Extra Plastic Bags?

This Coop next to a highly littered bus stop in our neighborhood let me attach my really cool Bag Bottle to their fence in hopes of creating waste awareness while people wait for the bus.

The Bag Bottle is made of plastic soda bottles and stuffed with plastic bags. Dog owners, litter haters, or people who may just need a plastic bag are welcome to give a tug!

I easily collect a bag full of plastic litter everyday on my way to work.  I will be bringing my own so there will be plenty to inspire others.  Our Waste Matters will be starting a block sponsorship for those of us who want to keep plastic out of our environment.

In NYC, we failed to pass Ban the Bag legislation because people with less means would be disproportionately affected.  If their neighbors provided extra bags for them to use at anytime, maybe we could be Bag Free?!

How is your state doing?   http://www.bagtheban.com/in-your-state

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

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The Best Wash Without Waste

I have been using Soap Nuts for my laundry for almost a year now.  They come in a recyclable cardboard box and other than that they produce no waste.

Put five of them in an organza bag and throw them in the washing machine with your dirty clothes.

The challenge is to keep them out of the dryer when you transfer your clean clothes.  It won’t hurt them but it does make them last a little less long.

What are they? They are a deseeded, dried nut from a Soapnut Tree that contains a surfactant called saponin.

Surfactants reduce the surface tension of the water, essentially making it wetter and easier to penetrate into soiled fabrics. This combined with the agitation of your machine or handwashing removes the dirt or particles, then keeps them away from your clothing until rinsing occurs.

  • Sustainable: It’s a renewable resource, easily grown organically.
  • All Natural: No funky or harmful ingredients.
  • Eco-Friendly: Less processing, less energy and less packaging.
  • Affordable: They can replace multiple cleaners, and last longer.
  • Reusable: Each berry can be used up to 6 times before it’s spent.
  • Hypoallergenic: No skin or respiratory irritation and non-toxic.
  • Not Actually Nuts: They’re totally safe for those with nut allergies.
  • Simple: Throw them in your wash or make a simple liquid detergent.
  • Odorless: But you can always add your own essential oils.
  • Gentle: Their mild nature won’t damage delicate clothing or surfaces.
  • No Fabric Softener: They naturally soften your fabrics!
  • Save Water: They rinse easier so require less water.
  • Save Energy: You can use a shorter rinse cycle in your laundry, too.
  • Front-loading Friendly: No suds are perfect for HE machines.
  • Works in Any Temperature: Use them in cold, warm or hot water.
  • Non-polluting: 100% biodegradable and safe for graywater systems.
  • Compostable: Used shells can be thrown in your compost.
  • Self-sufficient: You can even grow a soap nut tree yourself!

To see if your soap nuts are still releasing saponin, get them wet and see if the suds are still present.  http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/

If you prefer a liquid detergent, whip up a batch of homemade.

1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid lavender Castile soap
1/2  cup washing soda
1/2  cup borax

 Click product to  Amazon
Mix all ingredients in a 2-gallon bucket.  Add hot water to fill the bucket and stir well. This will be a thinner concoction than commercial laundry detergent.  Store your homemade detergent in a saved commercial bottle .  Shake before you use because it has a tendency to separate.  Use 1/4 cup for an average laundry load.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

The Easiest Reuse Ever

 

My friends, Niovi and Sam, have hosted many a Coop party by using cocktail glasses that reuse their cocktail’s main ingredient; preserves.

They are definitely onto something as mixologists all over NYC are using this ingredient to add sugar, flavor and citrus to their favorite spirit.

Cocktail science is a blast!!!

https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-jams-jellies-cocktails-article

Until next time,

Audrey

Sebago Canoe Club Launches Boy Scouts for Annual Trash Bash

Martin and I were back at Jamaica Bay this past weekend to make another attempt at cleaning up the NYC side of Canarsie Pol.   We happily found ourselves lined up behind 4 Boy Scout Troops from Queens.  They were there to earn merit badges by participating in Sebago Canoe Club’s Annual Trash Bash.

The New York State Beach Cleanup has been run for 30 years by the American Littoral Society’s Northeast Chapter and is part of the International Coastal Cleanup campaign that happens every September.

