One of the toughest things about going zero waste is that sometimes you feel like in order to get less waste, you need to create waste. Take my Swiffer for example. This is a cleaning product I bought a year before I decided to go zero waste, but the Swiffer itself is quite wasteful. Between the disposable pads and the disposable cleaning solutions it's far from the best solution when trying to reduce waste. But my dilemma is if I throw out the whole Swiffer and buy a more "zero waste" floor cleaner is that not also creating waste? I could give the Swiffer away but then I know it's also going to someone who will continue to buy disposable pads and solution! It really felt like a lose-lose situation until I figured out that I could make my Swiffer zero waste.
First, when I was shopping in Lowe's one day a wall of floor cleaning products caught my eye. These reusable pads from a brand called Bona were being sold for $7 and I knew I needed to buy one and try it out. They seemed like the perfect solution to the disposable pads from Swiffer. I was right, they work perfectly. And by the way, $7 is the price for a refill of disposable Swiffer pads so after this one purchase I'm saving money! The pad itself is a little bigger than our Swiffer mop head but it sticks right on so it's not an issue. I also tie it up with elastics too to make it fit but it's not necessary at all either. As a side note, you can also use any type of reusable cloth on your Swiffer and you don't need to buy anything to make it work! I just didn't have anything on hand at home that would have worked but definitely take a look through your home and see if you have anything.
With the pads now taken care of I just needed to find a way to make my own floor cleaner at home and get it in the Swiffer bottle. For this I went to the internet! I saw that if you put the top of the bottle face down in extremely hot water for several minutes it will loosen the cap enough allowing you to take it off. I put some water in my tea kettle and took it off before it started making any noise. I then poured the water into a mug and put the Swiffer bottle in it for 5 minutes.
When it came time to twist the cap off though I will say it was not as easy as it was made out to be. I grabbed a towel and tried for several minutes to twist this cap off. That's when Kyle came up with the idea to tie a rubber band around the top and then twist. It worked like magic! With the top taken off, I now could make the floor solution. I found a recipe online as follows:
I didn't use any essential oils because our dish soap is a very pungent peppermint smell. I felt that adding other scents to the mix might make it smell really weird but if you have anything on hand go for it!
My Swiffer bottle is on the small side so I actually ended up with too much, I just put the excess into a jar so next time I need a refill I don't need to make any more cleaner!
In the end, I'm really happy that I'm both able to use what I have from before going zero waste, and making it truly zero waste with a $7 cloth and a DIY floor cleaner. Not to mention the money I save too on both the disposable pads and cleaning solution.
Now that it's officially Plastic Free July I wanted to kick off the blog with a list of DIY's that you can do to cut plastic out of your life one product at a time! Personally I'm not huge on doing DIY's so I can guarantee you that if I'm doing these they really are simple, easy, and save money too.
1. Oatmeal Hair Gel
I absolutely love this DIY! It's a homemade hair gel using just two ingredients: oatmeal and water. And it only takes 10 min from start to finish. Not to mention most hair gel runs at least $10 a bottle. I do use another hair gel on top of this one for better hold but this allows me to use a less each time I do my hair and making the life of my A Simple Planet Hair Gel last longer!
Here's how I make my oatmeal gel.
Put both the oats and the water in the pot at the same time and bring to a boil. Then lower to medium heat and begin stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes. Strain the liquid out from the oats and then let it cool for several minutes before transferring it into a bottle for gel! Keep this in the fridge and it will be good for 1-2 weeks of use!
2. "Clorox" Wipes
These disinfectant wipes are no joke. Honestly I probably could have halved this recipe because I think we will be using this batch forever (which isn't a bad thing)! We love using these to wipe down large surfaces like our counter tops after we clean any food debris off them. We take out a cloth, ring it out into the container and then clean surfaces and put it right back in! Here's the "recipe" that I used to make this.
3. Leave-in Conditioner
In case it wasn't clear already I love doing DIYs of hair products because it's so hard to find good products plastic free, and when you do find them they're so expensive! Especially when I know I can just make them at home. This might be the fastest DIY I have too.
Here's what you need:
All you do is fill your spray bottle with water and add a few pumps of conditioner and a few drops of protein drops! Honestly the amounts will really depend on your own hair type so play around with it until you find exactly what works for you.
4. Spray Cleaner
Another DIY I just love because it's got all ingredients that I keep on hand with me so it's never hard to whip this up when needed.
