Wasteful Shit In Your Home & Useful Alternatives.

As my zero waste endeavor continues, I’ve been taking note in my home of the wasteful things I’ve been using all my life and how easy the solutions to them are. Here are 14 wasteful things I’ve taken note of in my home and am on my way to eliminating.

  1. Bottled water. This is an absurdity and no one should be succumbing to the temptation of bottled water. Watch this short film about bottled water. Hopefully you’ll never want to touch a bottle of water again. There’s no lack of tap or fountains from which we can refill our own bottle.
  2. Paper Towels. Hang a towel near each sink to remind yourself to dry your hands with it instead of paper towels. Make sure to have plenty of rags on hand in the kitchen, bathroom, and near your cleaning supplies to remind you to use rags. Paper towels can be handy for gross messes but rags do the same job and can be washed in bleach or vinegar to kill bacteria.
  3. Aluminum Foil. Aluminum foil makes a lot of things easier – grilling, baking, and storing food. But why waste money on it when you can buy reusable parchment baking paper and thermal food covers.
  4. Ziploc bags. Very handy for travel and storage, but reusable sandwich bags are cuter and less wasteful. There are a lot of great ones on Etsy.
  5. Mail. You can try the App PaperKarma to opt out of receiving mail. What I ended up doing instead was to call the phone numbers provided on the mail every time I sat down to go through it. It was not as painful or time consuming as one would assume.
  6. Food packaging. Buy in bulk and take your own containers to buy food in. When grocery shopping, bring your own bags.
  7. Trash bags. If you recycle, your need for trash bags will decrease. Make sure you are using reusable bags (like large burlap sacks) for your recycling and to dispose of your trash.
  8. Toilet paper. So, it is very brave of people to go to rags instead of using toilet paper. I’m definitely not there yet. I still use toilet paper, though I have been buying eco-friendly toilet paper made out of recycled materials. Most major department stores have this option. Also consider using a handkerchief to blow your nose.
  9. Q-tips. Using a Q-tip in your ear removes the natural wax that is in there to keep out water and protect the ear. Professionals agree, they are not healthy. Wash outside of your ear canal with a rag and stop using these things. They’re pointless.
  10. Cotton balls. What do we really use these things for anyway that can’t be handled with a wash cloth? Removing nail polish? Dedicate a rag to nail polish removal. Facial toner? Reconsider your use of facial products or apply with a reusable cleansing pad. Aside from just being wasteful, the cotton industry uses 2.5 percent of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16 percent of the world’s insecticides—more than any other single major crop.
  11. Disposable Razors. Invest in a razor that only needs the blade changed.
  12. Tooth brushes. Tooth brushes as wasteful may not have occurred to you, but think about this – fifty million pounds of toothbrushes go into landfills every single year. Dentists recommend you replace them every three months to maintain a healthy mouth. Consider using recyclable toothbrushes that are already made out of recycled material.
  13. Batteries. Use appliances that plug in or have rechargeable batteries.
  14. Disposable cleaning products. Swiffer mops, throw-away vacuum bags (that seem to have gone out of style), anti bacterial wipes (a favorite of mine, sadly), among others are very tempting because they are easy – clean, and throw away. But so wasteful! What’s so hard about clean, then wash?

Many of these things are great modern conveniences, but are they really necessary? No, they’re not – and in fact, they’re wasteful. Stop buying these things to fill landfills and keep money in your wallet instead.

The Uniform – How To Be Zero Waste AND Stylish.

At one time in my life, I was quite obsessed with never wearing the same outfit twice. This lasted a brief two years as I realized it was not only timely to maintain but also costly, even if I limited myself to thrift store and resale shops. I felt that in order to save money, time and effort, I had to break up with fashion – but while pouring over my favorite fashion blogs and magazines, I realized I was wrong. Fashion and I could still be best friends.

Instead of taking my fashion advice from models, heiresses, and actresses – I decided to move up the chain and take advice from the people who were really in charge – artists and fashion designers. I quickly noticed a trend among the creative and the genius – they didn’t feel the need to be on trend every second. Indeed, some of these big dogs have been wearing a version of the SAME OUTFIT since 1965.

lagerfeld

Let us begin with one of the biggest powerhouses in fashion: Karl Lagerfeld. Has anyone ever seen him without his signature suit jacket and tie? I’m thinking he was born in this outfit and will most certainly be buried in it. While Karl is definitely a controversial figure in regards to some of his opinions on beauty (that I don’t agree with), he is at the top of the Fashion Food Chain and I’m down with his look.

yokoono

Yoko Ono has been wearing a version of the suit and fedora/boater hat since she came on the scene in the 60s. Forty years later, she is still rocking this look. It seems to work for every occasion – a walk in the park, a visit to a gallery, stage performances, etc.

donatella

Donatella Versace, easily one of the most recognizable people in fashion. While she doesn’t have a super strict uniform, she is usually wearing some form of the little black dress.

frida

Frida Kahlo frequently wore traditional Mexican dress.

Other people who have successfully created their own uniform: Carrie Donovan, Steve Jobs, Andy Warhol, Mark Zuckerburg, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrerra.

All of these people who wear the uniform have become comfortable in who they are and how they want the world to see them – not only that, but they’ve also moved on from the shallow consumption of trends to something more concrete and meaningful in fashion and in life: individuality.

What to consider when constructing your uniform:

  1. What do I want to convey? Show the world who you are through your clothes.
  2.  What items do I already have that I love wearing? Use what you already have and love. If you find yourself wearing the same pair of jeans day in and day out, start with those and work your way up from there.
  3. Can I easily take this look from day to night? Would switching out your shoes instantly upgrade the look? While not necessary, it is a plus.
  4. Accessorize. Yes, I’m advocating minimalism – but you need some bomb accessories to make your look legitimate. Take Karl for example. His necklaces and dark sunglasses definitely ramp up the suit.
  5. Flatter yourself. Wear what you love and what you think flatters your color, your shape, and your personality.

