Ten small steps towards a plastic-free household

New York Times said it best when they said that as a marketing term, the words “plastic-free” are the new “No carbs.” It’s a hot topic, especially in our environmentally conscious corner of the country here in the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes well-intentioned people can get so passionate and extreme about cutting plastic out of our life altogether that we feel turned off or even defensive. This is not the goal of our article! We want to feel motivated, inspired, and encouraged to make the changes we can and not worry about what we can't! 

So here’s what we know about Plastic: It's gross. 

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When recycled, plastic is broken down into microplastics that are smaller than dust particles and are absorbed by every creature from plankton to whales to birds to even humans. 94% of the tap water in the U.S. contains plastic. Yuck! 

Less than 1/5 of the plastic globally gets recycled and less than 10% of the plastic in the USA! Nearly 9 million tons is deposited into the ocean annually. In 30 years, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 

Obviously, the stats are horrifying, and we could go on with hundreds more. Most of us don’t need convincing that plastic is terrible. But old habits die hard, and without even thinking about it, we could be contributing to the problem. However, we aren’t here to guilt anyone and this isn’t a competition. In this post, we want to give practical, attainable steps we all can take to move towards a plastic-free home.

The key to success is to start small. Don’t feel overwhelmed by how many changes you have to make, or you will never begin. So choose one or two things on this list that you think is doable for your family, and then when you’ve adjusted to those changes, add more in later! Phase plastic items out of your home one at a time and replace them with eco-friendly, sustainable options. In the end, you can feel better about doing your part to reduce waste, and as an added bonus, you may also be surprised how economical it is in the long run. 



  1. Beeswax Wrap is the new Saran wrap.

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Beeswax wrap is fabric that has been coated in beeswax and can be used to cover containers and wrap food for storage just like plastic wrap, but instead of being single use, you can wash it with warm water and dry it in order to use again and again and again. It’s reusable, compostable, biodegradable, and as a bonus, you can choose really cute patterns to look at! If you are feeling ambitious and super industrious, you could follow a DIY tutorial and even make your own with recycled linens or clothing! More and more grocery stores are carrying them and there are numerous small shops you can buy them from via Etsy or Amazon. 


2. Phase-out your Ziplocks. 

Replace your plastic baggies with freezer and dishwasher safe, food-grade silicone, resealable bags that you can wash & use over and over again. Personally, we love Stasher bags, and although a bit of an initial investment, you really only need a couple in each size and you can buy them one at time as you slowly phase out of your plastic sandwich baggie collection.  


3. Ditch the plastic straws.

Plastic straws are only used for a few minutes but are extremely hard to recycle. Five hundred million disposable straws are used and discarded DAILY in the US alone. It’s such an easy thing to phase out of our lives and replace it with reusable glass or metal straws! They have a better mouth feel and are wider than a plastic straw, meaning that smoothie can be enjoyed even easier. Glass straws have a slight advantage over metal ones in our opinion, because you can see inside for easier cleaning. 


4. Shop from local bakeries or farmer's markets. 

This may not seem as obvious, but by doing this, you can avoid the plastic packaging involved in mass production for the supermarkets. We aren’t saying to boycott your local grocery store, but most good bakeries sell you fresh loaves in brown paper bags. We can’t say enough good things about the advantages to shopping at your local farmers market, but when you buy local food, it hasn’t had to travel halfway around the world to reach you, thus cutting down on your carbon footprint. You can avoid packaging altogether if you put the produce straight into your reusable bags. 


5. Store pantry items in glass jars.

Slowly phase out pantry items stored in plastic containers by replacing them with glass. You do not have to pay a fortune to do this at The Container Store (although if that’s your thing, don’t let us stop you). Just keep sauce, condiment, and pickle jars when they are empty and reuse them! Label them, and then start to buy those items from bulk bins. This is so much more efficient and cheaper in the long run and if you have exposed or open shelving in your kitchen can be a gorgeous way to display your pantry essentials!  

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6. Quit drinking bottled water. 

It’s 2019, and glass water bottles are in style. Or if you’re afraid you’ll drop it and break it (not that we’re speaking from experience or anything), get a Hydroflask! They keep your water colder longer anyway, it won’t break when you inevitably drop it, and we love supporting a PNW made product when we can. If you drink bottled water for the taste because tap water freaks you out, get a purifier that attaches to your kitchen faucet— it pays for itself rapidly when you are no longer buying plastic water bottles! 


