Tag Archives: environment

a plastic-free Halloween

Most folks love Halloween. You get to dress up like your favorite character, you can gorge on candy until your stomach hurts and you get to carve, eat and drink pumpkin-inspired everything.

But during Halloween, there’s a lot of unnecessary plastic use and waste. USAgain, a clothing recycling program in Chicago, found that approximately 45 percent of the U.S. population dresses up on Halloween and the average amount of money one person spends on a costume and/or decorations is close to $80.

I’ve come up with a few ways to limit your waste this Halloween, save money and still have an awesome time.


For some, this might not be too easy. And if you have kids — it’ll be even harder. But in my experience, homemade costumes are the best. They’re the most creative, thoughtful and funny. Also, you can make then unique to your body-type, so the outfit can compliment you better.

Since I can remember my mom has always handmade our Halloween costumes. Granted, she’s a good sewer and is pretty creative, the costumes she came up with were always top-notch. But even if sewing is NOT your thing (like me) there are ways to make an excellent Halloween costume without sewing a single stitch.

First, check out what you’ve already got hanging in our closets. If you’ve got something that can be made into a cool costume — perfect! If not, head over to Goodwill or another second-hand store and browse. Instead of buying an actual costume, buy pieces you’ll actually use again. For instance, for my costume this year, I was Hey Arnold from the Nickelodeon cartoon and my husband Mike was Gerald. I didn’t have a blue or plaid shirt so I bought them from Goodwill — and I plan on using ’em again because I like ’em!

There might be a few things you need to buy elsewhere — I once was a tooth fairy and didn’t have a tutu or wings, so I purchased those. But now, other people in my family have used both of them for their costumes because a tutu and wings are relatively versatile. Think sustain-ably! And, since Mike was prom king in high school, he already had his crown 🙂

And it’s really not that hard to do — not to mention it’s hilarious, ridiculous and a blast. Trust me. Mike and I have been dressing up together for the last several years and all of our costumes were homemade (with much help from my mom!).

Here are a few photos of the last few years of costuming….

2013: MERIDA (from Disney’s Brave) + my best friend Alisha was Rosie the Riveter






As far as plastic-free candy goes, you’ve got plenty of options.

1. Boxes: Dots, Nerds, Milk Duds, Lemon Heads, Red Hots, Mike and Ikes, etc. Or, mini boxes of raisins are also an option.

2. Buy bulk: Some people feel weird about buying bulk, because that means you have to handle the candy yourself and then kids are taking candy that you’ve wrapped yourself and…..I don’t know. I don’t have kids, but I can understand why this could be a worry to some parents. If that’s not a worry to you, buy bulk chocolate from the grocery store and put a bunch in paper bags.

3. Fruit: I’ve heard of people passing out mini oranges like Cuties/Halos and I think that’s a great idea! It gives kids some healthy sugar/energy to continue trick-or-treating and I’m sure it’ll brighten mom and dads day to see something a little healthier than a Twix sitting in their bag. Another option could be apples. I heard one woman puts out a basket full of apples each year and leaves a sign that reads “Poison Apples” on it. Kids love it!

4. Gifts: Pencils, erasers, crayons, a friendship bracelet kit (tie three strings together with a hole at the end to start the friendship bracelet); a Halloween poem; temporary tattoos (sometimes you can find ones just in paper), etc.

5. Aluminum cans: Pop, juice, sparkling water, etc. Although you don’t know if children will recycle the cans properly, it’s more likely that a pop can will be recycled than a bag of skittles.


If you do carve pumpkins, be sure to research recipes to get the most out of your pumpkin. Contact my nutritionist friend Alisha Dodds for specific pumpkin recipes or check out her most recent pumpkin recipe post here.

Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup… you name it — there’s a recipe on the internet for it. If you’ve already bought a pumpkin, why not utilize the whole thing rather than running to Walmart to grab some pumpkin puree? Again I say, think sustain-ably folks!

None of these ideas are brilliant. But it’s to get you thinking….

Think of small ways you can limit your plastic and waste this Halloween and autumn season. And if you’re out with your kids trick-or-treating and you find trash on the ground or candy someone dropped just chilling on the sidewalk, please don’t leave the litter there. Whether it can be recycled, composted or not, the street is definitely not the best place for litter. Let’s be thoughtful cultivators of the land, fam. 🙂

Happy Halloween!

that number underneath your plastic bottle actually means something

The number on the bottom of your plastic bottles means something. Maybe you knew that, but I sure didn’t until a few years ago.

Even if you do know that you should pay attention to those numbers, you might not know exactly what those numbers are trying to tell ya.

Although I’m all about limiting plastic use when possible, the reality is that most of us are still going to buy and use plastic in one way or another. I have prescription medications that come in plastic bottles. When I order something online sometimes the inside wrapping is made out of plastic. And, though my fellow zero wasters would cringe at me saying this — there might be a time where you forgot your reusable mug and are DESPERATE for a cup of coffee.

