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31 tips toward a low-waste or zero-waste lifestyle

Posted by Teresa Mazey on

It's January 2020 and I thought it was about time a make a list of tips for you.  These will be added every few days until January 31th, 2020.


This is my first tip to starting the journey to low waste lifestyle. That's what I will call it today. It's less intimidating and more attainable for most people. Start thinking of everything you use weekly and become more aware of what is single use. Take recycling out of the equation for now and really look. Do you want to start using less this year? Do you want to be more eco-responsible with your choices? Do you want to save money? Do you want to eat healthier? There are many reasons to cut down or eliminate waste. Everyone is different be honest with yourself on your reasons why.
Going through your day see what things you can cut out. It's late you really want that cup of coffee but can you wait until you get home? Do you have a reusable cup? Can you go into the store with your reusable cup? Did you know that many drive through coffee places stage your coffee in a disposable cup until you get to the window? Maybe just say no today. If everyone said no for one day that would save over 43 million coffee cups.
Be aware of the waste cycle of items starting with manufacturing all the way to end, or grave.



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This kit takes a little more time to get used to but creates more good habits.
The large tiffin containers have been great to pack up restaurant leftovers and for us taking food to markets. I use unpaper towels for napkins until they get to stained and then I use them for unpaper towels. The straw bags we make are big enough for silverware, chopsticks and numerous straws. Bags and misc jars are a plus in the kit as well. I bring enough for more than just my husband and I. If it's just you and you are on a budget bring one fork, one straw, one bag (a plastic bag is fine to if that's all you have) ,one cup and one container (old sour cream, butter, pickle jar).
Step 1 was awareness so you should be aware of how much you use conveniences when you are out and what you can sub the single use items for.
A couple of other tips:
A basket works nicely if you have glass jars they tend to be more steady.
How cute would a zero waste car kit be in a vintage train case!?!?!?!
I leave my items that go back in the car on the kitchen table so as to annoy myself until I take them out.
Need a cup check out the thrift stores.
Happy kit packing my friends!


Step 3: Reusable shopping Bags


Image may contain: possible text that says 'Step 3: Reusable Grocery Bags Bags are one of the easiest switches that most people have already made but...the hard part is remembering to bring them with you, right? Read on for my tips on how to make this a habit. Empty Bin Zero Waste'


I know this is a hot topic in Cleveland right now since Cuyahoga County banned plastic shopping bags.
A few things to know about the bag ban:
1. Some cities opted out of it.
2. Bags are still available for things like meat and dry cleaning.
3. Paper bags are usually available for a small price, $0.10.
There are and have been so many options for reusable shopping bags for quite a long time. My mom used hers when we went to Aldi when I was growing up so it was not a hard change for me.
Do you want plastic types, non woven poly bags, canvas bags, nylon bags, or cotton? Here are the benefits of each and price ranges.
1. Plastic bags that are firm and larger. Made of virgin plastic so oil and resources bare used to make the bags but they are strong, big, and last years. Easy to clean in a large sink our with the backyard hose. Marc's stores carry these for around $0.69.
2. Non-woven bags are the ones usually given out for promotions. Small but strong and will last 3-5 years. Man made materials so oil and resources used to make the bags. You can find these at thrift stores or at grocery stores from $1-$10. @ohiooceanfoundation has some for sale if you want your proceeds to go to a great non-profit.
3. Canvas bags are tough and should last many years. Canvas is made from many different materials but the most popular is cotton. Material uses a lot of water when being made so finding one preused would be best. These can range from $7-$20 and can be machine washed. We have two left in out store on sale for $9. You can find in better quality stores, online, and at thrift stores
4.Nylon bags are super strong and light weight but they are also made of man made materials which again take natural resources. These are my husband's favorite. He uses @chicobag because the fold back up into the attached little bag. You can find these online and in some stores for $6.99 - $14.00.
5. Recycled bags are great and we personally love the Vita Repete bags from chico bags. They are stronger than the classic and a little bigger but made our of plastic water bottles. Find online or in our Canton store for $14.99- $20.
6. Reuse bags you already have!
Tips to remember your bags: Put a hook right by the door you leave our of and put the bags there as soon as they are empty. Grab when you leave the house. If you forget your bags in your car walk back and get them or take the paid groceries out in just the cart and pack in bags at the car. This work too if you forget your bags completely just put it all in the back until you get home. If you do this enough you will start to remember to bring them because this is more of a hassle.
Also take you bags everywhere NOT just the grocery store. ANYSTORE!
Any tips from you?

