Category Archives: bigo

5 Versatile Items That Should Be in Your Zero Waste Kitchen

Sometimes it feels like, no matter what you do, there’s just never enough cabinet or drawer space. Even the largest kitchens seem to be desperate for space to store?all those specialty spatulas, cookie cutters and containers. Ohhh, the containers…

But when you go zero waste, a new priority comes into play: minimalism. While juicers, avocado slicers and bagel guillotines are great at what they do, these “unitasker” devices can easily be replaced by other more versatile kitchen items, saving you both money and coveted storage space.

Minimalism allows for a better lifestyle to take hold – one focused less on consumerism and more on sustainability, less on acquiring things and more on doing things. Sound like your cup of tea? Here are a few items that will get your kitchen into shape for a creative, thrifty, zero waste life.

1.?Mason jars

Few items get more use in my zero waste kitchen than my set of lidded mason jars. They are?used to store leftovers from restaurants, stock pantry goods from the bulk section of our food co-op, shake up a handmade salad dressing and take a glass of iced tea on the road. I’m in love!


A colander might sound like a strange addition to this little top five list, but it’s actually quite a versatile item! Besides being the perfect tool to thoroughly rinse produce, colanders can be makeshift ice buckets (keeps ice cool and drains off water as it melts), cool cooked ingredients quickly, and even strip herbs.?What else do you think you could do with a colander?

3. Chef’s knife

Every kitchen, zero waste or otherwise, should have a high-quality chef’s knife at its center. Designed to be used in many applications,?you can use a chef’s knife to chop vegetables quickly, strip corn and crush garlic. Really, you just need the one!

4. Muffin tin

This might sound surprising, but our muffin tin gets more use than any of our other baking dishes. We use it to make ice (perfect for those summertime libations!), as a soap mould (we make our own often), to sort odds and ends,?and?as a container in which to freeze herbs. Any other creative ideas for a muffin tin?

5.?Cast iron

Ahh, the cast iron. Always a household favorite, the cast iron pan grounds our kitchen. Ever present on top of the stove – clean and well-seasoned – that cast iron is used at every meal to do everything from saut? veggies to press water out of tofu. But its most special quality? It can go from stovetop to oven!

What are your “big hits” in the kitchen? Which items get the most versatile use?

Related Stories:

How to Keep a Zero Waste Pet
How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person
The Very Best Online Shop for Zero Waste Goodies

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5 Versatile Items That Should Be in Your Zero Waste Kitchen

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8 Weird Items You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

Recycling is an important part of reducing how much garbage we send to landfills. According to the EPA, Americans generate more than 262 million tons of waste every single year.

Seventy-five percent of this is recyclable material, but only 25 percent of this actually makes it to recycling facilities, a horrifying figure given that 73 percent of Americans have access to curbside recycling services.

Amusingly,?a sizable portion of?these forgotten recyclables are off-the-wall items?like shoes, furniture and – no joke – dentures. Never in a million years would I have known dentures are recyclable! Here are ten of these such items not to send to the landfill!

1. Dentures

The average set of dentures contains approximately $25?of recyclable metals, including silver, gold and palladium. The Japan Denture Recycling Association (yes, that exists) collects false teeth, removing valuable materials and discarding the rest. Once the process is complete, the program donates 100 percent of its earnings to UNICEF. Cool idea, right?

2. Mattresses

Equipped with special saws that aren’t found?in traditional recycling facilities, mattress recycling?factories can separate foam, metal, wood and cloth and?recycle these materials independently. Wood is chipped, foam and cloth are shredded, springs are melted down. Who knows, maybe that wallpaper in your dining room was made from an old mattress!

3. Expired prescriptions

Expired prescriptions should never get into the wrong hands. To help prevent this, some states allow you to donate unused drugs back to pharmacies, while a few charities accept leftover medicines from people who have changed prescriptions, stopped using the mediations or passed away.


Got a collection of plastic trophies from your school days sitting in the back of your mom’s attic? It’s time to move on. Lamb Awards, a specialty recycling center, can break down retired awards, melting them down to reuse in new trophies or other post-consumer recycled items.

