Wahoo! It is so darn easy to be a green parent these days. Seriously ya’ll having babies nowadays are really lucky. I missed all the adorable glass baby bottles with silicone sleeves, the BPA free baby gear, and now these glass baby food storage containers from Wean Green. They are stylish, safe, and green. How good will that homemade baby food look in these babies?
They come in a four pack and they have plastic locking lids so there is a bit of plastic but it is BPA, PVC, Phthalates, and Plasticizer free. Also made of 100% durable recyclable and sustainable glass with a silicone-sealed lid. Measuring lines at 30 mL, 60 mL and 90 mL to help you monitor food intake. Love the company name to… Wean Green… how cute is that?
Anyone tried these yet?
Last year parents everywhere became concerned about BPA in their kid’s feeding gear… bowls, cups, plates, spoons. Parents are still concerned about it. My posts with compilations of BPA free cups and BPA free plates, bowls, and utensils are still get huge amounts of daily traffic. One option that was slow to catch on back then was that of wooden feeding items. Why is a mystery to me because even if it is BPA free plastic… this feeding set:
… is UGLY. This would be an eyesore at my table and in my cupboards.
But this set:
… is lovely! This Camden Rose bowl and spoon is a great non-plastic option. As is their wood plate. I am excited to see more options for people who like wooden feeding gear!
1. Avoid plastic bags at the grocery store. This applies to the bags you get at checkout AND the plastic produce bags you put your loose fruits and veggies in. There are two really easy, really affordable products you can use instead of plastic so there is very little excuse to keep bringing plastic baggies home.
Reusable Grocery Bags – Cloth bags can be bought at most grocery stores for $1 nowadays and you can usually find good quality bags for $10 each that will last for years and years AND can be used for other things. My favorite reusable bag is the ACME Earth Tote from my fave online store, Reuseit. It is large enough for groceries, has pockets, and I use it as my weekend bag for trips to my parents house. During the summer we used it to tote towels and toys for the water park. LOVE this bag!
Produce Bags – When you want to load up on apples, celery, fresh greens, carrots, bok choy, wild mushrooms, etc. skip the plastic produce bags the store provides. You can bring your own mesh or muslin bags. They are super light weight and much better for the planet than plastic. The muslin bags even work for beans and grains.
These are some of my fave bags from my collection of produce bags: These are all from EcoBags.
2. Use glass food storage dishes. You can buy plastic so cheap that it seems that is what most people do nowadays. They buy a box of 15 plastic dishes to store leftovers and lunches in and never consider the environmental or health implications. For the price of that one bulk box you could buy one or two really nice glass refrigerator dishes and just wash them more often. You can also find vintage glass and Pyrex refrigerator dishes at yard sales and thrift stores. I found a yummy green Pyrex dish for $3 just last fall! I also buy mason jars from thrift stores and use those:
Check out my Squidoo lens on BPA, PVC and Phthalate Free Food Storage. It has a big list of glass and stainless steel food and liquid storage containers.
3. Instead of prepackaged foods wrapped in plastic buy loose or fresh foods. Mushrooms can be bought in foam containers wrapped in plastic and they can be bought loose and taken home in a produce bag. The same is true of greens, veggies, and many fruits. It might be slightly more work and expense to buy all the salad ingredients separate instead of salad in a bag… but the health and environmental benefits are worth it. Instead of buying your milk in a carton or jug (which are both made with plastic) see if you can find a way to buy in glass jars, perhaps direct from the local dairy farm. You could also switch to homemade almond milk, which is healthier anyway. Instead of buying yogurt cups you could start making your own, it’s actually pretty easy. I grew up eating homemade yogurt. Yum!
4. Make your own cleaners. Instead of buying plastic bottles of cleaners (even greener cleaners, make your own from natural ingredients and reuse those plastic bottles instead of buying new. You can even label them so you know exactly what is in them. Laundry soap (both dry and liquid, all purpose cleaner, carpet cleaner, scrubbing cleaner, all of it can be made at home sustainably and affordably. Check out Make Your Place: Affordable & Sustainable Nesting Skills. It is an awesome resource.
5. Get in the habit of thinking about every plastic purchase you make. Is the item made of plastic? Is it wrapped in plastic? Will it last? Can I buy it used? Can I recycle it? When you ask these questions you can usually find a non-plastic alternative, a used alternative, or you may decide not to buy it at all. When we don’t ask these critical questions we never stop to really think about how our purchases decisions really impact the world around us.
The only way we will wean ourselves form plastic dependency is to take baby steps and ask the tough questions.
How are you doing on reducing your plastic consumption? Share your tips or stories in the comments!
This is a somewhat regular feature I added awhile back to organize reader questions. I have a build up in my email inbox so I am doing some virtual housekeeping now.
Reader Jen: My plastic laundry baskets are falling apart and I really need to replace them. Any ideas for a great eco-friendly solution? I haven’t thought of anything I can re-purpose for hauling my clean laundry upstairs and I’m not sure where to look (preferably locally) for something made with sustainable materials and eventually biodegradable. Any ideas for me?
NatureMom: Well, Jen you have a few options in eco friendly laundry baskets. For one thing the metal frame baskets with cloth liners that you find in big box stores are not to shabby. If you want local you can also canvas yard sales. Even if you don’t find laundry baskets you may find something else that can be re-purposed into a laundry collection unit. ;) Wooden egg crates or wood barrels come to mind.
