Let’s start by clearing something up.
Over the last few months I’ve heard a lot of snarky comments about the various areas of #Minimalism from other areas of #Minimalism. Minimalists poo-pooing Zero Waste, Simple Living putting down Minimalism, Slow Living putting down The KonMari method. It’s actually pretty out of hand and a bad misrepresentation of this entire subculture to be putting down one sector over another. Of course this happens all of the time, just look at religion.
That being said - each of these areas is going after the exact same thing, just taking different approaches to get there. They all want to live intentionally. They all want to live a meaningful life and live from their values. Simple. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if you want to reduce your waste or wear all black or live out of a backpack traveling the world or all of the above - this ‘thing’ looks different for everyone, and I wish // hope that the influencers in each area can stop the pettiness and just focus on the point - living a meaningful life.
Now, back to the topic at hand - Zero Waste.
Zero Waste doesn’t literally mean Zero Waste, it comes from a place of appreciation for our planet and our resources. It aims at getting our waste as close to zero as possible with the understanding that that process won’t happen overnight. It takes effort and a lot of research and education with practice over time and it takes people coming together under that appreciation to implement infrastructure and systems that will make this process sustainable and accessible.
Since my last post about Zero Waste, we’ve tried some new things - here’s what worked and what didn’t…
THE DIVA CUP
Yup - starting hot right outta the gate. If you’re squeamish about Women’s Health you may want to skip ahead, or don’t and challenge yourself to be uncomfortable in an effort to grow your understanding that Women’s Health isn’t ‘gross’ and isn’t something that should be shamed into silence. WHOA - I am in a mood…
So, what is it?
It’s a reusable menstrual cup.
Sooooo, does that mean you…?
Yes. You put it in, wait, take it out, dump it, clean it, put it back.
I first heard about it from, Bea Johnson - Zero Waste Home - herself on The Lively Show. I was intrigued to say the least. I really liked the idea of not having to change a tampon every 4-6 hours and I really liked the idea of never having to buy tampons again as well as the savings that would come with that. So I picked one up at Healthy Home Market for around $45 [Thrive Market has it on sale for $25 right now with an extra 20% off your first purchase- noted for future reference] - which is pricey, but how much are you spending on tampons?
Day 01 // The first time I tried it I FREAKED OUT. It was terrifying. But, after re-reading the instructions carefully - problem solved. I’ll go ahead and STRESS the importance of reading the instructions and following them to a ’T’ - that’ll make things WAY easier on you.
Day 02 // I was more accustomed, but still super grossed out by the process.
Day 03 // Pro Status - loving the freedom, and feeling like a capital W-O-M-A-N. It’s crazy how something so small and seemingly insignificant can empower your womanhood and boost your confidence. I felt like I could do anything - this is my body, this is what it does, it’s not gross, I’m not embarrassed by it, I don’t have to be ashamed of this and I can shout it from the rooftops.
Now, instead of moodiness being my tell-tale sign of having my period - my feminism SKY ROCKETS!
I’ve been using The Diva Cup for three months now with no regrets. I highly recommend giving it a try for yourself. For more information you can go to their website and also watch this hilarious Buzzfeed trial.
I’d like to up my zero waste lady-bits game by replacing liners with a washable insert or switching my underwear to Thinx. Apparently you can wear these with no tampon and no liner at all and they soak everything up without going through your clothing. That’s a little too much for me, but I would like to use them in tandem with The Diva Cup. Also, with each pair you purchase - they supply a young girl in the developing world with a pack of AFRIpads, enabling her to not miss school during her time of the month. I absolutely love their business model and will be trying them out soon! Check out their short film and learn more!
This is the weirdest stuff. I purchased some at Healthy Home Market to give it a go, and I guess it’s fine but it doesn’t leave my mouth feeling fresh so I had to combine it with mouthwash. I’ve never been a big mouthwash person - I only use it on occasion because I’ve always just relied on my toothpaste to provide the cleaning and breath-freshening benefits. That was not the case with the tooth powder. I felt clean, but no minty goodness.
