Towards Zero Waste Living Year 3

Hello dear readers,

This is my annual reflection on working towards zero waste living, an effort I began writing about in 2018.

This past year was most about learning to make my own things at home to replace needing to buy them at the store in plastic packaging.

Here are a few things I learned –

I also tried a few new plastic-free toothpastes/powders. I tried this one – Georganics Tooth Powder with Charcoal– it was black. In terms of taste experience, I would recommend it because it tasted fine and worked, BUT, it stained my clothes since its a powder and can fall from the trip from jar to mouth, so next time I would go for one of the white flavors.

Next I tried Georganics Natural Toothpaste in Spearmint. I was not expecting it to be a paste when I bought it (packaging is similar to powder option). The paste tastes fine and works well, but it kindof gunks up on the toothbrush head where the bristles attach, and I’m not a fan of that. I like the powder better and next will try a different flavor of toothpaste powder from Georganics. Also on my radar as something to try are toothpaste tablets.

Since I finally ran out of shampoo, I’m now trying out shampoo bars. I went with Ethique brand for my first bar since they have a bar that suits my hair needs, the Heali Kiwi Shampoo Bar. It has been working great for me; I find it lathers well and does not leave a residue in my hair, something I’ve heard some shampoo bars do. I did some research on shampoo bars since I’ve heard they can be hit or miss. This is an article I found helpful:

I also got a sample conditioner bar but haven’t tried it yet since I’m still working through the last conditioner I bought, which came in a cardboard container with a plastic pump.

I like this conditioner a lot. Its by Seed Phytonutrients which offers free recycling of the plastic pumps once you’re through with the product ( Apparently there is a packet of seeds inside the cardboard packaging, but I haven’t finished my bottle yet so I cannot vouch.

I also transitioned away from dish soaps which usually come in plastic containers to solid dish soap bars. The first one I bought was from the Package Free Shop, and the 2nd one I purchased from a different Zero Waste Shop called Fountain House & Body which makes its own soaps. Here is a link: I’m going to make my next batch because it seem easy enough despite the creepy lye aspect.

I’ve also begun to experiment with zero-waste cosmetics. So far I’ve tried a cake mascara by Nudi Goods which I don’t really like (but might not be using correctly) and a liquid eyeliner from Clean Faced Cosmetics, which I also don’t really like. There is a learning curve with these products and I’m still fresh to the bandwagon, so much experimentation is still needed. I do really like this daily moisturizer with SPF that comes in a glass jar with a metal lid. Here is an article with links to zero-waste cosmetic brands – There are also some DIY recipes out there I’m curious to try: lipstick and mascara. In case you’re interested, here is a zero-waste mascara comparison/review video –

I also transitioned zero-waste q-tips. I got these ones because they come in a cardboard box and some of the other brands come in plastic. They work as ear cleaners and make-up correctors (works best if you wrap the end in tissue). Another alternative to q-tips is an ear pick, but since I already got the reusable and multi-purpose q-tips, I’ll probably just stick with those as long as they last me.

Other things to note, one point which I learned from Youtuber Gittemary Johansen, is to take extra napkins home when we go out to eat so they can be used later or composted. Its a good practice to do this since they’ll be thrown out at the restaurant anyway, even if they were untouched. Also composting smaller paper scraps rather than recycling them is a good habit to get into since its less energy intensive to compost these than to recycle them, and it adds a good carbon component to the compost pile.

GOALS for 2021

My goals for the coming year are to reduce online video/music streaming since there is an environmental impact associated with memory storage, and to try out micro-plastic catching laundry bags.

Zero Waste Swap List, Year 3

Below is my running list of Zero Waste Products I have tried over the years (excluding some of the items described above).

