Friday, March 24, 2017

Earth Hour 2017

Every year we are encouraged to turn off our lights for a complete hour and really think about how we affect climate change. It's a simple task. From 8:30-9:30 PM, your time, turn off the lights. I'd take it a step farther and just flip the breaker - turn everything off!

Last year, millions of people from 178 countries including the International Space Station took part to acknowledge the tough challenges we face in protecting our planet, whether it be depleting our resources, lowering our emissions, or reducing our waste. Turning off your lights for an hour is more about standing together to keep pushing for environmental change - and I think it's more important now than ever before.

So what can you do in the hour of darkness?

  • Cuddle with your significant other - or more - wink, wink.
  • Read scary stories by candlelight.
  • Go star gazing.
  • Play "hide-and-go-seek" in the dark (this was a childhood favorite of mine)
  • Go to bed early....I'm seriously considering this one.
  • Just sit and have a conversation with whomever your with - make it about ways to help the Earth.

However you decide to celebrate, just remember, this is more than just turning lights off for an hour. It's about changing our bad habits and making real, long lasting change. Continuing to progress and to continue supporting companies and organizations who make change a reality.

Happy Earth Hour!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sustainable Toothbrushes - An Easy Zero Waste Swap

Toothbrushes seem to get overlooked when considering waste reduction but plastic toothbrushes account for a substantial amount of waste. In fact billions of plastic toothbrushes are discarded annually accounting for millions of pounds worth of waste entering our landfills.

Sustainable Toothbrushes

Because of the size and type of plastics that make up toothbrushes the likelihood of them getting recycled is slim which means about every plastic toothbrush you've ever owned is still sitting or floating somewhere on this planet.

So how can you keep your teeth clean and the Earth clean at the same time? Try a sustainable alternative. As in toothbrushes made from natural materials like bamboo, or even toothbrushes that have a reusable quality. Basically, avoid any that would result in getting tossed into the trash can.

The "sustainable" toothbrush market is continually growing. Like any trend, there are companies that will jump on the bandwagon to make a quick profit without true values and sustainability in mind. So, to weed out any potential impostors, here are a few companies that I trust.


This toothbrush is made from sustainably harvested bamboo making it compostable after use. The bristles will need to be removed as they are nylon. Still a pretty big reduction in waste by switching from plastic.

Mable's beautiful design allows their toothbrushes to stand upright. I have found this to be very beneficial to keeping the brush dry after use. The bristles are soft and very gentle on the gums.

Mable's packaging is also 100% recyclable and plastic free.

Brush With Bamboo

Brush With Bamboo is made from sustainably harvested bamboo. It's ergo dynamic design allows for fabulous control. The brush bristles have a slight curve allowing for them to get into every nook in cranny. 

Brush With Bamboo is the first plant based toothbrush including the bristles, box, and wrapper. The bristles are 62% Castor Bean Oil, 38% plastic which makes them the most sustainable, modern toothbrush bristles but still will need to be removed and disposed of before the handle is composted. 

The lifespan is the same as a plastic toothbrush which the ADA recommends replacing them at about every 3-4 months.

The Swak toothbrush is based off the ancient techniques of miswak dental hygiene. The bristles are made from the plant salvadora persica also known as the "toothbrush tree." Rather than using toothpaste, the miswak head contains natural agents to clean teeth effectively.

The handle is reusable so once the bristle head wears out, the bristle head can be composted and a new one can be inserted.

The toothbrush and heads are packaged in cardboard. I look forward to giving this brush a full review.

Keep in mind, there are several companies out there who are making sustainable toothbrushes beyond the companies that I have listed. Just do some research and try to make the best decision. The goal is to eliminate toothbrush waste from landfills and support companies who will continually use their influence to do good. Choosing to buy a more sustainable toothbrush is such an easy zero waste swap and anyone can do it! So when your plastic toothbrush wears out, retire it to your cleaning supplies (they make GREAT cleaning brushes) or try recycling it and upgrade to something a little more Earth friendly.

Have you ditched your plastic toothbrushes?

For more easy swaps in the bathroom check out, "10 Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Grocery Haul and Menu - 03/19/17

So what am I making for the week? How did my zero waste grocery shopping go? This week was a pretty produce heavy week considering I need to stock up on baby food. The baby loves about everything I put into his mouth so I'm going to keep filling him up with mineral rich produce.

Aside from the dreaded, nearly unavoidable produce stickers and the twisty ties, this entire haul was basically trash free - when I account for recycling the tin and glass jar towards the bottom.

The meal plan for the week is...

  • Veggie Noodle Soup
  • Salads
  • Vegan Tacos
  • Kabobs with broccoli salad and mash
  • Vegan BLTs with egg plant bacon
  • and LOTS of baby food!

I shop with my cloth produce bags and larger reusable grocery bags only. I personally do not like shopping with glass jars - just not for me, especially with a baby. I get my produce naked and I plan my meals to be as plant based as possible. Easy peasy. What I can't get package free or if I'm just feeling lazy and don't want to soak beans, I buy them in a tin. I know not the best, but I can cheat now and then, right? I also opt for things in glass like salsa when I just don't have the time to make it from scratch - all organic of course. I only plan for dinners, snacks, breakfasts, and baby food as we usually always have leftovers that will become lunches.

And what did this cost me for a week's worth of groceries for a family of 3 - about $60.

And that's it for this week. Do you like seeing my grocery hauls? Would you like for me to keep posting them?

What are you having for dinner?

