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Our Top Tips for Traveling Sustainably

Our Top Tips for Traveling Sustainably

We just got back from a short visit to Thailand with our 5 year old son and 19 month old daughter and I can tell you traveling with kids is a potential landmine of waste!  If you even want to have a chance at preventing a good portion of it, you need to be proactive with your planning and intentional with your packing, as well as staying consistently insistent with the hotel and restaurant staff to follow your requests.

So were we 100% waste-free after four days in Thailand? Absolutely not! But we did make some successful packing choices and hopefully next time we figure out additional ways to make our journey even more sustainable. So here’s what I can recommend:

Bring your own reusable cutlery, especially for the airplane. It felt so good to hand the disposable cutlery back to the flight attendant when they gave us our food.

✨ To avoid needing any bottled water on the airplane, bring along a reusable bottle with some Kuro-Bo coins, and after the security check, fill it up with tap water and pop in your coins to clean it.  Amazing!

Bring along food containers to use at your destination. They work great for takeaway, leftovers or bringing snacks out and about with you. I had some ECOlunchbox Seal Cups and Stasher Bags and we used them every day.

✨Never need to buy chemical-filled sunscreen in a plastic bottle again!  Choose from four different sunscreen options from our new product line from Raw Elements, that are all sold in sustainable packaging, made from organic ingredients and 100% reef-safe.  I've tested it on my own skin as well as my kids, and I can speak from experience that it works!  Hooray!  I can't tell you how happy this makes me.

We got super ambitious this time and brought along our Berkey water filter to use in our hotel room. And it was so easy! The two chambers pack into each other so it doesn’t take up too much space while enroute and we were able to have clean water whenever we needed it for the entirety of our trip. (You can purchase these locally at Seed in Sai Kung or online with the local Hong Kong distributor, just google!)

Reusable water bottles are a must! We filled up with our Berkey filtered water before leaving the hotel room and never needed to buy water while out. Winning!


So what were the biggest challenges???

I didn’t have anywhere to wash Ava’s reusable nappies so I had to use disposables for these few days. This pretty much broke my heart, because it's otherwise easily avoidable, but I didn’t really see another way in these circumstances.

Those pesky plastic straws were hard to avoid. Even if you tell them no straw it always seems to show up anyways!

✨Package-free kids snack to bring along from home are pretty much non-existent.  I live in the real world just like anyone else, and I need to be well armed with spoil-free food to stave off any potential hangry melt-downs from the littles.

All in all, I'd say sustainable traveling has a long way to go, but hopefully people start to care more about this issue and try and make the effort. I can also tell you without hesitation, you’ll feel amazing when you're able to refuse those disposables and save the world from one more piece of plastic waste!

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Ice Lolly Recipe: Orange Creamsicle

Ice Lolly Recipe: Orange Creamsicle

We are huge fans of homemade ice pops in our home, and this one is our go-to recipe at the moment.  Easy, affordable and most importantly ... healthy!  And the cherry on top?  A potentially completely plastic free snack.  Just buy your ingredients in glass and metal and you're good to go.

Tell us what you think of this recipe and share your favorites with us too!  We love new ideas!

WHAT YOU NEED:

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Juice about 5-6 oranges
  • Mix all ingredients together well to ensure no separation occurs while freezing in the mold
  • Pour into our stainless steel ice pop molds
  • Freeze for 4-6 hours
  • When ready to feast, just hold the mold in your hand for a few seconds or run under warm water and pull out
  • Enjoy!
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5 Easy Changes For Plastic Free July

 

Plastic Free July has grown from a handful of participants in Western Australia in 2011, to millions of participants across more than 150 countries worldwide today.
 
This incredible transformation has led them to become an independent, not-for-profit charitable foundation and their vision is a world without plastic waste. 

By encouraging people to be more aware of their plastic use, and supporting behaviour change during the month of July every year, hopefully this dream will become more of a reality.

It might seem overwhelming to think of living 100% plastic free, but any small change you can make matters.  Read below to see 5 easy changes everyone can make without any stress!

