Thrift Shopping For Thomas

I’m not much of a thrift shopper. It is not one of my strong points and I don’t take the time to go shopping for second hand clothes. I always bought new when I could (starting out on my own). Having 5 kids, we passed the clothes down to who ever could wear them. Thomas is wearing Daniels’ clothes which were Jack’s totaling to 10 year old clothing. Of course some of those are newer as once in a while we would buy an outfit or the grand parents would buy clothes on special occasions (3 sets of grand parents), which is super helpful.

Our thoughts on second hand shopping is that the clothing is already worn out and not in great condition. Another opinion is that second hand clothing should be reserved for families with low income, those who need access to lower priced clothing. I don’t believe that anymore. There are so many second hand clothing articles, there is plenty to go around. Something we must practice. But, I am learning on this zero waste journey that second hand shopping is a great tool to use. A change of habit just like all the areas of reducing what we consume (products). I’m sure if we look we will find great clothing! If we continue to buy new all the time, new clothing will be made to replace what was bought, putting more demand on the environment. Reduce and reuse!

This Spring, I realized, for some reason, our youngest child, Thomas, did not have a spring jacket or sneakers to fit his size! I don’t know how we managed that with having the two older boys to pass on their belongings! I took this opportunity to put thrift shopping to work.

I took Thomas with me to our local thrift shop, Frenchies, and was pleased to find exactly what I was looking for in just a couple minutes! Thomas was so happy!!

Meeting With Our Local Dairy Company

Me and a couple friends (one came this time round) I met on the Zero Waste PEI group got together to have a meeting with our local dairy company. (They want their name to remain silent on this article).

Our main concern was about the waste that the milk cartons they sell, generate. The tetra packs, are recyclable on PEI, but recyclable or not, it still creates waste one way or another and resources for processing and recycling. We had a nice chat about how much the company has improved its energy efficiency over the recent years with upgrades. Though, natural gas is used instead of oil, it would be nice if a better source of energy was used.

Firstly, we questioned about bringing the milk man back. The response was that the demand was lacking. People do not trust others as they used to, “everyone trusted the milkman”. I myself, if was being delivered milk at my door, would have to make sure I am home to refrigerate it once delivered. Many homes, besides myself, may not have someone home to receive the milk right away, and no one is going to leave their door open either for security issues. Bringing the milk man back in these days is more problematic. The distribution area is also much larger than it was before. These are some of the issues brought up. We need to find solutions or another way.

Secondly, we talked about the bottles themselves. They is not set up to handle a different size container. They would have to overhaul and rebuild the production line basically. They would need to outsource bottle cleaning/sanitizing. No one is in that business close by that they are aware of. The amount of energy to go into the production of using bottles, cleaning and transporting would rise. If a grocery store took on selling the bottles, they could/would need to set up for bottle returns. More problems needing solutions to keep moving forward.

Thirdly, we talked about a third party selling the milk in the large recyclable bags (the kind dairy bars use to fill the ice cream machines) and dispense to customers as a refill program, lets say at the Farmer’s Market. The company themselves could not go about selling the product as they would then be competing with other stores such the grocery chains. A third party would be needed. Did you know that milk prices in Canada are regulated like gas prices are!? I would like to see a dairy farmer do this at the Farmer’s Market themselves, all set up with a refill station or bottles that are returnable.

So there are a lot of issues at hand, which means lots of doors are open. I later sent an email (sometimes I need time to think things through more, I can be slow on the spot) asking about doing a test pilot project at one of their stores (at Read’s Corner). Start small, right!

