6 Ways to Reduce Vegetable Scraps

A little while ago I made a  Post about what I’m still currently throwing away, one of them being food scraps. Compost just isn’t working out in this sweaty hot climate and living on the 9th floor of a building. I’m working up a plan on how I can present a compost plan to our building but I have yet to think of a solution.

I’ve actually been kind of thankful for having the compost mishap because it’s making me rethink what I toss and causing me to become creative in what I do with parts our culture has deemed “inedible.” When we did have our worm bin a huge problem was having way too scraps to feed them. I think next time around I will be much more prepared.

A lot of these solutions still involve the scraps eventually finding their way into the trash. But using a second time is better than not at all.

1) Just Eat Em

One day I was washing spinach and cutting the stems off and becoming sad because all the waste.  It occured to be that I could just eat the darn things! So that’s what we’ve been doing. They are a little more bitter than the leaves but edible all the less.

Broccoli stems,  on the other hand, taste EXACTLY like the tree part and I think I actually prefer the stems in stir fry more (Raw broccoli is bleh so I’m not sure what it’s like raw).

I have yet to try it, but I’ve heard kale stalks are similar to asparagus when roasted. Sounds good to me!

2) Just Eat it Peels and All

Why do we peel stuff? For a lazy person like me, I gladly embrace not peeling. Just wash the dirt off carrrots. Don’t peel that potato! Chop up the garlic skins too! Isn’t the skin full of nutrients anyways?

Canned tomatoes with the skin on–no problem. I read that tomatoes are peeled because the skins are chewy when boiled. Well, I made a soup with skins and all and it was just fine.

Making applesauce with the skins makes you look rustic and cool and adds a nice texture. I’m a huge fan of non-mush after getting my wisdom teeth removed.

3) Freeze Stuff

I realize this sounds pretty self explanatory but I was always worried to freeze stuff because I thought I wouldn’t be able to get it out of the container. But I’ve found everything can be easily thawed in a hot water bath and it doesn’t make the cooking process longer.

I’m pretty good at not letting stuff go bad in the fridge and I’ve stopped making leftovers unless I have a certain plan to eat it the next day. But I do freeze stuff like dried beans after soaking, kale for soups, jalapeños that have been diced, and other random vegetable and fruits I don’t plan on eating that week.

We also just started “canning” our own diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, but it’s not actually canning because we just put it in the freezer and keep a small amount in the fridge. They taste WAY better than the canned stuff and now I’m not worried about BPA. Plus, it’s just one more thing that doesn’t go in the recycle bin.

 

Boooooo BPA. From Google Images

 

4) Research Second Uses

Egg Shells

What the heck can you do with egg shells? After typing into Google, “Reusing eggshells” I found some ideas. Apparently it’s the same thing as calcium carbonate, practically, that DIYers use in homemade toothpaste. I’m not entirely convinced, but why not try it? I’ve been adding eggshells to the freezer and when I have a large amount I will boil, bake, and crush em into powder. Or you can use them as little planters which my husband has been doing to grow seedlings. And many other things that didn’t apply to us. Look it up!

Apple Cores


Picture and recipe fromzerowastechef.com

I was fretting over apple cores and after some research found I good make apple cider vinegar out of it SUPER EASSSSYYYYY which is what I’m all about.

Citrus Peels

I’m also collecting grapefruit and orange peels to make a citrus infused vinegar AND candied peels for flavoring food, tea, and making a sugar scrub thing (thanks internet!)!

5) Veggie Stock

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Picture and recipe from goingzerowaste.com

I made veggie stock once and I hated how wasteful it was to boil all these vegetables and then throw them out. But then I discovered you can use scraps! Onion peels and skin, Carrot tops, Pepper tops, Celery tops and bottoms, garlic skins. Just not cruciferous vegetables that make it bitter.

6) Avocado Seed Shampoo

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Picture and recipe from therogueginger.com

I’m still not sure what to do with avocado skins, but the seed makes a bright orange moisturizing shampoo. I don’t use it, but my husband has been diluting his anti dandruff shampoo with this stuff.

I seriously can’t wait to have compost again!

Water Only Hair 2 Month Update

I actually wrote this at the beginning of March but never got to posting it.

I’ve always had dry hair. I can’t remember ever not getting split ends within a few weeks or ever feeling that my hair has reached a point of true healthiness. Now my hair is so moisturized I sometimes don’t even know how to handle it! I’m pretty darn happy with water only for the most part. I like my hair for the most part on most days,  but I still can really only go 3-4 days with it down. I do think by the end of March it will achieve a balance of oils throughout the week.

Last monthI talked about how I was still in transition. Previously I thought that transition meant that hair looked terrible all the time, but now that my hair looks presentable the majority of the time (but not always) I’m not really sure what state I’m at. I guess I could say I’m 3/4 of the way out of transition.

Problems I’ve faced this month:

  • Sleep causing my great hair to not look so great
  • Getting lazy and not scrubbing enough
  • Getting lazy and not brushing as often as I should
  • Not sure of best method to redefine curls
  • Random increase of oil production
  • Possibly too much moisture (less springy roots)
  • UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF THE BBB (boar bristle brush)

Benefits I’ve faced this month:

  • All problems from Last month resolved
  • All benefits from last month remained
  • Defined, healthy all day lasting curls
  • Healthy from root to tip
  • No need for moisturizing rinses
  • Less up dos
  • No split ends

Week to Week Breakdown

This month I’ve “washed” my hair a total of 5 times:

I mentioned my first wash of February in last months post but in brief it was the most successful wash up to that point!