  • Dental Floss
    • Dr. Mercola – favorite thus far, works better than silk dental floss and comes in a cardboard container, the floss itself may be made of plastic though
    • Silk dental floss in glass container – a bust, the silk floss breaks easily between teeth as does the container if you drop it, which is likely since its round and can roll off counters…will continue experimenting with different brands.
  • Toothpaste
    • DIY toothpaste eliminates toothpaste associated garbage which tends to be difficult to recycle.
    • Toothpaste in a Jar –
      • Georganics Natural Toothpowder – comes in glass jar with metal lid, I tried the black charcoal one, its weird but it works, would buy again (in different flavor) due to plastic free packaging
      • Georganics Toothpaste – similar to Uncle Harry’s but completely plastic free packaging
  • Deodorant
    • Meow Meow Tweet – can be bought in bulk and comes in a glass jar
    • Lush – Aromaco – no packaging, smells nice-n-hippylike
  • Sunscreen
    • Meow Meow tweet everyday sunscreen – without pump=no plastic, hard to rub in, works well, smells nice, makes you look like a ghost if you don’t rub it in, would 100% buy again
    • Raw elements – I tried the tinted one, feels thick and oily, works well, once you work it in you cant see it, comes in a metal tin
    • Daily Moisturizer w/SPF –By Robin Creations
  • Razor
    • Leaf Shave – an investment, but rewarding since it is zero-waste and also has lifetime guarantee so if it breaks, you can send it in and get a new one free of charge
  • Menstruation
    • Diva Cup, a reusable menstrual cup enables pad and tampon free living. The cup prevents garbage and exposure to chemicals, and saves time and money since you never have to buy pads or tampons after the initial purchase.
    • Period Panties – Thinx
  • Cloth hankies
  • Reusable q-tips
  • Glass spray bottles (with plastic spray nozzles, unfortunately) for home-made home surface cleaner (vinegar + water) to replace store-bought ones in plastic bottles.
  • Food Wrap
  • Dishes
  • Laundry
  • Food and Beverages on the Go
    • To-Go Ware (bamboo utensil set, but you can also make your own set with any silverware you’d like)
    • metal straws – small, smoothie, and bubble tea sized
    • Sea-To-Summit “Seal and Go Set” – didn’t particularly like this but its worth mentioning because it is a compact food container, pretty heavy, which is what I didn’t like. I wanted something I could carry around at all times. Ask me about my invention.
    • reusable water bottle
  • Shopping/bags
    • shopping bags and produce bags (either cloth or bring my own plastic bags to reuse)
    • cloth velcro bags instead of zip-locks


The areas of garbage accumulation I wanted to work on reducing from last year were to-go cups (for coffee and smoothies/juices), to-go food containers (for take-out and nuts), and bread bags. I still find coffee cups to be an issue in 2021. I find it cumbersome to always travel with a drink cup just in case, but maybe that is the solution. The nut problem I have solved by buying in bulk. As for bread, I have pretty much stopped buying bread at store and instead go for bakeries and farmers markets where I can use my own bag, or I buy baguettes at the grocery store that come in paper sleeves. Twistie ties and rubber bands are the next area to tackle…

Notes on Buying Less and noticing packaging options:

Whenever possible and within reason, I first look to purchase items second-hand, usually resorting to Craigslist, having found this to be the easiest way to locate specific items, locally. I like doing this because it reduces packaging and production waste and is usually cheaper. For example, I purchased a blender ($20) and cast iron pan ($5) through Craigslist last year instead of purchasing these items new somewhere else. Saved me beaucoup bucks with the added benefit that there was no packaging or shipping involved. That’s not to say I don’t buy anything online or anything new, because I certainly do. But whenever possible and reasonable, I do look for local options first. to keep in mind.

In addition, I have become very choosy about the products I buy and my thought process around purchasing has shifted. When I am food shopping, I look at all the options and prioritize options packaged in glass, cardboard, and metal. That can be tricky, because sometimes things come in a glass bottle but have a plastic lid. Sometimes we strike gold and find a glass jar with a metal lid. Sometimes not. As an example, if I know I can get a cooking oil that comes in a completely plastic free container from one store and notice its not available at another, I’ll hold off on restocking until I can make a trip to the store that has the product I want. I do this so I don’t have to buy the oil with the plastic lid. Its not always practical to do this, but its something to keep in mind. I also buy veggies at the farmers market whenever possible and bring my own bags to put things in because that can eliminate a lot of packaging waste as well.

Finally, here are a few videos you might find interesting for zero-waste transition ideas:

And a vid about the environmental impacts of streaming, which is a bit ironic, but definitely food for thought.

And Finally Finally, since winter is over, an homage to snow beaches, my winter enchantment:

That’s all folks, many thanks for reading!


EWAP Final Report

Hello all!

As The Electronic Waste Awareness Project finally comes to a close for 2020 (ie my grant report is due), I would like to present a final summary of all the items collected and recycled through the program.

Total Items Collected: 39

Total Items returned for direct Reuse: 2 (brought to Goodwill for resale, could have diverted more working electronics to Goodwill if items had been discarded with remotes/cables)

Total Items fit for repair/recycling (and possibly reuse): 39

~900 lbs of waste diverted from landfill

Environmental benefit – definitely

Item Breakdown

  • 19 TVs
  • 5 Printers
  • 5 Computer Monitors
  • 3 DVD Players
  • 2 Computers
  • 2 laptops
  • 1 CD Player
  • 1 Amp
  • 1 Modem
  • 1 Speaker
  • 1 Computer Cooler

Brand Breakdown

  • Dell – 6 items
  • Samsung -3 items
  • LG -3 items
  • Panasonic – 3 items
  • Sony – 2 items
  • Intertek – 2 items
  • HP – 2 items
  • Emerson – 2 items
  • Other – Insignia, Lenovo, Epson, Canon, Brother, RCA, Haier, Vizio, Dinex, Hisense, Ubee, Kenwood, Sharp Liquid Crystal (one item each)

What does this tell us?

These companies would do well to educate their customers about reuse, repair, and recycling options. Retailers could also play a part in this education. Customers purchasing TVs in particular need to be educated on where to take these items once they are done with them. More convenient disposal options might help increase recycling rates and reduce illegal dumping.

