I turned two old racing giveaways into reusable bags for bulk items in the grocery. I bought a $17 sewing machine from Amazon for this purpose. Essentially, it involves sewing seams while they are inside out and passing a drawstring through them to cinch the top. This is my first sewing project ever.
This was made from a neck gaitor
This was built from an old piece of timber and a water bottle
The bottle is a cobalt water bottle. I cut the bottom off and polished it smooth. It has a reproduction Edison squirrel cage bulb.
The wood is some very old recycled timber given to me by my brother in law
Bar soap is better than liquid soap based on its lower cost per use, equal effectiveness at cleansing and disinfecting, lower packaging and overall lower environmental impact.
Cost – Bill Chameides, in his blog post referenced below estimates a cost of .4 cents per use with bar soap and 3.5 cents per use with liquid soap. Liquid soap is almost ten times more expensive to use.
Effectiveness – Both products clean and disinfect equally. Although bacteria can remain on the surface of soap and the surface of a liquid soap dispenser, there is no evidence that these bacteria (or viruses) will remain on the skin after you wash your hands. See the Scientific American reference below.
Environmental Impact – Liquid soap creates more solid waste including the often one-time use dispenser and the packaging for the liquid soap. Bar soap can be bought without a wrapper in bulk or with minimal packaging. More energy is required to transport liquid soap because of the bulk and weight. People use more water when they use bar soap than liquid soap. I would suggest this is because we leave the tap on as we lather our hands. This can be reduced by turning the tap off during lathering.
Optimizing use/minimizing waste –
- Opt for soap without packaging or with minimal packaging
- If using liquid soap, look for refills versus single-use dispensers.
- Turn off the tap while lathering. Wet your hands and turn off the tap. Lather and then turn the tap on to rinse off.
- Use the minimal amount of liquid product when washing. A full pump might be more than you need.
- When using bar soap, keep it elevated using a soap dish and platform.
- Consider using a soap sponge or washcloth to contain smaller soap scraps
Conclusion: Bar soap is better than liquid soap economically and ecologically.
Today I read that shredding paper shortens its fibers and renders it useful for creating toilet paper but not other papers like printer paper. See this link for a reference on shredded paper.
I developed the habit of shredding everything in my office including envelopes. I would then dutifully dump it into a brown paper grocery bag and walk it to the paper recycling bin. The new protocol will be to only shred what is confidential. I’m not even sure that shredded paper does more harm than good. I want to avoid what the NY Times called “aspirational recycling” where you put it in the bin and hope it is either recyclable or some person or machine will remove it if it isn’t. Because of purity standards, contamination can lead to rejection of and landfilling of entire batches of recycled goods.
This article Chinese Paper Contamination says that Chinese standards are now .5 percent contaminated before rejection. So, throwing in food or plastic or pizza boxes is going to render all the recycling as landfill. Perhaps shredded paper will add to that problem. Plastic coated coffee cups, milk containers coated with wax or plastic, juice boxes unfortunately definitely will contaminate the batch.
I recently discovered Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home. I ordered the book thru the library (of course) and have been reading her blog Zero Waste Home and watched some of the many videos related to this concept on Youtube. I took the first small step today by bringing my Yeti cup. I had read that coffee cups are not recyclable because they have both plastic and paper.
It was a pleasant surprise when I saw that I got ten cents off for bringing my own cup. I look at this as an all-around win. I get the coffee, get the savings, don’t throw out a cup into a landfill, and have a better container to drink my coffee in. It stays hot longer. It transports more easily.
In other small steps –
- I unplugged the small refrigerator in the basement. It contains some soda, but I really don’t drink soda and certainly don’t need to use the energy to cool it. If I want to drink something I can walk up a flight of stairs and get water.
- I raised the humidity level on the dehumidifier from 35 to 50 which should still inhibit mold growth but use less energy.
- I measured the water temperature in my hot water heater. It was 125. 120 F should be enough to kill Legionella without wasting energy or risking scalds.
- I began to use the Mason Jars to store food instead of in essentially open bags. I hope that will preserve it (hazelnuts) and lead to less waste.
- The past couple of days I’ve been using plastic utensils that go into the dishwasher for my lunch at work. I’ve also been bringing hankies instead of using paper napkins and today I retrieved my two bandanas from the storage area to use for this purpose.
I found the concept of waste reduction appealing. Lately, with the political chaos, I’ve felt like things were more out of control than usual and I felt that if I could reduce my own use, carbon footprint, and waste production I was taking at least some small but tangible step towards regaining control.
I don’t plan to be “zero-waste” and I think few people will. I do plan though to be more aware of what I use and what I discard.