When I first got into zero waste a couple of years ago, I quickly discovered the baking soda method for hair washing, sometimes called “no poo”. It involves mixing a small amount of baking soda with warm water and then using that to cleanse your hair, followed by a rinse of very diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV).
The thing that intrigued me was the suggestion that using convential shampoo regularly actually causes your hair to get oily more quickly. As someone who couldn’t go more than a couple of days without washing due to oil buildup in my hair, I was totally onboard with trying this out.
Initial attempts left my hair very dried out, but that was resolved by using less baking soda. And then immediately out of the shower my hair would sometimes already feel greasy, but that I discovered by experimentation was the result of too much apple cider vinegar. Other than these lessons learned, my hair didn’t go through the adjustment period that I heard about everywhere else. Then again, maybe I just had lower expectations for my hair. As long as my hair wasn’t brittle or really greasy, I was happy.
I had been diluting the mixtures more gradually. A year after moving to this BS/ACV method, I was finally ready to get rid of the ACV rinse entirely. After a couple of experiments, this change turned out to be totally fine!
A few more months down the road, I ditched the baking soda. Again, no big difference because I was just moving from a super diluted solution to pure water. The baking soda has to be mixed fresh with the warm water to be effective, so I was super glad to simplify this part of my hair washing routine.
At this point, my hair washing routine involves massaging my scalp with warm water at the start of my shower. Then at the end of the shower I switch to cold water and massage my scalp under the water with my head upside down. I read somewhere that this gives your hair more body, but I’m not sure that’s effective. My hair looks the same either way.
If you’re still reading this, you’re probably ready to see the results.
My hair one day after washing with water.
My hair at the end of the week (right before washing again).
Pretty consistent, huh?
Unfortunately, we already have highs in the 80s here in central Texas. And since one of my hobbies is gardening, that means I’ll be sweating a lot more very soon. So my once-a-week hair washing routine is about to become a twice-a-week hair washing routine. Still, it feels really good to be free from store-bought shampoo and conditioner. It’s one less thing to worry about.
March wasn’t so bad. I’ve enjoyed spending time in the garden rather than at the shops. I bought a couple of items from my wishlist and bought fewer plants than in February, but did acquire more free stuff than expected. And my wishlist is getting longer with big ticket home improvement purchases coming up. Maybe someday we’ll get a boarder for the extra bedroom so at least these costs wouldn’t be for just the two of us.
The days have already been starting to feel hot, so my plant purchases are finally dwindling down a bit. (Maybe next month they won’t require they’re own category?) I did buy yet another citrus tree as a splurge purchase. After all, the kumquat is the one tree that I really wanted to buy but hadn’t been available in the nurseries every other time I checked. Other than that, just a couple of small potted plants and a couple of seed packs. Unfortunately, I’m almost out of seed starting mix (it goes fast once you realize that using fresh mix every time really does prevent damping off) and may have to get some next month.
Meiwa Kumquat tree – yay! kumquats!
Chili pequin – because what could be better than a perennial pepper plant
English thyme – to see how well it spreads for groundcover potential
Lemon balm seed (already sprouted)
Lemon grass seed (sprouted in under a week although the pack said 3 to 5 weeks) – because lemon grass is reputed to repel mosquitoes
Succulent pieces (orphaned pieces that I hope to propagate into full plants)
Not New Stuff
Wow, this list is fairly long this month. I went to Goodwill and found exactly what I was looking for early in the month, but the other things just happened.
Rain boots – I now have no fear when trolloping around the poison ivy-infested side yard (from Goodwill).
Mini-blinds for the front window for extra privacy. These were kind of new but I found them at Goodwill so close enough.
3 Shirts – Swapping out shirts I like less at the Really, Really Free Market. I know it’s meant to be free stuff but I participate like it’s a swapping party.
Patio chairs – I didn’t even ask for these but my mom dropped off a couple of old patio chairs one morning. They’ve actually been quiet convenient as a sort of shelf in the garden.
