Friday, June 12, 2009

Farewell Hair Clip, Hello Chignon.

My last plastic hair clip bit the dust recently and I am left with a challenge: what to do with my mane on bad hair days? (Bad hair days are rampant in NYC right now, what with the umpteenth day in a row of rain and humidity.) The Office Ballcap is a look that never had its day. Ponytails can look polished and grown up on some women, but not on me. Throwing it up in a clip was really easy, but that's just the way the brittle clip crumbles. If I want to avoid buying new plastic, I have to use the tools I already own: hair elastics, bobby pins, and metal barrettes.

Today's solution was a chignon. I taught myself the basics with a video clip here:

...the result is a little Severe Librarian on me, but it worked and didn't fall out all day. I'll experiment with getting a more casual look.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Make-up Brushes Rock

One of the plastic items I'm throwing out this week is an eye shadow applicator, the last one from a pack that (I think) was provided to me as part of a stage make-up kit for an opera. I have two make-up bags: one at home, and a smaller one I carry in my work bag and the plastic applicators, being small, were in there.

The thing is, I've never liked using those plastic, foam tipped eye shadow applicators. They feel rough and don't do a very good job of applying eye shadow-- which makes me wonder why people use them in the first place. So when the last one was getting grungy, I looked around for a retractable or small eye shadow brush that would fit in my work bag.

As it turns out, I already had a brush the right size at home, back in the remnants of my stage make-up kit*. It works SO MUCH BETTER than the plastic applicator...and it isn't plastic.

Aside from working well, make-up brushes rock because you can clean them-- try that with a plastic applicator and it'll fall apart on you pretty soon. A good make-up brush will last for years of regular use if you take care to clean it regularly.

I clean my make-up brushes by getting them wet and brushing them against a bar of soap, then brushing back and forth on the palm of my hand to work up a lather. Rinse and repeat until it rinses out clear, then squeeze out the excess moisture and let the brush air dry.

The added bonus for me was that I already owned the perfect brush for the job. As others have said and I'll repeat: the 'greenest' purchase you can make is no purchase at all-- use and enjoy what you already have.

*These days I find I don't need the huge tackle box of stage make up I once carted around on opera tours-- my MAC make up collection does the job, with a couple added contour shades, brushes, a set of fake eye lashes or a paste on mustache for the occasional Prince Orlofsky.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Weeks 28 & 29 Plastic Waste

Here is my plastic waste for the last 2 weeks:

- 2 shampoo bottles
- 1 hair clip
- 1 pasta bag, 1 window from a pasta box
- 2 plastic cups
- 1 mascara container
- 4 old bug traps

Shampoo bottles: I thought I was out, but found a few more shampoo samples/bottles in my toiletry stash. Bottles go to curbside recycling, caps go to Aveda.

Hair clip: My last one--it got brittle and broke. I wish there was a non-plastic alternative, but for now am using the other hair implements I own: bobby pins, metal barettes and hair elastics. Clip goes in the trash

Pasta plastic: I'm out of pasta except for one lone box of rice lasagna left by my roommate. I'll have to be REALLY jonesing for pasta to eat the rice lasagna! Pasta plastic goes in the trash

Plastic cups: one cup I had hoarded in the kitchen cabinet- I think I used it at a work function in December and brought it home to see if I could re-use it somehow. The other cup is new, and came from my favorite coffee shop. I forgot to say 'to stay, please' when ordering my iced granita. Cups, unfortunately, go to the trash. One is #6, not easily recyclable (unless perhaps I take it to the Park Slope Coop, which is far from me and where I'm not a member). The other, while #2, is still not easily recyclable-- the city only accepts bottles for curbside recycling.

Mascara: It smears and is past old enough to throw out. I'm taking it to Origins for recycling.

Bug traps: left by my former roommate. They are old and no longer effective; I'm not replacing them. I've only seen one roach and a couple silver fish in the last two months-- hopefully things stay at that level. Bug traps go in the trash.

Week 27 Plastic Waste, Part 2 - Food Waste Edition

The same week I went on a Freegan Trash Tour, I also cleaned out my refrigerator and freezer. There were several plastic wrapped items that I would never eat and were WAY too old to pass on to someone else. Witness my shame!

- Veggie burgers, veggie 'turkey' and a fish fillet, left in my old apartment by Former Roommate #1...I moved last August, so this stuff is almost (and probably over) a year old.
- 2 Vitamin bottles, left in my old apartment by Former Roommate #2. I've been hanging on to them for almost a year and never use them--I think they were pretty old when she left them.
- 3 Giant Costco Chicken Breasts, from my last trip there in November. I ate 2 of them and felt funny after both-- either they were bad or my mind was so freaked by the unnatural size of them that my body reacted.

Everything but the vitamin bottle caps went in the trash. Caps go to Aveda for recycling.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Delaying my 'no poo' experiment

As you will see from my Plastic Tally (when I eventually post it!), I've used up 2 bottles of shampoo recently. I've been anticipating this for months, planning a "no poo" experiment. Going "no poo" means not using shampoo on your hair. Instead, you can use baking soda, or wash with conditioner, or even just rinse with water and scrub the scalp with your fingers. You can read about it here, here, and here.

My plan was to try the baking soda thing for at least 3 weeks. (My friends are already planning an intervention over this one.) Then, if I couldn't stand it, I would try a bar shampoo, like JR Liggetts or Lush. Another option to try would be just using conditioner, though if I'm substituting shampoo for conditioner, isn't that trading one plastic bottle for another? However, I might use less total product this way, meaning a little less plastic. Then, if all else failed, my plan was to reward companies like Aveda and Origins for thier recycling programs by purchasing their shampoo.

As it turns out, I don't need to try any of these things...yet. I found 3 more sample and partially used containers of shampoo in my under-bed toiletry stash. So for the time being I will continue what I have already been doing to use less plastic in the shower: wash my hair 2-3 times a week (down from 4-5 times), and use up what I already have.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fancy Recycling Symbol- not a recycling symbol, actually.

Since I'm now in the habit of scrutinizing every plastic container I own, trying to determine it's recyclability, I've come across this symbol and wondered what it meant. It looks fancy, must be European.

Well I was right about it being European, but this actually isn't a recycling symbol. This is called the "Green Dot" and it basically means that it:
complies with the German Packaging Ordinance for the return of consumer packaging. The symbol can, in fact, be in any colour other than red. It is administered by Duales System Deutschland GmbH, a non-profit organisation which was established to enable manufacturers and distributors to fulfil the requirements of the legislation. This shows that a fee has been paid for the recovery of the packaging in some European countries.

What does the symbol mean here in the United States? Bupkis. Nada. Zilch. Furthermore with the specific bottle of MAC tinted moisturizer I'm looking at now, there are no other symbols indicating what kind of plastic the bottle is made from- so I can't put it out for curbside recycling if it is #1 or #2 plastic. Not very helpful.

However, many cosmetic companies have recycling programs. For instance, when I'm done with it I can take my MAC tinted moisturizer back to MAC (though they don't say what they will do with it), or I can take it to Origins- they have a brand new recycling program and will take back cosmetic packaging, no matter what brand, for recycling or "energy recovery"-- I'd love to see more details on what that means!

Now, if only I could find a really good tinted oil free spf moisturizer that doesn't come in plastic...