In high school I worked for a company that had all their products delivered on skids, but as soon as the supplies were unpacked the skids were either tossed aside or the company would pay to have them picked up. I always thought there could be more done with these pallets and finally, a couple years down the road, I’ve come up with a variety of uses for them. The upcycling of palettes is something I’ve only familiarized myself with in recent years but the possibilities are plentiful. Already I’ve converted a handful of palettes into a bedframe because I needed more storage space in my university bedroom. I’ve helped a friend of mine turn a collection of palettes into outdoor décor pieces. A quick search on Pinterest or other idea sharing blogs offers a framework to spark inspiration from. The best part of breathing new life into skids is that they are so often disregarded and the ease to which it can be done will make any DIYer satisfied in no time at all.
What you need: 8 – 48” x 40” pallets, 1 can of spray paint, wood paint, or wood stain, 4 medium sized containers for storage
How to assemble:
Organize pallets into square shape in a manner that is the least wobbly.
Once you’re satisfied with the placement of the pallets sketch out the slots that will be cut out. Cut out these slots.
Reassemble the pallets.
Paint or stain (your choice) the pallets.
Congrats! Piece of cake.
The following links will outline other great pallet projects and uses for them:
Almost all toiletries come in some sort of plastic packaging, which can’t be recycled more than once. These are some tips to avoid sending more plastic to landfill.
First of all, you can save a lot of money and the environment by using household products as shampoo and conditioner. For conditioner, it’s as easy as oiling your hair with a preferred oil. Argan oil is known to be good for hair, and a cheaper option is coconut oil. For shampoo, this easy recipe has only 3 ingredients:
1/4 cup of coconut milk
1/3 cup castille soap
If you’re not into crafts, stores like Lush provide a variety of waste free products, like shampoo and conditioner bars, tooth powder and mouthwash tabs.
Of course, if you’d be interested in tooth paste or regular mouthwash, there are brands that makes these with biodegradable packaging. Even if those options seem like too much, just switching to biodegradable or wooden toothbrushes will minimize your overall waste in your lifetime by a lot.
For lotions, one simple recipe can be used and adjusted as required for consistency. The two ingredients are beeswax and a carrier oil. The carrier oil can be any type of oil, preferably local. In Ontario, grapeseed oil is an excellent option since lots of it is produced in Niagara as a by-product of wine production. The consistency of the recipe can be adjusted by changing the concentrations of the two ingredients, where more beeswax would make a more solid product like lip balm and more oil would make a softer body lotion. Other ingredients like shea butter and cocoa butter can give additional nutrients to the lotion. Essential oils can be added to give aroma to the products.
Shaving razors add up to be a lot of consumed plastic, especially if you’re using disposable razors. Metal safety razors last years and only require the purchase of new blades.
Avoiding plastic all together is not easy at first, but with a few simple lifestyle tips you can reduce a lot of waste. A major focus is to consume less – don’t buy things you don’t need. And when you need something, be mindful. It’s important to be aware of the contents of the product as well as the packaging it comes in.
So a couple weeks ago we talked about some ways you can cut down on your waste while on the go. This next installment tackles one of the largest sources of household waste, our food – how we get it, store it, use it, and get rid of it.
We’ll start at the first step, in the grocery store
1) Reusable bags
For many of us this might go without saying, but it’s a good first step for a lot of people looking to cut down on their plastic waste. Reusable shopping bags for your groceries are a must, but the most important thing it to be prepared. I’m trying to always have a super light weight bag (like this) stashed in the bottom of my purse or bag just in case I happen to grab something while I’m running around.
Even the best of us are sometimes guilty of grabbing a plastic produce bag or two though, especially for more fragile produce like leafy greens. Just as important as carry-out bags are reusable produce bags like these, which can also be used for bulk items and to store produce at home.
2) Choose Wisely
Most modern grocery stores are not designed to limit waste. Nothing makes me crazier than seeing something that’s not even overly delicate, like a lime or an orange, sitting on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in 17 layers of plastic wrap. It can be hard in some stores, but choosing fresh produce and putting it in your reusable mesh bag will go far in reducing your waste footprint. Sometimes these choices mean an extra step for you- i.e. washing your spinach instead of buying it pre-cleaned in the plastic bins, or chopping up big carrots instead of buying baby carrots in a bag. These little actions have a big impact, however, and it’s also a good incentive to cut out over-packaged processed foods and eat a little healthier!