Step 4: Reusable Water Bottles


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This is in the beginning of the list because once you get into the habit ofbringing a full water bottle with you it is a huge help to the environment and your finances.
The amount of bottled water purchased every week in the U.S. could circle the globe five times.
1 gallon of bottled water costs 2,000 times more than a gallon of tap water.
It takes three time the water to make the bottle as it does to fill it.
All plastic is made with oil.
Many bottle water companies use tap water that is filtered and treated.
My habit: I used to take a glass liter jar with me but have switched to a yeti cup as the water stays colder longer. Here is the kicker. If you drink more or may drink more than your reusable bottle then bring an extra one. If I am going for longer than and hour or two I have a 21 ounce or 32 ounce than I bring filled up with water. If I go all day like at pop up markets I take my gallon yeti..
I have not purchased a bottle of water in over two years!
Just refuse to buy it and refuse it if given to you. You will get in the habit. *Obviously you know your body and it is not worth risking your health to refuse water if you need it.
We offer free filtered water at our Canton store so if you are in the area and need a refill stop in. No purchased necessary. I am waiting to hear back from "Refill not Landfill" to get on the list.
I filter water at home with bamboo activated charcoal sticks. They are in one glass pitcher and once it's filtered (at least an hour) I pour it into a larger glass pitcher in case we have visitors. It takes my yucky Akron water and makes it taste and smell like spring water.
If you have a big concern with you water quality Berkey filters are pretty awesome but expensive.
Bottles are recyclable but it is widely discussed that only 8-10% of items actually get recycled.
It is also not recommended that you refill the plastic water bottle. These single-use items can leach chemicals into your water if heated (leaving in a hot car) or scratched.


Step 5: Switch to Bar Soaps.


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This one is pretty simple and straight forward. Save the water and packaging when you switch from products like liquid cleaners and shampoos.
These items tend to cost less and last longer as well.
Everyone is different so finding a shampoo bar that works for everyone is impossible. You just have to set out and try a few to see which works best. If you have a few friends that are interested in switching you can each get a bar from a different company and cut then into the amount that you need and all share. This is the most economic way to find your next beauty product. I tried about 6 different ones before opening the store. I cut them in half and shared with my step daughter.
Make sure that you have a good draining dish or hang your soap to dry in between uses. This will greatly extend the life of your natural soaps.
Please note that I have received bars wrapped in plastic that I had to return. Make sure you are telling companies that you want no plastic and minimal shipping contents.
Shipping a bar instead of a liquid is much better for our environment!
My favorite bar soaps:
@redbudsuds 4 in 1 bar. Shampoo, conditioner, body, and shaving.
@bestowedessentials package free shampoo bars and stain sticks.
@notoxlife has amazing dish washing bars, detox bars, and package free deodorant.
@albatross_sailing has great shaving barsl that come in tins.

Step 6: Thrift Stores


Image may contain: possible text that says 'Step 6 6: Thrift Stores Some of my favorite things I have gotten at the the local thrift store'

I will be talking about resale and consignment shops later in the month.
I started going to thrift stores in 1990 when you could find vintage dresses and cool stuff constantly. I've the last 30 years the stores have gotten more popular and it's more of a hunt when you go.
Buying used clothes aligns with zerowaste perfectly because you are keeping textiles out of the trash and no buying into the fast fashion of the season .
The average American throws out 81 pounds of clothes every year.
Wearing secondhand clothing creates environment benefits from few carbon emissions, saves water, and reduces trash.
My top tips:
1. Figure out which day of the week is best for you. I seem to find more on Tuesdays.
2. Give yourself plenty of time so you don't make impulsive purchases. If you have a big cart full go over it and eliminate at least a few items.
All the drip dishes in the store are from the thrift store. My favorite find, for $6, is a counter top composter pail!
Fast fashion is a big problem that a lot of people do not know about. Most of the store that sell clothes in our area are full of items in style, not meant to last, and made from synthetic fibers.
I like the Village Thrift and Goodwill. I know there are others around. Get furniture, dishware, decor, etc at your local thrift shop!
What is you favorite thrift store?

Step 7: Reusable produce bags!


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These are a favorite of mine because I love making them. I use curtains and tablecloths to make each bag unique.
We have already talked about the wasteful plastic bags and this goes right along with those. Plastic produce bags do not keep your veggies fresh or last longer. They simply travel home with you so that your veggies and fruit do not touch the cart.
Place these inside your reusable shopping bags and you will be ready to go.
We have the repurposed produce bags, cotton string bags, and cotton bulk bags at the store. I do not recommended using nylon or polyester produce bags. These are made from virgin materials and container plastics. Washing those bags releases microplastics into the water and out of your drier vent.
I personally do not worry about the tare weight since the bags are so light. You can even make your own out of bed sheets or pillowcases!
Do you take produce bags to the store or will you start taking produce bags?


