I'm sure we can all agree that junk mail is the worst. And did you know that the average American receives 16 pieces of junk mail per week, which is about 41 pounds of mail per year going into landfills. When you put it that way stopping junk mail is actually making a *big* difference for our planet.
I collected all of my junk mail for the past month or so to learn, and then teach you, how to cancel your junk mail!
Here's what I learned:
1. Look for opt out instructions on mail pieces: For example, on the one hundredth coupon I received this week from Bed Bath and Beyond, there was a link to opt out at bedbathandbeyond/unsubscribe.com. Here once you put in your information you would be able to unsubscribe from future mailings.
2. There are third party vendors to help you unsubscribe from mail: This is great because these sites either help you or tell you how to unsubscribe from mail. Opt Out Pre Screen has a form where if you enter your name and birthdate you can either opt out of pre-qualified mail offers for either 5 years or permanently! (Note: there is a section for your social security number and birthdate but they are not required fields). Another site I found was the non-profit Catalog Choice. This site allows you to search the names of any company and it will let you know how to unsubscribe from their mailing. This was especially helpful with some of the more difficult ones.
3. Sometimes you have to call: Unfortunately not all companies make unsubscribing from junk mail easy. Like Verizon Fios, you have to call their customer service number to unsubscribe from their mail.
In order to get rid of your junk mail I would recommend collecting it over a period of time like I did and then sitting down and work through unsubscribing to everything you have. Or you could do them as you get them if you're truly on top of it! It can seem a little daunting but once you start you realize it isn't that hard. Not to mention this is a great free thing you can do to help reduce your carbon footprint!
One thing to note: when unsubscribing most sites did say to allow anywhere from 90 days to 8 weeks for the request to fully process. It may be worth writing down what date you unsubscribed from so that after the processing period you can ensure you still aren't getting mail.
A few weeks ago my aunt who lives in Massachusetts told me about a Wholesale Produce Market near her that has everything packaged in cardboard boxes. She said I should find out if there was anything like that near me. Lo and behold I found out that there is a Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market and this weekend I went on an adventure to check it out!
I wanted to put together a blog post on our experience at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market and include some tips to know before you go shopping at a wholesale produce market too.
The way these wholesale markets work is that you buy things by the case instead of just one or two single items. Oftentimes this involves no packaging or just cardboard box packaging, making it a zero-waste dream, however this also means you have to buy a larger quantity of produce than you may be used to buying.
This was essentially a giant warehouse, it felt like we were in the back of a BJ's or Costco. There was a guardrail too with a pedestrian sidewalk so that we could stay out of the way of workers on forklifts. Outside of that it was set up with different vendor stations similar to a farmer's market for bulk buying.
My Tips Before You Go:
We didn't bring any bags with us since we assumed we wouldn't need any and we were right, they did have carts that customers could grab and fill up with boxes as they went. But nothing we bought would have fit into a bag.
For this trip we didn't really have a list with us because we weren't 100% sure what we would be able to find. However, we knew that we wanted to get a case of broccoli because anytime we have broccoli in our dinners for the week we never seem to have enough. Well, we found broccoli alright. A case of 18 crowns of broccoli and it only cost us $8 which was huge!
We left happy with our purchase and went home to immediately begin blanching our broccoli. It took us 3 days of batches to work through but now we have broccoli for probably at least 6 months. If you also have a small household or live alone, one idea is to see if any of your friends or neighbors would like to go half/half with you on the produce you get. This way you can split the cost and not have quite as much produce stored away if you're worried about not getting to it all on time.
Have you ever shopped at a wholesale produce market before? What was your experience like? Some photos from our trip are below!
Coffee is a huge part of many people's morning routine, so I really wanted to tackle how to make coffee as low-waste as possible. We're going to cover everything from options on where and how to buy your coffee to decrease waste all the way to four different methods you can use when making your coffee at home. All of these methods I have either tried, or learned from living with different people throughout the years so I am certain that everyone will be able to find a routine that works for them.
Buying Coffee To Decrease Waste
Coffee bags themselves are not recyclable, which can create a lot of waste. I've come up with a few ideas on how to buy coffee to create the least amount of waste and I know everyone will be able to find an option that they do without much effort. I'm going to put them in order of least waste to most waste and then share which one I do.
