This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
I’ve already dedicated an entire post on less waste and periods when I first spoke of how I managed my visits from Mother Nature using a single cup. But I feel as if this requires a revisit, for the glaringly obvious reason that there are a few scenarios wherein Lunette failed to prove itself a friend. While the cup has been mostly sufficient for all my feminine care needs, I have found that when it comes to travel, a more dependable plan B needs to be in place.
Walking down the streets of Mexico City does not seem like a problem, until you realize that their bathrooms generally don’t have private loos that contain sinks in the same stall. Where to empty a cup? Even if sinks were available, could one trust the running water? The last thing I want to do is explain myself in Spanish why I have a bacterial infection while wallowing in pain from the ever-so-common downfall of all menstruating persons.
Likewise, traveling on a 15-hour flight to New Zealand and Australia isn’t much fun with Lunette. While the airplane does have a private sink, the tight quarters make the entire process tedious and, once again, I worry about running water. Always the water.
Still determined to find a way of managing my monthly miseries that’s good for the planet as well as good for me, I decided I needed a plan B.
So I thought of Thinx. It’s a purchase-with-purpose underwear that has a mission to provide reliable access to safe menstrual hygiene products for those in need. With partners like Girls Inc., Safe Horizon, and the Alliance of Border Collaboratives, Thinx plans to expand access to basic hygiene products and community services like reproductive healthcare and mentoring.
On top of that, it is a REALLYgood product. I am a minimalist by nature, who does not subscribe to single use items. This means I do not buy pads or tampons, at all. Thinx checks those boxes for me. It is a re-usable panty that is reliable in what it claims to do which allows me to continue living life scotch free of worry or discomfort.
Thinx has versatility, with multiple styles to fit your personality and preference. I own the boyshort in black which I wear under my running shorts, the sport in dusk which I wear under my leggings, and the super hiphugger for my everyday needs. Each style has a different level of protection, so that heavy flow days could be as carefree as lighter days.
And the upkeep is simple too. Hand-wash in cold running water and hang to dry. I have only three pairs but by hand-washing right after use and cycling between them, I can survive an entire cycle without missing a beat.
Lastly, it saves people money. If I assume that a box of tampons is purchased every month, with each box costing $7 (to be on the more conservative side), then there is a savings potential of $84 a year. The Lunette cup lasts you 3 years, so that adds up to $252 in savings. I would wager Thinx can last longer than that. It may seem like chump change but let’s assume all females adopted Thinx over the course of their entire life. And for each Thinx purchased, let’s say it saves another female in financial need from buying tampons and pads. You create a whole chain of events that end up saving the world a lot of money, and the oceans a lot of waste. Not to mention saving young girls in low-income communities from missing school and other opportunities.
This post is sponsored by Bite, a company dedicated to creating an oral-hygiene routine that is completely zero waste. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
I heard of Bite about a year and a half ago, when I was first honing in on creating a zero-waste lifestyle. At the time I was starting to partner with companies such asPlaine Products and Bogobrush. I was intrigued to hear of a toothpaste company that was making a paste-less toothpaste. As the name implies, Bite sells toothpaste tabs that you simple chew. My first thought was, “Huh.”
What is Toothpaste?
Toothpaste (as we know it) was first invented by one of the nation’s most famous advertising executives in the early 1900’s who understood that for a product to sell, it had to be effective in creating a habit around said product. He was a very smart man who realized that it would be more successful to sell the feeling of fresh breath rather than the health benefits of brushing teeth. If he could get people to continually crave that minty fresh feeling, then he could get them to continually brush. If they create a habit of brushing their teeth, they will continually buy the product. The addition of a sudsy sensation convinced people that their mouths are actually clean when they use toothpaste.
What if I told you that the paste doesn’t do much to clean your mouth? Rather, it is the brushing techniques that one employs that really removes the plaque and debris from your teeth. It wasn’t until later that fluoride was added to toothpaste. However, fluoride also does not clean so much as strengthen the enamel. If it wasn’t for the fluoride, I would say that toothpaste has no benefit other than creating the mirage that you have a clean oral cavity.
Things to Know About Fluoride
There are a few facts that we need to get straight regarding fluoride.
It has been proven to strengthen enamel.
It has been proven to reduce caries (which causes cavities).
It has been proven to be especially effective in improving the oral health of low income communities when it’s added to their water systems.
When ingested in high quantities, it has been proven to be highly toxic. (Any parent of any child who has ever accidentally swallowed fluoride can attest to this. At the dental office, they vomit before they even get to the door).
Some people can get behind fluoride use, others cannot get past the toxic properties.
