Refundable Recyclable Reusable Bag

I have had a plan for months to cut out blue bags for one part of our waste sorting. The types of recyclables that you pay a deposit for, in return recieve a small refund. On PEI aluminum cans for pop, juice and liquor are refundable. Also, juice cartons, kids juice boxes, and sport drink containers. All of which are single use items unfortunately. We have cut back much of these items, keeping in mind aluminum has a higher probability to be recycled compared to the other cartons.

I’m not sure why, but I have always stored these items in blue bags. Any bag would due! As of late, I have been using boxes to store these items. I get the box back to reload once I visit the recycling depot. My master plan was to sew cloth bags to house the recyclables destined for the depot. Once emptied, the bag can be washed, unlike the cardboard boxes I have been using.

Our refundable recyclables include pop and juice aluminium cans. Once in a while the kids will bring home a sports drink bottle or other plastic drink container. We reuse them for a while, but eventually they must go. We do not drink much juice. We have cut down from over 2 litres a day to a cup a day each basically. And not everyday either. I do not drink juice or pop, Chris rarely drinks juice, and Daniel will have a pop once a week or so. Our bag used to fill up within a month, now it takes 2-3 months to fill, which is great! Reduce what you can.

I grabbed a piece of old sheet that I have already took pieces from and made 2 good size bags, basically large pillow cases. So easy! I made a pocket around the top to put in a drawstring to close the bag once full. The drawstring was a narrow piece of another sheet of different colour I cut and used. At first I used the same sheet for this purpose, but the drawstring blended in too much.

Cut to size, Thomas is helping.
Sewing machine is set
Two made, that’s all I need.
One full, the other not so much.
Drawstrings cut.
Tied into a straw, the tap is there to stop the drawstring from slipping off while pushing it through the bag pocket.
Ta-da!

 

Zero Waste Night Market Event

Yesterday me and Chris went to our first zero waste markets, which was held in Charlottetown at The Riverview Country Market and Cafe. Hosted by the Market, Urban Daisy and Forest Child Natural Beauty. Little did I know, it was an outside event and we were not dressed for the outdoors, oops! Next time, pack a coat just in case! Chris’ mom came down to our place to watch the kids with help from our niece as well. That’s right, we got away child free! Thank you Jean and Bailey! Xx

Sad to say, I did not take any pictures of the market, too busy going from vendor to vendor and holding our mugs of hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Yup, I packed mugs so we did not need a disposable, even if it was a paper cup. But I did take pictures of our products when we got home. It was so nice to finally put faces to names I knew from other online groups and companies. Some of the vendors put in a lot of work into what they make and truly recycling products into new fashions. I met up with the owners of Unpacked, which will be opening in Charlottetown next month, the Island’s first zero waste store.

First off was my new bamboo toothbrush. The Bristles are made of castor bean oil and the whole toothbrush is compostable. I heard of some people using the stick as a fire started once the brush has come to the end of its life, which I am told it should last as long a regular toothbrush before it needs replacing. Moonsnail Soapworks is where I got the toothbrush, $7.50. I also bought toothpaste tabs/bites which are fluoride free, but also plastic free. LUXE Beauty Bar sells it by the ounce, which in turn is about $6.00 for a couple weeks. May be pricey, but compared to other savings made in the long run, it makes up. Also, like I said, plastic free. I tried these out when I got home, and I was surprised with the toothbrush. Works great, does a great job cleaning and the size is perfect. Also, the bristles are so soft. The toothpaste bites, will take some time getting used to, but I’m down with that!

Chris bought a safety razor!!! He has been looking for quite some time and never seen one for sale until now! It was a pricey purchase, but in the long run, no more buying disposables. I’d say it will pay for itself within a year. (Sorry, also can not remember the vendor’s name, I try to find out)

This vendor, Nellie and Gabe really astonished me. Everything she sold was handcrafted by her and mostly came from products she recycled into her own new product. This bracelet is made from hemp, and the beads are reused from her thrift shopping trips. Can not get much more zero waste there, two thumbs up!

Chris convinced me to buy this sea sponge from Freckles and Porcelain. I always used to use the plastic bath sponges, but mine become unusable a while ago. Since then I just wast with my hands or a facecloth, but I found I could not scrub or reach areas very well. I thought someday I would find a loofa sponge, but I have not seen any for sale as of yet. So, sea sponge it was. I used it today and it works well and is so soft!

