Sep 3, 2018

The Best Safety Razor For A Close Shave


I have been using a safety razor for a couple of years now. It was one of the simple swaps I recommend for the bathroom and an area that Hubby was zero waste long before I was. 

Hubby was using his disposable razor for nearly a decade before I ventured into it. But once I got my first one I took to it like a duck to water. I seriously had no clue why I was so scared to switch or why it took so long to switch from plastic disposable razors.

I must have read several articles about using a safety tarot and watched tutorials about how to use them. But, if you are starting with a disposable razor it's not THAT different. Here are my tips for using a safety razor with getting cut.

 How to use a safety razor and not get cut


In my research so many people went on and on about how close their shave was and how it was so much closer than a disposable razor. I was a little perplexed why that wasn't my experience.

Well one day hubby got a wild hair and wanted to try my razor. He has a short handled razor and mine is long handled. He tried it and promptly said my razor was awful. He said he had to shave his whole face again with his razor. Well that made me feel better that it was maybe the razor itself and not something I was missing.

I kept using it though. I mean, I thought about buying another one, but I couldn't justify the cost or the waste. I had a razor that did fine, it removed all the hair, it just wasn't making my legs that super soft all hair removed close shave feel. No need to discard it.

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Well then a few weeks later the razor fell off the ledge in my shower and broke. It must have fallen just right and the part that connected the top to the peg broke. I permanently had two parts: a top and the base with no way to secure the blade.

I tried to see if it could be repaired but apparently that part of the blade was plastic and it snapped. I thought about gluing it back together, but it would have made the razor uneven and there wasn't a good surface to even glue.

So there I was on the hunt for the perfect long handled safety razor. I went to Amazon, since I didn't have any local options. I am an affiliate for Amazon so this post contains affiliate or referral links. It's a way for the site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services. However, I have no affiliation with the company that makes the razor. 

I sorted on price, lowest to highest, and started looking at reviews. As long as the blade cut I figured most of the price went into hype not function. I knew I wanted a long handled razor so that eliminated a bunch.

One of the razors looked promising, but a reviewer said the handle was smooth so it was hard to handle with soapy hands. No thanks! I passed on that one, but did start paying attention to handles.

This razor is awesome. It has a butterfly closure so you just open it up pop the blade in and go. The handle is not smooth so you'll drop it. The weight is good, and best of all the shave is SO much closer. Hubby is actually jealous and wants to see if they have a short handled version for him to use. 



My only peeve is that sometimes hair gets caught between the blade and the base. So I have to open it out and clean it, but that's what happens when your blade actually works...you have to rinse out the hair! Although it just takes a quick swivel to open up and get to the blade, so even that is low hassle.

If you are in the market for a safety razor I highly recommend you get this razor. It's inexpensive too!

Then check out my tips on how to USE a safety razor or find out some other simple swaps to make in the bathroom.


Feb 9, 2018

Zero Waste Coffee and Tea



I have a confession: I don't like coffee. I can't stand the taste. I don't even like coffee flavored ice cream...so you know it's bad. My whole life it was just wait until you go to college, you start working, or you have kids, and you'll start drinking it.

So you may wonder how I am at all qualified to write a post like this. Well I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, home to Starbucks, Dutch Bros, Stumptown, Seattle's Best Coffee and many more independent coffee roasters and coffee shops. I have been surrounded by coffee my entire life.

When I was 13 we went to the Olympics in Atlanta. We drove half way through Atlanta to find the only Starbucks in town and it was their training facility. They had just reached Atlanta. A bunch of 13 year old girls were shouting out their specialized coffee recipes and the baristas actually asked us to hold on while they wrote down the order! Granted this was in 1996 so a lot has changed, but coffee has just always been around.

And while I don't ever drink coffee, I drink tea. Chai is my favorite, and hard to find zero waste, but there are so many delicious tea flavors out there.  So I understand the caffeine pick me up first thing in the morning or the desire to just have a warm beverage while you mull over the day to come. Unfortunately the habit that is creating a lot of waste.


