What a Journey

As the manager of the Zero Waste McMinnville Facebook page I see the issues that resonate with people.  I shared a story about a recycled arts festival about 18 months ago and there was some mild interest with maybe 20 likes. Four months later a similar story came to me and when I shared it again, the response was similar. Then a few months later I posted a third story and it went “viral” with over 100 likes.

So, after talking to a friend of mine who has been presenting her work at crafts and art fairs for years and hearing her response (“We should do this here!”) I popped over to a Facebook page for artists and artisans in the Northwest and posted a query. “We’re not planning this yet….I just want to know if any artists out there would participate if we did.”  Within a week I had the names of 60 artists.

So I decided my friend was right and together we got a small working committee together: Aundrea Harris, John “Sam” Houston, and my husband Graham and myself, Beth Rankin. We sat down the first time December 4th and started brainstorming ideas. We met almost weekly for at least 2 hours and each of us had lots of homework assignments.

One task that I took on was to identify more artists to issue direct invitations and not rely on posters and Facebook postings that we wanted artists to apply. In the course of a week, reading through numerous Facebook craft and art show pages and then on to Etsy searching for recycled arts and then on to Instagram, I identified another 90. We visited galleries in the area and got a lot of advice.

We set a response date and we formed a jury to review all the applications. The four of us on the planning committee were reading the applications as they came in, but the outside jury participant had no idea and came to the meeting with ideas of his own in case the work presented did not meet the quality we hoped for. He was blown away.

Participating as a jury member is interesting because you have to analyze  the work that it takes to produce something while suspending your own reaction to the art. That is one reason why there is a committee-to balance that “personal preference” factor.

The other reason the jury is made up of people from different artistic mediums is because the viewpoints of the general public has to be considered. However, as artists who sell to the public, we know there are  people who do not do that kind of work and thereby do not appreciate the effort to use creative ability and accumulated experience to produce the work. Many of us have heard “oh, I could make that” many times.  We also know few people actually take the time to learn and better that craft.  The artists who have built their craft into art are people whose work should be respected.

neckpiece Carla FoxMost people, we know, will be amazed at the offerings that the inaugural McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival will present. The concept of “trash to treasures” interests many, amuses some, but there are still people who are not convinced. For example, when I saw the neckpieces that Carla Fox will be offering, I knew the white one might appeal to a bride. I imagined a less expensive simple white sheath as a dress with this neckpiece as embellishment and believe some bride would feel gorgeous while keeping their dress budget more reasonable. So I contacted about eight wedding consultants. Seven never responded. One was offended I would think her clients would wear garbage. She obviously doesn’t understand and it was not worth the time to educate her with her anger so apparent. I had a festival to organize.

But you understand. You know that we can always increase our own personal sustainable practices. You appreciate learning of ways others reduce what goes to the landfill.

The community has responded in amazing ways. For example, I mentioned to one of the management at Recology that we wanted to put a street banner up over McMinnville’s NE 3rd Street, and he offered to pay for it. street banner bThat freed up money from our marketing budget and when I was contacted by That Oregon Life (in response to our press release) to see if they could help and I told them about Zero Waste McMinnville, they immediately reduced their fee for the services they would provide. Howie Harkema was happy to have us on his community access tv program, Speaking Frankly: and How We Doin?  . Then his camera person offered to come and take video. Other media have responded that they will come as well.

We can see the metrics of some of our advertising so we know we have reached a lot of people. We’re amused and excited by the number of people who have “purchased” free tickets on Eventbrite because we can see that Friday has a strong appeal to many.  When I started posting the artist spotlights on this blog and thereby on Facebook readership on both increased dramatically.  We know we have your attention. LOGO jpeg

My latest nightmare is that there was a traffic jam a la Field of Dreams……..bring it on!