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Egg Wash- February 10

After some research I came to the conclusion that some strands were wiry and stretchy and lacked curl definition because it was low on protein. So I added an egg with some distilled water and scrubbed it in. Pretty messy and pretty gross. After letting sit for ten minutes I rinsed in cold water and picked some chunks of egg out and rinsed with green tea to combat the eggy smell.

WOOOOOOOWWWWWWW WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT EGG WAS THE NECTAR FOR HAIR!?!?!?!?

I took this picture right before I went to bed. I look a little weird because I had just gotten my wisdom teeth out, and it was at night so I was tired. Anyways, I don’t think my curls had ever looked so soft and healthy, especially after a whole day. I kind of wanted to sleep standing up because it was just so great.

So why not just wash with egg every time? Gross factor aside, hair can get overloaded with protein and become damaged and broken. I’ve never experienced this but even 3 weeks later I still see the benefits from this egg wash and will only do it when needed.

3rd Wash–February 16

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does it look like I haven’t used shampoo in two months?

 

This picture was also taken right before bed. I don’t have much to comment other than I was really happy after this wash! The next day my hair didn’t look as great after sleep but was still presentable in my opinion.

I was able to go two more days wearing my hair down, freshening up with aloe juice mixed with distilled water. By this time I was feeling a little disappointed because this method worked, but it didn’t bring my hair to look quite as good as wash day. I really wanted to get a silk pillowcase because that decreases snags.

4th Wash–February 23

After the last few successful washes I got lazy. I didn’t use my boar bristle brush and I didn’t scrub very much. I also went out into the rain after a shower so I’m guessing that didn’t help. This wash basically was a fail. I don’t have a picture after the day’s business, but it’s not hard to picture–oily buildup makes for limp yucky hair.

5th Wash–February 29

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Doesn’t look great because it’s still wet. I’ve come to terms that my hair just takes forever to dry now, about 2-3 hours. It’s annoying, but there are so many other benefits I don’t mind much.

I also tried rinsing mid week to see what would happen and it went well!

 

 

 

 

Living Without Stuff

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I don’t have much, but I love my simple home

I can’t tell you how much I love organizing. It makes me giddy. When I’m bored I day dream about what else I could purge our house off. When I’m at work I think about organizing our electronic drawer and I can’t wait to get home. In elementary school I made a sign up sheet for classmates to let me organize their desk during recess. When I go over to people’s houses and see their clutter it makes me itch and if it were social ably acceptable I’d offer to organize everything. Christians always talk about love languages–words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service. Meh. Those are ok. But let me organize your room?  I might just cry tears of joy.

The minimalist part of this blog runs in my veins. I slowly started caring for the environment in high school, I started zero waste about six months ago, but I’ve been a minimalist since I can remember.

With that said, I’m amazed how much I’ve cut down and how many things I’ve let go in these last couple months. About six months ago I made a big move to my first apartment that was mine. Not a dorm room, not a house filled with roommates with shared possessions, but mine (and my husbands haha). We’ve purchased a lot of things, like dishes and a couch, but now I can really see what I truly need and what’s extra.

If you look up on Pinterest “registry list” you’ll find these extremelly detailed and long list of essentials needed to start a home, which is what I did before I got married, and immediately felt overwhelmed. I need all this to live!? I ignored those lists and wrote down what I used in my apartment but didn’t own. I’m so thankful that our family and friends gifted us with so much, but I’m even finding I needed less than I thought.

Organizing can be overwhelming, especially when you are own so much, have children, or have lived in the same place for decades. There’s a lot of great resources, such as a book by Marie Kondo (I have never read it but have heard it’s really helpful and pretty intense). Here’s some things that help me pare down.

  1. Have I used this in the last 6 months-1 year?

This can apply to clothing, kitchen supplies, electronics, old papers, makeup, bathroom related items, recipes–pretty much anything that’s purpose is to be used. If it’s supposed to be used, then use it or lose it.

There’s exceptions, like tools and emergency items, but you can even pare down things you only use once a year, like beach towels. I don’t live by water right now, but I do own one beach towel. It’s useful for guests, picnics, or wrapping my jar of homemade yogurt to keep it warm in the cooking process. But I only own one. I once had two, but really only needed one, and even though towels are nice to have it just wasn’t necessary.

2) Do I really love this?

This applies mainly to clothing, shoes, accessories, makeup, but also can apply to a range of things from picture frames to blankets and many other things. Clothes, bags, jewelry, and whatever else are necessary of course, but are also forms of expression. I’m assuming that anyone in a first world country and is much like me, who can do laundry once a week and still have clothing left over. Go over each item and remember a time you loved wearing it. Was that recently? Or when you wear this item, do you wish you picked something else? Or do you see this item in a picture and find it lacking? Or do you avoid wearing this item because you can’t figure out how to? Or are you keeping it merely for the sake of guilt (it was a gift, it was expensive, it’s fashionable)? Creating a capsule wardrobe can help a lot.

Sometimes we spend money on lotions, makeup, shampoos, and soaps that aren’t great. That’s ok, sometimes we make a purchase that just doesn’t fit. If these products have been sitting unused for quite a while I doubt they will be missed.

2.5) Pick a favorite or two

This is important to add to number 2, “Do I love this?” because  sometimes we love too much. Often homes have some sort of storage full of a number of things, from picture frames and blankets like I mentioned, to umbrellas, baskets…you name it. I have a tendency to collect clothes that are all very similar, like having five green shirts that are just slightly different. That’s kind of excessive, so I pick my favorite two and find that I appreciate them so much more.

3) Do I want this to come with me if I move?

