Zero waste advent calendar

 

Okay, you are in LUCK because today I’m spilling the beans on our awesome zero waste advent calendar so that YOU can have a low waste holiday too!

 

Rather than focusing on things, we use the holidays to focus on experiences together and soaking up all the holiday awesomeness as a family.  

 

My kids get SO excited for the advent calendar – they’ve been talking and asking about it for weeks.  They remember these mini-adventures more than any gifts.

 

Our actual advent calendar is a hanging fabric tree with 24 pockets.  We write the activity on a little slip of paper and put it in the pocket.  But you could use anything that lets the kids track the days and read the event for each day.  Check pinterest for loads of cute ideas.

 

So, if you want to make the holidays more memorable for you and your kiddos, and focus on experiences rather than things, here’s my guide for you.

A zero waste advent calendar – experiences, not things

A couple of the easiest ones are:

1. Decorate the Christmas tree

Whether you buy one or have an artificial one, or hang something simple on the wall, this is a great family activity.  We have a couple big bins of ornaments that we put up every year.

2. Decorate the house.

Mixed in with our tree ornaments are a few other decorations – gifts from my mom – including a nativity scene, mini Christmas carousel trees with candles, and some nutcrackers.  We’ve made a few garlands too that we hang.

3.  Make a wreath.

We have this awesome spot in town to make wreaths called Rancho Del Oso.  But you could make one with scraps from a Christmas tree yard, or go onto Pinterest for ideas that don’t involve real tree scraps.  

4. Family Christmas carol night

I’m not sure about you guys, but we love singing in our house.  We get the lyrics to a few popular songs and light up our Christmas carousel trees and sing a few together.  We even recorded ourselves singing one song and shared it with close family (ONLY!).

5. Make paper snowflakes

All this takes is a few sheets of paper and scissors.  We love to hang them in the windows once we’re done. If you’re ambitious, make enough for a strand of snowflakes.  So cute.

6. Write a letter to Santa

We still do gifts and ask our kiddos to pick one thing to ask Santa for.  Something within reason, of course. We get veto power (Apple watch? I don’t think so).

7. Family movie night

We don’t watch a ton of movies so this still feels special for us – Elf is one of our holiday favs.  

8. Hot chocolate for breakfast!

We don’t normally make hot chocolate, so it feels special.  AND it’s easy to do before school. Win Win Win.

9. A teeny tiny gift

Okay, this is another thing, but it’s awesome for busy school mornings to just slip a little something in the calendar.  We’ve done bulk candy before and little hair barrettes. Maybe a tiny glitter crayon, a tiny notecard, or necklace charm.  Or a tiny succulent cutting (they’ll need something or somewhere to plant it, of course). Or a tiny eraser. Or a tiny magnet.  Or a little homemade chapstick in a tiny jar. I try to think of stuff that isn’t just going to collect dust in their room, but might actually get used.  Also, google tiny gift ideas for some of the CUTEST things you’ve ever seen.

 

We have a few fun outings too:

10. Breakfast at Gayles –  before school!

I know this might feel a little crazy.  But if you can get up a little extra early, maybe pack lunches the night before, you might be able to get a nice quick bakery breakfast before school.  It feels extra special this way.

11.  Donut breakfast!

Another before school treat, if you can fit it in.  Or bring it home to them. Either way, we don’t get a lot of donuts around here, so it’s an indulgence.

12.  The Nutcracker ballet

13.  The symphony

14.  The holiday lights train

These can be a little pricey, but it is super memorable for them kids.  And it could be a great gift from grandparents, if they need ideas. (Hint hint, mom 😉 ).  We don’t do all of these each year – usually just one.

 

And we get the family and friends involved too:

15.  Make Christmas cookies with Grandma

An annual tradition that they look forward to each year.  I look forward to the cookies.

16.  Special playdates with family friends

We have grown-up friends who are like aunts to the kiddos.  We make a special effort to schedule something with them during this time – a little tea party or making ornaments together.

17.  Picking out an ornament with the grandparents

Okay, this is a thing but it’s also an experience.  They each get to pick out one ornament a year.  The kiddos get super excited about this. I think it’s not about the actual ornament, but really about looking at all the shiny and creative options at different stores – surfing pink flamingo for the tree?  Yes, please.

18. Craft date with momma

I try to come up with a few simple craft ideas that we could do in an hour after school (a simple necklace, sculpey ornaments,  popcorn garland, or other simple garland) and then let the kids pick one for us to do.

19.  Holiday party

Any holiday parties?  Put ‘em on the calendar!  We have a family birthday during this time, so that party counts as one of our advent calendar events.  

 

And we try to think of others who are in need during this time.

20.  Get gifts for a family in need and wrap them.

Their school often adopts a family, and a lot of churches do this too.   Rather than making this an errand for MOM or DAD, this is a family affair – we go together to pick it out and the kids wrap it up themselves.

21.  Volunteer for a few hours

Last year the kids spent a morning volunteering at an organization that was wrapping gifts to donate to families in need.  This one is a little tricky because it might not be easy to find something to volunteer for if you aren’t already involved with the group.  And finding something that’s age-appropriate can be challenging too, so call around to find some options. And scheduling this can also be tricky when weekends are already jam packed.  So plan it out in advance!

22.  Donate a toy

We ask the kids to pick one of their gently used toys to donate.  Last year this ended up being a major toy closet clean-out, which was awesome.  But in other years, when they were younger, picking just one toy was a good goal.

 

And finally, I think our all time favorites are these:

23.  Night time Light walk .

We bundle up and grab an umbrella if it’s rainy.  We usually walk over to Depot Hill in Capitola for an awesome view of the town and all the lights at night.  It’s fun walking in the dark and cold together. And this is an easy after-dinner activity too for those busy weeknights.

24.  Tea party for dinner

This does require a little planning and effort, but it is so worth it.  We make a ton of finger foods including mini sandwiches (cream cheese and cucumber, peanut butter and jelly), deviled eggs, hummus and veggies, fancy olives from the bulk bar, popcorn, maybe some cookies or other baked goods and tea, of course.  We sit on the floor in the living room and eat around the coffee table. I love this dinner so much.

 

There you have it!  

easy zero waste advent calendar ideas. 

Do you have any to add?  I’d love to hear about them!  Share in the comments!

 

Thanks for reading!

Liz

We all have our reasons to go for zero waste.

 

Your reasons might include:

 

-fighting plastic pollution

-reducing exposure to plastics

-cutting waste

-worry over landfills

-simplifying your home

-beautifying your kitchen

-shrinking your carbon footprint

-keeping our oceans healthy

-making the world a more beautiful place

-preserving the planet for generations to come

 

It might feel really overwhelming to get a year of your trash into a mason jar – and might be impossible, depending on where you live and what you can recycle.

