Cero Waste

Low Waste BIPOC Gift Guide

This guide is a follow-up to my previous blog post ” Sustainable and Low Waste Gift Ideas” 

This list is curated with small BIPOC  businesses (with the exception of a couple) who care about sustainability. Whether it’s locally sourced materials, sustainable and/or organic materials , low waste principals when it comes to making and sending out the product or supporting local artisans.  

Experiences:

  •  Hip Camp –  For a digital Gift Card.  Listings for the whole US, to camp or glamp!
  • National Parks pass so they can go to any national park in the us for a whole year! I’m linking it to the REI website, but can be purchased in many places. Also linking the REI page that shows other available passes to national forests.
  • Todo Verde- for virtual cooking  classes . 
  • SalviSoul – virtual cooking  classes .
  •  Peoples Yoga – Virtual Yoga Class gift cards. 
  • Herbalism Courses and mentorships offered by Essence the Herbalist and Dr. Jacqui.
  • Loba- offers many things, herbalism courses, garden courses, plant medicine and much more!
  • Nick Hummingbird– offers California Native Classes, posted on his  Instagram  page. 
  • POT LA – Pottery classes gift card.  
  • Gardening Master class – like Ron Finley’s gardeningone!
  • Garden consultation – with me! I offer digital gift cards for a 1-1.5 hour garden consultation.
  • CSA box- from places like Sow A Heart Farm.Or a Farm Box that directly supports LA Garment Workers. 
  • Composting Pick- Up service-  a WOC owned business like Compostable LA

Consumables:

  • Humble Bloom a CBD wellness shop featuring diverse and BIPOC brands.
  • The Green Girls CO – a directory of BIPOC Cannabis shops and brands in the US.  
  • Black Thumb Garden– a new garden non-profit that is offering tea blends and bath salts to support their Fellowship Program. 
  • Xalish Medicines -Indigenous Plant Medicine which I have personally purchased and used. 
  • Holy Wild– elixirs, fire ciders, herbal smokes and much more! 
  • We are all Daughters – tea blends, body care and candles. 
Plastic Free package from Xalish Medicines.

Consumables for the body: 

  • Willow & Oak –  one of my favorites is Nikki’s deodorant! Which either comes in a recyclable/ reusable tin or compostable tube!
  • Yukon soaps– Indigenous handcrafted soaps and much more! 
  • Nizhoni Soaps– a young 12 year old Diné who makes soaps with their family!
  • Live Like You Green It– organic & zero waste skincare products and vegan friendly too! Black Women owned. 
  • Brujita skincare– sustainable and organic skincare products. Latina Owned.
  • YayForEarth-an organic skin face lotion that I have been using for a couple of years now! 
  • My Wild Muse– low waste artisan soaps and candles!
  • Skin to Soul– natural made skincare products, including soaps and salves.  
  • Issa Skincare– sustainable beauty products. I have personally used their lip to cheek duos and sunscreen!
  • Reel Paper Co– Black owned plastic free bamboo toilet paper. 
  • Brush with Bamboo– Bamboo compostable toothbrushes. 

Plants: 

Houseplant gift from the hubby last year!

Secondhand/Vintage pieces: 

Just me dressed up in some vintage and secondhand pieces!

Slow Fashion and Sustainable clothes: 

  • Kuychi Cauldron– naturally dyed clothes with natural fibers. 
  • Sotelo – small ethical, sustainable and inclusive clothes. 
  • Wasi Clothing – WOC limited handmade clothes with South American sourced textiles, based in L.A. 
  • Ginew – Couple owned and the only Native American-owned denim line.
  • Proclaim – nude lingerie made with “earth-conscious fabrics”
  • Galerie LA– Black owned shop offering a selection of sustainably made clothes.
  • Mien Studios– inclusive and sustainably made clothes. 
  • Two Days Off – Black Women owned, made to order sustainable pieces. 
Picture taken last December during a Small Business Saturday at Fig Earth Supply. Domecil small batch pieces.

