How To Reduce Waste In Your Home

08.12.2019

0600

Reducing the amount of trash that comes into your home is not as hard as it sounds. It might sound like a daunting task because we as consumers, buy a lot of packaged items that we bring into our home. However, it’s a simple process of elimination.

For instance, if you evaluate your kitchen items and everything you buy weekly, monthly, and yearly- that’s pretty much your entire list. For the yearly items, if you can find reusable alternatives, you can essentially eliminate your yearly inventory shopping.

Then, list all your weekly items that you tend to buy, and find reusable, non-toxic alternatives for those items. Your weekly and daily items are most likely the trash culprits. Half of the time, we don’t realize how many coffee cups we buy every day or even plastic packaged lunch items that we purchase daily. Eliminating the daily trash will help greatly reduce the amount of trash that enters your home. There are a lot of reasonable alternatives when it comes to kitchen items. Using cloth napkins in lieu of paper napkins, and using real dishware instead of paper plates can help eliminate the disposable trash output. You can also use real utensils instead of disposable utensils. You can bring a reusable coffee Tumbler when you go to get tea or coffee, so you don’t end up with a disposable cup.

A lot of people don’t know that the paper containers provided for us at grocery stores, and food establishments are lined with plastic, and those containers do not compost or bio degrade. The plastic layer, prevents it from composting completely. It’s a little bit like green washing because you may think your container is completely made of cardboard but it really isn’t. Using reusable items is a much better alternative, because you are in control of how much trash you are producing.

For your bathroom items, it’s the same process as evaluating your kitchen items. Go through your items and figure out which products you use and purchase, yearly, weekly and daily. Slowly replace the yearly items with reusable and sustainable options, as well as a weekly and daily items.

When it comes to medications or anything medical, I suggest that you consult with a doctor before you decide to eliminate certain products. I purchase sunscreen consistently. I live in California, where the sun is strong, and skin cancer is a real concern. I’m very aware that I am producing plastic trash with my sunscreen bottles. However, I would never want to put my health at risk just so I can proclaim that “My lifestyle is absolutely zero waste!”, and I wouldn’t want you to do that either.

Health concerns are very personal, so you know your own limit. If you can eliminate a plastic contained product and opt for a reusable version, than I think that’s great. Right now, I buy my conditioner, body lotion, bar soap, liquid soap, and tooth powder, in bulk. When it comes to sunscreen, face moisturizer and dental floss, those come in packaging.

You can use this evaluation process for the other rooms in your home. The biggest trash producers are the kitchen and the bathrooms. Some people have other rooms where they tend to buy a lot of items for, and those can be also evaluated in the same fashion.

This process takes time, and it takes self awareness to be consistent. Start slow and just work on an area or room in a certain amount of time. If you give yourself a time limit, staying consistent and motivated, becomes easier.

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Plastic Packaging In The Kitchen

07.08.2019

0600

Even when I buy items in glass jars because I can’t find a refillable version of it, I always end up with these plastic shrink bands. It seems that zero waste is never an absolute. Sometimes when I do buy produce that is free plastic packaging, I’ll still end up with rubber bands or twist ties. The good thing is I can actually reuse those items, but it’s preferred that I don’t have to.

Most of my dry goods are sold in bulk bins, so I am lucky that I have the privilege to buy package free dry goods from bulk items.

During the process of transitioning over to a zero waste lifestyle, I knew that I would end up giving up a lot of foods that I enjoyed. I personally love potato chips to snack on, but it was one thing I knew I had to give up, since the packaging wouldn’t fit my zero waste lifestyle. I gave up a lot of snacks such as packaged cookies, packaged crackers and packaged candy. There were alternatives to these packaged items, such as certain bulk options.

When I realized I had to give up certain foods, I also sought out alternative food substitutes. There are good substitutes out there, but sometimes, seeking out the alternatives require more work than expected. Once in awhile I will indulge in a packaged food, and then that packaging will get added to my pile of trash for that year. During my journey, I did come across a company called TerraCycle. They team up with certain companies who participate in different recycling programs with TerraCycle. These companies offer recycling programs through TerraCycle, in which customers who purchase their products, can join their recycling program, and send back the packaging to the company for free. It’s an option, and the program change frequently, so checking their website updates is helpful.

I’m extremely lucky to have local bulk grocery stores, who provide the option of bulk shopping, so I can continue this lifestyle. Only once in awhile, I’ll need an item and the glass jar will have the plastic shrink band on it. If I can, I try to only need and use items that are only sold in bulk.

How I Keep Long Cords Organized

01.02.2018

0600

Materials:

  • Velcro straps
  • Cardboard

Tools:

  • Cables
  • Rope
  • Christmas Lights

Organizing long ropes is always a bit tricky. There are many different methods and techniques that people use in different professions. I discovered a few that help me keep different types of cords organized.