7. Toss your toothbrush.

In the US alone, an estimated billion toothbrushes are discarded annually. This is equal to 50 million pounds of waste. For such a simple thing like a toothbrush! Obviously electric toothbrushes are a great option, but if you aren’t ready to spring for a Sonicare at this time, try just simply swapping that Costco pack of toothbrushes for a biodegradable bamboo version, or if you want to take it a step further, a wooden brush that is completely compostable after use. 


8. Composting isn’t just for hippies anymore.

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I’m sure we don’t have to mention all the ways composting is beneficial for the environment and economy, but it is also a great way to cut down on your household waste. In the Seattle area, I’m sure we are all too aware of how big those yard debris cans are in comparison to the itty bitty trash cans the city provides. When you compost and recycle properly, you would be amazed at how little is actually left that is truly garbage. Less garbage = less plastic garbage bags. If you don’t even want to mess with buying the biodegradable bags for your under the sink compost bin, you can even find these stylish countertop bins that have stainless steel inserts. 


9. Make your own cleaning products and put them in glass spray bottles.

This is so much more fun than you’d think with wins all around. Less chemicals in your house, and making your own cleaning products is so much cheaper! Most bathroom, window, countertop, car, furniture cleaner and even hand sanitizer can be made with combinations of pantry staples such as vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, witch hazel, essential oils, and water. There are infinite DIY recipes on Pinterest should you care to take a gander. The glass bottles are a one and done initial investment but you only have to buy them once and now your cleaning supplies are pretty enough to display and non-toxic, too. 


10. Choose conscious options when shopping online. 

It would be hypocritical to include links to products on Amazon in this article without addressing how much plastic and waste is involved when we have products delivered to our door. But let’s be honest—where would we be without online shopping or the ease of Amazon Prime in our lives? Many people don’t know that Amazon has Certified Frustration-Free Packaging available that is designed to reduce waste by being 100% recyclable and comes without excess packaging materials or plastic clamshells. The product inside is the same and everything is included that would be in the original manufacturer’s product, it’s just in sustainable packaging that is “right-sized” and has been tested to reduce damages in transit. 

Slow Living: What it is and why we love it!

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Slow living has become more than just a buzzword, it’s a movement. And no wonder since people every day are living at an impossibly fast pace. Slow living is all about taking a step back from the chaos and intentionally taking a slower approach to aspects of everyday life. It’s about decelerating the pace of our modern living and adding back balance, ease, and sanity.  

We are excited to share a few of our favorite aspects of slow living, but in this week's blog, we take on how the slow living movement can be incorporated into home design. 

Our surroundings have an impact on how we feel. Design can affect our mood and ambitions. To induce the slow-living concept into our lives it helps to incorporate a design that allows you to live in a more conscious, intentional, and mindful way. And yes, the interior of your home can help you feel more balanced! If you incorporate the following principles, you’ll be well on your way to creating a home designed with this in mind: 


S

Sustainable:

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. This also means focusing on pieces that will last and not treating everything in life as disposable (sorry, IKEA)

L

Local:

Showcasing regional goods (or pieces from your travels)

O

Organic:

Not mass-produced

W

Whole:

Not processed



Slow living design. Our tips: 

  • Create gathering spaces that foster wellness, conversation and time with friends and family.

    • Place furniture so it’s positioned to entice conversation.

    • Family rooms with comfortable seating centered around a large coffee table for board games or hobbies.

    • Oversized dining tables with plenty of chairs that welcome meals together and lingering conversation.

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  • Incorporate an organic and natural way of living.

    • Choose accent pieces with hand-loomed fabrics

    • Bring nature inside by adding branches from a tree, a fresh vase of flowers, or a bowl filled with rocks and moss from your favorite weekend getaway.

    • Chopped firewood next to a woodburning fireplace plays up both nature and functionality.

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  • It’s all about warmth

    • Warmth can be incorporated with color, but it doesn’t mean you have to ditch the gray. Adding soft, touchable texture eludes to a comfortable warmth and a tranquil home.

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  • Artisanal Touches

    • Skills such as pottery and weaving trend with this design because they visually stimulate feelings of the slow art (and time) it took to lovingly put the piece together. For instance, if you select a natural woven pillow handmade by a local artisan, it reminds you of how the craft of weaving and the slow methodical art of creating that pillow took time, concentration, and connection with the skill. The very thought of that can help you disconnect from the chaotic world, making the design inside your home an integral part of reaching a more balanced mindset.

    • Unique, one of a kind pieces are dominating the home fashion industry. Original pieces of art and anything handcrafted allow for personal expression. “Self Expression” is the ultimate of the slow living trend. And again, this doesn’t have to be expensive. One of a kind pieces can even be made by you, or your children. It may entice you to embrace the whole slow living movement and take up a hobby or two!

