Oct 31, 2016

Shampoo Bar Review

zero waste shampoo

I just finished my first shampoo bar. I bought the combination pack of J.R. Liggett* so I could try out several. I thought I would review what I think of it and how I've found it works best. 

How do you use a shampoo bar?

Take the bar and lather it in your hands. From there apply the suds to your hair. You can apply the bar directly to your head, but it seems to lead to more breakage. Or maybe there is just more hair ends up on the bar. It is annoying having hair wrapped around the bar, so I exclusively just apply the lather to my hair rater than the bar. 

I try to focus on my scalp and not the ends of my hair. The bar soap does not lather as much as regular shampoo does so I have developed a technique. I get lather on my hands from the bar, then massage my temple area. Then I lather up and apply the soap to the underside of my hair, and finally I lather up and get the front and crown of my head. This allows me to get soap to all parts of my head and only a little on the dry ends of my hair. 

Do shampoo bars work?

There were times when I was longer between washing (so my hair was greasier) and when I wasn't quite as good about washing all parts of my hair, it would seem greasier than I would have liked after washing. However after working out the above techniques I've been pretty pleased.

Do shampoo bars dry out your hair?

I imagine it has to do with the type of shampoo bar you have. The first bar I used was JR Liggett's with coconut and aragon oils which I knew would have moisturizing properties. Now that I'm on the second bar I haven't found it being much drier, but full disclosure I've never not used a conditioner with it. For most of the first bar I was finishing up my last bottle of conditioner and now I'm using Lush's conditioner bar

Is there a transition period?

I didn't notice one. However I made the switch while trying to wash my hair less frequently anyway. So any changes in how oily, or not, could have been due to that. Some people have said their hair feels weighted down some, but I maybe attributed that to not having a great technique rather than a transition period.

Will I keep using shampoo bars?

Absolutely! It is an easy way to eliminate a source of plastic in my house and it keeps my hair clean.

What is your hair like? 

I have straight hair that is below shoulder length. It tends to be pretty dry and brittle and prone to breakage. As a result I'm trying to wash my hair less and keep some of the natural oils and protection on my hair. I typically was it no more frequently than every other day, but try to stretch it to every 2 days and maybe to every 3 over the weekend. On day 2 my hair either looks normal or may have a slight shine to it. (It took me a while to realize that what I was calling greasy was really just shine since my hair is that dry). By day 3 or longer it can get oily. Using my boar hair brush* (alternative)* helps a bunch in spreading the oils out down the hair shaft. I want to let you know some information about my hair so if you get totally different results it may be why. 

Don't forget to read about my experiences with other zero waste shampoo options. Would you use a shampoo bar?
*This is an affiliate link, read disclosures.

Shared on Waste Less WednesdayHealthy, Happy, Green, Natural

Oct 28, 2016

Just Eat It: A Food Waste Movie Review

Image result for just eat it

I stumbled upon the Just Eat It: A Food Waste Movie* the other night. It was very interesting! I was able to watch it for free on Amazon Prime. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial*

First it followed a couple who had a goal of only living off of discarded food for 6 months. Their first donation was from their brother who was moving and needed to clear out his refrigerator. About a month into the experiment they started running out of staples and started getting nervous about how they would make meals. But they kept finding dumpsters after dumpsters full of food that hadn't met its expiration date yet. It was crazy to see how much food at a retail and wholesale level was literally being trashed.

Another part of the documentary had interviews with farmers and other people involved with food waste. It was so surprising to me to see how much waste was created from growers. They showed how a celery stock was harvested and cut down to make a heart of celery. Many of the outside stocks are trimmed to make sure it will fit in the plastic bag. So many stocks are trimmed that in a one square foot area the farmer estimated that there were 2 pounds of stocks, but that there was no market for the stray celery stalks that it wasn't worth the price of labor to pick them up.

In addition to the above examples of farm waste, the documentary introduced me to the idea of gleaning. Gleaning is where farmers allow volunteers to come in after the harvest to pick any remaining food typically to give to charity. Locally, there is a program called Society of St. Andrews. It is primarily focused in the South, however has some gleaning in some other states and is open to working in other parts of the nation. One of the pictures shows how 20,000 pounds of potatoes were collected from a Milton farm. I've signed up and hope that I'll be able to participate in a similar gleaning effort in the future.