Knowing that final point, I think that it would be wrong of me as a dentist to promote only fluoride toothpaste. It is important to make the habit of oral hygiene inclusive to different populations with different belief systems. Therefore, we must have alternatives to fluoride. Enter nanohydroxyapatite.
Nanohydroxyapatite is a long name that describes a man-made calcium crystal. It is bio-mimetic, meaning it imitates a naturally occurring component of our bodies called hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite makes up 60-70% of bone and 90% of enamel, the outer protective layer of teeth. Nano-hydroxyapatite are essentially very small crystals that replace missing sections of minerals that have dissolved out of enamel or bone, thereby fortifying both.
It is widely known that bone and enamel are made of calcium, but did you know that free calcium is not something your body can use? Nanohydroxyapatite, however, is readily bioavailable, without any additional processing required. There are multiple studies that repeatedly show the potential that nanohydroxyapatite has in improving both dental materials (when combined with glass ionomers it greatly increases the resistance strength against biting and chewing forces) and tooth minerals.
The most exciting thing is that it has been shown to be more effective than traditional fluoride treatments, remineralizing enamel surface in as little as 10 minutes. Gel that contains this crystal also reduces sensitivity after a session of teeth whitening. Even early lesions which signify the start of tooth decay can be treated with daily use of nanohydroxyapatite. Its ability to stimulate bone growth due to its direct effect on osteoblasts explains why nanoHA is widely used in oral surgery, periodontology and implantology. Lastly, it does not induce toxicity or inflammation within our bodies.
Why Bite’s Got It Right
Which brings me full circle to my original point. Bite’s got it right. Bite toothpaste recently launched a new summer flavor, Watermelon Hibiscus, that contains nanohydroxyapatite instead of fluoride. It also contains xylitol, which is a sugar substitute for sweeteners that I recommend to all my gum-lovers out there. The tabs come packaged in a glass bottle rather than a plastic tube, making it zero-waste. (They also have wooden toothbrushes that are vegan-free. cruelty-free, and extremely light – perfect for a biodegradable option when backpacking through the woods this summer.) Each bottle contains 62 tabs, which would last one month if you brush every morning after breakfast and every evening before bed.
Now, it doesn’t work like the toothpaste that you grew up with. When I first tried Bite, I did in fact think to myself, “Huh.” You take a tab and bite into it. My first thought was to swallow it like candy (perhaps it was the watermelon flavor that threw me off. I’m sure the mint flavor would be a bit different). For obvious reasons, you aren’t supposed to swallow it. Instead, you take a wet toothbrush and start brushing. The chewed up tabs dissolve, although you can’t expect the same sudsy sensation as traditional toothpaste. After brushing, you spit out the contents like you would with toothpaste. You may be surprised to find solid pieces of the tab still left, which is nothing to worry about. I have found that no matter how long I brush, not all of it dissolves. A trick is to chew it very well because the smaller pieces have an easier time breaking down once brushing.
I know this all sounds weird. A dentist not forcing fluoride treatment. A toothpaste company that’s zero-waste. Tooth brushing without suds and minty freshness. Unfortunately, the man who first invented toothpaste, his name was Claude C Hopkins by the way, has got one thing straight. Pepsodent, his invention, created the fresh feeling and suds which revolutionized America’s relationship with tooth brushing. Prior to the early 1900’s Americans did not brush their teeth. Afterwards, they don’t feel clean without mint’s tingly sensation. And all I’ve got to compete with that are boring facts.
But you know what? Bite may be on the verge of something here.
If we can dissociate Americans from that nostalgic, socially-learned feeling long enough for them to understand a few things (such as brushing technique reigns supreme), maybe we can turn away from decades of sodium laurel-sulfate use towards zero-waste planet-loving, non-toxic body-protecting products that are good for both the environment and our health. Isn’t that what we are moving towards these days?
All I’ve got to say is, try it. With an open mind. Understand why it is that you are so tied to traditional toothpaste. Who knows? You may like it.
This post was sponsored by Bite. The information regarding Claude C Hopkins was from “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. To learn more about nanohydroxyapatite, you may find Ann Stomatol’s literature review published in 2014 a good read. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Welp, so I’ve thought it up. A new diet that promises weight-loss for those who are on the heavier side struggling to lose weight. A diet that I think will really work wonders for most of America. And the premise of the diet does not rely on ingredients or organic produce or additives in the form of powders and things. In fact, the diet does not even tell you what you should and should not eat. Revolutionary, I know. The diet only has one requirement, and it is this: No food that you purchase may come in plastic packaging.
The true secret to how Mike and I stay skinnier than a pair of ski poles.
