How to Make Zero Waste Liquid Dish Soap With Non-Toxic Ingredients in Just Minutes

Dish soap made with solid olive oil soap

You might be surprised by how easy and fast making your own cleaning products can be! Hubby and I are lazy people, so we are all about simple solutions, or else there is no way we would incorporate that into our daily lives. This dish soap can be made in only one minute if you use liquid castile soap. If you use bar soap, you will have to add 5-10 minutes of grating. Or you can always chop it into chunks and have your food processor take care of the rest.

Environmental Effects of Conventional Dish Soap

Dish soap, even the eco-friendly brands, is always sold in plastic bottles. And plastic bottles will eventually become plastic waste. Besides, conventional store-bought dish soap is based on surfactants. Surfactants are usually made from fossil fuels, and even “eco-friendly surfactants” are based on palm oil (read more on the problem with palm oil).

Surfactants lower the water’s surface tension. Some are not biodegradable, and even the ones that are biodegradable can take up to four weeks or longer to break down. In this time they can still be toxic to animals and entire ecosystems!

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How to Make Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Ever since we went zero waste, we have learned to make pretty much all of our own cleaning and body care products while keeping everything as simple and time-efficient as possible. Heck, I even wash my hair with white rye flour! However, if we had to pick our favorite recipe, we would probably go with this deodorant recipe! Yes, even though I am one of these lucky people with odorless sweat. I know, it’s so not fair. Blame my mom for it.

Hanno, however, isn’t as lucky. He always says, and I quote: “This is the best deodorant I have ever used!” And I can attest to that!

When it comes to homemade products, I usually have to explain that, yes, oftentimes they are less effective. Our DIY dish soap doesn’t cut grease as well as its aggressive cousin. BUT the over-the-top effectiveness comes at a price. These products are usually chemical cocktails with many harmful substances. They are overachievers on steroids. And these steroids are neither good for our health nor the environment. And I rather use a less effective dish soap than use the doped one that will cause my sensitive to break out again.

This deodorant, however, will blow your store-bought selection out of the water!

It is better in every aspect! Making it is easier and quicker than going to the store. This deodorant is also ridiculously wallet-friendly. It is neither harmful to you nor the environment. Best of all, it is super dooper uber mega effective!

So how does this work?

Baking soda is known to neutralize odors. It changes the PH value on your skin, making it more uninhabitable for the bacteria that are to blame for the pungent smell. The tea tree oil in this deodorant has a similar effect. It is antibacterial. So instead of just covering up the bad smell with some fragrance, this deodorant actually nips the cause in the bud. Furthermore, the lime oil helps to prevent these unsightly white sweat marks, which is quite the bonus in my humble opinion.  Read More

Save the Date: Zero Waste Workshop in Vancouver!

Oh, I am so excited about this!! Hanno (hubby) and I relocated from Germany to Vancouver, BC two months ago, and the city really has been treating us so well, as my dear Instagram followers know 💚! As we see it, Vancouver is a city of bulk! Bulk really is everywhere! Granted, most people scoop their dry goods from the bulk bins into these ugly plastic bags, but you can also just bring your own containers.

Just yesterday, when we went to Whole Foods, a lady came to ask us about our jars. She said she had never seen anybody do this, but loved it so much! We explained that you can weigh your containers at home or ask customer service to do it for you, and they can take off the weight at the till. This basically happens every time we bring our own containers. People around us get curious and I like to think that one day they might gather their courage and give it a try 😊!

Vancouver is a city with the ambitious goal of becoming a zero waste city by 2040!

And yes, Vancouver is a city where living pretty close to what is commonly perceived as zero waste is very very doable! You know, the one jar of landfill waste per year thing? Yes, you can do that here!

►  If you want to learn how to go zero waste and stay sane while you transition, join me at The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver on May 21st from 7-9pm! It will be a fun and chill workshop hosted by the wonderful Jollia from KarmaBitez 💚💪🌎!

Zero waste does not have to be complicated and time-consuming! Let’s work on a doable version we can all integrate in our busy lives. Feel empowered! Bring your great humor, a smile, some containers, and let’s rock ‘n roll!

Tickets are $15 early bird (before May 15) and $20 regular priced.
Tickets are limited to only 25. Book your ticket here.
Visit the official event page here.

Event Description

Are you eager to reduce your environmental impact but don’t know how?
Have you tried going zero waste but don’t know where to start?

