So Fresh and So Clean: Zero-Waste Deodorant and Toothpaste

It always seems what’s bad for us is bad for the Earth, doesn’t it? 

That’s certainly the case with our typical household cleaning products

But have you ever given any thought to the ingredients in your personal care products?

Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and these companies want us to put what on it?

And if we zoom out, think of the cumulative impact — all those toxins get into our waterways.

What’s more still, our personal care products come in plastic, which is choking the planet.

What’s bad for us is bad for Earth, and what’s bad for Earth is bad for us. 

That’s why I made my own rule: to never put anything on my body that I wouldn’t put in my body.

(Admittedly, after a fair amount of experimentation, I do break this rule for makeup and, at least for the time being, shampoo…always looking for ways to change this though!)

So I set out to create my own personal care products. 

For lotion, I use food-grade oils, like coconut or olive oil.

And once I’m done with the bulk shampoo I have now (and I do some drain prep), I’ll give rye flour a try again.

As for deodorant, I tried many different recipes I found online, steering clear of the ones with beeswax

I discovered that baking soda gives me a rash something awful. 

I tried a magnesium oil spray, but found my skin was again too sensitive.

I discovered a fantastic line with an effective sensitive skin version.

But sigh, it only came in a plastic deodorant stick. And double sigh, I found out it had been bought out by Unilever. 

So my quest continues. 

And for those of you experimenting along with me, arrowroot powder and cornstarch might be good substitutes for baking soda.

Candelilia wax is a good replacement for beeswax (and it has the added benefit of not being so sticky!).

And activated charcoal might be a promising addition to any recipe.

This site lays out all you’ll need for your experiments.

For toothpaste, I use pure baking soda with a few drops of peppermint essential oil! And a charcoal powder every once in a while to keep stains at bay.

I started off with a toothpaste recipe online that suggested putting salt in it for additional abrasion, but I found the concoction waaaay too salty. 

I’ve found that baking soda actually does a better job at cleaning up my teeth. My mouth feels so fresh and clean!

There are tons of other recipes you can find online. Some claim to remineralize your teeth, others might whiten. Give them a try and report back on which ones you love!

Just when you think things can’t get any better (wait, they’re already zero waste, toxin free, vegan, easy to make, and they work — how could they get any better!?), these recipes are pennies on the dollar of anything store bought. 

Thank goodness it turns out that what’s good for Earth is good for us!

If you’re in the Bay Area and would like to learn how to make your own deodorant and toothpaste, be sure to sign up for MudLab’s upcoming workshops!

DIY Deodorant Workshop – Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

DIY Toothpaste – Sunday, March 1, 2020, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

MudLab is Oakland’s new zero-waste grocery, co-working space, event hub, bookstore, artist’s workshop, and bakery!

3933 Telegraph Ave, Oakland 94609

That Oh Shit Moment: or so you’ve received your climate call

It might show up as a sinking feeling, a knot in your stomach, a sudden realization that your life plans don’t make sense anymore. Maybe you read Deep Adaptation or you just couldn’t look away from the mountains of (in many cases, tangibly felt) evidence any longer. 

However it happened, you’ve received your climate call.

I received mine in early December 2015. You see, at the time, I was busy preparing for the adventure of a lifetime. In just a few short months, I would be moving to the City of Lights. I had saved up for it for years. Yass, honey! I was going to live my best life ever, reaching fluency in French, writing my memoir, and just focusing on me.

I had always thought, climate change? I’m doing my part. I’m vegan, I recycle. I’ll leave the rest up to the experts. The people in charge aren’t going to let it get that bad, right? (lol!) 

Plus, I mean, the environment is important to me, of course, but it’s just not my issue. And shouldn’t I be following my bliss anyway?

But then the talks began, talks about two degrees, talks about losing island nations to rising seas, talks that laid bare a cold calculus to save the wealthy of this earth and to sacrifice the rest. 

Spurred on by COP21, I tore through Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. And quite literally it changed everything.

