Last year we shared a Waste Free Living post with you highlighting some of the changes we had made in our daily lives to reduce, reuse and recycle more. Most of the changes centered around the kitchen. Switching up plastic containers for glass, and plastic wrap for beeswax wraps. We also started using reusable produce and bulk item bags along with the reusable bags we already used for grocery shopping. Metal straws were a nice addition for both home and when we're out (super easy to pop a metal straw into your purse or backpack!)
Leah has added more products to her daily repertoire and has additional reviews on longer-use products that she's now ready to share honest feedback on.
“Refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse; and rot (compost) the rest.”
Cotton cosmetic rounds/camp cloth update - I'm still using my cotton cosmetic rounds and Kootz camp cloth a year later and they are going strong. The rounds I purchased off Etsy came with 8 pads that get washed weekly with the rest of the laundry. They are holding up great and I have no need to purchase any new ones. If you have a sewing machine, making your own would be quick and easy. Here's a link to a simple tutorial. Storing them is super space saving, and my wallet is happy too. My 2 camp cloths (made by Five + Pines) get used on the road and at home. They are eco-friendly, quick drying and actually take off makeup with just water. My last camping excursion of 2018 was in September. I spent a long weekend in Radium at Radius Retreat and these cloths were my go to for washing my face and also freshening up on no shower days.
Toothpaste - I've switched over my toothpaste to a more natural one and that is stored in glass. Initially, when I wanted a natural option I absentmindedly grabbed a tube of Toms at the grocery store... but that didn't last long after I read the ingredients list. (Hot tip: Read ingredients BEFORE purchasing, haha) The Toms brand I bought had carrageenan in it. Carrageenan has shown to show some very negative side-effects in the body. Disappointing that a brand like that would be using an additive that has been proven to be terrible for you. But I digress, if we want to be "smart consumers" reading labels is so important! After that I hit up the health food store and went with a Kootenay created option, Nelson Naturals (from, you guessed it, Nelson BC!) I'd been seeing some great reviews online and so it was a clear choice to support a Canadian producer and finally try them out. The NN formula is a bit different than your traditional toothpaste in that you don't get a frothing lather that typical major brands provide. (The foaming effect you may be used to is caused by sulphates which have been shown to cause allergies and dry mouth.) Eventually you get used to not having a mouth full of bubbles and currently the switch has been very successful. I'm left with super clean feeling and minty breath. Here's the link to the formula I have. Pair this with an activated charcoal tooth powder, to help with whitening and impurities, and it's a perfect combo. Currently, I use Pranic Forest's (Calgary) Pearly Whites tooth powder a couple times a week.
Soap and Shampoo - I use Krema Kudra goats milk soap at the sink and in the shower. Krema Kudra is a boss lady duo living in Calgary and originally from the Kootenays (just like us!) Use that bar till it's completely gone and you've got no residual waste left in a plastic container, and no container to throw out. Krema's goats milk formula is super nourishing and gentle on your skin. Their ingredients list is short which is a good thing when sourcing natural products! Our current favourite is the refreshing citrus ginger.
Have you heard of shampoo bars? Though they've been around for awhile, shampoo bars were a fairly new concept to both Kelsey and I. Another simple waste free option that tends to last way longer than their liquid counterparts. I had used a shampoo bar from Lush a couple of years ago on a trip to Iceland and I honestly didn't love it. The formula wasn't right for my hair and the water in Iceland is a bit weird (*hello Sulphur*), so it wasn't the best place to test out a product. Ready to give it a go again enter SOCO Soaps (Elko, BC) and Unwrapped Life (Calgary). Both of these brands have a good selection of scents and formulas to suit your hair type. Buy yourself a tin for storage and you've got shampoo and conditioner ready for travel! I am currently on my Unwrapped Life bars and so far so good. I am loving the lather, the scent, and the feeling of my hair afterwards. Has my hair completely changed? No. So for me that's fine, no major changes, same old hair but in a chemical-free and waste-free package!
Deodorant - I've been using natural deodorant for 2 years now and will never go back to drugstore brands! My go-to brand is Routine (Calgary). Routine is available in a ton of fun scents and formulas to suit your skin type. My two favourites are Blackberry Betty and A Girl Named Sue. These are both low baking soda/sensitive skin formulas. Also stored in glass jars, the recycle, refill and reuse rule applies here. (I keep my earrings and rings in an old jar when I travel)
“Reducing also results in a simplified lifestyle that allows you to focus on quality versus quantity and experiences versus stuff.”
I've heard from a few people that switching to natural can be difficult and there's a bit of a detox period that your underarms need to go through before the natural stuff can truly work (and for your stank to stop). I honestly didn't find that I had much of a detox period at all. What I did discover is that when I had to use a drugstore brand one day in a pinch, after using natural for over 6 months, my armpits completely rebelled and I had red, itchy and flaky underarms for 4 days! It sucked... but it was definitely a sign that the natural stuff was doing me well.
Diva Cup - If you're not interested in hearing any period talk, skip over this section! I switched to the made in Canada Diva Cup 5 months ago and holy moly, I almost shed a tear that I hadn't made the change sooner. The simplicity and freedom of the Diva Cup is beyond what tampons can provide. Not to mention, no clogging up sewer lines or your body with chemical laden cotton. No rush trips to the drugstore, no wasteful packaging... I could go on. If you're into camping or travelling it's a no-brainer because it's small, portable, reusable and can last for 12 hours! A $40 investment will award you with up to a decade of period protection. The amount of money you can save with the Diva Cup is astonishing and another reason I'm kicking myself for not switching sooner. Click the link here for a super detailed review with numerous questions answered! Our friend Jenny D's Remedies also has a solid review here.
I would urge all my lady friends to research this product and consider making the change.
That's a wrap on my "almost-minimalist" lifestyle. I am certainly not completely waste free (Exhibit A: plastic toothbrush in cover photo, ha) and there are others out there who exemplify this far better than I do. However, I am trying to be more conscious of the products I buy and make choices that reduce waste. As a Mom of 2, budget is also top of mind - I want to buy the best for myself and my family but not break the bank. Some of the products listed save me money, while others are a price increase from brands I used to buy, so it evens out. My philosophy is, if there is something that I've tried that truly changes how I operate and adds to my health, then a higher price point is worth it. I am happy to skip the take-out coffee in order to have products that improve well-being, de-clutter my home, and/or support a small business. Both Kelsey and I love supporting products from Canada, especially from the Kootenays and Calgary. As business owners ourselves, money going into the pocket of a "neighbour" just makes sense!
If you have a product that you love or are a maker yourself, hit us up with a tip! If you are interested in having us test your product and provide an honest review, send us an email at [email protected]