Zero waste progress #5

In addition to lack of time, I have been less inspired to write lately. I realised that it is because I reached a plateau in my eco-living route. I am trying less new things because for most things I have reached an acceptable compromise between the time/resources I have and the environment. I still have a lot to figure out, but it is not on the menu at the moment either because I am still using up things I previously own or it requires a big-time investment to do better. New things and tips are what make me excited to write, but there is possibly more value in sharing longer running habits, as my reflexion on them is more mature.

Unpaper towel

Cleaning rags

One of the first things we stopped buying was kitchen paper. We used it as napkins and for cleaning. To replace kitchen paper and paper napkins, my mum gave me tissue napkins she was not using.  For cleaning, we replaced the kitchen paper by a bunch of rags from old t-shirts and bed sheets. They can be used to clean surfaces, remove dust or dry out accidental spells. After use, either I let them dry until the next laundry or I put them directly at the bottom of the washing machine. Like this they get washed without even having to think about it. For those who worry about the increased water use, we are not doing more laundry now than before and remember that it requires about 15 litres of water to make a sheet of paper.

Up cycled poof

Poof from upcycled jeans

I wanted something to put my feet up when sitting on the sofa. Instead of running to the store, I browsed Pinterest for something that I could do myself with what I already had. I found this tutorial, and with a bit of help from P., I made this poof out of old jeans and stuffed it with old fabric scraps. I’m pretty happy with the result.

Zero waste breakfast

Zero waste breakfast for the weekThree years ago I started having variations around yogurt and oat inspired by the ‘Budwig cream’ for breakfast because it seemed to agree well with some minor health problems I had at the time. My health problem seems to have been resolved, but this is also a great zero waste breakfast. I can find oat and seeds in bulk and local yogurt in glass jars. Now I only have the full version during weekends and holidays, because it takes too much time to prepare for working days. For the week, I prepare a reduced version with only yogurt, oat, and seeds. In a small jar, I put 4 ts of oat, 1 ts of seeds (sesame, pumpkin, …), 4 ts of yogurt. When I have time, I prepare apple compote (I put 4-5 apples with 1 glass of water in my low temperature cooker), otherwise I put 1 ts of honey. I try to prepare them for the whole week during the weekend to be able to sleep 5 min longer. As a bonus, the yogurt makes the oat soften from being prepared in advance and it is even more delicious.

Zero waste bathroom up date

Zero waste bathroom progress

One year ago I was telling you about my zero waste progress in the bathroom. At the time, I had this grand vision that after one year I would have finished up every cosmetic I previously owned, and replaced only the ones I really needed with DIY recipes. The reality is very different, as finishing up my stash is rather slow. To date, I have only finished about 20 % of it. Reviewing my objective from last year:

  1. Soap. We finished all the shower gels and use bar soap for hands and body, but I still have liquid face soap that needs finishing.
  2. Shampoo. Despite finishing quite a few bottles, I still have a full bottle of shampoo that could very well last between 6 months to a year.
  3. Toothpaste. We finished the ones we had, but I don’t feel comfortable doing my own at the moment. I bought a refillable toothpaste from a zero waste online shop which is very convenient for travel, but I don’t like it enough to make it my everyday toothpaste. So for the moment we buy toothpaste tubes at the organic shop.
  4. Deodorant. I am still nowhere near finished with what I had. Since I could not find the one I liked in the UK, I made way too much stock.
  5. Moisturiser. Still going through my collection of samples. Since I don’t use moisturiser very often, except for my hands in winter, this could take a while.
  6. Lipbalm. Again, because I only put some every now and then when my lips feel too dry, they will take a long time to finish.
  7. Sun screen. Like for the toothpaste, I don’t feel comfortable experimenting with sunscreen. I am still looking for a more sustainable alternative to the one I buy in the pharmacy.

Then there are all the beauty things I rarely use like nailplolish and make-up that will probably take me a lifetime to finish, but that’s OK. Even if I might not get the minimal bathroom cabinet I’d like for a while, it is good to make what I have last.

Buying at local shops

We have bought very few new things since we move to Spain two years ago. I could probably make a list from memory. But they are things we really are missing and we are trying to catch up on this slowly. For example, we didn’t have enough light in the living room, so for Christmas, instead of buying each other gifts that might never really get used, we decided to buy a lamp together. At first, I was half of the mind to go to Ikea and get the type I wanted for 20 € together with a few other things we need. But 1) I didn’t feel like giving my money to a multinational, 2) 20 € sounded too cheap to be good quality, 3) we had to drive 45 min to get there. Instead we decided to see if we could find something in the city. We had a first round of the lighting shops within walking distance, which made a nice excuse for a long Saturday walk in a sunny day. Once we had a few options, we went home and thought about it a few days until we agreed on the best option. The final option was much more expensive than the Ikea option, but it was a Christmas gift after all. The guy at the shop was really nice and knew his stuff. The shop is 10 min walking for home, so it is really easy to pop back if we have a problem. Although buying something new inevitably has an environmental impact, it feels nice to keep alive the small shops of the city centre.

