Zero Waste

Christmas Gift Bags

We are all about reducing waste whenever possible here at Little Family on the Big Lake. With the holiday season fast approaching, I have been thinking about Christmas morning. This year, Little One will be 18 months old, and we are so excited to be experiencing Christmas with him. I wonder what he is going to think of what Santa brought him and all the fun we will have…then I turn to the cleanup. Sure, watching Little One rip off wrapping paper may be fun, but I can’t help thinking about all the waste the wrapping paper has created. So this year, gone is the wrapping paper that only lasts a day. Introducing Christmas gift bags!

On average Americans go through 4 million pounds of wrapping paper each year. To put that into prospective, that is 5,787 football fields! Obviously, this is waste that can be greatly reduced. Gifts can easily be wrapped in alternative materials that could be recycled instead of wrapping paper that sits in a landfill. I have seen brown paper bags and newspaper be cute wrap ping options. But after a trip to Joann’s and seeing all the cute Christmas fabric I decided to go with Christmas bags. Brown paper bags or newspaper is still a good option for those larger packages, though.

There are of course some cloth fabrics bags available on line, you can find them here. However they are really easy to make!

Materials Needed

I got 100% cotton fabric from Joann’s’ and 100% recycled cotton yarn to be used as the draw string. These bags can be reused over and over again. We got a couple of prints that matched well and creates a cohesive look under the tree.

From one yard of fabric I got 8 bags that are around 15” * 10”. I did change sizes to bigger and smaller for different sized gifts.

Process

Step One

The first step in this process is to cut the bags to size. You will need two even pieces of fabric cut to your size of choice to make each bag. A fold in the fabric can be utilized as one of the sides, too. That way you would only need one piece of fabric.

Cutting Christmas bag fabric
Step Two

Next, finish the edges of the fabric to prevent unraveling. I choose to do this by using a serger, but a zig zag stich along the edge or a French seam could be utilized.

Finishing seams
Step Three

If using two pieces of fabric, stitch the two pieces of fabric together using right sides together along the long edge. If you are using one piece of fabric, start with this next step. Along the top edge fold the fabric down between ½” to 1 inch and press it with an iron. This will form a case for the yarn to go in to form the draw string. Stitch down the folded piece, back stitching at the start and end of the fabric.

Creating casing
Sewing casing
Step Four

Then line up the two pieces of fabric right sides together. Stitch along the edges of the fabric, avoiding the top of the bag and the casing that was created so the casing isn’t stitched closed. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end.

Christmas bag
Step Five

Next using a safety pin, tie the end of a piece of yarn. Cut the yarn a couple inches longer then the bag opening. Thread the safety pin through the case opening and push it through until the other end takes the yarn with it. Line the end of the yarn up and tie it off around 1 inch from the end. I like to fray the ends up to the knot.

Inserting draw string
Finished cloth Christmas bag

Repeat the steps for all other bags that you would like to make. These bags are a simple design and there fore can be made relatively quickly. If you can spare 10 minutes this is a great project!

I hope you liked this Christmas gift bag! I loved matching the fabrics and creating a cohesive look for under my Christmas tree. For close family I plan on using the Christmas gift bags, because I can probably get them back. For those other gifts, like the secret Santa at work, I plan on utilizing brown paper!

Have you thought about implementing Christmas gift bags too? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out my other zero waste swap here!

Zero Waste Travel Kit

Zero Waste Travel Kit

Have you ever been in this situation? You’re at a restaurant and didn’t finish your food, so you ask the waiter for a to-go container…and they bring you a Styrofoam monstrosity (insert big sigh here). I just know that this Styrofoam container is going to be sitting in a landfill for the next couple hundred years. I have been saying for a long time that I needed to stop contributing to this. Now I can’t change what restaurants give out, but I can change if I choose to accept it. No more…instead I am going to bring my zero waste travel kit! 

I made this kit from things I already have in my home. I keep it in my car for whenever it is needed. With using this new kit I also had to implement a process at home. I didn’t want to make a kit, use it once, and then never get it back to the car. We have all been in this situation with other things.

