Zero Waste Dental Hygiene

I recently saw an advertisement that said there are 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes produced annually with each brush lasting about 1000 years. I saw a second piece, which said that over 80 million pounds of toothbrushes are thrown into North American landfills each year. Please note, while I could not track down the reviewed sources of these statements and can not vouch for their accuracy, it definitely makes me think about waste and what we consider it to be.

I have always used a toothbrush, one of those things that you are told to keep for a couple of months and then throw out and replace with a new one, and I most likely always will. I am 22 years old, have used about 6 toothbrushes per year, and started my Zero Waste journey at 21 (I stopped using plastic toothbrushes), which means I have contributed almost 130 pieces of seemingly never degrading plastic waste JUST to brush my teeth. This number is probably much higher if I consider any time I forgot a toothbrush and had to buy a new one, or bought a brush that was travel sized and used it for about a week. This is not even mentioning the toothpaste tubes!! The fact of it is, brushing your teeth produces a LOT of non-recyclable waste.

So we are doomed and have to use plastic toothbrushes forever. Right? Nope! I said above that I stopped using plastic toothbrushes. YES! About one year ago I invested in my first compostable toothbrush (there are many different brands). Not only are many of them biodegradable, sustainable, and renewable, their packaging is too! (I haven’t been able to find a solution to the nylon bristles). Wishing for totally compostable boar hair toothbrush bristles. Sigh. Well, here are some brands I have tested out…

They look sooooo much nicer than plastic toothbrushes! When you are done you can use them for a multitude of things! Here is one of mine being used to keep my avocado tree standing tall!

Share

Unclogging Your Drain Naturally

It is never fun to have your drains clogged with hair in the shower or food in the kitchen. I put off cleaning out my drain because I thought it would be difficult and take forever. Luckily my boyfriend showed me this easy and effective method to help remove the buildup from clogged drains! It was actually kind of fun and reminiscent of elementary school volcanoes!

DIY Natural Drain Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 gallon of boiling or extremely hot water
  • bathtub stopper or thick washcloth

Steps:

  1. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into your drain. Be sure that it all goes down. You can use your fingers or a long tool such as a chopstick to help.
  2. Pour 1/2 cup white vinegar into the drain and cover immediately with a stopper or a rag in order to keep bubbles in the drain instead of them releasing into your sink or tub
  3. Wait 2 minutes
  4. Pour the second 1/2 cup of white vinegar down the drain and, like in step 2, cover
  5. Once covered, wait 15-30 minutes
  6. Uncover and dump one gallon of boiling or very hot water down the drain

Note: Depending on how clogged your drain is you might have to repeat.

Share

Composting in a City

I have been composting for over one year now. This seems to shock people when I tell them because I live in New York City in an apartment without a backyard. My secret? The freezer! It is the perfect way to compost in an urban environment because it prevents smell, gives you protection from any insects or mold, and is extremely simple to do! I take mine to the Union Square Greenmarket, but there are plenty of drop-off locations throughout NYC as well as many other cities across the country!

What is compost?
Compost is a nutrient-rich, dark, crumbly material that helps improve soil health and provides nutrients to plants. It is created by the natural decomposition of organic material (like food scraps) that turns the nutrients from once-living materials into humus, the rich, organic component of soil.

How do I compost?
I compost by using a leftover paper bag, which you can recycle at the drop-off location, or an upcycled soil bag (I still haven’t been able to find loose organic soil) and I keep it in my freezer until I am ready to drop it off at the market.

What is compostable? 
Each city has certain things that you can and can not compost, but the NYC list can be found here.

Share

Cleaning Cast Iron

Cast Iron. The best cookware, period. It is the safest, best investment, and most durable cookware around. That being said, it definitely needs some TLC.

If you don’t have a lot of time but you need to do a quick clean the easiest thing to do is hand wash your cast iron with just a plain eco-sponge or scrubber and some warm water. YOU DO NOT NEED SOAP! Why? Cast iron gets extremely hot, think 400 degrees in 4 minutes on medium heat hot! Surfaces become sterile at 212 degrees which is why the soap is not necessary. Once it is clean, towel dry and then rub with a light coating of oil to season it. Seasoning essentially means baking the vegetable oil into the pan. It creates a natural non-stick property that only gets better over time. (I use my Organic Fair-Trade olive oil from Equal Exchange) and it will be in perfect cooking condition, ready for your next big meal! See the bottom of your post for how to re-season your cookware thanks to Lodge!

While maintaining the seasoning should keep your Cast Iron and Carbon Steel in good condition, at some point you may need to re-season your cookware. If food sticks to the surface, or you notice a dull, gray color, repeat the seasoning process:

* Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It is okay to use soap this time because you are preparing to re-season the cookware).

* Rinse and dry completely.

* Apply a very thin, even coating of MELTED solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware inside and out. Too much oil will result in a sticky finish.

* Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven (not directly on bottom) to catch any drips.

* Set oven temperature to 350 – 400 degrees F.

* Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven to prevent pooling.

* Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.

* Store the cookware uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.

* Repeat as necessary.

Share