Master Spreadsheet (for those that enjoy that sort of thing)

Dell  Vostro PC – Windows 7 hom e prem OA – mailed to Dell for recyclingLG Flatron E2211PU-BN
12 lbs
Sony LCD color tv model no: klv-s19A10 (HEAVY) serial no 7016499
30 lbs
HP printer – photosmart C4600 Series
11 lbs
Lenovo laptop – Thinkpad T430s and charger
4 lbs
Panasonic dvd player, DVD-S27
Dell Optiplex Sx270, model no: DCT
~15lbs mailed to dell for recycling
Dell monitor and keyboard – model no. 1504 fp – mailed to dell for recycling
Insignia LCD tv model no NS-L 19Q-10A – mailed to Dell for recycling
10 lbs
Epson Printer Stylus NX300 model C362A
13 lbs
Inspiron 15-3521
Sony DVD player/Video Casette Recorder Model No – SLV-D300P
10 lbs
Dell- model no 1702fp Rev A01 17”
RCA 32” HDV LED TV Model No – RT3205-C
15 lbs
Printer – Canon- TS6020
14 lbs
Emerson DVD Player – Model # EWD7004 (1800-256-2487 for help with operating) – mailed to dell for reycling
3 lbs
LG Monitor, 38″ x 23″ 43UF6430 Model No: 43UF6430-4B
21 lbs
40 lbs
Brother, Worksmart Series, MFC-J680DW
20 lbs
Cooler Master haf 392
30 lbs
Dell Model No: 1905FP
~20 lbs
Vizio E321ME
20 lbs took to goodwill – works
HP Deskjet 2540 All-in-one series Regulatory Model No. SNPRB-1204-02, appears to work, turns on, out of ink
12 lbs
Samson – servo-170 studio amplifier 85 watt stereo –
30 lbs
Intertek – LE Super4 X43 Pro – LED Tv – 38” X 23”
     Maybe the brand is called – Le Shi Zhi Xin Electronic Technology (Tianjin) Limited
Kenwood Compact Disc Player SL16 XS8, “Kenwood Multiple CD Player” CD-204, 1BIT dual D/A converter
Samsung – Standard Telvision Receiving Apparatus Model Code UN32J5003AFXZA Version No LS03
15 lbs
Ubee Interactive Corp. TWC Model: DVW32CB – Wireless Modem
Panasonic High Definition Plasma Television, model TH-42PX600U
70 lbs
Speaker Intertek Listed 3044275 CA3554
Haier Model: 32E2000 TFT-LED LCD Colour Television Receiver
15 lbs
Sharp Liquid Crystal TV Model LC-32D43U Serial no: 711851587
Panasonic = Plasma HDTV Model No:TC-P42S1
60 lbs
Emerson – Funai Corporation – Model No: LC391EM3*
Hisense LED LCD TV Model No 65R6E3
40 lbs
RCA Model No. L26HD32D**26″ x18″ Serial No. 196EH29Y May 2008
722565A063SH…works, has remote
20 lbs
Samsung Model No. LN40B550K1F Model Code LN40B550K1FXZA S/N AUD03CLSA00365M*** 39″ x 2ft, works, no remote Version AA04
40 lbs
Hisense Model No. 32D12 Item:D12-WX01A WLCH032D1201446 Manufacture Date 6/03 Works, no note about disposal on TV 18″x 30″
Dynex DX-32L 100A13
30 lbs
Insignia 32in LED Tv model no: 32D220NA18
~10 lbs
E-waste Collected from Streets March-October 2020

Where were these items recycled:

  • Goodwill – for items in working order that include all necessary cords, cables, and remotes
  • Staples – can bring most electronics under a certain dimensions, monitors for free, tvs for a charge
  • Best Buy – monitors and TVs for $29.99 fee each item, 2/customer/day
  • Dell trade-in/mailback
  • GreenChip E-waste and ITAD Solutions – offers free e-waste drop off

Other Resources

  • Samsung takeback
  • Samsung also offers free mail in recycling –
  • Eco-cell – free recycling for cell phones, smartphones, iPhones, iPods, iPads, tablets, Apple\Android watches, bluetooth, tablets. GPS, MP3 players, e-readers, digital cameras, handheld gaming systems and the accessories that come with them

Next Steps/Reflections

It became abundantly clear to me that engaging with local legislators and representatives is a worthwhile pursuit in the effort to establish more wide-reaching e-waste collection programs. I reached out to my local councilman (James Van Bramer) a few months ago to see if he was aware of the e-waste dumping issue and/or had any thoughts on the matter and have not yet heard back. Will keep you posted. Something I wish I would have done is extend e-waste collection services to my building by posting a flyer in the mail room. That would have been easy enough to coordinate and who knows how many items are being stockpiled within these walls. Next time!

Thank you for reading,