Great event, looking forward to more in the following months. I encourage you all to go to events in your area and support your local shops, they are counting on you.

Washing the Laundry

Washing clothes can be next to zero waste. There are options available to help homeowners switch away from jugs of detergents.

  • Find a refillable option, such as Down East laundry detergent. You can easily contact this company to find the nearest location to you. All you got to do is bring a container, get it tared at the store, fill up with as much detergent you need and pay for it. No waste created. The closest store to me is in Charlottetown at Riverview Country Market and Cafe.
  • Buy powder detergents in box packages. I believe most packages come with a scoop, usually made of plastic, but it’s much less compared to a whole plastic jug! I opt for Tide unscented. I use it for cloth diapers solely. I found the product at Atlantic Superstore.
  • The laundry detergent I do use comes from a local maker, The Farmer’s Wife. It’s called Laundry Soap. All you need is a cap full per load of laundry, 1 bottle will last us 3 weeks for $14. Once the jug is empty, I return it for a dollar discount and the jug will get cleaned and reused! You can find the Farmer’s Wife at The Summerside Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s or order online here.
  • Fabric softener can be switched to Vinegar, and it does not leave a smell on your clothes! I find I do not even need to use it myself.
  • Washing Soda helps with boosting detergents as well. I mainly use it for towels as they are more dirty than clothing.
  • Borax is used for cloth diapers in my home. It helps stop mineral buildup on the diapers, otherwise they become liquid proof and carry a bad smell.
  • Oxygen Bleach is much better to use instead of Clorox. It is more natural and not so harsh. I mainly use oxygen bleach for cloth diapers as well, just to help pull the dirt away. Sometimes I will use it for some towels or sheets, if they are really in need of a good cleaning.
Regular everyday laundry. Washing soda and laundry soap. I am reusing an old cap from another detergent jug for my scoop with the washing soda. It equals out to hold 1/2 cup which is what is directed on the box. The laundry soap is measured by it’s own cap, nothing more is needed.
Ingredient list if anyone is interested.
Cloth diaper cleaners. Borax, I use a half cup per load. Oxygen Bleach, the one wasteful container I do use. I can not find its form in a powder box form. Currently I am reusing some containers as buckets. The cap there measures to a 1/2 cup. A full cup is directed in the instructions. Tide unscented powder cones with a scooping it’s own, not sure what I will do with the scoop once the box is empty.

Re-purposing Cloth

Today I cut up some old clothes to make handkerchiefs, that time of year is coming. I have a stash in both bathrooms and one in the kitchen/dining room. slowly, the stash is growing and I will be able to have more spread about the house to other rooms.

I also made some no sew cloth bags out of a few old T-shirts. Too worn out to fix or donate, but still kind of special to cut up into handkerchiefs. So I tried making some bags and it was so easy!! I will see how they hold up when I go shopping. I don’t think they will hold heavy items, like milk cartons for example.

I have a bunch of Jeans I want to re-purpose. I just need to take some time and look up some how to’s and make bags from them. I have a couple that I got a while ago and they are so nice and sturdy! One of them is my purse bag.

I have some old sheets as well, I want to make a bag for our refundable cans, no blue plastic bags for that. This way I can just wash the cloth bag and reuse it over and over. I have had this plan for a good long while now, just have not acted on it yet. Currently I am using boxes to house the cans and I will reuse them.

I also have some old towels, I want to cut them up for rags around the house as well. I know I can not just cut them and use as is, they will fray and fall apart pretty quickly, making a big mess. I just need to take some time and re-sew the edges.

Ready and Steady

For the last month I have not made much progress in further reducing our house hold waste. At this time, I feel we are doing all we can and I am happy with the progress we have made.  I think its soon time to turn the page and do something different. I am not sure exactly what at this time.