I get what you’re probably thinking. Another promised cure-all solution, with a side of a rolling of the eyes. No. Not a cure-all. It’s not going to make skinny people more skinny. It’s not going to cure diabetes. It’s not going to make scrawny men buff, or short children grow tall. But, it is going to be a healthy lifestyle shift that may help those who are considered overweight and are having difficulty losing a few pounds.
How does the zero plastic diet work?
Committing to eating only foods sans plastic requires you to eliminate a lot of the unhealthy substances that many Americans consume.
Frozen foods and all their preservatives
Chips, snacks, cookies, candies, candy bars and other junk foods that are store bought and laden with even more hidden unhealthy ingredients, most of which are non-naturally occurring
Jams, Condiments, pre-concocted sauces filled with sugars and preservatives
Fruit juices and sodas, full of added sugars
Meats that have been pre-frozen and thawed
Cereals, pre-made pastas, and white bread, none of which are actually healthy
Low fat yogurts, ice creams, et cetera
Most fast food restaurants or quick dine-in options
Processed foods such as bagged spinach, cut vegetables, roasted nuts
Pre-made soups and stock, usually swimming in sodium
These are just a few of the worst foods to eat, and all are packaged in plastic. The zero plastic diet works because if you want to eat cereal, you have to buy granola in the bulk section of the store. If you want to eat bread, it’s better to buy grain and make it fresh yourself. If you want to drink juice, you squeeze fresh oranges. If you want to eat meat, you’d have to opt for fresher cuts rather than the pre-packaged (likely pre-frozen) ones. If you want to eat fruit and veggie, you’ll need to grab fresher produce from a Farmer’s market (you know, the kind that goes bad in a few days?) rather than plastic packaged ones at Trader Joe’s that mysteriously last forever. If you want pizza, you’ll have to use the fresh produce and bread dough that you just made instead of heating up frozen pies. You learn to make chili from fresh beans and spices, and hummus is healthier made from chickpea, olive oil, lemon and garlic (ONLY!). And although there are non-plastic to-go places that we STILL go to, that one extra step makes fast food less accessible, which also translates to less frequently eaten.
This diet works because it cuts out all the hidden chemicals and preservatives and sugars and sodium and god-knows-what-else that we don’t even know exist in the food that others pre-package and pre-prepare for us.
This diet works because we are in control of what we eat.
This diet works because maybe we have to forego the cheese occasionally when we can’t find a way to get it without plastic packaging. Sometimes we have to forgo dairy, or meat. Sometimes, the only plastic free option until the next Farmer’s market or trip to the butcher is, well, veggie.
So this diet requires one to eat healthy. Why is it better than other diets?
Well, in my mind, the reason why other diets don’t work, is because it promises new solutions to weight loss. Innovative ones that we are putting our bodies through, albeit haphazardly, in a game of trial-and-error. Keto, paleo, organic, sugar-free… and the food industry plays on all of these new diets and creates NEW products that promise alternatives to all the things we are trying to cut out. The problem is, all of these new alternatives have been un-tested by any length of time. But what the zero plastic diet gives you is a diet that forces you back to the olden ways, of yore. The foods that our species have had plenty of time to adapt to. The one our bodies actually embrace. See also: Perhaps Gluten Isn’t to Blame. Our bodies, they don’t evolve overnight. They don’t even evolve over a few decades. We are not THAT adaptable. And we are introducing new alternatives at a fast clip ever since the Industrial Era, which frankly, wasn’t too long ago. Our bodies will not cannot change as fast. In fact, they will become intolerable to the changes.
At the end of all this raving, I guess I’m not hear to say that this is for everybody. I am only here recording what has worked for us. In an effort to reduce plastic, I’ve discovered that we’ve lost the extra weight that has been following us around since our beer-filled college nights, and then maintained a consistent number on the scale for the past year and a half. We don’t exercise although we really should as I’m sure our muscles are wasting away. We eat a good amount of food and don’t count calories or ration out portions. We aren’t gluttonous by any means, but we never leave the table hungry. The only thing we’ve done is to eliminate plastic packaging. So maybe it’s worth a try for those who are sick of substituting sugars, cutting out starches, calculating calories and rationing out portions. It’s a very simple approach to dieting, and one that your body (and the planet) will thank you for.
It’s been a while since I’ve touched on the topic of less waste, but there’s nary a day when I don’t think about our environmental impact nor is there a day that I haven’t spent every fiber of my being to reduce my own carbon footprint. We’ve cut our plastic purchases drastically since starting this intentional life, refusing to buy groceries in plastic packaging, avoiding takeout, and carrying our own reusable cups, utensils, and to-go containers. But still, I wanted something next level. What many people view as waste is actually a source of nutrients. The only real waste is the by-product of non-organic and non-biodegradable stuff, which we’ve tried to cut out of our life. Now that we’ve limited non-organic materials in our household, it’s time I turned my eyes, and this blog’s attention, towards composting.
