Monbento lunchbox product review

[Product review + Discount code] Thanks @monbento for gifting me this lunch set. Here’s an honest review…

💚 It’s a pretty sleek design. The screw-top bowl is leak free, microwaveable and comes with a spoon that clips onto the lid. I tested it with soup and there were no drips. Very reliable.

💔 It’s plastic (BPA free) and was shipped from overseas wrapped in soft plastic. It’s also brand new which is the opposite of what I’m trying to focus my energy on right now #buynothingnew

💛 Functionally, this is something that can easily be found second hand. I’d recommend @monbento as a gift or for reinforcing personal habits like bringing your own lunch to work. Sometimes a special item can help make new habits stick.

They’ve given me a discount code if anyone would like to try. Type in “AINTNOPLANETB” coupon code to get 10% off on until April 30.

Observations about personal travel habits

Admitting is the first step. Or, to be precise, Mindfulness is 🙂 We need to know where we stand before we know where to step. This means we gotta stop, and just observe ourselves for a bit.

To kick this off, let’s look at our personal travel habits. These questions are intended to get the wheels in motion (pun intended) but it should be customised to your own unique situation/part of the world:

  • A long walk. If you have the luxury of mobility, what’s your perception of a long walk? 15 minute walk? Easy. 30 minute walk? Ugh, I’ll just drive… What’s your limit? Can you build on that?
  • Two wheels. Do you own a bike? Take it for a spin and see how it makes you feel. Do you get anxiety or feel like you’re flying? If it’s the latter, consider flying more 🙂
  • Car. Do you own a car? Does driving involve transporting others? Are you carrying heavy items? Is it a necessity, a luxury or potentially optional?
  • Uber, Taxi & Jet-setting. Look at your bank statement to understand the cost and frequency of these forms of travel. How reliant are you on these modes of transport?
  • Eating To Go. If eating or drinking out, take note of the types of disposable items required to support this. Are any items not essential / destined for immediate waste?
  • Other? Skateboard, scooter, truck, 4wd, horse, tuk tuk, camel… Got other examples of travel? I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Write down your observations and make the conscious decision to NOT change for the time being. Just continue to observe yourself as life happens. We’ll get to actions in part 2: Opportunity. For now, we observe.

Illustration by @_jameslake

Minimalist cleaning

A tea towel and a brush are perfect for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. They’re also good for drying hands and scrubbing nails, holding hot pots and cleaning boots, playfully whipping siblings and pretending to have a fancy moustache.

Zero waste sun protection

Are there any mates that can give me advice on zero waste sun protection? Particularly anyone with light brown to dark skin or tattoos. I am at a loss. I want a very high spf sunscreen that doesn’t come in plastic and isn’t chalky. Must be a reliable shield against Australia’s high UV rays.

Here’s a quick comparison:
Before I boycotted plastic, @invisiblezincau was my go to. It offers high protection and is non-greasy and ideal for face. It used to have ethical credentials on #shopethical but has since been marked down. Regardless of its credibility, the chalky residue looks a bit silly over tattoos and light brown skin. Even the tinted versions are very light. My winter skin is fair enough to wear this, but too dark to require it.

I’ve tried but found it offers very little protection and the colour is a strange brown-grey. It made me look dead inside. This is fine colour to match my corpse but while I’m still alive, I need something in the yellow-brown spectrum. Or ya know… just not tinted because one size does not fit all.

Many natural sunscreens don’t display spf. I like that tin packaging is on the rise but no spf makes me reluctant to buy… how can I be sure it’s going to get the job done? I gotta protect my tattoos.

Got a low impact sunscreen that works on dark/tattooed skin? Recommendations welcome. Know stuff about sun protection and nanoparticles? Teach me all the things!

Prevent food waste by reusing your fruit scraps

We save fruit scraps in a freezer bag to make iced tea. When the bag is full, I put it in a 2L jug and add a dash of red tea and mint (if we have it). I fill the jug with boiling water, cover, let it sit for a day, strain and compost the scraps. I bottle the warm tea and leave in the fridge for a few hours. The result is a refreshing iced tea, particularly rewarding on a summer day.

Reduce food waste by reusing your fruit scraps | An't no Planet B

Recipe inspiration is from @thugkitchen’s peach iced tea.

Bamboo toothbrush comparison

Brusha brusha brusha! Here’s a quick bamboo toothbrush comparison. .
Eco Toothbrush’s charcoal brush is softer than the ‘medium’ bristles imply so it takes more effort to scrub. Charcoal coating seems like an aesthetic enhancement rather than offering any cleaning benefits. The handle is dainty and not comfortable to use – probably better for kids (did I buy a kids brush!?). It’s a cute design and a long lasting product. The one pictured is 12 months old.