Artist Spotlight: Jennii Childs and reUNIQUE designs by jennii

Back in 2007, having just gone through a divorce, Jenni was looking at ways to redefine herself. While cleaning out stuff, she ran across a box of old flatware she had collected with intentions to ‘teach’ herself to make bracelets and rings…at that moment, her passion for creating artful things out of what others might discard was born. Jennii is a self-taught artist, whose art has morphed and grown out of a lot of trial and error and whose craft has changed by the cool ‘junk’ she has salvaged. What others see as trash; Jennii sees necklaces, earrings, bracelets and more.B8AC0741-EA40-4B29-A8E2-A01B58F5E1F6 - Jennii Childs

In college, Jennii had one more elective to take to graduate; Astrology or Environmental Conservation were my choices. Guess which one fit best into my schedule? Correct! Environment Conservation!  Jennii is excited to share, “Fate stepped in to make the best choice ever! I’ve always loved natural and all things outside but through this class I learned how fragile our environment is and how without good stewardship we will destroy this amazing gift. Working with reclaimed and repurposed materials is just cool but more importantly, it has allowed me an avenue to talk about the importance of reducing waste, conserving resources and just being good caretakers this place we live.”D335A80E-0FC6-4EC7-B455-47BA2FB09C56 - Jennii Childs

Jennii handcrafts one-of-a-kind jewelry from old wire, hardware, leather and metal scraps. To attach my pieces, she likes to use rusted screws that she might find along roadsides or by rummaging through salvage hotspots. My latest rescue is a bucket of spent bullet shells which I etch & turn into necklaces; adding wish messages or dried flowers making something delicate and decorative.FC0E18E5-1C2B-46FC-AECB-7284CC101CD3 - Jennii Childs

Jennii Childs and reUNIQUE designs by jennii is at Table #6.

Artist Spotlight: Jim Tucker and Aspen Wolf Arts

Jim Tucker uses paper pulp made from repurposed brown and white waste paper to construct the various sculptures. “I liked using scrap paper pulp for paper making because it was recycling and just not throwing everything away.  I have recently taught myself to use scrap paper pulp as the sculpture medium just to try something different.  There is a steep learning curve to using paper pulp, but that is also the goal.  To keep learning, experimenting and growing is one of the key, yet fun, aspects of creating art.”0327191158 - Jim Tucker

“My most recent trials are constructing pulp ‘boulders’ to build Inuksuk. Inuksuk are actually constructed by First Nations peoples across the far northern regions of the U.S., Canada and Greenland as landmarks and commemorative signs. From Inuksuks I will soon be expanding my stacked pulp ‘rock’ sculptures to include free-form designs.”0327191200 - Jim Tucker

Jim uses recycled materials because he believes in REDUCING waste.  “Reduce, reuse, recycle – words to live by to make a better world for us and our grandchildren and beyond. Working with reclaimed/recycled materials is very important for reducing our artistic footprint on the world while still creating artistic items of beauty, whimsy and thought.  It is very important to me not to just add to the heap of trash we generate daily.  To create art out of waste materials is just icing on the cake.”0327191156 - Jim Tucker

Jim Tucker and Aspen Wolf Arts is at Table #11.

Artist Spotlight: Carolyn Woody and Lunarcat Studios

Origami is a traditional Japanese art form.  Carolyn Woody was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with her grandmother growing up in Hawaii. Her grandparents had emigrated from Japan and introduced origami when she was a very young child.  “It was always a fun childhood pastime and one of the ways she kept me entertained.”Su 4 - Carolyn Woody

Carolyn’s interest in origami was rekindled after she had graduated from college in Portland and became involved with POPS (Portland Oregon Paper Shapers), the local origami club.  Now she am fascinated by origami, especially with modular origami where several pieces of paper are often assembled into complex three-dimensional models.

You can also check out a profile of Carolyn written last year by Cindy Dauer of Tualatin Valley Creates.

For the Recycled Arts Festival, Carolyn is featuring her origami map shirt ornaments.  The origami shirt is traditionally folded out of a single dollar bill.  She decided to take this traditional origami model and  scale it up in size. OS392 - Carolyn Woody

Carolyn uses recycled maps to add more color and to make it more personal.  “One of my customers requests an origami map shirt with the birthplace for each new grandbaby,” Carolyn reports. “The maps I use come from a variety of sources, mainly from book sales and garage sales.  I have been folding these origami map shirt ornaments for years and sometimes get maps donated by total strangers!”OS425 - Carolyn Woody

Think about it……if you want Carolyn to produce an original origami map for you, you can speak to her at the Festival and arrange for it! Carolyn Woody and Lunarcat Studios will be at Table #24.

