Sixth month check-in part III

For all the good I managed to do in my kitchen and pantry areas last quarter, the laundry room and master bath were kind of hit and miss. Um, maybe mostly miss if we’re being honest.

Here are my goals … and what happened with each in blue:

The new detergent situation. I'm kind of depressed.

The new detergent situation. I’m kind of depressed.

The laundry room

  1. Jar of bulk laundry detergent or soap nuts (Found bulk laundry detergent, which was really expensive. Tried making my own, and it works pretty well. However, Eric told me Friday he doesn’t think it’s getting his white t-shirts clean. We’ve had this issue for a while, purchased and homemade, so I’m not convinced it’s mine that’s the culprit  Still, for familial peace, I purchased detergent on Saturday in a cardboard box. In another twist, Deb — hi, Deb! — commented that homemade detergents, be they dishwasher or laundry, are known to wreck havoc on plumbing. And having a dishwasher that’s possibly reflecting that issue … well, I guess I’m okay with purchasing laundry detergent again, even if the plastic scoop drives me nuts. Trying to decide if I want to swallow the huge bulk price or not. Kinda sad how this one played out because I actually really like the homemade stuff.)
  2. Jar of homemade stain remover (nope)
  3. Repurposed spray bottle of DIY hardwood floor cleaner (ditto)
  4. Scrub brush (Found one with a bamboo handle and plant-based bristles. It’s gorgeous, but I have yet to use it.)
It's like a cloud. I do have minimal regrets.

It’s like a cloud. I have minimal regrets.

The master bath

  1. Unwrapped soap for the shower (check)
  2. Plastic containers of bulk shampoo and conditioner (check)
  3. Safety razor (YES! This thing is scaring me less and less, although I did finally cut myself — but that’s because I’d dropped it and then didn’t make sure the head was still securely screwed into the base. It wasn’t, and the head twisted and … bam. Still, I’m a fan.)
  4. Bidet (???) (I did a lot of research on this, and I can’t figure out how to get around needing to dry off afterwards. Which means that toilet paper isn’t necessarily out of the picture. And I’m still not willing to consider family cloth. Anyway, this is on the back burner indefinitely.) 
  5. Paper-wrapped facial soap (check — but I recently found something I like even better, which is a homemade face wash from One Green Planet: 1/3 cup liquid castile, 10 drops of essential oil and 1 tablespoon olive oil. It doesn’t seem to be drying out my face, it takes very little product to get a nice lather, and breakouts have been minimal as I make the switch over. Win.)
  6. Repurposed bottle of DIY calendula oil (check. Love that stuff.)
  7. Reusable tins of DIY products, i.e. makeup, toothpowder and lotion (yes to makeup — although I’d like to make a solid version of the face powder — and lotion — I like to use coconut oil, a bit of beeswax, and several drops of Citrus Bliss essential oil. And yes to toothpowder — my dentist said it was fine, but having been warned against wrecked enamel by Laurie A. — hi, Laurie! — I was a little leery of just using straight baking soda, so I mixed in some other ingredients like cream of tarter and bentonite clay, and felt pretty good about myself. BUT THEN. I had to go back to the dentist and he was like, hey, didn’t we talk about baking soda for toothpaste? So yeah, that’s fine, but only use it at night — it cuts the acidity, which is great — and then use regular toothpaste in the morning so you’re getting your fluoride. And I was like, dude, I thought we’d come to a conclusion on this! However, I’m noticing that my teeth are much more sensitive since using toothpowder, so I’m not sure where that leaves me. I’ve got vague plans of checking out options in the natural foods section. I’m undecided if homemade toothpowder is even a good idea now.)
  8. Jar of DIY cotton kleenx (nope, didn’t even try)
  9. Jar of DIY cotton balls (a very nice reader sent me a knitting pattern I’m about to let Johanna loose on) (also a no)
  10. Jar of toothpicks as a floss replacement (???) (nope. Didn’t look into this at all.)
  11. My plastic container of crystal deodorant (love my deodorant!)
  12. And a bottle of purchased sunscreen, since I’m not sold on homemade versions being strong enough (yeah, although we used leftovers from last year.)
My new best friends homemade facial soap and safety razor.

My new best friends homemade facial soap and safety razor.

A few things that happened that weren’t on any lists:

  1. For all my unwillingness to use family cloth in place of toilet paper, I love my reusable cloth menstrual pads. I kind of forgot about them, though, because it’s going on three years and it’s just something I do. If we need a post just on that, I will gladly write one.
  2. I also kind of forgot about the fact that I stopped dying my hair a few years ago. I hit 41 and was like, what am I even doing? This stuff is terrible for my head, my lungs, and the environment. So I stopped. It took a year and 10 months to completely grow out, and I’m not going to lie, I look in the mirror sometimes and am like, wow, that is not what I was expecting to see. But I’m good with this choice. So that’s why you won’t see hair dye on any of my “change” lists. However, I totally understand the desire to use the stuff, so you won’t catch me throwing any stones.
  3. The toilet paper situation has returned to what we were doing pre-project, which is getting the value pack wrapped in plastic. The paper-wrapped TP was so uncomfortable — you know it’s bad when you use the work bathroom and think that stuff is a cloud all of a sudden — and the family hated it.
  4. I made the laundry room cupboard the catch-all for both laundry and bathroom cleaners for the convenience of the rest of the family — Abby and Eric are in charge of the bathrooms around here — and this way they don’t have to run around the house trying to figure out what to use.

