Low waste hair care

My hair is the most manageable it’s ever been thanks to a bit of brushing, water washing, apple cider vinegar rinse, accepting my natural features and a monthly teaspoon of coconut oil combed throughout. Past Zoe would have been sceptical about these simple steps. It’s easier said than done, but my dry scalp and wild waves have appreciated the transition.

I make truly terrible sourdough

Living the simple life is easier said than done! We’ve been making truly terrible sourdough bread lately. I’m determined to keep practising but there must be an important detail I’m missing. Like everything about me, my sourdough is inconsistent and incapable of settling with one way of being I am creating problem children who grow up to be sad toast, breadcrumbs or worm food.

Our starter has abusive parents. I’ve inherited one quality starter, “Kate”, which got mixed up in a tragic salt accident (totally my fault). I’ve made one from scratch, “Yeastie Boy”. Yeastie attempted to revive Kate but tragically suffered the consequences. Lastly, James and I made a bouncing baby “Phillis” (named from a typo ‘fill us up with bread’). Phillis was left out for too long without feeding. I revived it with organic flour and distilled water. Phillis is still with us (pictured).

Our dough is feeling low. My dough rises *some* of the time. I’ve tried gentle folding and more intense kneading. I’ve had a friend show me how to make this step by step. Maybe the inconsistency is caused by varying temperature and time between working the dough.

Molasses is a rust remover.

These are two almost identical tobacco tins. I’ve cleaned the one on the right by soaking it in diluted molasses for 2 weeks. The one on the left represents the ‘before’ state.

Molasses is a zero waste rust remover

Molasses is a zero waste rust remover


It takes patience, but it works:

  1. Dilute molasses in water.
  2. Soak rusty item in mixture.
  3. After 2 weeks, molasses should have turned the rust into a goop. Rinse with water.
  4. Gently wipe excess rust off with a rag.

Natural solutions are all around us. Not only is this zero tox, but it’s made from ingredients that we could eat! Do you have any quirky cleaning solutions that you’ve tried? I’d love to learn more.

Summer solstice bug repellent

It’s Summer solstice in Australia! Time for beautifully warm nights under pink skies with a symphony of insects.

To avoid getting bitten: Old roll on deodorant container + a few drops of tea tree oil + water = a gentle antiseptic and mosquito repellent. Perfect for my husband when he changes his insulin cannula too. When we’re camping, we just take the essential oil without the convenience of a dispenser.

Note that this is not a hospital-grade sterile approach and should not be used if there is risk of infection. Keep upright to avoid leaking. Clean packaging thoroughly before refilling.

Gender norms and handy work.

Neither myself or my partner are particularly masculine or feminine in the traditional sense. I don’t think anyone is 100% anything. I think we spin in a cycle of different headspaces. I think those headspaces get mistaken for male/female counterparts.

Fiery tingle tea for a sore throat.

This tea saves lives. Well sorta… As my illness has transformed from laryngitis to a chest infection, I’ve soothed my throat with my homemade lemon, ginger, honey, turmeric and chilli tea. Its fiery tingle has made it an effective substitute for cough drops, with the added health benefits that it has way less sugar and it’s kept me hydrated.

How to make:

A quarter of a lemon, one teaspoon of honey, 3 slices of ginger, half teaspoon of turmeric, half teaspoon of chilli and 2-3 cups of boiled water depending on how strong you like your tea. Being fresh, it will take a little longer to infuse – roughly 5-8 mins. Feel free to change the balance of the ingredients to suit your taste.

Reducing the severity and duration of a cold.

I’ve got myself a cold for the first time since going zero waste. 11 month’s without a cold is a record for me! .
Here’s how I’m reducing the severity and duration of the cold with minimal waste:

  • Hankies!
  • Eucalyptus oil in the shower for a steamy decongestant
  • Salt + warm water snort / gargle
  • Resting as much as possible
  • Homemade lemon, ginger, honey tea with a dash of turmeric or chilli powder
  • More rest
  • Self massage neck, shoulders and sinuses – Drinking all the water ever
  • Hot water bottle on the chest
  • Staring vacantly into the distance like a zombie
  • Snacking on fresh orange slices
  • More rest

Check out this post about balancing health and zero waste. It covers more than just a cold, and it’s approved by my nurse buddy so you know it’s legit

Fix your bent bobby pins.

A few weeks back, I reached out about what to do with my bent, misshapen bobby pins. The response was overwhelmingly wonderful. The most popular answer (by a landslide) was to fix them! To fix these, all I need to do is squeeze them with a pair of pliers. So simple! Thank you everyone who responded 🙂 Thanks to you, my personal goal is to never buy these again.

Coffee grounds + Castile liquid soap = basic coffee body scrub.

We packed a bottle of Castile for dishes, clothes, hair, face, surfaces, etc. We also packed a gold mesh filter so we could buy local coffee and make our own fresh brew on the go. These two products enabled me to make a body scrub while traveling. After a few days of camping in the harsh Aussie desert, it was nice to feel sparkly clean again with this simple recipe.

Note: This makes a mess. Our hotel shower had its fair share of coffee grounds. Only attempt if you don’t mind making a mess 🙂 This should not replace body wash. Use soap afterwards to remove any coffee stains on your skin.

This is just a basic version of the scrub. For the full recipe: add sugar, cinnamon, essential oils and coconut oil. The full recipe is creamier and doesn’t create as much mess.

I love that zero waste has allowed me to be creative within my limitations. And I believe that staying pampered is an important part of rewarding new zero waste habits.

DIY Coffee body scrub on the go
DIY Coffee body scrub on the go
DIY Coffee body scrub on the go
DIY Coffee body scrub on the go

Zero-waste habit techniques

Check this out! I just found a list that @_jameslake and I made in January when we decided to overhaul our kitchen groceries and take this journey to #zerowaste together as a team. Instead of diving in head first, we created several lists that allowed incremental habits to form at their own pace. We split items into different lists:

– Bulk store
– Habit changes
– Make ourselves
– Try not to buy frequently
– Good stuff to buy and freeze

Throughout this journey, I’ve adopted habit forming techniques to adjust to zero waste. It’s a similar technique to building up an exercise regime from scratch – start tiny and build on that. This technique also avoids any chance of failure, forever boosting you up as you adjust to a new way of living.
I am amazed at how far we’ve come in such a small amount of time. It’s been less than a year!! Amazing! This is truly easier than it sounds, as long as you go easy on yourself, be realistic about what you can and can’t change and take it slow.