The last cotton ball

Let’s not strike up a conversation about cotton unless we’re both ready to talk about forced labor in Uzbekistan. Or the drying up of the Aral Sea. Or death to cotton farmers by pesticide. Soft and luscious on the outside, cotton is produced in unsustainable and often cruel ways that have not propelled humanity far…

Toothpaste (that isn’t paste)

Designers take note! I’ve found a toothpaste that can actually look attractive while sitting on a bathroom shelf. It’s called Bite and I found it when researching alternatives to toothpaste sold in plastic tubes. I grew up using Colgate, so for me, nothing tastes cleaner than a mouthful of fluoride and I’ve been buying toothpaste…

Zero waste mistakes

Listen. We all make mistakes. And here’s one I made this week. I bought a $15 jar of hummus. Here’s how it happened. I like hummus. I don’t want to make hummus. Ready-made hummus comes in a plastic tub with a plastic seal and a plastic film over the hummus. It’s a lot of plastic…

Today’s tea: compostable packaging

Today’s Tea: Your compostable packaging is only compostable if you actually… compost it. Sure, we can applaud companies who use compostable plastic cups and compostable paper bowls but the praise is meaningless if we put those compostable items in the trash. When we put compostables in the trash, they go to the landfill where they…

Studying climate change with friends

This week I’ll begin a distance learning course on the topic of climate change, and I’ll be joined by a few friends. We’ll be studying the materials on our own and as a group, then hopefully we’ll be sharing what we learn with others through discussion nights, workshops, or other methods. The course is offered…

Goodbye, bags. Thanks for the litter.

It’s a big deal: New York state has banned plastic bags. The ban will take effect next March. So, prepare to say goodbye to bags in the trees, bags in the gutter grates, bags in the park, bags on the beach, bags tangled around a pigeon’s leg. We’ve had a good run plastic bags (have…

More bread, less plastic

A while ago I blogged about a less-than-successful attempt at waste-free grocery shopping, and revealed that sometimes I buy gluten-free bread. I didn’t buy gluten-free sandwich bread after that, so guilty did I feel about the plastic bags. But I like bread. So I figured it was time to look into whether or not any…

Composting in Red Hook

If you know me, you know I don’t want to go to Brooklyn unless there’s any possible way I can get around it. But this sustainability thing is dragging me out there more often than expected. I guess I can’t be mad about it; Brooklyn has some great community gardens and learning sites, such as…

RIP Recycling

Growing up, sorting the recycling wasn’t a chore; it was something that one did automatically. I don’t remember a time when our household didn’t recycle, so I was horrified when I grew up and found out that I moved among people who put their bottles and cans in the trash along with their spent tissues,…

Recycling the weird stuff: Mascara wands

I’m struggling to cut down on some of the ordinary junk that I’ve been living with for decades. Makeup is one of those things. I don’t have cases upon cases of makeup but I do have a fair amount that I need to work through before I’ll need to go out and find lower-waste alternatives,…