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CHALLENGE DAY 21

HAPPY EARTH DAY 2018!

Today’s challenge is to slow down…

…is there a way you can create more time to allow to make your lunch? 

Make your own bread, jam or yogurt?

How about just taking some time for self care?

Life today is busy and stressed for most people.  I don’t think we are on this planet to live busy and stressed.

Mindfulness about ourselves, our community and our planet means taking the time

to “look around once and a while or you might miss it ” (in the words of Ferris Bueller)

Ferris Bueller Quote

So, today, can you take some time and go for a walk? 

Observe birds chirping, the color of the sky, the color of the grass. 

Have you seen bees yet this season?  They are critical pollinators for our food sources. 

Can you sit and take 10 minutes to focus just on your breath?

Can you lovingly make a meal for yourself and your family?

Can you make time to bake a loaf of bread with care?

That is all.

Just slow down today.

And, enjoy.

Thank you to all of you who participated, took a look and asked questions or made suggestions.  This has been a fantastic journey!

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CHALLENGE DAY 20

Today’s challenge is to D.I.Y.

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:

bread, yogurt, jam, frozen fruit, juices, granola, trail mix, tea, nut butters, canned veggies/fruit, household cleaners

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.

(I’m not making this up…)

Is THIS why your mum’s meals taste so good?

One of the world’s best chefs says you can taste the love in really good food

How does one put love into their cooking?

COOKING WITH LOVE VS. HALF-ASS COOKING

As always, if this challenge does not work for you today, please do one of the Optional Challenges today!


Here are a couple recipes to get you started (hopefully with ingredients you already have at home):

 

 

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CHALLENGE DAY 19

Today’s challenge is about your dishwasher!*

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**)

Ecover Pods

Seventh Generation Pods

Nice! Dishwasher Packs

My favorite web site for evaluating products is ewg.org.  Here are their “A” rated products:

EWG.org’s Web Site for Dishwashing Detergent

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,

this challenge does not apply to you.

Feel free to do one of the Optional Challenges!


For more reading on this, you can read my blog post on the topic here: https://sustainablethree.com/2018/02/15/to-dishwasher-or-not/

Also, it’s a good idea to make sure you are using a high-efficiency dishwasher for energy savings!

Find out if your dishwasher is energy efficient

**Despite their “Next to Godliness” labeling, many of Trader Joe’s cleaning products actually get “D’s” and “F’s” on EWG.org’s web site:

Not so “Godly” Trader Joe’s Cleaners

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CHALLENGE DAY 18

Clean up Your Cleaners

Today’s Challenge is to find out if your dry cleaning service is “green” (if you have your clothes dry cleaned).  This should be as simple as a phone call or Internet search.

What does that mean?

Dry cleaning chemicals have historically tended to be highly carcinogenic (psst…that means they cause that nasty thing called CANCER).   

Articles like this one about PERC are disturbing to say the least:

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20100209/dry-cleaning-chemical-likely-causes-cancer#1

(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.

100 Percent PERC Free

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:

Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaners Search

or

Green Dry Cleaners Search

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:

Dirty Laundry Should I give up dry cleaning?

(One of the links was broken in this article, so I found this: Alternative Solvents: Health and Environmental Impacts and am going to take it to my local dry cleaners and ask which products they use).

This is a simpler (and prettier) breakdown of dry cleaning chemicals that may be used by your dry cleaners:

What Chemicals Are Used in Dry Cleaning?

Do you OSHA?  Then, here’s a lengthy read for you:

REDUCING WORKER EXPOSURE TO PERCHLOROETHYLENE (PERC) IN DRY CLEANING

And, finally, now that the Chemistry lesson is over, here’s a good quick read for a laugh:

https://www.fashionstork.com/blog/10-dirty-secrets-your-dry-cleaners-know-about-you/

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CHALLENGE DAY 17

Thrift Store Shopping

Sustainable Fashion – Try out a Thrift Store!

Today’s challenge is to explore thrift shopping if you don’t already.  Check out a local thrift store and see what great selection they have for all sorts of items.

Some are better than others, so I would recommend doing your research.

Maybe start here:  Thrift Store Google Search

If you already thrift shop, good for you!  You can do one of the Optional Challenges today!!

(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!

 

Check out Patrice J. Williams’ blog and book!

