Simple Tip: Taking Care of Bar Soaps

Bar soaps are a holy grail product for low-wasters. You can often find them without any packaging and once they are used up, they’re done. No bottles or pumps or lids to recycle or trash. No waste. It’s awesome. However, these wonderful creations do require a little bit of care to get the most use out of them.

First up, soap dishes. My view: the best soap dish is one you already have. You don’t have one lying around? This is the perfect time to use unused jewelry dishes, a small fancy plate, empty candle jars, empty jam jars, Altoid tins… any jar/plate/trinket dish that is shallow and wide. I personally use an old candle jar + a trinket dish at home and a Lush tin + a random old gum tin when traveling.

But what’s more important than where you place your soap? It’s how you keep your soap dry when not in use… a constantly wet soap bar that doesn’t have time to dry out is a soap bar that becomes mushy and dies in a week. Enter the soap lift or soap saver (examples here and here). In addition, I use a sisal soap saver (like this one) for my body soap bar to help exfoliate my skin, keep my bar hung up and dry between use, and to corral small soap slivers together.

And, a final tip: if you get your hands on a large bar of soap, use a knife and cut the large bar in to smaller pieces. This way, you aren’t getting a massive bar of soap constantly wet (and, therefore, wasting a large amount of it).

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Spring Sprucing To Dos

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

William Shakespeare

Ah spring. The time for fresh starts and spring cleaning. Although I try and keep up with everything year round, I like to go extra hard in the spring in preparation for the brutal Texas summers. I want everything as streamlined, minimized, and light/airy as possible. So here’s my spring to do list (and hopefully you get some ideas as well)!

Purge

  • Expired or unneeded OTC medications, vitamins, and prescriptions. (You can safely dispose of these at certain Walgreens locations.)
  • Extra cords and chargers. (Drop these off at your local tech recycling.)
  • Unused hangers. (Donate to Goodwill or other similar store.)
  • Ripped and worn out towels and blankets. (Drop these off at your local animal shelter.)
  • Decor items that went unused this past holiday season. (Donate to Goodwill or other similar store.)

Clean + Reorganize

  • De-pile sweaters and winter wear before storage.
  • Wash winter bedding and blankets before storage.
  • Clean out receipts and other trash from purses and wallets.
  • Re-organize car kit and donate/give away to friends any excess reusable bags.
  • Clean out the fridge/freezer of any expired or unwanted food items. (Remember to recycle any glass, plastic, or aluminum packaging.)

Fun Stuff

Boring Stuff

  • Make sure all light bulbs in the home are LED — 4 years later, we realized that we never changed the incandescent light bulbs in our closet!
  • Swap out all water and air filters in the home.
  • Call pest control for a treatment before summer.
  • Touch up the walls and baseboards.
  • Install fans in bedrooms before summer.
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Simple Tip: Digital Business Card

The business card. Useful but wasteful. Those tiny cards add up in piles around your home, wallet, car, and office — sometimes used, sometimes forgotten. Why don’t we move on from this somewhat antiquated (and wasteful) form of exchanging information?

I know some fancy paid apps exist where you can create/share/collect specialized digital business cards. But I prefer to keep it a bit simpler than that. I used Canva (feel free to use your editor of choice) to create a super basic image with my contact information. Then, I keep the image on my phone and backed up in my email. And that’s it. When anyone asks me for my information at a networking event, I’ll either quickly text or email them my business card image file or, (in a pinch), let them take a photo of the picture.

Business card template.
Business card template.

Similarly, I also decline other peoples’ business cards and opt to take a photo of their card instead. So. There you have it. An easy way to avoid accruing tiny pieces of papers with peoples’ emails listed.

