Litterati: Zero Waste Trending

Litterati contains some of my most favorite things: puns, maps, data collection, Geospatial analysis, pattern observation, accountability and global connections. Add some animals on the platform and I’m sold (jk, the app is free).

This app allows the user to photograph litter, tag it and upload the information to the global interface. I’m not sure if you guys are aware, but “geo-tagging” is all the rage these days. Remember Pokemon Go? What a great month for the U.S.

Geotags provide insight into problem areas, while keywords identify the most commonly found brands and products. This data will be used to work with companies and organizations to find more sustainable solutions.

Most of us go outside. Most of us are on our phones. Match made in heaven. Next time you’re out for a walk, take some pictures of the trash you encounter and share it on Litterati. Then… throw that trash away obviously. Catch up on their data analysis on the blog!

We’re all just doing what we can, and I know we can all do this.




Zero Waste Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

“Zero waste meal planning” doesn’t always mean “zero meal, wasted planning”… although, I’ll admit sometimes it does end up that way. Here are a few tips and examples of how I’ve survived without plastic in the kitchen.

Grocery Shopping List

  • Black beans (byo container)
  • Butternut squash
  • Quinoa/Rice (byo container)
  • Broccoli
  • Onion
  • Fish (byo container)
  • Turkey- deli (byo container)
  • Cheese- deli (byo container)
  • Bread from the bakery (byo bag)
  • Olive oil (refill container *I do this at Earth Fare in my area*)
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Carrots

Some of these items I can find at my local farmer’s market which is the best option for sustainability. I have had a lot of success grocery shopping in bulk at Whole Foods. They always take my containers with a smile and never make me feel like an inconvenience. For some of my more obscure bulk purchases, I head to Earth Fare (i.e oil, vinegar, spices, etc.).

Tips: BYO Containers

Mason jars are amazing for food storage! However… they are fragile and can be very heavy for those of us who have to walk or bike to the grocery store. I typically opt for plastic tupperware when I head to the store. It can be stacked in your reusable grocery bag so it wont take up much space and its lightweight. My suggestion: transfer your bulk rice, quinoa, beans, nuts, flour, etc. to a glass mason jar once you get home. It will keep your items fresher longer and let’s be honest, mason jars look better than tupperware.

Plan out your trip before you go to the grocery store. On your shopping list, make note of which items will need containers and what size containers they may need.

**make sure you have weighed your containers before you fill them. Either take them to the deli and have them weigh out the containers all at once or make sure you do it at each counter you visit. For bulk food items, at Whole Foods at least, you will need to weigh your containers at customer service first or at the deli counter.**

Things to Keep in Mind

  • buy local
  • choose glass or metal over plastic
  • bring reusable produce bags and shopping bags
  • plan your shopping trip! or… always be prepared for the munchies once you get there


Depending on how the farmer’s market went on Saturday, I’ll have a few different things for breakfast.

French Press & Apples/Bananas and Peanut Butter

A little fun note about french press coffee: it is one of the most zero waste coffee options out there!! If you haven’t tried it out, I strongly suggest it. Your coffee grounds can be composted when you’re done!

Homemade Juice & Oatmeal or Toast



I just really like sandwiches. Sometimes I’ll let myself have chips. Late July chips come in a recyclable bag with TerraCycle… which isn’t zero waste but I’m grateful for it.

Turkey Sandwich & Avocado




Dinner is my most creative meal. Normally I’ll do fish, quinoa/rice, and roasted broccoli, butternut squash and onions. But sometimes… I get creative!

Quinoa & Salmon Bowl

Fish Tacos & Homemade Guacamole/Salsa

Black Bean Burgers with Spicy Mayo & Tortilla Chips


Try it out!

Going zero waste is about changing our behaviors and habits. It doesn’t just happen, we have to actively challenge ourselves to be accountable.

Bidet Mate!

Hello lovely humans!

It’s been a busy and stressful week. I have one word that touches on every emotion I felt the past 7 days: S.H.I.T. Butt not for the reasons you may assume. nailed it.