Step 8: Reusable Utensils.
This seems like a silly thing to talk about because most of us use reusable silverware at home. I personally do not like the feel bamboo in my mouth so I carry extra silverware in my straw bag. I also carry stainless steel chopsticks, a stir sticks, and of course straws.
They are a bunch of different cutlery, utensils, and silverware on the market that are eco friendly. There are bamboo sets in bags with a carabineer, wheat or corn ones that are biodegradable, and super lightweight titanium ones.
I sell two out of three of these but still recommend getting items used from estate sales, family, or thrift stores.
Please try to make this a new habit this year and refuse to use any of the 44 billion plastic utensils used in the USA every year.


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Step 9: Grow your own food.

You can grow your own food in many ways. I am a vegetarian so I will only be speaking about plants. Growing veggies and herbs does not have to be a large commitment. You could have a small herb garden in your apartment window or a full hydroponic set up in your basement.
Here are a few tips I have:
1. Make sure you are gardening with a purpose not haphazard. Plan or map our your garden.
2. Make sure to grow companion plants next to veggies. Marigold with basil and basil with tomatoes.
3. Get organic and non GMO plants and seeds.
5. Only go as big as you have time for. You want to enjoy growing your own food and saving money. A garden that is too much of a chore may be neglected.
6. Grow lettuce and herbs indoors in the winter.
7. Have a small yard or no yard? Container garden. You can grow lots of veggies in pots. Get pots at yard sales.
8. Only grow what you will use. If you have extras share with friends and neighbors. Additionally learn how to can so that you can enjoy your garden even in the winter.
9. Start plants indoors. Make sure to get your seeds by the end of February, some plants need to grow big and sturdy indoors before they can be planted outside. Lettuce is an early plant and can withstand colder weather.
10. Think outside the box. Grow interesting things like loofah (it's a plant!!!), patchouli, quinoa, or a small pine tree for Christmas.
You have plenty of options even in our cooler climate.
11. Check out local growers, they can offer advice and plants that are good for your growing area.
12. Turn your front yard I to a garden!!!!
13. There are a bunch of organizations that can offer tips on gardening like @deliohio . They do classes on growing garlic and other things.

We have a 80 foot square garden in two raised beds that are 4x10 and a trellis that connects them. Some years are better than others and we are still figuring it out! We also have two rain barrels got watering and four different types of compost containers.



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Step 10 : Zerowaste Lunch
The opportunity for no waste lunches varies by what positions and job you have. At my store and previous jobs I have had easy access to a refrigerator or had my own dorm size one which makes bringing lunch pretty easy. I bring in left overs or make lunch while I am making dinner and package it up to come with me to work.
Pick a day to prep , like Sunday, and get items ready for lunches for the week. Some simple changes, make your own pudding or buy large glass jar og applesauce etc. You can save so much money by packing your lunch.
1. The containers you can use are endless. Silicone bags, Mason jars, glass dishes, stainless containers, reused plastic tubs, fabric sandwich bags, wrap a sandwich in a scarf or napkin.
2. Also bring your own silverware whether those are metal, biodegrade, or bamboo.
3. Cloth napkins or cut up old clothes are great for lunches.
4. Always always always bring a reusable, fillable cup or bottle.
5. Leave a plate and bowl at work to use and clean after each use.
6. Get co-workers to do the same.
7. Speak to your boss about cheaper reusable options like a filter for the Keurig instead of pods.
This post is a difficult one for me. I have been doing it for so many years that I can not think of any really good tips. What do you use for zero-waste lunches? @ Empty Bin Zero Waste


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Step 11: Multi Use Items
Save space , waste, and money by having items that have more than one function.
Do you use vases or candles? A glass jar can be a vase, a drinking vessel, a food container or house a candle.
Do you have a need for 3 swimsuits, five coats, and ten pairs of shoes?
A couple good coordinating neutral garments can create many outfits.

Minimalism is about using less and wasting less.
Think about these tips the next you go shopping or perusing online:
1. Do I need it? Do you have something else already that can solve this need?
2. Do they need it?
3. Do I love it enough to keep of for years?
4. Can I afford it?
5. Can I use it for more than one application?
6. Can I buy it used?
7. How long will I have this item?
Marketing only exists to convince people that they need to buy something or join something. See beyond the pretty advertising and ask questions that businesses don't want you to ask. Is this an item I can use for many things?

