Five Free Zero Waste Swaps

A lot of people see the perfect pictures on Instagram and think they can’t be zero waste or low waste. The stainless steel containers, the perfectly matching glass jars, it all seems to good to be true. So I came up with a list of zero waste swaps that don’t cost a thing.

1. Save your jars

This is the best tip because saved jars can be used for so many things. When you buy tomato sauce, peanut butter or anything in a glass jar keep it. Just wash it out, take the label off and you have a great zero waste tool. You can use them to freeze soups/veggies/fruit in, pack your lunches in, as a reusable water bottle, as a reusable coffee cup, it’s endless what you can do with it.

2. Save your veggie scraps

You might have seen my post a couple weeks ago on making your own vegetable scraps, but if you haven’t and you want to try check it out. It is a great way to reduce food waste. Instead of tossing your scraps out right away you get to use them.

3. Bring Your Own

Bring your own jar and cutlery with you to festivals, markets, whatever to avoid disposables. Just use the cutlery you already have in your home and bam you have a zero waste kit. It’s better to use what you have than buy a fancy set online.

4. Make your own

Making your own lunches for work, or your own dinners saves a lot of trash (and money). Take out at its best involves cardboard, and worst Styrofoam. You produce less waste by making your own and it’s probably better for you too.

5. Refuse

When you’re offered free samples of food or drinks in plastic cups or paper plates try and refuse it (I know it’s hard to say no to free food). When you go to an event with free things you wont use refuse them. Don’t take the free pen, pencil, magnet if you don’t need them.

Add any other suggestions below!!

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Introducing my Bees

I’ve been a beekeeper for three years (just this spring is the anniversary) and I never felt qualified enough to write about it. I really don’t feel qualified yet! There’s so much to learn that I don’t think I ever will. My mom and I started Shamrock Apiaries after my grandpa’s friend starting keeping some of his bees on my grandpa’s farm. We named our apiary Shamrock because it is the street my grandpa’s farm is on. With Al (Albon Apiaries) as our mentor we started three hives, and in our first summer we caught a swarm and moved up to four.

We name each of our queens after real queens. We have Elizabeth, Victoria, Marie 14055146_10157297437665293_6911574687855759179_nAntoinette and Cleopatra. Elizabeth is the tallest hive and was always the strongest. Sadly this year Elizabeth and Marie Antoinette didn’t make it through the winter. Nether starved, both got sick even though we treated them in the fall sometimes you can’t protect them.

We will be replacing them and keeping the same names. We’re hoping to get one more hive (and name her Ru Paul) but we haven’t decided when we want to do that. Our yellow hives live with Al’s blue ones. The colour doesn’t matter we just like yellow.

We have a solar powered electric fence around them to protect them from raccoons, skunks, and even bears. Although I’m not sure it’s strong enough to stop a bear.

DSC_7161_preview.jpegWe do keep the honey and wax but we’re not in it for the honey. I like to think of it as the rent they pay. We just want to take care of them and learn everything about them. I think of them more as pets than livestock.

We try our hardest to keep the little girls alive. I just love watching them and working with them.

We harvest any excess honey they have in the fall. The brood boxes (the two large ones on the bottom of each hive) carry enough honey for the bees to make it through the winter, and the top boxes (honey supers) are for us. Sometimes the bees don’t fill the honey supers at all. Any wax I get comes from harvesting the honey. We only take the very top layer off of each frame and leave an almost finished frame for the bees to use next year.  I use the wax for candles, lip balms, and hand creams.DSC_6874_preview.jpeg

Beekeeping is getting popular and I think the majority of people doing small scale beekeeping are helping the ecosystem out by keeping the number of honey bees alive up. However many people go into it expecting it to be easy, and not following regulations and laws, which causes the spread of dieses between hives. I just try and take care of my bees as best we I can.

The photos are all by my lovely friend Katey who now has her own photography company you can find their Instagram here , the portfolio here and website here. The photos were taken before she created Little City Lifestyle, but her new stuff is just as good!

(not an ad just showing support for my friend)

Veggie Scrap Broth

Making broth out of veggie scraps is an easy way to give your veggies one last job before composting (or throwing them out if you don’t have access to a compost). It helps prevent food waste! Food waste is a massive problem and using up scraps that would normally not be used is a great step in helping.

I keep the skins of onions and garlic, the peels of potatoes and carrots, the stems of kale, scrapsreally anything in a container in the freezer until I have enough.  It changes depending on what I’ve been eating that week/month. Sometimes I add herbs in as well which adds to the flavour. I only add a touch of salt to my broth because I never know what I’ll end up using it for and you can always add more salt when your cooking. I like adding the onion and garlic skins because it gives the broth a nice dark colour. If I’m making a specific recipe with the broth I’ll add more than just scraps. For pho I’ll add ginger.

The longer you cook it the better. I bring the pot to a boil, then bring it down to a low simmer for hours. I’ll leave it on all day if I can. The longer it cooks the more flavour you get out of your veggies. Just leave it until it tastes and looks good to you.

As it cooks down it will get nice and dark. After that you can strain it and jar it. If you’re going to freeze it make sure you leave lots of room for it to expand in the freezer.

I strain it through a metal sieve to catch all the little bits but you can use a normal strainingcolander as well. I like to strain it into a measuring cup so it’s easier to poor into the jars.

Let me know if you try it and how it goes. For the longest time I thought stock/broth you made at home wouldn’t taste as good as a grocery store one but I really like it. Now that I know how easy is it I make it allll the time.

Do you make broth yourself?

Oat Milk: Easy Vegan Milk

If you follow me on Instagram you know I made some oat milk a couple weeks ago and absolutely loved it! It’s probably as easy to make as my easy nut milk. Oat milk can be made without a high speed blender. As someone who doesn’t have a couple hundred dollars to spend on a blender (I assume most of you are in the same boat) that’s important to me.

