Jan 30, 2017

5 Advanced Bathroom Swaps

Are you killing it with the 5 Simple Swaps To Make In The Bathroom and looking to keep taking it to the next level? Well here are 5 more things you can do that will bring your bathroom waste down to almost nothing. Am I doing all of these? Nope! But my life, like yours, is a work in progress moving towards reducing waste. So let's check them out.

1. Refill soap containers

We have 4 sinks in our house and each one has a soap dispenser. The convenient thing to do is to buy new soap containers as they run out, but this isn't the best for the environment. Refilling the soap containers is an easy way to use lessen the environmental impact. Check out this post for more less waste hand soap options.

2. Oil cleansing method

I don't use soap to wash my face, but rather I use the oil cleansing method and I use oil alone, or mixed with salt for exfoliation. You can often purchase oil in more sustainable containers such as glass rather than plastic.

3. Menstrual cup and reusable pads

It said that the average woman discards 250 to 300 pounds of waste due to her menstrual cycle. Two ways to minimize the effect are using a menstrual cup and reusable pads. A menstrual cup is a cup that is inserted into the vagina to collect fluid. There are a number of menstrual cup manufacturers (Diva Cup*, Moon Cup*, Lunette*) and all have their devotees. Most people say there is a one cycle learning curve, but after that they are easy to use and will replace tampons.

Reusable pads come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Some are heavy for overnight flow and others are thinner and smaller. You can even make them on your own if you have the sewing skills to do so. 

4. Homemade Toothpaste

Hopefully you've already switched out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush. Now to take dental care to the next level you can start making your own toothpaste. Many people have made their own toothpaste recipes. A great deal of them involve baking soda which will scrub your teeth and help whiten. I attempted to make my own toothpaste, but I wouldn't say I recommend the recipe I used. Most recipes have a sweetener or something to mask the salty taste of the baking soda and I now realize that is an important step! Kathryn from Going Zero Waste  has a recipe she worked on with a dentist which I may try next. Or purchase a tooth powder*

5. Q-Tips

Plastic Q-tips are the definition of single use. There are a number of alternatives that can be used in their place depending on what you are using them for. If you are using them for makeup removal or placement you can use cotton rounds or the edge of a towel. If you are using them for your ears you should rethink that decision according to the American Academy of Otolayringology. If you are still bound and determined to use a product like that at least purchase ones with cotton ends and a paper handle. It is still disposable, but at least it is plastic free. However if you are looking for a reusable replacement try a ear wax pick*.

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Jan 27, 2017

Food Does Not Belong In The Trash

If there is one thing I'm coming to learn during this process it's that food should never go in the trash. The Duke University Center for Sustainability and Commerce says that food and yard waste account for 27% of household waste. That means over a quarter of our trash is currently headed to the landfill when there is a better option. Why shouldn't we landfill food waste? Let's find out. 

Trashing Food Implies Waste

Whether it is that extra bell pepper that went bad before you could use it, the leftovers you forgot about, or those last few goldfish crackers your kids couldn't eat. Any food product that enters your house has taken a lot of resources to grow, process, and transport it to you. By not consuming the food you are wasting those resources and nutrients. Food scraps and peelings from food preparation could also be included in food waste, but I might argue that is less "waste" and more "byproduct", however the end result of wasted resources is the same. There are some ways to minimize food waste by meal planning and eating leftovers. 2016's Zero Waste Week focused on food waste and you can read some more tips on how to reduce food waste. 

Trashed Food Goes To The Landfill

I never really thought about landfills before, but I'm starting to learn how fascinating they are. First a landfill is where all the trash goes. It generally is a big hole in the ground, covered with a lining, and then filled with trash. The whole goal of landfills is to store the trash and prevent the breakdown of products because that can cause undesirable affects including the production of leachate and gas.

What Is Leachate? 

It is the liquid from landfills. It is made from liquids present in the trash, rainwater that has percolated through the trash, or liquid made from the breakdown of items in the landfill. Leachate consists of organic matter, inorganic compounds, heavy metals, and other man-altered components, most of which you wouldn't want in the water supply. So the EPA requires linings to prevent leachate from entering the water supply and regulates how it is processed.

