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Life without Plastic

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How We Do Plastic-Free July Like Ninjas

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.
Used with Permission from Plastic Free July

I apologize for missing last week's post. I was finishing up work on a cookbook for eating local and I just wanted to get it done. Right now it is in the editing phase, but you can bet I'll keep posting updates as they come!

Where We Have Done Well
This year we're participating in Plastic-Free July for the first time! It was very hard to decide how to participate, as we have eliminated so much plastic from our lives already. We use wooden toothbrushes, homemade toothpaste, all metal safety razors, shampoo bars and soap in paper, stainless steel and glass water bottles, refuse plastic straws, use our own grocery bags or go without, bringing our own to-go containers when we eat out, Mr. Greenie has already been switching over his deodorant after waiting for it to run out, etc.
And...Not So Well
There is definitely room for improvement in the food area. We can't currently afford the switch from milk in plastic jugs to glass, as we are still in debt reduction mode and milk in glass is almost four times as expensive as milk in plastic. Milk is a staple in our home, so we're not giving it up. We also  (rarely) buy meat in the marked down section of our grocery store, which is always prepackaged. We also buy cheese in plastic, again for cost reasons, but we could probably buy our cheese from Winco (which sells bulk cheese) and have them just put it in paper until we can get home to coat it in beeswax.
How Will We Participate?
Since Winco is a bit of a drive though and we don't need cheese right now, we have opted not to switch our cheesy ways for July. We have decided to... (pause for effect) pick up trash/recycling everywhere we go for a month. I will be posting weekly update posts all through the month of July and the beginning of August.

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How will you participate in Plastic-Free July this year?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Baking" as a Couple with Less Waste

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.

DISCLOSURE: Please note these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

This is a sensitive topic, so reader discretion is advised, although I will do my best to keep it PG by using "baking" supply analogies. I will be discussing "baking" and how to improve a marital type of relationship while creating less waste.



Recently I attended a different kind of Tupperware party. This kind of party was for empowering women, so that they can have closer relationships with their spouses. Different types of "baking" supplies were discussed to help achieve this closeness. Although I love the message behind the company (Pure Romance) and my friend who sells the products, they are not a zero-waste or plastic-free company. After attending the party, it got me thinking, first how grateful I am for my happy marriage and second, what are all of the zero waste and plastic-free options for "baking" as a couple?

There are several types of "baking"  supplies available. For the most eco-friendly options, keep reading.

  • You can buy new plastic-free "aprons"- as discussed in this review. You can also buy different styles of "aprons" that work for you and your spouse as used articles of clothing- see Why Buy it Used. Finally, you can also Make Your Own for free with used natural fabrics/organic fabrics. Vintage patterns are unique and easy to find for free online.
  • You can buy "unscented extracts" to help increase interest and confidence, sold in glass for both men and women and you can add any essential oils/ perfume you wear for scent.
  • You can always help your spouse relax by "kneading the dough" first. There are two essential oils that are great for calming down (lavender oil) and cheering up (ylang ylang oil).
  • When it comes to "baking" toys such as Easy Bake Oven, buy stainless steel or glass versus plastic, rubber, or silicone for more durability. Avoid plastic most, silicone next, and use rubber as a biodegradable, but less durable option.  My friend sells silicone options, which seem to be the most common. When you have finished using them, recycle in your electronics recycling program OR discretely here for Canada & USA and here for UK. 
  • For "greasing the pan", there are several waste-less and natural options available-
  1. Plain coconut oil, pure aloe vera gel, olive oil, almond oil, apricot oil, etc. (Not "rubber oven mitt" safe)
  2. 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum (bought in bulk) in a 1/2 a cup water ("rubber oven mittsafe)
  3. Delicious Honey-Vanilla Body Oil
  4. Tingly Water-Based ("rubber oven mittsafe!) "Grease" adapted from this recipe
1 cup COLD water
4 teaspoons arrowroot flour
5 drops peppermint essential oil (for cooling sensation) AND/OR 3 drops black pepper essential oil (for warming sensation)

In a small cooking pot, add the COLD water and arrowroot flour. The water must be cold or the arrowroot will clump up. Mix until combined. Slowly bring to a boil on MEDIUM-LOW heat, stirring often.

Once it boils, the liquid will look kind of like gelatin or glue. Remove it from the stove and pour into your container. Let cool slightly and add the essential oils directly to your container. Add more or less essential oils once you've tested this amount for comfort.

Store it at room temperature. Putting it in the refrigerator or freezer will allow a skin to form on the lube.

You may also enjoy Zero Waste, Plastic-Free Family Planning and Zero Waste, Plastic-Free Pregnancy Detection.

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Here's to closer "baking" as a couple with less waste!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Zero Waste Sugar Waxing


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 do some serious research to figure out the whys, how, and the five R's of zero waste hair removal. If you are researching alternatives for disposable razors and waxing like we were, keep reading and check this article and this article on different zero waste hair removal options.