Ceramics:

  • Oaxcaca black mug – a beautiful mug made with Barro Negro in Oaxaca by  Zapotec Indigenous Women brought to you by my dear friend Karen Ramos aka Naturechola (at checkout click Karen). Plastic free packaging too! 
  • Green Girls Co– ceramic smoke ware that supports intersectionality and equality in the Cannabis industry. 
  • Fire and Stone Ceramics – LA Based, Queer WOC owned, making minimal and rustic ceramics. 
  • Gopi Shah Ceramics -WOC handcrafted ceramics. 
Karen and the mug!

Artwork: 

A little painting we have up in our house by KB. Abode. 

Jewelry

  • Fox and the Fawn– Native made Jewelry. I absolutely love Kayla’s work, so much that my engagement ring was custom made by her!
  • Ukaome – beautiful glass bead jewelry. 
  • Kotah Bear – Native owned store offering jewerly from Native American Artisans.
  • Guava Mood -simple small shop jewelry! 
  • Hey Moon Designs – minimal and earth-toned clay jewelry. 
Here’s the beautifully made ring from Fox and the Fawn.

 

Sustainable and Low Waste Gift Ideas  

That time of the year is here, where overconsumption and trash increase here on planet earth.  I love this time of the year, but the part I don’t like is how materialistic and wasteful the holiday can be. Giving gifts just to give that many times end up in the trash. Or how stressful it becomes for folx to spend money to give those gifts sometimes just to get into debt. And of course, all the wrapping paper, ribbons, décor and plastic that ends up in the trash.

Gifting gifts and decor shouldn’t have to be that way, I think it should be joyful, with intention and always keeping mama earth in mind. Giving gifts doesn’t have to be necessary either (let’s normalize that too!)  With that being said, there are alternatives to gifting unnecessary material gifts. If we choose to gift something material, there are sustainable alternatives and small businesses to support instead.

So, here are some facts I wanted to share with y’all before I share some ideas:

  • In general, the average person in the US, creates about 4.4 lbs. of trash in one single day! For a family of 4 that’s about 6, 424 lbs. But during the holidays, that number increases. From Thanksgiving to New Years, it increases by 25%. An extra 1 million tons per week.
  • According to Sundale Research, in 2017, the US spent about 12.7 billion of gift wrap, bags, tissue and wrapping paper.
  • About 38,000 miles of ribbon are thrown out.
  • If wrapping paper and or ribbon are covered in some glitter, have a shiny coat, or some other texture mixed in, it’s not recyclable, since technically its contaminated with a non-recyclable piece. According to Earth911, 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper, out of 4.6 million pounds produced in one year, ends up going to the landfills. That’s 2.3 million pounds of paper that was used once and then discarded like nothing. 

While it’s the corporations and companies’ fault for making unsustainable stuff and putting a lot of junk out into the world, it’s up to us to break those materialistic values they have pushed into this society. We have the ability to teach future generations to value our earth rather than materialism.  To not support these corporations and companies and instead normalize NOT having to give materialistic gifts or any gift at all, normalize gifting experiences, gifting secondhand and reusing materials during this time! So, here are some ideas to help with that!

An experience gift: My favorite thing to give where wonderful memories can be made! Last year, we gifted my in-laws a “coupon” where we wrote and designed, letting them know we would take them on a camping trip with us when they were ready to redeem the coupon. We cut brown paper bags from a Trader Joes bag we had in the house, used a box from a package we had received, secondhand ribbon, and some pieces of pine. The year before, we did something similar with some friends, where we gave them an option of a camping trip with us, or a national park’s pass. Whether it’s a homemade cooked meal experience, taking them on a camping trip (if they are open to that) , a stay at a cabin or even better, giving them the choice by gifting them a gift card from Hip Camp. Even a National Parks Pass would make a great gift.

Hover over the photos to see descriptions. 

A Learning experience gift: how about gifting a class! A virtual cooking class, a gardening masterclass, ceramic classes, herbalism classes. Hey, how about a garden consultation with me! A dear friend of mine, Nick Hummingbird offers California Native Plant classes and seeds too, through Instagram. 

