Happiness Has a New Address – Dulse & Rugosa
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    Earth Day- the More You Know

    Earth Day- the More You Know

     

     

    This quote sure rings true as Earth Day approaches.  In this blog I'd like to introduce you to some of my favorite non-profits who have helped and inspired me to move forward on my Zero Waste and plastic free journey.  In case you are wondering- plastic free is all about limiting your use of plastic to essentials and eliminating single use plastic.  Single use plastic is plastic that is used once and then discarded- straws, coffee cups, drink lids, water bottles, grocery bags……….  Zero waste is a philosophy that focuses on rethinking how we live in order to produce as little waste as possible.

    And now here are some of my favorite hard working groups.  First, for a trashy tour around the world check out Grabbits.  At Just Grab Bits you are encouraged to do four simple acts-

    1. Pick It- pick up some trash on your next walk wherever you happen to be, from the sidewalk, nature trail, dog park, playground, beach..... 
    2. Snap It- take a picture of your trash.
    3. Bin It- get that trash to its proper home.
    4. Tag It- enter your trash into their trash picking contests by using #JustGrabBits

    Just Grab Bits actually has lots of different categories to enter.  "Find It, Fill It" is finding a found object, bag, glove, boot and filling it with nearby trash.  "Helping Handful" is a shot of your hand full of the trash you just saved.  "Scenic Bits" is the beauty of the world along with some un-beautiful trash and the another category is "Trash Monster" where your trash turns into a monster.  There are quite a few fun, quirky categories so pick one that inspires you.  

    The cool thing which really helps expand your understanding of trash is entries are from around the globe.  I've seen trash shots from Australia, South Africa, Scotland and of course the USA.  Each month all the entries are entered into a prize spin and three lucky winners are rewarded with cool, sustainable gifts including art work, bamboo straws, and our own Rambling Man bars.  It's heartening to see folks from everywhere looking after the Earth.  The folks at Just Grab Bits, "realize picking up will never be the upstream solution, it is however necessary."  So "pickitup" and follow them on Instagram @justgrabbits.

    My next organization is Balloons Blow- Don't Let Them Go.  This non-profit is dedicated to providing information about the destructive nature of balloons, including biodegradable ones.  Beach litter surveys have shown that balloon trash has tripled over the past ten years.  And if you think about it, a deflated and tattered balloon looks very similar to a tasty morsel to a sea critter and many animals have been found with balloon bits in their stomachs.  At Balloons Blow they believe, "Education is the key in the fight for the planet, on this issue and all environmental issues. People need to know that by using science we can make informed, non-biased decisions."   Their Instagram site is @balloonsblow 

    And finally, The Last Plastic Straw.  In the US we use enough plastic straws to wrap around the Earth's circumference 2.5 times a day.  That's a lot of straw sipping.  They have a straw challenge for restaurants and bars to provide straws upon request.  I've yet to see a restaurant with "Straws available upon request" printed on their menu but it's a great and easy way to educate.  I struggle when traveling to remember to say, "No straw, please" and often a straw is simply placed in your drink without giving you the choice of refusal.  Their restaurant guide is super helpful and you can find them on Instagram @noplasticstraws.

    What's your favorite Earth educating site? 

       

      Zero Waste Easter Tips

      Zero Waste Easter Tips

      Holidays can be tricky for so many reasons and when you add in zero waste and plastic free it can get very complicated.  Many of us have family traditions that we want to honor, our kids have expectations and it can be easy to be overwhelmed. But remember, reducing your package/plastic consumption is a dance, the cha-cha moving forward and then a step back.

      Zero waste easter tips

      It's important when you are changing up your holiday traditions to be realistic and think reusable.  I read a sweet FaceBook post from a friend about the joy she felt when putting out her Easter heirlooms, especially a bunny her mom had made.  We can make these same memories for our children when we purchase wisely.

      The first item is the Easter basket/container.  We have handmade stockings we use every Christmas and I wish I did the same for Easter.  How lovely to use the same container year after year.  I'd also include some trinket/filler containers and maybe even a beautiful handcrafted spring animal.  Unpack the box as a family a week before Easter and then pack away until next year.  Your Easter box becomes the nucleus of your celebration and your children will cherish these memories.

      The more you do as a family to prepare for any holidays, the more memories you built and traditions you start.  So have an Easter grass making party.  All you need is a few old, colorful magazines and scissors.  Cut the pages into strips and then older kids can curl.  How cute!  How fun!

