Happiness Has a New Address – Tagged "Plastic free tuesday" – Dulse & Rugosa
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    The Plastic Free Produce Movement

    The Plastic Free Produce Movement

    Are you ready to join the Plastic Free Produce Movement?  It's an easy step on your Zero Waste Journey because Mother Nature has been so generous in her packaging of most fruits and vegetables. Bananas, winter squash, avocados.....the list goes on.  

    Fill your cart with produce not plastic

    Of course, if you have a garden you understand the joy of plastic free produce. It's also possible to buy produce plastic free with just a bit of effort.  The first thing to do is either bring your own produce bags or have a basket to put all you produce in for easy weighing.  I was so proud of my first set of produce bags made from an old sheet but found they weren't perfect for produce as the checker didn't know what was inside each bag.  It could hold up the checkout line if the store was crowded.  My plan is to make some bags out of tulle but honestly I've gotten so use to simply placing most produce right in my basket or cart.  You do need a bag for peas, beans, etc. 

    Cloth bags instead of plastic for your produce

    One important reason to switch to plastic free produce is plastic is not biodegradable while our produce is.  It just keeps breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces.  Those teeny tiny pieces often end up in the ocean where they are eaten by sea creatures.  If you think about it, these minute pieces of plastic resemble tiny and delicious critters in the ocean food chain.

    Also plastic is made from oil, a non-renewable resource.  One day we will run out of oil.  We need to conserve and use our natural resources rather than squander it covering fruits and vegetables that Mother Nature has already packaged perfectly.

    Once you make the switch you do have to be mindful with your produce in the fridge- especially if your bags are not clear.   I've had a few very yucky bags of forgotten produce to clean out- but remember it's a process.  One change I made was to shop more often but I totally understand if your busy life doesn't allow this. I keep my salad greens right in my salad spinner.  I use cloths to keep carrots and beets fresh and try to pay attention to what I have and eat it while it is fresh and tasty.   

    Anita Horan- a plastic free produce activist from Australia has some great tips on her FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/anita.the.writer/ and she has started a Plastic Free Produce campaign.  She has a template for cards to scatter around the produce department to help raise awareness if you want to become a give up plastic activist- No plastic needed cards.

    Going #plasticfreeproduce is a small but important step on the Zero Waste Journey.

     

     

    Zero Waste Alcohol- Oh Yeah!

    Zero Waste Alcohol- Oh Yeah!

    If your idea of a good time is sitting outside listening to the birds chirp and watching your garden grow while sipping a fruity, boozy drink then infused vodkas are for you.

    I first read about infusing vodkas in the cookbook "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" by Nigella Lawson.  Her rhubarb schnapps recipe caught my eye.  Living in Maine rhubarb is one of the first things to pop up in the garden and this was a new way to preserve it.

    I've been tinkering with infused vodkas ever since.  I tend to focus on seasonal fruits but my Finnish friend told me wonderful stories about herbal infused vodkas that pair beautifully with fish.

    Perserve fresh, seasonal fruits in vodka for delightful sipping.

    You need three simple ingredients- fruit, sugar and vodka.

    Fruit infused vodka needs only 3 ingredients- fruit, sugar and vodka.

     

     Plus big glass jars.  I don't recommend plastic.  The easiest jars to repurpose usually contained a vinegar based product so wash quite a few times.  Otherwise you'll end up with this slightly vinegar note that is so disappointing.  

    It's a bit of a balancing act and a mystery how much sugar to add.  If you are super serious about the process- keep notes but remember you are working with natural ingredients and there will always be variation due to weather and growing conditions.  In general, I use more sugar because my favorite way to enjoy is to sip from a glass filled with vodka, a slice of citrus and lots and lots of ice.  I found if I skimped on the sugar it has a raw taste.  If the infusion is too sweet I can tone it down by adding seltzer, juice or water to dilute.

    Strawberry Rhubarb Liquor

    1 lb rhubarb chopped and 1 cup sugar

    1 lb strawberries  and 1/2 cup sugar

    Combine fruit and sugar in a large bowl and mix to coat fruit evenly with sugar.  Put in glass jar, fill with vodka.  Shake.  Store in cool, dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks.  Strain into a pitcher and pour into a fancy bottle.  Viola- perfect holiday gifts and what a treat it is to sip summer fruit on a snowy winter's night.

    Capture summer by infusing vodka with seasonal fruits.

    If you keep vodka and sugar on hand you are ready for whatever is in season is in season. You don't have to make big batches, have fun experimenting with flavors and combinations in small jars.  

    And finally the trash- I composed my rhubarb and strawberry bits, the strawberry baskets I'll see if my local farm can reuse them first or  compost or recycle.  The vodka bottle can be returned for my bottle deposit and the sugar bag will get recycled.  That's not to bad for waste.

    Happy infusing!  I'd love to hear about your adventures and combinations.

    Protect Our Oceans Every Day- Simple Tips to Reduce Plastic Consumption

    Protect Our Oceans Every Day- Simple Tips to Reduce Plastic Consumption

    World Ocean Day 2015 was when I moved from awareness to activism both personally and in business.  Thanks to a FaceBook post by the Lonely Whale Foundation.  It was the handsome face of Adrian Grenier who played Vince on the TV show Entourage that caught my eye.  Of course, there is always that disconnect between a favorite character on a TV show and the actual actor.  In Entourage, Grenier plays an up and coming celebrity who definitely buys into the consumption lifestyle.  It was a pleasant surprise to see him talking about plastic straws  and his passion for the ocean.