A consumable gift: baked goods (Knowing their favorite treats and food allergies) wine, coffee beans, cannabis for those that love to smoke (I gifted the hubby a pack of joints one-year), package free bar soaps, salves, chocolate. Even gift certificates to their favorite restaurant or coffee shop. Maybe herbs you dried yourself for tea or cooking. Veggie seedlings make great gifts if they have the space to plant and grow plants. One thing I did for a gift this past year, was I got a bottle of wine with a few seedling starts (like kale and lettuce) for their garden all in a basket! What about a subscription to a local CSA box for fresh produce (look at this farm box that supports LA Garment Workers)  or a composting service like Compostable LA?

Gifting plants: I love gifting plants! A houseplant in a cute pot, especially if it’s a house plant they have had their eyes on. Or you can gift a pot with 1-3 herbs you know they use for cooking or in teas. Fruit trees are great gifts too (depending on their space). Some more ideas are native plant and wildflower seeds/plants, or veggie seedlings. You can never go wrong with gift cards to a local nurseries, houseplant stores!

Gifting secondhand/vintage: I’m all for gifting secondhand as well! One year I thrifted two ceramic coffee mugs, filled a glass jar with bulk coffee beans and gave that as whole gift! Clothes and accessories are good if you really know that persons style, or even a gift card from one of their favorite vintage/thrift shops. Upcycled/remade/repurposed goodies from awesome places like Suay Sew Shop are great ways to support local businesses too.

Artwork: Gifting artwork from small businesses, photography/paintings/prints with the addition of a thrifted frame!

Gifting what people typically need: I was super excited when we recently received a gift card to one of our favorite zero waste refill stores, Sustain LA, where we were able to stock up on soap, shampoo, dish and laundry soap, all things we actually need! Other things I have personally gifted included bamboo toothbrushes, wax food wrappers, reusable napkins, compostable dish sponges/brushes and even plastic free toilet paper (even a subscription or whole box)!

Getting a native tree planted in honor of the person you are sending the gift to, like the National Forest Foundation Campaign. Or donating to any other organization your person supports.

Gifting for kids: experiences too! I would say, take them to a place like Disneyland or museum but that’s not possible at the moment, so a good alternative would be a camping trip and/or interpretive nature hikes. Interpretive nature hikes are usually very accessible and short, with a little information guide at the trailhead for you to follow along and learn about the original Peoples of that land, animals and plants. Other ideas, thrifted books, vintage wooden toys, natural play dough set or homemade paint set and with a natural paint brush. A little seedling kit: soil in a jar, toilet paper roll or terra cotta pot, with some California Native flower seeds.

At last, I wanted to share ideas on how to keep it low waste with décor and wrapping. Wrapping paper: Just don’t buy it! Use what you have. Brown grocery bags work great, you just need to cut up one side and you are good to go! Using cloth, a reusable napkin, or a cute scarf to wrap up the present gives it a personal touch and no tape is needed. Saving giftbags is something I actually watched my mom do so they would be reused for future gift giving. Using a reusable bag to give the gift is also a good alternative. But what if you don’t have any of these on hand? Then I would recommend buying butcher paper to wrap those gifts. Using ribbon or tape? Look for ribbon made out of natural materials, or use natural twine. For tape, I recommend using washi tape, or even naturally made glue, which I haven’t had the chance to use yet but here’s Zero Waste Chef’s recipe!

Christmas décor, decorating with natural materials and using second hand décor is the way to go. Whether you’re using those famous orange slices as natural décor, branches or salt dough ornaments , your literal home, mama earth home will appreciate it. I always recommend to thrift first, visiting local thrift stores, or looking online like on facebook market because there’s so much out there already! At the same time we can support small secondhand/vintage shops too!

Here are some pics of the two stockings, and a metal deer piece I found at the thrift store last year! The garland is a real one, that I bought at Trader Joes and composted afterwards.

Hope y’all got some great ideas for sustainable gifts this year! MUCHAS GRACIAS!!

#PlasticFreeJuly During a Pandemic: My First Blog Post

Hola a todos! Welcome to my new home! I continually get asked if I have a blog, or website, so it’s about time I finally have something for you all! This blog will consist of things related to how my husband and I live a low waste lifestyle. From camping, to cooking, and gardening, there is nothing we can’t make low waste! A big shout out and thank you to my dear friend Elena Lopez for putting together this website for me! Also thank you to Latasha Dunston, who designed the logo!

