Zero Waste Week, and what you can do!

We are halfway through Zero Waste week. I hate that I did not realize that this was Zero Waste Week until the first day. Thankfully I was quick enough to at least participate in my home! We have been working on making little changes in our home to produce less waste and this week I am focusing on WHAT we are throwing away so we can look into reducing that type of waste.

I have come to learn Zero Waste seems to mean different things to different people. Clearly it still means removing trash from your life but everyone has their own standards and ideals. It’s all good because it all helps!

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What are your Zero Waste goals?

It does not matter if you are a veteran or just starting to learn something new it never hurts to think about your end goal! Keep in mind you can always change your goals.

My goal is to be more sustainable over all. To me this means making/growing what we can, buying recycled, and reusing what we can. If we really can not reuse it, I’d like to be able to compost or recycle it.

As you see Zero Waste fits right in.

Start small, Think Big!

Zero waste is not about tossing all your plastic containers and buying Mason Jars. People do seem to like the Mason Jars. I have a few, but I tend to just reuse Jelly Jars.

Here are some things to think about:

  • What do I already have that can help me to reduce waste in my home?

Almost everyone have reusable containers. Some of us save the containers that food comes in. (Butter bowls, coffee cans, Big yogurt containers etc) Most of the time these are not made for long term use, but they can be reused. We use them for freezing stuff, left overs, and storing non food items like craft supplies. If it does seem weak or gets a crack, we recycle it after getting as much life out of it as we can.

  • Buy foods in glass containers.

This has many good things! It shows companies you would rather have glass over plastic. Vote with your dollars! This also gives you great reuseable containers that can last for years! Zero Waste stores and Bulk item store options are increasing! You need to store all that stuff somewhere! There is no reason to go buy Mason Jars when you buy spaghetti sauce in a wide mouth jar! I use old jelly jars for my work lunches (oatmeal or home made cup of noodles)

  • Pack a lunch!

Send your kids to school with a healthy homemade lunch. Bring your own lunch too! Use reusable containers, and pack a drink in a reusable bottle. I send my kids to school with tea, and once that is gone, they can refill at the water fountains.

  • Always have a water bottle or cup.

Not just a water bottle but carry a reusable straw, and keep an empty food container, just in case. I like to have a handkerchief, a reusable shopping bag (Austin has a plastic bag ban so this is extra important.), something to drink out of (coffee cup and water bottle most of the time), metal fork and spoon, and a non perishable snack. (dried fruit or cereal in a jar.) I keep this all in my backpack when I go anywhere. I don’t drive, so this is easy to take on the bus or when walking. If I will be in the car with people I have an oversized tote I use and I tend to pack extra snacks to share. (I’m awesome on a car trip!)

  • Pay attention to what you throw away.

Trash audits are a thing! At first I thought that sounded so gross, but it make so much sense! How can you reduce trash if you do not even know what you are throwing away? Here is a great Printable Trash Audit from Zero Waste Week. Once you get an idea what you throw away the most you can think about what habits you need to change.

  • Eat your left overs

Food waste is so sad! It honestly upsets me. You are letting money rot! I have a big family. We make big meals and buy so much in bulk and need break it down for easier use. We have to do things that way. With 3 teens we almost have no left overs, but sometimes it does happen. If that were to go bad, I would be honestly upset. True most of the time that can go in the compost, but it’s better to use it. In our home left overs become lunches. Most of the time for me. I make the kid’s lunches for the whole week on Sunday. If the rare time happens that we have an abundance of left overs, we do not cook until that is gone. Never let your Veggies go to the compost because they went bad! Buy less more often, and freeze what you can not use! My daughter LOVES fruit. We buy in bulk when it is on sale, wash it, set some out for her, and freeze the rest! We also make “smoothie prep.” When our fruits and spinach look like they might not last longer we portion it out for single serving smoothies! While still frozen toss it in the blender with juice and yogurt and you have a healthy snack!

  • Say no to the straw.

Out to eat with friends? On the go and forgot your food? We are human, and sometimes we just want to go out, or crave a Pizza. You should go out! Have fun! It’s best to go to a place with reusable plates, cups, etc. When you order your drink, ask for no straw. If you get one anyways, give it back so someone else can use it. In the drivethru? You can still ask for no straw, and drink from the cup.

  • Cook at home.

I know I JUST said you should go out, but not everyday! Limit it to special outings and when you spaced your packed lunch. Cooking at home saves money, reduces waste, and you might get left overs! We can feed a family of 5 for less than $10 a day, but if we eat out it can average $10 a person.