5. Crayons

Even the stubbiest little crayons can find renewed purpose through the National Crayon Recycle Program. This organization collects broken, worn down crayons and melts them down into new wax so they can be remade and resold. The program says they’ve saved more than 120,000 pounds of crayons from the landfill so far!

6.?Dirty diapers

In the time leading up to potty training, the average baby soils 6,000 diapers. 6,000!?Fortunately, the company Knowaste collects and recycles dirty diapers from hospitals, public restrooms and nursing facilities. Knowaste sanitizes the diapers before separating plastic from organic matter. Plastics are then compressed into pellets and recycled into roof shingles, while paper pulp becomes wallpaper or shoe soles. Genius!


Got torn pantyhose still taking up space in your drawers? Textile recycler No Nonsense is here to save the day! The organization recycles old stockings by grinding them down (didn’t think it was that hardcore…) and transforming them into things like playground toys and carpet.

8.?Aluminum foil

Aluminum products are among the easiest metals to recycle thanks to their ability to be melted down and turned into new products essentially forever. Luckily, most recycling facilities can handle foil, no problem, as long as it is donated in ball form, instead of loose sheets.

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8 Weird Items You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

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8 Plant-Based Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings

We know how important it is for our health to spend time in nature. Unfortunately, it often comes with the risk of getting bitten or stung by bugs. Don?t let that put you off enjoying the outdoors. There are many natural ways to quickly relieve bites and stings, either in the moment or after you?ve come home. And, luckily, you likely already have most of these natural fixes in your kitchen or growing in your garden.

Plantain (Plantago major)

1. Herbal Poultices

One of the fastest herbal poultices you can make is to simply chew a few leaves of plantain and put the mash on a bite or sting. If you have a band-aid handy, you can put it on top of the plantain to hold it in place.

You can also make a poultice out of a number of different herbs by crushing the fresh or dried herbs in a bowl or pestle with a small amount of water or oil. Put the poultice on a bite or sting, then wrap it with a piece of gauze, clean cloth or band-aid to keep the poultice in place until the itch or pain has gone.

Plantain, lavender, echinacea, basil, oregano, calendula, chamomile, bay leaves, witch hazel, thyme and peppermint all make good bite-relieving poultices.

2. Onions and Garlic

Perhaps surprisingly, the natural compounds in raw onions and garlic that can make your eyes water can also calm an insect bite or sting. You can apply fresh onion or garlic slices directly on your bite. You can also chop, grate or crush onions or garlic to make a poultice.

3. Raw Potatoes

Similar to onions and garlic, raw potato that?s been crushed, grated or sliced can be applied to a bite or sting for relief. If you?re in a hurry, simply cut a potato in half and hold it against your skin.

4. Citrus Fruits

Certain natural compounds in citrus fruits have been shown to effectively repel and kill various insect pests, including mosquitoes and ticks. This may be why some people report that citrus fruits can also ease bites and stings.

You can use the juice or the pulp of lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruits directly on your skin. If you don?t have any fresh fruit available, lemon juice concentrate or prepared orange juice may also help.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains specific phytochemicals that have anti-irritant qualities. Make an oatmeal poultice by mixing equal amounts of quick-cook oatmeal and water in a bowl until it becomes a paste. Hold it on your skin with your hand or a cloth until the itching and pain subside.

If you have a lot of bug bites, an oatmeal bath is another good option. Add 1 cup (240 grams) of instant or ground oatmeal to a regular-sized bath. Soak for about 15-20 minutes. Periodically rubbing some of oatmeal on your bites during the bath can also help.

6. Essential Oils

Many essential oils have been shown to provide relief from pain and itching. Essential oils are typically mixed with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond or olive oil, in a 1:1 ratio before applying to your skin to prevent any burning or discomfort. Some of the best essential oils for bug bites and stings are basil, chamomile, witch hazel, lavender, mint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme and eucalyptus.

