7 Uses For Empty Cotton Soap Bags

IMG_8727Several of our customers have asked if there are uses for the eco-friendly cotton bags we use to package our cold process soaps, once the soaps are removed from the bags. This post contains a few of our reuse ideas. Please feel free to add yours to the comments!

1) Use it as a soap saver bag for the end pieces of your Herban Lifestyle soap! Otherwise, we don’t recommend wetting the empty bags since they will shrink and wrinkle.

2) Make a sachet! Fill the empty bag with your favorite fragrant dried herbs, such as lavender. You can place it in your drawer to add a lovely subtle scent to your clothing.


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3) Make a fun toy for your cat! Fill the bag with catnip, tie tightly, and clip off the extra string so that your cat won’t eat it. Enjoy the show!

4) Use it as storage for small, easily lost objects, like jewelry and buttons.

5) Decorate the outside and use it as nice-smelling packaging for small gifts or favors.

IMG_92316) Fill them with herbs and/or spices to make an herbal bath tea

7) Use them to store playing or trading cards

There are many more uses for these great little bags. Please let us know your thoughts. We welcome any suggestions!

 

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Trashionista: On a mission to save the world, one trash can at a time!

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate

Let’s be real, trash is probably the least sexy of all sustainability topics, especially when we are talking about hospital waste (biohazard anyone?!) I’m not going to lie; it’s been gross. And let me tell you I have weird, funny, shocking, disgusting, heartbreaking, inspiring, and just plain odd stories about having my first full-time sustainability job revolve around hospital waste, but those are stories for another blog post so, I digress.

Anyway, this Sustainababe had persevered through all the craziness of setting up three primary waste streams and teaching hundreds of nurses (and a variety of supporting staff) what is considered infectious, non-infectious, and recyclable. Sustainasnob Rant/Confession: I hate WASTE unless you can feed it back into the materials economy. As William McDonough, father of Cradle to Cradle design says, “Pollution is a symbol of design failure.” Waste causes pollution from all the hauling, burning (waste incinerators!), and rotting of the stuff (that is, if it ever breaks down in a landfill!) Additionally, dealing with hospital waste means that I either have to promote diversion from the incinerator or the landfill (not good environmental options either way you look at them) or recycling (which, at 30% recyclables for 3+ million pounds per hospital, comes out to 1 million pounds per year!) This problem drives me nuts! My school and life training taught me to believe that the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. My mantra is “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” And at work, it really bothers me that I cannot address the huge waste issue using the first two steps. I am an idealist and dreamer to the core, so this blog post is not going to be completely negative. On the contrary, it is about the blast I had tackling the second R – reuse. [Quick side note, check out Annie Lenord’s Story of Stuff, to fully understand the complete cycle of our products including disposal].

So now to the fun stuff! I have been working a lot in the Operating Rooms (ORs) lately (no smelling salts were ever needed, to my surprise!), stressing the proper waste guidelines and tackling the oh-so-annoying problem of blue wrap!

What the heck is blue wrap you ask? Basically, it is like wrapping paper for surgical instruments to keep everything sterile. It is the consistency of a paper towel, but made from plastic. A plastic that can be recycled. Yay! So I spent a few months getting the proper ducks in a row and now my ORs are recycling the stuff. The excitement from that project had me bouncing around the hospital for weeks knowing the blue wrap was not going to spend hundreds of years breaking down in a landfill, or worse, being burned!

The hospital where I spread the green love, received an award for their “Greening the OR” efforts and in celebration I was inspired by this video (the kids are so adorable in this video), to make my own dress from blue wrap!

I started with two different colors of blue wrap since this hospital is fazing in the darker color over the lighter color. I wanted to make a dress but had no idea how, so I got some help from Charlotte, the Sustainability Coordinator at the hospital. And later, my mom helped with the sewing, which wasn’t easy since we had no pattern. I started with tracing out panels from my favorite summer dress and things just kind of morphed from there. I had once seen a girl on Halloween sport a globe dress (her costume was Global Warming), and ever since I wanted my own Earth Mama dress (why yes, even my ideas are recycled!) So the dual colors of blue wrap presented the perfect opportunity to pull this off. To achieve realistic looking continents, I cut up an old National Geographic Map of the World poster and used the pieces as a template, traced those out onto the dark blue, cut those out, and glued the dark blue continents onto the light blue dress (while using the middle seam as the prime meridian, can you say Geography Geek?!)

I also added earrings made from fans that came from an old towel warming unit provided by my favorite Tinkerer (a mechanic who fixes broken medical equipment in the Biomed Department).

The Celebration Day came, and I put on my dress and safety pinned myself in and prayed that my dress would not fall apart. I walked into the ceremony and was swarmed by the attendees. “Oh my goodness, Katie!” “That’s made out of blue wrap!” “How did you do that?!” “Can we get your picture?!” “Look,it’s the Earth!”

I felt like Miss America! To my embarrassment, I was just getting over laryngitis so all I could do was squeak a few yeses and thank yous. Yet through it all, I had a blast playing with blue wrap and creating the coolest piece of Trashion, I own ☺. It’s all about perspective! Here’s to rocking the Creative Reuse! So glad this dress is made of plastic, it will last FOREVER and will be required attire for every Earth Day for the rest of my life!

