For a long time now I’ve been interested in being self-sufficient, but more pressing is my need for frugality and my interest in keeping my life, and the world, as sustainable and waste-free as I can.
To help remind me what I’ve changed to accomplish this and to inspire me to keep going, I’m going to keep a record here. My goal is to eliminate as much packaging, waste, hazardous chemicals, and so on. My hope is to not contribute to consumer waste and achieve a lifestyle that is completely compostable. While this is unlikely to ever be 100%, every percentile achieved is less negative impact and ultimately more healthy.
- I have made the switch to cellulose-only sponges, using baking soda (or my homemade dish-washer detergent below) when I need to scour the tough stuff on dishes or other surfaces. Though, with dishes, I have only had to do that once since I’ve made the switch, so maybe we don’t need scour pads after all?
- Although I’ve made my own laundry detergent successfully, I switched to using ‘Country Save’ which is an excellent biodegradable and completely soluble detergent that is natural, safe, dye-free, and perfume-free. It’s also affordable. Also, after buying my big (cardboard!) box of it, I discovered that my local grocery sells it in their bulk soap section and I will be able to purchase it package-free when I run out. And for fabric softener I use white vinegar before the final rinse using a Downy ball. Although, after doing this for a little while I found that my clothes are soft without vinegar now that I’m not using questionable detergents.
- I make my own dish-washer detergent from equal parts washing soda, borax, and salt. All ingredients are either easily found in bulk, or compostable boxes, and all-natural.
- I use tooth soap (which is regular ol’ soap, but some brands add a more palatable flavor) instead of tooth paste and hydrogen peroxide as mouth rinse. Homemade soap is natural and breaks down without much harm, over all, and does not inhibit the absorption of nutrients into the teeth with a fluoride barrier. Hydrogen peroxide, although anti-septic and a bleach, breaks down into simple water.
- I use shampoo soap bars from homemade soap companies to wash my hair and apple cider vinegar rinses (a dash of cider vinegar in a cup of water) to do what conditioners do. My hair has noticeably improved in health but is frizzier than I’d like (not that it was much better with chemical soap).
- I look to reduce packaging as much as possible, which is at least an active effort, although not the largest accomplishment on the list. Whenever possible, I choose the product with the least packaging or most compostable packaging.
- Although microfiber cloths are not compostable, they are made from recycled plastic and can be recycled after they are no longer useable. Switching to microfibers and a spray bottle of plain water have replaced paper towels and spray cleaners and clean just as well or better.
- I have replaced the need for commercial facial moisturizer with a simple mix of water and glycerin in a small spray bottle. Because glycerin is a humectant, it pulls moisture from the air and holds it against my face, which readily absorbs it. I’m never greasy, shiny, or overly moist, and it’s a refreshing spritz. It costs me pennies, is made of eco-friendly ingredients, and doubles as a make-up mixing medium that smoothes out powdered products on my skin.
- I use salt-crystal deodorant which kills bacteria the same way it has killed bacteria in food since the dawn of man’s discovery. It is available as just a hunk of salt which drastically reduces plastic packaging. Some people don’t like the idea of it not also being an anti-perspirant, however to remove the underarm’s capability to sweat is medically proven to increase the risk of breast cancer in women and does not allow the lymph nodes near the arm pit to push toxins out of the body, taxing your immune system. So rethink anti-perspirant, perhaps?
- I found an in-home composter for my small-time kitchen scraps which has taught me not to throw away compostable items so easily. I am now having a hard time having enough room and already plotting where to put the new compost pile outside. I feel better knowing that the money spent on vegetables and vegetative products are not going to waste, they are merely turning into something else I can use.
- We have switched to cloth handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues so that we are not throwing away so much paper.
- I have replaced disposable gloves with a permanent set of rubber dish gloves for all tasks I must perform sanitarily.
- I have begun an Amazon toilet paper subscription for Seventh Generation TP, because not only are the roll tubes and outside paper compostable/recyclable, but so is the cardboard box it comes in instead of being wrapped in plastic packaging.
- When necessary to use specialty cleaning for my clothing, I use a local shop that uses eco-friendly cleaning methods.
- I no longer use q-tips for my damp ears, I use a manual ear dryer that circulates air through the ear quickly to remove the water.
- I have converted to a digital filing system and am reducing incoming paper mail more all the time.
- I use mineral make-up from Everyday Minerals for foundation and eyes, and they come in recyclable packaging. To be completely responsible, I need to find a solution for mascara and convert to a natural lip gloss (which I have a recipe for).
- I use vegetable oil as a lubricant for squeaky hinges and the like, instead of chemical oils like WD-40.
This list is updated as I make changes that stick or remember changes I’ve already made and couldn’t think of when typing it up. All updates are posted in entries on the main blog page.