One of the biggest deterrents for people from going plastic-free is that it's typically thought to be more expensive than buying traditional plastic products. And while this can be true, most of the time I find that the products are more expensive up front but then save you money in the end. I also completely recognize that being able to afford these things up front is a huge privilege and it's not accessible to everyone, I do however think it's helpful to see how much more expensive plastic can add up to be.
Remember- the most sustainable thing is the thing you already own, so don't feel bad about any plastic you already have but use those products up to the fullest extent you can! Not to mention: you don't have to make every swap. If you can only afford to make one or two changes then that's huge! Never feel bad about doing what you can.
Here's my list of plastic free alternatives to save you money:
1. Stasher Bags: I love these bags for my kitchen! They can go in the freezer, microwave, even the oven so they are 100% versatile. I've slowly been replacing my ziplock disposable baggies with these.
Here's the math: 1 box of 40 gallon Ziploc bags at Walmart is $6.64 and one half gallon Stasher bag is $26.99. Which means after only buying the Ziploc bags 4 times you would have paid for the Stasher bag!
2. Reusable Cotton Rounds: I use one cotton round a day in my morning skincare routine, which really adds up in both waste and cost! I switched to reusable cotton rounds a year ago and haven't looked back since.
Here's the math: 1 pack of cotton rounds at Walmart is $2.88. If you buy a pack of reusable cotton rounds from Marley's Monsters it's $17. Which means after only 6 purchases of the disposable rounds, the reusable cotton rounds are cheaper.
3. Deodorant: Okay so this one isn't necessarily cheaper but it's the same price for the swap! So many brands are now making plastic free deodorants from Tom's to Old Spice. I had been using Old Spice deodorant for a few years which is $4.99 apiece. But I recently found Hey Humans plastic free deodorant at Target for $4.99. Who doesn't love some easy math!?!
4. Toothpaste: Along with the deodorant I recently found that Target carries Hey Humans plastic free toothpaste for $3.99. I typically use Sensodyne toothpaste because I have sensitivity in my teeth, which is $10 a tube so this really might depend on what toothpaste you are currently using but for me this price difference is massive!
5. Water Bottle: Seriously this is one of my biggest pet peeves. Of course exceptions being anyone who doesn't live with safe drinking water or when you're prepping for power outages during storms, but otherwise why are you buying bottled water? A pack of bottled water is $3.98 at Walmart. Let's say you buy one a week, it will only take you 3 weeks to buy a reusable water bottle (Here's one for $12, you can honestly even find them for less - here's one for $1!).
What plastic free swap will you make this Plastic Free July? Let me know in the comments below!
With July just around the corner I wanted to put together a challenge for anyone looking to reduce their plastic consumption for the Plastic Free July. I'm going to create this challenge for anyone who's just beginning on their journey to less plastic, but I will also create a more difficult challenge for anyone who has more experience and is also looking to challenge themselves for the month of July!
Don't feel like you have to do every step in this challenge, but this guide is a great place to start!
Bring your reusable water bottle everywhere
Same goes for a metal straw or a spare set of silverware and napkins when you're bringing lunch to the office. Having these items and being prepared will help reduce plastic when you run into a situation like grabbing lunch on the go.
If you can, don't use a straw the next time you go to a restaurant or specifically say that you don't need one.
Bring a reusable bag
By bringing a reusable bag to the store you can refuse the store's plastic bags in lieu of your own bag. And not just for groceries either but anytime you go out!
Make a sustainable swap
When you finish using up something in the month of July that uses plastic, look first for a plastic free option. This can be anything from shampoo and conditioner, to a toothbrush and toothpaste, or even silicone bags for your kitchen!
Try Shopping Plastic Free
Regardless of what stores you have near you, you can attempt to shop plastic free. Ranging from Walmart to Sprouts I have several guides on shopping zero waste, Not to mention I even did a non-grocery shop around at Target for plastic free necessities.
Research Plastic Free Options Near You
Obviously this will vary depending on where you live and how accessible sustainable swaps are for you. But try searching for local farmer's markets in your area, or wholesale produce stores where you can buy produce in large bulk quantities. Also try seeing if there is a grocery store near you that has some bulk bin options like a Sprouts or Whole Foods. Use July as a time to find out what amenities your area does have and check them out! Don't focus so much on things you don't have access to.