Finally the movie showed the woman of the couple who was determined to live off of discarded food volunteer her time at Quest Grocery Store. That store, which is available in Canada is a bridge between a food pantry and a regular grocery store. All of the food in the store is donated from other stores. I was curious to see if there was a store like this locally and I couldn't find one. However I was able to find the Waste Not Want Not Jacksonville. This foundation is a group of volunteers which tries to connect food waste with those who need it. Jacksonville is about 5 hours away from Pensacola, so it's not really feasible to help volunteer with this group.

One change the couple made through this experience was to have a "use first" bin in their refrigerator. They would put leftover food or half onions or anything that needed to be used first. They would then make meals based around these items rather than creating more food and leftovers. I think this might be a good thing for Hubby and I to start doing. Occasionally I'll find a half of a tomato or onion that we didn't use because it got pushed to the back of the refrigerator.

I would recommend this movie if you are curious about food waste or want some motivation to tackle food waste. It made me want to see what local grocery stores are dumping!

*This is an affiliate link, read my disclosure here.
Shared on Simply Natural SaturdayHomesteader HopWaste Less Wednesday

Oct 24, 2016

Meet Lexy and Callie...and Maggie!

I've realized that while I talk about the chickens rather frequently, I haven't introduced the other pets in the household.

First this is Callie. She is our diluted calico cat and she was my wedding present. While Hubby didn't actually give her to me on our wedding day he did promise that he would get me a cat as a wedding present. So a couple of weeks after getting maried and moving into our first apartment we went cat hunting. Our apartment complex at the time wouldn't allow us to get kittens under 6 months of age so we had to get a fully grown cat. Sadly they required a picture of the animal so there was no getting around it. I tell you there were a bunch of cute kittens, but an adolescent or adult cat was much harder to find one that clicked. After not finding anything at the humane society we went to the local pet store where the humane society had some cats available. That was where we found Callie and instantly fell in love. She just let me hold her the whole time. I don't think Don even got a chance to hold her before we agreed to adopt her. I now call it false advertising because she rarely likes to be held ever since. However she is pretty social so I think she was just short on attention.

Are you trying to read? I'd rather have pets!
She was named Callie B, because there was already another Callie cat there. So I say her full name is Callie Bear. Unfortunately they were unable to do the adoption that night because they were closing, so we went by the next morning to pick her up. She's been our cat ever since, it's been 10 years!  That cat has made every move with us through Hubby's careeer in the Navy. We estimate she's been to about 21 states from moving from Texas to Florida, driving from Florida to Maine, and then flying to Hawaii with pitstops to Oregon and Washington.

Lexy is our dog. Hubby had been wanting a dog, but getting a dog shortly before moving to Hawaii just didn't make sense. Animals moving to Hawaii not only have a long airline flight, but they have to have testing to ensure that they are rabies free. So we figured we would look into getting a dog while in Hawaii. We went to a couple different humane socieities to find a dog. The first couple times we went looking we didn't find any dogs that seemed like a good fit. Our third trip however there were 2 dogs that caught our eye: a 9 month old boxer puppy and Lexie a 6 and a half year old boxer hound mix. I figured a puppy might be too much for my first dog, and I wasn't sure how many people would want to adopt an older dog so we got Lexy.

We've had her for about 2 years now and she is so sweet and has been an ideal first dog for me. She is our little Kama'aina dog (Native Hawaiian) she is pretty well travelled now since coming from Hawaii, and driving from Washington to Florida she's picked up 11 states.

As of last week that's all the pets we had, but last Sunday we got a new addition! Meet Maggie our new "puppy". Maggie was our neighbor's 10 month old puppy who we've watched grow up over the past 6 months. Our neighbor decided that she wouldn't be able to keep Maggie and asked if we wanted to take her. We decided we would foster her for a month to see if she was a good fit, but after 24 hours we decided she'd be ours. She's been running Lexy ragged and the chickens aren't producing quite as much as they were. However we are smitten.

