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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Zero Waste Shaving with a Safety Razor


 


The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.

I've seen quite a few zero waste hair removal articles, but I haven't one that is very comprehensive. Mr. Greenie and I are old hats at zero waste shaving, but we've had to use some trial and error to figure out the whys, how, and the five R's of zero waste shaving. If you are researching alternatives for disposable razors like we were, this article and this series on different zero waste hair removal options is for you.
  • Why use a safety razor?
A safety razor or "Grandpa" razor is cheaper (I've seen as cheap as $8 on Etsy), more environmentally friendly, and provides a more effective shave than a disposable razor. This means less ingrown hairs and closer shaves. Some other advantages are that it's not a straight razor, also known as a "cut-throat" razor, or a traditional razor. This is often a less intimidating switch than going straight from a disposable razor to a straight razor.

A "Grandpa" razor is often easy to buy offline; we've seen them at Walmart, Target, Smith's, etc. This style of razor also looks cooler than disposables and you can even buy vintage/used and not worry about who used blades before you, as the blades are replaced after a few shaves.

The advantages of a safety razor vs straight razor are upfront cost, that it is harder to cut yourself deeply than with using a straight razor, and less maintenance. With a safety razor, you do have to take care of it, but there isn't such a strong learning curve as a straight razor. For minimum care, you keep your razor clean, dry, and replace the blades every few shaves. This works fine.

With a straight razor, you have to keep your razor not only clean and dry, you also have to keep it properly sharpened and stropped or it won't work properly. This can be hard for a new user and even harder to find someone else to do it for you. If you aren't the DIY type, the safety razor is probably a better fit for you.
  • How to use a safety razor 
  

1. Start by washing and scrubbing the dead skin off of the area you are going to shave. This helps prepare for a closer and more effective shave and gets your lymphatic going as a bonus. You can use a natural loofah sponge, dry brushing before you wash, or just a nice homemade natural scrub.

2. If you are working with a beard, shaving oil can help soften the hair as well as the skin. You can also just skip this and use warm water and a traditional shaving soap with a badger brush and a small bowl, homemade natural shaving cream, or regular soap. Fit the blade in between the blade and the comb.

3. Shave over a bowl if you are shaving a beard and save your drains from clogging. If you are shaving in the tub or shower, collect hair away from the drain after rinsing off. Wet your safety razor and use it at a 30 degree angle to reduce nicks and cuts. Take it slow and open up the razor and take out the blade every few strokes to rinse off hair and remaining dead skin.

4. Use small strokes and don't press down much in order to reduce nicks and cuts. This blade is sharp! I prefer to switch sides of the blade for each new area. In our experience, shaving legs requires both sides of the blade vs shaving a face, so I use blades up in less shaves than Mr. Greenie.

  • Refuse:
In order to use as little packaging as we can, we buy better quality stainless razor blades in bulk in order to reduce packaging. You can also buy a vintage razor handle to refuse buying an unnecessary new razor handle. See (Why Buy It Used).
  • Reduce: 
In order to keep your razor usable and clean for as long as possible, follow these steps.:

To prevent rusting, store all of your shaving equipment outside of the damp bathroom.
After you finish shaving, take your razor apart, clean it well and dry it even better.
Apply a little bit of olive oil (refilled at Whole Foods), coconut oil, etc. on the blade after drying to make it last a little longer. Put it away on your way out of the bathroom.

Strop your blade as it dulls, this can be done using a traditional strop or on an old pair of jeans. 
About once a month,  take it apart, soak it in alcohol for about 5 minutes to get it extra clean, wash it off, dry it extra well, reapply oil, and then assemble it again.  If you are using a badger brush, wash it well with shampoo at the same time you give it the alcohol treatment.

  • Reuse: 
In order to rehone the edge for a few more shaves per blade, use stropping. 

"Run your razor along your old jeans. You'll want to do this with the direction of the blades and not against the blades. Do this about approximately 20 times in one direction with short, quick strokes. This process, called stropping, will remove burrs and irregularities from your blades, honing your razor's edge.

To evenly and completely strop your blades, you'll want perform the same motion in the opposite direction (on the same section of denim) as well. Switch directions and run the blade along the jean fabric around 20 times in the same fashion you did previously.Use light pressure when stropping. Pressing too hard can actually cause damage to the edge of your blade."-WikiHow

  • Recycle: 
How to properly recycle razor blades: Keep your used and reused until very dull blades in an old soup can, away from children and pets. When the can is full, seal to protect recycling workers and either place in metal recycling bin or take to recycling center and put the can in the steel recycling. (This is a safer option and you can even get paid if you recycle with metal recycling companies who pay by weight.)

