Well, it’s been a whole year. A year of learning, a year of dramatic change, a year of many frustrations, set backs and great strides forward. So, what do I take away from a year of being “zero-waste?” – Eye openers cringe-y moments. Learning how important advocacy is. Sometimes, you’ve actually made an impact on someone you weren’t even trying to and they may not always tell you. Trusting that I AM making a difference. (Shout out to my Momma!) Savings! And a lot of guilt. I cannot indulge without knowing the impact I have had on the world. I am so concerned when I go out and I don’t have my reusable utensils or worse- when I DO have them and I forget! When I run out of family cloth and have to use toilet paper at home. When I finally break down and buy conditioner because a year without it took a TOLL on my hair. (Shoutout to those of you with hair that can withstand ACV and castille- or nothing at all.) So instead of feeling guilty, I’ve adapted- I have focused greatly on the recycling plan in my area, I have researched for hours all of the most economically friendly, vegan and cruelty free options for the things I’m missing out on and focusing on my minimalism. One. Shampoo. At. A. Time. “But that deodorant is seasonal!” Don’t do it, Nicole. WALK AWAY. Find more time to sew more family cloth. Maybe I could make batches for people interested. Find a composting place near by. (Bokashi is TOUGH!) *Side Note*- When I first began writing this post, it was LONG. So I’ve decided to break it into two parts. Beauty and Hygiene will be below and cleaning products, food and clothes will follow. Hair. My hair was dull, my skin was always itchy and I started getting busted blood vessels on my nose and cheeks. Not cute. So I made some changes. My shampoo and conditioner (Beauty and Planet) are vegan, plant based and cruelty free. Paraben, silicone and dye free and is made from recycled material that is re-recyclable. My hair has never been so soft and healthy, it’s growing and shiny. So obsessed. My lotion/face moisturizer of choice was always coconut oil. This actually worked significantly well for the majority of this past year but it has been wrecking me lately. I’ve recently switched to argan oil for my face and plain ol’ shea butter for the rest of me. Makeup: I tried the 100% no makeup thing. I just- can’t. It’s my happy place. However, in lieu of my full faced, fake eyelashed routine- I have simplified greatly. No fake eyelashes, rare lipstick and everything must be vegan. (*cough* e.l.f. *cough*) I have removed 90% of my makeup from my life and only have one of each product at a time. Well, except for foundation because I range from vampire to golden goddess throughout the year. As an added bonus- I clean and send off my mascara brushes to these dope cats that are doing their part to make the world a better place. For dental hygiene, I have tried probably 10 recipes for pastes and powders and loved them all. The one thing I do like to mention in recent knowledge, my hygienist told me that charcoal tends to be pretty abrasive so only use it occasionally. Get yo’self a waterpik. Seriously. I have this one and I love it. I do have to refill it more than once but I appreciate it’s smaller design as I have a small home. Hydrogen peroxide replaces my mouthwash although I have found a couple of recyclable mouthwashes that I’m not totally opposed to. My dental hygiene involves very little “minty” taste. Bentonite clay is one of my favorite things for my teeth as well. (There are actually studies that show that it can reverse minor cavities and I can definitely attest to that!) I have some of my tooth pastes and powders here. Shaving: This one is new to me (and it’s the reason I’ve been writing this blog for three weeks.) I purchased my first safety razor recently. I bought this one and am currently using the blade it came with. It is GLORIOUS. Definitely do some research (or reach out and ask me questions!) before buying and especially before using. As for shave cream, I am currently using this one but I don’t have much of an opinion on it. I haven’t had an issue with razor burn or ingrown hairs yet, so there’s that. Deodorant: I made my own. I am a bartender. I often work 15+ hour shifts. It just doesn’t do enough for me. I tried- for almost a year, I tried. And finally, I gave up. In true Nicole fashion, I researched and I found Schmidt’s. I love it. It keeps me dry all day. It smells great. It’s by far the best deodorant I’ve had eco-friendly or otherwise. Facewash: I currently have two that I am deciding between. Masque-ology I actually just picked up from my Wal-Mart neighborhood market. It looks seemingly vegan on the surface but upon further research- I’m not fully convinced. The rubber masque is marketed as cruelty free here. However, if lack of packaging is more important to you- this is by far a better option for you. There was almost no packaging and the box is recyclable. As far as how I like it- I do. It keeps my blackheads at bay, my skin so soft, it removes makeup well and it smells like Vetiver. The Bulldog I got from The Grove Collaborative (Which is a FANTASTIC site!) All of the products from Bulldog are marketed as vegan and cruelty free- but here we have the pesky, un-recyclable packaging. It also makes my face feel fantastic (say that ten times fast!) and smells wonderful. Drop your favorite face wash in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out! Miscellaneous: I use a natural pumice stone and a sponge loofah, bath salt (both Epsom and pink Himalayan) mixed with essential oils instead of bath bombs and I make my own makeup wipes. What are your favorite beauty swaps?