Wholesale Information


Skip Toxic Plastic and Go BPA-Free Today

bpa-free

It’s hiding in the lining of cans, baby bottles, toys, and in other plastic items that most people use every day. Bisphenol-A (BPA) in plastic has become an issue of concern as people raise questions about its safety. Even Canada has taken a stand and openly calls BPA toxic. Should you go BPA-free?

The Dangers of BPA

BPA is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastic items. Concerns arise because BPA has the potential to act as an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can alter the activity of natural hormones in the body such as estrogen and testosterone. These hormones also play a critical role in reproduction. BPA is a common denominator with reproductive issues in animals.

Even more disturbing, according to animal studies, the dangers of BPA start as early as in-utero. Mice exposed to bisphenol-A while in the womb are more susceptible to breast cancer later in life. Experts also question whether bisphenol-A plays a role in ADHD and learning problems.

Is BPA Toxic?

In a surprising move, Canada acknowledged the dangers of BPA in plastics. They acknowledge that it’s likely to be a threat to human health and the environment – one of the first countries to take such a firm stand.

Unfortunately, bisphenol-A is widely distributed in plastic products, cans, household products, makeup, and even in the air and water supply. Particularly concerning is BPA in baby bottles since children are more susceptible to its endocrine-disrupting effects.

In one Harvard study, researchers gave people plastic bottles to drink from for seven days. At the end of the seven days, the sippers had seventy percent more bisphenol-A in their blood. It’s even worse if you heat plastic bottles that contain BPA because heat causes the toxin to leach out into the fluid.

How To Go BPA-Free

Buy beverages in glass bottles, and use glass for storage or heating in a microwave. Get rid of plastic drinking bottles and containers, and choose stainless steel or glass instead. Limit your canned foods and soft drinks because liners often contain bisphenol-A. Buy BPA-free children’s items, including toys, since children may put them in their mouth.

The bottom line? BPA is potentially harming our health, so take steps to protect you and your family and go BPA-free. Follow this guideline by our friends at Healthy Child Healthy World and see what companies are and aren’t offering BPA-free canned goods. Also, read up on plastic numbers and think twice before you buy!

DIY Reusable Straw Sleeves for Back to School

reusable straw

It’s the final week of Plastic Free July! In celebration, we want to share our favorite recipe for making straw sleeves to carry your reusable straws on the go. Don’t own a reusable straw yet? Here’s why you should think twice before using plastic:

  • Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day.
  • Placed end to end, the number of disposable straws used in the U.S. in the past four days could reach the moon.
  • We use enough to fill over 125 school buses with plastic straws every day. That’s 46,000 school buses every year full of straws.

For this project, we recommend reusing old fabric you already have or purchasing from a second-hand shop. Old tablecloths, cloth napkins and heavy t-shirts work! If you are purchasing fabric, we suggest organic cotton or unbleached muslin.

DIY Reusable Straw Sleeves

Supplies (makes one sleeve):
1/2 yard fabric
Measuring tape or small ruler
Scissors
Straight pins
Fabric marker
Sewing machine

Directions:

  1. Cut fabric into a rectangle that is 14.5″ x 2″. Take fabric and fold it in half to make a shape that is now 14.5″ x 1″. If you’d like, run a warm iron over the fabric to smooth it out.
  2. Cut a 1/2″ strip of extra fabric for ties. Use a pen to mark the 1/2″ pieces and cut along the width of the fabric. 
  3. If you’d like a finished edge along the opening of the sleeve, fold the top of the rectangle over 1/4″ and zigzag stitch along the edge.
  4. Measure up 8″ from the bottom of the sleeve and pin the tie in the seam.
  5. Place your reusable straw or a knife inside of the fabric for stability when sewing. Place straight pins along the bottom and open side of the fabric.
  6. Zig zag stitch along the bottom and open edge of the sleeve until you’ve made it to the top.
  7. Place straw and straw brush inside, fold over excess fabric on the top and wrap the tie around the sleeve to keep your reusable straw in place.

You can easily make this project kid friendly by using felt for the sleeve and whipstitching the bottom and side edges. Looking for more ideas on how to cut plastic waste out of your life? Take a look at our Pinterest page for our favorite tips!