And at the end of day reducing your waste is about process, not perfection. Choose ingredients that come in metal or glass containers, because these can be recycled many, many more times than plastic (and in the case of glass jars can even be reused for bulk containers!).
3) Bulk up
Most bulk stores (including Bulk Barn!!!) allow you to bring your own (clean) bags, containers, and jars for your bulk goodies! This is a great way to get all your staples, from pasta and dried beans, to honey and tea, to spices and soup mix without the wasteful packaging they usually come in at conventional grocery stores.
And the waste reduction doesn’t have to stop at the store, there are lots of ways to cut down on your kitchen waste once you get home too!
4) Learn how to store your produce without plastic
If you aren’t putting your produce in bags at the store you’ll have to learn some techniques for keeping it crisp once you get it home. This post from My Plastic Free Life breaks down exactly how to store every conceivable fruit and vegetable for freshness sans plastic waste.
And as was mentioned in our last post, Tupperware, glass jars, or reusable beeswax wrap are great alternatives to plastic wrap or bags for your leftovers! Although a little on the pricier side, reusable silicone bags like these are also a great alternative, and can easily replace every conceivable use for my personal zero-waste kryptonite- freezer bags.
5) Replace your paper
Though paper towel is compostable in Guelph, it’s still unnecessary. You can save yourself some money and reduce the waste incurred in the production process by swapping it our for towels and rags. Good quality tea towels and microfiber clothes are neither expansive nor hard to come by, but if you want to be even greener just try cutting up some old t-shirts or towels to make the perfect rags for kitchen mishaps.
The same theory goes for reusable fabric napkins! These are surprisingly easy to find at garage sales, clearance bins of home goods stores, and are even a pretty easy DIY. Just keep a laundry bin at hand and wash them when they pile up!
6) And last but not least, COMPOST!
Most landfills are too tightly compacted for biodegradable waste like kitchen scraps to break down. These carrots, for example, were sitting in a landfill for 10 YEARS
Use your city of Guelph compost bin (sorting guide here), or see this page for tips on how to start composting at home. In residence? Drop Natalie a line at email@example.com and we’ll see if we can get you set up with your very own bin!
Thanks for following along with this series Gryphons! Remember to comment on this post or on any of our social media shares to get entered in our giveaway! We’ve already gotten so many great tips! Here are some of our favorite ways that our readers are being sustainable
paigey.oneill I am using a reusable mug with the B-Corp Cupanion! This way I can keep track of how much waste I am saving while still enjoying my morning ☕️!
maddychauvin I use reusable mesh bags for my produce at the grocery store, and always bring my own bags for everything else! 😊 love this idea by the way!!
baileyelan I use reusable dryer balls rather than dryer sheets and use mason jars for everything!
kelseyrean Shop with mason jars at bulk barn + started purchasing makeup from @elatecosmetics (their products come in reusable bamboo kits/containers) ✨
shaelynnsmit I’ve been using the diva cup for 4 years and it’s been great not having to buy tampons and it creates zero waste!!! Mother Earth would be proud 🌲
on.my.way.to.0.waste I’ve been buying my dry foods in bulk and package free by bringing my own jars and reusable bags when I go shopping!
kaelykraeft bringing mason jars for bulk food, asking for no straw and bringing my own bottles for water!
claireehlert I bring a reusable mug/bottle whenever I go out so I don’t have to get a single use cup from a cafe if I’m in a rush!