What pets do you have?

Shared on Homesteader HopWaste Less WednesdayAnimal Tales

Oct 20, 2016

California Plastic Bag Initiatves: Proposition 65 and 67

This November Californians will have an opportunity to vote on two initiatives that will impact plastic bag use in the state.

The first, Proposition 67, would enact a single-use plastic bag ban similar to that in Hawaii. However the California initiative goes a step further and would mandate an at least $0.10 charge on stores which give away reusable paper or plastic bags. Remember one of the inadvertent consequences of the Hawaii bag ban was that stores were still giving away plastic bags, they were just THICKER plastic bags which were classified as "reusable". Having this charge would mean there was an additional disincentive to use the bags provided. If Proposition 67 is passed it will be similar to the plastic bag tax in New York and all money collected from the sale of bags would be kept by the store.

However proposition 65, the other plastic bag proposition on the ballot, would vote to change that. This vote says that if a fee is required, the money no longer goes to the store, but rather would go to specified environmental programs, which is what Washington DC does with the money collected on it's bag tax.

The concern with Proposition 65 passing is that if it collects more votes there is some fear that it may negate the plastic bag ban in locations that do not already have it. There are also concerns that the money will not actually to go help environmental causes.

Since both of these propositions are on the ballot and they are interrelated there is a chance that one or both will pass leading to different outcomes. However, any either is passed it would still be better than what we have in Florida where bag bans and fees are illegal.

If Proposition 67 and 65 both pass, the proposition with the most votes will take precedence. If Proposition 67 receives the most votes there will be a plastic bag ban and the money will be retained by the grocer.  If Proposition 65 passes with the greater number of votes money collected from the continued sale of plastic bags would go to a newly created environmental fund.

However if only one passes, or neither passes there can be some interesting changes.

If Prop 67 passes, but Prop 65 does not: There will be a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, and money obtained by the sale of bags will be retained by the grocer.

If Prop 65 passes, but Prop 67 does not: There is no statewide ban. Any revenue created from future propositions will go into a environmental fund.

Opponents to proposition 67 say that it will amount to a hidden tax on consumers to simply pad the pockets of the grocery and other stores who collect the fee. Opponents to proposition 65 say it was started from out of state plastic bag manufacturers who don't want to initiate any real environmental change.

Many groups in California, including the Surfrider Foundation, are recommending a Yes vote on Prop 67 and a No vote on Prop 65.

What do you think about the rival plastic bag initiatives? Remember it doesn't take a law to #SkipTheBag!

Oct 17, 2016

My Experiences With Uber

Have you heard of Uber? It is a ride sharing company that matches riders with drivers, similar to a taxi service.

While living in Hawaii our friends used it frequently. It's a way to have an event on one side of the island and be able to have a drink or two without having to worry about getting a drinking under the influence (DUI) charge. While our friends used it a ton and I even rode with them in it, I never got the app so I wasn't exactly sure how it worked.

Well, it is EXTREMELY simple. You download the application to your phone (which is free). You then can see a map that shows your location and the location of cars. It also says how long it will take for a car to reach you.

In our area we only have two different kinds of Uber cars: UberX and UberXL. UberX are regular cars (sedans) and UberXL will hold 6 passengers (SUV or minivan). Other locations also have UberSelect and UberBlack. UberSelcect (formerly UberPlus) are luxury cars that hold 4 (BMW, Mercedes). UberBlack are comercially insured luxury cars, Black SUV or Luxury Sedans. As the cars get bigger and fancier the price also goes up.

Hubby and I have used Uber a couple of times since we've moved. Most recently I had a trip and Hubby thought he would be home to drive me and pick me up, but his work schedule changed and he was unable to. It was no problem though because I was able to easily click to get an Uber driver to come pick me up. We even had no difficulty finding a driver to take us to the airport at 4:30am a couple of months ago! We also took it one night when ended up splitting a few too many pitchers with the baseball team.

Currently Uber is available in 512 cities and growing. If you are looking for a way to make some extra money you can also sign up to be a driver. Look into it fully though because you will likely need some extra car insurance.

