zero waste bathroom cleaning

Bit of a boring topic, but we all have to do it, so I’m going to talk about my zero waste bathroom cleaning method. I rather enjoy bathroom cleaning, actually. Years ago I stopped using all toxic cleaners (in favor of Mrs. Meyers brand). Now that I’m trying not to generate waste, I’ve made another switch to some really simple, but just as effective products.

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My entire arsenal of supplies includes vinegar (poured into a spray bottle from a glass bottle in the kitchen // baking soda in a jar (bought in bulk bins) // tea tree oil (melaluca- I don’t usually use my dōTERRA oils for this, but I ran out of the less expensive one) // a wooden toilet brush // Norwex mop, envirocloth, and window cloth // basic rag.

If you aren’t familiar with Norwex or other e-cloths, they are worth looking into. I love mine. I know I’ve had them for 5.5 years because I was texting my order to a friend while I was signing the mortgage paperwork for our house, and they are still holding up great after using them many times a week. They are made with a technology that allows you to clean with just water (antimicrobial silver is woven into the fabric); and if you rinse between uses and hang up, they are ok to use again (although I do not use the bathroom cloth in the kitchen, nor clean the toilet with them ever). There are other similar brands out there I cannot vouch for, but might be worth a bit of research if you go this route. They are a bit expensive upfront, but I know they pay for themselves over time (especially if you cut out commercial cleaners).

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Here’s my process:

I start from the top down, so I wipe the mirrors with the envirocloth, then polish with the window cloth. Then I wipe the faucets and shine them. I use the envirocloth to wipe down the sinks and counters. Admittedly I don’t clean the shower and tub each week. I am lazy! But when I do, I use the envirocloth to wipe it down as well. Occasionally I need to use some baking soda on the soap scum and scrub with a Norwex mitt or scrub brush. Then I rinse out the Norwex rags and hang it to dry so it can be used once more before laundering (since I only do laundry weekly). YES this is ok to do with Norwex because of their antimicrobial properties.

Then I spray the toilet and toilet seat all over with vinegar and wipe down with my regular rag. I flush the toilet once, then sprinkle baking soda in the bowl, and put a drop of melaluca in the water. I spray the inside of the bowl with vinegar and let sit for about 2 minutes, then scrub with the toilet brush and flush.

I wet the Norwex mop pad and mop the floor. Sometimes I’ll drop a few drops of essential oils on the mop pad first so the bathroom smells fancy for a while (like if we are having company). Again, rinse out the mop pad and hang to dry so you can use again before laundering.

The whole cleaning time-frame is about 10-15 minutes (for our Master bathroom and small bathroom).

I have a really ghetto method of hanging things to dry! I keep a collapsible clothes drying rack standing in our bathtub. It’s always there unless people are coming over that may use that bathroom or want to tour our house for some reason. Or I am cleaning or using the tub of course. Generally you will find some combination of drying wash cloths from showers (before putting them in the hamper), bras I’ve hand-washed, and my Norwex cloths/mop pads. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional and out of the way.

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organic calendula face bar recipe

I will occasionally find myself doing the hippie-dippiest things and it makes me ridiculously happy. The other day while Hannah was napping, I was making my own face soap. With Calendula petals I dried myself. From flowers I grew in my garden. From seeds. That I obtained from an organic seed swap.

ImageI’ll let you digest all the crunchy goodness of that.

Calendula is awesome for the skin – it brightens and protects it from blemishes. It also fights infections and encourages collagen production. I wanted to share the recipe for this really easy soap. Everything in it is super good for your skin.

ORGANIC CALENDULA FACE BAR

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2lbs Castile soap base
  • 1/2 TBS Shea Butter
  • 1/2 TBS Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 TSP Vitamin E Oil
  • 1 TBS Organic Raw Honey
  • 6-8 TBS dried Calendula petals
  • 20-30 drops essential oil (optional). I used Wild Lemon.

Here are all the ingredients gathered up.

ImageDIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut Castile soap base bars into small chunks (about 1″x1″). Place in microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat soap pieces in microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between, until melted.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour into your mold of choice. I used a cleaned half &half container with the top cut off because I like the idea of small, perfectly square soaps. You could also use a greased muffin tin, silicon soap or baking molds, or silicon ice cube trays for small soaps.
  5. Let the soap sit for at least 12 hours. Remove from your mold and cut into bars. Package any way you like. I like to wrap soap in parchment paper and add my own labels with the ingredients printed, especially if I give them away as gifts!

Here’s the soap poured into my fancy mold. A lot of the petals floated up, giving the top of the mold the most organic matter in it.

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Here’s the finished product. Cutting about 1 inch thick slabs, this made 8 bars. I gave most away as gifts, but had a couple leftover for myself. It smells so good!

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PS: You don’t have to grow your own Calendula to make this; you can find anything online. I like Majestic Mountain Sage and Mountain Rose Herbs for all the supplies I use (in addition to the grocery store, and DoTERRA for the essential oils.)

zero waste eye makeup removal

I am gradually replacing disposable items in my life with reusable ones to minimize waste and cost. I used to use those little pre-soaked eye makeup remover pads, the cost of which is pretty outrageous! When I ran out, I would use coconut oil until I made it to the store to get more disposable makeup remover pads. ..How dumb is that?? Coconut oil is so dirt cheap and not full of chemical ingredients, you’d think given my DIY and thrifty ways I would have had that DUH moment long ago. Alas, even I am a product of marketing sometimes, thinking I had to buy a specific-use product at a stupid-high price, and that the eco alternative was only to use in a pinch. ANYWAY.

When I made the conscious effort to think through every product and purchase, I ditched the disposable eye makeup remover pads for coconut oil permanently. And because I didn’t want to have to use cotton balls, I made my own little cotton pads from scrap fabric I already had. (What did you do with your New Years Eve? Go out and party? Ha!)

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I grabbed a small piece of cotton fabric I had leftover from another project. I hoped to use up the rest since I think it’s so colorful and pretty! For the back I used an old piece of a flannel burp cloth (which had a previous life as a receiving blanket a friend handed down to me… quite the purposeful piece of fabric, eh?)

I cut little squares (about 2×2) of each (one of the cotton and 2 of the flannel for each finished square to make them a little thicker). I made 9 because that’s exactly how many I could get from the cotton scrap. Then I sewed around the edge with a zigzag stitch. No time-consuming turning right-side out and stitching closed – just enough to keep them from fraying too badly. This little project cost nothing and took maybe 20-25 minutes at the most.

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They aren’t perfectly square because I didn’t measure or use a ruler, but they are still cuter than a cotton ball!

I just apply a bit of coconut oil to the pad and wipe off my eye makeup, then rinse them out a bit and toss in the towel hamper. Could not be simpler!

zero waste toothpaste.

toothpaste

I used up the last of my Tom’s toothpaste and replaced it with my own, via this recipe from Trash is for Tossers. Coconut oil, baking soda, and peppermint essential oil. I mixed it into an upcycled jar. This, coupled with my new eco toothbrush, means a couple less items in the landfill every few months. SO EASY!

The taste of the toothpaste is a bit weird at first, especially if you are used to the typical commercial brands. Baking soda tastes really salty, so that’s the biggest adjustment, but it doesn’t burn or make me super thirsty, so for me it’s an upgrade. Plus, pennies!

DIY gifts & a lip balm recipe

Last year I made some lotion and lip balms to give as gifts to my sisters-in-law, and they were a big hit. This year we drew names for gift-giving with my inlaws, so I decided to DIY a few other fun treats for gift purposes, this time to the gals I work with. I LOVE handmade gifts, especially when they are made with good ingredients, so I hope the recipients feel the love behind these! Look at this assortment of goodies!

