Tag Archives: sustainability

Less waste hair

Ignore cat sniffing my shoes

Ignore cat sniffing my shoes

This post is partly to commemorate my soon to be cut long hair, and also to show that having healthy hair doesn’t have to mean a large box of hair products. I lived with two female roommates a long time ago and we had a small coffin like shower. The floor of which was almost half filled with shampoos and conditioners. We had male friends marvel at the amount of our products, and lack of standing room. Our bathroom was small so we kept the rest of our hair products in our bedrooms, and that took up a whole other chunk of space.

I’ve always been a bit of a hippie regarding my hair and hairstyles. I’m lazy and hate hairstyles that consist of blow drying, straightening, or curling my hair. That includes the endless sticky hair products that go along with those methods. This hatred could have something to do with my mother’s obsession with doing my hair every morning before school. My hair was curled and hair sprayed to the hilt, I often remember choking in the haze of hairspray and heat. She even curled my hair with an undiagnosed collapsed lung one time. My mother points out that I’m lucky to have had a mother who cared about my hair and I’ll go ahead and agree with her. Although I will maintain that she was still a bit too fanatical.

I’ve been bouncing between using shampoo bars and commercial shampoos for many years now. I also have about 5 or 6 applications of henna on my hair. After my dad died of cancer in July of last year, piles of my hair fell out like dried pine needles. I decided to switch back to shampoo bars as I could at least pronounce what was in those, and I needed my hair to quit shedding! Due to my bad experiences with hair products like hairspray and such I’ve had no trouble giving my one bottle of hairspray up. I have been somewhat into shampoos and conditioners most of my life. I still have a bunch in my shower that I haven’t quite figured out what to do with yet. I’ve been re-purposing some of the shampoo into hand soap haha. Have no clue about what to do with the conditioner yet.

My new less waste and natural hair regimen consists of: Shampoo bars, apple cider vinegar, and coconut or jojoba oil for frizz. I’ve been too worried about the dryness I’ve heard about to try baking soda alone for shampoo. I’ve used it to clarify my hair on an occasion but that’s it.

I get my shampoo bars from Chagrin Valley Soap. They come plastic free and in little paper bags. My favorite is the nettle, and herb garden. I only lather my roots up once and give my ends a swipe or two while soaping up with the bars. I get too much buildup with soaping the ends so I just let the lather clean the ends most times. I use about two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted with water in an old 32oz yogurt container. Pour over hair, and gently separate hair while doing this to get to hair underneath. I let mine sit on my hair for a few minutes, then rinse well. I sometimes use a bit of oil to cut down any frizzies. Be very cautious when using oils as you could end up having to wash your hair again if you go heavy. I put a tiny amount on my palm and rub together and get in between your fingers. Then run your fingers and palm very lightly through the ends of your hair. As the oil gets absorbed you can head up to your roots if you need to smooth those.

So that’s about it. No more endless bottles of shampoo and 100 different conditioners. I’m going to try making my own vinegar soon, so that should eliminate a bottle from the apple cider vinegar. It will be weird to see my shower so bare!

Please share any of your natural hair care recipes or tips with me. I’m also in the market for a good natural brush soon so I need advice on those as well.


Tips on eating out with less waste

I’ve encountered some perils and failures eating out since my lifestyle change.  While my boyfriend has (mostly) quietly accepted most of my madness, I think he would draw the line if I said no to eating out. I like eating out too, so I’m not partial to giving up on our restaurant date nights.

I never thought there would be a learning curve to eating out, but living less waste takes a bit of work. Here are my tips to help you avoid the challenges and failures I’ve encountered so far.

1.) Carry your own napkin if you’re opposed to paper waste.  Some restaurants have cloth napkins, others not. I found a set of 4 napkins for $1 at a thrift store.

2.) Get some cutlery, and chopsticks.  I went out for sushi with my sister and before I knew it, I had cracked open a pair of the single use chopsticks out of habit. At least they aren’t plastic and now I have a pair in my purse! If you’re broke you can almost always find silverware at a thrift store.  They’re also often sold at discount stores in singles. If you have some extra cash you can find portable sets on Amazon.