This is often in my mind because I have many moves in my future. Moving is the number one most efficient way of getting rid of things, so even if you’re not moving, try to think in that hypothetical mindset. That way, if you do move, you’ll have an added bonus of saving hours of stress trying to go through so much in a small amount of time.

This can apply to everything already mentioned, but also to knick knacks, craft supplies, books, and I’m sure many others I can’t think of.

4) If I keep this, who’s responsibility will it fall to?

The reality is, if you hang on to an item for “just in case” and that moment never comes, who will be sorting through it? You, when you turn 80 and are trying to sell your house to move into something smaller or a retirement home? Or will your children sort through it after your passing? It sounds extreme, but my husband and I stay motivated to live simply and minimally after seeing his grandparents go through a stressful move, sorting through thousands of possessions they didn’t have the energy nor strength to tackle at their age.

Use up that extra ribbon (or fill in the blank) you like–it’s meant to be enjoyed, not kept in a bin for “just in case.” And if you get rid of it and you find you do need it in the future, how hard is it to buy more ribbon? Not hard at all.

5) Have a non consumerist attitude–Stop impulse buying

All that stuff got in our house somewhere, and it’s because we bought it, and if I keep buying I have to continue the cycle of paring down again and again. There’s a blog called “The Non-Consumer Advocate” and their motto is “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Think more critically about your purchases, even if it’s $.50 at the thrift store.

Recently I’ve really wanted a silk pillow case for my hair to not get messed up while sleeping (Since I only wash once a week and all). I looked everywhere, thrift stores, and even Ross, Target, and Walmart. I just can’t find one. But I realize now that I’m ok with not having one and it’s not as big of a need as I thought.

Something we do to stay away from impulse buying when shopping online is only making a purchase once a month or when our cart gets full enough to get free shipping. After a month, I find a lot of things I put in my cart aren’t necessary–either I’ve forgotten about them or after some thought I realize I can make do without.

6) Bring something in, take something out

I know I must sound harsh, but I do make fun purchases! This weekend I bought two mugs, one for myself and another to give to a friend. But that weekend I also got rid of about 50 possessions that I no longer used. Before I make a fun purchase, I think of something of my own I could trade it out for. If I can’t think of anything, I probably don’t need it anyways. Plus you’ll save a ton of money that way!

 

Doesn’t that just motivate you like crazy?! Now I really want to go through my art supplies and see if I have any dried paint tubes to get rid of. Because then, I will have more room for the supplies I have, I won’t have to shuffle through so much, and I could maybe downsize to smaller bin! And then I wouldn’t have such a hard time vacuuming around it! ISNT ORGANIZING FUN!?!?

 

Water Only Hair Washing – 1 Month

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It works!

For two years previous to January 2016, I had washed my hair with “low poo,” meaning I used a shampoo free of sulfates (the stuff that gives your hair that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling. Basically all commercial shampoos have sulfates). I still used products with silicones–conditioners and gels–the stuff that coats your hair strands, covers up damage, and is not water soluable. In essence I guess those were all stuck in my hair. Whoops.

Why Water Only?

My skin has reacted wonderfully to simplicity, so much that my minimalistic, natural approach to  skin care almost completely has cured my acne. I figured if it worked for my skin, why not my hair?

Water only has so many good things going for it; it’s free, it’s low maintenance, it doesn’t cause your hair damage, and it doesn’t come in a plastic bottle.

It’s not pure bliss all at once, though, and it takes patience. Read my post about how to wash with water only and not look disgusting and you’ll understand that this method takes time to adjust and has a transition period.

In fact, I would say I’m still in transition. This month has been a time of experimenting, trying new things, becoming disappointed and frustrated at times, but also surprised and satisfied at others.

At this point the oil production has receded significantly and I feel it’s presenentable to wear my hair down after a wash for 2-3 if I’m lucky, but I don’t feel like my hair has gotten to that “amazingly awesome and beautiful” point.  That’s ok though, I didn’t think that would happen in one month anyways.

Problems I’ve faced this month (occured at different times):

-Heaviness from hard water

-Extremelly dry ends

-Limp curls and frizziness

-Itchy scalp (and at one point minimal dry flakiness)

-Slight wet dog smell (it was minimal haha)

-“Stuff” stuck in my hair, making dry hair look wet

Benefits I’ve faced this month:

-Wayyyy more volume. My hair after a wash was typically limp before.

-No tangled ends

-Retained moisture

-Roots feel clean, always (surprisingly)

-Shininess, thickness, and overall healthy looking

-Ability to stretch washes significantly longer

-Less hair loss

-New baby hairs (like a lot. They are springing up everywhere)

Before water only I would shed so much. After a shower my shirts would get covered with hairs. And even with using conditioner my hair would form dreads throughout the day at the bottom. Now? Practically no hair loss and NO tangles, even though I don’t comb my hair after showering. Water only creates and maintains healthy hair, where shamppoo and conditioner created and covered up damage.

I’m thinking all of these problems will eventually go away. Some of them were even solved within the month.

Week to Week Breakdown

This month I have “washed”my hair a total of 5 times:

Baking Soda + Vinegar Clarifying wash–January 3

I didn’t take a picture this day, but this method did as good of a job of cleaning my hair as my “low poo” did. The ends of my hair tangled as usual, like they always do when I don’t use silicones, and I was so frustrated at my split ends I chopped about an inch off. My hair got oily faster than it did with low poo and by day 4 it was time for a wash.

1st Water Only–January 7

My hair felt bleck after this wash. It stuck together, it felt really heavy, felt disgusting to touch. It was basically as I expected. It felt gross against my neck so I put it up after this picture.

I had read about hard water build up from minerals getting stuck in your hair (Commercial shampoos and low poos have water softeners to avoid this), and Texas has moderatly hard water.