  • currently our household waste cart gets picked up every 8 weeks
  • Our blue bag of recyclables has moved from one bag to a bag and a half, due to the kids drinking more milk. Last month we went through 48 litres of whole milk and 18 litres of chocolate milk. The norm was  32 litres of whole milk and about 18 litres of chocolate milk. I have been sending milk to school in reusable bottles for one child to avoid the single use carton.
  • about 2/3 of our groceries come package free via Farmer’s Market, Bulk Barn, and the Butcher Shop.
  • I try to make as many goods as I can to avoid packaging such as bread, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, granola bars and cookies. We do not eat out very much, trying so save money there. I do have a great system for when we do eat out to reduce waste as much as possible.

As of late, I have been focused on helping other people on their journeys by answering questions and passing on tips of my own. I created my own Facebook page where I share this content and sometimes more. I am edging to get more localized in my area and help others transition to a less waste life. I have become very passionate about our life changes and I believe them to be very beneficial!

After going through some of my old blog posts, I realize I need to update some of them, fine tune and edit others. That will be one of my focuses as well. Also at home, minimizing and organizing the spaces is a must on my list.

Anyways, I am still here, just editing and evolving.

2019 Nature Fest

Today was a blast!!! Summerside put on a fun event at Heather Moise Heritage Park. There was a tracker/wagon ride, bouncy castles, petting zoo from Island Hill Farm, pony rides, face painting, pumpkin painting, hay bale maze and more.

I’m not going to go into detail about our day, except a tiny bit about the pony rides! That’s right, all the kids got a turn to ride the ponies! Even little Thomas!! I was so surprised that he got to go by himself while the pony was lead around the circle. He did not cry or want down! Smiles and then a serious face as his time was coming to an end. I think he was happy not being so far away from us, but in a serious way. Hahaha!

Around the end of the pictures, you will find some hilarious ones!!! You will laugh out loud!

Alaina getting her face painted!
Yup, soccer!
All ready to go!
Great balancing Daniel!!
Cutie pie
Hello!
The bigs!
Julia in the bouncy castle
Up she goes
Jack waiting his turn, patiently
Daniel, Alaina and Jack.
Jack and Daniel going head to head. Daniel’s legs there!
Jack and Daniel, same position
Daniel first, Jack had a great race!
Ummm, Alaina is leg!
Up she goes!
Thomas on the hay bale maze.
Julia joint him! We spent a ?or of time here!
Jumping from bale to bale
What now?
Julia on the pony!! First time!
Alaina on the pony, first time!
Julia coming back round.
Alaina coming back round
Daniel on the pony, first time!
Jack on the pony, first time!
Daniel coming back round
Jack coming back round
There goes Thomas!
Looking good!
Thomas coming back round
Done! Very happy!
Julia got her face painted at the end.
Julis loves pictures,
Showing some cool moves!
Last one!! Lol!!!
What we did
  • Face painting (Alaina)
  • Falcon sighting
  • Bouncy castles
  • Alpaca visit
  • Hay bale maze
  • Pony rides
  • Free apples
  • Petting zoo
  • Pumpkin painting (Julia, Alaina and Thomas)
  • More hay bale maze fun (Thomas, Alaina)
  • Daniel ran laps around the park and took Jack to paint pumpkins together!
  • More face painting (Julia)

No balloons or single use drink packs. Brought our own water. Waste free event for our family. The kids loved the animals!

So much fun! Thank you City of Summerside!

Hurricane Dorian, 2019

Atlantic Canada was hit hard by Hurricane Dorian September 7, 2019 after it came up from the South. Living in Summerside, we did not worry about having to store water, as the city has water towers to supply it.

Things we could have done to get ready for the storm, waste free
  • Instead of buying bottled water, fill up containers already at home
  • buy dry goods for foods and canned.
  • flashlights and candles at the ready
  • solar lights at the ready (sort of a decorative source)
  • Store away items outdoors to prevent damage/replacing
  • Wash all the cloth diapers before the storm hit (my stash lasts 36 hours, would have gone to underwear if need be, find a place to wash soiled diapers too.)
  • Pack a bag of clothes, just in case of evacuation
  • Dishes caught up as well as laundry
  • When buying groceries, not stocking up on perishable items (buy what is needed for a couple days, and use it up)

I am sure the list can grow longer.