Friday, March 17, 2017

1st Update on My 2017 Goals

If you recall, I set some pretty exciting goals for Zero Waste Nerd at the beginning of the year and I promised to give you all an update here and there. Well, this is that update. First of all, life has been C-R-A-Z-Y! So many things have happened in the last few months so I'll give you the run down!

We ended February with 30 More Zero Waste tips! You all did such an amazing job following along. Some of those challenges were not so easy - I hope all of those tips provide you with a good guide to go back to as you progress at your own pace. What's even more exciting is Julianne Hough jumped on the 30 Days to Zero Waste Challenge!

Can I just say that it's so fantastic that Zero Waste has gotten this amount of recognition? 

On Facebook I've started utilizing engaging themes like:
  • #MotivationMonday - I'll post inspirational quotes, stories, etc.
  • #ZeroWasteTipTuesday - I'll talk about a tip to help you get closer to your zero waste goals
  • #ZeroWasteWinsday - An open platform for everyone to brag about their zero waste wins for the week. I'll even giving shout outs to followers who've made great strides.
  • #InspirationThursday - Shout outs to inspiring bloggers, YouTubers, stories, or any individuals who have a great zero waste mission and story to tell.
  • #ZeroWasteFoodFridays - I'll post recipes that can be made with minimal to no packaging, talk about food waste, and give you tips on how to make meals healthier and less wasteful.
  • #SimpleSwapSaturdays - I'll give you an easy swap idea to take one more disposable item out of your lives.
  • #GroceryHaulSundays - A time where we can all brag about our low to no waste grocery shopping - pictures HIGHLY encouraged. ;)
I'm still working on getting more posts done. Something else big has happened in my life that is taking over my personal time. I recently left my job as a Senior Software Developer to start a new job as IT Manager for a local corn mill. The job comes with a huge learning curve for me but I'm so excited to push myself and grow as an IT professional. It also helps that it is only a 5 minute drive or a 20 minute bike ride from my house. I'm SO looking forward to biking more this spring and summer!

The design refresh is coming along. I've decided to freshen up the logo as well. I feel like this is a new year so a new look is in order. 

and finally, I'm so excited to announce....

The Zero Waste Shop is Live!

You've probably seen the "Shop" button added to the navigation menu. It will take you to the online shop where I will stock everything that I mention through out my challenges and blog about reducing your waste. Dish brushes, produce bags, stainless steel straws and containers, I hope to provide you with a place to easily get sustainable items to help you on your waste reduction journeys. 

You probably remember me mentioning my partnership with Roundhouse Exchange in Kansas City. The owner has decided to pursue bigger environmental endeavors and passed the business on to me. I'm so excited....can you tell? I'm currently working on getting more inventory so check back often! 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mable Toothbrush Giveaway

I'm so excited to offer you the chance to win a beautiful Mable toothbrush! There are two chances to win! Either submit your entry below and/or visit my Instagram account for a second chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What to do With Plastic Once You've Started Zero Waste

I've seen the question of what to do with the plastic in your home once you've started the zero waste journey several times. There's this assumption that once you commit to going zero waste you must purge all plastic items from your house and immediately purchase the sustainable, non plastic-y counterparts. Well, I'm here to say that is NOT true.

So, what do you do with your plastic stash? Use it! In fact, use it until it wears out - as long as it does not compromise your health, of course. Wouldn't it be just as wasteful to throw out perfectly good items and purchase new things only because it was plastic? Aside from cooking in your plastic containers - please, stop doing that - use up and wear out those containers, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, razors, whatever. Once they are worn out, then replace them with the more eco-friendly options.

I, myself, still use several plastic items around my house - items that I have had for years.

 For instance...

  • I still use plastic containers to store pet supplies, toiletries, and organize nuts and bolts and more.
  • I still use a plastic hairbrush - I've lost a few teeth but that bad boy is still operable.
  • I still use a few freezer bags from before I went zero waste that I just wash out and resuse.
  • I still use a set of plastic measuring cups.  
  •  I still use a plastic mopping bucket.
  • I use reusable plastic plates, cups, and utensils for camping 

I could go on and on. My point is. We all have several plastic items in our households that are perfectly usable. Living "zero waste" doesn't mean throw-all-plastic-away immediately. It means making better, more sustainable choices going forward and utilizing what we already have. It's not about buying more - but buying less. Buying non plastic items once the plastic ones wear out will result in longer product lives and ensure that they can be sustainably recycled/composted once it's no longer usable. If you still feel that a few of your plastic items need to leave your life, then I highly suggest you donate it or recycle it if you can.

The great thing about using what we already have means that you don't have to invest in a small fortune of reusable products to start eliminating waste. Social media continually paints this picture that zero waste is something only rich people can achieve and I hope I have done my part to prove that false.

What plastic items are you still using?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

30 MORE Days to Zero Waste

Ok - so you've followed along with the 30 Days to Zero Waste, you gotten them all pretty well figured out, and are ready for more? Well, you're in luck because I have 30 more days worth of tips!

I know you are all just SO excited! Ha!

I hoping these tips are new and slightly more difficult. The idea of these next 30 was to "kick it up a notch!" There's always more we can do to lessen our impact and reduce our overall waste. Does it ever stop? Probably not but I know a lot of you love the challenge! Let's see how far you can go...

If you didn't get a chance to follow along on social media, that's fine! I'll be updating each one in a separate post soon. I will also be redoing this challenge every year on my Instagram and Facebook pages starting January 1.

Thanks so much for following along!