One thing that makes going zero waste difficult is that it seems just about every product that's zero waste you need to buy online. And when you're used to being able to pick up some toothpaste or deodorant on your weekly grocery run it can be really frustrating to change to ordering everything online. Not to mention the cost of shipping, extra carbon emissions to ship something to your door, more packaging, etc. This is why I'm super happy to see that Target is starting to have a lot of zero waste options in their stores. And not just something that happens to be no waste or low waste either but products that zero wasters constantly rave about.
I had a few gift cards to Target after my birthday so I went to take a look at what they currently had to see if I could save myself a few online orders. It's probably been 4 months since I was last at Target so seeing all the new stuff they had was really exciting!
This is what I got at Target (& some things I had bought at Target back in December as well):
What other zero waste items have you found at Target? I would love to know! I definitely plan on trying to come here more often to buy my essentials vs. ordering everything separately online.
My mom recently found out about a sustainable grocery store that was in my area called Mom's Organic! And they're not just in Philly either (also in NY, VA, DC, MD areas!) On their website it seemed like they were truly committed to sustainability and had a huge offering of bulk bins so I was immediately excited to check out their store. I ended up heading there this weekend to take a look around and see what they had to offer. I went to the Bryn Mawr location just outside of Philly for anyone in the area who might be curious.
The bulk bins they had were amazing I was so impressed to find things even like honey, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar and more to be refilled! I also loved that they had a nut butter grinder. Even more too, below that were tons of jars of various nut butters that were all packaged in glass *chefs kiss*.
They had a huge array of bulk herbs and spices, as well as some looseleaf teas that were in bulk too, which I noted for a future visit.
The process of getting bulk was made pretty easy. I had to go up to the cash register for them to weigh my jar, and then I was free to go fill it. The cashier who helped me also wrote the weight of my jar on the bottom in a sharpie so I wouldn't have to worry about remembering. I ended up just getting almonds for a recipe (check out the Mediterranean bowls I made here) but I was making notes of everything they offered because I will definitely be coming back!
You can learn more about Mom's Organic's commitment to sustainability on their website here, but I was blown away by how well they were able to implement sustainability to their store. For one, in the parking lot they had chargers for electric cars which was awesome. Inside, they had a huge recycling area at the front of the store where you could recycle almost anything from batteries, to old shoes, or even bring your compost!
I also loved that majority of their produce was not in plastic packaging and I was able to use my reusable produce bags to get just about everything I needed!
In addition, I found that they sold bamboo toothbrushes - no plastic options available! I also found an entire aisle stocked with every kind of non-dairy milk you could possibly imagine, I was in shock! They also had plenty of great sustainable swaps like Stasher bags, glass jars, and stainless steel water bottles. Not to mention, at the end of checking out I got $0.10 off my total for bringing my own reusable bags!
I'm so glad that I discovered Mom's Organic because I am going to become a regular here after seeing their amazing offerings.
Pela is a company you will hear a lot about in the zero waste community. The first product I heard about from them is their biodegradable phone cases! (I don't have one yet, but I'll upgrade when my current case breaks.) Pela also owns the company Habitat, which makes and sells natural and plastic free deodorants, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and lip balm (review coming soon).
But recently I learned they also made sunglasses and blue light glasses, which happened to be the two things I was in the market for! My old pair of sunglasses had one screw completely fall out and the other one was getting looser by the day, I was not far from off from needing to replace these. I didn't even think I would be able to replace them with a sustainable option either. I just assumed I would need to go get a nicer pair of *sigh* plastic sunglasses.
But then I learned that Pela makes and sells sunglasses too. And they're also biodegradable! Also, if you need to upgrade your sunglasses/they break etc. you can mail them back to Pela to be recycled. I love a good closed loop system!
I ended up buying two pairs of the sunglasses and one pair of the blue light glasses because they were having a buy 2 get one free sale, and I always like an extra pair of sunglasses. One for my car and one for the house! I got these a few weeks ago and I have to say I love them. While I'm still undecided on the blue light glasses (I'm not quite sure they work for me personally), I would 100% recommend sunglasses to anyone interested in getting a new pair!
