Giving Amazon up…

I think this is the hardest thing I have ever had to give up. Do you know how convenient Amazon is? Incredibly convenient…you get the lowest prices and two-day shipping? There’s Prime Now, where you can get emergency things delivered in maximum of 8 hours! How much more do you want?

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Well…let me tell you something. Amazon is extremely wasteful. Not just because they send something like an eyeliner in a box where you could fix two 8×11 papers….but because even if you buy “waste-free” or “eco-friendly” items, they still come in plastic packaging or there’s plastic bubble wrap wrapped around it. Recently, for some insane reason, this crazy packaging has been happening. I have ordered some makeup items that I can’t find in stores and both items, a mascara and an eyeliner, came in these giant boxes… Have they ran out of reasonably sized boxes/packages? I honestly don’t know, but I think it’s time.

It’s time to quit Amazon.

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Sure, you can recycle the box since it’s cardboard, but it’s so wasteful when you’re ordering normal sized things and receive them in these giant boxes. You also can’t recycle the plastic bubble wrap.

Tons of big stores like Target, Walmart, Michael’s, and more offer online ordering and in-store pickup. You can leave them a note in the instructions not to package it in anything so you can bring your own reusable bag and put your things in it. They send you an email when your order is ready and you can just swing by, spend 5-10 minutes waiting, and you’re out the door.

If it’s something you need urgently your best alternative is just to go to the store. Going to the store can ensure that you buy the items with less or no packaging. You can also reduce the amount of waste that you’re producing just by purchasing the things on Amazon. I have been trying so hard to stay away from Amazon and so far it’s been working. I have been going into stores more often and I have been getting back into my thrifting habits. The other day I got two 100% recycled glasses for $1 each. I would not have been able to find those super cute, recycled, vintage-looking cups for my makeup brushes on Amazon, or at least not for a dollar each.

With the holidays coming up and all of the Cyber Monday/Black Friday sales coming up, I know it’s hard to refrain from using Amazon. I know it’s hard, but try to limit the amount of things you purchase from them and maybe try to group your purchases to only one package instead of 10 different ones. If you are going to buy from them, then please recycle your cardboard boxes. At least this way you will be limiting the amount of damage that you might be doing to the environment.

CBS News Canada did a story on how online shopping increases your carbon footprint and they shared this graph. They wrote: Faster shipping completely changes what’s needed to get your order to you, and that drastically increases the carbon emissions generated in the process — the MIT study found online shopping with rush delivery was less environmentally friendly than going to the store. They do state that in store shopping will increase carbon emissions more than if you just order the thing with REGULAR shipping.

The argument for online shopping versus in store shopping is actually really interesting. Various sources say that UPS, for example, and other delivery carriers have been working towards more eco-friendly cars and that since they are on a single route delivering to multiple stops, they have less emissions than if each individual person were to go out individually in their, possibly, not-so-eco-friendly cars. That kind of makes sense to me, too. So, I think it just depends on how much online shopping you do and how much in person shopping you do. This blog started with me telling you not to shop on Amazon anymore, because their packaging is awful, but now I don’t know. I do know that you should try to group your purchases into the same packaging, but maybe it isn’t too terrible.

What do you think?

#PlasticFreeJuly: Day 2

Yes, you read that right…day 2. I kind of forgot about this challenge and started a day late. At the end of Day 1, I realized that I desperately need to complete this challenge.

I was in my car on my way home from work and I looked down….

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I had not one…not two…not three, but FOUR PLASTIC STRAWS still in their wrapping.

Image result for fainting gif This gif was me…because how COULD I???

This is how: I am too lazy to make breakfast and stopped at the same fast food place a couple of times a week to buy some breakfast…and every time I grabbed my carton orange juice, I didn’t reject the plastic straw even though I didn’t really need it for my drink. I am just as ashamed as you probably are because my arch nemesis are plastic straws and here I am with FOUR unopened ones in my car. I also haven’t thrown them out or done something with them because of this shame that I feel.

I know I sound dramatic, but let’s be real, it’s a big deal. I don’t know what has changed within me that makes me forget to reject the straw, but whatever it is is not good. I need to go back to my plastic-free lifestyle, hence, this challenge.

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For Day 2, I posted on my Instagram (@latinatreehugger and @danialviz) about my new reusable 12 oz coffee cup. I had been looking for something small to hold my cafe con leche and I found one at Walmart. It’s sealed super tight so it’s really hard for me to spill it since I’m such a clutz. I tried using a mason jar as my coffee cup and burned myself real quick, but this one works great and fits in my lunch bag or the cup holders on the side of my work backpack. 

