When it comes to living a greener life the obstacles in your way can be many. They can vary in size from your commute to work in another town everyday to producing enough waste to take the trash out 3 times a week.
Now some obstacles like the commute can be very challenging to change due to circumstances outside your control but other problems like how much trash you produce is something that can be tackled.
How much trash you produce in your home is a combination of the following factors,
Check out this article for a take on the path we should be going down to get to a greener and sustainable future.
One topic that comes up a lot in parenting/FIRE circles is this all-consuming idea that we should start socking away money in a college fund so that the little one can go to school debt-free. While on the face of it this impulse is admirable why wouldn’t you want your kid to have a debt-free college experience? If they graduate without a load of debt on their backs they will be free to just leap off into the working world and start raking in the cash from the great job they got because of their degree.
That is one possible future but what's equally as likely is that instead of getting a more realistic degree like mechanical engineering they instead followed an interest in the poetry of 14th and 15th Spain. While that grounding in poetry makes them a great storyteller and engaging conversationalist it's probably a bit harder to find gainful employment with that degree.
What is silicone?
Is a compound that uses silica aka sand as the base material for forming a variety of resin, greases, and rubber like compounds. These materials are useful because they are very chemically stable and heat/cold resistant. They are generally considered safe to use in a wide variety of products including food storage or preparation applications which is the main focus of this post.
What I like about the bags
One of the main things I like about the bags is their durability. I have used silicone food bags for years and they have essentially replaced all my single-use plastic bag use. They are easy to wash both by hand and in the dishwasher. The ones I sell also come with a slide on clip that holds the bag shut in an air tight seal. They are useful for storing fresh and dried foodstuffs at any common kitchen temperature from the freezer to the cooktop.
These bags also come with a gusseted bottom which allows them to stand on their own when filling them. This particular feature does work better once you get something in them but with a little practice, you can get them to stand up on their own.
They also make great travel containers for bringing your own lunch or hauling other loose supplies around with you.
What I don’t like about the bag
Probably the biggest complaint I have about them is the time they can take to dry after you wash them. They have a tendency to close themselves up when wet which traps moisture in the bag. This can be easily fixed by gently turning them inside out to dry or by placing them on a dish drying rack that keeps them open.
Also, even the biggest bag I sell is still a bit smaller than the standard gallon bag. This can make it a bit deceiving on what will actually fit if you are comparing it to a standard gallon bag.
Overall I love my silicone food bags but they do come with some controversy. While food-grade silicone is considered chemically stable and therefore safe to use around food, the body of research confirming that is a bit on the light side. There have been some studies that have shown chemical leaching into their surroundings when exposed to some oils or high heat. However, all the research I could find only showed that when the silicone was exposed to oils for long periods (72 hours) or heat above 428 degrees. The question I raise in the face of that is how often are you the common person doing that to your silicone bags.
I would guess not often….
So, in general, I feel comfortable using them for the storage of dry goods, food in the fridge and freezer. While technically I could even cook in them it’s when you apply heat that also sorts of strange things begin to happen so I generally avoid it and stick with glass and cast iron for cooking and baking.
So if these bags interest you check them out here.
Today I want to talk about reusable shopping bags and why you should consider using them for all your shopping and other out on the town needs.
If you search the great wide world of the internet you will find a lot of conflicting research done about the damage of single use plastic bags in the environment. Some people will say with compelling facts and figures that plastic bags are less harmful than paper bags or other reusable products. Others will say the exact opposite and use similar or even the same facts and figures to prove their point.
I say this because I honestly don’t know which version of the argument has more merit. What I do know or at least have some degree of confidence in is the following,
Where does this leave me?
What I know leaves me with the personal opinion that disposable plastic bags despite what some people say are worse for the environment than reusable or compostable bags. The facts that really sway me to the reusable bag side of the argument is the time of use and time that the bag sticks around for after its useful like is done. If you only use something for 12 minutes and then throw it in the garbage where it sits for the next 500 years that to me is much more damning than the reusable alternative.
Now that I have got my philosophizing out of the way I can get to the matter at hand and tell you more about the bags I sell in The Sustainable Like Shop.
What I like about the bags
There are a couple of things about the bag that I really like. One is its overall size and construction style. It’s big enough to hold a lot of things be they groceries, books, or supplies for a day at the beach. The handles are also integrated with the rest of the bag which eliminates one of the common points of failure on many reusable cloth bags. It also has a gusseted bottom which allows for easier filling and can let it stand up when full. This bag is also very light and can collapse down very small which makes for easier storage at home and in the pocket when heading to the store
What I don’t like about the bags
Probably the biggest thing I don’t like about the bags is that they are made of a synthetic fiber and not natural fiber While this is a durable and long-lasting fiber it is not ultimately very compostable when it’s useful like is done. However, since I will get lots of use out of this bag it is still better than disposable bags since it will get many uses by the end of its life.
