Eco Friendly Holiday: Easter

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Chocolate Bunnies… Plastic Eggs… Pastel-Colored Baskets… Stuffed Animals… Sales for these items will sky-rocket over the next couple of weeks, but here’s the million dollar question: what happens to them after Easter weekend?

I think you already know the answer! (Hint: How many kids do you know who keep a collection of all those pink stuffed bunnies? Or use that cheap plastic grass in their Easter baskets for something else?)

Here are 5 ways to create a fun, memorable, and Eco Friendly Easter for your children!

1. Easter Egg Hunt: Challenge yourself to your own Easter Egg Hunt by refusing to buy new plastic eggs. If you must have the plastic ones, look for them at your local thrift stores, on Craigslist, or on Facebook Marketplace. Another fun, zero-waste option is to hide confetti eggs (cascarones), which are biodegradable and sure to be a hit with the kiddos!

2. Natural Egg Dyes: A glance at the ingredients on the back of those Easter Egg dye kits would reveal a list of colors and numbers that identify which dyes were used but give no clue to what those little tablets really contain. So I decided to research a few. Here’s what I found: Red 40 – described here on Healthline.com as “color that comes from petroleum distillates or coal tars… [that] can cause allergic reactions… hyperactivity in children and immune system tumors in mice.” Red 3 – NutritionFacts.org states here that it was “found to influence children’s behavior over 30 years ago and to interfere with thyroid function over 40 years ago.”

My research stopped there, because that was enough for me to look for alternatives! If you want to go the easy eco-friendly route, Amazon sells these dyes made from natural ingredients. You can also make your own dyes from ingredients like blueberries, spinach, turmeric, or beets! Whole Foods has a fantastic how-to guide here.

3. Buy Local Chocolate: Social Distancing because of Coronavirus? Many local businesses are offering local delivery or free shipping to stay afloat in the worldwide crisis, so… why not up your chocolate game and support a small company at the same time?! Trade your chocolate bunnies for this completely organic 70% Dark Chocolate bar from Northwest Arkansas’ very own Markham & Fitz!

4. Nature Crafts: Springtime treasures collected on a family outing can easily become Easter crafts! Use non-toxic paint to decorate smooth rocks or pine cones to look like Easter Eggs. Create fun stencils by taping flowers and leaves onto paper, applying paint, and then removing the flowers and leaves.

5. Easter Books: Some of my favorite childhood holiday memories centered around the books that my parents would read to us. Holiday-themed books serve many purposes: teaching children the true reason for the holidays (that Easter is about Jesus’ resurrection and not just bunnies and chocolate), encouraging sweet family time, and cementing a love for reading in your kiddos’ little hearts and minds! I would argue that books are better for ushering in the holiday spirit than any amount of holiday decor.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emily Buchwald

Here’s a few I’d recommend for Easter:

Little Blue Truck’s Springtime, by Alice Schertle

God Gave Us Easter, by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs, by Melody Carlson (Note: This book was written to go along with this Family Life set of Resurrection Eggs.)

The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross, by Carl Laferton

The Parable of the Lily, by Thomas Nelson

*Ideas for keeping your book purchases eco-friendly: purchase them used on Amazon, borrow books from your local library, and reuse the same books every year! (My parents still own the books I grew up reading over the holidays, and now I treasure getting to read them to my boys!)

Zero Waste Tip #12: Eye Makeup Remover

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12. Stop buying eye makeup removers in plastic bottles or disposable wipes wrapped in plastic; instead, use coconut oil and reusable cotton rounds!

Sometimes the zero waste swaps that you’re most hesitant to make end up being the ones you love the most!

This was the case for me with eye makeup remover. As I journeyed into the zero waste movement, I began to trade out the plastic bottles in my bathroom for products with less waste: hand soaps, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face wash.

