So you guys, here’s where my minimalistic tendencies might get in the way of my quest for zero waste alternatives on the DIY front: I gravitate towards oddball recipes and techniques (just because I want to see if they actually work), but I’m too entrenched in minimalism to just go for any ol’ thing I see.
Do I have to buy bottles of something in order to make it, or can I get it in bulk? Is there special equipment involved? Ingredients I’ve never heard of? And the biggest question of all: Exactly what do I do with this after I’ve made it?
Case in point is this “cloth plastic wrap” tutorial I keep seeing – take a cotton towel and cut it to size and sprinkle with beeswax and then bake to form the “wrap.” Seriously, WHAT?!, that is so something I want to try. Except … how do you store it? And what if it doesn’t work, how am I supposed to get rid of it?
So in the end, I couldn’t do it. And anyway, you know what I use in place of plastic wrap right now? Plain ol’ kitchen towels and plates, like so:
But if someone ELSE wants to try it and then post findings in the comments or, even better, photos and a tutorial on Facebook, that would be awesome. Because I so want to know how this one turns out.
Moving RIGHT along.
One thing I’m really excited about is finding homemade alternatives to purchased, disposable products. I’ve been collecting ideas on my Pinterest board and have been itching to try a few (maybe we need to start a Simple Year Pinterest board? Kerry or Tracy?). Since I’m starting with zero waste reductions in the kitchen, I decided I may as well start here with cleaners. It’s not just my cupboards and refrigerator that are going to need overhauling.
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon castile soap
Mix that around in a spray bottle and go to town. (I can’t find my source, you guys. I’m sorry.)
I can get castile in bulk (I like peppermint-scented), and although I’m not a stranger to making my own cleaners, I literally just learned that you’re not supposed to mix castile and vinegar because Bad Things Happen (that’s science):
… Vinegar is an acid and the castile soap is a base. They will directly react with each other and cancel each other out. So, instead of getting the best of both (the scum cutting ability of the vinegar and the dirt transporting ability of the soap), you’ll be getting the worst of something entirely new. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever. – Lisa Bronner
Lisa is Dr. Bronner’s granddaughter (that guy who’s name is on the bottle), so I’m assuming she knows what she’s talking about. Let’s all make a pact right now to never mix the two again.
Results: Well, I’m sold. Not only does this smell better than the concoction I was previously using (mixing vinegar and castile, oops), it worked very well without having to use a lot of product, and with a double batch costing me roughly 80 cents, I mean, what’s not to love? Success!
“Soft Scrub” Sink Cleaner
6 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons castile soap
1.5 tablespoons water
Mix and store in a jar. (Source.)
I halved it and made it as written above. It also calls for vinegar, but we just learned you DON’T DO THAT! Technically I was supposed to add essential oils, but I don’t own any, so I added another half-tablespoon of water to make up for any lost moisture. I suppose that means this doesn’t have extra antibacterial boost or smell or whatever. Ah, well. If I feel the need, I’ll just splash around some white vinegar afterwards; that’s a natural disinfectant.
Results: I was not expecting something so perfect. It did not take much to clean my sink at all. It also passed the “no separating into its various parts” test when I stored it under the sink. So okay, the scratches are still there, but they’re still there with the purchased stuff I usually buy. As for cost, I know it’s 39 cents an ounce for my castile, so there’s roughly another 80 cents, plus … what, like maybe 25 cents for the bulk baking soda? (That’s a generous estimate.) Seriously, go make this right now. See? I told you!
THEN I stumbled on an article touting various uses for vodka, and was intrigued about the claim that it can get stickers off of jars. Not waxed cloth weird, but weird enough. I allowed myself to go for it after being so good and practical earlier. (Source. Be warned, there’s a popup that’s hard to make go away.)
Results: WHAT IS LIFE? So not only did this work, it worked really, really well, and I can’t say I even had to try that hard to get the residue off – it was literally the work of a minute. These admittedly weren’t terribly difficult tasks, so you bet I’m going to try this the very next time I have a glass jar I want to reuse. Amazing. I’m amazed.
Three up, three down! I’ve not had so much fun cleaning my kitchen in a long time.
Next up: Well, that’s still kind of up in the air, to be honest, but probably another grocery cart check-in, and a wrap up of the reusable mug challenge.