Let me know, have you bought anything from Pela before?
I've talked a lot about how shopping secondhand is one of the biggest ways we can reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. However, there are certain items that I prefer to buy items firsthand. I want to start this as a recurring series where I highlight any companies that are truly ethical and sustainable companies where I feel good about buying first hand and what I look for in a company before purchasing. So let's talk about the Girlfriend Collective!
During this pandemic I haven't really shopped for clothes. But the one item of clothing I find myself wearing day in and day out are leggings. And most of my leggings have been around for quite some time. After finding the third hole in my most worn pair of leggings I decided I needed to buy a new pair for myself. The reason I didn't want to thrift leggings is because so often they are made cheaply and don't hold up for a long period of time. I assume that most of the legging donated to thrift stores are not going to be in great quality either. And I want something I can wear all the time.
That's when I found Girlfriend Collective. They have sustainability as a priority and all of their leggings are made from post-consumer recycled water bottles (25 bottles go into one pair of leggings.) In addition their packaging is sustainable and recyclable as well. Not to mention they have pockets!
I also bought a sports bra from them which is made from 11 recycled plastic water bottles and was just as comfortable as the leggings!
As a side note: the leggings I originally purchased were too small and their exchange process was so easy. All I had to do was enter my order number, select which item I wanted to exchange and which new size I wanted and then print my shipping label and bring it to a FedEx near me. And I got free shipping both ways too even though I was the one exchanging something!
One potential con is that their factories are located in Vietnam, however they have a certification that states they pay their employees fairly and their factory adheres to strict guidelines making it a safe place for their workers.
Lastly, I love the fact that at the end of their life you can send your clothes back to Girlfriend Collective and they will recycle them at their facility. This system is called a circular economy and is what is truly necessary for us to move to in order to solve our climate crisis!
While the leggings were a little pricey at the end of the day I felt that it was worth it to know I was supporting a sustainable mission and that the workers who are making my clothes are being treated fairly and paid a living wage. Plus I've heard from others who have bought from Girlfriend before and they say that their clothes last years, making it truly "slow-fashion".
Overall I'm so happy with my purchases from Girlfriend and my experience with their exchange process. I will definitely be purchasing from them again in the future as I need more items.
Are there other sustainable companies you shop at that I should know about? Comment them below and I will check them out :)
If you read my recent blog post about How to Thrift Responsibly, then you would know that a huge focus of living a sustainable lifestyle is buying as many items as possible secondhand. Purchasing items used means you are giving it a second life and preventing it from ending up in a landfill. After swearing off fast fashion in 2019, I decided in 2020 I would start trying to find secondhand items before buying anything new, including furniture (with some exceptions). This slideshow below features all of the items I found secondhand this year and where I found them!
Second hand furniture
This year was the year I discovered Facebook Marketplace! It's an online selling feature as part of Facebook, similar to Craigslist. After we made the shift to working from home and moved into an apartment with more space, I needed a desk for myself. I was able to find one for free on Facebook Marketplace! It was originally white with lots of pen stains on it, so I bought some contact paper to give it a more fun and updated look!
Another great Facebook Marketplace find was our TV stand. They were giving this away for free as well. It was a little old so to liven it up we gave it a fresh coat of white paint and it works perfectly in our living room.
The last piece I got from Facebook Marketplace was the white dresser, and yes it was also free. We got this because our bathroom didn't have any storage for towels and toilet paper, etc. We had to store everything in our basement or small bedroom closets. This fits perfectly in our office space, which is right off of the bathroom. We store our towels, bedding, and all bathroom supplies in here now.
The wooden dresser we bought we got at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $30. These stores sell secondhand furniture.
We also bought our rug here for around $30 too, although it was brand new still in the plastic. I am still including the rug in this because the rugs were given to the store from Target because they didn't sell, so we were still buying something and saving it from a landfill.