All you need to make an easy at home all-surface cleaner is:
5. DIY's in the Kitchen:
When we think of DIY's I feel like we don't usually think about how there are a ton of things we can do ourselves when it comes to cooking! I wanted to add this in here to highlight a few kitchen DIY's I've tried out since going zero waste.
Make your own protein bars
My favorite homemade pizza dough recipe
World's best Foccacia Bread
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite plastic free DIY's are! I would love to try them out.
I'm not a huge fan of Zero Waste DIY's honestly. I feel that more often than not the product comes out subpar and the effort I put into it just isn't worth the end result. And most of the time if I can find the ingredients near me I can't get them without plastic. However, this is DIY is one of those rare occurrences where it's easier, cheaper, less waste and it works just as well as what I would buy in the store. And that's my leave-in conditioner.
Using a leave-in conditioner is pretty standard for people with wavy/curly hair, I don't need quite as much for my hair because it's more fine and on the thinner side. Which is why I love that I can customize this leave-in conditioner to meet the needs of my hair.
I use a spray bottle I bought last year and fill it with water. Then I add in several drops of my Plaine Products conditioner, some drops of a liquid protein treatment and voila! That's literally it. The beauty in this is that you can use it and then continue to tweak the ratios until it's right for you and your hair.
The protein drops that I use I got last year and honestly think they will last me forever given that I use less than 10 drops a month. However if you're looking for a zero waste alternative to these I found these from A Simple Planet. I plan on replacing mine with these if I ever do run out.
Obviously how much you use will depend on how often you wash your hair and how much hair you have but I find I can go 4-6 weeks on a single bottle of this. And since it's so easy to make it's never hard to whip up a new bottle anytime I run out!
What DIYs do you love doing? Let me know in the comments below.
Back in March I tried a beer rinse for the first time on my hair as a protein treatment, and now I'm back to try a rice rinse!
Like I mentioned with the beer rinse, a rice rinse is a protein treatment that you can use on your curly hair to help maintain the balance between moisture and protein. This is a fairly standard practice that a lot of people use and I figured I would try it since you can get rice from bulk bins and easily have this be a zero waste hair care product.
To do this I followed the instructions on this blog post.
First, I measured out half a cup of rise and rinsed it in the sink. Then I put it in a pot with 1 cup of water and brought it to a boil, just like I was making rice!
After the rice came to a boil and the water was cloudy, I strained the water out into a bowl to use for my hair treatment.
Here is where I had a moment of hesitation, my rice wasn't nearly done cooking. What do I do with the rice now? I could compost it, but tossing it just felt wasteful. I couldn't find anyone who regularly did these rinses say what they did with the rice after.
Luckily, Kyle came up with a great idea on how to finish cooking the rice: I measured out the amount of rice water I had just removed from the pot (~3/4 cup), and I added in 3/4 cup of fresh water to the pot and brought it to a boil, then covered and simmered it for another 10-15 min. I wanted to see if I could actually fully cook this rice to eat after taking out the starchy water.
It worked too! I was able to cook the rice and even taste tested it to ensure it was perfectly fine rice! Pro Tip: do this hair rinse on nights when you're planning a rice dish for lunch or dinner and you've killed two birds with one stone!
Back to the hair though: after I had my rice water in a bowl and cooled completely, I took that plus a second bowl up to my shower to begin rinsing my hair.
First I wet my hair down and shampooed it like normal. After that, I let my hair sit in the rice water for a minute or so. Then, with the second bowl underneath my head I slowly poured the rice water over my head, catching it in the second bowl.
I repeated this process a few times and also let my hair soak in the bowl a few times in between. I took my wide tooth comb and combed the rice water through my hair detangling it as I went.
This whole process only took me about 5 minutes. After I was done I rinsed my hair completely, conditioned and styled like normal. Here are the results!
I'm really happy with how it came out and will definitely be doing this again! Even the side of my hair that struggles to curl was curly which is always a bonus.
If I had to compare this to the beer rinse I liked this one better for the lack of smell, plus I always have rice in my kitchen but I don't always have a beer. I think the beer rinse did a better job of conditioning my hair, it felt so much smoother and was easier to detangle in the process. But the rice rinse did a fine enough job.
What do you do to follow the Curly Girl Method and reduce waste? I'd love to try anything!
We've all been told to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. But there's also a fourth R-- Repair. And while it may not be in the common phrase we all know, it's definitely not for lack of importance. Each year 13 million tons of textiles are thrown away or burned each year. It's estimated that each American throws away 81 pounds of clothes per year! One of the best ways we can reduce that number is to repair clothing before resorting to throwing it away.