It isn’t something recent. I have been in search of composting options in Orange County for almost a year. Tales of composting services in grander metropolitan cities had me enamored. I was imagining a life of compost bins in freezers with weekly (or monthly, I’m not picky) pick-up services. I was drooling over the idea of a local drop-off site that I could walk to. Alternatively, dreams of connecting with local farmers as I help create fertilizer for their fields materialized.
Unfortunately, those thoughts were immediately dashed upon the realization that there are no public composting options in Orange County, AT ALL. I had called the Department of Waste Management, admittedly on multiple occasions, only to be told that there is no current existing composting service and neither will there be one in the near future. I asked the HOA if we could create a composting program in our community. I reached out to local farms, and despite having their own composting activity at their site, they could not welcome more composting from the public due to limited facilities. I read, called, spoke, to no avail. It was time to take matters into my own hands.
We currently live in a two-story loft with no land of our own. Research regarding composting generally led to the reminder that we are lacking garden space (see also: fruit and vegetable garden patch dreams). And while I’ve come across posts on how to compost in a plastic bin numerous times, I had my doubts. Yet, here I am. Desperate times, I suppose. Or rather, it’s about time I stopped wallowing and started doing.
As with any first-time experimental venture, I did “extensive research”, which really only entailed googling the words “at-home-compost” (or something to that effect) and reading the first few websites. Thankfully, a sweet girl that I had met at a local farm tour dedicated some time to walk me through the entire process and patiently answer my questions. She began the conversation with, “For many people, it is very difficult to get composting to work in an apartment space.” Challenge accepted.
I purchased a lidded plastic bin (the irony doesn’t escape me), with drill holes in the bottom of it that remains open to another tub that catches, who knows what. Dirt perhaps? Runaway worms?
Oh yeah. That’s the part I forgot avoided to mention. It’s a worm bin. I took some dirt from the aforesaid farm’s existing composting site at the lovely girl’s suggestion, in the hopes that I’d also gather some hidden worms in the process. To my dismay, they weren’t so hidden. To my other dismay, they also weren’t quite enough, which then required me to purchase worms from a farm supply store in Orange County. I picked up 300 Red Wiggler Worms, and the name itself gives me the goosebumps. I’m not the girliest of girls, but snakes and eels are my biggest fears, and worms and other legless things are close contenders. But they are enthusiastic eaters, eating their weight in waste per day, so I knew they had to be the ones. I walked away from the farm supply store holding a bucket of worms at arm’s length. That’s how determined I was, yet not so determined that I didn’t wait for my husband and roommate to get home before having THEM do the transferring of worms from one bucket to the other.
Before detailing how to fill the bin, may we dissociate from what can and cannot count as compostable materials? Two types of waste can enter the bin: green waste and brown waste. Green waste includes things like coffee grinds (aplenty at our residence), egg shells (a common by-product of a baker), and vegetable and fruit peels and scraps. It is imperative to point out that not all food waste can go into a composting bin. Meats, dairy products and oils are foods that one must avoid putting in the bin. Brown waste, on the other hand, involves things such as egg cartons, cardboard, paper, and dead leaves fallen from indoor and outdoor houseplants. It should go without saying that anything with a plastic film cannot be de-composted.
Setting up the bin is theroretically easy. It involves a layering process. The formula that I followed was a layer of brown waste at the bottom, followed by a layer of dirt from the farm. I then placed a layer of green waste, followed by Red Wiggler worms. After the worms, I added a layer of moist brown waste that covered the bin entirely and was at least 2-3 inches thick.
Subsequent additions to the compost bin require a layer of green waste, topped by 2-3 inches of brown waste. Since our bin has limited space for a household of three people, we maximize our layers by placing a bowl in the freezer to collect green waste over the course of a week. The freezer keeps the green waste from rotting until we add it to the bin. Junk mail and egg cartons as well as cardboard have been sufficient in providing the necessary brown waste, which we collect in an old shoe box in the garage.
Aforementioned research indicates that frequent turning of the soil will improve the de-composting process. We plan to turn the soil at least once a week, just before adding more green waste, using a trowel. For the brave, bare hands or a stick will do.
Airflow is equally important. By using brown waste that are a bit bulky (shredded newspapers and weirdly shaped egg cartons), we allow air flow to occur. We never mash down the brown waste when we add it. I have also read that too much of one thing will prevent a successful compost bin. You don’t want a bin dedicated entirely to coffee grinds. It’s helpful to add a variety of green waste, to provide a large array of nutrients to the soil.