  • Rot: 
After your shave, compost the hair and skin you collected and save your drains from oil and hair. If you use oil with shaving, use a bokashi bin to break down the oil and compost properly.

Now you have a good understanding of why a safety razor may be a good option for you, how to use it, and how to waste as little as possible by using it well. Check back for other zero waste hair removal options.

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What are your favorite ways to reduce waste with using a safety razor?



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How to Recycle Shoes

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading wants checklist at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.


What to do when your sneakers aren't new?....
Confession time: I am not a big shoe fan. There, I said it, and now it's out in the internet forever. I am however, a pragmatist and a shoe owner. I am also a zero waster, so I can't stand the idea of just throwing a worn-out pair of sneakers "away". I don't need the sneakers anymore as I can't use them as shoes or have them repaired as such. They are ten years old and have been well used, now is time for their retirement. Here are my ideas on how I can recycle them:


  • Use them as pot for shallow rooted plants-

Pros: Easiness in practice and reusing vs recycling (reuse always trumps recycle with less energy consumption and down-cycling). I know how it will be used.
Cons: Having more plastic in my garden, especially near my food. I'm currently trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use.
Pros: I can make a label to ship them or take the shoes along with other recycling errands and have them out of my house. I know how it will be used and that it can be made into a product that is actually useful.

Cons: I have to take time to prep it it for shipping. Fuel will be used to either ship it or drive it to the Nike store. I have to drive it either to a post box or the Nike store, which is entirely out of my way. It is only going to be down-cycled before being trashed.

Pros: I know that if anyone takes them, that they will be appreciated. They will be reused before being recycled. Less fuel will be used by keeping them in our local gift economy.
Cons: No one may be interested, and I may just be holding on to something longer before it gets recycled. I can't be sure that they will be properly recycled after the neighbor uses them.

Decisions, Decisions
So what did I decide? I'm not growing our food in plastic. The shoes were bought years before I went plastic-free and I want to use the easiest way to see them be recycled one more time before making their way to the landfill. We'll be downsizing in the next few months and I simply don't room for one more plant pot to move and I don't want to deal with arranging to have the sneakers picked up by a neighbor.


What Am I Going to Do With My Shoes That Aren't New?
After careful consideration, I have decided to go ahead and donate my shoes to Nike. Since we're moving, I decided to go ahead and buy some paper tape for donating my shoes, reuse a box that had already been reused by shipping used cloth diapers to me, and homemade plastic-free glue to glue on the shipping label from scratch paper. That's what I do when my shoes aren't new.

What are some ways that you have found to reuse or recycle old shoes?
~Little Urban Greenie

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why Buy It Used

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading wants checklist at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.



It's the gift-getting season...
Birthdays and gift giving/receiving are always a struggle for me. We have high standards as to what are acceptable gifts for our children and ourselves. No plastic, not wasteful, generally high quality, no electronic noise making toys, no electronics for young children, preferably made in US, and...used if possible. Yes, you heard me right. "Pre-owned", if that seems more elegant for you. Why do we prefer used? Read on, reader and see if you would rather be the man/woman wearing off the rack.

In no particular order:


  • Price
Used often cost less than new. This is especially true for cars, clothing, jewelery, cloth diapers, furniture, and books.
  • Quality
Used products are usually more durable, which is why you were able to buy them after someone else had already used them. They most likely were cleaned several times, so they can be less toxic than non-organic newer items, which usually aren't cleaned before shelving. I opt for buying used non-organic clothing and organic if I can find it, rather than new organic and pay the price.

Used items have also been on market longer, and so have been been tested for safety and have had the kinks worked out, think of the recent car recall fiascos. We just recently bought a used mini-van for commuting to investment properties. It is under 10 years old and had no recalls. Antique/vintage furniture is often better built, etc.


