August 16, 2013

Zero Waste Alternatives: The Ultimate List.


While the journey towards Zero Waste is never ending, these alternatives will help any step of the way! All of these alternatives have been tried, tested, and approved by me! I would never post anything that I have not researched to the best of my ability and will constantly update this list with new alternatives! Please keep in mind that throwing out an old item for one of the items I have listed is not a good alternative. Use up old products, recycle, donate, give away or sell the rest! The purpose of Zero Waste is to prevent as much matter from heading to the landfill as possible!

Hygiene 

The Waste Problem: Disposable Razors
Why:  Non-recyclable, expensive, wasteful
The Alternative: Safety Razor or laser hair removal (more money)
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Plastic Toothbrush
Why:  Non-recyclable, wasteful
The Alternative: Bamboo compostable and sustainable toothbrushes 
Where to buyHere


The Waste Problem: Disposable Makeup Remover Wipes
Why:  They are wasteful, expensive, unnecessary, and often have toxic chemicals
The Alternative: Organic Coconut Oil and Reusable Cotton Rounds
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Cotton Balls
Why:  Cotton is very pesticide and water intensive and they are not recyclable 
The Alternative: Reusable Cotton Rounds
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Body Wash in Packaging
Why:  It is wasteful, not recyclable everywhere, and contains chemicals
The Alternative: Unwrapped Bulk Soap
Where to buy Any health food store or Whole Foods

The Waste Problem: Bleached toilet paper
Why:  Dangerous chemicals, non-recycled, wasteful 
The Alternative: Recycled Natural Unbleached Toilet Paper
Where to buy: Here
The Waste Problem: Plastic Tampon Applicator and Non Organic Tampon
Why:  Conventional cotton is pesticide laden & I don't want plastic in my life, especially near my...
The Alternative: Menstrual cup such as Lunette cup
Where to buy: Here


Everyday Essentials: 
The Waste Problem: Disposable Plastic Bags
Why:  Go straight to landfill, very infrequently recycled, wasteful
The Alternative: Organic Cotton Tote 
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Plastic Water Bottles
Why: Not often recycled (less than 20%), end up in landfill, completely avoidable
The Alternative: Reusable water bottle
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Plastic Straw
Why: End up in landfill, completely avoidable
The Alternative: Stainless Steel Straw
Where to buyHere

The Waste Problem: Wrapping Paper on Birthdays and Holidays
Why:  It goes straight to the landfill and is infrequently reused
The Alternative: Re-Use Newspaper and biodegradable twine from a hardware store


Kitchen 

The Waste Problem: Individually portioned coffee and tea and disposable coffee filters
Why: They produce a lot of unnecessary waste, uses plastic, and are not recyclable 
The Alternative: A French Press - the coffee tastes better, easy to clean, no plastic, no waste!
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Plastic Cutting Boards
Why:  You can not recycle them and it is said that these boards develop nicks which foster bacteria
The Alternative: Wooden Cutting Boards 
Where to buy:  My friend Chelsea makes amazing boards that I use everyday!

The Waste Problem: Plastic Utensils 
Why:  They can not be recycled and there is really no use for them
The Alternative: Stainless Steel Silverware 
Where to buy:  Any goodwill, salvation army, or home store. 


The Waste Problem: Plastic Cooking Utensils 
Why:  They tend to melt and could leach toxins into your food
The Alternative: Bamboo utensils: are naturally antibacterial, absorb little moisture and regenerate fast
Where to buy:  Here

The Waste Problem: Plastic Ice Trays
Why:   Most likely not recyclable and could leach toxins
The Alternative: Stainless Steel Ice Tray
Where to buyHere

The Waste Problem: Conventional Dish Soap
Why:  They have a high concern for cancer, high levels of preservatives and other problems 
The Alternative: Bulk Castile Soap
Where to buyHere 
The Waste Problem: Sponge
Why:  Not recyclable, compostable
The Alternative: Compostable and reusable dish brush 
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Plastic Dish Dryers 
Why:  They can not be recycled 
The Alternative: Lay your dishes out on a reusable towel to dry
Where to buy Here
The Waste Problem: Plastic Tupperware
Why:  It poses possible toxicity risks and can leach chemicals into your food
The Alternative: Mason Jars
Where to buyHere
The Waste Problem: Nonstick Pan
Why:  A slew of health problems associated with nonstick coating
The Alternative: Cast Iron Pan
Where to buyHere



Cleaning:
The Waste Problem: Paper Towels
Why:  Non-recyclable, wasteful
The Alternative: Reusable towels 
Where to buyHere 



The Waste Problem: Dryer Sheets
Why:  Synthetic, non-recyclable, unnecessary
The Alternative: Organic Dryer Balls- cut drying time, prevent static 

The Waste Problem: A slew of cleaning products 
Why:  They contain chemicals and are unnecessary
The Alternative:White Vinegar used as a counter or mirror cleaner, presoak for laundry
Where to buy: Any supermarket 
The Waste Problem: Dry Cleaning
Why:  Environmentally Unfriendly, unregulated (yes even the "green" cleaning), global warming
The Alternative: Hand washing, steaming, ironing, and line drying

374 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful list!! If I may recommend something though - as an alternative to tampons, even the organic cotton ones, is a DivaCup. Some women have a hard time getting over the "gross" factor, but it reduces waste significantly and is easy to use!

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    1. Thank you so much for your suggestion! While the DivaCup falls into the category of reusable, the main focus of my blog is to look into all aspects of sustainability and design including recyclability and biodegradability. DivaCups are made of silicone and it is a material that I am still doing my research on. I'll definitely post my findings. Since this is a constant learning process and an ever evolving topic I really appreciate you taking the time to write to me and I welcome any further or future suggestions you have to make this blog better! :)

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    2. Lauren, there is also a natural rubber alternative to the DivaCup called the Keeper. (Obviously, not suitable for those with latex allergies.) Natural rubber biodegradation is a slow process, but it will eventually biodegrade. It can be reclaimed and processed into rubber mulch for stuff like asphalt, as well.

      In addition to the organic cotton tampons, I have several friends who swear by menstrual sponges (work well for some, but you have to be very good about keeping them clean and dry or you risk getting very sick), as well as reusable cloth pads, which are nice for people looking for an insertable option. You can easily make DIY cloth pads by upcycling old clothes or other worn-out fabric.

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    3. Ugh, read "non-insertable" for "insertable." Sorry about that.

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    4. Hi Kat-
      Thank you so much for your comment! I have been curious about all of those alternatives, but I thought that they would be best for at home use. For the office I still prefer an insert able option as it is more manageable. I am very interested in DIY cloth pads though for when I get home and for sleeping and would be happy if I could reduce my waste by more than 50% by making the transition.

      Thanks again!
      Lauren

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    5. ...or just use tampons with cardboard applicators.
      ...or tampons with no applicator.
      ...or biodegradable pads
      ...or washable-reusable pads
      ...or recycle your old clothes into rags.

      Diva cups are creepy, I don't get the Internet's fascination with them.

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    6. Cups aren't nearly as creepy as tampons and pads, you have just gotten used to the idea of them. Tampons and pads are a real bacterial feeding ground and they stink and look gross! The cup is completely hygienic, easy to sterilize and minimizes the blood touching you. The blood doesen't have the chance to oxidize so it doesen't smell, and also it has really changed my feeling towards my period and my body. Instead of it being something gross and annoying, its just a small routine-affair. After I changed to cups and got used to using it in a few months, my periods became less painful, shorter and I was able to not worry about them a lot more. Not to mention that I've saved about somewhere from sixty to a hundred and fifty euros per year, which is a lot of money for a student.

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    7. Besides, your uterus is made for things to go in and to come out, so it's all a part of our femininity and shouldn't be a shameful thing :) In using the cup, you become more comfortable and connected with your body, and thats been the best part for me that I didn't see coming from the change. Imagine if men would find condoms disgusting because they go on their penis? Of course not! They are an important tool for keeping people clean and safe and so is the cup. Everything new is weird at first but if it's a better product, it naturally becomes the preferred choice, and thats why people rave about them! I wish I woul've had the cup all my life and I hope every woman would give it a go just for the change in their quality of life on their period.

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    8. Hello girls,
      I use "ruby cup" for about a year now and Iam so happy with it - I would never want to switch back to tampons! I find it so comfortable and easy, and I can never forget to take a tampon with me again :-) As "Ruby Cup" is a social project, I wanted to post you the link: http://www.ruby-cup.com/en/ For every cup you buy, a girl in Kenia gets one for free and can go to school during her period. I like this idea very much.
      Greetings from Berlin!

