The Problem: Finding 100% recycled or tree-free toilet paper that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic. Since 2007, my toilet paper of choice has been cardboard cases of Seventh Generation recycled rolls that come individually-wrapped in thin paper wrappers. I ordered it from Amazon and even had a subscription at one time. But over the years, I’ve received comments from readers that they would order a case and it would sometimes come with plastic inside. Or that the plastic-free cases were not always available on Amazon.
A New Solution: A few months ago, I started seeing Facebook posts about a new brand of toilet paper called Who Gives a Crap. Funny name. But it sounded interesting. The company donates 50% of its profits to provide toilets and sanitation in the developing world. The toilet paper comes in two versions, bamboo or recycled paper, and is shipped in a cardboard box. At the time, only the… Read the rest
Rebecca Newburn is a middle school science teacher in Marin County, California, who, with a group of elementary and middle school students, successfully lobbied the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District to adopt a resolution making October “Zero Waste Month.” And together with zero waste specialists Anastacia Nicole and Kathryn Kellogg of GoingZeroWaste, has created a program for cities and schools to participate in Zero Waste October.
Wait. Before you say, “But it’s too late to plan anything like that in my community. You’ve only given me 4 days!” listen up. Read through the challenge and choose a few things you might try out this year. Then, use it as a model to get your school or town active next year.
Rebecca explained to me that October is a great month for families in the Northern Hemisphere to take on the zero waste challenge because the kids are back in school and… Read the rest
It’s been a while. I spent all of August in Maryland with my family in the house where I grew up, celebrating birthdays, helping out my dad and brother, learning to love baseball (I even bought a Washington Nationals baseball cap), visiting with plastic-free friends, and driving for twelve hours each way to experience one stunning 2 and a half minute act of nature. If I were still a kid (and who says I’m not?), this would be my report to the class. And I would probably get marked down for procrastinating and turning it in late. What else is new?
Big Almost Plastic-Free Birthday Party
August is a month of birthdays for our family: My sister Ellen and her daughter Abby were both born on the same day of the month. My dad’s birthday is four days later. So my niece Lauren and I organized a big birthday bash for the gang.
But what do you serve to a houseful of people of all different ages (from tykes to Millenials to Octagenarians) and … Read the rest
In March, I wrote about microfiber laundry pollution from synthetic clothing and mentioned that soon there would be a special bag available called Guppy Friend to catch those microfibers before they are rinsed down the drain. Well, the bag is now available and the company sent me one to test out.
Guppy Friend is a product developed by the campaign STOP! MICRO WASTE, a German non-profit founded by a group of surfers and nature lovers to find solutions to the microfiber pollution problem. Guppy Friend is just one of their projects, as they recognize that it is only one small part of the solution to a huge problem that will require systemic change on a massive scale, not just a few people conscientiously washing their polyester fleece in a special bag. But for those of you conscientious folk out there who do wear synthetic clothing and want to prevent the fibers from escaping into our waterways, here is one small solution.
Guppy Friend is a synthetic… Read the rest
The last time I wrote about doing laundry without plastic was June 17, 2009. Obama was our new president, and Michael Jackson was still alive (he died a week later). It’s time for an update.
Plastic-Free Soap Nuts Laundry Soap
Back in the day, we used powdered Ecover laundry detergent, in part because it came in a recyclable cardboard box and was the only brand I’d ever found that came with a cardboard scoop instead of a plastic one. Those days are over. Ecover switched to a plastic scoop (why does anyone need a new scoop with every box anyway?), and I no longer recommend it.
There are lots of recipes online for making your own laundry detergent with combinations of various ingredients, but the one that I’ve found to be the simplest to make and work the best in cold water is a liquid soap that requires only 2 ingredients: soap nuts and water. You can also add essential oil(s), but that’s totally optional.
The brand… Read the rest
Local readers may be surprised when I confess that I’ve walked past Three Stone Hearth on University Ave in Berkeley a bunch of times over the years and never gone in. I didn’t go in because I didn’t know what it was.
If I had gone in, I would have discovered a nearly plastic-free, zero waste mecca full of gloriously delicious food and friendly people. Thank goodness the shop owners reached out to me this year to come and talk to their customers about my plastic-free journey. I wish I had known about Three Stone Hearth when I was writing my book because they would have definitely been included!
It’s All About Those Mason Jars
Three Stone Hearth is a Community Supported kitchen (like a CSA for prepared foods) serving up delicious, organic, nutrient-dense foods based on traditional diets. (Weekly offerings include choices for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters.) Customers can come to the store to purchase foods… Read the rest
Are there phthalates in these cheese powders? There could be.
Since going plastic-free, I generally avoid processed, packaged foods. So I haven’t enjoyed the Day-Glo orange of Kraft Mac & Cheese in years. (Yeah, I used to live on that stuff in the 80’s and 90’s, with extra cheese added because, despite the advertising claims, it really isn’t the “cheesiest.”)
But the other day, Michael brought home a box of organic quinoa mac & cheese that someone had left on the curb as a freebie, and I thought maybe I’d go ahead and have it, its being free and all.
And then yesterday, I read that a new study commissioned by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging has found phthalates — a type of hormone-disrupting chemical found in plastics — in 29 of 30 cheese products they tested. Cheese powders from boxed mac & cheese had four times higher levels of phthalates… Read the rest
Two years ago, I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption:
People ask me what I do for hair elastics since they are plastic. The truth is, I’ve never had to buy them because there are a gazillion on the ground every day. Parking lots, sidewalks, the floor of the gym… How do they get there? And is reusing discarded hair elastics gross or thrifty? Would you do it?
So, um, yeah. I pick up crap off the ground and put it in my hair. For the rest of you, please check out KOOSHOO certified organic hair accessories. Their hair elastics are made from organic cotton and natural rubber, not plastic!
KOOSHOO sent me a pack of five hair elastics to try out. Ironically, I had just gotten my hair cut before trying them, so I did the best I could. They work great, and because they are covered in cotton, the natural rubber elastic does not pull your hair.
You can order KOOSHOO plastic-free hair ties from my friends Jay and Chantal at… Read the rest
For ten years, I’ve been searching for the perfect plastic-free dental floss. Back when I wrote my first dental floss post, the greenest choices were either biodegradable silk floss in rigid plastic containers (I’m looking at you, Radius) or non-biodegradable Eco-Dent nylon floss in a cardboard box. (Some brands like Tom’s of Maine or Radius seemed to come in cardboard boxes but actually included a hard plastic dispenser inside the box.) There was no biodegradable floss in plastic-free packaging.
Times have changed.
Recently, I discovered two more promising brands of floss — one that is plastic-free and another that is both plastic-free and refillable! Here’s a rundown, comparing Eco-Dent in a cardboard box, Le Negri in a metal tin, and Dental Lace in a refillable glass container, as well as a few more options at the bottom of the post.
… Read the rest
I’ve been away from blogging and social media for a few months, needing time to recuperate from the onslaught of attention-grabbing, anxiety-inducing posts that had hijacked my “news” feeds. Taking a break to be in silence for a while helps. So do walks along the red dirt trails or the rocky coastline of Moloka’i, Hawaii.
In the end of March, I went on my annual silent meditation retreat to the center of the center of the center. (The retreat center is in the middle of Moloka’i, which is the middle of the Hawaiian Island chain, which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.) It just so happened that the week of my retreat was the same week as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s first statewide beach cleanup event. And the cleanup event planned for the island of Moloka’i happened to be scheduled on our only day “off” from silent meditation. There’s more serendipity in how I even found out about… Read the rest