Archive for the "reduce this" category

Plastic-free and aerosol-free cleaning – how do you do it?

This week, we’ve had a vaguely spring cleaning inspired week here on Recycle This and looked at a few cleaning related questions – so far, reusing/recycling bleach bottles, making homemade dishcloths/pot scrubbers, and reusing/recycling air fresheners. Today though, I’d like to hear your tips and suggestions for reducing waste from cleaning – for going plastic-free and aerosol-free.

Plastics seem to be a core part of modern cleaning products now – from the cleaning solution bottles to the sponges, the film the sponges are wrapped in, many mop buckets and dustpans and brush sets. The latter things may last a while but the former are likely to end up in the bin very soon. Some bottles can be recycled but the sponges and any film-type packaging can’t be. Even more traditional eco-friendly cleaning solutions such as vinegar often come in plastic bottles these days (or at least they do if you bulk buy them).

Similarly, plastic pump-action spray bottles have replaced some cleaning product aerosols but they’re still very common for polishes & foaming sprays (such as oven cleaner) — and aerosol recycling is not exactly common. (They can be recycled and some areas do collect them kerbside, but most don’t.)

Have you made any efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated due to cleaning? Have you swap to different products to reduce plastic packaging waste? We’ve talked about making dishcloths/scrubbers – but any other suggestions for reducing the use of plastic sponges?

And what about aerosols? Have you got any advice for moving away from them?

How can I reduce electricity wastage in the kitchen?

Our “how can I reduce this?” questions are often about how to reduce physical waste but it’s important to stop wasting power too – and I’ll like to hear your tips & helpful hints on this: how can I reduce electricity wastage in the kitchen?

Everyone knows not to boil too much water in the kettle – just what’s needed – and most people know to keep their fridge coils free from dust to make them more efficient. We’ve also touched on this topic in the past when talking about using ovens efficiently when baking and about reducing energy usage in the house in general – and we’ve had some great advice. For example:

  • Bellen, Rob and chicgeek all recommended using spare oven space to bake potatoes or other root veg for future use; Bellen also suggested roast chicken parts for lunches & chicgeek stews.
  • damnthebroccoli suggested planning baking to coincide with other run-of-the-mill oven usage so it’s only on once.
  • Bobbie urged us to put lids on a pot, use crock pots/slow cookers and in winter, open the oven door after baking so the warm air escapes into the house rather than being “extracted” outside.
  • kittykat advocated using “ice boxes” in the winter – allowing you to turn off your fridge for weeks at a time.
  • And Alice has said that if she does accidentally boil a bit too much water, she puts it in a thermos flask to keep it warm so it doesn’t require as much energy to boil again.

All great ideas – do you have anything else to add?

How can I get into the habit of using reuseable bags?

Following in the vein of “how can I get into the habit of taking packed lunches?”, I thought it would be useful to gather together your thoughts and tips on getting into the habit of using reusable shopping bags. Because cutting down on plastic carriers is going save the world you know. ;)

So what do you do to make sure you always have cloth bags, reusable plastic ones or just old carriers on hand when you need them? We’re very good at taking reusable bags with us when we’re consciously heading to the supermarket on a shopping trip but don’t always have them on hand if we’re out doing something else and pop into a shop randomly. (I still say no to bags though if I can, even if it means the bus driver looks at me funny when I get on balancing a pie and bread roll on top of 18 better-than-half-price recycled toilet rolls – as happened on Tuesday night.)

I know some cloth/nylon bags are designed to fold up tightly – either with poppers or a bag to keep them neat – so they can easily be carried around in a handbag without much bother. (And basic plastic bags can be folded into triangles for neat storage and transportation).

Other people always keep a stash of carriers in their car for when they need them.

But what about ideas for those of us who neither carry handbags or drive cars? What do you do?

What one thing would you like to see everyone reduce, reuse or recycle in 2011?

Happy New Year everyone!

