Zero Waste: Hygiene

To supplement the information provided in the video, here is a complete list of the hygiene items we reviewed with price comparisons and links.

  • Aftershave: a little coconut or jojoba oil mixed with you favorite essential oils.
    • While the upfront cost is pretty high–you’ll probably spend around $10 for a bottle coconut/jojoba oil and another $10 for an essential oil while you could easily buy a bottle of conventional aftershave for under $10–they go a long way.
  • Air freshener: our favorite options are sage, palo santo, and incense by JackThreads.
    • Depending on where you live, you might be able to harvest sage for free. Other good options are lavender and pine (don’t burn the lavender though! just make a nice bouquet). JackThreads incense goes for about $7 a container compared to around $4 for Febreze.
  • All purpose cleaner: white vinegar!
  • Body & hand soap: any bar soap!
    • Even organic bar soap options, such as Dr. Bronner’s, are cheaper than most packaged body wash and hand soap products.
  • Condoms: like we said in the video, there aren’t a whole lot of waste free condom options and the priority should always be placed on safe sex, not zero waste. Sustain Natural is a really cool company that offers biodegradable condoms and other organic, reduced waste feminine products.
    • Forget about the price comparison for this one, do whatever you can to practice safe sex. If you have the funds to buy Sustain’s condoms, go for it! If not, hopefully your college or local Planned Parenthood has free options for you.
  • Deodorant: although we didn’t show it in the video, we are following this recipe for DIY deodorant:
    • The price of the ingredients plus the time to make the deodorant itself definitely makes this option less accessible. Do what you can!
  • Detergent: white vinegar and baking soda.
    • Remember white vinegar from earlier? Yep, its still $2. Baking soda is even cheaper at less than a $1 (the one we used in the video actually cost 0.74 cents, excuse the typo).
  • Face soap: try to find bar soap that doesn’t irritate your face. Activated charcoal soap works well for us and acts as a natural cleanser.
    • Going for about $5 a bar on the low end, the price is on par if not lower than most other non zero waste options.
  • Floss: floss can be pretty hard. I found a pretty good option at a local store back in Seattle (Puget Consumer Coop) called EcoDent. However, although the box was cardboard, the floss inside was still wrapped in plastic. Wasteland Rebel has a very helpful article on zero waste (and in their case vegan) floss.
    • EcoDent goes for around $3, which is a fairly typical price.
  • Mouthwash: you saw the recipe!
    • As was the case with the aftershave, the essential oils (and potentially gin) are a large upfront cost, however, you’ll be able to make batches on batches once you have all the ingredients.
  • Prescription medication: forget zero waste, just stay healthy. Here’s an article on recycling prescription bottles.
  • Razors: get yourself a safety razor! Or a straight razor if you’re brave.
    • Upfront cost is high ($17) but it’ll last a lifetime if you’re good to it, so you’ll save money in the long run.
  • Shampoo: Lush will reuse their containers! Certain stores also offer bulk options.
    • Lush is veryyy expensive. It’s safe to say that for this item, going zero waste could be too pricey.
  • Shaving cream: coconut oil (try lathering up your bar soap and then adding coconut oil to the mix in your hand). Note: if you have a disposable razor, it will probably clog. Another reason to get a safety razor!
    • You already know the prices for coconut oil, soap, and safety razors.
  • Tissues: handkerchief! You heard the deal.
    • One handkerchief, a lifetime investment, is $4. A single box of tissues is about $2; it’ll pay itself off quick, especially if you have allergies like me.
  • Toothbrush: go bamboo if you’re looking for a traditional option. If you’re feeling adventures, check out Miswak or Neem twigs!
    • A Spry bamboo toothbrush is around $3, only slightly more expensive than a typical plastic toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste: baking soda plus any additives you think might enhance the flavor and texture. We added peppermint essential oil, a little salt, and coconut oil.
    • Zero waste comes out to be cheaper again! Less than a dollar for baking soda compared to around $2 on the cheap end for non zero waste toothpaste.



Day 126 of 159

December 6th marked the end of my study abroad program and, consequently, the end of my Swiss Pass validity (provided by SIT). Knowing that I would never have the opportunity to travel around Switzerland for free again, I tried to fit in a whole rush of trips towards the end of my program. Below are some of the last spots I was able to hit before leaving CH for France.


Day 89 of 159

Carried my camera around Nyon and Geneva for a day to document what 24 hours in my study abroad program looks like.

I’m enrolled in SIT’s Banking, Finance and Social Responsibility program in Switzerland. SIT programs are characterized by homestays and site visits (i.e. field learning). Because I filmed on a Friday, the day is a little different than normal, but the house, commute, campus and thoughts are all there  🙂

Public Issues, Corporate Decisions

     b:wcivicThe success of the nationwide GMO labeling movement has been significantly and unjustly stifled by the lobbying power of corporations in the Agriculture Services & Products Industry like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Agro. The goals of eligible voters have become secondary to those of such corporations who continue to drastically outspend the grassroots movement. These corporations defeated California’s measure to label genetically engineered (GE) foods, Proposition 37, and are doing their best to smother the current initiative measure in Washington, I-522.

    The leading argument against labeling GE foods in Washington is that it would raise prices, punishing the buyer. The claim is, that labeling requirements would force out of state corporations to open new assembly lines specific to Washington, raising costs. However, according to Anita Yandle, a social media coordinator for the Yes campaign in Washington, “that is just false.” She asserts that companies change their labels regularly, for holidays and mascots, without price fluctuation and noted that out of all the countries to impose GMO labeling requirements not one has seen a price increase. Yandle’s claims are backed by those of David Byrne’s, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection for the European Union (EU), who reported that GMO labeling requirements, “did not result in increased costs,” in any EU countries or Norway.

    Besides the erroneous claims of the No campaign, GMO labeling is simply what the public wants. Nationwide and local polls consistently show the American people in favor of GMO labeling. Recent Washington Post and ABC News polls showed 95 and 93 percent of Americans in favor of GMO labeling respectively.

    According to the Center for Food Safety, 26 states including Washington have brought up measures putting some sort of limitation on GE foods this year. From Oregon’s house bill, subjecting GE foods to labeling, to Alaska’s bill, asking for further research and labeling on GE salmon, residents have been fighting for their right to know. Out of the 26 state measures, five have failed to pass, been withdrawn or modified while the rest will be determined this November.

    Last year, California attempted to require GMO labeling with Proposition 37. While it had a strong initial support, an Organic Consumer Fund poll showed over 80% of state residents in favor of GE labeling, the proposition failed to pass.

    With such mass support, why did it fail and why do current measures raise so much controversy? The issue lies outside the proceedings of the citizens, in the hands of the deep pocketed corporate opposers of the cause.

    The Agriculture Services & Products Industry spent $45 million to defeat California’s proposition, while supporters raised under $7 million. It was a David and Goliath type battle with an unhappy ending.

    Now, with Monsanto alone spending over $5 million on the No campaign for I-522, the same situation is brewing in Washington. Ms. Yandle also noted the “mind boggling” amount of money “corporate donors have put in to stop [the Yes campaign] from having a voice.” “They’re everywhere” she said, “just spreading false information and misleading ideas about labeling.”

    Grassroots movements such as GMO labeling are losing their voice in the marketplace to large corporations with deep pockets. As a minor, I will not be able to vote next week. Instead I urge all eligible voters to take action and vote in accordance with what they think is best for Washington not what is best for Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Agro.