What’s been my uniform as of late? Gray drawstring pants, moccasins, loose white crop, and a poncho. Albeit, I have three ponchos at this point to mix it up a little, but I don’t have to think about getting dressed when leaving the house. What am I conveying with this look? Comfort and a definite attitude of DILIGAF. At this point in my life, other things have become more important than constantly worrying that I’ve worn the same outfit two days in a row.

Don’t break up with fashion- break up with waste.

Catching My Dinner.

If you already have a pole and line and a place that you can go, fishing is an inexpensive form of recreation and a great way to get free meals. It’s also a relatively easy hobby to learn, as long as you get casting down – I have tried teaching it on multiple occasions and all it takes is a little practice.

Fish are a great source of protein and are low in saturated fat. If you catch your fish straight from the water, you don’t have to wonder about where your fish came from. Fresh wild fish tastes very different from frozen, canned, and farm-raised fish. By different, I mean better. I also sincerely believe that knowing what it takes to get food on a plate by yourself is a valuable life lesson.

A white bass.

A white bass.

With all that said, here is the first white bass I’m ever going to eat. Unfortunately, the fishing was slow today and I didn’t catch anything. I was lucky that my partner landed this one and was generous enough to give it to me. One fish is barely enough to make a meal for one person but I didn’t want to waste it.

photo 2

Fillets in the jar – the jar was previously an applesauce jar that I’m reusing for food storage.

I managed to get two decent fillets out of this one. Filleting fish is probably the only other learning curve to catching fish but there are a myriad of instructional videos on the internet to help. For white bass, they recommend removing the red section of meat – apparently it doesn’t do much for the flavor – but I hated wasting all the meat so I left it on. The guts went to Gunther as a treat and the rest of the fish went into my compost bin. To store the fillets until I’m ready to cook them tonight, I put them in a jar with water and placed it in the fridge. If you have a decent catch at the end of the day, any meat that isn’t going to be immediately used and can be frozen for another night.

If you’ve never fished before, here are some steps you can take to start:

  1. Get some fishing gear. Don’t make things complicated – all you need is a fishing pole, some lures, some hooks, and a stringer to keep your fish on. You don’t have to buy bait – lift up a couple rocks, gather some worms, or catch crickets and grasshoppers. Fish actually prefer the latter and it’s cheaper.
  2. Find a place to go. Lakes and rivers are public waters and most have accesses you can fish from.
  3. Learn the regulations. Buy a fishing license. There are rules about what fish you can keep, how many, and what size. Learn these or you may be paying off a citation in the future.
  4. Just do it. Experience is the best teacher. Cast the bait in the water and wait. My advice is, if you’re a first time fisher-person, find someone who already knows the sport so they can show you the ropes. Seniors are invaluable when it comes to things like this. Plus, you will make a new friend.

In conclusion, save money on food and entertainment and go fishing.

“You know when they have a fishing show on TV? They catch the fish and then let it go. They don’t want to eat the fish, they just want to make it late for something.”

– Mitch Hedberg

Ditching Shampoo – The Final Verdict.

I can safely say I’m out of the no-shampoo adjustment period. I was experiencing straw-like, greasy hair for about a week. I did some reading and it was suggested that I might be overusing the apple cider vinegar, so one night I used baking soda only and woke up the next morning with a mane so fabulous, I couldn’t believe it.

No teasing, no brushing, no styling.

No teasing, no brushing, no styling.

Literally, this is me getting out of bed (as if you couldn’t tell) – hair has not been brushed, washed, teased, or curled in the last four days. Thus, my advice to anyone who is having extra greasy hair – stop using the vinegar unless your hair feels dry, then adjust as necessary.

Since beginning this endeavor, I have been washing only three to four days. Even on the fourth day, I can do a water-only wash and get away with it.

Some pros since ditching shampoo:

  • Less acne. I have less acne on my forehead and back.
  • Less buildup.
  • Less itching.
  • More volume.
  • More curls.
  • Washing my hair less = more time out of the shower doing more important things.

Some cons:

  • My hair brushes are full of fuzzy white stuff. It’s the sebum on my hair, which is good, but messy on the brushes. I have to wash my brushes more often in the shower to keep them clean (I use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap). Totally worth it.
  • Takes a little more time to wash, but difference is minimal and definitely made up by the time I save not washing my hair every other day. Scrubbing my scalp with baking soda takes a teensy bit more effort than a sudsy shampoo but still totally worth it.

Question: How do you make your hair smell good?

  • I use perfume. I have always put perfume in my hair because hair clings to scents and makes them last longer. When I’m going out I spritz on my favorite scent (Juicy Couture). This isn’t completely natural, so when I’m feeling extra-anal about my hair and skin care routine, I will use essential oils like jasmine and peppermint. I also have some oil-based, all-natural perfumes I use as well. I put a couple drops in my hands, rub them together, and scrunch into my hair.

Question: My hair is tangly, how do I make that go away?

  • Tangles happen when there is a PH issue. Adjust the level of apple cider vinegar you are using and use some coconut oil on the ends of your hair. This could also be due to hard water – hard water can leave behind a lot of buildup. Try using a clarifying shampoo once every couple of weeks.

Now, as if you didn’t need more reasons to ditch shampoo, let me add:

Shampoo is costly. If you go completely natural and organic with shampoo, it is even more costly – up to $15 for a reasonable shampoo/conditioner combination of which you will use up in two months. Cost of baking soda and vinegar that could last up to a year? $5.00.

Read more about ditching shampoo here.