Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with your Zero Waste journey? The good news is there is a lot of advice out there. However that can also be the bad news- it can be a bit overwhelming.
In my opinion the most essential tool you need to begin, continue or refine your Zero Waste journey is your brain. Yes- your brain. Any advice you get needs to be filtered to fit your lifestyle. Not the lifestyle you imagine or are striving towards but how you actually live. The nitty gritty day to day life with home, work, family, pets, etc. Big ideas and goals need to be tailored and adjusted into achievable steps. When we are successful, we feel positive, motivated and more open to examining and refining life changes.
Your brain is also the most powerful tool in educating yourself in order to make informed choices. In our blog 19 for 2019- Tips for Going Zero, Tip #1 was-
- 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.
I wrote my first eco-conscious blog back in 2016. At the time, I was working on not using plastic grocery bags. I know! Now it seems quite ridiculous but back then if I remembered my reusable bags it was all well and good but if I forgot I would take plastic bags and feel guilty. Now I never use plastic grocery bags and my town has banned them. The most important change for me was making a conscious choice and then tweaking to make my choice a reality.
We all have a responsibility to do our own small bit to help reduce the amount of trash and plastic waste we create. The journey is an awakening if you open your heart and use your brain.
Halloween is coming. I actually love this holiday especially when I was teaching. It's an opportunity to celebrate the season, indulge in goodies and a chance to dress up and pretend.
The problem with all holidays is our enjoyment creates mountains of trash- bags of candy, plastic decorations and tiny toys make a lot of trash.
Here are some ideas to help you put the green into trick or treat bags.
Plastic free candy is a challenge, look for candy wrapped in foil or paper or cardboard boxes. They will be bulk packed in plastic but it is better than handing out plastic wrapped candy.
It's easier to skip the candy and pass out other sorts of treats. My favorite idea is a bowl of nature items including shells, sea glass, acorns and stones. If you live in the city this would be a real novelty for some kids.
Paper straws are a great treat to help raise awareness about the problems of plastic. Amazon sells boxes of 150-300 and depending on your street a single box could last a few years.
Sidewalk chalk, tiny cookie cutters, pencils, erasers, bandages, magnets, coloring books or printed coloring sheets, remelted crayons all are lower waste treats and last quite a bit longer than candy.
You can also buy an activity card set and hand out one card per child. Your local bookstore or toy shop will have a selection. Expect to pay around $10-12 for a deck of 50 cards.
The website Teachers Pay Teachers has some different printables including Halloween Yoga cards and Halloween PE. Download to make cute books, printable bookmarks are another option. The downloads cost between $3-5 making these a fun and cheap treat.
The materials to make a craft are also nice treats. Friendship bracelets made from embroidery thread are a calming way to end the Halloween frenzy. You can make a kit for each trick or treater and include directions. Here is a link-DIY Printable Friendship Bracelet .
I hope this blogs helps you think about ways to celebrate without making lots of extra trash. Handing out an eco item can help raise awareness about our planet. Let's all work to make Halloween more green.
We want to have a sustainable business.
A few years ago, we rethought our packaging. We replaced our cheap plastic jars and tubs with glass. This was an expensive process for us. The wholesale price for containers made out of plastic vs. glass or metal is considerable. The price difference is something that you can't pass on to consumers. There is also the price of mailing heavier containers. Plus companies like Amazon who offer free or reasonable shipping. I don't like to make purchases where the shipping cost more than the product. We also made a switch to more eco-friendly shipping materials. It shouldn't be a surprise that mailers made from recycled paper cost more than plastic ones. My point here is that our cost are greater for eco-friendly products but the price for our products has remained pretty much the same.
We are so thankful for the folks who support us. We make products that last a long time. That's part of our philosophy- purchase products that last. This is not the traditional "grow your business" path. Carly and I frequently have conversations about how to grow our business especially wholesale. One of our goals right now is to get our Seaweed Shampoo Bars into natural food shops and coops. She points out that because our bars last so long there isn't really a lot of turn over and that is something stores don't like. Even if it is a store with a Zero Waste philosophy they need customers to support them and the products they stock.
My point here is- it's complicated. We got an email the other day from a customer who was upset with us. She pointed out that we had a Zero Waste philosophy but we had sent them a postcard advertisement. I believe she was referring to a postcard I sent in Dec. I'll admit it was probably my most "ad-centered" and not personal postcard. It was a message to support small, local or indie business during the holiday season. Of course, we were thrilled if someone decided to support us but the general message was shop small. I made it a bit more "slick" because I had decided to send a card in Jan with a more personal message. When I'm addressing or stamping or decorating our "snail mail" I like to capture a bit of author Alice Hoffman's magic. Her characters infuse ordinary things with magical intentions. I'm not saying my postcards are magical but they do have good intentions.
I still like "real mail". It's partly my ties to Gotts Island. Mail is a big deal there and the little mail house helps build and connect community. When I lived overseas I had "postcard" buddies. Postcards where what I'd buy in airports. I just mailed a card of cheer to the mom of one of my grade school friends- she needs a bit of love. I also realize how complicated every action we take is and how there are always consequences.
We've tried so many different avenues to introduce people to our company. I know it's easy for people to say "just use social media". Social media is incredibly complicated and it's very hard for small businesses to make a dent when they compete against large companies with big budgets.
The social media sites are also businesses. In general, an average post is shown to about 2% of the people who like your page. If people "like" or comment on the post the reach does increase. You can also try to increase your reach by paying the social media company money to promote your post. FaceBook just changed it's rules again making it even harder for little companies like Dulse & Rugosa.
Another option is to join and participate in groups. I joined some Zero Waste FaceBook groups. I felt like I was a good group member. I "liked" and made relevant comments on posts and whenever someone asked about shampoo bars I would post a link to our website. One evening I got a message asking me "to not self-promote". They explained -
We just wanted to reach out to you to let you know that the group's rules around business posts have changed. Unfortunately, none of the Journey groups allows members to do any sort of promotion around their businesses, blogs associated with businesses or that have affiliate links etc etc etc.
I totally understood where they were coming from but the next day in the site's thread were posts about products from three big companies including posts about the wonders of Burt's Bees. This company actually started in Maine and is always the example used in entrepreneur classes. "Do you want to be another Burt's Bees?" We always answer "NO". I was so frustrated by this- Burt's Bees is a giant company owned by the multinational company Clorax. My take away from this is it's OK for big business to continue to get their products posted because they themselves are not actually doing the posting. It's coming from someone else- what's wrong is "self-promoting". Even thought it's social media- you have no idea who is actually doing the posting or how much money and influence is being spent encouraging and influencing folks.
I'm frustrated today- how can I grow a business that isn't perfect but also tries?