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    9. I have a Moon Cup would love to try and get the hang of using it, but the first time it got stuck and I freaked out and haven't tried it again.... It kind of created a vacuum and I couldn't get a hold of it to pull it out...

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    10. Anonymous this is exactly what happened to me - I couldn't pull it out the suction was so strong! I want to try again but feel like I'll need to set aside a bit of time to get it right... Also the stick seems to be annoying no matter how short I cut it...

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    11. You just have to reach your fingers up inside and squeeze it to break the suction. As soon as you cave in one side of the cup just a bit, you'll let air in and the suction will be broken. You just can't pull it straight out fully in shape, as that's where you'll get the suction problem. I've been using a diva cup for almost ten years now, I love it. There's definitely a learning curve, and it's a bit more "hands on" than tampons, but it beats the hell out of having a wad of toxic cotton shoved up inside of you.

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    12. For those creeped out by the vaginal cup, reusable cotton pads are fantastic.

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    13. Just curious Lauren, you said the Lunette cup doesn't use silicone but it says on their webpage (http://www.lunette.com/index.php?id=5) that they do. Do they have another non-silicone based product - just curious if I am missing something? Cheers

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    14. I'm a virgin, so I can not use cups yet.
      Greetings!
      Mary.

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    15. you can use cups whether you are a virgin or not. your hymen is something that can break while riding a bike, it doesn't hold your virginity for you. your virginity ends when you have sex for the first time, not when your hymen breaks.

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    16. Mary, you can use reusable cloth pads.

      You can order a sample here, free plus shipping -- http://partypantspads.com/collections/sale/products/cloth-pad-curious-giveaway

      I'm not affiliated in any way, just a huge fan of these things. They've saved me so much money over the years, and they're much better for the environment and your body.

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    17. This may be a bit graphic, but may hopefully ease some minds and offer advice. I chose to use a MoonCup when I was just 15 - I had not had sex, but did my research and MoonCup produces two sizes: one for more 'youthful' vaginas, let's say, and another for those who have had children or are more senior.

      So, no worry there if you;re a virgin - you can use a cup

      Yes, my cup has been stuck before. Yes, I got really scared but I took a breath in, knowing that this cup is not going to get lost, nor can it stay stuck inside me forever, and I checked the instructions. ALWAYS KEEP THE INSTRUCTIONS! The manufacturers know these are new and possibly scary products, so they describe things quite clearly. Their advice was to squat, and push a little (seen as I was on my period I did this in the shower) and reach in as normal. The rim needs to be bent in - the pin prick holes round the edge are what makes the vacuum, and what needs to be pushed to break the seal.

      It maybe sounds scary, freaky or to new to try, but (and this my get graphic) I'd much rather need to put my fingers in my vagina than a bleach soaked tampon. Because that's how they make tampons white. Bleach.

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    18. Another possibility is sea sponges. They are reusable and renewable. They do eventually have to be thrown away - after about 4-6 months - but they are completely biodegradable. Some care must be taken to keep them clean, but they're fairly easy to use and quite comfortable. I had used a Diva Cup for years, but when I got my IUD it was no longer recommended so I switched to sea sponges.

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    19. I have used a diva cup for a little over 9 years.... I love it.. my cramps have lessened and I don't get anymore overflows. it can get stuck and I do recommend if it does to pinch it near the top twist slightly and push very slightly and it will pop right out. you might want to practice putting it in in the shower it will pop open from the folded form when it is around your cervix. in 9 + years I am on my 2nd Diva Cup they last between 3 - 5 years depending on your PH. The best part is you have almost no risk of toxic shock syndrome like with tampons or things like tampons.

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    20. I also loved the Diva Cup, but then I went and got and IUD to be more environmentally friendly and reduce the chemicals and waste that pills produce. I couldn't use my Diva Cup anymore because there is a chance that the IUD might be expelled. I am so disappointed and frustrated that there is no research on whether or not cups really have an effect on IUDs. I don't like the organic cotton tampons I'm using and am considering throwing caution to the wind and using the cup anyways... Once a cup user, always a cup user!

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    21. For all the hymen talk. There are many misconceptions about how that works. This video is great at explaining it all! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qFojO8WkpA

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    22. With Fibroids, my only option was the diva cup, tampons/pads combined did not work. Now my fibroids are removed, but the diva method is by far my only choice now.

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    23. I wonder if its recyclable after use or what materials its made of or how long you can use it till it has to be replaced ? Research I have to do.

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  2. Nice read! I like your implications and suggestions for waste management and recycling. Obviously, there are so many things which we utilize in our daily day life are recyclable so instead of dumping these wastes in bins, we should employ the habit of recycling. Even most of the manufacturing companies fabricate products in such way that can be easily recycled. Products such as plastic bags, damaged electronic items, and plastic containers or bottles are easily recyclable and can be rehabilitated into various creative and useful materials.

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    1. Hi Charly!

      I have been learning more and more that a lot of companies recycle, not because it is the "right thing to do", but because they have to in the sense that it saves them a lot of money that they just don't have to buy x,y, or z new. I think this is really great that circumstance breeds creativity and ingenuity. I completely agree with you that many products can and should be recycled, or even sold at a lower price to companies who will reuse or upcycle them. It would be great if people could find value in everything that is considerably "trash" and turn it into something that can be used again. This is why I love companies like Build it Green or Film Biz Recycling in NYC that take things that could, in many circumstances, be deemed as trash and help to bring them new life.

      Thanks for your comment!
      Lauren

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    2. I use NaturCup (EN: Nature cup) from Spain! (www.naturcup.com) I love it because of its nub at the bottom, that is really easy to pull. It was a bit difficult to buy since I don't know spanish and the payment was different, but it worked and product is great. I used to have the LadyCup but I couldn't pull it out. It always got stuck inside 'cause the hollow stick was hard to keep a grip on.

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  3. Laser hair removal is a now regular process which removes hair from a persons body using a laser, laser skill is able to break the hair growth cycle by targeting and killing the hair follicle laser hair removal.Visit for more details.

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  4. I once created a huge non-disposables list for 40 people who went off-grid into a three year Buddhist retreat. Astonishingly (not really because I grew up around my Depression-era grandparents), nearly every product we think we need to replace with an alternative didn't need to be replace at all, just removed from our lives. Case in point: garbage bags. You don't need expensive corn-based biodegradable bags or paper bags in your garbage can. You just need a garbage can. Step #1: stop bringing garbage into your house. Step #2: Throw your garbage into your garbage can. Step #3: If it's food garbage you can't compost, wrap it into a couple of pieces of that free newspaper that gets tossed into your front yard and then place it in the garbage can. Step #4: Dump the whole thing into the large pick-up bin outside. NO BAGS NEEDED! Not even the ones from the grocery store. Save your money and stop looking for "alternatives" and just go back to the way it was done before this new disposable stuff was invented.

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    1. Allison, you're so right! I'm just starting to make changes to my daily routines to make less waste, and I'm realizing I have so much to learn from my grandparents and the way they lived when they were kids. There really is so much we don't need.

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    2. Virginia,

      I totally agree with you and Allison, I am going to visit my grandmother in New Mexico soon - she was telling me her mother used to make so many cleaning products the same way I do - it is funny, living zero waste is like jumping back in time a couple of generations, it's nothing revolutionary, it has just been forgotten by a lot of people.

      Lauren

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    3. Just Started my Trash Free Life and Reading your post Allison, blows me away... Thank you so much!

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  5. Wonderful list and images of conventional products and their alternatives! Thank you for posting this.

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    1. Hi Anne Marie,

      Thank you! I am glad it was helpful! :))

      Lauren

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  6. This is a really great and helpful list! I'm in the process of making my own transition to living as waste-free as possible. One thing I can't seem to let go of is using paper towels to clean the bathroom. I've switched to microfiber and reusable cloths for everyday sweeping, dusting and cleaning, but I can't seem to get past the hygienic factor of using reusable cloths to clean the toilet and the tub. Do you have any suggestions?

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    1. Hey Kyla,

      Thank you so much for your comment! I know it can seem hard or gross to say no to paper towels, but once you do it, it is a really fast transition.

      To clean my bathroom I use just plain white washcloths that I used to use for my face, and now are designated as just cleaning towels. I use one to do the toilet, and another for the shower/sink/floor. I use liquid castile soap to clean the inside of the toilet and use white vinegar and some essential oils to clean around the toilet as well as the shower/sink/floor. You could also get a biodegradable cleaning brush like one of the dish brushes from Life Without Plastic to designate as a bathroom brush and keep it in the bathroom. I use my old toothbrushes as scrubbing brushes for hard to reach places and around the faucet/fixtures with a little bit of baking soda to get them really clean.