 

A Few Steps BEFORE Recycling

Recycling is a feel-good process. Our trash hauler Recology identifies itself as a recycling company, not a landfill company.  That means when China and other Southeast Asian countries stopped taking mixed recyclables from the United States,  we had to go through an adjustment.

Last summer there were more restrictions about what was allowed in our bin. But Recology has worked hard to find buyers for our recyclables and more items are allowed now.  And you can now bring your polystyrene foam to the Depot.  Check Recology’s What Bin? app on their website to see how you should sort that item. Call the office at (503) 472-3176 if the answer is not provided in the software.

That is all good news, but it’s important that you also understand that not all recycling gets used that way. While things might be better here because of Recology’s priority,  less than 9% of plastics are recycled  worldwide.

You’ve seen the photos of how trashed the ocean is. You’ve read by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than ocean animals. You’ve read the news that there is plastic inside our bodies now from the food we eat and water we drink.  We have no idea how this is affecting us.

It’s going to take some effort to clean things up so our children and their children have a healthier environment.

That is why Zero Waste McMinnville also encourages you to start REFUSING to buy items if they use plastic in their packaging…plastic that immediately has to be trashed…if you have a zero-waste option. Using the bulk bins in the supermarket is an easy way to make that transition. Most of the grocery stores in town have bins; Winco has a very large selection that also includes pet food. But there is one more step to being a zero-waster when you move to bulk bins: you need to bring re-usable containers with you. 

The stores provide plastic bags and plastic containers. The bags will go to the landfill and we know the issues with wind blowing that lightweight an item off the landfill and into the Yamhill River and onto adjacent properties.  I use mesh bags that I found online, but more are becoming available in the stores themselves to encourage this behavior. They are tightly woven and can hold solids, but fine items like sugars might fall through some larger weave bags.  I can toss them in the wash to make sure they stay clean to hold food. 

tare
Source: Wild Minimalist

I use an offered  plastic container to fill with peanut butter, but I wash it and bring it back to the store for re-use.  At this time there is no tare station at the bulk bins but if you want to bring your own containers, and many people prefer glass to plastic, you can stop at a check out and ask them to tare your container. Make sure to have them write the tare weight on the container or its lid. That way, when you are ready to pay, you will only pay for the weight of the contents.

REDUCING is another step to use to minimize your trash. One of the biggest waste issues in our homes is food. People may not like eating left-overs, so they get pushed to the back of the frig and eventually become fuzzy. Not going to eat that!  

So, when buying fresh food like fruits and vegetables, milk and other refrigerated items, having an idea of what you will make with the items will help minimize having extra sitting around and spoiling in your house.  Use your freezer to package up produce in season when locally grown fruits and vegetables taste so fresh. The library has cookbooks and the Extension Service on Lafayette Avenue also has information that can help you prepare your food for the freezer so it will be delicious and safe to eat at a later time.  

Dehydrating and canning are other ways to preserve surplus food as well as prepared dishes when you have leftovers. These methods also end up with a shelf-safe product, which means it can be put in the pantry or cupboard and not take up freezer space.

Image result for re-use
Source: Tanana Valley Watershed Association

RE-USE is another step that eliminates trash. Sometimes we buy something and enjoy it but stop using it either because habits change or something breaks.  If you really are not going to use something again, pass it on. Decluttering is a very freeing feeling and no reason to keep things you won’t use.  I had a father-in-law who filled his barn over 60 years with broken things because “he might need them.” We had a lot of clean-up to do when he passed on.  But he grew up in the Depression and learned to be frugal.  We also can be more frugal but not to that point!  If the item needs something fixed in order to use it, be creative because many manufacturers want us to be attached at the wallet and plan the obsolescence of their product.  Sometimes they don’t even offer parts so you can repair things.   You might find some of these ideas useful!

LOGO jpegIf you want some amazing ideas of re-use and alternative use make sure to come to the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival April 26th & 27th at the Linfield College Nicholson Library. It really is a misnomer to call it a “recycled” arts festival as the artists have amazing items that have used things that might be considered trash in alternative ways to produce things to enjoy.  Alternative use or upcycling are more common terms for these things. Come and see.

Only after you REFUSE, REDUCE,  and consider  RE-USE are you ready to sort your trash into recycling, composting or landfill. 