We’ve partnered up with Shia Su, the popular zero waste blogger behind Wasteland Rebel, to show you how easy it is to transition into a zero waste (ZW) lifestyle. She will talk about challenges she faced during her ZW journey, sharing practical tips on how you can start consuming less and reducing your carbon footprint right away.

What you’ll take away from this event:

    • How to save time and money by consuming only what you need
    • Gain practical tips on how to overcome every day situations as a zero waster (for example: problems with taring your containers at check out)
    • DIY recipes for personal care essentials (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, hand wash)
    • Tips on how to: zero waste takeouts, zero waste travelling
    • Opportunity to ask your burning questions about living zero waste

Make sure to bring your jars and containers to get all the ingredients you’ll need 😊!

My Quest to Find the Most Sustainable Toothbrush + Giveaway

Boy, it has been ages since I last wrote about sustainable toothbrushes. My dear Instagram followers know that I went really far down the rabbit hole on my quest to find the most sustainable toothbrush ever since. I thought all I had to do was to read the product information and compare the different bamboo toothbrushes on the market, but oh, was I wrong…

The Truth about “100% compostable” or “100% plastic-free” Toothbrushes

Well, just like many people’s Facebook relationship status, it is complicated. There is no perfect toothbrush, but some choices are better than others. Do not get me wrong, most manufacturers I know of do strive to make their toothbrush as sustainable as possible. They are a passionate bunch, trying to make this world a better place. But it just isn’t an easy task they took on.

Most of these toothbrushes have a bamboo handle. This makes a lot of sense, because bamboo is antibacterial by nature and a ridiculously fast growing plant. Some, but very few, stick to local wood. Both are great options. However, this is the easy part.

Pig Hair

What’s tricky is the material of the bristles. There is always the traditional option of using pig hair. Yes, 100% natural and compostable, but not quite cruelty-free. What’s more, pig hair is hollow inside, making it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. You can still find wooden toothbrushes with pig hair if you want to, especially in Germany and Austria, where the traditional craft of making brushes from natural materials is still very much alive. If you do want to go for this option, I would recommend you to sterilize your toothbrush with boiling water every couple of days.


A while back, nylon-4 was all the rage. Nylon-4 is a petroleum (= fossil fuel) based plastic that is said to biodegrade within months. Long story short: Nylon-4 seems to be biodegradable (≠ compostable), as studies like this one suggest. Sadly, in reality, all is not gold that glitters. True nylon-4 is hard to come by due to a lack of manufacturers, and many suppliers sell fake nylon-4. So many sustainable toothbrush companies thought they were making truly 100% bidegradable toothbrushes, followed by a rude awakening.

100% Bamboo Viscose

Recently, I have seen several new toothbrushes popping up, claiming to have completely plastic-free bristles made from 100% bamboo viscose. These toothbrushes are said to be 100% biodegradable. This is weird, because as of now, there was no way to produce bristles out of bamboo viscose without adding plastic. The material would break while being formed into bristles. Bristles made from 100% bamboo viscose would be a huge break through—and yet there is no patent and no news surrounding this groundbreaking innovation.

Well, a simple way to check is by burning it. Synthetic materials like plastic will smell really bad, the smoke will be black and the material will melt as opposed to burning clean. (Detailed table here) So far I haven’t seen or heard of any of these bristles burn clean like 100% “natural” material would. I believe it is the same issue as with the nylon-4 suppliers, and it seems like many toothbrush brands were not aware of it when I told them about it.

You can read more about this issue here and here.

So what is the best choice?

In the end, it is always up to each and everyone of us to decide. Pig hair is definitely not something I would personally want to brush my teeth with. So for me, Brush with Bamboo is the best option, because they have managed to minimize the amount of plastic in the bristles to 38%. The other 62% are Castor Bean Oil. The plastic is regular plastic derived from petroleum.

This new bristle that we are now using is the best available option. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. (Brush with Bamboo)

The entire toothbrush is chemical-free and BPA-free.

Brush with bamboo is eager to try to find solutions to ultimately make the toothbrush completely plastic-free and compostable, while keeping it vegan. Right now, they are testing different bioplastics in their machines and are also searching for all-natural materials. Really, you just have to admire this kind of dedication!

The handle is organic and from wild grown bamboo. It is not a bamboo species that pandas eat. What I really admire is the fact that they have a full-time American-managed team on the ground in China ensuring worker safety, cleanliness, and good working conditions.