The new system is as follows. Once the items are washed they are placed next to our key bowl. On the next trip to the car it is taken with the keys. It’s pretty simple, but it is important to spell out the expectations. 

Below are the items that I have included in the zero waste travel kit. While I encourage you to use items that you have around your home, I will link similar items, too. 

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart 

Identifying Situations

So when building this kit, the first thing I looked at was the types of situations that I find myself in. I didn’t want to put something in my kit that I would never use. 

Most of the time I have need of the kit at restaurants when we have left over food. However, I would like to do an experiment to see if fast food places would put the food in my container instead of in their wrappers. I’ll let you know how it goes! 

I also find myself needing some of my zero waste products when I am shopping, so those items have gone into the kit, as well. I normally bring shopping bags with me when going to the grocery store, but when I don’t have a bag, it is nice to have a back up. 

If you set out to make your own zero waste kit. I encourage you to look at the situations that you encounter when you wish you had a zero waste alternative.

Items in the Zero Waste Kit

Large Container 

Beeswax Wraps 

Water bottle /mason jar 

Produce bag 

Straw 

Silverware

Grocery Bag 

Zero Waste Travel Kit

Travel Kit

Everything for this kit is contained in a large plastic container that I already owned. While I don’t love using plastic, I would rather be putting it to good use instead of throwing it in the recycling. This container is great for taking those leftovers home in instead of using Styrofoam or cardboard takeout containers. 

I have also included beeswax wraps for any other leftovers that need to be wrapped up or for shopping. I can foresee it being useful for bulk bin purchases. 

The water bottle or mason jar is also an essential for my zero waste travel kit. Most of the time I bring a water bottle with me but sometimes I forget. I also included a mason jar as a good alternative because it could be used for both drinking or food storage. Double duty! 

I included a straw because restaurants tend to bring you one. I like to bring my own and use one of the 5 R’s and refuse the disposable plastic type. Having an extra straw is also handy for my son, since he’s only one year old and drinks better out of glasses with a straw. Also, waiters sometimes bring us a plastic sippy cup, but I would prefer a regular glass and give him one of the reusable straws to use. 

With this kit I included some silverware. These ones are just plastic ones that I picked up some where. Instead of buying new ones, try reusing some old ones. I did link some bamboo ones that are made of a more sustainable material.

The produce bag and grocery bag are for when I find myself needing them while shopping. I got this grocery bag from a conference that I went to. I made the produce bags and you can, too…check out my post on how to make a product bag here.

Have you tried making a zero waste travel it? Let me know how it went!

Zero Waste Switch To Bar Shampoo

You all know by now that I’m all about reducing plastic waste in our home. One of the small but meaningful ways I have found to do this is switching to bar shampoo!

I made the switch last winter when I was at my wits end with my hair. At 6 months postpartum, I had lost my pregnancy hair and it was now falling out like crazy. I seriously didn’t know what to do. I even talked about it with my doctor and had some tests done. Fortunately, everything was normal. It can just be something that women go through during and after the pregnancy process…grrr!

Around that time I stumbled upon Chagrin Valley, the maker of a variety of natural personal care products, including shampoo bars. I was sold on the concept. I ditched the shampoo in the plastic packaging and haven’t looked back. The switch even had an impact on my postpartum hair problem and helped it make a comeback!

Picking The Shampoo

Chagrin Valley makes picking a shampoo easy for two reasons. The first is that you can do a search according to the specific issue you are having with your hair, as well as exclude products that you are allergic to (tree nuts free for me).

The second is that you can order sample sizes of all their shampoo products. I ordered 4 to start with and each one lasted me 6-8 weeks on medium length hair. The sample size gave me an opportunity to try them out and decide which one I liked the best. The different ingredients can have different effects on your hair so some trial and error is needed.

Making The Switch

When making the switch to shampoo bars there is a bit of an adjustment period. Everyone’s hair is different and will react differently. When first starting out you will want to do an apple cider rinse to help cleanse your hair of your previous shampoo. Chagrin Valley does sell rinses but it’s just an apple cider and water mix, which you can easily make yourself.

