Zero Waste Tips: Part 2

Here are more zero waste tips to transition your home into a zero waste home.

Bathroom

  1. Use 100% recycled and unbleached toilet paper. Go for the more environmentally friendly toilet paper that’s individually wrapped in paper or install a bidet attachment to your toilet.
  2. Use an alternative option to commercial deodorant. Commercial deodorant comes in a lot of plastic packaging and they are packed with chemicals that aren’t healthy for your body. Try making your own with baking soda and Himalayan pink salt (recipe here) or use an alum stone.
  3. For shaving, use a safety razor and shaving soap. Also, instead of using shaving gel or cream, try using just regular soap and lather where you need it and shave.
  4. Refill your bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner. There’s also a no-poo option for those who have short hair. Rinse your hair, massage baking soda, then rinse with vinegar for shine. You can also use a shampoo bar. Instead of hairspray, try lemon water in a spray bottle. To go longer between washes, try cornstarch in bulk instead of dry shampoo.
  5. For body and face soap, find a package-free solid soap. It helps eliminate the plastic packaging when you use bar soaps. To exfoliate, use bulk baking soda. For a mask, use bulk clays like bentonite mixed with water or apple cider vinegar.
  6. Switch from toothpaste to homemade tooth powder in a glass jar. You eliminate the plastic packaging and chemicals. You can find the recipe for a homemade tooth powder here. Also, switch out your plastic toothbrush for a compostable bamboo toothbrush.
  7. Reduce your cosmetics and consider homemade substitutes. Use cocoa powder as a bronzer. Use a homemade balm for eyes, lips, hair and nails. Try to replace disposable pads and tampons with a reusable liner or menstrual cup.
  8. Nail care. All you need for your nails is a nail clipper, stainless steel file, and a homemade balm for moisture and shine.
  9. Forget about Q-tips. They’re bad for you anyway. Do some research for more organic and healthier options to clean your ears.
  10. Other tips. You can also compost your hair and nail clippings, put a jug of water in your toilet tank to require less water to flush, and collect water in a bucket while you’re waiting for the shower to warm up and then use that water to water plants.

Other Zero Waste Alternatives

Along with our older post about Top 10 Ways to Start Going Zero Waste, here are a few more alternatives to every day items in your home that you can switch to on your journey to zero waste.

1 Makeup remover wipes → coconut oil and reusable cotton rounds
Instead of using chemically-filled wipes to wipe off your makeup only to inevitably end up at the landfill, purchase some reusable cotton rounds and coconut oil. It’s a healthier alternative and you can wash the cotton rounds.

2 Wrapping paper → newspapers and biodegradable twine
Instead of buying rolls of expensive (or cheap) wrapping paper for Christmas and birthdays, use newspapers and comics that are laying around the house. For larger gifts, you’ll need multiple sheets and, unfortunately, tape. For gifts that can use one sheet, use biodegradable twine to keep the paper together instead of tape. Then your loved one can recycle the newspaper and compost the twine.

3 Plastic cutting boards → wooden cutting boards
The plastic cutting boards are going to end up at the landfill where it will take hundreds of years to break down. Every single plastic item that was ever made still exists today. If you switch to wooden cutting boards you can upcycle them at the end of their lives and create wall art or something artsy. Bamboo cutting boards would probably be best.

4 Plastic cooking utensils → bamboo cooking utensils
Same concept applies to cooking utensils as the cutting boards.

5 Plastic ice trays → stainless steel ice trays
Stainless steel ice trays are way more expensive, but they last a lot longer. They do require a lever (which if you buy from Amazon, it will come with one) to get the ice cubes out of the tray; and all the cubes come out at one time, but then you can save what you don’t use and refill the tray.

6 Conventional dish soap → bulk castile soap
Castile soap in bulk is cheaper than buying the individual (or big) bottles from stores and you avoid all the plastic when you use a glass jar to fill up on castile soap. At Island Naturals at Hilo Shopping Center, they have castile soap in bulk for under $15 a pound and they come in different scents. I haven’t found out how you get it from the pump bottle to the checkout but I will ask as soon as I get down there. I will post a blog about the many uses of castile soap soon.

