We are super addicted to packaging in modern society. The item we are really purchasing is sometimes wrapped in plastic and again in a plastic container. And, again, plastic (although recyclable in most cases) is not biodegradable. So, today I’d like you to invite you to make something on your own that you normally buy in a container.
Try making your own.
Here are some examples of products you can make at home:
To make this easier, I am providing a couple recipes, but feel free to do your own research and get creative!
When I was growing up, my mother made her own bread, refried beans, cookies, cakes, etc.
As I’ve become a mother, I’ve learned about canning, juicing and making my own household cleaners and tea.
Yes, it’s more time consuming than just running to the store. But, can you turn it into an exercise in Mindfulness? Being aware that by making your own bread, you know where the ingredients came from, you know how it was handled and prepared. And, you can put the love in!
I keep a little spice container by my cooktop labeled “LOVE” and as I am cooking, I sprinkle a little into the dish I am preparing. It’s technically empty, but it is a reminder to get present to what I am doing and be Mindful of my current activity. Sometimes I’m in a rush and forget. But on those days, the meals are definitely not as delicious to my family or myself.
When was the last time you really thought about how your dishes are cleaned by that machine? It’s not a riveting topic, but have you found yourself mumbling as you unload your dishwasher something like “THAT didn’t come clean” and fling it in the sink for further scrubbing?
HOW we load our dishwasher makes a big difference in how many dishes we can fit in there and how clean they come out upon unloading. I jam pack my dishwasher and 95% of the time the dishes come out sparkling clean. My secret? I read my dishwasher user manual. Also, you can help your machine do its very best job when you be sure to rinse off STARCH (rice, bread, pasta, etc.), EGG and BIG CHUNKS. There is no need to obsessively rinse the dishes as that just wastes water and energy. A quick scrape of the plate or bowl ought to do it.
Which dish-washing detergent you use can make a difference as well. I recommend using PODS because they are measured doses and therefore less wasteful.
Here are some eco-friendly brands I’ve personally tested that work well:
Trader Joe’s PODS (not the other powder in the green box**)
Seventh Generation Pods
Nice! Dishwasher Packs
My favorite web site for evaluating products is ewg.org. Here are their “A” rated products:
Also, doing a regular quick scrub of the filter helps keep trapped bits from clogging up the drain and helps the dishes get cleaner more efficiently. This is not something you have to do each load (like removing lint from your dryer), but a once monthly clean-up helps.
How you load your dishwasher will depend on your machine; but, generally speaking, drinking glasses, plastic containers and smaller, loose items (like lids, knives, long spoons, etc). do best on the top rack. Then, plates, bowls, casserole dishes and cutlery do better on the bottom. Because they get sprayed from both sides, they come cleaner down there.
Rather than just run it, run the hot water in the kitchen sink and turn on the garbage disposal (if you have one) to clear it. Then, once hot, turn the water and disposer off and then start the dishwasher. This helps use less electricity as the machine doesn’t have to do the initial heating. (a little trick a plumber taught me after replacing our garbage disposal). This also clears the line so you don’t end up with gunk in the washer while it’s working on cleaning the dishes.
*If you hand wash dishes
or have already read your dishwasher’s user manual,
(If you don’t want to read the article, let me sum up for you: PERC (which is short for a chemical I cannot pronounce (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene). It has been found in the air, water, people’s blood and breast milk. It most likely causes cancer and brain damage. IF that is enough to get you concerned, have no fear.
One helpful choice is to have your items washed and pressed at the cleaners instead of dry cleaned. With skilled technicians and the most up-to-date machinery, wet cleaning can be as safe and effective as dry cleaning.
However, you may have some clothes that have to be dry cleaned. Thankfully, many dry cleaning companies have switched to more eco-friendly practices. I would highly recommend you follow some of the guidelines below (see links down further) to find out which chemicals your dry cleaners are using.
You could try one of these searches to find one near you:
If you already take your clothes to a “green”/eco-friendly dry cleaners, ask if they have a reusable garment bag option. Our local dry cleaners offer a service with a one-time investment in a reusable garment bag. That way you aren’t getting those plastic dry cleaning bags that you have to then deal with (hopefully) responsibly. If you have a bunch of those plastic dry cleaner bags and hangers, most dry cleaners will recycle them, so you can add dropping them off to your next combined errands trip. 🙂
Also, when you take your clothes to the dry cleaners, it is helpful to have a dedicated bag in which to take them.