Something that was mentioned was very alarming to me; school milk. Children receive milk orders at the schools which come in the 250 ml milk cartons. Apparently the children have a real hard time opening the milk cartons (the carton flap one spreads open and then pull out to drink out of) and end up making a mess by using scissors to cut open the carton, causing particle mess and spillage. The teachers are requesting for the addition of the plastic cap and pull tab to these cartons for the kids! I was near speechless when this came up. My thoughts now are, where are the teachers to help open these cartons for the handful of individuals who need the help. The kids need to be taught how to open them. 3 of my kids receive these cartons and do not have a problem, and if they do, the teacher was there to help. Adding these pull tabs will unwisely add a convenience that an individual should learn, let alone the extra waste created, single use plastic.  Now I am not being hateful to the teachers, they are amazing in so many ways, but really, 3-5 seconds to help open a carton of milk. Choosing the easy way out is not the way to go. I mentioned in my later email about my displeasure about this situation and stated that maybe a perforated tab to push in or pull out of the carton to create an opening may be a better option.

Early in the conversation at the meeting, there was  talk about a company in BC was doing a test pilot project with bottles. I have not yet read into it, but will in the near future. Our suggestions will be brought up to the team.

We also talked about butter, cheese and ice cream.

  • Butter. They use a foil wrap (plastic type foil), it is considered waste. They once tried paper, but the paper flaps on the side do not stay put, leaving a bad seal. They are unaware of any other options. We suggested some sort of wax wrap, biodegradable.
  • Cheese needs to be completely sealed to stay fresh. There are no other options known of for wrapping. Again, we talked about a wax wrap, biodegradable. (Air tight is a must though).
  • Ice Cream. I mentioned that the ice cream containers used to be recyclable. The containers were switched a couple years ago to a wasteful type; cardboard with a plastic coating. If the containers were recyclable, or reusable for something else around home that would be a better option. I asked about having steel containers and have them returnable, but there is concerned about the price. If the price goes up for ice cream because the type of container is more expensive, competitors would have the upper hand basically.

My thoughts, were highlighted in bold through the article, briefly. I truly believe that a big company like this one can certainly pull this off. I know there are barriers, but with time I believe they can overcome them. We and the environment need them too! Certainly we can have third parties selling milk in glass bottles and refills, but this company is so big and there is so much recyclable material produced from them, the dent in reducing dairy waste with the third party would be so small; but worth the try.

Alaina’s First Communion

May 19th, Alaina’s First Communion.

Alaina my beautiful daughter
Lovely as the break of dawn
A girl full of joy
In my heart you stay
New journey’s are ahead
Always, I will stand by your side

A new dress for this girl, bought by Alaina’s Meme, Teresa. It will proudly be passed on to Julia for her First Communion in 2 years time. A funny story about this dress. Alaina had two to pick from. One was super fancy with lots of lace, gems and sparkles. The second was plain with bows on the shoulder and a simple one on the hip. She first tried on the fancy one, it sure was a looker. After she tried the second dress, her mind was made up. She loved the simplicity of the second dress and thought the other one was too fancy. What a girl! She made me proud!!!

Father George
Alaina’s teacher, Sister Marion

Alaina’s Catechism class was a total of 36 students. All receiving their First Communion! Half the Church pews where reserved for these children and their families. What a gathering! Alaina was second out of 6 to read one of the Prayers of the Faithful. What a wonderful job she did, speaking loud and clear. For weeks they have been practicing their prayers, songs and receiving Communion.

Alaina is standing top, first on the right
Alaina Top, third to the right

She received her certificate, a rosary and a special bookmark from the Church. There was a lovely reception to follow and so many pictures. Back home we had lunch and treats with family.

A piece of cake!

I did not get very many photos, I may get some more from family. I will post the best ones I have got, but my camera is not very clear. I was able to talk to the Catechism coordinator about the Church receiving donated children’s dresses/suits for these such events. It would greatly help families who can not spend money on a new dress or have to take the time to go find the right one. If the Church already had a display that could be loaned out, that would be so helpful. As I say, Reuse!!!

It was not three hours when the coordinator posted to the current class about donating dresses/suits to the church for future children at the Church. I was so happy to see that and I hope it grows!