7. Tea Bags

A tea bag makes a great pre-packaged poultice to put on bites and stings. Regular teas, such as Ceylon, green or white teas, contain natural tannins that can ease the discomfort. Chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and echinacea teas can also help calm irritation and promote healing.

It?s best to steep a tea bag in cold water in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water from the bag and put it on your bite or sting.

8. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds that will help reduce itching and swelling, as well as promote healing. If you have an aloe vera plant, you can simply break off a leaf and rub some of the fresh inner gel on a bite or sting. You can also use store-bought aloe vera gel or extract if you don?t have a plant nearby.

Related on Care2

7 Ways to Treat Bug Bites
Why You?re a Mosquito Magnet, According to Science
9 Plants to Grow that Repel Mosquitoes

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8 Plant-Based Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings

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Can Receipts Be Recycled?

You may have said that you didn’t want a receipt at checkout, but one certainly got printed. And now you’re stuck with it.?But it’s paper, right? Can’t it just be recycled??I wish!

About half of the receipts we receive in supermarkets, restaurants and boutiques are printed on a shiny, thermal material. It looks like paper and tears like paper, but because it’s made from multiple materials that cannot be separated from one another, receipt paper is unrecyclable.

In addition, rather than being printed with ink, receipt paper uses?BPA chemicals?that react to heat to reveal markings on the paper.?Through the recycling process these materials, which have been linked to cancer, pre-mature puberty, obesity and type 2 diabetes, could be released into the air and become breathable. BPA-coated receipts may also contaminate recycled paper, only increasing human exposure to BPA. No good.

So what should you do with your paper receipts?

Well, you have two options:

  1. Throw them away. It sounds simple, but receipts really add up and our landfills are already overburdened.
  2. Opt for a digital receipt, as often as?you can.

If the stores you frequent don’t offer digital receipts by email, encourage the managers of those establishments to invest in technologies that allow them to offer electronic receipts and leave toxic, unrecyclable receipt paper behind. You may have to get out of your comfort zone, but asking for?better, more environmentally responsible decisions to be made is your right as a consumer. Use that?right for good!

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Can Receipts Be Recycled?

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9 Commitments to Make This World Oceans Day & How to Keep Them

Imagine getting out of bed in the morning, and instead of hitting the floor, your feet land in a pile of garbage. As you make your way to the kitchen, you become more and more entangled in the debris.

You?eventually get to your destination, but you’ve lost all feeling in your lower limbs. The harder you tug, the tighter the grip becomes. You spot some granola on the counter. If you can’t move, you may as well have a snack, right?

One mouthful and you’re gagging. It looks like granola but it’s actually more trash. Now what? You can’t move, and you’re probably going to die because you ate something you shouldn’t have.

Welcome to the life of our ocean’s many inhabitants.

According to figures published in Science in 2015, between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year. To the untrained eye, a lot of that garbage looks like food.?Sea turtles, for example, favor a diet of jellyfish and can quite easily mistake plastic bags floating for jellyfish. Scientists recently?discovered that animals also “eat ocean plastic because?it smells like food.”

Our Oceans are in Trouble

Along with serving as the planet’s largest habitat ? an estimated 50-80 percent of all life on earth?lives beneath the ocean surface ? the ocean also helps to regulate the global climate.

[Watch] Oceans 101 | National Geographic

Climate change is changing that. These are a few of the ways that’s happening:

As ocean temperatures rise, storms increase, delicate ocean life comes under threat and food chains are disrupted.
Rising sea levels cause flooding in coastal regions.
Ocean acidification results in lower levels of carbonate ions, making it difficult for calcifying organisms such as deep sea corals, oysters, clams, etc. to build and maintain shells.
Ocean dead zones (the name given to areas with low oxygen levels) are also increasing, thanks to pollution and climate change.

Humans Are at the Heart of the Problem

Our oceans face a multitude of threats, and human activities are at the heart of the problem. According to National Geographic, “More than 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities.”