So now the question to address is where to keep such a bin in a tiny home? Suggestions included underneath the sink, but the thought of flies and bugs and worms in the kitchen will prevent me from peaceful sleep. Another suggestion was outdoors, but since we only have a tiny balcony, we decided against it. Plus, I think outdoor bins may attract more bugs and flies than indoor bins. Eventually, we settled on the garage, in the hopes that people were honest in saying that composting does not result in flies or stray worms. Only time will tell.
Overall, the process to set up was easy. I think the hard part comes next. Just as learning to understand plant growth takes time and experience, so too will composting have a learning curve. Some cons include limited space in our bin, which may run out more quickly than in other households considering how we cook everything from scratch. Another downside is the need to spend money in order to get this set up. It isn’t expensive by any means, but it isn’t free either. Lastly, the need to purchase a bin of some sort irks me. Plastic seems to be the best material, but I haven’t calculated whether the composting process would offset this initial ‘investment’, if successful.
Updates coming your way soon.
For those in OC wondering where we got our bin, visit the ecology center in SJC.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
Hi everyone! I wanted to reach out and invite people to join me for Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July is a movement created to challenge consumers to refuse plastic use in July and is meant to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic. The challenge is very easy; Create no plastic waste for the whole month of July! Startinggggg, right now (Happy first!). If you feel as if this is too overwhelming, then maybe take it back a notch and refuse all single-use disposable plastic (consider triple or quadruple used plastics oh-kayed). Why is it that this movement exists? A few facts…
Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
50% of the plastic produced is used just once and thrown away.
Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated). Source
A trillion plastic bags are used around the world each year. Source
The average time that a plastic bag is used for is… twelve minutes! Source
Watching the Plastic Ocean documentary on Netflix was such an eye-opener for Mike and I, and for others who we have recommended the documentary to. I think that’s also another good place to start to learn a little bit more.
Meanwhile, I will try to make a weekly suggestion list of ways we could deny ourselves single use plastics in our everyday lives during this month. I have written about bathrooms extensively in the past, but I think it is one of the easiest places where we can cut down plastic waste. So I am writing about it AGAIN. Many products that you find in a bathroom are packaged in plastic containers or bags. Try counting the number of plastic containers in your bathroom right now. Search in every cabinet and drawer, and I am sure you will find more than what you first thought. Here are some tips from related posts, wrangled into one place.
Going for a safety razor it’s the most eco way to shave. They’re made out of stainless steel so they’re recyclable at the end of their life.
Ok, you don’t have to DIY, but there are some great natural deodorants out there that help you cut down on aerosols, chemicals and plastic. I personally use Schmidt’s, packaged in a glass jar, to try to limit the plastic packaging.
Go back to soap
Good old soap has been forgotten – but it’s a pretty amazing multi-tasker and can work as a lather for shaving, a cleanser and even shampoo! I wrote about my love for soap once, but if you don’t feel quite ready to make the switch, try choosing refillable aluminum cans for your shampoo and conditioner with Plaine Products. They also released a new face wash and face moisturizer. To get 30% OFF of their new releases, use code PPNEW2018 at checkout. Also, for the first week of July, they will be running a sale for all their other products. To receive 20% OFF, use the code PFJ20 at checkout between July 1 and July 7.
Brush with Bogobrush
There are many toothbrushing options out there, from bamboo to recycled plastic to biodegradable hemp, and more. I personally use Bogobrush, but any of those options are fine. Since all options are manual toothbrushes, make sure to brush well. Here’s a guide if you need a refresher! Use the Bogobrush link on my page to receive your first subscription for FREE.
Tackle your toilet paper
Most toilet paper comes wrapped in plastic (and is made with trees). Go for a bidet, or Who Gives A Crap, which isn’t wrapped in plastic, and which is $10 OFF using my link.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
Toilet paper is a thing you never want to run out of. But as of late, I have been suffering from qualms about where to source ethical toilet paper. I have switched over to Seventh Generation toilet papers more than a year ago, because they are 100% recycled, but I still didn’t like that they came packaged in plastic. Try as I might, there was nary a roll that could solve my anti-plastic problem. It perturbs me so much that a necessity such as TP should require plastic wrapping, that I started considering alternatives and having conversations with friends who have gone the bidet route instead. Bidets are awesome and zero waste, and everyone who owns one swears by them. However, I am not about to spend a couple hundred dollars in order to go zero waste. And then I remembered, oh wait. TP is NOT a necessity. It’s a privilege and a convenience. Didn’t I say I was going to rid my life of conveniences that are unfriendly to the environment and do not align with my core values? So I started to think about nixing toilet papers all-together without getting a bidet, and doing things the old-fashioned way.