Plants – I’ve been doing some research online, and of the plants already in my yard, I may just have wild onions, wild blackberries, wild Muscadine grape vines, and a Mulberry tree. I’ll definitely be paying close attention to see if my identifications are correct!
Soil – From a neighbor doing some landscaping.
Mulch – well, grass clippings and leaves collected from sidewalks, as well as a few lawn bags set out on the street that I furtively made off with.
A book – one of the other book club members gave me an extra copy of the book for next month, so I don’t even need to wait for it at the library.
Lawn bags – I’m not sure if these count because I bought them at my mom’s request (I don’t count the tons of stuff my husband chooses to buy), but I did buy them before helping her rake up some oak leaves in early March. (My mom’s composts many things but the oak leaves just don’t seem to be breaking down.)
Line for the weed eater – The lawn (and weeds) that are already wide awake. My husband is happy to help out as long as it gets a clean trim, so weed eater it is.
Things I didn’t buy
More tomato seeds – Even though I have only two tomato plants that survived this year, it’s already getting hot out and may be late for Spring planting. I may consider starting fresh tomato plants for the fall garden, though.
Machete – I was looking at these on Etsy but it’s too soon to determine if it’s worth purchasing. It’s on my wishlist below though.
Fast food – I gave up fast food for Lent as well as eating out in general for the most part, but I’m ready to have pizza again. 😛
Seed starting containers – In addition to the plant pots I’ve saved from previous nursery visits, working in an office means I have access to plenty of food to-go containers. It’s not hard to find on the perfect size and even with an already vented lid.
Esperanza – The one I bought last year is definitely dead, but I’m going to give seed starting another try for this one. There are plenty of Esperanza bushes in the neighborhood to grab a few seeds from later this year.
Super long wishlist too! Fortunately, I know I won’t be indulging in all of these things in April.
A new roof! I finally got around to mucking out the gutters, and those shingles don’t look like they’re protecting our home that much anymore. Time to start checking out the roofers in this area. My goal is to get this done in the next month if possible.
Rain catchment system — gutters around the rest of the house and rain tanks. This is less about saving water than it is about saving my soil and preventing further erosion. (This has always been part of the post-new-roof master plan, but now it feels close enough to put on the list.)
Machete – My favorite lawn tool so far is definitely my scythe. It’s one of the most effective tools, the easiest, and hardly requires any storage space. With no lack of weeds, I’ve been considering a machete, grass hook, or other implement for the smaller spaces where I just can’t control a scythe with enough precision.
New tub? I’ve sealed up the crack again for now and caulked around the edges since the roof is first, but someday…
Bricks/pavers – Am still collecting the rogue brick for use in the garden whenever I come across it.
Seed starting mix – As I mentioned above, I’m almost out and I’m trying to reduce how many seeds I’m starting inside but will probably need more before long.
I managed to stay away from the thrift shops all of February, so this shouldn’t be as long a list as last month.
However, one of the things I noticed was that last month I was eating out regularly — three or even four times a week. It’s hard to resist. Therefore, I’m giving up eating out for lent. All the food I purchase will be basics (maybe a jar or two of spaghetti sauce in there though), and I’ll be doing more cooking next month. That should get me back on the right track.
My plant-buying spree continued this month–a couple of fruit trees, some onion transplants, and a handful of small (perennial) plants to experiment with and see what grows well/easily here (I’m hoping for some of these to expand quite a bit). Fortunately, it’s already getting fairly warm out, with highs frequently in the 80s, so from this point out it’s mostly about keeping these alive. No more plant spurges until fall.
Fig tree, Texas Everlasting
Satsuma mandarin tree
Not New Stuff
Toward the end of the month, I stopped at the Really, Really Free Market again to drop off a few items and scored some great finds.
Shirt – I’m slowly refining my style, replacing one shirt at a time.
Pair of jeans – Not needed yet, but I’ll stash these as a backup pair. They’ll need hemming before I wear them anyhow.
Couple of bras – This is the first time I’ve found a bra secondhand which actually fits well, and there were two of them. So excited! Don’t worry, I did wash them.
