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Welcome to the Cottage.

The Tiny Canal Cottage® is a 1920's Craftsman-style house by the Venice Beach Canals in Southern California. This <400 sqft home/office is the full-time residence of Creative Director Whitney Leigh Morris, her husband, their son, and two rescue beagles.

Greener Solutions for Household Unmentionables

Greener Solutions for Household Unmentionables

This blog post was sponsored by Grove Collaborative. As always, the opinions and imagery from the Cottage are my own.

I didn’t watch much television when I was growing up, but I do remember seeing ads for toilet paper and feminine products wondering every time: Was the Talent being compensated more for being the faces of such delicate topics on camera? Were they embarrassed? Did the crew feel awkward?

In the subsequent years, I grew up and became comfortable with such household realities— nothing will sober you up to the unmentionables in life like cleaning up after pets, changing diapers, dealing physically with childbirth + recovery, and assisting unwell loved ones. 

I began searching for greener alternatives to widely marketed, everyday household products— both for my family, and for the readers of this blog. (I receive numerous direct messages via Instagram inquiring about what sort of pet waste bags and trash bags we use here, along with questions about everything from eco-friendly feminine products to composting options in the city.) I discovered several helpful products via Grove Collaborative, so I reached out to them to inquire if I could do a blog post sharing some details about their compost bins, toilet paper, pet waste bags, bin bags, menstrual cups, and unique sponges. 

If you had told me 20 years ago that I’d be volunteering myself up as the “Talent” for a reusable feminine product I would’ve balked. These days, it brings me joy. This planet needs for us to mind our waste, and switch to sustainable products within our homes and beyond.

COMPOST 
For a while, we were placing kitchen scraps into LA’s green bins, not knowing that this actually wasn’t permitted. Only yard trimmings such as grass clippings, leaves, branches, and fruits or vegetables that have NOT been prepared for consumption and have NOT been partially consumed are allowed in the green bin. Eggs, partially eaten fruit, and scraps are not contenders.

It’s frustrating how hard it can be to compost in a city. Especially since 52% of all produce in the US goes uneaten*, and that when food is disposed in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane. Plus, growing and transporting wasted food emits as much carbon pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles.** We have a small garden, so we’re got a compact compost tumbler into which we can toss the scraps from our Kitchen Compost Bin from Grove. But, depending on where you live, there might be local options for community and municipal drop-offs and pick-ups for compost collection.

The Kitchen Compost Bins & Lid Starter Set from Grove is completely biodegradable kitchen food waste bin made from end-of-life recycled cardboard. The cardboard bin is breathable and allows for airflow, helping to avoid smelly, moist contents. Safe for both home and municipal composting. The same bin can be used multiple times. Fill with kitchen food waste, and once full, cover with paper seal provided (or the optional add-on lid) and put out for municipal pick-up (depending on your town) or empty into your home compost pile or tumbler and reuse the bin until it starts to biodegrade.

WASTE BAGS
BioBag makes small and medium bin bags, as well as pet bags that are 100% compostable and biodegradable. 

They’re also fragrance-free, not tested on animals, and packaged responsibly.

ALTERNATIVES TO SYNTHETIC SPONGES & PAPER TOWEL
I have to admit— I purchased a handmade, non-disposable sponge for our kitchen with the best of intentions, but it didn’t work well and thus didn’t last long. It was a bummer and a waste. In searching for responsible alternatives to synthetic sponges, I found my favorites via Grove. The Walnut & Cellulose Scrubber is sustainably made, and is both resilient and subtle in appearance. 

Meanwhile, the European Dishcloths are fantastic alternatives to paper towels, as they can be washed in the dishwasher and then reused— plus they are biodegradable. (These have been particularly great for cleaning up my son’s crayon marks and toy scuffs.)

TREE-FREE TOILET PAPER 
The Seedling by Grove Tree-Free Bath Tissue is 100% tree-free, and composed from a proprietary blend of bamboo and sugarcane. Bamboo absorbs 5x the amount of CO2 as trees, and takes as little as 3 months to harvest (whereas trees take 20+ years). Also worth noting is that Seedling by Grove has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation, and a portion of every roll sold goes to plant trees across the United States.

MENSTRUAL CUPS
I liked the idea of a healthy and sustainable alternative to tampons, but it took me a while to get used to the practice of using a menstrual cup. Now I’m fully on-board and can’t imagine ever going back to anything disposable. Not only does using a cup like the Lena prevent an astounding amount of waste, but it saves money and eliminates the need for those urgent and ever-inconvenient dashes to the store for tampons or pads. If you feel like you need a little extra protection while getting used to using a cup, washable cotton liners are effective and easy to use. When not in use, I hide my Lena in plain sight by simply placing the cup + provided pouch in a drawstring sac that matches our decor, and I suspend that from our towel rack. 

(It’s also easy to hang the little pouch on the inside of a cabinet door, if you’re pressed for drawer space in a small bathroom.) The Lena is BPA free, fragrance free, gluten free, hypoallergenic, made in the USA, not tested on animals, responsibly packaged, reusable, suitable for sensitive skin, vegan, and is the product of a women owned business.  

REPURPOSING PACKAGING
As for the Grove packaging itself in which everything is delivered: we reuse almost every part of it. Any brown paper or small cardboard pieces end up covering West’s drawing table surface and become fresh canvases (and are ultimately recycled). The main cardboard box is always refilled with donations from drop-off, or other outgoing items that we ship from our home. Even the extra compost bins are put to use as toy storage before they step up to their intended role in the kitchen when their time comes.

Everything available via Grove is healthy, effective, sustainably produced, and cruelty-free. You can customize the timing and contents of your refill shipments, which themselves are eco-minded. Additionally, Grove curates a gift set of some of their favorite household essentials, included in the first order (of $20 or more) by new customers. View a sampling of their gift sent contents, below:

Source: *Give A Sh*t by Ashlee Piper, 2018 |** Forbes, 2018

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