890 pounds of trash in 48 garbage bags was retrieved, transported by canoe and deposited on the Sebago dock.  The volunteers counted and weighed their haul so that the effects of legislation on polluting our waterways can be measured.

We are so grateful to those who care about our marine environments.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

When You Have That Plastic Bottle

More fun to watch the cleverness of this post!!!

Single use plastic should be avoided at all times to send a clear signal to the producers of these horrible products that are harming every ecosystem in devastating ways.

The latest evidence of the harm these bottles are doing to our environment is the saddest ever!  North Face and many other environmentally friendly companies have been making polar fleece from recycled plastic bottles.  The unfortunate truth of this process is that we need to wash these garments.  All polyester and polyester polymer fabrics release micro fibers from our washing machine rinse cycles straight into our waterways.  Civic filter systems cannot remove these tiny fibers.  Once in our waterways, they are ingested by oysters, mussels, lobsters and other marine life that we eat.

Can it get much more sad?

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

A No Waste Renovation

Last summer, I spent my weekends renovating a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house on what I call ” my island in the sky” in Southern Connecticut.  The house was in very good shape for the most part, but it had small enclosed rooms, as was typical for a home built in 1900. It now has the personality of a carriage house and a cottage.

I opened up the first floor by taking down a wall between the dining room and the kitchen bringing light and space and cohesion into the home with a half wall.

On the second floor, I made a larger bathroom that could be accessed from all three bedrooms without having to go through the master bedroom.  Instead of throwing out the dense, hard, old milled pine, real 2X4s from the downstairs demo, I used them to frame my new bathroom walls upstairs.  

I had more than enough nails of all sorts.  They came in very handy for every little job that needed one.  I have a lifetime supply of kindling for my fireplace because I saved all of that amazing lathe from the plaster wall.  Light fixtures were reused or came from second-hand stores.  The old vanity was saved and redesigned.   Tongue and groove wainscoting was refinished and reused. The original floors were rediscovered and saved.  Lead glass windows throughout the house were carefully unstuck and cleaned.

My entire job filled only 40 contractor bags.  I looked at every material with its reuse in mind.  Old appliances, cabinets and porcelain went to Restore to support Habitats for Humanity.  All paper, glass, metal and plastic came back to Brooklyn to be recycled. Best of all, my new old house retained the great warmth of age that I love and respect.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

 

Clear Recycling Bags for Free

Every week we put our recyclables out on the curb in clear plastic bags that we have to buy from Glad.  The City requires clear or blue for recycling paper, metal, plastic, glass and compost.   It can get expensive.  Since we need a certain size, there are times when they are not available.

BUT!  If you know someone who goes to the dry cleaner…you have clear bags for free!  Just tie the ends and recycle instead of throwing them away.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Compostable Waste That Will Surprise You

Organic waste being converted into compost at McEnroe Farms in Millerton, NY about 100 miles from NYC. Photo credit: BioCycle

The New York Department of Sanitation has a goal of Zero Waste to landfills by 2030.  Part of this initiative is getting New Yorkers to compost all of the organic waste they generate.  It will apply to approximately 350 of the biggest food generators in the city, including hotels with 150 or more rooms, arenas and stadiums with at least 15,000 seats, as well as large-volume food manufacturers and food wholesalers.

Compo Keeper made a list of 25 items you use everyday that can go into the compost bin!  http://compokeeper.com/25-non-food-household-items-youll-be-surprised-are-compostable/

Be especially aware that plastic fibers, films, and microbeads  will break down, contaminate the compost and possibly enter the environment unchecked.  Plastic fibers from polyester and other synthetic fabrics in our laundry are the number one worst environmental contaminants followed by microbeads.