The packaging is fully compostable. The outer box is made from recycled paper–no glue or tape–and can be put into the paper recycling or be composted. The wrapper is derived from corn starch and compostable in commercial/city composters within 30 days. It would probably decompose in a backyard composter or a worm bin as well, but would take considerably longer because of the lack of heat (at least 130ºF/55ºC).

Corn production is controversial, so I asked Ro from Brush with Bamboo if a paper sleeve would be an option. The German toothbrush hydrophil uses a pretty low tech paper sleeve. Unfortunately, in the US, the wrapper needs to be sealed, or they might get sued. However, they are very aware of the problems with corn production and do not support the practice. This is the reason why they are working on a new cellulose wrapper made from FSC certified wood cellulose. It is still in the testing phase, so fingers crossed!

I had had my eyes on their toothbrushes for a while now to be honest! But until recently I was living in Germany and so I stuck to my bamboo toothbrush with BPA-free nylon (= plastic) bristles that I could buy in the vegan health food store just a ten minute walk from my home. When my husband and I relocated to Vancouver, Canada two months ago, I knew this was the toothbrush we would have to get our hands on!

©Brush with Bamboo

However, if you are not set on having a toothbrush and open to exploring other options, you could consider miswak or neem chewing sticks as 100% natural options! I have tried miswak, but have yet to try neem sticks. Both miswak and neem are used very similarly. If you live in the US, lucky you! Brush with Bamboo sells neem sticks from a farm in Florida in a paper-only packaging! Unfortunately, they cannot ship neem sticks to Canada due to some stupid regulations for agricultural products. It is quite difficult to get both miswak or neem sticks without plastic packaging. Trust me, I have tried. If you do, however, these are the most natural and eco-friendly options! They do take some getting used to and of course practice. I myself have not mastered the technique yet, but even with my poor fine motor skills my teeth felt very clean afterwards.


You can win one of six 4-pack of Brush with Bamboo toothbrushes. Winners can choose whether they would like a 4-pack of adult toothbrushes, kids’ toothbrushes, or two of each.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on either this blog article or on my Instagram post. What toothbrush do you currently use? Have you ever used a bamboo toothbrush? Are there stores that sell bamboo toothbrushes where you live or do you have to order them online?

The giveaway is open to blog readers and instagrammers from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Please keep in mind that all orders are shipped from the Los Angeles office in Diamond Bar, California.

This giveaway ends on Sunday, May 7 at 11:59pm PST. The six winners will be chosen by random and announced on Monday, May 8. Please make sure you leave your email address when you comment on the blog post. Only I can see your email address, and I will only forward it to Brush with Bamboo if you win.

*This giveaway is sponsored by Brush with Bamboo, which means they pay me for running this giveaway. Brush with Bamboo also sent me some of their toothbrushes to use and to take pictures of, as well as their bamboo straws (which are very cool by the way) and a travel case. However, they did not tell me what to say or choose the topic of this article. I did send them the article before publishing it to receive their feedback and to make sure my facts were correct.

How to “zero waste” in official meetings?

When people hear about my zero waste lifestyle, they ask me all sorts of questions, oftentimes very personal ones too. And they also ask about tips on how they can reduce their waste. However, I do not have kids, pets, and do not have to organize or host conferences or meetings. So there are many things I cannot tell you from first-hand experience. I cannot tell you how lucky I always feel when other people, like Franziska and Mateja, offer to share their experiences on my blog with all of you 💚!

Franziska is a PHD student at my alma mater, the University of Osnabrück in Germany, and part of the research project on sustainability, eCoInnovateIT. She’s definitely one to walk the talk! Mateja is Franziska’s close friend, student assistant and specializing in European Sustainability Policy.

Both of them decided to make their last project meeting waste-free! And here’s how this went down 😜.

Meetings might be similar all over the planet. Many cookies are eaten, carbonated or non-carbonate bottled water (mostly in plastic) and many liters of coffee are drunken. At the end, the hard-working staff has produced a huge amount of waste – independently of the institutions’ claim to practice sustainability or not. These were our thoughts, when we started the planning for our next project meeting. Isn’t it strange to research about sustainability and to nosh all that sweets with three layers of plastic packaging in a meeting? Thankfully, Franziska is fully in swing of zerowaste as she is writing here phd thesis on sustainable consumption. And now: our experience and the most important to-dos and not to-dos in detail. Read More

Zero Waste Tag | Tea With Shia

Grab a nice, hot, yummy cup of tea, and let’s talk trash 😁! My favorite kind of talk LOL.