But there was no obvious solution for eye makeup remover. I couldn’t just switch to the same product in bar form, and the zero waste shops I found online didn’t seem to have good alternatives. Finally, I stumbled across a blogger who nonchalantly stated that she used coconut oil, so when I ran out of my beloved Neutrogena Oil-Free Gentle Eye Makeup remover, I decided to give it a try.

And what do ya know — it worked! A tiny amount on my eyelids was enough to completely remove all of my eye shadow, black eyeliner, and waterproof mascara. To use, simply rub all over the eyelid, and then wipe off with a soft, dry washcloth OR these reusable cotton rounds.

Pro Tip: While coconut oil works great as an eye makeup remover, I don’t recommend it as a replacement for face wash, because it can clog pores when applied to the entire face. If you’re looking for a zero waste face wash/cleanser, check out Ethique’s Eco-Friendly Face Cleansing Bar for Normal-Dry Skin on Amazon. It’s one of my absolute favorites!

Lifestyle Benefit: If you’ve already got coconut oil in your pantry, you won’t even have to purchase a new product. If you don’t, try to select coconut oil that comes in a glass jar, like this one from Amazon! (Click here to read about why glass is a more eco-friendly alternative to plastic packaging). Some natural grocery stores also sell coconut oil in the bulk goods section, so you can bring your own jar to fill up!

This is also another zero waste money saver! Purchasing 50 makeup wipes on Amazon will cost around $10, which is $0.20 per wipe. If you use one per day, that’s $73 dollars you’ll still have in your bank account every year (or about $60 if you buy 2 jars of coconut oil – probably way more than you’ll need!).

Earth Benefit: Disposable makeup wipes and plastic packaging from makeup removers are a big component of our global waste pollution problem. Where do those innocent-looking wipes go when you toss them in the trash? They don’t just disappear, and it can take a lifetime for them to biodegrade, so that means every makeup wipe you’ve ever used is probably still sitting in a landfill somewhere.

Looking for more zero waste tips? Simply click on “Zero Waste Goals” in the Tag section below!

How to Stay Zero Waste When You’re Sick (or Living through a Pandemic)

Whether you’re quarantined at home with a virus or the flu, or you’ve just hunkered down in order to avoid all the community sick germs, how do you stay entertained and take care of your body without contributing to an overflowing trash bin? Here are a few ideas!

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How to Stay Zero Waste When You're Sick

1. Looking for zero waste entertainment? Rent a movie online and make your own popcorn – zero waste style. Instead of buying microwavable popcorn bags wrapped in plastic inside a cardboard box, try buying a single (recyclable) container of kernels to cook on your stove-top, adding your own butter, salt and Parmesan cheese. This method is healthier, less expensive, and sends nothing to the landfill!

2. Trying to ration your toilet paper and tissues? Make handkerchiefs a habit if you haven’t already! Any old t-shirt can be cut into handkerchiefs if you’re up for a little DIY project, or you could order these from Amazon. Just a few days stuck at home could cement this zero waste swap into your routine and save you tons of money in the future. Every box of tissues you would have purchased equals a few extra bucks left in your bank account!

3. Take a classic novel down from your bookshelf (or purchase an e-book online from Amazon Kindle) and have a reading marathon. Reading has been shown to reduce stress and have an overall positive impact on your body, which is probably a good trade-in for your brain after all the high-stress news on your television these days (thank you Coronavirus)! Here’s a fun article from The Atlantic describing even more scientific reasons to pick up a novel.

4. Find a healthy recipe to replace a snack that usually comes wrapped in plastic – homemade granola bars, muffins made from scratch, tortilla chips, etc. My toddler LOVES his granola bars, but I cringe when I buy them as I think about all those individual plastic wraps that end up in the trash — so this is my personal goal for the week! (Please comment if you’ve got a good homemade granola bar recipe!)

5. Do some online shopping for zero waste swaps! The easiest way for me to switch up my products has been researching and buying zero waste swaps ahead of time, and then continuing to use my old items until they’re gone. This keeps me accountable to actually implement changes, because I’ve already purchased them! If I wait until I’ve run out of something, then I have much less time to research, and I’m always tempted to pick up whatever I had a habit of purchasing before.