I treated myself to an adorable bidet from HelloTushy and my life has been forever changed.

When it comes to zero waste I’ve hit 2 roadblocks- 1. periods. 2. toilet time.

I tried, you guys, butt I am seriously not ready to use reusable toilet paper aka butt rags. I may be on that track now that I have a bidet, butt… baby steps. For now, this is what my bathroom set up looks like:

0718181525a.jpgBooty-ful. Don’t worry, I stacked the TP Pyramid just for that picture, I’m not actually that anal. Goodness this is fun.

We got the bidet for $69 (spend $15 more and you can get the “Tushy Spa”, complete with heated water! Oo lala!) and 12 rolls of bamboo toilet paper for $18. I opted for bamboo toilet paper over recycled toilet paper because… well because of these articles: HuffPost, The Healthy Home Economist, The Eco Mum, The Cheeky Panda, and a bunch more. Bottom line: bleach is bad for your butthole (unless.. you do that I guess?), the fluffier our toilet paper is the worse it most likely is for our environment, and the process of turning recycled paper into recycled TP can leave dangerous chemicals behind. Ladies, I’m not gonna sugar coat this: 9 out of 10 conservatives agree, your butt is right next to your vagina (that one just doesn’t want to openly admit it). I may not be an expert when it comes to anatomy butt I do know that most people wipe both… Ideally. And our vaginal PH is very delicate. Not knowing what’s in our tampons and our toilet paper is something we should not settle for anymore.

Butt back to this bidet. It takes 10 minutes to install. No electric connection necessary and all parts included. Except a flathead screwdriver. You’ll need that. The dial helps you control the water pressure and the little lever thingy let’s you position the spout. It’s amazing and I have truly never felt cleaner in my entire life.

The toilet paper came wrapped in paper packaging and the bidet came wrapped in paper packaging as well, you can check out my instagram post for more information on that @alteredecoplanet

P.S- The other title for this post was “Crapshoot- a bums guide to choosing the right bidet”. There really aren’t nearly enough bidet puns out there. Even the Europeans couldn’t help me out!



Straws vs. the Disabled

That’s Potato. She was born without eyes and I love her. Get it? Cause Potatoes have those dimples called “eyes” but they can’t see? Good stuff.

It’s not either/or.

I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me about this topic and while I find it important to acknowledge that everyone has a right to sit at the table and engage in the conversation, I’m not sure we’re all talking about the same thing. I want to point out a couple things about the “straw bans” that have been popping up around the U.S.:

  • so far Seattle is the only U.S. city to ban plastic straws
  • Starbucks is phasing plastic straws out by 2020
  • there is no ban on the production of plastic straws. at all.

Those 3 bullet points are facts. Now I’m going to share my opinion based on those facts.

A straw ban will not save our marine life (that’s probably a fact too). But look how many of you are talking about it now. Look how many people are talking about how this will affect the disabled population. Life is about uphill battles, it doesn’t get easier and every win we celebrate will be met with infinitely more questions than answers. No one is claiming that a ban on plastic straws is more important than the comfort of our fellow human. I can’t think of anyone in my network of zero-wasters that would win a ban on straws and then stop there. This isn’t about straws vs. the disabled. It’s just about us.

There are 2 reasons I choose to use plastic in my life

  1. Health and medical reasons
  2. Legal and safety reasons

Now I’m about to say something that might genuinely offend people so if you have a short fuse, please skip ahead.

If you want to help disabled people, don’t attack a ban on straws. Focus on the next step. Focus on getting legislation in place that will require restaurants to provide plastic straws for customers who need them. If you want to help the disabled, get off your butt and volunteer, get off your butt and vote, and get off your butt and fight for equal access to healthcare. If you want to help people then you want to help the environment. And if you want to help the environment then you want to help people. It’s not either/or. It’s just each of us doing what we can. And most of us can forgo a plastic straw.

