Reduce plastic in 2010: halfway check-up

Huzzah for the longest day of the year!  I think I’ll head to the southern hemi in six months and have another longest day.  Man, I’m sure now that I’m solar powered.  Anyway, on to the update.

Back when I had my green and (war)crafty blogs separate, I talked about reducing plastics in my life in 2010.  In January, I vowed to stop using plastic bags at stores.  So far, so good.  In February I stopped using “disposable” tupperware and tried not to get takeout food in plastic.  That one worked at home, but not so well for the takeout.  However, in posting this and admitting my lapse, I’m redoubling my efforts.

I stopped blogging about them, but I kept on reducing plastics.  In March, I concentrated on my cloth shower curtain.  It had been a bit of an experiment: just hanging a cotton shower curtain I’d had for a while, using metal hangers I’d made (which I’d like to re-engineer before I recommend you try them, btw), and spraying tea tree oil and vinegar to keep mildew down between washings.  Today it’s hanging on the line getting de-grossified by the sun.  I use a combination of vinegar and tea tree oil and spritz it down before I get out of the tub.  Ultimately, the best way to keep mildew down is to keep the shower curtain pulled across the space.  Don’t let it fold up and make little spaces for grossness to grow.

Image from Story of Stuff.com

In April, I bought my first Camelbak-type backpack for hiking.  It’s not non-plastic, but it means I can do one more thing without plastic water bottles for convenience, or without plastic sport bottles.  I borrowed a stainless-steel canteen and tried that out.  I’m still looking for a final option for hiking, but for now, I felt one “big” plastic item to use for years is way better than lots of little plastics.  Do you know we use half a billion bottles of water a week?

In May, I made sure to have a spoon and fork into work from home and when our work cafeteria re-opened, I used their real cutlery even when I took food back to my desk.  Every few days I return my borrowed items.  🙂  I have a spoon in my car, too, for random in-car uses (yogurt comes to mind).  It’s minor, but stuff like that adds up, and it’s ultimately no skin off my nose.

Now, in June, I’ve purchased more Mason and Ball jars.  I still save any jar I have and put my bagged items into it as soon as I can.  Someday I’ll figure out how to tare the scale at the store and get all my bulk items in my own jars rather than bags.  I finally used up all the zip-style baggies in the house and found that my quart jars were in use everywhere and scattered around.  I’m happy to not find them!  I like trying to tally them all up and enumerating in my head “one has laundry soap in it, 6 are holding flours and beans in the cabinet, …”

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Stop getting phone books

Yellow Pages Association | Environmental.

Did you know you can stop getting phone books?  You can.  I’m already daydreaming of a time when I have no more fits of rage over such a tiny (huge) thing as an unwanted cluster of yellow papers, sitting sadly on my porch.  Rage… rising…

Ahem. I opted out.  Twice, just to be sure.  Thanks to Small Notebook for the heads up.

Edit: Actually, when I got to the bottom of the AT&T page, whaddya know?  No “send” or “submit” button on their form!  Yellowbook was awesome.  AT&T rots, as usual.

Second edit: Then I tried to call the number on the page for AT&T’s unsubmittable form and got a recording with one option.  Since the option didn’t apply to me, I pressed nothing.  I was walked through the menu-of-one again and after selecting nothing, I was hung up on.  Ok…  I called back.  This time I took the one option, which promised I would have a returned phone call.  I got to a new menu, waited to leave a message, and began speaking after the tone.  It immediately beeped again and asked if I’d like to review my message.  Whu-how.  AT&T… get it together.

How to kill fire ants without poisoning yourself

I don’t care what the local ag extension office says:  pesticides are poisons and leach into groundwater.  You poison your yard, you poison yourself.

There’s a better way: Malt-o-Meal.

Yep, that same crud my mom used to make me eat as a kid.  Well, now it’s my best friend.  I heard about this at Sea World (before I saw how cramped and sad the animals were and stopped going). Of course, I can find nothing to footnote that online.  Oh well.  Just try it.  Word is, these ants are like pigeons: when the food they put into their gross little anty faces starts to expand, they can’t burp it up.  Nothing like an alien malt-o-meal jumping out of your exoskeleton.  Ew.  Grits and some other breakfast cereals may work, too.

And if that doesn’t work, A&M is already releasing the ants’ natural predator, a fly that makes the ants into zombies.  I support zombification plans!  Except, this one sounds a little cane-toady to me…

Attack-it April: Laundry soap fail

OMG, this is so easy!

I found a recipe that outlined making either dry or liquid laundry soap.  Easy!  But since the wet soap called for washing soda, which I couldn’t find, I opted for the dry soap.  I got those ingredients gathered (Borax, bar soap [Ivory], and my beloved baking soda) and then couldn’t find the recipe again.  I googled it and found what I thought was the recipe.  Sorta.  Only it was for wet soap.  Ok, I think, looks like the only difference is melting the bar soap.  Hell, I can do that.

So I boiled up a pot of water, mixed it in with my shaved soap, and thought it was all done.  I mixed in the Borax and the baking soda.  I skimmed off the foam and used it for the waiting load of laundry (cause why would I make laundry soap if I didn’t have a load of clothes waiting for it right then?).  And then I set the beautiful jar of liquid aside, ready to smugly wash my clothes from the sweat of my own brow.  Um.  Not literally.  Anyway, after the load of clothes finished, I went back to dish out some more of my smug goodness.  Which had separated and solidified.

Say... that's unusual activity from a liquid.

I ended up just taking a core sample, sticking a butter knife down through the Ivory ice, and stirring up the dusty stuff at the bottom.  Surely this will still wash clothing…

Well, the second load smelled good and didn’t have stuff stuck to it.  So I call it a win.

Make reusable coffee filters, from Eco Etsy

via Eco Etsy Street Team Blog

Genius: reusable and easily made from scraps, recycled worn-out clothes, or anything else you can get your scissors on!  “It stays put in the coffee maker and we have no waste after composting the grounds.” No waste AND no additional cost at the supermarket?  Win-win!

See?  Environmentally-friendly practices can be downright frugal—and often free!

Using filters made from recycled papers is nice, but waste is still waste, even if it’s recycled waste.  Reducing waste and reusing items is a better option.  🙂

via Make reusable coffee filters, from Eco Etsy.

Crafting with throw-aways

via Great Green Goods – Shopping the Eco-friendly Way! – Shopping Blog – All made from recycled materials » Blog Archive » Crafting with Recycled Materials.

Ah, nothing says green crafting like using your trash as craft materials.  Yep, that’s recycling at its basic form: re-use!

Read this article (linked above) from Great Green Goods.  Then do yourself a favor and go join your local library and request the books if they’re not on the shelves already.  Most of the time, your library will get the books via interlibrary loan.  Make friends with the librarian and I bet he or she will share your desire for these books; and they’ll be helpful for other patrons as well!

That’s one less book you have to shelve, dust, pack (if you move a lot, like I tend to), and generally keep up with.  That’s also a cost savings for not buying (and shipping, or gas for picking it up at a bookstore PLUS gas and shipping they spent getting the book there to begin with), AND it’s a resource savings for you and everyone else who can use the book from your library.  Sucks a little for the authors, but as eco-friendly types, I bet they’ll understand!