Note: Read through my other Zero Waste Tips for more specific shopping suggestions! 🙂

Fun fact: Did you know Amazon has actually taken some impressive stands to minimize waste? Not only are their shipping materials completely recyclable (even the padded mailers!), you can also opt to ship your items together to reduce packaging waste. Thank you Amazon!!

Clean Beauty Part 2: What I Discovered in My Makeup Products

Welcome to Part 2 of my Clean Beauty Tips! In case you missed it, head over first to my original post on non-toxic beauty, which gives more detailed information about what not-so-great ingredients might be lurking in your cosmetics and personal care products. Be forewarned, though – once you’re aware of what some products contain, it’s hard to ignore it!

As I began to learn more about the potential hazards in my products, I was both intrigued and very skeptical. Surely the items I owned weren’t all that bad. Without further ado, here’s what I discovered:

My loose powder foundation contained titanium dioxides, which are considered possible carcinogens when inhaled (such as in powdered foundations). Note: when I searched for this product on Walmart.com, it clearly states a warning notice because of the use of titanium dioxides. Yikes!

My black mascara contained phenoxyethanol, which can cause skin irritation/allergies. According to a statement on Healthline.com, the USFDA has recalled certain products for containing phenoxyethanol because of possible adverse reactions to infants’ central nervous system.

My blush contained talc and phenoxyethanol. See my original post for information on why talc should be avoided!

My bronzer contained talc, titanium dioxide and phenoxyethanol.

My black liquid eyeliner pen contained phenoxyethanol and D&C Black No.2, which is essentially coal tar and is a possible carcinogen. Find more information from SafeCosmetics.org here.

My black eyeliner pencil contained talc and Black 2 (CI 77266) – another name for D&C Black No.2.

My eyeshadows all contained talc.

My lip balm tube contained phenol, which is definitely toxic in large quantities and not advised for skin contact or ingestion, but is often added in tiny amounts as a preservative in cosmetics and even foods. Read more about phenol on Healthline.com here.

According to this article on Zerobreastcancer.org, one common phenol compound is Bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in some plastics. Many companies are now banning BPA from their products (thus the popular label BPA-free) because of the risks involved with ingesting phenol.

It also contained flavor – just like the term “fragrance,” a flavor can contain any number of chemicals, but the contents are not required to be disclosed. So anytime you see this, you have to hope the brand is trustworthy enough to not include the bad stuff!

My face moisturizer contained phenoxyethanol, fragrance, methylparaben and propylparaben.

My shampoo contained fragrance (parfum) and Diazolidinyl Urea – a chemical that the Environmental Working Group describes here as “an antimicrobial preservative that works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products.”

My body wash contained fragrance (parfum).

My antiperspirant deodorant contained aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly (which has been theorized – not proven – to play a role in contributing to breast cancer) and fragrance.

My perfume contained fragrance – no surprise there!

My hairspray contained fragrance.

These are all products that I purchased from well-known retailers or direct sales companies within the past 5 years. And I had ZERO clue what was in them.

Now, it’s your turn! I challenge you to take a peek at the ingredient labels on each of your products, and really look hard. If you investigate your products and decide based on the evidence presented that you’d like to continue using them, more power to you!

But if you decide with me that you’d rather look for something else, stay tuned for upcoming posts on some clean replacements that I’ve found and LOVE! I’m so excited to share them with you and hopefully make your journey to clean beauty a little quicker and easier than mine!

Minimalism: The 5 Doctrines of Decluttering

Each time I’ve attempted to declutter, I have been amazed by the sheer volume of stuff that is jam-packed into our little home. It accumulates in every room, every drawer, every closet.

Minimalism: 5 Decluttering Tips

Yet each fresh wave of minimizing seems to sink in a little deeper, leaving behind a way of life that I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Here are some of my biggest take-aways from my years of attempting minimalism!