Global warming is causing sea levels to rise. Plastic pollution is choking the ocean and its inhabitants. Agricultural pesticides contaminate our water. Factories and industrial plants dump their sewage in the ocean. Out at sea, oil spills, poaching, overfishing, bycatch, illegal whaling and offshore drilling unleash a whole other set of manmade problems.

On the bright side, if humans are the problem, then we can also be the solution.

At a global level, UNESCO has instituted the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Taking place between 2021-2030, the decade is being hailed as “a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity.”

[Watch] Explaining the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

How to Fight Ocean Plastic

World Oceans Day is an opportunity for all of us to step up and make a difference. Change begins in our homes, at the grocery store and in the way we live our lives. These are some ways you can “be the change” in your day-to-day life.

1.?Stop Eating Fish and Seafood

Many argue that eating fish and seafood is fine, so long as it’s sustainably sourced. I’d argue (and I’m not alone) that sustainable fishing is a myth. How can we call any type of fishing sustainable when most of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from fishing gear?

Bycatch is another real issue, resulting in the deaths of thousands of marine turtles, dolphins, porpoises and young whales (to name a few) each year.

2. Support Organizations Working to Save Our Oceans

A super easy way to make a difference is simply by supporting the organizations that work to save our oceans.

3.?Avoid Beauty Products that Contain Microplastics

Microplastics have a devastating effect on the environment, and you can find them in a host of beauty products, from scrubs and eyeliner to lipstick and sunscreen.

Make a point of supporting ethical, eco-conscious businesses that use only natural and organic ingredients. Alternatively, whip up your own DIY beauty products.

4.?Take Care of Your Beaches

Go on regular beach cleanups. You can join a group, create your own or go solo, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to get out there and pick up some trash.

If you don’t live near the beach then support an organization that’s cleaning up the ocean.

5.?Be a Responsible Pet Owner

Don’t flush your kitty litter down the toilet. Keep seafood sustainability front of mind when buying food for Fido or Trixie.

If you have an aquarium, wild-caught saltwater fish are a big no-no. And while we’re on the subject, never release aquarium fish into the ocean or river.

6.?Avoid Products From the Ocean

Coastal towns are known for their sea-inspired souvenirs. Some of these keepsakes are harmless, but a lot of times they’re made from endangered marine life.

Never buy tortoiseshell hair accessories, coral jewelry, shark products (teeth, fins, etc.) or cosmetics containing traces of whales or sharks.

7.?Use Environmentally-Friendly Products

When you clean your home, the products you use go down the drain and into our water sources before finally making their way to the sea. Whether you’re doing the dishes or scrubbing the bath, make sure you use something that isn’t harmful to the environment.

You can either buy eco-friendly products or create your own DIY green cleaning kit.

8.?Recycle With Care

Most people nowadays recycle. The problem comes in when we’re lazy about it. Tossing a greasy pizza box or dirty aluminum can into your blue bin?can?contaminate an entire batch of recycling. Something that could have been recycled will end up on the landfill as a result.

Take the time to “up your recycling game” so the right things end up in recycling.

9.?Say Sayonara to Single Use Plastic

With an estimated eight million tons of plastic waste entering the world’s oceans each year, bidding farewell to single-use plastic should be something every human commits to. Living zero-waste?is easier than you think, it just takes a little planning and forethought.

There are plenty of common items that you can replace with zero-waste alternatives. There are also a number of products you can carry with you at all times to help you avoid unnecessary packaging, such as a water bottle, coffee cup and on-the-go cutlery set.

I get that avoiding single-use plastic completely is a huge challenge. Companies package in accordance with their bottom line, and that invariably has nothing to do with the environment. The solution? Create an eco brick. You’d be amazed by how much trash can be squished into one bottle. Take a look at this recent Facebook post of our own ecobrick in progress:

There you have it. A whole lot of reasons to save of our oceans and a bunch of ways to do just that. Happy World Oceans Day.

Take Action

Want to go a step further? Join over 55,000 Care2 members, and?sign and share the petition?to?support efforts to?save marine mammals from being strangled to death by manmade trash.