The Styrofoam Dilemma

Yeah McMinnville!!! We have worked out an arrangement with Recology to gather our Styrofoam pieces and bring them to Agilyx in Tigard for their processing. We are truly fortunate that not only do we have a polystyrene recycler within an hour of where we live, but our trash hauler WANTS to do the right thing and find recycling solutions wherever possible.  Image result for agilyx

So, a bit over a month ago on December 26 the collection process started at the Recology Recovery Zone at 2200 NE Orchard Avenue. Monday through Saturday from 8am – 5 pm there is a Recology worker available to collect your Styrofoam. Residents of McMinnville (city) can drop 1 cubic yard for free daily.  People living outside the city limits who are Recology customers can also drop off Styrofoam but there is a small charge. IMG_3595

The initial phase includes Styrofoam blocks and other larger pieces. In time, smaller pieces like Styrofoam clamshells will be included as well as other polystyrene that is commonly used, like the red Solo cups and other #6 plastics.  Also in time, once the whole process has worked out the inevitable kinks that any new project has, attention will turn to the large Styrofoam disposal locations. These are the large stores that sell appliances and furniture, all of which come in protectively packaged and wrapped.  The Information meeting Monday, February 4 5:30 at the Carnegie Room of the Mac Public Library will provide more information.

This is EXCELLENT!!!   So, why is this a dilemma?

Well, we know just about everyone is ecstatic about this new service and we are too. Do not misunderstand me, please!

The dilemma comes down to this: while Styrofoam is large and does not naturally break down and takes up a lot of space in landfills, it is not heavy, so the impact that removing it from the landfill is not as large as it feels.

We need to do more and guess what? We’re working on it.

A dedicated small group of volunteers, including the people at Cellar Ridge Construction have begun to develop solutions to the problems caused by construction and demolition debris.

Many have us have enjoyed watching those home improvement shows where demolition  typically involves a large sledgehammer and a dumpster.  No doubt about it, smashing down a wall can be cathartic to the psyche, but the debris ends up hogging a lot of space in the landfill and weighs a lot!

Cellar RidgeSo, Cellar Ridge, who has been using sustainable practices wherever possible,  will help us address the cost savings that a slower, methodical approach to removing usable components and permitting re-use can provide. Imagine not having to pay for so many truckloads going to the landfill. This is a win for the contractor!!

And there is another component to the dilemma: we need more people to help work this out. We are especially looking for those people with the experience of working with materials like this, but anyone who enjoys a good research project can help.

(By the way, we almost always need more people to help……..and event season is coming soon. You will hear about volunteer opportunities starting soon.)

Recycling is NOT the “Best” Answer

I’m so proud to live in a city that is making great efforts to reduce its trash; to teach and learn about recycling and composting and all that. But we still have a big problem, folks,  and it will take more than McMinnville to solve it. However, McMinnville people have to be part of it as well.

The desire for status quo is so strong. People really hate to change habits and that includes corporate America as much or even more than each person who fights issues like a single use bag ban. We Americans have a love affair with oil and plastic.  Too many people can’t see what other options can work as well and major manufacturers know what they know and most of the time, want to just continue business as usual.

Corporations know that to modify their system will cost money. A change not only means identifying a more sustainable solution that provides similar safety and product preservation, but retooling assembly lines for those new items. That costs money and they like to EARN money, not spend it.

As long as we consumers are quiet and don’t complain, things will stay the same. This issue, like much else in our society, has to be driven from the grassroots.

When we understand that our fish and shellfish now has microplastics in it (yes, you are eating plastic…and it is IN YOU), when we read that even the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, the Marianas Trench, has plastic in it, the time is past when we should act. So, let’s get going!

Let’s start with identifying major players in the plastic pollution world. When people do massive clean-ups along beaches around the world, many inventories are done to identify just what is ending up in the ocean. (This blog is not about addressing the problems of waste management and how trash ends up in the sea. Personal and societal behaviors are a whole other blog subject!)

In a recent inventory of a massive beach clean-up in the Pacific, it became clear that certain brands are packaging their food products in plastic that are showing up in humongous amounts.

plastic pollution survey
source: Eco-Business

It is time for us to tell them to find substitutes. It is time to stop buying those plastic containers and tell them we will go back to their product when they become more sustainable.