@uppercutdeluxe is a great long lasting toothbrush. The one pictured is 18 months old and it’s finally starting to shed its plastic bristles. It’s got a nice little indentation on the handle for the thumb to fit on comfortably. A good sturdy design that does the job well thanks to hard bristles and a larger brush in general.

@fete_toothbrush is the newest addition. It was gifted to me from overseas so I already lose ZW brownie points 🙈🙊 It’s a striking design. The bristles are shaped into a curve and are strong enough to get to work, but soft enough to be gentle on the gums. The rounded handle has a nice hold to it. The coloured base makes it easier to differentiate if buying a few of the same brushes. Very stylish.

All round pretty great products and good to see bamboo taking off in the dental industry. It’s becoming so popular that I’m a little wary of greenwashing. The next innovation I’d like to see is compostable bristles. I’d also like more detailed packaging information about the wood, bristles and chemical coating.

Bamboo toothbrush comparison | Ain't no Planet B
Bamboo toothbrush comparison | Ain’t no Planet B

Pack mixed nuts instead of museli bars

Zero waste on the go! I used to have two individually-wrapped museli bars a day. I now keep a jar of mixed nuts, dried fruit and chocolates in my bag that I can snack on between meals. This simple habit has prevented me from buying impulse snacks when I’m out and about. It’s great for work, car, flights, picnics, bush walks, camping and walking/riding around the city. I love that it’s easy to share too. This small and mighty jar could bring me one step closer to being the cool guy at the pub when we want something to nibble on.

Not so dirty packaging from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

Zero waste make up delivery!! I believe that make up should be optional for men and women. We are all entitled to wear and not wear make up. As a person who can’t stick to absolutes, I am inconsistent with the amount of make up I wear each day. Sometimes my face is clean. Other days, I have fiery red lips, tinted brows and shimmery blush. One contributing factor is that I get monthly acne even in my 30s. That monthly pimple is clutching onto my teenage youth. Wanna look young? Try being 5 ft tall with pimples. Takes years off! 😜

Thank you to @dirtyhippiecosmetics for gifting me this concealer and shampoo bar. This Australian small business has zero waste principles at its core. I’m in love with their ethos, products, packaging and all-round friendliness.

This concealer matches my summer skin tone perfectly so I can appear to have glowing skin on spotty days. I’ve been wearing their beetroot blush on my eyes and cheeks as well as tinted lip balm. I can return the tins for reuse and compost the paper. It’s all plastic free and vegan.

Also included in this pack is a little lemon shampoo bar which smells incredible and lathers really well. Wrapping it in newspaper is a nice touch.

Discovering DIY recipes has rekindled my interest in make up. My expectations of beauty brands has been enhanced by Dirty Hippie. Thank you Danni for all that you do. You’re a legend in my eyes.

Not so dirty packaging from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics
Not so dirty packaging from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics


Transitioning my hair & beauty regime

I learned to audit my toiletries, minimise my hair & grooming regimes and go natural with my nails. I embraced DIY for most products. For store-bought items, I favoured glass packaging and ethical brands. I took it slow, and stayed pampered.

Audit my toiletries

To audit, pull all the items out of the bathroom cupboard and split into separate piles: Keep, Give Away or Throw Out (try to reuse the container if you can). In the ‘Keep’ pile, take note of which items could be substituted by a zero waste alternative. Then, make two lists: To Make & Phase Out. Take it slow, substituting one item at a time.

Phase out for zero waste
These were items I chose to phase out to reduce my household waste

We went through our bathroom cupboards and took out items that were rarely used or a double-up. There was an alarming amount of stuff. An embarrassing amount. Some items were out of date, others were nearly untouched. We salvaged what was reusable and gave it away on gumtree (yes, people actually took it and they were so happy!). For the remaining stuff, I made two lists: “To Make” & “Phase Out”. The first item I made myself was lemon sea salt spray and I still use it today. I eventually learned to make shampoo, conditioner, soap, face scrub and makeup.

‘Phase out’ was a challenging list to get through. It contained cotton tips, tampons, multi-vitamins, spray deodorant, bleach, after sun gel, plastic flossers and band-aids. I realised that these were either totally pointless items (bleach, really Zoe!?) or there was a very different solution to the problem they solved. A big part of the challenge was using up what we already had – No matter how far I go with zero waste, I still have a never-ending bag of plastic flossers. The habit is made more challenging when these products are still front of mind.

Minimise hair regime

Simplify with a moisturising hair mask, a multi-purpose shampoo, hair conditioning rinse and homemade hair spray.