 

 

 

The Harm In Plastic Packaging

plastic packaging

Each year, millions of tons of plastic packaging get thrown away worldwide with only half of it getting recycled. In many cases, it’s hard to reduce the packaging that products get shipped in without risking damage to the products. Delicate glass products and sensitive electronic equipment, for example, must be packaged in protective containers, most often made from expanded polystyrene (known as Styrofoam).

Unfortunately, these plastics can take thousands of years to decompose, and are often not included in standard curb-collection recycling programs. Since it blows in the wind and floats in the water, polystyrene litter can travel great distances from where it originates.

The environmental result from packaging delicate products in polystyrene is dramatic, polluting both woodland and water, and posing a significant hazard to wildlife. With these facts in mind, we’ve come up with a few suggestions on how you can cut down on plastic packaging waste:

Skip Online Shopping

It is so easy to buy anything from groceries to clothing online.  But do you ever think twice when you open the box and see packing peanuts and bubble wrap used for one item? As e-commerce grows so will the waste.  What can you do about it?  Purchase what you can in-store or try buying online and picking up in-store. If you need to order online, try and buy multiple items that can ship in the same package, take your packaging materials to your local shipping store to be reused, or purchase used items (like Bea Johnson from the Zero Waste Home) and ask the sender to use non-plastic packaging.

Rethink How You Purchase Electronics

Ever notice when picking up a new USB or memory card the amount of plastic packaging used can be more than five times the size of the actual item?  Or all of the styrofoam casing around your new TV?  All of that single-use plastic goes right into the trash once opened. Be conscious of buying what you need and purchasing items with the least amount of packaging.

Find Natural Alternatives

US-based company Ecovative is rethinking sustainable packaging. Their product is made primarily of mycelium, the root part of mushroom colonies. By using recycled agricultural waste, the mycelium grows into a customizable mould and then dries to inhibit further growth. The resulting material is durable, renewable, and naturally fire resistant. Store it for lengthy periods of time without any adverse effects. 

Unlike polystyrene, this mycelium-based packaging can be safely disposed of through composting. It will completely decompose in a matter of months when exposed to nature. It even provides nourishment for existing plant life as it breaks down, helping the natural environment rather than polluting it. 

Every step you take to cut down on plastic packaging helps.  Looking for more information on how to cut plastic out of more areas of your life?  Take a look at this guide from our friends at My Plastic Free Life for more tips and advice.

Kids Craft Ideas For Summer Vacation

KIDS CRAFT

We’ve officially hit the halfway mark for summer vacation. The days are longer and the kids are looking for new activities to keep them occupied. Now that it’s warm enough to once again be spending the entire day outdoors, there are all sorts of awesome kids craft ideas and materials to be found outside and around the house!

Today we have listed two of our favorite summer kids craft recipes to spark creativity.  These are perfect boredom busters for rainy days or post-summer-camp fun…

Outdoor Tic Tac Toe

Materials:

  • 14 round palm-sized stones
  • 2 different colors of acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Chalk

Directions:

  1. Find a place outside for your board like a walkway or driveway. Draw the # with your chalk.
  2. Divide your round stones into two equal piles of seven. With one color paint seven O’s on each of the stones, and with the other color paint seven X’s on each of the remaining stones.
  3. You’re ready to play! The first person with three stones in a row wins!

Paper Bag Notebooks

Materials:

  • brown bag
  • scissors
  • white office paper
  • thread (embroidery or book binding)
  • needle
  • safety pin
  • watercolors to decorate
  • ruler or paper cutter

Directions:

  1. Take five pieces of white office paper.
  2. Tear in half with a ruler, or cut in half with a paper cutter.
  3. Fold those pieces in half.
  4. Cut out a piece of brown paper bag to fit the exact shape of the folded paper.
  5. Fit the office paper in the brown bag.
  6. Measure 5 holes evenly across the middle crease of the paper.
  7. Poke the hole marks with a safety pin.
  8. Thread a needle and start binding by entering from the inside to outside of the middle hole. Leave about 2″ extra in the inside cover.
  9. When you get back to the center, cut the thread leaving about 2″ and then tie the first thread to the end thread.
  10. Finish by adding some designs to the outside cover or writing your own story!

