Yes, ditch your trash cans. No, it won't happen overnight. I think it took me about a year to work my way down to not having trash cans in my kitchen. The first thing I did was switch the trash and recycling cans. I started using the larger can for recycling and the smaller one for landfill waste. As I started making less and less recycling waste, I moved the recycling can out onto the back deck. As I started making less and less landfill waste, I moved that can onto the back deck, too. Now both of them are used for recycling, but it takes me quite a while to fill them up. I keep a small bag inside for whatever landfill waste is made. No, I'm still not completely zero waste, and don't think I ever will be, which is part of the reason the term zero waste is a little problematic. I think it could sound overwhelming and unattainable to newbies. I find it to be a fun challenge, kind of like a game, but not everyone is like me. If zero waste sounds daunting, just think of it as less waste. No, I have not done a jar challenge and don't have any plans to do one in the near future. The jar challenge for those not familiar, is keeping all landfill waste in a glass mason jar and seeing how long you can go before filling it up. I enjoy watching other people's posts about jar challenges, but haven't felt the urge to participate. Also, I will mention here that I've recently taken on a new housemate, so there has been an increase in overall household waste, both recycling and landfill, since December 1. It's been a perfect way for me to practice not being a judgmental asshole and letting my actions speak for themselves. Just today he went shopping at the local health food store and purchased himself a reusable bag and milk in a returnable glass bottle!
I find myself wanting to go to any other room of the house besides the kitchen. I don't feel overly qualified to dispense advice about a zero waste kitchen, but I will continue to share the things I've either done or the things I'm currently working on, and if any of it sparks your interest and curiosity, great. When I first started making changes in the kitchen, I would sometimes find myself stuck, literally unable to think of a plastic free or toxic free alternative. Anytime that would happen I would pause and think well, what would my Great Grandmother, Ida, have done or what would my Yiayia in Greece have done, back before this plastic thingamabob existed. Side note, can we take a moment to appreciate that thingamabob is a word? This is what zero waste feels like to me, going back to my roots, back to a more sustainable way of living. It's not some hot, new trend to use real plates and silverware, to cook on a stovetop or in the oven, to not waste food, although that's how it can look on Instagram.
I often say my zero waste lifestyle started about two or three years ago, but that's simply not true. I've had my To-Go Ware utensils and food carrier for over a decade. I've had my Glad Rags pads for over a decade. I was born in 1977, as an 80's kid, Woodsy Owl (created in 1971) made a huge and obviously lasting impression on me. The 3 Rs were drilled into my head at school. I've already mentioned my childhood summers in Greece and how they shaped me in regards to conserving water and electricity. Those summers were endless and spent outside unless it was nap time or bedtime. My memories of Greece make me think of simple things; running wild, riding bikes, sunshine, the ocean, fresh food, did I mention naps? During the rest of the year my Dad was known to encourage shorter showers, turning lights off when leaving a room, and putting on a sweater during the winter months. None of this zero waste business is ground breaking news, instead it's more of a remembering of how things used to be and finding our way back to a more sustainable lifestyle before we completely destroy the environment.
It's more accurate for me to say the term zero waste hit my radar about two years ago and has inspired me to do even more. It has been nice to connect with other people living this way. And if I do get stuck or need advice, there is a large network of people ready to offer up tips, ideas, advice, and recipes!
It's hard for me to pinpoint the first zero waste thing I did in the kitchen, and I suppose order doesn't matter, but the more I think about it, I'd have to say it was ditching the microwave. I bought my house in 2001, ditching the microwave happened shortly after that, but I couldn't tell you exactly when. I know this may seem impossible for some people to even consider, but it was easy for me to say goodbye. When I was a senior in college, my boyfriend was a first year medical student. While home on a break he explained to me the dangers of microwaves (and cel phones*) and I will never forget it. He was downright freaked out by both of them and what he had learned in school. Maybe it's not a big deal. I know there is research that says microwaves don't cause harm, that you would have to stand directly in front of it for a long time, but there is other research that shows microwave safe plastic is not really that safe. I've also read articles that show microwaving reduces the nutrients in the food. I personally don't see the need and I have never missed having a microwave in my kitchen. Obviously, do your own research and make whatever decision works best for you.
