OMG, huge zero waste fail 🙁
Seems like everyone’s talking about zero waste lately. I mentioned last year I was working my way towards less waste, but this last month has been a great big zero waste fail.
Since I fractured my jaw, I’ve been eating soup from a box, almond milk & coconut milk from a box, and using facial wipes (Ursa Major’s are made from bamboo and are biodegradable, but still…).
I have tried to make my own pureed soups, but my immersion blender doesn’t get them nearly pureed enough (which does matter, actually) and we don’t have a vitamix, so…boxed soups it is. I cringe every time I have to throw one of those away, and it’s often, since that’s basically all I eat. Normally I don’t use much almond or coconut milk, or I would make my own, but I have been using boxed versions of that as well. Ugh. Fail.
It’s not all bad though…
I did stock up on straws early on, since that’s the only utensil I can eat with lately. My favorites are the Straw Grace glass straws – I use those at home for soup – but I also have some Sipwell stainless steel straws that I keep with me in my bag if I need to get a juice out or something). Before my accident, I was already making an effort to avoid straws while eating out. It’s REALLY tough sometimes though, especially if you forget to ask for no straw and they bring it anyway. Ugh.
I do always have my s’well water bottle full of water with me so I don’t have to buy water while I’m out, and if I know I’m going to Starbucks I’ll bring a reusable cup with me. Otherwise, I try to buy only drinks in glass containers and if there’s no recycling nearby to drop it in when I’m finished, I bring it home to put in our bin. (that’s something I desperately miss about Austin; there were recycling bins EVERYWHERE, outside of Target, malls, etc., that there was really no excuse for not recycling drink containers. Here, not so much…)
For more than a decade I’ve been bringing my own grocery/shopping bags with me (by BAGGU of course!!), so I’m really proud that I NEVER take a shopping bag, no matter where I am. And while grocery shopping if what I buy doesn’t fit in the bags I have with me, I will carry them out without a bag, or stuff the extras in my purse (why I carry a big bag!!). Taking a paper or plastic sack from a store horrifies me. Although…I do still use plastic produce bags for some things. I don’t use bags for a lot of things, like onions, bananas, potatoes, etc., but I need to get some reusable produce bags ASAP.
For Slowre packaging I reuse my Stendig wall calendar for wrapping items, and try to re-purpose my Amazon boxes when I can. Otherwise, I use Ecoenclose poly mailers which are made from 100% recycled materials.
A couple of fails in the bathroom lately too:
Christophe Robin shampoo bar – Ugh. I used this for longer than I should have, but it’s not good for my hair – it never looked clean, and felt weighed down, and full of product, even though I hadn’t used any. Has anyone tried any of Lush’s shampoo bars with success?
For face cleaner, I’m still using this Indie Lee brightening cleanser, but I have used an Osmia facial soap in the past and liked it, so I may go back to that after I’m finished with the Indie Lee. I love the Indie Lee cleanser BTW.
I also use throw-away organic cotton rounds for my witch hazel twice a day, and once those are out, I won’t buy anymore, and will try these reusable cotton pads.
I have had some success switching over to bar soap for hand soap that I buy in bulk at Whole Foods, but I still keep pumps around for guest areas. I’ll probably stop doing that eventually too, and just buy smaller soaps for guest use? I don’t have a problem using bar soap for my hands, but I think some people don’t like it in someone else’s house.
And I’ve been using bar soap in the shower for several months (I use it with this Japanese washcloth) and I think I’ve found my favorite soap by Osmia Organics, the vetiver gray. I’ll stick with Osmia for body soaps, and I look forward to trying other scents over time, although this bar seems like it will last forever. I also have a tin from Lush that I put small bits of soap in to travel with.
Lush’s “naked” body conditioners – I have been using one of these for a while now and I can’t get enough; I love them in place of body lotion. I am using ro’s argan lately because it was a gift for my birthday, and I like it, but I prefer the bar or “naked” versions because they’re a little easier to use, and don’t have any packaging. The one I used to use is no longer available, so I haven’t vouched for any of these, but I’m looking forward to trying one once my ro’s argan runs out.
As a family, our biggest zero waste fail is definitely in the kitchen. Not entirely, though. I have used cloth napkins and dish towels for decades; even growing up, we never used paper napkins or paper towels. I also use dish rags my mother knitted for me, or old towels I cut into pieces. But my husband cannot do without paper towels. Or ziploc bags. Or aluminum foil. Or plastic wrap. UGH. Plastic Wrap!!!!
I’ll be working on replacing plastic wrap with bees wrap this year, and buying more reusable plastic bags so we can phase out disposable plastic eventually. I also want to start composting.
If I’m giving myself a zero waste grade, it’s definitely a C, because there’s lots of work to still do, but it could be worse. Right? 🙂
One of my favorite resources now is Litterless – she is a WEALTH of knowledge on the subject.
