Blog

Featured

Bulk Shopping in Hilo

Where can you go to buy bulk items?

– Island Naturals Market & Deli
Hilo Shopping Center Location Open: Monday – Saturday 7AM – 8PM, Sunday 8AM – 7PM
You can buy grains, nuts, dried fruits, tea, spices, and soap in bulk at the Hilo Shopping Center location. I have not yet asked them if you can bring your own reusable produce bags for the grains or glass jars for the soap, but when I do I will let you know.

– Abundant Life Natural Foods
Downtown Hilo Open: M, T, R, F 8:30AM – 7PM, W & Sat 7AM – 7PM, Sun 10AM – 5PM
You can buy grains, nuts, spices, and dried fruits in bulk. I have not yet asked them if you can bring your own reusable produce bags or glass jars, but they are cheaper than Island Naturals. They don’t have many other bulk options like tea and soap.

I will try to find more places to buy items in bulk. I have noticed that Abundant Life is cheaper than Island Naturals

Composting Can’s and Cannot’s

Here is a list of things you can compost and what things you should not compost. For detailed information about composting, check out the United States EPA website.

Can

  • Fruit and vegetable waste
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds
  • UNBLEACHED paper
  • Tea bags
  • Disease-free houseplants
  • Hair (unbleached and undyed), fur, and nail clippings (unpolished)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cardboard
  • Yard waste
  • 100% Natural fabrics like cotton and wool
  • Dust sweepings and vacuum dirt
  • Sawdust and wood shavings
  • Hay and straw
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Dryer lint

Cannot

  • Bones
  • Meat
  • Feces
  • Cheese and dairy
  • Plastic-lined cartons
  • Cooking oils
  • Disposable diapers
  • Heavily coated paper, like magazines
  • Disposable feminine products
  • Metallic wrapping paper or glitter
  • Fleece or any other non-natural fabric
  • Plastic of any kind
  • Stickers
  • Any toxic chemicals
  • Coal or charcoal
  • Soiled cat litter

 

When things successfully compost, it will turn back into dirt and you will be able to use it for gardening or give back to the Earth. Common sense says don’t put anything plastic, chemical, or animal-based into your compost pile, otherwise your compost will have a bad smell and be too toxic to grow anything with. Use your best judgement when you encounter something not on the list. Good luck!

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

Homemade Tooth Powder and Bamboo Toothbrush

Along with this new lifestyle comes some conscious decisions to switch out plastic, chemical-infused products and make your own essentials from more natural ingredients. Once again this recipe comes from Going Zero Waste and she even got it approved by a dentist, granted it was her own dentist, but her dentist definitely approved of the tooth powder.

I wanted to get rid of my toothpaste and see where natural tooth powder could take me. Let me just tell you a little something. Making the switch from minty toothpaste to tooth powder is not easy. I would highly recommend finding a recipe for mouthwash or I will post one later if you want to wait.

What You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup Xylitol – $6.18/lb @ Abundant Life
    • a natural sweetener
    • prevents bacteria from sticking to your teeth
    • neutralizes pH to help avoid tooth decay
  • 1/2 cup Baking Soda – $3.99/lb @ Island Naturals
    • very mild abrasive (less abrasive than commercial toothpaste) that dislodges plaque on teeth
    • breaks down stain causing molecules
    • neutralizes pH
  • 1/2 cup Bentonite Clay – $16.79/lb Island Naturals
    • draws out toxins
    • contains calcium
    • often used to help remineralize teeth
  • 1-16 oz mason jar

Since Abundant Life has proven to be cheaper in some places than Island Naturals, I will check Abundant Life’s prices for baking soda and bentonite clay and see if they’re cheaper there.

Instructions

  1. Stir everything together in a glass jar. Don’t use metal with the clay, it will deactivate.
  2. Done!
  3. Dip half of your wet toothbrush into the powder and then brush your teeth. You don’t need much.

The sweetness of the xylitol cancels out the saltiness of the baking soda. I recommend using a bamboo toothbrush with your tooth powder as an environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic commercial toothbrush. Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and all natural. You can also compost them after 4 months.