What About The Gases?

There are a number of gases that are released from a landfill. They can be released from volatile compounds dumped in landfill, created through chemical reactions from products in the landfill, or created from microorganisms breaking down materials. Most of the gas produced from a landfill is methane and carbon dioxide (both greenhouse gases), but other gases are possible too. The gas can be burned for heat or electricity or simply let into the environment. Landfills are the 3rd largest source of methane in the United States and the EPA is working towards capturing more of the gas produced from landfills to lower methane emissions. Food products in the trash are more readily degraded by microorganisms and thus, contribute to the production of greenhouse gases.

So what should you do with food waste and scraps?

Compost it! There are a number of different ways to compost. There is composting in your yard (I use this bin*!), using wormsindoors with Bokashi*, or maybe your city participates in industrial composting. The goal is to get those nutrients back in the ground and not just producing leachate and gas or taking up room in the landfill.

Where do you put your food?
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Jan 23, 2017

Board Games I'd Like To Have

Hubby and I frequently host a game night at our house. We joined a Meetup game group when we were in Hawaii and fell in love with the comraderie and the games. We were hoping to start one when we moved to Pensacola, so imagine our happiness when we found out there already was one here!

It's always a little nerve wracking when you first decide to meet with a new group, but in general people who play games are pretty awesome and welcoming. After going for a couple of months the people who had been hosting had a baby so Hubby and I decided to take over hosting responsibilities.

We love it because it means that we get to play games and meet new people. Also, we bought our house specifically to host events like game night.

People usually bring games they want to play so we almost always getting to see new games. In fact, last night was probably the only night in a long time I haven't played at least one new game, but I was able to introduce 4 new people to Pandemic (which they won!)

So what are some board games that are on my list to get?

Unexploded Cow*

 It's the late 1990s where France has a lot of unexploded ordinance and Britian has cows with Mad Cow Disease. You are trying to explode the cows in your field to earn money.

Colt Express*

I haven't played this game, but Hubby specifically came up to me to request it for Christmas. Both people who talked about how to play mentioned the chaos of it, but it sounds like you play out actions knowing roughly what other people are doing, but there are some secret cards that make it turn out far differently than you had planned.

Puerto Rico*

I haven't played this game in over a year, but it's been on my list to buy since then. You try to harvest and sell resources.


This is a good group game. There are two code masters who try to relate words together to get their team to guess their words but not the others. The trick? You can only say one word and one number! How do you make them say yard and cup but not park? Try "measurement, 2" It makes you think, and sometimes you are surprised the rabbit holes your teammates will go down.

So whether you play games to be more social or are doing it for a frugal way hang out, I would recommmend at least checking these games out!

*This is an affiliate link. See my privacy and disclosure statement.
What games have you played recently?

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Jan 20, 2017

January Garden Update

We had been growing a few things over the winter, but due to the location of the sun it wasn't growing very much. Then in the beginning of January we finally had our first hard frost. So before it came we harvested all that had grown. We had a ton of green tomatoes, a few heads of broccoli and some jalapenos.

After the frost the tomato plants died. It was crazy to see how the plant shriveled and the tomatoes turned white and mushy. Our zombie jalapeno plant that wouldn't die finally kicked the bucket too.

Not everything in the garden was deterred by the frost however. The lone broccoli we didn't harvest survived fine.

The cabbage never produced anything, nor was it perturbed by the frost. Unfortunately the weeds weren't affected either. :(

Seeing this we realized that we had let the garden go. We were going to start over by laying more cardboard down and putting down mulch. 

We also took opportunity to try and remove two stumps in the garden. The largest one we tried to burn down with charcoal.

I'll admit it didn't work great like this. The next day we piled far more briquettes and it made a bigger dent in the stump. Although we still have a ways to go for it to be manageable.

The other stump we were able to dig out using axes, pry bars, shovels, and a chainsaw. Hopefully this stump will get out so we can extend our garden all the way to the fence.

Update: We finally figured it out! How to burn a tree stump.

Were you able to grow anything in January?

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Jan 16, 2017

Food I Use In The Bathroom

Do you keep food in the bathroom? I do! Not for eating, of course, that might just be weird. But I do use common food products in place of typical beauty products. 