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Zero Waste Coffee and Tea. Bialetti, Reusable Mug, and more.


Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam cups a year. Just one take away cup a day can lead to 23 pounds of waste. (source). Pods are worse with 55 million being thrown away daily. Despite technically being recyclable the processes for doing so are not widespread so they have to be recycled via a program such as Terracycle (source). 

The good news is that there are a number of ways to enjoy your morning coffee or tea without creating all the trash. This post contains affiliate or referral links. It is a way for the site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services. 

I'm going to start with coffee and then move on to tea down below. We'll start with ideas for how to use your existing coffee machines to create less waste, then zero waste coffee makers, how to get beans, and finally we'll move on to tea (which I prefer over coffee!).

Making your existing coffee maker create less waste

Reusable Coffee Filter

If you already have a coffee maker you will likely need a filter. Purchasing a reusable filter will be a great way to reduce your waste. There are many different kinds including metal or cotton.


Refillable K- cup


If you have a Keurig machine, you may feel that there is no way to create less waste. The whole design of the machine is that you get a little cup and then throw it away. However, have no fear. You can get a refillable pod. My parent's use it and they love that they can use their own coffee (and it's better for the environment). I will caution you to make sure that you get one that fits your machine. There are actually a few different sizes and you don't want to get the wrong one.

Paper coffee filters

This option is less desirable because it still produces some waste. However paper, or even bamboo, can be an option in a pinch, and you can put it in the compost with your grounds when you are done. You are putting your coffee grounds in the compost aren't you? Or maybe you are making DIY beauty products. Remember, food does not belong in the trash.



Zero waste coffee makers

However let's say you are in the market for a whole new way to make coffee. There are several different options for coffee makers that create less waste. I'm embarrassed, er, pleased to say that we have several at home so we are able to provide a review of several of these coffee makers.

Bialetti

This is an Italian way of making coffee or espresso. Hubby uses the 6 cup Bialetti (makes 12 oz) nearly every day, but they also make larger ones 12 cup ( 25 oz) if you are wanting to make more than one cup or for more than one person. I don't actually like coffee so Hubby is the only one that drinks it.

The Bialetti produces a coffee that is between standard coffee and espresso.  You put water in the bottom and coffee grounds in the metal filter and put it on the stove. Once the water boils up through the coffee grounds it is ready to go. Hubby uses a medium grind, but some recommend a coarser grind. Hubby says using a medium grind he occasionally has some silt in the pouring part, but it generally stays in the Bialetti itself and not in his cup.


French Press

French press is another way of making coffee. And I just realized you could brew tea in it too, but I've never used it for that purpose. You put the coffee grounds and hot water in the container. You'll find your perfect recipe. Hubby just eyeballs it, but uses roughly a heaping tablespoon per cup of water. Then once the coffee has percolated for your desired length of time (about 3-4 minutes), you push the plunger down to trap the grounds and pour off the coffee. You'll want the water nearly boiling and you'll want to use a coarser grind of bean so that it stays in the bottom rather than floating up in your coffee.


Cold brew

To make cold brew it's very similar to a French press in that the grounds and water come in contact with one another and then you separate them. However with cold brew they steep in cold water like the refrigerator. It is supposed to make a less bitter cup of coffee. I like this one because it uses a mason jar or this one looks like a cool science experiment! Of course you can always just use your own filter or a cloth bag to prevent the grounds from mixing in. 

Pour over

This is more like a traditional coffee where the water only has quick contact with the grounds. Using a reusable filter makes this less waste. You can make individual cups with this, or get a whole apparatus or just the filter.


Espresso Machine

This is the most expensive option, but if you are really into coffee an espresso machine might be worth the price.


Reusable coffee mugs

These mugs are great for on the go. You can make your coffee at home and then take it with you as you go about your day. Carrying it with you also helps that when you go to a coffee shop you can ask if they can make it directly in your mug and not waste the cup. I'll warn you some coffee shops are better about this than others. However, as you develop a relationship with a particular coffee shop, especially if it is a local shop versus a large chain, you may be able to nudge them toward less waste. 