I have recently started to dip my toes into the big youtube lake. And there, the Zero Waste Tag has being going around youtube like lice in a pre-school, which, unlike, lice, is a good thing though 😝. Fellow zero waster Christine from Snapshots of Simplicity (blog | youtube) kicked off the tag last October.

In light of all the zero waste bloggers out there, I thought it would be great to start a zero waste tag — we all have different stories, motivations, favorites, and perspectives, but we all come together and unite in our passion for reducing waste!

When Christine told me about the Zero Waste Tag, I loved it and instantly decided I would also film a Zero Waste Tag video. Of course I started out by watching all the other Zero Waste Tag videos aka procrastinating LOL, but in a very inspiring way 💚.

A big shoutout to Christine for starting the tag!
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3 Truly Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions

We can probably all agree that 2016 was quite the 💩  year with a disturbing amount of major political #facepalm moments, which were and still are hard to shake off. I actually made the mistake of starting this article with a recap instead of just the resolutions. I basically ended up showing 2016 the finger🖕 in only 600+ lengthy words, talking about Brexit, Trump, this year’s oh-nevermind-Trump-just-got-elected-let’s-just-binge-eat-ice-cream-instead UN Climate Change Conference, terrorism, out-of-the-closet xenophobes, homophobes, and of course racists, war in Syria, Fortress Europe, and twisted American bathroom bill discussions. Aaaanyway, I decided to not bore all of you with these old news in order to end this disturbing year on a more positive note: What can we do to make 2017 a better year – for the planet, the animals, everyone around us 💚  and most importantly our own sanity, because I know I for one cannot bear another year like this one. So pour yourself some numbing substance (or a stimulant – your choice) and let’s roll up our sleeves and get this mess cleaned up 💪! Read More

How to make hairspray with only 2 ingredients

This recipe is ridiculously easy, and yet super effective! One of my Instagram followers once told me punks in the 80ies used this homemade hairspray to style their mohawks! And judging by how hubby’s hair doesn’t move even a bit in the stormiest weather I have no doubts punks used to love this simple fix.

But fear not – you don’t HAVE to make your hairspray THAT over the top effective. That’s the beauty of making your own products. You can customize them to fit your very individual needs. Read More

Homemade Vegan and Zero Waste Kimchi

OMG, I LOVE kimchi 😍! Kimchi is a truly addictive traditional Korean fermented side dish, mostly napa cabbage 💚. Buying kimchi in bulk can seem difficult. In Asian supermarkets it is usually sold in cans, and it is pretty pricy too!

You might be surprised though, because most restaurants that have kimchi on their menu will sell it “to go” and agree to put it into your container 😊💕! Do be warned though: traditionally, kimchi contains fish sauce, so it is not a vegetarian dish. However, some restaurants that make their own kimchi do not add fish sauce to make it vegetarian-friendly.

I have been making my own kimchi for a couple of years already, even before we went vegan and later zero waste. Initially, it was because kimchi is indeed very pricey when you buy it in stores or from restaurants, and as a college student on a budget with a fermentation-crazed mom it just made sense to make it myself.

I have been asked countless times to post my now vegan kimchi recipe, but to be honest, I don’t follow a strict recipe but rather put in what I feel like would be nice and what we can get (e.g. we ran out of chili flakes 🌶 so I put in pickles chilis instead), and I only eyeball 👀 portion sizes 🙈.

Since I went vegan, I went through many vegan kimchi recipes to get the right pungent and umami taste, and I do base my freestyle kimchi based on The Simple Veganista’s awesome vegan kimchi recipe, since it is straightforward, uses simple ingredients, and is just sooo delicious! Read More

FAQ: Conkers aka horse chestnuts as an all-natural laundry detergent 💚

Last year my friend Vany wrote this really cool guest post explaining how to use horse chestnuts as a laundry detergent, how to dry them in order to use them all year long, and also why soap nuts come with social problems and actually aren’t very eco-friendly.

We, too, made the switch back then and after a year we still love it! This year we had a tough conkers competition going with the neighborhood kids who were also collecting some for totally boring reasons like playing with them 😝. I posted this on my Instagram and Facebook and got a lot of questions.
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