Klein painted a dire picture. With each page I turned, I became more incensed — and filled with grief.

Oh shit — my heart dropped — the people in charge had let it get that bad. 

At the moment, I might have had a few choices. I could have tucked the truth of the climate crisis away in a corner of my brain and gone to Paris anyway. I could have numbed out by drinking or smoking. I could have rationalized to myself: I’m just one person, what can I do? Other people will fix it. Or not . . . I mean, if it’s our species’s time to go, it’s our time, right? I might as well go live it up in Paris.

But really, there only seemed to be one choice. On one level, the cognitive dissonance was tortuous. At a deeper level, though, I knew I was being invited to become something greater.

Within weeks I had left my midtown Manhattan law firm job and begun volunteering with a small climate nonprofit, supporting myself with my savings earmarked for Paris.

In the years since, I’ve learned a whole lot about what it takes for someone to effectively answer their climate call.

As I see it, there are five critical elements to it: we’ve got to tend to our minds, create from the future we want to see, build community, get political, and just say no to Earth-killing systems.

1. Tend to our minds.

Fear and anxiety really only beget more fear and anxiety — and they don’t produce effective planning or action. That’s why tending to your mind is the necessary first step toward answering your climate call. It’s really from a tended mind that the rest will flow. 

Tending to our minds means first committing to a daily spiritual practice. That might sound a bit woo woo, but we can think of it as training our brains for the future. I practice mindfulness, compassion, and interbeing or interconnection meditation. 

Tending to our minds also means seeing our thoughts clearly and then choosing wisely. That’s because we recognize that our thoughts create our feelings, which create our actions, which create our results. 

As gardeners of our minds, we have the ability to weed out the thoughts that no longer serve us and to water the thoughts that do. When we do this, we can watch beautiful flowers bloom.

2. Create from the future we want to see. 

We are working to create something that has never existed, a regenerative future. If we look to our past and our current moment, though, this future might seem pretty damn near impossible. 

That’s why we’ve actually got to go into our imaginations and feel into what that future would be like. We’ve got to hang out there, in that regenerative future, to allow it to become tangible to us. 

What does this regenerative future look like? What does it feel like? What are you thinking as you walk around in this future? It probably isn’t something like “we’re fucked,” or “God, I hope we’ll be okay.” It’s probably something like “we did it!” “We’re okay!” 

Test it out for yourself. Which thought feels better: “we’re fucked” or “we did it”? Which energy would be more helpful for your work?

It’s from this energy — this knowing that we made the impossible possible, that it is already done — that we can then start asking how we got to our regenerative future. Put differently, we ask “how did we get here from there?” as opposed to “how do we get there from here?” 

When we ask how do we get there from here, we’re stuck with all the evidence around us that points to our goal not being achievable, with all the ideas and solutions that already exist and clearly haven’t succeeded. 

When we ask, from the future, how did we get here from there, we’re opening ourselves up to much more creative ideas and solutions — ideas and solutions that don’t yet exist. 

We simply can’t create the future we want to see from the same thinking that created the current moment, to paraphrase Einstein. 

3. Build community.

In order to answer our climate call, we must build community around us. At base, we must unlearn our hyperindividualism. We must actually begin to see and think of ourselves as part of the greater whole again, and to moderate our choices accordingly. 

Our whole culture is built on the lie that we are separate, and that as separate beings we must compete with each other for scarce resources, a lie that finds ostensible support from the way in which evolution is thought of and discussed.

But if we look to nature and events from our collective past on this planet, when singular organisms experienced environmental stress, it’s the ones that came together and worked cooperatively that actually survived and eventually thrived. 

An interesting example of this is the Great Oxygenation Event, way back ~2.4 billion years ago. During this period on Earth, blue-green algae (called cyanobacteria) was having a heyday. These little one-celled organisms were living their best lives, reproducing like crazy (asexually, of course), and doing what they do best, creating oxygen through photosynthesis. 

But all that oxygen was too much to bear for the other organisms that existed at the time, leading to the mass extinction of as much as 99% of life on Earth and making way for the dominance of multicellular organisms. 

