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342 comments
leather backpacks
leather backpacks

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Maddiey
Maddiey

Found this to be super helpful and extensive.

I do have a suggestion for the toothpaste tubes though, Lush cosmetics make Toothy tabs,

they come in cardboard boxes and are little chewable tabs that you crush between your front teeth and then brush. There are a range of flavors and they work really well. Their solid deodorant is really effective too. 

Sierratello
Sierratello

Wow this list is amazing!

Another non-plastic alternative for everyone when it comes to a filtration pitcher is getting a Soma. I just purchased one since I am trying to reduce buying plastic products and I absolutely love it!

It is made out of shatter resistant glass and has a biodegradable filter so you can compost it.

This company is amazing and i would recommend a Soma to anyone. Their website is drinksoma.com if you're interested! I promise you wont be disappointed

Anonymous
Anonymous

100 Tips..very detailed..thanks for your time n effort

ALmost complete..would be handy for anyone who want to get rid of plastic 

Shayna Keil
Shayna Keil

you can use 100% olive oil bar soap as toothpaste read here

http://fondalashay.com/mintchilli/why-i-dont-use-toothpaste

and my family has given up a christmas tree altogether. my mom loves your website. weve really been trying. we compost as much as we can, almost never eat out, walk to school each day, are on days 8 and 18 of no poo, use olive oil and sugar scrub made at home once a week for soap, we dont use soap exceptfor that, olive oil for lotion, no plastic water bottles, and baking soda and vinegar for almost all cleaning products. we also only use  borax for dishwashing detergent. any other useful tips? we grow and can our tomatoes, beans, and peppers just this year.

Izzymgoodman
Izzymgoodman

Thank you so much for this list! I'm trying to switch my family over to as many of these alternatives as I can but as you said it does take time!  We do a lot of them already but there are so many more we need to start doing! Thanks again! :)

hikersalikes
hikersalikes

Read this great blog about the best hiking boots and learn how you can choose the best boots for hiking that would be comfortable and efficient for you.http://hikersalike.com/

Maria
Maria

Any one have an idea for a plastic free solution to a shower mat? We have a clawfoot bathtub and live in MN = coldness for feet all year round. 

I'm trying to think up a mat or something to stand on while showering before winter ... 


Thanks for any ideas you may have!

zambooka
zambooka

Where did you get your stailess steel bucket for keeping your compost in? I love that it's attractive, and keeps smells/fruit flies at bay.

Lisa
Lisa

Truly impressive - thanks a lot for all of this!

AneCristi
AneCristi

Hi Terry, one idea for makeup, coconut oil is the best makeup remover, and it can be found in a glass bottle. Hugs, Cris

cheryljoy
cheryljoy

How about just a regular stainless steel one that goes onto the stove? Mine is from a thrift store or yard sale (can't remember which) and it's got a built in whistle! (I ruined many without the whistle, but fortunately never burned down my kitchen.) It's Revere-Ware. Though it does have a plastic handle. A while back I looked for the best and found my dream kettle: Simplex, made of copper, wooden handle, and there's a version for gas stove and a different bottom for an electric stove - oh it's beautiful! but definitely out of my price range.

marthaisbliss
marthaisbliss

Hi! Any suggestions for a plastic free electric tea kettle? Thanks!

GreenQueenofMod
GreenQueenofMod

WOW! This is one of the most comprehensive lists I have ever seen. Thanks for putting in all the research and sharing it on the web. Definitely bookmarking this page as a resource for my blog.

AneCristi
AneCristi

Hello, thank you for posting so many ideas!!! I wish I could find the products you talk about here in France... I guess I will have to find my own solutions!!! But thank you very much!!! 

7Holly
7Holly

I am astounded by the detail and thoughtfulness here.  I am going to scour this because I am already finding your research invaluable.  I, too, am trying to live a healthier, plastic-free as I can be, life.  Thank you so much! :-)

zambooka
zambooka

I just wanted to add that the company decided to recycle the plastic sent back to them and they did not go with the reuse idea. If you could send an email to the company commending them for their brilliant idea, but informing them that reusing the bags sent back to them would be much better for the environment I'm assuming it would also save them on money. Then if the bag is no longer usable, then they can recycle it. 


I imagine it would be difficult to reuse these bags. But I wonder if there is a way.  At the very least I think they could reuse the dispensers on the plastic bag. 

zambooka
zambooka

Hey one of my favourite companies Nature Clean started making their cleaning products in bulk. A local store nearby bought the bulk and allows people to fill up their old containers, using the bulk product. Unfortunately the bulk containers were made out of plastic that had to be recycled when it was finished. (It's still way less plastic then buying new containers all the time. )I wrote to the company comending them for thinking up this neat idea, and I explained how I was trying to save on the amount of plastic I used. I asked them if there was a way in which they would accept the empty containers back for reuse. I also asked them to make a few other of their products in bulk. 