Uber has given me a promotion code. If you set up a new Uber account and use the code you will get a free ride (up to a certain dollar amount which varies by location) to try it out, and I'll also get a free ride (up to $10).  The code is: 3JGCF and I'd love to have you check it out!

Have you used Uber? What did you think?

Oct 13, 2016

How A Trip To Lush Made Me Question Everything

zero waste chemical free

Lush is a cosmetics store that is known for their low waste products. They have a wide variety of items from shampoo bars, conditioner bars, soaps, tooth powder and more. The first time I ever went was in New Orleans. Hubby and I were walking down magazine street and saw the store. Hubby is always on the lookout for shave soap so we went in. I had not been introduced to the zero waste movement at the time, so I noticed they had some soap and bath balls, but didn't really look at the items or realize what it was. I just thought it was just a local soap company and we've got one of those in Pensacola. Only later, after reading more about zero waste and plastic free products did I realize how large a company, and how controversial they are.

I walked in for the second time mostly because I have heard so many things about it, but also because I saw some of their tooth powder right in the front of the store. As you may remember I am still on the hunt for a toothpaste alternative after my first foray into making went horribly. So I took a gander through the store to see what all they had. As you know I have transitioned to a shampoo bar for washing my hair, but still had some bottled conditioner so I was curious about their conditioner bars.

One of the major complaints people seem to have against Lush while they are conscious about their packaging waste their products still contain chemicals which others do not approve of or want to use. So while people may think they are switching to a natural product, they are really getting the same product, just in bar form. In my case, I was able to see that most, if not all, of the conditioner bars I looked at had sodium lauryl sulfate in them. Sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as SLS) is a surfactant. That means it has hydrophillic (water loving) and hydrophobic (afraid of water, or oil loving) parts to it. You know how oil and water don't mix? Well add a surfactant and they will. It also helps create a lather.

There have been a number of health concerns expressed over the use of SLS. Studies on SLS itself, and not with products which contain SLS have shown links to eye and skin irritation, developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and organ toxicity. Risk of developing these outcomes is likely tied to the amount of SLS.

So while I was standing in the Lush store I had to ask myself: What are my priorities? Do I care about the packaging? Do I care about the chemicals? Which is more important? Can I have them both?

Well I am obviously, concerned about packaging. The whole reason why I was standing in front of the conditioner bar section of Lush is because I wanted to move away from plastic bottles to something with less waste. But the fact that there are potentially toxic chemicals in them made me pause.

What did I decide? I bought the bar. I was curious what everyone was talking about, and I wanted to know that if my forays into homemade beauty products failed, I'd have a backup.

So what do I think? I bought Jungle from Lush*. My hair is pretty dry and this one sounded like it was the most nourishing of the bars. I've been using it for a while and I'm liking it more the more I use it. Since it has SLS, and the saleswoman in the store said it would lather, I was expecting some lather. However it doesn't really lather. I rub the bar around in my hands and I can get some product in my hand that I can then apply to my hair.

When I first used it I thought that I would like it if I could just get it on my hair. I'm not sure if my technique changed or the middle of the bar dissolves better, but I feel like I'm getting more product on my hands which allows for more product on my hair. Now that it is on my hair better I do like it. I feel like my hair is moisturized and less frizzy without looking greasy and it smells good afterward. (Which is due to those pesky chemicals, I know!)

I'll finish this bar, but I'll still be looking for another plastic free alternative for conditioner. If you have any suggestions for my dry, brittle hair, please let me know!

*This is an affiliate link. Read disclosures.

Shared on Simply Natural SaturdaySustainable SundayHomesteader HopWaste Less Wednesday

Oct 10, 2016

7 Things I've Learned Since Having Chickens

1. Chickens are really easy to take care of. 

We go out once or twice a day to check on them. We let them out of their coop a couple of times a week. While we are out there we make sure their food and water buckets are full, and that's about it. We tell our friends chickens are harder to take care of than a cat, because of the daily check-ins for eggs, but easier than a dog, because there are no walks and no scheduled feeds.