In precaution I dumped equal portions of apple cider vinegar and water on my head and scrubbed before showering as usual. I scrubbed my hair with water and rinsed again with vinegar to get the minerals out. The mistake was I didn’t use distilled water. In addition to excess oil I think there was hard water build up.

This was definitely the worst couple days all around–Lots of oil, gross feeling, heavy, just bleck.

2nd Water Only–January 11

I think by this point I had made some distilled water (which took forever by the way, but I didn’t want to buy a jug and waste plastic) and used equal parts apple cider vinegar and distilled water as a rinse before and after scrubbing with hot water in the shower. The distilled water is free of minerals and prevents waxy buildup. Apparently if the distilled water hits dry hair before washing with normal hard water the minerals don’t get stuck. I rinsed afterwards for moisture and detangling, and to get the minerals out.

My hair still felt heavy but much less, and the roots were free of oil. Throughout the week it was INCREDIBLY DRY and I noticed some split ends! UGHHH!! So I would spray aloe vera juice on it, with no success. I learned that I wasn’t diluting the vingear enough, and while I thought that would be more moisturizing, the opposite occured. Similar with aloe vera, if not diluted it can be drying for some.

I was able to stretch my wash much longer this week.

3rd Water Only–January 16

This week I rinsed with 1 tblsp ACV (apple cider vinegar) with 1 cup distilled water on dry hair, showered as usually, scrubbing with water, and rinsed again with 1 tblsp marshmallow root in 2 cups distilled water for a tea rinse for extra moisture.

My dry ends went away! My hair felt clean, moisturized, but while it felt great looked not so great. My hair is completely dry in this picture but looks wet. I don’t really know what’s up with that. Maybe I moisturized it too much.

I think I also “preened” the water down my hair shaft this time, meaning that instead of just scrubbing the roots, I scrubbed and then pulled my hands down my hair from root to midway under the water. This was to get the oils all the way off, not just stuck midway. This helped with “heaviness.”

The weird thing is that the next day the wet look went away.  Day 2 hair actually looked a lot more presentable than Day 1. Weird.

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One thing this week was that my scalp started to itch and there was some flake-age, and I have never in my life had dandruff. I think it was my hair PH adjusting and because I didnt have to use a boar bristle brush everyday since it didn’t really get oily at the roots at all. The itchiness went away after a day or so after I would spray the roots with aloe vera juice diluted with water.

4th Water Only–January 22

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This is my hair when half dry, which doesn’t look too bad, but then I think I didn’t take another picture because it looked similar to last week and I was frustrated haha. I’m pretty sure I did the same method as last week.

Once again, my hair the next day had “soaked” up all the “stuff” in my hair, which makes me think it’s excess oil.

Throughout the week when I would brush it out it felt so heavy and I had to wash my hands after scritching and preening cause they were really oily. Gross.

5th Water Only–January 28

This is one of the more frustrating weeks because I didn’t see much change, my hair still looked wet when dry, felt even more soft, heavy still and kind of gross against my neck. I missed my bouncy curls that were now limp and unnapealing.

I did a double ACV/distilled water rinse this time because I forgot to make marshmallow root tea. I probably over moisturized because I’m so used to having constant dry hair.

When I brushed with my boar bristle brush on day 3 the heavy oily feel was gone from last week. It was oily still, but felt soft, silky, without excess oiliness. I especially noticed more shininess and thickness from root to tip than I’ve ever had before. Yay!

Today, February 3rd

The first two pictures are when it’s slightly damp, and the third is how it dried completely. Probably the best day yet!

I didn’t use an acid or tea rinse this time because I wanted to see if the extra moisture     was causing the heaviness/wet look. I just rinsed with distilled water before and after showering.

Another difference was that I tried “plopping” today with a t-shirt to see if that would help my curl structure.  I used some aloe very gel after the shower and let it plop for 30 minutes. It helped a lot, probably mostly kept me from constantly touching my hair while it dried. I will keep doing this week to week.

My hair definitely looks better today! Not perfect, but no gross feeling, just a little excess oil, I can wear it down confidently, and a customer even said she liked my curly hair. Yessss.

The ends are a little dry but I think my hair doesn’t do well with ACV, so next week I’m going to rinse with distilled water, shower, and then rinse with marshmallow root tea and see how that goes.

So Far So Good!

My hair is not perfect and effortless yet, but it’s getting better with each week and I’m thinking that by the end of next month it’s going to get really good!

If you’ve made it this far reading I am impressed! I hope the detailed synopsis helped answer questions or give light to your own water only journey or maybe encourages you to think about starting.

 

 

 

Things I’m Ok Throwing Away (For Now)

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My banana headed for the landfill

I hesitate to post this because, if I’m honest, it makes me embarassed. I see other bloggers fit all their trash for two years in teeny jars but here I am still taking the trash out every week. But this is where I’m at in the zero waste journey, and while I’ve made many changes to become wasteless, there are some things I just can’t find another way. I’m sure I can’t be the only one like this, and I hope it encourages someone to not give up because they can’t become completely zero waste.

I’m not really ok with throwing anything away,

but I only started becoming serious about zero waste maybe 3 months ago and our trash load has been cut in 3/4, so I guess that’s good.

Being from the Pacific Northwest, it’s ingrained in me to recycle, reuse objects most people would throw away or buy another, and the environment and culture makes becoming zero waste 10 times easier than living in Texas does.