  • Why use sugar waxing?

Sugar waxing can be a nice transition from more chemical and unnatural forms of hair removal, more environmentally friendly (you can make it package free from local sources or find the ingredients in bulk), and provides more effective hair removal than a razor by removing the hair rather than cutting it. This means less frequent hair removal, and no nicks, unlike shaving.


With a sugar waxing, you have to keep making the wax, which can be a bummer if you don't like to cook. You also will be using up resources every time you remove hair, local or bulk, so you have to keep investing time and money in supplies. In my opinion, sugar waxing is probably the most wasteful hair removal option because of the continual need for supplies, followed by safety razors, and then the least wasteful straight razor


You have to use the wax hot enough to spread and you have to rip off the hair, which is painful. If you are squeamish about pulling off the hair, like me, you have to have a helper to actually perform the waxing. This can be friend, spouse, family, etc. or a professional, which would add to the cost of waxing. 


If you are squeamish about waxing, I would recommend a vintage safety razor or a vintage straight razor. If you prefer waxing and want to make as little waste as possible doing it, this article is for you.



 
  • How to wax 
Whisk together 2 cups honey, 1/4 apple cider vinegar, 1/4 water until thoroughly combined. After the wax is mixed, cook it in a canning jar in a medium pot of water on low to low-medium and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 mins, just scrape the bottom and the sides. Then remove whisk occasionally to check on the color.

In the last couple of minutes, remove the wax from the burner to lightly whisk and check the color with less bubbles. The wax should become a light amber color. Don't over-stir!


Once the wax is amber colored, start to let it harden by cooling for about 12 minutes to use right away. It should be spreadable, but not too hot.




  • Refuse: In order to use as little packaging and the environmental impacts of shipping as possible, buy local honey in bulk or raise it yourself, DIY apple cider vinegar from apple cores and peels or buy in glass or refill from bulk containers, and use filtered tap water.



    • Reduce: To reduce your needed waxing supplies, cut up old cloth for the waxing strips. Save any leftover wax to reheat for later by storing it in the fridge, saving time, money, and supplies. 





      • Reuse: Keep using the same strips by tossing in your laundry basket with your towels when you are done with the waxing session.



        • Recycle: Bring your bulk container back to your honey supplier, reuse or recycle your glass vinegar container, and recycle any emptied (of charcoal) out water filters you use. Save any too tattered fabric scraps to make parchment paper.

        Now you have a good understanding of why a sugar waxing may be a good option for you, how to do it, and how to waste as little as possible while waxing. Check out zero waste shaving with a safety razor and shaving with a straight razor to further examine your options.


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        What are your favorite ways to reduce waste with sugar waxing?

        Thursday, June 1, 2017

        Zero Waste Shaving with a Straight 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, continue reading and check out this article on different zero waste hair removal options is for you.
        • Why use a straight razor?
        straight razor is most likely to be a once in a lifetime investment, more environmentally friendly, and provides a more effective shave than a disposable razor or a safety razor. This means less ingrown hairs and closer shaves.

        This style of razor looks so much cooler than disposables and can be its own rite of passage. "I remember the first time I shaved with this razor, that was 20 (50,etc.) years ago...."

        The advantages of a straight razor are that you don't have to buy more than once (or maybe twice), that it gives you the closest shave, and that the razor can be very beautiful.

        With a straight razor, you do have to keep your razor clean and dry, but you also have to keep it properly sharpened and stropped or it won't work properly. Some people can find this kind of work soothing and relaxing. If you aren't the DIY type, the safety razor is probably a better fit for you.
          

        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 spongedry 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 straight razor and use it at a 30 degree angle to reduce nicks and cuts. Take it slow, rinse hair and remaining dead skin off of the blade every few strokes.

        4. Use small strokes and don't press down much in order to reduce nicks and cuts. This blade is sharp!


        • Refuse:
        In order to use as little packaging as possible, make a once a lifetime purchase and buy a vintage straight razor to refuse buying an unnecessary new razor. See (Why Buy It Used).
        • Reduce: 
        In order to keep your razor usable and clean for your lifetime and beyond, follow these steps.:

        To prevent rusting, store all of your shaving equipment outside of the damp bathroom.
        After you finish shaving, clean your razor 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 keep it working effectively. 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, soak just the blade in alcohol for about 5 minutes to get it extra clean, wash it off, dry it extra well, and reapply oil.  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 keep the blade in good working order, rehone the edge (see video linked above). You will also need to use stropping. (See video linked below.) For a straight razor, I highly recommend investing in a vintage strop

        • Recycle: 
        No need to recycle, just maintain and leave it in your will. :D

        • 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 straight 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 out zero waste shaving with a safety razor to further examine your options, and check back to see one last zero waste hair removal option.

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

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