So what do I currently do? I shop local. I find this the easiest for me because my kitchen is small and I don't have room for extra applicances (like a coffee grinder), and I also live about a 30 min drive to the closest place to get coffee beans package free. Also, I tried the instant coffee and didn't love it. Where I live, I'm walking distance from a coffee shop that makes all of their coffee in Pennsylvania and it's a small family business so I feel really good about supporting them and the fact that it is somewhat more sustainable! I wanted to make this point to show you that even if the most convenient option for you is the lesser of the sustainable options it's still a better choice and every little bit helps our planet.
How To Make Coffee Sustainably
This is where the fun comes in. You've purchased your coffee and it's time to make it while creating the least amount of waste possible. Here are my tips for making zero waste coffee with every type of machine!
1. Standard Coffee Pot: When using a standard coffee pot, either find a pot that has a reusable filter you like or buy your own reusable filters! I prefer the reusable filters that I bought because I find it does a better job of keeping coffee grounds out of my coffee. The maintenance is easy as well, everyday I dump the grounds into my compost and rinse out and then hang the filter to dry on my dish rack. Once per month I boil it for about 10 minutes and squeeze out the water to help rinse it out a little bit better.
2. French Press: French presses are a classic no waste way to make coffee because they don't require filter at all.
3. Keurig: I had a knock off Keurig for years that came with a reusable coffee pod. I would buy standard ground coffee and everyday fill it with coffee grounds and brew!
If coffee is something you consume everyday I am sure that there are some options here that will work for you to incorporate into your morning routine and reduce waste while you're at it! Let me know below if you have any other zero-waste coffee routines.
One thing I've found when looking into zero waste skincare is that it can be quite expensive. Especially when I just want some neutral face soap to wash my face with. I've used the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for years at this point and it does the job of cleaning my face at the end of the night without being too stripping. For this bottle at CVS or Walmart runs about $16 dollars which is honestly pretty expensive, although it does last probably 4 months or so and I do use it daily. And if I thought that price tag hurt my wallet just searching for alternatives that were made as zero waste products was way too much to even consider.
Finally though I found out that CeraVe makes face soap bars. I went and picked one up at the CVS down the street from me which was so convenient, they had one for normal/oily skin (this is the one I got) and a dry skin version as well. It comes in a cardboard box and is just a soap bar on the inside.
I've been using this bar for the past few weeks and honestly it's no different from the Cetaphil soap I was using before in terms of its effectiveness. And I actually enjoy the fact that the CeraVe bar foams up when you use it too! The smell isn't great but it isn't strong either and it doesn't linger at all on your face or hands. And the best part of all of this was that it was only $7! So even if I go through a bar twice as quickly as I would a bottle of the Cetaphil face wash it would still be cheaper to go with this option, and even more amazing that I can consider it zero waste as well!
I'm so glad I found this face soap bar and am definitely making the switch to this permanently to make my skin care routine a little less wasteful at the end of the day.
What zero waste skincare do you use and love? Let me know in the comments below!
Did you know that 40% of all food produced in America is wasted? And as bad as this is for the environment, it's also bad for our wallets! No one buys food with the intent to throw it out, but sometimes food goes bad before we can get to it. As I buy new produce I've been taking the time to learn how to best store my food for longevity before putting it away in my fridge. This has helped me create way less food waste and save money too. I am putting this together as a series so that as I learn more ways to properly store food I can keep adding to this, but this is my initial list!
1. Avocados: we all know avocados are tough to keep fresh once they've been opened. But at the same time, how many people are going to singlehandedly eat a whole avocado in one sitting? Now normally I would just eat avocados that had gone a little brown, but they still weren't good for more than a day. Until I ran an experiment and discovered the perfect way to store them! Place your avocado half in the smallest possible container it can fit in and fill the bottom with a layer of lemon juice. Be sure to add the avocado pit into the container as well. Doing this I've found my avocados can stay fresh for 2-3 days!
2. Carrots: Kyle loves to buy a giant bag of carrots to snack on throughout the day. But we are only two people so oftentimes we can't eat all of the carrots before they start to go bad. Until I learned that carrots are actually best stored submerged in water. Now they have lasted for weeks and still look great. I just cut and peeled them and used an old peanut butter jar to store them all in, and then filled with water. I've also seen people chop them up and store them in mason jars as well.
3. Tofu: a few weeks ago I discovered that I actually like tofu! We bought some from our local Korean grocery store and on the package it said it had to be eaten within 3-5 days. Now that isn't a lot of time for two people to consume a huge package of tofu. After opening the package we stored the blocks in a container filled with water and it kept them fresh for about a week which gave us plenty of time to enjoy them!
