Zero Waste Wedding Planning Progress

Even though the wedding isn’t for another nine months or so, we’ve gotten chest deep into wedding planning. One of the main reasons why I haven’t been on blogging about zero waste in Hawaii.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been consulting both mine and Waiemi’s mom about how the wedding should go and what we will need. We have since managed to half our wedding size and located our venue for both the ceremony and reception. Our plans have changed dramatically since I last posted in April.

  1. We are no longer having our wedding at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo. Instead, we have chosen to move the ceremony and reception to Waimea at Anna Ranch Heritage Center. It is much more cozy, flexible, and fits our img_0830ideal wedding after much contemplation. We also decided to go with a rustic theme that was eco-friendly.
  2. We have settled on a late morning ceremony with a noon reception so everyone can drive home safely in the daytime.
  3. We have managed to incorporate zero waste into our wedding planning in the form of biodegradable, compostable paper goods and utensils. Here is a picture of the cups I ordered off of Amazon that are 100% plant based and compostable. How cool is that?! (I have provided a link to the product so you can check it out for yourself).

As the other package comes in, I will post another blog about the products we bought. So far we have managed to get a majority of the wedding planning done and I huge chunk of me wants to get married soon because I am so excited and amped from wedding planning.

Decorations are coming along. Because we decided to have the reception in Anna Hall, there isn’t much need for decorations so I decided that simple mason jar succulents and repurposed wine bottles would be perfect for the decorations. There will be an incorporation of a lot of twine lace and burlap, but it will be perfect. I can’t wait!

If you have any ideas to help with a Zero Waste wedding, please check out Our Wedding Page here on the blog to see what we already have planned and you can comment your suggestions below this blog post.


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!

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.


  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

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

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

Top 10 Ways to Start Going Zero Waste


Switch from tissues and paper napkins to cloth napkins.

This is a long process to transition from paper to cloth. The goal of zero waste is to minimize the amount of waste you are producing. Do not just go out and buy brand new cloth napkins and throw out all of your paper products.

Sell them or give them away to your friends while simultaneously educate them about zero waste and why you are giving them your remaining paper products. Also, instead of buying brand new cloth napkins, try making them from old sheets and clothes. REUSING items is a huge point in going zero waste.

Switch paper towels to woven cotton cloths.

Paper towels are great for cleaning up spills and messes, but it causes too much waste. Here is where you can buy cotton cloths. I highly recommend the cotton cloths that are really absorbent. However, it may also be a good idea to keep a couple of rolls of paper towels just in case and I recommend recycled natural, unbleached paper towels. The same goes for toilet paper as well.

Avoid microfiber towels because every time they go through the washing machine, they release thousands of micro-plastic particles into the environment. I suggest checking Amazon for cotton cloths.

Switch out plastic food containers for glass and stainless.

Plastic food containers are a huge waste and they are pretty cruddy food containers. I had a small Ziploc container that held my breakfast stuffed bell pepper that I made four months ago and I can still smell it. I have washed it three times and soaked it twice. If I leave the lid on for a week or so and open it up again, the smell of bell pepper comes seeping out. It is quite disgusting.

This odor retaining quality is not present in glass and stainless steel containers. Where plastic has a limited amount of times it can be recycled, glass and metal can be recycled an infinite number of times. I have a two-tiered stainless steel lunch container that I bought from Island Naturals for $24.99 and I am sure you can find them cheaper from somewhere else, just be mindful of packaging. The container I bought had zero packaging and had a compostable tag.

Quit plastic water bottles and use reusable water bottles.

Water is THE most important thing we need in our lives, but plastic is NOT. You will not believe how much plastic you could cut out of your life just by REFUSING plastic water bottles. Never leave the house without a reusable water bottle. Take a hydroflask or 50/50 with you at all times. I take a 16oz. mason jar with me everywhere I go. It doesn’t keep my water cold for very long, but I am saving up for a new or used hydroflask.

Stop using plastic shopping bags and use reusable totes and bags.

This is a no-brainer here in Hawaii. As of 2016, the law has banned stores from using plastic shopping bags. Not to say that everywhere has gotten rid of it, I know of some places that still have plastic, but almost every store now carries reusable bags. I am definitely considering buying large utility totes from Thirty-One when I can save up the money. They will be perfect for bulk shopping without having to lug around a million small reusable bags.