I remember the first time I started using toilet paper. I was thirteen years old. Ew, you say? No, not ew. Actually, on the contrary, people from my culture find butt-wiping with paper to be quite unsanitary, ineffective, and unclean. Think about it – you’re essentially using paper to remove particles, without even so much as a way to wash or sanitize your bum. In the Philippines, there is no toilet paper, typically. Go to a public restroom and all you’ll see is a bucket in the corner by the sinks filled with water. You take a small little bucket and grab water if you are going to drop a few kids off at the pool. I remember returning to my country for a one-week dental mission trip, and hearing stories of colleagues twerking in stalls next door. Funny thing was, I myself was perturbed and had Kleenexes in backs of scrub pockets just in case I needed to go to a public restroom. According to my home country’s standards, if you were actually to clean yourself, you would wash with water and soap after every seat you take on that porcelain bowl. That’s just the way it was done. My mom was anti-toilet paper for the longest time. I remember cousins visiting from Virginia and my mom complaining that they were “wasting paper”. So yeah, for the first thirteen years of my life, I did not use toilet paper. Like, ever.
I was just about to revert to my old ways when I discovered Who Gives A Crap, which is probably what you’ve been wondering during this post thus far. Finally, TP packaged and delivered in bulk, with not a single ounce of plastic in sight.
Good for the world, their toilet paper is made from 100% recycled paper, thus saving trees from having to wipe our bums. Speaking of bums, you’ll be happy to learn that the paper contains no inks, dyes, or scents. More importantly, this TP makes a difference for people in need.
Who Gives a Crap is an Aussie company started by three dudes (Simon, Jehan and Danny) when they realized in 2012 that 2.3 billion people across the world do not have access to a toilet. That’s roughly 40% of the global population! It also means that 289,000 children under the age of 5 years old die every year from diarheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s almost 800 children per day, or one child every 2 minutes. So they decided to give a crap about it. Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of the profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. To date, they have donated over $1.2 million Aussie dollars to charity, while saving trees, water, and energy. You can learn more about their impact here.
On top of that, their marketing is AH-MAZING. I mean, selling toilet paper does not seem like a fun job, but they definitely make it fun! The packaging around each roll has suggestions on how the paper can be reused – ie: as wrapping paper or gift tags! Three of the thirty rolls are dedicated for emergencies. As in, DO NOT OPEN these rolls unless you are running low, or for the unplanned. A perfect reminder that a new box is in order. And if you think that recycled paper is uncomfortable for the bum, trial proves that it is not. Tres-ply paper goes a long way, although for those seeking a more luxurious feel than saying “three” in French, there IS also the “premium” option, made from 100% bamboo. They also sell forest friendly tissues and forest friendly paper towels, in case you haven’t made the switch to linen just yet.
Now I know the question that’s all on your minds. What’s the cost? The price is actually not bad! They have bulk orders of 24 double rolls for $30 but by using this link HERE, you can get $10 OFF, which then makes it $20 for 24 rolls! Or you can order 48 rolls for $48, and with the $10 OFF, it makes it very comparable to other toilet paper rolls selling at Target. Plus, it is important to note that you aren’t just buying toilet paper. You are buying others access to dignity, health, and an overall improved quality of life! Plus, trees are meant for Koalas, not bums. So next time you are running low, use the code and try Who Gives A Crap. Because we ALL should give a crap.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
Hearing about the environmental impacts of our everyday lifestyle choices can be a bit overwhelming. The realization that 300 million tons of plastic is produced each year, and that half of that is meant to be single-use can be very depressing. One may want to change that statistic, but it is easy to feel like the power of one is so small. I am here to tell you that it is not. Because the power of one turns to two and then to four, and so on. Imagine, if only 20% of the world’s population changed their consumption so as to create less waste, that would mean that there are 1.52 BILLION people who are consciously choosing not to use a plastic water bottle every day they go to work. Multiplied by the number of days in a year, and you can see the tremendous impact that may have. Extrapolate that to also forgoing plastic bags at the groceries, and to-go utensils at a fast food restaurant, and you’ve got a big dent in plastic consumption already. So we must try. I believe that each individual can contribute to a massive change.
The question is, “where to start?” That, itself, can be overwhelming as well. I am here to say that starting the process is very simple, and easy. You don’t have to go zero-waste like, TODAY. That’s very unsustainable, and will probably make you want to quit faster than anything. We want the change to be slow, but steady. Choose one change that you can make each month, or week, or if you’re like me, each day. Practice that change and if you slip up, no worries, you learn and you can continue on for the next time. We all have slip ups! And we also all have our limitations. If you try to implement a change and you REALLY cannot stick to it, then that’s fine. Try a different one. Maybe come back to it at a later stage, when you’re more well-versed in letting waste go. All I know is that over time, the changes become easier and easier. I want to show people that creating less waste is a simple act of being mindful of what we do. It is easier than most think, and has impacts more than just environmental, which you must discover for yourself. The only way I can think of showing people, is to make a list of things I do myself.
