Photo of home-made yogurt. By Daphne Orlando
First of all, what is World Environment Day?
I’ll answer that first by going back another step with answering, who is hosting this initiative? The answer, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). And who are they? Here is a quote from their website :
What is EcoPetites doing?
In my business, the biggest use of plastic is the packaging. It is an area I have felt some conflict about, and here is what I’m doing about it. In July of 2021, I wrote about the state of packaging at the time. To read that article (and see a cute picture of my cat when he was a mere kitten) click here: Waste and Packaging
I wrote about the transition to cardboard outer mailers, which I use almost exclusively. Sometimes on larger orders, the recycled poly mailer contains and protects better, and is lighter. With lighter packaging, the carbon footprint during transportation is reduced. However, I am concluding that the packaging is something I have more control over. And I believe the solution with shipping is switching to cleaner vehicles- if a shipping business makes that switch faster and sooner than USPS and the other big shippers, I will use them! But the eventual solution to the plastic crisis is to find ways to not use single-use plastics at all.
I still do have a small number of recycled poly mailers, which I plan to prioritize for longer distance shipping and heavier orders.
The inner poly bag is still a dilemma. Because I have been so conservative about using the one and only batch of polybags that I received as part of my original production run around 2015, I still have some. It is actually less wasteful to use them up vs buying new non-plastic bags. What would I do with the ones I have? It’s true- it would look better to ship without them and to remove the bags on clothes already bagged up, but what good would that do?
So you still may receive clothes packaged in those. Please recycle them. That first batch was considered to be a normal part of a sewing order, but since then, have requested no bags at all. In fact, I don’t even work with those manufacturers who polybag by default any longer. I provide reusable containers for the sewing shop to put the finished goods in for me, so there is no single-use plastic in wrapping up my order.
What I am switching over to is glassine bags. They are made out of paper, are FSC certified, plastic-free and curbside recyclable. Because they are not as clear as plastic, I found that I need to write on the bag what is inside. I am attempting to increase efficiency by bagging and tagging everything ahead of time, rather than as your orders come in.
But other than ordering your clothes from a conscientious business like mine, there is so much more we all can do. The area that I look at in my own home are the things I buy regularly. Groceries and toiletries are by far the biggest source of single use plastics in my household, and I’m guessing, yours as well.
So, what am I doing in my own home?
I am continuously trying to find ways to improve my impact on the environment through what I consume. It is hard! Even when you care, it takes planning, effort and research. Hopefully, I can help you with the research part!
Here are my three most recent plastic-packaging reducing new habits and purchases.
I've recently started making my own yogurt. To be fair, I was motivated by health reasons, not for the plastic reduction. However, it has turned out to be a really good one for these hard-to-find plastic-free grocery items. My yogurt maker came with these cute little 6 oz glass bottles. I also have a 1.75 quart glass container that fits in there perfectly if I want to make a batch before these are gone.
Did you know that if you culture it for a full 24 hours you get a lactose-free version? Sour and delicious. I like it plain, one of my sons douses it with honey, which admittedly I sometimes do, too!
Not only does this save on a whole bunch of plastic yogurt containers, but I've also been making sour cream and cream cheese (not a true cheese) as well, saving even more plastic. I buy my milk in returnable glass bottles or recycle-able cartons.
What I’m also loving about this switch is that it's actually cheaper than buying yogurt and sour cream. I can’t say that for all the switches I’ve made, and sometimes the price increase is hard to swallow (pun intended!).
Home-made yogurt can also be made out of but milks, and doesn’t need the long fermentation time since it already lacks lactose. My recipe for nut based yogurt contains gelatin, so I can’t say it is vegan, but it is certainly reducitarian. Buying nuts in bulk is a great package-free way to get your food (just remember to bring your own container).
I should also include shampoo and conditioner in this same discovery, since that is how I found the deodorant. A friend of mine was talking about switching to shampoo bars to go plastic free in the shower, which inspired me to make that change. I was hesitant initially, but ultimately so happy with the switch. My local co-op always has such knowledgeable staff, so whenI asked about shampoo bars and was directed to a brand called HiBAR that not only has plastic-free packaging, but is also local! (St.Paul, MN). Luckily, they are widely distributed so you maybe able to find a store that carries them near you, even outside of Minnesota.
It was an adjustment- it doesn’t lather as much as I was used to. But it still cleans as well. Now that I’ve transitioned, I’m not going back! I love it.
Recently, I ran out of deodorant, and maybe because I was shopping in a store I don’t normally go to, I discovered that HiBAR also makes deodorant! Due to already knowing about them and liking their other products, this switch was easy. It was one I was bummed about the plastic container, but didn’t know there was an alternative– until it was right under my nose. Literally. As in, lovely smell, too.
This switch is brand-spankin’ new for me. I have a lot of food sensitivities, so I have to also be careful about what I put on my lips. Although I’ve been aware of the plastic-free alternatives for lip-balm for a while, I didn’t like the stick-your-finger in the tub style container. Also, the brands I’ve tried with that style cause me to break out around my mouth. Yeah- sensitive, I know, it's a pain.
Yesterday morning, I noticed that I was almost out of my long-time favorite lip-balm, and was sad about the plastic. I forgot about it, as I went on with my day- but lo and behold- I just ran into the solution! I met some friends at the Edina Art Fair (in MN we go crazy with our outdoor events all summer). I just happened to stop at a booth, drawn in by some lovely fragrances in their soap.
And there it was, front and center. Lip balm in a plastic-free container. Quality, natural ingredients, free of all the stuff I react to. Dandelion Naturals is my answer! I am so thrilled to find this product. I’ve been using it today, love how it feels and am impressed by how long it keeps my lips supple. On top of all that good stuff, they are local– and made by hand, also locally. Hits all the check marks. Their products are available online, or if you live in MN, you can look at the list of shops that carry their products and see if one is close to you. Oh and the soaps are so beautiful, like little works of art. How fitting I found them at an Art Fair!
Above: Dandelion Natural Honey Lip Balm
I hope this inspires you to find new products to help you ditch the plastics. Follow along on social media for challenges, ideas and inspiration.
Did you like this article? Here is another one you may be interested in: Reducing Microplastics from Our Clothing.