Keeping the Toilet Bowl Clean

Day 323 – Happy World Toilet Day! I thought it was the perfect day to talk about keeping your toilet bowl clean in an environmentally friendly way. On Day 21, I wrote about Blueland and their line of cleaning products. The people friendly ingredients are packaged in compostable bags. When the tablets are added to water in reusable bottles, various cleaning products are produced.

I was very excited when I heard Blueland added toilet bowl tablets to their product line. One tablet and a toilet brush and you have yourself a clean bowl. The Toilet Cleaner Set comes with a tin and 14 tablets. Refill tablets come in a compostable bag, so absolutely no waste.

Another great way to celebrate World Toilet Day is to help build toilets in countries where they are not available. Who Gives a Crap donates 50% of their profits to ensure everyone has access to clean water and a toilet within our lifetime. They offer toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper or bamboo. It is packaged in brightly colored paper, so there is no plastic to discard. We have been using Who Gives a Crap since January and LOVE this company so much!

The next time you are in the bathroom think about the 3.6 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. Poor sanitation contaminates drinking-water sources, rivers, beaches and food crops, spreading deadly diseases among the wider population. It’s a convenience we usually take for granted.

Tomorrow, eco-friendly blankets.

Eco Packaging is Not a Fad

Day 185 – More times than not the news about the state of the environment can be rather depressing. It does seem like an uphill battle. Thankfully, more and more companies are making changes to be more environmentally friendly. Many have started with their packaging choices.

Eco packaging can come in a variety of forms:

  1. Made from post consumer recycled (PCR) material – PCR is created by consumers after a product has reached the end of its use. The benefit of using post-consumer content is it reuses refuse in the manufacture of goods, preventing items from ending up in the landfill or needing to rely on raw materials.
  2. Compostable material – Compostable products are made from renewable resources such as corn or bamboo. Compostable products need the proper conditions to breakdown. A commercial compost facility is a place where the perfect balance of heat, moisture, and oxygen is created to break down organic and plant-based materials. Without this perfect ecosystem, compostable products don’t break down. If compostable products are disposed of in the trash, which is what people commonly do, they won’t break down.
  3. Recyclable material – Cardboard, paper, aluminum and glass are all more easily recycled than plastic.
  4. Biodegradable material – If something is biodegradable, then, given the right conditions and presence of microorganisms, fungi, or bacteria, it will eventually break down to its basic components and blend back in with the earth. Ideally, but not always, these substances degrade without leaving any toxins behind. Some companies are beginning to use plant based packaging made of things like cornstarch, mushroom, sugarcane and coconut.
  5. Reusable packaging – Reusable packaging is packaging that can be used over and over again. Reusable packaging is key to a successful circular economy.

Kellogg’s – Kellogg’s already uses recyclable cardboard boxes for all of its cereal, and as part of their zero-deforestation pledge, most of these boxes are made from recycled carton board.

Lush – Lush makes handmade cosmetics using natural ingredients. Where possible, they use no packaging at all. For products that do require packaging, Lush uses sustainable, recycled materials for 90% of all packaging. Lush pots and packaging materials can also be recycled, composted or reused.

Colgate – Toothpaste tubes are usually made of a mix of materials that make them impossible to recycle. The company has been able to use high-density polyethylene to make a tube that can be recycled (much like milk cartons) but is also compatible with Colgate’s high-speed production equipment. The tube can even be ground up to be used to make something else.

Don Maslow Coffee – t’s using Elevate Packaging’s compostable films which are durable, yet moisture and oxygen resistant. As a result, every element of its coffee bags, including the seals, can be composted removing a huge amount of plastic from waste streams.

Alter Eco – Chocolate company Alter Eco has created wrappers, which are now fully compostable and non-toxic. The company spent three years developing the new material to ensure it protects the products as well as traditional packaging. It can be composted in industrial facilities but will also biodegrade if it ended up in the normal streams. Alter Eco has also created fully compostable stand-up pouches for its quinoa products.

