Monday, August 1, 2016

Zero Waste Wipe Spray


I probably spent more time researching how to diaper my baby zero waste than any other part of first time motherhood. Getting the perfect diapers and formulating the perfect, no fuss plan to get little one changed and clean quickly and effortlessly was going to be key in making new motherhood an easy transition. Of course, we all know it's not EASY. But why add more stress to something that is already beautifully challenging. 

Buying store bought wipes, using them, and simply tossing them in the garbage is a very appealing thing when you are only getting 4 hours of sleep per day. Cloth wipes can seem incredibly tedious and unnecessary. I found that it wasn't. Since I was already doing cloth diapers, adding the cloth wipes to the laundry wasn't really any extra work. Also, considering that I hear about disposable wipes being recalled due to bacteria issues all of the time and seeing all of the questionable ingredients in them, I feel SO much better that I know EXACTLY what is getting wiped onto my baby's bum. Methylisothiazolinone? No thanks.


Now a lot of people who use cloth wipes, soak or spray the wipes with just water which is A-OK. I, however, wanted to come up with a formula that did quadruple duty. This recipe cleans, moisturizes, soothes, and sanitizes.

Zero Waste Wipe Spray

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Cups of Warm Water
  • 1 tsp Liquid Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp of Vitamin E Oil
  • 1 tsp of Tea Tree Oil
  • 15 drops of Lavender Oil

 

Directions:

 

Mix all ingredients together and transfer to a pump or spray bottle for easy application. I also keep some spray in a small bottle for the diaper bag.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Zero Waste Strawberry Jam


So I was definitely running out of room in my freezer. I got a little lazy during strawberry season and just froze the entire bounty rather than can them immediately like I normally do. What can I say, I was a little preoccupied having a baby. I had the realization that I needed to do something with these strawberries when I went to put half of a green pepper in the freezer and it wouldn't fit. Yea, I should probably clean that sucker out aside from just the strawberries....for another day....maybe. Luckily, this sudden need to make jam came at the perfect time considering we finished off the LAST jar of last year's batch last weekend while camping. It's a good thing, too, because I can't do without my strawberry jam!

This recipe is SOOOO easy and completely zero waste, too! I can't think of a better way to utilize a garden full of strawberries than this. It's the perfect way to preserve the freshness of summer to enjoy in those awful, cold winter months. Pair this jam up with that easy Zero Waste Peanut Butter recipe and you'll have a match made in heaven!

Now, if you've never canned before, never fear. I'll explain it briefly here and have a more in depth post later on how to water bath can. It's pretty fool proof. No need to worry about blowing up yourself and house with a pressure cooker. I may or may not have a fear of those.

Zero Waste Strawberry Jam

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Quarts of Strawberries
  • 6 Cups of Sugar

 

Directions:


Place jelly jars, lids, and rings in a pot of water and bring to a boil to sterilize. Only pull them out when ready to fill.

Clean strawberries and remove stems. Mash strawberries while they cook on medium to high heat in another pot. Once mostly mashed, add sugar and bring to a boil slowly. Once sugar is completely dissolved, cook rapidly until the jam comes to a gelling point. Once the mixture comes to the gelling point, you'll be able to run your finger through the jam on the back of a spoon and it will stay separated. Like Moses parting the waters. Once thickened, remove jelly jars from boiling water, fill with jam, screw on ring and lid, and place back into boiling water for about 15 minutes. Take jars out of water bath and place in a cool place to seal. Sealing should take about 10-20 minutes.


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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Happiness in a Capsule


I've basically overhauled every facet of my life to line up with my zero waste values except one area. The area I've been most dreading since I've started this journey. It's here, that I realize I have a consumption problem - a materialism problem. Over the last year, I've searched for every possible excuse to put this on the back burner and getting pregnant seemed like the absolute perfect reason to put it off even longer. Well, I have no more excuses. It's time to tackle this. My obsession with clothing has gotten out of control. 

For many years, shopping for clothing was always been a way for me to "feel good", to "let off steam" - it made me happy for a brief moment. I'd go to a store, find a lovely piece, wear it for awhile, then the inevitable happened every time - the "new" wore off. What then? I was back on the hunt for another piece of instant happiness, and that was the deeper issue. I was searching for happiness - so why was I searching for something so important in clothing? Obviously this is why I was never sustained for very long and just ended up shopping again in a week or two from my previous excursion. Maybe my happiness doesn't lie in more clothing, but less? I'm sitting here writing this as I stare over at my closet and quickly realize I have 30+ pairs of shoes, yes, really.

Because this is obviously a very unhealthy past time for me and does NOT meet any of my zero waste values, I've decided that I need to do something now. No more waiting, no more excuses. I need to quit the unnecessary purchasing and focus on me in a whole new way that will actually result in the happiness I desire.

