November 12, 2015

DIY: Zero Waste Deodorant

This post has been a very long time coming. 

Why? Because of all of the questions I have been asked “how do I make my own deodorant” is by far the most prevalent. 

The reason that I waited so long to post this recipe is because we are all different. 

If you go into any pharmacy, there are dozens of different types of deodorants. Ones that smell like ocean breeze, or vanilla bean, or man. Ones that make you smell less bad, ones that reduce sweating, ones that eliminate sweating, ones that make your armpits lighter, or softer… the list goes on and on. The point is that there are so many choices because everyone’s body is different which means that different types of deodorant work better or worse for different people. 

When I was using conventional (aka store bought chemically deodorant) I was always switching brands. It seemed like after a while one would just stop working, like my body changed, and I had to find something new. I would try brands that worked well for my friends, but they didn’t work for me, and vice-versa. 

When I transitioned to a plastic free and zero waste lifestyle I stopped using store bought deodorant. This was for many reasons but the main reasons were the packing, the ingredients, and the fact that the natural version was less expensive and worked really well. 

The Packaging: 
Conventional deodorant comes packaged in a plastic container with a plastic or foil (probably lined with plastic) protective thingie, and a plastic lid. Making your own deodorant you can prevent all of that waste from being created because you can buy your ingredients package free and keep reusing the same container over and over. I love to put my deodorant in a small mason jar. I also make a pocket sized version by re-using a glass ounce sized makeup container. It is perfect for when I’m on the go. 

The Ingredients: 
The deodorant I make is different from conventional/store bought deodorant because it is free of chemical elements like aluminum which have been linked to cancer and Alzheimer's, propylene glycol which can damage the central nervous system, and parabens which are carcinogenic and environmentally disruptive. All in all, no fun.

I have played with sooooo many recipes. Ones that were runny, ones that were firm, ones that smelled like lavender… I realized that the best way to make the perfect deodorant was to listen to my body. That means making adjustments here and there, but overall the recipe in this video is the one that has kept my armpits happy over the past few years. 


I can not emphasize this enough. There are so many toxins in conventional deodorant and, again, everyone’s body is different. So if this recipe does not work for you, try another recipe. Play with the amount of each ingredient, leave ingredients out, change the essential oil, and most importantly, give your body time to adjust. 

I recommend testing each ingredient on your wrist to ensure there are no allergic reactions (for instance, some people do not react well to baking soda). If that is the case, leave it out. Also, if you shave your underarms, like with any deodorant, I’d wait a few minutes before applying. 

Switching to natural deodorant has been amazing for so many reasons: I save money, I do not use any single use packaging, I can adjust the scent and ingredients to make it perfect for my body, and I am not exposing myself to any toxic chemicals. Try it out, share your experiences, and post any recipes in the comment section that work well for you. We can all learn from each other! 

November 3, 2015

You Can Reduce Paper Cup Usage In Your Neighborhood!

Soooo guess what... there are over 58 billion paper cups thrown away, not recycled, every year.

Where does that paper come from? Trees. About 20 million of them that are cut down in the cup making process.

But we are not doomed. There is a really simple solution to the paper cup problem: say NO to disposable cups and carry your own reusable cup around. This will not just decrease your environmental impact, but it can also get you discounts on your drink, or even a free coffee thanks to my friend Joshua Resnikoff.
I met Josh, Founder of Cuppow, on a research trip that I went on for 5-Gyres to look at the impact of plastic on our oceans. I remember the first thing I said to him, my own mason jar in hand filled with a cold beer, was "nice mason jar", pointing to his that had a Cuppow lid on top. Being about eighteen feet tall and covered in tattoos you'd expect him to be a bouncer at a club, not founder of a badass company aiming to eliminate the need for single use disposable cups and help people live a low-impact life. ((don't judge books by their covers people!)) In short, no pun intended, he's pretty awesome.

Josh and I started talking on the boat and he told me about his company Cuppow and what he had been up to, but one campaign he was working on really stuck out to me. It is called Cup Club and started at donut shop in Massachusetts owned by one of Josh's friends. They have since expanded to Austin's first Paleo cafe and Boston's first juice shop.  
Cup Club is a program for any coffee, tea, or juice shop that aims to improve their commitment to sustainability. It is a customer loyalty program where every 10th drink that goes into a reusable cup is free. When someone goes into a coffee shop with their own jar, a mark is made on a board at the shop. The 10th customer that has a reusable cup is the one that gets the freebie. So the more people that participate by bringing their own cups, the more free drank there is! 
Put your reading glasses on because I pulled some data from the 2000 Starbucks Environmental Report on cups, (PS I do not promote Starbucks, I always suggest going to your local coffee shop), which gives insight into the environmental benefits of using a reusable cup multiple times over a paper cup. I have a few mason jars that I have used thousands of times now, the benefits of doing so have created a net positive environmental impact.

"Numerous studies indicate that reusable cups such as ceramic mugs and glasses offer important environmental advantages over disposable cups and that those advantages multiply with each use...

...The Alliance conducted an environmental analysis of the full life cycle of ceramic, paper, glass, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic cups, from the extraction of raw materials to their manufacture, use, and disposal. The Alliance found that the breakeven point beyond which environmental benefits began to accrue was approximately 70 uses for ceramics and 36 uses for glass. Given that a reusable cup may be used, on average, 1,000 times or more (and is generally designed for 3,000 uses), the environmental benefits of using reusable cups in terms of reduced energy use, air and water pollution, and solid waste can be tremendous.