If?you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can?create a Care2 petition, and use this?handy guide?to get started. Youll find Care2s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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9 Commitments to Make This World Oceans Day & How to Keep Them

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Why I Love a Good Clothes Swap

Back in middle school, when shopping was a favorite pastime but?spending money was hard to come by (that allowance didn’t stretch very far), my little clutch of girlfriends and I invented what we thought was an ingenious way to expand our wardrobes for free. We called this grand exchange a “clothes swap.”

Each season, one of us would host?a party?to which we’d bring a haul of items that we’d grown out of or grown tired of. After arranging ourselves on the floor in a circle, wares displayed, we’d take turns holding up an item for “bid.” From there, it was up to expert female negotiation, complete with try-ons, to decide who got what. (Talk about diplomacy!)

By the time we were finished, each of us would walk away with?a whole new bag of clothes, filled to the top with cute pieces of clothing from the others’ closets. At the end of the season, we’d return what was?borrowed, deciding whether what we’d given away was worth missing, then gradually evolving our wardrobes?from there. It was magic!

Later on, I realized that we weren’t the only ones onto the idea that sharing is caring. In fact, clothes swaps have become a very popular party format. I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of getting something new to wear without having to spend a dime?

So many of us?find ourselves blankly staring at our closets each morning wondering how we could possibly have nothing to wear. Despite wardrobes overflowing with shoes, tees, dresses and jackets, we still grow tired of seeing the same pieces day after day. And when the urge to shop strikes, our wallets (and knowledge of our destructive consumeristic tendencies) halt us in our tracks.

A clothes swap solves all of these problems at once. It’s free, has no environmental impact and helps inject a little novelty into our wardrobes just when we need it most. Really, it’s a fantastic idea!

Sound like something you could get into? All you need is willing participants, a few guidelines for the group and keen minds ready to barter! Here are some ideas to get you started.

How to Host a Clothes Swap

1. Invite?a mix of guests?within a similar size range or make the party accessories only (shoes, bags, scarves, jewelry).

2. Set rules that will help create a calm, polite space for negotiating. Settle on a specific number of items to bring (say, 10 or so), set up a lottery system for picking order, and lay out some criteria for the quality items.

3. Encourage browsing and bartering, clear space for a makeshift fitting room and set a fixed amount of time for the swap. You could even display all the items like you might in a boutique!

4. Set out snacks and drinks to establish a leisurely pace to the evening. The last thing you want is a selfish frenzy! It’s all just for fun, after all. This isn’t a sample sale.

5. Donate any pieces that are leftover. There’s no pressure for every last straggling item to be taken home.

If your first clothes swap goes well, it might just become a regular event, like it did for my friends and I back when we were kids. Hold a swap once per season, or make it an annual bash that brings together friends from a variety of different social circles. Your closet will?be glad you did!


Why I Love a Good Clothes Swap

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How to Find Balance as an Eco-Conscious Urbanite

Our planet is a mess.?Fish are?disappearing from our oceans. Global warming is on the rise. A million species are on the brink of extinction. Plastic pollution is out of control. Predictions for the future are even more alarming.

In the face of such overwhelming challenges, it can sometimes feel like the only answer is to build an off-the-grid cob house and grow your own food. But while that?might sound like an idyllic lifestyle, it’s not a feasible solution for most people.

The majority of us?have lives in the city that we either can’t leave behind or simply don’t want to. It’s where we earn a living, raise our families and caffeinate ourselves.

We might not want to live elsewhere, but at the same time we’re also acutely aware that our urbanite carbon footprint dwarfs that of our yurt-dwelling counterparts.

Humans tend to be an all or nothing lot. We either deny the evidence in front of us or we try to do everything in our power to make a difference. As a Care2 reader, you obviously fall into the second category. Me too.

Unfortunately, doing everything isn’t an option. Finding balance as an eco-conscious urbanite?is key. It’s about doing your best, rather than striving for perfection. How do you do that?