There are a couple of different styles to washing your hair when using a shampoo bar. Chagrin Valley’s website has a great help section that gives tips for different hair types. I found that rinsing my hair first, lathering my hands with the shampoo, then putting the lather in my hair from forehead to end works best for me. I also do an apple cider rinse every time because I found it works best with my fine hair.

Other Products

Chagrin Valley sells a bunch of other natural products, too. I recently started using their moisturizer and it is fabulous! While it’s not as zero waste as the shampoo bar, it comes in a glass container with a metal lid, which is acceptable.

You can find their products here on the Chagrin Valley website.

Chagrin Valley Moisturizer

Do think you could make the zero waste switch to bar shampoo? All of the options that Chagrin Valley provides makes it a really easy and seamless transition. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Next, check out my post on zero waste switch to felted soap here!

Eco Friendly Rules to Live By

Eco Friendly Rule sot Live by

There is so much focus this day in age on the environment and becoming Eco friendly. But how exactly does one do that? While still learning about how to become more Eco friendly, my husband and I created our rules to live by to make our lives and home more Eco friendly.

All Products Must be Cruelty-Free

So this first one doesn’t have a direct correlation to more sustainable living but it is very important. Any product that comes into our home must be cruelty-free. There are so many reasons that cruelty-free is important. I could definitely go on a long rant, but I won’t at this time. But let’s list the top reason – no animals were made to suffer in the production of any of the products.

There is an indirect correlation to green living when purchasing cruelty-free products. Many of these products tend to be more Eco friendly just because they tend to use better natural ingredients.

I want to take a moment to note that it is really hard to find medications that are cruelty-free, but I wont stop looking. If we really need something for our health and well being we will use it, but we try to find a cruelty-free option if possible.

Thrift Or Garage Sale First

People are constantly cleaning out their homes and trying to find new homes for all of their stuff. I find the best deals at garage sales and thrift stores. I often search there first before I would consider purchasing something at a store. Reuse is a main principle of sustainable living because it isn’t contributing to the demand for new product.

Try DIY First

Try to make what you need before purchasing it ready made. This could be really complex like a piece of furniture to something simple like that pan of lasagna instead of the freezer section one. You develop skills as a craftsmen, as well as have a sense of pride in your creation!

Purchase Things That You Need

There is so much advertising out there trying to get you to purchase their products. It is really easy to just start buying random items. However, it is important to stop and think “Do I really need this?” In most cases, you don’t. While this is an Eco friendly rule it is also good for your budget.

Purchase Quality Over Quantity

When making a purchase, I often spend a little more on something I know is going to last over something that I will have to replace soon. So many things are designed cheap just to toss out later on. I try really hard to find things with long lifespans in order to reduce buying new again.

All Clothing Must be at Least 80% Cotton Or Other Natural Material

Have you ever heard of micro plastics? They are tiny pieces of plastic that have completely invaded our environment on every level. One of the main ways they enter our environment is from washing our plastic-based clothing, i.e. polyester. During the washing cycle, these materials shed tiny pieces of themselves and work their way into the air and water. By wearing clothing that is made from natural fibers, you will not be adding to the micro plastics via laundry.

Purchase The Plastic Free Alternative

There are so many plastic products out there, but there are a growing number of alternatives being put on the market. Instead of grabbing that plastic jar of pasta sauce, reach for the glass one. Instead of getting the plastic laundry bin, grab a wicker one. You might be surprised how many plastic alternatives there are out there. Try to reduce plastic when ever possible. Make simple swaps for things made with natural materials. That includes things made of wood, grasses, wicker, glass, and paper.

Grow It If You Can

While having a big garden is a dream of mine, it’s not a reality right now. But even growing my own herbs in the window sill can have a positive effect. A small action like this can reduce your plastic waste by not having to buy the fresh herbs from the grocery store or the dried herbs in the spice section. There is also all the energy that it takes to move the products to the store. By having it right at home you cut out all the transportation needed to get the product to its (usually far flung) destination.

Eco Friendly Rules to Live by
Walk/Bike Whenever You Can Instead Of Taking The Car

To cut down on emissions from the car, walk or bike whenever it’s possible. Public transportation is also a better option. Something that just breaks my heart every day is having to drive to work. I work just a couple of miles from my home and could easily bike, but I need my car for work so I have to bring it with. I wish I this wasn’t so. My husband drives 30 miles to work and we recently purchased him a new car that has a much higher MPG, so every little bit helps no matter your mode of transportation.

