Category Archives: zero waste

DIY All Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe

Processed with Moldiv

 

Part of my zero waste initiative of 2015 has been to start making my own toiletries and beauty products. For the most part, I use recipes I find online, but sometimes I tweak and alter them until I have something that fits my tastes. This is one of those recipes. I’ve been trying out a few different combinations of ingredients to get a lipstick like texture. So far I haven’t found it, but this recipe makes a great tinted balm that leaves a good amount of color on your lips.

vintage-revlon-bullet-tubes

 

I started by searching for vintage lipstick tubes. I didn’t want to spend time and money making all-natural products just to store them in plastic. Especially when a big part of zero waste is eliminating plastic completely. I browsed several styles on Etsy, and decided on these vintage Revlon tubes from Frugal Resale. They appear to be brass, and since brass commonly had lead in their composition, I picked up a surface lead test from my local hardware store. They were negative, which means, hooray, lead free! I scraped out the remnants and boiled the containers for a few minutes to clean them. I did have one of the labels fall off, so I’ll be gluing it back on. I’m particularly fond of that “Touch of Genius” shade 😉

diy-natural-lip-balm-ingredients

Many online recipes call for specialty ingredients you have to order online. Since my goal is to hopefully one day source all the ingredients locally, if not completely from my homestead, I tried to find some more basic supplies. Most of this can be found at your local grocery or health foods store. In fact, I ground up dried hibiscus leaves from my HEB bulk section (it was with the spices), and peeled, sliced, and dehydrated and then ground fresh beets into a powder.

grinding-hibiscus-flowersOne tip that I found handy with my hibiscus powder was to strain it through a fine mesh sieve. In this case it was a tea strainer. This keeps the larger clumps and flower parts from getting into your coloring powder, keeping the shade a bit more even. Still, hibiscus is a bit more finicky than the beet root. In the stick, it’s hard to tell a difference.

diy-natural-tinted-balm

Beet root is on the left, hibiscus on the right. I had a bit of clumping there since I waited just a touch too long to start mixing it up and pouring it into the tube. Here is the beet root balm (it appears a bit darker in real life):

beetroot-balm

And below is the hibiscus (also a bit darker and slightly more even):

hibiscus-balm

You can see the graininess that the hibiscus can have. It’s less noticeable in person, and you can rub your lips together and work most of it in. I would also say that while the beet root gives the better color, I like the flavor and texture of the hibiscus more.

Now enough hemming and hawing, let’s get to the recipe!

DIY All Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe

Zero Waste Bulk Shopping at HEB

zero waste grocery shopping

This Zero Waste thing sounds good in theory, but how can you take the principles and easily adapt it into your every day life? That’s the challenge, and today I’m here to help with one of the biggest offenders of packaging and single-use plastics: The Grocery Store. Just think about it. They have handy little plastic baggies to separate and weigh vegetables. Sometimes they even have each individual vegetable vacuum packed in it’s own plastic! Meat comes on styrofoam platters wrapped in plastic, which takes over ONE MILLION YEARS to decompose. Yes, one million. I wish I had learned that little fact earlier in life so I could have avoided it sooner! Things just continue down the line as you progress further down your grocery list. Boxed pastas, bagged flours, individual containers sold in larger groups. Then you get to the checkout and things are placed into plastic sacks for easier carrying. Do you know how many of those bags are recycled? Less than 5%. Considering we as Americans consume over 100 BILLION bags per year, that’s a lotta bags in the landfill. I like to save the ones that cycle through our house, but over time I hope to completely eliminate plastic bags from our home and use completely. Anyway, you get the picture. Conventional grocery shopping practices are incredibly wasteful, and over time we’ve adapted to it since it’s the only thing we’ve known how to shop. I grew up with the bags, and boxes, and cans. But! Here are a few very easy ways we can do things differently to make BIG changes.