Lentils & spices – Another rare find. Someone apparently cleaned out their panty, and I grabbed what I expected to use. Very glad to get some marjoram as I’m out of oregano, and marjoram will do in a pinch.
Kitchen lights – These are the long tubes and I’d like to switch to smaller LED lights at some point but that can wait a while longer
Things I didn’t buy
A new mailbox – Early in the month ours was hit by a car and it doesn’t quite close properly anymore. But after being re-erected, it’s functioning well enough.
Mulch – I can always use more mulch, but I stole a couple of leaf bags and an xmas tree left on the curb on lawn-waste pickup day. We’re rich with organic matter now.
Even more plants – Yes, I could have gone much further.
A new umbrella – I left my umbrella one day and got rained on slightly. It wasn’t horrible.
Shampoo – I’ve been doing water-only hair washing for several months now and am never going back.
There are a few new items on the wishlist. I may be hitting the thrift stores in March for those first two.
Rain boots or other tall sturdy boots for gardening by the creek, now that the poison ivy is starting to spring back to life.
Mini-blinds for the dining room window, for more privacy than the current curtains offer. (We’re right on street with high pedestrian traffic to look in.)
Fresh tomato seeds if I keep killing off my tomato attempts 😦
New tub? I don’t know who invented these cheap plastic tub-like shells. Not sure if this one can be saved.
Bricks/pavers – This one is difficult to score second-hand without a car, but I’ve been very slowly collecting the rogue abandoned brick for the garden and would like to pick up the pace a bit.
As a kid, an occasional chore I had was to water the plants. I never wanted to, so I never had to be told to not water the plants. But now after getting into gardening a bit myself, that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn. That you can kill plants by overwatering them!
For a while, I wanted a really nifty rain gauge that would tell me exactly how much it had rained. After joining the Buy Nothing New project, I considered making one myself. It would just take a cup, a ruler, and a permanent marker to get my beautiful rain measurements.
But finally it dawned on me that I was still overcomplicating things. I threw a spare bowl outside and it now sits there waiting for rain. Sometimes it rains and then the sun comes out, and by the time I look at the bowl it’s empty or with only a few drops clinging on. No matter whether it was just a light rain or if the sun dried it quickly, it simply doesn’t count as a watering for my plants.
But today, oh, today. There was only some light drizzle when I woke up. I was disappointed that the forecasted rain had failed me again and most of the plants were likely still thirsty. Yet when I got outside the water gauge was full! This meant I could just leisurely stroll around the yard and admire the plants that were growing themselves. No need to even stick my finger in the dirt to check the moisture level. The plants will have their fill for at least a couple more days.
My rain gauge is perfect because I can read it even from the bedroom window, because it’s more durable than the flimsy plastic one I would have otherwise bought, and because once the neighborhood cat curled up inside the dry warm bowl for a nap. You’ll never see that with a store-bought rain gauge. 🙂
At the start of the month there were several things on my list of purchases I wanted to make. I must have been on a spree because now that list is totally empty!
I bought food, a bus pass, and paid the bills. As for everything else, there were a bunch of plants and plenty of not new stuff, but there were a few brand new items thrown in as well.
These are mostly perennials which will last us year after year. The only short-lived plant in this batch is the bluebonnet but, well, this is Texas and the seeds I scattered around the yard apparently didn’t take this year. If they don’t sprout next year, I’ll just have to deal with it and visit a bluebonnet patch elsewhere to relive my childhood memories.
Potting soil (my last bag lasted a year, so not too bad)
Esperanza (to help shade the south side of the house in summer)
Fuyu persimmon (for shade and future fruit)
Not New Stuff
I’ve been careful to avoid Goodwill several times this month and didn’t even stop at the Really Really Free Market, so before tallying this up I had no idea I got so many new-to-me things! Fortunately, they’re mostly useful. I’d been wanting/needing a good ladder for the past year, have worn out a couple of pairs of shoes recently, and checked off a few punch list items for the house.
This list could have been shorter, but I wouldn’t take any of it back.
Toilet paper and bar soap.
