home life, natural living, school, working

Zero Waste

I mentioned the Zero Waste Home on my Inspiration link up, but only wrote a blip about the site. When I discovered it back in 2010, it really affected my thinking and my lifestyle. I was really into blogs back then, following friends and personal blogs and lifestyle blogs, and I even followed some fashion bloggers, believe it or not! These were more alternative bloggers who bought from thrift stores or had capsule wardrobes or did 30 day challenges… Attainable fashion, basically. Even those sold out, though some have come back pretty level-headed. But I digress.

The Zero Waste Home made me conscious of what I used and how I disposed of it. Since then, I have noticed how much trash I bring home from the grocery store in terms of packaging. And how much paper schools waste with busy work or “art” just to have something to show, to keep the kids busy, or to hit numbers and create “meaningful” data. It’s all pretty disgusting, but it’s hard to keep it away.

I wrote about Valentine’s cards and how I thought they were wasteful, but what can you do? Everything about consumerism and waste is so mainstream, so ingrained in everything, that it’s hard to break free. I sometimes still feel societal pressure about things as an adult, so I certainly don’t want my son to feel uncomfortable or mocked because his mom hates recycling the art papers that are sent home with him, or anything along those lines.

Going Zero Waste within the home is easy enough – we are keeping track of our trash vs our recycling and seeing how much we get rid of each week. We are trying to cut down on what we bring in in the first place. And I think it’s important to speak up and tell others we don’t want what they are offering us, like a free plastic toothbrush at the dentist when we buy our own compostable toothbrushes. But in a setting like school, or the workplace, things get a bit harder.

Do you have this problem with your workplace or at your kids’ school? How do you work around it? Are you vocal and just hope your kids go with it? Do you consider working at home and/or homeschooling your kids as an alternative?

Let’s get deep on the last letter of the alphabet, hm?

home life, natural living

X

X… is this always the hardest letter? I know there are words that start with X that you can pull out in Scrabble or toss into an academic paper to blow your professor away (or convince them that you are using a thesaurus…), but X words to base a blog post around?

All I can think of is X marks the spot. Buried treasure? Maybe. Someday. Eventually. Right now, it’s just an X over the round little area where we planted our first garden.

ximage

 

home life, natural living

Vinegar

My grandmother had The Vinegar Book, actually a booklet, for as long as I can remember. It’s now mine, and I love remembering her as I thumb through the pages.

Seven years ago I went “no poo”, meaning I used baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair. That works when it’s long, but with my short haircut I found it didn’t work as well. I’m growing my hair out now, so I’m eager to try again. It cuts down on expenses a lot – not that shampoo is too expensive, but it can be if your hair is long! Also, I always have baking soda and vinegar around, so I’m never in danger of running out of shampoo.

I use vinegar to clean pretty much everything. It’s great to clean off kitchen counters without using harsh bleach-based cleaners. I soak my menstrual cup in vinegar to clean it between uses. I add a few drops of essential oil to vinegar and water and use it as the “wet” solution for my Swiffer mop. My mom crocheted a reusable pad that I dip in the cleaning mixture before mopping my kitchen floors. Then just rinse it out and throw it in with your next load of laundry.

I used to drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water every morning. You can drink it cold or mix it with warm water and honey and sip it like a tea. I’ve tried both and they both seemed to help me feel better in the mornings; I felt more alert and my joints moved more smoothly. I tried the capsules for awhile because it was easier to pop a pill than sip a drink, but I never reordered when I ran out. I should probably go back to drinking it – I always felt the benefits immediately.

There are plenty of other uses and benefits of vinegar in my grandmother’s booklet; I need to look over them all and see how I can incorporate them into my daily life to go more natural. How do you use vinegar?

home life, money, natural living, working

Questions

I’ve been interested in zero waste, minimalism, and more along those lines since 2010. I’ve been interested in recycling and reusing since childhood, when I made dollhouse furniture out of toothpaste tube lids and toilet paper rolls. I have a long history in this category, but I still have a lot of questions.

Sometimes I don’t realize I have a question until I read something written by someone else. The bloggers I listed in my Inspiration post are especially good at this – they have different experiences within the field, so I will read something and want to know more because of what they’ve said, even if it is a topic I never thought about on my own.

Sometimes I have questions because of how I’m changing my own life. I’m working from home and now my son attends a preschool just a few minutes away. How much money am I saving versus how much I was earning and spending before? How much gas am I saving? How much less pollution am I producing? Does it make a difference that taking him is more stop and go on side streets instead of speeding down the highway?

How much money am I saving buying everything online? How much pollution am I creating by having things delivered to my door instead of driving to get them myself?

What toothbrush is best for my teeth? What toothbrush is best for the environment? What kind of packaging does this product come in? Is the product worth it to me, or would I rather buy a different brand that uses recyclable materials?

What will grow in my garden? Is it worth the time and work put into a garden for what we reap from it? Will I grow more produce if I plant it over there? Or there?

What do I need versus what do I want? What will make me happy versus what will be the best for everyone, for the Earth, for the environment? What am I supposed to do with my life?

You know, just your typical, everyday questions.

fun, home life, money, natural living, school

Nature

Nature is beautiful. And interesting. And so much fun to explore.

And, it’s FREE.

There is nothing better than to take your restless kids outside and see what they do.

