In this video I share how I gradually transitioned into minimalism and zero waste. It didn’t happen overnight, but with careful consideration along the way. Check out some of the products and things that helped me reduce my waste.
Category Archives: Minimalism
What’s In My Bag: Minimal Waste Essentials
Take a peek into my bag as I get ready for a weekend trip to NYC. These are some tips to fit your favorite product into your carry-on or personal bag.
Products featured in the video:
1. ESPEROS BAGS backpack: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MAS91GY/ref=twister_B00XP064FW?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
2. Braggs Apple Cider vinegar
3. Steel tongue scraper: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LM43DWK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
4. Rosehip oil
5. Licorice root extract (oil)
6. Diva Cup (menstrual cup) or Lunette cup
7. Rose water
8. Nivea lotion
9. Altoid mints
What are your must-haves for a trip?
Talking Zero Waste with Fort Negrita
Meet Anamarie from the zero-waste blog, Fort Negrita. She is an Earth advocate with passion for zero-waste, traveling, self-reliance, and regenerative energy and waste. I had the chance to interview her about the realities of the zero waste lifestyle. Check out the interview to learn great tips for about living a more minimal lifestyle and creating less waste.
What does zero waste mean to you?
Zero waste is a silent protest and it’s a conscious decision to eliminate waste from your life. You’re voting for the kind of products you want to see on shelves. From the way that you purchase groceries to how you buy clothes, being a conscious consumer lets you put your money where your mouth is. Instead of supporting unsustainable companies you get to support the kind of businesses you’d like to see thrive.
How much power and influence do you think the consumer has?
The power of the consumer is huge. Every dollar spent is a vote. And the more aware customers are of how their money is being used by companies, the more empowered they are. Consumers are letting businesses know what they like and what they want.
Before you started zero waste, what was producing the most waste in your life?
Definitely food. We live in a to-go culture and that to-go lifestyle has a lot of packaging. So it’s very easy to create waste with food. Before I started zero waste, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I needed to go buy things like almond milk and I didn’t know how I was going to give up those things. Eventually, I swapped out all of them for zero waste options.
How do you handle grocery shopping if you’re trying to avoid food packaging waste?
I’ve swapped out food packaging for food that comes from the bulk section of stores. Not like Sam’s Club bulk, but bulk that involves a scooper and dried goods. I can get itemslike nuts, grains, rice, and granola in bulk. I go to the grocery with my own canvas bags and mason jars and take home all my dried goods inside of those. So I either buy in bulk or in the produce section.
What about when you go out to eat?
I tend to stick with dine-in restaurants, rather than to-go places. You have to find unique ways to get around making trash. I haven’t been able to get waiters to package up my food in my reusable food container because of food regulations, which I respect. So I order my food “for here” and when I want to take leftovers home I can package them up by myself in my own food container.
Since starting zero waste substitutes that you’ve made and things you’ve given up?
I gave up on toothpaste tubes and started making my own 4-ingredient toothpaste. It has baking soda, coconut oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil. And I now use a bamboo toothbrush. When I’m done with it, I can use the toothbrush handle as a marker in my garden or toss it into my compost.
I also switched to soap without packaging. I fill up my jars with castile soap and I use it for cleaning my dishes, the floor, and the bathroom.
I buy a big jug of distilled white vinegar and use it for cleaning. When I’m done, I recycle the jug.
I don’t use disposable cups anymore so if I want some coffee or chai tea, I just grab my mason jar or a reusable cup.
What was the biggest challenge for you in your transition to zero waste?
I have been zero waste for over a year so it doesn’t feel weird to me anymore. It was a habit that I had to create to replace old ones. One of the toughest habits to break was using paper towels. I was so used to going into public bathrooms and drying my hands on paper towels that when I started zero waste, I was still doing it. It took me a full month before I stopped pulling paper towels.
How much do you stay ahead of the game?
I always keep 3 things in my bag at all times— a reusable cup, a cloth napkin, and either a spoon, spork or a fork. Preparation is a big thing for me. There were those moments at the beginning where I was out somewhere and really wanted something to eat or drink but was unprepared. Now I can’t leave home without my stuff because if I’m out with it, I risk not being able to eat when I want to. I had to figure out my groove, where I could go and shop. I learned a few tricks. For example, if I wanted some Powerade, I could go to Circle K or 7Eleven and use their machines to refill my reusable cup. It all took some time, but now that I’m doing it every day, it doesn’t feel like work to me.