Rat traps and cementish puttyish stuff because rats got into the attic. I was planning to take care of this myself but then a month passed without me doing anything, with possible chewing of wires and everything else the whole time. Fortunately, we were able to get an expert, who took care of sealing up all entrances to make sure our home is protected. We’re now proudly rat-free.
Loppers. I’ve been borrowing my mom’s off-and-on for the past year to cut vines and prune shrubs and small branches. They’ve gotten a lot of use, so a pair of my own was definitely a need. And after a year of not coming across any in the secondhand shops, yard sales, or Freecycle/Craigslist, it was time to return my mom’s loppers for good.
That’s it for January. Unfortunately, writing this up has reminded me that there are still new things needed for other home repairs in the near future. Time to update the list and see which I can get secondhand. *fingers crossed*
Sunday the library was closed for New Year’s. On Monday again it was closed for New Year’s (observed). But Tuesday the libraries opened at ten o’clock, and I was ready at eight to start my new year’s resolution of hiking the circuit of Austin Public Library branches. My maps and supplies were on hand to assist me in this awesome journey. And the weather was absolutely beautiful.
Why would I walk ten miles just to go to the library? you may ask. Well, it’s simple. I love walking and I love libraries. I’d like to walk more and to visit more of the libraries in Austin. Plus, as a non-driver this is a great opportunity for me to explore ways of getting around the area independently. As a non-consumer, it’s a fulfilling activity that doesn’t require spending a dime. And as someone that doesn’t always get out enough, it’s designed to bring out a bit more of the explorer in me.
Little Walnut Creek branch library
Well… I stopped at this library before it opened, but the lights were on inside so I’m counting it! Don’t worry, I’ll be back many times this year.
The route took me through a part of the neighborhood I had never explored before. Sadly, it was full of litter and I quickly had my fill of picking up trash. Next time I go out I’ll need to take a bag with me for collecting it. 😦
(It turns out the litter is most prevalent in my neighborhood. An hour into my walk, I stopped seeing so much trash everywhere.)
It was cool to see more of the area though. All the little creek and railroad crossings were my favorite. There were areas widely paved for pedestrian traffic and areas with no sidewalk at all. Winter really is the best time for walking in such places because the shrubs and other unruly growth (or worse, poison ivy) aren’t pushing you into the middle of the street with the cars.
Milwood branch library
Two hours after heading out, the Milwood library was finally in my sights. It was an area that I never visit. The bus doesn’t stop close by and I’ve always considered it to be in the middle of nowhere. How amazing that I was able to walk there!
I quickly gobbled down a couple of rolls before going in, grabbed a few editions of Texas Gardener magazine, and enjoyed an hour of replenishing relaxation.
The seating didn’t look that plentiful. Fortunately, it wasn’t at all crowded during my visit.
I marveled at the checkout center for electronic devices to use in the library. Next time I’ll have to try it out instead of just getting a quick glance.
Soon my hour was up and it was time to head out on the second part of my walk if I wanted to get home at a normal hour.
The strangest thing about this trip was that I was sure I’d be tempted as afternoon approached to make a quick stop at the Krispy Kreme or Rudy’s barbeque or some other delicious food place, but I wasn’t. The few snacks I had with me kept me satisfied throughout the day. I’ve experienced this before too. Just by getting out and doing something active, I’m less tempted to overindulge. Then again, maybe it was due to that dead raccoon I saw by the side of the road.
Spicewood Springs branch library
Less than two hours after setting out again, I made it to my final circuit stop for the day.
I’d been to the Spicewood Springs branch before, but it seemed way out there even when travelling on the bus. No wonder my feet were starting to hurt a bit. I quickly grabbed a couple more books and a comfy seat and sat down to read.
After some relaxing easy reading, I had to walk just a few blocks to hop on the bus back home. There was a transfer towards the end involving a fifteen minute wait.
But no, I had a crazy idea. It wasn’t that far from the transfer stop to my home. I could walk that too! This may not have been the best idea. I could feel a few little blisters forming on the bottom of my feet and the first several blocks felt like the longest of all. Good thing it was only a half hour distance on foot from my house….