  • Buy second hand and look for freecycle and buy nothing groups.

One way of reducing waste is to reuse things. Give them second life! Shop at thrift stores, and look for local groups that resell and give things away. My daughter likes to find old clothing from friends and thrift stores and resew them into something new. Looking for a waffle iron or slow cooker? Trust me someone has one they don’t want! That goes two ways! Keep an eye out for things you can gift too! Gave up on a hobby? Found out you don’t need a dehydrator as much as you thought? Gift or sell for small profit! This declutters and helps someone else!

  • Don’t forget, things can be fixed!

Vacuum not doing great? Maybe it needs cleaned, or a new belt. No need to get a whole new vacuum. Maintain an appliance is always best but if it does fail you, see if youo can fix it first. Sew a hole in clothing, darn a sock, or mend a hem!

  • Act local, think global! Don’t forget small business!

Support your local industries! Shop farmers markets, and at small local grocers. Not everyone can shop farmers markets but you can shop at stores that support local farms or buy items online from home businesses. Have babies, can’t sew? Buy cloth dippers from Etsy. Need a cake, but can’t bake? Look for a local cottage baker. Many times this cost a little extra but you are support a family and tend to get better quality! One of my favorite things is to buy handmade soaps! OMG I have been known to spend WAY too much for a local made bar of soap! (bonus if no packaging!)

  • Learn to make stuff!

I sew, and crochet. I also cook, bake, and mix my own cleaners! I make what I can (I wish I could make soap!) to reduce packaging and it saves money! There are many things I will not DIY but I do love cuddling up in my crochet afghan I made!

Product Review: Swak Tooth Brush

Swak love your teeth
http://swak-shop.com/ (UK)
http://swak.de/ (Germany)
Price £10.50 or 11,90 EUR to get started
£9.00 – £28.00 for replacement heads

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

About the company

The company strives to be zero waste and a healthy option for your teeth. I have talked to the UK dealer and she is a wonderful person who and is very passionate about healthy teeth and sustainable living!

They promote healthy teeth and gums without the use of toothpaste. You can use toothpaste, but not needed. They also offer oil and tooth salt to use too. I want to try the oil!

The website is full of very useful information and videos and I recommend looking that over!

Keep in mind this is a German company first. While the page itself is in English (UK one) some of the Facebook may have German. Do not be thrown off by this! It is a small company that is only just expanding out to the UK, and I hope to the USA someday!

About the product

I was offered this toothbrush free, for a honest review. This review is for the 2.0 but it seems like there is only a few minor changes from the 2.0 and the 3.4. The heads of the toothbrush look the same and that is the important part.

The one I got was plastic but they do have a wooden Miswak. Since the head is replaceable I am not so anti-plastic in this case. This is not a one use toothbrush! Also the plastic is made from GMO free sugar [Polylactid Acid (PLA)] and that kinda blows my mind! (at least the 3.4) I had no idea sugar plastic was a thing and I Love it!

This is where things get really interesting:

The toothbrush head

The head of the brush is made from frayed Miswak wood. When I first read that I was both worried and excited. I was worried if that would hurt, but excited at the true zero waste options! When you are done with a head it can be tossed in the compost! Also, turns out it is super soft!

 

The packaging:

I was warned up front that the packaging on the discontinued brush I got is different than the new one. This one has plastic packaging, but they have moved away from that in the newer ones.

Other than a small plastic bag (no longer used) it was all paper. It was shipped in a brown paper envelope and over all looks like they avoided as much waste as possible! I I have yet to find a use for the bag but I have not given up! I might use it when I gift an essential oil or something.

My experience

I have bad teeth. I do what I can to keep them healthy and have tried a wide rage products and things to try to improve my oral health. (Both fluoride and fluoride free toothpaste, oil pulling essential oils and more.) Even with a soft brush and light brushing my gums tend to bleed. After two days of using this brush my gums were not bleeding and my teeth felt cleaner. They felt more like they were polished and I liked that.

The first time I used it I used toothpaste, and it worked well and I used less toothpaste I think. I am pretty mindful of the amount I use before this brush too. I found I had to use more after I finished the top teeth, but I think I still used less. My teeth felt great most of the day. Day two I repeated that process and my teeth were pretty happy till dinner when I brushed again.