 

But there are actually TONS of easy ways to cut down your waste.

 

Think beyond the mason jar!  

 

 

 

Here’s a roundup of 75 ways small ways to cut your waste.

1. Bike more

Did you know that transportation (i.e., cars) is one of the top sources of pollution and contributors to global warming?  Driving less is an amazing way to reduce your waste and have a positive impact on the planet. Check out local bike resources for bike paths and bike-friendly routes near you.  In Santa Cruz we’ve got www.bikesantacruzcounty.org for loads of awesome resources on biking safely in our community.  And don’t forget to wear a helmet!

2. Fly less

Each flight you take is a major resource drain.  Just like cars, planes are a major source of greenhouse gases.  Try some local travel and explore your own part of the country. Or, if you have to fly, offset your flights with carbon credits.  And try to limit flights to those that you really want or need to take. If you live in California, we have so many amazing state parks that you can drive to.  Check them out here.

3. Eat vegetarian

This is a MASSIVE way to reduce your waste WAY beyond the mason jar.  The meat industry is a MAJOR source of pollution. Even if you can’t do this all the time, try swapping out a couple meals a week for vegetarian.  Good for you, good for the planet! And there are so many great resources out there. I love Minimalist Baker for vegetarian recipes.

4. Eat vegan

Going vegan has even more benefits for the planet than vegetarian.  All those animal products really have a negative impact on the climate – especially the dairy industry.  Try swapping some vegan meals or vegan substitutes when you can. Or go all the way! Join the millions of others in the world who do it every day.  My favorite vegan blog is by my friend and favorite yoga teacher, Amey. Check it out here!

5. Compost at home

This is also a GREAT way to cut down your waste.  All those fruit peels, veggie skins, egg shells, and more can go into your compost.  No yard? No problem! Try a worm bin that fits under your sink. And if you live locally, check out the Santa Cruz Compost service, which collects your compost by bike!  They are here.  

6. Line dry your laundry

Dryers use loads of electricity (pun – ha!).  You can line dry all year too – some racks are easy to set up in even the smallest space and then fold up to be tucked away behind a door or under a bed.  We’ve been dryer free for about 4 years and it’s still working great for our family of four. If we can do it, so can you! We even were mostly dryer free during the cloth diapering days!

7. Use hankies

Tissues be damned!  Switch to reusable hankies.  I say buy mine here or make your own or look for some in the thrift store.  When all of ours are in the wash, I start in on our rag stash for hankies – hey, they’re clean!  Any ol’ rag will do.

8. Use dishtowels instead of paper towels

Paper towels can be composted, but why not preserve those resources for more essential goods?  We have a stack of about 20 dish towels. We use each dish towel until it gets soiled and then we toss it in the wash.  I make some here, you could make your own, or look for them at the thrift store!  Try finding all natural fibers – much better for the earth.

9. Use your own coffee mug

Those disposable coffee cups are the worst!  Some super progressive coffee shops have even stopped handing them out because they are such massive polluters.  Bring your own! Buy one from a locally owned business to support the locals. I got mine from Wild Roots in Felton.  Love that shop.  And you can buy No Trace goods there (another shameless plug!!).

10. Keep a napkin in your purse.  

How many times have you needed a napkin when you are out and about?  This still happens to me sometimes but I almost always have a little napkin in my purse.  I make really cute ones here but make your own or find one in a thrift store super easily.

11.  Bring a water bottle.

You are already doing this, I’m sure.  We’ve got to get rid of plastic water bottles!  Even though often times you can recycle those, our recycling days might be numbered and these are ending up in the landfill more and more often.  Just bring your own. I got mine at Jones and Bones in Capitola.  I love supporting local business.  

12. Shop in bulk.

Look for what you need in the bulk section of your grocery store.  I’ve got a whole post about zero waste grocery shopping that you can see here.  Also, i make these gorgeous bulk bags here.  Made from recycled cotton.  If you can’t get something in a bulk bin, try getting something with as little packaging as possible or in the largest amount possible that won’t also spoil.  

13. Shop at the farmers market.

Again, check my post here for resources to find farmers markets near you.  You can often buy loose produce here that come without those pesky stickers.

14. Stop buying those prepackaged treats.

I know they are super convenient.  You can do it, though! Just say no.  Fruit, anyone?

15. Try making it yourself.

Is there something you really miss?  Crackers? Granola bars? Hummus? Pesto?  Pick a few of those prepackaged treats and try making your own. Read about my favorite easy homemade zero waste snacks here and you can start having snacks on hand whenever you need them!

16. Get your beer in a growler or just enjoy a pint in person.

You might not want to pay micro-brewery prices, but you can treat yourself and the planet once a while with something fresh and local.  Although you can recycle glass and cans almost everywhere, recycling is not the solution to our problems – reuse is way better.

17. Get your wine from a local winery.  

They might let you bring your own container for refills.  Some wineries even have harvest or tapping parties where you can fill up loads of bottles to get you through the year.  Or at least the week ;).

18. Buy your clothes from a local thrift store.

Fast fashion is a MAJOR polluter.  Think twice before buying new and see if you can find it used.

19. Get your shoes repaired at a shoe shop.

Do you have a cobbler or shoe repair person in your town?  Buy shoes that are built to last and be repaired.

20. Go to a repair cafe to mend your worn clothes or small appliances or other household items.  

If you live in Santa Cruz, reach out about repair cafes in town!  No Trace has hosted this!

21. Grow your own food.

Even if all you have is a sunny window, you can grow fresh herbs like basil from home.  If you have more space than that, consider planting some trees and growing what you can. In northern California, we can grow some veggies all year like kale, chard and lettuce.  

22. Compost worn out, all natural textiles

These are good for the soil!  Fibers like cotton, hemp, and linen can be composted at home.  I wrote a post about keeping fabric out of the landfill here, so check it out for more tips.

23. Recycle synthetic, worn fibers

If something is beyond repair, not useful as a rag, and not compostable, find a fabric recycler.  Some cities have curbside fabric recycling (San Francisco! I’m so jealous).

24. Try sashiko stitching

If something has a small stain or tear, don’t toss it – mend it with sashiko stitching.  This is a beautiful way to fix something. I get loads of inspiration from Miniature Rhino.  Check her out here.

25. Try canning your own food.

Zero waste chef has loads of great resources on this topic.  When tomatoes are in season, you can stock up and then make some awesome canned tomatoes for all your cooking needs during the year.  Or make some fresh fruit preserves. Yum yum. Read her amazing blog here for loads of home canning and preserving tips.  

26. Make your own Kombucha.

Another zero waste chef specialty.  Eliminate all those bottles you might recycle and make your own.  Save money, too! Check her out here.