7 Plastic dish rack → reusable cloth drying
Instead of using a plastic dish rack to put your dishes to dry, just hand dry them and put them away. Ask someone with you to help dry the dishes while you wash. Dish racks collect moisture and, if they look anything like my mom’s, mold as well. My mom’s dish rack is 100% plastic and there are bits on it that are supposed to hold the plates upright that are broken and she refused putting anything under the far end so water could drain out into the sink so the water just sits there and mold started growing. Not a pretty sight, but I can’t tell her what to do. Don’t be like my mom and her dishes, dry your dishes and put them away. Saves waste and money buying a new rack every few months or years.

8 Nonstick pan → cast iron pan
Nonstick pans don’t stay nonstick forever and what do people do with their no-longer-nonstick pans? Toss them. Cast iron pots and pans last a lifetime and they have a nonstick surface. A good health benefit they have: iron leaching. Might sound dangerous but you do need iron in your diet to remain healthy. However, they are fairly high-maintenance as well as very heavy.

9 Conventional cleaning supplies → white vinegar
Somehow white vinegar is supernatural. Not only is it made from natural ingredients, it is also a massive all-purpose cleaner. Straight vinegar or mixed with some water will replace just about every cleaner you have under your sink. I will post a blog about the benefits of white vinegar soon.

Making these little changes could make all the difference for the environment.

Zero Waste Tips: Part 1

Here are some zero waste tips to incorporate around your home. Let’s start in the kitchen, the heart of the home.

Kitchen

  1. Use alternatives to paper and plastic disposables. Put down those paper towels and drop those plastic sandwich baggies! Look for alternatives to those products that can only be used once or twice and then you ship them off to the landfill. Use reusable rags that can be washed in the washing machine (hang dry these guys to save electricity). Instead of plastic lunch containers and baggies, use stainless steel containers. Cling wrap and aluminum foil can be swapped out for beeswax moldable wraps. Take a look around your kitchen and see what can be replaced with a sustainable and reusable option.
  2. Buy in bulk or at the counter. Bring your reusable bags, jars, and bottles for dry goods, wet items, and liquids. If you know a place that will happily use your containers, don’t forget to bring them with you. If you’re not sure if your store will allow it, ask. It never hurts to ask. Reusable bags are good for small, dry goods like grains, nuts, and potatoes. Jars are good for meats, fish, butters, and cheese. Bottles are good for oils, shoyu, and castile soap.
  3. If you cannot find it bulk, find a supplier or make it yourself. Bring your jar to the ice cream shop (Ask if local shops will be able to fill your jar). Take a pillow case to the bakery for bread. That way you don’t take home the plastic bag. Bring your own bottles to wineries and breweries. Or if you can’t find certain things in bulk, make it yourself at home like salad dressings, jams, juice, or hummus.
  4. Shop the farmers market. Most vendors will take your egg cartons back and they’ll let you use your own reusable bags. Your veggies will also most likely be free of plastic and stickers.
  5. Learn to love tap water. Ditch the plastic bottles of water. If you live on catchment, invest in some heavy duty filtration system. As long as you boil the water, it’ll be safe to cook with. That and get your drinking water in bulk. See if you can get glass jugs, it’ll be heavier, but less waste.
  6. Use bulk alternatives of natural cleaning supplies. Castile soap can be used as a dish/hand cleaner, baking soda can be used as a scrubber with a compostable cleaning brush. Purchase dishwasher detergent in bulk.
  7. Turn your trash can into a big compost keeper. Use the tiny composter from the stores as your trash can.
  8. Reinvent leftovers before they go bad. Use what recipes you have and only keep those that can be achieved with zero waste in mind. If you don’t like to eat the same meal twice, spice it up a bit and put your own twist on leftovers so it doesn’t waste.
  9. Invest in a pressure cooker. It halves the cooking time on most dishes.
  10. Some additional tips. Reuse single-side printed paper and receipts for grocery shopping and errand lists. Use your lettuce cleaning water as water for your plants. Open your oven after baking to warm your home in the winter.

Zero Waste Cleaning

A lot of cleaning supplies that we purchase from the store are packaged in a plastic container and filled with chemicals. Here are some easy tips to reduce waste from your cleaning routine.

Multipurpose Cleaner
In a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and 2 cups water. If you want a scent, add 10 to 20 drops of essential oil. Shake well before using.

Homemade Scrub
You can eliminate commercial bleach scrubs and plastic packaging with this recipe for sinks and countertops. Thoroughly mix 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup coarse salt in a stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Put in a container with a shaker lid. For extra whitening, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Cleaning Rags
Avoid using paper towels when cleaning, save money and use fabric squares from old socks, sheets, towels, or shirts. Cut them up and sew the edges, so they don’t fray and break apart in the wash.