Our baby chicks when we first we got them

2. They have an egg song. 

Sometimes they sing it before they lay an egg or sometimes just after. One day you may happen upon your juvenile chicken squawking away in the nesting bin breathing like she is going through Lamaze and her butt clenching like contractions. The squawking will come and go like contractions come and go. You watch patiently hoping that you will see a chicken laying her first egg! Then, 20 minutes later she will get up and run away as if nothing has happened. And you realize that eggs are coming soon, but not today for that one.

Our nesting boxes- 5 gallon buckets. 
Click to find out how we made them.

3. Chickens first eggs are small.

Some of the eggs were so small we were surprised there was even a yolk, but I learned that eventually they would get bigger and bigger. Each chicken has her own egg style too, we had one hen whose egg would consistently be smaller than her sisters and it was more pink than brown.

Our brown eggs compared to a white extra large egg

4. The shells of the first eggs are harder than store bought eggs.

Those first eggs in particular where like trying to break into Fort Knox! The shells were so hard, so we knew our chicks were getting plenty of calcium. If the chickens have too much calcium the eggs can have "acne" or get bumps on the outside of the shell. If they aren't getting enough calcium the shell won't properly form and it can be more gel like than shell like. Chickens are pretty good at regulating the amount of calcium they need. We feed ours layer feed once they start laying and always have some oyster shell or ground up egg shells if they needed extra. So fortunately we just have thick shells and none of the other issues!

Chickens on the roost

5. You don't have to have them as pets. 

I was afraid that we would lose one of the chicks and/or one would turn out to be a rooster. And eventually they will stop laying eggs and we will need to decide what to do with them. So we decided to that they would simply be "the chickens", no names no individuality, not pets. I did break this rule a little bit, one of our 6 was a little bit smaller than the others and I named her Nugget. She also had some different markings on her. Now that their full feathers have come in, I can't tell which she is. So, once again, they are all the just "the chickens".

Chicken Coop. Click to see how we built our coop..

6. Fresh eggs taste better!

Egg Breakfast

7. Sometimes you get double yolks!

Double Yolk!
Do you have chickens? What have you learned?

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7 things I've learned since raising backyard chickens

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Oct 6, 2016

DIY Signpost: Where We've Lived

I've always seen people throughout their military careers have memories of the places they have been stationed. The most common of which are signs that say "Home Is Where The Navy Sends Us"  (or whichever branch) with smaller signs for each duty station below it. I had always been attracted to having one, but never really put forth the effort to get one. They always looked like something Hubby and I could easily make and weren't really worth spending the money for.

At our last duty station we did a painting party and one of the options was to make one of these signs. I was sorely tempted to get one, but I knew that Hubby was getting off of active duty so having a sign like that wasn't going to have as much meaning at the end of our career as it would to have one we built throughout our career.

However I saw a sign post at a friend's house where it pointed the direction of their friends and places they had been stationed and I knew that would be perfect for us! It would be a sign post alternative to those signs and we would have a sign pointing towards each of our homes and cities we've lived.

army navy coast guard air force

We made a list of what places we wanted represented, the direction of that city, how far it is and, since Hubby is a pilot, the identifier of the closest airport.  We purchased a piece of lumber for post and had some scrap 2x4 for the signs. We painted the signs in colors that we felt represent the city best. Usually that meant either the school colors or squadron colors of that time. The back has the airport identifier.

Once painting the signs and covering them with a sealant we screwed the signs into the post in the direction they are relative to our home in Pensacola. It was a little tricky making sure the angles were correct, but fortunately most of them would face the same general direction.

army airforce marine corps coast guard

I love the colorful reminder of all the places we have lived!

Looking for another project? Check out the washer necklaces that you can personalize to go with any outfit.

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Easy sign post to highlight places that are important to you.

Shared on  Waste Less Wednesday

Oct 3, 2016

Zero Waste Halloween Ideas

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love all the decorations for it, it's fun to dress up and, of course, the treats! Well all of that fun can lead to a lot of waste if you aren't paying attention. So I am going to offer you some suggestions on how to have a goulish time on Halloween without creating a lot of waste.


