and take your own containers to buy food in. When grocery shopping, bring your own bags.
  7. Trash bags. If you recycle, your need for trash bags will decrease. Make sure you are using reusable bags (like large burlap sacks) for your recycling and to dispose of your trash.
  8. Toilet paper. So, it is very brave of people to go to rags instead of using toilet paper. I’m definitely not there yet. I still use toilet paper, though I have been buying eco-friendly toilet paper made out of recycled materials. Most major department stores have this option. Also consider using a handkerchief to blow your nose.
  9. Q-tips. Using a Q-tip in your ear removes the natural wax that is in there to keep out water and protect the ear. Professionals agree, they are not healthy. Wash outside of your ear canal with a rag and stop using these things. They’re pointless.
  10. Cotton balls. What do we really use these things for anyway that can’t be handled with a wash cloth? Removing nail polish? Dedicate a rag to nail polish removal. Facial toner? Reconsider your use of facial products or apply with a reusable cleansing pad. Aside from just being wasteful, the cotton industry uses 2.5 percent of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16 percent of the world’s insecticides—more than any other single major crop.
  11. Disposable Razors. Invest in a razor that only needs the blade changed.
  12. Tooth brushes. Tooth brushes as wasteful may not have occurred to you, but think about this – fifty million pounds of toothbrushes go into landfills every single year. Dentists recommend you replace them every three months to maintain a healthy mouth. Consider using recyclable toothbrushes that are already made out of recycled material.
  13. Batteries. Use appliances that plug in or have rechargeable batteries.
  14. Disposable cleaning products. Swiffer mops, throw-away vacuum bags (that seem to have gone out of style), anti bacterial wipes (a favorite of mine, sadly), among others are very tempting because they are easy – clean, and throw away. But so wasteful! What’s so hard about clean, then wash?

Many of these things are great modern conveniences, but are they really necessary? No, they’re not – and in fact, they’re wasteful. Stop buying these things to fill landfills and keep money in your wallet instead.

How To Get Organized – A Zero Waste Friendly Version.

An organized corner of my cabin.

An organized corner of my cabin.

When I read articles on getting organized, I’m frustrated that they advocate the throwing away of items and don’t emphasize recycling, reuse, and my favorite – selling. So I’ve decided to write my own ‘get organized’ how-to article. Enjoy.

Start by choosing the space you want to organize. A space can be as big as an entire room or as small as your desk.  If you hate organizing, do one space a day. Don’t burn out by trying to do everything at once.

Make FOUR piles. I like using trash bags or laundry baskets to sort the piles.

  1. The ‘doesn’t belong here’ pile. Anything in the space that needs to be in another space goes in this pile. You will be tempted to move things as you find them – don’t. Wait until you are organizing the space it belongs in to put it where it belongs.
  2. Donate pile. Anything you don’t want that can’t be easily sold, put in this pile. This pile also includes items you want to give away to specific people
  3. Yard Sale pile. In this pile, put items you think can be sold in a yard sale, at the pawn shop, or some other way, like on craigslist or Facebook.
  4. Recycle pile. If it’s paper, plastic, glass, metal, tin, cardboard – it can be recycled.

There is NO throw away pile unless the item absolutely cannot be composted, recycled, donated, sold, or given away. If the item does not fall into any of these categories, then you can throw it away.

There is also no ‘what if’ pile. If you have to hold an item and think about it, it needs to go. If the item is sentimental and not important enough to have on display, find a home for it. Otherwise, it does not belong in your home.

DO NOT think you need to create more storage space by buying things. This is wrong. Before you think about creating more storage within your home, you need to go through the process of organizing every space. Then, once you’re finished, you can evaluate what kind of storage you need and how to implement it. Beware of buying new containers – they can encourage you to buy more, waste more, and create more clutter.

There should be no junk drawers in your home– just drawers for miscellaneous items you use occasionally. If you have ‘junk’ because ‘maybe’ you ‘need’ it, suck it up and put it in a pile.