Our home actually did not loose power. Though, we were ready for it to go out. Thomas had fallen asleep with me in the chair, so he went to bed easily. Jack on the other hand did not want to go to bed, he was too scared of the wind and noise. Even knowing the power could go out. We let him stay on the couch for as long as he needed. His bedtime is 8:30 pm, but he did not fall asleep until around 11:00pm on the couch. As Chris was working away upstairs (or playing a game), me and the 4 kids were cuddled together watching a movie, waiting for the power to go out any minute. I felt bad having Thomas upstairs, I wanted him closer as all the other kids were togther. Julia and Alaina fell asleep during the movie and I was next to go. I woke up when the movie ended, surprised the power still on. Daniel turned off the t.v and cuddled in his blanket to go to sleep. Jack was asleep by then. I was not very worried about the storm to be honest, but wondering why we did not loose power! I stayed on the couch staying cozy as possible.

Jack on the couch, Daniel in the front, Alaina in the middle and Julia at the back. They made nests on the floor with comforters . Fun night, like a slumber party!

During the movie time after Thomas went to bed, me and Chris slipped outside after realizing the two large trees by our drive way (mostly just one) had blown down on the other property next door. Though luckily, there was no damage to the building or the car parked under the tree. Our driveway, in the corner got ripped up as the roots of the tree were pulled out, and just the earth was pulled up around the corner of the garage, not damaging it.

Our van. Trees down on next property.
Two trees.
This one lifted from the ground some. After some rainfall the next day, it lifted more.
Corner of the driveway is lifted
Earth is lifted around the garage, but garage is fine.

In the backyard, one of our fences were blowing over, just a two piece partition. The wind was howling through there. We lost a large shrub which was blown over by that wind. There are two and the second one was slightly pulled the opposite way. The kids called these shrubs The Bumble Bee Trees. In the spring it is covered in yellow flowers and smells so good! In turn it is covered with bee’s, busily buzzing about from flower to flower. Bumble Bee Tree also known as Forsythia! We saved the shrub blown over and trimmed it down. We also trimmed the second one too, we will move them to another location which in turn allows more open space in the back yard.  We were planning on trimming them anyways this fall. Though I am afraid the flowers will not return next Spring, which saddens me. Extra effort to be made to leave the dandelions and put out more flowers for the bees.

Forsythia. Picture from Spring of 2019. The shrub on the left blew down to the grown. The other was pushed slightly to the house. Bumble bee tree.
After Hurricane Dorian
Base is broken.

Our roof leaked water, which is a big headache. It is an older roof in need of repairs, but the storm really pushed more than we thought it would. Long story, not going there.

Morning came and all was well. Power still on, kids happy but yet surprised of the damage around town. It was like going to go see Christmas lights, but not in a good way. Lots of “Whoa’s” and “look at that one”. I am happy no one on PEI was injured.

Adventure Time With Thomas

So this past week, 3 big kids are in school and Jack, our second youngest went to grammie and grandads’ house for a few sleeps. This gave some great open time for me and Thomas to hang out. Chris of course, hard at work supporting our big family.

Day 1

I packed my backpack with essential supplies such as a cloth diapers and reusable wipes, a wet bag for soiled diaper, spare pants for Thomas, snacks like trail mix, apple, banana, juice if needed and my reusable water bottle. In my backpack is always packed first aid supplies, mug, cup, bowl, utensils, bar of soap and a small towel.

Me and Thomas took a walk with the stroller to the boardwalk. My main goal was to go up to the Credit Union Place and go see the horses at the track. Thomas is always looking for horses on drives and loves seeing them! For a nearly 3 year old, he can say the word “horses” so clearly! Amazingly cute!

On our walk, it was a breezy cool day. My ears were starting to hurt, so we ventured off the boardwalk onto more sheltered streets. When we arrived at the horse track we saw one horse training. Also, there was a tracker grading the track. Thomas loved it! I sat him on a post and held him close as he watched.

We walked around a bit more and found a couple more horses in pasture as well as a couple mules. Thomas learned a new word, mule. We ventured into Credit union place to warm up and I decided to get a coffee, in my own mug. I asked the lady at the counter and sure enough my mug was accepted for filling. Mind you, this was my first cup of coffee in about 3 weeks. It was yummy and hit the spot! I had a choice to use the single use creamers (x2) or a jug of milk to add to my coffee. Normally I use cream, but opted for the milk, much less waste! I got Thomas a cookie as well, but it was bagged (compostable bag) before I even knew it. Next time I need to ask, no bag! Some of these choices are up to us, ask and choose better!

