Hey there! It's been awhile since I've written. Since getting a puppy I've got less and less free time and I've been a bit less focused on reducing my waste. However, with Earth Day just around the corner. I really need to get back on being less wasteful and consuming fewer things. So I decided to go on a "no-buy". What's a no-buy you ask? A no-buy is when you set a timeframe for yourself where you buy nothing except necessities in order to cut back on spending/consuming and re-focus yourself. You can do it for a week, a month, or even a year! Make it a challenge for yourself based on how much you tend to consume but also don't make it so hard off the bat that you're miserable! There will always be future no-buys where you can up the ante.
What are the benefits to doing a no-buy? First, less consumerism is better for the planet. Buying things (especially new) come with carbon footprints and reducing is one of the biggest ways we as individuals can help the planet! It can also help you see if there was any unnecessary spending before that you can cut out entirely. After your no-buy be sure to review your credit card/bank statements and see how much money you've been able to save.
So how exactly do you do a no-buy? Obviously there is necessary spending on things like food, gas, and housing where you will have to spend money. But you can also work on trying to reduce those things by eating what's in your pantry before grocery shopping, walking where you can, etc.
Everyone does their no-buy differently and has their own rules, there isn't a right or wrong way to do one. However, to help get you started I'm going to share the rules I've decided for my no-buy below. I'm starting my no-buy today and will have it go through July 1. I'll be going on vacation in July and I want to be able to spend some money on myself without guilt! I do have a few exceptions I've outlined below that I'm willing to allow for myself as well. Really the main things are not just shopping to shop.
Rules for my No-Buy:
Have you ever done a no-buy? And if so, what were your rules? Comment down below and let me know!
Some fun news to start off the blog this year is we adopted a puppy! Her name is Haddie and she's a 7 month old mixed breed dog. We just adopted her a week and a half ago so we're still learning the ropes of pet ownership and how we can make it as low waste as possible. I'm hoping that I can make this a series as I learn more and come up with new ideas. To start, here are some of my ideas for being low-waste while having a pet!
1. Frozen Wash Cloth Chew Toy:
I got this amazing idea from the internet as a fun "toy" for teething puppies. You take a wash cloth and wet it under the sink, then twist it up and ring it out. Then put it in your freezer for a few hours until it's completely frozen and give it to your pup to chew! I especially love this because I'm sure everyone has an old wash cloth lying around their home that they don't mind if it gets chewed up, and it's a super simple way to entertain your puppy for awhile. See the toy next to her in the picture above, she loves it!
2. Leftover Kibble in the Kong:
I don't know about your dog but Haddie loves her kong toy. She goes crazy for it and it will take her about an hour to get all the food out of it. One other thing about Haddie though is she doesn't love her kibble. Most meals she eats her wet food on top of the kibble and leaves the kibble in the bowl. I started taking the leftover kibble and mixing it with some leftover low-fat plain greek yogurt we have and freezing it in the kong overnight. I give it to her the next day and she goes crazy for it! Other filling ideas are using cottage cheese, carrots, or mixing in some peanut butter as well. I always love doing this because she eats it and I'm not just throwing away the kibble she didn't want to eat.
3. Buying Canned Wet Food:
As I mentioned above, Haddie loves her wet food. One great way to reduce waste is to buy wet food in aluminum cans which can be recycled over plastic packets of wet food which can't.
4. Using Food Bags as Poop Bags:
One really wasteful part of dog ownership is the amount of poop you have to bag up and throw away (at least for those of us who live in the city!) What I started doing was not throwing out bags that food came in when they're empty just yet, but giving them one more use! Instead of throwing out that bread bag, first use it as a poop bag and cut down on waste.
5. Saving Toy Stuffing to Sew Up:
When we adopted Haddie the shelter sent us home with a stuffed sloth toy. And well, Haddie likes to rip this sloth to shreds and take all of the stuffing out of it. She hasn't gotten all of it yet though so as I find balls of stuffing, I collect them and keep them in a bag. Then once she takes all of the stuffing out I'm going to re-stuff it and sew the rips closed and let her have another go at it! While this toy definitely won't last forever (judging from the state it's already in after a week), by re-stuffing it back up for her I'm giving it another few lives before it eventually will need to be tossed. In doing so I might be saving myself from buying an additional 2-3 stuffed animals if I can extend this ones life!
6. Use Your Local Buy Nothing Group:
I've talked before about how I love using my Buy Nothing group to give away things I no longer want/need and for getting things as well. I posted in my local group about getting a puppy and boy did they come through! I was able to get tons of poop bags, toys, treats, and even a dog crate for Haddie all for free before we got her! This cut down on the things we had to buy for her which was great and also saved unused items from ending up in a landfill.