      I hope this helps!
      Lauren

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    2. Great advice Lauren! I like the idea of having designating a cleaning brush for the bathroom (and I love the products that Life Without Plastic offers). I'm definitely going to try the old toothbrush + baking soda to clean around the faucets and hard to reach places. Thanks for the tips :)

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    3. Hi Kyla,

      Great, hope it goes well! Keep me updated if you remember :)

      Lauren

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  7. I love this list! But instead of the cotton tampons, I would recommend something like a diva cup! I got one and it's even helped with cramps!

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    Replies
    1. Hey, thank you! I totally agree. I used to use organic cotton tampons and now I use Lunettte, like a diva cup. I absolutely love it, I just haven't gotten around to changing this list yet. Will do that ASAP, thanks for your comment!

      Lauren

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    2. @everyone thinking of buying a cup: Have you heard of Ruby Cup? http://www.ruby-cup.com/en/
      For every cup you purchase there they'll give one to a girl in need, e.g. in Kenya. I was really shocked to learn that menstruation is a major reason for girls around the world to drop out of school because they miss a week of school per month as they fear to have stained clothing as they don't have access to and/or the financial means to buy pads. Some even prostitute themselves to make the money to buy PADS! Or they use unhealthy alternatives and get really sick and also in places with no functioning system of garbage removal the used pads pose a risk of infection etc.. I was shocked by both these facts in themselves and by realizing how ignorant I was about what problems come with being a healthy young woman for so many women around the world.

      The cup even keeps through a five hour surgery during which I cannot leave the OR! The helping with the cramps, however was only temporary for me, sadly, after half a year with close to no pain I had to take a pain killer again this month...

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  8. Hi Lauren - do you have instructions on how to make the organic dryer balls?

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    Replies
    1. As of right now I don't, but i'll work on getting a post with instructions up soon!

      :)

      Lauren

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    2. It's super simple! You need to find wool fiber that has been washed, but doesn't necessarily need to be processed to fine spinning grade. Take a puff of it in your hand, and roll it around until it starts to mat up in a ball. Then wrap more wool around it, a little tighter each time, sprinkle with a little soap and water, and keep rolling. Once they are the size you want, run them through with your next load of laundry. The agitation in a washer and dryer will "set" it, and they will be nice and durable. I drop a little or my favorite EO on them before throwing them in the dryer with my clothes, and everything comes out smelling AMAZING.

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    3. Can't wait to try this. Thanks for the instrux!

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  9. Hi, Great list. I've been doing the transition thing too and have found a great variety of solutions through trial and error and diving further into the subject some of which is a little different from your list.

    What I've found is that for gift giving, I don't wrap if it is a small item given directly - you just don't need to. For large and seasonal gift giving, I've made large festive fabric gift bags that I reuse every year.

    I've read from other commenters that the diva cup and similar versions were already mentioned - its a great solution as it cuts out a lot of demand on resources to manufacture enough for disposable options. I'm glad to have read that you've begun using it yourself.

    I've downsized my closet and am transitioning to merino wool clothing for its durability, performance and sustainability.

    I don't use make up, just don't feel the need for it to begin with. Saves me $, time, and resources. I also don't shave either (I am a woman) as I don't find it necessary either - when you stop and think about, shaving is a weird cultural custom. I still go to public beaches and swim. No one seems to mind, except for the odd teenager perhaps who are usually ultra self-conscious about integrating themselves already. Most adults I talk with wish they felt confident enough to do it too, and I think that is all it needs - more people publicly being human au naturel.

    For washing myself, I had done the No Shampoo Method for years. Then I've gone the cultivating my own microbiota way where I used the "water-only" method for a trial period over a few months (in deep winter when I don't go out much to begin with) and found that I had a hard time accepting my hair transition period, so I just washed my hair with a shampoo bar (bonus: locally made too!) and avoided getting suds on the rest of me. Over the next few months, in addition to showering, I used a cloth for washing my armpits about twice a day, then once a day, then once every few days and now at about once a week. Slowly reducing the use as I found necessary for cleanliness and odor. I stopped stinking. My clothes don't get those pit stains anymore either. What helped get me motivated to do this was this article - "My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment"

    Other than that I pretty well do everything else the same.

    My last crutches are:

    Garbage bags (we only use one in the house and it only gets filled once a month. We have to bag because we are in an apartment and don't have a dumpster option. Am trying to reduce to zero garbage, but it will take some time to figure things out).

    Wheat-thins (family's last packaged food vice)

    Dairy Cartons, Meat packaging, pasta, some produce (I rather support food from my own region than buying unpackaged food from abroad), and some food containers for certain condiments.

    Most of these problems arise from being in a fairly remote town that doesn't have the unpackaged or bulk options.

    Our meats and eggs are from local farmers year round, and in the late summer and autumn we get most of our foods from the farmer's market. I have my own little garden by the stairs, but because of the late spring, they are only now blossoming.

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    1. Hi Rua!

      What an amazing comment, thank you!

      I absolutely love your idea of not using wrapping paper or using reusable wrapping paper. My family always celebrates the holidays in the same place and ususally reuses the same paper over and over, but why not have pretty pieces of fabric or bags instead? So inspired!

      I use Lunette and have been meaning to post it in place of organic cotton tampons, but just haven't yet, sorry.. will do it soon!

      I love the idea of merino wool clothing. Right now I buy all of my clothing secondhand, which means sometimes there is a synthetic blend, but switching to all natural fabrics is defintely next on my TODO list! Always improving haha.

      I use makeup because I am really, really fair and sometimes need a bit of a rouge on my cheeks. But besides that I can't really wear makeup, it irritates my eyes (maybe because I am a contact wearer?) Plus I never really liked it that much.

      As far as shaving, I am Italian Eastern European mix and I have thick brown hair. When I was in elementary school a boy made fun of my arm hair at a school dance and I have, since, waxed my arms and been an avid shaver. I guess it is something that I need to grow out of, but those burns hurt for life haha I really want to just get everything lasered off (when I can afford it) and be done with shaving for good.

      As far as garbage bags, I live in an apartment as well and have bins in the lobby and I don't use a bag, but I don't have garbage, I just have a little recycling, so it's not dirty or anything. If you do feel the need to have a garbage bag, I'd suggest using brown paper bags from the supermarket which are totally biodegradable and put them in the recycing once you have emptied the trash as opposed to a plastic bag.

      Thanks again for your great comment, you're the best!

      x Lauren

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    2. Hi Lauren, very inspiring blog! I have now started to make some small changes to my lifestyle. One thing I have done for years now is to make my own hair removal wax from lemon juice, sugar and water. It can either be pulled off with cotton strips. Once you've got the hang of it you might not even need the strips. Works like a charm, plus it lasts soo much longer than shaving. Here's a recipe: http://www.instructables.com/id/how-to-sugar-wax-your-legs/

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    3. All the merino wool clothing I've ever seen requires dry cleaning. I once tried to handwash and air dry a wool sweater. It shrunk to a size to fit a toddler! How do you clean your merino clothing?

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    4. Hi KU Fan,

      I'm not the author, but I might have a suggestion or two about woolwashing (mind you, it may not work on your garments though). First, the water temperature must be mildly warm, definitely not hot, more cooler than warmer. Warm water shrinks the wool and heavy rubbing (as when you have a dirty spot on the garment) will also cause shrinkage, because for the wool, it's like felting.

      All woollen things must be laid out flat to dry and shaped into correct size, if not done and put to dry on without shaping or hanging, it can change the size and stretch out the garment.

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    5. Hi there, just to chime in about the washing of wool - it doesn't need to be scary!

      First: Wool naturally resists absorbing moisture, so you don't have to wash it as often as other fibers. I wear my merino shirts up to four times before I wash them (depending on my activity level while wearing them of course :)

      Second: wool shrinks because it felts, which is caused by two things: heat, and agitation. So basically avoid both as much as possible

      Here's how I wash my super fancy sweaters:

      1. soak in cold water with soap for half an hour or more (sometimes I forget them for several hours - this wont harm them) What kind of soap? Any kind. You can get special wool wash, like Eucalan (not woolite though - its name is a lie), but I use dish soap, or you can use Dr. Bronners. It's important to soak for long enough that the wool is wet through, which isn't so easy because of the aforementioned water-resistance

      2. remove from water and squeeze excess water from the garment. Don't wring it or anything, just ball it up and squeeze hard.