I do have a retail business but at the beginning and end of my day all I want is to make a difference for my grandchildrens future.


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Step 12: Oral Care
I struggle with zerowaste oral care. I have a teeth/dentist phobia and started clenching at night and cracking teeth when I started my business. I still use conventional toothpaste and an electric toothbrush. Head in palm, ashamed.
Dental alternatives:
1. Bamboo toothbrushes are n alternative but far from perfect. The stem can be composted but will take take some time. The bristles need to be removed and thrown away, they are castor oil and nylon. It will be a better option once they find a better bristle.
2. Natural toothpaste are flouride free and better for you. Tom's of Maine and Dr Bronner are both good brands.
3. Tooth tablets are pretty trendy right now. I have tried Bite and it was pretty good. A little weird the first time. I have been looking for a few months for a bulk version to have at the store.
4. Toothpowders are also popular. I am not a fan at all but some people really like it. We have two kinda at the store and you can add xylitol to sweeten it or coconut oil to make a paste.
5. There is a stick that you can use to clean your teeth called a cleaning twig or chew stick. My mom loved hers.
6. Dental floss can be found in glass containers a is biodegradable and made of silk with vegan wax.
7. Google diy toothpaste or mouthwash for some recipes for natural products. We have some bulk ingredients at the store that might help you out.
I hope this has helped to introduce you to options that exist for healthier and zerowaste oral care.
*I have a Terracycle box at the store for recycling any oral products.


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Step 13: Farmers Markets
Get local food and help the local economy by shopping at neighborhood farmers markets. It is winter and there are a few options even in mid January!
When you shop at farmers market you are buying directly from the farmer or maker. This allows you to ask for plastic free or special order items. Many markets have plastic free bread and veggies. Start shopping a build a relationship with the people that help feed your family.
I have been a vendors at many farmers markets and it feels like a family of the nicest people.
Plastic waste in food is a huge problem and even if you only gonna few times a year it's better than never going.
How to remember days and times? Put in a calendar that you check daily or set an alarm. You can also shop around your market. Shop on Wednesday at the market and then get what you need at the store the same day. Make a grocery day.
Current winter markets that I am aware of.
Countryaide at Northside Sundays 10-2pm Akron
Countryside at Old Trail School 9-12pm, Bath
Haymaker at United Methodist Church, 10-1 Kent
I will be making a page online of the local farmers markets this spring. I will also have a list of local CSA programs.
You can also Google your local community to see where the closest markets is.


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Step 14: Plastic Wrap Replacements
I do not recommended using plastic for any food storage. Plastic, even BPA free, is full of chemicals but especially DEHA which has been shown to cause liver tumors in mice and transfer into fatty foods like cheese. I have noticed that as time goes on and we as a society get curious we find out that more "safe" things are not safe at all. Because of this we decided years ago to replace any plastic food containers. I also do not clean and reuse things like butter containers for food. There are a bunch of other, what I believe to be healthier and, less wasteful alternatives.
1. Wax food wraps. We use these for cheeses, different veggies, and as bowl coverings. We sell @earthologyfoodwraps at the stores, after I tried to make them 5 times!
2. Diy- make your own wax wraps. All you need is organic cotton, pine resin, vegan or bee wax, and jojoba oil. Google for a recipe. It never worked right for me, the pine resin would just clump. You can use only wax but these will not last as long or be as moldable.
3. Use a soft clean towels to cover dishes or wrap food.
4. Fabric bowl covers. Make sure you make or get a quality product if there is elastic. Elastic has plastics so you need to be able to use them to lots and often to offset the use of plastic.
5. Silicone bags are versitle and great for lots of uses. We carry @stasherbag at our stores.
6. Natural or organic food cloth bags.
7. Stainless steel or glass food containers. Or a glass jar like I have suggested in many of the posts this month.

I use a mix of silicone bags, wax wraps, and stainless and glass containers.
What do you use?


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Step 15: Coffee & Tea
Zerowaste coffee and tea are pretty easy these days. Follow these tips for coffee:
1. Buy beans in bulk with your own container or bag. Grind at home or work when needed. Look for a second hand or vintage coffee grinder.
2. Use natural brown filters that you can compost or better yet a reusable filter ( I make these, they are available at the store).
3. Use a pour over for coffee with no plastic.
4. French presses do not require a filter.
5. Take clean reusable cup to coffee houses but you must go in. If you go through the drive through they "stage" your drink in a disposable cup if they are busy.
6. Have a Keurig? Use reusable filters.
7. Compost all coffee grinds.