What I need to work on in the coming months:

  1. The laundry room cupboard is more cluttered than I’d like it to be. I have another whole cupboard that I don’t even want to show you because it’s just filled with random crap and it’s embarrassing. I want to clean that out and evenly distribute the cleaning supplies inside both.
  2. I feel like the master bath is really what I need to concentrate on — the kitchen is taking care of itself at this point, although I certainly still have goals there. This room is harder because I share it with Eric, who is unwilling to try some of my grander plans. The same could be said about the girls. I’m thinking of calling another family meeting, but this time instead of asking what one item they’d like to keep (like I did for food), I’ll ask what’s one item they’re willing to try DIY or low waste.
  3. I also need to get that jar of reusable kleenx going for reals, as cold season is upon us. I’m not sure why snot (and menstrual blood, I guess) grosses me out less than urine and poop, but I’m okay with it.
  4. And those reusable cotton balls? Need to get serious about that, too.

Next up: I’m trying to decide if I have enough tips to make “easy ways to go zero waste in the laundry room and bathroom” into a post. But I’m also kind of worded out right now (and I imagine you are too — my posts this week have been ridiculously long), so it’s possible I’ll get lazy and just post a recipe or something.

13 Responses to Sixth month check-in part III

  1. I tried homemade laundry and dishwasher detergents. Neither worked well for us. I finally found non-toxic dishwasher tablets by If You Care. When make homemade detergents before, I purchased several low-waste products and put them all together. Now I buy one low-waste product. The tablet has a coating that dissolves during the wash, and I compost the cardboard box. I’m still searching for the perfect laundry detergent.

    • You bring up a good point — buying several low waste options to make one product vs. buying one low waste product. There is some irony in zero waste DIY. I’m going to see if I can find those dishwasher tabs; my grocery carries that brand.

      We’ll have to put our collective heads together on the laundry detergent front. I really want something in cardboard without a plastic scoop. I just don’t think that exists. But this is going on my list for the next three months: researching purchased low waste products of all kinds.

  2. Toothpaste is a great debate in the zero waste community…I know some people do just fine with baking soda and related homemade versions, but it makes me so nervous. Dental health problems may not show up until long after they begin, so I think it’s hard to know whether a new product is working until it’s too late. I can’t get my teeth back once they’re gone; and dental work will never be zero waste! I’ve settled with recycling my toothpaste tubes through Terracycle, and trying to use less, just a grain of rice amount rather than the whole pea-sized amount. But we still use dental floss and electric toothbrushes – again, I’m not satisfied that the zero waste equivalents will do the job as well. Perhaps in the future there will be better options!

    • I 100 percent agree with you — my teeth are important to me (not to mention the fact that I promised my sweet grandma that I would take good care of mine when I was 5; she has dentures and they’ve always bothered her … and I can’t break my promise to Grandma!) and I really, really do not want to mess them up. Maybe I’m not as undecided on this issue as I thought.

      I’m adding toothpaste and floss to my low waste research list. I’ve been tempted to look into TerraCycle but haven’t yet. Adding that to the goal list.

  3. I’d love more info on your conclusions about makeup. I have a daughter who’s coming to that age,and I’d like to steer her to better options. I encourage you to try handkerchiefs. I made up a bunch from an old flannel sheet, and I made some as gifts from new flannel. My whole family loves them! I keep them in a drawstring bag in the living room, and wash them with the whites. I only made them up for me in the beginning, but the rest of the family liked them and chose to use them. Much softer on my nose than the paper ones — my nose no longer gets rough when I have a cold! (Can you tell how much I love them?)

    I let me hair gray naturally. Yesterday my (teenage) son mentioned that he really likes the color my hair is turning. Love that kid!

    • I’m thinking I need to look into low waste purchased makeup and see if such a thing even exists. My DIY stuff was completely zero waste because it all came in bulk, but I’m still experimenting with it (it’s powder, would like to see if I can make it a solid). DIY powdered eyeshadow did NOT work — flaked into my eyes, and that can’t be good. The face powder (green clay and arrowroot) works the best of all my attempts but is messy. The blush (cinnamon and cocoa powder) is okay; I’ve been using my messed up lip tint (beeswax, coconut oil and cocoa powder) more often and like that better.

      I’ve added low waste makeup to the list. I’ll get back to you!

      I have some lovely handkerchiefs made by a friend who has a sewing business, but not enough for the family to use. My fitted flannel sheet needs to be replaced and is a good candidate for future tissue. I just need to get my act together to find its replacement so can get that little project going.

      I decided that letting my hair go gray was the biggest act of rebellion I could muster at this point. 😉 And your son is clearly awesome! What a nice compliment!

  4. I did not like the homemade toothpaste I made. I felt like it got my teeth clean ok but they started to feel gross and dirty much faster. Since I made a coconut oil based one, I used used up the remainder as shaving cream and decided to throw in the towel on the toothpaste for now.

    I am excited to try out the crystal deodorant when my current stick runs out. I seem to take forever to use up deodorant though. And I’m almost out of my packaged facial cleanser so I might have to try your recipe.

  5. Thank you for the post. I ordered from this lovely lady ( and I love them. Such cute patterns, you can use them as handkerchiefs, napkins, and the smaller ones is a great alternative for cotton balls. Of course you can make them yourself, but I don’t make the time for it.. (and I love that all my handkerchiefs are four shades of pink!)

  6. Trisha: I am loving your blog….this is the best year yet (I did enjoy the others too!). Your Bidet issue: how about this: my aunt swears by it and it is very popular in Japan….it dries you too!!

    expensive though.

    • I haven’t seen one with a drier. It was fun to check those bidets out — fancy!

      And thank you. I appreciate the nice words.

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