We’ve all been there. It’s real life, folks.

So, in those situations where you have something plastic, or if you’re still trying to use up some of your current plastic-encased items, here’s what you should know.

Flip your plastic shampoo bottle upside down and look for the triangular symbol that looks a lot like a recycle symbol. Inside that symbol there will most likely be a number 1-7. Those numbers reflect a system called the resin identification coding system, which was created in the 80s to make it easier for people to know what to recycle and to create a uniform system for manufacturers.

Here’s what those numbers mean:

#1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)



The photo above — sorry it’s a bit hard to see the 1 — is a vitamin bottle of magnesium I got from a health food store. This kind of plastic is super common and is usually found in soft drink containers, beer/water bottles, oven-friendly food trays, salad dressing containers, vegetable oil containers, peanut butter containers and mouthwash bottles.

This plastic is relatively safe and holds a lot of products in your fridge or pantry. Most curbside recycling facilities will take these bottles, too! Be sure to clean them out and toss them in your recycling bin.

#2. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)




I’m sure everybody’s got this plastic lining their small trash cans. HDPE can be found in milk jugs, shampoo bottles, cereal box liners, butter and yogurt containers, motor oil containers, shopping/trash bags and household and detergent cleaner bottles. (The second photo is of off-brand Clorox wipes).

This plastic is also considered relatively safe and can be picked up by most curbside recycling programs! Check with your local recycling program to see if they accept it.

#3. Vinyl (V or PVC)



You can find PVC in window cleaner containers, detergent bottles, piping and siding, medical equipment, wire jackets, cooking oil bottles, shampoo bottles and clear food packaging.

This plastic is not commonly curbside recyclable. This plastic can contain phthalates, which can cause hormonal and developmental problems. This plastic contains DEHA, which can be carcinogenic with long-term exposure. DEHA has also been linked to bone mass loss and liver problems. PVC should not be cooked with or burned — so don’t microwave a plate of food that is covered in plastic wrap.

#4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)



You can find LDPE in shopping bags, squeezable bottles, carpet, furniture, clothing, tote bags, dry cleaning bags and frozen food or bread bags.

It’s considered relatively safe, though not many recycling programs pick-up this plastic.

#5. Polypropylene (PP)



Here’s another super common plastic: PP. PP can be found in medicine bottles, straws, bottle caps, ketchup bottles, syrup bottles and yogurt containers. And, apparently, lip balm!

This plastic is another safer plastic to use and is becoming increasingly accepted in curbside recycling programs!

#6. Polystyrene (PS)



Ah, another common plastic that’s super tough to recycle: PS. PS an be found in disposable cups and plates, CD cases, aspirin bottles, carry-out containers, egg cartons and meat trays.

This plastic, also known as Styrofoam, isn’t recyclable in many places. And not many curbside recycling programs accept this plastic. Styrofoam has quite a few health risk, too, especially when burned.

#7. Miscellaneous plastics


And the rest of the plastics that don’t fit into a category fit here in number 7. Some of these plastics include nylon, food containers, signs and displays, computer and phone cases, DVDs, sunglasses, bulletproof materials and 3- and 5-gallon water bottles.

Most of these plastics are pretty harmful and have been linked to infertility and hormone problems. Polycarbonate, one of these bad boys, contains BPA (the dreaded BPA that most of you have probably heard of), which mimics estrogen and disrupts hormones.

These plastics aren’t easily recyclable or likely to be picked-up by your local recycling program.


Here are a few local townships, boroughs and cities in and around the city of Pittsburgh. I found all of this information online. Check out your town’s website for specific recycling guidelines!

  • Aliquippa — #1 + #2
  • Allegheny County — #1 + #2 (for more specific guidelines contact your borough township or city)
  • Ambridge — #1 + #2
  • Beaver— #1 + #2
  • Beaver County — #1 + #2 (for more specific guidelines contact your borough, township or city)
  • Beaver Falls — #1 + #2
  • Bridgeville  — #1-#5 + #7
  • Butler County — #1 + #2 (for more specific guidelines contact your borough, township or city)
  • Cranberry Twp. — #1-#6
  • Ellwood City — #1-#7
  • Jackson Twp. — #1 + #2
  • Monroeville — #1-#7
  • Moon Twp. — #1 (but no oven-friendly food trays) + #2 (but no plastic bags)
  • New Brighton — Any plastic containers in the home should be rinsed and then placed into the recycling cart. The caps can be left on the containers. Large plastic items, like PVC pipes or Styrofoam, should not be placed in the recycling cart.
  • Pittsburgh — #1-#5 + #7
  • Richland Twp. — #1-#7
  • Shaler Twp. — #1-#6
  • Zelienople — #1 + #2


Obviously, avoiding plastic is ideal. But, that’s not always 100% feasible depending on your situation. So here’s my advice:

Be mindful about what you’re buying!

