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The idea of making next to zero trash can seem incredibly daunting to many people. When most of everything we consume comes packaged and wrapped, the idea of living a zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t seem possible. What most people don’t realize is that many of the steps towards reducing one’s trash are actually incredibly easy and money-saving!

If you have ever been curious about how you can shrink your trash footprint and live life a whole lot greener, than keep reading as I dispel the common myths of living a zero-waste life!

3 myths about zero waste living

Myth #1: I have to be 100% trash-free.

First we have to ask ourselves, “why is there trash in the first place?” The reason: poor design, and poor recovery. Currently, the way most goods are produced falls into linear production model. In general, that means products are designed and manufactured to not be recaptured and put cycled back into the production system. Basically, goods are made, consumed, and then disposed (another new addition to the landfill family). This linear production economy equals trash and avoiding it 100% of the time—unfortunately— is just not realistic. Even the best zero-wasters still produce bits of trash. Don’t beat yourself up if you make some trash. The goal is to become an empowered, informed, and conscious consumer! By voting with our dollar we put the heat on industries to design goods to be fully recoverable, which means every part of the product can be introduced back into the cycle once again.

The term “zero waste” is an industrial term. It is the opposite of the current linear production system we are all a part of. A zero-waste economy is one where design, manufacturing, consuming, and recapture are all on the same page for recovery. We call this a circular economy.

Again, the best we can do is be super-empowered consumers and avoid as much trash as possible by flexing our consumer muscles and making choices which drastically eliminate needless waste. This way we send a powerful message to companies to make shifts in how their product is designed and recovered.

The zero waste lifestyle is not about perfection; some trash will happen!

BeZeroReusableBags

Myth #2: It’s expensive to have a zero-waste lifestyle.

The illusion of a greener lifestyle is that it’s more expensive, but in our family we have saved money! Because we simplified our wants and needs, decluttered, and have bought less packaged products and foods we have eliminated so many common purchases. For example, we no longer buy paper towels, napkins, tissues, plastic baggies, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, razor blades, and pre-packaged foods. Instead, we have durable and lasting reusable products.

We even save money by eliminating the need to buy cleaning and personal care products by making our own from simple and inexpensive ingredients. Even just hang-drying our clothes has saved us nearly $50 from our monthly energy bill! That’s $600 dollars a year! For the ladies, by choosing reusable menstrual pads and cups, you’ll save roughly $90 dollars a year! It all adds up!

When you move from a disposable lifestyle to a reusable lifestyle you clear out the unnecessary items and waste from life and make room for better health, less stress, and less need to buy things we don’t actually need. Instead, we look for meaningful experiences rather than stuff.

ZeroWasteKit

Myth #3: Changing my habits won’t really make a difference.

“Does it really make a difference?” is the one question I get asked the most. While it seems as though all of your efforts go to waste every time you pass an overflowing trash can, we are all in this together and we all inspire change through our individual actions. One of my favorite quotes says: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale


 

AndreaSandersPhotoAbout the author of this post:

Andrea Sanders lives in Boulder, Colorado where she helps individuals, families, and businesses reduce their environmental impact. Learn more about Andrea and her zero waste mission at www.bezero.co. She shares daily zero-waste inspiration on Instagram (@BeZeroWasteGirl).

Through our recent photoshoot at Spin Laundry Lounge we met Kayleen, a laundry maven and self-identified “Moon Cup evangelist.” We asked her a few questions about her experience with reusables, and working at Spin.

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First, tell us a little about yourself!
27/F/PDX

When did you first start using a cup?
About a year and a half ago.

What prompted you to make the switch?
I had always been curious about the Moon Cup. When I had my IUD removed after five blissful, period-free years, I couldn’t imagine going back to disposables again. Choosing the Moon Cup was a game changer, and easily one of the best things I’ve done for myself in my 20s so far.

For you, what’s the best part about reusables?
Positivity! Sharing the light I’ve seen with other women, having positive discussions about menstrual health and hygiene, and feeling hugely empowered knowing I’m doing good for my body and the environment.

What’s the biggest change you noticed after dumping disposables?
Sustainability! No more driving to the store for $8 packages of organic tampons, only to wrap them in more excessive toilet paper before throwing them in the trash, or leaving them unused, tossed-around and half unwrapped at the bottom of old purse. The average American woman will throw away around 13,000 pads and tampons in her lifetime. But I’m not average.

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Any advice for people switching to reusables?
You’re making really good decisions – keep it up!

How long have you worked at Spin?
I joined Spin in the buildout phase, a few months before we opened our doors in March of 2014.

What’s the best part about working here?
It feels really good. The opportunity to work for a female owned, eco-focused, people-focused business in Portland, Oregon is a dream come true for me. I am genuinely excited to come to work every day and effect change in people’s lives and the environment through a seemingly small but impactful practice like laundry.

