Tag Archives: pollution

the best shampoo bar on the market

The very first blog post I wrote on Steel City Wasteland was about zero waste shampoo and how I hate shampoo bars.

I’ve tried several different kinds. I’ve tried Lush, J.R. Liggett, and some other random brands that just weren’t up to par.

If you’re tried a shampoo bar, you know what I mean.

First of all, in most shampoo bars, the lather is nearly non-existent.

(I know, I know, the soapiness of a lather doesn’t have anything to do with cleanliness… it’s just a chemical called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS, that makes consumers FEEL like our products are doing an even better job than they really are. But, hey, as a 20+ year all-things Dove girl, I know I’m an SLS addict.)

Second, it just feels weird to rub a bar of soap on your head. Maybe it’s just me, but something about it feels weird to get used to.

Third, the after-wash film. Shampoo bars always leave a nasty film on my crown and the nape of my neck.

If you’re unfamiliar with the filmy feel, imagine shampooing your hair, but not rinsing the shampoo out. When your hair is dry, it still looks like its coated in some sort of soapy oil.

Yeah, that’s what shampoo bars do. At least, that’s what they’ve always done for me.

Until I tried Ethique.

All about Ethique

DCB_0444.jpg

Ethique — pronounced “eh-teek”; it’s French for “ethical” — is a New Zealand-based beauty company that’s goal is to end the world of plastic waste.

The brand started in 2012 “as an alternative to the 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles thrown out globally each year,” according to their website.

They have tons of beauty products — all plastic free.

Here are a few things they carry:

HAIR PRODUCTS: shampoo, conditioner and hair masks
FACE PRODUCTS: cleanser, scrubs and moisturizers
BODY PRODUCTS: cleansers, moisturizers and deodorants
LAUNDRY: laundry bar and stain remover
PETS: dog shampoo
STORAGE UNITS: in-shower containers

Reasons to love Ethique

DCB_0458

1. Plastic-free
Ethique uses biodegradable ingredients and compostable packaging.

2. Plant-based, but palm-oil free* and vegan
Ethique uses the best ingredients that are plant based and ethical.

*The problem with palm oil:

Palm oil is a controversial ingredient because of the way it’s obtained. Palm oil is cheap, and it can be found in lots of processed foods. The palm oil industry is destroying rain forests, especially in Indonesia. There’s a lot I could talk about surrounding the palm oil industry, like how it’s also contributing to increased CO2 in the atmosphere. But, as with a lot of things, there is some good to it. It’s creating a lot of jobs for Indonesians.

Interestingly, I went to the Borneo rain forest in Indonesia two years ago. While trekking with my friend, our guide — a local — talked to us about palm oil and how it’s harmful to the environment, but it’s helping the local economy. He said it’s a tough issue to have a strong stance on, because he’s seen the good and the bad. I think that’s a helpful reminder.

If you do buy something that contains palm oil, try to opt for one that is sustainably sourced — like Dr. Bronner’s soap. But, when in doubt, it may be better to just avoid palm oil altogether. The choice is yours.

3. Cruelty-free
Ethique doesn’t test their products on animals. In fact, they only test their products on willing humans. They are certified cruelty-free by CCF (Choose Cruelty Free), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and SAFE (a New Zealand-based agency that certifies cruelty free companies).

4. Sustainable, and a B CORPORATION!
Ethique is a B Corporation, which should speak for itself. If you’re unfamiliar with B Corporations, here’s what their website says: “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Essentially, B Corps are the most well-rounded, ethical, sustainable, transparent corporations in the world. Here are a few B Corps you may know: Patagonia, Klean Kanteen, Tom’s of Maine, Ben and Jerry’s, and Stonyfield Organic.

If you see a company that’s a certified B Corp, rest assured that company has gone through a serious vetting process to be dubbed a B Corp. They really are the best of the best — a company you can trust.

5. These products last, and they save you money

Ethique boasts that one shampoo bar can last anywhere from 6-8 months. I haven’t been able to attest to that, as I’ve only tried the sample size. But the bars are definitely concentrated and seem to last quite a while!

6. The sample bars are adorable

The sample kit is super cute. The bars are heart-shaped. They just make you want to use them!

How well do the products work?

DCB_0466.jpg

Honestly, their shampoo bars are excellent. Not just for a shampoo bar, but for a natural shampoo, they’re outstanding.

Both the shampoo and conditioner lather well and neither leave a film on my hair. I can rub the shampoo bar on my hands or rub it on my scalp, both ways give a good lather!

At first using a shampoo bar may feel odd, but once you use a product that works well — like Ethique — you don’t even think twice about it. I hated using shampoo bars because they never worked for me. But Since using Ethique, I actually get weirdly excited to shampoo my hair in the shower.