So what food do I have in the bathroom?

Coconut oil

I use this as a moisturizer, predominantly for my face, but my whole body if it needs it. It absorbs quickly and isn't overly greasy.

Olive Oil

As I've mentioned I use the oil cleansing method and don't wash my face with soap. I'm currently using olive oil as my oil, but I've used other oils in the past. I also use this as a moisturizer for my face and body.


I mix this with the oil for face exfoliation. It works great.  It might be a little too harsh for some, so in that case I'd recommend sugar. Sugar is a more gentle exfoliator because of the crystal shape. The salt is more square so it can be harsher. Neither one dissolves in the oil, so it works as a great exfoliator with the oil cleansing method.


As you may recall from the zero waste shampoo discussions, cornstarch works as a dry shampoo. It works to absorb the oils from the scalp where you can brush it away. I've also used cornstarch as a sort of makeup primer to absorb sweat and keep my face makeup from running. Be careful not to use too much or you'll end up with white streaks though!

Apple Cider Vinegar

Back when I was washing my hair with baking soda (another food I've kept in the bathroom!) I was doing apple cider vinegar rinses. Right now I'm finishing up my Lush conditioner bar, but when I'm done I'm going to give apple cider vinegar another shot. I mixed 1-2 tablespoons in with a cup of water and rinsed it in my hair. Then I would rinse it out and dry and style as normal. I'll let you know if it works as well after using a shampoo bar as it did after using the baking soda washes.

Do you have any food products in your bathroom?

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Jan 13, 2017

Rolodex Calendar

I've been wanting to keep in better contact with people by sending birthday cards. However, I didn't have a good way of keeping track of birthdays and I felt like I always had to scrounge for addresses. I figured making a rolodex calendar would be a fun way of keeping them together. 

I took each of the alphabet cards and decorated them with a different month. I have a lot of scrapbook paper and other embelishments so I was able to whip these up simply. I write the person's name and birthdate on the card.  I can flip through the cards to quickly see whose birthdays are coming up and send them a card. 

Since we have so many military friends who move a lot I didn't want to write the address on the back of each card. So I made a family card to put in the back. For example I would have a card in the back that says "The Smith Family" and has their names and birthdates and address. Then each member of the Smith family would have their own card. 23 January Tommy Smith, 15 May Susan Smith. 

Calendar Rolodex January - June

Calendar Rolodex July - December

How do you keep track of birthdays or other special dates?

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Jan 9, 2017

Dogs And Chickens

Hubby has been working with our dogs, Lexy and Maggie, to get them more well behaved with the chickens. When we first got the chickens Lexy would just run laps around the coop, thankfully that has stopped, but there have been instances where she is barks at the chickens non-stop while we are gone. When we got Maggie, she seemed a little more indifferent to the chickens, but I've witnessed her jumping up against the coop too.

He started by letting the dogs outside while the chickens were loose and they got more and more comfortable. It got to the point that Hubby could be outside working in the garden or yard and the dogs and chickens would be out there together with no issue. I would hear stories about how Lexy would just be sitting there surrounded by the chickens and not caring.

Saturday we had our first (and likely only) bit of freezing weather. It never really got out of the 30s. Hubby went outside in the morning to let the chickens out because they were all huddled together in a small patch of sun, so we figured we'd let them out to get more sunlight and warmth. Since it was morning we also let the dogs out. We watched them from the window and there were no issues, but it was so cold the pups didn't stay out long.

The dogs spent most of the day with us, but they would go back and forth some. We would spend time looking out the window watching the chickens or the dogs, or both. Things seemed to be going just fine. That afternoon though we got settled in and ran errands and forgot the chickens were out. It was about dinner time and starting to get dark when I asked Hubby if he'd put the chickens up. He hadn't, but I figured they would all be lined up on their roost at this point.

When we went out there he found that the pups had just killed one of the chickens and were picking at it. :( It appears that when we put the dogs out that evening one of the dogs got the chicken and snapped it's neck. We didn't hear any commotion, so we don't think there was much of a chase or fight. We called the dogs "bad dogs" and they acted appropriately guilty and remorseful and Hubby buried the chicken.

