Although our family may view us as the recycling, bug saving, plastic police; we truthfully are very far from being where we want to be in the zero waste world. I come from a beautiful family of paper plate users. They only serve Amanda and I on “real plates”; but we love them anyways. As a part owner of a green goods store; I want to talk to you about the realities of where we are at, where we were; and where we want to be. This is why we talk so much about progress not perfection. It can be really hard to make changes sometimes; and we are the first to admit to that.
Our lives have come to a point where we tend to value convenience over many other things. As a new mom, I think I understand that concept more now than ever. Having a baby just doesn’t afford you the time that you had in the past. We don’t have time to make elaborate dinners anymore; never mind the time to even chop vegetables. We are doing our best to get back to our norm; but that certainly isn’t happening quickly.
Where we have slowly been excelling is our changes to make our home greener. I know that making these changes can seem overwhelming; but if you slowly make the changes, it doesn’t seem to bad.
Changes we have made:
Paper Towels-We got rid of paper towels, now we only use reusable paper towels or hand towels.
Toothpaste-we use toothpaste tabs and toothpaste that comes in small glass jar, and tooth powder. My favorite so far is the toothpaste tabs. The powder is convenient and lasts decently long; but I don’t love the flavor.
Toothbrush-We used to use a plastic toothbrush, but we now use a bamboo toothbrush.
Floss-Traditional floss comes encased in a plastic container or is usually attached to a plastic stick. We are now using vegan floss (since silk is not vegan) that comes in a small glass container. When it is empty, we can refill it with a new spool.
Deodorant-We have changed from using a natural deodorant like Toms to Apothecary (which comes in a compostable container). We have also used a version that comes in a small glass container. Anything that comes in a glass container is awesome because it can be cleaned out and used for almost anything else.
Diapers-cloth diapers and cloth wipes
Coffee-We buy coffee in bulk and use a glass French Press to avoid coffee filters and other plastic.
Bags-We use reusable bags when we go shopping, as well as produce bags. It is our rule that if we don’t bring our bags with us; we just don’t use any. It’s almost like a form of punishment when you have to carry a lot with out a bag; but very effective. The only other option I allow myself is to purchase a reusable bag; although we already feel like we have to many sometimes.
Straws-Although I do not use a straw regularly; there are certainly instances where I have needed one. Instead of the plastic straw, I carry a reusable silicone straw that comes in a small tin. It is dishwasher safe and easy to clean and carry around. I personally find this most useful for smoothies or when we are at the movies and I want a soda.
Shampoo and Conditioner- In the past, we were using good quality shampoos and conditioners; but they were always in plastic containers. We use a shampoo bar and a conditioner bar. I have used some in the past that did not work very well; but the ones that we have been using recently are working very well. The conditioner doesn’t lather as much as I would like, but it still makes my hair softer and gets some tangles out. We have realized that these products may not be as perfect just yet; but they still do a great job and do not contain plastic. *In the future our store will have a bulk section, which will include shampoo and conditioner. At that point we may use a mix of bar and liquid.
Cotton Swab-This may be my very favorite of our changes. Instead of using a cotton swab that is used and thrown away after each use; we now use The Last Swab. It is a reusable cotton swab made from silicone and it is easily cleaned under running water with a little bit of hand soap. I love this product because it still gives a satisfying feeling while cleaning your ears. The only downfall is that it does not dry your ears as well as a traditional cotton swab.
Hand soap-We used to use Meyers and Seventh Generation hand soaps (liquid form) but we are now using bars of hand soap. In our Air BnB condo, we currently use a mixture of liquid and hand soap. We refill our glass soap dispensers with Meyers refillable soap; however this is still waste as that package cannot be refilled. We are working on only sourcing that liquid soap through a bulk store; and then we will refill it through our store in the future.
Dish soap/sponge-In the past we used Meyers and Seventh Generation liquid dish soap as well. Now we use a block dish soap that we sell at our store. We usually cut it into halves or thirds and it lasts for a decent amount of time. With that, we use a bamboo dish brush and a bamboo scraper for food that is hard to get off.
Changes we are working on making now:
Compost-We finally just bought a compost bin; but we are now trying to figure out where the compost will go. We are working on getting a tumbler or something of that sort. We currently use one trash bag each week; and I would really like to get down to 1 trash bag per month or every few months. The majority of our trash at this point seems like food scraps. I want to work on using these scraps to make broths as well as composting the remainder.
Buying bulk for more things-We currently buy our coffee in bulk and reuse the same coffee bag as many times as possible. We want to start buying all of our grains, and nuts in bulk; as well as flour. We will purchase bags with the tare weight already on (we sell these and have some adorable ones I have had my eye on); or we will use some of the mason jars that we already have.
Please keep in mind that we have made these transitions slowly. This has helped us financially; and it allowed us to use the rest of whatever we had on hand so we were not wasting
PS** I took the pictures at our store. I’ve realized the only way I can get a post written is if Amanda has the baby; so I am currently writing this post on a camping chair at our store. If our house is any form of clean later; I will post a few pictures of how we have used these at our own home.
Is there anything else that we could be doing that you have changed in your house? We would love to hear your ideas. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any ideas/comments you may have.
All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.
A & M