Not to mention, all the products smell AMAZING, and every ingredient is not only listed, but on their website, Ethique goes into detail about what each ingredient does and where it comes from. LOVE the transparency.

I bought the hair sample kit to try a few different shampoos and conditioners before I invested in one.

I’d definitely recommend doing that! They also carry a sample kit for face wash and body wash, too.

The Ethique Hair Sampler is $16 and comes with three shampoos and two conditioners.

My favorite shampoo from the kit is the Heali Kiwi, because it’s good for my dry, sensitive scalp. Ethique also has shampoos for oily hair and dry, damaged hair. Basically, whatever your hair/scalp type, Ethique’s got you.

As far as their conditioners go, I liked The Guardian best.

Ethique’s conditioners are definitely the best bar conditioners I’ve used, but I would say I like the shampoo a little better than the conditioner. I’ll continue buying both, though, because I like them both! But I was really wowed by the shampoo.

I’ve also been using their face wash and I actually really like it!

DCB_0438

I’ve been using the SuperStar! cleanser. It smells like orange and I’ve noticed that it cleanses my skin without drying it.

I’d highly recommend it for dry skin folks!

Any downsides?

DCB_0428

Only one thing that comes to mind, though I wouldn’t consider it a downfall necessarily, is accessibility.

For most folks living in the USA, you’ll likely buy your Ethique products off Amazon.

This could be a positive thing to some people, because you can use your Amazon Prime membership! So that’s dope! But buying on Amazon means your package could come in plastic. Working with Amazon, Ethique doesn’t have much control over that.

Though, it should be noted that I ordered off of Amazon and my package only came in cardboard! So you never know!

ALSO! Ethique is slowly moving their products across the US. Right now, they’re working their way into Target stores, and are currently stocked in all Erewhon stores throughout California! Amazing!

Locally to Pittsburgh, Ethique products are available at Target at the Waterfront in Homestead.

Check out this link to see if there’s a Target that sells Ethique near you.

Overall, I love this brand and will continue buying their products! And, now that they’re available in more places locally, I’m even more floored to purchase from them!

I LOVE their shampoo. I’m thrilled to have found a zero waste, shampoo bar.

I’m still a big fan of Plaine Products shampoo and conditioner — check out that review here. But for now, I’m sticking with Ethique, and I couldn’t be happier.

don’t scrap your scraps — compost ‘em! here’s how.

When I first started googling how to compost, for whatever reason I got super confused.

Some people said you should compost this, or do that, or put it here, or blah blah blah.

Don’t get overwhelmed with composting –– it’s super easy and simple!

I’ve gotten my info from personal experience, research andddd a lot of help from a dear friend of mine who is a farmer/gardener. (s/o to Dave!)

Here are a few steps in order to successfully compost from your kitchen! (even if you live in an apartment!):

GET A BUCKET AND A LID

There are loads of composting containers online and in stores that’ll use trendy marketing ploys to try and convince you to purchase their containers.

Don’t fall for it, fam! (I did, so if you did, you aren’t alone lol).

In the photo attached to this post, I have my trendy stainless steel composting bin I purchased from Target.

It was $20 and I thought it would look super cute on my counter. It had a charcoal filter on the lid that was supposed to prevent odor. There are holes in the lid that are covered by a charcoal filter.

And at first I loved it! It was pretty, easy to throw lettuce into and I really felt like I found the best bin around.

Buuttt then one day I noticed there were lots of flies near my bin. I didn’t think much about it.

I went away for a couple days and came back to find MAGGOTS IN MY COMPOST AND THE CHARCOAL LID.

Flies got through the holes / charcoal filter in the lid!

Bugs don’t typically bother me. But having maggots chill on my kitchen counter wasn’t really up my alley.

So we switched things up. We tried out a bucket instead.

We bought a 5 gallon bucket and lid (you can get these from The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or some other store where you can buy paint). Or honestly, ya might even have a bucket and lid in your garage!

Mike and I kept ours under our sink and every time it got filled with food waste, we’d drop it off at our friend’s house because he has a compost bin (another s/o to Dave!).

It’s a great route to go! But we noticed we still occasionally got gnats around our bin and the smell was a little rough sometimes.

Our new method? Remember that cute stainless steel bucket I talked about?

Now, we’re opting to toss our food scraps in there, but keep the bucket in our freezer!

You don’t need a cute bucket. In fact, you can just use a big bowl! Keep your container in the freezer and toss your banana peels and apple cores and egg shells in there!

You get zero smell — because it’s frozen!

WHAT GOES IN MY BIN?

Basically anything that would grow naturally…

Like fruits and veggies, egg shells and paper products.

