Zero Waste Toothpaste

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||The various components compirsing the typical toothpaste tube can include any number of plastics, aluminium, steel and even nylon. For a toothpaste tube to be recycled it means each of these components must be processed separately. So on top of the CO2 pollution involved of the production of each individual tube, it then becomes a very complicated process for the recyclers.

By choosing to make your own toothpaste, or buy toothpaste with sustainable packaging you can reduce waste going to landfill and save both the water and energy involved in the production and disposal of these products.

About 1 billion toothpaste tubes are sent to landfills every year. [1]Toothpaste tubes are generally made of with aluminum or plastic. The process of converting raw bauxite (the source of aluminum that makes up 8 percent of the earth’s crust) into aluminum is an energy-consuming one, requiring roughly 7.5 kilowatt hours for each pound of virgin aluminum. Plastic is not biodegradable, taking up to 700 years before beginning to decompose. [2]|| 》http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/why-i-quit-toothpaste/《

So: While zero wasting our lifestyle we decided to switch to zero waste toiletry/hygiene alternatives when what we were using runs out. So when we ran out of toothpaste we were forced to find an alternative that would still keep our teeth clean and healthy. 

So we are now brushing with tooth powder. This may sound crazy and ancient, but wow, who would’ve thought we’d prefer it to conventional toothpaste.

There are so many recipes on the internet. Our main aim is to eliminate the non-recyclable packaging, so we use a combination of baking soda and xylitol (this came in a plastic container, but it was gifted to us by a dentist before we switched to being plastic free, so we’ll use it until it’s finished, recycle the container and find another alternative). 

Here is another recipe which uses bicarb and coconut oil:

http://www.healthextremist.com/make-your-own-baking-soda-and-coconut-oil-toothpaste/

We also use compostable wooden toothbrushes. Whe compost them when we are done (not the bristles). Visit faithful to nature to get your own. Also available at various health shops all over the country. 

We visited the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town yesterday, and I feel stronger than ever that waste reduction is the only way forward. It’s worth a try…

Zero Waste Shopping Success

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I have had the best Zero Waste Shopping day ever.  Okay. It’s like my third Zero Shopping day. But this has been a really successful shopping day in terms of packaging.

My husband is busy working on a friends album in Pretoria, so my daughter and I went to Pretoria, and stayed over at the studio. On our way back home I bought the most beautiful second hand glass jars from Bellbottoms, an awesome antique store in Pierneef Street. I then passed by Carl’s Coffee, in 18th street, to fill up on some coffee beans. They were willing to put the beans directly into my glass jars.

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I dropped some things I was not using (plastic mixing bowls, measuring cups etc) off at the The Baby Therapy Centre where they have a monthly Jumble Sale.  (Some of my items of clothing in my closet are from that Jumble sale.)

I then stopped at the Soap Barn, which I heard about from Colleen Black (A life lived Simply), a fellow zero waster. They sell all natural soaps and sodas in bulk. To my disappointment everything was packaged in plastic, non-recyclable plastic. I asked the manager whether they would be willing to fill my own personal glass jars. She was do friendly, and more than willing. I bought 1kg each of citric acid, washing soda and baking soda, as well as 5l of liquid castille soap (this I bought in plastic but I will reuse the same bottle every time I refill). I was over the moon.

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I stopped at New Market Mall, in Alberton, where I bought a cappuccino in my own ecosoullife traveller cup, after which I went to Food Lover’s Market,  where they had helped me so nicely before. I didn’t have any small cloth bags with me so I loaded all my produce into my basket, they weighed everything loose and I then placed everything in my reusable shopping bags.

My last stop was Nature’s Heritage, an organic vegetable farm, where I buy organic vegetables, free range meat and raw dairy products (grass fed). They have been so helpful and willing to provide all my vegetables, milk, yoghurt and cream cheese in my own packaging (glass and cloth bags, and one reused brown paper bag for my mushrooms).

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The best thing about this day was not only the fact they I had nothing to throw away. I had connected with so many people on a personal level. It felt like going to a market in Europe, where you know Lucille, who fills your jars with nuts and grain every week, or Ben who is so friendly while making you a delicious cappuccino. No one complains. Every person is interested and eager to help. And you know what, I hate shopping, but today didn’t feel like shopping at all.

 

Danél – 1. Waste – 0. Frustration – 10.

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It was all going really well.  In fact I was on top of the world.  No waste for one day. Oh yes. Golden star. 100%. Noddy badge. Difference maker etc etc. I had bought two take away cappuccino in my own EcoSoulife Cafe Traveler, refused my cash slips and placed my take away in my own cotton serviette. Day 1 was a breeze. What could possibly go wrong.

