If you've been following me for awhile, you know that I didn't get into gardening and permaculture just for the delicious and nutritious food, though that's certainly a big bonus. My passion for growing food and living sustainably comes from a place of deep concern and love for our planet, for the wildness and beauty of our only home, and a belief that we can all contribute in a meaningful way to positive social change.
That's why I'm excited to share this video with you today. In it, I talk with our very own local 'zero waste expert', Julie Fathy, about her ten tips to go zero waste in your home. Julie has been on a zero waste and sustainability journey for over a decade and I love her approach.
With a garden, compost pile, and little focus on buying 'stuff', I would consider that our household does pretty well in terms of generating minimal waste, but Julie takes it to a whole new level. She has inspired me to go that extra step in considering all aspects of my home.
If you've been feeling either overwhelmed or paralyzed by what actions you can specifically take to make a difference, you'll want to watch this video. The tips that Julie shares are concrete ways in which you can be part of the solution. For every plastic bag that you don't use, for every piece of junk mail that doesn't arrive in your mailbox, for every item you can buy in bulk rather than with packaging, you feel lighter, more empowered and hopeful about the future. And then, you find yourself sharing these ideas with one friend, who shares it with another, and so the process of change expands and multiplies.
As Julie would say, it's not important that we are perfect at a zero waste life, it's important that all of us do this imperfectly in some way. So whether you adopt one or all ten of the tips that she shares, I hope this galvanizes you into action.
So check out the video below to learn ten tips to go zero waste in your home. Then, if you have any questions for Julie, feel free to drop them in the comments below! Also check out Julie's recipes below this video!
Zero Waste Recipes by Julie Fathy
A homemade salve is the only product I use to moisturize my skin. The salve is made quickly with two ingredients, olive oil and beeswax. I buy the olive oil in bulk and the beeswax package-free from a local beekeeper, eliminating a tremendous amount of waste. Although not necessary, it’s lovely to infuse olive oil with medicinal herbs, flowers and plants. I infuse my oil with whatever is in season or what’s been previously dried.
1 c olive oil, infused if you prefer
1 oz beeswax
Heat oil and wax in a glass or metal container set over simmering water. When wax is melted, gently stir and pour into jars. Let cool on counter. Store extra jars in a cool place. Adjust olive oil or wax to get the consistency you like. I usually use a smidge over a cup of oil to 1 oz of wax for the perfect consistency.
Simple Tooth Powder
A simple tooth powder can be made from two ingredients in your pantry, sea salt and baking soda. If you’re easing someone into the change from toothpaste to powder, xylitol can be added for sweetness and additional medicinal properties. Please check with your dentist to make sure this is a good choice for you and your family.
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp xylitol, or to taste (optional)
Put ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Recipe can be scaled up to meet your needs. Spoon tooth powder onto wet toothbrush and brush as you normally do.
Natural Household Cleaners
I clean my house with three ingredients: baking soda, vinegar and castile soap. I don’t generally follow recipes, but I do make an all-purpose spray and glass cleaner, which can also be used as a disinfectant cleaner on non-stone surfaces.
I make this spray by the gallon and pour into a spray bottle as needed. I mix it in an empty white distilled vinegar gallon jug. This recipe is safe on natural stone and concrete surfaces. I learned the hard way, that vinegar will damage stone surfaces. To make the herb tea, I steep mint or lemongrass from my garden in hot water. I think steeping pine and fir needles would be lovely too. Be careful to choose plants that won’t add too much color and stain a surface.
1 tablespoon of castile soap
¼ cup of strong herbal tea
water, to fill jug
In an empty gallon jug mix all ingredients. Dispense into a spray bottle.
Glass and Disinfectant Cleaner
1 part white vinegar
1 part water
1-2 drops castile soap
In a spray bottle fill half full with vinegar, top with water and add a drop or two of castile soap. Recap spray bottle and gently shake.