Tag Archives: recycling

a plastic bag

Silicone vs Plastic: Safe, Sustainable, Convenient?

Last updated June 2, 2021

We know that single-use plastic bags are to be avoided when at all possible.  But they’re so convenient. Enter silicone bags. You may have seen silicone food bags making waves, even being featured in photos on social media because of their beautiful rainbow, semi-translucent colors. But is silicone really better than plastic?  Is it as safe as plastic?

The problem with plastic bags

 

People have started looking for an alternative to plastic bags for many reasons.  First, of course, is the environmental impact.  Plastic bags are used everywhere, and they take many years to break down in landfills.  The average plastic bag is used for less than an hour, and between shopping bags and sandwich bags Americans use 100 billion of them a year.

New research has also shown that plastic, when exposed to solar radiation, releases methane (a potent greenhouse gas) and ethylene, especially as it degrades.

Then, there are the health effects to consider.  BPA and other chemicals from plastic bags have been found to bleed into food products.  According to Laura Vandenberg, Ph.D., of University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences “You’re not going to just drop dead [from hormonal activity in plastics], but it could contribute to diseases that may manifest over decades, or it could affect unborn embryos and fetuses,” No wonder people want other options.

silicone vs plastic

First, what is silicone?

Silicone is a mixture.  It includes silica, which is found in sand, but it’s not that natural.  Silicone is made from silicon (confusing, I know).  Silicon is the base element of silica, made by heating it to very high temperatures with carbon (yuck). Then that silicon is combined with fossil fuels to create silicone.

Plastic bags are made from heating, with coal, natural gas or refined oil.  So silicone is not awesome, or better than plastic bags, on this front.

three silicone storage bags

Why silicone?

Silicone is moldable, odorless, highly durable, and can withstand very high and very low temperatures.  Before silicone sandwich bags came on the scene in recent years, it had been used in everything from medical equipment to gloves.  Though not easily recycled at your local center, silicone bags can be recycled with Terracycle.

Who knows why it took so long to be molded into sandwich bag and other common shapes.

Silicone vs plastic bags

If you’re looking at swapping your box of Ziplocs for a silicone variety, consider the following:

  • Silicone doesn’t contain BPA. In clinical trials, food-grade silicone has been found to be safer than plastic.
  • It’s durable.  I’ve yet to wear through a bag, I don’t think it’s possible!
  • Washing is easy! Throw it in the dishwasher (newer dishwasher models use less water than hand washing) and you’re done.
  • You can put it in the oven.

The jury is still out regarding some aspects of silicone. If you’re looking to go completely zero waste, glass or paper are a better choice. However, there’s no doubt that silicone bags are better than plastic (from reusability to chemical safety). It’s a great, easy step to make on your sustainability journey.

Package Free has our favorite silicone products. If you’re ready to switch, check out this set of silicone bags, or upgrade to a silicone ice tray.

reuse tea bags eye mask

5 Ways to reuse tea bags: from face masks to furniture

Last updated: May 20, 2021

We’re big tea drinkers over at OneDey, but hate throwing away used tea bags!  Other than making another, weaker cup of tea, we knew there had to be better ways to reuse tea bags.  So, we rounded up 5 innovative ways that you can reuse your tea bags, and not feel guilty about steeping another cup.

We found many ways to repurpose them that complement the tasty cup of tea that calmed us down or perked us up earlier in the day. That’s how you know you’re onto a great upcycle!  Give these a try, and your skin, garden, and furniture will thank you.

Reuse tea bags as Eye Masks

Definitely the best known way to repurpose tea bags, but worth a mention anyway.  Soak two bags in warm water, place on your eyelids, then lay down and relax for ten minutes. Or, you can get fancy and make a honey and green tea mask.

Tea bags for Baths

Ever wonder what’s in that bath bomb that turns the water purple? Though Pomifera makes a bath bomb that’s not purple and is made solely of safe, familiar ingredients, you can also use herbal or green tea bags. The previously used bags yield a delightful smelling bath that’s great for your skin…au naturale.

Reuse tea bags as Fertilizer

Your plants love tea too!  Empty tea bags contents on any small plant as you would do with fertilizer, then watch them thrive. For the full T (sorry) check out how to turn tea bags into fertilizer on Gardening Know How.

Reuse tea bags for Infections and Bites etc.

Green tea reduces itching from bug bites and inflammation from burns. It also has a soothing effect on scrapes and bruises.

Tea bags for a quick Furniture blemish fix

Rub black tea bags onto worn, wooden furniture to replenish the color and shine. Black tea can also help reduce wood polish buildup!

I love collecting preloved furniture – it’s better for the environment, and you get luxurious furniture at a fraction of the price. However, even the best solid wood finds usually come with a ding or two. I had tried everything, from polishes to permanent marker, and none work as well as a simple black tea bag!

 

While reusing your tea bags won’t solve worldwide pollution or the climate crisis, every positive step will bring us a little closer to it. If you’ve mastered these tips, check out the other ways you can make your cup of tea more eco friendly.  OneDey, we might not have to worry about tea bags!

composting at home

4 Ways to Start Composting at Home

Last updated: May 20, 2021

A lot of us are developing a new found respect for the planet.  You may be one, who like me, are using that respect and a little free time to start a garden.  I don’t have even a light tint of green on my thumbs, but I’ve found composting at home to be lifesaving!

While composting has been talked about a lot the last few years, it has always seemed so cumbersome, so involved – but I’ve recently learned that it doesn’t have to be.  If you can commit to a hand shovel and a square foot of your kitchen, you can start composting.  Diverting materials from landfills is getting increasingly easier. Wherever you are on your composting journey, I hope you can use one of these ideas.

composting at home

First, the composting basics

No matter the form of composting, there are a few rules to follow when getting started.

