DIY Alternative to Plastic Wrap

I found out about using a beeswax soaked cloth as an alternative to plastic wrap a few months ago as I was binge watching Sophie Uliano on Youtube. She has a lot of “green” solutions to everything from beauty to household to nutrition.

During my Plastic Free Challenge I had three people tag me to a BuzzFeed video on beeswax wraps as an alternative to plastic wrap. I had already planned on posting how to do it yourself since it’s super easy and cheap but I just could not get around to it the last few weeks. When my own plastic wrap ran out a few months ago I switched to buying more glass containers and have just slowly reduced my need for plastic bags and plastic wrap. But there would be an occasional bowl that I needed to put in the fridge and instead of reaching for the plastic, I’d put an upside down plate over it. This new solution is much more convenient and less bulky then that though. I have been using one for close to a month now and really love it. So I made more to fit all my plastic needs when a container isn’t necessary, or not available. I’ve used it to cover watermelon, bowls, and even completely cover half an avocado!

Beeswax covered cloth is much MUCH better for the environment because it is reusable, it’s naturally anti-bacterial and anti-viral which means that things won’t grow on them. These can easily be washed in cold water and soap and it smells good too!

To make these all you need is:

  1. Fabric
  2. Beeswax (buy online or most craft stores, I got mine at Michael’s)
  3. An oven pan/tray
  4. An oven
  5. String & clothes pins

  1. Lay out the fabric. For an easy guide, you can trace a plate. But what I did is I put down the largest items in my kitchen that I typically had to use plastic wrap for in the past (large bowls, casserole dishes). BE SURE YOU ADD EXTRA SO IT CAN FOLD OVER.

2. Cut it out.

3. Heat the oven to 220 degrees F. It’s just warm enough to melt the beeswax and you do need to use pot holders when handling the tray out of the oven. But you can handle the fabric easily after a few seconds of it coming out of the oven with your fingers.

4. Depending on what kind of beeswax you got (beaded or block) put the fabric on the tray and place beaded of shaved beeswax over the fabric.

5. Place in oven until completely melted. You may have to move tray around to get the fabric completely covered.

6. Once it is all melted take out and QUICKLY hang to dry using string and clothes pins. Place tray underneath to collect any wax that drips off. Fabric will dry fast.

And that’s all! Super easy and simple. I cut up all different sizes for most of all my plastic needs.

Before this post is over though, I want to put something in your mind when thinking about using one-time-use items. Think of the “craddle to grave” so to say lifespan of those items and the energy, natural resources and consequences of these items. Plastic wrap, paper towels, paper plates, shampoo bottles, etc. Is it sustainable? Just think about it.

Notes:

*You may have to reheat the fabric in the oven if you don’t use the warmth of your hands to fold the fabric over things. It will crack the wax a little if it’s cold but it’s still usable, just looks cracked.

*Don’t use hot water to wash. Beeswax melts easily and since it’s anti-bacterial, you don’t have to use heat to kill germs.

*To get remainder wax off tray, let dry and peel it off. What you can’t get off, use a blow dryer until it’s warm enough to peel off easily.

Plastic Free Challenge Week #2 

Week 2 of my plastic free challenge came to an end Saturday night. So I’m going to share my experience doing this plastic free challenge for the last two weeks.

What plastic did I consume in week #2?

Clearly I still used plastic these last two weeks but it was a good challenge for me to discover how much plastic I actually do consume and how much can I reduce. The top picture is how much plastic I used in week two and the bottom picture is plastic that was in my cupboards. Last week I went through my cupboards and cleared out old things that have been there for months that needed to be dumped. But for transparency I added them also because it was still plastic I had to throw away during the week. Here is the list from the photo above of everything I actually purchased/used/received in the second week of my challenge:

  1. Baby wipes & diaper package
  2. Two mango containers from Costco
  3. Eraser toys of my daughter that broke (are erasers plastic? I would think yes nowadays although erasers originally were not plastic)
  4. Plastic lid
  5. Plastic lid wrap-around thing
  6. Candy someone gave my daughter
  7. Baby toothbrush container-part (toothbrush is in the shape of a banana)
  8. Packaging from the mail
  9. Two mints from Maggiano’s
  10. Plastic tag from asparagus bunch
  11. Produce stickers
  12. Bulk bin twisties
  13. Lactose package (I use to make my babies formula from scratch)
  14. Pasta bag
  15. Plastic bag that had bread in it my aunt gave me when I visited her

 

If you aren’t including the plastic coming from my pantry clean out, I only consumed a little less plastic than the week before.