Before we left, Thomas needed a diaper change and myself the bathroom. Easy switch of the cloth diaper and I used my scent free bar soap and towel to wash and dry, saving on smelly liquid soap and paper towel. I really do not like using other soaps. The smell that is left on my hands leave me the feeling of not clean and very uncomfortable.

After our rest, we started home. We stopped quickly at the Notre Dame Community Garden. Lots of veggies and fruit growing! I was happy to see the spot was greatly used!

After we were home for a short time, Thomas dozed off and had a great little nap. Of course I moved him to the couch!!

Day 2

Today I took Thomas to the pool at the Credit Union Place. This was his first time (maybe once when he was a little baby, don’t remember). He was super excited about the news of going to the pool, in the water splashing and playing with toys. All that changed once we entered the shower room. The water provided for a pre rinse was so nice and warm, but Thomas would not have it. He is actually not one for water fun, but I was certain he would enjoy at some point.

We got to the pool area, put on a life jacket and headed to the water. He was calm until we got to the water. He became uncertain and clinged to me. He was not very happy in the water. I tried using toys and a ball to cheer him up. He did stay quiet for a short time. I tried using a kiddie boat with his life jacket on to see if that would make him more calm and have fun. Same situation, so I tried nothing but me, mom. Held him, chased a ball around and got him to throw it. Thomas still was not comfortable, until we saw a horse racing by the window outdoors. The racing track is just outside, and you can see horses pass by. Thomas was excited to see it, and that was the highlight of the pool. I decided it was a good time to head out, we spent maybe 30 minutes in the water.

I brought my shampoo bar and body wash bar, wrapped in a towel. Easy transport in my backpack. Rinsing after the pool is my favourite part, nice warm water and usually a great cuddle with one of the kids, but not Thomas. He would not have it unless a stranger came walking by talking to him. Shy fellow.

Jpeg

Since we were not there as long as I expected, we took a drive to see if we could find some horses. We scored, found 4 of them grazing. Seen some trackers too which Thomas was excited about! We got home, had some lunch and he had a nap afterwards.

Day 3

This day, I will probably spend at home, catching up on house work. Easier to do the extra special things with less distractions around (kids, hahaha). I think me and Thomas will make some cookies too! yummy!

School Lunches With Reusable Bags

I bought some lovely snack bags at The Summerside Farmer’s Market! They are made with natural material and are washable. The inside is an air tight and water proof fabric. They are very sturdy and oh so cute! Inspire Essential Oil Heatable Bags is the business who makes and sells them.

Since packing plastic free snacks for the kids lunches at school last year, the lunch cans were crammed with containers. Some days it was hard to pack everything in and then having all these containers to wash for the next day. I ended up having just enough containers to stretch for 3 kids over two days. But still, so many to wash and dry, and the clutter it created was frustrating.

Today’s lunch cans were packed with much more ease, and they felt lighter too.the kids liked the bags the first two days of school and they love the patterns. I must say, it seemed faster to pack the snacks too! No having to neatly pack pretzels so I can fill the container for example. Now, just toss in a handful, zip up and done! I’m very impressed! Also, with the liner inside being water proof, I can use these bags to pack wet foods like carrot sticks. Though, I will continue to use containers for meats and soft fruits. Convenient for the kids to eat from a dish sometimes and I don’t want soft fruits to get squished.

3 lunches packed, and still room to put things on top.
Alaina. Pretzels, local green beans, homemade granola bar, local strawberries and black forest ham. She only takes juice on Wednesdays. That comes from a can which half fills a reusable container. Reusable water bottle is packed in her school bag.
Daniel. Pretzels, crackers, local carrot sticks, local apple and a free range boiled egg. Some juice from a can, packed in a reusable bottle 3 times a week. Also a reusable water bottle packed in his school bag.
Julia. Pretzels, crackers, local peas, local strawberries and Montreal smoked sandwich meat. Juice from a can packed in a reusable bottle. So far she wants juice everyday. Working on “water is best”. Reusable water bottle packed in her school bag too.