So if you’re truly concerned about what a ban on plastic straws will mean for disabled people, then start discussing ways to navigate that issue in a productive manner. We don’t need to keep throwing potential solutions out the window because they alienate groups of people. We need to start including those people in the conversation. We need to invite them to the table and ask them in which ways their needs can be addressed.

Be a part of the solution, get creative, get involved and help each other out.



All of that being said: I am happy that everyone is talking about these potential bans. I am happy that people have been reaching out to share in the excitement or to inquire further. I am happy that big businesses are going out on a limb to try and make a difference in their waste production. But if I could be completely candid for a minute… ya’ll need to calm down about this straw ban. See the straw ban as the small step that it is and keep fighting the good fight. Keep reminding your roommates to grab their reusable bags for the grocery store. Keep picking up trash when you walk your dog. Keep fighting for equal access for disabled persons. Keep volunteering, keep donating. Keep leading by example because you can. And if you can’t lead by example then tell the world why and I promise we will fight for you.

Disabled people need clean air, clean water, clean food and a clean environment too. This is about all of us and we owe it to each other to fight like mad.


Sud Duds: Jury’s still out on DIY laundry detergent

Hello! Thanks for taking a break from your daily Grit and Grind (#GoGrizz #GrizzNation) to explore my most recent trip down the slippery slope that is zero waste living.

Also, free make up remover pads and homemade detergent to the person who can caption the title image. What the heck is going on there?

I made my own laundry detergent. I plopped my butt down on the couch last Sunday, binge watched the new season of UnReal, and grated bars of soap until The Bachelor looked like a down-right reasonable way to find love in our current dating culture. If you are unfamiliar with those shows (thank you, you are whats right about society) then I grated a ding-load of bar soap. Mixed it with 2x baking soda and voila! Laundry detergent.

Sounds like a lovely way to spend an evening doesn’t it? And wouldn’t it be nice if I told you that the story ends there; a picture perfect scene of a stereotypical 20-something doing her part for the environment while feasting on satirical pop culture shows? If only. Like most people I went to class with in college, as soon as I accomplished my task at hand, I immediately hopped online and tried to dismantle the logic of what I had just done.

I typed “DIY laundry detergent is stupid” into the google search engine (because thats what it is, its a search engine. It’s not a verb you crazy Gen Z-ers). This is who I am. I’m the kind of morbid person that feels an ounce of joy or success and instantly I want to debate myself on why I’m wrong. And I always win. That’s the beauty in questioning yourself. You’re always right. Anyway, turns out a lot of people on the internet have some serious beef with homemade laundry detergent. One word: surfactants. Read More

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Alright team, here it is. A list of DIY laundry detergent recipes. Some I’ve tried, some I have not. I’ll let ya know as you read along….

Let’s start with some super hippie crunchy granola all-natural limited ingredient s(t)uds-

  1. POWDER: Washing Soda, Borax & Bar Soap
    • Grate the bar of soap. It’s rewarding but keep in mind, it can grate you back so be careful. I suggest using a coconut oil soap (check this mama out for diy soap recipes)Β  or Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap
    • In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts borax (or leave the borax out… it’s really up to you), and 1 part grated bar soap.
    • Store in a closed container. Tupperware, mason jars, heck if you’re feeling extra crunchy just use whatever container you had been buying detergent in!
    • Use 2 tablespoons per load of laundry
    • Extra tip: run vinegar through your rinse cycle to remove foul odors (both in clothes and in your machine)
  2. LIQUID: Washing Soda, Borax & Bar Soap
    • Grate that bar of soap… or put it in a food processor.
    • Put grated soap in a pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved
    • Put 4.5 gallons of really hot (it’s a scientific term) tap water in a 5 gallon bucket (cause, math) and stir in 2 cups of borax (or not cause ya know, toxins?) and 2 cups of washing soda until completely dissolved
    • Pour the soap mixture from the pan into the 5 gallon buck and stir the best you’ve ever stirred.
    • Cover that sh*t and leave it over night
    • Shaken or stirred (your choice) until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers. Boom. Liquid detergent.
    • Use 1/2 cup per load

Read More

PSA: please wash your reusable bags

I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

Part of the reason disposables are so attractive to consumers is because they eliminate the need for cleaning. Great, cause I mean, who likes cleaning?