Now, some of these corporations have made some changes and a few others have some packaging that is not plastic.  McDonald’s, for example, has posted their goals to be implemented by 2030 (WHAT????? 11 years away??? WHY so long?) to become a more sustainable food service company.  Most of these deal with sourcing their food from more sustainable farming practices. This year they revamped their packaging, getting away from Styrofoam and also not handing out plastic straws unless requested.  Since McDonald’s is global, environmental advocates hope that they will set an example that will be followed by others.

Meanwhile, you have the top users of plastic (Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Nestle) saying they will source all their bottles with recycled plastic by 2025. The problem with sounding green like this is few people realize that less than 10% of all plastic used in the world is actually recycled. That means our appetite for plastic requires more and more NEW plastic to be manufactured.

Image result for plastic trash in ocean
source: Eco-Business

When we hear that as a nation, the US is no longer dependent on oil from the Middle East, it boggles my mind (perhaps yours also) that our pristine wilderness areas in the West and Alaska are now being sold for mineral rights, including drilling for more oil.  The environmental costs will be horrendous as damage is caused that will not be able to be repaired.  The loss of pristine ecosystems, the destruction of habitat, is probably the last thing on the mind of people who seek the next corporate profit.Image result for oil exploration in alaska

But we, the consumers, are what drives profit. We can affect that NOW. If you buy soda, buy it in glass bottles. In fact, look for glass for packaging where many plastics are now used.  Check out GoodGuide to learn how over 75,000 products meet or fail environmental and health standards. Use your buying power to help drive corporations to make healthier decisions for your body and the planet.  Please.

source: Gunther Report

Plastic Has Its Place

Before we had plastic products we had nothing. We lived in caves with no clothes and no furniture and our food was…well, we had better eat it all because there was just no way to save it.  Our cell phones were made with rocks and real difficult to carry, especially without pockets.

Okay, you know I’m kidding. But the point is, we did manage before plastic became so much a part of our lives. Now, for anyone younger than 40, this has been ALL your life, but for us gray hairs, we remember when our sandwiches were wrapped with waxed paper and yes, we carried regular plates, silverware and glasses to a picnic.  Life was okay. Maybe some broken earthenware, but hey! There are paper plates now so go use those and start getting used to ….throwing your money away. Because that’s what single use disposable products require. You can spend money….throw what you purchased in the trash, and spend more money again to do it another time.

Image result for melamine platesSometime in the late 50s, early 60s there was a new plastic product called melamine. I think I have some plates….because essentially they are indestructible. And those plates can be carried to a picnic and come home without any concern for breakage.

When we get really thinking about zero waste it is very easy to jump on the bandwagon that every plastic product is bad.  But that is not the case and that is not the point.  Yes, there is toxicity all throughout the mining and refinery stages. There are transportation costs as well, but consider those pretty even when comparing many products unless you live near a green producer who has a bricks and mortar outlet.

Not all plastics should be shunned. For example, kayaks made from plastic last a lonnnnnnnng time. Why not purchase a used plastic kayak if you want?  This does not require any new plastic object to be manufactured and keeps the older one out of the landfill.

How about those sippy cups used by millions of American toddlers?  You can buy some at a fraction of the cost of new at yard sales or on a resale website. Yes, sterilize it…..you should anyway if you bought something new from the store for your baby to use.  Within 3 or 4 days of use a new cup looks well loved.  So, considering the lifespan of a sippy cup, switch your buying to used and relax.

Now, how about plastic straws?  We’re now talking about an item which has for most people a single use. You buy a soda when ordering fast food and there it is. And afterwards, you throw it in the trash because you already know they can not be recycled.

There’s a big push throughout the media for people to stop using plastic straws and this is smart. There are metal straws and also glass straws (made  with tempered glass so they are not easily breakable) that offer straight and bent versions as well as tiny brushes to clean the inside.  These straws easily can be used at home or on the go (refuse that straw at the fast food!!), washed and used again and again.short straw

But there are people who need the bending capability of the plastic straws. I know two adults who have different health conditions that require the use of a straw to drink and because of their posture issues, the bendy part of the plastic straw is priceless to get the drink to them cleanly.  Those people should be able to continue to obtain plastic straws for their use until they can also obtain some that are becoming more readily available that avoid single use plastic also. I would suggest that current plastic straws could be washed to be reused, especially in a home environment.  Image result for handicapped need for bendy plastic straws

For the rest of us, from age one to 91, please use paper or the glass or stainless straws.  But allow those who are not as able to still have their cup and drink it too.