27. Think about the household goods and furnishings you buy

Try to avoid synthetic fibers and toxic resins in the furnishings that surround you.  Buy high quality pieces that can be repaired rather than tossed out. I wrote a piece about building a simple bench at home that you can read here.  It’s important that we think about the full life cycle of what we bring into our homes.

28. Don’t print it!

Might be obvious, but try getting comfy with your laptop rather than a print out whenever you can.  All those papers can be recycled, of course, but why not preserve those resources for things we really need?  Need a break from the desk? Move your laptop around and try reading in a different spot before thinking you have to print something.

29. Give experiences, not things

I love this one for kids.  We try to avoid “filler” gifts – little things just for the sake of giving something – unless it’s meaningful and sustainable.

30. Plan a zero waste halloween

I’ve got another post on that here.

31. Plan for zero waste travel

Be prepared and bring a kit to help you avoid trash on your travels.  Read my post here about that here.  

32. Plan for a zero waste Christmas.

We give lots of gifts, but we avoid plastic.  We also wrap in fabric that we can reuse, rather than in paper.  I make these adorable furoshiki wraps here but any old fabric will do.

33. Host zero waste birthday parties

Keep the food and drinks simple and you can avoid all that trash!

34. Loan utensils, plates, cups, napkins to friends for their parties or borrow some for your own.

Some communities have lending libraries for big events.  Ask around to see if yours does.

35. Bring your own utensils, plate, cup, napkin

If you’re going to a party and you’re not sure what they’ll serve on, bring your own stuff.  

Also, don’t leave it in the car and forget to bring it into the party like I sometimes do!

36. Recycle broken, unrepairable electronics

We’ve got awesome Grey Bears in town for this amazing service but check your local waste management agency for ideas.

37. Make your own deodorant.

I use the recipe by Trash is for Tossers, but you can find loads of free resources online.

38. Swap out some beauty products for what you can find in bulk.

For example, you might try some light body oils or even lotions in bulk.  Sunscreen even if you’re lucky enough to have it in your town!

39. Make your own household cleaning products

Lots of folks make citrus vinegars with citrus peels and use this for cleaning instead of packaged cleaning products.  And isn’t it nice to know what’s in your cleaning products?

40. Buy sustainable art and school supplies for you and/or your kiddos

Can you swap in some colored pencils and all natural crayons?  Use recycled paper? Get your school supplies at the thrift store?  A little effort can help cut down on trash from school.

41. Recycle old markers with TerraCycle.

At The Art Factory in Aptos you can drop your worn out markers off to get recycled!  Hooray! Check around for TerraCycle options near you.

42. Make your own cough drops!

Okay, I found a pin for this on Pinterest and admit – I haven’t tried it yet – but I’m sooo excited to try it out.  It’s on my board here.

43. Get a pressure cooker

No more canned beans.  Seriously. We don’t buy these any more.  Hip hip hooray! Save yourself time and money by making these at home.  You really can cook beans in a flash with one of these. Works great for rice, artichokes, and other food that can take a little time.  

44. Try meal planning.  

If you can prep out some meals and snacks on Sunday afternoon, it’ll make the week go more smoothly.  I love doing a bunch of salads in a mason jar, or making a pot of beans, rice, and some roasted veggies to last for a few days.  And I try to plan for quick snacks to have on hand for after school and other busy times.

45. Get a safety razor

No more disposable razors!  The Zero Shop SC sells them – check them out here.  And there are loads of resources online for how to shave with a safety razor too, so get some help and make it easy for yourself.  

46. Buy shampoo and soap in bulk.

We bring our own containers and refill them at our local bulk store – Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.  We weigh the jars, but some stores will ask how many ounces your container holds, so it’s good to know that too.  Also, you might be able to find unpackaged bars of shampoo, conditioner, and soap in your town. Lush offers these too.

47. Switch to reusable menstrual products.  

I found reusable pads on Etsy that I love.  There are loads of others on the market now too.  Reusable menstrual cups are also available in lots of natural food and bulk stores – maybe in your local pharmacy too.  I found mine at CVS!

48. Recycle your toothpaste tubes

In Santa Cruz, New Leaf Market on 41st Avenue has a TerraCycle box for recycling Tom’s packaging!  Yay! You can call around to see if there is some place near you as well – schools sometimes have TerraCycle boxes.

49. Use compostable floss

I haven’t found the perfect solution for compostable floss yet, but Dental Lace will breakdown in your home compost.  Unfortunately, it does come in a plant-based plastic bag, which may or may not breakdown in your home compost. But it does create less waste than a big plastic box full of plastic floss.

50. Use a bamboo toothbrush

Easy peasy!  Usually you’ll have to pull out the nylon bristles before you can compost it, but it beats throwing out a whole plastic toothbrush!

51. Make your own mouthwash

Seriously, this is so easy and will save you loads of money, too!  I make mine with 1 cup water, 4 tsp baking soda, and a few drops of essential oils (4 of tea tree and 4 of peppermint).  

52. Make your sunscreen or find it in a reusable container.

I’ve got a recipe from PareDownhome.com that is super easy to make, although the ingredients might be hard to find, especially not in plastic.  I’ve also found sunscreen in reusable, plastic-free containers from Raw Love and Elevated Sun. I personally preferred Raw Love to Elevated Sun – I found the latter a little gritty when putting it on.  But I LOVE what they are doing.

53. Make your own lotion.

Have you made your own body cream before?  It’s an awesome chance to make something just the way you like it – adding in whatever scents you’re drawn to.  Check out my Pinterest boards for recipes!  

54. Make your own shaving cream.

Or just use conditioner!  One less packaged thing to buy.

55. Buy zero waste makeup or make your own.  

I found this shop on Etsy and LOVE the lipstick we bought.  Highly recommend for vegan, zero waste, all natural make up.

56. Switch to metal and fabric hair accessories.

Another area of your life to cut down on plastics and trash.  But use up what you have first! Kooshoo makes biodegradable hair ties, but have shipped in plastic bags in the past.

57. Use a wooden hair brush.

When it’s time for a new brush, trying getting one that’s plastic free.  

58. Compost your hair!  

Yes, sounds gross, but it composts!  Nails do too. Is that TMI? Sorry not sorry ;).

59. Shop less.

You don’t have to be a minimalist, but the less stuff you have, the less waste you’ll make.  This is so true for kiddos. So many of their things – especially those freebies and party favors – end up as trash.  

60. Buy the bruised veggies and fruits at the store.

If you know you’ll eat them soon, you can save them from the landfill!  Lots of stores will toss out old looking produce, even if it’s still edible.

61. Finish the old before buying new.

I’m talking about the food in your fridge – you can toss less food out if you just put in a little more effort to finish what’s there first.  Bonus – save yourself $$$.