If you have to make a plastic purchase, read the bottom of it and see if it’s one of the commonly recyclable plastics listed above. If not, look online to see where you can drop off your Styrofoam or other less-recyclable products.

Stay aware!

Sometimes it’s as easy as a Google search to see what number plastics your community picks up at your curbside recycling program. If you aren’t currently recycling, check out your local waste management website and get yourself recycling! Other than limiting waste, recycling is one of the most important and easiest things we can do for our everyday health and the health of our planet!

Buy products with recycled plastic!

I have a pair of yoga pants that contain recycled water bottles and I love them! If you aren’t into buying second hand items, I’d encourage you to purchase products that are made from recycled products. It increases the demand for recycling!

American Chemistry Council
Natural Society
The Balance Small Business
Good Housekeeping

high-end makeup for plastic-free enthusiasts

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I love makeup.

I don’t feel an obligation to wear makeup every time I go out, but I like the way I feel when I’m wearing it. I almost always have on concealer, liner, mascara and lipstick/balm.

It’s been easy to switch to a plastic-free concealer — check out my post about RMS Beauty‘s un-cover up here.

But swapping out my mascara and eyeliner hasn’t been easy.

So for a few years now I’ve been using Pacifica’s mascara. And I loved it!

Although for some of Pacifica products, the ingredients aren’t top-notch… and the mascara comes in a plastic container, I still support Pacifica as a brand. Not to mention, they have a recycling program, so you can send your empty containers back to them to be properly recycled!

Note: if I can’t find a zero waste brand that works well, I settle for a brand I can stand by. Two of those brands are typically Pacifica and Shea Moisture. Though both come in plastic, and some of their products don’t have the best ingredients, I support what they stand for. Pacifica is owned and operated by a woman and they don’t test on animals, not to mention their Sea Foam Face Wash was my go-to until I opted to buy plastic-free products. Shea Moisture is fabulous. They are a certified B-Corporation; they’re fair trade and support local community development and they offer a wide spectrum of colors/shades — which is specifically dope for women of color, because the vast majority of cosmetic brands are catered only to white women.

But I’ve been on the look-out for a zero waste or refillable liner and mascara that ACTUALLY WORKS.

And after months of searching, reading/watching reviews, I finally found ZAO Organic Beauty a few months ago.

Their mascara gets a 0 on the Think Dirty app (AKA — the ingredients are baller) and both the liquid eyeliner and mascara are refillable.

Essentially the liner and mascara come in recyclable tubes. Those tubes are encased in a bamboo shell for protection (also, bamboo is super sustainable and a full stalk grows back in 2 years. OPT FOR BAMBOO FAM!).

You can recycle and then buy a new tube on their site to slide into your bamboo shell. (Not EXACTLY zero waste, but pretty dang close!)

It’s super easy, sustainable and the ingredients are dope.

Their Organic Volume Mascara runs for $33, which includes the bamboo case. Refills are $23.

Their Organic Felt Tip Eyeliner is $29.50, which includes the bamboo case. Refills are $19.

Not to mention, these two products are amazing! And I’m not just saying that.

I’m picky when it comes to liner and mascara. I’ve got tiny eyelashes, so I need a good lengthening and volumizing mascara.

The mascara isn’t the BEST I’ve used, but for being sustainable, it’s definitely good! Also, my lids are oily, so I can’t use most pencil liners or I’ll look like a raccoon by noon.

Before limiting my plastic, I used Stila liquid liner — it’s the greatest liquid eyeliner ever. (ya know, minus the packaging and ingredients and whatnot….)

But, yo, I’m not kidding when I say that ZAO liquid liner is actually comparable to Stila!

The only difference really is the applicator brush. I’m not crazy about ZAO’s applicator, but it’s not the worst I’ve used. It just takes getting used to. Now that I’ve been using it for a while, it feels completely normal!

Also, it’s not entirely waterproof, so it may smear if your eyes water significantly.

If you want to switch over to plastic-free makeup options here what you should do:

  1. Use up what you’re already using. If you just bought a brand new maybelline mascara, don’t just pitch it. Use it up! And then in the next few months when you’re on the look-out for a new product, consider ZAO.
  2. Research what is important to you. If plastic-free isn’t your aim, then check out a company’s ethics, ingredients and whether or not you feel comfortable supporting them. There are a lot of quality brands out there — so do some research and feel free to ask me questions if you’d like!
  3. Watch and read reviews. I’m a huge believer in reviews. I rarely buy a product I haven’t researched and reviewed. I typically look up reviews on YouTube because I find that if someone feels passionate enough about a product to create a video and plaster it up on YouTube, then it’s gotta be worth checking out. And, if people put makeup on during the video, you get a better sense of how that makeup is applied and how it looks. This video is what sold me on ZAO’s mascara and liner.

Even if sustainable makeup options aren’t your thing — consider switching to ZAO beauty anyways. They really are a great brand and their products are quality. I wouldn’t write this post if I didn’t think so. Consider making the switch, my friends!

What plastic-free makeup is your favorite?