James and I continue to work on our zero waste grocery shopping. I now have a bamboo toothbrush and the tube of toothpaste we bought before this undertaking has one or two more servings in it and then we will try tooth powder. The tooth powder is disappointingly in a plastic bottle, recyclable unlike the toothpaste, but still plastic. So I was super excited to learn about Bite. These are little toothpowder “bites” that are 100% natural ingredients and come in a glass container. You can then “subscribe” for refills that will arrive in a little cardboard box every four months. No plastic. How awesome is that? I am going to give that a go after the tooth powder I just bought is gone.

We’ve pretty much gotten our grocery shopping as close to zero waste as we possibly can. We are super happy about this. And so we’ve been taking it even further by refusing to buy things that come in plastic that can be recycled. Admittedly we are not as militant about this as we are about not buying frozen veg because it all comes in non-recyclable plastic, but we are gradually working our way there. What does that mean, you ask? Well, we no longer buy ketchup. James makes it himself now. It tastes so much better! Who knew? And it is easy to make.

We stopped buying siracha because we could only find it in plastic. We started buying a moderately hot Mexican hot sauce instead because it came in glass. A different flavor to be sure, but still delicious. And now, our last grocery trip, what do we find but a new siracha sauce on the shelf in a glass bottle!

We can buy several different kinds of mustard in glass jars except for plain yellow mustard. What to do about this is in the process of discussion. Do we stop buying yellow mustard and content ourselves with stoneground and dijon? Or do we get mustard seeds in the bulk spice section and figure out how to make our own yellow mustard? We have made our own mustard before from mustard we grew in the garden. It was good, but wow was it spicy. So we have to figure that out.

Our next challenge is going to be sunscreen. We have a big tube left from last summer and we will need more eventually. Not only do we want to make sure we get the newer mineral sunscreens, but we need to take a hard look at the packaging. I am hoping we can find some in a tub instead of a tube.

The bathroom trash dish

We no longer have a bathroom trash can. Well we do, it’s a bathroom trash dish. It sits on the back of the toilet tank and pretty much the only thing that ends up in it is dental floss (our floss is nylon so can’t be recycled) and the occasional bandaid. We’ve been making our own deodorant for years so haven’t had to make any change there. And women, if you haven’t tried a menstrual cup give it a whirl! They are awesome! It can be a little messy sometimes but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. You will never want to use tampons again. And if a cup is not your thing, get yourself some GladRags. Both options are a small upfront investment but will earn back every penny in a few months. You too can reduce your bathroom trash to a dish!

Buried in Print clued me in to a fantastic book I borrowed from the library called Zero Waste: simple life hacks to drastically reduce your trash by Shia Su. It has some great tips on getting rid of waste and loads of DIY recipes for everything from facial scrub and shampoo to dish soap and laundry detergent. My food co-op has bulk dish soap and laundry soap but I am super interested in trying the recipes in here. Not only are they all natural ingredients but they are pretty darn inexpensive too. Check out the book from your library and see for yourself!

There have been quite a few articles of late like the Guardian’s report revealing people eat at least 50,000 plastic particles a year that have made us decide we need to look at plastic outside of grocery shopping too. So when we went to Home Depot last weekend to get a second watering can so we could both work on watering the garden at the same time, we spent $12 on a nice stainless steel can instead of $4 on a plastic one that would end up getting thrown away in a few years.

When we went to Ikea to get some glass storage bowls we got silicone lids for them instead of plastic.

We have also decided we are no longer going to buy anything made with synthetic fabrics. This is going to be hard since synthetics are everywhere. And if socks are 95% cotton and 5% spandex do we not buy them? We have not worked out all the details yet. I am not sure what this means for shoes. That is going to be hard since we don’t want to buy leather but we can’t walk barefoot in the snow and I don’t think our employers would appreciate bare feet either. Luckily nobody needs shoes at the moment, but it is something to think about.

Of course buying less of everything in general is a good thing. Up until now it’s been pretty easy. We’ve had to make some sacrifices; we were just talking this morning about how much we miss corn (frozen and only in plastic bags). But overall it’s been pretty easy, only a few adjustments and very little real inconvenience. Now it’s getting real. Now we really have to start thinking about stuff and what it means to choose something that is plastic or contains plastic. Do we not have that thing at all or do we find an alternative that isn’t easy/convenient/cheap/seen as normal?

But then what is normal when our house is on fire?