Here’s a list of items you CAN compost:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and (most) filters
  • (Some) tea bags (not all… many tea bags actually contain plastic. Best to opt for loose-leaf tea!)
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and wool rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

Here are things you shouldn’t compost:

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
  • Coal or charcoal ash
  • Dairy products (like butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt…) and eggs
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Meat or fish bones/scraps
  • Pet wastes, such as feces and litter
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides

For an even larger list, check out this post here. Also this post just gives some super helpful info in general!

WHAT IF MY BIN GETS MOLDY?

It’s most likely going to grow a little bit mold. And that’s fine!

Don’t be alarmed when you see some green fuzzy stuff growing in your compost bin. That’s totally normal.

A way to help avoid that, though, is to add more paper products — like newspapers — into your bin. If you put a bunch of crinkled up newspapers as the bottom layer in your compost bin, the compost won’t become as wet, which won’t produce as much mold.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY COMPOST BIN IS FULL?

So, technically your bin isn’t compost. It’s basically like a holding cell until you can transfer your food scraps to become real soil.

Ask around to see if anyone you know has a compost pile. If not, contact a few farms — I’d almost guarantee they have a compost pile. Go to a farmer’s market and see if they’ll let you drop off your compost with them.

If none of that works, consider creating your own compost area somewhere outside. You can purchase a large container to hold your compost, or you can essentially dig a hole in the ground to keep your compost in. It’s called the trench method and it’s simple and easy to do. But for people who live in apartments — like Mike and me! — that’s probably not the best option. There’s a great article about composting / different options here. Also, Happy DIY Home recently wrote an article about composting. It’s super helpful, check it out here.

I don’t have a lot of experience with having a real compost pile myself… but I’d be happy to do further research if you’re interested in trying it yourself!

Another way to compost on your own is to buy red wigglers — you can typically find those wormies at a local bait shop. I haven’t tried using worms, but I’ve heard great things! Wormies are amazing at creating compost!

HAPPY COMPOSTING! 🙂

Resources

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

what i wish i knew before using a safety razor

I got a safety razor last year because I knew it was the eco-friendly thing to do.

What I didn’t know was that safety razors are SHARP, they rust easily and there’s a bit of a learning curve to shaving with one.

I wished someone would’ve created a guide to owning a safety razor, from how to store it to how to use it and keep it clean.

As with many things throughout my zero waste journey, I’ve learned a lot though trial and error. And when it comes to safety razors… most of my knowledge has come from first-hand mess ups like rusty razors, dull blades, and cuts…

I’ve compiled a few tips I wish I knew before using a safety razor. If you’re considering investing in one, I HIGHLY recommend it. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to using a pink plastic guy. But it does take a little getting used to.

Without further ado, here are my tips and tricks for zero waste shaving with a safety razor.

What is a safety razor?

dcb_9858

A safety razor is an old-school razor. It was invented in the 1800s as a safer way to shave as opposed to using straight razors.

But once plastic became a big hit, people started buying plastic options and forgetting about our old-timey friend: The Safety Razor.

Thankfully, safety razors are becoming trendy again — especially for dudes who love grooming their facial hair.

There are loads of different kinds of safety razors on the market right now. Here are a few good brands to check out:

*Albatross

(also check out Package Free Shop… that’s where I got my Albatross razor)

The Art of Shaving

West Coast Shaving

Leaf Shave

*I personally use a butterfly safety razor from Albatross and I love it. It’s definitely more of a classic safety razor feel and style. But it’s 100% recyclable, the company prioritizes the environment and ocean, and the packaging is zero waste. Pretty dope!

I’ve heard great things about The Art of Shaving, West Coast Shaving and Leaf Shave… but I haven’t personally tried those ones.

What I do like about The Art of Shaving is that they have lots of great shaving cream products that have pretty decent ingredients and that come in reusable containers.

The Art of Shaving specializes in the old-school shaving brush method to apply your shaving cream. I’ve heard INCREDIBLE things about it, but I make my own shaving cream instead. I’m cheap, my option works great and it’s more eco-friendly.

Why would I use a safety razor?

dcb_9828

It’s much better for the environment. As opposed to a plastic razor that you use for a month or two and then throw away, a safety razor lasts for years, it’s recyclable and the blades are recyclable, too.

Also, the shave is excellent once you get the hang of using it!

How do I use this thing?

So you essentially use it the same way you’d use a plastic razor. You lather your leg (or underarms or face or whatever) with shaving cream/soap and press the razor lightly onto your skin and shave in an upwards motion.

Here are a few suggestions….