62. Eat old before new food.

Same idea as above – if you do need to shop before your fridge is empty, try getting through the old food first.

63. Give the uneatable to your animals.  

Have you had kids or friends over, and one of them doesn’t finish the food on their plate?  If your dogs or chickens tolerate human food, pass the leftovers on to them. I’ll finish my own kids’ food or ask them to at another time, but I’m not going to eat outside the family.  I’m sorry, that’s just not my style.

64. Compost that pizza box.  

Yes, we still order pizza sometimes in a pinch or when we are just too pooped to cook or go out.  But you generally can’t recycle a pizza box because of food contamination. So tear it up and add it to your compost.

65. Bring a container for leftovers whenever you eat out.

Have you ever ordered a little too much, and then been torn about tossing the food vs getting a to-go container?  Try packing a jar or tupperware in your bag so you can pop those leftovers in your own container.

66. Get take out in your own container.

Ask your favorite place if they are open to this – you might be surprised.  Our favorite Thai restaurant in Soquel (Sawasdee’s) let’s us bring our own containers.  Let them know on the phone and then get there early enough so they can put it right into your bins after they cook it.

67. Remind folks – NO STRAW! – when you eat out.

If you have a reusable straw, put it on the table to remind you to say No Thanks to the straw.

68. Have a low water lawn.

Water is a precious resource too, and if you care about reducing your waste, you care about preserving water.  Succulents are gorgeous little water savers and I love this website for loads of good succulent info – sunshineandsucculents.com.  But there are tons of other awesome low water lawn ideas out there in the world.    

69. Drive a low emission car.

Tesla?  Yes, please.  I’d love one of those.  But for the average person, a Nissan Leaf is great electric car.  Seat warmers! Back up camera! That quiet, quiet engine. I highly recommend one – it doesn’t go long distances, but works for closer ranges.

70. Conserve energy in your house.

Energy can be a massive polluter as well, depending on the source.  We try to be mindful of our energy use in lots of ways – using LED lightbulbs, wearing layers in the winter to reduce our heating requirements, turning off lights when we leave a room and the home, and having energy efficient appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, and microwaves.

71. Try to follow recommended energy conservation hours in your town.  

For most places in the U.S. (and elsewhere) energy requirements are greatest during the day, when we’re all up and about and doing stuff.  So daytime hours put the greatest strain on our power plants, and certain peak hours require the use of some of our less efficient, more polluting power plants to keep up with energy demand.  So, to help out, we run the dishwasher late at night and try to run the washing machine early in the morning, outside of these peak energy use hours.

72. Order it plastic free.

Online shopping is so convenient, right?  Especially when you’ve got a job, a family, and all those other life obligations.  So when you order online, always ask them ship your order without plastic packaging.

73. When businesses mess up, let them know.  

On the same note, if you are trying to order plastic free and the business doesn’t follow-through, write to them and encourage them to cut down on packaging.  Try tagging them in social media or commenting on their own posts. A little encouragement can go a long way.

74. Say no to freebies.  

Free sample in a plastic cup?  Free packet of energy goop at the store?  Free bag of crackers? Just say no. You don’t need it.  The more we all say No Thanks, the more businesses will think twice about these practices.

75. Get your kids or partner or roomies involved.

You can ready my post all about getting kids into zero waste here.

 

There you have it – 75 small ways to cut your waste.  What’s easiest for you? Which is the most challenging? Share in the comments below!  

 

Thanks for reading,

Liz

 

 

What is zero waste?

 

You might be hearing this phrase a lot lately – zero waste.  

But what is zero waste?

I’m going to give you a quick and easy overview of zero waste.  So let’s go!

 

In simplest terms, zero waste is about not sending anything to the landfill or creating any trash.

On a deeper level, zero waste is the idea of keeping our resources in circulation and in use; reducing or eliminating the need for landfills, and is one result of a circular economy (an economy where products are designed to stay within a cycle of use and reuse).  In a circular economy, each phase of a product’s life is connected to another, and disposal in a landfill is avoided. So zero waste is actually a key piece of a new way of thinking about the resources that we use to sustain ourselves.

 

We all know that there are a limited number of resources to support us humans and other creatures and plants on Earth.  Zero waste and the circular economy are connected ideas of truly valuing those resources and planning for the use and reuse of those resources.  Zero waste is a concept that applies to all the things we interact with our lives, from our roads and buildings to our breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

In a perfect world, zero waste would look like this: any product that is created (and a product includes everything from the walls of your house to your breakfast cereal) starts with sustainable and renewable raw and/or recycled materials.  The manufacturing of that product results in no waste. The product is delivered without waste (e.g., transportation powered by renewable energy). The product is used and is either completely used up (e.g., breakfast cereal is completely eaten without any waste) or is used until it needs to be repaired, in which case it is repaired. Or, the product is used completely and can no longer be used again, in which case it’s collected and remanufactured back into that product, or into another valuable product, that enters this process and stays in the circular economy.  

 

Here’s a way to visualize a circular economy with zero waste.

Zero waste as part of a circular economy

Zero waste in practice doesn’t look like that, because we don’t have a circular economy.  So in practice, as a individual, zero waste is about making the best choices possible to minimize waste and support sustainable practices.  As an individual, zero waste looks like this:

Zero waste as an individual

As an individual, we can take steps to do our best to reduce waste and live more sustainably.  The first step is to refuse – say no to those things that you don’t truly need. For some zero wasters, this includes refusing all gifts and freebies.  In theory, refusing will result in much less waste and can be applied most broadly to all areas of your life.

 

The second step is to reduce what you consume.  This goes for all areas of your life – the size of your home, clothing, beauty products, etc.  It also applies to things like air and car travel – these also have huge impacts on the planet.  The less we consume in general, the less waste we create. Some zero wasters strive for a minimalist lifestyle.  Living closer to minimalism reduces the things you bring into your home and life and, as a result, the trash that you create.

 

The third step is to reuse.  How can you reuse things in your life?  Rather than tossing something, repurpose it.  For example, clothes that can’t be mended could be turned into rags.  A broken shelf is repurposed into something else functional. A jar that held your jam is reused to hold leftovers.  

 

The fourth step is to recycle.  This should apply to fewer things in your life because recycling is not a great solution to reducing waste.  In fact, much of what we send to our local recycling plants doesn’t actually get recycled. In a circular economy, recycling would be even more effective.  But as things stand today in 2018, recycling is a smaller piece of living sustainably, relative to refusing, reducing, and reusing.

 

The last step is to allow things to rot.  Anything that is compostable should be composted once it reaches the end of its life, but again this should happen only after refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling.  Although compost is important for healthy soils, it’s more important to preserve our resources and keep them in use, rather than dispose of them as compost.