Choose Your #1 Cause

My wife and I have been eating a vegan diet for almost eight years now. Not harming animals is our number one priority. We might compromise in other areas, but not this one.

What’s most important for you? It could be living a zero-waste lifestyle, eating locally grown, organic food or whatever.

Identify something you can do unfailingly. Knowing you’re doing one thing perfectly (or close to) will help you feel better about the fact that you can’t do everything.

Take a Hard Line When It Matters

With some things, you have to take a hard line no matter what. They’re the kinds of issues that you can’t compromise on.

You might eat meat, eggs and dairy, but that doesn’t mean you have to support factory farming.
You might enjoy pampering yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to use products that have been tested on animals.
You might like wearing nice clothes, but that doesn’t mean you have to contribute to?the fast fashion industry.

There’s always a sustainable alternative. It might not be as readily available, and it could cost more, but it’s better than indulging your desires at the expense of another living being.

Compromise When It?Counts

Living plastic-free is an ongoing mission in our house. We’re nowhere near where we’d like to be, but we’re doing our best.

Recently, we discovered that a local plant-based food brand?supports Sea Shepherd, a?non-profit, marine conservation organization fighting to protect our oceans.

We’ve always loved Fry’s Foods but stopped buying it because of the packaging. When we heard about their efforts to make a difference, we decided a compromise was in order. Rather than just toss the packaging in the trash, we’ll be making eco-bricks with our non-recyclables.

I’ve always believed it’s important to support businesses that are making an effort to be eco-conscious. It’s not always easy, as they have investors to placate and staff to pay. In spite of this, they still try.

A powerful way to?protest the things we don’t like (factory farming, manufacturing of single-use plastic, etc.) is with our pockets. We need to support the businesses that are?making a difference?and ignore the ones that are contributing to the problem.

Find a Balance that Works for You

As eco-conscious urbanites, our approaches will differ from person to person. What holds true for all of us, however, is our belief that we can leave the world a better place.

Focus on the things you can do and don’t worry so much about the rest. That may be easier said than done when you’re?constantly being bombarded with bad news, but it’s important to try. Instead of getting down about the way things are, go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can. It’s also helpful to go on a news fast every now and then.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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How to Find Balance as an Eco-Conscious Urbanite

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Can Used Aluminum Foil Be Recycled?

Aluminum foil is a staple in most modern kitchens.?Pliable and easily manipulated, it’s a favorite first choice for wrapping everything from a potato to a casserole dish. Foil is also often?used in disposable packaging thanks to its ability to act as a total barrier against light and oxygen. It preserves things beautifully!

Because of aluminum foil, fats are kept from going rancid, moisture in food items is retained?and?ready-take snacks are shelf stable. Lasagnas get crispy and bubbly on top, fish gets perfectly steamed, quiches don’t get freezer burned. In other words: it’s a staple for a reason.

But what do you do with it once it’s been used? Can aluminum foil with food bits on it be recycled??

Aluminum products are among the easiest metals to recycle because they can be melted down and turned into something new essentially forever. It’s also the most cost-effective choice for most manufacturers. Brand new aluminum is really expensive and energy-intensive to produce; recycling?aluminum is much cheaper.

The main challenge is, of course, food contamination. Oil and grease can damage recycling equipment and create an inferior end product, so food-affected recyclables typically have to be thrown away. That recycling contamination is a risk most facilities aren’t willing to take.

While some companies accept aluminum foil as long as it’s been cleaned, others decide they’d rather protect their equipment than accept it as recyclable. To get your aluminum foil recycled, you’ll need to take the following steps. Even then, getting it recycled?isn’t a guarantee!

1. Check if your city?accepts aluminum foil.

Ask your local curbside pickup company if they take foil.
Use this recycling locator?to find a new recycler if it doesn’t.

2. Clean the foil thoroughly.

Rinse off small bits of food (discoloration from hot water is normal).
Tear off sections that you can’t get clean.
If soiled with greasy foods like meat, gravy or butter,?you’ll have to toss it.