Our walk to Church

Daniel’s Sea Bed School Project

Daniel had his first make at home school project. Grade 4 and he had to choose a habitat to write about. He also had to created the habitat. Daniel chose the Sea bed.

So we got to the beach and collected some sand (which we will return) as well as a few shells and seaweed (coral). On our walk we found some trash (fishing rope and plastic bag particle). I mentioned the idea that he could talk about the problem of plastic in the ocean and with little talk, he was on board! He knows about the issues and understands what we are doing at home.

I found a clear container for him to use to set up his display. He wanted there to be at least a window so the shorter students could peer into the box and see the display, but the clear container set the bar higher! I found a blue folder which was cut to size to fit on 3 sides of the container as water. He poured in the sand and added some ocean life, shells, rocks, seaweed (coral). Then the plastic was added. As well as some tape to help hold his props in place.

At school he did a big write up on a slide show about his habitat. I wish I could see what he wrote, but since it is on a slide show, there is nothing to bring home. At least he is learning and teaching himself and others though. He sure did a great job, and he was super happy with his project, you can tell by the smile on his face!

May Recycling Inventory Check

Every now and then I like to take inventory of what is in our blue bag. It is amazing that our family has gone from 2.5-3 blue bags of recyclable plastics to 1 a month! This time round, there are no K-Cups as my husband has switched to using the reusable cups like myself! Yay!

Here is a link to the last inventory done back in February and another in there linked to Novembers’ inventory.

Milk cartons and one large pack of toilet paper package. A tin tray that the Mc. Cain cakes used to come in, but now I think they are just plastic trays. (this one is old, was in the kids room to be reused for something  . . .  one time ).

Raspberry trays, cat food cans, soup cans, a tangled/bent up slinky, hash browns (must make my own), and a few random others.

I have been keeping any large containers, like vinegar jugs in case I need something like that someday, or if ever there is a refill station of some sort for soaps/detergents. Then I can use them or share them out to who ever needs one! I have a blue bag almost full now. I do not want to recycle them but reuse them if I can. I am also saving any strawberry clam shells as they make great storage for kids puzzles (when the box breaks enough or current bags rip). I sent some sunscreen to Grammies for Jack the other week and put the sunscreen in one of those containers for safe keeping in case it got squished and leaked. No way it will get squished in that and it was a perfect fit, No baggy needed! Sometimes I receive a grocery bag and I immediately put it into recycling, first mind thought is I don’t need this! But this time round, my second thoughts were I should keep it to reuse, so in a drawer it goes for storage.

Finished the last of the molasses as well, but I could not recycle it. It is a great container that can be reused again, probably molasses from Bulk Barn.

 

Unscented Soap, New Kind

Last weekend I realized that our locally made bar soap for body/hand washing is made with palm oil. I am trying to avoid that product if I can as the production of palm oil is creating a major blow to the environment. Rain forests are being destroyed to make way to plant more trees that produce palm oil, effecting the wild life in those forests. One example is the Orangutan.

I hope after you have read those two links, you are on the same page as I. That being said, I want to find a new source of soap, and come up with a nice way to talk to our local vendor about the palm oil used in the soaps. Though I will continue to purchase our Shampoo bars as they are palm oil free.

At the Farmer’s Market I went to see another vendor who also sells handmade soaps. I never felt the need to explore this one before as I felt set with the first one. Turns out, this Vendor, Kettle Grove Soapworks is very local. They make soap with local goat milk and local Irish moss! I chose to try a bar of unscented. I tried it out as a body wash and wow, is it ever soft and nourishing!

Shopping With My Cloth Produce Bags

I love being able to choose the produce myself rather than grabbing a bag of pre-chosen products. I made these bags from old curtains. Just a simple project that can be done in minutes with a sewing machine or half an hour (if your me, lol) sewing by hand.

