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
So, you’ve been reading about ways to reduce your plastic use, including bringing back empty bottles and containers of personal care and cleaning products to refill, and you think, “I’ve got to try that sometime.” (The BULK mobile site can help you find refill locations.) But that means planning ahead and remembering to bring your empty containers back to the store. Once you get in the habit of doing it, remembering is no big deal. But getting started can be difficult for folks just beginning the plastic-free, zero waste journey. If only there were a service that would pick up those empties and deliver freshly filled ones right to your door.
If you live in the Bay Area, Stéphanie Regni can help! Her company, Fillgood.co, delivers refilled glass containers of natural personal care and cleaning products to local customers. I paid a visit to Stéphanie at her home in Albany, CA, last month, and chatted… Read the rest
Last year, I was trying really hard to buy nothing new, and while I fell short several times (more on that in a future post), I did pretty well in the shoe department. Nearly all shoes have at least some plastic components. Buying them secondhand or repairing the shoes you already have are great ways to get “new shoes” without actually buying new shoes and new plastic.
Buy Secondhand Shoes
I’m not one of those people who won’t buy secondhand shoes. You can find some pretty great, almost new shoes at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost of new shoes. In June, my local Goodwill had a 50% off shoe sale, so I bought four pairs of practically new shoes for about $20. (They were actually in much better shape than in this photo that I took today after having worn them for several months.)
When buying secondhand shoes, make sure the soles are not scuffed (or only minimally scuffed) and insoles are in good shape. If … Read the rest
It’s super easy to make your own beef jerky. But before I get into how, let me explain why. Beef jerky (or any kind of jerky, for that matter) is not something I normally eat or even think about. But in 2015, while planning for the annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, I wanted to find a good source of protein that would hold up in the weather without refrigeration or plastic packaging. And knowing that I would be camping with Zero Waste guru Bea Johnson (a very exciting story for another day), I wanted to do more than simply stock up on trail mix and dry soups from the bulk bins, which is what I’ve lived on in previous years.… Read the rest
Last November, I decided it was time to get rid of the small, ratty, and possibly toxic table-top ironing board we’d been using for years. And by we, I mean Michael. Still haunted by memories of ironing my dad’s shirts in the dank basement laundry room while the crickets chirped and imaginary mice scurried from corner to corner, I avoid ironing as much as possible. Michael, on the other hand, irons his work shirts every week, and I wanted him to have a nice, full-sized board with a non-toxic pad and cover, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money.
Getting an Ironing Board for FREE
Knowing that I was going to be starting a year of buying nothing new, I decided to look for a secondhand ironing board. I posted an ad on Nextdoor, a social network for neighbors to stay in touch about what’s happening in the hood, asking if anyone had an ironing board they didn’t want.
I would have been happy to pay for it,… Read the rest
Back in April I promised a post about making broth. Well, here it is. Actually, this is more like two posts in one. There’s broth that you make from scratch in order to get all the nutritious goodness out of the food scraps you have left, and then there’s broth (or stock) that you need in a hurry for a recipe when you don’t have time to make broth from scratch and you don’t have any on hand.
(The word broth is starting to sound really funny after saying it in my head a whole bunch of times in one paragraph. If I capitalize the first letter, it could be the name of a new Game of Thrones character.)
Better Than “Better Than Bouillon” Vegetable Broth Concentrate
Five years ago, I touted the goodness of Better Than Bouillon broth concentrate that comes in a glass jar and eliminates the need for broth in a BPA-lined can or plastic-lined box. Using a concentrate helps prevent waste and saves money since you’re… Read the rest
The following is an email I received from reader Susan Siu about how much she loves having to take her recycling to the local transfer center instead of having curbside pickup. I loved it so much, I asked her if she would send me pictures and let me post her email here. Don’t get me wrong: I still want curbside recycling to be made available so that people who wouldn’t otherwise recycle will comply, but I love her enthusiasm for her local transfer station. So, please enjoy this post about recycling/reusing in Southern Maine.
I LOVE your book and blog! I am a small-scale vegetarian organic homesteader in Southern Maine currently in the process of going zero-waste and plastic-free, and your book has been extremely helpful as well as fascinating. I have been watching many of your film/video recommendations with my kids, and they are sharing what they’ve learned with all their friends.
After reading your story… Read the rest
There are a lot of things I make myself to avoid products in plastic packaging. I make my own chocolate syrup, for example, to avoid the kind in the squeeze bottle. And I’ve made my own cleaning and personal care products for years. But when it comes to durable goods, I’ve often opted to let someone else make it, relying on the handiwork of artisans on Etsy, for example. And while it’s great to support small business owners, my Buy Nothing New challenge is not going to allow that, which is cool because all of a sudden, I’ve rediscovered the joy of knitting and the feeling of pride that comes from making things with my own two hands again.
My First Scarf in Years
I used to knit all the time. In fact, I went through a period of compulsively knitting things for every person I knew. Why then, did I find myself on Etsy, this past November, searching for the perfect handmade scarf? I don’t know, but luckily,… Read the rest
By now, many or most of you have seen the shocking viral video of a sea turtle with a plastic drinking straw stuck up its nose and the team of ocean researchers attempting to pull it out. I don’t normally like to begin posts with gruesome images, but in this case, I’m hoping this video will not simply horrify you but also fill your heart with compassion and spur you to action. It’s 8 minutes long, and if you have the patience to watch the entire thing, it’s worth it.… Read the rest