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!

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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.

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.

Homemade All-Natural Zero-Waste Deodorant

For a long time, I have had trouble with regular store-bought deodorant. I would buy a brand and stick with it for a year or two and then my body would reject it and get an allergic reaction from it. Then I would switch to another brand and repeat. In the last couple of months, I have grown irritated at my deodorant and decided to try something else. My friend told me how she would use lotion for her armpits and it wouldn’t smell and her armpits would become moisturized. I tried for a couple of weeks, but I would still smell my body odor. I couldn’t get too sweaty or the smell would become too strong, so I got rid of the lotion idea.

I came across an all-natural homemade deodorant recipe on Going Zero Waste‘s blog. This is her recipe and I am posting it here so you can access it or you can click this link. It’s made from three simple ingredients, water, baking soda, and Himalayan pink salt. After two weeks I don’t smell, my armpits aren’t irritated, and it cost less than the $3 sticks at the store. Kathryn K. is a lifesaver and she has some really awesome posts which I highly recommend you check out later.

 

FullSizeRender 13
Our spray bottles and excess deodorant in a mason jar.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 oz of water (weight not fluid)
  • 4 Teaspoons of Baking Soda (Island Naturals $3.99/lb)
    • Absorbs moisture
    • Natural deodorizer that helps neutralize odor
    • Is alkaline and helps prevent excess sweating
    • Lowers your pH level to counteract the acids in sweat
  • 4 Teaspoons of Himalayan Pink Salt, fine
    • Provides essential minerals and trace elements
    • Helps eliminate toxins
    • Balances the body’s pH
    • Helps to increase blood circulation
  • Spray bottle (3 oz) or roll-on bottle
    • I got two small spray bottles from Target’s travel section for $0.99 each. One for Waiemi, one for me. Just remember to shake well before spraying.

Instructions:

  1. Heat 8 oz of water in a pot on the stove. Bring the water to a boil for five minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. While water is still very warm, add baking soda and salt. It should mostly dissolve in the warm water.
  4. Pour into small spray bottle(s) or roll-on bottle
  5. Spray once or twice before you go to bed and again in the morning.

If you would like to add some scent you can use 2-3 drops of essential oil. Tea tree would be best because of its antibacterial properties.

I made a big batch, poured 3 oz into my spray bottles and kept the rest in a mason jar. It’s in my bathroom for the next time I need to refill or make some more. The deodorant will last a long time, up to 5 months.

Make sure you use fine grain Himalayan pink salt so it dissolves easier in the warm water. In order to save money, I used my regular Himalayan pink salt grinder that we use for cooking, sat down with a glass jar and just started grinding into the jar. It took a few minutes to come up with enough teaspoons of salt, but at least I worked my arm muscles. I plan to refill my grinder with salt from Island Naturals or Abundant Life. When I find out the price, I will update this post.

The great thing about this deodorant is how simple it is to make and use. I don’t have to worry about the toxic chemicals I’m introducing into my body through my armpits and I don’t have to worry about an allergic reaction!