Woohoo! I made it back in one piece. I was just in time to catch the episode of MacGyver with the robots that look like Daleks, while I made and then ate delicious fideo. My husband was really lucky he got home in time to eat some of it too.
Hike #1 of the Austin Public Library circuit was a resounding success. It was thrilling to realize the huge area that I could now consider “walking distance” and I immediately started dreaming about the next hike. Will I do another long trek all the way downtown to the central library (still shorter than this one)? Will I explore one I’ve never been to before? Every option sounds good right now.
I wish I could do a complete Buy-Nothing month but there’s too much work needed for the house that I’ve been putting off for too long already. To at least avoid buying brand new items when perfectly good ones already exist, today I headed over to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store to pick up some items from my list.
I started off in Hardwares with the goal of finding some curtain rod brackets so I can add window treatments for the last few windows. Unfortunately it’s an uncommon item so rather than finding them easily on a shelf I had to dig through several different buckets along a row of some-sorted, some-not miscellaneous hardware.
In the end I found four of them, but in those four there wasn’t a single matching set and I had to walk away from that section empty-handed.
Later in the trip I found a section with some wooden curtain rod brackets, but once again they were unmatching individuals. 😦
Fortunately, my second item on the list was a resounding success. The light on the back porch didn’t have a cover. (Or a bulb for that matter, but we found one in the closet.) There were several rows full of different kinds of lights and I ended up choosing a whimsical bubbly globe thing to add a bit of personality to our home.
Next up was some white paint for the indoor trim. I had a bit of trouble identifying the container to purchase because these were custom blend paints and there wasn’t much more than a dab of paint on the lids to show what color they were inside. But in the end I found one that should work well.
After browsing the second-hand cabinets, sinks, leftover tiles and other goods, I stopped by the doorknobs section to pick up a couple to replace two that haven’t been turning all the way. (It turns out that it was a plastic bit that failed in our old ones, and these new-to-me knobs are metal where it counts. They could use a little oil to turn more smoothly, but I can take care of that later.)
Finally, I found a couple of really nice textured curtains that I wasn’t looking for. (It turns out that one’s a shower curtain and the other is just a nice sheet, but they’ll do.)
All together these items cost a whopping $12 plus tax. Not much unnecessary packaging to dispose of. And better quality than I would have splurged on if I was buying new. So other than still not having the curtain rod brackets, it was a pretty good trip. Someday when we get our real (not-just-a-flimsy-plastic-shell) bathtub I’ll be back, if not for the tub then at least for the tile. It’s awesome that these places exist!
October is over, and with that Buy Nothing New Month has come to a close. I’ve been working towards not buying anything for a couple of years now, so there’s not much difference between this month and any other but it did turn out to be a slow month in goods needed for the house (other than the plants, of course). So without further ado, here are the non-food items that I purchased in October.
They’re new, but I had an explicit exception at the start of the month because October is the perfect time to plant perennials in central Texas. I have a huge, mostly empty yard now but if I keep getting a handful of perennials each year and learn how to propogate them so they multiply, well, eventually it’ll be full of life and beautiful. My plant finds from the nearby nursery include:
two lavender plants
a foxtail fern just because they’re so cute
a Mexican mint marigold (smells delicious to me, horrible to mosquitoes)
a variety of salvia greggi
a lemon verbena plant which smells divine but was getting a bit straggly in the clearance section
a chile pequin, also straggly-looking, also from the clearance section, probably would have been tossed without my intervention
pack of carrot seeds for my mom’s garden
Mexican Mint Marigold
Chile Pequin (surrounded by leaf mulch)
One weekend while browsing Goodwill, my husband and I found a nice mirror with keyhooks to put by our front entryway. I also found what looked like a great light jacket but it turned out to be slightly too large when I tried it on. I don’t really need another light jacket right now, so I returned that one to the racks and will wait to find one I truly love.