Floor Cleaner
In a bucket, add a couple of drops of dish soap and warm water.

Stainless Steel Cleaner
Put a small amount of olive oil on a rag and rub onto stainless steel until shiny.

Room Spray
In a spray bottle, add filtered water and 15 drops of your favorite essential oil.

A Zero Waste Adventure to Narnia


img_0663This is Narnia. A secluded place up the Wailuku River where you can swim, hang out, and relax next to waterfalls. On Monday, my friend took Waiemi, my cousin, Hunter, my sister, Camryn, and I on the long hike out there to show us where it was. I had heard about it from some people and didn’t really know what to expect.

The night before, I packed my bag with my medication, umbrellas, ponchos, snacks and lunch. I packed a separate tote with two blankets and two towels for Waiemi and I. Not knowing what to expect, I prepared for anything. img_0664Except I forgot my slippers in the car.

In two 8 oz glass jars, I packed Honey Nut Cheerios. In a 16 oz
jar, I packed Ranch flavored potato chips that my other sister, Crystal, snagged from a potluck a couple days earlier. In our two tiffins, Waiemi filled one with lettuce wraps (just turkey slices and cheddar cheese). In the other, I had one tier full of quinoa and the other with leftover roast from dinner. I had my 16 oz jar of water and Waiemi had his 24 oz reusable bottle from Kamehameha Schools and we were ready to get out there.

While waiting for our friend to meet up with us, we checked out Rainbow Falls with the tourists and Boiling Pots. Both places were beautiful that lovely midday. Around 11, we made our way up to Narnia. Finding parking was a bit of a challenge, but not as big as the hike.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but the hike was miserable. Well on the way out it was miserable. I was sweating so badly in places I had never sweat before, like my neck. After half an hour or so, we finally made it to Narnia. There were a lot more fair-skinned people than I thought would know about the place. It was hard to tell whether they were local or tourists. We found a side path and went down it. We found a lift that went to the other side of the river, but not knowing how safe it was, we just sat down at its base and had our lunch.

Lunch was good. It was refreshing and relaxing, especially after that hike. Then, as it always does in Hilo, it began to rain. The place cleared out so fast, because there’s no cover there. I gave Hunter and Camryn ponchos and Waiemi and I used our umbrellas. The walk back was definitely not as bad because it was all downhill.

We plan to go back there tomorrow with Crystal and possibly her boyfriend if he wants to make the hike out there. Tomorrow I will definitely take more pictures!

7 Tiny Steps for the Beginner Minimalist

Waiemi and I realized that zero waste and minimalism go hand-in-hand. Refusing to bring waste into our home and reducing what items we already have in our home helps to keep more waste from entering the home. Clutter attracts clutter. With minimalist living, you put value back into the things you own and makes it all the more valuable to you. Here are 7 steps you can take to begin your minimalist living.

Write it down…Make a list of all the reasons you want to live more simply. These are your whys and your whys will provide you with leverage when you think it’s too hard to keep going. Here are my whys:

  • I want to live more healthy and that starts with less clutter.
  • Decluttering my space declutters my mind, body, and spirit.
  • Having less things in our room will make it less stuffy and allow more air to flow freely.

Discard duplicates…Walk through your home with a box and fill it with duplicates. Once you fill the box, label it “Duplicates” and put it out of sight for 30 days. If you haven’t had the need to get anything from the box, donate it.

  • I found quite a bit of duplicates in our room. However, instead of putting them out of sight, we decided to just sell/donate them. They were of no use to us so maybe they could be useful to someone else.

Declare a clutter-free zone…Designate as area or zone in your home that will remain clutter-free. It can be a countertop, a room, anything. Slowly you can start expanding that area each day.

Travel lightly…Pack for 1/2 the time you’re traveling (ex// going away for 4 days? Pack for two days). You can either reuse some clothes or wash your clothes.

Dress with less…Implicate Project 333. Project 333 is a challenge where you pick 33 items of clothing and you wear only those 33 items for 3 months. We only use 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time anyway, so choose what you can wear and rewear and mix-and-match for 3 months. Jewelry also counts as part of the 33, so choose wisely.

