How to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle is the question.
This morning I not only brushed my teeth with baking soda but also used it to wash my face and hair. Who knew? Apparently, I’ve been spending way too much money on personal care products. (My hair, face and teeth are looking good.)
Now, I could have used a vinegar rinse on my hair but haven’t made any up yet (I need to buy more vinegar – in BULK!! – and if possible poured into my own reusable container). And, I’m wondering, if I regularly use baking soda and vinegar rinse on my hair and face, will I need to clean the bathroom less often? As we all know that combination (baking soda and vinegar) is a zero-waster’s household cleaning staple. Hmmm!
Why does simplifying my life seem so hard, and scary, sort of like jumping off of a cliff?
What is a Zero-Waste Lifestyle Really?
Here’s the thing, zero waste is sort of a catchall phrase more than a definition. Amy Korst author of The Zero Waste Lifestyle describe it as follows:
“Trash-free living means different things to different people. For some families, a trash-less life might mean moving from filling a giant, 64-gallon garbage can a week to filling a 32-gallon garbage can once a month. To others, it might mean a small grocery sack of garbage a week. To still others, going trash free means sending absolutely nothing to the landfill at all.”
This is my problem with the term trash-free or zero-waste. It refers to what goes to the landfill and apparently there is quite a bit of leeway in the amount. But, I think it should mean no recycling either, which is probably impossible as its hard to buy anything that isn’t encased in packaging of some kind.
My husband and I have a 20lb garbage can, which we put out each week, or every other week, but it would be nice to just put it out once a month. If I could reduce our trash by that much, which would still be 240lbs a year, I’d be psyched.
How Crafty Are You?
I’ve been thinking about attempting a zero, or near-zero-waste lifestyle. But as soon as I started reading about it I was overwhelmed.
Yikes!! Where to begin? The thing about zero-waste is that its underlying solution, the ugly truth is that we need to start making our own __________ (fill in the blank). Who has the time? And, what if I don’t want to learn how to make my own makeup, toothpaste, lotion, etc??
It’s not that I haven’t tried reducing my trash, with an emphasis on bypurchase plastic (that should be a word, like bycatch) at the grocery store and by using biodegradable garbage and doggie pooh bags made of corn. Plus, both my husband and I now use bamboo toothbrushes. (Think about it – we throw toothbrushes out every 3-4 months. More than 4.7 Billion plastic toothbrushes are dumped in landfills every year worldwide. And, they take over 1000 years to degrade.)
It’s just that I’ve tried making my own cleaning products in the past with disastrous results such as an all-purpose cleaner that was more toxic than anything I could have bought in the store. Thankfully, recipes have improved.
Looking at just one part of my life, so as not to get overwhelmed, I glanced in the bathroom and took stock. Let’s look at recipes for common bathroom necessities.
My Zero-Waste Gap in the Bathroom
Looking at the photo left, which is missing some items, but still, you get the idea, here’s what I’m considering making to reduce my waste:
- Tooth paste (already use a bamboo toothbrush) – now using baking soda
- Shampoo – now using baking soda
- Face Wash – now using baking soda
- Mouth Wash – found some great recipes, just got essential oils to try them out.
- Lotion – going to try coconut oil
- Saline solution – OK, I found some recipes but messing this up just scares me too much. So, I’m not going to replace my store-bought saline solution just yet.
- Hairspray – made with sugar water, sounds iffy but I’ll try it if you will.
- Laundry detergent – going to try this recipe out from Wellness Mama
- Bathroom/Kitchen cleaners – using baking soda and vinegar
- Dental floss – couldn’t’ find a replacement. Yarn maybe? I’m not going there right now.
Want to Try this “Zero-Waste” Thing Yourself?
Here are some starting points:
- Trash is for Tossers Ultimate List
- Zero Waste Home with a great list broken down by area.
- Passionate Nutrition’s Beauty chapter (gotta buy the book or get it from your local library)
- The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less
- The Minimalists for reducing stuff as well as trash.
I find myself following Passionate Nutrition’s Jennifer Alder’s personal care tips because they’re so easy and they work. I took Jennifer’s Seaweed 101 class in the San Juans last year and love her tips on seaweed, foraging and eating nutrient-dense foods. She looked great. So, I figure she’s living proof that her tips work.