On top are bananas. We go through a lot in a week and it is just easier to put them in my bag, otherwise a bag is not needed. Next up is lettuce, a larger bag is needed to get the lettuce easily in the bag. Green onions package free. Grapes, instead of choosing a plastic bag of grapes, with a pre-chosen amount, I gently grab a bunch from two or three bags, being sure I take what I touch. This way I can choose a smaller amount provided or a larger amount, depending on the coming week and what I think we can eat. Berries are really the only plastic packaged fruit we buy. I know it is out of season where we live, but the kids really enjoy them. I would love to switch our habits to buying seasonal, more discipline required.

Bottom of cart includes a bag of Naval oranges, yet again, too many to leave rolling around in the cart. Same goes for apples. Then there is the unwrapped broccoli. Sobey’s stopped wrapping them! Two thumbs up!!

 

May 14th Litter Pickup

Me and the two boys went for a walk to the park this afternoon. Of course I had to take my cloth bag and cloth mits with me to pick up some litter scattered along the way. I was actually surprised that there was not a whole lot to pick up. Thomas and Jack had fun in the wagon ride and got to stretch their muscles at the park. Running, swinging, sliding, and climbing. They also helped to pick up some trash laying around.

Jack playing around
Snack time, Biodegradable!!
Jack found the first of many straws. Not very happy about that.

I like taking my cloth bag and cloth mits as they are washable and reusable. On our walk home I took a different street to see if I could find some litter and sure enough I did. Mostly along tall fences. It did not take long to fill my bag. I had to leave a huge mess behind as I had no extra bags, too much to carry having the boys and for the boys safety I could not leave them to pick up trash behind the bushes along the fence.  That is okay, I did my best and what I could manage. I will go back again on a non rainy day.

Full bag and only 1/3 done of the street.
So much trash it seemed like it got dumped here.
In front of the bushes got cleaned up but I will not leave the kids to venture further back for safety. This street is not very busy with traffic, but none the less, not taking a risk.

I am really hoping to get out with the big kids as I know they will be much more able to help with this matter. Maybe in the evenings these coming days and Summer when the little’s (Thomas and Jack) are in bed.

I know I don’t do a whole lot of picking up litter like a lot of people can due to the young kids, but that time will come. For now I can teach them to respect the Earth and put their waste in the proper place.

Scent Free Soap, Tackling My Skin Issues

Today, May 11th, I bought a bar of scent free soap from the Farmer’s Market. My face and even my back, shoulders and chest gas been broken out with acne/dry skin.

My skin has not changed to this state since switching to bar soap back in July, but it certainly has not gotten any better. I have been having issues for years and was hoping that since I switched to a more friendly option of soap, my skin would have gotten better.

I had a thought yesterday about fragrance and essential oils. Some essential oils are not what they should be, as I am learning; not true or wrong potency, not 100%. I avoid anything with fragrance/parfum too. A friend who works with doTerra Essential Oils, has been informative to me about this. So with trying all kinds of soaps for my skin (8 kinds, 6 different companies), I thought I should try one without the essential oils found in the brand I buy. Maybe that brand of essential oil is not good.

I tried the scent free when I got home and sure enough, my face did not get that burn feel. Here’s hoping the next week or so my skin clears up. (And its not the weather, its an all year round issue).

This pic does not do justice, its worse than showed, my camera is not so good sometimes.

May 16th update. While washing my face this morning, I felt a feeling I have not felt in a long time! Smooth skin on my cheeks! It was a difference for sure because I paused during rinsing knowing something was unusual. My skin was also not very inflamed after washing. Success so far!

I want to make a note as well, I did not want to seek medical help such as creams or other lotions. That would treat the symptoms but not help me discover the problem. Reducing is key not adding to the pile!

My thoughts to the problem included: Bar soap ingredients, essential oils, horomoans, chocolate, chlorine in the city water and most recently, my husband thinks I should do a fast for a few days and reintroduce some foods types slowly to see if there is a reaction, maybe a food problem. I am hoping my skin clears up more in the next few days!