And that’s just one example. Relationship and community are actually the sine qua non of evolution. As cosmologist Brian Swimme wrote in a chapter of Order of the Sacred Earth, “The universe gives birth to itself by assembling communities with the capacity to awaken the creativity of their members. If a hydrogen atom finds itself in an interaction (relational) community called a star, it discovers it has the power to transform itself into the elements that give birth to life.”

4. Get political!

There’s just no getting around it: in order to act on our climate call, we must return to community, to civics — and yes, to politics. 

We have become consumers, relegated to making decisions about which cereal or laundry detergent to buy; no longer are we citizens, making decisions about the functioning of the political bodies of which we are a part. 

Make no mistake, this has been purposeful, as evidenced by the systematic dismantling of the public sphere in the past generation. As long as we’re worried about what to buy next, we’re not going to worry about whom our government is bombing or how much money they’re extracting from us upwards (this is not a trickle-down economy but rather a siphon-up economy).

We must shed our consumer identities and acquaint (or reacquaint) ourselves with our political identities, because it is through our collective assertion of political power that we will give ourselves a fighting chance. 

What is more, as we’re reengaging at the political level, we must recognize the interrelatedness of the many other ongoing crises (e.g., racism and white supremacy, democracy, housing, police violence, income inequality, just to name a few). 

At the core of these crises is a voracious economic system that exploits people, other animals, and planet for profit and a story of humanity as separate from Nature and from each other. While the climate may seem the most pressing of these crises, the other crises are no less important, and it’s only by viewing them as part and parcel of the same underlying wrong that we’ll be able to overcome them all. 

5. Just say no — to Earth-killing systems. 

There’s a lot of debate in and out of climate circles about personal choices, like going vegan, eating local, and stopping shopping and flying. Do they really matter? Shouldn’t we be focusing on collective change?

In my view, the answer to both questions is yes. It comes down to a key concept in nonviolent resistance and the shift of power from the few to the many: withdrawing our consent to be governed.

But really, who is governing us? Is it our respective national governments? Or is it a rogue economic system that has actually overtaken our governments?

An evil system is an evil system. And an Earth-killing system is Earth killing. Our continued economic support of Earth-killing systems (like the animal agriculture industry, big ag in general, the gas and oil industry, plastics, fast fashion just to name a few) at the personal or collective level is acting in tacit agreement with it.

Could you imagine Gandhi and his followers seasoning their food with salt bought from the British during the Salt March?

Or what if there were a few Black Montgomery residents during the bus boycott who said, “Look, I’ve got to get to work, and personally I can’t handle this walk anymore” and decided to take the bus?

Nevertheless, because of the pervasiveness of Earth-killing systems in our world, we’ve got to do the best we can, adjust when necessary, and forgive ourselves (and each other) when we fail.

To close, I’d love to hear from you, dear reader.

  • Have you received your climate call?
  • What was it like for you?
  • Have you accepted the call?
  • If you haven’t yet, what’s stopping you from accepting it?

The Importance of Tending to Your Mind in the Climate Emergency

If you’re alive on this planet at this moment in history, you’ve got sh*t to do. Whether you’re just awakening to this fact or you’ve known it all along, you know it’s time to get down to business. You simply can’t afford to be held back by negative thoughts or emotion, paralyzed in climate fear or spinning in climate anxiety (or regular anxiety, for that matter!). That’s why — for the love of Earth — learning to tend to your mind is critical. 

Tending to your mind is all about calling upon your prefrontal cortex (PFC). Situated right behind the forehead, the PFC is often called the CEO of the brain. Put another way, “if the brain is one big village, the PFC is its mayor.” Better yet, we might call the PFC “our gardener.” As you might be able to guess from these metaphors, the PFC plays a huge role in what’s called “executive function,” or the mental processes we use to get things done. These include skills like controlling attention, managing time, planning and organizing, setting goals, and regulating emotions. 

