Zero Waste Swaps: Personal Hygiene

While the journey towards zero waste is a continuous one, these alternatives to wasteful items will make it a little easier. All of these items have been tried, tested, and approved by me. When making these swaps keep in mind what to do with your old items – don’t throw them away! 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.

Here are some of my recommended swaps to make in the area of personal hygiene.

Swap Plastic Razors for a Metal Safety Razor

The Waste Problem: Disposable razors

Why:  Non-recyclable, expensive, wasteful

The Alternative: Safety Razor or laser hair removal

Where to buy: Here

 

Swap Plastic Toothbrush for a Bamboo One

The Waste Problem: Plastic toothbrush

Why:  Non-recyclable, wasteful

The Alternative: Bamboo compostable and sustainable toothbrushes

Where to buy: Here

 

Swap Makeup Remover Wipes and Cotton Balls for Coconut Oil and Reusable Cotton Rounds

The Waste Problem: Disposable makeup remover wipes and cotton balls

Why:  They’re wasteful, expensive, unnecessary, and the wipes often have toxic chemicals

The Alternative: Organic coconut oil and Reusable Cotton Rounds

Where to buy: Here

 

Swap Bottles of Body Wash for Bar Soap

The Waste Problem: Body wash in plastic packaging

Why:  It’s wasteful and not recyclable everywhere

The Alternative: Unwrapped bulk soap

Where to buy:  Here

 

Swap Bleached Toilet Paper for Bamboo Toilet Paper

The Waste Problem: Bleached toilet paper in plastic packaging

Why:  Dangerous chemicals, non-recyclable, wasteful

The Alternative: Bamboo toilet paper wrapped in paper

Where to buy: Here

 

Swap Disposable Tampons and Pads for a Menstrual Cup and Reusable Pads

The Waste Problem: Plastic tampon applicator and disposable pads

Why:  Pads ending up in landfills, conventional cotton in tampons is pesticide laden, and plastic applicators –  I don’t want plastic in my life, especially not in me

The Alternative: Menstrual cup such as a Lunette cup and/or reusable pads

Where to buy: Menstrual cups here and pads here

 

Swap Traditional Floss for Refillable Dental Lace

 

The Waste Problem: Traditional floss and plastic floss containers

Why:  The containers are rarely recyclable or recycled, and some floss manufacturers coat floss in a chemical contaminant that helps it glide through gums more easily, but can lead to other health issues

The Alternative: Refillable dental lace made from 100% mulberry silk

Where to buy: Here

 

Swap Deodorant Stick in Plastic for a Jar of Cream Deodorant

 

The Waste Problem:  Traditional sticks of deodorant

Why:  Most sticks come in plastic containers often wrapped in more plastic packaging

The Alternative: Natural cream deodorant in a glass and metal container

Where to buy:Here

 

Swap a Loofah for a Natural Bath Sponge

The Waste Problem: Synthetic loofah

Why: Most drugstore loofahs are made from non-compostable or non-recyclable materials

The Alternative: A natural bath sponge

Where to buy: Here

 Purchase all of these, plus more of my favorite zero waste bathroom and personal hygiene items below.

 

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A Look Inside My Zero Waste, Brooklyn Apartment

Take a peek inside of my zero waste, minimal apartment in Brooklyn, NYC.

All photos taken by the talented Daniela Spector

 

Shop some of my favorite home items below.

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How To Have A Zero Waste Period

Check out this video to see how I deal with my monthly period completely waste free. Here are the products mentioned on the video:

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Zero Waste Bachelorette Party

When I think bachelorette I think…

  • Strippers
  • Vomiting
  • Girls Kissing Bartenders and other girls?
  • Shots, Shots, Shots and LOTS of alcohol
  • WASTE (and wasted)

… and so when I was tasked with being the Maid of Honor for my cousin’s wedding, it meant that I had to be involved with planning the bachelorette party. I had a moment of panic (refer to above bullet points) So HTF do you plan a bachelorette party without waste? Here’s how.