May 19th update. Last weekend I realized that our locally made bar soap for body/hand washing is made with palm oil. I am trying to avoid that product if I can as the production of palm oil is creating a major blow to the environment. Rain forests are being destroyed to make way to plant more trees that produce palm oil, effecting the wild life in those forests. One example is the Orangutan.

I hope after you have read those two links, you are on the same page as I. That being said, I want to find a new source of soap, and come up with a nice way to talk to our local vendor about the palm oil used in the soaps. Though I will continue to purchase our Shampoo bars as they are palm oil free.

At the Farmer’s Market I went to see another vendor who also sells handmade soaps. I never felt the need to explore this one before as I felt set with the first one. Turns out, this Vendor, Kettle Grove Soapworks is very local. They make soap with local goat milk and local Irish moss! I chose to try a bar of unscented. I tried it out as a body wash and wow, is it ever soft and nourishing! More to come on it in the coming days.

May 26

June 1st update. I think its safe to say, the new soap from KettleGrove is not working out.

Blah.

Bought a bar of unscented glycerine soap at Bulk Barn. I was told I should try glycerine, so here I am.

This minute, as I am writing, I wonder if there is palm oil in this bar. . .

Update June 11th

Bedtime pic, not my best! Lol!

Skin is no better. (I am up to 10 different bars of soap, 8 companies). I had a thought today that maybe it has to do with me baking bread. The flour or yeast? I have been making bread for over 3 years. To me, it seems worse today (I made bread). It was bad a few days go, Sunday, by which I made bread Saturday I think. Chris says maybe the extra sun I’m getting these past few days is making my skin react more (more damage from the sun). We agreed, no more making bread for a couple weeks, and just buy it from our local bakery. Another place to try and get package free!

I mentioned before I don’t want to switch to a medical cream to clear it up. I want to know the cause and fix it at the source! I feel fine otherwise, not embarrassed or anything with the complexion. I do want it fixed though, if possible naturally. My skin does not get the burning feel when I wash with the 3 recent soaps (scent free). But it is irritated, itchy at times and inflamed at times (after washing/shower). My skin flakes too after washing, on my face. I will add, I have tried apple cider vinegar, shea butter, coconut oil and the last two mixed together.

 

 

Cleaning Residue Off Glassware With Homemade Apple Scrap Vinegar

I am trying out my first batch of apple scrap vinegar. I had to get a second opinion on my batch, and I had a lovely visitor, Gina Rideout, today who came all the way from St. John’s Newfoundland. She is a Certified Health Coach and doTerra Wellness Advocate at doTerra Essential Oils. She thought my batch was good. I thought it smelled like alcohol still, but she says more like apple cider vinegar. Yay!!!

So I’m geared up to try it on my residues glasses. Plastic free vinegar in the works and it is working amazing!

I just poured the vinegar in a bowl and let it sit a few minutes, turning the glass half way to coat the other side. A quick rinse and our glasses were sparkling again!

I will be putting a cup worth into the dish washer to help as the vinegar in the rinse agent dispenser is not cutting it! I put some store bought vinegar directly in the washer a few days ago and the dishes were not so residue feeling. I really did not want to buy more plastic jugs of vinegar, so I will experiment with this! Yay!

My second batch has been fermenting since April 25 and still going strong. I have apple cores stored in the freezer awaiting for this batch to finish, another week or more I think.

I had a couple bottles from Olive oil, and I will put them to good use to store the vinegar! I have been storing the first batch in a plastic juice container as I had no glass containers to hold the amount. Gina mentioned that the acid from the vinegar will ruin the container, which no knew, but, she gave me a little needed nudge to find an alternative. I did not want to go buy one and don’t have the time to go thrift shopping so I took a look to see a batch had for jars. I made up my mind that if I have to use a bunch of jars to stores the vinegar, so be it. Get away from the plastic container.

I found a Olive oil jar stashed away and luckily I had an empty one by the sink waiting to get washed. Meant to be! Thanks Gina!