    Single use plastic is trashing our oceans

    The truth is our oceans are being polluted with needless plastic.  This includes water bottles, straws, plastic bags, drink cups, coffee lids and balloons.  Everyday items that most of us don't think about using.  The problem with plastic compared to other materials is it really never goes away.  It just keeps breaking down into tiny, little pieces.  Often these pieces look like a tasty morsel to a jellyfish, turtle or seabird.  That's the problem our planet is facing.

    A few simple steps can make a difference.  

    Stop drinking water from plastic bottles- Invest in a reusable water bottle and use it. For more info check out Ban the Bottle

    Refillable water, coffee and drink cups are the way to go. 

    Say "NO" to plastic straws.  We use  500 million straws daily in the USA.  Companies now make stainless steel or bamboo straws both washable and reusable.  Checkout the Strawless Ocean for more plastic straw data. 

    Purchase a refillable coffee cup- You can use a refillable cup anywhere, this includes independent coffee shops, gas station quick shops and even big franchises including Dunkin donuts and Starbucks.  Even the Starbucks in the busy Kennebunk Rest Stop will make whatever yummy coffee drink you want in your refillable mug.

    Skip the lid- if you have to use a single use coffee cup don't use the lid, it's one less piece of unnecessary trash.

    Celebrate naturally- The problem with balloons is the bits and pieces often look like food for hungry critters and the strings often entangle and even kill wildlife.  Our joyous celebrations shouldn't harm wildlife or pollute our planet.  The organization Balloons Blow has over 20 environmentally friendly alternatives to balloons.  My favorites are bubbles and ribbon streamers.  

    I know how hard it can be to make changes.   Sipping from a straw is something we don't think about- you have to make a conscious effort and expect to fail at times.  One of the best ways to move from awareness to activism is to pick up trash.  Next time you are out for a walk or hike, notice what trash is around.  Chances are it's water bottles, fast food cups, lids and straws and other types of connivence foods.  It's actually shocking.  And document your find by taking a picture and posting it with Just Grab Bits and you'll be entered to win cool, eco-friendly prizes including our own plastic free Dulse & Rugosa shampoo bars.

    Start your zero waste journey today- small steps lead to big changes.

     

     

    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.

     

     

     

    Easy Tips To Help You Go Plastic Free and Zero Waste

    Easy Tips To Help You Go Plastic Free and Zero Waste

    2017 is the year to begin your plastic free journey.  New Year resolutions can be tough, for me it helps if they are structured for success.  Small steps work best.  I don’t recommend giving up plastic “cold turkey”- that’s guaranteed to be frustrating.  Instead each month or so, give up one type of single use plastic and before you know it you’ll be a Zero Waste Warrior.

    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.

     Here are more than 12 steps that you can take to help you on your plastic free journey.  Mix them up, start with one that is easy for you and save the harder ones for later.  I guarantee by this time next year, you will be proud of your new habits and view purchases entirely differently.

    1. Educate yourself.  The more you know, the more motivated and committed you will be to keep your resolutions to be plastic free and zero waste.
    2. Give up plastic grocery bags.  Bring your own and if you forget only buy enough to carry easily in your hand.  I find it helpful to keep a lightweight bag in my purse.
    3. Reusable bags for ALL purchases.  Once you master reusable grocery bags make it a policy to not use any plastic bags for any purchase.  It's easy once you get started.
    4. Switch to reusable coffee cups.  When my life is routine this is easy, when it gets chaotic it's quite a challenge.  One tip is to buy more than one reusable cup , that way if one is dirty or lost in the car you can still enjoy a coffee.
    5. Stop buying plastic water bottles.  The first thing you have to do is buy a reusable water container and carry it where ever you go- including airports.
    6. Buy in bulk.  This is a critical step in moving towards zero waste.  Instead of buying 6 small yogurt containers for the week, buy one large.  Before you know it you'll be investigating local farms that sell yogurt in reusable jars.
    7. Plastic Free Produce.  Produce does not need to be wrapped in plastic and often produce is over packaged.  I found I needed to support a few stores in order to buy all my produce plastic free and to invest and make some reusable produce/bulk bags.  My habits have changed- and yes it does take a bit longer to make a salad than simply opening a plastic package.
    8. Replace paper napkins and towels with cloth.  Your one time purchase of napkins will last for years.  Using washable cloths for most clean up jobs and saving paper towels for big messes will help you cut down on waste.
    9. Rethink soap, shampoos and other personal care items.  The personal care aisle in a grocery store is loaded with plastic packaging.  Instead of a plastic bottle of liquid soap switch to a bar.  Try a shampoo bar instead of a plastic bottle of shampoo and conditioner.
    10. Invest in reusable food containers.  Pack lunches, picnics and when ordering take away bring your own container.  Sure you might wait a few minutes but it's a great chance to catch up on your social media while you wait.
    11. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes.  Remember plastic never biodegrades because it's not part of Mother Nature's food chain.
    12. Give up disposable razors.  Invest in a razor that will last a life time.
    13. Switch to glass or metal containers for food storage.  When your plastic food storage containers wear out switch to glass or metal.  But wait for them to wear out, it's wasteful to simply throw something away.  Use it up first and then take it to be recycled.
    14. Replace plastic wrap and aluminum foil with beeswax or cloth.  I often wrap a tea towel around my serving bowl before putting in the fridge.  You could also invest in a few glass containers with lids.  Glass really helps keep track of your food 'cause you can see what you're saving. 
    15. Compost.  Composting your food really helps cut down on unnecessary waste.
    16. Pick up trash.  There's nothing like picking up a bit of trash to firm your resolve to be plastic free and to embrace the zero waste philosophy.
    17. Finally, make purchasing decisions based on packaging.  Whenever possible purchase items with less packaging.  Support businesses that are working on reducing waste.  Shop local, shop small.