Eco-friendly feminine hygiene products

The title says it all. Men, feel free to skip this post if you wish. But ladies, I have to say that I've made the switch and I couldn't be happier. There are many eco-friendly feminine hygiene options out there. We aren't forced to pick between disposable pads or disposable tampons; there are other choices. Please read the following link: This article says it best.

For those who are use to tampons: The Diva cup or the Sea sponge option could be for you. If, like me, you prefer the less intrusive option of pads, there are many reusable cloth pad options out there. You can buy some right at Whole Foods I believe. The diva cup can be purchased there as well. I know you can get the sea sponges at The Merc at least. But, let me tell you about the product I've decided on. I went with a local etsy user at Cozy Folk. And since she was local, I was even able to pick them up in person while I was already in Lawrence instead of having them shipped. Jenn King at Cozy Folk Creations did a great job and I'd recommend her products to anyone. 

My reusable cloth pads are way cuter than conventional pads (pads can be cute?) and they feel so much nicer! What sounds better to you, sitting on aggravating paper/plastic or soft, comfortable, breathable natural cloth? They are actually pretty low maintenance, cheaper in the long run, obviously much better on the environment, and are better health wise. If you are looking into making the switch and have questions, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer. I've used them several times now and do not see myself switching back. They even have wings with a snap. Sweet. 

Thanks for letting me get personal. I know it can be an embarrassing topic, but it's an important point to make. Have a happier period!


Recycling plastic lids

We recently found out that you can recycle bottle lids!

Specifically they're looking for number 5 plastic, which many lids are. I've contacted them to confirm, and they will also take the stupid ring left on your plastic bottle that's impossible to get off. If you can get it off.

But alas, Shatto milk bottle lids are number 4. For us, our milk is one of the few remaining situations where we actually have plastic lids.

Anyone know where to recycle the lids from glass jars? Normally I'd trust earth911.com to help me find somewhere, but it doesn't list anything around us, and the Google hasn't been much help yet either.


What did I throw away at work?

Maybe this is a bit anticlimactic. There didn't turn out to be much; maybe a month would have been a better experiment. In fact, for April, I think I'll do that.

Anyway, here's what I threw away last week at work.

  • Tissue paper from my weekly croissant at Foo's.
  • Sticker from an apple. The core went in our compost cup.
  • A few paper towels from the bathroom at work. I usually use two per visit. And I often go three or four times a day, depending on water intake.
  • Two paper towels in the bathroom at Whole Foods, but they compost those. 
  • Accidentally used two paper towels twice today. I meant to not do that, but I forgot to bring a towel or something to use.
  • Steve gave me this little calendar thing that had a metal binding. No one needs the calendar, so I dismantled it and recycled the pages, but the binding rings went in my trash can.
  • I successfully avoided paper towels in the bathroom by way of using air, my shirt, and my pants to dry my hands this day. I still forgot to bring a towel.
  • I had an apple, so my sticker went in the trash. And for some reason my brother put his own tangerine sticker on my desk, so I'm the one that put it in a trash can.
  • I was off on Friday to recover after staying up late to watch the Hunger Games at midnight Thursday night. It wasn't just that, though. Once we got home, I stayed up longer reading. The point is, I slept until noon and at home I don't remember throwing any trash away during business hours, unless there was another apple sticker.
One of these days I'll bring a towel to work.


Zum zum zum

Shaved Zum soap smells good and looks neat. We use the Frankincense and Myrrh Zum soap in our laundry detergent. Did I really have a point to this post? No. But, I just wanted to share some of the simpler pleasures.


What do I throw away at work?

I don't rightly know. It's not much, but I want to try to keep that to a minimum as well.

So, starting today for the rest of this week, I'm going to write down everything I throw away during my workday, whether it's actually in my work trash can or not. I'll let you know how I did on Friday evening. Monday's won't be entirely accurate, because I can't remember how many times I went to the bathroom yesterday so that throws it off a little. I do know I probably drank a gallon of water throughout the day, if that tells you anything.


