Monday, October 3, 2011

Jars: Minimizing Plastic Use

Uses for jars:

1.  Use glass jars (I use canning jars and clean glass peanut butter jars) to store leftovers, dried foods, herbs, etc.

2.  Glass jars make great receptacles for stashing craft supplies.  We use them to sort Lego pieces when working on a large project.  (I know.  Lego is plastic!)

3.  Small glass jars (like old vitamin bottles) can be refilled with small amounts of lotion, or a small amount of baking soda or mineral make-up for a pick-me-up while traveling.  I also use a small jar to bring along a day's supply of nutritional supplements.

4.  Large jars are great for holding spoons, spatulas, and other cooking tools.

5.  Jars can be used in decorating.  I decorate with them in the following ways:

*Fill them with marbles, shells, beads, or other pretty items.
*Use them instead of vases to hold flowers.
*Fill it with potpourri.
*Use it to display photographs.  I use a large canning jar filled with pretty potpourri.  I then slipped two pictures of my children between the glass and the potpourri. 

6.  Use a jar to make tea.  I find that one (washed) peanut butter jar holds two very nice cups of tea.  The jar cover is a bonus because it helps in the brewing process and prevents summer bugs from dropping into my tea before I have a chance to drink it.

7.  Jars are great for picnics.  They can hold food or can be used instead of paper or plastic cups.  When people leave the table, they can save their drinks by covering them with the lids.  No more bugs in the lemonade!

Other Jar Tips:

1.  Choose wide-mouthed jars for food storage.  I find these easier to use and to clean.
2.  Rather than saving every glass jar I use, I only reuse glass peanut butter jars.  That way, I have uniformly sized jars and tops.
3.  Canning jars are great, but it was a pain to deal with their lids and bands.  I solved my problem by having two small dishes in my cupboard.  One is for the large lids and one is for the small lids.  In the cupboard above these, my husband affixed two brackets onto which I can slide the bands. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Avoiding Plastic in the Bathroom

Shower Curtain:

Right now my bathroom has a Holly Hobby theme.  Last week it was floral and before that, it was a dark forest green.  I'm able to change the theme of my bathroom so often because rather than use a commercial shower curtain, I simply hang a bed sheet.  Years ago when I decided that I would not buy one more chemical-stinking plastic shower curtain, I had to figure out what I was going to do to keep the shower water from flowing directly onto my floor.  In a pinch, I put up a flannel curtain...and it worked!  Now I find that any old curtain will do.  I find that sheets from single beds are about the right width.  They are a little long, but this can be easily fixed by allowing the top part to fold over the top.  (A more clever homemaker could probably cut and sew the sheet, but my solution works well for me since my sheets do double duty in bed and bath.)  To secure the sheet after I've placed it over the shower curtain rod, I simply attach a metal clasp to either side.  Pins would probably work too, but I never have any handy.  The curtain stays in place, the floor stays dry, and I don't have to buy all the plastic.

Deodorant:

Rather than using commercial deodorants, I simply pour some baking soda in a shallow glass jar and apply the baking soda with a large cosmetic brush.  I find that it does a far better job at odor protection than any stick or roll-on deodorant.  In fact, I've used this method even on hot summer days when dressed as a 19th century reformer (long sleeves, hoops, bonnet, etc.) I have to lead a parade of women across a village and then give a speech in a stuffy, hot building.  Baking soda does the trick.

Soap:  This one is easy.  It is not difficult to find soap that is vegan, contains no palm oil, and is not wrapped in plastic.  I prefer Kirk's soap and the lovely round bars of soap made of oatmeal or almond that I find in our grocery store.  They don't even come with paper wrapping and they smell so nice I want to chew on them.

Shampoo: 

I buy a bar of J.R. Liggett's shampoo made in New England or I use a small amount of baking soda (perhaps a teaspoon) dissolved in a cup of warm water.  Following this, I rinse my hair with a wee bit of vinegar in another cup of warm water.  I then rinse with plain water.  Clean hair.  No plastic.

Cosmetics and Sunscreen:

I'm still having trouble in this category.  I'm really rather a girl when it comes to my lotions and potions.  I want sun-protected skin.  I also want to fight "visible signs of aging" and I'm vain as hell.  I spend quite a bit of time trying to find the healthiest cosmetics available within my price range which has resulted in my husband's lament that there is no bench on which he can sit while I spend vast amounts of time comparing products in the cosmetics and lotions section of our local health food market.  While I can find glass bottles of some products, they often come with plastic lids.  My sunscreen from Alba Botanicals comes in plastic bottles.  I'm hoping that someone out there has better ideas.  I'm stumped on this one!