The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: DIY

July 24, 2017

How to Make Liquid Soap Nuts Laundry Soap Plus Other Plastic-Free Laundry Ideas

Soap nuts laundry liquid

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

December 27, 2016

Homemade Plastic-Free Beef Jerky

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

December 26, 2016

DIY Plastic-Free Ironing Board Cover and Natural Wool Pad

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

December 9, 2016

Homemade Broth and Better Broth Concentrate

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

January 13, 2016

Why Buy It New When I Can Make It Myself?

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

August 2, 2015

Homemade Tooth Powder and Facial Scrub Recipes, Sans Plastic Microbeads

Neutrogena Deep Clean gentle scrub still contains microbeads as of 08/02/2105. Photo from Drugstore.com website.

Are you still rubbing plastic all over your face?

Since I first reported on microbeads–those tiny bits of plastic added to facial scrubs, toothpaste, and other personal care products–in 2007 and then again in 2013, the NY Times has reported on them, several U.S. states have passed legislation to ban them,  Canada is on the verge of banning them, and the Story of Stuff Project has created a video and campaign to get other states and countries to follow suit.  (Please follow that link, if you haven’t already, to take action and ask your representatives to ban microbeads where you live.)

But the trouble with some of  the proposed legislation is that it allows companies to switch to “biodegradable” plastic microbeads.  That’s a problem because most “biodegradable”… Read the rest

January 20, 2014

Eating Eggshells for Calcium?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to reduce the number of supplements I take (and hence, supplement packaging) by getting my nutrients from whole foods instead of pills.  So a few weeks ago, I was wondering aloud (apparently, I’ve started talking to myself a lot lately) about how I could get more calcium, and Michael, whose mind goes all sorts of random places, said, “You eat an egg every day.  Why not eat the shell, too?”  He wasn’t serious.  But I wondered if eating eggshells was a thing.  You know, a thing that people do.  So of course, I turned to that trove of wisdom called Google, and lo and behold, there were lots of posts about how to do just that.

Before I go further… once again… I am not a doctor.  I am not suggesting that you or anyone else should eat eggshells.  I’m simply reporting my own experience.

Okay, so first I found this discussion, which lists several different… Read the rest

October 17, 2012

Want Plastic-Free Glue? Make Homemade Wheat Paste.

I felt like I was back in kindergarten yesterday… cutting and pasting with paste you could eat if you wanted to.   I’m taking my plastics information display to the ReUseConex in Portland tomorrow and wanted to make it sturdier. Taping paper pages directly to the wooden board was not working well.  The paper curled and the natural cellulose tape I was using wouldn’t stay stuck to the wood.

This is NOT attractive:

So I decided to mount the pages on recycled cardboard.  And to do that, I needed plastic-free glue.  Finally, a chance to test out the recipe for homemade wheat paste that I included in my book without actually trying first!

How to Make Homemade Wheat Paste, aka Plastic-Free Glue

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour (white or unbleached flour is best.  Apparently, you can do it with whole wheat, but it might not be as sticky.) 3/4 cup cold water 3 cups boiling water

That’s all.  According to this Instructable for Read the rest

October 4, 2012

Cardboard Costume Challenge for a Plastic-Free Halloween

Halloween Plastic can be scary!  But blogger Amber Dohrenwend has one solution to Halloween plastic.  She’s the author of The Cardboard Collective, a blog about using recycled cardboard (the kind you would fish out of the cardboard only recycling bin or dumpster) to create toys, crafts, and furniture. She lives in a small apartment in Tokyo, Japan with her husband and two children, where she says, they “strive to maintain a simple, cardboard affirming lifestyle.”  In an effort to reduce plastic consumption this Halloween and encourage fun and creativity, Amber has organized the Cardboard Costume Challenge.  I asked her to explain the challenge in her own words and also tell us a bit about herself and her own efforts at de-plasticking in Japan.  So, here’s Amber:

COSTUMES FROM CARDBOARD

I’m so excited to be joining you here on My Plastic Free Life! I’m a huge fan of all the work Beth’s… Read the rest

June 26, 2012

Herban Crafts: Make Your Own Bath Salts and Empower Homeless Women

I suppose I should be careful when using the term bath salts these days.  I could have said lip balm or sugar scrub or herbal soap, which are all products you can learn to make yourself and at the same time help homeless women learn job skills.  My friend Karen Lee–captain of the Eco-Etsy team and the author of the blog EcoKaren–and her business partner Mary Kearns of Herban Lifestyle have created a brand new for-profit social enterprise called Herban Crafts, which offers DIY personal care craft kits as part of job training program to empower homeless women living in transitional housing.  In addition to putting together the kits, the women will learn skills to help them gain employment in the future.

It’s a cool idea.  And what is even cooler is that Karen is committed to creating kits that are as green as possible.  All the ingredients in Herban Crafts Kits are certified organic, fair trade and/or ethically wild-harvested.  … Read the rest