The main takeaway I have for you on this subject is that you should always use a reusable bag whenever it is possible. By almost any reasonable assessment something you use for a long time is always better for the planet than something you only use for a little bit. Using a cloth bag like the ones I sell here are an important and easy step to living a more sustainable like into the future.
Today I will be offering my thoughts on the steel cups that I have for sale in The Sustainable Life Shop. The one thing I will say right off the bat is these are not your usual stainless steel cups. Far starters they are more expensive per cup than many others you can find out there but that extra cost means you are getting a lot more cup for your money.
What I like about the cups
I really like my rose gold cup…
It has become the defacto cup that I use for pretty much anything. It is suitable for holding both hot and cold liquids and does so while still remaining comfortable in the hand. The drinking edge is also nice and smooth with no sharp edges or that awkward rolled steel you see on many stainless steel cups that can hold onto water after you have washed them.
The weight of it is also very nice it feels like a real drinking glass in your hand versus what a plastic or even other stainless steel cups feels like in your hand. It is also incredibly easy to hand wash for those of us with large hands and is dishwasher safe to boot.
The last thing I like about it is its durability during life and the fact it can be 100% percent recycled over and over. You can’t do that even with high grade plastic cups. When they go through the recycling process it’s more like a downcycling process that leaves the plastic worse of every time it is recycled.
What I don’t like about the cups
I think the only real complaint I have about the cup is that multiples of them don’t stack as tightly as I would like. Now it could be because I am a hoarder of useful things and I don’t like to throw anything away that might be useful but I don’t have a lot of room on the cup shelf. So the fact that it is easier to store them separate from one another is kinda irritating. I know it’s a small complaint but I had to give you something right.
If you would like to buy one here is the link
So as part of my continuing series of blog posts on the products in The Sustainable Life Shop today I will be talking about the bamboo toothbrushes I have for sale in the store. The toothbrushes I have for sale consist of two parts: the bamboo handle and the nylon bristles. The handle portion is made of 100% bamboo which is a fast-growing member of the grass family, not wood as many people assume.
Bamboo is a widely growing plant that can be found across the world growing in tropical regions and some temperate mountain zones. It is a widely used material and can be found commonly in,
It is also one of the fastest growing land plants in the world and some species have been documented to grow as fast as 1 foot per day. When managed properly bamboo forests are a very sustainable source of raw materials to be used in many aspects of modern life.
Now it's time to talk about the bamboo toothbrushes that I have for sale in The Sustainable Life Shop.
What I like about them
The thing I like the most about these brushes of course is that they are mostly constructed of a 100% renewable and compostable material like bamboo. Typically toothbrushes these days are made entirely of plastic that can only be thrown away when the head wears out. These brushes give you the options to separate the head from the handle and compost what you can.
I also like how it feels in my hand when I am using the brush. The handle is actually on the small side being both thin and narrow but even with my large hands it is comfortable to hold and to use when I am brushing my teeth. The head is also fairly small consisting almost entirely of bristles for its bulk. It fits easily in the tight spots when I am brushing and doesn’t jab me in the gums or the back of the mouth.
What I don’t like about them
There are two things that slightly detract from these brushes. One being the fact that the bristles are made of nylon which is a non compostable synthetic fiber. You can find toothbrushes that have either natural hair bristles or bristles made from natural oils like these but they are usually fairly expensive per brush. I hope to one day be offering a 100% compostable toothbrush but sourcing them can be a challenge.
The second is the feel of the handle on the lips as you brush. To someone that has used plastic toothbrushes their entire life the bamboo can feel rough when it gets wet from the brushing. This is true of all wood or wood like products and it's not a bad thing it's just a weird feeling in the mouth.
Overall I have to say these toothbrushes will do their job and they do it well for being relatively cheap manual toothbrushes. While I don’t like the fact they have nylon bristles they do contain far less plastic than other toothbrushes and produce very little waste at the end of their useful lives.
If you would like to try them out here is the link
Other all natural toothbrushes
So if you haven’t guessed by now this particular blog post is about wool more specifically the wool dryer balls I have for sale in my store.
So just in case, you didn’t already know most wool comes from these guys
Photo by Sabrina Wishak from Burst
Cute little things aren’t they at least from a distance where you don’t have to smell them. Sheep have been with us for a long time and at first, we didn’t even use them for their wool. Archaeological findings tell us that they were originally kept for their meat, milks, and skins with the wool still attached I’m sure.
However, in the relative blink of an eye, just a couple thousand years or so humans did start to breed them solely for their wool. We had discovered that wool just by itself was an incredibly useful material especially as humans began to inhabit colder and colder climates. The uses of wool are far-reaching even in modern society some examples of wool today would include,
Which of course brings us the main attraction of today’s post which is the wool dryer balls we sell at The Sustainable Life Shop. Now if you must use a dryer to dry your clothes or you just want some softness beat back into your towels then you need some wool dryer balls.
These little wool balls help out in several ways in making sure your clothes, towels and sheets come out of the dryer better than they went in.