* I believe this is why I fought getting a cel phone for years after most people had one. I still daydream about smashing my phone at least once a week. Also, wifi...I'll make a note to talk about these in a future post.
PMS ESC (Extreme Self Care) was an old workshop idea that I never brought to life, but it’s a concept I get to practice and play with monthly. I swear this round of PMS tried to kill me. Wednesday night was exhaustion and a bout of nausea I’d never experienced before. I treated that with ginger, lemon, and hot water. Thursday was cramps. More ginger, lemon, and hot water, along with Clary Calm blend from @doterra applied every couple of hours. Yesterday I was so tired. I wasn’t hungry until about 11:30 am. I ate and then crawled back into bed for the best nap of my life. I woke up a few hours later completely refreshed and renewed. This is my post nap selfie from yesterday. Today I took it easy, never changed out of my comfy clothes, and spent most of the day in bed with Stretch reading a book. Tonight I’m treating my face to an @orgaid organic sheet mask and eating coconut fat balls in bed.
Besides cleaning the bathroom, which I’ll cover down the road, I think this wraps up our time in the bathroom. I don’t wear make up so I’ve got nothing to share in that arena. There are lots of great zero wasters that talk about DIY and ethical make up. I’ll tag a few. I’ve given hair removal (eyebrows, upper lip) a rest for the last couple of years now so not much to share about that either. Except the break has been lovely. If I think of anything else, I’ll circle back, but for now, that’s a wrap! Onto the next area!
The day I found out that lighting a match could replace bathroom air fresheners, I felt like I had finally been let in on a giant secret of the universe. Why had this secret been kept from me for so long? Why did I have to suffer for years and years with overly fragrant, toxic bathroom sprays that didn’t really work anyway? I hope I was the last person to learn of this secret, but just in case I wasn’t, this actually works. It’s not the flame, it’s the lighting of the match and the smoke after blowing it out. Light one or two, let them burn for a few seconds and then blow them out. Run them under water to make sure they’re fully extinguished and toss in with compostables. And now you know. You’re welcome. Obviously not the best zero waste solution if there are kids in the house, but child free here and matches can be found in both bathrooms on the back of the toilet in either a cute basket or ceramic bowl.
I haven't tried this myself, but this looks promising as an alternative to store bought sprays and matches.
Is there really anything else to say with this one?! It's self explanatory and as I've written in a previous post, toilets use anywhere between 2 – 7 gallons of water to flush, depending on the age of the fixture. The savings of money and water quickly add up!
Last month I bought a case of bamboo toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap. Speedy delivery, no plastic wrappers, and with only two people in the house I’m guessing it’ll last quite a while. In addition to the bamboo option, there is a 100% recycled paper option that is less expensive. I will say it’s not “as soft” as what I was previously using, but it’s comfortable and I’m very pleased to have found a plastic free option that is not flimsy 1-ply or the equivalent to wiping with sandpaper. Want to give it a try? Click here and save $10 off your first order! 💚🚽
Once every week or two, on the night before it's time to wash my hair with the shampoo bar, I will put coconut oil in my hair and leave it in overnight. That's it! In case you haven't noticed my love of zero waste goes perfectly with my love of minimalism. Yes, if you google "overnight coconut oil hair mask" all sorts of good stuff will pop up ranging from straight oil to oil with herbs, oil with lemon, oil with avocado, oil with honey, oil with you name it. I am into finding the easiest, simplest way to get a task done. I'd rather spend the extra time in bed with Stretch, reading, or sleeping! Once the oil is thoroughly massaged into my scalp and into all of my hair, I put it up in a bun. I put a towel over my pillow so the oil doesn't stain my pillowcase and call it a night. Wash it out in the following day.