Say No To Single Use Items

Straws, plastic silverware, cling wrap, plastic bottles, produce bags, chip bags, the list goes on and on. It’s simple – say no to things that are used once and then thrown away!

VOTE

You have power in your vote! Make it known to your representatives that the environment is a priority. Support people who believe the same thing as you. Get out there and vote and encourage everyone you know to vote, too! There are many people who go out for the big elections (2020, for example) but voting on your more local positions are just as important. A perfect example of this is voting for city council members who would support and encourage green buildings and businesses in your town.

Hang Dry Clothes

Why turn on the dryer and use unneeded electricity or gas when you can hang dry clothing? Whether it’s outside or on a clothes line or racks inside, it is easy to air dry clothes. Now that we have our own home it is easy to have drying racks right there in the laundry room. Honestly, I have flashbacks to my college dorm room when my roommate and I shared a drying rack. It seemed like we always had it set up in a corner of our small shared room, but it worked well!

Use Renewable Energy Resources

Whenever possible, use renewable energy. An obvious way to do this is to have solar panels on or near your home. While great, they may not be feasible for every family. There are other ways to use solar, though. Try solar lights or investing in a solar garden through the electric company. Check out your community – you may be surprised what resources are out there.

Eco Friendly Rules to Live by
Reuse, Refuse, Recycle, Rot and Reduce

Know and use the five R’s. Reuse products, refuse single use items/plastics, recycle whatever you can, compost (rot) what you can (see my post about composting here), and reduce waste in whatever part of your lifestyle you can.

Make Your Own Cleaners

Instead of purchasing bottle after bottle of toxic cleaners, try making our own. They often work just as well, if not better, than the store bought products. They are also way cheaper.

So those are my Eco friendly rules to live by. My family and I are not perfect, but by following these guidelines it has helped us drastically reduce our waste and become more Eco conscious consumers and people.

What do you think of these Eco friendly rules to live by? Do have anything to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Eco Friendly Rules to Live By

Zero Waste Switch to Felted Soap

Zero waste switch to felted soap

We recently made the zero waste switch to felted soap. I personally loved the Shea Moisture brand but disliked having to toss away the plastic bottle when it was done. One of the things I loved about using body wash was that I could use a loofah to get a nice foaming lather to wash up. But as a plastic-based product, it was another thing that needed to be thrown away quite often.

So we made the switch to felted wool soap. I found this soap at my local farmer’s market. It is a wonderful white tea and ginger homemade soap wrapped in sheep’s wool.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an  associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

The Benefits

One of the benefits of switching to felted soap is the anti-microbial aspects of the wool. Meaning that you can keep using it time after time without worrying about those little bacteria growing. Unlike the loofah, you don’t have to worry about throwing it away after so many uses.

Another benefit of using felted soap is that generally (depending on where you get it) the soap is created with all natural wholesome ingredients. Obviously these are super healthy for your skin and your overall heath.

As for cost, I bought my bar of soap for $7. My husband showers probably as much as the average person and his first felted bar of soap, which was smaller than the ones we use now, lasted several months. The cost effectiveness is pretty incredible when compared to the other methods of cleaning.

Using The Soap

Switching to felted soap is very easy: just place it in the shower and run it under the stream of water. Use your hands to lather the wool and then use it like regular soap. I loved the lather the loofah gave me and the wool is able to give a similar effect. It does take a couple of showers with a new bar to get a really good lather going.

Store it in the shower but keep it raised and out of standing water. We use a soap tray like this one.

Zero Waste

This soap is a great zero waste option because the whole soap can be used and it does not come in plastic packaging. In addition, the remaining wool can be repurposed. You can reuse it as face wash scrubbers, kitchen scrubbers, or a million other uses you can come up with. If you are unable find a new purpose for the wool, it can be composted. Check out my post here about making the most of your composting. The wool and the soap being made of natural materials is what makes it compostable – talk about zero waste!

