When I first started zero-wasting, I binge-read a lot of zero-waste/ eco/ green- mummy blogs. I got sucked into a vortex of (sometimes) complex recipes with specific ratios, ingredients I had never heard of/ that I would need to buy more packaged items to make one item…
As I usually tell my bosses (sometimes to their alarm) I am extremely simplistic and my mind works on such a basic level that my thought processes are more like basic rough-drawn cartoons rather than a Monet masterpiece (better than a Picasso, I guess?). So all these recipes- not for me. So I went with my instincts and just used what works. There are gorgeous pictures out there with thrifted glass bottles up-cycled into spray bottles etc. However- one principle of zero-waste is to re-use- So when I used up a cleaning spray I pulled off the label and filled it up. I figured out how to pull the little nozzle at the top of a toilet cleaner off, so I could fill it up and still use it functionally as a squeeze bottle. An old tin paprika shaker got filled with baking soda and sits by the sink in the bathroom- pretty and functional.
It’s all about basic principles:
- baking soda= abrasive, seems to attract/ suck up dirt/ grime, gets fizzy when mixed with vinegar
- vinegar= acidic, cuts through grease, deodorises, disinfects
- essential oils= fragrance, tea tree/ eucalyptus= anti-microbial, cleans grease, good for cleaning off gooey residue (like sticky labels on jars)
- castille soap= made from vegetable oil/ olive oil, add for extra grease-cutting power
- soap nuts= natural saponification agent, conversation starter 😉
By using basic principles, you can apply these to different situations (just like solving mathematical problems= nerd alert)
- Squeeze bottle with 100% neat vinegar. I buy mine as a refill from Goodies and Grains (Adelaide Central Market), but you can find it in glass at most places. If you can only find it in a plastic bottle- get the biggest bottle you can to cut down on overall packaging
- Bathroom spray bottle filled with 1:1 vinegar: water
- Baking soda in a shaker
- I start by sprinkling the toilet bowl and all surfaces with baking soda
- Using the vinegar spray, I spritz all surfaces (cistern, bowl etc) let it fizz a bit and give it a wipe down
- I then squeeze some neat vinegar into the bowl and scrub with a toilet brush and let it sit for a while before flushing- that’s it!
- **Note: My toilet brush is still plastic (I can’t justify a beautiful Redecker set- yet! And yes I can use a washcloth- but my OCD tendencies won’t let me plunge my hand inside a toilet bowl. I use either a non-disposable washcloth to wipe the surfaces, or I usually bring home any napkins we weren’t able to refuse at restaurants/ cafes whilst eating out- which then get composted afterwards
All-purpose cleaning spray
- 1:1 vinegar: water in a spray bottle (have you sensed the trend?), a dash of castille soap (can be bought in liquid form in bulk at the Soap and Honeyshoppe, Central Market Arcade), a few drops of eucalyptus oil (The HoneyShopped can refill your essential oils), and a couple of used up soap nuts (I don’t know if they really add anything, but they’re fun, and they freak people out 😉 ). I use reusable wash cloths that get thrown in the wash when grubby, or the above mentioned used paper napkins
Baking soda shaker
- Baking soda works pretty hard at our place: Tooth paste, baking (!), sink scrubber, hand scrubber (so useful if you have sticky-dough-hands after kneading shaggy bread dough, coffee grounds work well too), oven cleaner (make into a thick paste with some water and spread it over surfaces, leave for a couple of hours, then spray off with the vinegar spray), deodoriser (fridge, rabbit’s litter tray, drains and sinks), soap scum scrubber, bath soak with epsom salts (also bought in bulk), face exfoliant. I’ve probably left a lot out, but you get the idea. We’re lucky enough to buy it in bulk (Goodies and Grains), but it usually comes in a paper box (with no sneaky inside plastic), which can be recycled.
I always say the same thing- use what works for you, what you like and feel comfortable using. There is no all-encompassing zero-waste bible, we are not a cult. For me, my attention span doesn’t extend to fancy recipes, but with these it’s not too hard. Out of vinegar spray- fill up bottle half way with vinegar, then fill up all the way with water. Done. Go forth and clean 🙂