 3.) Ask for the dressing either on your salad when served, or specifically state you’d like the dressing in a small dish. Or this will happen to you

Hello Dixie! Plastic cup that is.

Hello Dixie! Plastic cup that is.

This particular restaurant and the one across the street side swiped me with these stupid single use cups. I don’t know if the owner’s talked together and decided these cups would be a great idea and save on dishes or what. By the end of this meal our cup tally due to my boyfriends extra sides of butter and such was four non recyclable single use Dixie cups.

4.) Skip the sandwich toothpicks. Even if your sandwich can’t hold itself together you’ll probably still manage to eat it. This picture is from the same restaurant with the Dixie cups. I thought I was clever and had diverted disaster by making sure the blue cheese for my sweet potato fries came in a bowl.

Floofy plastic tipped toothpicks are your enemy

Floofy plastic tipped toothpicks are your enemy

5.) Load up your leftovers fast! Bring your own container for any leftovers.  But more importantly get them off your plate before an especially attentive waitperson can set the customary Styrofoam container with accompanying plastic bag down. I’m not positive but I think once the container touches the table even if unused they have to throw it away. Or it gets left and the bus person dumps it.

6.) Request no straw. I’ve done this and have still ended up with a wrapped straw on my table. If you get one hand it back as I suspect if left on the table it gets thrown away when the bus person cleans up.

Please clue me in if you have any other tips I’m forgetting or haven’t encountered yet. I hate being surprised!

The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat

When I was roaming the internet for documentaries and movies about the garbage patch I ran across Boyan Slat and his ocean clean up project. I love seeing someone passionately tackling such a gigantic problem without seeming daunted by naysayers. Here’s a short video on his work. I was amazed at how he’s taken such a huge task at hand and came up with a simple idea. Why waste time trying to trawl the ocean with nets when you can let the ocean do what it already does, move. He states there’s still a ton of work to do on the project of course. And they actually have the full report of the proposal available for download. You can follow the project at The Ocean Cleanup
Here’s the original Ted talk:   
  More recent talk:   How We Showed the Oceans Could Clean Themselves

Plastic free nail polish?

So I was lounging around the other night and could feel spring in the air. I started thinking about things that come with the weather change; sundresses, shorts, cute tank tops, sandals….Sandals, ohhhhh time to paint my toenails! Wait…..there’s a plastic cap on nail polish……And I think there’s even plastic in some types of nail polish, and in the glitter versions. I tried reading this article to get a picture of what exactly is in some polishes but find myself a bit overwhelmed by all the chemical names. I’m not a huge nail polish fan like I used to be, but I’ve always been pretty devout about having my toenails painted. I do my own (I’m weird about my feet being touched) and my pedicures last me about 2-3 weeks with a pinch of in between maintenance.

I have used henna on my toenails before. Not for any cause, but just because I’m a henna head, I was bored and had henna left over. I slapped it on my toes numerous times, one time I even slept with henna applied to toenails, covered with cotton balls and taped to each individual toe (did I mention I was bored?). The color came out underwhelmingly bad no matter what I seemed to do. My mother and boyfriend kept casting my toenails the equivalent of the evil eye. I didn’t keep them up however, some henna heads freshen their hennaed nails often with new henna saying it keeps the stain going. Seems most people end up with a brownish hue at the darkest, orangey or nicotine yellow at the lightest.

But anyways, yeah, nail polish. I have quite a bit left. I don’t know if I’m going to get rid of what I have or not. I do have a few reds that could float me thru for awhile. I decided to scour the Google planet and see what I could find in the way of plastic free nail polish. I didn’t find plastic free (sorry if you got excited), but I found two companies that use a wooden lid, both still have the inner plastic wand and bristles however.

I’m excited about a new business I found on Etsy. L’Essentiel nail polish, shop name OfficialEssentiel on Etsy. Here’s one of their pretty polishes.