1. CLEANING: Make your own household cleaners in a glass spray bottle.  These highly durable, refillable 16 oz glass spray bottles make it easy to replace wasteful store-bought chemical cleaners with all-natural, non-toxic homemade cleaners you make at home.

Simply choose a recipe, add ingredients to the fill lines on the bottle, shake, and you're ready to clean!

 

 

2. KITCHEN: Replace your disposable plastic zip lock bags with silicone storage bags.  Long-lasting, useful and so versatile, you'll never need to visit the zip-lock aisle in the grocery store again.  And think about all of that plastic saved from the landfill!

 

3.  EATING:  Bring along a reusable bamboo cutlery set for food on the go. How about a bamboo utensil set to round out the perfect toolkit for life on the go? A handy carabiner on the back lets you clip and carry a fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks wherever you may roam. Perfect for a busy lifestyle and our precious planet. 

 

4.  BAGS:  Always carry a reusable bag with you while you're out and about.  This tote is my new favorite PFHK product!  It is so versatile and can carry lots of weight, and of course eliminates the need for disposable plastic bags.  From the grocery to the beach, I always find I'm reaching for it while I'm out and about.

 

5.  BATHROOM: Stainless steel safety razor instead of plastic, disposable one. Over 2 billion disposable plastic razors are thrown out each year in the U.S. alone.  That's enough to wrap around the Earth end-to-end 6 times!  Let's return to the good old days of safety razors and eliminate the need for this type of plastic waste.

 

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From Our E-Shelves: Top 5 Father's Day Gift Ideas

In our home, we try to live as minimally as possible.  And when we do buy things, we ask ourselves "Is it useful?"  and/or "Does it bring us pleasure/etc?".  We don't want things clogging our home that don't serve a purpose or bring us joy.

So when the holidays arrive and days of gift giving occur, sometimes it can be difficult to think of ideas because we feel like we have everything we need!  (and what a blessing that is!)  So we thought we'd put together a short list of possible ideas for your dad, husband, brother, son that could show your love, sustainably! 

1.  Teakwood S'well Bottle  $290

 

2.  Brass Wire BBQ Brush  $200

 

3.  Zero Waste Shaving Kit  $415

 

4.  Three-In-One Lunchbox  $275

 

5.  Reusable Coffee Cup  $100

 

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Can Plastic Truly Be Recycled?

Can Plastic Truly Be Recycled?

So can plastic truly be recycled?  Let's break it down, plain and simple...

Materials like metal, glass and paper can truly be recycled because they can be remade into the same form without needing any additional materials to do so. A recycled glass container can be continually remade into a glass container, over and over and over again, without ever needing new material and without ever needing to go to the landfill.

Plastic on the other hand, cannot be. The process of recycling plastic weakens it, so new, virgin plastic must be added to it in order to make the same form again. Essentially, plastic can be DOWN-cycled but not truly REcycled. For example, a recycled plastic water bottle can be down-cycled into teddy bear stuffing or a synthetic rug, but not into another water bottle without needing to add new plastic.  And eventually, this down cycled plastic will run it's lifecycle to the end and will end up in the landfill.

So now you can see why recycling is definitely not the answer.  Not much of plastic gets recycled anyways, and that which does, is destined one day to end up in the landfills or waterways.  So what is the answer???  Refusal!  Not using it at all, and instead, finding a truly sustainable alternative that can be reused, recycled or will biodegrade and return to the earth one day. 