Where To Find It

The first spot I recommend you check is your local farmer’s markets or specialty shops. Try to buy local when you can to support small businesses. I bought mine from a farmer’s market. Luckily there is one vendor at mine that makes them and I love all the scents that she uses. I requested her business card so I can order more during the farmer’s market’s off season.

If felted soap is not available locally for you, there are two places online that I’d recommend. You can find them on Etsy and you can find them on Amazon here or here.

I hope this post inspired you to make the zero waste switch to felted soap. Let me know how it went, or if you have discovered any other fantastic brands of felted soap in the comments below!

How To Make A Produce Bag

How to make a reusable produce bag.

One major but easy switch in helping us reduce our plastic use was switching to reusable produce bags. I found some great ones here on Amazon. What I liked about these ones are that they are 100% organic cotton. But, of course, instead of ordering them I thought to myself “I can make that!” So join me in this post on how to make a DIY produce bag.

This is a simple bag design with a draw string. I used some mesh that I had left over from a curtain panel that I got from IKEA. If you are an IKEA fan you have most likely seen these panels for about $4. I purchased these panels to decorate for my wedding and have been storing them for 5 years so I am happy to put them to good use now. While these bags that I made are not organic cotton, I feel better using something that I already had instead of ordering something new.

Any material could be used to make these bags, but a mesh like this or a sturdy cotton would be best. I used left over ribbon, shoe string, and cording for the draw strings. My goal was to reuse what I had, so although none of the bags match each other, that’s okay with me.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

Step one for making a DIY produce bag is to gather the following materials and supplies:

  • Fabric
  • Draw string
  • Rotary cutter or scissors
  • Straight edge
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Safety Pin
Step Two

The second step is to decide how big the bag needs to be. I did a variety of sizes for different types of fruits and vegges. A large size would be 12 inches by 17 inches, medium would be 10 inches by 14 inches, and a small bag is equal to 8 inches by 12 inches. These are great sizes to start with but what’s great about making these yourself is that the bags can be customized to meet your needs.

Measure out the size needed for the bag. The width of the bag should double the size that the bag needs to be. So if making a 12 inch by 17 inch bag, cut a piece of fabric 24 inches by 17 inches.

Cut out the bag using the straight edge and a cutting tool.

Step Two, cutting DIY produce bag.
Step Three

Next, fold the top edge of the fabric down and pin it. Fold enough fabric over to contain the chosen draw string.

Then stitch down the folded fabric using a straight or small zig zag stitch, back-stitching at the beginning and end. When stitching mesh, go slow and try to keep the fabric from stretching.

Step Three sewing casing on DIY produce bag.
Step Four

Fold the fabric in half and pin along the open sides. Do not pin or sew over the area stitched for the draw string. Sew along the edge, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance and back-stitching at the beginning and end.

Step Five

Using the safety pin, pin it to the tip of the draw string. Feed the draw string through the pocket at the top of the bag. When the draw string is through, remove the safety pin. Tie the ends of the draw string together in a secure knot.

Step Five inserting draw string in to produce bag.

That’s it! You now have a draw string bag. This took me less then 10 minutes to make. I have now made 5 of these and take them to the grocery store every time we go. Our grocery store has a great foods section where I can get most of my produce without using plastic packaging! My next goal is to make a couple of bags that are solid fabric that I can utilize for the bulk food bins. We routinely get beans, rice, and seeds from the bulk bins and using jars can be challenging, so bags might be our perfect solution.

Check out my tips for zero waste shopping here.

Have you tried this how to make a DIY produce bag tutorial? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!

Finish DIY produce bag.

Tricycle Makeover

Tricycle Makeover

At Little Family on the Big Lake, we are all about reducing, reusing, repurposing, refusing and recycling. That is at the center of this tricycle makeover. It all started with my husband and I trying to figure out what to get Little One for his birthday. We were throwing lots of ideas around but one that seemed to land was a tricycle. We were considering buying a new one, but we had two old ones in the garage Therefore,. I couldn’t justify buying new when we had perfectly good ones. However, we both agreed that they looked faded and dirty. So it was time for a tricycle makeover!