What are your favorite zero waste swaps? Where can you improve? What are your favorite resources?
I’m fully of the opinion that taking tupperware to restaurants will be the new reusable shopping tote. I remember when you got looked at funny for bringing your own bags. Well, I am leading the charge on bringing my own to-go container to restaurants. I almost always get a takeout container when we eat out, so if we go out and I anticipate this, I have legit brought a glasslock container in my bag with me. I get the sanitary concerns, but if you’re at a restaurant where you box your own food at the table, I don’t see the problem with bringing your own box. Any opportunity to save a dumb styrofoam or plastic clamshell container.
Grechen Reiter says
yes! interestingly, we don’t really take much away from restaurants, because we eat everything! we actually don’t really go out much anymore, but when we do, we go to places with reasonable serving sizes LOL
but yes, hopefully bringing your own container to a restaurant won’t be looked upon as so weird soon. i still get weird looks with my reusable bag at target and stuff. it’s like people don’t think you can use reusable bags other places besides the grocery store!
I think I’ve made up my mind to support this Kickstarter—it’s for an eco-friendly universal lid made of silicone that could replace a lot of our plastic wrap.
Grechen Reiter says
In terms of shampoo bars, the best and most affordable one I found is this: https://www.vitacost.com/auromere-shampoo-bar-with-organic-neem-tulsi-spice?csrc=GPF-PA-Beauty%20%26%20Personal%20Care-027275700015&ci_gpa=pla_with_promotion&ci_kw=&ci_origin=mobile&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=027275700015&csrc=GPF-PA&mtp=svVTlUN5F-dm%7Cpcrid%7C97670542093%7Cproduct%7C027275700015&gclid=Cj0KCQiA7dHSBRDEARIsAJhAHwgOYgOxIdFUgpbfkj7EfNVzgFyDgft8QOOhu2xQT3kNGEBQ5h8ZtXUaAh2GEALw_wcB
It is formulated without the stripping sulfate SLS, unlike Lush. It smells great, gives bounce to my fine (but plentiful) head of hair, has scalp conditioning herbs and as a bonus, you can use it all over your body. It lasts me about 2-3monthts at the rate of once every three days. Honestly, Lush is a whole lot of hype for some usually disappointing ingredients. I don’t buy from them anymore for this reason.
Also, this company makes really stellar shampoo bars and soap in general: https://www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com They produce in and distribute from Cleavland, Ohio.
Grechen Reiter says
thank you so much for the recommendations!
Between seasonal allergies (that go on all year long, despite claritin and/or flonase….) I always have a drippy nose. Sorry, TMI. A couple years ago, I got a “Hanky Book” from reuseit.com – trying to find it online and can’t see it now. (ooh, here’s their website http://hankybook.com/) I like it better than a handkerchief because when you don’t have a full-on cold, you don’t need much fabric….Throw it in the wash every weekend….Fewer disposable tissues. (not down to zero, alas). My much-craftier-than-I aunt has made some for her grandkids.
We compost and recycle and I’m thrilled our garbage is so “light” (esp compared to neighbors- YES I’m judging you 😉 but there’s always room for improvement!! HBA is probably an area I need to take a closer look at and work on….We pretty much never eat out unless we’re traveling -I cook & we take leftovers for lunch. I haven’t been able to force myself to switch to glass for leftover storage because of the weight & breakability 🙁 I’m a klutz!!
Imagine makes my favorite vegetable broth and I cook with it ALL the time. I’m mortified by how many of those containers I get rid of every week. I know I can make my own and I make so much from scratch, but that is one of the few places I cut corners otherwise I would constantly be making stock by the gallon. Speaking of bags, is there anything in particular you use for dog waste?
I’ve switched over to New Wash for my hair, which you have to get used to but they offer a refill subscription that cuts down on packaging and I only have to wash my hair twice a week these days.
I’ve been trying my hand at reducing my waste too. This year I’m mostly trying to combat this by way of re-using and repairing what I already have, so brushing up on my nonexistent sewing skills is my main task this year! We bring all our own glass jars/spice jars/bento bags to the grocery store and have started hunting down co-ops and natural food stores that sell items in bulk. We are lucky that over here on the West Coast you are charged for grocery bags, so that helps enforce our memory a bit! I also bought some fine hemp twine and have started crocheting my own washcloths and facial pads, which I am LOVING so far — they’re not fancy or even all that nice-looking, but better than buying a plastic loofah at the store! I’ve also been prioritizing buying only items with cruelty-free/natural/biodegradable products in them which I was already doing anyway, but expanding it to household cleaners as well.
I use the Copperhead shampoo bar from Lush, because I color my hair with henna. Before I started coloring, though, I used a a few others and was happy with them all. My hair always felt clean after, but not stripped.
I got reusable produce bags this year but haven’t been great at using them. It’s easy to keep a fold-up grocery bag in my work-bag, but harder to remember to bring the produce bags! I’m a subway commuter, and it might be better if I had a car to leave them in.
