Category: Making The Switch

Plastic Numbers, What do they even mean?

You may have noticed the different numbers in a triangle at the bottom of you to-go container, water bottle, or laundry detergent bottle (consider switching to a plastic-free DIY laundry detergent!). They are called SPI Codes (Society of Plastic Numbers) and are different plastic classifications. They range from 1-7 within a small triangle. They provide a great deal of information about the type of plastic, the level of toxicity, how biodegradable they are, and how easily the plastic can be recycled. It can get a little technical, chemistry heavy, and frankly… boring.

As boring as it may seem, those numbers on the bottom of the plastic are actually super important when it comes to the recycling process!

I wanted to make it short and sweet for y’all so you would be better educated about what the numbers mean, which plastics to avoid entirely (I preach trying to avoid all plastics) and the plastic recycling process.

I always refer to this AMAZING graph I found a while back from Ocean Conservancy ( https://oceanconservancy.org/). 

I find it very useful and clear. Plastic numbers 1 , 2 , & 5 are the easiest plastics to recycle (always good to double check with your local recycling centers because not all are the same in). Most commonly for 1, 2, & 5 are water bottles, milk containers shampoo and conditioner bottles, detergent containers and yogurt containers. Screen shot the graph and use it as a point of reference in your day-to-day life! 

For these to be recycled, THEY MUST BE WASHED OUT COMPLETELY! And by completely…. I mean…. completely washed out ( I realize this can be annoying as you’re in a rush in the morning and don’t always have time to perfectly wash out the ketchup container but you must!). You must also remove any caps (like on a milk container) as the caps are a different number plastic and must be recycled differently. 

The most difficult to recycle, and most often just not recycled at all because of this, are plastic numbers 3, 6, & 7. For example plastic cutlery, thin plastic that is around cheese and deli meat packaging, as well as large water containers. These should all at costs be avoided! These are plastics that are not able to be recycled or reused into anything and are sent to the landfills. 

Although better to avoid plastics all together, some plastics are “safer” and “better” than others because of the fact that they can be recycled and made into new products. When making a choice at the store or a cafe, try to choose plastics that have the SPI code of 1, 2, & 5. Ensure that once you are finished, you clean it completely and recycle it. 

Another great option is to try and move more towards a plastic-free lifestyle, as mentioned in our blog Consciously Living Plastic-Free. I recommend starting small and being consistent, like swapping out plastic water bottles for a reusable water bottle. Or bringing your own bamboo cutlery set instead of grabbing single-use plastic cutlery. 

Whatever you choose, just be conscious of the different products you are using and what they are made of. They can not only impact the environment, but also your body!


Consciously Living Plastic-Free

I can’t exactly tell you the precise moment when I decided to move towards a “plastic-free lifestyle”. Do you have a moment that you remember? Was there one decisive moment in time where you said…

  “I’M DONE!” 

Maybe it was out of frustration, guilt, or inspiration that made you decide to begin exploring reducing your plastic, doing more DIY, trying to be more “eco-conscious” and living more sustainably. 

My journey into a plastic-free lifestyle was slow and gradual but started at a young age. I was always averse to single-use plastic bags, perhaps because I remember (and still do) see them stuck in trees (almost like a toxic ghost) trying to be consumed by different types of wildlife, or floating in a river. 

Living plastic- free is difficult, no doubt about that. Everyone that lives a “plastic-free lifestyle” will tell you that. It requires passion, dedication, patience and planning. It requires changing your habits and your daily routine. You must remember your reusable water bottle. You must have your snacks packed in your plastic-free packaging because more and more it is difficult to find plastic-free food on-the-go. You must have your cotton bag ready for any moment you make a purchase and they only have a plastic bag option. All of this is possible, as I said, with dedication, patience and planning. But trust me, the reward, is indescribable! 

If something, or someone, has been nudging you to reduce your single-use plastic consumption… YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY DO IT! You just have to do it consciously. 

The best way to begin? Start small.