      Zero Waste Easter tips

      When shopping for Easter treats start at your local coop, health food store or candy store where you can buy from a bin.  This will eliminate a ton of unnecessary packaging. It's possible to buy foil wrapped chocolate bunnies and eggs without any extra packaging.  Save all the foil bits and roll into a ball.  When it gets big enough you can take it to the recycling center.  If one of the items in your reusable stash is nesting critters, you can fill them with all your loose, unwrapped candy treats.  Check out your local bakery for cute cookies, just remember to bring your own container or bag.

      Zero waste easter tips

       

      There are lots of other items to fill a Easter goodie basket, depending on the age and interests of your children.  For toddlers try small sturdy books, wooden toys, wooden puzzles, play food.  Books, art supplies or a card for a special trip or event for older kids.  Try to strike a balance between consuming/using on the big day and having a longer shelf life.    A family game to be played all together can make a large gathering lots of fun and keeps everyone together away from the TV.

      One important step to help everyone understand why reducing, reusing and refusing is so important is a community service action.  Our family has added a trash pick up to our holiday celebrations.  There’s nothing like picking up a bunch of straws, drink cups, candy wrappers and so on to make it crystal clear why you are on your zero waste journey.

       

       

       

      Planting a Tea Garden

      Planting a Tea Garden

      In Maine, the ground is covered with a few inches of icy, crusted snow, so that means it's time to start dreaming of spring and gardening.  As I travel on my own zero waste, plastic free journey I find taking small steps works best.  Once I "master" one goal I know I am ready to move to a new one.  Making my own herb tea has been one of my goals.

      I drink a lot of herbal tea and last month I started making my own tea with herbs I grew last summer.  It's taken me awhile to get to this step and I'm not exactly sure why- but I suspect convenience.  That's the main reason there is so much plastic in our modern lives- we are busy and anything to save time is attractive.  And my mornings are busy and popping a tea bag into my tea container saves me about maybe 3-5 seconds.  Sometimes it's not really the actual time saved, it's the idea of convenience.  

      I knew I wanted to make tea last summer so I planted herbs found in my daily teabags- chamomile and lavender being my two favorites. But there are so many easy to grow herbs that are wonderful additions to your tea blend.   All the mints, Lemon Balm, Pineapple Sage, Lemon Verbena, and the petals and hips of roses.

      I planted Lavender plants a few years ago and even here in Maine it is a hardy perennial- I just cover the plants after the Xmas holidays with evergreen boughs from left over Xmas trees.  This helps protect them from the extreme changes in weather especially if we don't have a lot of snow.   Lavender is easy to harvest, simply cut the flowers right before full bloom.  I like to leave a few inches of stem so I can tie into bunches and hang upside down.  Cutting lavender is a lovely, relaxing chore.

      Chamomile I start by seed right in the garden.  It can be a bit fussy to germinate especially if it's dry because it likes a bit of moisture.  Last summer I seeded chamomile at least three times and finally in late summer it took off.  The great thing is once planted it easily reseeds- so this summer I should have a great harvest with very little effort.  Chamomile is slower to harvest than Lavender, I tend to pinch the flower buds sitting on a low stool.  It's also messy to dry as it creates a fine yellow dust.  I use flat wicker baskets and next summer I'm going to remember to place a cloth underneath to save on clean up time.  

      Any herb that has a stem I cut and bunch with thread and hang upside down to dry.  I also invested in a hanging drier which fits in a doorway.  I love my drying rack as I can dry lots of herbs in very little space.  To preserve your herbs store in an airtight jar or container.

      During the growing season you can use herbs fresh to make tea and later in the year you'll have lots of fun making blends.  I use a teapot with a mesh insert.  I'm saving money, people love the fresh smell of my tea and it's been an easy way for me to reduce my trash and save money.

       

      De-tangle- Naturally

      De-tangle- Naturally

      Switching to natural hair care products can be a bit like Goldilocks finding the perfect chair.  Traditional hair care products offer convenience, low prices, artificial colors, fragrances and chemicals.    At Dulse & Rugosa we make our hair products in small batches by hand with natural ingredients that are good for you and our environment.

      We have gotten feedback from customers asking about ways to de-tangle naturally.  Many of our customers are committed to our products because they want to be environmentally responsible.  The switch to our Seaweed Shampoo bars means they eliminate one type of plastic bottle from their life.  Kim, a science teacher told us this-

      "I'm a marine science teacher walking the walk and have been encouraging my students to take the next step from beach cleaning on our field trips to joining my plastic free buddies and giving up plastic whenever possible.  So far, the only shampoo bars I've found have left me super clean but still in need of a detangler/conditioner and those are in plastic containers."

