Does your husband live zero waste too? How did you get him to join in?
Hanno, my husband, and I are in it together 😜. We are both equally cra-cra, so we just went for it. Even though we have been married for 8 years (and together for 12), my mom still wonders how anybody could be in a relationship with her “overly complicated” daughter. And as she likes to remind him: “She is YOUR problem now…” 😂
How and when did you get into Zero Waste?
We didn’t really have an epiphany, so I cannot say for sure. It must have been September 2014, after we stumbled upon a video on Béa Johnson when I was checking my Facebook. Back then, I published an article on being inspired by Zero Waste on my cake blog (it’s in German though), and wanting to add some of these things like buying our produce in bulk or replacing some other products into our routines. However, we only intended to reduce the amount of trash we produced, we didn’t really intended to go zero waste. But one thing led to another, and we kept learning new things and ways, and we still are…
Why do you still dye your hair? Wouldn’t not dying it be more eco-friendly?
It definitely would be! I just don’t feel I’m there (yet?). I have had crazy hair cuts and colors for years, they feel like a part of me and a way of expressing who I am. I have dyed my hair black again for some job interview, but that made me feel so plain and miserable. I do hope that one day, I will be able to be less vain or conceited, but that will take time.
Do you use natural hair dye?
No, I don’t. You just can’t get these kinds of loud colors with natural dye. I use the (I think French) brand Directions. They are vegan, cruelty-free, and they come in a transparent PET cup, which I know is recyclable.
I let a hair dresser bleach my hair once a year, asking for as little foil as possible. I’d LOVE to dye my entire hair, but I make do with chunks, so I don’t have to get the roots done every other week. I apply the colors myself without any foil. Instead, I use an old, ultra sexy plastic shower cap with flowers on it. I leave the color in for 7 hours (yup, SEVEN HOURS), this way it will stay in longer too. I wash my hair with rye flour and instead of conditioner I rinse my hair with 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar + 1 cup of water. Unlike regular shampoo, this will not just wash all of the pigments away.
So this way I only have to re-do my hair every 1.5 to 3 months depending on how well my hair was bleached. This way I don’t even need one cup of hair dye per year.
Very personal questions
How do you wipe your butt? You do still use toilet paper, don’t you??
Sort of. We only use toilet paper when we are not at home. Did you know that toilet paper very often contain harmful substances like BPA (if it’s mad from recycled paper, bc ppl still put their BPA-coated receipts in the paper recycling), and it is usually heavily bleached and dyed? Also, the rubbing can irritate your sensitive private parts and sometimes toilet paper kind of, um, desintegrates a bit and what stays down there isn’t too hygienic either.
We have lived in Tokyo for a year, where we have learned to appreciate bidets. Many Japanese toilets have a bidet feature, and they will even blow dry your butt clean. No kidding! Back in Germany we could not install one in our rental since all plumbing is hidden behind a wall. So we now use just use a waterbottle + soap (for no. 2’s, but not on the lady bits), since it is said to be the most hygienic and healthy option. Trust me, u will feel so clean and refreshed afterwards, as if your bits just came out of the shower. I mean, they kind of just did, right ;).
Do you still use condoms?/What kind of contraception do you use?
I have been married for over 8 years, and been in a committed relationship for more than 12 years. I stopped using condoms a long time ago (I have had the hormonal IUD for the past 12 years). However, I do believe that there a many situations where you should NOT avoid the rubber. If you do use a condom, go for the more sustainable versions that are vegan, fairtrade, and very often without harmful chemicals. Do check out this article I wrote on contraception and zero waste.
But you still use tampons, right?
I actually haven’t used any for 12 years! Very soon after I got the IUD my menstruation kind of faded away. I do have some spottings every other month, so I have cloth panty liners for these rare days, but that’s about it. If you are looking for a more sustainable and a lot healthier option, do give menstrual cups/moon cups/diva cups are try. Almost all women I know that use them feel so liberated and love their cups! I say almost because I have heard from one lady that she has been having troubles with either getting it in properly or the cup size. Check out this buzzfeed video where women test menstrual cups and/or this review by Kiera Rose, who basically says what all these women have been telling me.
More frequently asked questions
Do you supplement vitamin B12?
Is there a zero waste option for plant-based milk?
What blender do you use to make your plant-based milk?
What is the zero waste vegan butter substitute of your choice?
What about zero waste vegan whipped cream?
What about zero waste vegan cheese substitute products?
Don’t bulk stores just generate as much trash? Do I really create less trash by buying in bulk, or do I just leave the trash in the store?
Isn’t a zero waste lifestyle very expensive?
Why is decluttering considered zero waste? Isn’t it creating more trash?