What’s something cool about Spin that people should know? (Besides the sweet coffee bar in the back, of course.)
Spin’s washers and dryers are the most energy and water efficient in the entire world! Sure, we’re the laundromat with the beer, but we’re also the laundromat that uses less than a third of the water and energy that a household washer and dryer uses in half the time. Plus, beer.

 


kateAbout the author of this post:
Kate is a summer intern at GladRags, and a feminist with a passion for period positivity. She starts her senior year at Reed College this fall, where she’ll write her thesis on climate change policy.

GladRagsWrapUp

During the month of April, we challenged you to share #onesmallchange you’ve made to help create a healthier, happier planet. You blew us away with your submissions! From reusable cotton makeup removers to bike riding and composting kitchen waste to stainless steel straws, together we’re making a big impact!

The contest is over (we gave away a reusable cotton pantyliner every of the month, and our ambassadors were entered to win Cloth Pad Sampler Kits), but we hope you’ll continue making more and more choices that change our world for the better! We were inspired by your passion to be good stewards of this earth, and hope that your momentum continues. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Happy Earth Day!

Our annual Earth Day Sale starts today: pick up any of the fabulously eco-friendly items on GladRags.com by Monday at midnight and automatically get these discounts applied to your cart:

$5 OFF orders of $40
$10 OFF orders over $75
$20 OFF orders over $150

SHOP EARTH DAY SALE ►

Win a Pantyliner

We’re giving away a pantyliner every day this month! Just make #onesmallchange to build a healthier world, then share it on social. Full giveaway details on the GladRags blog. Here are a few of our favorite submissions so far (your posts don’t have to be this cute, but it sure doesn’t hurt!):

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(click to embiggen)

Celebrate our Planet

We’re spending part of today volunteering with C.R.O.P.S. (Community Reaps Our Produce and Shares), an organic farm built on vacant land owned by the county. We’ll be helping with weeding and harvesting the produce that is donated to the Oregon Food Bank by this community farm. Follow us on Instagram to see us getting muddy for a good cause, and leave us a blog comment to tell us what you’re doing this Earth Day!

whats-in-your-tampon

Here at GladRags HQ, we stumble across a lot of “fun” facts about disposable pads and tampons. Such as:

“In California, it is now illegal to feed the leaves, stems, and short fibers of cotton known as ‘gin trash’ to livestock, because of the concentrated levels of pesticide residue. Instead, this gin trash is used to make furniture, mattresses, swabs, cotton balls and tampons.

The cotton is too tainted by pesticides to feed to animals, but is totally fine for your hoo-ha?! Ugh. This delightful tidbit inspired Meagan to do a little extra research on the pesticide residues left in conventional tampons.

In her research, she found that NaturallySavvy.com sent a conventional tampon to a third party testing facility to test for pesticide residue.

Horror ensues, as the following pesticides are discovered: Malaoxon & Malathion: 1 ppm, Dichlofluanid: 1 ppm, Mecarbam: 6 ppm, Procymidone: 37 ppm, Methidathion: 5 ppm, Fensulfothion: 5 ppm, Pyrethrum: 66 ppm, Piperonyl Butoxide: 1 ppm.

Naturally Savvy breaks down each pesticide in their article, but here’s a nasty tale of only one of the pesticides found in tampons:

Procymidone: Found in relatively high amounts in our sample, it’s poisonous if absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or swallowed. It’s a possible liver and testes toxicant, which may also cause reproductive and developmental toxicity. It causes birth defects in some animals. Procymidone is listed on the State of California Propositions 65 Carcinogen List and the EPA’s carcinogen list. It’s also listed on the EU list of potential endocrine disruptors.

Meagan’s conclusion? “If I was stranded on a desert island upon which a lifetime supply of tampons had spilled and I was without my Moon Cup and GladRags, I would choose to free bleed on the sand. I would rather subject myself to a sticky, plastic pad than a tampon. I wouldn’t offer a tampon to my worst enemy. #byetampons”

tampon-worst-enemy

A note about organic tampons: After learning about the uglier side of conventional tampons, you may think that organic cotton tampons are the best solution – and they’re certainly much better! But better doesn’t mean best, especially when it comes to caring for the planet. Most are made of biodegradable ingredients, but because they’re a disposable item you’re going to need to eventually buy more. And more. And even more. If you consider the energy used in an organic tampon’s lifetime, from creation in a factory to transportation to your local store, then you’ll realize that they’re still much more of a drain on our natural resources than reusable pads or menstrual cups.