Let me know in the comments below what other tips you have for keeping pet waste to a minimum, I would love to try out some of your ideas!
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!
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.
With July just around the corner I wanted to put together a challenge for anyone looking to reduce their plastic consumption for the Plastic Free July. I'm going to create this challenge for anyone who's just beginning on their journey to less plastic, but I will also create a more difficult challenge for anyone who has more experience and is also looking to challenge themselves for the month of July!
Don't feel like you have to do every step in this challenge, but this guide is a great place to start!
Bring your reusable water bottle everywhere
Same goes for a metal straw or a spare set of silverware and napkins when you're bringing lunch to the office. Having these items and being prepared will help reduce plastic when you run into a situation like grabbing lunch on the go.
If you can, don't use a straw the next time you go to a restaurant or specifically say that you don't need one.
Bring a reusable bag
By bringing a reusable bag to the store you can refuse the store's plastic bags in lieu of your own bag. And not just for groceries either but anytime you go out!
Make a sustainable swap
When you finish using up something in the month of July that uses plastic, look first for a plastic free option. This can be anything from shampoo and conditioner, to a toothbrush and toothpaste, or even silicone bags for your kitchen!
Try Shopping Plastic Free
Regardless of what stores you have near you, you can attempt to shop plastic free. Ranging from Walmart to Sprouts I have several guides on shopping zero waste, Not to mention I even did a non-grocery shop around at Target for plastic free necessities.
Research Plastic Free Options Near You
Obviously this will vary depending on where you live and how accessible sustainable swaps are for you. But try searching for local farmer's markets in your area, or wholesale produce stores where you can buy produce in large bulk quantities. Also try seeing if there is a grocery store near you that has some bulk bin options like a Sprouts or Whole Foods. Use July as a time to find out what amenities your area does have and check them out! Don't focus so much on things you don't have access to.
Let me know in the comments what you think of this challenge! I tried to put together some concrete steps you can take to reducing your plastic and threw in a few longer term plans in here as well. How do you reduce your plastic consumption?
With summer finally in full swing here I have a few road trips coming up! Since going zero waste I've taken a few road trips and after a few mishaps I have learned what I need to bring with me to reduce waste on my trip. Here's my list of what I'll be bringing with me on all my road trips this summer:
1. Grocery Bags:
While you may not be planning on going grocery shopping I find that I inevitably do. Whether it's on my way home and I want to stop at the grocery store to restock my fridge or trying to stock up on snacks while I'm on vacation I always end up at the grocery store. The last couple times I've gone on a road trip I've forgotten my bags because I just wasn't thinking! Now I put them on my packing list so I'll always have them. But if you do happen to forget your bags don't sweat it! Just ask for paper bags at check out and you can recycle or compost them when you get home.
2. Travel Mugs/Cups:
These are a must for any road trip! If you plan to stop for coffee bring your travel mugs and see if they will let you use them (with the pandemic this won't always be possible). Another thing they're useful is for storing water! Once I'm on the road I can't always just refill my water bottle whenever so I like to always have extra to prevent me from having to buy a plastic water bottle at the gas station.
3. Travel Utensils and Reusable Napkins:
Bring your travel utensils and some reusable napkins with you on the road. This way when you stop for food you can say no to getting these extra items when you don't need them!
4. Bring Enough:
While I know one of the core tenants of living a low-waste lifestyle is minimalism, for your trip don't fret about overpacking. This is especially useful if you're taking a road trip and have extra room in the car. Just pack enough so that you are prepared. Even if you don't think it will rain, bring a rain jacket or umbrella! This way in the chance it completely downpours you don't need to buy a new umbrella when you have one sitting at home. Just bring enough with you to be prepared and you won't need to buy as many (or any) "emergency things"
5. What You Already Have:
Last but not least be sure that you are using what you have before buying new things for your trip. And this goes for just about anything! For example, several years ago I bought a travel sized shampoo and conditioner and keep it in my overnight bag. I don't need to replace these with a plastic free option when I haven't even used them up yet. And when I do use them up I'll keep them to refill with my own shampoo and conditioner for trips rather than buying travel sized liquid containers! Remember: the most sustainable thing is the thing you already have.
At the end of the day we are all trying our best to live the most sustainably we can. If you take a road trip and forget something and need to create some waste remember that it's going to be okay. Having a week where you aren't perfect to enjoy yourself is well worth it in the long run when you're reducing your waste the other 51 weeks of the year.
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.
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.