Zero Waste Answers For Reader: Yvonne

DAY56_365 photo challenge zero waste ottawa_a dream lived greener LO RES-6379

Did I tell you lovelies, how much I enjoy answering your questions and replying to comments on the blog? So much I apparently have to do it at 4am even when I really should be resting.

Well a reader named Yvonne took the time to comment on the blog with a few questions and I thought why not share the answers with all of you?

So here goes:

Hi there, I have a few questions for you.

1. How is Castile soap compared to soap nuts? And why soap nuts instead of that? (For detergent)

Actually for whites, I still prefer to use the soap and baking soda over soap nuts. I don’t own too much white clothing (mainly my sheets) as of right now, but perhaps when I really minimize that’s all it will be, just black and white. I like soap nuts because they are one item as opposed to my previous detergent which was combining two ingredients and shaving a bar of soap. Castile soap can be found in large bulk plastic containers. Soap nuts come packaged in just a cardboard box. Although if you do want to order soap nuts in larger quantities some companies still use plastic.

To be perfectly honest, I’m still figuring out what my preference is. I wouldn’t recommend using soap nuts for full loads, as in don’t try to cram in all your laundry like I sometimes do because it can’t wash well. But they are entirely compostable.

2. What sunscreen do you use? I love my Japanese sunscreen but they test on animals, plastic packaging, chemicals, etc.

My friend made me a sunscreen that I still use. I’ll try to find out the ingredients for it and let you know. I’m also very brown so I don’t apply much sunscreen and I just don’t lie out in the sun for extended periods of time, if ever. I have actually carried around an umbrella on sunny days.

3. Would you recommend I get a big bottle of Castile soap (tho plastic packaging) and use it for everything : shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent, hand soap, dish washing liquid, floor cleaner, etc. or you have better ideas?

I would recommend you try different things and then see what you like. You may not like how castile soap washes your hair. For body and hands, it’s fine. Laundry detergent, like I mentioned before I was using that combined with baking soda. Floor & window cleaners, you could just use vinegar and water. Dish washing liquid, you could use it but just cut it with borax so that is heavier for grease. For me I use either straight grated homemade soap bar in hot water or I mix the soap bar with borax in a glass container (like Frank’s Hot Sauce) that can be poured out.

4. What are materials that can be decomposed?

I’m not sure what materials you want to know about. Organic food waste can be composted. Cardboard. Coffee grinds. Soap nuts. Wood. In terms of clothing, cotton, linen, silk, wool, hemp. Some people think fabric made from bamboo is too, but I recently discovered it’s not nor is eco-friendly. If you’re breaking down clothing, it’s best to cut it into very small pieces. Otherwise, I’d recommend finding an organization that does textile composting or repurposing.

5. How to decompose?

We have a program with the City of Ottawa that picks up our organic waste, but if you have a space in your backyard you can create your own. There are lots of online resources on this. There are also bins that you can buy that can be used for composting. Not sure where you are located though. We’re moving to the country so we’ll be building our own. There is also the option of creating a vermicompost, which is a worm bin but that takes special care to create that one.

6. How did you deal with all the plastics, or unnecessary items in your life before converting to this lifestyle? 

About 5ish years ago I stopped buying plastic water bottles or any drink in plastic bottles. I wasn’t that aware at the time so I would still consume a lot of goods that were in plastic just like most people. I was literally no different than anyone else. When it’s normal to create garbage, you don’t really think twice about doing it. But when you’re not creating any garbage everything becomes magnified. As in, you notice a lot quicker and a lot faster. For example, it’s automatic for me to scan a room and the environment particularly events, restaurants etc. I do it out of habit now whereas before it wasn’t a habit. It took time for me to make these adjustments.

In terms of all the other items, I’ve moved and travelled so much that I am used to getting by with very little material possessions. I think it would be about 10 years ago that I decided that anything I purchased would have to be arts-related or a creative tool. I did only large shopping sprees for clothes once a year. Still now, I try to be selective with anything I buy. I’m looking for quality items I only need to buy once or that I can easily repair.

So sorry there are so much to ask. But I’m really interested to live a zerowaste life, now starting little steps : Castile soaps , tote bags, reusable water bottle. 

Starting little steps is the best way. I’m really proud of you.

For your bacon cravings. Please watch these documentaries : cowspiracy (environment), earthlings( animals – highly highly recommended), forks over knives (health) And see if you still feel hungry looking at meat/bacon/eggs and dairy.

I don’t eat meat right now although I have slipped up as I have written in my previous post. I prefer fruits and vegetables over anything. I also could never kill an animal. I have already watched all of the documentaries on meat and I know that I hate what happens out there. I don’t support any of it. Agriculture takes up so much resources and creates a ton of waste.

However, I have learned about more humane ways and have gained a respect for the farmers that genuinely treat their animals well and use their animals to help grow the land how mother nature intended. They let their animals run free, roam forests, play and eat grass, seeds and berries.

There are really great documentaries and books by Michael Pollen that talk about how animals are vital to the growth of plants and what the best practices are for farming. I do not in anyway advocate slaughter houses or any of the major meat corporations out there nor do I eat any of that, but I do recognize the value of animals. Especially knowing people from different cultures and parts of the world who live off of the land and who really take the time to use every part of the animal. Some of these people consider the animal sacred and it is just part of their tradition.

The thing is, I can’t stop people from farming animals but I can take the time to understand the difference between terrible conditions and humane ones. Much like supporting fashion, people should know the difference between factory slave-laboured clothes and eco-sustainable fashion.

My preference is vegetarian but I think if anyone is going to eat meat, it’s wise to support the people who practice it humanely because getting the world to eat only vegetables and no meat, just like getting the world to make zero garbage, is going to take a long time to change. Educating yourself is the only way to make informed decisions and have thoughtful conversations with others rather than just believing one way is the only way and the best way and defiantly demanding everyone follow because of x, y, z.

My goal with everything is to be accepting of others and their choices yet at the same time, I need to be true to my values and discover what works best for me, my son and my lifestyle, whatever it may be at the time. As with zero waste, I’m still learning how to be a vegetarian and because I consider myself a student of life, I do accept insight on the subject. I’m just not one to follow the crowd because someone tells me it’s the right thing, I really have to figure it out on my own and let my heart be my guide.

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4 thoughts on “Zero Waste Answers For Reader: Yvonne

  1. hey, i’ve left a long comment but im not sure if it was sent , please let me know if you do not receive it. thanks

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