 

If you are new to composting, search around for tips and resources.  Anyone with a space for a small bin can start to compost, even without an outdoor space.  Local cities and communities might have compost pick-up available. And anything that is made of 100% natural materials and has not been heavily processed in a way to change its composition can be composted at home.  Things like bioplastics and bamboo rayon come from plants but have been heavily processed – they cannot be composted at home but there may be recycling options near you. Other things like cotton fabric, paper plates, food scraps, wood scraps, etc. can be composted at home.

 

To summarize, going for zero waste as an individual means: 

  1. Refuse

  2. Reduce

  3. Reuse

  4. Recycle

  5. Rot

 

So there you have it – an introduction to zero waste at both the large scale and individual level.  Where are you at on your zero waste journey? And what’s been hardest for you? Share in the comments below!

 

Thanks for reading,

Liz

My 4 favorite easy homemade zero waste snacks.

 

I LOVE to have snacks around the house for me, for my kiddos, and for their friends that come over to play.  Snacks are the best! H-anger, be gone!

 

But it can be hard to find snacks that aren’t packaged in plastic.  Like crackers. I miss buying crackers. Ya feel me?

 

So I’ve slowly built up a little repertoire of easy homemade zero waste snacks I can whip up when needed to feed me and any hungry pint-sizers.  And today I’m sharing my 5 favorites!

 

These are amazing because they are:

  1. KID FRIENDLY!
  2. EASY!
  3. VEGAN!
  4. GLUTEN FREE!

And

  1. DELICIOUS!

 

So let’s get started!  

Here are my 4 favorite easy homemade zero waste snacks.

 

  1.  Cashew cheese on ANYTHING! (carrots, sweet peppers, celery, cauliflower, bagels, bread, tortilla chips, etc etc.)

 

I got this recipe from Minimalist Baker and make it ALL.THE.TIME.  The awesome thing about it is that it only takes about 10 minutes to make it.  No nut soaking required. And you can make it on any blender or food processor – no fancy or powerful equipment required.  AND it works great even if you don’t have all the ingredients – just use what you have.

 

The way I make it, it comes out like a thick spread.  You can also add hot water to make it more saucy and dip-like.  But the spread is great for a quick snack with ANYTHING.

 

So here it is:  

 

Easy Vegan Cashew Cheese (adapted from Minimalist Bakers Easy Vegan Mexican Cashew Cheese):

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup raw cashews (I get these in bulk and keep them in my freezer)

3 T nutritional yeast (or less, if you realize last minute you’re almost out of it!)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic powder (or none – I never have this stuff on hand)

½ tsp cumin

1 pinch chili powder

1 chipolte in adobo or any salsa or hot sauce you have on hand

1 T olive oil or more for blending (if you don’t have a super powerful blender)

Optional: water to help blend (I ALWAYS have to add a little water to get it blended because we don’t have a super fancy blender)

 

Instructions:

Put it all in a blender and blend it up!  Ta-da! Done! And sooo good.

 

Like I said, this stuff is great with sooo many things.  And it keeps pretty well in the fridge too.

 

  1.  Nut butter energy balls
Yummy nut butter balls!

These are SO yummy and filling and satisfying.  Bonus: they also satisfy your sweet tooth! These are probably the most involved to make of all of these easy snacks, but you can definitely whip up a dozen of these in about 10 minutes.  You can also customize these to your liking and swap out or cut out some ingredients.

 

This is also based on a Minimalist Baker recipe.  What can I say, I love her food!

 

Ingredients:

About 1 cup dates (a mix of raisins and dried apricots work too if you don’t have dates!)

3 T nut butter (peanut, almond, or other)

¼ c chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

1 T chia seeds (or your favorite seeds)

⅔ c gluten free oats (or whatever oats you have)

Optional: shredded coconut, maple syrup or honey

 

Instructions:

Blend the dates or other dried fruit into small bits.

Add everything else and pulse it together.

Roll it into balls as big or small as you like.  

Optional: roll the balls in shredded coconut.

Optional: put them in the fridge to set, or just start eating them!

 

So good.  Totally worth the 15 minutes to make them.

 

  1. Roasted chickpeas
Delicious roasted chickpeas!

Okay, these are super fast to prep!  But do you need to have some chickpeas on hand.  We cook a big pot of chickpeas about every other week.  Sometimes we freeze some, but usually we eat them up pretty fast.  I love to make bean salads with them, and we also do a lot of chana masalas and soups.  Gotta love the chickpea – such a flexible little bean.  So, if you don’t already, this might be another staple to add to your fridge.

 

And here’s the recipe for easy, no fuss roasted chickpeas:

 

Ingredients:

Chickpeas (however many you want to make)

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Any other spices you want to add

 

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 or 425 F (depending on how hot your oven gets).

Put your chickpeas on a clean dish towel and roll them around to dry them out.

Spread them onto a baking sheet, making sure they aren’t too crowded.  

Drizzle them with olive oil, and add salt, pepper, and any other spices.

Toss them around a little on the sheet so the seasoning spreads around.

Bake them for 15-30 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like them.

*Note that you will want to stir them around a couple times while they bake.

 

These are SO good.  I’ll eat them on their own or add them to a salad.  Yum yum.

 

  1. POPCORN!

This is my all time favorite easy homemade zero waste snack.  Hands down. I probably eat popcorn about 3 times a week. Seriously.  I love it. Kids love it too.  Duh.

 

I make sure to have popcorn kernels on hand ALL of the time.  For me, the easiest way to pop it is with an air popper, which you can probably find at a thrift store.  I like to then drizzle olive oil, nutritional yeast, and salt on it. SO GOOD!

Popcorn is THE BEST!

You can also pop it on the stove in coconut oil – also delicious!  You have to keep a close eye on it, though, and constantly shake your pot as it pops.  It might also take you a few tries to figure out the best heat to pop it at – sometimes I have lots of leftover kernels when I pop this way, sometimes they burn.  I definitely haven’t mastered this technique, but it sure turns out tasty!

 

Another easy popping technique is with a paper bag in the microwave.  You can reuse the bag a few times. Add the seasoning after you pop it.  Yum and easy!

 

So there you have it – my 4 favorite easy homemade zero waste snacks.  Do you make some of these too? Or do you have some favorites of your own?  Let me know in the comments! I love hearing from you.

 

Thanks for reading!

Liz

Best eco-friendly lunch kits for kids

 

It’s the middle of summer right now and I’m trying to soak it all up.  Long hours of sunshine. Warm days on the beach. Family trips. Ocean swims.  Ahhhh…

 

But I also know that school will start up again in the blink of an eye!  And with school comes LUNCHES! Our weekday mornings are usually a little hectic – we make breakfast, walk the dogs, make our lunches, and gather up whatever we need for the day (dance today?  Piano? Permission slip? Bake sale? Your friend’s shoes need to be returned? You get the drift).