1. Declutter regularly. The more often you declutter, the more familiar you become with your belongings and the faster it will go next time. When it gets hard and you’re ready to quit, remember: it will never again be as hard as the first purge!

2. Assign everything a designated place in your home. It makes it tremendously easier to tidy your home when you have a specific space for each of your belongings. When you’re having a hard time finding space for something, do you really need to keep it? If yes, what else can you get rid of to make room for it?

3. Take inventory of the things you’re getting rid of, and look for patterns. I’m a huge advocate of the zero (or low) waste movement, which at first might seem at odds with minimalism, but here’s how they can be adhered to simultaneously: don’t hold onto trash just because you want to keep it out of the landfill. Get rid of it, but always investigate what you’re tossing to see if it can be prevented in the future. If your inventory report consistently shows that half of your Goodwill haul is comprised of cheap plastic toys, then perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the quality (and quantity) of toys that are coming into your home.

4. Before searching on Amazon for organizing bins, see if you already have something you can use. Those glass jars you’ve been saving? They’re perfect for organizing your junk cabinet or for extra bathroom storage (for q-tips, cotton balls, reusable cotton rounds, makeup brushes, etc). Random cute baskets in your house? Use them to store your mail that needs to be sorted! This gives new life to items that were previously clutter, and it also helps with organization.

5. Just because it came with an item you’re keeping doesn’t guarantee it needs to stay. Extra attachments that you never use, instruction booklets (most of which are easily found online), original packaging — these eyesores just take up space and add to cluttered shelves.

And there you have it – my 5 Doctrines of Decluttering. Comment below if you have any other original ideas! I’d love to hear them!

For ideas on how to responsibly get rid of items when you’re ready to part with them, read here.

Zero Waste Tip #11: Wool Dryer Balls

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11. Swap out your dryer sheets for wool dryer balls.

How to Create an Eco-Friendly Laundry Room: Switch to Wool Dryer Balls
A lot of life is lived in our laundry rooms! It’s worth putting in the effort to make them eco-friendly!

Have you ever stopped to think about what ingredients are in those dryer sheets that you throw into every load of laundry? How about what happens to them once you’ve tossed them in the trash? Let’s dig a little deeper to uncover the answers.

According to this article on Healthline.com, dryer sheets are “thin sheets…made of nonwoven polyester fabric covered with softeners to help soften clothes and reduce static cling, as well as fragrances to deliver a fresh scent.” One main brand lists the following ingredients for their dryer sheets on Amazon:

  • Dipalmethyl Hydroxyethylammonium Methosulfate: I attempted to determine what this chemical does exactly, but all I could discover was that it softens fabric and takes away static. Sounds awfully suspicious.
  • Fatty acid: This substance melts when your dryer heats up and subsequently covers the surface of your clothes in order to make them feel softer.
  • Polyester substrate: This is synonymous with plastic, so when you toss those in the trash, they’re going to sit in a landfill for a very long time.
  • Clay: This is used to “control the viscosity of the fabric softener coating as it begins to melt in the dryer,” according to this article from the Chemical and Engineering News website.
  • Fragrance: This could be any compound of chemicals, but companies are not required to disclose these ingredients. It’s entirely unregulated, so no one knows what’s in it.

Wool Dryer balls, on the other hand, are completely natural and 100% harmless. They’re biodegradable and compostable, and they’re typically packaged in a cloth bag that is reusable and very low waste. They reduce static electricity, soften your clothes, and shorten drying time (which therefore saves energy and lowers your electricity bill). Essential oils can also be added if you desire scented laundry.

I’ve had these dryer balls for several years now, and they still work great!

