So I may be a year late to this trend but I don't care. A month or two ago we made a sourdough starter at home with just wheat flour, water, and a 4 cup mason jar! Honestly, I didn't realize before when everyone got into doing these how zero-waste they were. This is the guide we used to start ours.
To start, just put 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of filtered water in a 4 cup mason jar and mix well. Close the jar and leave until the next day where you will discard about half of the starter and replace with 1 cup of white all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of water.
We have a food scale so each day we add 113 grams of flour and 113 grams of water after discarding about half of the starter. We continue to do this 3-4 times each week to keep up with it. The great thing about the discard is you can use it to bake so many different sourdough recipes! So far we've made sourdough, crumpets, and pancakes! And after the holidays we're planning on making bagels, pizza dough and more with it! There's so many recipes you can use it for from pretzels, to crackers, to muffins!
If you aren't able to use all of the discard, just compost it or put it in another mason jar and gift it to a friend to start their sourdough.
I love how this opens up so many doors for so many different zero-waste baking recipes for myself to try and share. I can't wait to share with you all the different recipes we create with our starter. Have you ever used a sourdough starter? Comment below your favorite recipes!
Zero Waste Fails
With 2022 just around the corner (I know I can hardly believe it), I wanted to reflect on my year of trying to go zero-waste. One thing I wanted to write about specifically was my zero-waste fails so I can help others avoid these same mistakes. Before I get into this blog post though, it's important to remember that perfection isn't the goal! We don't need a few people doing zero-waste perfectly, we need a lot of people doing zero-waste imperfectly in order to make a difference. So be okay with making mistakes and not being perfect. With that said, I now give to you some of my zero-waste fails from the last year!
1. Quip Floss: I was starting to see this brand Quip everywhere, and while they weren't a specifically zero-waste company, they were marketing themselves as a sustainable solution for toothbrushes and floss. I bought their refillable floss in a metal tin so that I could just replace the floss and not the whole tube each time. I haven't heard very good things about true zero-waste floss. I've heard that the floss breaks easily between your teeth and even though they come in recyclable glass jars, you're still buying new packaging with each purchase. And you really can't repurpose a floss jar for another use. This was why I decided to try my Quip floss. I really like it a lot too. Which is why I was disappointed when I got my refill pack and it came packaged in a plastic bag, and shipped in a slightly larger plastic bag! This is something that easily could have been shipped in a compostable or recyclable container so it was a bummer to see that it came in plastic. It makes it not as worth it to buy in my opinion since you aren't saving any packaging waste vs. just buying normal floss in plastic packaging!
Not sure what I'm going to do with the flosser itself but when I run out of this floss I think I'm going to try this zero-waste floss from Package Free Shop.
2. Buying Local Pick Up: Okay this in no way means you shouldn't do this or try doing this, but just a heads up to be more specific with your instructions. There is a coffee shop that comes to my local farmer's market, but he only ever has coffee beans there that aren't ground up. I don't personally own a grinder but he told me that if I order ahead of time on his website he'll grind the coffee in advance and I can pick it up at the farmer's market that weekend. It seemed like a perfect solution. Following his instructions I went to the website and ordered the coffee I wanted ground and left a note at checkout that I would be picking it up at the farmer's market that Saturday. When I arrived to pick up the coffee though he had boxed up the bag of a coffee in a huge box and taped it closed with my name on it so I couldn't just take my coffee and leave the box with him. Definitely not what I had mind! Next time I'll be more clear to not package the coffee and say I'll be bringing my own bag to pick it up.
3. Dropping Glass Jars: This might be more of a me issue, but with everything zero-waste coming in glass jars for the most part and me being super clumsy, I've dropped and broken quite a few things this past year. So much for reducing waste! If I have the option to buy in aluminum now, I definitely will!
4. Potentially Breaking My Swiffer: If you remember, a few weeks ago my Swiffer was clogged and I thought it was broken. After doing some research online I found that a 3/4 water to 1/4 white vinegar solution scrubbed onto the Swiffer nozzles helped unclog my Swiffer and get it back up and running again! I was so excited to be able to fix something I thought was broken. The excitement didn't last long though because the next week when we went to Swiffer it was clogged again. I tried the water/vinegar solution and it did nothing. I've tried a few more times now and it still isn't working. I think my homemade solution just may not be compatible with the Swiffer. I'm still going to try a few more times to get it back up and running, but by me trying to reduce waste I may have actually created more waste!
5. Feeling Defeated: I think everyone may feel like this at some point or another in their zero-waste journey but about halfway through the year I hit a wall where I felt like I wasn't making enough of a difference and definitely let a few of my low-waste habits slip. Mostly just in the form of buying things first hand when I got frustrated with not being able to find the things I wanted secondhand. I think it was good to give myself the option to not be perfect for a bit to recharge and get back into my zero-waste habits.
What mistakes have you made since going zero-waste? Leave them in the comments below!