3. Ball it up.

Crumple foil into a ball so it won’t get torn or stuck in recycling machinery.
Save and add to it over the weeks and months. Larger balls are easier to process.
Make sure the aluminum ball is at least 2-inches in diameter before recycling it.
Save foil from yogurt containers, K-cups and takeout containers.

4. Start reusing foil.

Save foil after cooking to use for your next meal.
Clean aluminum foil can be folded up and put in the fridge until next time.
Foil from your cooking dish can be reused to cover leftovers.

5. Eliminate foil from your life wherever you can.

There are plenty of reusable alternatives to aluminum foil.

Related Stories:

Is It Safe to Cook with Aluminum Foil?
How to Host a Zero Waste Dinner Party
How to Lead a Nearly Zero Waste Life

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Can Used Aluminum Foil Be Recycled?

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What to Do With Your Extra Craft Supplies

If your closets are starting to look like the scrapbooking aisle at Hobby Lobby, it might be time to talk about downsizing. Crafting is fun?? it’s a great way to engage your creative side, let off a little steam or just pass the time?? but it’s easy to get carried away.?

While it?can be convenient to?have every type of ribbon under the sun available at a moment’s notice, the wise?thing to do is buy only what you need, when you need it and to pass on the excess in a responsible manner.

Overwhelmed by boxes upon boxes of craft supplies? Downsizing in anticipation of a move or lifestyle change? Here’s how to responsibly dispose of those extra crafting supplies in a way that’s both thoughtful and environmentally friendly.

What to do with unopened?supplies

It’s easy to overestimate how much you’ll need of any given craft supply, particularly if you aren’t crafting with detailed instructions. Unopened supplies?? paints, yarn, stickers, buttons, etc.?? can be given away in any of the following manners:

Create a kit for a friend:?Do you have a?friend, godchild, neighbor or family member who might enjoy using the excess you have available? Put together a little kit of “like items” that can be used together to create something new!
Share what you have online:?There are all sorts of Facebook groups specifically centered around passing along useful items. Conduct a quick search for your local “Buy Nothing” chapter. Someone is certain to pick up what you’re giving away!
Donate:?There are so many schools, community centers and nonprofits out there with small budgets and limited resources. Why not give them away? Just make sure you give them a call ahead of time to see if they could use?what you’re getting rid of.

What to do with fabric?remnants and notions

There are lots of uses for fabric remnants, no matter how small! You could quilt a blanket, make a wall hanging, whip up some pot holders or start tying a rug.?If the remnants are too small to be usable, you can always donate them to a textiles recycler (more on that here). The process isn’t perfect, but most old textiles?can be turned into recycled?fibers and put to productive use.

What to do with unwanted tools

Sewing machines, sergers, wire clippers, paper cutters…there are so many tools needed to stock a crafting closet. Then again, if you find yourself always doing paper crafts instead of sewing, that seam ripper is never going to see the light of day. If you have more tools than you know what to do with,?ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which crafting styles really speak to me??Locate your preferences. Consider holding onto supplies for only three styles of crafting and no more. You can always hop back on your “Buy Nothing” page to request tools for a new project if your tastes change.
  2. Have I used this tool in the last month??Downsize like you would if you were editing your clothes closet. Have you used those decorative scissors in the last month? Two months? If not, pass it along.
  3. Do I know someone from whom I could borrow what I need??The ability to borrow infrequently used items is such a blessing! Aunt, grandma, nephew, neighbor…there’s always someone nearby that would be glad to share.

Once you know what you’re keeping and what you’re getting rid of, think through the best possible donation for your extras. Is there a local school that could use that three-hole punch or set of paint brushes? A community center that would love to get their hands on a jewelry-making set? Give those items away. Those organizations (and the people they serve) will be so glad you did!

What to do with?leftover papers

That paper stash can so easily get out of hand! There are themed papers, glittered papers, cardstocks, transparent papers, striped papers, spotted papers, holiday papers, and on and on. Rather than purchasing a large book of 250, consider buying single sheets for specific projects instead. This will help you avoid overwhelming drawers with half-used sheets and help prevent paper waste.