Insulated Coffee Mug 

This is the best travel mug. Hubby got it as a gift from mother in law a couple years ago and it's the only travel mug he uses. Both he and my mother in law rave about how good it is. I like that it is easy to clean and we can even put it in the dishwasher.

Ceramic Travel Mug

I prefer to use a ceramic mugs so I can put it in the microwave. I think it comes from the fact that I prepare tea and at work we don't have a way to really heat water or milk other than using the microwave. I feel like the silicone top makes me nervous, but once it is on fully it really doesn't leak. I wouldn't go dropping it or trying to flip it over, but it does prevent spills while drinking.


Zero Waste Tea



Loose Tea

Loose tea is best. You know there is no plastic lurking in the bag, however that means that you have to have your own filter to steep it. Hopefully you have a local supply of package free tea, but if not this might be an option. It looks really delicious!


Infuser Mug

I have this mug that you can steep the tea in the mug.  It's very handy. I like the mug, but the fact that the infuser fits perfectly within the water is a huge advantage. Plus, I think it increases the surface area so more of the tea can be brewed. Of course you can get a traditional tea ball to use with any mug you already have. 


So there you have my list for zero waste coffee and tea. Don't forget to compost or use the coffee grounds to make awesome DIY scrubs.

What is your favorite way to have your morning beverage?

Looking to create less waste? Check out this post on ways to prevent food waste.




Dec 15, 2017

2018 Green Resolutions



I felt like I accomplished about half of my 2017 Green Resolutions. Which for me, is a win.

It was important to me to have "smart" goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound. I also wanted to set the bar low, so I could achieve as many as possible. (Of course, even then, I only managed to accomplish half! Ha!)

I got reusable napkins and menstrual products (but haven't gotten then hang of using them yet) and took my lunch to work pretty regularly. I didn't do quite so well about shopping at the bulk store or cooking a new item.

For this year I'll admit I was a little stumped so I did a search of other sustainable resolutions. I was disappointed to find I was already doing them. I think that came out wrong. I am so happy that I'm already making an impact. I refuse plastic bags, I've cut out water bottles along with the other 5 simple ways to reduce plastic. Heck, we even have solar panels! I've already done so much of the "low hanging fruit".

Now of course, I could always do better. Plastic bags sneak in on a semi-regular basis. And I may not buy bottled water, but other plastic drink containers "magically" show up in my recycle bin. However, I'd like to use my resolutions to push myself in other ways.


1. Subscribe to our CSA.

I've been wanting to do this for a while, but haven't quite taken the plunge. Community-Supported Agriculture is a great way to support the local economy and they are good for the environment because they cut down on transportation costs.

2. Plant in our garden

I loved getting our garden set up, but we've basically allowed two growing seasons to pass without planting anything. So right now the only thing we've got growing is weeds! Now, to be fair, the growing seasons were fall and winter, which would not be growing weather in most parts of the world, but here in Florida, we missed out on some awesome food. Hopefully this resolution will get me motivated to go out and plant for all year long.



3. Less waste grocery shopping 

We buy a lot of groceries and I want to find a way to do so while creating less waste. I know not all places have package free food, but most do! I wrote this great posts on tips for shopping from the bulk bins Zero Waste Grocery Shopping Bulk Buying Tips and Tricks. However at this stage in my life I'm not sure how that's going to work for everything. I'm buying larger quantities of food, so I'm hoping it leads to less waste. So next year I want to explore it more.


4. Take my lunch to work

Yes, this is verbatim repeat of last year. However, I've found myself slipping and taking my lunch less frequently AND wasting food that should have been eaten for lunch. By taking my lunch it would be a double win. Also, it gives me a chance to use my zero waste cutlery kit more!