When I first went searching for photographs to accompany yesterday's post I remembered a meme from a few years back. At the time I remember it being half funny/half eye roll worthy. It didn't take me long to find it again. It's down below. I know this is a zero waste/minimalist blog, but really it's my blog, and no one thing lives in a vacuum. For the last two years I've been actively working on my blindspots in regards to issues such as systemic racism, white supremacy, cultural appropriation, gender, and white feminism vs. intersectional feminism. To name a few! As a white woman there is A LOT I need to learn and unlearn.
When I re-discovered this meme yesterday, I found it to be even more cringeworthy and less funny, but I couldn't put my finger on why exactly. I just knew that I didn't want to use it as the main photo yesterday or today. Hence the photo of my giant container of olive oil on yesterday's post. This meme felt and feels icky. Why?I started Googling and didn't find anything about this meme specifically, but I did find a couple of thought provoking articles about coconut oil, hair, and cultural appropriation. I thought this would be a great place to point out that using coconut oil for hair care is not some hot, new trend invented by young, thin, white, cis women, although that is how it looks if you do a simple internet search. I had to scroll down to the eighth row to find the first photo of a POC.
Here are three links I found yesterday that I wanted to share. This is not to say that white women can not use coconut oil in our hair. It's taking a moment to acknowledge the people and cultures that have been doing this for centuries. It's enjoying these hair care tips without completely erasing the people who got ridiculed for the very same thing we are now hailing as the solution to all of our problems, or at least 86 of them.
If You Don't Get the Problem with Cultural Appropriation, Listen to This
Why Cultural Appropriation is Real and Hurtful
My Indian Parents are Huge Fans of Cultural Appropriation, Even While My Generation Finds it Appalling
Well, I’m seeing a pattern here and I may need to re-evaluate this year long project of mine. The pattern is I think every post will be simple, but then they quickly become lengthier and more involved than I originally anticipated. Which is not a bad thing, it’s just a time thing. I’ll need to think about how much time and energy I want to dedicate to this passion project. For now it’s ok, but in February I may need to adjust and then again in May once hiking season kicks in.
Short version: I use straight up oil as a moisturizer. I don’t have time or desire anymore to fuck around with shitty lotions and mainstream garbage that is mostly water and may even contain alcohol which dries my skin out. I’ve been using olive oil or coconut oil for years, neither of which is completely zero waste. The coconut oil is packaged in glass, which can be recycled and this is the best I’ve been able to do thus far for olive oil. Nowhere near me sells it in bulk that I know of (anyone local have a hook up, let me know!). I buy this large container and then refill a glass bottle that I keep near my stove and a smaller container that I keep upstairs for my skin. I’ll use olive oil after a shower like I did today and before bed every night. Face, body, hands, you name it. Even hair. More on that tomorrow.
There may be a longer version one of these days...no promises!
Cotton swabs or cotton buds, although most people call them Q-tips, which is just a brand name, of course, albeit the most popular brand on the market. Whatever you call them, if you use them, buy the ones made of paper and avoid the plastic ones. And no matter paper or plastic, don't flush them down the toilet! They are becoming a real issue for marine life and those that live near the ocean.
I know there are many ways to use cotton swabs, but the most popular still remains cleaning ear wax out of ear canals. Medical professionals recommend not using them in the ear canals and say that cleaning the ear canals has no medical benefits. In fact, using cotton swabs in the ear canals is the main cause of perforated eardrums. So not only are there no medical benefits, but there are clear medical risks. Ear wax, or cerumen, is naturally occurring and protects the skin of the inner ear while also keeping out bacteria, fungi, insects, and water.
I used to clean my ears and ear canals with cotton swabs after every single shower, even though I've been well aware of the above information for a long time. Now that I'm only showering once or twice a week, I have inadvertently cut way back. I do still find the habit very satisfying, but when my current stash runs out I'm not going to run out and buy another box of 500. It's going to take me a while to use up what I've got. Will report back later this year on how my ears feel not being poked and obsessively cleaned out on the regular.
If you will continue to use cotton swabs in your ear holes or in other ares of your life, have at it, but can you commit to buying the paper ones? And disposing of them properly? I dump mine in my lazy man compost pile out back.
