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I went on an indefinite maternity leave from my role as social media manager at Öko Creations when I had the twins. Now that they’re toddlers and I have so much more spare time (ha ha), I’ve taken on the role once again.
Since I’ve been gone (cue Kelly Clarkson song stuck in my head for the next 24 hours), Öko has come up with some beautiful and functional new zero-waste products for the family, and they’ve also started carrying a variety of other Canadian zero-waste brands to complement the stunning zero-waste textile items they make in-house.
To celebrate my renewed partnership with mes amies at Öko, I have an exclusive coupon code for 15% off all regular priced items in their online boutique. Just use code oko.love.lindsay at checkout to save a few dollars and the planet! Canadian orders of $75 or more ship free, and I promise you can make a $75 order that will go on to save you at least $65 in the long term by replacing various disposable products in your bathroom and kitchen. Shipping for international orders is determined by order size and calculated at checkout.
Although there are just under a billion other crazy things going on in the world right now—and I hope that the second half of 2020 is boring as hell—it is still #PlasticFreeJuly, an initiative meant to encourage folks to eliminate single-use plastic in their lives for an entire month. As we well know, current circumstances have increased the single-use plastic intake of even the staunchest eco-warriors (myself included), but the goal is not perfection. Any time you can replace a disposable item you’d normally buy over and over again for years on end with a durable, reusable alternative or a version with zero or greatly reduced packaging, you’re making a difference. Try to make a #zerowaste swap every month: my coupon code is valid for the rest of the year!
Now until July 26th (or while supplies last), all Öko orders over $65 receive a free set of four reusable makeup pads!
Due to pandemic-related health measures, fewer places have been allowing customers to bring their own bags for bulk items. I’d been getting my coffee beans exclusively using my Öko Creations coffee bag for months before retailers eliminated their bring-your-own-container program, but now I’ve got a pile of foil coffee bags accumulating in my basement. (I’m saving them to potentially use as planters when I start my garden up again next season.)
The same thing goes now for things like croissants, which I used to buy in bulk at Super Store, and bread loaves, which I would get at the local bakery using my Öko Creations bread bags. For now, I’m stuck with clamshell boxes or soft plastic bags that I just hope get recycled when I put them in my blue bin.
But if and when your local retailers do start allowing you to bring your own bags again, I can’t say enough good things about Öko’s hemp-cotton bags. The bags are lined with waterproof, food-grade film to help keep products fresh, and they have a roll down “dry bag” style closure that doubles as a handle. The inside of the bags are seamless, which helps keep crumbs or coffee grounds from getting stuck inside.
You can use these bags for any and all dry bulk goods. I have been known to fill the bread bag with anything from bulk animal crackers to bulk Oh Henry! bars (which disappeared shockingly fast).
How do I love thee, my Öko panty liners and pads? Let me count the ways. The tally is about 450. That is, the over $450 dollars I’ve saved on daily panty liners alone (not including menstrual pads) in the past seven years. There’s also the 45 lb of garbage I’ve kept from landfills. (I did all this math in a blog post back when I only had two kids.)
Öko pads and liners are my favourites because they are super thin while being impressively absorbent. They don’t shift and bunch in my undies, and the metal snaps are thin and non-irritating. I use a panty liner daily, and I use the long menstrual pads alone on my medium- to light-flow days and as a cup back-up on my heavy-flow days (I have to empty my cup multiple times a day, so I need maximum overflow protection).
Here’s a video I recently made explaining why and how I use Öko Pads!
In Grade 1, my son had a project that required him to bring an empty Kleenex box. I had to ask neighbours for one because we haven’t had a Kleenex box in our house for a decade. Handkerchiefs are the bomb! So much gentler on little noses and so much more absorbent, they’re also really easy to care for. I love the little reusable pouch Öko makes for them too!
As for wet wipes, both for bums and for hands and faces, they’re useless compared to Öko’s luxurious wipes and face cloths. For diaper changes, I pair Öko wipes with liniment. If we’re out and about, I usually just moisten a face cloth with water from a water bottle.
Pretty much anything I would’ve once done with a disposable cotton makeup pad I now do with Öko’s reusable makeup pads: first aid for little boo boos, removing makeup or face paint, cleansing my face, even removing nail polish (I dedicate one pad to this purpose since they obviously get very stained). One even serves as a little coaster for my menstrual cup!
A reusable mask is not something I would have anticipated having an opinion on if you’d asked me in February. But, here we are! I love my Öko mask because it’s easy to put on and comes with a nifty strap/headband that you can use to relieve pressure on your ears. For quick trips I don’t find it necessary, but I also love this strap as a headband for my desperately messy ponytail! Öko’s reusable mask is made with two layers of organic cotton and has an opening for a filter.
Öko also has cute print masks by their partner brand, Peakbwa. It comes in child and adult sizes and are made with the most buttery soft organic cotton ever!
Öko’s reusable snack bags have a drawstring opening that stays open wide so chubby fingers can reach in for some grub. The bag is like a little portable bowl! For kids, an Öko snack bag is easier to open than most single-use snack packages, which is important for back-to-school when teachers and lunchroom supervisors have their hands full! The inside is lined with food-grade, waterproof film and can be washed by hand or machine.
Öko Partner Products
Planète Bambou floss is made from real silk from silkworms, so it’s natural and biodegradable. Just keep refilling the cute little glass jar instead of tossing plastic dispensers every few months. The refills come in a little cardboard box and you get two for $7.99. I find a single refill lasts at least three months.