      3. You now have two options. (a) if your washing machine can be set to 'drain and spin' and it doesn't agitate at all while it does this, then you can put your garment on the drain and spin cycle. (b) If not, or if you don't trust your drain and spin cycle to not felt your sweater, lay the garment flat on a towel, roll the whole thing up, and step on it a bunch of times so the towel absorbs the moisture from the garment

      4. Block the garment. This means: lay it flat on some surface where it will dry out quickly like a hard floor, and pull it into the shape it should be. If the soaking/squishing/drying process has resulted in stretched out sleeves, for example, pull them either longways or sideways back into the right shape. basically adjust the garment until it looks the way you want it. Wet wool is very flexible.

      let it dry! et voila.

      Final note: some garments (like anything from Icebreaker) are made of superwash wool, which has been chemically treated so that it doesn't felt. In this case, it won't *shrink* but it might still come through the wash looking just not great. The dryer tends to be harder on these types of things than the washer in my experience. If you're pressed for time, try machine washing and laying flat to dry.

      Hope this is helpful! I know it seems like a lot of steps, but it gets really automatic after a while, and is better than dry cleaning all the time!

      Delete
  10. This is a great list! I'm slowing trying to be more "green" and having a nice resource like this is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just found this blog. I love it. So many good ideas. I think I might try these out myself. I already have the ecofriendly dish brush and a Lunette cup.

    I started thinking this plastic dish dryer. To me it is very strange because we don't have those here. In Finland we have a dish dryer attached to a kitchen cupboard, the one that's above the sink. Here are a few pictures of it: http://stat.ameba.jp/user_images/20130909/02/hokuo-kan/c0/af/j/o0800080012677528246.jpg & http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t23/skimbaco/scandinavian-design/2604633229_ba429c1d47.jpg
    Or instead you can just google 'tiskikaappi'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. British kitchen design is equally ridiculous. Women traditionally looked out through the window to watch their kids while doing the dishes. Perhaps that's why no one ever thought of putting a rack up in a cupboard above the sink. When I moved to the UK I brought a rack from Finland to put in a cupboard, but unfortunately my husband hasn't been able to renew the kitchen and so we have agreed that he should do the dishes until this gets sorted. We have a metal one from Ikea but of course it's not satisfactory to a Finnish person. I would also suggest people elsewhere in the world take note of this great Finnish invention - it is so simple, eco friendly and really cuts down on elbow grease!

      Delete
    2. That's funny, first time I saw dryer in the cupboard at my boyfriend's parents in Poland and find it bit strange and very polish:) I am Czech and we usually using plastic ones or metal ones or just towel. But I am living in UK for few years now and must say that you are right, in every English household I have ever been to they have window in front of sink, which for me is strange as well.

      Delete
    3. Funny, I thought we all had windows above the sink because we need light where we wash vegetables, fruits, dishes, hands, delicate laundry items, etc, and we don't have to use electric lights for any of that all day long! The standard double sink has room for a dish drainer in the "other" side. Mine is steel and is recyclable.

      Delete
  12. I suggest you to just eat organic food.
    Wearing unknown chemicals on your skin is risky.
    Shooting them through your body is ......unlikely less damaging.

    Wanna likely restrict your, your childrens & your grandchildrens ability to follow your footsteps? Taste some sweet DDT & all the other beautiful substances your children will taste too!
    Guess what it's still allowed in the US.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_Convention_on_Persistent_Organic_Pollutants

    And those are just 12 defined substances...
    change a methyl-sidechain and it's allowed again... fun..the law... isn't it?
    ..... so... i didn't want to discourage you but, take care.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Why care for the earth if we're not going to care for the individuals on it, too? I notice comments about "merino wool" and "humane meat"... Raising animals for food and clothing is not only never humane (unless, perhaps, you have a beloved chicken who lives in your yard and you happen to eat her eggs once in awhile), it is the definition of wasteful: breeding, raising, and slaughtering these living, sentient beings, we're basically funneling resources like land, food, and water through them. These resources would be much more effectively used DIRECTLY. A waste-free, vegan lifestyle is the only true way to be "green." If this is too daunting an immediate task for some, I recommend transitioning to a plant-based diet (farmers' market fruits, veggies, and bulk grains and legumes), which if done thoughtfully will already cut down on waste, and THEN focusing on going totally trash-free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd like to point out that merino wool is shorn from merino sheep and the sheep go on to grow more wool - they don't get slaughtered for the fibre.

      Delete
    2. ♡♡♡ this comment jena thankyou!

      Delete
    3. Vegan too. Totally agree!

      Delete
    4. The sheep are more comfortable after their wool is shorn. Have you ever seen how miserable a sheep looks who's never been shaved?

      Delete
    5. It's hard to find shoes or boots that will keep out the snow and cold rain that are made of something other than leather or plastic.

      Delete
  14. Have you looked into SckoonCup? They even have an ecopac option which minimizes packaging to reduce waste!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love all your tips thanks for sharing! . we are working on reducing waste and living as naturally as possible with buying organic foods, composting, cloth diapers, menstrual cups, and cleaning cloths. I was wondering if you have done any research on Norwex? They have a microfiber cleaning cloth that's really been a game changer for our family. The cloth actually picks up everything on the surface to make sure its clean. They last a really long time and it's a great company. I recommend maybe do some research and let me know what you think about it. Great company from Norway. www.jenniferbudden.norwex.biz.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sorry but the portioned coffee is completley recyable. we even have a factory here in the Inntal, austria, where the recycle the alu and use the coffee for bio-energy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the US portioned coffee/coffee cups are made from non-recyclable plastic. I wish they were aluminum!

      Delete
  17. You are SO inspiring!!! I'm completely in love and yesterday I read almost all your posts :D here in Brazil is truly hard to go like this because we just CAN'T FIND somethings. I'll try harder to find soap, for example. But I don't know any market here that sells without package, even the organic places, so it's harder. I have 1 suggestion for you: and the animals? I have a cat who lives with me at an apartment. The food she eat is totally non-organic, produces trash and the sandbox produces superduper trash :(
    Keep up with the great work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could certainly make your own cat food with "real" food. For the litter box, consider training your cat to use the toilet. It's very possible - unless the cat is quite old.

      Delete
    2. Cat faeces shouldn't be put into the sewage system. Parasites in it are having a detrimental effect on the sea otter population http://seaotterresearch.org/resources.shtml

      Delete
    3. I run a small cat sanctuary. I buy pine pellets as litter. They are like the pine sold for an exorbitant price in the pet food stores and pet section of the grocery but I buy them for $6.00 for a 40 pound bag. It lasts about a week so for a month I only pay $24. Then a friend of mine who heads up a large cat rescue organization brought over a bag of wood shavings from the local Home Depot store. They give it away free from their lumber department. It's just wood shavings from when they cut boards to size. Makes great kitty litter. The solid waste can be scooped and then the rest of the mess can be disposed of at the landfill or even spread in the yard. It will not hurt anything if you just water it down with a hose. I don't believe that flushing cat droppings down the toilet will hurt sea otters because I live in Central Texas nowhere near the sea.

      Delete
  18. What do you do with the plastic bottles from Dr. Bronner's castile soap? I'm assuming you recycle them, along with glass containers from olive oil, vinegar, etc. Do you use your food waste for composting? That's what I do. How do you feel about adding cardboard and paper to trash to help the dumps degrade?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Very nice. I am glad we use more than half alternatives presented here. For shaving problem I would suggest sugar oriental depilation. Cheap and easy to do at home

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lauren, do you wear make-up? I don't wear it everyday but I like to wear mascara once in a while. Do you know of anywhere good that I could buy mascara? thanks!!

    By the way I am currently an Environmental Studies major, i'm studying abroad in Costa Rica and I am so excited to start cutting the waste out of my life when I return to the US in a few weeks. I already bought a water bottle here and no longer buy plastic ones. You have truly inspired me and i'm so excited to start my new life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! I suggest you to try Just Pure Minerals, a 100% vegan cosmetic company, cruelty free :) http://www.justpureminerals.com/

      Delete
  21. Drinking coffee-pressed coffee raises cholesterol; instead of coffee filters for your drip coffee maker, use a metal mesh filter that lasts indefinitely. Also, make your own laundry detergent:
    * Shave a 1/2 bar of castile into a couple of cups of water and bring to a boil to melt and blend (or use the liquide castile soap, often comes scented)
    * Add a cup or so each of borax and washing soda to a large bucket
    * Add the hot castile soap mixture
    * Add another 5 or so quarts of water to the bucket
    * Mix all, and let sit for 24 hours. You'll have a thick-ish laundry detergent - it's not a concentrate so you need to add more to your load than commercial detergents but it cleans well, with no odor. Unless you buy scented castile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i didn't know that about un-filtered coffee. the metal mesh filter sounds like a great idea.

      yet i did a fast research in the cholesterol thing and found this:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=22713771
      (if interested in the full paper let me know)

      Increases of:
      - 8.1 mg/dl (95% confidence interval (CI): 4.5, 11.6; P<0.001) for total cholesterol (TC)
      - 5.4 mg/dl (95% CI: 1.4, 9.5; P=0.009) for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)
      - 12.6 mg/dl (95% CI: 3.5, 12.6; P=0.007) for triglyceride (TG).

      normal values for each of these are:
      - Total cholesterol: below 200
      - LDL: below 150 (if no risk factors like diabetes)
      - Triglycerides: below 150

      So the real "importance" of those increases really depend on the person itself. i do tend to eat healthy and try to exercise at least 4 days/week

      so as those numbers are statistically significant, may not be clinically significant in a healthy lifestyle.