Minimization challenge

This is the result of our little home purge project. Despite what the picture may suggest, our cat is not to be donated. Not pictured is the boxes and boxes of movies and books we sold to Hastings and to Half Price Books, and the items we gave to friends such as DVD towers, book shelf, etc. Also, after this photo was taken, I was able to fill yet another box and a half. It kind of looks like we are moving! This time we are donating our haul to Ozanam. It feels so good to minimize.

Are you up for the minimization challenge? Here's an easy way to get started:

Space it out over one to two months. Pick a day of the week. I like Monday because it starts with M. Minimize Monday! See how much better that sounds? Motivating isn't it? Anyways, each Monday you tackle one room or closet in the house. Repeat each week until you are done with every single room and closet, and have several boxes to donate.

One Monday we focused on kitchen minimization, another Monday it was the bedroom closet, another it was the living room/dining area, you get the idea. This also aids in organizing your boxes when you are ready to give, because many of the contents are already organized by room and purpose.

I'd highly recommend doing this challenge at the start of each and every year. In between purges, try your best to value experiences over acquiring new things. Make conscious purchases when you do need to buy and try not to splurge on impulse. Who's taking the challenge? Let me hear about your minimizing projects. Have fun!

Edit: This post also shows on a blog hop (dated May 1st, 2012) here:


A name change is coming

We finally got an actual domain name for the blog. We're going to start changing a few things to go with that, and that includes a new name for the blog.

The new name is going to be Living Zero Waste and our new URL will be www.livingzerowaste.com.

The fact that we live in Johnson county and that it was part of the blog's name was meant to be a sort of commentary about my perception of how wasteful people are; our county seems full of well-to-do folks that think nothing of filling a 55 gallon trash bin every week. But that wasn't the point of the blog itself. The point is to document our fun in attempting to transition to a more zero-waste, natural, eco-friendly lifestyle. Obviously, true "zero" waste will be an impossibility, but we'll do what we can and see how close we get.


We like a small space

Inspired by this post on the Zero Waste Home blog, I wanted to say that we love the idea of having a small home.

We aren't looking for a tiny house; though we admire the movement, with two cats and eventual plans for one to two children, it's just not practical for us. Something like this 650 sq ft house might be nice, though where we could easily find land to build such a thing in the city I do not know, and it would be nice to add a basement.

We currently live in a 936 sq ft two bedroom apartment, but we're starting to look at the idea of buying a house. We're looking for a home that we would be in indefinitely. Generally speaking, we're looking for what folks would call a "starter home", with the intention of staying there permanently. As we consider options for buying a house, our size-based criteria are:
  • Preferably two, no more than three bedrooms. This is a complicated choice, because the choice sort of depends on kids. If there is only one, or if both were of the same gender, two bedrooms is fine. But we don't know about making a boy and a girl share a room. The complication here is, of course, that we have no children yet, nor are any presently en route.
  • We'd prefer the majority of the space to be concentrated in the living areas of the house. It'd be nice to find something with relatively small bedrooms. Nothing ever happens in there.
  • No more than two bathrooms, though we'd be fine with just one. This probably won't be an issue because of the bedroom count.
  • No extraneous rooms. That is, no formal dining or living room, and no "office", except if you count a currently-unused bedroom.
  • Overall, I think we'd prefer a maximum size of around 1000 sq ft, though it's possible if we went for three bedrooms we might have to go a bit bigger. I personally would like something closer to 650, which appears to be possible in the area where we want to live; we really like this house, but we just aren't quite ready to purchase anything yet.
So, why a small house? That Zero Waste Home post pretty much summed it up, but the most important reasons to us are:
  • A smaller house can't contain as much stuff, and what stuff there is is easier to keep organized.
  • Maintenance and cleaning go a lot quicker.
  • Smaller spaces are cheaper to power.
  • Smaller houses are typically cheaper.
  • Family closeness and general coziness: there's nowhere you can go inside the house that's out of earshot.
  • People do not need a big house, unless your last name is Duggar.
Smaller living means simplicity and more conscious, sustainable living.