Follow these tips for zero-waste tea:
1. Buy tea in bulk with your own container. ( I heard you can do this at Mr. Bulkies).
2. Use a reusable tea bag or metal tea infuser. Tea bags that are already made have plastic on them. (I sell reusable bags for $0.49).
3. Store in an airtight container.
4. Get a tea infuser pot or bottle.
5. Compost all used tea.

I am not a tea person at all, I occasionally have some turmeric or ginger tea 🍵 from @storehouse_tea . I love coffee and drink too much!  We used to have a 12 cup pot but my husband switched to a pour over and I didn't like the taste. I was wasting alot that I was making so I switched to a Keurig (used) and a mesh filter so I use ground coffee. He gets whole bean I get ground beans. Once I am out of those we will just buy bulk beans.
Did you know you can roast your own coffee or make your own teas? You can find anything online .
What is your tea or coffee routine?


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Today is Step #16: menstrual products.
I recommend watching YouTube videos if you have a lot of questions there are some great ones.
This switch is nerve racking for some women and it is understandable. We are taught to hide our period and to be ashamed of the fact that we can create life inside of us.
Here are a few zerowaste options for your period.
1. Menstrual cups. This is truly zerowaste. The silicone cups auction to the cervix and come in two sizes and many colors. The silicone is save and can be cleaned with water, cleaners, or boiled. Wear for 12 hours and they last 8+ years. We sell @lunettecup
2. Cloth menstrual pads. 100% cotton flannel, super soft and absorbent. I have make the ones we sell. They attached with a nickel free snap.
I have used ones that were not natural fabric and got an infection. If you don't buy from me make sur it's natural fabric!
3. Period panties. These are cool and I was really excited but I sent mine back. The material is too substantial for me and not natural fabrics which lead to microplastics in the environment. If you don't like the other options this might be a good one for you.
4. Organic biodegradable products.
5. Crochet tampons
6. Sea sponge tampons. I personally think the sponges should stay in the ocean.
7. Free bleeding. I do this after my first heavy days. I don't care if I stain undies and have endometriosis (probably from endocrine disrupters from plastics) and it makes my period a little difficult so I do not use the cup.
It may takes some time to switch but please consider it. Manufacturers of menstrual products are not required to put the "ingredients" on the box or online. Scents can be very harmful and as we know now, all of them have plastics that can 
not be good for our health.


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Step 17: DIY recipes
I have been making my own products since 2015. I found out you could make your own laundry detergent and it was amazing to me. I started making cleaners, lotions, shampoo, bath bombs, lip balm, and the list goes on. I felt so good about using non toxic items in my products and sharing those with my step daughters. I feel.as though making your own products flows easily with zerowaste. You use your own container and ingredients that can be used for many different items.
I have a diy recipe book at the store and ingredients in bulk so you can make a little or you can make a lot. We have a complimentary essential oil bar that you can use as well. We will never use fragrances or have items with fragrances only essential oils.
Recipes can be found on youtube, google, in books, or by messing around. Most recipes are similar no matter where you get them from. I stated with books but they used a lot of food products so I started paying around and putting my twist on recipes online.
Who can make products? Anyone! And I hope everyone. You pay a premium by having items premade and then you really do not know what is in them. You can buy ingredients to make 18 lip balms for about $4-$5. Make stuff with your friends, kids, spouse, or parents. It's amazing the money you will save and the containers you can reuse!
I can help you gather ingredients but do not have the ability to make the items here, hopefully in the future.


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Step 18: Composting

Compost is decomposed organic matter. It requires two main things greens and browns. Greens are veggies scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, juicing pulps, etc. Browns are leaves, cardboard, bamboo, and paper.
I am not an expert on compost, not even close, my husband is the composter at our house, I do not fancy bugs. I love what we end up with and we usually have a lot of kitchen scraps due to being a vegetarian.
Compost fruit and veggies, coffee grounds, tea, eggshells, vegetarian animal manure, yard waste, cardboard, paper, jellies and jams, flowers, nuts, and grains.
Do not compost cat or dog manure, meat, dairy, diseased plants, plastic, foil, coated paper, newspaper ( my opinion due to the inks), fats, and oils, treated woods, or Ash.
Composting is a wonderful way to reduce your waste. Once we started we saw a large decrease in the amount of garbage we had.
We have two tumble composts one tub that we use, and one open topped wood yard waste compost.
You can even compost in your apartment.
We live in a small .16 acre city lot in Akron. If you need help start your own neighborhood compost club, one or two people can compost a few houses. Compost services are starting to pop up in larger cities like @rustbeltriders in Cleveland.