  1. Ditch the single-use plastic bag for sure! (No problem in NY where they are now banned – YAY!) 
  2. Make a swap from plastic wrap to eco-friendly beeswax wraps. This company Bee’s Wrap are by far my favorite! Locally located in Vermont.  
  3. Bring your own reusable cotton produce bags to the grocery stores to get produce like green beans, brussel sprouts, lettuce, etc!

Whatever you choose to start with, be consistent with yourself. Set yourself reminders, put the reusable produce bags near the door or in your car when you are done with it. Take the time to stop and make sure you have your reusables before leaving the house. Be patient with yourself, as this truly is a journey. 

Small steps, consistency, and dedication will assist you in consciously living plastic-free. 


The DIY Movement

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, even in Home Depot, everyone is jumping on the DIY train and honestly, I love it! 

Most of my DIY’s until a few months ago were home improvement projects. Building my own raised bed gardens, created a beautiful California closet, even helping my husband build a recycled metal pipe handrail for our staircase! 

In the past few months, I’ve successfully managed to change all of my household cleaning products to DIY cleaners like dish soap, laundry detergent, and general cleaner. I have been learning more and more about different ingredients and essential oils you can use as cleaning agents instead of the more “traditional” cleaners, like the ones listed below, that are full of toxins and chemicals.  

I decided to make this change because store bought cleaners like Clorox, Lysol, Windex, Pledge, Mr. Clean, the like, are all FULL of harmful, detrimental, even carcinogenic chemicals. Many contain harmful chemicals like… 

1. Bleach (damage to organs, eyes & lugs) 

2. Ammonia (irritates eyes & lungs)

3. Phenol and Cresol (if ingested can cause diarrhea, fainting, or     even kidney damage)

4. Formaldehyde (used as a preservative and is a carcinogen) 

These are just A FEW of the chemicals found in these dangerous household cleaners. The list goes on…. Check out the EPA website (HTML “EPA Website” with this link https://www.epa.gov/greenerproducts/greening-your-purchase-cleaning-products-guide-federal-purchasers if you are interested in learning more about these harmful chemicals. 

Every time I use these products they make me feel bad. They smell awful, irritate my throat and eyes, and definitely pushed me to look for healthier, cleaner alternatives. This is where my DIY recipes came in… 

I thought I’d share some of my recipes for y’all that are inspired to start your own DIY cleaning product journey. Enjoy! (PSA: During the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic please be aware that these DIY cleaners should not be prioritized over stronger cleaners).

General Household Cleaner: 

Ingredients (Mix all together) : 

– Glass spray bottle (if you want to do this plastic-free) 
– 3 parts water 
– 1 part vinegar 
– 2-5 drops of lemon juice 
– 5-10 drops of an essential oil 

If the smell of vinegar is too strong for you or you dislike the smell or vinegar, I recommend you infuse other ingredients, like thyme, rosemary, clove, or orange peels into the vinegar to reduce the strong smell of the vinegar. Here’s how… 

Instructions to Dilute Vinegar:

1. Peel the lemons / oranges & mix with the thyme or rosemary and place into a jar.
2. Add the vinegar and let it sit for up to 2 weeks.
3. After two weeks, strain out the the citrus and herbs from the             vinegar and discard of them (compost them if you can!) 
4. Transfer the vinegar (1/2 cup) to whatever bottle you are choosing     to use (we suggest an amber color glass spray bottle) 
5. Dilute the vinegar with the water & soap in the recipe above. 

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Castile soap 
  • 25-30 drops of an essential oil of your choice (I personally use tea tree!)

 Instructions: 

Combine all into a bottle…shake, shake, shake, then lastly, add the baking soda, stir, and voila! 

Dish Washing Soap: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup boiling water 
  • 1/4 cup of grated Castile soap bar
  • 2 tablespoons washing soda (this is different than baking soda – I buy mine at ACE Hardware) 
  • 15-30 drops of essential oil (I use lemongrass for mine) 

Instructions: 

  1. Boil water 
  2. Add the grated Castile soap to boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Add washing soda and stir.
  4. Add liquid Castile soap and stir.
  5. Let mixture sit for 10-15 minutes, then add your choice of essential oils.
  6. Transfer to soap dispenser.