And for Hong Kongers looking for glass recycling drop off points, check out this link:  http://www.glass-recycling.com.hk 

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Reusable Coffee Cups: Just Do It

Single-use disposable coffee cups are one of the most wasteful inventions of our time. In any given year, 58 billion paper cups are thrown into landfills by consumers in the U.S. alone! Yes, I said BILLION!  What’s more, 4 billion single-use coffee cups are thrown out by consumers of Starbucks every year! It takes 1 million trees to produce the paper for all those cups, and that’s without consideration of the energy and water needed, as well as the space in landfills to hold these disposable cups. A study done by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) found that Hong Kong is the 17th largest market for tea, with 1.428 lbs drunk per capita per year. With this scale, we have to do better. Ocean Recovery Alliance “persuaded the Pacific Coffee chain to get on board with reducing plastic waste by launching a lid-return programme... Customers who bring back their coffee cup lids are given a free drink upgrade, while the plastic lids are sent for recycling.” Although a considerable improvement, what would be even better is reducing the number of disposable cups used. That is the goal of the new tax imposed on coffee cups in the U.K. Consumers will now have to pay more for using a disposable cup provided by coffee shops. Maybe something like that should be implemented in Hong Kong... 

But you know, there is a very simple, very easy solution to all of this - bring your own cup! All of our reusable coffee/tea cups here at Plastic-Free HK are sourced from the British reusable coffee cup company, Ecoffee Cup. According to their website, cups are made “with the world’s most sustainable crop – bamboo fibre”, and are BPA and phthalate free. Yay! I love this brand because their values align with mine, and their products are just awesome; you can choose from a variety of colours, sizes, and patterns, and there are even accessories. There is also a William Morris collection… be right back; I’m getting one of these! They do customisation and bespoke design for Universities and companies alike and are currently selling their cups at “1000 independent retail outlets, cafes and restaurants in the UK, Europe, Russia, South Africa and beyond” (including here in Hong Kong at PFHK)

You can see all of our reusable Ecoffee Cups currently in stock by visiting our website, and please feel free to use the below discount code for an extra 10% off our cups until the end of the month, or while supplies last!

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Zero-Waste Oil Cleansing

Zero-Waste Oil Cleansing
Have you ever heard of oil cleansing?  I discovered it this year and I will never wash my face with anything else ever again!  Not only is it cleansing for all skin types, but also moisturizing, simple, effective, efficient and of course zero-waste!  I can't flaw it really. Continue reading

Zero Waste Hummus!

Zero Waste Hummus!

 

Going to the grocery store can be overwhelming when you're trying to live a less wasteful life, especially when you live here in Hong Kong.  So I've decided to take it one plastic packaged grocery item at a time, and try to find a more sustainable option.

First challenge: HUMMUS!  My love for hummus is real!  But of course most come in plastic tubs.  And you all know where these end up.  So after I found the absolute best recipe on Inspired Taste, I looked through my local grocery store and found all the ingredients I needed in glass/metal jars.  

The salt, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and tahini all come in glass and metal, I buy our olive oil in a bulk metal tin from Olive Tree HK and of course the lemon and garlic come loose.  If you'd like to add cumin I'm sure you can also find this with a metal cap, but this is just the one we had on hand at home.

Once you have all of the ingredients gathered, it doesn't take long to make at all.  A smooth creamy crowd please, for sure!  And no plastic waste.

INGREDIENTS

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)

1/4 cup (60 ml) well-stirred tahini

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) water

Dash ground paprika, for serving

 

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.

Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.

Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.

Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and dash of paprika. Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.

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How Long Until It's Gone?

Have you ever wondered how long your waste takes to break down and return to the Earth?  I did and some of the statistics are shocking!  


As I've always said, change comes through education.  Once we know the implications of plastic waste in our world, we will be able to do nothing other than CHANGE!  So let's Learn: The biggest takeaway from this information is this: plastic will never fully biodegrade.  "While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds", explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

  • Paper towel: 2-4 weeks
  • Apple core: 2 months
  • Cigarette butt: 1-5 years
  • Plastic grocery bag: 10-20 years
  • Tin can: 50 years
  • Styrofoam: 50 years
  • Rubber sole: 50-80 years
  • Aluminum can: 200 years
  • Plastic beverage holder ring: 400 years
  • Plastic bottles: 450 years
  • Disposable diapers: 450 years
  • Fishing line: 600 years

*Again, it's so important to remember that the plastic items on this list will never disappear, rather only break down into tiny pieces which will then either get ingested by wildlife or poison our waterways and soil.

***Source: U.S. National Parks Service, NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S.)

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