What kind of progress would you like see in regards to zero waste?
I’d like to see more businesses cater their structure to the zero waste lifestyle. A lot of times, it’s on the individual to do good but it really should be on businesses to create a culture around zero waste. Think about a coffee shop. If they decided to no longer carry paper cups and instead have ceramic cups or let people bring in their reusable cups, we’ll see the culture begin to change to one that is zero waste-friendly.
If people want to try out zero waste, where should they start?
They should start by watching the things they’re throwing away and being more thoughtful about their waste. Think about how your trash is going to be around in landfills for a thousands years even after you’re done with it.
It seems like minimalism and zero waste go hand-in-hand. Would you say going zero waste has made you more of a minimalist?
Definitely. You start thinking Do I need this or do I want this? Sometimes people just buy things because it creates a comfort for them, but it’s not really a need. When you’re zero waste, buying something you don’t need is really just wasteful. I started looking at everything I already owned and it started to bother me. I looked into my closet and thought why do I even have all this stuff? And thinking about getting rid of it, just frustrated me even more. With zero waste, you start wanting less and you replace that consumer “feel-good” you get from buying things. You end up finding happiness in other ways. Zero waste is like an awakening. It makes you a conscious consumer.
Anamarie was also featured on CNN. Click the picture to watch the video:
The Battle of the Bamboo Toothbrushes
In my minimal waste journey, I’ve been looking for areas where I could reduce my carbon footprint. One of the ways I found was switching over to a bamboo toothbrush instead of plastic. From the moment I saw a bamboo toothbrush, I was intrigued and wanted to give it a try. In this post, I will focus on the two brands that I tried:
1) Brush With Bamboo and 2) WooBamboo.
Those who know me know I am borderline obsessed with taking care of my teeth. I had changed up my toothbrushing routine to include the occasional (diluted) hydrogen peroxide rinse and activated charcoal powder for whitening. I wanted to see if these bamboo toothbrushes could keep up with my
#1. BRUSH WITH BAMBOO (BWB)
I tried this brand first and I really enjoyed using it. It felt sturdy in my grip as I brushed my teeth and I could angle it to get to hard to reach areas of my mouth. I had been worried that the bamboo would be too hard and potentially knock out a tooth with my rigorous brushing., Thankfully, the wood was lightweight and doesn’t clank around on your teeth. I have a bad habit of biting down on the bristles when I’m distracted with tasks like putting on mascara or something else, so the bristles quickly got bent out of shape. However, they didn’t shed from the toothbrush. The bristles did a good job of leaving my teeth clean without irritating my gums. One of the downsides was that the toothbrush was a bit porous so if you left it in a wet cup, it had a weird moist texture when you picked it up. After making the mistake once, I made sure to keep my tooth brush in a dry place. When I was done with the BWB toothbrush (after about 3 months of use), I snapped off the head of toothbrush and threw the head of it away. I saved the handle of the toothbrush for composting later.
Overall, I really liked this toothbrush…so much so that I’ve gifted it to a few people.
#2. WOO BAMBOO
If we were voting by design alone, Woo Bamboo toothbrushes are definitely killing the toothbrush game! They have different bristle types (super soft, soft, and medium), different handles (for kids, for adults, regular, and slim). I loved that I had those options. I went with the soft, slim handle combination. The slim handle was a cool design, but using it was an interesting experience. I’m not sure how to explain it but you have to hold it differently and getting used to that takes a little time. This handle was more compact than the BWB, so it didn’t have the same porous issue that the other toothbrush had. The bristles on the Woo Bamboo toothbrush were the detail breaker for me. On several occasions, the bristles came out while I was brushing. Once I almost gagged on a bristle that went astray. It was like that feeling you get when you almost swallow a piece of hair. I’ve been using the toothbrush for a little over two months but because of those flyaway bristles, I’m going to have to give up on this otherwise perfect toothbrush.