Overall how hard is it to go plastic free?

It’s hard. Anytime you are changing your habits and lifestyle it’s going to take learning. It took me extra time to meal plan for the week. Since we eat a plant-based diet in our home with very little animal products in the month, many alternative vegan products come in packages so I had to make more things from scratch. This is good because although I think we eat pretty healthy with lot of produce, making just about everything from scratch took it to another level. It certainly is a new system that I would have to develop over the next few months. Another hard thing was that there are somethings (like mangos) that I can’t find better quality of without plastic packaging.

Do I plan on keeping up the plastic free challenge?

Absolutely. I bought Bea Johnson’s book “Zero Waste Home” which is chalk full of really great information on how to reduce your waste consumption. It was incredibly rewarding for me to be a more conscious consumer and I plan to continue to work towards reducing our waste more and more as time goes on. Some people I think can do it ‘cold turkey’ if you want to say, but with our family, I think it will take time. It starts with us and then letting others around us know of our changed lifestyle which for me -is the hardest part.

Plastic Free Challenge Week #1

Last week was the first week of my plastic-free challenge. In some ways it was very rewarding to find alternatives to plastics but on the other hand, I was surprised at how easy it is to be a plastic consumer and not even realize how quickly it can add up! Some things I wouldn’t even notice, until my 3-year-old would say, “Uh oh! Mom that’s plastic!” Overall though having my mom visiting, plus my husband, me and my two children -I feel we did pretty good.

What plastic did I consume?

Instead of putting plastic in the trash or what could be recycled, in the recycling bin, I kept everything separate in a brown grocery bag. The image above is what I had and here is a list:

  1. Yogurt container
  2. Plastic lid wraps
  3. 3 banana bags from Costco
  4. Bag of corn I already had in my freezer
  5. 3- It’s-It ice cream sandwich bags
  6. Juice container someone gave my daughter
  7. Phone charger case
  8. Plastic spork from my husband’s work
  9. Salad dressing lid plastic wrapper thing
  10. A few Emergen-C packs
  11. Stickers and plastic tags from Ross
  12. Insurance cards
  13. Plastic part from envelopes
  14. Bubble wand found on my porch
  15. Pasta packaging
  16. Cold medicine packaging
  17. Produce stickers
  18. Bulk section twisties (I’ll be reusing these though)
  19. Mail package that kept the pro-biotics I ordered online cold.

*Also some snacks and other food related packaging from my in-laws house because we stayed there this weekend…..didn’t think they’d appreciate me going through their trash though. HA!

How hard was it to strive for plastic free?

As you can see by my picture, it isn’t so much that it’s hard to refuse as it is just sometimes not in our control or we would forget. There are quite a few things that I already had in my kitchen before the week started (pasta, frozen corn bag) that I can start to make alternatives for but I wasn’t expecting the plastic on envelopes and then there are kind gestures from people in packaged form (toys, food, etc.)

There was one time I went on a walk unprepared with out my water bottle and my mom and I were so thirsty but I refused to go in a store for a water bottle. If it was in the middle of the day and we were sweating I would have. We weren’t by large stores with drinking fountains, just small ones that would be selling water bottles.

What’s left in my trash can?

I have to mention that I did use a trash can this past week -with a plastic bag cover. I used 4 trash bags for the week and  one small bathroom trash bag. Almost everything in my kitchen trash can  were food scraps that all could be composted and diapers. My bathroom trash mainly had floss and tissues, which actually the tissues could have been placed in the toilet when we went to the bathroom. Extreme? Maybe. So with this knowledge I’ve thought about alternative ways to reduce my trash bags. Diapers -If I had my own washer and dryer I would do cloth diapers but financially and practicality wise I do disposable. Food scraps- It’s hard to compost everything in an apartment but I am looking into ways I can at least reduce the food that goes into the trash. Floss- I’m also looking into alternatives for disposable floss.

