As a mom and holistic practitioner, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to model respect for our earth, while trying to not take it so far that I'm sacrificing a piece of my sanity in the process. One area that's been on my mind of late is addressing the single-use items I regularly rely upon. I’m pretty good about avoiding the obvious culprits like disposable dishes, napkins and silverware, Starbucks cups, and plastic bags, but I wanted to dig deeper. So recently I spent time brainstorming the less visible one-use items I still personally go through on the regular, and how I could improve my choices. Here's how I've modified these habits to reduce my footprint:
Dailies contact lens blister packs. This might have been the most significant one for me. The above picture is just two months worth of used up blister packs! When I think about all the months- and years-worth of these sitting in landfills on my account I feel so good about making this change! Daily lens blister packs are made of foil and plastic no. 5, which is not accepted in standard Chicago recycling bins. What's more, even if you make the effort to de-foil and get these little suckers to a plastic no. 5 recycling drop-off location, because they're so tiny they would likely be filtered out and end up in the landfill anyway. Ugh! A few clicks of the mouse and I discovered the solution I was hoping for: Bausch + Lomb sponsors a recycling program for all brands of daily lens blister packs! All you do is save them up, foil and all (I reused a small Amazon cardboard box for this purpose, which I keep under my bathroom sink) and when it's full, print off the FREE shipping label. Done and done. I'm feeling greener as I type.
Dental floss. Woah. Up til today I was using Oral B Glide Pro-Health floss, which comes in a plastic no. 5 container, similarly problematic to the blister packs due to its small size. I never really knew what the actual floss was made and EWG's Skin Deep Database omits floss reviews, but it's clearly some kind of synthetic plastic string. Well, here's the horror show of ingredients I found upon my review today, courtesy of Wikipedia:
"Oral-B Glide uses PTFE, which is an extremely persistent environmental contaminant and is linked to cancers, hormone disruption, brain and liver problems, and low birth weights. The Environmental Working Group recommends against using dental floss made with PTFE.”
Alrighty then, I knew there was good reason to be placing my single-use dental floss under scrutiny. As nicely as it glides between my teeth, this stuff has GOT to go for more than one reason! I'm replacing it with a biodegradable, compostable 100% silk floss called Dental Lace, which comes in a refillable glass dispenser, avoiding more unnecessary waste. And with that I plan to begin composting my floss and never looking back (YES, I compost, with the assistance of Healthy Soil Compost Collection Service, read more about them here)! Here's hoping this brand makes for comfortable flossing. I'll keep you posted!
Makeup remover cloths. Previously I was using cotton balls with micellar water, which also professes to be compost friendly (and very economical). However my love for BeautyCounter brand's concern with environmental practices, recyclable packaging and product safety have moved me to try out their One-Step Makeup Remover Wipes. These too are 100% biodegradable and compostable, so too will be added to my weekly compost collection. Easy peasy. Hit up one of my Beautycounter buddies, Jessica and Molly, if you want to try 'em.
Plastic wrap. This one was also major for me. I've been able to avoid using plastic wrap 90% of the time ever since my mother-in-law sent me a set of these awesome stretch-to-fit, machine-washable bowl covers. These babies go on everything from the top of a watermelon half in the fridge, to my son's half-finished dinner plate. They work great, and after a few uses and wipe-downs, I just toss them in the laundry.
Sandwich baggies. I've swapped out zip-locks for unbleached brown paper sandwich bags in the kids' lunches (when all of our reusable containers are in the dishwasher :)). I like this brand, If You Care. I ask the kids to bring them home to compost (and in truth, I reuse them when they are still looking relatively clean). No complaints!
That about does it for my one-use items. If I get braver I may do a follow-up post on my choices for greener feminine products. And perhaps... diapers and baby wipes... at sometime in the not-so-distant future. ;) Please comment below on your favorite one-use swap-outs or solutions!
Yours in wellness,