 

In case you were thinking it – I know we are a little overscheduled at times!  To say the least.

 

BUT, we do have our morning lunch packing pretty well figured out and I thought I’d share it with you in the hopes that it can make your morning just a teensy tiny less hectic 🙂 .  BONUS: our approach is a greener way to pack your food!

 

So, for all you busy parents out there, or parents to be, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about some of my favorite eco-friendly lunch kits for kids that keep your kids safe from plastics and also keep the planet healthy!  No packaging, no waste!

 

So here they are: Top eco-friendly lunch kits for kids (and adults!) – plastic-free!

 

Insulated food jar/thermos:

  • Bentology insulated food jar is great for warming before school leftovers and keeping them pretty warm until lunch time!  The container is stainless steel, although unfortunately there is plastic on the lid and base of the container.
  • Thermos brand makes an insulated food jar that is almost entirely stainless steel, but it comes with a couple of plastic containers.  
  • Thrift store thermos – if you can find a wide-mouth thermos for food at your thrift store – buy it!!  And consider yourself lucky :).
  • Lunchbots makes an insulated thermos too – also with some plastic, though and i haven’t tried theirs – but I love their other lunch box, which brings me too…

 

Stainless steel lunch box

  • Planet Box:  I love their stainless steel lunch box and my kids do too.  It has separate compartments to help portion out different types of food.  In our house, we ask the kids to pack a fruit, veggie, carb, and protein for every meal.  Sometimes they take a small treat like chocolate chips too. What can I say – I’m weak! Let me recommend that you say no to the magnets, though.  These are hard to recycle once the stickers are worn out.
  • LunchBots:  This company makes some great 100% stainless steel lunch containers with separate compartments or a single compartment.  We love using our two-compartment box. Sometimes we’ll grab one other small container if the two-compartments aren’t quite enough for our food, or we want to keep things separate. 
  • Tiffin lunch box:  These are stainless steel lunch bins that connect together in a sort of tower.  We haven’t used one in our home, but I do see lots of rave reviews from other zero wasters.  
LunchBots holding veggie sushi – yum!!

Sandwich bag or beeswax wrap

  • Sandwich bags:  These are a super easy way to tote a sandwich or pastry for lunch.  Simply fold it open, pop in your food, and fold it shut. Easy to wash, reusable, biodegradable.  I would encourage organic cotton only for these – non-organic cotton could potentially leech chemicals into your food.  Also, nylon-lined bags, although nice for moisture, are not biodegradable and nylon is a synthetic fabric that is essentially a form of plastic.  Check out my offerings here.
  • Beeswax wrap:  If you are worried about keeping your sandwich really moist, or if your sandwich is really drippy, a beeswax wrap is another great way to tote your lunch.  These are super easy to clean (wipe or rinse off between uses) and are 100% biodegradable and all natural. I make mine with organic cotton, beeswax, pine gum rosin, and jojoba oil.  They last over and over again about a year. If the stickiness starts to wear off, you can also use a rubber band or string to keep it shut.  See mine here.  

 

Mason jar

For older kids only – A mason jar is a great way to store food that doesn’t need to be kept warm.  But I wouldn’t recommend a jar for kids under 7 unless they are pretty careful.  And you’ll still have to remind your kiddos not to throw their lunch bags on the ground.  

 

Cloth napkin

These are a great alternative to paper napkins – reusable, biodegrable, and sustainable.  I make organic and upcycled napkins that you can see here. Help keep those finger tips tidy!

 

Reusable utensils

A couple of options for utensils…

  • Camping utensils:  I love our Coglan camping utensils – they are stainless steel, small, and super affordable.  We got them at a local camp store. And we don’t feel bad if they get lost since they weren’t too pricey to buy.  
  • Thrift store utensils:  these are even more more economical.  You might be able to get forks and spoons and knives for under a dollar each – maybe even all three for $1.  Check around and see what your options are.

 

Organic cotton lunch bag

Of course I make these too!  But I would recommend ANY cotton or all natural fiber bag over the typical plastic-y, lined lunch bags, which are sadly destined for the landfill.  Unless you have some spectacular recycling resources near you. We don’t.   All natural materials like cotton, bamboo, linen, and hemp are much better choices for toting your lunch.  I would avoid nylon or other synthetics. You can see my offerings here.

Organic cotton lunch tote

 

Use what you have

Last but definitely not least.  I’ll be honest that we also use some old plastic tupperwares on occasion that we bought or otherwise acquired before going zero waste.  These come in handy and sometimes everything else is sitting in the sink, waiting to be washed. I would encourage you to use up what’s on hand rather than spending a ton on new supplies!

 

If you’re just getting ready to send your little one off into the world with a lunch, start out green and eco-friendly with any of these reusable, sustainable options.  These are all awesome ways to send your kiddos into the world with a plastic free and waste free lunch.

 

There you have it – my list of the best eco-friendly lunch kits for kids.  To sum it all up, here are my favorite pieces:

  1. Insulated food jar/thermos
  2. Stainless steel lunch box
  3. Sandwich bag or beeswax wrap
  4. Mason jar
  5. Cloth napkin
  6. Reusable utensils
  7. Natural fiber lunch bag
  8. What you already own

 

Do you have any favorite eco-friendly lunch kits to recommend?  Or awesome thrift store finds? Leave a comment below!  And thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Liz

Top 10 Things to Make with Fabric Scraps

AKA: How to keep fabric scraps out of the landfill and upcycle fabric scraps.

 

I love to sew stuff for me, my family, my friends, and my customers!  That’s probably obvious.  The only bummer of this is that there are almost ALWAYS little scraps and bits leftover from pretty much everything I make.  I try my best to design pieces that minimize this, but some of it is inevitable.  So I’ve been doing some poking around on the interwebs and testing out different ideas to keep these scraps out of the waste stream.  Here is my list of my 10 favorite ways to upcycle fabric scraps.  

 

  1. Pin Cushion
    1. This is just the cutest little pin cushion you ever did see.  A square pin cushion is perfect for using up small squares of fabric (or corners if you do any boxed corners on bags like I do).  I’ve stuffed it with tiny fabric and thread scraps!  No poly-fill necessary!

      Tiny pin cushion. The cutest!
  2. Napkin Rings
    1. We use cloth napkins in our house, so it’s lovely to have each one marked whose-is-whose.  Each napkin ring is in a different fabric, so we never get them mixed up!  Confession: we use our napkins a few times until they need a wash.

      Napkin ring made from fabric scraps!
  3. Cord keeper 
    1. I was getting so tired of constantly having to untangle my headphones.  Ugh.  I finally took a minute (no, make that 3) to sew up this cord keeper with a snap closure.  Be gone, tangles!
      Cord keeper from fabric scraps!