Looking Fly on a Dime

Here are some other thrift store shopping resources to help you get started (and save money!):

Here’s a fun video:

31 Best Thrift Tips

More helpful tips!:

29 Tips to Rock Thrift Store Shopping

 

http://sixdollarfamily.com/8-thrift-store-shopping-tips-to-save-you-money

 

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CHALLENGE DAY 16

Go Green with your Products!

https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners#.WtWL7ojwaUk

 

Today’s challenge is to go green with your products! This has many elements.

One way is to purchase more ecologically friendly products using Environmental Working Group’s web site or

Try Buycott or Think Dirty apps as a guide

&/OR

try using more natural everyday household items

(like coconut oil instead of body lotion,

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:

41 DIY Homemade Cleaner Recipes

Or, maybe your activity today is to install

one of the apps mentioned and check out a few items in your home or at the store.

 

For more on how to swap out your cleaning products for less toxic ones,

you can also dig deeper and read my blog post “Taming the Toxins in Your Home”.

 

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CHALLENGE DAY 15

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.

 

If you already compost, congratulations! 

You can either take the day off or do one of the Optional Challenges today! 

Thank you for reducing your waste!

 

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CHALLENGE DAY 14

Create a Car Kit!

Today’s challenge is to set up a car kit to make zero waste shopping and such easier.

It could be as simple as:

a cardboard box,

a reusable coffee mug,

reusable drink bottle,

reusable straws and cutlery,

cloth napkins,

A to-go/take-away kit

a few Mason jars,

mesh bags for shopping

for produce and such,

and 5-10 reusable shopping bags.

We found this great suggestion on Instagram, but you can do any format that works for you:

View this post on Instagram

CAR KIT: being prepared is probably my biggest trick to maintaining as zero waste as possible. while I keep my reusable bags by the front door so I can remember them before shopping trips, I also have a mini kit in my car in case of emergency. reusable canvas tote, burlap sack, three produce bags, two mini cloth bags, one large and one small jar, a tiny jar, reusable coffee cup, measuring cup, spork, bottle opener, cloth napkin, little cardboard roll with yarn, twine and rubber bands. How do you prepare for ZW emergencies on the go? . . KIT DE COCHE: estar preparado es probablemente mi mayor truco para mantener cero desechos como sea posible. mientras guardo mis bolsas reutilizables por la puerta de entrada para que recuerda antes de ir de compras, también tengo un mini kit en mi automóvil en caso de emergencia. bolsa de lona reutilizable, saco de arpillera, tres bolsas de tela, dos bolsas de tela mini, un frasco grande y otro pequeño, un frasco chiquitito, taza de café reutilizable, taza medidora, spork, abrebotellas, servilleta de tela, rollo de cartón con hilo y bandas de goma. ¿Cómo te preparas para las emergencias de acero basura? . #goinggreen #ecofriendly #ditchplastic #incaseofemergency #zerowastehome #reusables #zerowaste #nontoxicliving #sustainableliving #lifewithoutplastic #goingzerowaste #vidasimple #basuracero #residuocero #ecologico #cerodesperdicio #fueraquimicos #ceroresiduo #natural #encasodeemergencia #sindesperdicio #sostenible #productosnaturales #vidanatural #cerobasura

A post shared by Heidi Violet (@zerowastechica) on

…from ZeroWasteChica (Instagram)

This is a really great break-down:

https://www.tinyyellowbungalow.com/zero-waste-on-the-go-kit/

(see this blog featured image)

 

And, here is a great solution for your purse, back pack or carrier bag:

Photo: BeZero.org

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CHALLENGE DAY 13

Turn off the Tap!

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)
  • Washing dishes
  • While shaving
  • While shaving legs in the shower
  • Any time you are not actively using the water

It’s that simple.

Here are some water saving resources:

See Rob’s blog about water-saving sprinklers

https://www.care2.com/greenliving/20-ways-to-conserve-water-at-home.html

https://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve

https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/45-ways-to-conserve-water-in-the-home-and-yard/

https://www.care2.com/greenliving/20-ways-to-conserve-water-at-home.html

And a bunch more resources here:

More resources to help save water…

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CHALLENGE DAY 12

Coffee Klatch – Bring Your Own Mug and Linger

kaf·fee·klatsch
ˈkafāˌklaCH/
noun
noun: kaffeeklatsch; plural noun: kaffeeklatsches
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.
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