Second Hand Clothing
I also bought tons of clothing this year secondhand! I went to Goodwill and found a great turtleneck, pair of jeans and a staple black belt when shopping for new clothes to wear to work.
At Plato's Closet I found a flannel by Madewell, some cute tan sneakers, jeans, and two turtlenecks.
On Poshmark I found a retro style sweater and I got a pair of jeans from a secondhand boutique in Philly.
I'm not sure if "stealing winter boots from your mom because she lives in Florida now" totally counts as secondhand but regardless I included them in the list because otherwise I would have had to buy new boots for the winter!
And lastly is my winter coat from the REI garage sale. This is a sale where REI resells any items that were returned to them and have been worn. They're sold very discounted but you must be an REI member to buy!
I hope this post shows you that you can find what you are looking for and cute items secondhand, it may just take a little bit more effort than buying brand new.
My goal for 2021 is to continue to buy as many things as possible secondhand that I can, and to not buy any more shoes this year. What are your goals for 2021 towards sustainability?
Fast fashion is a recent buzzword that comes up often when discussing the environment. But essentially it is inexpensive clothing that is mass produced and designed to only last you one or two seasons before falling apart. Think of shopping at a mall and you'll get the idea of what is meant by fast fashion.
Fast fashion is detrimental to the environment because it produces clothing that will end up in a landfill within a few years as people continue to repurchase new replacement items. One huge thing you can do to help our planet is cut out fast fashion from your lifestyle. For many of us, thrifting is the most accessible way to do this. However, there is a downside to thrifting and its recent popularity. Thrifting can hurt poor communities who rely on thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army for all of their clothing.
There are many people who's only option is Goodwill because they simply cannot afford clothes from other stores. While it's great to see so many people thrift shopping for the planet, this is hurting poor communities because it drives prices higher at Goodwill and it means there are less options for them.
I've personally struggled with this concept because I want to be able to thrift responsibly to save the environment, but also without hurting my local communities who rely on Goodwill. Is it even possible to do both?
Through my research and from looking for creative solutions I've found several key ways to find a balance between the two. Keep in mind, these tips are direct towards anyone who has the means to shop elsewhere for clothing or could afford to buy items first hand, but want to shop secondhand for the environmental impacts.
The first thing is if you can afford to buy yourself high quality long lasting items such as a new winter coat or business professional interview clothing, do not go to Goodwill. You would be taking away someone's only option of a winter coat, or someone who is unemployed and needs a low-cost suit for a job interview. Items like these, when bought in good quality can last you a lifetime. Use the opportunity to splurge on yourself for these pieces and bonus points if you can find something made sustainably as well.
If you are dead set on buying secondhand high quality try thinking creatively. For example, the REI near me had an end of year garage sale where they were reselling items other customers had returned for a heavily discounted rate. In order to get into the sale you had to be an REI member (it costs $20 for a lifetime membership). I was in desperate need of a thick winter coat (have I mentioned that I moved from Florida to Philly recently) so I went to the garage sale and found the perfect winter coat for myself. It was over 50% off just because someone had worn it once, didn't like the fit and returned it. And because it was something you had to be an REI member to buy, I didn't feel like I was taking away someone's only option for a winter coat.
Other options for buying second hand without hurting your local community are finding stores like Plato's Closet, local consignment stores, or even look to online secondhand retailers like eBay, ThredUp, and Poshmark. These are all places where you'll find second hand items and at a discounted rate, but not as cheap or accessible enough to be someone's only clothing option.
Another thing you want to avoid when thrifting is to not buy things that are a few sizes too big with the intent of cutting them or sizing them down. The options are already very limited when it comes to their selection of plus-size clothing secondhand so buying something to cut into your size reduces the options of plus-sized shoppers even more.
Now this doesn't mean that you can never shop at a place like Goodwill. These are just things to be conscious of when you do go thrift shopping. Yes, we all love getting a great deal, but if we thrift responsibly we can help the environment without hurting poor communities.
How have you been able to find the balance between buying second hand for the environment but not taking away cheaper options from those who need them most?
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.