On day 2 we were on our way to Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, to spend some time with my family for the week. I packed my zero waste basket with all my bags, cups, straws, serviettes, containers etc. I usually put a disposable diaper on my daughter when traveling, for my own comfort, but not this time. She had cloth on her bum, and in her bag. I admit I did have wet wipes which I had bought a while ago.

I was ready for ‘Traveling Zero Waste style’. Now this might be a little personal, but hell, who cares. I had bought a menstrual cup the day before to use instead of disposable pads and tampons as I had started my period and didn’t want to buy any of those toxic disposables again. I had read all the reviews on how successfully people were using these, watched many tutorials and so the cup went along too.

(I should probably add that my husband had had a sinus operation the day before, so he wasn’t  able to help me at all on our trip, as he usually does.)

During our first stop, 200km from our destination, I realised that this day might be a little more frustrating than I thought: I tried to find something healthy, vegetarian and easy to eat, that wasn’t too messy and that could easily go into my own containers. I ordered a sandwich and fries (not so healthy at all) and thankfully the restaurant was happy to use my containers. I also needed to use the bathroom but I refused the slip and was scared I would need it to collect my order, so I stayed. In the mean time my family was waiting for me in the car. I collected the food and decided to skip the bathroom.

Our stops while traveling are usually really quick: I take my daughter to the bathroom with me, use the bathroom myself and then change her nappy, while my husband grabs us some coffee in disposable take away cups and then quickly pops into the bathroom himself before continuing on our journey.

But, our next stop, 100km from our destination, went something like this: I went to the bathroom without my daughter due to my sanitary obligations, only to find that my trusty menstrual cup had not been so trusty.  I then had to sort that out, go back to the car, change my daughter’s diaper and then grab our reusable take away cups to get some coffee. The coffee shop was too busy so I decided against the coffee and went back to the car, but I had promised my daughter that I would get her a milkshake (Friday is Cheat day) and had to go to another shop to get her a milkshake in her take away cup. She wasn’t able to sip the thick milkshake through her cup so I poured it into my cup. Have I mentioned that she is a 2 year old, so she was more interested in removing the lid, than drinking the milkshake. She then poured the milkshake all over her, and cried for the next 50 km not only because her milkshake was finished, but also because she was now dirty, and she doesn’t like being dirty.

All of the above + my auditory sensitivity = me wanting to scream,  and a hell of a lot of frustration.  But I had won. I had Zero Wasted this day (if you ignore our petrol gas emissions), and that made all difference.

Zero Waste: ready, steady, throw

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The less you have, the less you have to worry about ||Gautama Buddha||

So it has now been about 10 days since starting this new Zero Waste Home lifestyle.

Step 1: Decluttering our home.

We live in a  very small house on a beautiful farm near Walkerville, Gauteng. Our house does not have any built in closets. Actually, it doesn’t really have any cupboards. So when  we moved there from a rather large home (5 bedrooms) in Pretoria, in June 2016,  all our ‘stuff’ had to fit into our new home. Needless to stay, it didn’t. Not even half. So we went European and made everything we thought we needed (thought) fit. We put things under, on top, behind, and everywhere we could find an open space.  My clothes couldn’t fit in my loose standing closet, so there were things stacked on top.  The closet didn’t really fit into the room either.  We placed the rest in storage.

Now, the problem with this clever Europeanization of our home is that it became extremely cluttered. Constantly having to bend down and reach under the bed for something became really frustating. The house became untidy because it was too much trouble to place things back where they belonged.  A little cockroach family moved in, along with a lot of dust. We found a Rinkhals (very poisonous snake) right outside our house. A rat in our daughter’s room. A blind snake under my sink (not dangerous, but hey) and many frogs. Clutter + animals = Great hiding and breeding spots.

WE HAD TO DECLUTTER.

And so we did: We went through every cupboard, every chest, every box and drawer, the food, the toys, everything.  We had a lot of S-H-I-T. We placed everything we didn’t want, need, or use in our car and took it to a Non-Profit Organization (they sell things at a Jumble Sale for next to nothing). We sent clothes, toiletries, toys, even an old laptop. We removed expired food. Recycled what could be recycled, composted what could be composted and unfortunately had to send some things to the the landfill (which will hopefully not happen so often anymore).

Everyone’s definition of ‘need’ is different and very personal. Mine is quite simple because I am black and white in my greyness. If I don’t use it, or if I can use something else, I don’t need it. I really tried not to ‘what if’ while choosing what to keep: Two spatulas, 1 pair of scissors, 1 pencil, 1 pen, clothes I actually wear. I had nearly 30 pantis (why!?), I had an onion slicer, a broken blender, and the list goes on. I gave it all away. I’m sure I’ll continue to do so in the weeks to come.

Now all those spaces are clear again. I don’t worry about a snake living under our bed, or a rat making it’s nest between my daughter’s shoes. My clothes fit in my cupboard. I have space, and the house can breathe.

We have less, but we have less to worry about.