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.
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!
Recycling. The last in the list of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle yet, we often treat it as our first resort for anything plastic. One thing that's important to remember is that recycling is a business, and it's only utilized when it makes economic sense to do. Unfortunately less than 9% of plastics have ever been recycled. I'm not writing this to make anyone feel a sense of doom either, but really to educate on the ways we can be diligent with our recycling to help ensure that what we send to be recycled can actually *be* recycled.
I thought I was pretty good at recycling before going zero waste. I always made sure to clean out all of my jars and cans before recycling them, and I checked every container religiously for recycling symbols. I have however learned a lot more since starting this lifestyle that I think is important to share.
1. Just because it can be recycled doesn't mean you can recycle it: This one is a tough pill to swallow but it's hugely important. You need to search your city + recycling and read up on what items can be put in your single stream recycling bin. For example: the cartons that plant-based milk and creamers come in are coated in plastic, they can be recycled but not in all cities. Here is the breakdown of what Philadelphia allows as a reference. I just searched "Philadelphia Single Stream Recycling" to find this.
2. Don't "Wishcycle": Going off #1 here but if you aren't sure whether or not something is recyclable and you recycle it anyways that's called wishcycling. I have been guilty of doing this all the time myself before going zero waste and learning more about recycling. But don't do this! Because recycling is a business it needs to be efficient, if a recycling plant has too many items in it's recycling queue that cannot actually be recycled, instead of wasting time sorting through it all they will throw away the whole batch! Meaning that not only does that one item end up in the landfill anyways but so do all the other items in that batch that could have actually been recycled. That said: when in doubt throw it out.
3. Clean Containers: Anything that you recycle should be completely clean with no food residue.
4. Find Recycling for Miscellaneous Items: Items like plastic bags, batteries, etc. often can be recycled just not in your single stream recycling. If you have a plethora of plastic bags from the grocery store, outside most Walmarts are bins where you can drop the bags off to be recycled! Another example of this is at Mom's Market they have a whole area for Misc. recycling needs from batteries to shoes!
What other tips do you have for giving your recycling the best chance at actually being recycled? I would love to know in the comments below!
This might be my first "routine" that I have been able to adapt to be completely zero waste. Which makes sense given that I shower everyday, and it doesn't hurt that my shower routine was pretty minimal to start with. But I'm excited to show you my zero waste shower routine and how I've been keeping up with it. I even have a lot of alternative ideas you can use if these products aren't your thing!
Shampoo/Conditioner - Plaine Products: I first bought the shampoo, conditioner and body wash from Plaine Products back in July of 2020. I just finished the body wash a few weeks ago and still have a little under half left in the shampoo and conditioner bottles. So while the price is high I will say the products will last you long enough to make it worth it to me. I also love Plaine Products because when you're ready for a replacement bottle they'll mail you a new bottle and you mail your used bottle back to them. This way they can sanitize and refill it and send it out again. While the pumps are made from plastic they're yours to keep and use so you only ever need one set and they don't end up in the landfill.
Alternative - Shampoo and conditioner bars: I tried shampoo and conditioner bars as my first foray into zero waste from The Earthling Co. and honestly I thought product wise they were great. My only complaint was that I felt they ran out pretty quickly. They say shampoo/conditioner bars should last you at least 3 months but I think mine really only lasted me a month and a half. This could be on me for poor storage, I did keep them on a bar stand but they might have still been getting wet more often than they should have. That said I think they're a great option for anyone considering going zero waste and the start up cost pretty low.
Face Wash - Cereve Foaming Cleanser Bar: I'm so glad I found this face wash in a bar form. It works great and my skin loves it. In addition I've already been using it for two and a half months so far and it barely even looks used at all. Not to mention it's cheaper than what I was using before!
Body Wash - Plaine Products: As mentioned I originally bought body wash from Plaine Products back in the summer of 2020. Read below in the refill section to see how I refilled my bottle cheaper than replacing with Plaine Products!
Alternative Body Wash - Soap Bars: Bars of soap are cheap, accessible just about everywhere and are a great zero waste alternative. You can buy them in either little cardboard boxes or with just a paper wrapping around the outside. This is a great option for body wash because I'm sure everyone frequents a store where bars of soap are sold. I don't have a specific brand to recommend but try looking at your regular grocery store or see if a local business near you makes soap!
Razor - Planet Kind Gilette: I just talked about buying this razor from Target last week on the blog but now that I've been using it I can say I really love this razor! I love that it was really cheap, made from recycled materials, plastic free packaging and refill blades end up costing only $2.50 each.
Alternative Razor - Safety Razor: A safety razor is a great alternative to disposable razors for zero waste, however they can be quite pricey and come with a learning curve so be sure to do your research before buying to find one that will work for you.
I've talked a lot about how I use Plaine Products and how you can mail your containers back to them to be refilled and reused. Which is great! However, when it came time to re-purchase my body wash I discovered a refill van in Philadelphia called Ray's Reusables! This van frequents all the different farmer's markets in Philly which is amazing since once a month I can walk to my local park and get refills on whatever products I needed.
Reduce Water: Lastly, one huge way to reduce waste in the shower is by using less water! You can start by taking shorter showers, take cold showers, or turn the water off while you lather up. This is something anyone can start doing today and it saves you money too!
I started bringing my Plaine Products bottles to Ray's Reusables van and just having them filled there, this way I can avoid the shipping back and forth of the Plaine Products. I also found that it was cheaper to have her refill my containers. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to Plaine Products try searching for a local refill option near you. Luckily though if you don't have a local equivalent near you you can still use Plaine Products and save packaging!
I know I've mentioned Plaine Products quite a bit in this blog post and while they're what I have been using just know that they are definitely not the only option so don't feel discouraged if it's not something you are on board with buying!
What is your zero waste shower routine like? 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.