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Zero waste progress #3

The zero waste journey is made of the accumulation of little acts of resistance against the status quo in everyday life. This series of post is about those little steps I take every day to make my life simpler and more sustainable.

With the new job and the summer I have had even less time than expected to dedicate to this blog. I was even tempted to stop writing altogether, but then P. reminded me why I started it in the first place: to keep moving forward toward a mindful way of life. Being busier, I will need this space more than ever not to let convenience get in the way of my convictions.

Eco amigurumi giraffe

Amigurumi giraffe with recycled stuffing

I used my baby niece’s birth as an excuse to make this cute crochet giraffe I saw on Pinterest. I used organic cotton yarn for crocheting and fabric scraps for the stuffing. I am not sure I will be able to keep up with homemade gifts for all Christmas and birthdays, but at least we (I got a lot of moral support from P.) welcomed her in the world in an eco-friendly way.

Jacket upcycle

Jacket up cycle

I bought this jacket in high school with a voucher my uncle gave me for my birthday and it got a lot of use, so much that the shoulders started falling apart and I was ready to send it to rag collection. But looking at old pictures, I remember how I liked the cut and decided to save it. After reinforcing the parts of the shoulders that needed it, I used an also much loved T-shirt to cover the worn parts. As a bonus, it now has a touch of colour.

Online zero waste shopping

Zero waste online shopping

Until now, I had refrained from buying zero waste accessories, but I made an exception for P.’s birthday. This summer, we lost one of our two bottles of water, so I got him a eco-responsible replacement. I also realised during Plastic Free July that we could not completely get rid of straws, but we now have inox reusable straws to take with us to the cinema. While I was at it, I also order zero waste deodorant and toothpaste. I will let you know how I like them once I’ve had a bit more time to make my mind about them.

I normally don’t like to shop online. One of the reasons is that it normally generate a lot of packaging that I don’t know what to do with, but I was positively impressed by the parcel I received from Sin Plastico. The packaging was kept to the bare minimum and all of it was recycled, recyclable or biodegradable. The brown paper used to wedge the order was immediately recycled as gift wrapping. While I wait for eco-friendly items to be more wildly available in physical shops, I will be happy to order there or in other online plastic free shops again (with moderation).

 

Egg-free cookies

Egg free cookies

At work, it is customary to bring something on your birthday and I had everything to make cookies, but eggs. I had read that eggs can be replaced with chickpea cooking water (aquafaba) and I just happened to have a jar of them in my cupboard, so I gave it a go. I followed this recipe replacing the egg by 3 spoons of chickpeas brine, and I got a lot of compliments for them. It worked so well, I also replaced the egg by aquafaba in my sour milk pancake recipe and the pancakes were even fluffier than usual (although that might be because the milk was older than usual because of the holidays).

(Almost) zero waste travel toiletry

Zero waste travel toiletry

As I try to simplify what I have in the bathroom, I set to finish all the samples I have collected over the years and that I was keeping for who knows what. It is going much slower than I expected, but I finally finished the  shampoo and shower gel ones. When I travel, I now have a small soap for hand and body and I am refilling one of the hotel shampoo bottle from one of the big shampoo bottles I have left. Like this when I get to a hotel, I can leave the sample untouched for the next guest. My new deodorant and toothpaste should also be great for traveling.

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Zero waste progress #1

Zero waste is made of the accumulation of little acts of resistance against the status quo that threatens our future on this planet. I can never find enough time in the month to write a full post about all the little things I do to make my life simpler and more sustainable, so I would like to try a new post format inspired by the simple things series for the beauty is simple. Here are 5 little things that brought me closer to my zero waste goals this month.

New produce bagsBulk drawstring bags

In preparation for potentially having to live apart from my boyfriend for a while, I sewed a few more produce bags so that we can both have enough of them to keep the amount of packaging we send to landfill low. I used my experience with the ones I have been using for a while to come up with a more convenient design for the bulk aisle (I’m hoping to post a tutorial for them soon).

Make it do with a bad purchase
Water bottle up cycle

A few years back I bought a ‘Bobble’ water bottle to be able to filter water on the go. What a bad purchase! With each change of filter, so much plastic had to go to waste that I only changed the filter once and stopped using the bottle. Since I didn’t want to throw the whole bottle away, I used a box cutter to remove the filter part and now we can use it as a simple water bottle.

Phone case from up-cycled materialsPhone case from up cycled materials

For Christmas, I offered P. to make a case for his new-to-him second-hand phone and I finally finished it this month. It is made entirely from materials that had a previous life. The fabric, button and elastic came from the pile of material I save for craft projects and the padding was some wrapping new screens came in at work. It is actually its third life as it was used to protect things when we moved last year. The design is adapted from this tutorial.