You could go with a wicker or bamboo basket too. They are natural and they will biodegrade when you are ready to toss them. They have a few on Amazon here and here. Gaiam also offers a bamboo laundry organizer with a basket and bar for hanging clothes.
I also really like these hampers made from recycled feed sacks. They are made by Cambodian villagers with old rice and feed sacks. They are unique, colorful, recycled, and they look they would be really easy to carry down into the basement to do laundry. ;) If you are able to find old feed sacks locally you could also make something like these on your own.
Reader Teresa: Hi Tiffany! Have you looked into these? I have had a Brita in the past and loved having cold, filtered water right out of the fridge. I have heard though, that there is some BPA in the filters. Do you know of any safe alternatives?
NatureMom: Great question! Buying bottled water presents a serious plastics problem for our planet but tap water may be down right nasty to drink. So the more eco friendly option would be to filter your tap water at home and assuming that a whole house filtration system is not in the budget that means having some sort of portable system.
As far as I know Brita’s filter, filter canister, and pitcher are made of 100% polypropylene plastic. Polycarbonate plastics are the big BPA culprits. The Soft Landing has a good article on this very topic. So its appears that Brita is a good brand for you. They also recycle their filters.
The water filter that I have (and that you see in this video) is from Zero Water. It has a pretty darn impressive 5-Stage filtration and a push button dispenser for in-fridge use. I hope to get a review up for it very soon. It has no BPA plastics in it and they have a filter recycling program. They also offer an awesome filter bottle that fits on top of a water cooler. It is quite awesome since conventional water cooler bottles do have BPA I believe.
Reader Wendy: I was thinking that at least buying locally is better than store bought and cheaper, so I was trying to do that. However, it was not organic. I thought it was still a good compromise. But I have read things lately that are making me wonder. When I thought I was doing good… did I do bad?
NatureMom: Ah yes, the question we probably ALL ask ourselves. If you have a choice between organic but not local OR local and not organic which is best? Well, this one doesn’t have an easy answer. There are people who argue for both sides and insist their way is best. Eating local as much as you can without regard to organic may be better for the planet but eating only organic may be better for the body. Of course if you toss air and soul pollution into the mix with organics the answer becomes muddled. And if you think about how pesticide use destroys our soil then local become muddled.
Here is my take on it…just do your best. If you are shopping at farmer’s markets and “you pick” farms you are likely getting pretty close to organic because small farmers don’t have the budget for mass quantities of chemicals. Talk to them and find out how they grow the food. You may be surprised to find that many are organic… they just don’t have the expensive certification. Balance that with some non local foods that are certified organic. I buy local and organic whenever I can and when I can’t I just do the best I can. But continue to ask your local farmers and grocers for local, organic foods and you may just eventually see the change you want.
Reader Sarah: My hang-up is that there always seems to be so many more things I could do that it feels overwhelming. And then I feel like the things I am doing, aren’t enough. Also, and especially now in this economic crisis, buying organic and other green products is more expensive (sometimes twice the cost of the regular product), that it feels irresponsible financially. I know that may sound horrible. Anyway, I’m hoping you can pass along some insight as to how you make things work for you and your family. And stay sane. ;-)
NatureMom: I understand your frustration Sarah but in order to stay sane I recommend not trying to do too much at once. I have a wish list that I keep of green changes, green products, green renovation ideas, etc that I use to keep track of my goals. I do this because I cannot afford to go whole hog and do it all at once. So I do it little by little.
For instance in my kitchen you will find bamboo cutting boards, wooden cooking utensils, green (Teflon free) non-stick cookware, recycled colanders, stainless steel and ceramic mixing bowls, glass refrigerator dishes, etc. I did not buy all these things at once. I just made and inventory of what I need to change… paper towels replaced by cloth rags, plastic cooking utensils replaced by wood or metal… and I worked on those things one at a time. I still do this.
And as much as you can try to utilize the green ideas that actually SAVE you money and you will have a lot more wiggle room in the budget to work with.
All this week I have been using a Preserve colander in the kitchen. There is just no better kitchen gadget than a colander for washing all the fresh fruits and veggies we eat. Our colanders also do double duty as produce bowls on the counter when they are not in use. I am loving my Preserve colander too.
Preserve is no stranger company to me. I am already a big fan of their toothbrushes. What I love, love, love about Preserve… other than their fantastically designed products… is the fact they recycle plastic already in the waste stream to make their products. They use 100% recycled #5 plastic to make their products including open ended containers like yogurt cups. This is a big boon in my eyes because many recycling plants will not accept open mouthed plastic containers like cottage cheese or yogurt containers. They just end up in the landfill. Preserve is doing something about that.
My Preserve colander is 100% recycled plastic, it is recyclable, it is made in the USA, it is BPA free, it is dishwasher safe, and it is beautifully designed and attractive. All their products have vibrant colors and a kind of modern yet retro look. The colanders come in Milk White, Berry Blue, Apple Green, and Ripe Tomato. I have the Apple Green.
I also have a stainless steel colander with an enamel finish. But I find myself going straight for the Preserve colander more often than not because it is so light weight and easy to clean. And because it is using recycled plastic headed for the landfills I feel no guilt about it being plastic. This is in fact the best way to buy plastic! And of course plastic is also more affordable. This plastic is sturdy too. It will last a very long time so that I can get many years of use out of it and then of course it can recycled again. :)
Target is now carrying the Preserve line if you want to check it out. The prices are as follows:
Large colander: $11.99
Mixing bowl set of 3: $21.99
Large plastic cutting board: $12.99
Small plastic cutting board: $8.99