Sources:

    1.  Article 2, Section 2678 of the California Code of Regulations via http://www.bodyfueling.net/ARTICLES/cotton1.html
    2. http://naturallysavvy.com/care/is-there-pesticide-residue-on-your-tampons-our-independent-testing-gets-specific
    3. http://naturallysavvy.com/care/conventional-cotton-tampons-and-pesticides

What would you say if an organic, ethical fashion boutique asked you to help model their new selection for spring? Um, YES PLEASE. Our little team was lucky enough to show off woman-owned and Portland-based Gaia Couture’s elegant and comfy spring selection.

We thought we’d share some of our favorite shots with you, and give you a little peek into the world of GladRags! Jealous of our outfits? Score your own from Gaia Couture for 20% off during the month of April with coupon code GLADRAGS.

heidi at gladrags

This is Heidi (and her beautiful curly hair). Heidi is our bookkeeper and has the best posture of anyone in the office.

tracy at gladrags

Here’s me. Let’s pretend that my job is to hug cloth pads and laugh about it, because I’m clearly really good at that.

meagan at gladrags

Meagan, our director of customer happiness, has seen nearly every season of America’s Next Top Model, and it shows.

eliana at gladrags

Every time you place an order, Eliana picks up a pad with wings (and then ships it to you).

tracy and eliana

Consider this shot our foray into business stock photos. I think I was saying, “look at this paper, Eliana. I highlighted some things on it for you.” We may be corny, but at least we look cute.

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Heidi’s favorite part of her job is definitely when she has to do inventory. Definitely.

team gladrags

This picture is my favorite from the day and honestly gets me a little misty-eyed. I’m so proud to be working with this tiny team of hard-working ladies to make GladRags bigger and better every day. As a little girl, I never would have dreamed of being a “boss.” I’m still learning what it means to be a boss (and more importantly, a good one), and I’m so grateful to have this amazing team that’s growing and learning with me.

OneSmallChangeCover

Here at GladRags it’s pretty much Earth Day every day, but we like to take the whole month of April to celebrate the planet — and the actions we take to protect it. It’s hard to go a single day without hearing about all that’s going wrong in the world: needless waste and overconsumption of resources, smokestacks belching air pollution, climate change, plastic trash clogging waterways…. the list goes on and on. Sometimes it seems to be an insurmountable hurdle. But it’s not.

Re-building a healthy world starts with every one of us making ONE SMALL CHANGE. Join us this month in taking a photos of the small actions you do every day to make a better world. Pictures must be your own and must include a description and #gladragspads #onesmallchange. Every day, we’ll draw one winner from all the entries to receive a GladRags pantyliner. Together, we can change the world… one pantyliner at a time.

Giveaway guidelines:

  • Pictures must include both #gladragspads and #onesmallchange and be publicly visible (or we won’t be able to find them!)
  • Entries will be accepted via Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
  • Pictures should be your own and depict Earth-friendly actions (like bringing your reusable bag, hanging your GladRags on a clothesline, etc).

You can watch all the entries come in via the GladRags Social Stream!

Trash-Talk-Campaign

Trash. We take it out, toss things in, and usually don’t pay it much mind (until it starts to smell). With each person in the United States generating approximately 4.38 pounds of waste per day*, it’s time we started to pay attention to trash.

Here in the US, most of us are lucky enough to have garbage service, making trash a mild inconvenience that we can choose not to see. One question I like to ask people is this: when you throw your pads and tampons away, where do you think “away” is? Unfortunately, “away” is landfills, the ocean (and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch), or inefficient incinerators that contribute to climate change.**

Most of the trash we make is not only unnecessary, it’s so easily preventable. We can compost, recycle, or (the best method of trash reduction) simply choose reusable items instead. This month, we’ve partnered with some of our favorite reusable companies to encourage everyone to start talking trash… about trash.

Your mission: snap a pic of the unnecessary trash you encounter in your day to day and share on Instagram with #TrashTalk. One winner will be selected at random on March 10th to win a trash-busting prize pack that includes:

  • a $75 shopping spree at GladRags.com
  • a reusable water bottle from Eco Vessel
  • a year’s supply of toothbrushes + a reusable food storage set from Preserve Products
  • two zero-waste home cleaning cloths from E-Cloth

For example:

 

trash-talk-example

Note: images need to be public (not private) to qualify for entry.

Sources:

* http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/
** http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/about/media/how-big-great-pacific-garbage-patch-science-vs-myth.html
** http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2013/09/incinerating-trash-is-a-waste-of-resources/

moon cup and pantyliner

This post is brought to you by Iris, one of our fabulous Campus Ambassadors and former GladRags intern. She wrote the below piece for her university’s newspaper. Thanks for spreading the word about reusable menstrual products, Iris! You rock!

