Big weekly grocery run. Since the baggers at the store tend to only put 1-2 things in each plastic bag, it's hard to accurately count the number of bags I saved. Lets assume 2 per reusable, for arguments's sake.
4 produce bags
18 grocery bags
Add to that a stop on Tuesday to buy slippers for my kids as the floors get chilly and some office supplies, 2 more.
24 plastic bags NOT used in just two days. Maybe more, depending on the bagger at checkout.
Produce bags have saved me so much plastic! Wanna guess how many cashiers have ever complained about them? None. If they aren't able to read the sticker number through the mesh (which you totally can), then they open the drawstring to peek inside. The current version of the bag has a thick cotton drawstring cord that eliminates any need for knotting the bag shut.
Just cinch and go, knowing your apples won't roll all around your cart.
Three. Another stop at the grocery store (need to get back to weekly meal planning!), and one for coffee beans at the store. The cashier had never seen a reusable bag for coffee before. I'm such a rebel.
Just how many plastic bags am I NOT using in a typical week? By using reusables every chance I can remember, just how many bags stay out of my house?
Can 1 person really make a difference?
I say YES! Over the course of the week, I'm going to count and try to photograph every time I use something other than a plastic bag. Would anyone else like to join me??
Saturday tally: 2.
Another fun children's party trying to produce minimal waste. This time it was Lego Star Wars.
Many materials I already had on hand from a party I created for a customer last year. This was low budget, heavily Pinterest-inspired, but not as plastic-free as I hoped. The fun food ideas did me in!
Food individually packaged in plastic, then wrapped together in more plastic (cookies, Skittles, marshmallows, Ring Dings, etc.). For the next party, I think I'll have fewer fun Pinterest food displays, because the plastic is not worth the photo op. I'll focus more on recyle-able paper decorations and games.
Food included Tie Fighters (marshmallows and hexagonal shaped chocolate cookies); Ewok Treats (frosted rectangular cookies topped with Skittles); Yoda Soda (apple cider served in mason jars); Lego Cake (frosted Ring Dings on a rectangular homemade cake), and not shown were Princess Lays and Wookie Cookies (ginger snaps).
Favors came in hand sewn goodie bags made from Lego fabric. I made homemade Lego brick crayons (easier than it sounds--search for "recycled crayons" and buy an ice cube tray that works for your party theme). The second part of the favor was a felt popsicle cozy, aka Light Saber. Pin the helmet on Darth Vader was a hit (idea from this website), but the R2-D2 craft fell flat. Everyone just wanted to run and play outside because the weather was beautiful, which is even better!
There were light sabers made from spray-painted cardboard wrapping paper tubes, but they were all pretty much destroyed in a massive battle against Darth Vader. It seemed a better idea than using foam pool noodles, but none survived for anyone to actually take home!
Here's where someone points out that Legos are made from plastic. I know! I know! Baby steps. We used ceramic plates and regular flatware, though we did use disposable paper napkins. Overall, it was a VERY fun time, and I'm quite pleased with how waste was minimized without sacrificing the fun or budget.
Pencils! While not plastic-free (ribbons and tape), it is a use-able trinket for a class to celebrate a birthday. No sugary treats that have to follow school allergen guidelines, no junky plastic from Oriental Trading that will break before arriving at home. Every school kid can use a pencil, right?
A simple piece of paper cut to look like a balloon, taped onto a pencil top. Add a bit of curly ribbon, and together they look like a bunch of balloons.
Inspired by this idea on Pinterest from Teach Junkie, I used materials I already had on hand. All told, it took maybe half an hour to make.
School birthdays don't have to be plasticky or expensive!
The average child uses over 500 plastic baggies in one year for school lunches. 500! A reusable set of snack bags can easily replace those 500 bags going into our landfills every year. $16 for a set of my machine washable zippered bags (one small, one large) is a bargain to save that much plastic from being thrown away.
Proper washing (cold water) and line drying will extend the life of the bag. We are using bags which are on their third school year.
The zipper closure mimics the plastic version, is easier for children to manipulate open, plus it doesn't pick up laundry lint like a Velcro closure would. You can find these in local shops like Clements Market, at my artisan fair booth, or let me know what fabric you would like directly and I am happy to make them for you and/or your children. Making a bag in a fabric you adore is one way to ensure that it will be used often!
These are available in two different sizes and two different linings. The standard bag has a ripstop nylon lining which is food safe, water resistant, machine washable and great for items such as crackers and non-messy sandwiches ($7 and $9). The second version is lined with PUL, a waterproof material which is also food safe, machine washable and great for messier or "wetter" snacks like PB&J or freshly-washed grapes ($10 and $12). Keep in mind that the bag overall is not waterproof--you cannot throw this bag overboard and have it protect your phone--the zipper itself is still somewhat porous.
Even if you don't buy your reusable bags from me, it's worth considering alternatives to plastic baggies.
A few years ago I started making all of our bread to avoid processed ingredients. Life got busy, the summer got hot, and I stopped "for a little while." A year and a half later, I'm back to it with a fabulously easy method from this book:
The title is a bit misleading. It should read "5 minutes hands-on work per day." There is still some rising time. For someone who works from home, this could not be simpler, healthier and less expensive! All while ditching the plastic wrapping. Flour in a paper sack, yeast from a jar, not a plastic coated envelope.
Mix up a handful of ingredients (yeast, water, salt, flour), then let it rise. Throw everything in the fridge. When you wany to make a boule or any other loaf described in the book, grab a handful of dough, put it on a wooden cutting board to rise while the oven heats. Then bake.
I use this dough for pizzas all the time, and soups always have a fresh homemade bread accompaniment.
My rising container is admittedly plastic, but I'm working on that. I needed to get back into my baking habit before buying any reusable containers. So I use what I already have on hand.
We were using this bread, by all appearances, "healthy." The ingredient list says otherwise...
I much prefer my 4 ingredient version!
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.