I'm definitely no professional when it comes to repairing *anything* but last weekend I was trying on my clothes to re-home everything that didn't fit/doesn't get worn enough. To accomplish this task I spent some time trying on every piece of clothing that I owned. Halfway through this cardio exercise I was rushing and took off this dress that I intended to keep improperly and a small piece of fabric in the back broke off, releasing the metal decoration as well. Here's a picture of the damage.
Now instead of throwing this dress away, I wanted to try my hand at repairing it first. Especially because I felt this would be a relatively easy task to pull off with zero sewing skills. And what better way to celebrate Earth Month than starting it out with saving a piece of clothing from the landfill!
Even though I have no sewing skills I do have a small sewing kit of needles and one spool of blue thread (thanks Covid). I figured I could easily disguise the blue thread too since I could sew this under the dress fabric.
The repair was just as simple as I thought. I initially dreaded taking the time to do this because I felt it would be a pain and I actually put it off for a few weeks. In the end I decided to tackle this dress-saving-operation while I was watching TV and it only took me 5 minutes from start to finish. It almost made me embarrassed that I put it off so long seeing how easy it was and how well it worked. I now have a great dress that I love and already had and I don't need to go buy a new one- inevitably restarting the linear economy!
Have you put off repairing anything in your home? Let this be your inspiration to tackle the task!
I've been following the curly girl method for the past seven months, and one of the biggest tenants of following this method is striking the perfect balance between moisture and protein in your hair. Finding this balance causes people to do crazy things, like rinse their hair in beer.
Since I have fine hair I tend to need more protein than moisture and tend to do protein treatments a few times a month. However, my current bottle comes in plastic so when I finish using it up I want to find zero waste solutions to getting my hair it's protein fix. I had read that doing beer rinses could be a great protein treatment for your curls, but I haven't yet been brave enough to try it out.
Sunday night Kyle and I made an Irish dinner for Saint Patrick's Day, which also included a few gigantic beers. I couldn't finish my whole beer, but rather than letting the rest of it go to waste I left it out on the counter overnight so I could finally try a beer rinse in the morning.
Here's what I did:
In the morning I transferred my beer into a plastic dispenser bottle to make life a little easier on myself and I grabbed a bowl and took them up to the bathroom with me. I usually wash my hair in the morning just leaning over my tub. Following the instructions from this blog post I wet my hair down completely and shampooed it. Then I started rinsing it with the beer, letting it collect in the bowl so I could continue to use it.
After pouring it all over my hair I lifted the bowl to my hair to left it soak in the beer. I kept switching between that and finger combing my hair. It seriously felt like I had just deep conditioned it, my hair was so silky and smooth and moisturized feeling I could hardly believe it was beer (however, the smell did remind me).
A few minutes of doing this and then I rinsed out my hair completely and conditioned it, and then styled as normal. Here are the results:
Honestly it came out pretty good! This is a pretty normal wash day for me so I was happy with it overall. The only issue is I think next time I should shampoo after because you could still smell the beer on my scalp closer to where it was more difficult to rinse out and where I wasn't conditioning. I smelled the bottom of my hair where I could and I couldn't smell any beer on it so I think that's definitely the way to go.
I would definitely do this again. I love that beer is super cheap and you can always recycle glass or aluminum, making this a perfect zero waste technique for getting protein into your hair.
This week I really wanted to make quesadillas, a favorite meal of mine, for lunches. But I wanted to make them as low waste as possible. I saw a video recently where someone had made their own tortillas and I thought I might be able to do the same to make my lunches.
Normally I would never attempt to do such a thing, but during quarantine I’ve become used to making breads, pastas, and even pizza dough by hand! So I felt confident enough to give the tortillas a shot.
Not only were these really easy to make, they saved me money because the only four ingredients the recipe called for I had at home already.
This is the recipe that I used to make my tortillas, but I’ll summarize below.
I took pictures of the process below to better show exactly what I was doing!
I not only found this recipe incredibly easy to follow, but I was also really impressed with how these came out. They looked just like the store bought ones!
For the quesadilla I added in bell peppers and onions sauteed, I got these all package free. I also added some cheese that we had in the fridge, and some spinach which we had frozen. To go with it I added some black beans and rice. And that’s how I got this delicious low-waste lunch for the week! This could also easily be a great weeknight dinner if you don't work from home like I do at the moment.
Edit: at the end of the week my tortillas were quite stale, I ripped apart what I had left and tossed them on a pan in the oven at 325F for about 20 min and make my own tortilla chips out them!
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.