The snacks vary from day to day as well as their taste buds! The only snack packed that comes from a plastic source is basically just the crackers. Everything else comes from Bulk Barn using my own containers or are whole foods bought plastic free. Soon I am going to make a new batch of yogurt and I am going to trial using small mason jars to pour the batch into, so I can pack those to send to school.

I highly recommend these snack bags! If you are handy with the sewing machine, make some!! Make it yourself and/or support local before buying from away, including big box stores.

It may be expensive up front, but you will save in the long run! Use what you have, invest a little at a time and you will be set! Supporting local helps local families near you. Local cuts down the carbon footprint for travelling as well as packaging.

When packing snacks try to stick to whole foods, they need less packaging from the stores! Homemade is best too, you know what goes into the food and they do not need to be individually wrapped.

Some examples:

For more ideas, check out my recipe page.

Summerside Farmer’s Market

I love going the The Summerside Farmer’s Market! I have been going every Saturday for over a year now, supporting local businesses. I try to spread out and reach as many vendors as I can. There are so many options of goods and the people are so friendly.

This past weekend I brought home a great haul of goods. When I go shopping I buy plastic free options or try my best. I bring my own produce bags and containers. Our family has been going plastic free as much as possible for over a year. You can read all about it on my website, Rachel.Willcock.ca. You can also follow me on Facebook at Managing Our Waste at Home.

I wish there was more support for the vendors to offer plastic free options. Some options off the top of my head:

  • Sell in paper bags or paper containers (I for one won’t mind the price going up a tad to stop single use plastics!)
  • customers bring their own bag/containers
  • vendors could sell their goods from a large bin using tongs to select the amount purchased. Have a scale available to weigh the products.
  • Have a bring back a reusable container/bag program

In this picture is a lovely selection of the goods I picked up for my family to enjoy.

  • I got some Vesta Bella and August apples from Brady’s Farm using my own produce cloth bags. Brady has paper bags he sells his apples in and he does want them returned when possible. Reuse!!
  • There are strawberries and blue berries from East Isle Farms. The wooden crates are compostable on PEI and the paper containers are recyclable like egg cartons.
  • Some lovely Peas from J&L Farms, using my own white cloth produce bag.
  • Clohossey Farms was selling brocolli and cauliflower package free, score!
  • The best bacon I have ever had is from Pleasant Pork. Sometimes we get back bacon, kolbalssa, salami and pepperoni. Ham is on my list this coming weekend! They also sell free range eggs. The eggs are the best ones I have ever seen too! Nothing like free range!
  • I also bought some lovely snack bags from Inspire Essential Heatable Bags. They are great for back to school! Natural fabric with a water proof fabric inside, keeping the snacks fresh all day. They are also washable in the washing machine. Less containers for me to wash after school!
  • I buy our cleaning needs from The Farmer’s Wife. Bar soap, Shampoo bar, Cleaning soap, Laundry Soap and Wool dryer balls. This list is short compared to what is available! I will add, the cleaning and laundry soap containers are returnable with a small discount, Reducing the container waste. Awesome!

I also visit other vendors for string beans, carrots, peppers, croissants, honey, leafy greens and garlic.

Some pictures of past trips to the Summerside Farmer’s Market
Croissant, wrong beans,now as, carrots, English cucumbers plastic free, bacon and garlic.
Free range eggs, lettuce, laundry soap, berries, bar soap, english cucumbers plastic free, kolbassa and bacon.
Free range local eggs, bacon, back bacon, laundry soap, bar soap, fresh greens, pepperoni and salami.
Snack bags
Reusable cloth snack bags
String beans and peas, apples, eggs, bar soap, shampoo bar and croissant.
Carrots, laundry soap, free range eggs, peppers, bacon, garlic, croissant, and peas.
Lettuce in cloth produce bag, carrots, peas, eggs, English cucumbers plastic free, string beans, bar soap, croissant and bacon.
Shopping local has many benefits!
  • Keeping money in local communities
  • Helping local families
  • Products come from familiar people
  • Much less carbon footprint for travelling
  • Products are fresher
  • Usually less packaging
  • Creates more demand for local products in turn creating local jobs
  • And many more!

Check out this post about my Shopping Routine and seasonings! It will show more about why I have changed our shopping and consuming habits and how! It was published in early June, and already we have made more changes!

Don’t forget the important R’s
  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Repair
  • Recycle
  • Rot