Gift Guide For an Eco-Conscious Person
Hi, my name is Beni and this year I've been on a journey to going as low-waste as possible. And if you're clicking on this blog that means that you too have a friend or family member who's on a journey to low-waste, and you can't figure out what to get them this upcoming holiday season! Let me help. Here are my gift ideas when you're shopping for someone who is trying to be zero-waste but you still want to give them a gift. For some other ideas, also check out my blog post on Eco-Friendly Gift Shopping!
1. Eco-Friendly Necessities: Find out what this person in your life uses a lot as their eco-friendly swap and get them more of them! For example, I could always use more Stasher Bags. Another great idea could be Swedish Dish Cloths.
2. Offset their carbon emissions: This is a great gift if someone tells you they don't want any gifts due to the environmental impact. On this site: Carbon Fund you can buy individual carbon emission offsets, or you can offset the flight they took for the holidays etc. for that person! This would be a great gift to show that you care about their mission to reduce waste and also still give them a gift they would enjoy.
3. Gift Cards to Eco-Friendly Stores: Find out where they like to shop for zero-waste goods and get them a gift card to the store! Some examples to get you started are Earth Hero, Package Free Shop & Blueland.
4. Gift Cards to Restaurants: In the same vein as above, if there's a local restaurant near them that they love to eat at (or coffee shop) get them a gift card there!
5. Thrift Something: Find something the person you're shopping for needs second hand! I know it can typically be considered "weird" to buy a thrifted gift for someone, but for someone who is actively zero waste it can be really refreshing! We love buying second hand goods so if you have an idea for something and can buy it used, do it.
6. Something Consumable: One great thing for people who are zero waste and minimalist is to get them something they can consume. Bonus points if you get it locally too. Some examples can be coffee, wine, beer, baked goods etc. from any shops local to you. Check out your nearby farmer's market for inspiration!
7. Make Something: If you're up for a DIY try making them a gift. If you're not super crafty you could make them something as simple as a jar of dry ingredients with the instructions to bake cookies for themselves. Gifts that are made are great because they don't take up as many resources as buying it from the store and it carries a sentimental value as well.
What other gift ideas do you have for eco-conscious consumers? Leave them in the comments below!
Going zero waste doesn't just affect the things you buy for yourself, but becoming more eco-conscious also makes you think twice about the gifts you buy for your friends and family. That's why I created a gift guide based on the gifts I've sent to my family over the course of this year to help give you inspiration for the holidays!
Additionally, these tips are great if you're shopping for someone who is eco-conscious and you're struggling with what to get them!
Before I get into the actual gifts, I want to go over my thought process when it comes to buying gifts. First and foremost, I think of gift ideas with zero regard to their eco-friendliness. That's right! I just let myself come up with a gift that the person will actually want and get use out of. If it meets those two criteria then I know I have a good gift. The biggest reason for this is, buying someone an eco-friendly or zero-waste gift they won't like is just as bad as giving a wasteful gift! If the gift is something that they want and won't end up in a landfill that's what you want to give them. Once I have the gift in mind, I start to look for ways to make the gift as eco-friendly as possible. Here are my tips for making your gifts to others eco-friendly.
1. Shop Local: Shopping local not only helps small businesses in your area but it contributes fewer carbon emissions since the item doesn't need to travel far to get to you. For example, if you know someone who loves coffee, buy them coffee from local shops near you to try. Or shop at local farmer's markets for unique gift ideas that they won't be able to find anywhere else! I know at my local farmer's market there are woodworkers, beer makers, hand blown glass makers and jewelry makers. You don't even have to look hard to find something for everyone there!
2. If not local, Etsy: If your local farmer's market fails or there just isn't one near you, check out Etsy for buying gifts from a small business. Etsy is great because it features very small businesses and best of all: Etsy is carbon neutral! For example, I have one friend who loves wearing fun earrings so this year for her birthday I found some earrings she would like on Etsy and sent them her way!
3. Look for plastic free packaging: If you have a gift idea for someone, try to see if there is an eco-friendly version of it, or if you can buy from a brand that has plastic-free packaging. Try searching eco-friendly search engines like EarthHero for the item you have in mind. One of my mom's goals this year is to shop only Made in the USA items. So for Mother's Day this year I put together a gift of all different toiletries that are both Made in the USA and plastic free for her to try.
4. Experience Gifts: Experiences are a great gift to give someone because it's not something that could end up in the trash one day. Think about the person you're buying the gift for and what they might like. Maybe a membership to a local museum or zoo is something they would use often. Or if you live near each other buy an experience for you to do together like taking a cooking class, painting your own pottery, a wine and paint night, or a yoga class! This year for Kyle's birthday part of the gift I got for him was buying 2 tickets to walk through Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, we made a day out of it and got coffee and walked around beforehand so it was a really fun way to celebrate.
5. Consumables: This could be anything from a fine wine and cheese platter, craft brewed beer, local artisan coffee, or pastries from a bakery they love! Giving someone something they can consume is a great low-waste gift if you know they'll eat it. Plus it's less stuff for them to have sitting around their house. Last year for his birthday I got my dad a bag of coffee from a local shop near me and he loved it!