Let me begin with a little history on these tricycles before we get into the makeover. They were given to us by my mother when she retired from her in-home day care. The tricycles are solid metal bikes with a plastic seat. They have been well loved over the years and it shows, but they’re still in good shape overall. My mother got them from a garage sale, so not only have these trikes been used by many kids over the years, they are now starting their third life with us. Talk about reusing!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

The first step of this makeover was to assess the bikes for damage. For example, one of the plastic pieces over the wheels was chipped. A little sanding with some low grit sand paper (we used 80 grit) removed the sharp edges on this piece. Then it was time for a good washing. Using soap, water and a rag, I washed the dirt off the bikes. This made them look better, so progress already!

Step Two

The second step was to decide on the color for the bikes. At first I was thinking that a little red tricycle would be very cute. My mother advised against it because red fades to pink. While I don’t really care about gender colors, I was looking at the trike and realized the red did look worse than the other colors.

So the colors we chose were blue and green. In the store I held up a couple of blue options and a couple of green options and let Little One pick his favorite. I purchased one can each of Rust-Oleum blue, green, and black. I purchased them from Home Depot but you can find them at most hardware stores or here on Amazon.

Step Three

The third and final step of the tricycle makeover is to prep and paint the tricycles. I taped off the areas that I didn’t want painted, such as the straps that hold Little One in. They are a rope-like material that bends easily and probably wouldn’t do well with spray paint. Before starting, I read the directions on the can of paint and laid down drop cloths on my garage floor. Using light layers I started painting the trikes. This process took me a couple of days because I would do a couple of light layers and turn the tricycles to get at different angles. Remember to allow for drying time between layers.

The Finished Product!

I am so happy with how these turned out! I am sure Little One will have fun with these for years to come. Instead of purchasing a new tricycle we spent $15 on paint and have breathed new life into these well-loved tricycles.

In general, instead of running to the store for new toys or bikes, among other things, I encourage you to look around to see if there is anything that can be repurposed or just fixed up. Garage sales are great ways to find kid’s items. With a little tender love and care, sad old toys can feel new again!

Have you tried any tricycle makeovers? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out my next DIY children’s projects, a toddler hammock swing and felt vegetable garden.

Tricycle Makeover

Getting Started With An Eco Friendly Lifestyle

Getting started with an Eco friendly lifestyle
Getting Started with an Eco Friendly Lifestyle

Yay! I am so excited that you’ve found your way to this post and are thinking about changing your lifestyle to be more Eco friendly. Hopefully this post can help you get started on your journey! Below I have some steps for you to consider when getting started with an Eco friendly lifestyle.

Here’s a little background on me – my husband and I have been trying to be more eco conscious for a while now. We’ve incrementally put changes in our lifestyle to be more eco friendly, such as using reusable produce bags and buying in bulk, among others. While we are not like the star zero wasters who only produce 1 mason jar of trash a year (yet), we have definitely cut back substantially.

First Step

The first step when switching to a more eco friendly lifestyle is to identify why you want to be more eco friendly. Is it the plastics floating around in the ocean, maybe climate change, your personal health, or energy conservation? Is it all of the above? Maybe other reasons? For example, we are focused on reducing our overall, not just plastic, waste and only using natural and ethical, cruelty free products. We are also focused on composting our organic materials. Related to all this we have some grand plans for gardening and solar panels, but you know how it is with time and money. It’s a journey, right?

Identifying your motivation will go a long way to helping you sustain this lifestyle. If you are jumping on the zero waste band wagon just because it is getting buzz, this is not sustainable behavior for you. Find your motivation – why do you want this? Why does it matter to you? Your motivations can change as you learn more but always having a clear picture will help you meet your goals.

Second Step

Get connected with resources. Find information that will help you on your journey. Find blogs like this one that can help you reach your goals. Also, be informed about your motivations. If it is plastic waste that is motivating you, research it. It will help you make more responsible choices in the future that may eventually satisfy your thirst for change.

Third Step

The third step is to take stock of what you have and what you are working with. I have seen so many blog posts about zero waste bathrooms, many featuring a beautiful wooden hair brush with natural fiber bristles. As much as I would like to have a brush like that I already have one. I have had it since high school and it works perfectly fine. I take care of it, and I’ll keep using it. If I throw it out to get a wooden one instead I would just be contributing to plastic waste.