I know for some this would be a great place to also discuss ear candling, but I'm only sharing things I actually do, have done, or would consider doing and ear candling is not on any of those lists. No judging from me if you do it, but nothing about the process has ever seemed appealing to me. In fact, I think it looks and sounds downright terrifying. I have used hydrogen peroxide a handful of times when I've been sick and the wax build up seemed excessive. It created an odd sensation, but it worked to soften the ear wax. If you're interested, Google it or message me for more details. Of course, I am not a doctor. If you have specific questions or issues, consult your doctor.
While searching Google the last couple of days for all the best shower memes, I found some great ones about peeing in the shower. I can't believe I almost forgot to mention this as a zero waste bathroom tip. For all the inquiring minds, yes, I pee in the shower and I'm guessing you probably do, too, even if you don't want to admit it out loud.
Peeing in the shower is another fine way to save time, money, and water. A new toilet uses about two gallons of water per flush, toilets from the 80's use about 3.5 gallons and older models anywhere between 5 – 7 gallons. Even if we assume everyone has a newer model toilet (which they don't) and showers once a day (because most Americans do), peeing in the shower could save upwards of 730 gallons of water a year per person. With over 300 million people in the U.S., that's a whole lot of water being saved! Plus the toilet paper not being used for those of us that wipe after we pee.
I read some other articles about how peeing in the shower is fun, helps you prepare to pee in the woods and helps you improve your aim. These made me laugh at first, but as a hiking guide that has to deal with lots of folks unskilled in this area, having them practice in the shower might not be such a far fetched idea after all. Better to practice squatting and aiming in the shower before you're out there peeing on your hiking boots.
I would've never thought I'd spend more than two minutes talking about showers, and yet here I am on a third post. I've covered shorter showers and fewer showers, but what about colder showers?! I love a hot shower. I've already mentioned this, but it bears repeating. I am perfectly fine with my one or two showers a week, but when I do get in there I like to linger and be nice and toasty. And by toasty I mean I like it hot enough to boil the skin off my bones. You can imagine how pleased I was to find this cartoon that speaks to my soul, but I've been contemplating taking cooler showers this winter as I try to keep my skin from completely drying out and falling off. I don't know why it never really clicked all the way that the hot water from a shower was not helping my dry skin situation. I think I didn't want to admit that turning the hot water down would be beneficial. Plus I hate being cold. I know hate is a strong word, but necessary here. It makes sense though. Hot water softens the natural oil on the skin and the hotter the water and longer the shower, the more of that oil will be washed away leading to dry and itchy skin. And of course, all of this is worse when stepping out of the shower into dry, winter air.
So while I have yet to take a cold shower, I am working on keeping the water warm instead of scalding hot. This of course will save money on my gas bill and I'm assuming the cooler the water, the less I will linger, helping me with my other goal of shorter showers. I spent a few hours this evening reading up on the benefits of cold showers and hydrotherapy (hot/cold shower circuits). The list of benefits is impressive and convincing me to give it a try. Cold showers increase blood and lymph circulation, boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and help to detox organs and muscles.
Hydrotherapy consists of alternating between hot and cold water during the same shower. I've read a few different variations on how to complete a hydrotherapy session, but the basics are to the same. Start with warm water, then go as hot as you can stand it for about 2 minutes, before switching to cold, as cold as you can stand it for about 20-30 seconds. Continue to alternate between hot and cold for 3-5 rounds. Some articles I read recommended always finishing on cold, but I did read another that said finish on cold if you want to feel invigorated and energized, hot if you want to finish feeling relaxed and calm. I'll have to experiment to see if I notice any differences and if I have a preference for ending with hot or cold water. Just the thought of standing under cold water is making me cringe, but I've tried whackier things before. I will report back after I give it a shot.
Yesterday I posted about taking shorter showers, like five minutes or less. I'm going to time my next shower to see how long I'm in there. I'd like to think it's under five minutes, but I honestly don't know and now I'm curious. Part of the reason I haven't timed myself or enforced a strict time limit on my showers is because I take way fewer showers than most Americans.