Number one tip for reusable bags, do not forget to leave the house or car without one. If you do, walk yourself back inside to get one. Better to have a bag than to forget it in the car and you have to load them in the rain or something.

Avoid plastic produce bags and use reusable cloth bags.

For larger produce, like bananas and lettuce, you can leave out of a bag. Use a cloth bag for small, numerous items like tomatoes and granola. You can either make them yourself or buy them. I recommend LifeWithoutPlastic for their organic cotton mesh produce bags. If you decide to buy bulk items with your reusable bags, remember to write down the product number for the cashier.

Replace sponges with brushes and rags.

Sponges are bacteria generators. Buying dish brushes with compostable heads or are compostable themselves are much cleaner than sponges. You can also use rags to dry your dishes. LifeWithoutPlastic is a great place to buy dish-washing brushes with removable heads that can be composted.

Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush.

Fun Fact: Every single toothbrush ever made is still out there. It takes a long time for a plastic toothbrush to degrade in a landfill. Bamboo toothbrushes are made from all-natural materials and they can be composted after you are done with them. They last just as long as plastic ones (four months).

Replace aluminum foil and cling wrap with moldable waxed fabric.

To avoid plastic waste headed to the landfill, moldable wax fabric can be reused as many times as needed. Again, LifeWithoutPlastic is the place to go.

Compost. Compost. Compost.

This is really self-explanatory. You can have a backyard compost or a vermicompost with worms in your kitchen. Green waste and compostable toothbrushes and other products can be composted. I am currently looking into a vermicompost here in Hilo and I will post about it at a later time.

Our Zero Waste Journey

Waimea Christmas Parade 2016

My name is Courtney and I live in Hilo on Hawaii Island with my fiancé, Waiemi. We currently live with my grandma, Aunty, and cousins. Not only have we found it difficult to live a more zero waste lifestyle in a family we do not own, we also found it difficult to live zero waste in Hawaii in general.

There are not that many locations and resources on the island that can support zero waste at a decent enough price. Products produced on-island are priced relatively higher than products imported from the mainland but products from the mainland often times come in a lot of plastic packaging.

However, the goal of my blog is to put information on resources out there for others on the Island who want to lead a zero waste lifestyle. As well as document our choices and journey to zero waste living.

I will post where you and I can get our bulk items and other local products to make our own recipes at home as well as any community events and ideas from other zero waste bloggers.

Hapuna Beach

Our Reason…

The reason why we are going zero waste is to do our part in helping to protect the environment. Living on an island with an ecosystem as sensitive as Hawaii’s as well as species of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. After visiting the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center one day, we saw an exhibit about marine debris collected from the Northern Hawaiian Islands and there were so many pieces of plastic, from lighters to water bottles, and it broke my heart. They also had pictures of marine animals that were harmed by the marine debris. Our beaches are so beautiful and I don’t want to pollute them. Minimizing our waste impact is a very real concern we should take to heart to help save the planet.

Our Zero Waste Living Guide

FullSizeRender 12.jpgWhen I began this journey, I found lots of helpful tips and tricks to zero waste living. I decided to write down and save all those that pertained to us and what we wanted to get out of this new lifestyle. This is basically my Bible. I have recipes, how-to’s, tips and ideas to lead a healthier lifestyle. I also included information about minimalist and non-toxic lifestyles because I believe all of these lifestyles are connected.

It is very difficult to achieve zero waste in my grandma’s home, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to switch out paper items with cloth items or use less water and buy healthier food. It’s an ongoing process in the house and I haven’t really told anyone about our decision to go zero waste yet.

I want to make a difference and live healthier. After recently being diagnosed with diabetes, I have tried to make efforts to change my eating habits and lifestyle. I have sold and gotten rid of a bunch of things in our room and I plan to sell even more. Saturday, April 8, 2017 we plan to have a yard sale at my grandma’s house with some friends and sell whatever we don’t need. Whatever doesn’t sell, we plan to donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. More details about the yard will become available in the coming days so stay tuned!