Every cable has a natural coil. When you try to fight that coil, bad things happen. The cable eventually twists on the inside, and when you needed it the most, the cable will fail.

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For long extension cords:

For extension cords, I use the “Over-Under Technique” to keep my longer cords in a loop form but also to keep it from twisting was I’m wrapping it up. This method eliminates unnecessary twists in the cord and allows the cord to coil in it’s natural state (like it was wrapped from the factory). You can check out how this technique is used at Digital Photo: “Studio Safety: Coiling Cables”. The technique looks like this:

Digital Studio- Studio Safety: Coiling Cables

Basically, you take the cable at one, holding the cable in one hand with your thumb holding that end down. With your other hand, and your thumb facing the same direction as your other hand, bring the cable around to create a loop and let that loop sit in your holding hand.

Then create another loop but face your thumb away from the holding hand’s thumb, bring it around to create another loop, but when it reaches your holding hand, make sure your thumb is facing the opposite direction of the holding hand’s thumb. Repeat these two types of loops until you finish with the entire cable. When you coil your cables in this sequence, the cable does not twist while you coil it up.

If you need to use the cable, you can grab the end of the rope that is on the outside,  throwing the coil away from your or just pulling on one end, and the rest of the cable will unravel quickly.

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For shorter cables, I wrap the cable around my hand, using the space between my thumb and index finger.

With Christmas lights, I take a piece of cardboard and I cut it into an “I” shape, with small slits cut into the four inside corners of the cardboard piece. These slits are about half an inch and marked where the red lines are located in the picture. If you want to know the measurements for my cardboard holders, I included it in the image below.

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Tuck the female end of the christmas lights into one of the slits. Continue wrapping the cord around the middle piece of the cardboard until the entire cord is wrapped. Then take the male end of the cardboard and tuck it into the nearest available slit.

When you need to use the Christmas lights, simply plug in the male end of the cord and unravel while decorating your tree, or just decorating inside as needed.

I also label each cord using masking tape, with that type of light it is (marked with the yellow circle) so it’s easier to identify each year when we set up the Christmas decorations. I also write the length of each cord on both the male end and female end, which is identified with the orange circle.

  • White Solid = White lights that don’t blink
  • White Blink = White blinking lights
  • Color Solid = Color lights that don’t blink
  • Color Blink = Color lights that blink

 

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So these methods are how I keep my long cords organized and I’m sure there are more techniques as well. Hopefully these ideas will spark some new ways of how you can organize your cords.

 

How To Daisy Chain Your Long Ropes

12.26.2017

0600

Storing long ropes can be a hassle, but if you know how to organize the ropes, unraveling them each time won’t seem as daunting. I like to wrap my long ropes in a daisy chain so that when I open the rope, it’s a quick process and it doesn’t get tangled.

A daisy chain is a simple method to store long ropes. It’s also known as a chain sinnet. It’s a method of shortening a rope or other cable while in use or for storage. It is formed by making a series of simple crochet-like stitches in the line. It can also reduce tangling while a rope is being washed in a washing machine. Rock climbers, concert stage workers have used this method in their professions. I’ve found that wrapping the ropes up in a daisy chain can be just as quick as unraveling it once you nail the method down.

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First find the middle of the rope and tie a knot to mark the middle point. It’s easier to create a loop while making the knot to make it more distinguishable.

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At the ends of the rope, tie knots to keep the rope from fraying.

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Before starting the chain pattern, it’s easier to step on the two loose ends of the rope so that the chain is taught when you’re creating it.  Take the end with the middle knot and loop the other end over it creating a loose loop.

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Then bring the rope through the loop you just created.

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Pull the new loop through the opening and bring it downwards so that you can see the hanging rope through the new loop.

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Grab the rope through the new loop and bring it through, towards yourself.

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Once you grab hold of the rope, bring down the chain so that the loop pattern is more taught. Once the pattern is tighter, you can bring the chain back up and repeat the process. DSC_8310DSC_8311DSC_8312DSC_8313

Once you get towards the end of the rope, just grab the leftover rope and pull it through. Make sure the ends of the rope won’t slip through the opening by tightening the last loop.

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When you need to use this rope, simply open this end of the daisy chain, give it a little tug and your rope will unfold quickly and easily. I’m sure there are other methods of storing long rope, but this is my favorite way of storing my own. I usually use these ropes in my Sport Emergency Kit, so it comes in handy when I’m in the snow. This method also allows for a quick unravel for my gloved hands.

I hope this blog post helps you store your long ropes if you choose the Daisy Chain Method.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Foot Rest Solution

02.24.2016

0800

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Back View

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Side View

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Close Up Detail View

Materials:

  • One 2″ x 4″ lumber piece, long enough to reach across the width of the table
  • Sandpaper
  • Shoelace

Tools:

  • Mitre saw
  • Drill and drill bits

When I sit at my desk, I tend to prefer to rest my feet on something. Part of the reason for this is because of the height of my seat (I sit on my hope chest). If I don’t rest my feet on something, then my hips are higher than my knees and it’s uncomfortable for me. I used to use my art supplies box as a foot rest, but it became an extra piece of furniture that I had to constantly move when I swept.