Are you looking for some more motivation for your resolution list? Check out the lists from these other great sustainable and eco friendly bloggers! And don't forget to leave your resolutions in the comment below!


Zero Waste Wisdom


Curbside Overhaul


Everchange Productions


Little Sprouts Learning


The Pink Paper Doll


The Good Life


Design Life Hacks



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New Years resolutions for a more sustainable and eco friendly life

Sep 25, 2017

Reduce Your Plastic: Part 4 - Holidays, Garden, General Tips


My friend Rosie at Green and Rosie Life posted 100 ways to reduce plastic and how she was doing with it. I thought I would do the same. These tips are the next 25 or so of her list and cover a variety of topics. Don't forget to check out the first post in this series that covers food, drink and shopping, the second which covers going out and about, babies and children, cleaning and personal care items, or the third about clothing, household, work and pets.   

Leave a comment about how many you are doing! Most of the following links are to other posts I have written, but some links are affiliate links to Amazon. If you click the link and make a purchase I may receive a commission that helps to keep the blog running. Thanks for supporting Skip The Bag!


Gift Givings and Holidays Christmas, Easter, birthdays etc


76.  Give service gifts such as a free baby sitting night, evening at the theatre, a meal out, sponsor a child or support a wildlife/environmental charity 


I think experience gifts are the best sort of gifts! Don't forget to check out my post on zero waste gift ideas

77.  Wrap gifts without sellotape - use raffia or string and get creative.


This is one area I'd like to get better about. There is even paper tape, which could be a great alternative. 


78.  Make decorations from natural materials


I do this particularly for Halloween and fall! It's so easy to have some branches and/or leaves.



79.  Make plastic free gifts such as preserves and handmade clothes/accessories


Homemade gifts are always nice. Check out my Pinterest collection of Zero Waste Gift Ideas for more inspiration.

80.  Send e-cards


I'm not in the habit of this. I think that this is a great option for certain people or events however. 

81.  At parties ask guests to bring their own cutlery and crockery rather than supplying plastic throw away ones


When we have a party it's usually a potluck of such or just appetizers. I try to get appetizers that you can just eat by hand so we don't have to use silverware at all. With meals that's a little more difficult. I've never had anyone bring their own silverware or anything, but that's because we have WAY more than we needed for a family of two!

82.  Make your own chocolate gifts at Easter to avoid all that plastic


What a great idea! I'd love to make my own treats for Easter. 

83.  Avoid buying online where products are often sent with lots of plastic wrapping


Ugh, I struggle with this. Online shopping is convenient and I'm able to get items that I can't get locally. However, I hate all the plastic wrapping that can come with it. 


84.  Grow your own flowers/pot plants as gifts 


This is a great idea. We would give plants as gifts in lieu of cut flowers for holidays such as Mother's Day.




In the garden


85.  Use terracotta or biodegradable plant pots


We mostly plant in the ground so we have very few pots. However I should buy terracotta pots to replace our two large herb pots. For seedlings I reuse the plastic ones we bought, or use plastic containers. 


86.  Re-purpose plastic fruit/veg trays as seed trays 


Yep! I do this.


87.  Re-purpose yoghurt pots as seedling pots


Absolutely! You can see a photo here of the ones I was using (link)


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88.  Use plastic bottles to help direct water to the roots tomato plants etc - details here: water-wise tomatoes 


We use a standard sprinkler. I'm sure it wastes some water, but with a timer it's easy breezy.

89.  Use polystyrene as crocks in your plant pots 


Again, we don't use pots much, and I don't use crocks. I don't know that I'd use polystyrene anyway. 


89.  Make your own labels from plastic bottles or buy those made from natural materials


We don't really label things in the garden, even for seedlings...which has led to some interesting discoveries! But someone recommended using old window blinds. A single blind can lead to many labels. 


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In Summary


For the foreseeable future plastic is going to be part of our everyday lives but we can take steps to reduce how much we use which can be summarized thus:


90.  Get into the habit of seeing where plastic exists is the first step to reducing how much of it you have in your life

I would recommend doing a trash audit to find out what is contributing to your trash and waste. 


