Reuse, DIY, Be Creative

To continue what I mentioned in my previous posts and how plastic is fantastic, I would like to throw some ideas on how to reduce our plastic consumption, coz that’s what we do Greensters!

Refuse and recycle is pretty obvious but what about to reuse? How can we reuse some products not to create a constant demand for plastic which leads to higher production goals from the plastic production companies?

Well there are few Do It Yourself (DIY) that we can do, it’s fun, it’s inexpensive and it’s better for the environment.

Lets start with our food wraps

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We all have in our kitchens the common zip bags, we wrap our sandwiches, our left overs, anything that need to be sealed to prevent oxidation, moisture loss, contamination, and maintain freshness.

Have you heard about the beeswax wraps? A friend of mine introduced me to those a while ago and they are great. This is not a new thing, it was largely used back in the days before we invented plastic for food storage and the Egyptians used beeswax for preserving. This is easy to make, eco-friendly and reusable, as opposed to our plastic wraps being single-use, from petroleum sources, polluting and releasing toxins into our food that we then consume. The beeswax is naturally antibacterial and when infuses onto a piece of cotton cloth, it becomes a great food wrap.

You will need few things before your start:

– A clean 100% cotton fabric, cut to the size of your choice.
– Beeswax, grated or in pellets. You can find those online or in organic shops.
– Cheese grater
– Scissors
– Paintbrush
– Oven
– Cooking tray

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Direction:

– Pre-heat your oven to 90°C maximum, highest temperatures will burn your wax.
– Place you cotton cloth on the tray.
– Spread the wax chips evenly on the fabric.
– Place in the oven, don’t go anywhere, watch it, in about 5 min it’s ready.
– When the bee wax is melted, remove tray from the oven.
– Spread the wax with your brush.
– Dry the sheet on your drying line.
– Once dry it’s ready to use!

Very simple, it can be reused, when you feel it needs more wax, just repeat the procedure. It will depend on how often you use them but from my experience, you can re-wax every 3-4 months or even longer. You can wash it after use with cold water, and allow to dry before use.
It will not have a tight sealing as might have a plastic wrap or zip bag, but you can use a rope a ribbon or even sew a button on the fabric to maintain your wrap in place.

Now let’s see how we can reduce our plastic bottles

One easy thing to do is to buy responsibly at the supermarket, prefer a glass packaging rather than a plastic bottle. For all the oils, sauces, salt and so on, glass is the answer.

Some products are actually hardly found in glass containers like our cleaning and household products. DIY is also an option here…

Vinegar and baking soda are the most commonly alternative cleansing products, even though vinegar’s smell is not really appealing, it has some proven cleaning qualities. It has been questioned in the past whether those products would have similar properties to bleach or commercial disinfectants, and the answer is yes.

Studies have shown that vinegar is an effective alternatives to bleach, effective cleaner and disinfectant against Escherichia coli and Staphylococus aureus, the common bacteria found in house settings and major causes of various humans and animals infections.
Baking soda is also very effective to dissolve dirt and grease due to it is a mild alkali and it is mildly abrasive.
Additionally, tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil are renown antimicrobial agents that have been used for several millennia being efficient as antiseptics and antifungals.

What you need for the prep

All purpose cleaner:
– 1/2 cup of white Vinegar
– 2 tablespoons of Baking soda
– 10-15 of tea tree or eucalyptus oil
– Spray bottle or Jar
– Water to fill up the rest of the bottle

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Other products can be used such as lemon (high in citric acid, lemon juice is one of the best natural cleaners due to its low pH and antibacterial properties), plant-based liquid soaps, castille soap, marseille soap…

Floor Cleaner:
– Use the same recipe as above in a bucket
– 1 table spoon of liquid soap
– Hot water

So by making your own, you will not only reduce your plastic bottle consumption but also limit the amount of chemicals released in the environment and reduce risks related to the use of bleach.

Mix of ideas:

– Avoid single coffee pods, even if sold as biodegradable, as mentioned in my previous post, it doesn’t mean it will dissolve. Few companies have developed biopolymer capsules that can be composted (Caffe Vergnano) or 100% biodegradable capsules from plant-based fibres (Ethical Coffe Company).
– Avoid cosmetic products with microbeads inside. You can make your own body scrub too. I usually use 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 of olive oil and 3 drops of lavender oil.
– Avoid single bagged fruits and vegetables but choose loose ones. If you need to use plastic bags, reuse them, no need to get new ones each time, they can be washed!!!
– Have your coffee cup with you in case you need a quick coffee fix, anytime, anywhere.
– Who need to have a soda every day from a plastic bottle? Yes it can be frustrating but such is life.
– …

If you have more ideas please comment on this post, if you make your own products like shampoo, soap or others and want to share your recipes, I would love to read them.

Feel good ideas

There are few web pages of cool ideas on how we can reuse our plastics and how we can incorporate them into our environment. It’s always fun to create new things and this could become an entertaining/educational project to do with kids.

Here are some links that I found:

Photos from the author of this blog.

References:

Arweiler, N. B. (1999). Clinical and antobacterial effect of tea tree oil –  a pilot study. Clinical Oral Investigations, 4, 70-73. doi: 10.1007/s007840050118.

Bachir raho, G. & Abouni, B. (2015). Escherichia coli and Stephylococcus aureus most common source of infection. In Ed. A. Méndez-Vilas, The Battle Against Microbial Pathogens: Basic Science, Technological Advances and Educational Programs,637-648.

Carson, C. F. et al. (1998). Efficacy and safety of tea tree oil as a topical antimicrovial agent.Journal of Hospital Infection, 40, 175-178. doi:10.1016/S0195-6701(98)90135-9.

Wilkinson, J. M. & Cavanagh, M.A. (2005). Antibacterail activity of essential oils from australian native plants. Phytotherapy Research, 19, 643-646. doi:10.1002/ptr.1716.

F. Fratini, et al. (2016). “Beeswax: a minireview of its antimicrobial activity and its application in medicine,”. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, 9, (9), 839–843. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2016.07.003.

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