 

 

First up: the reusable bag. I know, I know, I forget them sometimes too. But I’m able to do all my shopping in just four bags, which get wiped down or washed in between uses. I haven’t had to use plastic bags from the grocery store in over a month since taking more time to plan out my trips. I have a few different cloth bags collected over time (you know the drill, from handouts, conventions, random goody bags and such) but you can also try to source eco-friendly commercial bags or totes, or even make your own from worn out fabrics and belts! Even produce bags. I decided to go with these Earthwise produce bags to completely cut out the flimsy plastics when I’m grabbing mushrooms or peas. There’s also a lot of great tutorials on how to make them from old t-shirts. But you’ve all heard about reusable bags for a while now. Let’s move on to the fun stuff!

 

The Bulk Section.

heb-montrose-bulk

Image from Swamplot

Most HEB stores will have a bulk section. I’ve also seen them at Brookshire Brothers, and other grocers in Texas. You may be wondering, why should I buy in bulk? Well this is where you’ll want to go to reduce your packaging consumption. You can also adjust your sizes and not be tied down into whatever portion the manufacturers decided for you. So, if you need one cup of beans, you get one cup of beans. If you only think you’ll use a tablespoon of some random, obscure spice, you can get that! The bulk sections vary, but they tend to have a wide selection of spices, nuts, beans, grains, and treats. I can usually find gluten-free flours like coconut, almond, and even arrowroot. There are so many different organic and natural options too! I can’t usually find organic beans in the aisles, but they’re here in the bulk section. Along with raw nuts, which are great for paleo eaters because I can make my own preservative-free almond milk and cashew cream. This does require a bit of planning, because I need to pack jars and reusable baggies for weighing and storing. So now I make my list and pack my “grocery kit” the night before, which has my bags, produce bags, jars, and weighing baggies as well as a wax pencil for any marking I may need to do.

Things work a bit differently than some other stores, and it took some trial and error to find a good system. At first, I weighed my jars, marked them, filled them, re-weighed them and marked the filled weight then subtracted the tare and wrote and circled the net weight. Um…yeah. Not only was that a lot of math, but the cashiers and managers HATED me. I still feel bad about that. I’m notorious at the Dripping Springs store as “That Hippie Girl” who lost them a whole bunch of money one day when the cashier gave up in exasperation and just entered in random numbers for all my bulk goods. So, don’t be like Newbie Me. I was learning my way. Now, however, this is my “Manager Approved” method:

bulk-step1

 

First I fill up my jar with the item I need. This time it was black pepper. (please excuse my horrible photos, but I didn’t also want to add “that weirdo blog girl” to my reputation with a big camera taking photos in the bulk section, so I just sneakily snapped pics with my phone) I bring my own reusable bag. This is a Neat-Os bag, which is pretty darn awesome (and means I don’t have to buy zip lock bags ever again!) Now I’ll be honest with you. The tare weight of the plastic baggies is .001 and my Neat-Os bag is .004 so there is a tiny, tiny difference in price. If you are a stickler for saving money, you can pick up one of the provided plastic bags and reuse it for all your bulk weights and bring it home and wash it to use next time. But I find that difference to be so minuscule that I would rather go with my easy, more durable Neat-Os. If I’m weighing larger items like chocolate chips or nuts, I just use the lighter produce bag. Okay, moving on.

bulk-step2

 

I pour the contents of the jar into the bag. Why? Because it’s obviously lighter in the jar. And while it may seem like it makes sense to just fill and weigh the bag, THEN pour, I want to make sure I have the correct amount in the jar first and it isn’t over or under filled. So, I fill the bag, enter the code, weigh it, and put the printout sticker on my jar. There’s just no way out of the stickers at these stores, sadly. It’s the only way the cashiers can ring up the purchases because they would have to add the weight of your jar at the register. But a small piece of paper that can biodegrade is better than a larger baggie, so I take what I can get at the moment. Once that’s finished, I pour the contents back into the jar from the bag, and then start over with my next item.