Zero waste lemon hairspray
RECIPE: Lemon Hairspray

My entire hair care routine comes from just a few core ingredients. Apart from the money I’m saving, my hair is healthier than before! I have naturally dry, fluffy, thick hair and I used to use a LOT of conditioner and rose hip oil to defrizz. This process made it greasy and probably wasn’t great for my skin. Now, my hair is glossy and tame without being oily. I’m overwhelmed by how minimal this is:

  1. Coconut oil treatment – once a fortnight
  2. Liquid Castile soap or Shampoo bar – every 3-5 days
  3. Apple cider vinegar & thyme conditioning rinse – a few drops in the shower after shampooing
  4. Lemon hairspray – for daily shine and hold

Grooming is optional

Zero waste helped me cull the last of the grooming products and accept my natural self. My zero waste approach to grooming is now: Pluck, Shave, Trim & the occasional Wax. And you know what? They’re all optional.

The Mister Brand safety razor
My grooming set: I purchased my safety razor from The Mister Brand.

I used to be extremely self conscious about body hair. I have dark features so I got teased for having dark baby hairs on my arms, face and belly. I was told that I looked like a man. These comments got to my head and I got a little OTT with hair removal. I would wax, shave, lazer, bleach and pluck until I looked like the unrealistic expectation that others had set for me. I hate looking back at pictures of me with pencil thin eyebrows. I dread to think what lazer did under the surface of my skin. I would hate for men to experience waxing down town – if I wouldn’t wish it upon them, why did I do it?

Today, I have the benefit of being older and not giving a fuck. Zero waste helped me cull the last of the grooming products and accept my natural self. I now know that all those comments were coming from people deflecting their own insecurities. They even teased me for my big brown eyes and petite figure, ha!

I have a totally different perception of beauty now. I think full eyebrows and possum pits are hot. I think soft dark arm hair is completely normal. I think baby hairs glistening over tanned skin is sparkly and gorgeous. I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if someone doesn’t have an eye for me, then that’s ok!

In the words of the great Ru Paul: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here!?” AMEN!

DIY beauty

These items form the basis of DIY beauty, hair and skin products: Castile liquid soap, Apple cider vinegar, Bicarb/Baking Soda, Cornstarch, Xylitol, Bentonite Clay and Coconut Oil. Anything extra is added for luxury.

Zero waste beauty essentials
These are now my beauty essentials… I must be mad!

If you’re starting out with zero waste, this is a great shopping list to set you off on the right foot. All of this is available package-free at most bulk stores for less than $30 all up.

  1. Castile liquid soap: Shampoo, makeup remover, face wash, body wash, plus many household uses.
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar: Dilute for hair conditioning rinse, skin toner, and healthy digestion for glowing skin.
  3. Bicarb/Baking Soda: A core ingredient for acne treatment, toothpowder, deodorant, body scrub and many cleaning solutions.
  4. Cornstarch: A core ingredient for powdered makeup and deodorant – I’ve had this container for years and finally getting some use out of it.
  5. Xylitol: Use in toothpowder and mouthwash.
  6. Bentonite Clay: Use in toothpowder, makeup and face masks – we bought waaay too much. You only need a couple of tablespoons.
  7. Coconut oil: Use as-is for a hair treatment, mix with other ingredients here to make deodorant, body scrub and toothpaste.
RECIPE: How to make your own deodorant

See all recipes

Reusable make up wipes for zero waste | Ain't no Planet B
I made my own reusable make up wipes from an old bath robe

Go natural with my nails

Truly zero waste nails is the all natural approach: Clean, trim, balm and eat a healthy diet.

Nail polish has never suited me. My zero waste approach is clean, trim, balm and eat fish now and then. This achieves a natural ‘French manicure’. The big step taken was to get rid of all the products I’d been holding onto for years. My new system only requires a couple of items, so I gave everything else away on Gumtree.

For those that like polish, simply favour glass packaging and non-toxic, ethical brands. There’s a gap in the market for non-toxic, glass bottles of nail polish remover…new business venture perhaps?

Glass packaging & ethical brands

For anything that doesn’t fit into a DIY or package-free solution, I favour glass, metal and paper packaging by ethical brands.

I love wearing fiery red lipstick. I tried to make a beetroot lip stain, but it just wasn’t bold enough for my liking. I now use Lush ‘Ambition’ Lipstick. The next best thing to zero waste is plastic-free or reusable. Favour glass, metal or paper packaging for extra brownie points.


How to build a zero waste beauty regime

Audit your toiletries and slowly minimise. Shop for glass packaging and ethical brands. Consider DIY. Take it slow and don’t compromise on the things that make you feel beautiful.

Next: Learn about Zero Waste Travel