Tampons are gross. So are maxi pads. They affect everyone living on this planet, regardless of sex or gender. Over the course of a lifetime, the average woman (it should be noted that not all women have periods, and not all people who have periods are women) will spend $3,500 on disposable menstrual products. That’s about 8,000 tampons or pads, generating mountains of bloody, disgusting waste that will sit in our landfills forever. Disposable menstrual products are made of wood pulp, with chemical additives and fragrances, and they contain (trace amounts of) a known carcinogen, dioxin, due to the bleaching process that they undergo.
Fortunately, there are alternatives! Sustainable, hygienic, comfortable, convenient, alternatives: reusable menstrual products. So keep reading, for yourself, your friends, your family, and your planet.

There are two main types of reusable menstrual products: menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads. Menstrual cups are the bomb. Made of medical-grade silicone; they go inside the vagina, like a tampon. You buy one, for about $30, once or maybe twice in your lifetime. They only need to be emptied 2-3 times a day. Unlike a tampon, they collect, rather than absorb, liquid. This greatly reduces the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), which comes from over-absorbent tampons drying out tissue and resulting in small tears that allow bacteria into the bloodstream. Similar to tampons, you can run, swim, bike, etc. with ease and comfort. They just need to be rinsed or wiped with toilet paper after being emptied, and then washed with hot, soapy water every month. There are a lot of urban legends and few sad but true stores of menstrual cups getting stuck inside of people. This shouldn’t ever happen. Menstrual cups do require a little practice, but they will come out with a little maneuvering.

Menstrual cups don’t work out for some people, with excuses ranging from, “I just can’t even”, to personal preferences, to medical conditions such as endometriosis. Luckily, there are always reusable cloth pads. These can be purchased in a wide variety of designs and pretty patterns/colors, or DIY sewn by hand. Unlike disposable pads, which have a plastic lining that traps odor and can lead to chafing and infection, they are breathable and supremely comfortable. They, are, contrary to popular belief, not difficult to keep clean; just rinse and then toss in the laundry.

All reusable menstrual products require a little more cleaning than their disposable counterparts. But ask yourself, which is really more disgusting? Having to deal with a little blood, or piling up foul, rotting disposables for someone else to deal with in the future?

Want to go buy some of these wonderful products? Check out Portland, OR based GladRags (gladrags.com) for a very helpful website with FAQs and a great selection of pads and cups.

Hi! I’m Iris, and I’m interning at GladRags this summer. I just finished my freshman year at Willamette University in Salem, OR. I love running and spend most of time eating, sleeping, and figuring out what to do with my life.

I love GladRags. I love my Moon Cup. My period has become a much more pleasant, carefree experience since switching to reusables.

Here are some highlights:

  • I don’t need to count disposables before packing for trips, fret about running out, run to the store at inconvenient hours, etc.
  • I can take far fewer trips to the bathroom to change a pad or tampon
  • There is less smell and itchiness
  • My recurrent yeasty beasties have gone the way of the dodo
  • I have (necessarily) come to have a better relationship with my body and menstrual fluid
  • Taking out the trash after my period has become a ritual of less guilt and more pride
  • I’m now part of the elite crew of forward-thinking, body-loving women who know what’s up and have chosen to reuse

BONUS: the Moon Cup stays in place better than tampons when I’m running (hooray for suction).

GladRags sells some great products, but it’s more than that — it’s a great company, too. GladRags is a certified Benefit Corporation, a new kind of business that is required to focus not only on profit, but on social and environmental impact, accountability, and transparency. We might know that things like excessive pollution, child labor, slave labor, theft, unsafe working conditions, and lying to and misleading consumers and employees are wrong, but that doesn’t stop companies all over the world from doing these things.

That’s the biggest reason that I wanted to come intern at GladRags this summer. Everyday, we read news about how corrupt corporations are basically ruining our lives and our planet; it can be depressing. But GladRags is part of a new crop of companies that are changing the way they do business, and thereby changing the world. Benefit Corporations are certified by a nonprofit called B Lab. There is a 50+ page assessment that all B Corps go through to be certified and re-certified as a Benefit Corporation, which gives them a score in the areas of Governance, Workers, Community, and Environment, and an overall score.

I am currently working on a plan to make GladRags’ already great score a little greater. We are working on things like:

  • getting our new Advisory Board set up
  • making sure our suppliers follow our Code of Conduct to ensure safe, fair working conditions all the way down the supply chain
  • giving our employees the best possible feedback and guidance on their performance, career, and skills development
  • and finding better ways to get feedback from all of our stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and our local community.

 

Iris DowdAbout the author of this post:
Iris Dowd runs Cross Country and Track and studies Politics and Economics at Willamette University in Salem, OR; she also loves playing with her dogs, cats, and chickens.