The Alliance research revealed that reusable cups and glasses can provide the following environmental benefits over disposable serveware during their anticipated lifetime:
  • Energy Use: Using glasses in place of disposable PET plastic cups reduced energy use by 98 percent based on 1 million beverages served in glasses, including environmental impacts of manufacturing, using and washing glasses.
  • Water Pollution and Usage: Both ceramic and glass reduced water pollution by 99 percent. Ceramic reusables reduced water usage by 64 percent.
  • Air Pollution: Ceramic reusables reduced the amount of air particulates by 86 percent and of greenhouse gases by 29 percent. The use of glass cut the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 99.7 percent and of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by 99 percent.
  • Solid Waste: Ceramic reusables reduced solid waste by 86 percent, and glass reusables cut solid waste by 88 percent, by weight."

Awesome!!! You're the best and I love you! 

Here's how you do it.

Cuppow is in search of stores and shops that want to help to divert as much waste from landfills as possible. Again, it is for any coffee shop, tea shop, or juice bar that wants to improve their commitment to sustainability. All you have to do is email Cuppow ( or say hi to them on Twitter and let them know the name of the store that would be a great fit for Cup Club. 
As for me, I always have my reusable cup with me. In fact, just last week I made a new friend because it sparked conversation, so you never know what will happen! 

October 27, 2015

My 4-Item Beauty Routine

Since adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle three years ago, I have transitioned away from all store bought products, minimized my beauty routine, and simplified my life. 

How have I done this? By making all of my own products.
I used to have dozens of beauty products. Multiple lotions, creams, deodorant, toothpaste... all of these things that society seemed to be telling me that I needed. Truthfully, I bought into it, I really thought I needed them. But when I transitioned to a Zero Waste lifestyle, it turned out that I didn’t need most of the products that I was certain that I did, in fact, I only needed four.
My Zero waste beauty routine is now clean and simple: I wake up in the morning and brush my teeth with toothpaste that I make myself, moisturize with my own face oil blend and body lotion, and keep all stinkiness away using my homemade deodorant. I repeat this routine at night. That’s it. Four items and zero waste.
You might be thinking... “​That must be SO time consuming, making all of her own products!”, ​“​I can’t do that”, ​or “​I can’t afford it”​. But the truth is, it is neither time consuming nor inaccessible. In fact, making my own products has saved me a lot of time. In addition to that, it has saved me money, kept toxic chemicals out of my body, and resulted in less trash entering landfill.

I save time.

One of the biggest responses I get when I tell people that I make my own products is, “​ but doesn't that take so much time!?”​ Nope, it really doesn’t Most of these products don’t take more than a few minutes to make, which is exponentially less time than I would spend walking to the store and back to buy an item. Making my own beauty products is much faster than buying them! For example, for me to go and buy toothpaste at the store would take me about 20 minutes. Making it at home takes about 30 seconds. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of me making it.
I save money.
Going to the store and buying beauty products was not at all cost effective. I’d be lucky if I escaped a pharmacy without spending upwards of $40.00 on a couple of things. Now, instead of paying $6.00 for a natural toothpaste, I pay about $.40 for the same amount. Instead of paying $14 + dollars for lotion, I spend about $1 - $2 to make mine. Besides being drastically less expensive, they are also better for the environment.
I keep toxins out of my body.
This is the primary reason that I started making my own cleaning products. I began learning about some of the ingredients that were lurking in both conventional and more sustainable products: triclosan, ​potentially carcinogenic and disruptive of the endocrine system, a​ nd sodium lauryl sulfate (​SLS), possibly contaminated with 1-4 dioxane, a carcinogen, a​ mongst a long list of others​.​ Realizing that product manufacturers had the ability to put toxic chemicals in the products I was buying, and that by buying them, I was putting myself at risk, I decided to begin making my own products to have complete control over what I put in and on my body. Instead of chemicals, I make all of my products using organic, vegan, and fair-trade ingredients, all of which I would be A-OK if ingested.
I keep trash out of landfills.

Besides saving you time, being less expensive, and healthier, making my own products is super sustainable. When you think of conventionally packaged beauty products they typically come packaged in... plastic. A lot of the time it is plastic that is not recyclable and thus ends right in landfill or in our oceans resulting in pollution. NO BUENO. Instead I buy the simple and easy to find ingredients for my homemade products in bulk or package free and put them into refillable and washable containers to use over and over again, preventing any trash from being created.
It has been over three years that I have been making my own products and I have never looked back. Having control over what I use means that if I get bored of a scent or want to try something new, I can. I have that freedom. I can change my moisturizing oils seasonally, the scent of my deodorant in minutes, and the flavor of my toothpaste in seconds.
I began making my own products to decrease toxins and trash from my life, but what I gained was time, money, and freedom from companies telling me what I should buy, how much it needs to cost, and what they believe is best for me. Every person is different and we all like different products, scents, and ingredients. By making my four everyday products myself I now I have the ability to have each one be exactly how I want them to be!

September 5, 2015

How to Tare a Jar and Shop Waste Free!

Zero Waste food shopping is a weekly activity for me. I go to the farmers market for my produce and use reusable organic cotton bags for items like nuts but for wet items like honey, olive oil, flour, and spices, I opt for jars to keep things organized and make cleaning simple.

Learn how I do it using five simple steps!

Step 1: Choose your Jar (I love mason jars because they have a standard weight, but you can also upcycle your own jars)

Step 2: Tare (pre-weigh) your jar. Why? Because when the cashier gets the jar, they can subtract the weight of the jar from the total weight, so you are only paying for what is inside. You can write the tare on your jar in permanent marker to make it easy to remember.
Step 3: Fill your jar and write down the number of the item you are buying. I like to keep a note open on my cellphone that has the item name and number to expedite the checkout process, plus it's waste free!

Step 4: Tell the cashier the weight of your jar and they can deduct that from the total weight of the jar

Step 5: Say THANK YOU to the awesome store for letting you bring your own packaging!