I contacted the seller to ask specifically about the cap and the owner responded quickly with: “Thanks for reaching out to us. Our caps do not contain any plastic besides the little wand portion and bristles. The actual cap is made out of 100 percent bamboo and yes, we ship in 100 percent recycled cardboard boxes!” I also asked if they could use a plastic free way to seal the package and owner was more than willing to find a plastic free solution as long as it worked with the post office’s shipping method and requirements. I like the bamboo cap, the customer service, and I like to see a new business with great earth ethics and aspirations.

I also found Sheswai Lacquer.


Their cap is wood as well; I assume the wand and bristles are plastic though. They also wanted to reduce the use of plastic in their packaging in the interest of sustainability. They state that they donate a portion of their profits to different organizations like the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Foundation. I contacted them rather late today to inquire about their packaging for shipping and other product details and didn’t hear anything back yet. I’ll edit the post when they get back to me.

So there you go, some less plastic nail polish options. Alas not plastic free though. But seeing companies that are trying to minimize their use of plastic in their product containers is definitely a good thing. Now if only other companies would catch on and follow suit.

Please comment if you know of any other less waste companies or alternative ways to color your nails! Found this in Wikipedia about the history of nail polish “During the Ming dynasty, nail polish was often made from a mixture that included beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum Arabic.[1][2]” Where are the people from the Ming Dynasty when you need them?

I miss shopping

Sure I’ve had some online shopping moments but those were purchases that I considered necessities.  Like my new reusable produce bags and such. I also bought a new pair of jeans.  I figured those a necessary purchase as the one pair that I own had holes in the upper thighs (I bring new meaning to the saying Thunder Thighs lol). I tried to patch them but even my patches fled from my thighs and started curling off. After my new jeans purchase I ended up sewing the patches in place but I’m glad to have two pairs now.  When I went and bought the deodorant from Lush I walked through the mall and ohhh my what a place!  Filled with tons of brand new sparkly stuff that mostly no one really needs. But so sparkly, so new! Argghhh I miss it. And the days of wandering into a Target and randomly buying things. I was never a huge shopper but I did my fair share of buying things I really didn’t need. I had an addiction to lotions, and face creams mostly. Those days are gone for sure. I did do some thrift shopping today though. Bought a gorgeous hippy-ish skirt that I really need to lose 5 lbs to truly wear shame free, a cute button up blouse, and a casual knit work shirt. Wait, I did buy two vials of scented oils from the Renaissance Faire I went to over the weekend. I also came home with a bottle that my sarsaparilla came in. Even though I didn’t buy the root beer I still came home with it so I guess I should claim it. Oh yeah, then there’s the two used books I bought on jarring as I plan on learning as soon as we get some spring crops at the Farmers Market.  Hmmmmmmm something sounds funny. Sounds like I’ve actually done quite a bit of shopping actually.  But because my shopping is of this variety:


But not of this type


I’m somehow left feeling unfulfilled. I find myself a bit alarmed by my thoughts of feeling like I need to buy goods that are fancied up in a certain way to feel a sense of satisfaction. I didn’t think I was one fall into the endless consumer quest of new shiny things. Wrong!

The supplies are in

I ordered some things awhile ago to get this plastic-less party on the road.  I decided to get some reusable produce bags to use for the bulk bins as bringing in outside containers isn’t allowed, I’ve just been flying under the radar. I worry that having so many jars will call that much more attention to me, so I’m going to be using these. They did come in plastic sleeves though. But it’s using plastic to cut plastic.  I also got my new safety razor. Pretty good I must say. I was worried while shaving my legs but no, it actually works great.

I’ve been using my deodorant concoction of coconut oil, neem powder, and baking soda and it’s going well.  It’s still strange feeling moisture under my arms though.

This is month two of dealing with the menstrual cup and yeah wow I kinda wish I could light it on fire and perform a jubilant dance in honor of its passing. I’ll keep at it though as there isn’t a suitable alternative really.

