Guest Writer: Alissa

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My name is Alissa and I have been on a journey to zero waste and minimalism for two years. What sparked my desire to live this lifestyle was all the trash I saw on the sidewalks of Brooklyn where I lived. The amount of trash we throw out without a bat of the eye really started to make me think. I would just buy a product—like toothpaste—and never even look at the ingredients. I became interested in organic and local food back in 2009—so why did I not pay attention to products that I put on my body?

Once you decide to look into a more sustainable and zero waste lifestyle, you will find tons of recipes and ways to upcycle things. I like to make my own deodorant and toothpaste! For me, I also enjoy a minimalistic lifestyle and I started to pair down my wardrobe to the essentials. Since my job allows me to wear jeans and a t-shirt, I am able to have a 40 item wardrobe that works for me. You will find that different people need different things and therefore there are people who live with 10 (or even one guy who wore the same outfit for a year!) and others that make due with 80 items! The thing to note is that you will feel pressure about what is the ideal amount of things to own or wear. But that is missing the point: we need to be aware of what we own, what makes our lives beautiful, and what is reducing our carbon footprint. My first step in zero waste and minimalism was eliminating plastic things that I bought. I wouldn’t buy plastic bottled drinks and tried to do my shopping at the bulk food section of co-ops and small stores. I found that by doing this I was also eating more vegetables and fruits and avoiding things in packages such as cereal which is probably not that great for me anyways.

I thought I would share a few recipes I made up that are simple and can help reduce waste while also ensuring we know what ingredients are in our products.

Coconut Oil
Baking Soda
Essential Oil
Stevia (optional)

For this recipe, I use a mason jar and spoon. I buy these items in bulk, glass, or cardboard. By making your own toothpaste, you eliminate having to buy a plastic tube of toothpaste. I use equal parts coconut oil and baking soda—start with 3 tbsp. of each. For this amount, I would add 5 drops of an essential oil—spearmint, peppermint, clove, and cinnamon are common but you could do any essential oil or combine a couple. This recipe will taste odd because it is not sweet and does not foam like commercial brands. You can add a few drops of sweetener like Stevia if you wish.  There is a lot of research about the benefits of oil pulling and brushing your teeth with coconut oil. Also, the foaming agents in toothpaste have also been getting negative reviews. To use, simply take a spoon and put a pea sized amount on your toothbrush. Be sure to always keep the container closed and to use a spoon so that bacteria from your brush does not get in the toothpaste.
f you find that you like making your own products, Pinterest has many recipes that people have tried and liked. You can also find tons of links to research about topics such as oil pulling. However, if you don’t like to make your own products but find that you want to lessen the amount of mysterious chemicals in your products, Etsy has a huge amount of people making wonderful products that are homemade.