What A Recent Vacation Taught Me About Zero Waste

We recently took a family trip to Hawaii. This was our big gift for Christmas this year as we decided we wanted to spend money on life experiences instead of stuff. Before and while traveling this time I noticed a few things about my own personal habits that made me think.

The clothes you have are enough. My partner Steve pointed out I bought new clothes before vacation. “You always buy new clothes before vacation”. He was right! Every vacation that I can think of in recent time I bought something to wear beforehand, whether it was a cute dress, hiking shoes, or a beach coverup. I need to watch out for this the next time. I shouldn’t need to buy anything before I go on a trip.

You don’t need to prepare for everything. My initial inclination is to pack more than what I needed. I even cut down and repacked half way through, but looking back there were a few more things I could have done without. Smaller/light luggage is the way to go! I had a carry-on and backpack, but would like to get down to only one bag in the future.

Always bring your own water bottle. We did this in Europe over the summer but for some silly reason I thought bottled water would have been easier in Hawaii since I read an article that recommended buying bottled water because you shouldn’t drink the water that was collected by the rain. Turns out we would have been fine with our own bottles because there was plenty of access to city tap water.

Bring your own a shampoo bar and homemade toothpaste. A shampoo bar would have worked for this trip. If you don’t know about shampoo bar they are a good zero waste replacement for shampoo and conditioner. Also I had recently made my own toothpaste, but didn’t bring which I immediately regretted. Recipe is below.

Cooking your own food will always be cheaper, healthier and in most cases a tastier option. We stayed at a house through AirBNB the majority of the trip and made several breakfasts and dinners at “home”. It was well worth the time and saved us money.

And above all else life experiences are more important than material objects.

Life experiences are more important than material objects


UPDATED Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

Measure baking soda and coconut oil and place into small storage container. Use a spoon or spatula to mix into a paste. Add 5 drops of peppermint extract or oil. Mix again. Use a pea size amount each time you brush.

Homemade Chicken Broth

We cook a lot in our house (at least 4 times a week). Sometime I get adventurous, like the time I made gyro meat and tahini sauce from scratch for homemade gyros. They were amazing, but too much work. Other times it’s a game I like to play called what can I make with the random things in the pantry and fridge, I mostly win. Mostly is the keyword here.

For Christmas I decided to cook my first whole Chicken. I found a rosemary chicken recipe that I was excited to use. The chicken was great so I decide to save the carcass in my freezer for making chicken stock at a later date. And in the mantra of zero waste I started saving the scraps from onions, garlic, carrots, and celery and was storing in my freezer.

Rosemary Chicken

Yesterday was the day! I pulled the chicken and leftover scraps out of the freezer. Filled a pot with water and started cooking. About 4 hour later I have almost 5, 24 oz jars of stock.

Homemade Chicken Stock


  • Instead of throwing away your leftover onion, garlic, celery & carrot scraps put them in a glass jar in your freezer
  • Do the same thing for meat bones
  • Substitute the stock for recipes that call for a cup or two of water like rice or quinoa
  • You can use the onion peals, but it can add a bitter flavor to the broth
  • Store the stock in the fridge or freezer in a reusable container. These are the 24 oz jars I use which are also great for bulk grocery shopping because they have a wide lid.
  • Make sure to write the date somewhere on the container
  • Enjoy!

My 1st Zero Waste Christmas

My journey towards Zero Waste started earlier in 2015 so once December had rolled around I had already created some good habits and a minimal waste mindset around what I wanted to accomplish for Christmas. Some initial plans rolling into the holiday season were to make our own christmas tree, focus less on buying things we didn’t need, to enjoy time with friends & family, and to take some time off from work.

Last year we decided that we no longer wanted to cut down a tree. Since we are big crafters making our own tree made a ton a sense and got everyone really excited. This year’s tree was made from upcycled fence posts left over from a project this summer and other items we had around the house.

homemade upcycled diy chirstmas tree
Our homemade upcycled Christmas tree. Made from left over fence posts from a summer project.

This year we also focused on fewer gifts. In total we got our 7 year old; a used dictionary (something he requested), an atlas (because he wants to travel the world), a stop motion animation toy so he can create movies, and last but not least a family trip to Hawaii (we found a great deal on flights). Focusing on experiences has been more meaningful to us.

Other Accomplishments included:

  • I took sometime off from work and the world didn’t end.
  • I was able to spend quality time with friends and family without feeling like I needed to attend every event that I was invited to.
  • Decorating the house took about an hour and putting everything away after Christmas was a breeze.
  • We didn’t purchase a single holiday candy, cookie, decoration, card, or wrapping supplies which saved us money and time.
  • We didn’t have overflowing garbage and recycling cans.

All and all I am really happy with how the entire month played out. I think it was the first time EVER I wasn’t stressed out about the holidays.