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Moving towards zero waste

8 MINUTE READ

8 MINUTE READ

My trips to take the garbage bin out had been weighing heavily on me.  Trying to live a more sustainable existence in the Gold Coast Hinterland I was searching for more ways that I could leave a lighter footprint on the Planet and some how this walk of shame with a bin full of rubbish that our household had produced did not seem to fit into my new found consciousness.  Not to mention the embarrassing racket of bottles and cans every fortnight as the recycling truck came to collect our curb side recycling bin. I could hear the neighbours all snickering “That’ll be the Schafer’s house!”

So I made a decision to go about reducing the waste that we produced as a family and set out to learn ways in which we could go about it.  Plenty of Youtube videos later I ordered in a book that I now refer to as my Zero Waste Bible, Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home. Inspired by and in awe of her family of four being able to fit all the rubbish they produced annually into a container no bigger than a jar of pasta sauce, I started to slowly (so as not to create panic) introduce the family to zero waste living.

Ridding ourselves of packaging, particularly plastic packaging was the catalyst that lead me to discover some great DIY recipes.  Making products from scratch would mean that we wouldn’t need to bring masses of plastic bottles and containers into the home in the first place, particularly from consumable bathroom and kitchen products.  And frankly I was amazed at how easy they were to make, how few ingredients were required and most importantly, how effectively they worked!

So here are my top five recipes for zero waste products that I can quite easily say that I wish I had discovered years ago, and confidently know that I will not be switching back to their overly packaged, pre-portioned, toxic and pricey cousins from the supermarket.

1 – Zero Waste Toothpaste

2 tabs coconut oil

1 tab bicarb soda

15 drops essential oil (I use peppermint)

Mix together and put in a sterile jar.  To use, scoop a small quantity out with a spoon, no need to wet your brush and just brush and rinse as normal.

This toothpaste takes a bit of getting used to as it doesn’t foam up like regular toothpaste and it has a pleasant salty taste rather than sweet, but I have always found store bought toothpaste to be a bit sickly, so I find this one refreshing.

2 – Zero Waste Deodorant

Melt the following ingredients in a bowl over the top of simmering water:

2 tabs arrowroot powder

1 tab bicarb soda

1 tab coconut oil

1 tab shea butter

When the mixture is melted add 5-10 drops essential oil of your liking.  The first time I made this one I wasn’t wearing my glasses and mistakenly added peppermint instead of lemongrass oil.  I loved it so much though I continue to use peppermint, but you could add sandalwood, lemon, cloves or whatever you prefer.

Fill the mixture into a glass jar and allow to cool before putting the lid on.  Apply a small smear with your fingertips to each armpit. Not only will you notice your armpits getting softer but you will notice how  shaving becomes much smoother.

3 – Zero Waste Beeswax Lip Balm

Melt the following in a bowl over simmering water:

2 tabs beeswax grated

2 tabs shea butter

2 tabs coconut oil

Remove from the heat and add 15-20 drops essential oil (once again I prefer peppermint).

Fill your small jar, tin or recycle a used and cleaned lip balm tube.  Let them sit several hours to allow them to cool completely before capping them.

NB: Adding colour to lip balm is tricky because most vegetable dyes are water soluble and this mixture is basically an oil medium so they wont mix.  So I just leave this clear and use as a soothing lip moisturiser or gloss over stained lips.

4 – Zero Waste Liquid Soap

1 bar of organic good quality soap (preferably with no packaging)

grate one cup of soap which is about half a bar and add to four litres of warm tap water (ours is tank water which is a bonus).

Stir and cover.  Let it sit over night and in the morning you will have four litres of liquid soap. Yes, it’s that easy!

Fill all your jars and reuse some pump action bottles. This product is great for hand washing at the sink and in the bathroom.  It will not foam as much as the original bar of soap but it will clean just as well.

5 – Zero Waste Kitchen Spray

1 bottle white vinegar (glass)

1 orange peeled (eat the orange)

1 packet of bicarb of soda (put the contents in a parmesan cheese shaker)

Place the orange peels into the jar of vinegar and let it sit for a couple of days to allow the oils to infuse their fragrance through.  Pour into a spray bottle for ease of use.

To clean your sinks, tubs and basins, sprinkle a light dusting of bicarb onto the surface, spray with vinegar and while it fizzes wipe with a clean cloth. Finish with another cloth that has been rinsed in water.

You will be surprised at how many products from under the kitchen sink can be replaced with just vinegar, lemons, bicarb soda and essential oils. Just like the good old days your house will be spick and span but without harsh and toxic chemicals and all that packaging waste.

Lastly i’d just like to encourage you to be a conscious consumer. Just remember that whatever you bring into your home has to be disposed of somehow at some point. Try not to shop in haste, take your time and think things through, you’ll not only find that you’ll save money but you will be reducing your impact on the environment and helping save the Planet too.

Julia Schafer is passionate about sustainable living, loves to get down and dirty in the garden and is a power tool princess.  Her love of writing lead her to start her blog six years ago titled www.farewellmymanicure.com which morphed into a Web TV show via Youtube where she discusses topics from Simple Suburban Sustainability tips to DIY projects and Urban Gardening. Over the last two years she has written for several publications and has just added educating and speaking engagements to her repertoire.

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