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  • It’s all about texture

    • You’ll find lots of layering of textures. Think about it: If everything is too similar, our eyes have trouble focusing. Using texture helps to bring harmony and balance to the room. Texture in this sense can come from a variety of sources from soft fabrics and textiles with movement to harder materials like wood and stone, on any touchable surface.

    • The easiest and least expensive way to add texture in the home is through fabrics and textiles. These are usually smaller pieces like pillows and throw blankets. Soft furnishings in a selection of textures can make a big impact when displayed together.

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Ultimately, slow living is a connection with yourself, those around you, and the world. We hope that incorporating some of these ideas inspires you to take life a little slower.


Selling your home shouldn’t be… slow.

Let us work with you to find the right buyer.

Decluttering as a Family

Fun and Cooperative Strategies for the Family

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A clean and organized home can greatly add to our enjoyment of it. If you have a cluttered, poorly decorated, or somewhat disorganized living space, home relaxation can be virtually impossible! Fortunately, we have some tips that can ease the stress. We are pleased to introduce our guest writer, Jackie Waters. Ms. Waters is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com. In this article, she shows us how with a little help, your home could be the clean and organized space you dream of.

Here’s how:

When decluttering, people sometimes fall victim to the “I-may-need-this-again” mindset, an irresolute and counterproductive view that can leave you with the same mess you started with. One effective and enjoyable way to stay faithful to the objective of decluttering is to use a system of accountability that involves everyone in the decision-making process. It may take a bit longer and there will be some debate — some of it spirited — but this approach interjects a healthy element of group responsibility into the process.


Checks and Balances

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Everyone who participates has an equal say in how to dispose of each item based on the proposition that no one “owns” anything while decluttering. To help avoid sentimentality, everyone has a right to question three decisions based on the following criteria: you either use an item regularly or intend to pass it on to your children. Otherwise, it needs to be recycled, donated, or thrown out. If someone challenges a decision, the others vote “yea” or “nay” based on the goal of getting rid of as much stuff as possible.  

Space and Well-Being

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The aim of decluttering is to free up space in your home and, in so doing, improve your sense of well-being and happiness. With that in mind, as you begin to go through each possession, consider whether you really need it, whether it’s something you just can’t live without, and whether keeping it is important enough to sacrifice your goal of creating a freer, more open living space. Answering these questions honestly should help in overcoming the often overwhelming impulse to retain objects needlessly.

The ‘Two-Bag’ Treatment

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The “two-bag” approach will help you differentiate between items based on what you intend to do with them. For example, there may be some items you’re not ready to just throw away but which you can’t justify keeping. In one trash bag, place anything that’s going to be donated, recycled or given to someone outside your household. In the other bag goes all the stuff you’re resolved to throw away. It’s a simple, straightforward approach designed to discourage the impulse to hang onto stuff that’s not needed anymore.

Slay the Paper Monster

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The daily mail is a major source of clutter in most households and needs to be dealt with resolutely. What’s needed is a system designed to pare down the mail to bare essentials — no junk mail, just bills and very little else. Delegate someone to clip coupons from flyers and circulars, then toss the rest into the recycling pile. Take a similar approach with catalogs: If no one is purchasing from a catalog, recycle it. Personal mail, including letters, credit card offers, membership renewals, and so forth, should be reviewed and acted on or disposed of.

Clean It, Keep It Organized

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Once you’ve got your living environment under control and everything that’s staying is in its place, give the house a good, thorough cleaning. Pay particular attention to the bathroom, often one of the dirtiest rooms in the house. Make sure you have a vacuum that’s effective on tile flooring and has attachments that can reach into tight spaces. Also, keep the house clean so it doesn’t fall into the same disarray that led you to decluttering in the first place. You can hire a cleaning service, but this create added cost, so give careful thought about whether you can afford the expense. If you are looking for a cleaning service, the Maple + Main team have some great referrals for that!

Create a ‘Profit Pile’

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Most of us have belongings that can generate income. That includes books, CDs, DVDs, records, sports equipment, clothing, shoes, and old jewelry. As long as you’re going to the trouble of decluttering, you may as well try to make a few dollars out of it. If you decide to challenge someone’s decision to keep a questionable belonging, point out that it could be worth something and that they don’t simply have to throw it out or recycle it. A great many things can be sold on eBay or Craigslist and a host of other “second-hand economy” websites.

Decluttering can be a lot easier and more enjoyable if you make it a group effort rather than a nebulous task that’s at the discretion of each individual. Getting rid of familiar and comfortable objects can be a difficult emotional process. Sometimes, we need the support and strength of others to help us stay focused on the task at hand, and the end result will be well worth it!