Let me know in the comments what you think of this challenge! I tried to put together some concrete steps you can take to reducing your plastic and threw in a few longer term plans in here as well. How do you reduce your plastic consumption?
For anyone who's been following the blog for awhile now you may know we used to go by the name of Beni's Zero Waste Blog, but we recently changed it to Jar Half Full! I love this new name change because it speaks to the positivity around trying to live a more sustainable life that we try to promote on the blog. So if you see Jar Half Full on Pinterest just know it's us and come say hi :)
With summer finally in full swing here I have a few road trips coming up! Since going zero waste I've taken a few road trips and after a few mishaps I have learned what I need to bring with me to reduce waste on my trip. Here's my list of what I'll be bringing with me on all my road trips this summer:
1. Grocery Bags:
While you may not be planning on going grocery shopping I find that I inevitably do. Whether it's on my way home and I want to stop at the grocery store to restock my fridge or trying to stock up on snacks while I'm on vacation I always end up at the grocery store. The last couple times I've gone on a road trip I've forgotten my bags because I just wasn't thinking! Now I put them on my packing list so I'll always have them. But if you do happen to forget your bags don't sweat it! Just ask for paper bags at check out and you can recycle or compost them when you get home.
2. Travel Mugs/Cups:
These are a must for any road trip! If you plan to stop for coffee bring your travel mugs and see if they will let you use them (with the pandemic this won't always be possible). Another thing they're useful is for storing water! Once I'm on the road I can't always just refill my water bottle whenever so I like to always have extra to prevent me from having to buy a plastic water bottle at the gas station.
3. Travel Utensils and Reusable Napkins:
Bring your travel utensils and some reusable napkins with you on the road. This way when you stop for food you can say no to getting these extra items when you don't need them!
4. Bring Enough:
While I know one of the core tenants of living a low-waste lifestyle is minimalism, for your trip don't fret about overpacking. This is especially useful if you're taking a road trip and have extra room in the car. Just pack enough so that you are prepared. Even if you don't think it will rain, bring a rain jacket or umbrella! This way in the chance it completely downpours you don't need to buy a new umbrella when you have one sitting at home. Just bring enough with you to be prepared and you won't need to buy as many (or any) "emergency things"
5. What You Already Have:
Last but not least be sure that you are using what you have before buying new things for your trip. And this goes for just about anything! For example, several years ago I bought a travel sized shampoo and conditioner and keep it in my overnight bag. I don't need to replace these with a plastic free option when I haven't even used them up yet. And when I do use them up I'll keep them to refill with my own shampoo and conditioner for trips rather than buying travel sized liquid containers! Remember: the most sustainable thing is the thing you already have.
At the end of the day we are all trying our best to live the most sustainably we can. If you take a road trip and forget something and need to create some waste remember that it's going to be okay. Having a week where you aren't perfect to enjoy yourself is well worth it in the long run when you're reducing your waste the other 51 weeks of the year.
My blog post on Tofu Recipes for Tofu Haters got a lot of love so I wanted to make a part 2 with some more amazing recipes that I've recently discovered! Tofu is great because it's high in protein and comes with zero cholesterol and it's so versatile you can make it into almost anything. Plus, since it's spongey by nature it absorbs things very quickly meaning if you're pressed for time you only need to marinade it for a few minutes and it will still taste like it was marinated for hours.
Crispy Baked Tofu
Okay I got this recipe from Goodful when Rachel made Chicken Souvlaki into a vegan dish for her mom. And while the recipe overall looked amazing I couldn't get the way she baked the tofu out of my head so I went to the store and bought skewers just to try making tofu this way and hoped for the best. Not going to lie it was phenomenal. The tofu crisped up perfectly all the way around and in the marinade tasted amazing. This is now our go-to tofu cooking method when we have the time for it and it tastes amazing in so many dishes!
Here is the recipe--
Marinade (you can easily change this to match any dish but this is a good place to start):
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (if you don't have this & aren't vegan powdered chicken broth works just as well)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Mix this all together in a bowl and after pressing the tofu for 30 min rip it apart in bite sized chunks and slowly stir into the marinade. The recipe I found this from said to marinade for 2 hours but I found 15-30 min works perfectly fine!
After the tofu is done marinating skewer the pieces and lay across a baking pan to catch any drip. Then put in the oven at 375F for 30-35 min. About halfway through cooking rotate the skewers to ensure they cook evenly.