      We definitely have some tips to help you have great hair naturally and reduce your plastic consumption.

      #1- Keep your hair trimmed, blunt ends ward off tangles.  I can honestly tell you this is a simple but powerful step.  I hadn't trimmed my hair in ages and when I finally went to the hairdresser I felt like I lost 10 pounds and my hair felt so light and free. Plus it looked fantastic.Keep your hair trimmed, tangles hate blunt ends.

       

      #2-  Find the right hair tool- brush or comb.  For many a wide tooth comb works however for my curly hair I like the "Wet n' Dry" brush with really soft bristles.

      #3-  Take the time to detangle before you shampoo.  If your hair has lots of tangles make an invisible ponytail with your hand so you can brush without pulling.  Also brush from the bottom first.

      #4-  Use an apple cider vinegar rinse.  Vinegar isn't a "conditioner" but it does keep your hair at the proper pH level, especially important if you are using a shampoo bar. An added benefit is a vinegar rinse adds luster and shine and can help clarify your hair.  Our Herbal Vinegar Rinse is also infused with beneficial botanicals including rose petals, calendula petals and chamomile buds.

       #5-  Detangle right in the shower, this is another reason I love my "Wet n' Dry" brush.  After my vinegar rinse I add a bit of our Restorative Hair Oil and brush through my locks and rinse right before I hop out of the shower.  This really keeps my hair tangle free without using any conventional hair products packed in plastic bottles.  Our Restorative Hair Oil is a blend of oil designed for beautiful hair and stimulated hair growth.  By far the most amazing oil in our blend is broccoli seed oil!  Broccoli seed oil is one of the only natural oils out there that can leave your hair smooth and shiny, what we can "silicone slip", without any nasty petrochemicals.  If you've read this far into our blog try our Restorative Hair Oil with $3.00 off.  Normally priced at $18 with the coupon code "broccoli" you'll get to try this amazing oil for only $15. Discover the secret of broccoli oil for your hair.  

      My final piece of advice is to "be like Goldilocks".  If it's not right, change it up and experiment.  Everyone is unique and so should our hair care routine.   

       

      Top 6 Eсо-frіеndlу and Recyclable Subѕtіtutеѕ fоr Plаѕtіс

      Top 6 Eсо-frіеndlу and Recyclable Subѕtіtutеѕ fоr Plаѕtіс

      A guest blog that unpacks different materials to help you make sustainable purchasing choices.

      Plаѕtісѕ аrе durable and flexible, but theyаrе mаdе from heated carbon and other mаtеrіаlѕ that аrе not gооd fоr the environment. Thеу аrе non-biodegradable and cannot bе recycled аѕ wеll. Although рlаѕtісѕ аrе inseparable in our daily lives and wе cannot іmаgіnе living without іt, there аrеenvironmentally friendly alternatives that wе can uѕе tо аt lеаѕt lеѕѕеn іtѕ nеgаtіvе іmрасt on Earth. You can spread awareness of these eco-friendly substitutes of plastic by wearing T-shirts on which substitute elements are printed, and if you are looking forward to buying these shirts, you can explore them on SunFrog.

    1. Glass
    2. Unlіkе рlаѕtіс, thіѕ material іѕ mаdе оf ѕаnd. Glass іѕ a renewable mаtеrіаl thаt соmеѕ wіthоut аnу hаrmful сhеmісаlѕ. Glass саn аlѕо bе easily recycled. Due tо thеѕе rеаѕоnѕ, іt is gаіnіng popularity over рlаѕtіс when іt comes tо mаnufасturіng bоttlеѕ, jаrѕ, mugs, utеnѕіlѕ, etc. You mау nоt оnlу throw your glаѕѕ bоttlеѕ fоr rесусlіng purposes, but mау аlѕо rеuѕе them fоr ѕtоrаgе. It dоеѕ nоt cause any rеасtіоn wіth уоur fооd оr bоdу. Thuѕ, thіѕ lіghtwеіght mаtеrіаl is a grеаt grееn аltеrnаtіvе tо plastic.