       

  4. Fabric twine.
    1. This stuff just looks so pretty.  I used it to wrap Christmas presents this year.  Twine is a great way to use up long, thin strips of fabric, like selvage edges.  The pieces don’t need to be the same thickness or length, and you can keep adding in more pieces as you go!

      Fabric twine from fabric scraps!
  5. Woven Potholder
    1. This is a great craft for a little one.  I made this little guy on my daughter’s loom, and now she’s made one too.  If you don’t have a loom, they are SUPER easy to make – you can do it out of cardboard!  I weaved my long skinny pieces (like a selvage edge or other strips) and just overlapped them a couple of inches, rather than sewing them together.  You could also knot them together.  Lots of options.  If you want to go bigger, make a placemat!
      Handwoven pot holder. We use it in the kitchen!

      Handwoven placemat. So pretty!
  6. Braided bracelet
    1. Also perfect for long thin strips.  I made a bunch of these for my kiddos and also gave them out to kids at the farmer’s market.  Super easy – another great craft for little ones.  
  7. Patches for clothes
    1. I turned an old stained skirt into hearts for my daughter’s leggings.  Super fun.  Super cute.  

      Patches for leggings from fabric scraps!
  8. Coin purse
    1. This is great for rectangles of fabric.  I modeled them after my snack bags, only much tinier and not always lined.  So fun.
  9. Quilted napkins
    1. I love quilts, but let’s be honest – I ain’t got time to make a whole dang quilt.  That’s where quilted napkins come in!  These are perfect for any shaped scrap.  I’ve used squares to make a simple 4-square napkin design.  But it works great for rectangles or triangles or strips!  The world is your oyster with this one!
  10. Pom poms!
    1. Yes, the world needs more pom poms.  Especially upcycled, handmade, biodegradable ones.  I made these tiny ones by wrapping long thing strips around a fork.  You could use super thin scraps for these.  Aren’t they adorable??  

 

Those are my favorite 10 things to do with scraps right now.  Do you work with fabric scraps?  Do tell!  Would you like to learn more about how to make any of these?  I’d love to hear that too!

 

Thanks for reading,

Liz

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What is zero waste?

 

In simple terms, zero waste is a goal of maximizing our planet’s resources by keeping resources in the life cycle and out of the landfill.  The ideas behind the zero waste movement center around redesigning our lives and environments so that our resources remain in a cycle of creation, use, and recycling.

 

What is a zero waste business?

 

A zero waste business embraces this philosophy of maximizing and reusing resources throughout every stage of design, production, distribution, use, and recycling or reuse.  In addition to considering the life cycle of all materials used in a business, zero waste philosophy means working with sustainable resources, such as recycled or all natural, biodegradable materials.

 

No Trace is a zero waste business.

 

At No Trace, I think about what it means to be a zero waste business everyday, and about where my raw materials are coming from, and where they will end up.  I also think about how my pieces are made and the overall impact of their creation.  I ask myself: what good will this product have on the planet and for the people who use it?  Here are the steps I take towards zero waste.  Note that I don’t claim to be perfect or to have all the anwers, but I am doing my best to be sustainable.  If you have ideas or suggestions for me, please share!  I am always open to improvement.

  1. Use of raw materials that are sustainable  
    • I use only 100% natural, biodegradable materials in all of my production.  This includes 100% cotton thread, 100% natural fiber fabric, and 100% natural and biodegradable fabric paint (which I make).

      My homemade paint in jars.
    • I use only use organic cotton or recycled cotton fabric.  The production of organic cotton does not pollute our soil or water with toxic chemicals as does conventional cotton.  Whenever possible, I source fabrics from second-hand sources (i.e., thrift stores) and repurpose them into functional pieces for the zero waste home.   
    • My racks are made by me with untreated wood.  This keeps them free of toxins and means that they can easily be composted or used in the occasional bonfire :). 

      One of my DIY racks. No finish required.
    • I’ve started using old corks and transforming them into buttons.
      Action shot! Making buttons. Don’t worry, I am very careful with the knife.

      .

  • Raw materials are obtained with minimal packaging.
    • This means avoiding plastic bags or any unnecessary packaging.  I buy my beeswax from local bee farmers free of packaging whenever possible.  I buy with recyclable packaging when I can’t get things package-free.  I always consider the type of packaging before purchasing, and make purchasing decisions based on the packaging.  
  • Tools and equipment are obtained second-hand whenever possible.
    • Most of the equipment used in making my beeswax wraps, for example, is from second hand stores.  Used tools and equipment are my first choice for all required No Trace equipment.
    • Equipment used in markets and fairs is mostly second hand or borrowed.  In fact, I may have overstayed my borrowing welcome with some friends on a few pieces 🙂 …

      Another DIY rack.
  • No waste is made in the creation of No Trace pieces.
    • Every scrap bit of thread and fabric is saved and repurposed into something else.  For example, I’ve made paper from thread bits and cell phone cases from fabric bits.  I’ve made twine and drawstring ties from long thin pieces of fabric scraps, including the selvage edge.

      Twine and pom poms
    • Every bit of paper is saved and turned into handmade paper.  I incorporate bits and strands of thread into this paper.

      Handmade paper from Farm Day at Terra Prana farm.
    • Patterns are designed with a minimizing of scraps in mind.
    • Right now, after about a year of production, I have less than one jar of waste from No Trace.  It is almost all stickers.  I’ve considered trying to turn them into a collage…I’m not sure how appealing this collage would be, though.  For now they are snug in my jar under my.    

      Weaving scraps into a potholder.
  • No Trace packaging is eco-friendly.
    • I use recycled paper and paper twine to package my pieces.  Both of these can be composted or recycled.  I recently learned that it’s better to compost small pieces of paper that otherwise get lost in the recycling process.  My recommendation is to compost the twine and paper unless your recycling plant has a specific paper pick up that minimizes loss.
    • I use recycled mailing materials whenever possible, and print directly onto my envelopes when possible.  I have had to print mailing labels on a few occasions, which results in these small squares of waxed paper.  These have several uses, apparentely, so I’m saving them for a TBD project or to pass on to another artist.  Contact me if you have any interest.
  • No Trace pieces are designed to stay out of the landfill.
    • Don’t throw it out!  No Trace pieces are designed to last a very long time.  When the fabric starts to wear out after a number of years, it can be repurposed into a cleaning rag and eventually composted, or, in the case of beeswax wraps, re-waxed after a year or more.  
    • I am always here and available for any end-of-life needs around your No Trace products – just ask!  Think of me as hospice for your pieces 🙂 .  Depending on the supply of aged No Trace products, I’d love to incorporate these scraps into new designs where possible.