In need of more ideas for kids craft ideas? Check out our Pinterest Board for crafting, cooking, books and movie suggestions!

Refuse Single-Use Plastics for A Week

single-use plastics

As a friend of U Konserve and a recent admirer of the waste-free and reusable communities, I was excited at the opportunity to sign up for the plastic-free July challenge. The task was simple: refuse single-use plastics for a week and write about my experience.

Being in my late twenties, I’ve grown up in a disposable culture. I never thought twice about plastic water bottles, straws or utensils. As long as I was recycling, I felt that I wasn’t harming the environment. How uninformed was I?

After learning more about the lifecycle of plastic and realizing the harm it really causes, I was ready to dive in to this week of skipping any plastic that is used once and then tossed. When I sat down to plan my week and troubleshoot, I realized that plastic is truly all around me. I felt overwhelmed, but motivated to get through this week without plastic.

Sunday: Plastic-Free Grocery Shopping

Going into my plastic-free week, I knew that planning would be key to my success. Armed with my list and reusable bags, I headed to the grocery store on my first mission of not buying any food wrapped in single-use plastics.

Since it is Summer, choosing more fruits and veggies was the logical choice. I always skip the plastic produce bags and put the fruits and vegetables into one of my reusable totes in the shopping cart. I did notice that for certain items like carrots, the plastic bagged version was less expensive than the loose carrots. I did look around for someone to ask, but made a mental note to bring it up next time I was in the store.

The challenge began when I hit the bulk food bins. Not one for being the best at measuring how much I need or weighing what I have, I bought enough quinoa to last me through Christmas. For the most part, everything I needed was available from the bulk bins. I spent a little time googling alternatives on my phone and found some new ingredients to incorporate into my cooking.

Monday: Reusable Picnic

Happy Fourth! Since today was a holiday I was lucky to stay at home in my haven from single-use plastics. The big event of the evening was watching the fireworks with friends. I packed all sorts of snacks and plenty of drinks in mason jars and reusable containers and challenged them to do the same.

I was feeling very proud of myself for a successful day two until I went to take out the trash and realized that trash bags are plastic and get thrown straight into landfills…. After obsessively researching alternatives online for a while, I decided that figuring out plastic alternatives for around the house would be my challenge for the rest of the month.

Tuesday: Enjoy that cup of coffee

I work in coffee shops daily, so I was very aware of packing a reusable glass water bottle, coffee cup, and utensils to take with me in case. When I arrived that morning, I noticed for the first time that the coffee bar had ceramic cups and saucers (I’ve been here over a dozen times). Interesting what you see when you are avoiding single-use plastics.

I ordered a latte and when the barista asked if I’d like a disposable cup or ceramic one I chose the cup and saucer. I’m not sure if it was in my head, but it was one of the best lattes I’ve enjoyed in a long time. The ritual of sipping out of a cup and saucer doesn’t exist in the age of disposables, and I’m bringing it back into my life.

Wednesday: Dinner with friends

I had let my friends in on my pledge for the week, but I’m not sure they fully understood until I ordered my drinks without straws and pulled out my reusable containers at the end of dinner for my leftovers. They were supportive, but I did receive questioning looks. At first, I felt a little self-conscious but then realized that if I continued this habit at least, I would make others think twice about their disposable habits.

Thursday: Bulk Beauty

When I fist started planning the challenge, I decided to focus on one area of plastic in my life and gradually incorporate other areas. The next primary target was in the bathroom with the majority of my cosmetics in plastic containers. Getting on my computer, I researched my cosmetics products and found that the company reuses empty containers you bring in and rewards your account! Not plastic free, but a temporary solution.

Shampoo and conditioner seemed to be a little more tricky. From my internet research, I found that many people recommend making your own. The brand Lush also offers shampoo bars wrapped in recycled paper or a reusable stainless steel tin.

Friday: Treat Yourself

Nearing the end of the challenge I was feeling good. I pick up food to go at least three times a week, and this was an area that I knew could be a trouble spot for me since most of the to-go containers are single-use plastics or Styrofoam. I chose a restaurant that I knew had recycled paper containers and ordered.