Start with one.
Practice, practice, practice.
Have a reason, “Why”.
Be okay with failure.
Plastic drink bottles – I now carry around a re-usable water bottle wherever I go. The reason is two-fold. First, I am ALWAYS thirsty. And second, you never know if you will have access to water sans plastic where you go. You can be going to a friend’s house and all they still have available is water packaged in bottles. So I take my water with me, everywhere.
Plastic Grocery Bags – Bring your own re-usable grocery bags. I was so happy when the law got passed that grocery stores will charge an extra fee for plastic bags, but I was unhappy at how little it curbed people’s habits. People’s number one excuse? “I accidentally leave it at home”. Do what I do, and keep it in the back of your car, always!
Plastic produce bags – I never package my produce in plastic anymore. I just grab my fruits and veggies and throw them right into my grocery cart. I also have two mesh bags to keep together bunches of stuff, such as brussel sprouts for instance. Anything that can be difficult to put on the conveyor belt at the check-out stand in one go. But mostly, I go without. Why do we need separate bags for our produce? Even the wet lettuce just gets thrown into the bin. It’ll dry on it’s own.
Paper Towels – I wrote about how I nixed paper towels by replacing them with rags. Even better, our rags are a collection of old T-shirts amongst us three roommates.
To -go cups – I carry around a Keep Cup in the back of my car at all times. Even though this is useful for coffee mostly, it can also be used for soda from a soda machine. It is actually my universal cup. The lid seals and I can throw it in my purse, even with liquid in there! It’s my favorite.
Frozen foods – There are some types of food you just can’t buy without plastic. Frozen foods is one of them. I have not bought frozen foods in over a year. The cost for convenience is just too great. And my health is better for it, too! In general, I try not to buy anything in plastic when we go grocery shopping. Plastic jars are traded in for glass jar alternatives. Meats and cheeses are purchased fresh and wrapped in paper. Pasta and bread and ice cream are made at home, using ingredients that could be bought in paper bags or glass containers. I even bring my own jar to get fresh squeezed orange juice, or cold brew, or peanut butter. The list goes on, here.
Plastic utensils – I actually carry around metal spoons, forks, knives, straws and wooden chopsticks in my purse, all the time. I have a utensil holder that keeps them clean and together, too.
To – go containers – I have been seen to pull out a tupperware from my purse to package the food that I don’t finish when we dine out.
Fast food, in general – This is another one that is better for our health. Fast food is typically wrapped individually, and sometimes contain plastic. We will break our fast food streak once every 2-3 months, to purchase things wrapped in paper, I suppose. But in general, even the paper we try to avoid.
Single use products for the menstruating person- I wrote about how menstruating persons should invest in a reusable cup, to get rid of single-use tampons and pads. It’s environmentally friendly, and cost efficient to boot!
Plastic covers and wire hangers from the dry cleaners – I am one of those people who goes to pick up my clothes from the local dry cleaners, and strips them off the of hanger and out of the plastic right then and there. They look at me funny, but never say anything. They take the hangar and plastic back for re-use.
Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion packaged in plastic bottles – I have switched over to Plaine Products, which packages toiletries in aluminum cans that are refillable!
Plastic toothbrushes – We have now switched over to exclusively Bogobrush toothbrushes, although I am open to try bamboo toothbrushes in the future.
Deoderant packaged in plastic containers – I buy deoderant in glass jars such as this. I wish it were refillable – I guess my next step would be to make some at home in order to reduce waste all together.
Gift wrap and greeting cards – I love the way a present looks wrapped up with a bow, all pretty and sparkling. But then I think about what happens to all that fluff once the present is unwrapped. Most likely, without a two year old to play with it, it would go straight to the trash bin. It’s true that we have cut down our gifting significantly, but even those few gifts that we give, they are now given without gift wrap, or covered in a linen napkin, if anything.
Gift cards – Money placed on plastic cards; ugh. If we are gifting money, we either write a check, or better yet, hand over cash, so as to avoid wasting a check.
Cosmetics – I never was into make-up. Luckily, I never feel the need to wear it. I have created a very minimalist make-up routine, and since then I have switched over to a traditional pencil eyeliner and an eyebrow pencil, which are sharpened to wee stubs, and which are essentially just wood. I used to wear mascara but when my last one ran out, I couldn’t find an alternative without plastic. So I have actually been going without, and no one has mentioned a thing yet.