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In the picture above I have all my gift items ready to hand out – lip balms, castile bar soaps, hand creme (yet to label!) and lavender eye pillows. I wanted to first share the super simple lip balm recipe because it’s fast and fun and there’s still plenty of time to get everything and make some of these for the holidays. And it’s made with all kinds of good-for-you stuff as opposed to chemicals and it’s fun to make your own flavor combinations, so even if you just want to make yourself a huge supply, I’d totally recommend it!

DIY Beeswax Lip Balm

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS + 1 TBS filtered beeswax (either use pellets or grate a large piece into the appropriate measurements).
  • 1 TBS Shea Butter (or another butter of your choosing – Almond, Avocado, Cocoa, etc, are all good options)
  • 3 TBS Sweet Almond Oil (or another carrier oil of your choosing – Olive, Jojoba, etc)
  • 1/4 TSP Vitamin E Oil (helps preserve)
  • 15-30 drops essential oil* or flavor oil

Materials:

  • A double boiler (or makeshift double boiler like I use, in the instructions below)
  • A silicone stirring instrument
  • Small containers (I got these .75 ounce tins from Majestic Mountain Sage)

*Note: Remember you’ll want to use oils that are tasty, since this is going on the lips! I’ve suggested some below.

Directions:

  1. Using a double boiler (I use a Pyrex measuring cup in a pan with a couple of inches of water in it) heat up the beeswax, Shea butter, and Almond oil. Stir constantly until it’s all melted into liquid.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in the Vitamin E oil.
  3. Remove the top container from the pan of water and let the oil sit for a couple of minutes to cool down a bit. (Adding essential oils to very hot oil will make them less potent.)
  4. Stir in your essential oils til you achieve desired scent.
  5. Divide mixture evenly among several small containers. Let them cool completely before putting lids on the containers. The mixture will harden to a perfect lip balm consistency upon cooling.
  6. Enjoy!

If you are using flavor oils, go crazy and use whichever you’d like. But if you are using pure essential oils, you may need to consider some tasty combinations. Here are a few good options:

  • Orange, lemon, grapefruit etc.
  • Orange + Clove
  • Cinnamon + Clove
  • Orange + Cinnamon
  • Peppermint

You can also use a dab of cocoa powder in your mixture if you want something chocolatey. That would be delicious when mixed with peppermint or orange essential oil. The possibilities are endless!

Here I made two with flavor oil from Bulk Apothecary, Coconut-Lemongrass and Brown Sugar & Vanilla, and another lip balm with doTerra Sweet Orange and Clove oils. The essential oil balm is by far my favorite because it doesn’t taste artificial. The others are still great, but there’s a big difference in the quality, in my opinion.

To prettify these for gift giving, I printed the flavor and cut out each in a small circle with a craft punch. I Mod Podged a small circle of scrapbook paper to each lid, then added the circle label to the center. I Mod Podged the whole lid and let dry for an hour or so before stacking them away in a box.

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These match the handmade soaps I also made as gifts – here’s a closer peak at those. I will add a tutorial on making the soaps shortly, as well as the hand creme in the above picture.

IMG_1979Are you making any gifts this year? Do you love receiving handmade gifts as much as I do?

This is 29.

I can’t believe it’s June. I know I say that all the time, but this time more than ever time has really gotten away from me! Here’s a quick recap on the last month or so.

I finished my last class for my MBA in Mid-August! SUCH a relief.

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Sorry about that.

But. I’ve not properly celebrated yet. The immediate weekend after the semester ended I wanted to jump into some projects and began an early AM workout schedule (which for me, is a big deal, waking up extra early). But by the next Tuesday (yeah, day two of my school free existence) my plans were foiled due to a series of unfortunate events. First a throat infection, then an eye infection (that had me stuck wearing outdated glasses for a week). Then the best of all, I somehow tweaked my lower back swinging a sledge hammer at concrete last weekend, and as I’ve been coughing so violently I kept aggravating it. To the extent I was unable to walk on Saturday. I am that awesome at life right now. Three doctor visits, four prescriptions, and one shot in the hip later, and I’m on the road to recovery and I’ve been able to do some work from home. But seriously. Let me recap this for you. At the apex of this really fun ailment combo, I had 90 year old smoker voice/cough, swollen red eyes, glasses I can barely see out of, no makeup, could barely move, and when I did have to walk, it was a 3-inches-at-a-time hobble. Oh, and my back is shaped like an S now. So that’s awkward looking. Not how I pictured my last month in my 20s. I should be out finishing my list, or at least making lots of bad decisions to blame on my youth before it’s too late.