I think my favorite swap was stop using Kleenex tissues. I get grossed out by all the paper tissues anyway (especially when I have a cold…like right now…), and most of the tissues these days contain aloe vera (allergic) and other lotions/additives that feel super gross to me. When I got married, my husband introduced me to the glorious concept of the “snot rag,” and I’ve been using various washable cloths for my nose ever since. My favorite is swaddling cloths and burp cloths. They are SO SOFT and wash really easily. They tend to be cheap and you can buy loads of them at resale shops or on clearance.
I definitely need to work on bringing reusable bags for shopping. I will do it one day, bring it all in, and then forget to put my bags back in the car, and end up having to use plastic bags again. I think I just need to get an arsenal of reusable shopping bags so there are always some in my car.
I’m going to be creating a ton of waste in the near future…we’re remodeling our kitchen because of a flooding disaster and I won’t be able to cook anything. So we’ll be eating a lot of take out and frozen meals for the next couple of weeks. 🙁
I just did a quick search and there are versions of these already available–so you don’t have to wait for the Kickstarter!
I tried a shampoo bar from this company: https://www.soapcauldron.com/shop/three-sisters-apothecary/hair-care.html?SID=3e39d0c51398c7d0894785554a62b4c5 and absolutely love it! I don’t use it all the time (I like to use a more clarifying one at least once a week), but it’s especially great for traveling.
Thanks for sharing, Grechen! I bet “Vetiver Gray” soap smells wildly good.
I have silicone covers I use in the microwave – didn’t think about finding some that stretch over to use in the fridge too – great idea! But most of my current containers are square, and my bowls metal (can’t microwave…) so if I go this way I’ll have to redo everything…. (I know, if I bought the corningware baking bowls at estate sales instead of silverplate trays, I’d be all set 😉
Thanks for that too! I use Lush still
when traveling but it messed with my hair! Trying this!
I’ve started using the MakeUp Eraser to remove makeup – it’s basically a microfibre cloth. https://www.sephora.com/product/the-original-makeup-eraser-makeup-remover-cloth-P396033
I’m surprised to say that it works well with just water for non-waterproof makeup. My cleanser, with this cloth, will take off waterproof makeup. No more cotton rounds for me! They make three different sizes – the small is just right for me. I believe there are other less expensive brands out there but I haven’t tried them.
Hi! First time commenting, but I’ve tried four different rounds of Lush shampoo bars so here goes. The first two I tried, Jason and the Argan Oil and Copperhead, turned to slimy, gooey messes after about a month’s use. I chalked this up to the fact that they are a seaweed base, and switched to Honey I Washed My Hair, since I was hoping for something comparably softening. It was, but it also became a slimy, gooey mess after about a month. I asked someone working there about it, and she basically suggested that I don’t keep it in one of their tins, but that seemed counter productive. However, a few months ago I switched to Brazilliant, and it’s been great. I still keep it in the tin, and as long as you avoid getting water in there it holds up great. It did have one moment of the slime starting to appear after the inside of its tin got soaked, but I scraped it off and went on my merry way. It’s been a great general shampoo. The only thing is, and this may be a little weird, but when I use the shampoo bar I have a harder time getting the lather through to the scalp on the back of my head than I do with traditional liquid shampoo. Not sure why this is, but unless I specifically focus on it, it doesn’t get properly clean. So, there you go. My official run down of the Lush bars I’ve tried. Good luck on your shampoo bar journey!
Grechen Reiter says
oh! thanks so much for your very thorough reviews 🙂 it helps a lot!!
I have tried various shampoo bars. Chagrin Valley is pretty good, but my current favorite is by Dulse & Rugosa.
A stainless steel or bamboo bento box is great for leftovers at restaurants. My partner and I love to use my stainless steel ones to buy fresh pasta.
You could see if there is a way to recycle Tetrapaks around you. That would help with all the packaging you have. Also, I love my NutriNinja for soups and smoothies.
I’ve tried Lush hair soap bars before, but it’s been awhile, and I didn’t repurchase, so….I think it was in the summer and it actually worked well for that purpose – the quick rinse off after the ocean in the outdoor shower.
I can do a LOT better. I use glass leftover containers for everything, so not a lot of plastics. We used to recycle everything, then we moved to an area that doesn’t promote it and we don’t deal with our own trash (it’s complicated). But I am going to set that as a goal.
Also, this might sound dumb, but what do all of you with cats use to scoop your kitty’s poop into? I’ve been using the plastic bags I get from the drugstore, and switched to paper bags when my store made the change. But is there a sustainable. Eco-friendly alternative?
Hey- So happy to be on this journey too! I wanted to weigh in on a zero-waste shampoo option. I’ve tried shampoo bars with the same results…here’s a little more about my solution: https://www.fairdare.org/blog/shampoo . Cheering you on!! 🙂