They replied to me and said that there is an impact on sending big empty containers through the mail too. They also said that the company was having financial troubles but they would do their best to think up a solution to my idea. 


I looked on the company website, and they made a new feature advertising that it saves 85% of the plastic used. Here is the link. http://www.naturecleanliving.com/nature_clean_eco_refill_program


The company is really concerned about the environment and their products are all natural and eco-friendly. The company does not use sweat shop labour and their products are all manufactured in Canada.  I love that this company took what I said to heart, and actually tried their best to make something work to reduce their footprint. 




sunshinedaydream
sunshinedaydream

Can you recommend a  travel mug  for hot tea that is is safe?

zambooka
zambooka

I have to say, for the past year and a half I've reduced my packaging footprint by a lot. I no longer use, 


1. Disposable feminine hygiene products

2. plastic bags from stores

3. cling wrap

4. bought cheese

5. plastic yogurt containers

6. shampoo/conditioner/body wash containers

7. new Dish soap containers (I refill from bulk)

8.  plastic deodorant containers 

9. plastic bulk bags

10. plastic fruits and vegetable bags

11. disposable milk containers

12. (I've only bought one kleenex box for guests)

13. cleaning supplies containers (except vinegar)

14.  new handsoap containers

15. Ziplock sandwich/freezer bags

16. disposable water bottles

17. (very few plastic covered chocolate/candy) I have my moments of weakness but I have cut down significantly.

18.  new plastic toothbrushes. (I only buy the heads)

19. bought bread covered in plastic or paper

20. I reused my berry containers when I could go to the farmers market. (for 5 months of the year.)

21. new laundry detergent containers

22. plastic straws

23. Pre-bought popsicles (I make my own) 

24. disposable individual juice containers (I still buy pineapple juice in as big of a container as I can get, because I love that stuff.) 

25. Plastic knives, forks/spoons



So yeah... even though I still use a ton of plastic, (it's unavoidable) I'm still proud of my reduction! 

KarenScribner
KarenScribner

You deserve Straus ice cream for all the hard work you are doing to raise the awareness of plastic use gone wild. Keep in mind with quality ice cream you eat less so the carton of ice cream lasts longer. You can use the carton for a plant pot, too.

Janet
Janet

Love your post! I do a fair amount to decrease our use of plastic and try to provide a healthful diet for my family. We still have plenty of plastic in our home. I'm constantly pulling plastic bags out of the trash (from his purchases)  AND I have to keep telling hubby that things he thinks are 'healthy' to feed the kiddos really just aren't.. Will keep trying...

Marina
Marina

Hi Beth,

This is a very comprehensive and useful guide. Ive been reading your blog for hours now. Thank you. However, Im wondering about buying from the bulk bins. I also live in the Bay Area and If I remember correctly Rainbow uses plastic bins for their dry bulk storage. Doesnt that mean that the grains etc. are tainted?

zaklyon
zaklyon

Hello, I love this post. I've been trying to find a manufacturer of Plastic-Free Deodorant Stick Applicators. Is there anywhere you might tell me to look. I cannot find a single company that does it. Are there at least ones that do biodegradable plastic or BPA Free plastic?


Thanks,

Zak

Liz
Liz

Totally, totally love your blog. It's become my go-to place when I'm ready to let go of another source of plastic in my life. However, here's a question I haven't seen answered yet.  A friend and I want to get our county government to ban plastic bags, much as is done in Portland, OR.  One major question that I know will come up is how are people going to bag their garbage for pick-up by the county.  You and I both know that if folks would compost, this wouldn't be a problem.  But we're talking almost 1.5 million people and, sadly, many of them aren't going to get on board unless things are easy for them.  So, do you know of any sources for heavy-duty paper bags that could be used for people's kitchen garbage? Many thanks for any info or resources you can share.

DeCrafts
DeCrafts

I love this! Thank you!


Maybe to be added, I had a real dilemma about my birth control.  Condoms, pills, patches... what I ended up deciding on (and LOVE) is the copper IUD.  This has been the most effective and non damaging or body altering solution I've found.  I was disturbed how our waste is affecting the reproduction and health of fish! Have you seen how estrogen levels are affecting wild life: http://www.mnn.com/local-reports/south-carolina/local-blog/birth-control-pill-endangers-fish-populations

zambooka
zambooka

I also have a question about a compost. I live in an apartment building, and I've been thinking about getting a worm bin. Does anyone here have one? I have a balcony, can I put them on there? I live in Canada, and it does get cold in the winter, will they survive? I know they survive underground all year in Canada, so I can't see it being an issue. 

zambooka
zambooka

I wrote an email to booster juice asking them to change their environmental practices with their cups. THis was the e-mail I got back. 


Thanks for contacting Booster Juice. I applaud your iniative in trying to do your part by saving extra cups/straws.