Alima Pure – The certified B Corp sells its makeup in refillable compacts. So, when you’re done with your foundation (for example) just pop it out of the compact, then buy a refill magnetic pan filled with your desired new foundation and pop it in. Alima Pure is also proud to be carbon neutral and a member of 1% for the Planet.

Plaine Products – Plaine Products makes bath and body products packaged in aluminum bottles and eco-friendly shipping cartons. Plaine Products offers a refill program where you can send your bottle back to be refilled with product again and again, so you can save money and cut down on waste.

Who Gives a Crap – Their products are 100% plastic free and have options made from 100% recycled paper or 100% bamboo. Additionally, 50% of profits are donated to help build toilets for communities in need around the world. 

No Evil Foods – No Evil Foods sells a variety of small-batch, plant-based meat alternatives using sustainable ingredients. The brand’s innovative packaging uses fully compostable materials printed with plant-based ink.

Environmentally friendly packaging is out there, you just need to look for it. We also need to encourage more companies to use it.

Tomorrow, coming out of the pandemic and realizing that going back to “normal” is not an option.

We Have Reached the Half Way Mark!

Day 183 – Half the year is over and my family has made a lot of changes for the better. However, we still have another half to go, to learn and share ways to help protect our planet. Some changes have stuck, while others didn’t make the cut. I thought I would share what is working and what has not.

Our Top Ten Most Loved Changes

  1. Composting – On Day 2, Day 118 and Day 149, I have written about how awesome composting is and how using Waste Not Compost has changed our lives. For anyone wanting to make a difference, this is my #1 suggestion. Since, starting back in December 2020, my family of six has diverted 258 pounds of food waste from the landfill. Instead that food has created nutrient rich soil. Anyone that can add $10 to their weekly budget, should be composting!
  2. Recycling through the North Park Recycling Center – On Day 4, I wrote about how my family stopped putting our recyclables in the blue bin. After finding out how dismal our recycling percentage is in the city, I decided to send our recyclables to the North Park Village Recycling Center. We go once a month and sometimes I can stretch it out to two months. If you can avoid putting your recyclables in the blue bin and can find a reliable recycler, I encourage you to go that route.
  3. Using a Zero Waste Box – On Day 77, I wrote about how we invested in a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box. It has actually been three boxes. I first purchased a candy wrapper and snack bag box, thinking that would cover a lot of non-recyclable waste we were producing. I then moved into the kitchen box, which accepted many other things, like plastic packaging, paper Packaging, cleaning accessories, coffee and tea accessories, party supplies and dining disposables, interior home furnishings, prescription drug packaging, fabrics and clothing. I have finally came to the realization that the All-in-one box is the way to go. Just a few of the items accepted in the All-in-one box: art supplies, books & magazines, E-waste, eye wear, home cleaning accessories, fabrics, and clothing, office supplies, pet products (non-food), plastic cards, shipping materials, storage media, plastic and paper packaging, kitchen gear, filters (air/water), coffee capsules and coffee bags, party supplies and dining disposables. With the help of zero waste boxes, we have gone from two bags of garbage a week to one bag of garbage every three weeks.
  4. Reusable produce bags and storage bags – On Day 13 and Day 34, I wrote about how we switched to reusable produce bags and storage bags. This has been a game changer. The amount of plastic produce bags and Ziploc Storage bags (of all sizes) that we have avoided is substantial. This change is a no brainer and very easy to do!
  5. Blueland Products – On Day 21, I wrote about switching our cleaning products to Blueland and their line of plastic free products. We have know had a chance to use every product, but the glass cleaner and dish soap (still working on our original supply). We love every product, especially the foaming hand soap and dishwasher tablets. It feels so good to avoid purchasing all those cleaning products in plastic bottles. It’s also awesome that all the Blueland tablets arrive in compostable packaging.
  6. Who Gives a Crap – On Day 26, I wrote about switching to Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. This has been a real feel good purchase. Not only are we saving trees by using toilet paper made from recycled paper, but the company donates funds to build toilets in countries without such facilities. Love this company!
  7. Cloth Napkins – On Day 38, I wrote about how we have cut back on our paper towel use. A big thanks goes to my sister-in-law for making us cloth napkins that we use everyday, for every meal. Because of these pretty pieces of cloth, we have drastically cut back on our paper towel use.
  8. Plastic free laundry detergent – On Day 51, I wrote about ditching the liquid laundry detergent in the plastic bottle and going with Meliora’s powered detergent in a reusable canister. I have been using the detergent for months and have been very happy with it. I love that cleaning my laundry has become plastic free.
  9. Reducing the purchase of food in plastic containers – This one hasn’t been easy, but by cutting some products out of our lives and switching to glass or aluminum packaging, we have reduced our plastic waste. We no longer purchase spreadable butter and have avoided purchasing fruit in plastic packaging (strawberries and blueberries), just to name a few changes we have made. We will continue to work on this one.
  10. The switch to plastic free toiletries – We have made the switch to bar soap in plastic free packaging, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic free deodorant. We recycle our toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles though TerraCycle.