My husband and I decided we would try and be as plastic free as possible and think carefully about what we buy on a couple conditions. Since he’s going through grad school and won’t be out of school for probably 6 years, our budget is extremelly tight and even though I work full time, I’m still only making enough to pay our bills and have a meager amount for savings. We decided as long as it wasn’t WAY out of our price zone, we would do it.

The reality is, environmental friendliness is not a huge priority where we live, making it more difficult and more expensive to change some of our habits than it would be if we lived in Washington State or Vancouver.

Unless I get really creative, these are things I will be throwing these things away, or using these type of plastics during our time in Texas.

1. Food Scraps (Trash)

Before you scream “BUT COMPOST!!!” go and check out our failed compost experience here. Food scraps now remain the majority of our trash unfortunately. It would be AMAZING if our city did street side composting like I know some cities do, but in the last couple years they just started recycling, so honestly I don’t think that’s not happening soon. At this point there is just no way we can compost in our tiny 9th floor apartment, but I’m contemplating ways to make it an apartment complex activity (maybe).

2. Cheese Wrappers and Milk Cartons (Trash, Recycled)

The husband tried making cheese and did not go well. It was a ton of work, used a lot of milk for a small product, and didn’t turn out the way it should have. It was pretty discouraging. I think one cheese wrapper is the only plastic we throw away from food each week.

Of course, it would be great to find a farm that would provide us unpackaged cheese and raw milk with a glass container or something, but I live in the heart of a city and the nearest farm is probably at least 2 hours away.

We recycle a plastic gallon of milk each week, but have recently started making our own rice milk so we don’t have to buy almond milk to cut down on cow’s milk consumption. The rice milk is completely zero waste that we store in old glass bottles, so there’s that.

3. Peanut Butter Containers (Recycled)

Also recyclable, but I would like to change this if I could. However, the only peanut butter I’ve found is glass jars is realllllly expensive. I could make peanut butter really easy using nuts bought in bulk, but the butter is cheaper than the nuts, significantly so. I’m on the fence about buying bulk nuts and I think if we find another way lower our food cost I’ll replace that money to buy nuts.

4. Toilet Paper Wrappers (Trash)

This is one of those completely pointless packaging that just make me mad. Seriously, why do we need to put paper rolls in plastic. Couldnt they be wrapped with more paper maybe?

Anyways, we get our toilet paper from a pantry that helps out poor students such as us which is really nice and one less expense to get us through grad school.

I have been creative in taking steps to use less toilet paper by creating a makeshift bidet, but still those wrappers make it into the trash about every month.

5. Pepper Bags and Carrot Bags (Recycled)

The husband is on the zero waste train as much as me, although maybe less cut throat. He really loves those litte baby peppers and carrots for his lunches and I just can’t find either of these not in bags. At least they aren’t going in the landfill because the bags are recyclable. I’m going to keep looking, but I am thankful that he eats healthy and values taking care of his body and the earth. He has been very on board with my weird eco tendencies that are so different than what he’s used to.

6. Floss (Trash)

I went to the store and found floss in a paper box, but it was also $5, which is kind of ridiculous. The actually string part is still plastic, and I do not feel cool paying $5 for a paper box and stupid plastic string.

I am an avid flosser, doing it once and sometimes twice a day. I do reuse a piece of floss and throw it out after a week.

7. Plastic Bags for Bulk Dry Goods (Trash)

A couple months ago I got really excited cause we got a bunch of glass bottles and found a store near us with bulk dry goods. I was going to tare the jar and put the stuff in it for the whole zero waste grocery shopping experience and cut out TONS OF PLASTIC all in one swoop.

Well, when I got there, I asked the cashier if I could weigh the jar, fill it up with rice, and then substract the weight from the jar. She got really confused, as did the manager, and they asked, “Why don’t you just used the plastic we provide?” Then I explained that yes, I am a freak, and don’t want to use plastic. They looked at me like that was the weirdest thing they ever heard (it’s Texas y’all) and said they couldn’t do that. And this was at a store known for it’s natural products and organic choices. I tried.

So basically, I use one bag for each thing I buy and reuse it each week. This week my brown rice bag got a hole in it so I had to throw it away. I was very sad, but I just can’t see a different option.

Even so, having these five or so bags cuts down a large amount of packaging we were getting before when we didn’t buy in bulk. We hardly buy cans anymore, don’t have to throw away bags that hold dried beans, split peas, corn meal, rice, plastic raisin lids…the list goes on.

Spice Jars (Recycled)

This also makes me sad because I can think of multiple stores off the top of my head in my hometown that sell bulk herbs for dirt cheap, but I just cannot find a place like that near us. I have been finding ways to re use them, like storing baking soda that I buy in bulk cardboard to sprinkle while cleaning or for easier use in baking.

No, I can’t measure my trash in a glass jar like other zero waste bloggers

But at the end of the day, food scraps, a cheese wrapper, and a toilet paper wrapper is all that you will find in my trash on a consistent basis.

I’d love to continue to cut down on plastic recyclables so if you have a suggestions I haven’t thought of please let me know!

 

 

 

 

Becoming Zero Waste – Menstrual Products

There are obvious easy changes like reusable bags, metal water bottle, bringing a reusable coffee mug to coffee shops, shopping at thrift stores, but I’m sure if you’re serious about wasting less these have already occurred to you.

There have been a number of decisions I’ve made towards natural living and zero waste that I’ve been skeptical about but turned out amazing–more cost efficient, better quality, and extremely rewarding, not to difficult to do–I wonder why I hadn’t made the switch before. Of course, there have also been a variety of difficult and inconvenient switches, but the next series of posts will feature some of the good ones.

I’m not zero waste yet, but every couple weeks or so I find a way to make a switch and I hope to document that journey here.