  • Packaging
Depending on how you purchase, used items can be less heavily packaged. If you go to a thrift store, a yard sale, an estate sale, or answer a local classifieds ad, than you will be dealing with price stickers, price tags, and maybe a plastic bag for grouping like items. If you buy online from EtsyAmazon, or Ebay, you may be able to contact the seller to send your item in just a used manila envelope or box, but with mixed results. I've had my share of misadventures with asking for "less packaging". See Plastic Free Vacuum Alternative post. I had some good results too with buying from MamaBearBabyWearSimpleGiftsToys, and Mama Made Them Etsy sellers, but Amazon sellers seem to ignore packaging requests.
  • More local
If you buy used items from a thrift store, a yard sale, an estate sale, a local classifieds ad, or get it free from your neighbor, than you are keeping the sale in your local economy (at least US based company), supporting local jobs, and promoting job training if you shop at a thrift store (most thrift stores offer job training for disadvantaged individuals).
  • Think Sweatshop & Blood Diamonds
If you buy used items, you aren't contributing to demand for production that new items require. Most of the time, working conditions for the workers that make these items are subpar, and don't offer a quality livelihood, or even death  from certain kinds of jobs.
  • Shipping/Environmental impact
By buying used, your items are less likely to be shipped as far as new (internationally) and less likely to contribute to pollution. They also will not be manufactured again and contribute to all of the environmental impact that manufacturing causes.


  • Nostalgia  
Vintage items and antique items are just more quirky, unique, and can bring you back to childhood memories. Just the other day I found some kids' books at the thrift store that I loved when I was young. Both UG1 and I were thrilled with the purchase. When you use something from a different era, you feel connected to the past. You can own a piece of history, like our house. How many people lived in it and were born in it in the last 100 years? That feeling rarely comes for me when I buy something new.

It may be the Gift Giving Season...
Spring may be one of our gift giving seasons, with 3 birthdays in a two month window, but with quality used gifts, it can be a little better. Now you know why we're the family off-the-rack.

Little Urban Greenie

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

6 Greatest Tips for Saving Money Printing

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading wants checklist. Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.


Too Much Printing is Bad for Zero Waste and Your Wallet!
We should always try to reduce our need to print things off for environmental reasons, money-saving  reasons, and organizational/storage reasons. As a homeschooling mom of a preschooler and soon-to-be toddler (age 1 starts the toddler years) however, I find myself printing off a few free worksheets as part of their curriculum. Younger children need hands-on work to learn handwriting, coloring, etc. Since neither Mr. Greenie or I feel that we can go paperless for my kids' classical education, we seek to reduce our environmental impact and use as little resources as possible in our printing practices. Here are my zero waste printing secrets for reducing printing waste and saving money!:

Get it Used and Use It Better
1. Our printer/copier/scanner/fax machine is multi-functional and was acquired used. (We received it from our local Buy Nothing Project group for free!) Since we use one machine for all of our office needs, we don't have to store, run, or maintain multiple electronics. Since we acquired the machine used, we reduced the demand for a new machine/several machines that our used all-in-one would be replaced by. We also saved money on buying a new all-in-one.

The Phantom Power is There..Wasting Your Money
2. We unplug our computer and printer when we aren't using them or the laptop is charged. This saves energy from phantom power and money from both the electric bill as well as the extra wear and tear of keeping it constantly plugged in.

The Answer Is in the Mail
3. We reuse one-sided junk mail or old documents for printing. Someday I will make our paper from used or better yet parchment (made from fabric scraps or lint vs wood pulp). Either way, I don't buy paper made from virgin forests. If I ever needed to print double-sided documents, I would use 100% post-consumer content recycled paper or homemade.

Refreshing the Cartridges
4. We reset our ink cartridges, so we can use them until completely empty. This saves us from needing to buy re-manufactured ink cartridges or refilling (see #5), this saves us money and reduces our packaging waste.

Reusing the Cartridges
5. After our ink cartridges are reset and verified to be completely empty, we refill our ink cartridges. We bought this universal color & black printer ink refill kit. It does come heavily packaged however, so while you will reduce overall packaging from buying even re-manufactured ink cartridges, there's quite a bit of packaging, as seen below. You won't need to buy the refill kit for awhile though, as the heavy printer user's refill tutorial shows in the first link in this paragraph. She bought one cartridge in two years because of user error and is still reusing the same kit! What a money saver!


Recycle and Earn Money for More Cartridges
6. After we can no longer reuse/refill our re-manufactured ink cartridges, we will then recycle the cartridges and earn cash for it.

Now that you've refused the print jobs you don't need, reduced the need for a new electronics by acquiring a used all-in-one printer, reduced the energy needed to print, reused free paper and reused recycled cartridges by refilling when completely empty, and recycled the cartridges when they were no longer able to be refilled; you have saved money and helped lessen your environmental impact. Here's to economical being fully ecological!

Little Urban Greenie

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