I did a few things to ensure that the festivities were sustainable for our beach weekend bachelorette getaway and it basically all came down to planning. The three main topics I will focus on are bridesmaids goodies, food, and alcohol.

Bridesmaids Goodies:

I made bags of zero waste gifts from Package Free Shop for all of the women that were on the trip to ensure that they had all of the sustainable tools that they needed. I included a tote bag filled with:

  • Stainless Steel Straws
  • Mason Jars
  • Plastic Free Sunscreen from Raw Elements
    • For 15% off use code ‘trashisfortossers15
  • Sustainable Condoms from Sustain
    • For 40% off use code ‘trashisfortossers
  • Pain Killers
  • Bag to put everything in

I also went around Brooklyn and bought a bunch of secondhand sun hats that I put out on the table and had all of the girls pick their favorites and then they took them home.

For decorations, one of the other bridesmaids made a super cute DIY Instagram Picture Window that is 100% paper and can be recycled and/or composted.

Food:

For food we shopped ahead and got lots of greens and prepared food to cook at home. It is important to compost and recycle to prevent waste. We also went to restaurants that served local and organic food.

Alcohol:

  • At the house
    • Focus on alcohol that comes in cans in boxes for beer (they don’t have the plastic rings) and aluminum is very recyclable.
    • If you are going to get wine or champagne, try to look for bottles that have glass corks (they are 100% recyclable) or natural corks (you can recycle them at Whole Foods).
    • Be sure to create a recycling section
  • At bars or restaurants:
    • Ask for your cocktails without straws or skewers
    • If you are ordering beer, always opt for draft
    • If the bar only has plastic cups, be sure to bring your mason jar or stainless steel cup with you (the stainless steel cup is also beach friendly for resorts that don’t allow glass)
  • For Hangovers 
    • I gave all of the girls little pouches of painkillers that I took from a 100% recyclable bottle.
    • Coffee is King (I buy bulk coffee, but if you are going out for coffee, be sure to have your mason jar)!
    • To get some throw up stains out of sheets or clothing or towels (don’t pretend you haven’t been there) use The Simply Co. to pretreat stains and then wash.

Ultimately, bachelorette parties are absolutely shit-shows so taking a few precautions before the alcohol starts flowing is always a good idea because the parties are always better when you are getting wasted as opposed to making a ton of waste.

Shop all the items in my bachelorette bags below:

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How To Pack A Zero Waste Lunch

Back when I  had just started my first real, post-graduate job I was commuting about an hour each way to work, and all the restaurants in the area were mainly fast food chains that didn’t appeal to me as someone who loves healthy food, plus, I knew they generated a ton of trash through single-use to-go containers.

The bright side to it all is that I love to cook, so I decided from the get-go that I’d bring my lunch every day to work. To do so, I invested in the ultimate zero waste and plastic-free lunch kit. AKA a super cool lunch box for adults.

It included:

  • One airtight stainless steel lunch container 

    • It is great. Totally spill proof, easy to clean, and it has optional dividers so that I can keep my food separate.
  • A Set of reusable bamboo utensils in a cute carrying case

    • Besides the fact that bamboo utensils look so cool, they come in a handy carrying case. You could keep a set in your desk at work, or just keep them with you at all times in your bag. You could also pick up a fork from the Goodwill or Salvation Army to leave at the office.
  • One reusable napkin 

    • I use Organic cotton napkins at my house, and I’d bring one to the office and leave it there for the week and then bring it home to wash on Friday. So easy.
  • A couple Organic cotton bags for snacks or sandwiches 

    • You can also use them for bulk at the market. I use these to buy rice and pasta at the market, but I also use them to carry granola, nuts, popcorn or even a sandwich to work. They are super lightweight and washable.
  • Mason jar, glass, or water bottle

    • I love bringing my BKR bottle with me wherever I go. I also almost always have a mason jar or reusable coffee cup on me at all times for hot liquids like coffee. You could also bring a glass from home or purchase one at your local thrift shop for under a dollar to keep at your desk. P.S. if you drink iced coffee or tea, you might want to invest in a stainless steel straw. I LOVE mine.