Not sure if I should even mention this because they’re not only not new, I didn’t even buy them. Anyhow, I stopped by the Really, Really Free Market this month and found a few shirts that I wanted to try out. Two immediately got placed back in the bag to return next time after I got home and tried them on, but I have a couple which are likely winners. If I don’t love them after wearing them once, they’ll also go straight back. I also picked up a couple of random pillowcases to use as wraps for Christmas gifts.
Speaking of Christmas gifts, I arrived at Recycled Reads early for book club this month to search for some second-hand finds to give to family. For most of them, I have no idea what they would really enjoy getting for Christmas, but there’s a common expectation to get something. This trip found me presents for four people for the hefty sum of $4. Some of them may appreciate also getting the cash that I could have spent on something that would wind up in the trash quicker; so for them I’ll be sure to slip in a special bookmark. They might use it to buy new crap, but at least in those cases it’ll be new crap with a higher likelihood of making them happy.
I’ve given up on most disposable products but, nope, not this. Does it count as not-new if it’s made from recycled paper? 😛
That’s everything. I’ll have to declare this Buy Nothing New Month a resounding success!
Buy Nothing Day is November 25th
If you missed BNNM and want to participate, don’t feel like it’s a requirement to do so only in October. My first time I missed it and did my own BNN month in November. And even if you’re not interested enough for a whole month, I strongly encourage you to participate in Buy Nothing Day this November 25th (a.k.a. Black Friday).
I have a colleague whose post-Thanksgiving tradition is to stay home, watch the news reports and laugh at the people who get trampled in the Black Friday stampedes when the stores open. Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to laugh at folks who are getting hurt, but I do advocate staying home, staying safe, and avoiding the stress, the crowds, the long lines of Black Friday. What do you say? Do you thrive on shopping or are you ready to give your wallet a break?
Happy Halloween folks! I didn’t do any decorating, but apparently a spider around my house celebrates the holiday and spun up this beauty by the back door for me to marvel at yesterday. They’ve never built a web there before, so I know it’s the Halloween spirit.
I haven’t gotten any candy to give out this year. I just couldn’t stand the thought of handing out individually-wrapped, tooth-decaying sugar bombs to little children, so I’m likely going to keep the lights off and pretend I’m not home. Does this make me a horrible person? Maybe. I’ve got to figure out something for next year.
On the bright side, I made a tiny harvest from my garden for the first time in weeks. The jalapeño first appeared a few weeks ago as I was doing some weeding and was shocked to realize the jalapeño plant that I had taken for dead was actually alive and produced this bite-sized offering. Most of my Mississippi Silver cowpea plants now have pods on them, so I picked a few to sample. I never had southern peas before and was pleased that after boiling them they didn’t taste excessively bean-y. They were probably a bit immature still as they’re a crowder variety and didn’t look all that crowded in the pod yet. I’m hoping that when they mature a bit more they’re also easier to shell, yeesh!
Have you been thinking about spending less time at the shops? Less time trying to keep up with the consumerism cycle? More time doing the things you really love?
Join the thousands or more folks who are celebrating Buy Nothing New Month this October (and every October).
Buy Nothing New Month is the event that really inspired me to change the way I was living. I got into it for frugality reasons, but by the time the month was over I had gained a lot more than a thicker wallet.
Buying less means more appreciation for the things you have.
Buying less makes you think if there’s something you already have that can be used to satisy a need or want.
Buying less means an opportunity to learn new skills like sewing on a missing button or fixing a sticky doorknob.
Buying less means you’re less likely to send something to landfill when there’s a good opportunity for reuse.
Buying less helps you learn how to be more self-sufficient.
Buying less means not having to stop by the mall, so you don’t end up eating a giant cinnamon bun and feeling lousy later.
And at the end if you weren’t doing it to save money, you’ll probably have a fair sum left over to give to a cause you care about. Or if you were doing it to save money, you’ll be much closer to your goals.
If you’d like to give it a shot, let me know. I’d love to know how your efforts go. This gets easier for me each time, but I’ll share some tips throughout the month.
I do already have an exception on my list because October is the perfect time to plant perennials, and I’ve been waiting all year for this. But anything that isn’t going to be gracing my landscape for the next several years? Nah, I don’t need it.