I am ALL ABOUT the bar soap. Yes, pump soap is convenient at the bathroom sink for the kidlets (I refill it at our local refillery), but bar soap has long replaced hand soap in my own bathroom and replaced body wash (which was for sure invented just to sell us more stuff) in the bathtub and shower. Kids can’t “over squirt” a piece of bar soap, and if they insist on playing with it in the water it’s going to survive just fine. I pair my bar soap with exfoliating scrub gloves in the shower.
LOOP soap by Quebec’s Savonnerie des Diligences is made with recovered sunflower oil from a vegan restaurant chain and is “flavoured” with imperfect fruits.
Öko carries a wide variety of bar soaps from Savonnerie des Diligences, but I think the LOOP bar is the most revolutionary!
Filo capsules are concentrated tablets that you dissolve in a spray bottle of water to make a multipurpose cleaning solution. Each compostable package comes with one capsule for a total of 500 mL of cleaning solution.
While some folks are happy to DIY their home surface cleaners, others just want an easy zero-waste solution. Filo capsules are tiny and lightweight, so their eco-impact in terms of shipping to the end user is miniscule compared to bottles of liquid cleaners. The outer packaging can go in the compost, so every time you refill a spray bottle (use an empty one you’ve already got for even more waste reduction), you’re making a difference! I’m onto my third bottle and have used it in the bathroom, kitchen and the kitten nursery!
Lip balm is one of the few items in my bathroom that still tends to come in a non-refillable, non-reusable, non-repurposable plastic tube. I don’t think the compostable cardboard tube is perfect—it’s not as easy to use as the traditional plastic version, and I am a bit worried about it melting in my purse in the summer heat—but I could get used to it.
Okay, so I know you’ve seen ads for these laundry strips …
I have been using Tru Earth laundry strips since October 2019. I use them on ALL of our regular laundry. (Note: I still use Tide Powder on cloth diapers and things with heavy stains or grease stains.) I use them with cold water normally, and I use hot water for our kitchen cloths. Because we have a high capacity washer and I do large loads at a time, I typically use two strips per load. They work in traditional and HE washers.
Even if you switch to Tru Earth strips for half of the laundry you normally do, think about the impact of using 50% fewer jugs or big boxes of detergent, both from a transport and a waste output perspective. Plus, there are no spills and no drips—they’re truly revolutionary.
My husband is a bit of a cotton swab addict, but on my end, I simply stopped using them in my ears and started using a wash cloth instead. Jamming a swab in your ear is not recommended, but it is totally addictive!
When I do need a swab, I use a reusable silicone swab and wash it off. I’ve even used it to touch up a messy nail polish job!
One of my favourite plastic-free switches since I began this journey is swapping liquid shampoo in a plastic bottle for solid shampoo. Solid shampoo lathers up just like liquid shampoo, and it lasts a lot longer. It’s so easy to travel with, too.
Liliblanc solid shampoo is made in Quebec using local ingredients, and there are formulations for a variety of hair types. Our whole family is currently using the Coconut and Honey shampoo for normal hair.
This delightful facial exfoliant has really helped improve my skin. It comes in a mason jar, which is infinitely reusable. A little bit goes a long way, so this jar is going to last me a long time! It is hydrating and gentle enough to use every day. The main ingredients are shea butter and chaga mushroom powder.
I haven’t used a razor in many years. My hair removal philosophy is either “let it grow” or “wax it.”
My husband, on the other hand, needs to shave. (Although he shaves decidedly less now that he’s working from home.) He uses a safety razor and blades instead of expensive cartridges. Instead of shaving cream in an aerosol can or tube, he uses solid shaving cream in a mason jar with his badger brush.
There hasn’t been plastic cling wrap in our house since about 2012, and it’s amazing how innovative you become when you don’t have a convenience product handy! I use plates as lids on bowls of soup, mason jars abound in our fridge as do other reusable containers. Beeswax wraps are my favourite thing to use to wrap up a partially cut cucumber, pepper or zucchini, to cover a cup of half-drunk smoothie or transport a big bowl of salad to a party (which I haven’t done in a really long time ….).
Although there’s nothing “zero waste” about this product, it gets an honourable mention for being awesome in these not-so-awesome times.
I am not an avid user of hand sanitizer. But I remember when Purell first came out, it was all the rage to have it in your purse in high school. During a lull in schoolwork, it was time to Purell the hands and apply a coat of heavily scented moisturizer to my hands. I honestly don’t know why.
Even since having kids, I haven’t systematically carried sanitizer with me. Wash our hands after getting home from school or the playground, sure. I’ve also been known to tote pre-soaped and pre-moistened cloth wipes if I know we’ll be eating and not near a bathroom. When the twins were in the NICU, I bought a couple pumps of sanitizer for use at home, but ultimately I hated how it felt on my hands and just took the time to wash with soap.
Those two bottles of hand sanitizer came in very handy two years later … when suddenly no one could find hand sanitizer anywhere, and I needed it in my car to clean my hands before putting on my mask.
I am still very much team “soap and water” over alcohol-based sanitizer, but in these strange times we live in, I do need to carry hand sanitizer with me, and I need to use it on my kids. I’ve finally found one that doesn’t feel gross on my hands, nor does it seem to be drying them out excessively: Druide’s Alaska Fresh Gel Hand Sanitizer.
I put the gel into a smaller, portable tube for my purse and have the pump at the door for the occasional visitor. When school’s back in September, I’ll fill small containers of this stuff for my kids’ backpacks.
Remember to use code oko.love.lindsay at checkout to save 15% on your next Öko order!