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Step 19: Shaving Alternatives
There are a bunch of low waste or zerowaste shaving for both men and women. Why not get a zerowaste option and share it as a family or couple?
1. Straight razors
- you can get the strap now as well. I think I met one person that uses this type. The strap will eventually wear out but the razor should last years
2. Safety razors
- there are hundreds of these available. We carry three, Leaf, Ecoroots, and Albatross. All razors can be used for any gender but some have a longer handle with is easier for shaving legs. My husband uses Albatross and I have a Leaf. I am also trying to use up the disposable head ones. I rarely shave so it takes me a while. These will last years.
3. Electric razors
- used electric to charge batteries or used batteries. Last for years
4. Vintage razors
- I always recommend reusing and buying used. These you would need to clean and sanitize. I have a few and will take them to the store to sell when I find them.
5. Don't shave
-this really doesn't need explaining but we are a made a certain way, who decided that shaving was the norm and sexy?
6. DIY shaving cream
-check out recipes on search engines or on my website blog. There is a fun one that you use a blender to make it.
7. Use regular or 4in 1 soap to shave
- good old bar soap or @redbudsuds for shaving.
8. Buy zerowaste shaving soap
- again there are ton of these on the market. I sell Albatross since it is vegan and a decent price.
**"We have a Terracycle box at the store for many razors or parts. Disposable razors, blades, heads, and even packaging.


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Step 20: Cleaning Products.
Cleaning Products can be a difficult switch just because of all the options consumers have. Another issue is what is important to you.
What is your list to pass on? Anything with palm oil, animal products, parabens, fragrance, sls, sles, or phthalates?
Most big name household cleaners and even some "eco cleaners" containers toxic or carcinogenic ingredients. It is important to know which of the top items are most important for you personally to stay away from. I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and always want to be vegan so animal products is the first thing I look for. Next I look for fragrances, they are so so bad. Side note-many cosmetic brands even small local companies use fragrances and fragrances are known for carcinogens.
I make most of my cleaning products with Dr. Bronner brands. And have tried at least a couple diy cleaners for each different areas of the house. Here are just a couple for you.
1. I make dish soap with 1 part Sal's Suds, and one part water. Or use a dish block
2. I make hand soap 1 part distilled water, 1 part Castile liquid, 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil, 1 teaspoon vitamin E. We also sell a natural brand in bulk.
3. Kitchen cleaner I use whatever dish soap I am using.

You can find cleaner recipes all over the internet, give them a try, you have very little to loose.

Change out toxic cleaners as soon as you can. This is for your health and your families. Speak with your money or lack of money and let brands know that it is not okay to poison us or our environment. Plastic is the go to container for most cleaners as well. When will it end?


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Step 21: Buying Secondhand
I love buying secondhand! The majority of furniture at the store is secondhand. I just make sure that all parts of the items I am buying works or can be easily repaired. You can fix cosmetic quickly and make it your own.
I always check to see if I can find an item used before buying new.
Here are some great places to buy or sell secondhand.
1. Thrift Shops
2. Habitat Restore
3. Consignment Stores
4. Vintage Shops
5. Overstock Shops @the_stock_pile
6. Estate sales (My #2)
7. Abbe Ann's in the Akron Area (My #3)
8. Auction sites @route8auctions
9. Facebook Marketplace (My #1) and Craigslist
Make sure to bring someone with you if you are picking up items at someones house. Estate sales usually have half off on Sunday but it can be picked through. I use estatesales.net to check on upcoming sales.
If something is not in the best shape then please consider putting it on Facebook Marketplace for free. I just did this with some pet stairs. 15 mins after I posted it they were gone and not taking up room in a trash heap.
Vintage Shops are great for interesting on of a kind type items.
Places like the Restore and some thrift shops benefit a larger cause.
What is your go to secondhand seller and what was the last item you purchased? I got a reusable bag from the thrift store last week for $0.45 and an apron for my grandkids for $0.90.