  1. Keep the blade at a 45 degree angle when shaving. You don’t want to press in too hard on your skin or you may cut yourself; but you also don’t want to put zero pressure on the blade because then you won’t actually shave any hair. It takes practice, but go slow and keep the blade so it’s gliding against your skin.dcb_9852
  2. Exfoliate. This is such a simple step that often gets overlooked. Be sure to exfoliate your whole body a few days a week. I have an eco-friendly loofah that I use to scrub my body. Not only will it make your skin softer, but it removes dead skin cells, helps blood circulate through your body and just gives you a better overall clean.
  3. Use a good shaving cream. I make my own shaving cream using Castile soap, water, avocado oil and essential oils.

Be sure to put the ingredients in a foaming pump container (I got mine from Walmart and Amazon. You can find them most places… just be sure it says it’s foaming!).I fill the container up about 3/4 of the way with distilled water. Then I add about 2-3 TBSP of Castile soap and 1-1.5 TBSP of avocado oil (you can use any carrier oil you’d like. Avocado is super moisturizing, which is why I use that one!). Then, feel free to add any essential oils you’d like. I use Peace + Calming and Sacred Mountain from Young Living. But you can also use Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense, or whatever else you’d like.

You can also buy shaving creams if you don’t want to make your own. The Art of Shaving has many options that have decent ingredients (check out the Think Dirty app for the ingredients of tons of different products). What I like about the Art of Shaving one is that you buy a container that holds the soap and then just replace the soap. Love how sustainable that is!

Also, Albatross has some options, too, that seem awesome and totally eco-friendly! Young Living has options, too, though YL’s aren’t eco-friendly yet.

How do I store it?

dcb_9885

So when I first got my safety razor I kept it in the shower, just like I would with my plastic razors.

Yeah… bad idea. It’s metal. Metal + water = rust. For whatever reason I didn’t think about that. My razor got super rusty. I kept trying to clean it off but the rust kept coming back because I wasn’t keeping it dry enough.

I ended up getting a new one because I dropped mine and it broke (it was my fault, not the quality of the razor). But I needed a new one anyways because mine was rusty. Now that I’ve learned what to do and not to do, my razor is thriving!

  1. Keep it clean. After you use it be sure to rinse it off so that no cream or soap is on the blade or the razor itself.
  2. Dry it off. This is what I never did and is the reason mine got rusty. Once you rinse it off, take your towel and dry it off. Also take the blade out and dry that off, too. It will make your blade last longer and keep your razor looking brand new.
     
  3. Store it in a dry place. I used to keep mine by my bathroom sink, but then it would get bumped and fall on the floor, or water would splash on it from people washing their hands. Now, after I dry it off, I store it in the cupboard above my toilet with my other products. Every time I shave, I take the razor out of the cupboard, bring it in the shower with me and then return it to it’s little cupboard home once I’m finished.

It may sound like that’s a lot of effort for a razor. But I don’t even think about it anymore. It takes 30 seconds to wash it off, dry it and store it. Really. It’s so easy and it’s just become part of my routine.

What about the blades?

 

So your razor should come with at least ten new blades. I replace mine once every month or two, or when I’m noticing I’m not getting as close of a shave. You can order more online from whatever shop you got your safety razor from. They’re super cheap. Also, the blades are recyclable. But NOT in your curbside bin. I keep mine in a little container in my bathroom. Once it’s full, I’ll take it to my recycling company and have them properly recycled.

Replacing the blades of your safety razor is going to be different for each razor. Generally, you’ll have a razor and blades. My butterfly safety razor has a swivel on the bottom of the handle. I turn the swivel to open the top of the razor… it’ll open up almost like it’s opening it’s wings (i.e. the reason it’s named the butterfly razor). You simply place the razor blade in the space between the two “wings,” swivel the wings shut, and you’re good to go! Easy, quick, convenient.

OK, talk to me about price.

I got the Flagship Butterfly Safety Razor from Albatross and it’s $30. It comes with 10 blades. When you need more blades, they only cost $0.15 each. Yes, that’s it.

I’d also recommend one with the longer handle. Check it out here. For shaving legs, I hear a longer handle is better. It’s $10 more, but might be worth the investment. My first razor was the $20 one. It works great! But I like how easy it is to replace the blades with the butterfly option.

The Art of Shaving has pretty expensive razors, but they’re supposed to be great quality. Check out those here.

West Coast Shaving company has a range of safety razors starting from $30 and moving into the hundreds. Check out their collection here.

The Leaf starts at $79, but comes in a kit. I’ve heard great things because the design of the razor is a lot like a plastic razor. The learning curve isn’t as steep as a safety razor like Albatross, so if that’s a major concern for you, the Leaf might be your best bet! And there’s a lifetime warranty — so that’s excellent!

 

Do you use a safety razor? Why or why not? What’s holding you back?