Diva Cup

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Yup, jumping right into what might be too much information, but seriously, reusable menstrual stuff is so so SO much better.

About a year ago I bought a diva cup. There was some getting used to, but I really couldn’t complain with the initial pain of shoving silicone into my body (which only happened the first two cycles anyways) after I experienced 12 hours of blissful ignorance as I sometimes forgot I was even on my period. No matter how much you love tampons, 12 hours just doesn’t compare.

No leakage, it’s safe to wear at night, it keeps all the nastiness INSIDE, thus no damage control or smell. No waste, no carrying around pads and tampons, no bacteria toxic shock scariness.

Plus this $25 investment lasts ten years! Diva Cup advises you change it after 3 years, I think, but they only say that to avoid any misuse. Silicone can last up to ten years. An after a year of using it, I see no need to buy a new one anytime soon. That is a serious cost save.

There are many other brands out there too, some that are specifically made by zero waste companies. At the time I purchased I didn’t know there was anything other than a diva cup. I probably would have gone with a different brand to avoid wasteful packaging because I ordered from Amazon. I am extremelly happy with the cup itself, though.

Grossness Factor

People always ask if having a cup is super gross, or in general think it’s really weird, or imagine how unpleasant it would be to rinse out the cup in a public restroom.  I really have never thought any of the process was gross and I have never had to rinse out my cup in public since it can stay in for 12 hours. If we’re comparing grossness, I would think pads were more and a cup in my opinion is way more sanitary.

Sea Sponges

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I ordered from Jade and Pearls off Amazon. This is exactly what I bought.

I also ocassional also use a menstrual sponge because they are great at reducing cramps. I get major, make you throw-up and feel like you’re dying cramps and these sponge are like comforting pillows for your vagina (sorry).

I prefer a menstrual cup to the sponge as they do have to be changed every six hours and washed between each day (1 tblsp of apple cider vinegar+1 cup water, soaked for ten minutes). It’s difficult to wring out a bloody sea sponge in a public bathroom, so I save these for a weekeend when I’m home all day or am coming home mid-day.

The application is easier and less painful than menstrual cups (which do get easier to put in after your body is used to them), and they do an amazing job of sucking up blood. It’s crazy after removing they’ll look completely normal colored, and then you run water over it and the water turns red. Sea sponges are no joke.

I personally don’t use reusable pads but I know they are out there. I just never saw the need to purchase these because the cup and sponge do such a great job, but I did need to use disposable pads when I used disposable tampons.

I have never missed using tampons or pads for one second and have not used them since.

Natural Pain Relief- Raspberry Leaf Tea

In high school I remember many times in class feeling like I was going to throw up any second when I got my period. Often teachers would ask me if I was ok because my face would turn so white. Period cramps are no joke for me, and since then I have religiously taken Ibuprofen whenever my period would start, and even then that sometimes wouldn’t stop the pain.

I bought raspberry leaf tea initially as a add on to the pain killers I was already taking, but one day I tried it just on its own to see how it worked. I really honestly did feel relief and like I could function. It doesn’t make me feel AMAZING or anything, but I can smile at customers instead of grimace and I don’t feel a buckling pain.

I buy my tea at a loose leaf tea store which I can’t remember the name of, but I’m sure it can be find online if not in a speciality tea store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning Naturally and Zero Waste

A long time ago I decided that when I got my own place I would make my own natural, simple cleaners. This has probably been the easiest transition to zero waste for a variety of reason–it’s impressively cheaper, simple ingredients work well and in many ways, and each aspect is easy to find in stores.

Cleaning Products – Castile Soap, Baking Soda, Vinegar

All these things are really cheap. The former half of these things come in paper or cardboard. Vinegar can be bought in bulk plastic and last a long time or even made at home.

By visiting the average American’s home you’d think you would need a million products to clean a home. When did we start thinking we need a different product to clean every surface?

With just these three items I can clean my house just as well than with the million fragranced and dangerous (and expensive) cleaners. And I am a very particular person when it comes to being clean.

If you are familiar with zero waste or natural living, these products are not foreign to you, but even so I was skeptical they could effectively clean my house, especially my toilet, shower and dishes. It was crazy to me that I could clean a toilet without toilet bowl cleaner. It was just naturally ingrained in me that I would need that.

A note on Castile Soap

 I know people freak about how amazing Dr. Bronner’s soap is, but at $15 a bottle it’s not so amazing to me. I am completely satisfied turning Kirk’s Castile Bar Soap for $1.29 into liquid soap of equal size (Learn how in this easy tutorial). Plus, the bar comes in paper packaging.

Surface cleaner: 3 T liquid Castile soap diluted with 4 c filtered, boiled, or distilled water. Add ten drops orange essential oil for scent and cleaning power (optional). I use a spray bottle I found at a thrift store.

Floor Cleaner: 1/2 c vinegar to 1 gallon warm water. I have used apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, and kombucha that has been turned to vinegar for zero waste, and each of these cleans vinyl, hardwood, and tile well.

Window/mirror Cleaner: 2 Tblsp vinegar, 2 Cups filtered, boiled, or distilled water into a spray bottle. Yes, this really works. Windex has been scamming you.

Dish Soap: Liquid Castile Soap, about 1/4 filled, 2 Tblsp baking soda (I’ve also used washing soda) diluted with boiling water in a reused dish soap bottle. Warning: this does not sud great because it does not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, but it does work. It takes time to get used to. You can also get a scrub brush and just rub castile soap in bar form onto it.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Dish soap or surface cleaner spray into bowl, scrub with baking soda.

Shower cleaner: Spray walls with surface cleaner, make paste of baking soda and water and scrub where soap scrub and dirt occurs. Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide works great on tile mold.