Day 3 I tried without toothpaste to see how I felt. It seemed to work well but I found by mid day I needed to do it again, and then again at dinner. I think if I kept up without the toothpaste this would decrease as my mouth adjusted (may like no poo you have to detox?) but I prefer the way my mouth felt with the toothpaste.

I would be willing to try their tooth oil, but I may also look into mixing something myself. I might just try Thieves oil too!

The only reason it got 4 1/2 stars rather than 5 was the fact that it is a little hard to get and it would be a big upfront investment for a household of 5. The replacement head price is totally perfect so it would be worth it when I could afford it.

Am I still using it?

Yes I am! Since I am so used to my old toothbrush sometimes I grab that one first when I’m still half asleep in the morning, but I have started taking this one with me when I go somewhere since you do not NEED toothpaste and I use it before bed every night.

It’s been a few weeks since I got it but due to Hurricane Harvey and stress from Harvey I took my time writing this.

I am not sure how long the heads last, I will update later (if I remember to update) when the head dies. I think the website says 3 months.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Very sustainable
  • GMO free plastic
  • Supports a smallish company that wants to do good
  • Very good for your teeth
  • Easier to use than expected
  • easy to care for
  • fluoride free oral health options
  • More polished feeling teeth

Cons

  • Only in UK and Germany for now
  • Price is a little high
  • Takes getting used to
  • They seem to run out of product because a small company

Overall this is worth trying! The Pros are way better than the Cons! Will I buy more? Maybe! I am in the US so it is hard but I have been told I can place a bulk order directly so I will be seeing if anyone else is interested! Would I buy more if I lived in the UK? I think I would!

Product Review: Dr Bronner’s Hemp Peppermint Soap

Dr Bronner’s Hemp Peppermint Soap

4 Stars
Buy on Amazon $11.99 for 2 bars
Better deals in the store. We pay about $3.50 a bar at the store
https://www.drbronner.com/

About the Company:

First let me tell you, this company is Amazing (capital A). They are certified Organic (3 certifications),  Fair Trade, Vegan, GMO Free, and Kosher! That is just the tip of the iceberg! You really need to read that website to see how amazing this company is!

The soap!

So far we have only used the Hemp and Peppermint. The scent is AMAZING, and we have not really wanted to try another one, because the scent is AMAZING. We tend to buy 1 bar and cut it into about 4 pieces. (We do this with all soaps) This soap is good for the whole family, for both face and body.

Soap is something my husband and I both kinda obsess about. We have requirements for soap, before we buy it, and certain things for us to say we love it.

  • Must be non toxic ✓
  • Must be no waste ✓
  • Must be cost effective (Willing to bend on that if it is good soap.) ✓
  •  Not a Glycerin soap (I am not a fan) ✓

For us to love it:

  • Must not dry skin
  • Must leave us feeling clean ✓✓
  • Must smell good without “fragrance” (non natural ones at lease) ✓

I do find it a little drying but not unbearable.

I mentioned Non-Toxic it checks out on Think Dirty! It is on there twice, once as a 0 and once as a 3 for allergens! This checks out for me!!

Screenshot_20170802-211505

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Organic, Fair Trade, Vegan, Kosher
  • Uses essential oils, not “fragrance”
  • Smells so good I wish I could eat it
  • Whole family loves it
  • Paper packaging

Cons:

  • The bar goes fast we have to buy more often than some of the other brands we buy.
  • Drys my skin out. Okay for the summer but come winter I may need to switch soaps.

The Packaging:

Paper. We do not order off the internet, since we are able to get it easy local, so not sure about packaging when you order online.

Waste: 0! Paper is compostable, and when the bar gets small we put it in a soap saver.

Fine print: This review is not endorsed in any way by the company, this is a product I already buy. Amazon link is an affiliate link.

Product Review: Dr Perfect Bamboo Toothbrush

Dr. Perfect Bamboo Toothbrush

4 out of 5 stars
Buy on Amazon I bought 12 for $10.50 with Prime
http://www.iteethbrush.com/bamboo-toothbrush/

My checklist:

  • Cost effective  ✔
  • Sustainable product ✔
  • Little to no waste ✔

These are the first Bamboo Toothbrushes I have ever bought! I was excited about the price! It is about the price of the ones that are so bad for the environment! On Amazon, it did not say these were small, but it does say they are soft bristle. I think these are kids brushes but I am okay with that.

The bristles are soft and made of nylon and made to look like a natural fiber. I thought that was kinda cool. Before tossing them in the compost, you have to pull the bristles out. They are recyclable!