Bonus! Organizing your car:

Immediately put the items you need to donate and sell in your car. Any coupons you have should always be kept in your car as well. You need some sort of open container to keep in the trunk or backseat to house these items. Trash accumulates in a car very easily. Bring a bottle with you for water and coffee, refuse plastic and paper, and recycle anything that comes into your car instead of carelessly throwing it in the trash. Remember: when you throw something away, where you do think away is?

Happy organizing!

My Current Favorite Apps for iPhone.

I try to be minimalistic with my iPhone usage and its applications but the iPhone can replace a lot of junk in your life, such as:

GPS, step counter, calculator, calendar, to-do list, compass, etc., comprising it all into one neat, beautiful little package. The downside is that if you lose your phone, you could be screwed out of all the things you used it to replace. In fact, my boyfriend used his iPhone to make sure our chicken coop was properly level yesterday. Thus, here are a few of my favorite apps that make my day-to-day life a little easier:

  • Runkeeper. I track all my runs with Runkeeper. It will even post your runs to Facebook, which I love to do to annoy the people who hate people who post that they’re running or at the gym. You can even add a photo to your run. Other goodies: get a pre-made or custom training plan, get woken up by runkeeper telling you to go run, analyze your runs with time, distance, speed, etc., map your run, add friends who use runkeeper, and even tag a friend who ran with you and forgot to bring their iPhone. Seriously, I love this app. There’s a lot of other amazing stuff it does that I don’t use. It’s not just for runners either! You can track cycling, swimming, and other exercises with it too.
  • Period Diary. Period Diary is a “unique, fully animated and the most complete period and ovulation tracker.” Ever since I went off birth control, I really like to know when I’m ovulating. That’s important because I don’t want to be pregnant. It also let’s me know roughly the time I’m supposed to start bleeding, having horrible cramps, and insane mood swings. I’ve used several different apps that do this and this one is my current favorite.
  • Workflowy. Although the iPhone already sports a decent note-taking app and reminder app, I prefer using workflowy – also I can access my account from the browser on my laptop for larger projects. Workflowy describes itself as ‘a zoomable document that provides unprecedented flexibility in organizing your ideas.’ Beautiful. Plus, at the end of your list, it says ‘make lists, not war.’ and I totally agree.

There you are, my current favorite apps. More to come as I discover them.

Do You Bleed? Use A Divacup.

 

If you bleed every month, once every couple months, or are like me and seem to be bleeding multiple times a month, I tell you that a divacup will change your life.

It changed mine in college when I ran across the radical idea that women no longer need to be shackled by tampons or pads, nor the price of buying them each month and attributing to the world’s waste problem.

A divacup (or moonkeeper, or luna cup, depending on the brand you choose) is a cup made of medical grade silicone you insert like a tampon to catch blood instead of absorb it. You can wear it longer than tampons and pads and it doesn’t smell. You don’t have to worry about bunching, strings, or forgetting to bring enough. You buy it once and can use it up to five years. I’m currently on my second cup in about seven years and that’s only because my dog ate the first one.

Why I think using a Divacup is the superior choice:

  • It’s clean. I’m a big fan of cleanliness. I don’t like dirty tampons and I don’t like dirty pads. I didn’t like worrying about bleeding on my sheets and ruining my panties and pajamas constantly. I empty the Divacup twice a day in the shower, clean it with soap and water, and back in it goes. Easy as pie.
  • It’s healthier. The vagina is self-cleaning. Tampons interfere with that by absorbing too much moisture and creating a breeding ground for bad bacteria. The medical grade silicone of a Divacup doesn’t interfere with the vagina’s self-cleaning system.
  • It’s responsible. Women can use up to 16,000 tampons in her lifetime. That’s a lot of waste in landfills.
  • It saves money (my favorite reason). Divacups cost about $32.00. Average monthly cost of tampons/pads: $10. Money saved a year: $120.

You can buy Divacups at most health food stores and order them online. I’ve always used the Divacup. Here are a few popular brands that are being used:

  • The Keeper the original menstrual cup, made from latex (natural gum rubber).
  • Moon Cups, by the maker of the Keeper, made from medical-grade silicone.
  • Diva Cup made from medical-grade silicone.