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed the rising popularity of capsule wardrobes. Everyone is talking about them! A capsule wardrobe is " a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces." In my case, I'm shooting for 40 pieces total - not including socks and under garments. I see a lot of people aiming for 33 and 37 but I like solid, even numbers.

I'm very excited to get started on this project and plan to keep you all filled in on my progress. My goal is "simple" - maybe...

1. No shopping for clothing for the rest of the summer - so until Sept 22. (I'm working on seasonal wardrobes)

 

2. End up with 40 pieces of clothing - including the seasonal items. 


3. In the future, only replace pieces with second hand or sustainable items/high quality items that won't go out of season and can be worn multiple times in several ways.


4. Find my happiness and personal style.


Stay tuned for how I plan to tackle this seemingly daunting task!

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

My Zero Waste Maternity Wardrobe


Here I'm wearing a cotton dress I purchased second hand.

When I first found out I was pregnant I was immediately overwhelmed with so many thoughts and things that had to be accomplished before my little one's due date. How on earth was I going to get through this the most sustainable way as possible? Of course with my lack of experience, I, like so many others, thought that I was going to have to purchase a completely new wardrobe to accommodate my growing belly -- and everything else. I realized that I was wrong. It was possible to get through the entire pregnancy without purchasing proprietary maternity clothing that would get worn a few times and then shoved to the back of the closet. Below, are the 3 rules I followed to keep my clothing within my zero waste values:

 

1. Utilize what I already have for as long as I can.

2. Buy secondhand or borrow.

3. Buy sustainable pieces that can transition with me to an after baby body.


1. Utilize what I already have for as long as I can.


I found that I already had clothing that would "grow" with me. baggier t-shirts, cardigans, button up shirts, dresses, and so on. Yes, my wardrobe options were a lot fewer towards the end but ultimately that was the last thing on my mind as I was wattling from my bed to the bathroom a billion times a day. I think I wore the same 2 dresses nearly every day for the last couple of weeks - no one noticed - or no one dared to say anything about it! But seriously though....

Dresses are your best friends!

There's also a pretty fantastic piece that I was able to get from a friend that allowed me to wear my same pants and shorts up until the very end. Belly Bands - have you heard of these things?! Basically, they go around your unbuttoned pants to make it appear as if you are just wearing a layered shirt. I think for the $10 price tag versus the ungodly expensive maternity jeans is a pretty good deal!

2. Buy second hand or borrow.

 

Like I mentioned above for my Belly Band - I got it from a friend as well as a postpartum belly wrap. If you need to get additional maternity pants or shirts I would opt to get them second hand or borrow them rather than buy new. Why? Maternity clothing is EXPENSIVE and incredibly wasteful considering the amount of resources go into each peice and the amount of time they are worn. In every thrift store I've been in there has always been an overflowing maternity section. Save your money.

There are also some online thrift/consignment sites that have second hand maternity clothing like ThredUP and Motherhood Closet.

3. Buy sustainable pieces that can transition with you to an "after baby" body.


As a last resort, buy clothing that you can transition into once you begin your deflation after baby. At the very beginning I bought a pair of black yoga pants that I wore up until I gave birth as well as a couple nursing bras, tank tops, and dresses from Boob Maternity - a sustainable, organic maternity site that sells "nursing" clothing that will work pre and post baby - this was important since I planned on breastfeeding. I hate buying new but in this case, I opted to support a sustainable and ethical company that does not support poor working conditions and clothing waste. I love that I will be able to keep these pieces in my wardrobe for years to come.

You’d be surprised what actually will still fit you as you progress through pregnancy. I have to slowly retire clothing as to not stretch them out while I got bigger so towards the end I was pretty much living in a true minimalist capsule wardrobe of about 20+ items – and I actually loved it! I can’t wait to start that project in the future!

Below are a few items that I wore throughout my pregnancy that I will continue to wear afterward. With the addition of button up shirts and cardigans, I was able to pull off new outfits nearly every day using the same handful of items. Out of these 12 pieces, I only purchased or borrowed 4 of them. The rest I already had in my closet.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

10 Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps


The bathroom ranks number 2 on most wasteful room in your house. We use a lot of disposable products in there! Luckily, there are reusable alternatives for nearly everything that we discard. Start phasing out the following disposables and you'll eventually have more floor space with no need for that trash can!

1. Toothbrush (retire your plastic one once it wears out and replace it with a bamboo alternative that can be composted)
2. Toothpaste (toothpaste tubes are destined for a landfill - not to mention that some of them have/had micro plastics in them for an abrasive property which is crazy. Once, your current tube runs out, try making your own! Check out my recipe HERE!)

toothpaste
3. Cotton Balls (Instead of throwing your money away, invest in some organic cotton rounds to remove makeup.)