  • I started the challenge for myself over the weekend and am currently on Day 4. I counted a pair of socks as one item since, well, I consider them to be one item. Everything else is in my other two drawers (they’re stuffed to the max, so I should go through them and get rid of what I don’t want anyway) and put my 33 items in my top drawer. Waiemi only ever wears his culinary uniform or work uniform every day so he only needs a couple shorts and shirts for the weekend.

Eat similar meals…Try eating the same breakfast and lunch all week with two or three dinner choices. Analyze your menu and everyone’s opinions at the end of the week.

  • Here’s where meal prepping came in for us. We would meal prep breakfast and lunch for the whole week. Dinner was pretty much fresh one day and leftovers the next. Try spicing up your leftovers so you’ll feel more compelled to eat it.

Save up $1000…You should always have an emergency fund. All that money you’re now saving from your minimalist lifestyle can be saved up for a rainy day or a vacation or that new (and useful) thing you’ve been wanting to get. Try the 52 Week Money Challenge – Number of the week is the dollar amount you put into your savings (ex// week 10 – put $10 in). Money for emergencies reduces stress.

  • We just started ours last week and we’re putting a little twist on our 52-week challenge. For the first 20 weeks or so, we’ll each put in the same amount (ex// week 10 – Waiemi puts in $10, I put in $10). After the 20th week or so, we’ll start splitting the amount in half. So by the end of the 52 weeks, we should have $400 more than what the original challenge entailed. Besides we”re also putting in anything we can spare into our savings for our wedding.

These are just 7 simple things that you can do to start living minimally. You do not have to go big or go home here. You can always start small and slowly work your way into it.

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Wool Dryer Balls

The amount of chemicals and toxins in laundry detergent is alarming. When you wash your clothes with regular store-bought detergent, all of those chemicals are being dumped into our ocean. I looked for a more natural and cheaper solution.

My family has always used a liquid detergent that can cost upwards of $4 or more for the decently sized bottles that last maybe a month or less with how much laundry my family does in a week. After researching what your laundry detergent should generally have and what was safest for the environment as far as ingredients went, I found a recipe with just three ingredients that can last up to 5 months.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 box of borax, 4 lb (20 Mule Team) – $4.69 @ Target
  • 1 box of washing soda, 3 lb (Arm & Hammer) – $4.49 @ Target
  • 3 bars of Ivory soap (you can also use Zote and Castille bar soaps) – $3.99 for a pack of 8 @ Target
  • 1 container, plastic or glass, at least 23 cup volume

***I’m sure you can find these items cheaper somewhere else, but at the time, I was already shopping at Target so I decided to get it while I was there anyway. A 3-quart bottle of Tide laundry detergent can cost up to $13 at Target and last maybe three months, two months if your family does eight separate loads a week like mine does.

Instructions:

  1. Grate the Ivory soap as small as you can get it. The smaller the shavings, the easier it will dissolve in cold water.
  2. Pour the borax, washing soda, and soap shavings into the container.
  3. Shake or stir well. Done.
  4. Use 1-2 tablespoon for regular loads; 2-3 tablespoons for larger loads.

I put my ingredients in the container in layers. Borax, then washing soda, then soap, shake, repeat until everything was added in and mixed together. Then I covered the container and shook it vigorously for 30 seconds just to really mix it well.

***Be sure to break up large chunks in the container.

Also, another switch we made was to completely forgo whatever dryer sheets my family buys and opting for natural wool dryer balls. I ordered from Amazon a pack of 2-2.75 inch dryer balls about the size of baseballs for $8.99. Throw a couple of them in the dryer with your laundry and it will cut down the amount of time needed to dry your clothes. Dryer balls help to create openings in your clothes to let the hot air flow between your laundry to dry quicker. If you want to add a scent, just add 2-3 drops per ball, when the smell dissipates, add some more. These dryer balls are good for 100s of loads and you create less waste by REFUSING to buy dryer sheets and plastic or cardboard packaged laundry detergent.

Good for you zero waster!

detergent and dryer ball
Here’s our container of laundry detergent and one of our dryer balls.

Price Comparison

Target
Borax – $4.69
Washing Soda – $4.49
Ivory soap (3 bars) – $1.50
Total = $10.68 for 7.5 lb. up to 5 months

Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent 100 fl. oz. – $13.00 for up to 2 months
Tide Powder Laundry Detergent 5.93 lb. – $13.00 for up to 4 months

up & up dryer sheets box of 240 – $6.99 240 loads for up to 8 months
Wool Dryer balls – $8.99 1000 loads for up to 2.5 years