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Blog Share: Zero Waste Around the World

Zero Waste Around the World

So much of what you’re able to do to reduce your waste depends on whether there’s a culture of and facilities for shopping sustainably, composting, and recycling. So while some of the tips on zero waste blogs like mine apply universally, some certainly don’t, and it can be more helpful to connect with people who live close to you. To that end, here are a few of my favorite zero waste or simple living blogs or accounts based in countries other than the United States. Even if none of these are near you, they still offer beautiful perspectives on what it looks like to live simply and sustainably around the world.

Europe

Paris To Go is the queen of the long, in-depth, research-backed post; writer Ariana lived in Paris until recently and shares all her resources for living waste-free there. See all her posts about Paris here, or start here for a post that rang true to me of late. In the UK, Little Birdie features stories about slowing down and spending time outside, with photographs that always make me want to head straight out the door for a long walk. She’s not zero waste per se, but her practical and creative approach to eating seasonally, shopping thoughtfully, and using plants inside the home for decoration is a good one. In Turkey, Amira Made takes beautiful photographs of her simple, minimalist home and talks about how she approaches zero waste.

Africa

My friend Rachel of The Foraged Life recently moved to South Africa, where she posts about living sustainably, adventuring outdoors, and working toward environmental justice. It’s so good to watch her navigate her new country and learn more about life in South Africa. Amira lived in Libya until recently and started the group Zero Waste Libya. I’m not sure they’re active anymore, but their accounts still offer resources for the area – visit them on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

Asia

In the Philippines, Dani shares snippets of her life and her zero waste / simple living challenges and victories on her Instagram account – her photographs make sustainable choices look even cooler than you already thought they were.

North America

Allison of Zero Waste Vancouver has the best tips for where to shop, eat, and compost in the area, and is generous with her expertise. I haven’t read much of PAREdown home‘s blog yet, but it looks like if you live in Canada they offer incomparable lists of resources for where to find what you need.

Elsewhere

I love reading stories about how sustainability efforts are different around the world and yet in many ways so similar – we have lots to learn from each other. It’s crucial that we choose to build bridges with people who live in other countries. While we watch governments deny the science of climate change and do less than they should, we can work on growing a worldwide culture that chooses and demands sustainability.

If nobody listed above lives near you or you want to find more resources in your area, you can find a larger list of zero waste blogs around the world here, complete with an interactive map. Or, if you’re planning a trip you can always reach out to a zero waste blogger in the area for tips on composting and grocery shopping, or just to find great local places to eat or visit. And for a few more ideas on building a zero waste community near you, I shared a few tips for how I approach it here.

This was reposted, with edits, with permission from Litterless. Image from The Guardian.

6 Toxins in Household Cleaning Products

Toxins in Household Cleaning Products

It’s easy to assume that household and personal cleaning products are clean and safe. However, most are loaded with toxic chemicals that can have negative effects on our health and the environment.

There are no federal regulations related to safety standards when it comes to common household cleaning products. This means that manufacturers can put just about anything in these products, without any significant testing. They may claim that trace amounts of these chemicals pose no risk to our health in small doses, but with consistent exposure over time, and in combinations that haven’t been studied, it’s impossible to gauge the risks.

It’s easy to make your own cleaning products with natural, non-toxic ingredients. There are also many resources that specialize in making organic, natural cleaning products that are safe for ourselves, our pets and the planet. Fillaree is a zero waste, sustainable soap company whose core mission is to reduce household plastic waste through refill. That’s a message we can stand behind!

Toxins in household cleaning products can be avoided by switching to handmade, natural alternatives. Here are some of the worst offenders:

Ammonia

Found in glass cleaners and furniture/silver polishes, this chemical is a respiratory irritant. Also, when mixed with bleach it produces a poisonous gas. Prolonged exposure can cause cases of chronic bronchitis and asthma.

Chlorine

A common ingredient found in scouring powders, toilet cleaners and laundry detergents. It can cause respiratory issues and thyroid disruptions with long-term exposure.

