The Trailhead of Zero Waste

As a scientist (and a human being) who is very concerned about climate change and rampant consumerism, I do my best to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I purchase locally-grown food when I can afford to, and to avoid food waste, I keep as little food around the apartment as I can to avoid spoilage. My husband has replaced most of our lightbulbs with LED bulbs that are more energy-efficient, and I’ve made the switch from dryer sheets to wool dryer balls.

Still, we have a long way to go towards becoming a zero-waste household.

One of my friends recently invited me to a Facebook group called “Journey to Zero Waste”, where people share where they are on their way to a waste-free, plastic-free life. My friend has also shared his recipe for homemade laundry detergent, which I will share here.


Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar of fragrance-free castile soap
1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda
1/2 cup of baking soda

First, you melt/dissolve the castile soap into 1 gallon of water. This is easier to do if you grate the bar of soap first. Then add the borax, the washing soda, and the baking soda. Stir until everything seems equally distributed. Let it sit overnight, or for eight hours. In the morning, or after several hours, you’ll see that it has become a jelly-like substance. Add another gallon of boiling water, stir, and pour into the final container.

If you would like to add fragrance to the laundry detergent, add a few (read: three to five) drops of essential oil to the mixture after adding the borax, washing soda, and baking soda.

Why make your own detergent when you can just buy detergent? Here are a few reasons. One, pre-made detergent may contain chemicals that decrease the lifespan of your clothing. This means your clothing wears out quicker, and has to be replaced more often, which contributes to fast fashion and over-consumerism. Two, it is cheaper per ounce to make your own detergent. If you’ve ever been to the grocery store, next to the item’s price, they will list the price per unit or price per ounce. The ingredients above are much cheaper per ounce, and you can make several times the amount of detergent with one box of each ingredient. Three, the ingredients above are less likely to come packaged in plastic. Borax, washing soda, and baking soda are all sold in cardstock boxes, which are recyclable. I chose Kirk’s castile soap for three reasons. One, it was wrapped in paper, which can be recycled. Two, it did not contain palm oil, which is harvested at the expense of orangutan habitat. Three, it was half the price of the more-popular Dr. Bronner’s.

Below are some easy, inexpensive changes you can make right now to reduce your waste.


Instead of this……buy/make this
dryer sheetswool dryer balls
pre-made detergenthomemade detergent
food packaged in plasticfood packaged in paper/foil
single-use, plastic water bottlescarry a reusable, refillable water bottle
single-use, paper coffee filtersreusable, washable coffee filter
single-use, plastic shopping bagsreusable, washable shopping bags
incandescent or fluorescent bulbsLED bulbs
single-use, paper tea bagsloose-leaf tea and reusable, washable tea infusers
single-use, plastic produce bagsreusable, washable produce bags, or no produce bags

It’s important to note that if you throw out the items in the left column and buy the items in the right column, you are still contributing to waste and consumerism. Continue to use the items in the left column until their lifespan is complete, and then replace them with items from the right column.

Be kind to Mother Earth. She’s the only one we have.

Happy trails!

One thought on “The Trailhead of Zero Waste

  1. Thanks for sharing! I had already adopted a few of the habits you mentioned, but I added reusable grocery bags this week thanks to your encouragement! Thanks for sharing and for the new recipe for detergent. I have never made my own but now I think I’ll try!

    Liked by 1 person

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