So now we are a flock of 5. We know it's totally our fault: we forgot to put the chickens back in their coop, we let the dogs go outside unsupervised, and we know that it is their nature to want to catch the birds.

So let this serve as a reminder that even the best trained dogs (which ours aren't!) should have a watchful eye because sometimes instinct just takes over. We will likely wait a little bit before having them both out together, but either way they will be supervised!

Have you ever lost a chicken?

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Can dogs and chickens get along?

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Jan 6, 2017

Oil Cleansing Method

No more fancy face scrubs or chemicals or moisturizers for me! I've gone back and forth a few times, but I feel my skin just looks better when I've got a regular habit of cleaning with oil rather than soap. And maybe that's because I'm actually exfoliating more, or opening my pores more, or maybe it's all just in my head.

So if you aren't familiar with the oil cleansing method let me describe it for you. It is the process of using oil on your skin to remove the dirt and grime rather than soap. It falls under the theory of 'like dissolves like'.

So how do I do it? I rub the oil on my face in circular motion making sure to get it all and pay special attention to my eyes to be gentle, but also rub them to remove mascara. Then I get a washcloth wet with hot water and lay it over my face to let it "steam". After a few seconds I use the washcloth to wipe off the oil, rinse the rag in hot water, flip it over and "steam" the other side. That's it! I then usually finish my moisturizing with coconut oil.

I've used a variety of oil in my oil cleansing method and I don't think I truly have a preference, but I'd encourage you if you don't like a given kind, try another. I first started with apricot oil and castor oil mixed 2 parts apricot to 1 part castor. The castor oil helps penetrate better but some said it can cause dryness so I used less of it. The apricot is supposed to have some benefits and that's why I chose it over some of the other oils, but I can't remember why.

Well a few months ago I noticed the apricot oil, which I have also just by itself had gone rancid. Instead of buying another small plastic pump bottle full I decided to try some other options.
I first tried coconut oil, because I have a big container of it. It worked fine, but my coconut oil has been pretty solid so I haven't wanted to mess with it. So I tried olive oil. And it seems to work just fine too.

I also exfoliate using this method. I pored a couple tablespoons of oil into a container and mixed some salt into it. Instead of using the plain oil I used the salt mixture to scrub my face and then steam and wipe as usual. If the salt is too harsh you can also try a sugar instead.

I've found my face does best with regular exfoliation, steaming to open the pores and moisturizing with coconut oil.

Have you tried the oil cleansing method?

Jan 2, 2017

National Drinking Straw Day Jan 3rd.

I'm not sure if you are familiar, but just about every day is used to celebrate and bring attention to something. In fact most days have 3 or 4 things that they help to celebrate. One of the things tomorrow, January 3rd, is that it is National Drinking Straw Day. It is an unofficial holiday is thought to have been created to honor of the day that the first paper straw patent was filed in 1888 (National Day Calendar). Obviously around these parts we are not a huge fan of disposable, single use plastic straws because they are a huge source of pollution and waste.

When I did an impromptu beach clean up a while back I picked up over 70 straws. Most of them were found right outside the bars, but since they are so lightweight a minimal breeze could have delivered them to the ocean. Also I've heard about (but not seen, because it would make me too sad) a video of a sea turtle who got a plastic straw stuck up her nose and it took scientists to remove it.

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Now there are some options other than using plastic straws. The first it to just drink out of the container and refuse a straw altogether. This would work in many instances, but not for everyone.

So the next best option would be to buy paper straws. They are disposable and festive, but are also better for the environment. Ones like these could be fun for Christmas and these could be fun for New Years Eve.

However, the most resource efficient would to be purchase a metal, glass or bamboo straw that is reusable. You will want a brush to clean them as they can get dirty and moldy. The brushes included in most of those packs are unfortunately made of nylon. If you've got a non-plastic straw brush I'd love to hear about it! Although we've got some plastic brushes from our pre-SkipTheBag days and they are really durable and last a long time.

So in honor of National Drinking Straw Day tomorrow, either refuse a straw or go buy a reusable straw!

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National Drinking Straw Day | Not all straws are plastic. Find out about some more sustainable alternatives.
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