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THE 4 GIFT RULE YOU NEED THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Do you find yourself struggling with out-of-control gift buying for your kids during the holiday season? Or buying them frivolous gifts just so they “have something to open?” If you are trying to live a less wasteful, more intentional, and/or minimalist lifestyle, this can be a huge source of frustration and stress. It can add unnecessary stuff to your life or go against the values you are trying to live by and instill in your children. There is a solution! I stumbled across the 4 Gift Rule early in my foray into minimalism and it changed my family’s holiday traditions forever…for the BETTER!

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ECO-FRIENDLY GIFT IDEAS (FOR ANY OCCASION!)

Are you in need of an eco-friendly gift idea for a special someone in your life? Finding gifts for people can be difficult, period. But then to try and make that gift good for the planet, plastic-free, package-free, recycled, or even just locally made? It can feel downright overwhelming! That’s why I started this list of eco-friendly gift ideas for you (and me) to refer to! I will continue to add to it as new ideas come in, so check it out for some inspiration for that perfect eco-friendly gift idea!

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9 THINGS I STILL BUY IN PLASTIC (WITHOUT GUILT)

9 things i still buy in plastic

When you first heard of the zero waste movement, did you think that in order to participate, you could never produce a single bit of waste ever again? Or use a single piece of plastic again? Pretty overwhelming, right?! I’m here to tell you that is definitely not true! While absolutely zero waste is a nice goal, it’s generally unachievable in our modern society (not that we can’t try!). As a long-time “zero-waster” I still purchase things in plastic. Not because I want to, but because I have little to no choice. Read on to see nine items I still purchase in plastic (unapologetically) and ways I still make them LOWER waste!

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HOW TO SAVE THE LAST PIECES OF YOUR CONDITIONER BAR

You know how when you get down to the end of a bar of soap, you’re left with this little piece that can be rather unwieldy and downright impossible to use? No matter how hard you try, it breaks, slips out of your hand right down the drain, or just takes 10 times as long to get a lather. Make that bar of soap a conditioner bar and it’s even more impossible! But, I found a solution to use those conditioner bars to the very last “drop”…so to speak. 

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3 WAYS TO SHOP ZERO WASTE WITHOUT A BULK STORE

I hear it all the time–“How am I supposed to shop zero waste when I don’t have access to a Whole Foods or a bulk/refill/zero waste store?”

From someone who has lived out in the suburbs with little to no access to any of these, I completely understand the frustration and hopeless feeling! I used to live where every store around me was a massive chain and I had to drive at least 20 minutes to access a bulk section (and had no access to a liquid refill shop…sigh…).

I frequented places like Target, Trader Joe’s, and Costco because that was what was available. I remember scrolling though zero waste pages on social media talking about shopping in bulk. The whole time I kept thinking, “How am I supposed to reduce my waste when I can’t access a bulk bin anywhere?!”

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YOUR ZERO WASTE GUIDE TO SUMMER

When you live someplace with long, cold winters, you get excited about summer. Really excited. Sunshine, swimming, long days and short nights –  it is all quite a change from the gray, cold winter. My family finds our routines shifting dramatically with the seasons. In the summer, we try to be outdoors for most of the day every day, we go on camping trips, bike rides, and spend long days at the beach. Ever since we became more deliberate about our zero waste practice, I have noticed that one thing which can bring on an upsurge in waste is a shift in routine. Routines and planning ahead are great tools in your zero waste toolbox. However, I certainly don’t want to stick to the same routine day-in-day-out all year long, especially when those routines don’t feel compatible with the current season. So, to keep up with the turning of the seasons, we create new routines for the summertime to help keep us on track for our zero(ish) waste goals.  

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AN ECO-FRIENDLY SUMMER BUCKET LIST FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES

My kids are having a 1980s-style summer: Lazy, unscheduled afternoons. Spontaneous ice cream breaks. Hordes of kids running barefoot through the neighborhood. They set up a lemonade stand with their friends this week, and I was (again) reminded how much more environmentally-savvy Generation Z is than I was as a kid. In the midst of the chaos of five kids squeezing lemons and printing For Sale signs in crayon, my 6-year-old came into the room with his arms full of reusable cups. Of course we would have a zero waste lemonade stand. (A far cry from the Sunny Delite in Styrofoam cups stand I ran as a kid.) The best moments of my childhood happened during summer vacation. I get goofy-nostalgic for those days. I want my kids to have epic summers too — but I also want them to understand the environmental impact of the choices they make. (No shaming the parents who bought Styrogoam cups for lemonade in the ‘80s. Most people then didn’t know any better. Now we do.) My perfect summer is simple, joyful, and spent outdoors. In that spirit, I created a low-key bucket list that won’t require extra work on your part– but will make a big difference for the environment and your kids’ relationship to it. Spoiler-alert: Being lazy and eating ice cream is totally encouraged.

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HOW TO SHOP ZERO WASTE (WHEN YOU FORGET YOUR REUSABLE BAGS AND CONTAINERS)

One of the tricky things about adjusting to zero waste living is remembering to bring your reusable containers and bags with you to avoid single use plastics. We’ve all been there–you’re out running errands, get to the grocery store, and realize you forgot your reusable bags. And you REALLY need groceries.   In an ideal world, you’d be able to either put off the grocery shopping until the next time you’re out and have your bags, or walk back home and get them (because you’re a super-zero-waster and walked to the store so fuel consumption is not a consideration AND you have all the time in the world, obviously). But this is the real world and you’re short on time. (read more…)

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IT’S POSSIBLE TO FIND ZERO WASTE MEAT! WE’LL TELL YOU HOW.

How to buy zero waste meat

Eating a plant-based diet is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but not everyone wants to go vegetarian or vegan. (If you do, check out our interview with vegan mom Lauren Hambrick for some kid-friendly vegan recipes!)

Meat is usually sold with a lot of disposable packing — foam trays, plastic wrap, non-recyclable freezer bags. So what’s a zero waste omnivore to do?

I’ve been searching for a source of zero waste meat in the Twin Cities for nearly a year, and I’ve finally figured it out (and just in time for grill season)!

(read more…)

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