Now, you may need to bring a few bags to prevent cross-contamination. I try to plan things in order and do solid items like beans first, then flours, then spices. It takes a few tries to figure out the system that works for you. But don’t be discouraged! Once you get into the swing of things it goes by very quickly and you’re no longer spending an hour in the bulk section 😉

 

The Meat Section:

heb-meat-market-services-250X194

 

Now as I mentioned before, most of the meat sits in coolers on display, where you casually walk by and grab pre-packaged goods. In an effort to A) eat better quality food and B) reduce my consumption of packaging and styrofoam, I decided to stop first at the meat market to get individual cuts. Now, Bea recommends bringing glass containers and asking them to put the meat into the glass instead of the paper. But I haven’t called up the courage for that just yet, so I have the meat packed in freezer paper which I then toss into our “dirty” compost pile out back to decompose. (note: I don’t use meat-tainted materials in my garden. It’s more like an open-air recycling area where things can break down without being packed into a landfill) Sometimes I can’t avoid the packaged meats, but I’m trying to work out alternative sources for them. We’ve already run out of our home-raised chicken, so occasionally I buy a package at the store. You don’t have to go all-or-nothing on your first round with Zero Waste. I’m treating it as a process. We are striving to go completely packaging-free, but in the mean time I’m not being heavy-handed about it. This is just supposed to provide a jumping off point for others who are also interested in bringing Zero Waste practices into their homes. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to try and find an answer for every problem right away. So this is a learn-as-we-go blog series. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the methods of my new madness, and hopefully it inspired you to make a few changes in your grocery shopping trips as well!

 




Scrap Pile Presents for a Zero Waste Birthday

pig and deer critter chairs

 

Both of my girls have a birthday at harvest season, and I had such a great time making presents for them this year. To challenge myself even further, I decided to focus on using materials I already had to make really fun, useful gifts. One of the basic “rules” of Zero Waste is to eliminate not only packaging, but to minimize your consumption of plastics and other mass produced toys and items. Basically, try to focus more on your needs, and look for fewer, quality possessions that focus on ethical and ecological production methods. So, that meant staying out of the toy aisles with their factory produced junk, and hand making gifts. For Caroline, who turns one this week, I decided to fill out our Critter Chair set and make her two animal stools: a little deer and a piggy. I looooove the deer! I was a bit worried the antlers would either be too insubstantial to provide a backrest, or look too clunky to be believable antlers. I’m so glad I was wrong! The look very cute, and I think they could even be bulked up a bit at the base and center to make moose antlers. If you’re interested in building your own, I have a tutorial for them here.

 

Greta rag dolls

 

For the second half of her presents from mama, I made her four of these precious Greta dolls. I purchased the pattern as a digital pdf on Etsy from Retromama. She also has a Hans pattern that I bought as well, for gifts later on. Plus like six other patterns I’ve bookmarked, you need to check out her shop! Anyway, the only materials I needed to buy were felt for the hair and shoes, and a skin-toned cotton. I chose felt that was eco-friendly and made in America, and surprisingly found at WalMart of all places. I decided to try out the “old-school” method of filling these rag dolls with, well, rags. And it really did work! Two of these dolls were filled with leftover PolyFill, and two with fabric scraps. Can you tell which? I bet it will surprise you! I decided that from now on I’ll only use scraps to fill the dolls, as they felt much more durable than their puffy counterparts. It’s a great feeling to watch my once-huge scrap stash diminish down to almost nothing, as well as help out other sewers shrink their stashes! I made four of these dolls, each inspired by a different season. The Autumn doll uses scraps from the baby sling I made and carry Caroline around in since birth.

 

play food donuts

 

Charlie, however, got a lot of play food! I made these donuts by cutting circles out of a scrap fence picket with my jigsaw. I used a belt sander to get them smooth and to make the edges look more handcrafted. Then I painted them with some soy-based craft paints found at Hobby Lobby. They are so stinkin’ cute!

 

play-petit-fours

 

I also used up some pieces of 2×2 leftover from other projects to make petit fours, which are a big hit around here. Apparently cake is popular with toddlers, who knew?