91.  Think before you buy and switch to non plastic alternatives where possible - silicone is a safer option 


If you are looking for some places to get started here is a list of 5 easy ways to use less plastic and 5 simple plastic-free swaps for the bathroom


92.  Re-use the plastic you do have as much as you can


Yes, reusing is important, but so are things like precycling. Which I didn't even know about prior to starting this journey. 


93.  Upcycle plastic into new things


I'm always on the look out for great ways to upcycle products. I've made some upcycles, but nothing specifically from plastic that I've written about on the blog. Some I have written about are DIY washer necklaces, Rolodex Calendar, and Christmas Card Wreath


94.  Ask yourself "Do I really need to buy this plastic product?"


You should always ask yourself this whether it is plastic or not! Of course, I tend toward minimalism. 


95.  Write to manufacturers to say you are boycotting their plastic based products or packaging 


I haven't really done this. I have tagged a company on twitter before, but this really is an important step. If companies don't know people are unhappy with their products they don't know to make the changes. 


96.  If you must buy plastic then look for second hand rather than new


I love buying "pre-loved" items. That's one of my tips for an environmentally friendly closet




97.  Work towards eliminating single use plastic in your life


Absolutely! 5 easy ways to use less plastic will help cover a lot! How do we compare?

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98.  If you have to buy a plastic item (not something in plastic packaging) make it the best quality possible to ensure it lasts as long as possible

This is a great thing to keep in mind! 


99. If you follow the 4 Rs you will help reduce your plastic use - reduce, re-use, repair and recycle (the first 3 being the most important) 


I've actually found 7 R's of Zero Waste! They all have their time and place, but refusing and reducing are important aspects.


100.   Finally and perhaps most important of all we need a fifth R - Raising awareness.  When people are aware of a problem they are much better placed to find a solution so please, share this post and let's help everyone to reduce their plastic habit!


I guess there really should be 8 R's! Raising awareness is why I started Skip The Bag in the first place. 

I've enjoyed seeing how far I've come with reducing waste and plastic and taken notes of some areas I still can improve upon. Don't forget to check out Part 1: Food, Drink and Shopping; Part 2: Cleaning, Babies, and Personal Care; and Part 3: Clothes, Work, Home and Pets







Aug 28, 2017

Reduce Your Waste: Part 3- Clothes, Around the House, At Work, Pets

Reduce Your Plastic, Clothes, around the house, at work, and pets

My friend Rosie at Green and Rosie Life posted 100 ways to reduce plastic and how she was doing with it. I thought I would do the same. These tips are the next 25 or so of her list and cover a variety of topics. Don't forget to check out the first post in this series that covers food, drink and shopping or the second which covers going out and about, babies and children, cleaning and personal care items.  

Leave a comment about how many you are doing! Most links are to other posts I have written. Some links are affiliate links to Amazon. If you click the link and make a purchase I may receive a commission that helps to keep the blog running. Thanks for supporting Skip The Bag!



Clothes


53.  Avoid clothes and shoes made from synthetic materials

Absolutely. That is one of the 10 tips for an environmentally friendly closet!

54.  Make your own clothes using old materiel when you can or upcycling old clothes to new 

I haven't made my own clothes or upcycled them yet, but they are so cute! People are really creative and clever.

55.  Buy second hand clothes that have minimal plastic packaging

I love buying clothes from thrift stores or consignment stores. It's another one of the 10 tips for an environmentally friendly closet.




Around the house


56.  Use glass, metal or wooden storage containers

Yes, I love my Pyrex and Anchor containers. I don't have metal or wooden ones yet, but these look intriguing!