Being eco friendly doesn’t mean that you have to throw out everything you own. Just be intentional about the things that you bring into your home from now on. Replace things once they wear out with more eco friendly versions. For example, I switched to bar shampoo several months ago. But I used up all the liquid shampoo I had left before using the bars, therefore not creating unnecessary waste.

Fourth Step

The final step is to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. When making a lifestyle change such as this, it takes time. They say it takes 21 days for a habit to become second nature. The same goes with changing to eco friendly consumer habits. I am constantly learning about new products, clothing lines, new DIY projects and methods – it’s a journey. Set some goals that you would like to work on and keep making progress towards them. Every little bit helps so keep at it!

I wish you luck on your journey and am extremely happy that you are considering changing your lifestyle for the sake of your health and the health of our environment. Let me know if you have any questions or interesting lifestyle changes that you’ve come up with in the comments below!

Check out my tips for Zero Waste Shopping in a Small Town.

5 Tips for Zero Waste Shopping in a Small Town

 5 tips for zero waste shopping in a small town
5 tips for zero waste shopping in a small town

Like many Americans we live in a small town with one grocery store option. As much as I love my small town, it would be a lot easier to bop around from the big bulk store to a health food store to try to get my shopping items but it is just not an option here. So what do you do?? Below are my 5 tips for zero waste shopping in a small town.

Trying to reduce waste in our family is an important goal and has been much more achievable by following the 5 tips below. As a bonus tip before we get started, take a look at what you are purchasing – do you really need the pre packaged Smuckers PB & J? Or can these be made at home in a effort to reduce waste (and probably save money too)? The same goes for pre cut fruits and veggies – these could be cut at home. Reflecting on what you are purchasing will go a long way in implementing zero waste goals.

So here we go… 5 Tips for Zero Waste Shopping in a Small Town

Tip #1

#1 This first tip is very common but it is important…bring your own bags! There is so much plastic wasted with the use of plastic bags. This is one of the absolute easiest ways to reduce waste. Using a reusable bag is also a great way to start your shopping trip – it makes it start out on the right foot. Now if you are very organized you will have reusable bags ready in your car for those quick runs after work. I am a fairly organized person but I can never seem to manage this one so most of the time my items get stuffed in my purse or carried out as is. Maybe I’ll learn some time!

Tip #2

#2 Produce bags!!! So many fruits and veggies come wrapped in plastic these days and it is not necessary. Many grocery stores provide plastic produce bags. Instead of using theirs, bring your own. I generally toss them into my cloth reusable bags and they are good to go. You can find them here or you can see my tutorial to make your own here.

Tip #3

#3 Aim for glass or paper! These items are more ecofriendly. For example, instead of reaching for the pasta sauce in the plastic jar, get the one in glass. Most recycling centers take glass jars; they are crushed and made into either new jars or into down graded products like fiber glass. Most recycling centers also take paper products which are then repurposed into something else. The moral of the story is try to stay away from plastic.

Tip #4

#4 Buy in bulk when you can. A perfect example of this is yogurt. Instead of purchasing the little individual containers of yogurt, try to purchase a larger container. We purchase big containers of vanilla and flavor them up with fruit. Depending on what your local grocery store offers you may get lucky and be able to find items available in bulk.

Tip #5

#5 Know what your recycling center takes. I know what you are thinking…what does this have to do with shopping? But just do a little research. Our local recycling center doesn’t take much but we learned that the one in the next town over takes items like cereal and bread bags! This was a huge discovery for us. Now instead of having to throw them in the trash they can be recycled. We keep labeled bins in the garage and when it’s full we take it over to the other recycle center. I don’t like using plastic but I feel a lot better using it if I know it can be recycled.

Zero waste living is a journey; make a little bit of progress when ever you can! Next time you are in the grocery store, remember these tips. If you’re able to implement them it’s amazing how just a few small changes can make a world of difference.

Do you have any other tips for zero waste shopping in a small town?? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out my beginners guide to getting started with an Eco friendly lifestyle.