There is nothing quite like physical action to literally beat the stiffness out of jeans, towels, and other commonly stiff clothing items. Unlike dryer sheets which use chemicals to soften your clothes the 100% wool fragrance-free balls do it by pummeling your clothes into submission as they go around the dryer drum. They can do this again and again without having to be replaced, unlike those single use dryer sheets.
Another thing that these little wonders are good for is separating your clothes out so they dry faster. You have probably noticed that some things like to twist themselves into knots in the dryer leaving you with damp spots and some serious untangling to do. Dryer balls can mitigate this somewhat by creating space. Since your clothes are drying sooner you are also using less electricity/propane which is a win for your clothes the environment and for your wallet.
While not necessarily a feature that helps your clothes it does soothe my conscious to know that at the end of their useful life I can just chuck them into my compost bin and add them to the garden.
What I don’t like about wool dryer balls.
There is really only one thing I don’t like about these fellas and that is they sometimes get caught up in sheets or other large bits of laundry and they come with when you empty the dryer. This is followed quite often by them flying out at some inopportune time and try to make their escape.
While this feature is annoying to me it is beloved by the family cat who thinks chasing them down and playing with them is the best thing ever. So at least the cat continues to find amusement in my suffering.
I like them,
The cat likes them,
And they are renewable product that is 100% compostable at the end of its life what’s not to like.
If you agree head on over to the product page and check them out.
Ok so the title is a bit misleading on two fronts...
I picked up all that over the course of two walks I went on with the child seeking some outside time for myself and the dog as well. I would also like to emphasize that I didn’t even go out of my way to pick all that up, it was either on the sidewalk or right next to it as I walked.
I tell you this so I can make a confession I don’t normally pick up trash and recycling I find on my walks.
I know shocking right….
How can someone who built and writes on a website called the Green Living Library not make it a habit of picking up loose trash wherever they see it? Since I am being entirely honest, there are two reasons why this is not a habit for me.
Legal vs Moral
From a legal perspective, unless that trash ends up in the immediate vicinity of my house it’s not my problem. It has to be on my property before I legally have to give a crap about it. This seems to be true of most cities, if it’s not in the street it’s the problem of the property owner. So while I am not legally obligated to pick up trash from the sidewalk in front of other people’s homes I am starting to come around to the fact that maybe I am morally obligated to pick it up. I share that sidewalk, that street, the neighborhood, even the whole town with other people and it seems to me that I have a responsibility towards that community to help take care of the environment it exists in.
Public Responsibility vs Private Responsibility
The question I am beginning to wrestle with more and more as I grow older is where does public responsibility end and where does private responsibility end? At what point is it my problem and what point it is the public’s problem? Up until recently for the most part I considered everything that was past my property line and didn’t affect my life as not my problem.
Now on the face of it, things like I have listed above, are someone else’s problem. But if everyone takes the it’s someone else’s problem approach to life then a lot of things that need doing don’t get done. I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to my question about where public and private responsibility end is that,
They don’t end…. they are one and the same.
There is no private responsibility or public responsibility you don’t get to pick and choose where you are responsible for something and where you are not. If you are a living breathing person then like the rest of us are responsible for every second of your life and every action taken or not taken during that life.
So yes maybe someone else is why there is a broken beer bottle on the sidewalk going to a school but if you walk by it without cleaning it up then you are just as responsible for that beer bottle.
I know it kinda sucks right…..
If you look at the world through the framework of universal responsibility where if you have the power to make it better then you are responsible for making it better then suddenly you have a lot more problems.
But that’s ok because along with those problems you also get the power to solve them. Now, this doesn’t mean I expect you to run out and solve world hunger and fight crime, some things are better left to those better suited to solve them. But the next time you see some trash that needs picking up or an elderly neighbors sidewalk that needs shoveling maybe you make that problem yours and in a small way make the world a better place.
Whether we want to admit it or not we are all responsible in some small way for how the world is now and that means we are also responsible for how the world will look in the future. I hope for the sake of my child that by the time they are my age they are living in a much cleaner, greener, sustainable world that they won’t fear bringing a kid into like I do.
I don’t know what the future holds but I know that one thing I can do is teach my kid to pick up garbage, recycle whatever they can, and live the cleanest, greenest, and most sustainable life that they can.
Here is a cross post from my new online store...
So here it is the very first post about my new venture…
The Sustainable Life Shop
A store with one goal to provide a place where you can find products that make it easier to live a more sustainable, eco-conscious, greener life. It is a place that accepts the fact that we live in the real world and in the real world you need things to be able to live your life. What The Sustainable Life Shop does not accept is that those things need to be disposable or designed to have a short lifespan.
To that end, I here at The Sustainable Life Shop have created a curated list of products that I use in my life to make my existence more sustainable and more eco friendly. As I get time each product will have an associated post here in the blog section featuring what I think of the product, how I use it, and what disposable products it replaces in my life My goal is not to provide a sugar-coated message about how each product is great but to go into it features both good and bad and let you decide if you want it or not.
In order to be sold in The Sustainable Life Shop, an item must meet two of my three standards for an eco-friendly product,
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.