Goodwill Treasure Hunting


My husband recently purchased some new suits, so purged his closet of his old ones. I offered to take them to Goodwill, as I had heard of a new store opening in Falls Church and wanted to check it out. I had received a promotional postcard a couple of months ago announcing the store’s grand opening, touting it as a “green” way to shop. This was definitely a new marketing angle, and had peaked my curiosity as to how this new store would look.

So, earlier this week, I took the suits and a couple of bags of miscellaneous household items to the new store. The facade was rather attractive, evoking a cross between the free-standing Anthropologie in Westport, CT and a casual-chic American-style restaurant. A sign on the door indicated that this Goodwill store is a Live Green Spot (Live Green is a DC-based membership organization that partners with companies, like Herban Lifestyle, that score high on true eco-friendly practices, quality and price). So I dropped off my donation at the side door, then headed inside for a peak.

The interior was well lit, and there were fun, bold splashes of accent color throughout. The merchandise was well-organized, making it easy to browse. It felt like a well-organized discount department store, complete with dressing rooms. There was a huge selection of glassware and dishware.

Goodwill is a great, green concept. All of the merchandise could have ended up in landfills, but instead it is getting a second life. Besides offering many items that are in perfectly good condition for reuse, I know many crafters use Goodwill finds to fashion entirely new creations. I enjoy browsing Goodwill from time to time for unusual containers and sweaters, which I felt and refashion into ornaments or other decorative objects. Last year, while visiting Connecticut, I amassed a dozen wool sweaters in a rainbow of colors from the Goodwill stores in Wilton and New Milford.

I had a short amount of time, so wasn’t able to peruse the sweaters. But I did come across a big collection of Christmas baskets adorned with jingly bells. I snagged several of them, which I will use to put together gift packets for friends and neighbors.

Do you shop at Goodwill? If so, what are some of your favorite finds?

Here are a few of the sweater cupcakes I made.

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A Bunch of Rubbish…

zerowasteThe following is a guest post by blogger Julia Guarino

Although I attempt to be green in as many aspects of my life as possible, I have to admit that, despite my efforts to reuse and recycle all that I can, I am completely guilty of producing my share of trash. So many things are disposable, and those sandwich bags are just so convenient…

Convenience, however, does not assuage my guilt, so I was thoroughly impressed when I came across the story of a New Zealand couple, Matthew and Waveney, who spent the year producing no more than one small grocery store bag – just a kilogram each – full of trash. Their website contains their story (in blog form), as well as a “Rubbish-Free Guide” that provides strategies for reducing trash in every room of your home, as well as in many different scenarios such as take-out and parties. They even detail the items in the final trash bag for their readers in their last blog post

The couple managed this impressive feat firstly by choosing not to purchase anything disposable or in disposable packaging, and requesting that family and friends not send or give them anything in disposable packaging. For packaging that couldn’t be avoided, they chose to reuse and recycle as much as possible. Thrift stores also acted as a great resource, as they chose to “rehome” items as an alternative to disposing of them, as well as purchase items second hand in order to avoid packaging. At home, they began to garden, compost, and make items themselves (such as granola bars) that usually come in packaging.

The thing about this incredible story that most struck me, however, is that although the process certainly takes thought and effort, in reality their strategies were neither foreign nor difficult. I believe that the most important step is, as Matthew and Waveney put it, “exercising our consumer power,” and being conscious about the trash we produce through the purchases we make!

Mary’s note: Herban Lifestyle’s favorite supplier, Mountain Rose Herbs, practices Zero Waste as part of their business practice. On their website, they list several of the things they do to achieve this — many are things that individuals can do in their homes to reduce their rubbish. And, to learn more about the implications of our rubbish production, I highly recommend you take a look at the wonderfully presented Story of Stuff!

Thank you, Team Eco Etsy!

listing-promoI am a brand new member of the Eco Esty street team, a group of artisans who are committed to using green practices in their products and packaging. The Eco Etsy Team’s Statement says: “Our members are just as dedicated to using recycled materials in their creations as they are about recycling packaging. We take the safety of the environment in mind in the way that we run our small businesses and create our sales items. During our team’s growth, we have become heavily focused on promoting eco-living as a whole; every facet of our lifestyle can be more eco-friendly, and our team has come to focus strongly on this all-around outlook.”

And, within my first couple of days of being a member, I had the honor of being chosen as one of the three winners of their Themed Nomination, which was announced on the Eco Esty blog yesterday. This week’s theme was “It’s Your Time,” in honor of the 10th annual National Women’s Health Week. This initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier and happier life, such as taking time to pamper themselves! So, they were looking for products that reflected the idea of self-care and self-nurture. My massage oil was chosen, along with LaPomme’s lavender sachets, and My Name is Muddy’s French green clay bath.

The Eco Etsy blog is a wonderful resource for eco-tips, information on eco-friendly creations, how-to’s and much more, all written and posted by EcoEtsy members! Eco Etsy team members’ products can be found by doing an Etsy tag search for “teamecoetsy“.

Thank you for the warm welcome, Team Eco Etsy!