57.  Use wooden or metal cooking utensils 

A large number of our cooking utensils are metal. We got them from a restaurant supply store, but you can get spatulas or spoons from just about anywhere. Metal is great for cast iron! Read how to clean and care for cast iron


58.  Do you really need to bag it before you bin it?

This could be in reference to a number of bags in the trash can. For example, do you need to throw it in a bag before putting it into your trash can? I think of people who bag up a chicken carcass prior to putting it in the trash. Maybe you don't need to do that. Or maybe it's referring to a trash liner at all. We don't use a trash bag for our recycling. In fact, our trash cans have a removable liner that we can just take out and wash it if it gets dirty. We still use a bag for our trash, but since we compost most of our food scraps and recycle a large part of our trash. Other people use newspaper liners, but we still have a bunch of plastic trash bags we use up. 

59.  If it's broken can you mend it? 

Yep, thankfully Hubby is really handy. 

60.  Say no to junk mail

This is still on my to-do list. It drives me crazy, thankfully most of it is recyclable. 

61.  Download music and films instead of buying CDs and DVDs

We use Amazon Prime (try it free for 30 days), Netflix or Red Box for most of our movies. I tend to listen to the radio or podcasts over buying CDs. (Do you have a favorite podcast?)

62.  Use matches not a disposable lighter

Hmm, I hadn't really thought about this. We don't really need to start a lot of fires. In general you think the sturdier item will be more environmentally friendly than the item you use once and throw away. However with lighters it's not really true. Matches are from the earth and will burn and join the earth, but the lighters take a ton of resources to make and you can't refill them. So a double loss. I'll be making sure we get matches from here on out! 

63.  When doing DIY and house renovations go for natural products - wooden door frames, cotton curtains etc 

Yes, you don't have to build a new house to take advantage of incorporating environmentally friendly products into your house. The cotton curtains seem like such a no-brainer, but I probably wouldn't have thought to check! I can't say I've purchased a whole lot of curtains in my life though.


64.  Use old sheets as dust covers not new plastic ones

I don't use dust covers. We do have a fabric tarp thing that we lay out when we do paint projects.


65.  Wash and reuse plastic freezer bags.

I do this some, but I'm not 100% consistent about it. I'm working to phase out freezer bags altogether.

Don't forget to pin for later!
Ideas to reduce your plastic from clothing, around the house, at work and with pets.


At work



66.  Take in your own mug for water and drinks from the machines. 

I bring my own water bottle to work. Don't forget to check out my article on ways to go green at work.


67.  Use all paper jiffy bags, not those with plastic inside 

I have a reusable lunch bag that I use and then I use my glass containers to bring food for lunch. Bringing my lunch to work was done of my green resolutions

68.  Buy envelopes without plastic windows.

I haven't bought envelopes in a while, but I'm pretty sure the ones I have don't have plastic windows.This is a simple way to use less plastic. This would have been a great addition to my ways to go green at work it's got tons of great tips for any workplace setting, but an office in particular! 

69.  Go for paperless billing to avoid plastic window envelopes 

Absolutely! I'd also add that this reduces on transportation pollution of bills and the price of stamps! Win, win, win.

70.  Buy a "real" pen that uses a refill

I know a lot of zero wasters have gone this route. I'm not quite there on my journey yet.

71.  Do not upgrade to a new phone etc.  You were quite happy with your old one when you first got it!

Thankfully neither Hubby or I are that into technology, we pretty much just replace things as they need it, which is still too often in my opinion! 



Pets


72.  Say no to plastic pet toys 

We have a few, but in general I go for stuffed animals or ropes (these look amazing!).

73.  Avoid plastic feed bowls 

We have metal bowls.


74.  Avoid pet food in plastic sachets 

We haven't found a bag free alternative for our pets or the chickens

75.  Make your own pet treats 

We've yet to be able to make rawhide or meal worms, so we still purchase these. I've heard you can grow meal worms though!


This week definitely had some ideas I hadn't really thought of such as using matches and making sure the envelopes I buy are all paper and don't have a plastic window. Don't forget to check out Part 1: Food, Drink and Shopping and Part 2: Cleaning, Babies, and Personal Care