4. Asparagus: This one was a little more time intensive than the others, although not by much. To properly store any leftover asparagus you need to blanch and freeze it. I thought this would be a lot more complicated from the sounds of it but it was very simple. All you do is bring a pot of salted water to a boil, place the asparagus inside and let boil for 2-4 minutes. When done, you place the asparagus into a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. Then dry it off and it's ready to freeze!
5. Celery: This is one of my least favorite vegetables. While I like celery when it's in recipes like soups, or my mom's famous clam chowder, it's not something I would ever eat raw on it's own. Kyle is the same way so the first time we bought celery for a recipe it ended up going bad really quickly. Then my mom told me you could chop it up and freeze it, genius! Now anytime we do have to buy celery fresh I make sure to chop it all up at once and it goes straight into the freezer.
What other food storage techniques have you learned? Or are there any fruits and vegetables you would like to see in part 2 of this new series? Comment below!
Up until now I have loved using my sponge brush where you can pour dish soap into the handle and it dispenses as you wash. One thing I do like about that also is you can buy new brush heads for the handle which does limit waste. However, this is definitely not the most sustainable option either since the sponges have to be thrown away and my dish liquid comes in a plastic bottle. So I wanted to try out this brush and dish soap bar!
For the record, I don't have a dishwasher where I live but if you do have a dishwasher that's great! It saves water compared to hand washing dishes. Also, Dropps has eco friendly dishwasher pods that you can try out. Or comment below if you have another favorite eco-friendly dishwashing tab.
Overall I do think that I like this brush better than the sponge, it seems to do a better job at scrubbing off any stubborn food. The soap I'm still a little iffy on. What I've been doing is wiping my brush across the bar and then scrubbing my dishes. I do notice a lather on the dishes as I scrub but not all of the time. I'll edit this post when I finish going through the entire bar to see how long it lasts me.
I also find this brush super easy to hang on the hook of my dish rack and I keep the dish soap on a wooden soap stand in the corner of my sink so I can easily tap into it and wash dishes. Kyle even said that he really liked the soap brush as well so I'm happy we'll at least be able to continue using this and not the disposable sponges.
What are your low-waste dish washing hacks? Let me know in the comments below!
Today I went to Sprouts Farmer's Market, a grocery store chain I had never been to before but it was high up on my list. I'd heard that they had a lot of bulk bins for package free items, and that a lot of their produce was package free as well. I decided to go check it out outside of my normal grocery shopping this week because I wasn't sure how expensive it would be. I went with a small list of things I needed but also weren't urgent so I could see how zero-waste they really were.
At the front of the store they had bread in paper bags with small plastic cut-outs saying you could track their bread from grain to loaf. They didn't have any more information but the bread did look to be made locally. On their website, I found this article about how their bread ingredients are all completely traceable, but it didn't provide more information than that.
In the produce section, I found almost everything could be bought package-free. With exceptions like green beans and brussel sprouts that were in small plastic bags. While other produce items were in packaging, it seemed that there was always a package-free option as well. One example I found exciting was package free potatoes because I can't get those package free at my local Walmart. I also found spinach package free which was exciting because spinach is my favorite vegetable!
When it came to the bulk section I was a little disappointed. Their bins were still there but instead of having all of the products package-free, they were in small plastic baggies already. I do think that this was due to the pandemic, and I want to come back afterwards to see if I am able to get any nuts completely package free. They had signs up still that said "Scoop Your Heart Out" so I am certain that these were once true bulk bins. While it was disappointing, it makes perfect sense given the times that we are living in. However, I didn't end up buying anything from there.
Two things that were still package free though were spices and coffee. I want to keep this in mind the next time I'm out of a spice. I always keep the old spice jars so when we mix up our own seasoning blend we have a jar for it. But I'm excited to be able to bring my own jar and refill it here with what they had!
It was great to see the package free coffee also, although I didn't purchase any either since I don't have a coffee grinder. I have a post coming soon on my low-waste coffee routine, but if I ever move away from my coffee shop down the street I will definitely get a coffee grinder and come back here to get coffee package free.
The last thing I saw that was really cool was both almond butter and peanut butter stations! I didn't try it today, even though I was tempted, because it wasn't entirely clear if you could use your own jar or not, and since I wasn't running low on peanut butter I didn't feel like asking. But I will definitely call in advance and find out for sure before I go next time.
In the end, I'm definitely glad I made the trip out to Sprouts and I will come back in the future. However, due to the bulk bins being temporarily packaged goods, I probably won't make this a regular trip. Do you have a Sprouts in your area? And if so, let me know your thoughts!
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.