What didn’t work out

  1. Reusable shaver – On Day 71, I wrote about how I switched to a reusable shaver. Unfortunately, I have found that I am not a very skilled shaver. I had numerous cuts, but the last one was a doozy. I decided that for now, I needed to go back to a safer option. I am using a Gillette razor with replaceable blades and recycling those blades through TerraCycle.
  2. Misfits Market – On Day 36, I wrote about how we started a biweekly (every two weeks) subscription to Misfits Markets. We received shipments for numerous months. A couple weeks ago we decided to suspend our prescription. We had three orders with items missing and replaced with products we did not want. I was also not a fan of the packaging. Even though it was all recyclable, there was a lot. We are making a point to visit farms markets this summer to enjoy locally grown produce.

As you can see, almost all the changes we have made are working and we don’t mind doing them. They are all easy and not too difficult to implement. What changes are you ready to make?

Tomorrow, celebrating International Plastic Bag Free Day.

Update: Who Gives a Crap

Day 63 – While I was busy talking about shoe donation and recycling yesterday, the world celebrated World Wildlife Day. Personally, I think World Wildlife Day should be everyday. As should Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, Nurses Day, Teachers Day and many more important celebrations, but, I digress. This year’s theme is Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet. I thought it would be a perfect time to check-in on our new toilet paper choice and share how the family is enjoying the new brand.

Borrowed from the WGAC website.

It’s been a month now using Who Gives a Crap toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper. We are not missing our old brand. Even though the Kirkland brand was softer, it hasn’t been that big of an adjustment. Even my nose that gets blown on a daily basis due to some pretty severe allergies, has adjusted just fine. There have been zero complaints from the family and it feels good to support a company doing good in the world. Our paper wrappers go into the paper recycling and the box and toilet paper tube go into the cardboard recycling. Not one bit of plastic to deal with. It’s refreshing!

So, if you haven’t already made the switch, I encourage you to consider it. Your butt will be happy and so will your heart.

You should also check out Who Gives a Crap’s blog. They have great content. It’s awesome when they share updates about the impact they are having in communities where toilets are being built. You get to see how you are helping others. Just recently they shared an update.

“Last year we donated $10,000 to one of our partner organizations, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) to build brand new toilets that will provide proper sanitation to thousands of people in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s oldest informal settlements. We just got some updates on how the project is going, so we wanted to share with you! After all, none of this would be possible without your support.” You can read more about the project, HERE!

Lastly, I noticed on the empty toilet paper rolls a website address, www.wgac.me. Here you can read interesting toilet history, toilet trivia or toilet facts. Pretty much everything and anything you ever wanted to know, or didn’t ever care to know about toilets can be found on this site. Enjoy!

Tomorrow, charitable search engines and the causes they support.