Driving around everywhere – The best investment Mike and I ever made were two bikes. I guess you can’t call mine an investment, because it was a hand-me-down from my old man. But Mike bought a used one from Craigslist for $100. We have now made a huge effort to reduce carbon emissions by biking on weekends to our coffee shop dates, farmers markets, and groceries. Anywhere, really, that we could bike to.
Stuff, in general – I have less of everything, which then creates less waste. Why I ever needed multiples of stuff, I will never know. I used to have like fifteen water bottles, over fifty pairs of shoes, hundreds of articles of clothing and accessories.
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I have not bought paper towels in over a year. Mostly as a direct result of my steely drive to avoid all things disposable, as best I could. Partly, to save the planet, partly to save money. Which is all fine and good, since I’ve spent countless years throwing these sheets of paper like confetti on a new year’s eve, celebrating what, exactly, I’m not sure. Convenience?
I find paper towels to be extremely unnecessary. I tried to make a list of all the things I used paper towels for in the past, and I have found that I could always substitute a re-usable, washable, sturdier piece of cloth. For example, for wiping messy mouths and hands at the dinner table, substitute linen napkins. For wiping down newly washed dinnerware, substitute kitchen towel. For wiping down surfaces sprayed with chemically-laden cleaning supplies, substitute rags. For straining oil from deeply fried foods, leave it to a strainer. Or may I suggest, eliminate deeply fried foods? Except maybe for extremely moody days, when nothing will comfort you except freshly pipetted churros. Then, strainers it is.
Despite my history with paper towel use, I think there was always a part of me that was inclined against its extravagant use. I could thank my mother for this, as images of her tearing off corners of paper towel sheets, rather than the perforated lines that were meant to dictate how much could be used at a time, surface to my mind. As is the usual case, we turn into our parents whether we mean to or not. I remember when Mike and I started living together, and he noticed my funny paper towel use, something I was oblivious to. He asked one day, with a little exasperation in his voice, “Why do you tear them like that?” I look up, surprised at the jagged edges at the end of a paper towel roll hanging limply in the kitchen heat, not realizing what I had done. Reflexively, I answered, “So as not to waste it.”
When I decided to reduce waste, paper towels were one of the first things I let go. Nevermind that they were paper, which is a biodegradable material. They were unnecessary. That, and they seem to only come sold in plastic packaging. It seems that reducing waste and simplifying life came hand in hand in my story, so it was fairly easy to justify nixing the habit. What do we use instead?
Linen napkins, for every day dining.
We got these for a wedding gift, and we use them all the time! Whether we are hosting for a party of twelve, or eating burgers by our lonesome selves, these are always at hand, you know, to stay proper and all. I love linen, mostly for the way it looks and feels. It softens up over time, and the grey color allows me to dig into barbeque sauces and dribble mustard without worrying about staining (as if I can help the dribbling!). Like all cloth alternatives, I simply toss these in the wash along with other towels and rags and call it a day.
Kitchen towels, from drying hands to drying dishes.
These are always hanging from the cabinets, and each one has a designated role. The one under the sink is for wet hands, the one underneath the stove is for dry hands. There is one for drying dishes, and one for wiping down the coffee machines. Sometimes, they are used to cover resting dough, to keep the draft away. Sometimes they are used to top bowls of fruit left on the counter. Their uses are never-ending, and they are as reliable as an old friend.
Old tees, turned into rags.
Last week, we were hosting our usual boardgame night at our loft, when as chance would have it, a friend knocks over a glass of beer amidst a dramatic hand-gesture, and then catches it mid-air, but alas, with beer sloshing all over the floor. As laughter fills the room and apologies are brushed to the side, Mike gets up from the table and grabs a kitchen rag. Or, in our case, an old tee. My friend immediately picked up on the cloth, and credulously inquired, “Did you just grab a T Shirt?!” To which we had to explain that, in order to reduce waste, we had re-purposed T shirts into useful cleaning supplies. The roommate herself even pitched in on the “up-cycling” and donated her own used tees to our communal rag pile sitting underneath the sink. “I guess…”, the guest says dubiously. But when the beer spills for the second time that day, up the guest gets and grabs the tee and wipes down the mess. Which goes to show that habits can easily be shifted, perceptions easily changed, differences easily made. So what if it’s not glamorous, or matching, or new. It’s functional, and practical, and kind to the environment.
How about you guys? Ways to rid of paper towel use? How many years abstinence have you got? Words of wisdom welcomed.
For the curious, we absolutely love our collapsible bamboo dish rack, easily stored when guests are over and brought out on a busy weeknight. We got ours from Mother’s Market, but a similar one can be found here. The grey linens are a wedding gift from Restoration Hardware, although similar and more ethically made ones can be found here.