What I’ve actually been doing in my down time is less than exciting, but I’m sharing anyway.

  1. Collecting shiny old things via Ebay. Search “vintage estate jewelry lot” or “wear and repair jewelry lot” and you’ll find tons of great things for next to nothing. Getting an 8lb box of weird and broken mismatched earrings, buttons, brooches and chain is my idea of a great time. IMG_1570
  2. Watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. That Damon. Rawr.
  3. Also watching Dive!, a decent documentary by dumpster diving hipsters who delve into America’s food wasting problem.
  4. Reading A Discovery of Witches. I hope it gets better because I do love a good series. Except when they end and you feel like you’ve lost a part of your life and can’t remember what you did before you began them.
  5. Trying out Jamberry Nail Shields. Not toxic like nail polish or as spendy as a manicure or pedicure, they are pretty fun! They take a while to apply, but there’s no dry time like polish so I think it’s a wash. They have some really cute designs. I don’t recommend the glitter styles though – they are thicker and don’t lay flat and bond as well as the others seem to. IMG_1625
  6. Tending the garden. I haven’t spent the time I’ve liked out there, but it’s coming along nicely for early June. The lettuce, kale, peas and turnips especially are taking over the place. I picked my first strawberries today and pulled up about 15 decent-sized radishes!IMG_1626

There’s still time (barely) to work on some other items on my before 30 list and I feel okish about my progress there. Right now I am just trying to get better and start my 30s better than I ended my 20s!

What are you all working on/reading/watching/making these days?

diy deodorant.. no, seriously.

Do you ever feel like really simple, little things can be totally life changing? Maybe the day before you didn’t know it existed, or at least, you didn’t care that it did, and you can’t believe how unenlightened you were? That’s how I felt about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, David Bowie’s “The Prettiest Star,” and kale. And now… the beautiful knowledge that I can make my own earth-friendly, aluminum free deodorant without smelling like that kind of hippie.

I made this super easy recipe from Crunchy Betty (heart her) and have been.. um.. testing it.. for the past several days. True, it’s been chilly and rainy here, and not exactly sweltering, sweaty weather for a hard-core smell test. But I can at least confidently say that this stuff works – smell and dryness- for normal day-to-day, spring weather with a sprinkling of cardio and yoga sessions.

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It is so easy. You just mix the following ingredients together, and pour into a container.

  • 1/4 c. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • 5 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • Essential oils (I used peppermint – check out Crunchy Betty’s post for her suggestions)

The verdict: Everyone’s different in this department, but I am sold. Yes, you have to use your fingers for this instead of a stick you can just swipe on, but that doesn’t matter to me at all. Coconut oil begins to melt at room temp, so the consistency of this stuff will vary based on the temps in your bathroom. It’s going to last forEVER, because you only need a tiny amount. The smell is so lovely without the essential oils, so you could skip them, but I just really like to use them. And it’s really moisturizing, so no itchiness, but the baking soda and cornstarch keeps away the sweat.

The comments on the blog and in Crunchy Betty’s post led me to expect a period of adjustment while my body got used to gentler ingredients, but there was no adjustment for me. Perhaps that is because I’ve been using Alba brand for a while, which doesn’t contain the really harsh stuff found in Secret and other commercial brands. This, however, is better than Alba (or Tom’s) because while those didn’t make me stink, they didn’t keep me as dry.

Would you dare to give this a try?