If you don’t dry clean any of your clothes, then today you can do one of the Optional Challenges!
For more on dry cleaning and PERC, check out these links:
(And, as always, if you can’t do the challenge of the day, you can do one of the Optional Challenges)
One of the greenest things you can do is reuse. The clothing industry is incredibly wasteful as people have become more and more trained to essentially throw away their clothes. (Where previous generations would fix, mend, re-purpose, or hand-down clothing). Last spring I had the pleasure of interviewing a fashion designer who gave me all sorts of great tips on more green clothing shopping. (That will be in an upcoming blog post). But, the best piece of advice she gave me was to thrift shop for clothes. After you shop and ask around, you will find your favorite stores. Junior League, Salvation Army, Goodwill, ARC, and many more have lots of options in a variety of scales. Consignment shops are another option. Often, you can find high fashion brands – sometimes with the tags still on!
baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar for cleaning, etc.).
I’m not saying to go replace all your current cleaners right now, but maybe spend 10 minutes going to ewg.org’s web site and investigate a few of your more frequently used products. Make a plan to swap those out for more eco-friendly choices. Or, maybe try natural products like baking soda (scrub) and lemon juice or vinegar (disinfect & shine) to clean your sink or tub next time. You may be surprised! Thieves Oil works great for antibacterial cleaning. A combination of clove, peppermint and tea tree essential oils mixed with 3/4 water ant 1/4 witch hazel in a spray bottle works wonders on floors (and yoga mats) for antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial cleaning.
Here is a web site you can check out for other recipes for D.I.Y. cleaners:
Today’s challenge is to start composting – or at least look into it.
Part 1 of this challenge – instead of putting your peelings and other food waste in the bin, save it for this one day and see how much you would divert from the landfill, then consider starting composting at home or with your city’s composting program (where available).
Maybe keep the peelings and such in a bag throughout the day and then weigh the bag at the end of the day. Take a photo of it and share it on social media. Then, if you multiply that times 365 that’s how much your household is contributing to the landfill each year.
Part 2 of this challenge is to actually start composting. If you have five to 10 minutes today, research what it would take to start composting. So much of what ends up in the landfill is wasted food. Something like 40% of food in America is thrown away. Composting not only diverts food from going to the landfill, it also nourishes the soil making it healthier for growing more healthy food and the cycle continues. So, you can find out if your city has a composting program. Or, if you have the ability and space to have compost in your own yard and start a garden this summer, this is a good time to get it started. Feel overwhelmed by the idea of starting your own compost? SustainableThree.com offers consulting services for this very thing.
Thousands of gallons of water are wasted each year because people leave the tap running while doing water-related activities.
The average American household uses 400 gallons of water per day!
Today’s challenge is to turn off the tap while you…
Brush your teeth
Wash your hands (similar to the combat shower – turn the tap on, get hands wet, turn the tap off, soap up (lathering to the “A,B,C song” if that’s the way you roll), turn the tap back on, rinse, turn the tap off)
1. an informal social gathering at which coffee is served.
Today’s challenge is to have coffee (or tea) with someone at home or at a cafe and make a mindful connection with them. OR, have a coffee date with yourself. Can you make a new friend?
Whichever you choose, be sure to bring your own mug or ask for a “for here” mug so there isn’t any waste.
Most of my meetings these days happen over cups of a hot drink – coffee or tea. Because we are involved in the same activity, it creates a space for connection and communication.
In the spirit of Mindfulness, you can be Mindful in the way you enjoy your cuppa. Sit with your cup of warm beverage. Observe the steam rising from it. Observe the color. Make these observations as though you are an alien or a child and have never seen coffee or tea before this moment. Smell the aroma. What do you notice? Feel the warmth of the mug with your hands. Do you like milk or sugar, honey or lemon? Each of these changes the original beverage. I like my coffee with almond milk and agave nectar and for the color to be a beautiful caramel tan color.
Can we settle in to these moments and let them be little gifts to ourselves?
We are nearly halfway through this challenge and today is about taking some time for ourselves.