I was never really a fan of the daily shower. I thought it was excessive and unnecessary, but since I stopped washing my hair with traditional shampoo and conditioner I'm down to only one or two showers a week. The cleaner I eat and the more hydrated I stay, the less odor I emit and any odor that does occur is not terribly offensive. If something is way out of hand, there is always the option of a PTA wash up in the sink. At this point I'm guessing you are either rolling your eyes in disgust, or nodding your head in agreement. If you're nodding your head in agreement then you probably already know that there is research and science to back up the idea of a weekly shower. If you are disgusted, read on!
Similar to taking shorter showers, fewer showers can also save time, water, and money. But there are other reasons one may not want to shower daily. Dr. Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for research at Columbia University School of Nursing, has done research that shows daily showering and scrubbing does not make us cleaner, bacteriologically speaking. Her research has also shown that all those antibacterial soaps and cleaners are no more effective than regular soap and warm water. Our skin hosts good bacteria and oils. Daily washing disrupts the good bacteria and washes away the oil that keeps our skin soft and moisturized. The good bacteria on the skin creates antibiotics to fight off bad bacteria. Washing all the good bacteria off the skin eliminates one of our first line's of defense against germs. Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University also recommends ditching antibacterial soaps and says most people over bathe. He believes the body is a well oiled machine and doesn't need a daily shower. He recommends only showering once or twice a week.
Another reason to take fewer showers is to give your skin a chance to create and absorb Vitamin D. Vitamin D is created in the oily layer of the skin and then slowly absorbed over the course of a couple of days. Daily washing away of this oil may prevent the skin from creating and absorbing enough Vitamin D.
I know for some people the idea of fewer showers will cause a knee jerk reaction of disgust. All I can say is it works for me and I agree with the doctors referenced above. Feel free to take this information and experiment, or leave it.
This is a zero waste tip that I feel is painfully obvious and could even seem like something not worth mentioning, but a shorter shower is a great way to conserve water, time, and money. Taking shorter showers falls under my "needs improvement" category, along with flossing and catching the shower water while the water warms up. Reminder that I'm in no way perfect...there is always room for improvement and some things may be easy for me, challenging for you, and vice versa. Once I'm in a warm shower, I could stay there all day. I don't of course, but I don't know for certain how long I am in there. I thought about timing it today, but that thought occurred to me while I was already in the shower. I will time the next one to see, although I have a feeling that knowing I am timing myself will cause me to take a shorter shower. If I am over five minutes, then my goal will be to reduce shower time to five minutes
I had fun googling "shorter shower". Below are some of my favorite images. I noticed that many of the shorter shower memes were from cities in California or universities. Both urging residents to take shorter showers to save water, and I'm guessing the universities would like to save money. Use whatever motivating factor works for you, although I see time, money, and resources as inextricably linked.
Do you take a five minute shower?
Look at this thing of beauty! It's the ultimate and perfect combination of form and function. It is gorgeous, well made, feels amazing in my hand, and will last me the rest of my life. Switching to a safety razor lingered on my to-do list for almost a year for a few reasons. Even though the word safety is part of its description, it looked intimidating. It's a pricier item so I wanted to make sure I really wanted it before buying it. I wanted to make sure I would use it and I wanted to be certain I was buying exactly what I wanted. I had plenty of time to think, because I had a few disposable razors and replacement blades for my Mach 3 that I wanted to use up before making the switch. Once all the single use plastic razors were gone, I placed my order through Tiny Yellow Bungalow. I had been following Jessie on Instagram for a while and knew I wanted to support her shop. When it was time to buy it was an easy decision for me. I ordered the razor and a 10 pack of replacement blades. I'm still using the first blade.
I knew I had made an excellent purchase as soon as I opened the package and held the razor in my hand. It was so shiny and bright and it had some weight to it which I have found adds a level of control while shaving. It's simple to open and insert the blade and it didn't take long to figure out the right amount of pressure needed for a close shave. This was by far my favorite purchase and switch of 2017.