      Greetings =).

      Delete
    2. you don't need the castile soap. mix the borax and washing soda. use it as you would a powder detergent.

      Delete
  22. Sorry a little off topic and I dont know if you are vegan lauren, but if you are im sure you know animal agriculture is the leading cause of - health problems, climate change, ocean dead zones, polution, and deforestation!! If you are unaware of this the documentary 'cowspiracy' is a great start as im sure you will want to do your own research, but I do find it impossible to be an environmentalist or even 'green' with out being vegan and after learning the truth about what really happens behind slaughter house doors any compassionate person should and will change their mind. (Theres nothing graphic in the recommended documentary just so there is no disceragment of watching it) if you would like more documeneries or have health conserns im always willing to share what I know! :)

    Okay! Back on topic! I love this article most of these are already in full swing in my life! And it feels great! Side note- I have a very sensitive mouth and use coconut oil mostly and baking soda occasionally as a tooth past replacement as it seems to be helping and is consciously easier to put I n my mouth than nameless chemicals. Im curious to what you use, is it similar?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Amazing!. i never thought that so many things in our dialy life had replacements. i will definitely be buying many of these next year when i start living by myself =).

    thank you for making this. the world will be a better place because of people like you. keep going.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I would suggest Chestnuts for clothes washing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you mean soapnuts??

      Delete
  25. What would you suggest for hair care products? Like shampoo and conditioner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dr Bronners Magic Soap, you can find it on internet, at american apparel stores, and every Whole Foods Store

      Delete
  26. Hi Lauren.
    I think thats a great ideia. I'm student of environmental engineering and has four years that I study in this area. Reducing your thash its a better way for sustentability, but what do you do with your organic trash?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Last year I wrapped everybody's presents in colourful dish towels- seemed to go down well, even with my less eco-minded sisters.

    Thanks for blogging - really inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi! kat, it is nice. I have one question. How can I left my organic garbage in the street? I will dont use plastic bags in my buyes, but to garbage i dont know what can i use....
    thanks a lot!
    O love you site!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Carolina Guerrero (Colombia)Thursday, November 27, 2014

    Hi! kat, it is nice. I have one question. How can I left my organic garbage in the street? I will dont use plastic bags in my buyes, but to garbage i dont know what can i use....
    thanks a lot!
    O love you site!

    ReplyDelete
  30. HI Lauren,

    I think it's a great idea to try and reduce the amount of packaging that we use.

    I'm a bit confused over what you mean when you say things contain chemicals though.

    You say that there are chemicals in cleaning products and that we should use vinegar. Vinegar is a mixture of two chemicals — water and acetic acid. Acetic acid is a chemical and If you try handling undiluted acetic acid it wont be the most pleasurable experience of your life.

    When it comes to body wash you say that bulk soap is better. Traditionally, soap is made by the the saponification of triglycerides (chemicals). This involves sodium hydroxide ( a chemical) which is a very corrosive substance.

    The take home message here is that everything around you, be it natural or man-made, is made from "chemicals". The vinegar, soap, organic coffee, organic fruit and veg are made up from chemicals.

    Some naturally occurring things like arsenic, botox, and diptheria toxin are dangerous. What makes something toxic is the amount you are exposed to and the intrinsic nature of that substance- not whether it is naturally occurring or man made.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Muito bom, por mais que no Brasil (especificamente na minha cidade) ainda não haja tantas opções para ocorrer a substituição dos itens, já dá pra fazer um grande avanço.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oi Lorena,
      a Cristal Muniz que comentou mais acima criou um blog ontem, é brasileira como nós! Segue ela lá provavelmente terão dicas úteis!

      Delete
  32. I never heard about castile soap. I hope is in Poland too!
    I'm using waterbobble and filtred water. Never buy water in plastic bottle!
    Mason jars is soo expensive in Poland:(

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi there! I just found your blog and think it is very useful and interesting! :) I just wanted to suggest two things that may help as alternatives as well.

    Instead of plastic k-cups, there are stainless steel k-cups that are reusable. You simply grind your own coffee beans picked up at a natural grocer and toss them in to brew. A good alternative mainly for people who can't live without their instant coffee Keurig!

    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/ekobrew-stainless-steel-elite-reusable-cup-for-keurig-reg-k-cup-reg-brewing-system/1041896341

    Also, a great alternative to a traditional sponge especially if you are using lodge cast iron skillet type pans (my favorite) is a reusable chain mail scrubber. It is AMAZING when trying to get any tough sticky food off of most pans and plates. Plus, it doesn't scratch the "seasoning" that has been built on your cast iron skillet.

    http://www.amazon.com/Knapp-Made-CM-Scrubber-Cookware/dp/B0087UYR1S

    Not sure of more eco-friendly places to buy these items but they do exist as helpful alternatives! Cheers! :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Love your blog. My suggestion would be to use soap nuts for your laundry etc. Look up the blog for other recipes too : http://soapnuts.co.uk/buy-500g%20-soapnut-shells.html

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you for all these nice suggestions!
    I have been using things like washable cosmetic wipes, recylced toilet paper and cotton bags for years, but I recently felt the urge to simplify my life more. Your list gives a lot of good input for that! I didn't even know there are stainless steel straws (although these are probably some of the things one doesn't reeeally need). :)
    The new year will be a great opportunity to get started on some of this. Although some of the ideas might not work for me. For example: I am not allowed to throw my loose garbage into the shared big garbage bins, so I won't be able to get rid of garbage liners. :( And there is nowhere around to buy bulk noodles, rice, etc. But I guess it is good to do as much as possible.
    Thank you though for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Recycling? Bäh! Verwenden Sie Toilettenpapier beidseitig und der Erfolg liegt auf der Hand!

      Delete
  36. This is all new to me, this 'no waste' living style. I knew that some people like 'hippies' lived off the land and such but urban people living this way too and being successful. It has really opened my eyes about our waste and i'm going to apply this mew way in my life. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I really try to follow this, but can't go past sponges, as they offer something that I find brushes don't, but can't clearly articulate... I have used most of the other suggestions though. There are some items I still dry clean cause DIY wash and iron don't come up good enough...

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am an Indian and our country more out of compulsion rather than environmental awareness is in the reuse, recycle mode. We do not use over half the products, however use of plastic is a major concern. The alternatives that you have suggested are thoughtful indeed

    ReplyDelete
  39. I am an Indian and our country more out of compulsion rather than environmental awareness is in the reuse, recycle mode. We do not use over half the products, however use of plastic is a major concern. The alternatives that you have suggested are thoughtful indeed

    ReplyDelete
  40. i'm sorry for my question, i was just wondering how you manage the mesntrual cup instead of tampons. jw... i didn't fully understand. I saw u on "Fantastico", a program in Brazil that you talked at. thank you ;D

    ReplyDelete
  41. I saw his interview on
    ( Fantastico - Brazil ) You are awesome ^ _ ^ like you, I also hate the idea of ​​harming the environment. I just wanted to say that you are an example to the youth of today
    hug ;)

    ReplyDelete
  42. ey Lauren! I also saw you interview on tv show of Brazil. Very interesting, I already do something like I use the same bottle to drink water, I try to save some paper in my office.. but you are inspiration. Congratulations, I'll try effort to follow your tips.Thanks for sharing!!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hi! I reeeeally love your blog!! How do you make your own deodorant?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  44. Hey Laura, I am a Junior year undergrad in India and I could really use some help. So my current lifestyle as a student make some things really easy for me for example, I do not have to cook my own food as our college has messing facilities which means our food is prepared in bulk. Also, I completely avoid using paper towels- I use a hygiene faucet in the toilet and rags (old tshirts mostly) for cleaning. But some things like bamboo toothbrushes and biodegradable sanitary napkins aren't really available in the city i study in. And Im not able to find them in some of the online retails in India. Also it would be pretty expensive to have them shipped so often from outside. Also, the waste I produce is usually - stationery or toiletries. I try to limit the latter by buying huge bottles of everything ( which is not really zero plastic, but less of it per anum) but im totally stumped when it comes to stationery - how can I reduce waste in terms of the number of pens I use or notebooks for my classes etc. I cannot really avoid buying books every semester, although I do not throw them away, and I ensure that the waste paper is being recycled. AND PENS! I dont know what to do about them ! :O

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I do is I have a fountain pen and I just refill the ink cartridges with a seringe and needle from a glass bottle of ink! May not be zero waste but it definitely cuts down!