Carl, my husband, down right hated it, but was a good sport trying it out. The point of using the powder is that you can recycle the container afterwards - whereas it’s essentially impossible to recycle a toothpaste tube due to the paste residue.
I’ve switched us to a Trader Joe’s option that at least gives the illusion of being made out of better ingredients, but again - not recyclable. I’m open to making my own powder or paste one day, but for the time being - neither one of us has any time for that. So, for the non-foreseeable future, we’ll be using paste. If anyone has any all natural options they love - please let me know!
Huzzah! I’ve switched ALL of our cleaning products to two things. Yes - TWO!!! Praises all around. I now only use white vinegar and Castile soap for cleaning. You can purchase both online or go to your local store. I bought our Castile soap from Trader Joe's and the Distilled White Vinegar at Healthy Home Market.
In her book, Bea Johnson lists the extensive uses for vinegar and provides a few recipes for different cleaners. Her Basic Mix of 1/4 White Vinegar to 1 Cup Water works on just about everything. So far I’ve only used full-strength vinegar to clean the toilet, but I use the basic mix for everything else - counters, tables, glass, etc. It works great and is so simple! I purchased some amber glass spray bottles from Amazon and an amber glass soap dispenser to house my homemade cleaning mixes.
Now there’s only a handful of items under each of our sinks. It’s neat, organized and toxin-free. We use the Castile soap with water at different ratios for our dishes, hands [only in the kitchen so far - we still have some Method Soap in the bathroom] and washing our dog Shiloh. My next thing to swap is our laundry detergent. I just need to get a container, look up the soap to water ratio and make some. Then, I think that will literally be all of our products.
I’d also like to mention that cleaning takes me almost no time at all since pairing down and getting rid of so many of our possessions. It has been one of my favorite perks! When I needed to deep-clean the house, it used to take me Friday night and all of my Saturday to scrub and dust and clean and vacuum - now it takes me two hours. AMAZING! But, I don’t need to deep clean very often, so my typical cleaning routine is just about 20 minutes. No regrets - I don’t miss the stuff at all and I’m loving the extra time!
This has been a confusing road to travel. Since quitting acne treatments and focusing on skincare - I’ve given up foundation completely. It was too heavy and clogging my already over-clogged pores, not making anything better. I now only use concealer, in terms of facial makeup, instead of both.
My biggest complaint when going from drugstore beauty products to green, all-natural products is how confusing the terminology is. I’m used to exfoliator, moisturizer, cleanser, toner, foundation, concealer - I know what to do with those.
Now I’m facing words like potions, elixirs, serums, mists, tonics, masks, cleansing grains, polishes & awakening face cream [at least that one clues me into using it in the morning] - I have no idea how to use any of those!
What time of day do I use this? How often do I use this? What goes first, serum or awakening cream? It’s totally puzzling, and most companies I’ve come across do a poor job of describing how to use their products and why you would use them in the first place. It’s ridiculous.
[I get my moisturizer from Good Medicine Beauty Lab and I think they do a decent job, but could stand some improvement. I’d love to see them post tutorials! One great thing about them is that even their packaging is responsible - you can recycle or compost all of it!]
Here I am - I want to stop putting terrible man-made gross cat-butt on my face [yes, that exists, #9 in link] and I want to use beautiful clean products instead, but the entry point seems to have a steep learning curve. I’m not giving up, but because it’s so confusing, it’s slowing the process down. I’d much rather be able to understand, get what I need and get to using it.
That being said, I now use serum, awakening cream and primer on my face each morning. I’ve switched to an all-natural body wash and I’ve upgraded my mascara. Even with the few products I use, I’ve still got a ways to go before they’re all switched to all-natural. Next on my list is concealer. Ultimately I’d like to get my make-up down to concealer or a powder, one eyeshadow palette, eyeliner and mascara. Four items. I’m close, so I think this will be doable before the year is out.
