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 –
- how to make pasta from scratch- I did it completely by hand a few times, which is a lot of work, but very tasty and satisfying since it eliminates pasta packaging waste AND fresh pasta tastes so good. Here is the pasta recipe I’ve been using: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/homemade-pasta/
- how to make vegetable broth from veggie scraps – How to Make Vegetable Broth
- how to make nut milks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTt_Mlj6YN8
- how to make hummus – Easy Hummus (Better Than Store-Bought) (inspiredtaste.net)
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: https://www.byrdie.com/best-shampoo-bars-4707191.
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 (https://seedphytonutrients.com/our-standards/sustainability/). 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: https://www.fountain.nyc/shop/coconut-dish-soap. 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 – https://www.sustainablejungle.com/zero-waste/zero-waste-mascara/. 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 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PHaW0sZTqQ.
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). https://www.etsy.com/listing/865261920/reusable-buds-pack-of-4-bamboo-and?ref=yr_purchases. 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.
- DIY toothpaste eliminates toothpaste associated garbage which tends to be difficult to recycle.
- Toothpaste in a Jar –
- Uncle Harry’s toothpaste – comes in glass jar with plastic lid, can buy in bulk and refill
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- “bees-wrap” to replace saran wrap
- Powdered detergent, comes in plastic free jar – https://packagefreeshop.com/collections/cleaning-laundry/products/32oz-laundry-detergent-60-loads – smells nice and works well
- Laundry detergent strips – https://www.tru.earth/ – haven’t tried yet, but intrigued
- 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 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!