Lifestyle Benefits: All questionable ingredients in dryer sheets are avoided by switching to dryer balls, and this swap is another money saver! Here’s the math: you can purchase 240 dryer sheets on Amazon for approximately $8 (lasting about 80 loads of laundry if you use 3 dryer sheets per load). So for 1000 loads of laundry, you’d spend $100 on dryer sheets. OR you can purchase these reusable wool dryer balls on Amazon for $16.95. They’re estimated to last 1000+ loads, so eventually you’ll be saving $83.05!

Earth Benefits: Dryer sheets fall into the ‘single-use plastic’ category, just like plastic grocery bags, plastic straws, and plastic water bottles. You might forget about them after each load of laundry, but these fellows stick around for years.

Clean Beauty: What’s in your Makeup Products?

Imagine someone handing you two bottles of lotion, and then saying: “Bottle A might contain poison, but don’t worry – it hasn’t been scientifically proven! Bottle B doesn’t have those questionable ingredients, it’s the same price, and you can’t tell a difference in the products.” Which bottle would you select? It’s a no-brainer.

Clean Beauty: how to detox your makeup bag

This is essentially what’s happening all over the world with vast numbers of beauty and personal care products. The only difference? No one is stating the disclaimer. As a result, the general public has no idea what’s in most of their products, so they continue using them without a second thought.

Several months ago, I saw this statistic:

In cosmetics alone, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11.

Yes, you read that right.

Only 11.

Clean Beauty: How to detox your makeup bag

Now, some may argue that the EU regulates too many things and it’s not the government’s job to regulate the cosmetic or beauty industries. However, I want to invite you to not just brush this off. Dig a little deeper, and don’t take my word for it. If the government doesn’t regulate it, that means it’s your personal responsibility to ensure you’re using products that aren’t harmful to your body. I challenge you to take the time to actually look at what’s in some of the products you’re using every day, and google the ingredients you’ve never heard of.

Here are some surprising statistics about what might be lurking in your products:

FORMALDEHYDE: Up to 20% of cosmetic products registered in the FDA’s database contain “formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.” Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. See this article in Women’s Health Magazine for more info.

Clean Beauty: How to detox your makeup bag

LEAD: In 2009, the FDA confirmed in a study that up to 60% of lipsticks (including some produced by several well-known corporations) contain lead. See this article from Safe Cosmetics for more info.

TALC: Many cosmetics contain talc (aka talcum powder or magnesium silicate), which has been linked to asbestos and is a possible carcinogen. See this New York Times article for more info.

FRAGRANCES: The single terms “natural fragrance,” “aroma,” or “parfum,” can actually mask thousands of chemicals used to create a certain smell (or flavor when used in food). Because they’re considered trade secrets, they’re not required to be disclosed on ingredient labels, but these chemicals can have a wide range of adverse results on humans – including cancer, skin irritation, hormonal imbalances, etc. See more information here from The Honest Company.

PHTHALATES: This is a whole family of chemicals often found in cosmetics and personal care products, as well as food packaging. Ingredient labels will often list these as their acronyms, such as DBP, BBP, DEHP or DiBP. One type of phthalate, DEHP, has been confirmed to cause cancer in animals and is expected to do the same in people. Others are also possible carcinogens, can irritate the skin and cause developmental issues. See this article on WebMD for more info.

PARABENS: These preservative chemicals (often called methylparabens, propylparabens, ethylparabens, and butylparabens), have possible links to breast cancer and are considered hormone disruptors at best. They can be found in many skin care products, such as lotions, shampoos, and makeup. See this article from Breastcancer.org, and this statement from the FDA for more info.

So…am I claiming that there is conclusive evidence that all your personal care products might be giving you cancer? Nope. I’m just saying that you and the general public ought to know which ingredients are possible causes for concern, so you can make an informed decision.

If you’re like me, you’ll at least look into some alternative products, and if you can find something of equal value without the nasty contents, you’ve literally got nothing to lose. It’s not a matter of them not existing, because there are some amazing companies out there taking huge strides towards clean beauty and toxin free products. People just need to discover them!