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Step 22: Deodorant
Why do I have deodorant as it's own post? It's a switch that everyone should make! Commercial deodorants and antiperspirants with aluminum clog lymph nodes and do not allow toxins to be expelled by the body. Parabens in these also may cause allergies and have been reposted in breast tumors.
I will never use antiperspirants again. You are meant to sweat just sweat. I made the natural switch just this year. I had read articles that scared me, I thought I would smell and get rashes but it is the exact opposite for me.
You will typically sweat less over time and natural deodorants last about 3 months, a fact to keep in mind when you see prices.
If you do have an unpleasant odor or excessive sweating when you switch try cleaning under your seems with charcoal. This will help to unclog pours and detox your body.
Next...make sure it is either unpackaged or in eco packaging like cardboard that you can compost or glass that you can reuse.
We sell deodorant from @meowmeowtweet and @notoxlife . We have recipes and ingredients in bulk for you to make your own!
Don't hesitate, make the switch, it's better for your body and the environment.

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Step 23: Repair
We live in a disposable and thrown away society. Let's face the truth. Most things we buy are made over sees and not made to last. That's why things have a 1-2 year warranty. It's sad but true. The good news is anyone can learn to make simple repairs.
There are still cobblers and repair shops around that can help you repair a broken item or maybe you could repair it.
Many items like small kitchen appliances are thrown out everyday adding to the waste stream along with electronics and clothes.
Anyone can learn to make a simple repair, that's what I use youtube for and it even taught me to sew! Repairs don't have to be pretty they need to be functional.
Here are some tips for you
1. Take care of your items as best you can. Only buy what you need and your will appreciate your belongings more.
2. Clean and do preventative maintenance. Clean and oil your sewing machine etc.
3. Buy a quality and superior product. It may cost more money but you should get more life out of it.
4. Talk to friends and family and come up with a repair program. So if I can repair computers and you can sew a tear we can swap repair needs when they arise.
5. Get to know you local repair shops. I have a cobbler less than a mile from my house and have used them once. I had an amazing pair of vintage healed slippers with fake fur and rhinestones. They were fabulous but needed a repair to the bottom.
6. Constantly throwing out items hurts our environment and is costly to our future. Does it cost less to buy some crappy thing new than to repair it? Sometimes but at want cost?

In some other countries they have community repair shops where people volunteer their skills. We need to do this here. We need to do a lot here.
This is one step of the process and one way to rethink about purchases and trash. 

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 Step 25: Switching to reusable fabric items.

All of our sustainable living products replace single-use plastic and paper items.
You can do this in many ways when it comes to fabrics.
Quit throwing away tissues, paper towels, and cotton balls. In the spirit of minimalism all of these can be replaced with a single bandana or rag. I make unpaper towels that I use for napkins, and hankies.
I also make cotton square, face cloths, and hankies. Since everything need at least one more purpose the cotton squares are good for applying toner and removing makeup and the hankies are great for napkins, noses, and bums (I am switching to family cloth soon). The products that I make are pre shrunk and organic - no microplastics here.
These are relatively easy to switch and they really don't have to cost you anything. The t shirt that you no longer wear can do all of the above and more. Change one of these this weekend!


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Step 24: Be Yourself
A little out of order sorry. I am bringing this up now because we are moving closer to the end of the month and I definitely like to touch back on this subject.
So often we are judged in society and we have anxiety about whether we fit in or not.
This is a friendly reminder to just be yourself.
1. Know what you are willing to loose or gain in living a low waste lifestyle.
2. Still be honest to your true self. If you are purchasing an item you will never use what's the point?
3. Being your bad ass zero waste self in public will get you some strange looks and side comments.
4. Some friends and family may give you a hard time. Just be real with them about how you feel and why you do what you do. Ask if you can use a real plate even if 20 other people are using paper plates.
5. I do this for my grandchildren and generations to come. We are just trying to do our best and educate others. If someone is rude please do not be aggressive. They're more injustices in the world for that anger.
6. I have learned in the last 43 years that I really don't care what people think. I am living my best life and trying to help out. It doesn't make me better or worse than anyone else...it just makes it me.


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Step 26: Borrow
What is more low waste than borrowing and returning items??
Are you aware of free or low cost items that you can borrow in your community? If not spend some time researching these valuable assets.
1. Many main library locations have maker spaces now. You can sign up to make all sorts of things. Maker spaces have things like digital printers for t-shirts, engravers, banner makers, photo and recording studios, and more.
The Akron Library in Downtown has a maker space plus they also lend out kitchen tool, baking pans, local art ($5 cleaning fee) and STEM kits!!! All of these are free to use, some maker items you do pay a small amount like $1 for supplies.
2. Akron also has a maker space that you can get a membership for $35 a person or $50 a couple. They have all kinds of tools and equipment. They have welders, 3d printers, CNCs, table saws, drill presses, and like a 100 more.
3. Have you heard of tool libraries? The closest ones that I know about is Columbus and Pittsburgh and there is a small membership fee but you get access to borrow 1000's of tools that you can take home.
4. Check with community centers as they may have free items or things to borrow.
5. Borrow from friends and family
6. Let people borrow your stuff!!!
7. Promote places that have borrower services and tell others.
We learned to share in the sandbox as kids let's continue to share as adults!


