Bulktastic: TP Edition

Last month, I decided to buy toilet paper in bulk. Initially, I got really REALLY excited by this company, Who Gives a Crap. because a) it’s toilet paper in bulk, b) they donate 50% (DID YOU HEAR THAT? 50 FREAKING PERCENT) of their profits to WaterAid, a nonprofit that is “improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in the world’s poorest communities” (WaterAid), c) their IndieGoGo video was hilarious and adorable (spoiler: one of their founders pledged to sit on a toilet until the money they were requesting was raised.) In 50 hours, they had raised over $50,000. Oh, and d) this might be shameless plug; a family friend’s son works for them. This doesn’t make them any less awesome, however.

Unfortunately, Who Gives a Crap only delivers to Australia. So…I had to find another source of bulk toilet paper.

Enter bulk delivery from amazon.com of Seventh Generation’s 100% recycled toilet paper. I couldn’t find the non-bleached tp in bulk/plastic-free, but I’ll take what I can get. The problem with bulk items and apartment living is that you suddenly have less space. And given the fact that, for some reason, I got shipped two boxes instead of one (shhhh; I wasn’t charged for the second one, so I’m not complaining), I had a lot less space. 120 rolls of toilet paper. I’ll never have to buy tp again.

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As a gal who grew up on Charmin, this stuff is a rougher, feels less absorbant and thus is less than ideal for bum-wiping AND nose-blowing, but I’ve gotten used to it, honestly. And no one’s complaining about running out of toilet paper, which is great. I’m definitely going to keep up with this waste-free, plastic-free change. (Except there’s the packing tape, so not 100% waste-free!) If I really wanted my bodily waste routine to be zero waste, I might have to get a composting toilet. But I’m just not into that…yet?!

I Fell Off the Bandwagon

Friends, I fell off the zero waste bandwagon at the end of February. I managed to get through two months of zero waste, which I’m pretty proud of, but between the stress of the Flower Show and my pre-existing struggles with finding good zero waste food supplies, I abandoned my quest this month in order to rethink how I’m going to go about this. This is where I’m at now:

Personal Care Routine

I’m pretty proud to say that my personal care routine has almost entirely transitioned to being zero waste and I hope to have it stay that way. The exception: I’m still working through my old mascara which I will have to chuck when I’m done. I also tried the no poo thing, and at this point in time, I’m not sure if I’m ready to face the transition period of being a greaseball while my hair’s oil production rights itself. I’m also excited that as we transition out of winter, dry skin will be less of a problem that I have to worry about and I can have time to figure out a better solution to store-bought moisturizers. I need to find a good, unscented soap to switch to once I’m done with the soap that I currently have. I’ve been using Dove’s Sensitive Skin soap, which gets a good rating on EWG’s website, but it would be nice to support a local company or experiment with making my own.

Household Cleaning and Laundry

Two words: Soap. Nuts. I have been using soap nuts for laundry and hand washing to good results. Woohoo! I will continue using them. I’ve been pretty good about using cloth to wipe up spills. I need to figure out how to make my own dish soap. My roommates may not use it, but I will, at least. My last batch of dish detergent was also vetoed by them, so I will have to wait until I’m living alone again to experiment with that recipe. In terms of surface cleaners, I am using a Meyer’s Lemon Verbena All Purpose cleaner, a company I feel pretty good about supporting, but need to do a little bit more research into. I think I’d prefer to switch to Dr. Bronner’s once I use that up, though.

Food

This is where I’m really struggling in terms of balancing health, convenience and environmentalism. Though I’m having trouble implementing it, I do think that a high-fat/low-carb/paleo/Whole30 diet is the healthiest diet with an emphasis on organic, grass-fed meats and ghee derived from cows raised in this manner, organic, free-range eggs and lots of veggies. I have not been able to find local, organic, humanely-raised meats that are not packaged in plastic or wax paper, so I am going to make a concession and accept that I will be producing these kinds of waste when I eat meat. In addition to my quest for zero waste, I was aiming to go plastic-free, as well. Over the winter, I was not able to find leafy greens that weren’t packaged or wrapped at least partially in plastic, which means I ended up forgoing spinach and some other greens, as well. As I freaking love spinach and most kinds of lettuce and kale, this was a problem. Instead of accepting these things into my weekly waste totals, I avoided them. I don’t think that’s the healthiest past, so I’m going to be buying recyclable plastic clamshells of spinach and other greens. I think this will change once a lot of the farmer’s markets start opening up for spring, but until I find a better alternative, I will be buying plastic. Obviously, an even better solution here would be to grow my own, but I’m not in the position to be doing that right now, so it will have to be a goal for the future.

So, to summarize, how’s this going to work moving forward:

  • Keep working towards all-zero waste and homemade personal care products
  • Use up existing home cleaning products while experimenting with zero waste alternatives
  • Stick to zero waste with all foods that aren’t grass-fed, organic meats or leafy greens. Paleo snacks might also have to play into this as I am a snacker, but I’m going to try and be good about this once I’ve finished up the Lara Bars that I have hiding in my desk. I just purchased a replacement bowl for my food processor, so I will be making my own nut butters and energy bars soon!