 

play-breakfast

 

One of our favorite things to do together is to make pancakes on Sundays, so I whipped up a little breakfast kit at the last minute. Using som old 1/4″ ply, I cut circles for pancakes and then irregular circular shapes for syrup and fried eggs. The syrup and pancakes have iron-on velcro so they can detach.

 

play-roast-chicken

 

This roast chicken set is possibly my favorite of all the play food! I found something similar online, and used a piece of 2×6 for the center and freehanded the shape, cutting with my jigsaw. Then scrap 1×4’s became the wings and drumsticks. A little more iron-on velcro and voila! A wooden play roasted chicken to practice cutting.

 

play-pup-tent

 

Lastly, daddy decided to whip up a quick pup-tent using scrap wood and Ana White’s simple plans. We had these Mexican blankets sitting around in my parents’ storage area, doing basically nothing. Wouldn’t you know, they’re the perfect fit! We stapled them on, and once again had a no-cost, no-purchase gift that my little girls love.

 

And that finishes up the round up of this year’s Presentpalooza! We spent (almost) nothing but time and sweat to make thoughtful, adorable presents for our 3 year old and 1 year old. It required more thought and planning than simply popping into the store and plopping down a few bucks, but I’m so glad we did. I think they’ll enjoy these gifts for years to come, and it’s so amazing to hear Charlie tell her friends “Mommy and Daddy made me this!” with excitement. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

 

 



Zero Waste 2015

zero waste shopping materials

 

Over the past several months, I have expressed my desire toward different homesteading ventures. Gardening, raising meat chickens, preserving and building have been on my radar for quite some time now. It’s just been over the last year or so that I’ve begun to execute those goals. Yet it still seemed a bit scattered, in my head. It didn’t seem like the articles I read or people I followed espoused all the different facets of “going green” that I was interested in. Then I found out about the Zero Waste movement. Have you heard of it? It’s fantastic! I purchased Zero Waste Home on my eReader, and encourage everyone to check it out as well. Basically the author strives for a zero waste lifestyle, which means eliminating all packaging like single-use plastics and not buying into the consumerism of today’s society.

 

garden-plan

I was so inspired by Bea’s writing that I decided we were going to do it. How could we not? We’re already halfway there! I’ve been cloth diapering for almost two years now, and we haven’t had paper towels since we moved to our new home. I feel like I’ve been slowly making my way over to Zero Waste before I even knew there was a name for it. So, what does this mean for the blog? Well, the focus will basically stay the same. I’m still going to build and write about our projects. Because of course building your own furniture is economical and ecological. I also plan to write more about our self-sufficient adventures, like gardening (that’s my garden diagram above, with over 50 varieties!). And the new aquaponics setup we are currently building. We’re paving the way to providing most of the food we require ourselves, and I think that’s a great journey to chronicle. But it’s not necessarily one everyone can feasibly do, so I want to cover other things. Things like…

 

fabric scrap rag dolls

 

Making holiday gifts out of scrap materials. These rag dolls are gifts for Caroline’s first birthday, and I used fabric remnants along with some new, made in the USA eco-friendly felt and stuffed them with tiny scraps of fabric and all those unmatched baby socks that seem to multiply. I’m really excited to share about these!

 

stevia-extract

 

Making my own pantry staples that used to be all store-bought and full of preservatives. Like this stevia extract I’m steeping with my home-grown organic stevia plant and local vodka. I have several great recipes and tricks I’ve found online, so I think a regular round-up post would be beneficial.

 

freezer-mealsfreezer-meals

 

Freezer cooking, and making my own “ingredients” like enchilada sauce and tomato paste. And of course the hardest part, Zero Waste Shopping. I’ve been hitting up the bulk aisles and toting my recycled jars to and from the grocery store long enough now that I feel I can share my methods.

 

So, there you have it! A new, bright focus for Killer b. Designs that truly has me fired up again. I have been struggling for a while with the consumerism of DIY blogging, as well as sponsor partnerships that didn’t seem to mesh with my new personal goals. I’m very excited about the months to come.

 

 

 




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