We have to keep an eye on our consumption of single-use plastics. We have to greatly reduce if not completely eliminate them from our lives in order to help manufacturers find new sustainable packaging and objects.  When we make our choices, people WILL start new businesses to meet a new trend.

Perhaps some of you may not know that I am a commercial food processor. I can foods and they go into glass jars. Lids have to be new for a good seal, but the jars themselves can be sanitized and reused as long as the sealing surface is intact without any chips.  My dehydrated products, however, are packaged into plastic zip-locked bags that are rated for 5 years of safe storage. Right now I have not found anything available on the market at any price. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I will be searching and when I find a substitute that provides safe food storage, I will make the switch.IMG_1464

Each of us needs to think of our own use and find better substitutes to help better steward our planet.

 

Reduce!

Reduce. Most of us may first think of weight loss when you hear that word, but in the world of Zero Waste it means something much easier to achieve, at least for me. To reduce means to lessen the amount of items you use that end up needing to be sent to the landfill or incinerator.

The first step in reducing trash headed for the landfill is to actually stop acquiring things that need to be thrown away. A lot of people are proud of their recycling habit, but believe it or not, recycling is always a third or fourth choice.

If we STOP using plastic items that are not recyclable, there will be less going to the landfill. Since people are waking up to these concerns all over the world, there are lots of ideas that have been developed.

Image result for stop using plastic

For example, lots of news about plastic straws now and how some cities and even countries are making their use prohibited. While some people may not understand how their one straw from a fast food soft drink can affect sea life, they are simply not considering that it is not just them…..we have millions of people here in the United States using…and discarding…straws every day. Consider that people around the world, many with less sophisticated garage collection than we have, also use single use straws and you begin to understand that we have a mountain of straws discarded.

When I was young we used paper straws and they work pretty well. But there is a tendency for them to get “waterlogged” and then tear easily. When plastic straws became available they became a clear winner in comparison. The ones that are bendable make it easy for people who can’t sit up to be able to drink without spilling.

So, we and others are encouraging you to stop using plastic straws, what can you do?

Image result for iced teaFirst of all, I know I do not need a straw every time I am offered one. At a restaurant where the beverage is served in a glass and not a cup with a plastic lid, I certainly can (and I bet you can too) drink directly from the glass.  So, I have begun to say “I don’t need a straw: when I order my beverage.

Next, I have saved sme plastic straws from fast food places where we carried out our drink. I wash them and reuse them. There is no reason to garbage them until they break.

There are so many paper straws now with decorative designs that would be fun for a party or at home use.  Many of these straws are compostible.

Image result for paper straws
source: Sweets and Treats
Stainless Steel Drinking Straws - Fits Ozark Trail, Yeti and RTIC 30 oz. Tumbler - Strong Reusable Eco Friendly, Set of 6 with 2 Cleaning Brushes by Decodyne (10")
source: WalMart $7.95

And finally, there are stainless steel straws, both straight and bent. Little brushes can clean the inside so for those of you who drink smoothies that stick to the inside, there is a way to make sure they are clean.

Using any of these instead of continuing the single use plastic straws is a way to REDUCE your impact on trash.  And while you are one person, think about how many plastic straws you have used in the last week/month/year and you begin to see the significance of  what a small change can mean to the environment if only everyone understands and makes the switch.

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Other changes related to food includes how we wrap up items that get put into the refrigerator for storage. If I use half an onion while fixing dinner, my old method was to stick the other half into a sandwich baggie. Of course, the baggie went into the trash when I used the rest of the onion. Now we either use one of our food storage containers or a new product that addresses this issue. There are a number of new products that can cover food and keep it fresh.