Ultimately, the PFC allows us to think about thinking — and it’s what allows us to uncover our unconscious patterns of thought that might be sabotaging our best efforts to actually use our executive functions. And what’s really amazing is that our brains never stop changing their physical structure as we continue to experience life and all its ups and downs, thanks to what’s called “neuroplasticity.” But we can use neuroplasticity to our advantage: we can actually use the PFC to change the way we think and therefore consciously change the way our brains work. 

Two main ways we can use our PFC to tend to our minds are by changing what we focus on and by changing what we think about what we focus on. So first, we’ve got our attention and what we do with it. You might have heard the phrase, “what you focus on expands.” The neuroscience correlate to this is “neurons that fire together wire together.” What this means is that as we continue to focus on something, the neurons sparked to focus on that thing begin to link up. The longer we focus on that thing, the deeper the neuronal pathways get. The deeper the neuronal pathways get, the more efficient those pathways become, and the more habitual our focus becomes. 

We can use our PFC to change what we focus on through a number of different methods, mindfulness and other meditation practices key among them. Cultivating mindfulness, or nonjudgmental awareness, of our thoughts, feelings, and actions is really the first step in changing our focus. It’s by noticing our thoughts, feelings, and actions that we can begin to recognize what we’re focusing on. From this point of understanding, we can interrupt any unhelpful focus and turn our attention elsewhere. We can also employ focused-attention meditation practices, which train our brains to focus on what we purposefully choose instead of what our brains have focused on out of habit.

Let’s Try It Out: Cultivating Mindfulness through Focus on the Breath

Let’s sit back in our chairs, allowing our eyes to gently close and turning our attention inward. 

Let’s move our focus to our feet, feeling their connection to the Earth. Note any sensations. Is there tingling? An energy coming up from the ground? Do the sensations stay in the same place or move around? Just notice. No need to judge. 

Now let’s move our focus to our seat. Feel the connection with your chair. What sensations do you notice here?

Moving up to our backs now. Notice the connection with the backrest and allow yourself to feel supported in this moment. 

Now let’s turn our attention to our breath. Notice where in your body you sense your breath the most. It might be the rise and fall of your belly. It might be in your chest as your lungs participate in the giving and receiving of breath. It might be in the tickle of your nose hairs as the air passes through. No matter where it is, simply allow your attention to rest here. In and out. Up and down. 

Allow any thoughts to come and go. Inevitably, your attention will wander. A thought will come along and lure you away from focusing on your breath. That’s okay. Nothing has gone wrong! 

Imagine your brain is a puppy, and each time it bounds off into some other direction, just lead it gently back to your breath. You wouldn’t scold a puppy for chasing after some shiny thing, so don’t scold yourself when your brain does the same. Expect your mind to wander (after all, thinking is kind of its job!) — just keep simply and lovingly guiding it back. As you practice more, you’ll find your puppy brain runs off far less often. Just keep returning to your breath.

After some time, slowly bring your attention back to the room. Notice any sensations you feel. Notice any sounds you hear. And when you’re ready, gently open your eyes.

Second, we can use our PFC to tend to our minds by changing what we think about what we focus on. The term I’ll use for this is “thought work” (borrowing from The Life Coach School), which is the work we do to purposefully uncover and change our thoughts and beliefs. At its core, thought work is based on the truth that our circumstances do not create our feelings, actions, or results — it’s really what we make those outside circumstances mean that creates those things. As Marcus Aurelius put it way back in the second century in his Meditations, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” In the end, by changing our thoughts, we can actually change both our brain structure and our results out in the world. 

It sounds simple: just change your thoughts! But there’s a lot more to it. Before we can even get to thinking about new thoughts, we need to process any negative emotion resulting from the negative thought we’d like to change. It takes only 90 seconds for the emotion to process through our bodies, and any negative emotion after that period is because of a story we’re telling ourselves. Nevertheless, we often resist processing emotion and act it out instead (think about anger, for instance), or we “buffer,” or numb out, through behaviors like drinking, overworking, or Netflix. But once we do process it and do the work to uncover the thoughts that led to the negative emotion in the first place, we can set about changing those thoughts. And when we change our thoughts, we begin to show up in the world in a different way. 