Pantry and fridge practices of a zero waste couple

Apples kept in a fruit bowl on the bar. Waste = little stickers.
We can get bulk loose leaf tea from Whole Foods on 91st and we use our reusable tin that we got from Teavana.
A glimpse into our freezer: Vodka for certain recipes/home remedies, Amaretto for, well, the occasional consumption,  a glass jelly jar repurposed for walnut storage, and no, we no longer have a bucket of Margarita mix, but it is filled with ice to take up more space in the freezer as to try to conserve some energy. Seeing as how we rarely use our freezer, perhaps we need to get another bucket. Waste = eventually lids from alcohol.
Inside our refrigerator: In the door, there is the butter door in which we keep homemade butter. We have a bottle of ketchup that is who knows how old. In the future we will get a smaller bottle made of glass if we need ketchup, or better yet, just make our own. Caesar dressing in glass. Grape jelly in glass (I also make a point to watch that no high fructose corn syrup, white flour, saturated fats, trans fats/hydrogenated oils, etc. are in any of our ingredients). I hope to try my hand at making and canning my own jelly in the future. Then we have some homemade cinnamon butter, a bit of chocolate in the form of chocolate covered coffee beans, and a plastic bag of gluten we are using up (and then we can start getting gluten in bulk and not from a plastic bag). The bottom drawer holds glasses of spaghetti sauce, salsa, yeast, pizza sauce, pickles, and fig spread. Waste = eventually lids from any jars that will not be reused, the plastic bag of gluten that is phased out, and the bit of foil pictured from some chocolate.
Inside on the shelves: Salad spinner holds our spinach. We do sometimes get some small fruits that only come in plastic which we recycle at least, but still. Some other random fruit and veggies are there in mesh bags and just on the shelf. Some sundrops (natural m&m's) that we used in some cookie recipes are pictured, as well as some local milk in glass that they take back. We have some eggs in a recyclable carton (and we now get local eggs that are from free range chickens), meat in a jar, beans in some Tupperware, cheese in Pyrex, a few drink bottles, and then Pyrex of other random goodies like fruits/veggies/etc. Pyrex has pretty much been vital in our zero waste journey. They are just as important as the jars for sure. Waste = the metal tie from the spinach, any stickers from fruit, the price sticker on the meat jar, and lids from glass bottles.
Ah the pantry: Bulk items are in glass jars, we phased out the Pam spray (hoping to get a little spritz bottle to put grapeseed oil in), and those paper cups are leftover from our wedding three years ago (we use them sparingly here and there until they are gone). When we run out of a spice, we replace it with a glass bottle (simply organic brand) and we can then reuse the glass when they are empty again by getting spices and seasonings directly from bulk. I'm sure that that box of cocoa powder and baking powder will last me for a very long time, but will have to investigate better options in the future. Waste = phased out Pam container, eventually the cocoa and baking powder containers (might be able to recycle some of them), paper cups, lids from phased out plastic bottles of spices, the gift foil container that was purchased in the intention of giving food to someone, but then we just ended up taking the food to them and eating with them.
Pantry continued: That plastic container of popcorn kernels has been phased out and we can get popcorn kernels from bulk put into our glass. We get peanut butter from the grinder at the store, it is literally just ground up nuts, nothing added. We got some sweet potatoes in mesh, some tuna in a can (still not sure if I can be willing to give this up yet) and some other soups in cans. I think we will try to limit cans as much as possible for health. They are currently recycled. Random nuts, snacks, grains, etc. in jars. Phased out the plastic bag of rice as we can now get rice in bulk. Waste = Lid from plastic popcorn container, plastic bag from rice that is phased out.

Well there you have it. Sorry this was on the long side. Comments/questions welcomed.


BoingBoing says saving money == zero waste

I thought this article was interesting.

Note how many of these suggestions naturally involve less waste. I would argue that nine out of the ten suggestions directly lead to less waste. And the other one can too, depending on how you get your meat.

Plus, cats*!

* Indoor cats are not zero-waste creatures, unfortunately. That is, unless you can potty train them and make your own taurine-rich food for them from zero-waste sources.