    • Bamboo Skewers
    • Toothpicks
    • Soiled Pizza Boxes (paper recycling has to reject these)
    • Paper soiled by food and oils
    • Q-tips (not the plastic kinds)
    • Matches
    • Burlap sacks (shredded)
    • Latex Balloons
    • Latex and Lambskin condoms (yes, even used)
    • Holiday wreaths (without any plastic shiny things)
    • Potpourri
    • Nail clippings
    • Natural fiber rope
    • Cellophane
    • Kleenex (yes, used ones!)
    • Loofas (the real ones)
    • Cotton balls (100% cotton)
    • Masking tape
    • White/plain glue
    • Hair from your hairbrush
    • Trimmings from an electric razor
    • 100% cotton tampons and sanitary pads (yes, even used)
    • Cardboard tampon applicators
    • Dryer lint (from 100% natural fabrics only!)
    • Old cotton clothing and jeans (ripped or cut into small pieces)
    • Cotton fabric scraps (shredded)
    • Wool clothing (ripped or cut into small pieces)
    • Cotton towels and sheets (shredded)
    • Pencil shavings
    • Sticky notes (shredded)
    • “Dust bunnies” from wood and tile floors
    • Contents of your dustpan (pick out any inorganic stuff, like pennies and Legos)
    • Burlap sacks (cut or torn into small pieces)
    • Old rope and twine (chopped, natural, unwaxed only)
    • Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pits
    • Soiled Paper table cloths (shredded or torn into smaller pieces)
    • Crepe paper streamers (shredded)
    • Natural holiday wreaths
    • Fur from the dog or cat brush
    • Droppings and bedding from your rabbit, gerbil, hamster, etc.
    • Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird or snake cage
    • Feathers
    • Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits, gerbils, etc.)
    • Dry dog or cat food, fish pellets

Until next time, remember you can eat the entire apple!
Garbage Girl             

Ziplocks Go Zero Waste

One box of ziplocks will last you a lifetime, honestly!  They are made of plastic so they can be washed, dried and used again and again.  I even put them in the dishwasher.  Don’t be shy. Try!

The benefits of reusing baggies—savings on raw materials, emissions from shipping, and landfill space—make washing worthwhile, says Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “When plastic bags are reused, fewer plastic bags need to be produced.  The production of plastic bags uses energy, water, and in most cases a non-renewable resource (fossil fuel-derived); reusing bags, even when you use water to wash them out, saves resources overall.”

I am not an advocate for anything plastic around my food.  There are concerns about chemicals leaching into food from plastic.  This is most true during microwaving and you should never microwave or boil food in a ziplock plastic bag.

Washing ziplocks with cold water and soap will get rid of the majority of food contamination in the bag.  But, “if they change color or opacity, I’d say that to be on the safe side, you should discontinue using them,” warns Hoover.   You can also disinfect with vinegar.

The best part about drying your ziplocks is the truly beautiful decorative hooks you can find in flea markets and second hand stores.  Mine holds 5 bags.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Scraps: From Waste To Beauty

The Textile Museum, in Washington DC, is nestled amongst the buildings of George Washington University’s “city campus”.  It is currently showing an exhibit called Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Reuse.   The exhibit features 3 very talented designers who use every scrap in their supply chain to create truly beautiful new fabrics.   The designers are:  Luisa Cevese of Riedizioni in Milan; Christina Kim of Dosa in Los Angeles; and Reiko Sudo of Nuno in Tokyo.  The exhibit was created by The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC.   https://www.cooperhewitt.org/

“George Washington University’s Sustainability Collaborative is a collaboration between the many institutes and centers, the hundreds of faculty and students, and dozens of local and national community partners working to find innovative solutions to the pressing challenges of our times”.

“We strive to promote interdisciplinary research and teaching because we know that sustainability is not something that can be achieved from just one perspective. Partnerships between universities, businesses, non-profits, and governments are vital in supporting new technologies and policy solutions.
https://sustainabilitycollaborative.gwu.edu/

While viewing the exhibit, I started to imagine all of the ways I could make my favorite articles of clothing become a part of this exciting movement.  With only a handful of companies in the fashion and textile trades supporting environmental health, it is increasingly important for us to look at our clothing in a new and exciting DIY way.

One way is darning; a craft once taught to young women, all over the world, in order to extend the life of their families’ clothing.  With such cheap clothing available these days to replace anything that we are simply tired of, its not hard to think that darning is a craft of the past.  BUT!  Darning is an art.  It turns ordinary and worn out into extraordinary and unique!

Jeans are the easiest garments to personalize.  All it takes is a needle, some thread in your favorite colors and the desire to make your jeans truly yours.

        http://imgur.com/gallery/CXWrj/new

Until next time,

Garbage Girl