One couple's valiant (and sometimes fruitless) attempts at minimalist living, financial independence, and raising two kids without traumatising them (or ourselves) along the way.
September 2015: My very first step, before I even knew that zero waste was a thing! I switched from disposable sanitary products to a menstrual cup. Looking back I can’t believe how much plastic waste I used to produce each month. And how ridiculously easy it was to stop. This solution is also much cheaper in the long run. A one-off payment of 17,90€ compared to a monthly outlay of around 2,00€.
2016: I stopped wearing makeup and painting my nails. I’m not sure exactly when I did this. It’s been liberating though. It saves me loads of time and money and I don’t hide behind a mask. This is what I look like, take it or leave it. I was also never any good at putting makeup on and I probably looked worse with badly-applied makeup than I do with no makeup at all.
March 2017: I started making my own deodorant. I use coconut oil, baking soda and arrowroot starch. It was my first attempt at making my own cosmetics. I was really proud that it seemed to work. I’ve been using it for a year now and nobody (not even Mr W) has complained that I smell bad.
March 2017: I switched to using pure baking soda as toothpaste. I was sceptical about it at first. The salty taste definitely took some getting used to, but I stuck with it for a couple of months. I went back to normal toothpaste when we moved to Romania. I had other things on my mind and just forgot.
April 2017: I got myself a wooden toothbrush. It felt so weird the first few times I used it but I got used to it quite quickly. It still bothers me that the bristles are plastic. I found one with natural bristles online, but the bristles come from pigs and I haven’t been brave enough to try it yet. I’m still psyching myself up for that one.
April 2017: I started experimenting with solid shampoo. I tried one brand in Germany before we moved, then one brand here in Romania after we moved. The German one was ok but the Romanian one didn’t lather properly and my hair didn’t feel very clean after I used it. My search continued…
May 2017: I stopped using plastic shower sponges. When I first discovered these things I thought they were fantastic! I was using so much less shower gel per shower! Now I realise they’re completely superfluous so when the one I was using got old and past it I replaced it with – nothing!
May 2017: I discovered that the little shop near our house in Romania sells toilet paper with no plastic packaging. Ok, so you’re supposed to go for nonbleached, recycled toilet paper. But there’s no information on the (paper) packaging. And I’m not about to call the manufacturer to ask.
June 2017: I switched from shower gel in plastic bottles to good old bar soap. We already had several bars in the cupboard that we’d received as presents. I’m going to attempt to make my own soap from scratch one day though. That’s pretty advanced zero wasting but I think I’ll be ready for it soon.
July 2017: Who knew that you can use baking soda as an exfoliator too? I didn’t, but I tried it out and it works really well. I keep a jar of it in my shower and use it once or twice a week. You have to be careful it doesn’t get too wet and clump together though. That’s something I’m still working on but I’ll get it right in the end.
August 2017: I made my first trip in 20 years to Lush, a shop I remembered from my teenage years as making bath balls. I hadn’t been in for 20 years because it smells strongly of all the different products mixed together. But I heard they had unpackaged products so I thought I’d give it a go. This solid moisturiser is a winner.
August 2017: At the same time as I got the solid moisturiser from Lush I also got a solid conditioner. I didn’t like it very much though. It was difficult to apply, had a weird consistency and didn’t make much difference to my hair. I want to try to make my own at some point. I’m still researching recipes.
October 2017: When we were on a trip to Germany I seized the opportunity to get a whole year’s supply of wooden toothbrushes for me and the kids. At the moment Mr W is happy with his plastic toothbrush with replacement heads. He may change his mind later on. But I wanted to get the kids used to wooden toothbrushes.
November 2017: I switched from a plastic razor with expensive disposable blades to a metal safety razor with compostable blades. I was scared of it at first but I watched some YouTube tutorials and after the first few attempts at not cutting myself went quite well I realized there was nothing to worry about.
December 2017: I got some little metal tins to transport my home-made cosmetics when I’m travelling. They’re not completely leak-proof but they’re good for things like deodorant. I can also thicken things like toothpaste by adding extra baking soda so it’s not so likely to turn everything else in my washbag sticky and minty.
January 2018: I made mouthwash using distilled water, baking soda, peppermint essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil. It wasn’t as strong as the commercial ones but it was quite refreshing. But while I was taking the photo I noticed some kind of icky mould growing in it and had to throw it out. Back to the drawing board.
January 2018: I discovered bar shampoo from Lush and fell in love with it. You buy the bars with no packaging at all (but they’ll put them in a paper bag for you if you want). I bought a metal tin to keep mine in. It lathers really well, smells amazing and lasts ages. And there’s no plastic bottle to throw away once the shampoo’s finished.
January 2018: I made my own toothpaste using baking soda (again!), peppermint essential oil, salt and vegetable glycerine. Again the salty taste takes some getting used to but overall it’s ok. Mr W isn’t convinced and I’m a bit scared to try it out on the kids in case it traumatises them. I think I need to tweak the recipe a bit.
February 2018: A monumental victory. Little W has stopped wearing nappies! Now we never have to change another nappy (or throw one out). I did look into cloth nappies before Miss W was born but there was too much choice and I got confused and just went with normal plastic nappies. A decision I now regret.