      Delete
    2. Try recording your lectures on a digital recorder. Play them over and over and take notes on your laptop or tablet. This will eliminate a lot of the paper used for notetaking. Many professors accept papers and assignments submitted electronically rather than hardcopy. This is easier for them as well. Buy used rather than new textbooks. (This will save you money, too.) Sell them at the end of the semester so someone else can use them. You can make reusable sanitary pads from fabric and/or rags. Good luck with your studies!

      Michael Jackson had a mostly plant-based diet and promoted an environmentally-conscious lifestyle. Check out his song "Earth Song" and his poem "Planet Earth."

      www.planetjackson.net

      Delete
  45. Do you ever get pushback from cashiers for putting produce or peanut butter in jars or tote bags? I know they have to weigh the items and deduct the weight of the container in order to be accurate. Also, My boyfriend uses a safety razor and I think it is such a great idea. However, I am nervous about attempting a leg shave with that thing! Was there much of a learning curve when using a safety razor on the legs!?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Great list! Some of these things I had never thought of before. However I think it's important to take into account that not everyone is privileged enough to be able to do all of these things, especially if you live below the poverty line. Whole Foods isn't going to cut it for someone who lives on minimum wage. Also, I was very surprised to see that laser hair removal was listed as an alternative to disposable razors rather than simply not shaving. It is sad to me that an expensive procedure marketed to women who have been made to feel bad about themselves their whole lives because of something that naturally grows from their legs and armpits and pubic areas is considered an alternative but not shaving at all didn't make the list? I understand that some women prefer shaving regardless of social norms which is completely fine but at least bother to include it on a list like this. This goes back to my earlier point of not everyone being privileged enough to afford some of the things on this list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be the cheapest and most efficient alternative although anyone who's comfortable not shaving is probably already doing so. I myself, like to rock the leg every once in a while but I truly feels better being smooth. laser hair removal, in the long run would save you money but I would consider it an investment. It also supports local salons.

      Delete
    2. I bought my son an electric (plug-in, so no batteries) shaver when he started shaving about 20 years ago. He replaced it with a new one a few years later, and I took the old one for my own use. It's a Remington, so the blade part is replaceable (and it's steel so it's recyclable), but I've never had to replace it. It still works fine - very smooth - and uses almost no electricity. The blade part is easily removable for cleaning, too. And no shaving gel or soaps to use, either.

      Delete
  47. I have a question, if people cared about the environment shouldn't there be somebody making not only safer greener products but also very similar in price if not lower to give consumers a bigger incentive??

    ReplyDelete
  48. if you can put this website option too spanish, i´m interesting about thank so much

    ReplyDelete
  49. If you're looking for a real way to make your clothes last longer, nix the dryer all together. (the heat causes fibers to break down much faster)... plus you save energy and if you use the laundromat, you cut your costs in half!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Do you have a recommendation for a seller / brand for organic dryer balls?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Norwex has dryer balls along with Enviro cloths that you only use water to clean with. They can be used for everything. Highly recomment their products.

      Delete
  51. Hi Lauren. My name is Hermes, I am from Mexico. I am very thankful for your advises and your example of live.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thanks Lauren, you'll be my new year inspiration. I´ll try to do my best!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hey Lauren,

    I am totally impressed!!! You are so inspiring! Thank you so much!!!

    ReplyDelete
  54. This plant makes an excellent sponge, you just have to take care of it and dry it after the shower, or it will start smelling and be useless. Advise: I always leave it in the line, so it dries like clothes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luffa

    ReplyDelete
  55. All this is great....do you wanna be my girlfriend..???

    ReplyDelete
  56. Hi..!!.. I´m from Venezuela.... this is an excellent blog.....!!!!... if you can edit this blog in spanish ... you don´t know how would appreciate that...!!!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Hi! I have a dog and I produce a lot of waste using plastic bags to remove her poo from the streets... what I can use instead?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would also like to know...

      Delete
  58. This was a good read, thank you! While I'm guilty of using a lot of things I know I shouldn't, (tampons, I'm looking at you), I just recently switched to ENJO cleaning. It comes unpackaged, lasts between 2-5 years, and when you're finished with it, the company will send it to be recycled into insulation for homes, and car seat stuffing and such. But the best part is that you use absolutely no chemicals - just water. Actually, the best part is that it cleans WAY better than chemical cleaners, or vinegar & baking soda. Hmm... come to think of it, I really enjoy not having a recycle bin full of empty cleaning potion bottles. It's worth looking into!

    After reading this article, I think I need to give my menstrual cup another try. Thanks for the push!

    ReplyDelete
  59. I don't know if someone already mentioned it, but have you thought about reusable toilet paper? Basically soft cloth cut into small squares that can be used in conjunction with a sprayer that attaches to the toilet? I've read http://becomingpeculiar.com/our-switch-to-cloth-wipes-a-k-a-cloth-toilet-paper/ and am pretty convinced this is a good option....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've thought about using baby facecloths instead of toilet paper. Good enough for babies' bottoms, should be good enough for mine.

      Delete
  60. As the Queen of Green I'm happy to see a great exhaustive list! I only disagree with one item. Liquid castile soap doesn't work great for dishes. I'd say soap nuts work better.

    ReplyDelete
  61. This post was amazing, and the comments just make me feel better about the world (so many thoughtful lovely people here), and I found so many great ideas. Reusable pads?? Who knew?? Also, hankies are wonderful. I like to keep one in every jacket pocket, the glove compartment, the diaper bag...

    ReplyDelete
  62. Another menstrual cup fan here!

    My period was so heavy I'd leak through ultra pads and overnight pads within 15 minutes, and my period would last up to 14 days - that's a LOT of waste, not to mention a lot of laundry too!

    I switched to Mooncup http://www.mooncup.co.uk/wc.php?u=1741 over a decade ago and will never go back to disposables, as well as saving a LOT of waste and cost menstrual cups are so much more comfortable, convenient, don't leak like tampons/pads, I can go far longer, I no longer get infections, plus they even reduced my flow. I recommend cups to everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  63. wow, this is so important!! is huge!! imagine if something like that could be teach at school, is a huge impact in the enviroment. I'm full of trash, but this is a grandefull example for follow. I was worried about the environement, and I want to do something about it, but I fell quite useless, I didn't know what to do. And I think this is something very important that you can do for yourself, is under our control. I wouldn't said easy, but posible. Thank you for that hope you give me

    ReplyDelete
  64. hi Lauren, it is interesting and inspiring to read the information you have posted.

    However, in all this, one aspect always mesmerizes me - can we really call the washable reusable materials eco-friendly. This is because we use soap and water to clean the material and then electricity to operate the washing machine. In this way, we do end up damaging the environment by generating and disposing waste.

    It would be interesting to know how a life cycle analysis study would show the impact of using materials made of bio-degradable plastics vis-à-vis the use of reusable washable materials.

    Any thoughts, please post.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Hi Lauren,

    I am looking into investing in a safety razor and I wanted to know how you disposed/ recycled the blades. I assume you cant just throw them in a recycle bin? What do you do/suggest?

    ReplyDelete
  66. hello Lauren,

    What a great list! Thank you for sharing your insights! I took the liberty to write a blog about your achievements and your Zero Waste Alternatives on http://www.tomatetomate.eu/das-tagliche-mullproblem/ . I hope that's ok with you?

    kind regards,
    Katharina

    ReplyDelete
  67. This is an absolutely wonderful Blog, you are making me really think about making a better effort to reduce my trash! My only comment is this - why are the better alternative products so expensive? $24 for cotton rounds, for example? Doesn't that seem a bit ridiculous? If you are unemployed (like I am) it's harder to afford to "do the right thing".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How much money do you spend on makeup removal wipes every month? $24 up front seems expensive, but if you're spending $6 on makeup removal wipes every month after 4 months the cotton rounds would have paid for themselves.

      Delete
  68. This is great, and I'm all for it. I do hope this word can spread. However, as a literal person I cringe a little when you say something is bad because it 'contains chemicals'. Seeing as all the alternatives you suggest also contain chemicals, this isn't at all specific. I know many people will scoff at this too and dismiss what you say because of your fear of 'chemicals'. For the sake of reaching more people, could you be more specific about what is bad about these products? 'Unnecessarily harsh' chemicals in toilet cleaner, for example. Caustic, producing toxic fumes etc.