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Simple Tip: Fast Food Waste

While I would love to eat healthy, organic home cooked food every day… that’s not how life goes. I travel, I PMS, I get lazy… so yep, sometimes, I get fast food. Everything in moderation, right? However, fast food isn’t the most zero waste choice around. BUT. There are ways to drastically reduce the amount of trash you produce from your fast food jaunts. Here are my tips:

  1. Go inside to get your order instead of going through the drive through. My experience with the drive through is they regularly miss you saying no to straws, napkins, etc. When you go inside, you can better articulate that you don’t need any of the extra items that are automatically thrown into the bag. Which leads me to tip two.
  2. When inside, order your food “for here.” This way, the bag, the napkin, etc. aren’t provided to begin with (most of the time at least). You can then just take your (usually) paper wrapped items, put it in your own reusable bag, and walk out.
  3. If you order a drink, bring your own tumbler or mason jar to fill up at the soda fountain (Whataburger even has their own fancy tumbler). I’ve never had any issues doing this. But more often than not, I forego the drink, and drink whatever I have at home.
  4. Keep your preferred condiments at home or work so you can say no to the tiny hot sauce/ketchup/mustard/red chili flakes/etc. packages.
  5. Compost your paper wrappings such as those that surround burgers and tacos. Compost pizza boxes (or at least recycle the portions of it that aren’t greasy).
  6. And finally. Know your local joints. At this point, I know which taco place gives take out in paper bags versus plastic. And which burger joints give fries in paper wrapping instead of the plastic-lined cartons. Order food accordingly.
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Move 27 Items In Your Home

Have you heard of the Feng Shui idea that moving 27 items can change your life? I think “change your life” might be a bit of a stretch BUT moving 27 items can get you out of a rut, make you feel less stuck, and just allow for better energy in your home. Moving can entail both getting rid of things or shifting an item’s position in your home. This is something you should do at least seasonally. I find that it allows you to evaluate the items in your home consistently and ask yourself whether you still need it/love it/want it. And sometimes moving an item can make it feel “new” in a way. Here are the items I tend to move around the house on a seasonal basis (some of these (such as laundry) are done weekly).

  1. Candles: recycle or reuse empty glass jars; move candles to different spots on your coffee table or kitchen counter.
  2. Coffee table books: restack your books or trade out books from your bookshelf to coffee table.
  3. Cook books: donate the ones you no longer use; reorder the ones you keep.
  4. Throw blankets and pillows: shake them out; run them through the dryer; move them to the opposite end of the couch.
  5. Photographs/Artwork: switch out the prints in your frames; move a painting to a different room.
  6. Baskets: move your catch call or blanket basket from one corner of the room to another.
  7. Benches: swap the entryway bench with the one in front the bed.
  8. Small plants: reorder the plants/succulents in the patio and bathroom.
  9. Fruit bowl: move the bowl to a different part of the kitchen.
  10. Lamps: swap/move floor or desk lamps to a different spot that allows for light to hit in a new way.
  11. Toothbrush: ditch old toothbrushes or brush heads.
  12. Laundry: put up any clothes that are still sitting in the basket; do a load of laundry with whatever is sitting in the hampers.
  13. Seasonal bedding: swap out heavy blankets for lighter ones or vice-versa depending on the season.
  14. Old pens/writing utensils: send old writing utensils to Pen Guy Art.
  15. Bags of items to donate: take those bags of unused items that you’ve collected to the donation location of your choice.
  16. Electronics to recycle: take old batteries and electronics to local electronics recycling center.
  17. Trash cans: empty these out.
  18. Duplicate items: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
  19. Single purpose items that are never used: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
  20. Pet beds and toys: shake these out; give them a wipe; move them to a different spot on the floor.
  21. Small electronic device like an Apple TV: wipe these down; move over a few inches or to other side of the tv.
  22. Tsotchkes: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; move the rest to other spots in the house.
  23. Mugs: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; rotate the rest between mug holder and cabinet.
  24. Coats/outerwear: rotate order in coat closet.
  25. Canned food: take unopened cans to local food pantry.
  26. Snacks: take unopened snacks to local food pantry; compost stale or expired items.
  27. Vases: swap locations of vases in the house.
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