Have clippings of seemingly unusable paper? Use those shreds to make new paper (look for a secondhand deckle) or create bedding for small animals, then recycle the rest. There are so many?alternative uses for paper!

There’s more than enough to share

While it may be nice?to have a wire cutter and acrylic paints?handy at all times, the best?approach to crafting?is to buy only what you need, when you need it, and to pass on the excess in a responsible manner. Happy crafting!

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What to Do With Your Extra Craft Supplies

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VICTORY! EPA Cancels 12 Bee-Killing Pesticides

Anyone who loves the planet, the bees and food (isn?t that just about everyone?) will be celebrating thanks to the recent victory against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That?s because, on May 20, 2019, the EPA announced its final notices for the registration of 12 neonicotinoid pesticides.

Known as neonics, this group of pesticides has been the bane of most environmentalists? existences for many years. They have long been known for destroying bee populations, building up in groundwater, killing frogs, worms, birds and fish. Largely used in agricultural applications such as soil treatments, seed treatments, commercial turf products, neonics have also been used on trees, animal insect treatments and even domestic lawn products.

The Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Environmental Health, Pesticide Action Network and four commercial beekeepers: Steve Ellis, Jim Doan, Tom Theobald and Bill Rhodes banded together to initiate litigation against the EPA starting in March 2013. The environmentalists, food safety organizations and beekeepers spent the last 6 years holding the EPA accountable for its lack of diligence in preventing or addressing bee Colony Collapse Disorder and to demand that the EPA protect livelihoods, rural economies and the environment.

Monday?s announcement that the EPA is cancelling the registration of 12 neonicotinoid that are known to kill bees and endangered species is part of the settlement the EPA accepted as part of the litigation process.

Two years ago, a federal court ruled that the EPA systemically violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?a critical wildlife protection law, after noting that the government agency had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide range of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses. Seeds coated with neonics are used on over 150 million acres of American soy, corn, cotton and other crops.

According to the Center for Food Safety, neonics are chemically-related to nicotine and interfere with the nervous system of insects, causing tremors, paralysis and death even when they are administered at extremely low doses. Unlike other pesticides, neonics become dispersed throughout plants, causing the entire plant to become toxic. When bees or other pollinators are exposed to the chemicals through the pollen, nectar, dust or even dew droplets on the plants, they suffer nervous system damage and ultimately death.

Neonics were heavily used in the mid-2000s, around the same time beekeepers noted vast colony losses of bees.

Regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada and many other countries have been lax on their legislation which currently allows the sale and use of these destructive products. According to the Lori Ann Burd, the director at the Center for Biological Diversity, the EPA had actually considered increasing the use of neonicotinoids.

In Canada, The David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth (Canada), Ontario Nature and The Wilderness Committee filed a lawsuit against the Canadian federal government for allowing the use of two common neonic pesticides that had already been banned in the European Union. Sadly, the Canadian case had a different outcome as the case was dismissed by the Canadian federal court for a supposed lack of merit earlier this month.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, there is already extensive scientific evidence (over 1100 studies) of neonicotinoid-caused destruction to the environment, which includes:

  1. Becoming embedded into seeds that are planted
  2. Treated seeds are eaten by birds
  3. The dust from the seeds contaminates the air during planting
  4. Pollen and nectar eaten by bees is contaminated
  5. The insecticides wash into waterways like streams, rivers and oceans
  6. The soil is contaminated from year-after-year buildup

Of course, it is great news that the EPA has been forced to finally do the right thing. After all, without bees to pollinate food plants, our entire food supply is threatened.

Additionally, neonic exposures have been linked to human fatalities, developmental and neurological abnormalities, anencephaly, autism spectrum disorder, memory loss, liver cancer and tremors. Neonics have been found to affect receptors in the body that are critical to brain function, memory, cognition and behavior.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World?s Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life. Follow her work.


VICTORY! EPA Cancels 12 Bee-Killing Pesticides

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