My husband wishes they were bigger so I think next time I buy I will only get 6 and get 4 adult size ones.

Image from Amazon

About the packaging:

They are individually wrapped but in a compostable paper so I like that! I bought in bulk and that will keep them clean until we are ready to use them without causing waste. I bought them on Amazon, and they were in an envelope in a box, and I found that annoying. The box is compostable, and the air packaging in the box is recyclable and easy to repurpose. The envelope though was not recyclable and that alone seemed so wasteful. This produces some but minimal waste.

Waste: 1 non-recyclable envelope for about a year’s worth of toothbrushes.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • sustainable product: bamboo is the worlds fastest growing plant.
  • little waste
  • cheap!
  • soft bristles

Cons:

  • Smaller than expected
  • Made in China (most bamboo brushes are) That always makes me worried
  • Unneeded packaging
  • They all look the same. (We marked mine with a purple stripe) I am not 100% sure how the kids are keeping theirs apart.

 

See, mine has the purple

 

I do recommend these brushes! None of the Cons are deal breakers and we will be trying the larger brushes for my husband later on, and I am sure we will be happy with them as well!

Fine print: This review is not endorsed in any way by the company, this is a product I already buy. Amazon link is an affiliate link.

Starting Zero Waste?

The key to a sustainable lifestyle is reducing waste. This is something I am actively working on. Have you heard of the Zero Waste movement? I am not a Zero Waste Hero yet, but my goal is to change my habits as I can so that I can be there at some point.

Lately, I am making big strides to change those little things in life to a more sustainable home! My oldest son loves this, my daughter is scared I will get rid of the toilet paper.

 

Not able to go full zero waste yet?

That’s okay, me either! Every good habit we add to our lifestyle is a step in the right direction! If we start with little changes, the big changes won’t be so big later!

Here are some places to start!

Start by decluttering! Once you have cleared out the stuff you do not need, you have a better idea of what you really need! Repurpose, gift, sell what you can! You might no use that waffle iron, but someone else may be looking for one! Also look into Buy Nothing groups in your area! This is a great place to declutter working useful things, and find some of the things you need! By getting used from one of these groups, you save money and reduce someone else’s waste! Maybe you can make a like minded friend too!

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DIY Cotton Face Scrubs

Without thinking, I bought some of those cotton rounds because I wanted to test some recipes and improve my skin. The first time I used one of those cotton rounds two thoughts crossed my mind.

  1. This is handy to have!
  2. Oh, my look how wasteful that is!

I still have them, but I feel a tinge of guilt every time I use one. A while back I posted two face cleaner recipes (these are the recipes I was testing)

So I decided to make some of my own. At first, I was going to make them round but I felt that was a little wasteful. (All those corners being trimmed off.) So I made squares!

This is a fast easy project that even a beginner can do! It is also truly 100% zero waste if you are using cotton and have a compost pit! 

DIY Cotton Squares

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Free Pattern: Soap Saver

When I first decided to move to a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle one of the first things we did was make the switch to a bar soap. Over all, it is more cost effective and less waste.  Never fails, the soap would get too small to really use, but too much to toss. I did not want to waste any of it!

We store them up in a glass jar under the sink, and when I get enough I put it in my Soap Purse!  This is an easy project for even the beginning crocheter.

Not a DIYer?

Order one from me! I have a few on hand and I can make a custom one for you!

I used Red Hear Super Saver yarn because it is low cost and great for body exfoliation and being acrylic it is less likely to mold in the shower.  You can adjust the size to fit your needs.

Soap Purse

Beginner level

Abbreviations:

  • ch = Chain
  • SC = Single Crochet
  • DC = Double Crochet
  • slst = slip stitch

Hook size: F

Chain 16 loosely because you will be working both sides of the chain.

  • RD 1:  SC 15, ch 1, SC 15 on the other side of the chain and join with a slip stitch.
  • RD 2: ch 3, DC in the same as the chain, DC 15, DC 2 in 1, DC 15 and join.
  • RD 3-5: ch 3, DC in next, and DC around and join. (32 Stitches)
  • RD 6: ch 3, DC in the next stitch, DC 6, chain 1 and skip st, DC 15, chain 8 slst in last DC, DC 7 and join.
  • chain 25 and slst in other side.
  • Optional add a button

Personally I skip the button and only use the loops because it is easy to reverse it. (I like reversible for some reason.)

Add your soap bits!

For those just learning to crochet, here are some photos to help you!

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