Overall, I love that both toothbrushes are biodegradable. The Brush With Bamboo toothbrush is the winner in my book because it does it’s job without trying to do too much. Anyone transitioning from a plastic toothbrush to bamboo will find this to be a good transitioning toothbrush. Also Brush With Bamboo’s packaging is mostly cardboard, with the toothbrush wrapped in a compostable wrapper. Woo Bamboo’s has a plastic cover with a paper backing. I’ve found my go-to bamboo toothbrush and I can’t wait to get my next one!
You can buy Brush With Bamboo toothbrushes online on Amazon.com or on their website.
If you’d like to see more great reviews about Bamboo toothbrushes, check out these great blog posts:
1. Trash is for Tossers: I Brush With Bamboo, Do You?
2. The Plant Strong Vegan- Brush With Bamboo Review
Recycling Your Empties
When I made the decision to transition to a minimal waste lifestyle, I chose to simplify my daily regimens so I could invest in a few products that could be used for multiple purposes. Before moving forward in my new lifestyle, I wanted to finish up the products that I have been using recently. When they are empty I will decide whether or not to keep them in my regimen.
#1: Heritage Store Rosewater
This bottle has lasted me for several months. I found rosewater to be a very versatile ingredient to have around. I’ve used it as a gentle astringent, mist to moisturize my face and locs, and it also makes a great ingredient for natural facial masks. Because of the multiple uses I get out it, I will continue purchasing rosewater. I will probably opt for a glass bottle next time, for a more reusable option. I can reuse this bottle for DIY cleaning solutions.
#2. Hydrogen Peroxide
This ugly brown bottle is slowing erasing white strips from my life. I posted a video of my literally squeaky clean teeth on Instagram a while back and people wanted to know who I got my teeth so clean. I started using diluted hydrogen peroxide as my mouthwash occasionally. Now that I’ve added activated charcoal and oil pulling to my regimen, my teeth obsession is on another level. I’d advise everyone to do their proper research on the risks and benefits before integrating it in their routines. But the benefits have been worth it for me. I’ve also started using hydrogen peroxide as a bleach alternative. I’m not sold on the results yet, but I’ll take more time to look up more recipes. Again, for it’s multipurpose uses, I will keep this product in my toolkit.
#3. Yes to Blueberries Facial Wipes
I honestly bought these wipes on a whim. These little guys work very well at taking off makeup at the end of the day. The downside of these was that I can only throw them away and there’s no recycling option (that I can think of). Instead of repurchasing these, I will opt for reusable cotton rounds instead.
I can wash them and reuse them over and over again. I found a great Etsy seller who has an assortment of them at low prices. I think this is a good compromise for me. I have enough of them for a week so I toss them in a pile as they get dirty. As the end of the week, I hand wash them and let them air dry. They get a little curled up, but they still get the job done.
#4. Shea Moisture Bath Massage Oil
Thankfully, I’ve never really been much of a product junky. I’ve always appreciated simplicity and versatility so this transition to minimal waste has been more fun than I expected. I’ve been able to look at how I consume and upgrade the parts that are unsustainable.
MORE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY
Check out my most recent Youtube video to see how companies like TerraCycle are helping us recycle smarter.
Orange Harp: Finding Conscious Brands Just Got Easier
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately discovering the heart behind brands. I find myself going to the “about me” sections of their websites, looking for the heart, soul, and conscience behind the brand. More and more, I’m pleasantly surprised to find a mission to help others behind many emerging brands.
An app called Orange Harp is making it easier to find these brands under one roof. I’ll be honest and say that before finding these brands, my method of discovering was stalking hashtags like #ecofashion, #fashionphilanthropy, #sustainablefashion, and #ethicalfashion on Twitter and Instagram.
I stumbled upon the Orange Harp app and saw that their mission is to “connect people with makers that respect the planet and its people.” The team describes the app as “a curated marketplace for socially conscious products you would want to pass on to your future generations.” When you see the app, you’d think Instagram and Etsy got together and had a baby. All the products are aesthetically pleasing and you can discover new brands from skincare and jewelry to lingerie and shirts. The Orange Harp app does a great job of curating great brands and products for you. Instead of going and searching through hundreds of Instagram profiles and websites, I can scroll through all of them at once through the app. In one click, I can see the products from each brand and see a quick summary of their mission or unique selling point.