To demonstrate the value of tending to our minds in this time of planetary emergency, let’s walk through a couple of examples to show the vast and practical applicability of these practices.

Example 1

Let’s say I’ve just encountered a news story on the ecological emergency. These sorts of news stories have “sent” me into a deep, dark place before. Thoughts swirl. “We’re f*cked” is most prominent among them. I feel hopeless and despair. From this place of hopelessness and despair, I might just decide to stay in bed. Or maybe I’d reach for a glass of wine to quell the pain. Either way, “we’re f*cked” never leads to my taking effective action.

How might I use my PFC to change my attention here? 

I can first take note of the fact that my thoughts are beginning to swirl. I notice the hopelessness and despair in my body with care. Perhaps I put a hand over my heart. I drop into my body and focus on my breath. I recognize that this hopelessness and despair is connected to my love for all life on Earth. I then turn my focus to this love, this compassion. I spend some time hanging out here, in this field of unconditional love. Perhaps I repeat a compassion mantra to myself: May all beings be free of suffering and the root of suffering. When I’m ready, I can turn toward my work, coming not from a place of hopelessness and despair but rather from this place of love, compassion, and connection.

How might I use my PFC to change my thoughts here?

Let’s say for illustrative purposes here that the first thing I notice is not my thoughts but my feelings. I recognize that I’m falling into that place of hopelessness and despair. Maybe I’m reaching for wine, and I say, oh, I must be reacting to something, some thought I’m having. Instead of pouring a glass, I get out some paper and do a “thought download,” where I write down all the thoughts I’m having without stopping for, say, ten minutes. Lots of thoughts appear, but the one that feels the most relevant, the truest to this feeling of hopeless despair, is “we’re f*cked.” 

First, of course, I have to actually feel this hopeless despair. I feel it in my body: there’s a heaviness in my heart, a knot in my stomach. I recognize this hopeless despair is just a feeling in my body and it’s a result of a thought, a sentence in my mind. Just by becoming aware of this might help to dissipate my negative thoughts and feelings. However, I might need to work on replacement thoughts to really move past this feeling. So I set about coming up with better feeling thoughts. The opposite of my thought is something like “we’re going to thrive,” and maybe I can’t believe that immediately. But maybe a thought like “it’s possible we’re not f*cked” will help me move toward effective action. I practice it and it feels good. “It’s possible we’re not f*cked!” Now, from this place of possibility, I’m ready to tackle my work! 

Example 2

Let’s say I’ve got a big presentation to give on the climate crisis. This time it’s not external news that might hold me back but rather my own self-limiting beliefs. “You’re going to screw up,” the nasty voice in my head keeps repeating. I feel like sh*t, not good enough, utterly without confidence. In the past, this nasty voice and resulting feeling have led me to, sure enough, screw up — “proving” my thoughts true. 

How might I use my PFC to change my attention here?

First I’ll take note of where my attention is now, on these icky thoughts and feelings. I can drop into my experience. Ah, judging, I might say to myself. Perhaps I stay here, with my experience, with my breath, simply noting each time the judgmental thoughts come up. This creates distance between me and the judgmental thoughts. From this place of the “watcher,” I recognize that I am not my thoughts. These thoughts are just the clouds, and I am the entire sky. From this knowing, I release these judging thoughts and am able to return to preparing my presentation. 

How might I use my PFC to change my thoughts here?

First, I recognize that critical voice in my head and what it’s done to me in the past. I allow the feeling of insufficiency to come and go. Is it true that I’ll screw up? I ask myself. Is it really true? No, certainly not, I think. There have absolutely been times I haven’t screwed up. I decide to come up with all the evidence for that thought, listing all the times I’ve totally killed it during a presentation, including even the times I’ve done a passable job. I recognize that I’ve actually done fine presenting far more times than I’ve screwed up. Feeling confident in that new thought, I am able to present with ease!