No food waste recipe: ‘Pain perdu’

Stale bread into french toast

We don’t eat much bread, so it is not uncommon that we don’t manage to finish the one we buy before it gets stale. This is not a reason to throw it away. Even weeks after, we make French toast with our hard bread. I love that in French it is called ‘Pain perdu’ i.e. lost bread. Recipe: Mix 1 egg, 10 cl milk and 25 g. Cut the stale bread in slices and deep them for about 30 seconds in the mix. Put in an oven dish and bake until golden.

Reusable pads

Reusable periode pads

As I mentioned before, my zero waste focus of the year is the bathroom. After successfully switching to a menstrual cup, I was still finishing up my disposable pad stock to deal with leaks at the beginning of the cycle. I finally invested in re-useable pads. I am looking forward for my first truly zero waste cycle.

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How about you? I’d love to hear what little acts of resistance you carried out this month.

Zero waste progress: the bathroom

In my attempt to break with my consumerism habits, 2016 was focused on clothes: I simplified my wardrobe and learned mending skills. Now that I know where I am going on that front, I decided 2017 was going to focus on the bathroom.

Version 3

Like with my wardrobe, I started by an inventory to be able to monitor my progress. Not that it comes as a surprise, but getting all the content of my bathroom cupboards out on the table shows that I have way too many cosmetics compared to my needs.

Below are a few of the measures I have taken so far to get closer to a minimalist and zero waste bathroom:

1. Finishing up what I have

When I come across a piece of cloth I no longer want, it goes to the charity pile or to the sewing material pile if it is not in a good enough state. It is not that easy with cosmetics. In the long term, I hope to use only natural cosmetics with limited packaging, but I have set to finish every occurrence of a type of product before looking for sustainable and zero waste alternatives.

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By cutting our tubes of toothpaste open, we make them last at least one more week.

I used the inventory as an excuse to reorganise the different types of products together.  As I mentioned before, I am working on using all the samples and hotel toiletries I have accumulated. We finished most of the shower gels, but I find some shampoos really don’t agree with my hair. I started using those as shower gel after a friend gave me the idea.

There is still a long way to go. Between all my samples and the different types of hydration cream I own (do we really need a different product for hand, face, body … ?), I have 40 hydration cosmetics to finish!

 

2. Identifying the products I really use

I don’t have a complicated beauty routine and I would like my bathroom cabinet to reflect that. Beyond not having multiple versions of the same product, I would like to have fewer types of products in the future.

Once I finish what I already have, my plan is to find a good alternative for my everyday toiletries (any combination of DIY, organic, natural or package free):

  • 1 Soap for body, hand and face (this one ?)
  • 1 Shampoo
  • 1 Toothpaste
  • 1 Deodorant
  • 1 Hydration cream for body, hand and face
  • 1 Lip balm
  • 1 Sun screen
  •  + Conditioner if the water is too hard: I got used to hair conditioner in London, because the water was too agressive. I was planning to replace it with vinegar as I already did this successfully in Denmark, but it turns out I don’t need conditioner here.

And keep a bit of the fancy stuff for the special occasions:

  • Make up (1 mascara, a few eye shadows, a couple of lipsticks)
  • 1 Perfume
  • A couple of nail polishes

Considering how much of those I use, I probably don’t have to worry about renewing them for quite some time. Then the big question is what to do with what doesn’t fit in those two categories. I’ll let you know if I find a good answer.

3. Getting natural zero waste soap

Zero waste bathroom progress

I was happy to find some Alep soap without packaging at my organic shop. I haven’t really started to use it yet, but P., who got a bit tired of my shampoo hotel business, has been using it since Christmas and doesn’t seem to complain.

4. Changing my period management

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I use to not see the point to spend money for organic things that were not food until I heard a specialist explain on the radio that pesticides in tampons and pads were actually more dangerous than in food. They are in contact with mucous membranes and the chemical thus go directly into the bloodstream. So even if you don’t care about the plastic pollution, it is worth reconsidering the status quo.

I bought a menstrual cup before leaving London. It took a bit of time to get used to it (3-4 cycles), but now I definitely find it to be the most comfortable way to deal with my periods. I still use a pad in addition for the first days. At the moment I am finishing a box of organic ones, but I am planning to switch to reusable pads ASAP. I made an attempt at sewing some, but I was not super successful, so I am going to buy some.

5. Installing a compost bin …

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… and removing the ‘traditional’ bin.

I use the glass pot on the picture above to put my hair and nails until I take them to the compost. For the rest, we need to walk to our balcony trash centre. As explained above, I am on my way to zero waste periods and I already stopped using other disposable items. I no longer use Q-tips because they are bad for the ears and since I don’t make up often, I simply wash my face with soap instead of using cotton pads and make-up remover. However if you need cotton pads, it is easy to make or buy reusable ones. Aren’t those and those cute? I have to resist not to make some for myself.