When I went in to pick it up, I declined the plastic bag and utensils. Arriving home, I was excited to eat my salad until I opened the container to see a plastic container with the dressing inside. Total oversight on my part.

Saturday: Reusable Reflections

While I was (mostly) successful on reducing my plastic habit for the week, I focused on the progress I had made.  Here are my big takeaways:

  • People in the service industry won’t mind if you bring your own reusable cup, container, or ask for no straw.
  • Sitting and enjoying a cup of coffee or meal served in non-disposable containers is a refreshing change of pace for our on-the-go lifestyles.
  • To cut down on single-use plastics you need to plan ahead. Always put water in your reusable bottle before you leave the house and keep bags in your purse or car.
  • Skip individually packed food items and make your own alternative instead.
  • Take it one step at a time. Start by focusing on not using single-use plastics. Slowly shift into the zero-waste mindset and take it one day at a time.

To learn more about plastic or going plastic-free visit U Konserve’s Pinterest Page. I used many of the articles as motivation to help me stick to the challenge and find new recipes to incorporate into my routine.

Plastic-Free Grocery Shopping

grocery shopping

By now you’re aware of the importance of bringing your own reusable grocery shopping bag and skipping the plastic, but what about for your produce or bulk goods? With the theme of plastic-free July in mind, we compiled our favorite recipe for making your own produce and bulk bags to bring along with you on your next grocery shopping trip!

Before buying any fabric we suggest looking around your home for fabric that could be repurposed. From old sheets and pillowcases to t-shirts, any lightweight fabric will work! For the produce bags, we like to make one side sheer for ease when checking out, so if you have any old sheer curtains, tulle, or netting they would make great substitutes. If you are purchasing fabric, we recommend buying organic cotton or unbleached muslin.

Produce Bags

Supplies (makes 4 bags):
2 yards fabric
1 sheer curtain panel
4 yards cotton rope
Clear nail polish
Measuring tape or small ruler
Scissors
Straight pins
Safety pin
Fabric marker
Sewing machine

Directions:

  1. Begin by cutting your fabric into four rectangles measuring 19.25 inches long by 15.5 inches wide. Do the same with your sheer fabric.
  2. Cut your rope into four equal pieces, each 32 inches long. Apply clear nail polish to rope ends to keep from unraveling and let dry.
  3. Take one sheer piece of fabric and one piece of cotton toweling and place them together, lining up the edges. With your fabric marker, mark 1 inch from the top edge of the fabric on both the left and right sides and begin pinning pieces together. The red mark indicates where you will begin and end your stitch. Pin along three edges of your fabric, leaving the top open.
  4. Starting at the 1-inch mark you made, begin sewing a zig zag stitch down the sides and bottom of your bag together. Be sure to leave the top 1 inch of the sides unsewn.
  5. With your bag still inside out, fold down the top 1-inch of sheer fabric and pin. Turn bag over and do the same to the opaque fabric side. This will create a casing for your drawstring. Sew casing closed but leave both ends open so you can insert your drawstring.
  6. Stick a safety pin through the rope and feed through casing. Tie drawstring ends together.
  7. Trim any extra fabric or thread and turn the bag right side out.

Bulk Bags

Supplies (makes 4 bags):
1 yard fabric
Old cotton t-shirt
Measuring tape or small ruler
Scissors
Straight pins
Fabric marker
Sewing machine

Directions:

  1. Cut fabric into a rectangle that is 8″ x 24″.  Take fabric and fold it in half to make a shape that is now 8″ x 12″. If you’d like, run a warm iron over the fabric to smooth it out.
  2. Cut 1/2″ t-shirt strips for twist ties. Use a pen to mark the 1/2″ strips and cut along the width of the shirt. Cut as many 1/2″ strips as you need for the number of bags you’re making. When you’re done cutting, take one end in each hand and then PULL. This will lengthen the tie that you’ll sew into the bag in a future step.
  3. Fold the top edges over about 1/4″ and use a zig-zag stitch to finish the edges. After finishing both edges, fold the bag in half, lining the edges of the fabric up and secure with straight pins. Sew up one side of the bag that won’t include the “twist tie” to the top edge.
  4. On the opposite side, place a t-shirt strip about 3″ down from the top of the bag with about 1/4″ left on what will be the inside of the bag. Sew up the last side of the bag to the top edge.
  5. Flip the bag inside out. If you regularly buy the same bulk items, use your fabric pen to write the number of the bin on the outside of the bag so you are organized when checking out at the store.