Moving Toward the Pain: A Meditation on Compassion for Australian Bushfire Victims

It is true, the suffering our species has wrought is unimaginable. But we must not look away. We must actually take it as an invitation to go more deeply into the pain, to take this pain on as our own. For it is from this place of pain, of compassion, of interconnection, that we must act.

I had only read reference to it in others’ posts: a charred kangaroo joey stuck in a fence. A victim of the raging Australian bushfires. A victim of our ever hungry economic system. Instead of thanking my lucky stars I hadn’t run into the image, I decided I ought to see it for myself. 

I entered the terms into my search engine, clicked “Images,” and braced myself. A wave of relief came over me after a quick runthrough of the results revealed nothing. And then my eyes fell on one image. It looked like a singed teddy bear, almost smiling, peaceful. Life cut short.

A well of tears bubbled up, and I spent the first five minutes of my workday holding myself with self-compassion and crying. And yet I welcome these tears as necessary — necessary for my own personal transformation, and necessary for our collective transformation. 

It is true, the suffering our species has wrought is unimaginable. But we must not look away. We must actually take it as an invitation to go more deeply into the pain, to take this pain on as our own. For it is from this place of pain, of compassion, of interconnection, that we must act.

A Meditation on Compassion for Australian Bushfire Victims

Allow your eyes to close. Take three deep breaths in and out. Allow your last out-breath to carry your attention to your feet. Feel your feet planted firmly on the ground. Experience your connection to the Earth here and now. Now allow your attention to move up your body, feeling the weight of your body being held by your chair, feeling your back against the backrest. 

Turn your attention to your breath. Notice where you sense it most strongly. Is it in your belly? The rise and fall of your chest? The tickle of your nose hairs? Notice that in this moment you are safe. Put your hand over your heart and say to yourself quietly for a few breaths, “I am safe.” Rest in this safety and know that you can come back to this breath anytime you need to. 

Keep your hand over your heart. Now bring to mind an image or news story you’ve seen about the Australian bushfires. Perhaps it’s the stories of people fleeing the fires to the beach. Or the reports of millions of koala deaths. Reminding yourself that you are safe now, put yourself in the image or story. Imagine the smoke, the flames. Allow yourself to share in the fear, to share in the pain. 

Let any feelings come up. Notice them. Name them. “Fear.” “Anger.” “Sadness.” “Grief.” Know that you can be a container for them all. If you’d like, you can wrap your arms around your body, holding yourself with compassion as you experience these emotions. If need be, remind yourself, “I am safe.”

Recognize in this moment that your ability to connect with these emotions, your ability to step into the experience of another, is evidence of your deep connectedness to all life on Earth. Just like you and me, these beings want only to be happy. Just like you and me, these beings want only to survive.

From this place of connection, we can hold an image of our Australian family members — human and nonhuman alike — and begin to say to ourselves, 

May these beings be free of suffering, 

May they be free of the root of suffering, 

May they be free of suffering, 

May they be free of the root of suffering.

May my work help to bring about the end of suffering,

May my work help to bring about the end of the root of suffering.

Repeat these phrases as many times as you wish, until a sense of calm has come over you. Return to these phrases anytime you become overwhelmed today.

5 Secrets to Supercharge Your Plan(e)t-Based Lifestyle

You’ve done something amazing. 🎉 By becoming vegan, you’ve unleashed a curative force — not just for your own body, but for the entire world. That’s because going vegan can slash your carbon “foodprint” by more than half. In fact, according to The Vegan Calculator, over the course of just 30 days, one vegan saves:

  • 33,000 gallons of water
  • 1,200 pounds of grain
  • 900 square feet of forest
  • 30 animals’ lives and
  • 600 pounds of carbon.

Indeed, above and below, there’s healing going on.

But what if I told you that there’s a way to supercharge the restorative powers of your vegan diet, that following a few simple steps will go even further in protecting you, your loved ones, our human family, and the beautiful biosphere in which we live, move, and have our being? You’d be all over that, am I right?