6. Gift Cards: Don't hate on gift cards! Especially if you know the person likes a specific store. By giving them a gift card they can go and pick out what they actually want and will use on their own.
7. DIY's: I know DIY's can be a bit dicey depending on your time commitment levels and personal abilities but they can be a really fun gift to give! Last year for Christmas I got an empty cigar box from a cigar store and made it into a cufflink holder case for my dad, and for my mom I made a scrapbook for her with our family photos from over the years.
Gifts to Avoid:
1. Clothing: Unless you know this person's style very well and their size preferences I would steer clear of giving clothing as a gift. Not to mention how bad fast fashion is for the planet. I think if you have to go with something wearable shoes and jewelry are much safer than buying clothing.
2. Home Decor: Again, unless you know this person's style to a T, I wouldn't buy them home decor because if they don't like it they now have to give it away, resell it, or are forced to throw it away.
Having trouble coming up with gift ideas for people? What I like to do is throughout the year as I get ideas either from things I see that I think the person would like, or as I hear them mention things they want I wrote them down on a notes page in my phone. That way when it's time to buy a gift I already have some good ideas to go off for that person.
What other eco-friendly gift giving tips do you have? Leave them in the comments below.
Fixing My Swiffer Wet Jet
**UPDATE: This did help the first time this happened but then it was clogged again and I just could not unclog it. I think pouring water over mine rusted the batteries. Definitely take out the batter portion before trying this but just know this did ruin my Swiffer**
A few months ago I made a post on how I made my Swiffer zero-waste. However, my Swiffer suddenly stopped working a few weeks ago. When I pressed down on the button nothing would happen, there wasn't even a sound. Naturally I assumed my batteries ran out so I changed them, still nothing. I took everything apart and put it back together again and couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. I honestly think before going zero waste I would have just assumed it was dead and thrown it out. But before I resorted to sending my Swiffer to the trash I wanted to see if I could fix it.
I looked it up and found this article online about how the cause may be due to the Swiffer being clogged. I decided I would follow the steps and give it a try.
First it said to take an 8 ounce glass and fill it 1/4 the way with white vinegar, and then fill the other 3/4 with warm water. Once you have that mixture, take the bottle out of the Swiffer and with a dish brush and your diluted vinegar wash the top of the bottle. Then I put my Swiffer in the sink and took the remaining liquid and poured it into the Swiffer where the bottle goes to help clear out any clogs. While I did this I pressed the button down for a few seconds at a time. After a few tries my Swiffer started working again! I was amazed that it was really that simple! I'm so glad that at the end of the day I took the 10 minutes needed to look up and try out a solution and was able to save myself $40 on a Swiffer! Plus repairing what we have is so much better for the environment than buying something new.
Have you fixed anything instead of buying a replacement? Let me know your experience in the comments below.
Long Wknd By Pela Product Review
I'm a little late to writing up my thoughts on this line by Long Wknd (formerly known as Habitat Botanicals) by Pela, so much so that they actually changed their name and branding since I bought this zero waste set! Name aside I still think my write up will be relevant since the products themselves haven't changed.
I bought this set because there was a deal to get the entire set for $10 when you signed up for a recurring subscription, I jumped at the bait to get a deodorant, lip balm, shampoo, conditioner and body wash all for $10. Plus they're completely plastic free and vegan. Long Wknd is made in Canada and this set encompasses all of their current product offerings.
Here are my thoughts on each of the products.
Deodorant: I did not like this deodorant unfortunately. It has baking soda in as an ingredient which really irritated my skin. I normally don't have sensitive skin but after wearing this for 3-4 days in a row I developed a rash on my underarms from it! It took a couple of days without deodorant for it to go away too. I had to toss the rest of the tube because of that.
Lip Balm: I really enjoyed this lip balm. It smells very sweet/vanilla-y and is very moisturizing on the lips. I didn't find the paper tube to be too hard to use either. It did melt easier during the summer months than standard lip balm I've used before but I love that it didn't make my lips more chapped after using it.
Shampoo: I loved the shampoo bar from Long Wknd! The shampoo lathers up so much better than liquid shampoos and left my hair feeling extremely clean, but not stripped. I will say that overall I'm not the biggest fan of bar shampoo's for the sole reason that they erode too quickly from being in the shower. Even keeping it on a wooden soap stand it was gone in a month. That said, I probably will stick to my liquid refillable shampoo because I think I get more out of it than a shampoo bar. But if you love shampoo bars you'll love this one!
Conditioner: Honestly, I've never been able to get a conditioner bar to work for me. I can't get them to lather and they just end up clumping up in my hair and hands. I never feel it truly moisturizes my hair. Therefore I wouldn't continue to use the conditioner bar either.
Body Wash: I had no complaints about the body wash! It worked and smelled great. It was a standard soap bar so there isn't much else to say about it.
Overall, I really liked the lip balm and would consider buying it again from here. I would also buy the body wash but I also feel like I can get body wash locally near me that will do the same job so I likely wouldn't buy that specifically from Long Wknd. Have you tried any of the products from Long Wknd? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.