Starting tomorrow, March 17th, we’re back to zero waste. Stay tuned for more fun photos.

Trash: Week 6

If not for my stupid stomach, I would have been a zero waste rockstar this week. Unfortunately, I fell prey to the siren call of that wretched contraption, the vending machine. Yet again, better planning would have helped me avoid these items:

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So what have we got this week:

-those little plastic thingies on top of toothpicks that are supposed to make them look pretty or festive or ensure that you don’t poke yourself with them. I’m not exactly sure their purpose.

-the top off of a lid of cream cheese. Curse you, bagels at the office!

-mini packets of butter. I keep getting hungry in the afternoon and making toast. I need to stop that.

-Life Without Plastic sticker. I got plastic-free toothbrushes form Life without Plastic, which I love. Unfortunately, the package had a non-recyclable sticker on it.

-Wax paper from a sandwich I got one morning while in a rush. Ugh, Starbucks, and your deliciously addictive sausage, egg and cheese sammiches.

-More bits from those Moleskines I was ripping up a few weeks ago.

-Tea trash. I was doing really well avoiding tea wrapped in non-recyclable packing until I went to meditation on Monday night and just really wanted some freaking tea (mostly because my hands were cold.)

-produce sicker and unidentifiable piece of plastic

-THE TERRIBLE RESULT OF CAVING TO FOOD CRAVINGS. Except when it comes to cheesy crackers, I’m never sorry. The gummies made my stomach hurt (serves me right), but I can never regret Cheez-Its.

ALSO: I STARTED WEIGHING MY TRASH. This week, it was a whopping 0.4 oz. Last week: 2.6 oz. Progress!

Minimalism Game: COMPLETE

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It has come to my attention (thanks, Jesse!) that I never posted the results of my minimalism game here. Well guess what? I MADE IT! I am now 496 possessions lighter. Well…in theory. I still haven’t made it to the thrift store yet, but I picked a date to go. These things will soon be well on their way to enriching someone else’s life and providing profit to Philly AIDS Thrift’s efforts.

Most of the items I decided to give away were clothing and kitchen things. This included my collection of tupperware that I foisted upon Amber and her housemates (thanks, guys!). Some things were snatched up off the street by randos from Craigslist whom I never had the pleasure of meeting. Other things are going to the Bethesda Project, to the consignment shop and to Buffalo Exchange.

The project was hard, especially towards the end when I had to choose 20+ things per day to part with, but somehow I managed to keep finding things that I never used and didn’t want. I thought I would have to face some of the ridiculous items in my wardrobe that I just can’t get part with (mostly my oddball collection of Halloween costume pieces and accouterments), but it never really got to that point. Honestly, I could tackle a second month of this, I’m pretty sure, and get at least halfway through before balking completely and throwing in the towel. There are the wine and champagne glasses I use maybe twice a year, my still quite vast shoe collection, and all of the Beanie Babies and Breyer horses from my youth sitting in my parents’ attic…

Unfortunately, I can’t completely extoll the virtues of this project in terms of its impact on my life just yet. I STILL haven’t gotten everything out of my apartment and there are 5 garbage bags full of clothing sitting in my room. It’s not a pretty sight, folks:

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But when they’re gone, I will feel soooooooo good. Anyone want to try this with me? I’ll totally do it again!

Trash: Week 5

Sometimes I have arguments with my brain that go like:

zerowaste Ayse: Oh boy, look at me go. I’ve got a nice, healthy lunch packed in a mason jar. I’m saving money AND creating less waste. Woohoo!

hedonisticAyse: UGH. Chicken with sweet potatoes and kale again? I can’t even. Let’s go to Whole Foods and get sushi.

zerowasteAyse: No, but this is a healthy lunch and is way more delicious than sushi…sort of.

hedonisticAyse: Psh. Sushi is healthy. Plus, Whole Foods has chocolate.

zerowasteAyse: Oooooh. Chocolate.

hedonisticAyse: Exactly.

To conclude: there are quite a few sushi and chocolate remnants in this week’s trash. Take a look:

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Month 1 Mop-Up

So how did I do during my first month? Well, I haven’t quit, so in that sense, I was widly successful. On the other hand, I have gone through significant periods of time over the past few weeks questioning my judgement and asking myself, ‘Am I insane? I’m totally insane, aren’t I?’ as tucked leftovers, straws and paper napkins into my backpack, carted off my possessions to thrift stores, forced my housemates to endure my (failed) experimentation with homemade dish detergent, and rubbed coconut oil in my hair, turning it into a greasy catastrophe. Despite the bumps and hiccups, however, I am feeling optimistic and I have definitely made progress. Let’s check out my January goals:

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