At the heart of Tare It Up is the commitment to create less waste, so here are some pretty simple things we’ve been doing to limit the number of bottles, bags and other random bits of packaging that we have to dispose of.
Buy Bulk Soap: Did you know you can get bulk soap? It’s true! Soap of all kinds. You can get bar soap, liquid hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, and more. Just bring your own container to the store (don’t forget to tare it up!) and fill it with the liquid soap that makes your olfactory system soar. Just think of all the bottles you’re eliminating for the waste stream. This is the kind of thing that makes us giddy.
Bulk bar soap with zero packaging is pretty easy to find; most local co-ops have it. But it can be harder to find liquid soaps. The best place we’ve discovered in Seattle for bulk liquid soap is the Greenlake Aurora PCC. Check at your local co-op and if they don’t carry bulk soaps, ask them to!
Make Your Own Household Cleaner: We’ve been making our own household cleaner for a while now and it’s super simple to do. The benefits are twofold: you don’t keep buying plastic containers of cleaner that once empty have to be recycled (recycling is great, but it is energy intensive) and you can keep your home free of harsh chemicals. We found a recipe we like on Keeper of the Home. Here’s how to make it:
- 1/2 cup of white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- 10 drops of tea tree, lavender, or lemon oil (we use lavender)
Mix all the ingredients together in a spray bottle and top the bottle off with water. Gently shake the bottle to mix all the ingredients then start spraying and wiping. It’s as easy as that.
Why stop at household cleaner? You can make your own oven cleaner, drain cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, wood cleaner … I could seriously do this all day.
Stop Buying Paper Towels: In most cities, dirty paper towels are destined for the trash can. Here in Seattle you can actually put them in your food and yard waste bin to be composted, which is awesome. But better yet, just stop buying them and use a cloth towel, a rag, or an old sponge to do the job. Yeah, occasionally I find myself wishing I could quickly grab a paper towel to wipe something up off the floor, but really a rag does the job just as well. Somehow we’ve managed to go the last 3 years without buying a single roll of paper towels.
To add a little class to our reusable lifestyle, we recently purchased some cool cloth “paper” towels at a local craft fair. They’re colorful, absorbent, and washer and dryer friendly, and they have bicycles on them. Check them out on Etsy.
Wash Your Plastic Bags: I get a lot of weird looks when I tell people I wash plastic bags in order to reuse them. Yes, it’s a chore I don’t look forward to. Yes, sometimes I would rather throw them out and grab new ones. Yes, that would be a whole lot easier. But, I just can’t get myself to do that. So, I find myself washing plastic bags about once a week. I even have a nifty little wooden rack for hanging the bags to dry. I’m pretty sure Kelsey fell in love with me because of my bag-washing habit, so if you’re single, give it a shot.
I wash all kinds of bags: zip-top bags, old bread bags, produce bags, and bags from the bulk section. By reusing these bags we hardly ever have to take a new one from the store. Before we head to the market, we grab several clean, dry plastic bags from the rack to fill up in the bulk section or put produce in.
Eventually the bags do get a little too beat up and gross to keep reusing. When this happens, we bundle up the old ones together and toss them in the recycling (unfortunately, the zip-top bags have to go into the trash). Despite our best efforts to eliminate packaging, there always seems to be a new plastic bag entering our life so our supply never gets too low.
Use a Reusable Water Bottle: Do I really even have to say this? You surely must have a reusable bottle by now. If not, get yourself one and stop buying bottled water pronto. And, if you are a coffee drinker, get a reusable mug. Starbucks (and other coffee shops) will give you a discount for bringing your own mug, you just have to give them a heads up. I could go on and on about the Great Pacific garbage patch and a million other reasons why to use a reusable bottle and mug, but I don’t want to get too fired up. Just do it.
What do you do to create less waste? Let us know!