Well, there is a way to do just that, to turn your plant-based lifestyle into a planet-based lifestyle (as I like to call it!), and it’s as easy as the three Rs, plus two! (Thanks to Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home for this framework.)

  1. Refuse what you do not need.

The first step is to say “thanks, but no thanks” to what you don’t need.

I became a vegan because I realized we’ve come to a point in human history in which we don’t need to use animals (And who wants to be the cause of unnecessary suffering anyway?) I also decided to do my best to cut out single-use plastics — ’cause, yikes, have you seen what plastic does to our bodies and our world? Basically, I try to say no to anything I know I’m just going to toss. The less we bring into our house, the more we keep out of the landfill!

Of course, a little preparation can go a long way, so I often carry my own reusable bag, utensils, drinking cup, glass straw, and handkerchief (they’re coming back, y’all). Tip: you can even DIY these items. For instance, I carry a cleaned-out jam jar so I’m never without water! It’s super light and it seals tightly, so my purse stays spill free. Here’s a snapshot of what I keep in my purse, so I’m always prepared to refuse the waste but not a taste. 😉

My essentials.

2. Reduce what you have.

The mantra for this step is simplify, simplify, simplify! And to do so, ask yourself: What brings value or joy into my life? Then put back into circulation whatever doesn’t.

I like making my reduction efforts into a game to see just how far I can go. And it goes without saying that cleaning out the closet or garage can be fun and cathartic! But bottom line, I’ve learned that going back to basics is not just cost effective, but more effective period.

You see, I used to have a bit of a beauty product addiction. But when I started washing my face with just water and using a healing oil such as argan or rosehip as a moisturizer, my skin cleared up right away. Getting rid of those chemicals was the best thing I could have done for myself, not to mention my pocketbook…. Now as general rule, if I can’t eat it, it doesn’t go onto my body. (I break that rule for a small bag of makeup, ’cause, well, I’m vain.)

And speaking of effective, did you know that diluted white vinegar can replace your household disinfectant, stain and grease remover, grout cleaner, bathroom cleaner, kitchen cleaner, and more? Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and you’ve got an all-in-one product that will rival the entire Mrs. Meyer’s line at a smidgen of the cost! And you won’t have to keep this cleaner locked up away from the dog or kids.

A simple natural white vinegar cleaner.

3. Reuse what you consume.

Reusing what you consume means ditching disposables all the way to the bank. It can also mean getting a little creative with things that have reached their intended end, like repurposing an old t-shirt as a rag or turning coconut pulp into flour after making coconut milk.

One of my favorite reuse hacks is making my own apple cider vinegar from apple cores. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is — you can practically set it and forget it. If you like apples and ACV, you’ve got to try the recipe.

Homemade apple cider vinegar.

4. Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse.

I used to think that recycling was enough. But then I learned the truth. First, only a portion of the things we think we recycle actually gets recycled! Second, an immense amount of energy (resulting in greenhouse gas emissions) goes into the recycling process. Just think: First the material to be recycled is transported, then it’s mechanically and manually sorted, then maybe transported some more, then the material is actually broken down and processed. Plus, some things we recycle are toxic and endanger the lives of those who process them. What’s more, recycled plastic is usually downcycled. So recycling is not enough, but it is necessary! That’s why it’s number four in this process.

5. Rot (compost) the rest.

The final step toward a planet-based, zero-waste lifestyle is to rot, or compost, everything else. Lots of locales are moving toward collecting compost curbside along with recycling (and trash, but let’s forget about that!), and if that’s not yet happening in your neck of the woods, you might find a drop-off location or consider creating your own backyard compost heap. Just think of how happy your garden will be! 🥰

So there you have it! By following these simple steps, you’ll magnify the benefits of your plant-based lifestyle at all levels, from the personal to the planetary. Keep in mind though that this is a process, so as always, treat yourself with love, compassion, and forgiveness. And remember, what you’re giving up is nothing in comparison to what you’ll gain.