  • Use pumpkins, gourds or even pineapples for decoration. Using edible food can serve as double duty. You can roast pumpkin seeds or eat the pineapple, then when Halloween is over, they can go in the compost. 
    Halloween decoration

  • Use branches and leaves from the garden. Halloween is smack dab in the middle of fall, one of the best seasons for using nature's decorations. Some sticks, leaves or pinecones may be all you need. 
    use nature as decoration pinecone, gord, flowers
  • Use hay bales for decoration and then use them to mulch your garden.
  • Buy sturdy items that can be reused or have another purpose. I found an old candlestick at a thrift store and will be able to use it for years. I'm tempted to paint it black, but it still fits the theme with its old patina metal look. 
  • Reuse decor from other holidays. The purple, orange and green balls from these Christmas ornaments would work great for Halloween. 


  • Organize a costume swap. There are many resources for organizing clothing swaps. One way is to have each person who donates a costume gets a ticket and that ticket can be exchanged for a new costume. If you want the swap could then be opened up to other non-donators and used as a fundraiser. I could see this working best where there were a large number of kids with different ages, like an elementary school or church group. 
  • Buy from a second hand store. During October many Goodwill stores actually sell new costumes. That is a less expensive option than purchasing new, but I'm talking about making your own costume! There are a near unlimited number of costumes that could be made or repurposed from a second hand store into a fantastic costume. Some ideas: Ninja (all black), Where's Waldo (red striped shirt, jeans), and a referee (black striped shirt, black pants, black hat, whistle). 
  • Remake from what you have at the house. 
    • Go as a ocean gyre. Attach plastic bags, empty plastic containers and other clean debris to a neutral outfit. You will be using what you already have and helping to spread awareness. 
    • Be a present. Cut holes into an old cardboard box and put a big bow on your head.
    • Be a robot. Again, using an old cardboard box or two for the body and head. Ask around at local stores if you can go through their dumpster to find large enough boxes. 
    • Wear an old prom dress add some gloves and a tiara to be a princess.
  • Upcycle an old costume. Last Halloween Hubby bought a purple suit so he could go as the Joker. Well I am going to try and get as much wear from that suit as I can! Some ideas I've had are to go as a dia de los muertos guy, Jim Carey from the Mask, the Joker again, a zoot suit.

Alternatives to candy

There are numerous reasons why people might want to avoid candy for Halloween. Some do it for health reasons and others for environmental reasons (those mini candy bars make a lot of trash!).

I recently found out about Books For Treats a non-profit that was started to give gently read children's books rather than candy out at Halloween. So that got me thinking about some other non-candy alternatives that could be given out. Obviously the cost of these alternatives will vary depending on the number of trick-or-treaters that come to your house.

If you do end up with a lot of excess candy some dentist offices participate in a candy buy back program. It looks like children donate their candy and then it is shipped to oversees military members.
  • Books For Treats I love the idea of giving children's books! A tip is to pick up the used books at yard sales (or raid your children) so you have them for Halloween. 
  • Pencils: The dollar store often has Halloween themed ones!
  • Bubbles
  • Soap
  • Cards: You could give away playing cards or I read somewhere someone had a deck of 52 Fun Things to do in the Car* with kids and gave away individual cards. Although you could make your own cards* with your own ideas or with local events. 
  • Recycled crayons 
  • Boxed food such as raisins
  • Fruit such as mandarins- These are extra cute if you draw jack-o-lantern faces on the peel.
  • Puzzles
  • Coins
  • Seed packets
  • Bracelets
  • Feathers
  • Word search or crossword puzzle books

Party Food

How to throw a zero waste halloween party. Keep it eco friendly by using real plates! Learn how to make a cauliflower brain from www.goingzerowaste.com
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus in Cauliflower Brain and other delicious treats
Picture of Melon Brains

  • Black Spaghetti
    Food coloring spaghetti to dye it black

Party Planning

I will probably write an entire post on this in the future, but here is the gist: use 'real' dishes and silverware and avoid plastic and disposables. Worried about having to do too many dishes? Ask for help, or use biodegradable or compost friendly disposable alternatives.

Worried your metal forks aren't as festive as the plastic orange ones? Put them in a mason jar with some orange and black ribbon.

What do you do to minimize waste while celebrating Halloween?