Okay, it has been forever since I last posted. But starting this week I will be back at it regularly, including information on our trip to Paris and Africa. In just a month we will be moving into a house (Yay garage!!) so I will be sharing decor pieces and possibly a tour. The new house has a lot more natural light in the kitchen so I will be able to take pictures for organic recipes to share.
Back to the task at hand… When we first moved into our place I wanted to do a paperless kitchen but the regular routine of paper towels for everything took over and I was not even sure where to start. It can seem so overwhelming when you really start to think about all the paper, plastic, and metal waste your own family makes. But do not fret! I have for you just a few beginner steps to making your family just a little less wasteful.
***Before you can begin, realize going less waste (with a possible goal of no waste) is not going to happen overnight. It will take adjustments and most of all planning. This will mean you are gonna forget sometimes at first, but eventually, with forethought, you will be on top of it. You may have to start getting up or ready earlier so you pack for the day, or start a load of your “paper” towels in the washer. So be willing to accept this requires a small time commitment from you. ***
1. Reusable bags
I know, basic right?? But how often do you not have a bag with you or forget it in the car when shopping? Exactly. Like I mentioned preparation is key. You need different bags for different things, so start building a supply. If you have two cars, you need bags for both cars to be stocked. Here is what we use for just James and me:
For food shopping
(2) Cold large insulated bags – Bought these at Whole foods for around $9 each. I know Trader Joes has one too for a good price. One for each car since we have a long drive home from the health food store.
(6) Cloth or nylon food bags – Bought at various stores, James car has only a smaller one cloth one.
(2) Packable Chico bags – One for my bag and one for James. makes it so you always have one on hand with you. (Though James always forgets to use his still. Like I said it will take some time)
(6) Mesh produce and bulk bags- Got these guys from Amazon and they are great! Good for buying nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and fresh fruit.
For clothes/regular shopping
(3) Cloth bags – Mine are from Free People and a little boutique and are good for clothing items as they are very lightweight and fit in my purse.
For carrying your essentials for the day
(2) Thick Graphic Print totes – I have two I LOVE that I got at the market in the ferry building back home. I use these when I am running to my family house, a doctor’s office, etc and want to bring reading material, paperwork, my Ipad, or computer. I usually throw my water bottle in and a snack in as well. These are truly my do all bag.
(1) French woven basket with leather handles – I got one with short handles, and now I wish I had gotten the longer handles added on or the backpack straps. But this is super cute and great to toss your water bottle, change of shoes, sweater, and snacks in.
I keep the food and regular bags in a bin in my car. While my everyday essential bags are in the house hanging up above my shoes.
2. Reusable towels instead of paper
Kitchen “Paper” towels– This required some research but I found the best option for replacing paper towels in our kitchen. We bought “Huck” towels. This is the towels used at the hospital as they do not leave any lint behind, and are good at absorbing. Car retailers also use them. You wash them in cold water with no fabric softener and I hang mine to dry. We bought a 50 pack on Amazon for only $19 and folded them up and placed them in a basket in the kitchen so they are easy to grab. I also placed a basket under the sink for dirty ones. We use about one a day before placing it in the dirty basket if we don’t have any large spills.
Napkins – I recommend dark navy, black, or print napkins as they hide stains so much better (and we eat a lot of pasta sauce). For just James and I, we currently have 8 though we may need more for entertaining. Our first 4 are plusher and from Williams Sonoma in navy, then I ordered a 4 set of navy linen ones from Sur La Table. These are folded and placed in a basket on the counter for quick use. I also checked out Etsy.com for some and they have a lot of great options. The linen kind is great for packing in your lunch bag as they are compact.
Kitchen Hand towels – These are for drying dishes, and drying hands. Also in Navy from Williams Sonoma is the pantry towel set is great and very absorbent. Other places to get some are Homegoods, or Etsy.
Handkerchief – James and I share a pack of handkerchiefs and regularly wash them. They are so much better than a tissue pack and fold down to nothing. I always have one in my purse for sneezes and the occasional watery eyes. James uses one for wiping his eyes after using eye drops (which is constant). They are also great as they bring back a classic and look better than a crumpled up napkin from Starbucks. You can get some from Macy’s, Nordstroms, etc. Just be sure not to get anything fancy like silk, those are just for decorative purposes. You want the cotton machine washable pack.
Cleaning Towels – To dust and polish I use a microfiber towel that is kept in the laundry room with all the cleaning supplies. For glass, I use the Huck towels previous mentioned. I keep about half of them in the kitchen and half with the cleaning supplies.
