Sunday, April 3, 2011

Minty Greener Recipe for Homemade Toothpaste

Recently I tried making my own basic tooth powder with baking soda and Stevia. While I can tolerate the powder, my husband cannot. So I thought I'd try making a paste. I found some recipes online but they didn't sound good to me, so, as usual, I made up my own out of some things I had purchased to make lotion and balm out of. Here's what I came up with. While it isn't a zero waste recipe, the ingredients will definitely be used to make lotion and balm that will help me avoid many plastic containers to come. The coconut oil I bought from our local bulk store, though in a plastic tub.

So, here it is for all those who have been asking....

Minty Greener Homemade Toothpaste

2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 teaspoons Stevia powder
5 drops Stevia liquid
30 drops peppermint oil
5 drops spearmint oil

Mix together in a small bowl. I had to melt the coconut oil a few seconds in the microwave because it's too cold in the house to melt (coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F). While still creamy, transfer to your glass jar or container.

Hope this recipe will work for you. Next time I think I'll try spearmint. Please post any variations to the recipe you try! I'm always up for new things.

Happy day!
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letter to Ingles: A Customer's Plea for Bulk

The WallImage by bcmom via Flickr
Dear Sir or Ma'am,

Hi! My name is Joy Beshears and I'm a customer of Ingles in Elkin, NC. Although, I do spread my shopping out among all of the stores in the area, both Food Lions, Wal-Mart, IGA, and even Yadkin Valley General: the only bulk store in the area. Here is my request...I'm going to actually beg you to carry some bulk food I items.

And by bulk I don't mean huge cans of green beans or 50lb bags of rice. I'm talking about bins of loose grains and snacks and the like that one could purchase in the amount they wish: a handful of nuts, a cup of oatmeal, or 4 pounds of pasta. This would enable me to purchase things I want without all of the excessive and wasteful packaging. Frankly, I don't want to pay for packaging. I know that Elkin may not seem the best market for it, but perhaps you could take a serious look at the possibility.

My family has been moving toward a zero waste lifestyle and it is virtually impossible to accomplish that in this area. Even the bulk store I mentioned above will not measure things out into my container for me. Our goal as a family is to not fill landfills with unnecessary waste. When every single item one must purchase is packaged at least partly in plastic, this goal is almost unattainable.

Supply is generated by demand, and when we purchase something over packaged, we send the message that we want more of that item. But consider for a moment that your consumers--including me--may not mean to send that exact message to you, but rather these packaged items are our only option. I urge you to consider becoming the only supplier of natural healthy bulk items in the area. Seriously, I have to drive an hour to buy out of bulk bins. If you do this then I would certainly become a loyal (and monogamous) customer of Ingles. And I'd be willing to bet that I'm not alone.

So, please consider this...bring it up at your next meeting. Should you need a voice from your customer field, I'd be more than happy to attend any meeting or write any letter.

Joy Beshears
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Moving Toward Zero Waste

Monday will mark week three of our move toward zero waste living. What a challenge! As of today, we still have not filled a kitchen trash can of waste. However, keep in mind that we are not including diapers in our calculations because we can't really get around putting diapers on our child for now. We began with cloth diapers in our efforts to be green and save money but Eli kept getting a rash even though we constantly changed his diaper. So, we've decided to give ourselves a break to keep from giving up our zero waste efforts all together. Also realize that as we transition, we are recycling things that must be recycled. Before we toss something in the trash or recycle bins, we give thought to whether or not someone could use the item. We compost scraps and newspaper, and offer reusable containers (egg cartons, coffee cans, bottles, etc. on or Craigslist. We are currently reducing our use of plastics, but are finding it difficult to maneuver around certain evils such as juice and milk.

First I thought of making my own juice for Eli, but it seems the only affordable option for us would be to make orange juice, and he just doesn't care for orange juice. Besides that, I don't own a juicer and money is tight. I became very excited at the option of frozen juice in a paper container, but as I dismantled the container, I found the horrible plastic lining inside the paper container! Yuck! Now my attempts at better options for juice are limited to recyclable cartons.

While we live across form a dairy, it seems impossible to purchase a gallon of milk around here in anything other than a plastic jug. And while I may be able to run one hour to the nearest town with bulk shopping, I cannot do this on a weekly basis as we need milk. So, our recycling continues but decreases.

Still, we are making progress. We are using cloth napkins and towels, reusable glass and stainless cups for traveling. I'm making our toothpaste and will make my next batch of lotion and lip balm from some of the same ingredients to ultimately cut down on waste. Not a perfect solution, but then I haven't found one yet.

We are very proud of our efforts toward zero waste. It seems, however, that we are somewhat limited, as we do not have the luxury of a variety of bulk stores to shop. We live in rural NC, in the middle of farm country. The only bulk store sells pre-weighed and prepackaged items. Our only option is to leave their bag with them for them to discard. And while this surely keeps the trash out of my can, it doesn't keep it out of my county landfill. Without driving an hour to do so, I have yet to find a bulk store for food, dog food, etc, milk in a glass bottle, or a meat counter that will sell me things in my own container. I have found eggs, a deli counter and pinto beans. Of the five grocery stores within 25 minutes of me, only one carries white vinegar in a glass bottle. The Whole Foods an hour away does not sell shampoo in bulk.

While others say there are no excuses, I challenge them to attempt a zero waste home from here. And though we will no doubt have plastic or paper juice and milk cartons in our recycling bins--and shampoo bottles-- we will be proud of our many accomplishments in these two and a half weeks. Seriously, we are rockin' this attempt at zero waste!

So I encourage you to do what you can. Every bit helps, does it not? And if someone tries to blast your attempts, ignore them and continue with your efforts.

Happy day!