PS. I'm in full on winter no shave mode so I feel badly that my razor is being ignored, but I'm enjoying winter no shave mode immensely.
When I saw the no poo hashtag on Instagram two years ago, I instantly knew I had found my people. No poo is short for no shampoo. It was interesting for me to see it being celebrated as this hot, new trend in haircare. I spent my childhood summers in Greece with my Dad's family where showering everyday was just not a thing. Swimming in the ocean everyday was a thing. Hosing off outside after swimming in the ocean was a thing. But showering inside everyday with the luxury of hot water was not a thing.
From those summers in Greece I have always held the belief that my hair does not need to be washed everyday and will actually be healthier if I don't wash it everyday. But besides that I didn't know there could be a way to take care of my hair that did not involve traditional shampoo and conditioner. Up until two years ago I was washing and conditioning with either Nature's Gate or Avalon Organics. That is until the no poo posts caught my attention. It didn't take me long at all to happily ditch shampoo and conditioner and make the switch.
First up was a no poo period so the oils in my scalp and hair could rebalance themselves. I can't remember how long I went, but I do remember it was a definite transition period. During this time, I either stayed home, wore my hair up, or wore a hat. I took this photo during that time. I could literally put my hair where I wanted it and it would stay. No products necessary...haha.
After this initial transition period, I experimented with a combination of no poo and then washing with baking soda and rinsing with apple cider vinegar (ACV) about once every two to three weeks. That routine worked well for quite a while and then I won a box of goodies from Just Grab Bits for picking up litter and one of the gifts was a shampoo bar from Dulse & Rugosa. It was their Ramblin' Man shampoo bar, but in case you haven't noticed, I DGAF about things like that. I used it and it worked well. I continued to use it on the days I washed my hair, which was about every three weeks or so. When that bar ran out, I ordered another and I'm still using that bar! I don't recall which one I ordered, but I love it and while it may seem expensive at $15 a bar, it lasts forever, especially since I only use it about once a month. Well worth the money. Dulse & Rugosa is a mother daughter team and all their products are handmade in Maine featuring seaweed harvested off the coast of Gotts Island.
Shampoo bars are a great way to avoid single use plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles and a nice alternative if you think the baking soda and ACV will not work for you. If both of these options seem too extreme, I've recently noticed a new brand on Instagram, Plaine Products. It's shampoo and conditioner that you purchase and when you need to buy the next round, you ship back the empty bottles for them to be reused. I haven't looked into much further, because I don't plan on buying in, but if it sounds good to you, click the link and check it out! Any step away from single use plastics is a step in the right direction.
I know you all are dying to see what I do next in regards to my shower routine, but I am interrupting the bathroom flow to insert this post about how to have a zero waste period (both puns intended). I was going to post this after I finished up all my shower business, but I'm on a deadline and continuing to put this off was stressing me out. So what am I rambling on about and why?
Six months ago I applied and was accepted to be a GladRags ambassador. That meant that for six months I was rewarded for talking about how much I love GladRags reusable menstrual products, which is something I have been doing for the last 10+ years anyway. I shared a few posts, reviewed some of their products and even had a referral code that I was able to share with friends so they could receive discounts on their first orders. For my first time as an ambassador it was definitely a success, however I envisioned doing more, but before I knew it the six months was up! Luckily, I was invited to apply again for the next ambassador program, which brings me to this post.
I would love to have another opportunity to be a GladRags ambassador, because I am passionate about living a zero waste lifestyle and helping others to do the same. Reusable menstrual products are a key component to that lifestyle and one I think many people shy away from talking about. Not me. I will talk about this anytime, anywhere. I think the more people talking about this issue, the better. And not just cis women talking to cis women! If you do not menstruate, I think it's safe to say you know at least one person that does. And menstruate or not, we all live on this planet together and the less waste heading to landfill, the better! Share the knowledge. When you switch to reusables you'll be saving tons of money, there's no running out of pads or tampons and having to make an emergency run to the store, you'll know that you are not putting toxic chemicals in or near your body, and as I already mentioned you'll be personally responsible for saving quite a bit of waste from heading to a landfill. A win-win-win!