What about laundry soap?

Right now I make a liquid form out of Fels Naptha (I cannot say how natural this is, but it comes in paper), Washing Soda, and Borax, and it’s super cheap and makes 5 gallons at a time, and it seems to get clothes cleaned, but  I’ve read online that soap and water softeners are not enough to cleanse clothes over time and are not truly getting things cleaned. I really don’t know what to believe and have been doing a lot of research to find a homemade detergent option, but haven’t found anything yet. I will make a post when I have an option I’m satisfied with!

 

Indoor Worm Bin Composting – Our Apartment Experience

 

 Sometimes you just have to figure out something won’t work through experimentation. This was the case with our indoor compost experience via worm bin after four months.

 

The Next Step in Zero Waste: Compost

On my journey to becoming zero waste, an obvious change was to do something with our vegetable scraps. I had always wanted to start a compost bin, but wasn’t really sure how to go about it–wasn’t sure about smell, where to get worms, didn’t really know much of anything. All I had to base off was my knowledge about composting from a classroom experiment in 5th grade (we tested whether a worm bin or a compost bin without worms composted faster. The worms composted much faster. Stay in school, kids).

Through some research I discovered we could have an indoor compost because worms eat the food and keeps it from getting smelly. You just keep them in a little bin, drill holes on top and there you go.

How do I buy worms…?

Do I just collect some from the ground? Fishing store? I really had no idea. Apparently there are multiple types of worms in the ground (who knew) and the composting kind are Red Wigglers, where as the fishing kind are typically Night Crawlers. Whoever got the job of naming worms really picked some good worm-esque words. Good job, worm namer.

For a smallish bin you typically need 1,000 worms, so not just a few you can dig up. Apparently there are real companies devoted completely to selling worms. I wanted to buy local but no one got back to me. I guess worm farmers don’t check their email too often.

Worms are surprisingly not cheap. From Uncle Jim’s worm farm on Amazon 1,000 worms are about $30, and that was a little pricey, so I went with 500 instead. That was probably my first mistake.

While waiting for our worms we prepared the bin, getting a bunch of newspapers, laying it down on the bottom and shredding a bunch. The worms came in this nice little box and bag and I felt so motherly carrying it from my mailbox.

Planting out worms was so exciting! They were really skinny, kind of slow, and seemed on the brink of death but we would be their saviors and nurse them back to life with our trash!

Taking Care of Worms was Harder Than We Bargained

My memory from 5th grade was that we planted the worms, fed them every couple of days, and let them do their thing. There was a lot more thought that needed to go into it though and a round of problems started to occur.

Baby Worms Dont’t Eat that Much

We eat a LOT of vegetables and were creating quite a bit of scraps. I realized quickly why I should have gotten 1,000 worms–even for two people, they couldn’t keep up with how much we were feeding them twice a week. Food was starting to mold, thus creating an environment that was way too moist (the bin is supposed to be like a rung out sponge).

We had to throw out the majority of our scraps because they would mold otherwise, which was defeating the point of getting the bin. I hoped that would be solved in a couple months when the population doubled.

The Fruit Flies Came in Droves

Even with taking the moldy stuff out and adding a bunch of paper scraps, fruit flies thought our moist decomposing bin was a pretty awesome place to be. Before I realized it, our apartment was FULL of fruit flies.

Fruit flies are reuper annoying. It’s easy to get rid of them with vinegar traps, but I didn’t realize they really like kombucha, which was innocently growing in our cabinet.

I killed them all before we went on vacation for two weeks, but I had left some kombucha that I was turning into vinegar for cleaning purposes. So when we had come back, the few remaining fruit flies had made many grand babies…and I kind of freaked out.

Our apartment is small so it really felt like they were everywhere. I’m a pretty clean person, but I was just so grossed out with our house and hated being there. Cooking was terrible because I couldn’t do any prep work without them getting into everything (ugh).

This would have been easily solved if we had a backyard, but we’re on the 9th floor of a n apartment complex and had no means to air out the bin to reduce the moisture. I couldn’t completely get rid of the fruit fly population.

I Realized We Were Attracting All of Nature

I opened up the bin one day to see how things were doing and saw millions of these tiny tiny tiny white crawly bugs. WHAT THE HECK ARE THESE!?!?! I really don’t like bugs.

After low level hysteric freaking out I *think* they were soil mites that are attracted to wet decomposing stuff. They are actually indications that soil is healthy and help the process of decomposing. Well, that was good I guess. But I still don’t like bugs and preferred just the worms.

Again, a problem easily solved if we had a backyard.

The Worms Starting Commiting Suicide

I had read that worm bins can go a couple months without food scraps and just paper scraps if it’s too wet. I was really trying to get things back to normal so I hadn’t put in food for a month, just paper. One day I was mopping and saw all these crusty worm carcasses across the floor, dead after their last attempt to save their lives.

My poor worm babies. I, as a mother, had failed them. That was the last straw–I knew things not working out and the worms had to be released to the wild. We had a farewell ceremony in a park for them, chucked the bin, and came to peace that this was a failed experiment.

Worm Bins Are Not Suited for (Our) Apartment Life

In my opinion, at least. I think 100% of our problems would be solved if we could every once in a while air out the bin outside. I plan on trying out a worm bin again once we move and live in a place more suited for compost. In the meantime, I will unfortunately just have to throw out our vegetable scraps.

At least I tried, right? The good news is that food scraps are now almost the only trash we produce. I would rather throw away that than plastic any day.

 

 

Water Only Hair Washing- How to Not Look Absolutely Disgusting

I feel a little weird posting about hair and posting so many selfies. Oh well.