Booster Juice is always looking to minimize our impact on the environment. To that end we offer our own reusable cups and offer customers a free booster every time they re use the cup.

Our stores should not actually be using customer provided cups or containers, all smoothies should be served in our styro cups or Booster juice reusable cups.


Regarding the Styrofoam cups, most of the research out ther

e contradicts the long standing public belief that Polystyrene cups are harmful to the environment. The cups of today are nothing like the cups of 30 yrs ago that contained CFCs. CFCs have been banned in polystyrene since 1980. Polystyrene cups are far better insulated than paper cups, thus preserving the product whether it be hot or cold for a much greater length of time. Virtually every paper cup used in the food service industry is NOT recyclable as it is lined with a wax polyethylene compound that prevents the cup from leaking. If the cups were not lined, the liquid would quickly leak out. Most cups whether they be paper or styrene end up in the landfill. Styrene cups are much lighter and take up less space. Tests have shown that coated paper cups do not breakdown or decompose in landfills. The other issue is the production of paper cups is much less environmentally friendly than styrene. Paper making is one of the most environmentally unfriendly processes there is, producing more than twice the greenhouse gases than a comparable styro cup and using twelve times as much water as a styro cup.

I hope now you can understand why we continue to use the styro cups. As soon as a better option presents itself, we will investigate it. We encourage everyone to use a reusable cup, as that is the most environmentally friendly thing to do!


Please write emails to booster juice telling them that polystyrene is not good for the environment. 


Thanks. 

zambooka
zambooka

I buy milk from glass bottles and make my own yogurt. I used to buy tons of yogurt in plastic containers. From the glass bottles I also make my own cheese for salads. I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I have the main bags, bulk bags and produce bags. I save all my gift bags, tissue paper, gift boxes and bows. This saves a lot of plastic from the bags these items are stored in. I use cloth napkins, where disposable ones come wrapped in plastic. I use vinegar and water for cleaning supplies. (I buy the biggest tub of vinegar I can find, because I have not been able to find them in glass.) I try to avoid buying produce wrapped in plastic bags. I use a radius toothbrush where I only replace the head. I use abeego wrap instead of cling wrap. I use hankybooks so I can avoid kleenex boxes with the plastic windows. I try to buy from bulk containers a lot. I replace the heads on my razor, even though it's cheaper to buy a new one. I freeze my stuff in stainless steel. I use wash clothes and tea towels instead of paper towels and sponges. I use a diva cup. I use baking soda as my deodorant. I don't buy bottled water instead I use a reusable water bottle. I would like to get my meat from the butcher shop where he agreed to put the meat in my own containers. I get my books from the library. I get my hand soap, laundry detergent, and dish soap bottles refilled from bulk. For the dishwasher I use powder in a cardboard box. I bring waste free lunches to work. (the only waste I generate is my fruit cores/tops.  I bring my own utensils, and collapsible stainless steel cup in my purse. I use stainless steel straws.  Yet somehow I seem to STILL produce a ton of plastic. I don't get it. 

anushiya
anushiya

Great advice for the people those who are all using plastic in all day and i'm also interested in reusable eco friendly bags. thanks for sharing this post..:)

Vakil1992
Vakil1992

What advice do you have for people who have to touch plastic all day? For instance, I am a student who uses the computers at my school for several hours on end daily.  The mouse and keyboard both are made of plastic.  Also, I believe most of the interior and the steering wheel of my car are made of plastic.  Do you think that leather ( thinking about purchasing the ones on toughgloves.com ) gloves would help protect me from the estrogenic activity that can be caused by touching plastic?  If not, would hemp gloves work?  My main concern is honestly with preventing estrogenic activity from occurring within my body from touching plastic.  Or do you think the chmicals in plastic would still leach through the gloves and touch my skin, therefore not help much?  Let me know what kind of gloves you would recommend for me if possible.  They'd have to be tight fitting though, since I am often on the computer.  I would really appreciate this.

Michelle
Michelle

@Maria You should track down a living bath mat - they are made of moss I think. They are supposed to be fantastic.

marthaisbliss
marthaisbliss

@cheryljoy  That's similar for what I have for home use, but I'm trying to find one for my office (which doesn't have a stove or heating element). 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@zambooka  I think this is a good step.  Yes, they are still using plastic, but a lot less of it.  Hopefully, they can figure out a way to recycle the bags that doesn't involve shipping them through the mail.  If the stores that sell the bags would collect them for recycling, that would save on fuel.  Perhaps the company could work with the stores that sell their product to come up with such a system.

cheryljoy
cheryljoy

@sunshinedaydream I use a mason jar with a cloth napkin wrapped around it and held on with a couple of rubber bands in matching colors. It looks good, too, choosing appropriate napkins for the season or the occasion. The only problem is the lining on the metal lid, but it's one of my last holdouts also, like Beth.