Image result for sustainable food wrap container
Source: Etsy-LoveYourPlanetCA
Image result for sustainable food wrap container
source: Bee’s Wrap
Image result for sustainable food wrap container
source: https://www.amazon.com/Organic-Reusable-Wraps-Packs-Total/dp/B0785SJS6D

This cover and the Bee’s Wrap are cotton infused with beeswax. The heat from your hand is enough to get the wrap to stick tightly.

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More items!

mesh bags for produce

 

There are mesh bags that can be used in the supermarket to collect items like produce or dry bulk bin items and avoid using plastic bags.  They are washable when they get dirty and are so lightweight they would have a negligible effect on pricing.

 

 

 

Image result for disposable razorsImage result for safety razorsRemember the excitement of getting your first razor?  Over the years you have used a lot of these. It’s time to transition to one similar to what your dad or grandfather used. Called a safety razor, they were an improvement over the straight razors used for years?decades?centuries? before them. They have a handle that is not replaced and the blades are removable and they can be replaced. Since they are metal (stainless steel usually), they are also potentially recyclable.

Send us photos of what you are doing to reduce your use of plastics.

 

 

 

Kick It OUT of Your Life!!!

Plastic…….that word has become a challenge. Anyone older than 50 can remember things that are commonly plastic now were made from something else when we were young. Paper straws for drinking. Metal lunch boxes. Metal cups for nonbreakable travel. Waxed paper for wrapping a sandwich.  Paper grocery bags used for school book covers. Image result for vintage metal lunch boxes

Then, we felt the joy of how plastic lasted longer and that fascination started taking over. Plastic straws don’t tear. Plastic lunch boxes come in all shapes. Plastic coated paper cups from the coffee kiosk. Plastic wrap keeps a tighter seal. The plastic coated book covers resist spills.

Image result for 1960s plastic lunch box  Image result for plastic lunch boxes vintage

 

 

 

 

And now, after years of comfortable use, we understand that plastics have a pretty large environmental footprint with its petroleum component. We are disappointed that plastic lined paper coffee cups can not be recycled and don’t break down for composting. We understand better that it never decomposes, so when it gets thrown “away”, it lands in the local landfill, with all its attendant environmental issues.  We recognize that paying money to use something only once has a recurring effect on your shopping budget.

And we’ve become wiser. We’ve chosen stainless steel straws that can be cleaned and reused forever or until we misplace them when we move.  That cloth bags come in various shapes and sizes and can carry our food for lunch easily. That beeswax infused food wrappers can keep our sandwich fresh. That there are easy to carry hot beverage containers that can be filled at the coffee shop. That paper grocery bags or newspaper work just fine as school book covers. Image result for eco lunch box

And we’re helping others learn by developing a “Zero Waste carry bag” on the go so we can tell them to “hold the straw” when you get a cold drink, or “fill my cup” when you order a coffee. We have a real squishable shopping bags in a pocket, so I’m not caught without a reusuable bagif I stop at a store.Eco-Cycle logo

eco cycle in Boulder, Colorado has suggests a series of challenges you can do to reduce the amount of plastic that you use. 

Start building (and using!) your own Zero Waste on-the-go kit . Many wasteful plastic items come into our lives when we are on-the-go and it’s hard to avoid them if we’re not prepared with reusable alternatives. Make a kit stocked with reusable options and show disposables who’s boss!
We recommend including the items below in your Zero Waste on-the-go kit, but feel free to pick and choose:
  • Reusable, non-plastic beverage containers—stainless steel coffee mugs, glass or stainless steel water bottles. Mason jars are affordable and work, too!
  • Reusable totes—Keep one in your purse, backpack, car or bike so you always have one on hand.
  • Cotton produce bags—Make your own using old pillow cases, clothes, or scrap fabric. Can’t sew? Eco-Bags and Etsy are great sources for cloth produce bags (we especially like this set with the tare weight marked).
  • Stainless steel food containers for take-out or leftovers.
  • Reusable straws—e.g., Bamboo, steel, or glass (and a straw cleaning brush!)
  • Utensil sets- there are many non-plastic travel utensil sets available, or you can make your own with metal silverware wrapped in cloth napkins. Keep a few in your kit to share!
*Thrift shops are a great place to pick up silverware, cloth napkins, reusable water bottles, and travel coffee mugs for your to-go kit!

We CAN do this!!!  We can reduce our plastic use!!!