What have I learned so far?

Plastic is so much apart of our everyday life we don’t even think twice. It takes practice, thought, and letting others around us aware. Something I will say though is it is cheaper. When you aren’t buying things in packaging you aren’t paying for the packaging. Bulk is cheaper and since I didn’t buy bread/tortillas in bags, it was cheaper making them too but a little time consuming. I still don’t have a good system down for either of these. Another thing is the closest store that has a bulk section is Sprouts for me and I really wish they had a larger snack selection in the bulk. We don’t need a lot of snacks but sometimes having something convenient on-the-go is nice. Moving forward I am going to look into making more snack, easy to grap, foods. And they’ll probably be a lot healthier too.

I love the comments here or on my social media platforms! Anyone else feeling inspired to minimize their plastic usage? Let me know!

Plastic: It’s Harmful, It’s Wasteful, It’s Everywhere

(picture by pixabay.com)

My adversion to waste started at a very young age. It was something ingrained in me as a child by my parents. While being potty trained I remember being taught 3 squares for #1, and 4 squares for #2. And don’t bunch up the toilet paper either, it won’t be used efficiently. Fold it. Paper towels only had one use: to wipe grease from the skillet. Using it to clean up a mess or to dry your hands was a HUGE no no! Food better not be thrown away either. Little children are to eat cut up apples slices because if you just give them an apple -most likely half of it will be thrown a way. On that note, there are certain ways to cut food up to ensure you aren’t wasting any parts. Canning food from our trees was no different either. Even the apple tree that had worms in every single apple were still canned. You just had to cut through every single slice around the part the worm had been in. I remember even finding maggots in the trash can because there was at one time raw meat in the trash but my dad dumped out the trash and kept the same trash bag so we could get more use out of one bag! Generally you only need to take the car somewhere if you have multiple places to go. And don’t even think about leaving a light on if you have left the room for a few minutes….I think you get the picture here. And many of these principles I still do in some version or another. “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a moto used in our home in more or less words.

Frugality is a good lesson to learn and it teaches you to appreciate what you have. My parents are  the King and Queen of this. But many of their principles are based around money not necessarily the cost to the environment. My awakening to living a more sustainable life started with my sophomore year of High School, from my body-smelling hippie biology teacher that I loved, who would talk to us about the Japanese principle of Wabi Sabi and the importance of reading books and about the destruction of the environment. Then the last 1/3 part of class we actually discussed biology. A year later I graduated early and bought my first book on how to “go green.” And my passion over the years for sustainability for the people, the animals and the planet has always been there since then, but based on situational circumstances my principles being practiced have at times been hard core and other times, not as much. I’m human right?

In college I was roommates with 5 other girls and daily our trash would have to be taken out. I couldn’t stand how much of our trash could be recycled or composted. So I would put all my recyclables in a pile and once a week walk from my apartment to the back of the grocery store and dump it in the proper recycling bins then do my grocery shopping. I didn’t have a car, but I couldn’t let all these things just get dumped. I’m now fortunate enough to live in California where there is easy access to recycling. My apartment has a dumpster just for recyclables and believe me, I use it. But recycling plastic it’s not good enough for me anymore. Recycling plastic is really downcycling. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade and turn back into soil. And when recycled it gets turned into a much harder plastic that won’t be able to be recycled again. So most plastics get one or two life spans. And that’s not all, they have horrible chemicals in them that are linked to imbalancing our hormones and are linked to certain cancers. I’m not just talking about BPA, which is a commonly known toxin people look out for in plastics. Plastic is not meant to be used over and over again. And many plastics are not properly put in the dumpster or recycled causing severe damage to our planet and animals.

Look around your house, almost everything was/is packaged in plastic or is plastic. I encourage you to read more about plastic here. And to educate yourself more on how wasteful and damaging it is.

All this being said, it doesn’t feel good enough for me to put plastic in a recycling bin anymore. There was life before plastic and in the history of mankind, it wasn’t that long ago that it didn’t even exist.