Last year, at the start of 2010, I asked everyone what they were going to reduce, reuse and recycle in 2010. I said I hoped to cut back on buying clothes & do more cooking/baking at home to cut down on pre-packed food packaging (which I’ve done), and set up dedicated recycling bins to make it easier for us to recycle at home (which I’ve not really done, our recycling tends to end up in piles on the counter until we take it out, so I still need to do something about that!). I hope you kept to your reducing, reusing and recycling goals better than I did!

This year, my main reducing, reusing, recycling goals are to do a better job of collecting rainwater for use in the garden, find a way to deal with dog (and cat) poo in our garden rather than bagging it up and throwing it away, and to continue reducing the amount of hard-to-recycle packaging coming into our home by cooking from scratch/baking even more & to do other related things like make our own soap. And I really should set up those dedicated recycling bins like I said I would last year. (I’ve listed my other simple living – rather than specifically green – goals on my frugal/growing/cooking/making blog The Really Good Life). What do you think your green goals will be for this year?

If you’ve not got any, how about another question instead – if, in 2011, all the world, absolutely everyone, agreed to reduce, reuse or recycle one thing – just one thing – of your choosing, what would you pick? They’d keep doing whatever other recycling they do anyway but would do your one thing every day, without fail, no questions, no grumbling. So what would you pick?

I know some people who will say “everyone should stop using ‘disposable’ plastic bottles” or “everyone should start using washable toilet wipes, hankies & cloths at home” but I think I’d pick reducing food waste – getting people to reduce upfront wastage from buying too much in the first place and encouraging everyone (including businesses) to compost their food waste/kitchen scraps. For some reason, that’s really pushing my buttons at the moment – the senselessness of so much energy being put into food’s production, transportation and preservation only for it to be sent to landfill, gah.

(So I guess that should also be another of my green goals for this year: do all I can to minimise our food wastage here. Be the change you want to see in the world and all that. I’ve added it to my goal list now.)

So what one thing would you pick?

How can I freshen up a tired winter coat?

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an article someone was promoting on Twitter about “sprucing up your tired winter coat“. Ooh! I thought, I like sprucing! It’s a great way to upcycle & reduce after all — but when I clicked over to the article, I found the sprucing involved the addition of various belts, brooches and doohickeys, which is fine but not very me.

For me, it’s both a “repair this” and “reduce this” type question – how can I refresh that tired winter coat so I don’t need to buy a new one? I think it’s important that it not just so that it looks better but that I feel better about it too.

I basically have three coats for throughout the year – a light cotton hoodie (which I wear most of the year), an expensive-for-me big super-warm cotton parka type coat for freezing days, and a cheaper, shorter “wool” one which I wear when it’s not quite so cold and I need to look a bit neater than in the parka.

So how can I freshen those up?

For me, there are two main areas that get tired dirty – my cuffs and my pockets. The hoodie gets thrown into the wash regularly, hurrah for cotton. The parka & wool one aren’t as easily washable, especially mid-winter but spot-washing on the cuffs improves things a lot. As for the pockets, I treat my pockets like some women treat their handbags – a site for the accumulation of detritus. This is sometimes good (I found a fiver in my parka coat when I put it on the first time this year!) but mostly bad (crumbs of dog biscuts, bits of paper, sticky sweets). Emptying out the junk & cleaning out the crumbs and dirt from the pockets won’t make it look any better (although a lot of junk does ruin the line of the coat), but it’ll make it feel better for me and enjoy using it more.

Another thing: my wool one – it’s not 100% wool but wool-heavy and it’s that heavy woollen style – is bobbly. A bit of combing with a debobbler would make it look a lot tidier. I suspect there will also be some snags too which could be tidied up. I’m also going to debobble/de-snag my scarves, gloves & mittens for good measure.

Yet another thing: the zips on my hoodie and parka coat have been playing up recently – I could secure the bottom zip section in place with a couple of stitches and rub a little soap on the teeth to stop them snagging, and it would make zipping up a less frustrating experience.

Another, more involved thing: the lining on the wool-ish one has always bugged me – it’s icky polyester and now it’s torn a little too. I could use an old fun-patterned shirt to replace it – using the original lining as a pattern – an upcycling idea and revamp in one.

So that’s what I do/will be doing. Have you got any ideas for ways to freshen up an old coat?

(Photo by sh0dan)