It seriously comes out delicious! We've now put it over a greek salad as our protein and over Avgolemono Soup and it was amazing every time!
As a small hack/waste savings since tofu isn't raw meat I kept the marinade in my fridge and reused it for the next batch!
This is a great lunch recipe with tofu! And fairly simple/customizable too. I just started out with my spinach wrap and topped on hummus, spinach, roasted red peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. And then of course some pan fried tofu just quickly seasoned with a home-made salad dressing that Kyle made. This was a delicious and easy lunch for the week for me!
These tacos might be my nw favorite at-home-taco I've made! Here's the recipe we used.
For the Tacos:
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
Then crumble the tofu into the marinade and mix well making sure the tofu is evenly crumbled. Then place onto a baking pan and bake for 30-35 min at 350F. Be sure to stir the tofu every 10 min or so, and more frequently towards the end to ensure it doesn't burn. Once done and you take it out of the oven pour the salsa into the baking pan and mix to incorporate.
While the tofu is baking make the avocado-cilantro dressing.
For the Dressing:
In a blender or food processor mix together-
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 lime juiced
This makes a perfect creamy dressing that can be used in place of sour cream and can be made entirely zero waste! Not to mention we both loved it so much I had to make a second batch mid-week, now that's a 5-star rating if I've ever seen one!
Lastly we decided to pickle some onions to place on top which truly was the perfect thing to add! Kyle made these without a recipe so here's a Quick Pickled Onion recipe for anyone who's a little more like me and needs to go off a recipe!
Crispy Baked Tofu
This recipe took us a couple of tries to get right but after we did it tasted amazing! We found this in a cookbook Kyle's parents had called Mostly Plants. I'll give you our edited version here.
Put it all together over some rice and be sure to add some more chopped peppers and green onions to garnish!
These are just a few of the tofu recipes I'm currently loving, what tofu recipes should I try next? Comment them down below!
Now that we're in a new season seems like the perfect time for me to put together another guide on storing food to reduce food waste! I love researching and learning how to properly store my produce when I buy things now so that I'm not wasting as much food which is always the goal. If there's anything specific you want to learn how to store comment below and I'll add it to my next list! And if you want to check out part one of this series read it here.
1. Leafy Greens
Anything from lettuce to kale and spinach can all be stored the same way! Place a reusable paper towel down in your Tupperware container and then fill in your greens! This will help absorb any excess moisture to stop them from going bad as quickly.
I love this one. Place broccoli in a jar standing upright like a bouquet of flowers. Fill the jar with water so that the stem of the broccoli is submerged and put it in your fridge!
This one I just recently learned about, I love strawberries but I hardly ever buy them because they go bad so fast- but not anymore! Place strawberries in an airtight jar and they'll last in your fridge for a week and then some!
This will be just like the broccoli, submerge the bottom of a jar in water and place cilantro standing up in it in the fridge.
I've been making mango/pineapple smoothies almost everyday now that mangoes are in season! And they're actually pretty easy to store. Keep them out on your counter until they're ripe and then put them in your fridge until they're ready to use! Only warning I will give you is while they're out on the counter make it a goal to check them each day, my mango looked fine from above but when I went to check it the bottom had bruised up and it had gone bad, which was unfortunate.
What produce items do you always have on hand and how do you store them? Let me know in the comments below!
With Plastic Free July just around the corner, how do you plan on breaking free from plastic? While it's nearly impossible for us to avoid plastic in every aspect of our lives, there's a lot we can do to reduce plastic on not just an individual level - but on a societal level as well.
While I do believe that individual actions can create change, hence why I'm out here trying to reduce my waste no matter how small, what creates even bigger change is supporting legislation that enforces environmental policies, and holds companies accountable for all of the waste and pollution that they create. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is helping to address these issues. Check out their website here to learn more about the mission of the act and see what you can do to support it. There's a great option to contact your representatives and request their support on the act (the letter is already pre-written for you too-- unless you want to make any changes to it there's very little work on your end).
Additionally, if you want to write your own letter to your representative check out this guide by Shelbizlee that gives a great clear outline for what you should say when writing to your representatives!
Attached below is a fact sheet from the break free from plastic act so you can learn more about the act and its goals for addressing our plastic problem.
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.