Cleaning the Toilet Without Waste

Cleaning the toilet is definitely not the most glamorous thing in the world, but at least it isn’t hard. Some people use bleach and other nasty chemicals to get their bathroom clean, not me! My method is completely non-toxic!

I use four things to clean my toilet:
1) Organic liquid castile soap
2) Distilled white vinegar
3) Washcloth
4) Plastic free toilet brush

Here’s how I do it.

Step 1: Spray the entire toilet with white vinegar. This includes the top, cover, seat, under the seat, and around the base. Let sit.

Step 2: Put liquid castile soap in bowl and brush clean with toilet brush, let sit.
Step 3: I use one washcloth to clean the entire toilet. To I do this I first fold the towel in half and wipe the top and the seat clean. Then I fold that in half again to do the seat and then under the seat. I then repeat the process to clean the rim and the base of the toilet. That way I use a clean section for each part of the process and only dirty one towel. I then just throw that in the laundry. Easy!

Step 3: Flush toilet, close lid. Easy pee-z. Ha.


Zero Waste Picnic

I’m so grateful to have friends that are passionate about lots of different things. Two of my friends, Anna and Kate, are passionate about healthy, Organic food and we decided to join forces and have a Zero Waste picnic.

The planning was easy because we chose to make our picnic potluck style. We each made a dish and since I was hosting the picnic at my house, I provided the blanket, silverware, cups, and plates. However, if you wanted to host this at a park or beach or wherever, you could have each person bring their own plate/cup/napkin/fork to make carrying everything easier.

Anna and Kate brought their dishes in mason jars and larger, lidded glass containers instead of in plastic or other disposables. This made cleanup and carrying the food extremely easy and prevented spillage! Also, since our meal was vegan, Organic, and mostly raw, our ingredients were easily found package-free!

I made mashed purple potatoes with roasted onions, Kate made spaghetti squash with figs and vegan cheese topping, and Anna made roasted eggplant with tomato sauce and brussel sprouts. For dessert we had fresh figs and dried dates. To drink I served meyer lemon vodka with sparkling water infused with basil and mint from my terrace garden.

The cleanup could not have been easier since 1) we ate all of the food and 2) there were only a few jars and plates to clean, and the girls took their containers home, so I only had to clean 3 cups, 3 forks, a couple of serving spoons, and 3 plates. This event was so simple that it could be scaled up for more people without much effort at all and is the perfect way to host your friends because everyone gets to make something that they love and share it with one another.


Zero Waste Toilet Brush

…a toilet brush?

Sometimes i’m not sure how I have friends.

But anyway, this is not just ANY toilet brush. It is special. I ordered this gorgeous thing from my favorite online shop, Life Without Plastic. It is made of sustainably harvested, untreated beechwood with soft pig bristles. It also has an edge cleaner so I can get up under the rim. You can order the brush alone, but I ordered mine with the beechwood stand and terra cotta ceramic dish. Plus, the brush and stand are 100% compostable and the dish can be reused for a planter, or for your next brush. It’s as sexy as a toilet brush can be, and I love it.

As always, the packaging for my toilet brush was 100% plastic free and recyclable. They used paper tape to seal the box and on the inside, the unpackaged brush, stand, and bowl were protected by kraft paper which I keep to reuse.

How do I clean my toilet, naturally?

I just put some castile soap in the toilet and a little bit of white vinegar, scrub, let it sit for a second, and flush. Voila!


Zero Waste Moving

So I moved this week. I was all like, la-de-da moving is wonderful and flowers and ponies and easy peasy. NO moving sucks, guys. It really, really sucks. It is hard, hot, and I have bruises. SO MANY BRUISES.

Let me step back a bit and say, besides the large pieces of furniture, bed, couch, coffee table, dining table and chairs, I moved everything myself, by hand, from my old apartment into my car, to the new apartment and carried it upstairs and unloaded. Maybe I am the world’s dumbest person for doing that, maybe I should have spent another 200 dollars and had someone pack it up, but I was determined to do a Zero Waste move using only the 9 boxes that I salvaged from the recycling center at work and all of my reusable bags.

Despite the sweat, the tears, the fact that my body hurts, and that I feel like I’m 97, I learned a valuable lesson, a lesson that took me sitting in a ball crying on the floor surrounded by all of my things to realize: I have way too much stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I live in an apartment in Brooklyn (yay, Brooklyn!) so how much stuff can I really have? Well, it turns out that I have a lot more than I thought. It’s like, where did all of this sh*t come from??? Why do I have 40 mason jars, 7 extension cords, way too many pens, 80 books, a billion towels, and streamers, why do I have streamers!?

So here is what I did. I put away all of the “essentials”. Plates, cups I use most often, sheets, a few towels, and the kitchen equipment I use all the time and I left the rest on my counter and my floor and am going to spend the next two days asking myself “do I really need this right now?” If the answer is no, I am going to put it in a box that will be designated for Goodwill.