In addition to being tasty oat milk also has a low environment impact. According to anstudy on impact of milk ESU services study oat milk is the winner of environmental impact.  The chart is based on making the milks in Switzerland. In Canada we can grow oats, soy and hemp easily which means they have less travelling to do. Almonds can be grown in Niagara but most almonds (80% of the worlds) are grown in California, and need more water. Coconuts and rice have to be imported.
When you make your own milk you can lower the impact more by going plastic free and keeping the “pulp” that’s left over. I always use it in overnight oats but there’s lots you can do.

 Ingredients:

•1 cup of soaked and rinsed oats
•3-4 cups of water
You can flavour it with: one date, vanilla , cinnamon, or coco powder

Method:

•soak your oats in water for 10ish minutes

if using dates pit and soak one overnight (or use boiling water to cut the time)

add all ingredients to a blender

blend on low until smooth

strain once using a mesh filter

strain twice using a mesh filter lined with a nut milk bag, a mesh produce bag, or a cheese cloth

 

Zero waste Dry Shampoo

I love dry shampoos for early mornings. If I have to wake up at 5:00am for work I am not waking up any earlier to shower. My hair is thin and can get greasy so I need dry shampoo. My only problem is that most dry shampoos are in arousal cans, and this is my solution. This recipe can be customized for your hair colour and preference. Any powder will do for a dry shampoo but this combo looks good and smells great. I used baking soda and cornstarch for the base and coco powder for the colour. You can remove the coco powder entirely and add essential oils or cinnamon for scent. For darker or lighter hair adjust the amount of coco powder. I used an empty pill container but you can use what ever you have handy.

Of course this is not the only option. I’ve also used baking soda or baby powder on its own and it worked great. This version is better because it blends into my hair nicely, but if I don’t have time to make it I go simple.

What You Need:

  • Corn Starch/Arrowroot Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Coco Powder (optional)
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • A containerIMG_5607

Recipe:

Mix 1/2 a tablespoon of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 1/2 a teaspoon of coco powder together and seal in an air tight container

Instructions:

Sprinkle some powder right onto your hair or into your hand first (or use a make up brush to apply). Apply to the roots of your hair, the ends of your hair won’t need it. Let sit for a minute, and then brush your hair.

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Let me know if you like it! You might need to customize it for your hair type.

Low waste Lazy Soap

I got a ton of soap molds for Christmas and my birthday last year and haven’t used them! IMG_5593So I decided to give it a go. I wanted my first soap making experience to be so easy a child could do it so I used a soap base. I found a natural honey soap base at my local farming supplies store by chance and bought it. For only a couple dollars of soap base, some dyes and essential oils I made fifteen soaps so I was happy. The soap base was wrapped in plastic but it is still less packaging than fifteen soaps individually wrapped would have had.

I originally made uncoloured soaps but I found that boring and melted them again to add colouring. To add some texture I added some dried lavender from my garden to some, and coffee to an other. I think dried citrus zest would work great too.

All you have to do is melt the soap base. I did so using a double boiler (a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water). I have a specific metal bowl I use for all DIY things so that I don’t have to worry about it being soapy or beeswaz covered and then using it for food.

Once you melt the base pour it into your molds and add whatever you want to it. If you don’t have a mold you can use a silicon icecube tray or make a mold using a box/baking dish and line it completely with parchment paper ( I havn’t tried that yet so if it doesn’t work I’m sorry) and then cut them into squares after.

Have you tried melt and pour soap?

Zero waste Whitening Toothpaste

I’ll be honest I don’t use this toothpaste every day. The switch to zero waste toothpaste is a hard one for me, but I do love this toothpaste. I use this toothpaste mostly as a whitening tool and not as my daily toothpaste, but I know lots of zero-wasters who use a similar toothpaste daily. This easy to make toothpaste tastes great. It will go solid at room temperature (if you live somewhere cold like me) but you just need to rub the bristles in it, and it works just fine. When its warm out (and liquid) you need to dip your brush in. I recommend everyone having their own container since your brush has to touch it. I also think making small batches works best.

Why does it work?

Baking Soda:
I find that the baking soda (or bicarbonate soda) makes this toothpaste whitening (I’m not a dentist, so this is just my own experience). Baking soda is abrasive, so it is great for removing surface stains but you need to be careful it doesn’t damage your teeth. I find that mixing it with the coconut oil helps make it less abrasive.

Coconut Oil:
I’m sure you’ve all heard of oil pulling (swishing oil in your mouth to clean it) by now. Oil pulling was my inspiration for adding coconut oil to this toothpaste. I find I can get the benefits of oil pulling while brushing with this toothpaste. Coconut oil allegedly can reduce tooth cavities and eradicate bad breath. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but I love it in this toothpaste.

Peppermint Oil:
Lastly, I’ve added peppermint oil primarily for flavour, but that isn’t all it does. Peppermint oil has antimicrobial properties and is great for freshening breath. I used peppermint essential oil (which should not be swallowed), but you can use peppermint extract (for cooking) if you don’t want to worry about swallowing it.

 

Recipe:
1 to 1 1/2 tbs of Baking Soda
1 1/2 to 2 tbs of Coconut Oiltoothpaste
1-5 drops of Peppermint Oil
Fist melt the coconut oil and then add the baking soda. The key is to create a paste so add more coconut oil or baking soda as needed. The amount of peppermint oil used is up to you.

 

Tips:

Many other oils can be used for flavouring. Oregano oil and clove oil are often used for tooth aches and are antibacterial. Spearmint and wintergreen are also great flavours to add in.

 

Let me know if you try this and it works for you