 

Shop all my go-to zero waste lunch accessories and more below:

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Why I Make My Own Toothpaste



I haven’t purchased toothpaste in years, and y​es –  I brush my teeth!​ How is this possible? I make it myself.

When I transitioned to a Zero Waste lifestyle over four years ago, toothpaste was the first product I stopped buying and started making. The ingredients are simple and easy to find at almost any store: baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils. It takes no more than 2 minutes to combine these three ingredients, and the toothpaste leaves my mouth feeling so incredibly fresh— way fresher than store­bought toothpaste.

But let’s take a step back… why did I make the switch from “conventional” packaged toothpaste to one that I make myself?

The Packaging:

For starters, I live a Zero Waste lifestyle and toothpaste tubes are totally wasteful. They are typically sold with not just the tube, but a box as well. While the box is recyclable, the tube is very difficult or impossible to recycle and will most likely end up in a landfill. The benefit of making my own toothpaste is that I can put it in a glass jar or stainless steel container that I can wash and reuse infinitely. No plastic tubes, no trash, no landfill.

The Ingredients:

I like to have control of what I am putting on and in my body. There has been a lot of controversy around the ingredients that are in conventional toothpaste. Two that I will focus on are triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate, but conventional toothpaste also contains fluoride, propylene glycol, and sodium hydroxide, all of which are controversial because they are linked to cancer and a long list of other ailments.

Triclosan:​ A chemical added to many products to reduce bacterial contamination which is also used in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis,​according to the FDA and toothpaste manufacturers.​In addition, it has been said to be potentially carcinogenic and have negative effects on the endocrine system in animals. It is banned in certain applications in Europe and in 2011, some of Colgate’s soap products were reformulated without the chemical, but not their toothpaste. The ecotoxicology of the ingredient is still under heavy scrutiny and EWG rates it to have a moderate/high health hazard. That’s all I needed to hear to make the decision to stay clear of it for good.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): ​Is a surfactant (a foaming agent that lowers the tension between two liquids or a liquid and a solid) used in toothpaste to evenly disperse the ingredients and help with effective rinsing and removal of mouth debris. It also promotes foaming. Many studies on SLS show that it is contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a byproduct of the manufacturing process, which is also a possible carcinogen. SLS is also said to aggravate gums. No, thank you.

If something has a supposed risk, I will avoid it until I have concrete evidence that it is safe. This is why I choose to make my own toothpaste with just three ingredients that I trust and buy package­free: baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils.

The Savings:

Toothpaste can cost anywhere between $1­-$8 for a 6oz tube depending on the brand you are buying and where you are purchasing it from. In my experience (purchasing ingredients in NYC), I have spent at most $.60 for 6oz of toothpaste. All aside, the cost savings alone are worth it.

With so much to gain and not much to lose, making your own toothpaste makes sense! It’s cheaper to make, tastes better, feels better in your mouth, and is better for you. See for yourself, to learn how to make my zero waste toothpaste by checking out this video. 

Find some more of my favorite zero waste dental hygiene products below:

Repurposed from this post on EcoWatch.com

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How To Make Your Coffee Order Zero Waste

I am absolutely addicted to coffee. I drink multiple cups every single day and while sometimes I make it at home, other times I grab it on the go.

But how do I get to-go coffee without a disposable cup? Easy!

I bring my own. Here are a few of my favorite reusable to-go cups and coffee accessories below.

Check out the video above to see how I buy coffee single use package free. You can do it with a reusable coffee cup or mason jar.

REMEMBER don’t be afraid of looking weird for asking for something in a reusable cup. You are a BADASS doing something that is amazing for the environment (and your wallet because a lot of coffee shops will give discounts for people who bring their own cups). If someone gives you a look for doing something different,  it is not something to be ashamed of. You could be doing something they have never seen before, so think about it in a way that makes you a teacher, showing someone something new, and be proud. You rock!

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