Many of you following me probably already choose to reuse, but if you don't, keep reading! GladRags offers two main options, reusable cloth pads and a menstrual cup, called the XO Flo. The cloth pads are available in a variety of color options or plain, organic cotton (my preference) and there are pantyliners, day pads, and night pads. They even offer pantyliners for thongs. Not my thing, but know that they exist. Switching to cloth pads was a game changer. They are the most comfortable part of my period. I will never go back to store bought, plastic pads. FYI, I still have and use the first set of pads I bought over 10 years ago. I will admit here that I have not used a menstrual cup...yet. It's on the list for things to try this year. However, I have read testimonials and comments from dozens and dozens of women that love their cup and also say they will never go back to tampons. Depending on your flow, the XO Flo can stay in for up to 12 hours. Many women say using a cup has helped reduce their cramps. This alone is reason enough for me to try it.
I'll leave it at that for now. I'm sure I'll be talking about GladRags again this year, whether I'm an official ambassador or not (but I'd love to have another go!). If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment below or DM if you don't want to chat about it publicly. ~xo
It's only day 20 and already I'm seeing how sharing more publicly is not only helping me to see how much I have changed, but what areas I'd like to improve upon this year. It's an easy way for me to hold myself accountable without shelling out thousands of dollars to a personal coach. I've already covered my lack of dedication to the art of flossing, but I'm happy to report that I HAVE flossed at least once a day, sometimes twice, since posting about it! I consider that a win.
Today's tip, collecting water while the shower gets hot, is one that falls under the category of things I don't do, but have thought about for a really, really long time, and just need to get started on making it a habit already. I spent last night and this morning thinking about why I don't do this and all I could come up with was I feel silly. I think others will find it silly. Who I don't know?? I shower alone these days and until this past November I was living alone. So who would know besides me?! Plus, isn't it sillier to watch perfectly good water go down the drain. The mind is a funny thing. Then I kept thinking about it and part of me doesn't want to see how much water is being wasted while I stand around waiting for water to warm up. Such a privileged thing to say and do. Collecting it in a bucket will force me to see it in a very measurable way. Then I'll have to reconcile all the gallons of water that I didn't collect since my life began. A really illogical reason to not start collecting it now. Having not even collected my first drop, I'm already worried about having more water than I'll know what to do with and just keep imagining buckets and buckets of water all over the house like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia.
Again, another ridiculous reason to not get started and at least collect some of the water, if not all of the water. Finally, I will also admit that I want a shiny, new metal bucket to collect shower water, but I know I could just use one of the plastic ones I have outside that I scored from a restaurant for trash clean ups. So after giving it some thought, probably way more than this topic ever needed, I have come up with no good reasons not to add this to my shower routine. And I will, starting with my next shower. I'm guessing this is going to save a lot of water. I will report back in a few weeks.
Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4...for real and ya'll recall how lazy I can be. I would not share this with you if it wasn't simple, easy, and amazing. You may already have everything you need in the kitchen. I first made this scrub three years ago, because I have the driest skin in the world. I was hooked after my first use. I probably could use it more often, especially now in these cold, dry, winter months. When I do use it, it is after dry brushing and before I turn on the water in the shower.
In a small ceramic or glass jar, squeeze the juice from half of a fresh lemon, add the olive oil and stir well. Add in the honey and mix again. Finally, add in the sugar and mix until all ingredients are combined. At this point, you may want to add more sugar until you reach the consistency you like. I prefer a wetter sugar scrub. Play around, there's really no messing it up.
Lemon: Natural source of vitamin C and will help your skin look brighter.
Olive Oil: Contains vitamin E and is a natural moisturizer.
Honey: Opens up the pores making them easier to clean. Antibacterial and works well to clear up and prevent acne. Contains antioxidants and is moisturizing and soothing for the skin.
Sugar: Acts an an exfoliator, cleaning pores and removing dead skin cells.