My son loves to be outside. He will run around in the yard. He will ask to go on walks. He will swing on our porch swing. He will hop up and down the steps. He will blow dandelion fluff. He will pick up rocks. He will dig in the dirt. He will ask to plant flowers. He will pick flowers and present them to me: “I found something beautiful for ya.” (He will melt my heart.)

I am lucky that my kid is full of imagination. He will go outside with nothing and be playing in no time. He will amuse himself, which is great because I love being outside too. But when I’m outside, I’m usually doing something. I am taking care of the yard or the garden. I am hanging clothes on the clothesline.

Or I am taking pictures.

Nature photography is probably my favorite, right up there with portraits. I love capturing people’s personalities in portraits, but I also believe it’s possible to capture nature’s personalities, too. I submitted some daffodil photos (not the one above) to a competition and laughed when I saw one of the categories was “Portraits”, but it makes sense…

I love being outside. I love being outside with my kid. I love taking a break from those chores I mentioned, and putting my camera down, and taking a deep breath of fresh air, and appreciating nature.

home life, hygiene, money, natural living

Changing Your Focus

I previously wrote about Finding Your Focus, mentioning that right now my family was focused on money. It’s tax season, we’re taking a good hard look at our financials, so it just makes sense.

I feel all over the place right now as I find my footing with my new work-from-home life, and that is definitely reflected in this blog. Because right now, I feel like our focus should be finding the products that are best for our family.

We recently switched from Crest or Colgate toothpastes (whatever was cheapest in a 2 pack) to Tom’s of Maine. Now we love our Tom’s toothpaste, so I’m keeping track of how long one tube lasts us – me, my husband, and the 8 year old use the adult mint toothpaste. My 3 year old uses the kids’ fruit-flavored toothpaste and loves it, but of course it will last longer with just him using it.

The point is, we all love this toothpaste now, so it will be worth the expense, even if it’s not as cheap as another brand’s 2 pack. So we’re not saving green by buying this, but we’re using a natural product which is healthier for our family, and Tom’s offers recycling options for something that isn’t usually recyclable. That’s worth it to me, because I’d rather use a sensible product and dispose of it properly instead of buy something cheap, use it, and throw it in the landfill.

We are taking our time while we look at other products we use, trying to make good choices for what we use often. I’ll have to get into our kitchen and food situation another time, since it is always a work in progress. But switching toothpaste is a good start, and I have already switched to Tom’s of Maine deodorant. We drink Equal Exchange coffee because it is fair trade. My friend Victoria has some great information and resources about fair trade products, which we’ll also explore later. For us, it’s definitely worth finding quality, environmentally-friendly products and maybe spending a little more money, but getting more out of your investment in the long run.

How do you feel about spending more for something natural, fair trade, or made locally?

home life, hygiene

Brusha Brusha Brusha: Trying Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste

It seems like I’ve been focused on toothpaste lately, so that’s where I’ll start.

We ran out of toothpaste a week or two ago. I mentioned we were using up my old travel tubes – old, but still good. They did the trick.

But we were almost out of those, too, so while I was at the store I picked up a tube of Tom’s of Maine Simply White. I know Tom’s is natural, but I’ve never used any of these products. Since we just needed a tube to hold us over until our subscription box* arrived, I wanted to give it a shot.

I brought it home and labeled it with the date, because I want to start taking note of how long things last us. This is our first year as a family of four, and my son is getting older and using regular products instead of baby items, so I have no clue how long dish soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and others will last.

toms2

I was excited to try Tom’s, and brushed my teeth pretty soon after I got home and got that bad boy labeled. I squeezed it onto my toothbrush and… yuck! I thought it was so gross – and I say this as someone who used to brush with baking soda only! The faint hint of mint really ruined it for me.

I’ve been using it for six days now, and it’s really grown on me. I guess since I’ve previously used just baking soda, I adapted easily. I feel like it gets my teeth much cleaner, also. Especially in the morning – I wake up with no gunky feeling on my teeth!

After considering the overall taste and benefits of my short experience with Tom’s, my mind went to packaging. I recycled the box after opening it, but the tube, of course… The tube! I always throw away toothpaste tubes; never really thought about it, since there is always stubborn toothpaste left inside.

I looked it up and found that Tom’s actually does recycle their tubes – you can sign up for free, ship your natural product containers to them, and have them recycled. They are recycled through Terracycle, and you earn points for what you ship, which can then be donated to charity (or redeemed for other things, but let’s keep the cycle of good going here). This is definitely something I’m going to look into, because it greatly affects what products I buy from now on.

I really hope I can get my whole family on board with this toothpaste. My husband has used it before and disliked it, but maybe he can adapt like I did. My 3.5 year old has used it twice, but said it was “too spicy”. He’s said that about kid’s toothpaste before, so I thought this lighter mint flavor would help, but maybe not. I’m going to keep trying it to see if he gets used to it, because he is very adaptable. I would like the whole family to be using the same product.

That being said, our subscription box includes a six pack of Crest toothpaste, which I imagine will taste very chemical-y to me after my Tom’s experience. The older boys (my husband and 8 year old stepson) are not as into natural living as I am, so I have a feeling they will want to stick with mainstream toothpastes.

I’ll report back with any updates to our toothpaste experiences. Next up: the perfect toothbrush!

 

* I’ll share our subscription box information and my thoughts on that whole deal, soon.