Journey to Zero Waste Without Breaking the Bank // Update #4

Word of the month:


  1. the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.

Resourcefulness is a great skill to have, but it is particularly an important skill to have when switching to more of a zero-waste lifestyle. We live in a throwaway society, where just about anything can be thrown away for something better, prettier, or newer. Life will throw curveballs, and the zero-waste movement requires a certain level of resourcefulness. One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure, but it can also be your own, too. My journey to zero-waste has forced me to think differently about everything from coffee and coffee grounds to what sorts of things I wash and reuse or repurpose. Ultimately, my zero-waste has forced me to think about ways I can lessen my impact on the world.

The K-Cup Dilemma

For Christmas my senior year in high school my grandparents bought me a Keurig. I was so excited when I saw it, and being the coffee addict I am, I went and bought a multitude of K-cups to bring to college. I carefully packaged them so the K-cups wouldn’t damage and patiently waited to bring them to college where I quickly drank cups upon cups of coffee. After taking out my recycling for a couple weeks where the bag was primarily full of K-cups I thought, well I may be recycling, but this is an awful lot to throw away each week. Later that week I did research on K-cups and their alternatives.


Or at least all together, that is. K-cups are recyclable only if they are dismantled by material (aluminum, plastic, paper, and coffee grounds). Dismantling every K-cup I used did not sound appealing in the slightest, nor did throwing out just as many K-cups as I was before sound appealing either. After searching for not too long I found a couple brands that carried reusable K-cups, that work just like regular K-cups, but instead of throwing out the cup, you dump out the coffee grounds and rinse the cup to be used again.

After some trials and temptation to just give up I found the best way to use a reusable K-cup. For starters, don’t use finely ground/espresso ground coffee beans because it will end up all over your hands and will seep into your coffee. Instead, try coarsely/medium ground coffee grounds because much less, if any coffee grounds, will end up in your coffee cup. The cup I found is called the eco-fill 2.0, It doesn’t require a filter, but some people add a filter if they use finely ground coffee beans. Personally, I don’t use the filter and it works perfectly fine. Because you will have to portion your coffee grounds pretty consistently, use a teaspoon measuring cup. As for the grounds in the K-cup, don’t overfill or compact the coffee grounds, instead let it loosely sit in the cup right at or under the purple plastic line.

Chic Travel Reusable Mug

I am an avid coffee drinker, as you may know. I will admit, I love Starbucks and their cups. However, the environment does not. Single-use coffee cups are not recyclable, unfortunately. In my second Zero-Waste Update, I bought a small reusable to-go coffee mug. This mug has worked very well and I still use it today, but there is one problem with this mug. It’s just not enough for how much coffee I drink anymore. The original coffee mug I bought can hold about 10 ounces, which is a little less than a tall coffee at Starbucks. So instead of just giving up, I bought a new chic coffee mug from Target. This mug is elegant, chic, lightweight, and I absolutely adore it. The best part is that it holds 16 ounces, the size of a grande at Starbucks, and I keep 10¢ discount at my local Starbucks, but most of all, I prevent countless non-recyclable coffee cups from ending up in the landfill each year.

Nature’s Gate Biotin + Bamboo Shampoo and Conditioner

Nature’s Gate shampoo and conditioner are relatively new products by Nature’s Gate, a company that has been in business since 1979. This company has a range of products from hair care and facial care to oral care and body care.

The shampoo and conditioner I tested was the Biotin + Bamboo. I haven’t tried any of their other products, including non-hair care products. Before I opened the bottle I was impressed that they had a WaterAid logo on their bottles. WaterAid is a nonprofit that helps to provide safe and clean water and sanitation to the world’s poorest countries. I was also impressed by the extensive list of what wasn’t in the bottle including genetically modified organisms, parabens, gluten, soy, cruelty, sodium lauryl/laureth/coco sulfates, phthalates, butylene glycol, and artificial colors. This shampoo is also 100% vegan, which is a nice plus. This shampoo and conditioner is also made in America. Due to the extensive list of chemicals, these products are free of and these products are vegan and made in America, I give it 5/5 stars.

The bottle design was a bit outdated, and the bright white and green is harsh on the eyes. This bottle is not aesthetically pleasing in the slightest, however, Nature’s Gate recently released a new line of hair care products with a much more modern look that I am hoping to try after I finish my current bottle of shampoo and conditioner by Nature’s Gate. Because the product design is subpar, I give it ⅖ stars.

However, all of these logos and bullet points had me worried how much I would be spending on this product? When I saw the price, there were tears. Tears of joy. The total price for both shampoo and conditioner was less than $10. This is by far the lowest price I’ve ever paid for a vegan hair care product, including OGX and generic brands. The price of this shampoo and conditioner is highly impressive, and because of that, I give it 5/5 stars.

The consistency of the shampoo is very similar to other shampoos I used in the past, but it’s slightly more liquidy, so bear that in mind. I was surprised by the scent of the Biotin + Bamboo shampoo and conditioner because it has a very distinct sweet mint smell. The scent was unexpected, but it’s not a bad scent, I actually love how sweet and minty it leaves my hair and scalp! However, I was expecting more of an earthy and fresh scent because of the bamboo, and because of this, I give the scent and the consistency  ⅗ stars.

Overall, after about a month of using this product, I give it a ⅗ stars because I have found that long-term use of this product dries my hair out but at the same time leaves it with a very oily feeling to the touch. I would definitely buy Nature’s Gate products again, but I think I’ll try a different kind to see if my hair reacts better to that.

Etsy Shop Update

If you haven’t already check out my Etsy shop Eco-Emma-Studio! I currently have two kinds of hemp-based soap listed: Chamomile + Shea Butter, and Tea Tree + Coffee Oil + Charcoal. I have a new soap coming soon!


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