    ReplyDelete
  69. You really don't need to use any dryer sheets or wool balls in your dryer to prevent static. If I encounter static I just run the clothes over the steel door of the dryer and it removes any static charge.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I will order a bamboo toothbrush today. I didn't know they existed. My biggest gripe though is food packaging, how do you get around this?

    ReplyDelete
  71. Hi there! This blog is wonderful! One thing that I think is missing from it is talking about sex toys.Though sex toys are usually reusable, they often have very harmful phthlates in them that can cause chemical burn and a lot of them are also plastic. This may be an interesting topic for those trying to live toxin-free.

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    1. You can buy glass "toys".

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    2. Yes! Glass (usually borosilicate glass like in PYREX) and stainless steel toys are a wonderful and fun alternative to the mass produced toys many people use. Definitely stay away from "jelly" toys and others containing pthalates. Steel and glass are bodysafe and many people also use silicone toys though they are debatably less eco than glass and steel.

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  72. Hi there - I've just discovered your blog. It's great. We are quite low on trash in our house because we can recycle so much stuff. We probably have one bag of trash a fortnight, and I'd like to get that even lower.

    I had a question about soap and shampoo. You have changed from using bottled body wash to bulk unwrapped soap, but there are of course choices in between. We use soap that comes in a cardboard box which can then be recycled.

    You say in another post that you still get your contact lens fluids because you can recycle the bottle. I wondered why the same wasn't true for shampoo bottles as they can also be recycled?

    Keep up the great blog!

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  73. Hi again, hopefully you'll find time soon to answer my previous questions, I'm sure blog has many 1000s of followers so you must get swamped with questions! :-)

    I just wanted to let you know that this post inspired me to write the following post:-
    https://moraghughson.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/avoiding-plastic-bags/

    If you want to add any of this to your ultimate list, do feel free.

    Cheers
    Morag

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  74. This site is amazing I love the concept of trash is for tossers. There are so many ways we can contribute and this site has some amazing ideas.

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  75. Periods, to Reduce Flow and Cramps: Magnesium relaxes muscles, and is found in chocolate, blackstrap molasses, epsom salt (eaten it is a laxative, or soaking-in, and reduces cramps), found especially in fresh green vegetables (as an element of chlorophyll), wheat germ soybeans, figs, corn, apples, oil-rich seeds and nuts, esp almonds (Nutrition Almanac by McGraw Hill), spinach, lentils, chickpeas are listed on page 15 of the Fred Meyer grocery store, Natural Choices Issue, page 17. (There's a savory curry (Indian) dish with these in it served with rice.) Blackstrap molasses on one Internet site listed blackstrap molasses as good to reduce fibroid tumors. Also, douching with epsom salt dilluted in water reduces fish smell. Fish smell, cramps, PMS headaches, constipation, sleeplessness, heavy bleeding during periods I suspect to be symptoms of magnesium deficiency or imbalance of the potassium, calcium, magnesium balance. PMS and estrogen dominance symptoms occur about the same time. I found both go away with some form of magnesium added to the body. I use to take Advil for my pre-menstrual migraines that would last for up to three days, all day and night. I now put blackstrap molasses in milk and drink it, and make it another etc. until the headache goes away and put it in my food as practical as a part of my diet. To help magnesium absorption, I get vitamin D in milk, also in the natural form of cod liver oil, and mushrooms. The website said it takes about 6 months for the full effect to take place. It did. The website was found with a keyword search of "fibroid tumor cure." Also, capsicum found in any hot spice, I had heard, reduced external and internal bleeding, To test this, I ate Kim Chee several times in a day during the period and the flow slowed to almost non-existant. When the flow started to return the next day, I ate more Kim Chee with the same result. So then I tried cayenne pepper in milk, because it was really hot, so I didn't eat enough to stop it, but the period did slow some. (I was out of Kim Chee.) Before I started the capsicum thing, to avoid tampons, I used three wads of folded toilet paper, staggered with a liner in my panties and changed the toilet paper whenever I went to the bathroom; and used soap and water in a pitcher when at home to keep clean. At night, so the flow didn't get onto the bed sheet, the toilet paper was pressed closely to the area behind the flow source and a thick pad was used as backup. Only one pad was used for the entire flow. So, I will be probably try capsules filled with hot pepper powder for the next month. Recyclers motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I am working on the "reduce." Best wishes.

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    1. I'm sorry, but I had to reply to this. You shouldn't be douching at all, especially during your period. The vagina is self-cleaning and doesn't need to be rinsed out internally with water. A normal healthy vagina shouldn't have a "fish smell." If you notice such odor, you should visit your gynaecologist to be checked for infection which, ironically, could very well be caused by your regular douching.

      Also, I'm not sure how long your flow lasts but it sounds like it is at least a few days if not more. You really should be changing your pad every couple of hours for hygiene purposes. Using the same pad for your entire period will likely lead to smell and infection as well. Look into reusable pads or making your own. It really is easier than you think and will cut down on the waste from the toilet paper your wadding. I love your motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! We can all do better like the author said. I'm definitely working on it as well.

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  76. For anyone worried about using a diva cup with a copper IUD, I've been using the diva cup for a while and when I got the IUD I asked about using a menstrual cup with it and they said it shouldn't be a problem.
    I've had the IUD for almost 4 years and have been rocking it in combination the whole time. The only issues I get with it are when my period is almost over that when I take out the diva cup, it smells a little coppery. But I make sure to thoroughly soap up and wash the diva cup before re-insertion and I'm in great health with no issues related to my cup or IUD(and no pregnancies, yay!)! <3

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  77. Great Ideas. Thank you for sharing them .
    I have a chemical free method of hair washing (it is not really mine, quite commonly used in India). Soap nuts are great for all washing purposes, you just need to soak , boil and use the filtered water. You can store the concentrate in a jar and use it for around a month. One can add gooseberries for conditioning as well. All the best for your initiative.

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  78. I plan on reducing my trash by forgoing shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles. Working on recipes to make my own and transitioning slowly to no poo method.

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  79. Be careful giving advice, also present risks. Maybe you didn't know, no worries, but concerning coffee filters:

    "Cafestol is a diterpene molecule present in coffee.

    A typical bean of Coffea arabica contains about 0.4-0.7% cafestol by weight.[1] Cafestol is present in highest quantity in unfiltered coffee drinks such as French press coffee or Turkish coffee/Greek coffee. In filtered coffee drinks such as drip brewed coffee, it is present in only negligible amounts.

    Studies have shown that regular consumption of boiled coffee increases serum cholesterol by 8% in men and 10% in women. For those drinking filter coffee, the effect was only significant for women.[2]

    Potential biological activity[edit]
    Cafestol has also shown anticarcinogenic properties in rats.[2] Cafestol may act as an agonist ligand for the nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor and pregnane X receptor, blocking cholesterol homeostasis.[3] Cafestol also has neuroprotective effects in a Drosophila fruit fly model of Parkinson's disease.[4]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cafestol

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  80. Hi Lauren, I m new to your blog. Zero waste is such a great idea. This initiative will solve lots of environmental problems and global warming effects. We do have power to change the world we live in. Share simple ideas and educate people what alternatives out there are available to us to cut down waste. Do you have a TED talk video? TED talks is a great way to spread great ideas to lots of people. Happy to be part of this community:)

    Wallace

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  81. I love so many of these ideas
    Might I ask if you havr any shampoo receipt for dry curls. And alternatives for laundry softeners when allergy to wools snd cottons. Thanks so much.

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  82. I love so many of these ideas
    Might I ask if you havr any shampoo receipt for dry curls. And alternatives for laundry softeners when allergy to wools snd cottons. Thanks so much.

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  83. I love all the ideas you shared. Some I had been practicing for years. My friends think I'm such a stinger. I recycled all the plastic bottles and containers if there's ever any, not for storing food, for other stuffs. Because refill packs are surprisingly more expensive. I would like to share that, reusable cotton pads are not easily and affordable in many country. So, I use the normal one but I reuse them for removing nail polish, I hope you don't find it gross. I also undo the unwanted sweater to reuse the wool yarn to knit into small washing pads for dish washing and car washing. I distribute it to my friends, some feedback that it's good but then they just ask me for another instead of making their own. Old t-shirt can also be cut into small cleaning cloth. Being environmental friendly also means making full use of what you have.

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  84. I would like to stop producing so much waste but a lot of these alternatives seem expensive or inaccessible. for example i dont live near a whole foods. i wish this stuff was more friendly to people who are low income.