A Plastic Free Challenge for myself and for all who are interested! I am going to try to consume little, to no plastic items for two weeks starting March 26. I’m talking about predominately one-time-use plastic. I have containers made of plastic, my kids have toys with plastic, our car has plastic in it, so I’m not talking about stuff like that. I’m talking about plastics that have short lifespans and greatly reducing the type of plastic that doesn’t get multipe uses but gets used up quickly: grocery bags, straws, etc. Not consuming new plastic for the next two weeks. The challenge will be shared on my Facebook page which you can click on here: Simplicity In All Things where the community of everyone doing the challenge will be. I’ll be sharing tips this week on how to avoid new plastic to prepare us for the next two weeks and throughout the challenge I’ll be sharing my experiences and set backs. I hope that you will join me in the challenge and share your experience as well! It’s a starting point. And I hope it kick starts me (and hopefully you too) to use less and less of this manmade, non-biodegradable stuff.

 

A Poem I Wrote about Consumerism


If there’s anything that keeps me up at night, it’s the heavy weight I feel with the lifestyle I am caught up in of not always being a responsible consumer. What principles am I teaching my children? Where is my self-control? Why don’t I always make wiser purchasing choices? And why is our lifestyle such, that I don’t feel I have control of what enters my home even when I am making conscious choices? And even if I was different, would that isolate me, would that offend people who are also on this rat race of consuming as much as they can afford? How does it stop? How do we start waking up and start taking a good look at the impact we have on this planet, our health, and our addictions?

So one sleepless night I wrote a poem. I have never written a poem before but the thoughts in my head that kept playing over and over again had a ring to it and the words just flowed out of me with ease. This poem isn’t meant to sugar-coat behavior, it is meant to shock because things that bring discomfort make you think. And with shock and discomfort brings change. The narrator speaking is an American which is why I give it this title:

America’s Society

More, more, more -what void are we trying to fill?
Is one gift not enough? Is it something about us we’re trying to conceal?

With this, more, more, more
one day isn’t enough, we’ve got holidays,
yes many holidays to celebrate with more stuff.
Then there’s birthdays, promotions, and congrats for doing good
yes there’s always excuses to compulsively give,
celebrating with more is what motivates me to live.

You see, I’m rich by location of where I was born,
and that right alone has earned me my things.
I don’t have time to be innovative to cut economies off my strings.
I’m too busy working and playing for all this stuff,
They should have been born, where it isn’t so tough.

Cause I need, more, more, more
You say there are those who are poor?
I’ll just build a factory and build economy so I can keep my habits up,
Yeah, that will shut them up.

Don’t talk about using my money to be innovative, creative, generous, and good,
yeah, my goods could help other mankind in far lands
to become self-reliant and free their slave hands
but that takes thought and time and my own assets
And I need those resources,
Yes, I need cheap sources to fill my big void up.

More, more, more
You say I don’t give?
I give plenty to those that live-
just as comfortably as I do to show that I care
And I buy earth’s resources to bring others out of despair.

Don’t tell me they’re a slave to me,
look at it like I made them free.
Sure the consumption comes with a price, yes a fee,
to not give back to our earth more than we receive.
But I see this as a new meaning to “stewardship.”
Mines better, and clever, and works in harmony,
with this idea that today’s “what we want”
can be tomorrow’s “old thing.”

I need more and more.
Yeah I know there’s places where times are tough,
that’s why I employ them to make me more of this stuff.

Decluttering Books & Magazines

Back in 2014 I moved around a lot forcing me to have to decide what to part with. I got rid of a lot of books which was both hard to let go and also very freeing.

Here I show you all of the books my husband and I have displayed in our apartment. My husband does have probably another 2 dozen history books in his classroom and on our closet shelf but he’s a history teacher so it’s valuable knowledge. Our bookshelf is mostly his books too, that he so kindly went through with me to decide if he really needs them all or not. I have a few novels but for the most part my books are self help books I really love and some cook books. I don’t have a big issue owning too many book so much as I do with magazines so I’ll explain my system of keeping the amount low.