Paper Towels: Lessening the need

Day 38 – The first step in minimizing our need for paper towels was to purchase some microfiber cleaning cloths. I liked the idea that they were effective when dealing with dusty surfaces. We have been using them for over six months and have been happy with there versatility in cleaning countless dirty situations. Now, the downside. I have learned that the microfiber cloth (and synthetic material in general) releases microplastics into the water. There are numerous ways to clean these cloths without releasing microplastics. I discussed numerous option in my post on microplastics (Day 33). If I had to do it all over again, I would stick to 100% cotton cloths (that you could make yourself from 100% cotton t-shirts). Not only will they not release harmful microplastics in the water, but they can be composted once they have worn out.

The second thing we started to do was use the awesome cloth napkins my sister-in-law made for a Christmas gift. We love using them and there is a nice supply. So I’m not constantly washing them. It has made dinnertime feel a little extra fancy.

Thankfully, any paper towels we do use are put into the compost bin. So, not one towel is placed into the garbage. However, there was one more change I wanted to make.

The Costco Kirkland paper towel was the towel of choice. However, after learning how their toilet paper was produced, I can only imagine that there paper towels are produced in the same manner. So, I was on the hunt for a more friendly brand.

There are numerous brands out there, but here are a few:

Who Gives a Crap – Each absorbent roll is made using a blend of bamboo and sugarcane. Our 2 ply sheets can handle spills and messes from countertops to cubicles to wiping that dusty corner of that room you never go in.

Green Forest – Green Forest paper towels are strong and absorbent for your clean-up needs. Like all of there products, they are made from 100% recycled paper, and a minimum of 90% of that is post-consumer recycled content.

Seventh Generation – Seventh generation white paper towels are made of 100 percent recycled paper (minimum 50 percent post-consumer recycled content). Paper towels are strong and absorbent featuring right size half sheets, customizable for little or big messes. No added chlorine, dyes, inks or fragrances.

We still have quite a few rolls of our Kirkland paper towels to get through (not using them as fast). However, once we finish, I will most likely start using the Seventh Generation towels. They are the least expensive per sheet and another one of those companies doing good in the world.

  1. They are a B-Corporation.
  2. Their products are biobased – derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials.
  3. Many of their packaging is made from 100% PCR (post consumer recycled) material. For those that are not, they are working toward 100%.
  4. They are also taking action on many topics relating to climate change and renewable energy, just to name a few.

So, when it comes to paper towels, we are reducing, using recycled and composting.

Tomorrow, an update on those holiday lights I collected.

Toilet Paper: You should give a crap

Day 26 – I don’t think I have ever been this excited about toilet paper. In all honesty, I have never been exciting about toilet paper. However, that has all changed with my purchase of Who Gives a Crap. This Australian company has found a way to make toilet paper environmentally friendly, charitable and fun!

Before purchasing Who Gives a Crap, we would alternate between Charmin and Costco’s Kirkland brand. Little did I know that these brands, along with other big name brands, are not very good for the environment. In 2019, a study was done by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Stand.earth to determine which toilet paper companies had the best sustainability practices. My two brands received “F” scores. This score was given because these companies (along with Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Target’s brand Up & Up) do not use any recycled content in their toilet paper. Instead, these brands get their paper by clear-cutting the Canadian boreal forest. With the amount of carbon dioxide being released in our atmosphere, we need to keep every tree we can.

I decided to look for a better alternative. The reviews were not great on recycled toilet paper products. That is, until I came upon, Who Gives a Crap. Here are all the reasons why this company is awesome!

  1. It is a plastic free product. No plastic bags or wraps, just paper.
  2. The toilet paper comes from recycled school and office paper.
  3. The toilet paper does not use any inks, dyes or scents.
  4. 50% of profits help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.
  5. The toilet paper is surprisingly soft and sturdy (its 3 ply).
  6. The cost is comparable to the name brands.
  7. The company is a certified B-Corporation, so you know they’re legit.
  8. The colorful wrappers will brighten up your bathroom.
  9. They’re just a fun company. Their name alone is a good indicator of that fact.

So, it is fitting that today, Australia Day, we celebrate an Australian company that is saving trees, saving lives and giving us something to be excited about, even if it is just toilet paper.

* Here’s $10 off from Who Gives a Crap!

Tomorrow, celebrating the 133rd birthday of a beloved magazine.