Sodium Hydroxide

Also known as lye, this is found in oven cleaners and drain-unclogging liquids. It’s extremely corrosive and can cause chemical burns on skin, and damage to the mouth and throat if inhaled.

2-Butoxyethanol

This is found in kitchen, window and multipurpose cleaners. This is what gives the cleaners that sweet smell and there are no regulations that require this ingredient to be listed. However, when inhaled, it can also cause respiratory problems and even liver or kidney damage.

Phthalates

Fragranced cleaners, air fresheners, and even some toilet papers are loaded with these chemicals. Phthalates are a known endocrine disrupter, even causing low sperm counts in men. Most ingestion is inhalation, but fragranced soaps are dangerous as well since the skin absorbs the toxins directly.

Triclosan

Found in lots of dish detergents and antibacterial products. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that can cause the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Not only is this counterproductive for cleaning, but it’s harmful for our health in the long run.

These are just a few common toxins in household cleaning products, hidden in plain sight underneath our kitchen sinks. Instead of posing a risk to our health, start 2017 by making the switch to natural cleaning products. Shop Fillaree to see all the natural options they can offer your family and home!

This was reposted, with edits, with permission from Fillaree.

5 Reasons College Students Should Switch to a Reusable Coffee Cup

reusable coffee cup

Luckily this generation of college students is way ahead of their parents when it comes to environmental awareness. But in some ways our current culture is more dependent on using and tossing in the name of convenience, and that daily cup of coffee is no exception. Using a disposable coffee cup can take a toll on our well being, on the planet and on our wallet. Take a look at five reasons college students should switch to a reusable coffee cup:

1. You’ll be healthier

If you get to know a disposable coffee cup you’ll ditch the habit pretty quickly. Paper cups can’t hold liquid unless they are lined with polyethylene to prevent leaking. As a result, the entire interior surface of your cup is most likely made of plastic, and your hot drink is basically bathing in it. And those white plastic lids are polystyrene, made from styrene, a synthetic chemical classified as a probable human carcinogen. Toxic styrene can migrate into your coffee or tea when hot.

2. You’ll help the planet

It’s estimated that 25 billion single-use coffee cups are thrown away every year. That’s about 3 million every hour, or 70 million per day. Contrary to popular belief, disposable cups can’t be recycled. They are almost always coated with plastic, which makes the entire cup destined for the landfill. Also, manufacturing bleached paper cups requires a substantial amount of water, energy and about 20 million trees a year. And those paper sleeves add up to about 2.8 billion pounds of trash sitting in landfills every year. Compostable cups are not the answer either: they are rarely disposed of properly, and either end up in a landfill where they will not biodegrade, or end up contaminating recycling facilities.

3. You’ll save money

Bringing a reusable coffee cup can save you money. Most coffee shops now give at least 10 cents, and many as much as 50 cents, if you bring your own cup. Most college students would love to save up to $182 a year.

4. You’ll keep your coffee hot

By using a vacuum-insulated coffee tumbler, your coffee will stay hot for hours. And, these double-walled stainless steel exteriors will not feel hot when filled with hot liquids, and will not have condensation when filled with cold liquids. Do you take your time sipping your coffee and hate using the microwave? Reusable coffee cups are the answer.

5. You’ll feel good

Busy college students and the convenience of a single-use coffee cup seem like a good fit, but the combination is incredibly unsustainable and actually pretty depressing. As we’ve seen countless times, making more mindful choices, purchasing with intention and understanding how our actions affect our community and our planet feels good. This is especially true for young college students who are learning about their place in the world and actively thinking about ways to make a difference.

More good news: many organizations, like our partners Turning Green and PLAN, are meeting with colleges across the country to educate students about waste, and encourage students to ditch disposables. In one campaign, Kill the Cup saved 267,000 cups from landfill and awarded grants to six winning colleges. Colleges need more coffee shops like Bar Nine is Los Angeles and the Eden Café in New Zealand where throwaway cups are banned. Do you know any coffee shops that don’t hand out a piece of trash with every cup of coffee? Let us know!