    3. Metal
    4. Plаѕtіс is largely uѕеd іn many thіngѕ lіkе vеhісlеѕ tо mаkе structural еlеmеntѕ. In fact, this could bе replaced by making metallic elements that аrе safer for our еnvіrоnmеnt. Stееl аnd some other mеtаlѕ are рrоduсеd uѕіng mіnеd оrеѕ collected frоm under thе grоund. Sоmе mеtаlѕ аrе also produced аѕ a rеѕult оf the recycling process. Thuѕ, you may safely uѕе thеѕе mеtаlѕ tо create a variety оf рrоduсtѕ сurrеntlу mаdе out of рlаѕtіс.

    5. Lіԛuіd Wооd
    6. Lіԛuіd wood is рrоduсеd from byproducts rеlеаѕеd by рареr mіllѕ аnd holds a grеаt future fоr bеіng thе new bіороlуmеr оr bioplastic. If уоu feel thе material сrеаtеd by liquid wооd, then уоu wouldn’t notice a difference between thе two аnd thе оnlу mаjоr dіffеrеnсе bеіng thаt lіԛuіd wood іѕ 100% biodegradable. In order tо mаkе biopolymers, you wоuld nееd tо mix lіgnіn (а bурrоduсt оf рареr mіllѕ) wіth water and then еxроѕе іt tо a hіgh рrеѕѕurе аnd tеmреrаturе tо рrоduсе a composite material that саn еаѕіlу bе mоldеd juѕt lіkе plastic.

    7. PHB Bio соmроѕіtеѕ
    8. PHB biocomposite is a material thаt іѕ made frоm bacteria аnd іѕ grаduаllу еmеrgіng as the nеw and perfect bіоdеgrаdаblе foil. Thіѕ mаtеrіаl is bаѕісаllу the mоdіfіеd version оf PHM (polyhydroxybutyrate) whісh іѕ produced bу thе nаturаl fermentation of vаrіоuѕ kinds оf bасtеrіа and has a сlоѕе rеѕеmblаnсе to thе man-made ѕуnthеtіс роlурrоруlеnе. Thіѕ bіоdеgrаdаblе material іѕ less flexible than рlаѕtіс, hоwеvеr іt has a grеаt ѕсоре for being used іn bіоmеdісаl, packaging аnd agricultural іnduѕtrіеѕ.

    9. PLA Polyesters
    10. Producing рlаѕtіс from рrосеѕѕеd соrn mау ѕееm lіkе a ріре drеаm, but іt'ѕ hарреnіng every dау. Pоlуlасtіс асіd, or PLA, іѕ аnоthеr aliphatic роlуеѕtеr аnd оnе thаt саn bе mаdе frоm lасtіс асіd, which іѕ produced via starch fermentation durіng соrn wet mіllіng. Althоugh most often generated from corn, PLA саn bе mаdе frоm whеаt оr ѕugаrсаnе as well.

      PLA bоаѕtѕ the rigidity tо rерlасе polystyrene and PET, but іt hаѕ аn еdgе over the rеаl thing: It dесоmроѕеѕ within 47 dауѕ іn and industrial composting ѕіtе, wоn't emit toxic fumes when burned and manufacturing thеm uѕеѕ 20 tо 50 percent lеѕѕ fossil fuеlѕ thаn petroleum-based рlаѕtіс. Oftеn, соmраnіеѕ blеnd PLA wіth ѕtаrсh tо reduce соѕt and increase іtѕ bіоdеgrаdаbіlіtу. It is ореn to nеw packaging аррlісаtіоnѕ fоr grееn plastic, аutоmоtіvе parts, and соffее cups. 

    11. Starch-based Polymers
    12. Aѕ a tоtаllу bіоdеgrаdаblе, low-cost, rеnеwаblе and nаturаl polymer, starch hаѕ bееn receiving lоtѕ оf attention fоr developing sustainable materials lаtеlу. Whеn іt comes tо rерlасіng рlаѕtіс, however, starch саn't сut thе muѕtаrd; іtѕ poor mесhаnісаl рrореrtіеѕ mеаn іt hаѕ limited use for thе ѕturdу рrоduсtѕ thаt plastics gеnеrаtе.

      Whаt оnе оf the hottest trеndѕ іn bіоdеgrаdаblе plastic dеvеlорmеnt саn do is mаkе polymer composites more bіоdеgrаdаblе. Yоu nаmе іt, аnd ѕtаrсh has probably bееn combined wіth it, аlbеіt wіth vаrуіng dеgrееѕ оf ѕuссеѕѕ.

      This guest post is written by Joe Cole, he works at Coupon Goo.