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Plastic-free July challenge, inspiration, tips, and support  RSS feed

 
gardener
Posts: 1886
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Washing diapers is just not that big a deal.  With my first baby I had a diaper service for the first 2 months, with the second baby only one month. I was born in 1950, had plenty of younger siblings, and what people did with diapers was something I had witnessed.  It just seemed normal to me.  The poop gets rinsed into the toilet and flushed away.  If no flush toilet, then where ever adult poop goes, there, too, goes baby poop.  The other moms I knew in that era used to joke about building turds, (easier to dispose ofif the baby had been eating some foods and a real sloppy mess if s/he had been eating other foods...) 
You just create a work station other than the flush toilet if you don't have one.  you rinse until they're ready for the washing machine, or if you are hand washing, then  maybe just go ahead and wash them right then.  My system was to toss pee only diapers into a bucket of water with baking soda in it, rinse the poop out of the others until I thought they could go into the bucket.  When I had enough for a load, or it looked like I would be needing some clean ones coming up, I would wash the bucket full then hang them out on the line to dry.  Probably no one here needs to be told that sunlight is the best sanitizer, so line dried diapers are very clean, don't need bleach.  If they seem stiff, then a good shaking can soften them up.  I don't really think fabric softeners are a good idea for diapers.  They go right against the baby's skin, and then get wetted with urine, and then sit there awhile.  What ever they put in the fabric softener is still there, now dissolved and soaking in to the baby's skin.  (likewise what ever they make disposable diapers out of ).  Another thing to soften them up if they are "stiff" is a 10 minute tumble in the dryer on no heat.  I suppose there are handy people who could make a substitute dry laundry tumbler, bicycle powered perhaps.  Also, if you hang two diapers back to back on a windy day, they rub against each other and that makes them softer.

If there is not room on the clothes line for all the diapers in one row, you can pin a second row to the bottom of the higher up row, and so on until they are all flapping in the breeze.

I guess if washing diapers doesn't seem normal, then the best suggestion I can give is to get over the big aversion to baby poop.  (breast fed only babies have very inoffensive poop, kind of sticky, kind of an orange color, but it doesn't smell particularly awful).  Once they start eating other foods then sure it stinks, but so what.  Hands can easily be deodorized with mint essential oil in the soap (Dr Bronners would work if you don't have access to good mild hand made pure soap with essential oils.)  I would say baking soda, and it would work but it is drying to the skin.  If you are going to make a baking soda hand cleaning concoction, put oil like grape seed or olive oil in a jar with baking soda and a drop or two of essential oil use as you would an exfoliating scrub and rinse thoroughly.

I guess if there is interest there could be a whole thread on non disposable diaper systems and lore.  In the 80s it was a difficult thing to find wool diaper covers.  People were using plastic pants which kind of made a hot house effect and gave my babies rashes.  Wool coverings let them breathe, fewer rashes, the urine did not turn to ammonia inside the wool soakers.  There are all kinds of new fangled diaper systems pin less and I don't know what else.


 
Posts: 117
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
solar woodworking
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:My mom was just saying how she'd given up on cloth diapers when I was a baby, it was too much work for her, and then I find this thread. 

I wonder about ways of making washing cloth diapers easier.  Or a reusable plastic one that you can wash.  Or maybe silicon, like those cooking implements.

Or if you put all your cloth diapers in a soak tub and then can do them at once.  Use the poop too.  Just brainstorming here.



Soaking does wonders. Learning to clean, after I left home, I found you don't have to scrub at stuck on food. Don't have to wear yourself out scrubbing at soiled counters. let water or a cleaning solution (and it doesn't have to be strong) sit and go wipe it up later. So I think a lot of the scrubbing and elbow breaking and back breaking work of the past was just because of wrong technique.

I would assume that Cloth diapers are no different. I think I would just throw them in a bin of water and let them soak till any heavy soiling could be rinsed off with a quick swish in then wash them like any other cloths.
The soak water could be used as liquid fertilizer. Yes, it's black water.... But in reality, nothing is coming out that didn't go in the other end so your own or your baby's excrement should be safe as fertilizer. Smell is the only issue.
 
gardener
Posts: 810
Location: Ohio, USA
107
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We try to reuse these. What a joke.
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Why I hate single use plastic bags.
 
Amit Enventres
gardener
Posts: 810
Location: Ohio, USA
107
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Instead, we do a lot of cloth bags, containers, and putting of plates atop serving containers. We still own these in case someone needs something that doesn't fit the other options, but they are slowly going back to the ways of the dinosaurs. The gallon size we still use because if we don't freeze them, they seem to last multiple reuses and seem like a good alternative as reusable produce bags.
 
pioneer
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Posts: 11362
Location: Left Coast Canada
2016
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Anyone else taking the plunge this year?
 
pioneer
master steward
Posts: 5069
Location: Missoula, MT
761
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur purity
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We do lots of little things to avoid plastic...and while I want to do better, I don't know that I'll be able to achieve plastic-free for a month. So I'm going to figure out a bit of a modified goal for us.