3. Silicone kitchen sponge
Instead of a stinky dirty mildew sponge get a silicone one! They are inexpensive and last forever, no need to throw it out. We have had the same one for a year straight and its still going strong. They don’t scratch and are much softer on the hands. I got ours at Sur la table for under $10!
4. Bring your own thermos or tumbler
While reducing waste goes hand and hand with packing your own lunch and eating healthier meals at home, that does not mean you can never get an iced green tea on a hot day again. You can make your own and bring it in your cup using a travel tea bottle, pour it from large at home infuser, or have your local coffee shop pour one into your travel cup. While Starbucks has a lot of tumblers, check out teavana.com, or local shops.
5. Reusable straws
This at first sounded random to me, but as I thought about it, I use straws a lot. Not as much at home but in restaurants and on the go. This is usually a package deal with using your own tumbler, but when you get drinks with friends at a restaurant they use a plastic straw in their glass cup. Instead use stainless steal! I got this awesome pack with a cleaning brush and a case for my bag (it even has a wide one for when I make tapioca pearls).
6. Reusable Water bottle
HYDROFLASK enough said. Haha! They come in a large range of colors and sizes as well as twist off mouths or straw style. James and I can’t live without ours, especially during the summer heat as it keeps our water ice cold. I often add a drop of peppermint oil into mine for a refreshing treat, but I know others who love lavender or lemon. We fill ours up with our reverse osmosis system (which is way better than the usual water bottles at the store). I hate having tons of plastic water bottles around, it just seems wasteful and cluttered.
7. Bamboo utensils
James takes his lunch to work every day, and every day the glass container would come back with plasticware from work in it. It would break in the dishwasher, pile up in a drawer (which we have very little of) and just clutter up the house until I would get so annoyed I would throw them away. These were the perfect solution. He has it attached to his work bag, uses them and washes them at work before putting them back in their pouch. I plan to get just a few more to keep inside our cars just in case.
8. Make your own
Start with things you use regularly. In the kitchen, for us, it’s almond milk, ice tea, bread, tomato sauce, and dog biscuits. All of these things make plastic containers or bags you have to throw away often, so save yourself some waste and money and make it yourself. We make a huge pot of organic tomato sauce for $9 and freeze it in smaller containers. I got an almond milk maker and buy my almonds in bulk, I just whip it up and pour into my glass “milk” container from amazon and place it in the fridge. Save some plastic, save a run to the store. I use an infuser to make our ice tea for the week, my dutch oven for fresh organic bread, and sweet potatoes and raw peanut butter for dog biscuits.
For personal use, I make our own toothpaste in reusable containers that I wash and refill, as well as containers for deodorant. You can get amber glass dropper bottles for a scalp oil treatment, and pumps for shampoo. Once I finish up my current face wash and face oil, I will be making my own using the natural products I already have. (All you need to keep stocked is baking soda, coconut oil, castor oil, tea tree oil, rosemary oil, lavender oil, peppermint or citrus oil, avocado oil, ACV, grape seed oil, etc. to make all these products)
9. Reusable cotton pads
I use these daily for toner and coconut oil eye makeup remover. Etsy.com has so many options from organic bamboo, hemp, cotton, to felt. Just use a dry cleaning bag or lingerie bag to wash them so you don’t lose them.
10. Organic soap bar
Go to the health food store and get an amazing organic soap bar with no wrapper on it instead of a plastic bottle of body wash. You can also do this at LUSH, but not all their products are completely clean so check the ingredients, but I personally love the coalface wash.
Things I currently do not use but are great ideas;
FOREO face brush – James and I both use a Clarisonic but eventually will be switching over to an FOREO as it does not require throwing out and replacing the head.
Silicone mats- I personally do not have one but I know many who do. They save you from wasting parchment paper or aluminum foil. I just wipe a bit of oil on my pans but for some baking items, you may not be able to do that.
Single blade Razor – James uses one to shave and eventually I will when I finish off my replacement heads. This is a huge money saver as it only requires a $6 blade every so often. The only issue is you can not travel with them (we only do carry-on) so I will have to wax before trips. (Another reason to get more laser hair removal)
Compost bin – When we move into a house we can get one for the backyard, right now we have no spot for it and I don’t want it to smell in the house.
Aloe vera plant – I had a tiny one which died…. I am waiting for the new house to replace it with a much larger one. This stuff is way better for burns or cuts than aloe vera gel at the store.
Making own body butter and hair gel – Once I use up my current stuff I will start making my own! Pinterest.com has tons of recipes as well as Youtube.com
Thing I am working up to;
Reusable pads – I currently use organic cotton panty liners and tampons but have heard/looked into reusable pads you wash and the Diva cup as it does save money and you only need one item instead of replenishing and having some in every car, bag, and bathroom.