This sugar scrub can be used on the body and the face. On the body, apply it all over using circular motions, feel free to take extra time on areas that made need more TLC (feet, elbows, cuticles, etc.). Rinse off in the shower. If using on your face, the technique is the same, but be gentle. Of course, avoid the eye area and any open wounds as the lemon may sting. Leave on for about 10 minutes then rinse with cool water.
Shower time! I am convinced I have the world's driest skin. Whatever Mediterranean olive skin I was supposed to inherit missed me completely. During my teens and 20's I must have tried every lotion and cream on the market, anything and everything I could get my hands on, but my skin would just soak it up and be dry again. Thankfully, somewhere along the way I learned about dry brushing. Couldn't tell you when or where I heard about it, but it's been a solid part of what is now my very simple shower routine for over ten years. And I've been using the same brush. If you buy good products, they last!
Before every shower, I dry brush my skin. Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like. Brushing the skin with a dry brush in circular strokes working from the extremities towards the heart. The direction is important as that is the way the lymph flows through the body. I start at my feet and work my way up my legs to my hips. Then I move to my hands and work my way to my shoulders. Then I brush my abdomen (counterclockwise), chest, finishing up with my back. On my back I start at the top and work my way down. That's it. Doesn't take long at all and has multiple benefits. I do not use this brush on my face. After I'm done dry brushing, I hop in the shower.
Benefits of dry brushing:
• improves circulation of both blood and lymph
• removes dead skin cells for smoother, brighter skin
• stimulates the nerve endings in the skin
• could help with ingrown hairs
• helps skin absorb nutrients by unclogging pores
• some say the improved circulation could help reduce the appearance of cellulite
• also feels good, like a mini spa treatment every morning
Talking about soap is the next natural step for me, because it is literally on the other side of my sink. To the right is my zero waste teeth brushing station and on the left is a simple ceramic dish with a bar of soap. Can't get simpler than that, unless you want to skip hand washing all together. I choose bar soap instead of liquid soap, because I can find bar soap wrapped in paper or package free pretty much anywhere. Traditional grocery stores, health food stores, mom & pop soap shops, or farmer's markets. For a while my mom was even making soap at home and I was getting it straight from the source. I have never had the urge to make my own, but maybe that'll change this year. Who knows? Anything can happen. I just made my own mouthwash, from an aloe plant!
Switching to bar soap is a simple switch that does not require much effort or sacrifice. If you live near a store that has liquid soap in bulk, that would be a great option, too. There are plenty of soap pumps out there that are glass or ceramic. I do not have that bulk option locally.
Another reason it's a good switch is because I believe we've gone a little overboard with the antibacterial liquid soaps. Overuse of antibacterial soaps can kill the good bacteria naturally found on our skin. This can then make antibiotics less effective against newer, stronger bacteria.
When choosing a bar soap, the one ingredient I now avoid is palm oil. Take an extra minute to read the ingredients list. If the soap is not packaged, ask the shop owner or soap maker.
When my bar soap is getting down to its last bits I simply smush them into my new bar of soap so those don't get tossed or slip down the drain.
We've brushed, we've scraped, we've flossed, and we've rinsed. Was the water running the whole time? If so, that was about 8 gallons of water down the drain and wasted. This is one habit I actually do have on lockdown...while I'm brushing my teeth. I can improve my water saving habits in other areas, which we'll cover as we go. Like I keep saying, baby steps. We're aiming for small changes over the course of the year.
When I first read 8 gallons of water I thought that sounded like a lot, but according to multiple websites an average household bathroom faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute. It's a fairly standard dentist recommendation that you brush your teeth for two minutes, two times a day. So with that little bit of math, we would each use approximately 8 gallons of water a day if we left the faucet running while brushing our teeth! That's a lot of water!
If you already turn the faucet off while brushing then pat yourself on the back, give yourself a gold star, and know you're saving almost 3,000 gallons of water every year! A seemingly little step that really adds up! If this is something you could improve upon, then start the next time you brush.