      A larger weaving from scraps.
  • No Trace is solar powered!  
    • No Trace is still based out of my home, but my home is solar powered!   Well, to be technical, my family pays extra to the electric company so that we can subsidize solar and other green sources of energy to the grid, in an amount that offsets the electricity that we use each month.  Does that make sense?  I didn’t think so.  It doesn’t to me, either.  But there you have it.  No Trace uses green energy.
  • No Trace is bicycle powered!
    • Okay, this is a stretch for me, but whenever possible I DO make local deliveries by bike, especially to the shops in the Capitola area that carry my goods.
  • No Trace is Prius powered!
    • That’s more like it.  I roll-up to the farmer’s market in the Prius.  Yes, it all fits.  I can even squeeze two kids and a grown up in the car with me.  BOOM.

 

There is always room for improvement in growing a zero waste business.  I’m hoping to find more sources of package free raw materials.  I’d love to extend my bicycle deliveries around town.  And I know there are steps towards sustainability that aren’t even on my radar.  But the efforts I’m making so far feel like a strong start.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Liz @ No Trace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shop in person at an upcoming farmer’s market!

No Trace will be at the following farmer’s markets.  Come by to shop in person!

 

 

Felton Farmers’ Market

‎120 Russell Ave

Tuesdays, 2:30pm-6:30pm

July 25, August 22, Sept. 26, Oct. 24

 

Westside Farmers’ Market

Mission St. Ext. and Western Dr.

Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Sept. 23, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, Dec. 9, Dec. 23

 

Scotts Valley Farmers’ Market

King’s Village Dr, Scotts Valley Community Center

Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Sept. 9, Sept 30, Oct. 28

 

Hope to see you!

-Liz

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post and thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to the past two+ months!  I’ve been getting No Trace goods out into the community and it’s been a blast!  Starting No Trace and sharing my work has been such an awesome learning experience so far.  I’ve met so many people who care about zero waste and have gotten to explain zero waste and all of my products to tons of other folks.  It has been really fun talking with people of all ages and experiences at different events.  Here are some of the highlights of the last couple of months.

 

Summer festivals!

It’s been summer festival season here in Santa Cruz, and I’ve been to several over the past months.

  • Jewish Cultural Festival
  • Mountain Maker’s Market
  • Etsy Maker’s Market
  • 4th of July Craft Fair at the Aptos Grange

 

These have all been really fun events.  I’ve been selling my pieces and also connecting with lots of great members of the community.  Thanks to everyone for organizing these events and to everyone who turned out!

Here’s my booth at the Jewish Cultural Festival – a day of great food, music, local vendors, and fun times!  

 

 

 

 Farmer’s Markets!

I’m thrilled to announce that No Trace is now available at each of the following farmers’ markets!  

  • Westside
  • Felton
  • Scotts Valley

Farmer’s Markets are a great place to shop zero waste or begin your zero waste journey.  You can buy fresh, locally grown produce, most of it organic, and most of it completely package free! No Trace goods fit in really well at the Farmer’s Markets – lots of shoppers want sustainable food bag and wrap options.  It has been great sharing my bags and wraps with so many shoppers.  And I’ve loved meeting all the other vendors at the market – super nice folks!

Here’s a picture of my first Farmer’s Market booth at Felton.   I’ll be at each of these markets about once a month for the rest of the year.  

 

 

New Retail Stores!
I’m so pleased to announce that No Trace is now available for sale at two new retail locations!

  • Food Lounge in Downtown Santa Cruz!
  • Art Inspired of Capitola!

Here’s a picture of my pieces at Art Inspired of Capitola. Snuggled right next to some other locally made home goods.

You can also find No Trace at GreenSpace on the westside of Santa Cruz and the Homeless Garden Project near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. I love partnering with local businesses!

New racks!
Last update – I’ve been doing a tiny bit of woodworking to find the best way to display my tea towels and napkins.

I love doing a little woodworking every now and then. And this is a really handy way to show off my work :).

So that’s what’s new at No Trace! Follow me on Instagram for pictures and snippets of my day-to-day (@no_trace_shop).

Thanks for reading!
Liz

One of the bestsellers at No Trace is beeswax wraps – it’s also the one item that needs an explanation for many folks. So, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about the wonders of beeswax wraps.

Beeswax wraps are an all natural, reusable, biodegradable alternative to plastic wrap. They can be used throughout your kitchen and lunch bag in the same way that plastic wrap and plastic bags might be used. Beeswax wraps are washable and last a year or longer.  They are great for fruits, veggies, sandwiches, burritos, cheeses, and more.  

Here’s a list of the ways you might want to use a beeswax wrap:

  • wrap half of a lemon
  • wrap the cut end of a cucumber
  • cover a bowl for extra freshness
  • wrap apple slices in your kid’s lunch
  • wrap your sandwich
  • wrap your burrito
  • wrap fresh carrots from the market to keep them crisp
  • wrap your carrot sticks in your lunch
  • wrap cheese from the store
  • wrap cheese slices for your snack
  • cover a jar that’s missing a lid
  • wrap your cookie dough 
  • wrap your pizza dough
  • wrap a cut melon

The wraps keep your food fresh, just like plastic wrap, without sending plastic to the landfill.  They are functional and economical for you and green for the earth.  And they add color and cheer to your kitchen!  

How to use it

Using your wrap is simple – just wrap it around your food or bowl.  The warmth of your hands will help the wax soften slightly and mold into the corresponding shape.  The wraps aren’t sticky but can be folded into a tight seal.  Each wrap also comes with a matching tie made from fabric scraps.  You can use your tie for an extra strong seal if you are taking your food on the go or just want an extra firm closure.

How it’s made

Each beeswax wrap is handmade with organic cotton and beeswax – nothing else.  Wax is melted onto the cotton to create a breathable, moisture tight barrier for your food.  Each wrap comes with a handmade tie, made from scraps of the matching fabric.

Care information

Beeswax wraps should be handwashed in cold water with gentle soap.  You can let your wrap air dry or wipe it dry with a hand towel.  Beeswax wraps should not be used in the microwave or oven.  The wraps should be kept out of direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.  The matching ties can be washed in washing machines.  If you care for your wrap, it should last a year or longer.  But over time the wax will wear off and your wrap will no longer be moisture tight.  Once this occurs, you can simple compost your wrap in your home compost bin – cutting into smaller pieces will help it break down more quickly.

Purchasing a wrap

No Trace currently carries two sizes, 12 X 12 and 8 X 8 inches, and two fabrics – Pears and Pink/Gold Lines. All beeswax wraps come with a matching made from fabric scraps.  Given that the ties are made from scraps, the lengths vary slightly.  

Give them a try – they are an awesome addition to any kitchen!