Hello my eco-conscious friends. In my last post I talked about trying to buy more NAKED PRODUCE. That has definitely been working.
I also have swapped STOVETOP POPCORN for crisps to save on packaging. I've also been making my own granola as I like to do that sort of thing and can get nearly everything needed to make it in paper or glass. This isn't necessarily a money savings, but it's no more to make than buying a box of our favourite cereal. It is quick and easy and tastes 100 times better than store bought stuff.
This week on What we Ate Wednesday I will write about Marmalade Granola.
But I digress.
I started to look at ways that we use disposable items in every day life that could be substituted for something with less packaging, no packaging or become reusable.
Some were less successful than others.
Cotton wool (cotton balls to my American peeps)
I like to use cotton wool. I tried to make each one last by tearing it into thirds, but i was basically using a cotton ball a day. One-third in the morning to put on my homemade ROSEMARY VINEGAR deodorant (1/3 cup rosemary vinegar plus 1-2 TB witch hazel), one-third in the morning to apply diluted apple cider vinegar to my face, and repeat that same ACV actions before bed with the final third
That's 365 cotton balls a year. .
So what did I do?
1. I swapped my deodorant into a spray bottle that I already had. Would a glass bottle be better? Maybe. But I don't have a glass spray bottle. I am all about using what you already have. Plus, i know from recent trip to the US that everything in glass had to be decanted into plastic for travel. Glass + travel= a heavier bag with something breakable in it. Which equals a giant BAD IDEA.
Excellent. If i spray a few times, then rub into my pits and then spray some more and rub in, I avoid the dreaded drip. Also, I need to remember to spray first and then use my body oil, otherwise the spray bottle slips out of my hand.
2. I made some reusable face wipes that can be washed in a washing machine. I know you can buy stuff like this from Etsy, from people with better sewing machines that have sergers to make professional edges around their organic unbleached fabric, but i needed to make it cheap.
I hunted around charity shops til i found a 100% cotton flannel shirt for £2 and cut it into squares and zig-zagged the edges to stop them unravelling. I store them in a jar and then put the used ones in a mesh laundry bag that gets washed when we go to the launderette. Since we only go every three weeks to wash there (otherwise we wash in a bucket) I made enough to go a full three weeks.
Excellent. I have really enjoyed them, they work well (as well as cotton wool) and wash and dry nicely. I did make sure they went in the tumble dryer at the launderette so they would remain soft. Flannel can get a bit scratchy if it is left to air dry. I had tried this previously with polar fleece and the liquid just seemed to bead up on top and roll off--fleece is supposed to repel water after all--but it just never worked for me and I went back to disposables. My only complaint (if it is indeed a complaint) is that I feel like a need a wee bit more product to saturate the flannel wipe than I did a cotton ball, but since my product is merely diluted apple cider vinegar, it's not a big deal. But having to use a wee bit more product because it is ABSORBED by the fabric is miles better than it being REPELLED by the fabric.
Also, I only used the sleeves and the upper back of the shirt to make 25 little pads, so when these wear out I have lots of shirt left to make some more.
I like to make GARLIC PASTE once a month and freeze it in teaspoon portions. Previously, I had spooned it into plastic ice cube trays, frozen it then popped them all out and stored them by wrapping cubes in cling film and foil and then put in a plastic baggie. I did this on advice from something I found on google. I decided to see if i could just flash freeze in my big pyrex baking pan and then pop into a jar.
This seems to work really well. They don't stick to each other having been frozen separately and there is no disintegration issues that I used to get prying them out of the ice cube tray. Excellent.
Storing leftover cake
What's leftover cake? Seriously, I know other people who always take their cake out of the pan it baked in because they have baked layer cakes, but I never bake in layers. I always leave my cake in the pan it cooked in and serve directly from the pan. My way of dealing with it has been to throw some cling film over the top of the pan and call it a day. But obviously now I am avoiding cling film where I can. This is a genius hack, it actually makes sense if you aren't too concerned about presentation.
Excellent. This is a bit of a DUH moment for me, as I can't believe I never thought of this before.
In years past we had virtually fazed out disposable PAPER PRODUCTS. Since we moved to Wales and have no washing machine I have had to give up my beloved CLOTH TOILET PAPER as there is no way to wash it. We do most of our washing by hand in a bucket and only pay to wash at the launderette every three weeks. I had been good about not using disposable paper towels if I could help it, but since the Bronte Snails came into our life, our usage of disposable paper had increased tremendously. Spiders are really clean and their waste is a dry, white powder. Snails poop A LOT and they poop EVERYWHERE. And I didn't want to wipe up their poop with the same towels I dry dishes with.
I had thought about buying some designated snail poop towels, but couldn't justify the expense.Then I had an idea. This was another DUH moment for me. A lot of my kitchen tea towels are really old and worn. Why didn't we buy more kitchen towels and relegate old tea towels for snail poop? (I told you it was a DUH moment)
Excellent. We've been really happy with this system. the new waffle weave towels really dry dishes well and the snail ones clean up poop and slime, dry condensation and wipe out water dishes. Feel a bit daft i didn't think of it sooner. If you have pets, i would highly recommend getting some poop towels especially if you have a washing machine, but even if you don't like we don't--it is still doable.
On an separate note, after reading my post about my beloved cloth toilet paper (I really miss it!) I am going to try to figure out a way to start again. Probably only with urine, but at least it will be a start.
I roast vegetables in my oven several times a week and we don't have non stick pans (things like TEFLON can actually be really dangerous) so i often need a scrubby doodah (technical term) when doing the washing up. Steel wool has been our scrubby of choice. Supposedly it is recyclable, but i can never find a place to take it. But it also always seems to come in a plastic tray in a plastic bag. Another reason to try and find an alternative.
I looked into some of those wooden scrub brushes with natural bristles. First off, they were hella-expensive. Secondly, what exactly do they mean by natural bristles? The ones I found online turned out to be make from pig bristles. Um...no thanks,
I came up with (what I thought was) a genius idea. I bought a loofah sponge at Wilkos for £1. No packaging. Compostable. I sawed it up with my trusty hacksaw Hank. (yes, my hacksaw has a name. What of it?)
Of all the things I have tried, this is my lowest rated one. It's not BAD, per se, it's just not as brilliant as I had hoped. My thought when I bought it was "this is so stiff and scrubby, it feels like steel wool but natural!" Those who use a loofah will see where I made my mistake. I had not realised it would get SOFTER when it got wet.
And when you do the washing up, things have a tendency to get wet.
It just doesn't quite have the scrubbing power of steel wool. I have tried soaking the dishes longer. I have tried adding some bicarbonate of soda for extra scrubbing power. Those things help...but it is still not quite what I had hoped. I will continue to use it until I come up with a better solution.
In my journey of Progress Not Perfection towards Zero Waste I will try to keep adding small swaps that a make a big difference.
What are your tips for small swaps?