Happiness Has a New Address – Tagged "Plastic Free" – Page 6 – Dulse & Rugosa
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    Back to School Means More Trash- Tips to Help You Zero Waste the Transition

    Back to School Means More Trash- Tips to Help You Zero Waste the Transition

    I've put off writing about reducing plastic consumption and kids because it's so complicated.  Mostly because I've found in my grown up/no kids life that it takes quite a bit of planning and organization to reduce my plastic use.  I travel a lot to markets and on my occasional overnights I find I do great the first day but the next day is a challenge.  I'm tired, hungry, don't know the area and that's when I consume more products packed in plastic.

    When my daughter Carly was young, I lived year round on a remote Maine island.  We were homesteaders, growing our own food and I worked from home.  I didn't have to organize backpacks, lunch boxes, snacks and extra clothes- not to mention homework, books and a few toys for the car.  And that's not even taking into account winter- with boots, hats, etc.  Our life's are filled with busy and "hurry-up" which is why plastic is so popular- it's convenience.  But because we have kids and grandkids and we want them to have a lovely future we each need to make small steps towards living a plastic free life.

    Check out our tips for less trash with the back to school routine.

    The first thing you have to do is pick an area to focus on and the lunch box is a great place to start.  One of my favorite places to shop for reusable containers is Reuseit.   Especially if you are on a budget, you need to start small and keep adding because you want to buy high quality items that will last.  It's counterproductive to buy flimsy containers that won't last- it's a waste of money and makes trash.  


    Start with a good, rather large lunch container.  I find in general, when you use reusable containers you need more room.  You might want to pack a couple of containers- one for lunch and one for snacks.  When you decide to replace plastic bags- there's a new product on the market, silicone reusable bags.  The bags are dishwasher and microwave safe but they are pricy.  One bag cost around $12.00- but will last and last.  Another great container in my opinion is the reusable juice box.  According to Reuseit, "juice boxes are one of the most wasteful parts of lunchtime".  A single box takes over " 300 years to decompose and nearly 4 billion are consumed annually."  At $9.95 per single box these are do-able, especially if you normally buy at least 8 juice pouches a week.  If juices are not on sale it will cost you around $5.00 per week.  Over the year you'll be spending over 250 dollars on single use juice boxes.  You can buy a lot of reusable juice boxes for that amount.  And you do need to buy more than one.  We're talking kids here- so one in the lunch box, one in the snack bag, one for the car, one left at school and one under the bed.  

    Raising kids is complicated, reducing your plastic consumption is complicated.  The reason we change is For The Future.

    Plastic Free Friday- Inspiration Is Everywhere

    Plastic Free Friday- Inspiration Is Everywhere

    The 3'R have changed into the 5R's.  Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and raise awareness.  My occasional blogs are a small contribution to helping raise awareness about plastic consumption.  It's a journey down a long and twisty road, not a quick zip down a super highway.

    The internet is full of inspiring tips and people to help you reduce your plastic consumption.

    The cool thing is once you start to raise your awareness- you find yourself making small but significant steps.  Each week I find myself making better choices and feeling proud of the progress I have made.

    Here are some great places to check out to raise your plastic awareness a bit higher.

    On Facebook- 

    Plastic Pollution Coalition - this is such a great site for info and tips, I love it!  And they have lots of great graphics to share.

    Snapshots of Simplicity- this is a reflective page with thoughtful posts including "What's in my Grocery Bag" and "Hanging Out With Seagulls".

    On Instagram-

    Anita Horan has a #plasticfreeproduce campaign going on right now because really there is no reason to buy bananas wrapped in plastic.  Just saying!

    Justgrabbits encourages folks to grab some trash, take a snap and post.  Here is your chance to find out about trash all over the globe.

    Plastic Free Mermaid-Kate Nelson is an Australian mermaid with lots of tips to switch out the plastic.

    And finally on Pinterest

    Monterey Bay Aquarium has an idea board for plastic free living.

    Hope you are inspired and find some good online support for reducing your plastic consumption. 

    Plastic Free Friday- DIY Salad Dressing

    Plastic Free Friday- DIY Salad Dressing

    The 3 R's

    Everyone knows the 3R’s- reduce, reuse and recycle but did you know the order of the R’s is important?  Reduce is the most planet friendly way to help our world and recycling is the least effective.

    Single Use Plastic   

    On a recent trip to the grocery store I checked out the salad dressing aisle.  My mind is on salads this month because it is easy, fun and tasty to eat lots of salad with all the wonderful veggies, fruits and flowers available.  There are a lot of single use plastic bottles sitting on the shelfs. By making your own salad dressing you can eliminate a lot of single use plastic bottles. 