Two years ago I started looking into the “no-poo” (no shampoo) method of hair washing when I wanted to grow out my pixie cut. I decided to use up my old shampoo, and in the meantime stretch my washes so that I would keep my hair as healthy as possible.

I finally used up my shampoo a few weeks ago and had to figure out what to do next. I was intrigued reading about women of all ethnicities and hair types having success with “water only” hair washing, being able to stretch their washes for two weeks at a time while having healthy, shiny hair.

There are many different “no-poo” methods but water only is as intense as it gets. With my sulfate free shampoo I was able to go four days between washes, but I still experienced dry and brittle ends which was annoying, so why not go all out and stop washing my hair like the insane person I am.

The one downside at that there is a transition period….so basically your hair is a greasy mop for up to a month or more. And right now I’m at 2 weeks water only, right smack in the middle of the greasy mop part.

Ive been dealing with greasy hair for kind of awhile now so it doesn’t really phase me. My hair definitely looks reallllllllly bad but my scalp is clean and smells only like hair after doing three water only washes in three weeks. The hope is that after a period of adjustment, your hair learns to get its crap together and stop producing bucketfuls of oil, resulting in voluminous and healthy hair.

Im not really going to talk much about how you wash hair with water because there really good articles that already do that. Searching “water only hair” will bring up some good how-tos.

Since I work 6 days a week and enjoy having a social life, I can’t exactly lock myself in my house and wait out the grease fest. I’ve been learning how to present myself to the world while in all its greasy glory while still looking put together and professional (I’m my opinion at least). In fact, most of these photos were taken right before I clocked in for work.

Get a boar bristle brush and use it ALL THE TIME

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I’m cheap and I don’t like buying things, but wow I wish I did this a long time ago. This type of brush is the only kind that can pull the oil from your roots and moisturizer the ends. It makes the roots look less oily and reduces dryness. First, untangle with a comb, massage your scalp to get the gunk of your scalp, then use your fingers to bring the oils down the hair shaft (called “scritching and preening”). Then you can use your brush to brush from root to tip.

Do this every day your hair is greasy! I can go two days without looking terrible and have my curly hair, then the remaining 4-5 days I brush each night, which makes it look SO GREASY and then the next morning it soaks in enough to put into an updo.

100% boar bristles are expensive. Mine was $5 at Sally’s Beauty Supply cause there are nylon strands in it. But it still works. And it was five bucks.

Don’t Stop Showering

Essentially, your going to want wash your hair every seven days to coat your hair with oil. The more days you wait, the quicker your hair will regulate producing so much.

Seven days is a long time to stop washing your body, and if your used to washing every day, by all means keeps doing that! Just don’t wash your hair till wash day. This will help you feel a lot less gross. Feeling less gross is going to be a key motivator in not giving up.

Get Creative with Updos

I am really bad at doing hair and have no skill in it. That is, until I had to deal with greasy hair.  Now I’m halfway decent at French braiding, making buns, wearing headbands. I was so motivated to make my hair look presentable that I conjured up the patience to figure this stuff out. Hair can look 50% less oily in an updo.

I’m took lazy to make this un sideways

 

DON’T Use Dry Shampoo!

Dry shampoo seems like the obvious solution to water only and transition, but it will extend the transition period much longer as your hair continues to produce oil because it’s dry. They call it shampoo for a reason, and dry shampoo counts as a wash because it removes oils. The point is to embrace the oils in transition so your hair doesn’t produce more! It’s tempting, but the next day your hair will be more oily AND have dry shampoo stuck in it.

Mid day on day 2 …greasy, but it’s getting better

Wear Makeup and Interesting  Accessories

My thought is that if I can make myself look interesting enough, maybe people won’t look as much at my disgusting hair. Makeup helps me look more put together and not so much like I woke up and forgot to take a shower.

 

Looking pretty nasty on day 6

Red lipstick and nobody looks at my greasy roots. Added bonus: greasy hair adds volume!


I really hate having to think so much about my hair during transition, but after this month I’m hoping to think less about my hair than I ever have before because it will be healthy, manageable, and take care of itself without products. With patience I think that will happen.

 

 

DIY Foundation Powder

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Making cosmetics at home is hit and miss. Sometimes they are great and work even better than store bought options and other and other times they absolutely suck. I’ve tried some recipes I’ve found through Pinterest and sat there thinking, “Uhhhh did this person actually try this out? Because I really don’t see how this could work on anyone.” 

This one was definitely the former and I was so happy with how it worked the first time I made it. There are many different recipes that vary slightly, but this one for me was the most cost efficient and simple.

I mentioned using this is my natural skin care routine which can be found here. I wanted something will minimal coverage that gave a more matte look to my skin while not causing breakouts. I found it works really well at soaking up the excess oils from applying pumpkin seed oil as my daily moisturizer.

Foundation powder

1 part arrowroot powder or cornstarch (I prefer arrowroot because I found it more fine and it’s GMO free. You can buy it here on Amazon. They upped the price since I bought it, unfortunately. This is a REALLY BIG BAG)

1 part unsweetened powdered baking cocoa (Cheap at Aldi if you’re in the Midwest or South)

Dash of Cinnamon

Obviously these amounts are different for different skin tones. I’ve seen others add Cloves, turmeric, or ginger for varying shades. I’m white, but as far as white people go I have more olive skin. Add little amounts at a time to see what works for you!

The great thing about this is when you run out, you just go back to the kitchen to make more. Buy your ingredients in recyclable packaging and you will have a zero waste, extremely cheap and satisfying powder. WHOOOOO!!