So #plasticfreejuly has come to an end and I wanted to share how we had an imperfect month this year, and some other tips to continue #plasticfree past July.  I know many of us haven’t been able to use our reusables because of COVID-19, so we are all just trying to make the best of it! Some of the tips that I will be sharing may or may not work for you. Remember, don’t feel discouraged and just start where you can!

When grocery shopping and for stores that do not allow your own grocery bags, let the cashier know, very kindly, you want everything back in your basket or cart and you can bag it in your car. As a common courtesy, kindly return the carts or baskets back to the store after loading your car.

Bulk is no longer an option for you? Consider buying bulk bags yourself and sharing the cost with friends, families or even your neighbors! In North East LA we are extremely lucky to have a bulk shop like TARE that allows reusable containers, or compostable paper bags. So, if you are local to the LA area, go check them out!

See what fruits and vegetables you can get package free at the grocery store or at the farmers market and plan a meal around what’s available to you. Or if this option is available to you, get a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box that comes with fruits and veggies from local farms. They usually come with little to no plastic.

Can’t use your reusable cup to get coffee or tea? Consider making your own at home. We use a French press with all reusable parts, and only takes about 5 mins to make! I will say I did end up going to get coffee at local coffee shops about 3 times this month, but was happy to be able to support a small local business.

Missing the days I could take my reusables to coffee shops!

Getting take-out? We sure have! And one thing we continue to get is single-use things!! So, when we do order take out, I always say “please no eating utensils, napkins or bags” or “Please no condiments”, sometimes it works, and sometimes the note is ignored. One thing I also look for when ordering for take-out is burritos and sandwiches because they are usually wrapped in foil which you can recycle if cleaned, or some kind of parchment paper which tends to be compostable.

Consider growing your own food if you have the space. Even if it’s just herbs, that way you don’t have to buy them in those little plastic containers. Now, I know this may not apply to everyone, as not everyone may have the space or is able to do this. But if you do, it’s something to consider. When growing your own food, you don’t even have to worry about the plastic packaging since it’s not there! Plus, it’s local! Did you know the average plate of food you sit down and eat travels about 2,000 miles to you? That’s a lot of energy and resources!

Purple Jalapeno in a forest of beet greens in our patio garden.

Compost! There are many different ways to do it! There’s vermicomposting, the use of a compost tumbler, a regular compost bin, dropping off your food scraps at your local community garden, and even digging and burying your food scraps into the ground.

Replace certain things around the house with a more sustainable option once you are done with what you have. You can replace common things around the household like single use paper towels for reusable towels. Consider making your own with old t-shirts or other fabric, or supporting a local business that uses deadstock fabric like, Suay. Replacing plastic loofahs or kitchen sponges with compostable ones. Instead of a plastic shampoo bottle, try out shampoo bars and conditioners. My favorite is from No Tox Life .

When looking for, let’s say, a new piece of clothing. A pair of pants or a dress, or even furniture to bring into your home, consider buying it secondhand even if it takes a little bit longer to find. Many furniture pieces in our home are from Facebook Market, but there’s also offer-up, and a few other online apps.  In general, buy less unnecessary stuff!

Like I mentioned, this Plastic Free July was not perfect, we still ended up with some plastic, even when we were purposely avoiding it. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you end up with a piece of plastic.  After all, the oil companies, plastic companies, and companies like Coca-Cola are the biggest polluters out there. So even though our individual actions may not make a big dent in the plastic pollution crisis, I do believe that when many of us strive for a plastic free world, push for plastic free products, share with others about the plastic pollution crisis, push against oil companies and hold them accountable, that together we can make a change.

Other ways that you could help that don’t necessarily have to do with packaging is by getting involved in your local community politics and using your voice. Maybe you can voice the banning of Styrofoam in your community.  Or you get so involved with your local community that you were able to stop a Plastic Manufacturing Plant from being built in your community. Those are just two examples out of many things we can possibly do.

I encourage everyone to go watch The Story of Plastic. If you want to get more involved, I recommend checking out breakfreefromplastic.org where they have many resources and toolkits for you to use!

Look forward to continue sharing with you all!

Hasta Luego,

Cindy

 

Photos in this blog, except the coffee ones, were all taken by Kate Rentz, an amazing photographer and artist!