    One of the reason there is so much plastic in our lives is convenience.  In our busy lives we often look for time savers and plastic is the way most time saving items are packaged.  Bottled salad dressing is so easy to use.  Open and pour.

    Why Not Make Your Own Salad Dressing?

    If you have 10 minutes and a glass of wine you can make a delicious and tasty salad dressing- and you’ve just eliminated a plastic bottle form the waste stream.  And since most store salad dressing contains unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients the quality of your salad will improve with a simple homemade vinaigrette.

    A basic vinaigrette recipe is ¼ acid to ½ to ¾ oil.  The fun part is deciding what acid and what oils.

    Acids are basically vinegars.  Choose from red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, rice vinegar and fruit vinegars.

    Next pick an oil, you’re going to save quite a bit of money making your own salad dressing so splurge and buy a good quality oil.  The most popular is extra-virgin olive oil.  Other oils to try are Grapeseed, Canola and Nut oils.  The Nut oil works quite nicely with fruit vinegars.

    The Difference Between Glass and Plastic Bottles

    Remember when shopping for items look for oils and vinegars packaged in glass not plastic.  Here’s why- when glass is recycled it is turned back into glass.  It can be recycled over and over and it still turns into glass.  Plastic on the other hand can not be recycled into plastic bottles.  It can be turned into plastic carpet or plastic lumber but not a plastic bottle.  The term used to describe the reality of plastic recycling is “downcycling”.  

    Once you’ve decided on your choice of acid and vinegar you need to find a bottle for your dressing.  Hopefully, you’ll be using this bottle for many years so pick a wonderful jar.  You can go out and buy a new bottle but it’s more fun and earth friendly to find one you can reuse.  Maybe a trip to your favorite antique shop- there a a lot of fun ones here in Maine.    

    Making your own salad dressing is easy and helps you reduce your plastic consumption.

    No Plastic Bottle Salad Dressing Recipe

    ¼ cup acid- your choice ½-¾ cup oil

    1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper

    2 teaspoons Dijon or other mustard (optional)

    First combine your acid, salt and mustard in a small bowl if you’re using a small mouth bottle or put in your wide mouth bottle and shake.  Add the oil slowly and continue to whisk or dump in the jar and shake, shake, shake.  Take a small taste?  Decide if you need more oil.  Store in fridge.

    I like narrow neck bottles because they are so pretty and to fit everything in use a small kitchen funnel.  Another advantage is it’s easy to pour the right amount on your salad.  But, a wide mouth jar makes it easier to mix and taste to see if the proportions are right.  The most important feature is choosing the bottle that brings you joy and looks great on your table.

    Plastic Free Friday- BYOB

    Everyone knows the 3R’s- reduce, reuse and recycle but did you know the order of the R’s is important?  Reduce is the most planet friendly way to help our world and recycling is the least effective. One of the easiest ways to cut down on your plastic use is to BYOB- Bring Your Own Bags.

    BYOB- Bring Your Own Bags to reduce your plastic consumption.

    It’s easiest to start with your groceries and takes just a bit of organization.  Keep your weekly grocery bags handy in the car, that way they are easy to get.  One of the hardest parts for me was the quick trip for just a few items.  Now, I always have a few bags in my purse.  To keep the bulk of the bags down I love Baggu bags.  Their standard shopping bag comes in tons of cute, bright prints.  Super sturdy- they can hold a lot of groceries but have snaps and a pouch for some true space savings.  For regular grocery trips I prefer flat bottomed canvas bags- this allows for bottles and jars to stay upright.  Almost everyone knows about the importance of BYOB- find the bags you like and make a pledge to yourself to give up single use plastic grocery bags.

    Once you’ve made the BYOB grocery bag commitment you will start to notice how abundant plastic is in grocery stores.  Remember, the first R is the most important- reduce.   Avoid products that are over packaged.  Once I was debating over which mix of peppers to buy.  I bought the brand I usually buy only to get home to find they had changed their packaging and added an extra plastic bit.  That was the last time I purchased that particular brand.

    Shopping at Farmer’s Markets is one way to help cut down your plastic.  In general, farmers don’t over package- they want you to see and smell their wonderful offerings.  Buying from bulk bins also helps.  When you have a choice between plastic or glass- choose glass.  Find wines that still use natural corks instead of plastic corks.  Make how a product is packaged one of your buying decisions.  

    It’s important to take a step- however tentative or small.  You’re going to forget and mess but once you begin your personal plastic free journey there will be no going back.  It’s worth the effort.  

    Here are some resources


    Chef Jude Blereau tips and thoughts http://www.earthcarers.org.au/library/file/Plastic%20Free%20July/Toolbox%20-%20Living%20Plastic%20Free/Food-Jude%20Blereau%20storage%20&%20shopping.PDF