9 Ways I’ll Be Using Less Plastic in 2019

A dumpter overflows with trash, mostly in plastic bags, some loose. Trash is on the ground around the dumpster. Text says:
Image by Pixabay

I’m not big on New Year resolutions, but one of my intentions for 2019 is to continue making small changes in my daily life to walk more gently on the earth, and especially to reduce my use of single-use plastic.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

Reusable grocery bags

After literally years of leaving my reusable shopping bags either at home or in my car, I am finally remembering to bring them into stores with me almost all the time. I use the kind grocery stores usually sell for a dollar or sometimes give away, and I find they work well for me. Not only are they green, but they’re stronger than plastic grocery bags, so I don’t have to worry about a bag being sliced open by the sharp edge of some cellophane packaging or splitting from too much weight. They also sit in my trunk without flopping all over and spilling their contents. If you’d prefer another type, though, there are many bags available for purchase, such as foldable bags in cute designs, or bags that are actually collapsible boxes.

   

Packing lunches

An open plastic container holds wrap sandwiches and grape tomatoes
Image by Pixabay

Along with plastic grocery bags, I’ve ditched plastic ziplock bags for the most part. I still use them for frozen foods, but when packing lunches or snacks I use either Sistema boxes (yes, they’re plastic, but they last for years. Much better than plastic bags or disposable plastic containers) or Lunchskins paper sandwich bags. These bags seal with a peel-and-stick strip and are perfect for sandwiches and dry snacks. I’ve noticed that Reynolds has started making paper sandwich bags, too, but I’m a sucker for the cute pictures on the Lunchskins ones.

       

I also use reusable water bottles. After trying a bunch of different brands over the years, I found that I really love Sip by S’well stainless steel bottles. They don’t have straws or any other fiddly parts that get lost or are hard to clean. Just a bottle and a cap. They come in cute prints, they last for years, and they are double-walled, so they keep your cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. They can be a bit pricey, but I usually buy them on sale. I’ve also gotten some knock-offs from Aldi, so keep your eyes peeled at back-to-school season!

   

Making Laundry Cleaner and Greener

I’m planning to ditch plastic jugs of laundry detergent in 2019. Homemade laundry soap is really easy to make, and the recipe is even easy to remember. It’s just one bar of soap, one cup of borax, and one cup of washing soda. You can probably find borax and washing soda in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket, Walmart, or Target. Or you can order it from Amazon. Grate the soap with a box grater, and then stir the grated soap, the borax, and the washing soda together. If you want, you can add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. Store the mixture in an airtight container, and use 2-4 TBS  (1/8 – 1/4 cup) per load. I’ve never had a problem with it dissolving in cold water, but if you do, you can just dissolve it in a cup or two of hot water and toss that mixture into the washing machine before filling it up with cold. (Or pour it into the liquid detergent dispenser if your machine has one of those). It’s safe for HE machines, too.

   

Shower solutions

stacked bars of soap
image by Pixabay

I’ve started using bar soap in the shower to avoid using plastic bottles of shower gel. This also solves the problem of having an inch of soap left in the bottom of the bottle that you can’t get to with the pump. Don’t you hate that? I suspect that manufacturers purposely make the pump tubes too short so we’ll buy a new bottle sooner.

Did you know that shampoo and conditioner also come in bars? I just bought a handmade conditioner bar on Etsy, and there are also a ton on Amazon. Once I finish my current bottle of shampoo, I’ll replace that with a bar, too.

You know what else is plastic and in my bathroom? My toothbrush. I just ordered a pack of bamboo toothbrushes, and I’m going to try to convince my whole family to switch.

I’m not perfect, and I know there’s plenty more I can do to help the environment. But using less plastic, especially single-use disposable plastic, is one step, and it’s not hard to do. If you have other suggestions for using less disposable plastic around the house, please let me know in the comments!

Twelve Perfect Gifts for Bullet Journallers

Bullet journalling is becoming more and more popular

In case you haven’t noticed, bullet journalling (aka bujo-ing) has taken the world by storm over the past few years. What is bullet journalling? In the simplest terms, it is a way of making your own planner in a notebook. The concept was popularized by Ryder Carroll, and his method is a simple system of lists with symbols and an index. The planner community (yes, that’s a thing) grabbed the idea and ran with it, and now most bullet journallers embellish their journals with artwork, stickers, color coding, washi tape, scrapbook elements, fancy lettering, and anything else you can imagine.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

If you know someone who bullet journals, or if you want to try it yourself, here are the perfect items to start with. Be warned, though: there are so many brands, styles, and sizes of notebooks, and bujo addicts can be very particular about which ones they use. If you’re buying a gift for someone who already uses a bujo, your best bet is to ask them which notebook they prefer to use.

First, of course, is the book that started it all: The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll.

Notebooks

Next, some notebooks. Moleskine and Leuchtturm are two classic brands that many bullet journallers love. Even within these two brands, there are different sizes, different covers, and different types of pages– lined, gridded (like graph paper), dot-gridded, or blank– so, again, you really want to ask before buying this as a gift for an established bujo-er. You can be slick and tell them you’re looking into bujo-ing and want a recommendation.

   

Scribbles That Matter is a popular brand that has a few things set up for you already. Their pages are pre-numbered, and they have preprinted pages for an index, a key, and even a pen test page.

Pens and Markers

For a simple black pen, my go-to is the Sharpie fine point pen. It’s a durable felt-tip pen that you can find almost anywhere, it dries quickly, and it hardly ever bleeds through paper. Another nice one is Pigma Micron. Micron goes beyond fine and extra-fine points to give you a whole range of points. Get the six pack and see which one you like best.

For writing and drawing fine lines in color, the pens you need are fineliners. The two most popular brands are Staedtler and Stabilo. I have the 36-pack of Staedtlers and I looooove it.

One of the biggest hits in the bujo world is the Zebra Mildliner pens. When I first started seeing the name, I misread it as “midliner,” which I assumed was a size between fineliner and a bold fat marker such as a chisel-tip. Finally I realized it was mildliner, referring to the mildness of the soft, pastel shades. The Mildliner comes in four sets: warm, cool, fluorescent, and a newer set with bolder (but still mild) colors; I’m not sure what the newest set is called. They are double-ended, with a traditional highlighter point at one end and a fine point marker at the other. They’re perfect for highlighting and coloring.

Washi Tape

Washi tape is a decorative paper tape that originated in Japan. Like masking tape, it is sticky but can often be repositioned, and it can be torn off the roll easily. The standard width is 15mm (about 5/8″), but skinny and wide versions are also available. It can be used to create borders or dividing lines, or to decorate anywhere in your bullet journal. There are SO MANY kinds of washi out there, with any kind of picture or pattern you can possibly imagine.