I have really been making an effort to dedicate some time in the morning to make my own coffee at home if I’m really craving it. So far, so good. I’ve learned how to make my cafe con leche the way that the Cuban viejitas do at those Cuban bakeries.

 

For Day 3, I’m not sure what I’m going to advocate, but I’ll definitely keep this challenge going and I will try to document every day on my blog. Maybe at the end of each week, I’ll record a podcast on the revelations I’ve had during the challenge that week.

Until next time,

Dani

Episode 5: Carbon Footprints!

Have you ever wondered about carbon footprints? Maybe you want to offset your emissions somehow…well it’s a thing you can do and I talk a little bit about it on this episode!

Episode 4: Twenty-Something Environmentalists

Hey guys! I’m finally back with another episode. I know it’s been quite some time since I posted one, but it has been a couple of crazy weeks for me. Nonetheless, I’m back with another episode and this time I’m accompanied by one of my fellow classmates, Adrian Figueroa. He is a senior, like me, at Florida International University studying Environmental Studies. We kind of talk a little about everything relating to our field and what it is like being environmentalists in this world and at our age. We touch on some issues regarding diversity within our field and things that we would do to help move that forward.

I hope you enjoy this longer episode and I will talk to you guys in a week (hopefully!).

Until next time,

Dani

Zero Waste Holiday Tips!

So, I’ve been AWOL for some time, but I’m back with some zero waste tips!

This holiday try not to forget your “zero-waste” mentality. I know it’s going to be really hard, but you have to try.

First thing is first: WRAPPING PAPER.

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That’s actually me every year when I see the two giant black (plastic) garbage bags only filled with wrapping paper at my house.

You might not know this but wrapping paper is really hard to recycle. Some can be recycled, but before recycling, you have to remove any sticky tape and decorations such as ribbons and bows as those things can’t be recycled. Wrapping paper can only be recycled if it passes the scrunch test. Simple wrapping paper can be recycled but foil or glitter-decorated paper cannot and needs to go in the general waste.

Those very thick wrapping papers generally cannot be recycled because there is some component to them that has plastic, aka it’s not simple paper.

Some great alternatives can be kraft paper. That brown paper that is easily recycled and looks like something your kids probably used in their kindergarten class to drawn on. You can easily customize the wrapping paper with drawings and designs, if you have the time, if not you can just wrap some burlap around it and make it some cute, rustic-feeling wrapping style.

If you use paper bags at the grocery store, you can also use that as gift wrapping and reuse!

Some other alternatives (that might be weird, but are recyclable):

  • Recycled paper
  • Newspaper
  • Scrap fabric
  • Old men’s button down
  • A bag that’s part of the gift
  • Vintage scarf
  • Pretty dish cloth
  • Literally any fabric-like thing

You can decorate your wrapping with real plants, old jewelry, sticks, or cards written on recycled paper or cardboard to amp up that rustic style.

If you want to splurge on some fancy recycled wrapping paper, the Container Store has some at their stores.

This was wrapped with an old men’s button down. Picture from trashisfortossers.com

If you’re going to insist on going out and buying something new to use for wrapping, try to use gift bags. Those are always reusable and if you or the person receiving the gift is anything like my family, that gift bag will be reused over and over again. This does not reduce the waste, but it definitely delays it.

You can use reusable bags, like a cotton produce sack, that the present receiver will be able to use after opening their gift.

A produce bag. Picture from trashisfortossers.com

Here is a video on how to use fabric to wrap presents, it’s a little overwhelming, but at the end of the day, you are going to be reducing your waste…even if it takes a little longer to wrap.

Besides the wrapping paper, tape is also another major waste product that comes with the holidays. Paper tape is easily accessible and can be a great alternative to normal plastic tape. You can also use twine or any other (plastic-free) type of cord to close your present.

Recycled paper/Kraft paper can be used to make the card for the outside of the present.

I know it takes a little bit more effort, but you have to care just a little bit. The amount of wrapping paper that gets thrown out is insane. Americans throw away 25% more trash during Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of the year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million TONS of garbage, or about 1 MILLION EXTRA TONS PER WEEK.

If you’re not sure what to give people around you, you can try to go to the Package Free Shop. They have some really handy Zero Waste Kits that are easy gifts and come with their own reusable bag. You can encourage those around you to start their own zero-waste journey!

I hope these quick zero-waste holiday tips help you be zero-waste this holiday season.

Happy holidays!

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Dani