Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.
By Kayla Robbins
Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.
Reusable Straws<p>If you're someone who loves to sip sweet tea through a straw or slurp a breakfast smoothie during your commute, reusable straws are a great alternative for the disposal plastic variety that have been <a href="https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/plastic-straws-ocean-trash-environment/" target="_blank">catching so much flack lately</a>.</p><p>With more and more restaurants phasing out their plastic straws in response to customer backlash, having your own set to carry around is a good move if you don't want to give up that satisfying slurrrrp.</p><p>Reusable straws are becoming more and more mainstream and available in a variety of styles, colors, and materials. I love my stainless steel set, but there are also softer silicone versions for kids, glass straws that are like functional works of art in your cup, and even bamboo straws from <a href="https://donegood.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=5048&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">bambu</a>!</p><p>Most sets come with a cute little brush to make it easy to clean the inside thoroughly. For use on the go, a quick rinse in the bathroom sink usually works just fine.</p>
Beeswax Wraps<p>Have you guys heard of these?</p><p>They're basically squares of cotton covered in a mixture of beeswax and resin. These simple ingredients combine to make a really awesome replacement for plastic wrap in your kitchen. You can use these wraps for covering bowls, wrapping up cheese, fruit, or that other half of your avocado. They can really do it all.</p><p>You can keep using and reusing them, rinsing with cool water in between uses. If they start to get a bit bare in places, you can even pop them in a low-temperature oven for a few minutes to redistribute the wax. Good as new!</p><p>They're way cuter than plastic wrap since they come in a variety of colors and prints. And once they come to the end of their useful life, they're fully biodegradable, and you can just pop them in your compost bin.</p><p><a href="https://donegood2.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=7153&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Earth Love</a> has some cute ones to get you started!</p>
Cloth Napkins<p>Put aside the paper napkins and paper towels. Cloth napkins are softer, prettier, and more eco-friendly than their paper counterparts. And they really require no more care than simply throwing them in with your next load of laundry.</p><p>Brands like <a href="http://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=888130&u=1337650&m=66802&urllink=&afftrack=" target="_blank">Ten Thousand Villages</a>, <a href="https://donegood2.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=4662&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Mayamam Weavers</a>, and <a href="https://donegood.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=196&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Fair + Simple</a> have tons of great options to choose from.</p><p>Buying a quality set of cloth napkins is an investment up front, but will save you money in the long run. Plus, you'll never have to scramble to make your table look presentable when you find out you'll be hosting some unexpected dinner guests!</p>
Tea Strainers<p>Now, you may be thinking, "<a href="https://www.compostthis.co.uk/tea" target="_blank">aren't tea bags biodegradable</a>?" and for the most part, they are. However, some tea bags can have little pieces of plastic holding them together that are obviously not great additions to your compost pile.</p><p>Also, if you buy loose leaf tea in bulk, you can avoid a lot of the excess packaging that comes with tea bags. I've seen some before that were individually wrapped and sealed in a plastic bag that of course went inside a cardboard box that was itself wrapped in a thin layer of plastic. It's ridiculous.</p><p>Loose leaf tea typically comes in ONE bag, or even better, a reusable tin.</p><p>It really doesn't take any longer to brew, and once you get the hang of it, it can become quite a pleasant morning ritual. </p><p>You will need a little bit of equipment, though, and that's where the tea strainer comes in.</p><p>If you're making more than one cup, it usually makes sense to brew it in a teapot by putting the tea and the water right in together. To prevent leaves getting into your cup, just top your mug with a tea strainer before you pour the brewed tea. <a href="https://donegood.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=5070&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Mountain Mel's</a> stocks a cute stainless steel strainer with a cutout moon and star pattern.</p><p>If you prefer to make it by the cup, the mug infuser from Mountain Mel's might be a better choice. Whichever method you choose, don't forget to compost your leftover leaves!</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Allison Gardner
Under what conditions were your clothes made? More likely than not, slavery has touched at least part of the outfit you're wearing today.
Slavery in Fashion<p>The fashion supply chain is complex and expansive, meaning it provides a number of opportunities for slavery to flourish. It is estimated that roughly "<a href="https://www.freedomunited.org/news/gsi-fashion-in-top-5-industries-linked-to-modern-slavery/" target="_blank">100 pairs of hands touch a garment during its production</a>," but audits are often limited to just first and second tier suppliers, meaning they typically fail to expose issues further down the supply chain. Each stage of production poses a new opportunity for worker exploitation and human rights abuses like slavery.</p>
A Complex Problem<p>Whether it's the fields where the cotton was grown, the mills where it was spun, or the factories where the garments were sewn, the industry is notorious for providing opportunities for exploitation. </p><p>If this upsets you, and it probably should, you might wonder who's responsibility it is to step in and fight slavery within such a complex industry. </p><p>Some might point to individual brands, arguing that they choose to work with factories and manufacturers that may or may not treat their employees well. Others may turn to the factory owner or recruiter who is directly imposing the conditions that can either support or exploit other human beings. Governments, particularly those that are uncorrupted, could also be the decision-makers. </p><p>In reality, though, there is one other group that shares the power to change this system. And that's us, the consumers.</p>
What We Can Do<p>Our consumption drives a subset of an industry that relies on exploitation. And because of that, we can also become part of the solution.</p><p>This <a href="http://www.fashionrevolution.org/" target="_blank">Fashion Revolution</a> Week, we should all ask "Who Made My Clothes?" but perhaps a follow up question is also necessary: "What Am I Doing About It?" </p><p>As consumers we have power to change the fashion industry for good, but in order to do so, we must recognize our role and acknowledge our responsibility.</p><p>The first step will undoubtedly be educating ourselves, and fortunately organizations like Fashion Revolution provide us with ample resources to do that. But the second step will likely be harder; we will need to take action. </p><p>Each person's journey to conscious consumerism is unique, but at the very least, we can provide you with the tools to find brands who share your values. With the <a href="https://donegood.co/?ambid=ecowatch10_30" target="_blank">DoneGood Shop</a> and browser plugin, you can quickly, easily, and affordably support hundreds of ethical and sustainable brands.</p>
By Cullen Schwarz
Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.