4. Shampoo (Try alternatives to the plastic bottle of shampoo. Buy in bulk, buy shampoo bars that come in paper packaging, make your own, or try the no-poo method)
5. Razor (Replace the disposable razors with a safety razor. A box of stainless steel blades will last quite a long time and can be recycled once dull.)
6. Tampons (Instead of disposable tampons, try using a menstrual cup - check out my article HERE on why you should switch today!)




7. Menstrual Pads (Rather than throwing your money away with disposable pads, get some cloth pads instead. I assure you they are much more comfortable and way less diaper like.)

8. Floss (Most floss either comes in plastic packaging or is not biodegradable so finding other options can be tricky. Over the last year, I have come across a few Zero Waste alternatives - some may work for you, some might not. I personally use a waterpik and that is because I have orthodontics and is what my doctor recommended. If a waterpik is not for you, there are a couple "plastic-free" brands of floss out there. You could also use silk thread or horse hair. My grandmother raised horses and would use horse hair that she collected as a result of grooming.)

9. Bath Scrubby (Are these really necessary? Couldn't a wash rag suffice? If not, you can purchase a loofah sponge from your farmer's market or grow your own.)

10.Toilet Paper (There are a few options to toilet paper. I choose to use toilet paper made from recycled paper in paper packaging only so I can compost it later - I find this at club stores. You could also install a bidet or go with the "family cloth" option. That's up to you.)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Do you have to "Do Without" when living Zero Waste?


I've been getting stuck on this question for awhile now. Whether or not I feel as if I have to "do without" now that I avoid unnecessary food packaging and single use plastic. Do I really, though? I tell people "No" over and over but sometimes I think I do feel a little resentment for getting used to convenience in prepackaged food that I no longer purchase out of guilt. There are times I walk through the cookie/chip aisle like Charlie Bucket staring into the candy store. There are days when I'd do anything to have a Blizzard from Dairy Queen especially if the flavor of the month has something to do with brownie pieces. And s'mores! What's summer without s'mores? But it's all. packaged. in. plastic. I'm beginning to wonder if when I say "No" to that question I'm being truly honest with myself. I have so many associated memories to packaged food from my childhood that it makes me sad to think that I have to avoid it now to prove a point that waste is bad - that we should all just stop buying anything packaged in plastic. 

Summer is fast approaching and my husband and I camp, a lot. I absolutely cannot imagine a trip without sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows for s'mores. It's what truly makes summer evenings fun! Yes, they are loaded with preservatives and a million other bad things but they're s'mores! Am I being selfish? Am I being just like every other consumer? Should I feel terrible for wanting to eat this childhood favorite going further? Should I just attempt to make all of the components from scratch to once again, prove a point of sustainability? Or should I just eat the damn s'mores? Shouldn't living a zero waste lifestyle be more about balance and happiness? Should I have to "give up" everything that makes me happy? Maybe those things never really made me happy. (I'm lactose intolerant so the Blizzard's definitely didn't after the fact) Maybe food is another form of materialism that we think is doing anything more than getting digested. I don't know. 

Now, there are a lot of items that I lust for but am happy I avoid later. I've cut a lot of junk out of my diet that, though I'd love to have in my mouth, I'm ever grateful for my resilience to avoid it. To me, that proves there's a difference. There are things that we want that are happy we don't use and there are things that truly add value to our lives - despite how insignificant and "plastic-packaged" they are. 

Yes, always look for alternatives to things you miss and at least give them a try - but if something in your zero waste endeavor is making your miserable, then my advice is to opt for happiness - not convenience - but happiness. 

My trash jar might get a little fuller this summer - but the amount I've reduced in last year, I think, merits some balance. I might feel a little different about this whole question down the road, but for now - I'm going to eat the damn s'mores.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Simple Homemade Peanut Butter


Peanut butter is another one of those recipes that completely blows your mind when you realize how easy it is to make. It's only a few ingredients and comes together really quickly.

The thing about store bought peanut butter is that it contains ingredients I'd just rather not consume or support.  I'm looking at you, preservatives, sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, and palm oil. Homemade peanut butter in its most simple form is incredibly healthy for you considering you have complete control over what goes into it.

There are several times I go into my local grocery store to find the bulk peanut butter machines completely empty. Yea, it's frustrating - especially if you need peanut butter for several recipes throughout the week! Instead of going without, I grab some bulk peanuts and make my own. I can make it in about 5 minutes. I promise you, you'll never buy peanut butter again!

Where will you find your ingredients in bulk?


 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

 

Ingredients:


  • 2 Cups of Peanuts
  • 3 TB Olive Oil
  • 2 TB Agave Nectar or Honey
  • *optional salt to taste

Directions:

 

Add the cup of peanuts to a food processor and pulse with the olive oil and agave until smooth and creamy or to your desired consistency.

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