I thought I was a minimalist, but it turns out I’m probably tipping more towards the hoarder side and it’s terrifying. I find myself saying, okay, I might not need this party hat now, but one day, maybe, I will host a party and someone will want a hat. I need to stop doing that and stop being ridiculous and just say no to these things, because if and when the time comes I actually need a party hat I could either 1) make party hats out of newspaper or something or 2) forego hats altogether, will they really dictate the overall tone of the party? Come on, NO.

So I guess moving is good in the sense that I really evaluated my life and what I own and realized that I have too much stuff, but bad in the sense that I really had to take a hard look at myself and say, Lauren, you aren’t all that minimal girl, you have a LOT of crapola. So I take this experience as a point from where I will begin to purge and downsize. I can’t beat myself up about it too much because hey, we’re only human, and sometimes we collect, it happens, but I’m ready to live a life that isn’t weighted down by all of the things I own and live more with less.


Why I Let my Fridge go Bare

I recently read an NRDC report that said 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month adding up to over $165 billion each year. HOLY $#*^. I could get SO MANY JARS WITH THAT MONEY!!!!! So where does all of this food end up? Almost all of it in the landfill where food matter accounts for 16 percent of U.S. methane emissions. Methane, that gas that is driving climate change and destroying the planet…yep, that one.

I come from a mom who comes from a mom that wouldn’t let her leave the table until she finished everything on her plate. I never had that problem (I have always had a hefty appetite) but the idea of not wasting food is one that I grew up with. It just doesn’t make sense. Composting rotten food turns it into nutrient rich soil that you can use to produce nutrient rich food with. DUH! So why send it to the landfill where it won’t turn into anything but gas and wasted space?

I prevent that by saying NO, THANKS to food waste. While some dream of endlessly bountiful fridges overflowing with produce, I pride myself on letting my fridge go bare every week. At 22 years old, I get enjoyment out of scrounging together meals from “nothing” because it means that I have used up everything in my house and prevented any waste. For instance, tonight. My fridge, to many, could have seemed totally empty and a trip to the store or a takeout call would have been in order, but to me there was a big opportunity for a great meal.

Armed with half an onion, some dried peas, a handful of wilty kale, a few shriveled mushrooms, three potatoes that were starting to dry up and some dried rosemary I made split pea soup and rosemary roasted potatoes. Besides being insanely delicious, there is now enough food in my fridge to feed me for the next two days. I’m saving money, time, and preventing wasting food that could have been destined for compost.

Part of living a Zero Waste lifestyle is using up everything I have before buying anything new. The same ideology is applied to my food. By stocking up on staples like rice, dried peas, and dried beans, I can stretch any perishable by challenging when it should be decommissioned and making it into a hearty meal. Then, the only thing I am tossing into my compost are things like potato skins, onion peels, and coffee grounds. What happens to it then? It hangs out with some worms for a while until it is done cookin’ and is used to grow more food or fertilize some awesome NYC flowers. Total win.


Hosting a Zero Waste Dinner Party

I am starting a new job this week, so to celebrate I wanted to host a dinner party. The idea can seem a little daunting, and understandably so. The hours of preparation and the cleanup are tiresome enough. My solution? A potluck! It makes playing hostess so simple, affordable and fun. Everyone gets to bring something that they love to cook as well as try new dishes. In fact, a potluck is so affordable I cooked my part of the meal (using all Organic ingredients), for under $12 dollars in less than one hour! Plus, had we gone to a restaurant, it would have easily cost four times that!

I set the table with all reusable plates, silverware, glasses, and cotton napkins. For the centerpiece, I used upcycled glass jars and filled them with water and fresh Organic rosemary which smelled fantastic! I also made place cards, which always make me feel fancy, using a piece of cardboard that I cut up into five rectangles and then folded in half. After dinner, I recycled them.
As for the food, one of my friends cannot eat dairy or gluten, so we had a really fun challenge to cook dishes that would work for everyone. I made a porcini mushroom soup with lemon, potatoes, and rosemary. I bought all of the ingredients in bulk which not only cut down on the cost of my portion, it made it Zero Waste.
My friends brought BBQ tempeh, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts with walnuts, and homemade vegan “cheesecake” topped with coconut frosting and raspberries. Everything they brought was packed in glass or metal and brought over in reusable or upcycled bags that were recycled.
The most difficult part about hosting a Zero Waste dinner party would be finding alcohol, especially since getting a growler of beer wasn’t a possibility due to gluten free dietary restrictions. Also, since I only drink Organic wine, I can’t buy refill a bottle anywhere in the city. 🙁 Luckily my friend brought Organic screw top wine (cork free!) and I could recycle the entire thing.

Our dinner was delicious, so much fun, and really easy. In fact, the cleanup was so simple that we did it in 10 minutes and went to a friend’s party afterwards! Believe me, after a long night, there is nothing better than coming home to a house so clean, you forget you had a party at all!