Monday, January 22nd, 2018

The Middle – Cleaning and Hygiene

I read something on the Zero Waste Chef‘s blog recently that I thought was important to share:

But don’t beat yourself up if you fall short and bring home contraband. I see lots of confessions on social media from zero-wasters feeling terribly guilty when they slip up (and have posted them myself). You can only do your best. Just keep trying. Changing your lifestyle is a challenge. However, cutting your waste is easier than most people realize.” – Zero Waste Chef

The pursuit of perfection is the enemy of good. Unless you’re coming from a place of trauma, appreciable long term change can take a very long time and dwelling on every little failure is a great way to discourage yourself. We bring home “contraband”. Yes, I do beat myself up for it. It’s probably not healthy that I beat myself up for it, but I tend to tunnel vision when working towards a goal. That’s not an excuse for the behaviour, it’s just honesty. Failure is not a sign we need to quit. It is what it is, and tomorrow we just need to try again.

The nice thing about switching your cleaning and hygiene products to zero waste is that it’s a low mental energy swap. It’s not like going to a coffee shop where you have to remember to bring your mug everyday. Once you know where to find the products and make the swap, you’re good for weeks (if not months). Every zero waste blog I’ve ever read suggests bringing your own bag, napkin, cutlery and coffee mug as being the first changes you should make. If you don’t eat out much, I’d argue you should try swapping your cleaning and hygiene products first. It’s a great set it and forget it swap.

Back to the goods! Some of these changes I started implementing last spring. I actually had to remind myself of how many changes we’ve made up to this point, because they’ve just become integrated into our day to day life. Buying cleaning and hygiene products zero waste is actually extremely easy once you track down sources for it. I’ll let you know where these stores are in Edmonton, but I’ll also link to the companies that produce the bulk items as well. If you contact the manufactures they’ll probably be able to tell you where their products are available for sale closer to your own homes.

First up, good old fashioned bar soap:

I never noticed before, but unpackaged soap is all over the place. Sometimes it’s from larger companies, and other times they’re small batch local artisans. The picture of the display above was taken at Carbon Environmental in High Street, but I’ve also seen unpackaged soap at Bulk Barn, Earth’s Organic General Store, and the Sherwood Park Mall Safeway. This swap alone removes numerous shower gel and hand soap bottles. If you’re okay with shampoo bars, that’s another set of bottles gone as well.

If you’re not okay using bar soap, Carbon also carries liquid hand soap along with their dishwashing liquid and other bulk products:

Scented Castile soap, dish soap, dishwasher powder, fabric softener, laundry detergent:

Glass cleaner, all purpose disinfectant, dish soap:

I picked up a few things here last spring. In mason jars I picked up dishwasher powder and liquid dish soap, while in a couple repurposed 4L milk jugs I purchased unscented laundry detergent. The laundry detergent and dish soap work beautifully, but we’re kinda underwhelmed by the dishwasher detergent. It leaves a film, even when adding vinegar to the rinse cycle. I don’t remember which brand made it 🙁

When filling containers here, you ask an employee to measure the tare weight of the jar, and then select the product you want to fill it with. Given the mess potential, the employees fill your containers for you here. You just tell them what you want and how much you want of it.

In case you’re wondering, using milk jugs for laundry detergent was a good call. The handle and smaller opening make putting soap in the washer quite easy.

One thing Carbon didn’t carry (last I checked) was shampoo and body wash. Earth’s General Store has that covered though. They carry Carina Organics in everything from shampoo for extra volume to baby bubble bath, along with a handful of DIY ingredients (baking soda, washing soda, borax):

Both scented and unscented Castile soap, multiple Carina conditioners:

Essential oils, hand soap, dish soap, dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, citric acid powder, all purpose cleaner:

As with Carbon, Earth’s General Store measures the tare weight of your container for you, and then fills it with whichever product you want. We picked up a citrus scented shampoo in an old Kirkland pump-top shampoo bottle.

We went shopping for these items before I went back to work, and that was over 7 months ago. We haven’t run out of anything yet. If you’re not close to a bulk location, try picking up more in a single trip. You can easily purchase a year’s worth of product at a time. Make the change easy on yourself!

If you don’t live in the Edmonton area, these are the companies that make the products we’re able to purchase in bulk:

If you contact them they should be able to tell you where their products are sold, and you can start from there.

Have you tried shopping for any of these types of products package free? Do know of any other companies that make bulk products? Any leads on dishwasher detergent that works in hard water?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


I'm Cassie.

I'm a petite hourglass, slow adopter, food geek, Engineer, wife and mom. Welcome to the little corner of the internet where I ramble on about random things. Mostly clothes.