I do take my own shopping *and* produce bags in to the grocery store and farmers market, though I often forget my shopping bag at other stores. This month, I'll vow to not bring home any plastic shopping bags.

Here's a blogger who had justified getting plastic bags at the store because she used them to line her trash can/rubbish bin. And how she changed her thinking.

https://treadingmyownpath.com/2013/04/20/how-toline-your-rubbish-bin-without-a-plastic-bag/



I'm sure there are other areas where I can choose foods to buy that are in less or no plastic, (such as bulk foods - done *without* plastic!) so I will be working on that, too!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
pioneer
master steward
Posts: 5069
Location: Missoula, MT
761
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This post highlights my favorite methods for avoiding plastic wrap.

http://lifeyourway.net/7-ways-to-avoid-using-plastic-wrap/

The one I like the best of all is what she shows in this picture:



Plates on top of bowls. Absolutely easy, stackable, microwavable or toaster oven safe (usually), re-usable---all the things!


 
pioneer
gardener
Posts: 1232
Location: Middle Tennessee
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r ranson wrote:Anyone else taking the plunge this year?



I am!, or we are (my wife and I). About a month ago, I decided to start plastic free July a little early. We finally tossed our plastic toothbrushes after I ordered some bamboo toothbrushes and now have been using one twice a day for a month now. I had high expectations after using plastic toothbrushes my entire life and I'm happy to say the bamboo brush is holding up well, in fact, equally as well as any petroleum based toothbrush, and I'm really referring to the bristles that eventually wear out. I've included a picture of my toothbrush (I know, strange huh?) and the plant based bristles are, I would say, about 96% their original straightness, and I brush twice a day, every day, so about 60 uses so far.

Unbeknownst to me, my wife ordered these silicone resealable bags (pictures below) as a replacement for those all too common plastic zip-top bags, which we do reuse those when we can, but like Amit noted above, they don't last long, like they're almost engineered to be used once then fail. I'm happy to get away from using those zip top bags, and it'll be interesting to see how long these last and how well they hold up. The only slight downside to the bags is they come with an (ahem) plastic slide to seal the bags shut. But, at least it's not single-use plastics, and I hope that these last a long time.

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Posts: 10
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Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:I have been reducing my plastic use for many years.  I reuse glass bottles for water bottles; I use my own reusable market bags; I store leftovers in glass baking dishes, but even these have plastic lids.  The things I find difficult are the groceries I purchase: sour cream comes in plastic; most yogurt come in plastic (I've found 1 brand in a jar); bread, tortillas, chips, crackers all come in plastic; most produce: berries, lettuce, carrots, etc. come in some form of plastic. 

Has anyone found solutions to these other than making your own? 

Thanks for posting this Destiny.  I'd really like to reduce my plastic even more.


When buying groceries you can at least bring back plastic bags to reuse for produce.   (Like berries)
You can make your shops more aware by leaving packaging in the store.  You have  to be quite charming to accomplish this.

 
Posts: 231
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I can feel your pain, but I don't think labeling "plastic" as evil is the right way to do things.

Plastic is co-mingled with polymer in meaning.  Wood is a cellulose fibre (polymer) fibre reinforced, hemicellulose/lignin co-polymer matrix material.  Some woods last a long time (such as black locust, osage-orange and tamarack), and some don't (such as just about every native tree that grows on my land ).

Something we should want to move away from, is using durable plastics in single use applications.

Many years ago, I worked adjacent to pharmaceutical science.  Something they were looking at was to get canola to produce mono-clonal antibodies.  But something that had been accomplished at that time, was to get canola to produce polyester.  Polyester which comes out of most chemical processes is largely linear (or was at that time).  The polyester that was produced in canola was highly branched.

Obviously this didn't take the world by storm, as I don't see it in everyday life now.  But there seem to be a number of biodegradable polymers which are available.  Are they available at the reduction of land for growing food, I don't know?  But I don't know that this needs to be considered anyway.

Most bio-polymers seem to come down the plant stream.  But the shells of crustaceans is often called chitin (to me, a protein).  Products called chitin and chitosan (acetylated chitin?) seem to be very useful.

But, best of luck in reducing usage of durable plastics in one-time usage.  All other applications I think need more consideration, as a general rule.

 
pollinator
Posts: 724
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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I do my best to buy as little as possible in one-use-only plastic. I get my vegetables once a week in paper bags, delivered in a shop in town, from the only biodynamic farm in the region. They deliver in this way for more clients, and in some more villages, on the same day. Their paper bags are re-usable (if they still look good, you can return them).
I go to market with a tupperware container to be filled with my weekly dose of nuts. I am sorry there are no other products I can buy in bulk here.
Since a few weeks I bake my own bread. I keep it in a cotton bag I made myself.
I don't use any soap, shower-gel, shampoo, or whatever, so that's no problem. The coconut oil I use for my teeth is in a plastic container, sorry.
If possible I reuse plastic bags / containers. For example I still use the zip-lock plastic bags we received my late husbands medication in (he died 2 years ago, after a long time on heavy medication).

Probably many people, even some of my friends, consider me a 'freek' ... I don't mind.
 
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