Unfortunately I had to order jeans online. I have one pair of jeans and I have a hole on the inner thigh, I have fat thighs ok! I tried patching it and it wouldn’t stay. I didn’t find anything at our thrift store, so caved and ordered them. The first pair has already arrived and was wrapped in a plastic bag and in another bag arrrghhh. At least I keep most of my jeans until they die so I’m trying not to feel to guilty about the purchase.


I haven’t been doing so well on reducing the plastic this last week. Yesterday it was Chinese food in Styrofoam, I did manage to refuse all the soy  sauce packets, fork, and napkin.  The cashier lady did sneak a fortune cookie past me though.  Today it was makeup products. My foundation had run dry, and my eyeliner. And I bought the remaining two Bonne Bell Lip Smackers Dr.Pepper chapstick the store had left in stock (they’re discontinued). No bag though, yay! My boyfriend left some plastic wrapped snacks here that I ended up eating, even though I didn’t buy them I feel responsible for them as I snarfed them down.

Does anyone know of any affordable environmentally friendly makeup options? The foundation would have to be under $15. I have rosacea and am older so I don’t feel it’s something I want to do without. I’ve heard of letting a candle burn under a spoon, scraping that off and mixing with a little coconut oil for eyeliner, so I’ll begin experimenting with that. I’ve been experimenting with the homemade deodorant again. I was just using coconut oil with a bit of baking soda dashed over it, but developed irritation. I found some neem powder that I’m going to mix into my next experiment with making deodorant. It is green powder so I’m a bit concerned haha.

Onto my achievement now! After shopping around and reading reviews I decided on this bamboo toothbrush.


So far so good, works great! I really hope that plastic-free items become more affordable in the future. I think it would be a large challenge to convince the average plastic consuming consumer to pay $10 for 2 toothbrushes when you can get a 6 pack of plastic Colgate toothbrushes for $6.  If anyone has any budget friendly alternatives for plastic-free commonly used items, please post!

Shopping around

Had a fairly good, less-plastic shopping trip. I committed some plastic sins though.

1). Underarm deodorant.  Ok, I tried baking soda on its own,  it went great for about 3 days. Then things got stinky. I have to travel to (downstairs and upstairs also) the laundromat so needless to say I was concerned about making multiple trips in a week. I will work further on this however. I was hoping that my underarm deodorant would last me long enough until I performed more experiments. But I’ll start working on it. Especially before summer hits as it gets up to 100 plus degrees where I live.

2). Cheese. I love cheese! We all know the trials for finding plastic-less cheese. I got the biggest chunk I could get though.

3). Wrapped chicken breasts. I rarely eat meat so this will be my only meat purchased for the month. I can make myself feel better knowing this. Lol.

4.) The packaging for my cat’s litter (I don’t think it’s recyclable). I use Fresh Results corn cob litter. I love it as I’m able to flush it and that eliminates my plastic bag dilemma for disposal. I live upstairs so its not a quick hop to the trash bin.

My trip went really well though and I was able to use my glass jars for the bulk bins. I was able to use them the time before but it turned into a huge ordeal as the cashier was actually a floor person and was really thrown by the whole process. There was a long line behind me filled with angry people glaring at me and my jars with hatred. I bought some reusable bags so I’m thinking that will make my trips much more pleasant.

Spotted some awful plastic excess examples while out. 20150218_175031

Ok I used these, I confess! I used them because truthfully I was too lazy to pick off one strand of dental floss. Uggghh. Imagine how many of these are stacking up! And there’s these guys too.


The refill pack doesn’t even have 30 in it, but 28. I wonder how often most people discard the wands and buy a new fresh one? Now it’s not just toothbrushes being tossed.

I was happy to find a solution to the plastic wrapped toilet paper though, and it’s inexpensive.  There’s no way I have the money for Seventh Generation or any other stuff that’s $17. So here it is, a single roll for $1. 20150218_175258

This wouldn’t be known for being the uhhhhhh… comfiest toilet paper as I’m pretty sure it’s along the lines of public restroom toilet paper.  But hey, it not wrapped in plastic.

Alright I’m wrapping up for the night. I’ll get some pictures of my workplace posted soon. The sheer amount of junk will astound you!