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading! 🙂 This post is already getting long, so I’ll wrap up for now and plan to follow up with a few other posts on Clean Beauty: one with details on some products I used to own, and another with some clean products that I’ve chosen to start using instead!

Zero Waste Tip #10: Mindfulness of Food Packaging

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10. Begin to notice packaging options and let that influence your purchases.

Food is definitely the most challenging aspect of trying to go zero waste, at least for me. It seems that nearly everything comes wrapped in plastic these days, and there are just certain ingredients that I need no matter what. I’m not to the point yet where I’ll ditch the cheese just because it comes in a plastic bag.

However, I’m learning that if I take the time to look around, often there are lower waste options for many of the products I was going to buy anyways. I just have to look for them… and guess what? Every single time I shop, it gets a little easier!

Below are the top 4 shopping tips I’ve picked up along my journey to reduce our household waste!

1. Try to steer away from the center aisles of the grocery store. Why? Nearly 100% of foods sold on the center aisles are packaged and often highly processed. Most of the healthier, fresher food options are located around the outside walls of the store: fruits and vegetables, less-processed meats, dairy. Now, I realize this isn’t practical for every single ingredient, BUT many items can be swapped out easily with a little forethought.

Take a can of Rotel for an example. One can of Rotel at Walmart is listed here for $0.98. Now is where it’s important to read the ingredient labels on your foods! The front of the can states “Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies.” Yet if you turn the can around, the actual ingredients are: “Tomatoes, Water, Chopped Green Chili Peppers, Less than 2% of: Salt, Calcium Chloride, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Cilantro.”

This makes for an easy swap! Just pick up 2 extra Roma Tomatoes and 1 green chili pepper from the produce department, and dice them yourself with a dash of salt. Voila! You’ve made fresh Rotel – without the aluminum can, without the added calcium chloride and citric acid preservatives, and without the natural flavor (who even knows what that means?!!!). For roughly the same price, you’ve gone zero waste AND have arguably a healthier product in your meal. Win, win!
Note: many swaps would be much easier if you have a veggie chopper, like this one from Amazon, which is currently on my wish list! 🙂

2. Not all packaging is created equal. If there are no package-free options, first check to see if you can find what you need in glass, and then cardboard or aluminum, before resorting to plastic packaging. According to this article from the Glass Packaging Institute, “Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity.” It also doesn’t leach into your food over time, as do some plastics.

Cardboard is biodegradable and, when recycled, can save both trees and energy. It could also be composted, avoiding the waste bin altogether. And when a single aluminum can is recycled, One Earth Company states here that it “saves enough energy to power a TV for three hours.”

3. Do not buy fruits and veggies wrapped in plastic. All these items are regularly sold wrapped in plastic, but can EASILY be swapped for the exact same product without packaging: tomatoes, avocados, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, kale, lettuce, garlic, apples, bananas, kiwis, cilantro, parsley, carrots… (essentially all your produce)! If you need frozen produce, simply buy it unpackaged and freeze it yourself. Berries are an exception. I rarely find berries without the plastic containers, unless I’m shopping at my local farmers market; however, they’re also 100x better from the farmers market, so it’s worth it when you can!

4. Drink more water! The United States has some of the cleanest drinking water in the entire world, yet many Americans prefer to drink anything but H2O. Sodas, carbonated flavored water, juice boxes, drink mixes, energy drinks — all are unnecessary purchases that aren’t beneficial to your body and comprise a big percentage of what enters the landfill. Note: for some tips on reusable water bottles, check out my Zero Waste Tip #7!

Eco Friendly Holiday: Valentine’s Day

One of the many things I love about my husband is that he refuses to buy store-bought cards. Not for birthdays, not for Christmas, not for Valentine’s day. How did we get to the point where we’d rather pay $5 for a pretty picture and cheesy words from a card company to show a loved one that we care for them? I would argue that a thoughtful, handwritten letter on plain 8.5′ x 11″ printer paper is infinitely better any day of the year.

