My Eco Week

Does it ever seem like all of your things need replacing, all at once? This week alone, I had to run errands for three different broken things! I’m feeling really excited that I was able to find a sustainable way to replace all three of them–here are some great resources for reusable and recyclable household products.

Soap dispenser

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Image from Rail19’s Etsy shop

I was getting tired of cheap, plastic soap dispensers, some of which were too gross to refill and others that were too poorly made to be reused. Enter Rail19, an Etsy shop specializing in glass soap/lotion dispensers and spray bottles. My favorite part is the recycled glass section, which has dispensers in various shapes, sizes, colors, and overall styles. For people searching to use the smallest amount of plastic possible, there are metal pumps, but those items tend to be more expensive ($15+). Since I’m all about saving money, I opted for a recycled glass bottle with a BPA-free, FDA-approved plastic pump for $11.50. Rail19 shipped quickly and my package arrived safely. I filled my bottle with some bulk liquid soap from Ocean State, and it has worked perfectly! Highly recommend.

 

Paper towels

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Photo by Josh Mormann on https://www.flickr.com/photos/noego/4610114040

I’ve been thinking about our paper towel consumption since visiting a family-friend and admiring her unbleached paper goods, including paper towels and toilet paper. We were running low on paper goods this week, which got me inspired to find a different solution. While I’m not in the position to be purchasing fancy toilet paper–it’s clearly not reusable, and I’d have to go out of my way to buy it–I started looking into reusable paper towel options on Etsy. And, once again, I came across my current favorite shop, Green Little Nest. I can guarantee that this won’t be the last time I mention Green Little Nest, mostly because I have purchased so many wonderful items from the shop! I love my reusable organic cotton facial rounds for applying daily toner and skin medication, and their mini-baskets are perfect for holding the cotton rounds and other little trinkets.

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Photo from Green Little Nest’s Etsy shop

Green Little Nest’s “Unpaper” towels are super absorbent, 11×11 inches square, and made from unbleached organic cotton. As with all of their organic cotton products, items become more absorbent with each wash (awesome!), and Green Little Nest recommends washing your items before their first use to enhance their quality. I ordered the single sample for $1.75, and it will have its pre-wash tomorrow morning. I’ll report back once I’ve had a chance to test them out, but for now, know that Green Little Nest has yet to disappoint!

 

Grocery bags

Easy Knit produce bag // www.deliacreates.com

Photo from deliacreates.com

There are many, many days where my entire outfit is hand-me-downs from a friend. I usually love these items so much more than anything purchased new, and as a result I wear them in quickly. So, in accordance with the ongoing theme of my week, a cozy pair of hand-me-down cotton leggings ripped down the seam (luckily I was leaving work when it happened, and avoided any embarrassment–phew!). I didn’t want to throw away good fabric, but the leggings were definitely irreparable. What to do?

Easy Knit produce bag // www.deliacreates.com

Photo from deliacreates.com

Somehow after moving in with my boyfriend, I abandoned my reusable produce bags. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have enough bags to carry the produce for two peoples’ meals; perhaps I just got lazy. Then, while food shopping last week, I noticed how often I pulled those little plastic bags off the reel, and how they got thrown away right when we got home. So with grocery bags on my radar and a pair of ripped leggings, I decided to turn my pants into mesh satchels for produce. Here is a super straightforward and helpful tutorial from Delia Creates. It’s possible to make these without a sewing machine, too! Hooray sustainability!

What are your favorite eco-friendly “replacement” products? Let me know in the comments!

Stay savvy,

–Kim

Happy Earth Day! Giving Gifts Sustainably

Happy Earth Day! Since April 22, 1970, people worldwide have spent this holiday celebrating the progress we’ve made towards a more sustainable world and reminding us that the work is far from over. This year, the Earth Day Network has organized the March for Science in Washington DC (with cities around the country holding their own marches). The event includes teach-ins and messages from speakers such as Roger Johnson of the National Farmer’s Union and Bill Nye the Science Guy (click the link for an excellent interview with Nye from National Geographic). Join the excitement from home with this March for Science live stream!

 

All of this Earth-celebrating has inspired me to share about sustainable gifting. As my family knows, I am not one for wrapping paper. In fact, for Christmas this year, we were able to wrap gifts for both my and Andy’s extended families and friends without purchasing a single decorative item. Here are my hints and tips for wrapping gifts that should make all Earth Day celebrators proud:

1. Save your shopping bags

 

By Loicvdh4470 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How great is it that clothing stores use paper bags instead of plastic? Make the most of your purchase by refurbishing its bag and tissue paper. If you don’t like the company logo, over it up with origami, a cute drawing, or stickers–or, better yet, remember that the wrapping is the least memorable part of a present.

2. Use the news

From http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Bundle-Stack-Newspaper-Old-Newspaper-Jute-Rope-1853667, CC0 Public Domain

No matter how many times I contact my local ad and periodical agencies, I can’t seem to get rid of junk mail. Around holidays, make a collection of your weekly periodicals, and use them for wrapping paper. Some people prefer to stick to the comics and funnies, but a cute add for pet supplies has the same effect.

Pro tips:

3. Use pretty fabric scraps, scarves, and ribbons

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From https://pixabay.com/en/scarves-polka-dot-floral-colorful-91349/, CC0 Public Domain

As part of my most recent move, I went through all of my accessories and set aside those I hadn’t worn in years. This included lots of scarves and other fabrics with festive prints that were plenty useful but no longer my style. Taking inspiration from concepts such as LUSH’s Knot-Wraps, scarves serve a double purpose: Reusable wrapping and a thoughtful gift, all in one!

4. Collect extras from the community

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From https://pixabay.com/photo-76536/, CC0 Public Domain, Editorial Use Only

I am obsessed with online yard sales on Facebook. It’s super easy to find your local sale and join the group, and I wish I had started earlier! Around holidays, birthdays, and other festive gift-giving times, check your local page to see if any wrapping supplies are up for grabs. Some people will even give you stuff for free! Just make sure you never give your personal address and meet in a public place for pickup.

5. If you must buy paper, either go to your local dollar store or support a local business

Here’s where you decide if you’d rather be sustainable economically or environmentally.

If you don’t have the time or materials for the above recommendations, or you really just want to wrap your presents with regular wrapping paper, you have two good options.

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From https://flic.kr/p/cQiSXd, CC 2.0

First, you could buy supplies at your local dollar store. Chain gift stores charge much more for wrapping paper than it costs to be made. And whatever the quality of the wrapping paper, its entire purpose is to be torn off and disposed of, so buying gift-shop paper is akin to literally throwing away money. Instead of throwing away $5-$10 per roll, throw away $1. However, buying from larger, chain stores without knowing how their products are made is not always an environmentally-savvy situation.

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By Etsy Brand Design Team (Etsy.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Your other option is to support small and local businesses by purchasing your wrapping supplies on Etsy. You’ll be spending more money, but at least you know exactly where and to whom your money is going. Generally, smaller retailers have a smaller carbon footprint.

Pro tip: Check out this list of festive holiday paper from Etsy, brought to you by The Neotraditionalist. Many of the shops have non-holiday items for sale, too!

6. Remember, the gift inside is what’s important, not the wrapping

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From https://pixabay.com/en/book-gift-cord-gold-cord-golden-1667828/, CC0 Public Domain

‘Nuff said.

Stay savvy and Happy Earth Day!

–Kim

Featured image by { pranav }https://flic.kr/p/bAAXTs, CC 2.0