For example, here are a few of the brands you can find on Orange Harp:
I have a great time discovering some new brands. Here are my top 3 favorite brand discoveries from Orange Harp:
Tomboys, eat your heart out! This brand specializes in button-down shirts for women. I love a good Oxford shirt so looking through their lookbook was entirely too much fun for me.
I loved this statement from their website:
“At Tradlands, our intention is to make the best clothing for our customer, the woman who drifts towards the men’s section and thinks, “I wish they made this for me.” We create menswear inspired staples for women with a relentless emphasis on fit, details, and quality…For the world traveler or the green thumb or girl-about-town, we empower our customers with products that are both classic and comfortable. We are committed to designing and constructing items you love today and value for years to come.”
#2. Be Good
The sock enthusiast in me was so excited to see these cute socks on Orange Harp’s Instagram page. The brand’s fashion sense is what they call ‘The French Closet,’ the Gallic preference for selecting seasonal basics- timeless designs that never go out of style. I’m loving the drive to good basics that stand the test of time. From comfy-looking shirts to socks wrapped in recycled paper, Be Good makes being good through fashion look easy.
Check out Be Good’s stance:
“Our ambitious mission is to be the first closed-loop retailer. It has gone mostly overlooked that big retail is the second most pollutive industry on earth. Today, we produce about 10% of the chemical and water waste of a conventional manufacturer. By examining our supply chain from seed to stitch, we believe we can expose holes in the industry and work to fix them. Like you, we’re passionately curious.”
I first saw the bamboo Bogobrush a year ago and thought it was the sexiest thing ever made for your teeth. The toothbrush was so popular that they ran out of their pilot design! I was so excited to see them as one of Orange Harps’s brands.
When I couldn’t get my hands on a Bogobrush I wait…and waited. While I waited I discovered other great bamboo toothbrushes (Option 1, 2). Now the wait is over and I can check out the new Bogobrush design. Unfortunately, the brand switched from bamboo to an eco-plastic for their toothbrushes but their buy-one-give-one model is still the same. I’ll be watching for the release of the new toothbrushes to see if they stand the test.
The Orange Harp team certainly knows how to pick ’em! I’m always interested in the story behind brands and Orange Harp tells them very well. As an entrepreneur myself, I appreciate the platform Orange Harp is giving these small businesses. This app gives them an opportunity to showcase their products to their unique markets. Like the app, the brands attract people who buy from the heart. Their customers attach an added value to the fact that their purchases either contribute to sustainability or give back to the world somehow. I’m excited to see what other brands are going to pop up in Orange Harp’s app. This app does a great job of sniffing out socially conscious brands. For consumers like me looking to give back with our spending, e-shopping with Orange Harp might just be a match made in eco-Heaven. In addition to bring great brands under one app, Orange Harp also donates 1% from all sales to Not For Sale, a organization ending human trafficking.
You can check out the $free Orange Harp iPhone/iPad app and follow them on social media (facebook, pinterest, twitter and instagram) to see some product features and get sustainable fashion news.
Living Tiny for a Week
I was house-sitting for my friend in a tiny house this week. It was nice having a cozy little space to myself where I was undistracted by clutter and excess. Everything in the house had a function and it had exactly what you needed (nothing more, nothing less). I was taken back at how simple the tiny place was and how content I was with that.
To make matters more interesting, I had chosen to bring only a small duffle bags of clothes with me for the week. Although my clothing choices were restricted, I started to see my style staples make themselves known. As much as I like to think my style is nuanced and intricate, I am really just a girl who enjoys high-waisted pants and collared shirts. When I get the rest of my luggage back, I’m going to re-evaluate what I bring with me on my move to DC.
The house was stocked with dishes and a full kitchen, but I went grocery shopping for the week. Ever since I started living on my own, I have had trouble shopping for one person. (For some reason, my mind thinks I’m shopping for a family of 5 and I keep reaching for gallon-sized milk.) I limited myself to pre-made Trader Joe meals and oatmeal. Not my best, but at least I’m getting the hang of single-person shopping.
This house-sitting adventure has been great. It has challenged me to reconsider looking at “less” as lack. In the case of this tiny living adventure, less is definitely more. This year will be a time for me to explore minimal living. I want to be conscious and present in the lives of the people I love. I want to have more adventures and less possessions. This was my first test and I think I’m up for the challenge.