Looking for more ways to skip the plastic while grocery shopping?  Check out our friend Bea Johnson’s post on zero waste grocery shopping.

 

Is Recycling Plastic a Waste?

recycling

Recycling is a mainstream practice in the U.S. While we may think of it as a positive solution to our plastic problem, the impact of recycling stretches far beyond the bin. Plastic is a major source of energy waste on the environment, and recycling contributes to that impact in a way that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Plastic is made from petroleum, so every new piece of plastic cuts into petroleum reserves. About 8-10% of the world’s total oil supply goes into making plastic. And of that, it is estimated that 12 million barrels of oil are used for making plastic bags in the U.S. alone.

The total weight of plastic waste per year equals 30 million tons with only 8% being recycled. In many cases, once recycling is trucked to the collection centers it is then shipped back overseas to be reprocessed.  While it’s true that recycling does turn used plastic into new, the energy used in that process only adds to our carbon footprint.

The Recycling Challenge:

  • Plastic items have to be recycled with like plastic numbers. A tray labeled No. 1 (polymer: PET) can’t be recycled in the same group as a bottle labeled No. 1 because they melt at different temperatures. This increases the price to collect and sort the plastic. For this reason, many cities limit the amount of plastics they take in.
  • Prices for recycled materials have plummeted due to lower oil prices. Due to the cost/benefit analysis on the production of plastic, it is often less expensive to make new plastics vs recycle. This has lead many facilities to dump plastic in landfills vs properly recycling.
  • In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead. That adds up to millions of extra dollars per year which could be used for other initiatives including reductions in greenhouse emissions.

Every single piece of plastic ever created is still somewhere on our planet. Becoming a mindful consumer and buying less plastic is a great first step.  Purchasing reusable items such as glass water bottles, stainless steel containers, and reusable cotton shopping bags keep single-use plastics out of landfills and the recycling center.

Stop wasting energy the plastic way. To get involved in going plastic free this July, head over to this site and sign the pledge. To learn more check out our resources page full of book, films, and articles.

Plastic Free: Recipe to Kick The Habit

plastic free

Plastic is all around us.  Understanding the facts about plastic pollution is the first step, but changing habits can be key to clean living.  While the thought of going completely plastic free can seem daunting, there is a simple recipe to follow to get started and make an impact.

Below are 7 key ingredients for going plastic free:

Ingredients:

  1. Glass Water Bottle
  2. Insulated Coffee Cup
  3. Bamboo Utensils
  4. Reusable straws
  5. Reusable sandwich bags
  6. Stainless steel food containers
  7. Reusable grocery bag

Directions:

  1. Assemble all items and purchase anything you may be missing.  If planning ahead is challenging, buy duplicates of the ingredients and keep one set in the car, office, or wherever convenient.
  2. Pack all items in the reusable grocery bag every evening and place next to your front door.  Every morning when leaving the house, grab your reusable bag and bring it with you.
  3. Grabbing coffee to go?  Ask the barista to use your insulated coffee cup.  Stepping out for lunch?  Get your food to go in your reusable container or sandwich wrap.  Control your portion and plastic consumption.
  4. When meeting friends for a drink, take out your reusable straw and enjoy sipping on your beverage without the plastic.
  5. When grocery or clothing shopping, skip the bag and pack all items in your reusable bag.
  6. At the end of everyday wash whatever items necessary.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 over for the next month and start to notice the effects of living plastic free.

While these may seem like small steps to take in the war against plastic, every bottle, bag, or single-use container skipped is a win.  Looking for more information on living plastic free?  Read Beth Terry’s story on living plastic free for more ways you can transition lifestyles.  Also, make sure to have a look through our Pinterest Page for more ideas on kicking the plastic habit at home and beyond.