Marina
Marina

I suppose you could scoop from the middle of the bin where the food hasnt touched the edges.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@zambooka It doesn't make sense that they will allow people to use Booster Juice reusable cups but not their own cups.  It can't be a cleanliness issue because there's no guarantee a Booster Juice reusable cup will be cleaned any better than any other cup.  It seems like just a way to make more money.  Also, in their defense of polystyrene, they did not address the toxicity issue.  polystyrene has been found to leach styrene into foods and beverages.  It's also not true that polystyrene takes up less room in landfills. Because it's filled with air, it takes up more.

zambooka
zambooka

I guess I just wanted to ask is if I'm doing enough. Is there another simple way of reducing plastic? Personally I LOVE ravioli and the stuff I buy at the store is often wrapped in a plastic container. Is there a way to get ravioli without making the noodles? I am on a limited time/money budget. I've been trying to make more of an effort to eat at home, and frankly I've not found it to be that much cheaper and in the long run it probably evens out to my previous fast food diet because of the extra time it takes. But I am willing to do it for the environment. Most of the stuff I buy is reusable, good quality, and ethically produced so it's been costing me a small fortune these past 2 years that I hope pays for itself soon. (it definitely already has with the diva cup.) The hardest thing I find is food, and I've also not been able to find toilet paper wrapped in paper either. Is there a special place I can find that? My dental floss has also been a challenge. I also have really dry hair, and the "no poo" method dried it out even more. (I think I just have weird ass hair.) I'd like to know if anyone else has this problem and if they've ever tried the lush shampoo and conditioner bars. Did it work for you? Since using the salon quality stuff my hair has returned back to normal. I'm scared if I stop using it, it'll dry out again. 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@Vakil1992 Personally, I am not concerned about simply touching most plastics.  The one exception would be PVC (polyvinyl chloride.)  Try to avoid buying things made from, coated with, or covered in PVC.  School binders, for example.  Backpacks and bags.  Unfortunately, the interior of many cars is made of PVC.  I would be more concerned with breathing the fumes than touching the steering wheel.  PVC offgases -- especially when exposed to heat.  That "new car smell" is phthalates from PVC offgasing. 

It's really hard to completely reduce our exposure to all of these chemicals, and we are all exposed to them when we are out in the world anyway.  The most important thing you can do is work towards updated toxic chemical legislation on a federal and state level.  As long as these chemicals are unregulated, it will be very difficult to eliminate all exposure to them.

zambooka
zambooka

@BethTerry @zambooka  I wrote another email explaining the same things you did, and this is the response I got back. (I have to admit I am kind of impressed that they've written me twice. They are the first company that's ever responded to my second email to them. )


I just wanted to follow up with you and clear up some misconceptions. Booster Juice and our Franchise partners are involved in their communities across the country.

Here is just two recent examples:

In November Booster Juice partnered with JDRF Canada in their biggest fundraising campaign ever that resulted in the largest single donation they received this year in support of Juvenile Diabetes Research. Yesterday Booster Juice announced a partnership with PGA professional Mike Weir whereby Booster Juice will create a month long awareness and fundraising program at our 300 stores nationwide in the goal of advancing physical, emotional and educational welfare of children across Canada.

I will agree with you that all takeaway cups used in food service are not environmentally friendly, that is why we offer the reusable cup option for our customers that want to reduce their environmental impact.  For everyone else, we offer the styrene cup that is proven to be exponentially far more green than its paper counterpart. Whether it be paper or styrene, neither of them decompose.

Thanks again for your interest and feedback.

I'm guessing the first one was a response to when I said that I didn't see the difference between people using the booster juice reusable cups vs the ones they already had and it must be a money thing. The second one was when I said that they were sadly mistaken to think that polystyrene was the best environmental option. 

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@zambooka  Would you be willing to take the Show Your Plastic Challenge and post your plastic waste for the week on the web site?  That way, we can see what challenges you have and give you suggestions.  http://myplasticfreelife.com/showyourplastic/  


One thing I will say... if the "No Poo" method is drying your hair out, you could be using too much baking soda and not enough vinegar.  The acid is essential for restoring the pH of your hair.  On the other hand, it might just not be for you.


We buy our plastic-free toilet paper from Amazon and save money by subscribing: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007636DIW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007636DIW&linkCode=as2&tag=fakplafis-20


Unless you have a pasta shop nearby that will sell you pasta in your own container, I don't know how you could get ravioli without plastic unless you make it yourself.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@zambooka It's great that they took the time to write back again.  I just wish they had answered the actual question... why they won't let customers use their own cups.  Thank you for following up with them.

zambooka
zambooka

@BethTerry @zambooka I would, but I don't have a camera to post the picture of my plastic online. I also have limited space to store my plastic for a week. (my apartment is tiny.)