As it turns out, investing a little effort into de-commercializing your Valentine’s Day is something that your loved one AND the planet will both appreciate. So let’s vow together to actually love well this year by considering these eco-friendly questions as you shop:

  1. Is this product going to end up in a landfill next month, or are you investing in something timeless?
  2. Can I buy this item without packaging, or packaged with recyclable materials?
  3. Is there a similar product I can purchase from a local business?
  4. Does this price reflect the item’s real value, or is it marked up because it’s covered in pink hearts?

Here are some of my favorite green Valentine’s swaps!

  • Leave the Valentine’s aisle and stroll over to the garden center to purchase a living plant instead of 12 cut roses. Even if your partner can’t keep any plants alive, the real plant will last longer every time and can generally be purchased without plastic packaging.
  • Plan some time to sit down and write a handwritten letter. While a greeting card might eventually get tossed, letters can be treasured forever.
  • Support a local chocolate company. My all-time favorite chocolate bar is the Ooh La Lavendar bar by Markham & Fitz! In addition to the exquisite chocolate, their packaging is also compostable and recyclable, so it’s a win for the planet too!
  • Give an experience instead of a stuffed animal: a date night to a local coffee shop, a professional photo session, a trip to the theatre, etc.
  • Get creative and find low-waste alternatives for the kids’ class valentines exchange: bake heart-shaped sugar cookies from scratch, make your own trail mix, print your own valentines cards on recycled paper, or give out fruit instead of candy! (Look how cute these “cuties” valentines are!)
  • Buy your Valentine’s decorations from your local thrift store to keep them out of the landfill, and reuse them next year.

Leave a comment below if you think of any other zero waste or eco friendly Valentine’s Day swaps! Sharing is caring! 💗

How to Step Up Your Recycling Game

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”

– Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember
How to up your Recycling Game in your Journey to Go Zero Waste!
Pro Tip: Simplify your recycling process as much as you can to set yourself up for success. My amazing husband built these handy shelves in our garage to make our recycling bins easier to access!

Recycling is difficult and simple. It’s difficult because it requires a mental shift to take place in the individual, whereupon they begin to consciously retrain their hands to take items to the recycling bin instead of mindlessly heading to the trash. Yet it is the simplest change to make, and therefore it’s often the first recommendation for how to begin your eco-friendly journey.

Today I’m inviting you to evaluate your current recycling mindset, and then pledge to move on the next level. Continue one tiny green step at a time until you’ve reached Level 3: Master of Recycling!

Level 1 – Beginner Recycler: Great Job! You’ve got the green boxes and you get them out to the curb weekly (most of the time). You chuck in the plastic water bottles, big cardboard boxes, and aluminum cans, but only put minimal effort into it. If it’s easier to just throw something out instead of rinsing so it can be recycled, into the garbage it goes!

Level 2 – Conscientious Recycler: You’ve firmly decided to do this recycling thing right. If you’ve got a jar of old spaghetti sauce, there’s no question about it; you’re going to toss the sauce and then rinse the jar so it can be recycled. If it’s glass, plastic, cardboard, or aluminum, into the green box it goes. Gone are the days of just resorting to the trash to save a few minutes whenever you feel like it.

Level 3: Master of Recycling: Nothing slips through the cracks. Every piece of paper goes into the bin. Your city doesn’t collect some types of plastic curbside, but you start collecting them anyways so you can drop it off at another recycling location. You save your old CFL light bulbs and batteries to recycle at Home Depot. You research to find drop-off or mailing locations for textiles, electronics, and other household items. You start allowing recycling to shift the purchases you make – buying items made from recycled materials, and saying no to items that cannot be recycled.

Right now, I’m hovering somewhere between Level 2 and 3. Where are you on the scale? Leave a comment below to share your recycling journey!

*For my master list of companies that recycle household items that would typically end up in the landfill, read my Zero Waste Tip #9.