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    1. Hi
      You don't have to eat whole foods or organic etc. How about just reducing your waste by buying what you need? I found that buying just what I need rather than in bulk worked for me and reduced my waste. Still working on it, but I don't throw out much food now.
      Also, don't think that you need to buy the large size of anything if you are not going to use it. It just wastes your money.
      Finally, do what you can. If you can't afford bamboo toothbrushes, continue to use your plastic ones. Look at recycling your clothes as cleaning cloths (although I don't recommend synthetics for this) or buying some second-hand clothing to cut up.

      I would try to reduce my waste first, then go fancy.

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  85. Do you know Lapiglove ? It is a wonderful zero-waste makeup remover ! It is a small French company which created that...

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  86. So we Shouldn't use cotton balls because cotton is pesticide and watee intensive so instead we should use COTTON rounds? I'm confused koi anyway, the rest is a grrat list and I'm gonna take a closer look at this whole "period cup" thing...

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  87. That should say "lol" not "koi" oops

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  88. Very good ideas. We could all learn much from those before us. I think it will take electing officals who are environmentally concerned to have an effective impact. These is so much we can do but if not brought up that way, there is a lot to learn. When I was browing up milk and pop came in glass jars which you returned to the store. Returning was not a problem once you got used to it. For those who do not want to return you can leave them out for those who do. We used a regular razor and just bought new blades for it. I hope I can find this site again!!!

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  89. Love this! Just started a blog of my own documenting my transition to the zero waste lifestyle. Check it out: http://goingzerowaste.blogspot.com/

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  90. Hi! I was wondering if you had ever found a zero waste alternative to wine and spirit bottles?

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  91. Hello! I saw your interview on MSN and I was wondering where you got the cloth bags for your bulk groceries. I like buying bulk, but I really don't like using all those little bags. Thanks! -Autumn

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  92. cleaned plastic straws with luke warm water when there were stainless straws now i feel like a idoit

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  93. Regarding drying racks for dishes. We wash by hand, no dishwasher, but I'm ok with that. Used to just place dishes on a towel to dry, but they take up a lot more space, plus they can slip, chip, etc. Now I use wood (bamboo) drying racks, I LOVE the look, couldn't stand the look of the plastic ones, plus the plastic ones would collect scum and get yucky. With the wood rack, I just fold it and lean it against the wall to dry when done. Use reusable, washable drying pads with it, they absorb better than towels, but you could just use a towel.

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  94. Muy buena lista, muchas gracias.
    es difícil comenzar cuando vives con una gran familia, me tarde mucho en que aceptaran la composta, pero algo es algo :D

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  95. Hi Lauren!
    I loved your blog and everything that you did and do.
    I want to change my life and my parents too and... If I can, some friends hehe.
    I hate plastic and people only change when bad things happen.
    My ask is... the site that you indicated to buy mason/ball jar, this item is unavaiable in the moment, do you know another site with similar price and that I can buy importing here from Brazil?
    Thanks a lot!
    Kisses!

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  96. Hi Lauren!
    I have more 1 question, what is the material used in mason jars' lids and bands?
    Thank you!

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  97. Hey folks,
    I am living in India and in Asia it is usual to not use toilet paper, but to wash oneselfes butt with water. That makes sense in so many ways (once you get used to i)t: you really get clean, you don't have to buy toilet paper, the toilet paper doesn't have to get produced in the first place, you never again have the problem to run out of toilet paper and you always have water in you bathroom anyway. Greets from Sadhana Forest Auroville!

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  98. What do you use for deodorant? Do you make it yourself? Would love to know! Thanks

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  99. Wow, I think your blog and your channel are amazing! There are an example of what you can reach if you really want to and is great motivation for other people. You motivated me aswell! When I saw that you olny filled one mason jar with your trash in two years, I could'nt believe it! But you show so many ways to change a lifestyle. Thank u very much!

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  100. Good for cleaning : Citric Acid.Can be used like Vinegar,but don't smells.Perfekt for Bathroom and Kitchen.To remove limescale from coffee machines and for regularly decalcify other stuff.My girlfriend got Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, so we use only organic stuff at home.

    Greetings from Germany.

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  101. You could add fountain pen that allows you to refill the ink instead of disposable plastic pens. :)

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  102. Could you please talk more about zero waste fashion please? Great job at making a world a better place not only by reducing your personal waste but also by inspiring others like me to do so. Xx

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  103. these are great suggestions but concerning cast iron pan VS Nonstick Pan i have great reservations, essentially due to the much greater amount of energy needed to heat up a cast iron pan compared to heating up a nonstick.

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  104. This is a beautiful blog. As for hair removal, I recommend looking into electrolysis, it's the only officially "permanent" hair removal. Laser is long lasting but it hasn't been proven to be 100% permanent yet. Also, I can say from personal experience that electrolysis has worked a lot better for me. My hair doesn't grow back as fast or as dark like it did with laser. However, electrolysis is more painful so I wouldn't recommend it for really large areas.

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  105. Hi! For the tampon issue...I know some who only use pads, and the idea of a cup is horrifying to them. As a cheaper alternative, I have bought reusable feminine pads on etsy. Works great and they last forever! Might want to think of adding this to your alternatives? Have a good day!

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  106. This list is great!! But please make a list of what to go with your "trash". Like what to do with the cardboard that ordering these things online bring to you. Or the plastic containers that the vinegar comes in.

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  108. Action Fuel Pro Review has been nearing all the time of late thus obviously, being the test sort, I chose to really give it a shot. One thing I saw is that they assert that with Action Fuel Pro Review will give you comes about notwithstanding the amount you workout. Something I am not enthusiastic about accepting but rather in the event that its actual it could truly be the supplement for me. All things considered, we should examine how it lives up to expectations and how it can offer you those amazing results.

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  109. Lauren, you rock! Love love love all of your suggestions. You are such an inspiration and we all should live zero waste like you do. What do you do for a replacement to q-tips or floss?
    Also, is there a way to recycle plastic pens that have run out of ink?
    xx
    JC

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  110. What about floss? Drying your hands in public places? Receipts?

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  111. I learned a lot when I lived in Guatemala for several months. In a household of 5, we had no trash. That is right! Zero trash! First, most trash comes from packaging. We bought our food fresh from venders, bring our own cloth shopping bags with us. At the grocery store, most items were bulk vegetables, nuts, soap, etc. things we put in our own bag. We used cloths to clean. We used cloth napkins. The only thing we had to get rid of was the toilet paper. The septic system there did not handle the toilet paper, so we put that in a trash can and burned it everyday up on the roof. There was no trash collection. At the end of 2 or 3 months, any trash that might have accumulated - cardboard boxes, paper - we took to the dump. Buying fresh food, not buying a lot of packaged junk we did not need meant we ended up with very little stuff to throw away!

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  112. I wonder what you do with the trash that comes from the package of things you use to make other things, like baking soda, vinegar, castile soap etc.?

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  113. I liked this very much. But some things just seemed really useless, and others, I really don´t see why not use a plastic water bottle, if you´re always using the same. Also, many things seem like your´re just trying to sell them. I´l lgive examples: straws, subsititution, steel straws. (unless a person is handicapped somehow, straws are completely unnecessary, don´t substitute, don´t use).

    French coffee press: you can use fabric filters, they´re reususable and made of cotton.

    Plastic ice trays.... I think you can recycle those, and people don´t throw them away. (unless they break, which doesn´t often happen.

    Mason jars x plastic: if I already have loads of tupperware, I do believe it´s better to use them until they get unusable. Plus they´re light. I get that mason jars may be nice, but to go shopping and carry all your products in glass, it will double the weight., I can´t imagine many people not minding this.




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  114. Alice MassogliaTuesday, July 21, 2015

    I'm afraid that I haven't had time to read all of the questions/comments, but one that I did see I can answer, at least partially. If you are using a safety razor you can prolong the blade life almost indefinitely by rinsing and drying the razor thoroughly after each use, and storing it head down in a small jar of mineral oil. The reason that the blades get dull has far more to do with corrosion than with wear, so keeping them dry and away from air when not in use keeps a single blade sharp for weeks or even months.

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  115. The pic of the glass with water in it that you have for the suggestion against using plastic water bottles is a little off. The glass has a plastic straw in it (waste alert!!!). You might want to think of changing the pic...

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    1. That is not a straw, that is water pouring into a glass.

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  116. Hi! I eat a lot of Greek yogurt as a protein source and was wondering if you've found any way to buy yogurt (preferably in large amounts) without the bulky plastic containers?

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  117. Hi Lauren, I am making a change in my lifestyle to live a more sustainable lifestyle. I was curious, other than mason jars, how do you store food? I like to keep a lot of organic veggies, and I like to prep chicken and meats in bulk to eat throughout the week. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

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