Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reducing Single Use on the Road

Traveling is fun, but plays havoc on your habits. I am more likely to make bad food choices when I'm on the road ("I need crunchy snacks to keep me alert..."). AND, I'm more likely to use paper napkins, paper towels, straws, disposable cups - not good. What's a traveler to do? Well, this summer I made a conscious effort to reduce single use on the road. Here's what I did:

  • Packed a picnic basket full of home made snacks - and purchased some nuts and dried fruit in bulk. I also took bread, peanut butter and jelly - which doesn't require refrigeration
  • Took my own shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc and didn't use the hotel stuff in those tiny disposable bottles
  • Carried plenty of thermos style coffee cups and water bottles / reusable cups with me. One is not enough. I need to have enough to fill and then wash later as I can - that way there's never an excuse. And, I often have soda in one cup, water in another, coffee in another. I drive alone and this is how I pass the time! 
  • Carry my own napkin and straw with me for when I stop to eat somewhere. Yeah, I'm that person.
Yes, I still slip up, but I find that reducing consumption of single use items is much easier if I'm prepared!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Makeup Remover

I use very little makeup, but when I do I want to take it off at the end of the day! Last time I finished up my bottle of Neutrogena make up remover I decided to make my own. It's a really simple recipe and I've enjoyed not having to purchase more plastic bottles - every one counts!!!! I really like this recipe because it's gentle and inexpensive to make. It works perfectly too - check it out here. It's made of olive oil, baby shampoo and of course, WATER. That's what most of what we buy in single use packaging is, water. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Cards

ornament or tree topper from a Christmas card - instructions

In an age of email wedding invitations and texted break up messages I really really appreciate receiving a real Christmas card with a hand written signature. It's one of the things I love about Christmas. When my girls were little they would take turns designing the family Christmas card, which I would color copy at Kinko's. I still cherish those cards! But you can't hang on to that stuff forever (although I do still have them, but wouldn't expect everyone else to keep them!). So, what to do with these symbols and sentiments? 

In the past I've reused them to make little TO/FROM cards for gifts. (Why buy when you already have such lovely patterns?) For a few years everyone sent us their cards received and the next Christmas we took them to a nursing home and decorated the doors of each of the residents. And this year, I learned to make the ornament in the picture above, from Pinterest of course! I used them to decorate the tree, but also in lieu of bows on gifts. 

I checked out some ideas on the interwebs and liked these the most:
  • cut them up and turn them into place cards for the holiday table
  • make into a recipe card to go with the plate of treats you're giving (you know they will ask you for the recipe anyway!)
  • cut the front off and turn the folding card into a postcard (cheaper to mail!) 
  • decorate the top of a mason jar full of treats
I got these ideas from 5 ways to upcycle holiday cards and 10 crafty ways to upcycle old greeting cards. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and I challenge you to save, reuse, or at least recycle all your cards this year! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Box and Tray Upcycle

I bought a pair of cowboy boots and was impressed at how very sturdy the box and lid were. I made this little tray from the lid. I simply decoupaged with newsprint to even everything out, then I added torn up tissue as the top layer, in shades of purple. The dots are made with my 1" hole punch, I used some tissue paper for that too - giving it a contrasting pattern. This is a perfect little tray to corral all my incense and hookah stuff. It's finished with a little semi gloss varnish so it's water proof enough that it could hold drinks or tea cups if needed.  I used the same treatment to made a little storage box out of an empty soy milk box. I cut it down to size and used up one of the cut off pieces to make a little lid - it's attached with wire. I use it to store extra keys. Next time you get a sturdy little box in your life, think about reusing it for storage or other purposes. These make great Christmas or other gifts!!!

SIDENOTE: Did you know that tissue paper cannot be recycled? It's the paper version of styrofoam - sort of the end of the line. I like to reuse and upcycle tissue as much as possible. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Kombucha is fermented sweet tea. Because I like fizzy drinks I decided to start making my own. The fact that Kombucha is actually a carbonated drink that's GOOD for you is a great added bonus! It's really easy - find out how here and here. Over the past few years I had kept nice liquor bottles once emptied. I also use them to store iced coffee and iced tea in the fridge, or to make up some soda from the soda-stream if I'm having people over. I know it takes a little extra time and effort to make my own instead of purchasing soda, Kombucha, etc. but it just makes me happy knowing that I'm not adding more containers to a landfill or recycling container. My favorite recipe is with green tea, or with yerba mate - both make a mild and delicious Kombucha in 5-7 days. There's still time to make Kombucha as Christmas gifts!!! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cardboard Tube Flower Decorations

Toilet paper is one of those things I just cannot bring myself to work around in terms of single use - although I have looked into it here. Instead, I'm figuring out ways to use the cardboard tube left. I made these little flower decorations as gift toppers that can be used for Christmas tree decorating too. You can tell just by looking at the picture that I folded the tube, cut little rings and then glued them together with hot glue. I used a single hole punch to make a hole to add a little yarn through so they can hang from a tree, and glued on some embellishments in the middle of some. Pinterest has loads of ideas on how to reuse cardboard tubes, consider keeping them and turning them into art projects!

It's December folks - that time of year that most threatens our commitments to better eating and less consumption!!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


I always seem to need extra trash bins - whether I'm cooking, in the car, in my camper, or working on a project. I've found gallon milk jugs to be perfect instant trash bins. The handle makes them easy to transport to the trash/recycling/compost bin when full. The plastic makes it water proof and easy to clean if things get messy or stinky in there. They are easily replaced if they wear out. They are small enough that you can have one in the closet, on the dryer, another by your desk and one under the sink. Just the perfect insta-trashbin!