tennyjrinhI always bring a mug/water bottle with me, and use reusable bags when I go grocery shopping! I’ve stopped taking the flimsy plastic bags to put my produce in at the grocery store as well 😊🌎❤️
tennyjrinhI also am making an effort to just buy second hand/vintage clothing so I am not contributing to clothing waste 👍🏼
loco_pacha_mammaI use a bamboo toothbrush and homemade toothpaste in a glass jar to brush my teeth 👍🏻😁
glenysrobinsonnn I make my own deodorant from coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda and essential oils and keep it in a mason jar! I use handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex and just toss them in the laundry. I always have reusable cutlery and straws in my backpack, so I never have to worry about forgetting! 🥄🍃
glenysrobinsonnn Oh! In the summer I make homemade popsicles instead of buying individually wrapped ones! So fun! 🍭💫
zerowasteguelph I use a charcoal stick in a big vintage glass water jug in the fridge to filter my water, no more plastic from Brita filters and certainly no plastic water bottles! 💦💦💦
I consider myself to be pretty environmentally conscious- I lug my mug, I shop and eat local, I use re-useable containers in my lunch (and, well, I work in the sustainability office, so…)
My roommates live pretty much along the same lines, and still, week after week, we manage to fill up our garbage can with unrecyclable plastics and packaging. This year I want to take a deeper look at where all this garbage is coming from, and find new ways to get a little closer to a zero-waste lifestyle. Through a series of four blog posts I want to share some budget-friendly, student-friendly tips to reduce waste (particularly plastic) in our lunches, kitchens, bathrooms, closets, and lifestyles in general.
So with no further ado, here are some ways I’ve been trying to take the trash out of my lunch, thanks for following along!
1) Meal Preppin’
Even if I go into the week with the best of intentions, busy evenings and 8:30 classes catch up quick and I find myself grabbing food to go on campus. The I Am Reusable program, available at most hospitality outlets on campus, is a great option. For just an initial, one-time $5 investment, you can get a reusable takeout container for your food. Then, when you bring it back (they wash it for you), you get a card that you just have to exchange for a new container the next time you get takeout food!
Even so, breakfast sandwiches to go are a bad habit of mine, and the wax paper they’re served in cannot be composted or recycled. The best way I’ve found to avoid this all together is to plan ahead. I take a little time on my weekend when I go grocery shopping and plan out my meals for the week. To-go breakfasts like overnight oats and make-ahead breakfast sandwiches are easy to whip up on Sunday night, and are saving me both money and trash on my morning Tim’s run.
As an added bonus, planning out what I’m going to eat each week instead of shopping randomly helps me avoid wasting food. Because everything I buy is part of a recipe, nothing is sitting in my fridge going bad. A good beginners guide to meal prepping can be found here.
2) The Zero-Waste Lunch Kit
And there are so many great options for carrying all that great food around! Investing in a large Tupperware with sections for snacks was one of my best decisions this year, but there are so many affordable options using things you might already have too. Jam jars make great snack containers, and there are so many alternatives to ways that plastic sneaks into our lunches- fabric and silicone pouches instead of Ziploc bags, thermoses and Tupperware containers, mason jars for salads. Many plastic, and even stainless and glass, containers are available at thrift and second-hand stores.
One of my favorite things I’ve discovered recently is this great alternative to plastic wrap. See here to learn how to DIY it!
3) Be prepared while on the go
So far, by being prepared, I’ve been able to cut out a lot of avoidable plastic waste from my lunches! Having a medium plastic container, a metal fork and spoon, a reusable straw, a cloth napkin, and my favorite coffee mug in the bottom of my bag takes up very little room, and ensures that whether I’m grabbing a smoothie or packing up leftovers from a lunch meeting at Brass Taps I can ditch the single-use packaging
We hope these tips are helpful! If you have any creative ways to take the trash out of your on-the-go lifestyle let us know in the comments! The week after next I’ll be back with my tips for a zero-waste kitchen!
Welcome to Guelph, new Gryphons! We know that you’re all very excited to be moving into residence soon, and we’re very excited to have you here! Before you move in, check out this post for some insights on how to move into your new home in a sustainable way! Continue reading “Moving in Sustainably”→
Coffee to Compostis an amazing initiative on campus that was introduced to the University in 2012 and implemented in 2013 by Carolyn Chan. It started small but in the last five years has expanded significantly, and it is always growing! To commemorate the anniversary of this program we give you: 10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds!Continue reading “10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds”→
If you didn’t read our last #WasteFreeWednesday post All About Plastic Water Bottles, stop right here and read that first! Now that you’re informed about the issues surrounding bottled water, we have compiled a few ways that YOU can help lead the world towards a water bottle free future. Plus, check out Maddy’s account of Waterstock 2017!