Books: You may be wondering why, why get rid of books? I am for having books and information that serves you, I especially do find value in non-electronic information. But I truly believe that everything has an energy about it, even if it just means that energy and emotion comes out of you from the objects. Just like our clothes, picking up each book and feeling if it sparks joy in you is crucial. If you pick up a book and you get the feeling of obligation, that you should be keeping it because it cost a lot of money or because someone gifted it to you but that it doesn’t spark joy, then get rid of it. “But what if they all spark joy?!?” Be honest with yourself and part with the ones that you haven’t flipped through in the last couple of years. I posted a picture of my book shelf so you could get an idea of a non cluttered space with books. If you have stacks of books everywhere, there’s a problem.

Magazines: Magazines can be filled with great resources, but they’re also filled with a lot of advertisements and information that you don’t need. Since many magazines come to people through a subscription it can be one item that really can take over the space in your home. I have been collecting magazine clippings since high school. I guess you could call it my ‘Pinterest before Pinterest’. Even today I still like to have a physical copy of articles that I enjoy. I have a binder for home decor and organization, a binder for fashion and fitness, sheet music of songs I enjoy, and recipes I’ve printed out that I found on Pinterest that I use on a continual basis. The basket and side table above has all the magazines I own, plus a coloring book, a few small books, a family journal, envelopes, a laptop, and a white binder and small binder I’ll talk about in a later post. I don’t buy magazines all the time or have a subscription but I buy them if I really love most of the content. The process of buying a magazine looks something like this: I go through it a handful of times in the store throughout the month and I have to be really thinking about it a lot before I’ll purchase it. So the magazines I do have have a lot of good content in them. And I’ll eventually tear out the pages, place in the binder, and declutter my pages currently in my binders.

Final thought: I also want to say that something I have noticed in myself is the more I get rid of, the more it makes me aware of the type of consumer I am. I spend a lot of systematic time deciding what I’ll purchase now. Getting rid of your belongings gives you a sense of freedom and a reality of how much of an addiction you have to consuming goods. Being a conscious consumer directs us into a path of being goods stewards of the earth.

Please share with me either here on my blog or on my social media platforms your thoughts and experiences decluttering magazines and books, I’d love to here from you!

Happy One Year: 10 Things I’ve Learned Being Married to You

(Photo via Myra.Photo)

This last weekend Stephen and I celebrated our one year anniversary! We spent the whole day Saturday driving around like we were on a road trip and eating the best Mexican and Italian food we’ve ever had in San Diego. It was a much needed date since we haven’t gone on one since our son was born and the last few we’ve had I was miserably pregnant.

Stephen and I met 7 years ago and dated for 2 years. We spent much of our waking days with one another and seriously thought we knew everything about each other! We definitely knew a lot but during our couple years away we both have changed and have had to get to know each other again and it’s been quite an adventure, not to mention marriage is always different than dating. Here are 10 things I’ve learned this last year:

(November 2009)
(July 2010)
  1. Blending families is tough. Or if you marry later in life, or you married really young, or too soon, or with kids or without kids. Marriage is just tougher than our ideal of what it’ll be like.
  2. What ever thoughts you nurture about your spouse will be the way you start perceiving them to be. If you think about all the negative and the things that bother you, they’ll start to annoy you more but if you focus on their strengths and think about the positive you’ll see the good.
  3. If you’ve got young kids and you want to…you have to schedule it in. That’s all I’m going to say on that one.
  4. Dates are important or else the person you’re married to starts feeling like a roommate. I resist this one for some reason, probably because I hate trying to find a babysitter.
  5. Having defined roles works for us. I have an aunt who says her husband makes the money and she spends it and I first thought it was silly and ‘poor husband’ but now I get it and it really works best for us that way too. It makes things much less complicated when you only have one spender. Only I like to say he makes the money and I work at stretching the dollar.
  6. Sometimes your spouse seems crazy…sometimes they think you’re nuts!
  7. You need a spouse who finds you lovable, even when you feel you aren’t. It makes the world of a difference when there is forgiveness and seeking to understand.
  8. One on one dates with kids are important too. If you want to make sure everyone feels needed and important, taking time to do one on one with everyone in the family really helps.
  9. Laughing is important…laughing at the appropriate time is important too. I think I’ve almost got the one down now.
  10. Marriage only works if you’re married to your best friend.

I love you Stephen! Here’s to many many more years.

(Photo via Myra.Photo)