I needed a solution that would solve this issue but not sit directly on the floor. I went to a lumber yard to look for a scrap 2×4 piece of wood, long enough to fit the width of my desk. I took the 2×4 piece of wood, trimmed it to the appropriate length, drilled two holes on each end and strapped it onto the frame of my desk with extra rope I had saved. This way, the surface area isn’t too wide, which means it wouldn’t gather too much dust, and it is still off of the floor.

I had tested it out with double sided carpet tape, but the glue was not as reliable. In any situation when pressure or movement is applied to the object, the likelihood, is that the object will not stay in place over time.  I could have used another piece of 2×4 in order to make the foot rest surface wider, but I didn’t want the foot rest wide enough so that it would gather more dust on its own. The option of pushing my foot rest up against the front legs was also an option, but I needed the 2×4 to be directly under the location of where my knees would rest whist in a seated position, in order for the my body to be comfortable.

For those of you who may have this issue, I hope this solution helps. So happy drilling and keep a lookout for 2×4 pieces of wood at scrap yard locations, or at your local lumber mill.

Know Your Knots

02.22.2016

0845

Materials:

  • Rope

Tools:

  • Pole to test out knots on

As someone who loves to keep extra rope and twine around, it makes sense that I made it a point to learn how to tie knots. But in addition to that, is that I actually carry a 100 foot parachord (Parachute cord) in my snowboarding backpack when I go up to the mountains. If you understand how to tie certain knots in certain situations, that knowledge can help you survive a situation, or help you while working over heights or water. Just knowing how to tie a few knots can still help you in many situations. Here are some knots that might be helpful:

  1. Reef Knot- This knot is a binding knot for connecting two lines together or a line around an object. It’s simple and effective and it is also known as a square knot.
    1. 01- Square Knot
  2. Clove Hitch- This knot can secure a line to a tree or post quickly, but it needs an anchor or it will slip.
    1. 02- Clove Hitch
  3. Bowline- This knot can create a nonadjustable loop at the end of the line, so the shape stays fixed.
    1. 03- Bowline
  4. Figure 8- This knot creates a stopping knot at the end of a line. This prevents the rope from unraveling and can also keep the rope from slipping past another rope.
    1. 04- Figure 8
  5. Sheet Bend- This technique can tie two different types of rope material together. This knot allows the joining of different thicknesses of rope as well.
    1. 05- Sheet Bend
  6. Two Half Hitches- This knot allows a line to be secured to trees or poles
    1. 06- Two Half Hitches
  7. Taut Line Hitch- This is an adjustable loop knot that will grip as long as there is tension on the “taut” side of the loop. Tension is maintained by sliding the hitch to adjust size of the loop. It can be used to secure tent lines or securing loads on vehicles.
    1. 07- Taut Line Hitch
  8. Improved Clinch Knot- This knot is used to secure a fishing line to a fishing lure or an artificial fly.
    1. 08- Fisherman's Knot
  9. Water Knot- This knot secures webbing, belts and straps together
    1. 09- Water Knot
  10. Rolling Hitch- A rolling hitch is used to attach a rope to a rod, pole or another rope.  It is used for lengthwise pull along an object rather than at right angles. The rolling hitch is designed to resist lengthwise movement for only a single direction of pull.
    1. 10- Rolling Hitch
  11. Prusik Knot- This knot is a friction hitch and it is used to put a loop of cord around a rope. It is used in climbing, mountaineering and rope rescue.
    1. 11- Prusik Knot
  12. Timber Hitch- This hitch will secure a rope around a cylindrical object. It is secure as long as tension is maintained but can be easily untied even after hauling a heavy load of weight.
    1. 12- Timber Hitch
  13. Blood Knot- This knot is used in fishing to secure two lines together. It will join sections of nylon line, while maintaining a high portion of the line’s inherent strength.
    1. 13- Blood Knot
  14. Artillery Loop- This knot creates a loop on the bight (the slack part between two ends of a rope). As long as the artillery loop is loaded, it will not slip and contract.
    1. 14- Man Harness
  15.  Carrick Bend- This knot is used to join two lines together. It can be used for heavy rope or cable that is too stiff to bend into other hitches.
    1. 15- Carrick Bend

If you keep in mind a few of these knots, they may very well help you in dire situations. It is a simple skill to know these knots by heart, but it can be one of the most useful as well. I always use ropes for a number of projects and situations and I have learned that the physics that go into tying a knot is so self sustainable, that I don’t have to worry about much else.