If you’re looking to make the leap to reusable items, please know that along with the item comes a lifestyle.

Wash your bags. Wash your cutlery. Wash your handkerchiefs. Wash your beeswax. Wash your containers. Wash everything.

Once I started on my journey, I realized that I was using more water than I had before so to even out my footprint, we went to a rain barrel building class in Alexandria to collect what would become runoff. I ended up giving the barrel to my sister and her husband because it didn’t work with our little rowhome but it’s a great option for people who want to water their lawns and gardens in a more sustainable manner.

We have a basement in our house that will flood in heavy rain so we invested in a dehumidifier. We collect the water from the dehumidifier and use that to water our garden. It helps me feel less guilty when I need to wash extra dishes or napkins.

We’re all just doing what we can. Over&Out


The War on Straws: what does a ban mean?

Starbucks has pledged to be plastic straw-free by 2020. I’ve heard it all to the familiar pessimistic beat of the 21st Century; “too little too late” “this win will distract people from the larger issue at hand” “straws don’t even make up that much plastic pollution, this accomplishes nothing” etc etc etc.

But I’m a sociologist, not an environmental scientist so I can’t remove the collective conscience from this conversation. This isn’t about Starbucks and their impact on the World. It’s about us. Starbucks has pledged to remove straws GLOBALLY by 2020. I hear people say that it won’t make a difference; they have plastic lids and plastic cups and will be producing more and more with plastic. I get their point. But these people who maintain this negative outlook are forgetting about the collective conscience. They are forgetting about how societal norms can be created. Yes, today it may just be straws. But tomorrow, someone who may not have grabbed a reusable mug on their way to work, might just grab one this time. This means that someone who wasn’t going to change their behavior on their own, has the support of a multi-billion dollar company. And that is no small feat.

Look at what we can do. When we make our voices heard. We work within the systems we are a part of and we change them from within. Never forget that the first and most important system we are a part of is ourselves, and change starts from within.

Thank you, Starbucks for reminding us that there’s more we can be doing. We can be grateful that we asked for a ban on straws in our restaurants and communities, and while Seattle may have listened, not many other cities have followed suit. But Starbucks did. They heard you and they said “if you care, we care too”.

What does a ban on straws mean for us? It means that Starbucks is challenging you by asking “you can talk the talk but will you walk the walk?” They said they’re game to play ball while we’re all patting each other on the back for winning a fight we didn’t even participate in. What this means is that big business is up for the challenge, but are you? This may be the final straw for them, but will it be the final straw for you?




UPCYCLE: Creative Reuse Center


Located inside the Durant Rec Center

This place is heaven on earth. Teachers. I may not be able to provide you the yearly salary you deserve or one that will afford you basic supplies like… pencils. BUT I can point you in the direction of this lovely reuse store. UPCYCLE is located in Old Town Alexandria and gives patrons access to a myriad of art supplies and gadgets that would have otherwise collected dust in a drawer or been thrown away. They are partners with ReUse Alexandria, a group that “unites Alexandria’s reuse community and markets Alexandria as a desirable destination for environmentally conscious visitors and residents.” Heck yeah they do! Read More

Zero Waste Alternative: Solar Powered Highway?

Uh what? You heard correctly, solar powered highway. I cannot stress enough how many creative thinkers and innovative engineers are coming together to accomplish amazing feats around the world. I want to make sure you hear about these positive steps toward a better future.

Zero Deaths. Zero Waste. Zero Carbon. Zero Impact.

That is the mission of The Ray which will cover an 18 mile stretch of Georgia’s I-85 highway corridor near West Point’s Visitor Center. Here are some engineering highlights of The Ray and how they plan to achieve their aforementioned mission taken from their website which you should all DEFINITELY check out!!!-

The Ray

maxresdefault Read More

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