The “no food with a face” rule applies to any compost. You can take that to also mean “no food that comes from something with a face” meaning dairy products etc. The exception to this is eggshells, which are great for your compost pile!

Then there’s the “green and brown” rule. The green and brown rule states that you need to alternate food scraps with brown materials. Brown materials are leaves, twigs, no longer fresh flowers, newspaper, and even egg cartons. Layering these two material types, as if you were making a compostable waste lasagna, promotes efficient breakdown, and results in better soil for your garden.

Lastly, all compost needs to be kept moist, in order to quicken its break down. Since you’re incorporating food scraps, a lot of the time this will happen naturally. But, sometimes you might need to add a little water, and keeping your compost covered will aid your progress.

Need more of a hand to get started? The EPA has a lovely list of the best items to compost.

How can you get started composting at home?

 

A coffee can

Not ready to get into all the nuances of composting?  Start small.  Put your food scraps, and yes, coffee grounds, in an aluminum can.  When the can is full, toss it in a shallow hole in your yard and watch your flowers, vegetables, and bushes flourish.

This is the method my father has used for decades, bringing food scraps out to the garden where that produce was harvested. That garden still grows the best tomatoes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. If you haven’t yet checked out how to make your coffee eco friendly, you should take a look!

Commercial service/local government drop-off site

Maybe the simplest way to start composting is to let someone else take care of it.  Collect your food scraps and then drop them off at a place in your community that composts or have a service pick it up weekly.

A benefit of the community drop-off sites and services, that may offset the cost you pay, is that they often accept items not recommended in home compost piles (i.e. foods that once had a face).

Hint: Check your city’s department of public work for drop-off sites; and keep your compost container in the freezer, carport or garage to avoid the smell. California helps its citizens compost easily, your community might, too.

Worms

If you live in an apartment, try composting with worms. It sounds gross, sure, but these worms won’t be burrowing anywhere except in your garbage.  With a little container in your corner, you could be composting tomorrow!  One thing to keep in mind is that worms are a bit more picky than soil, so you can’t put garlic or onion scraps in this little composter.

Composting machine

If you’re ready to jump all the way in, but don’t want to deal with the daily upkeep of composting, try a prebuilt composting machine.  They come in sizes big and small, so get whatever fits your needs, or your yard.

 

What ya’ waitin’ for? Pick one and get composting at home!

things you can recycle Onedey

7 Things you can recycle that will surprise you

Last updated: May 3, 2021

When trying to reduce the waste in your home, you notice just how many necessary household items don’t fit into the typical recycling categories.  The local recycling center only takes a portion of the waste we produce, not everything comes in cardboard, paper, an aluminum can, or a plastic or glass bottle.  As it turns out, there’s a lot of surprising recyclable items that we throw away every day.

Luckily, with a little research, much more of your household waste can be recycled, lightening the load on landfills and carbon emissions.

Of course, in a perfect world, everything would be compostable. However, recycling can drastically reduce the energy needed to create a new product. There has been some worry lately about where our recycled items go, now that some countries have stopped accepting our goods. In our minds, if we show ToDey that there’s a need and desire for responsible recycling, tomorrow we might have a better answer.

 

things you can recycle Onedey

Recycle foam packing materials

What Americans have historically thought of as the least environmentally friendly shipping material is now recyclable!  In fact, the EPS Recycling Report found that 113 million pounds of it was recycled in 2018 alone.  Check their site for drop off locations and mail in options to recycle your own packing materials.

Recycle VHS cassettes, CDs, and other “technotrash”

These  have long been considered items that were destined for landfills.  What else can you do with plastic coated metals and complicated computer parts and screens?  Now, a company called Greendisk takes the guesswork out of dealing with your technotrash.  They will erase and send you proof of IP deletion, then refurbish what they can, recycling all the rest.

Recycle inhalers and medications

Though it’s not common knowledge, many local pharmacies and police departments participate in recycling programs for inhalers, medications and more.  These items are then securely disposed of, minimizing hazard and waste.

Recycle mattresses

I never considered the waste impact of a mattress until I had to get rid of one. While there isn’t a standard place for everyone to recycle their mattresses, ByeByeMattress has compiled a list of recycling facilities and collection sites that accept mattresses.

Recycle holiday lights

It seems that every year when decorating, a string or two of lights end up in the trash, having shorts in the line or too many bulbs burnt out.  But what else can you do?  The bulbs aren’t recyclable, and even if you went through and took all of them off, the metal is coated in PVC.  Holiday LEDs minimizes holiday waste by doing the work for you.  After removing the bulbs, the strings are ground and separated, and all recyclable items are sent to relevant recycling centers.  You’ll also get a coupon to buy longer lasting LED holiday lights.

Recycle wine corks

This is another item you just don’t consider recyclable, but totally necessary.  If you’re like me, there was a time you kept your wine corks thinking you would do something creative with them, but at some point dumped them all in the trash.  ReCORK is an outstanding company that gives you the option to drop your wine corks into bins throughout the United States. ReCORK  then turns your corks into shoes and other goods that are carbon negative. Wow – carbon negative!

Recycle aerosol containers

Because aerosol is considered a hazardous material, disposal depends on the resources where you live.  In some places, they can be thrown in with steel recycling, in others they need to go to special facilities or be transported to areas with the infrastructure to handle it.  Luckily, Earth911 has tools  to find out exactly what you should do with yours.