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Step 27: Straws and Other Small Items
I purchased my first reusable straws in early 2017. I used them for smoothies and my fresh juices..it didn't take long to just live in my cup. I prefer to take a cup and not a bottle with me on errands or car rides. I definitely drink more with a straw so I do like them. Darrik doesn't use one so its just me in the house, which makes cleaning them easier.
1. Take your straws with you, either in a car, purse or backpack. Make sure you have a bag or container for you straw that is big enough for a fork at least. Why use plastic silverware and a reusable straw? Simple enough to do both.
If you leave your straw at a restaurant, which I still do sometimes, they usually keep them so you could go back for it.
2. Cocktail picks. Having a gathering? Please use reusable picks rather than tooth picks or plastic swords.
3. Stir sticks. Now that you take a reusable cup are you getting fills where you need to add something like creamer? Don't use the plastic straw or wood stir, use reusable options. This past weekend I used my chopsticks in my bag.
4. Have you seen the photo of the seahorse holding the cotton swab? We will soon have the last swab in stock. They are silicone tipped and reusable.
5. Use a reusable coffee filter for your Kuerig instead of using pods.
6.Buy salt and pepper in bulk and use a glass or metal mill. Buy bulk spices and herbs in your own container.
7. Hair ties have plastic in the elastic.
8.. Little unnecessary plastic items like key chains, trinkets, and toys take our valuable resources to make.
What little plastic item can you cut of of your life?


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Step 28: Pets
I have been dreading this one! I have never had a dog but I have three cats and I honestly need help when it come to pets.
Unless we get a pet waste pickup company local that composts it I don't know what to do with litter. We used to scoop it in a bucket and put it in the trash can un bagged but ended up with some nasty clumpping after about a year so now we are back to bags. I do not buy compostable bags because I believe that you need oxygen to compost and this bag is going to be picked with numerous other trash bags..it's a good idea I just don't see how they work.
I will gladly take your ideas, here are a few of mine.
1. Buy dog food in bulk. A company with natural dog food was at the westside flea in Lorain, they have bulk at their store - I don't remember the name.
2. Make tote/ grocery bags out of animal food bags. They are so cute.
3. I do not recommend making food yourself, animals need things that we don't and it is extremely difficult from what I have read.
4. For animal bedding you can compost and paper, walnut etc in your back yard if it is a vegetarian animal like a rabbit. Dog and cat are different and you would need to contact your municipality for restrictions.
5. for a dog, you can get a pooper scooper (look on Facebook Marketplace) and get a dog septic tank.
6. For walking dog you can bring a paper bag, newspaper, a cone ( this is a product you purchase, look it up).
7. Get all natural material toys. My daughter is a vet tech and I am told do not give dogs rawhide!
8. Get litter in bulk - if they get it in larger amounts than what is typical.
9. Furry friend treats - buy local and ask for them without any packaging.
Let me know if anything works in you community. Remember when composting to be mindful of your neighbors. I find the little dog waste septic interesting.

Step 29 : Bulk Bins
The bulk bins and grocery shopping is a bit of a struggle in our area. You see bulk bins everywhere now but most stores will not allow you to fill your own containers....why bother even have bulk. Giant Eagle and Acme told me no when I last spoke with them. I have also heard that Wholefoods and the Mustard Seed do not allow it either. Pretty much, if you say no I don't shop there!!! I'm voting with my money. Plus I am insulted by the tiny Wholefoods 365 store in Fairlawn.
Who does allow customer to use their own containers? Earth Fare, Kent Co-op, Rasin Rack and I am researching more. I will be compiling a list and what types of foods are offered at location this year.
Where do you go and what do you buy in bulk with your containers? Here are a few tips:
1. Carry some jars and small bulk bags in your car. We talked about being prepared near the begining of the month.
2. Get weights at registers before filling.
3. Only get what you need. Bulk can be exciting but you may not need 10 pounds of rice. Get what you need for a few weeks to a month.
4. Do not make a mess! We want businesses to keep doing this so don't make it harder on them.
5. Take a picture of the upc codes or take your own grease pen.

I have tried Fresh Tyyme yet, they are next on the list.

Remember that we have bulk cleaners, body products, hair products, oils, toothpoowder, facemasks, and ingredients for DIY at the store!



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