My beauty goal is to switch my products to all-natural ones that I either can make myself or purchase in recyclable // compostable packaging. I want to use as few items as possible, simplifying my routine [which is already 5 minutes, so really, I think I’m good there] and my hygiene product shopping process. More to come with this…
My go-to beauty resource is Sammie Kolk and her blog hullosam. She has a lot of wisdom when it comes to green beauty and has done a ton of product reviews. She’s SUPER helpful and just the sweetest lady! I owe my mascara and awakening face cream [moisturizer] to her - and I love them both SO much! Definitely check out her instagram and blog for more green beauty insight.
Ha! I made a goal to start some sort of a garden - which I did. I bought a bunch of daisies and planted them outside of my studio window and planted a bunch of potted plants in and outside of the house. I also attempted an herb garden, but a las - my black thumb took those out. Actually, the only plants doing ok are the daisies in the ground and the cacti // succulents in the house. Everything else has died.
I wanted to create a vegetable garden as well, but I just don’t think that’s in the cards. Like I’ve said before, you can’t do everything at once and since I’m so very challenged in the keeping-things-alive department, I’m going to push pause on my dreams of barefoot gardening and let that one live another day.
For now, I’m accepting my black thumb and appreciating my easy-going low-maintenance house plants.
Time & Money
These two things are the biggest challenges I’m currently facing when it comes to Zero Waste. I want to produce less waste, but that often requires more time making homemade items. That’s all well and good, but at the start of a new business and Carl studying for his architecture exams, even with all of the simplifying we’ve done, we still haven’t found time for that.
Our biggest item to tackle is cooking and meal-planning. We’ve changed our diets dramatically this year and we cook every meal including snacks. It is taking up a TON of time and a lot of money. Eating healthy isn’t cheap, as you know. So, that leaves us wondering, do you use your time to shop and cook yourself in order to save on waste and money - or do you save yourself the time and order food using delivery services? Do you spend the $18 on a Postmates lunch or the 30 minutes to cook one yourself?
My gut reaction is still in saving money mode - an $18 burger HURTS, but we’re both reaching the point that our time is far more valuable. Why, oh why, is the delivery fee $9?! I guess I can look at lunch as a break, which is necessary - but when I’m in a groove, I want to keep working and not have to worry about food. I can take my break later around 4pm instead of noon.
Weighing the different options between saving time vs. saving money is proving to be challenging - and eventually we’ll have to decide. I’ve looked into things like Blue Apron, Produce Box, Thrive Market, Postmates & Instacart, but have only tried Postmates so far. If any of you have insight into this or tools, apps & companies you use to help you streamline and outsource - please share!
UPDATED LIST FROM ZERO WASTE ESCAPADES // 01
Switch to toilet paper instead of using tissues - HAVEN'T DONE THIS
Swap chemical cleaning products for non-toxic options - CHECK
Quit junkmail - HAVEN'T DONE THIS
Cancel magazine subscriptions - ALMOST THERE
Continue donating // selling into secondhand market - CHECK
Start composting - HAVEN'T DONE THIS
Recycle LESS. [Purchase less packaged goods // use reusables.] - NEED TO BE BETTER AT THIS
Experiment with making my own beauty // skin products - HAVEN'T DONE THIS
Start some kind of garden - TRIED & FAILED
Purchase strong cloth totes for all shopping purposes - CHECK [USING OLD CLOTH BAGS]
Switch to one soap for laundry, dishes & hand soap - NEED TO MAKE LAUNDRY DETERGENT
Switch to one bar of soap for face, body & hair - NOT SURE I WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE
Try a straight razor with coconut oil for shaving - HAVEN'T DONE THIS
Set-up Recycle, Donate, Action & Out stations at the door - CHECK
I won’t be adding anything else onto this list since you can see I’ve got a lot more to tackle in the next 6 months. I’ll keep you updated with the best resources and tips I find along the way. Until then, I’d love to hear if you’re considering implementing Zero Waste habits into your own life or if you’ve already tried some for yourself. If so, what are your favorites?
Be sure to check out Zero Wast Escapades // 01 for more tips & insight.
Love & Blessings,