Blog post 14: Zero waste presents?

Present from my daughters for their father (birthday)

I don’t like to feel obliged to give presents, although I like giving and receiving them when I’m sure the person will be happy with it.

Some people started the concept of “Green Friday” to fight the “consumption fever” of the Black Friday 😉 I love it!

Idea of the Green Friday: Think different:

More ecological, more sustainable. Where was the product produced and how does it comes to me? Which material is it made of? Is it durable or cheap-breaking-after-2-hours? Is there a more sustainable alternative (not too expensive)? Can you find it in second hand?

The most difficult is to find ideas of zero-waste/sustainable/eco presents. And don’t get fooled by the increasing market using those words to sell their products… We don’t need 100 reusable of cotton bag, nor 30 straws of all kind, so many reusable cans or bottles… It also costs a lot of energy to produce them!

I’ve been looking for some idea for you ;-):

  • Some activities (cinema, museum, overnight in B&B, excellent meal at your home,…
  • In summer: Zero waste flowers or fruits where you can pick up the flowers or fruit you like in the field, and just pay what you take (based on trust of course!)
  • Chocolate in your own container: I usually go to the pralines shop with my own box; they love it! (my husband and kids; as well as the shop who saves some money).
  • Bake cookies! I’ve a lot of quick and easy to make recipes; but there are for sure plenty as tasty on the internet!
  • Home-made beauty or cleaning products? For beauty products, you have to go to other sites than mine (promise, I’ll search for easy and quick recipes, but not now…); the website from the list of my favourite blogs/website have plenty of recipes. Give some home-made laundry with the recipe so that they can make it themselves! (it is as giving a win-for-life as they will save so much money with it!)
  • Cooking lessons or book: seasonal vegetable or vegetarian dishes. My favorite books (in dutch: “de moestuin van Mme zsazsa”, the “Lekker ecologish” van Velt.
  • Reusable stuffs (bottle, straw, tea bags, toothbrush, ear bugs, lunch box,…). But check first if this is the 23th reusable bottle that the person will receive, or is there something that he/she would really like or use frequently. My favourite is the reusable baking paper. It is very cheap, and you can use it for years (I’ve mine more than 10 years!). You can also use it to protect your oven for spilling, to lay under a pizza in the oven, to grill vegetables,…)
  • If you know what you will and you have time, you can search in second hand shops.
  • Or if you need more inspiration, I found a website with 101 ideas, even for kids.

IF this is too difficult, why not try to reduce the packaging by wrapping it in fabric left overs? (you take them back afterwards for next time). Or even old t-shirts or home-made gift bags?

Enjoy giving and receiving presents!


PS: Please, if you have some excellent ideas, feel free to post them here below (it doesn’t appear directly as I’ve to approve the comment first).

PPS: Follow me on Facebook if you want to be updated for nice tips, extra recipes, order washing products,…


Dear EcoWithKids Followers,

I realized that if you are not following me on my Facebook page, you are not updated about the important changes on the website (unless I write a new post).

Let me try this mean to keep you updated once in a while without invading your mailbox.

The last changes that I think might interest you (and that I remember of…):

I would love to hear if you have already tried something! So don’t hesitate to post in on my Facebook page, or to leave it in the comments.

Blog post 10: Ecological personal hygiene

For personal hygiene, there are many changes possible; you can test them one by one 😉

What do I use? I use palmarosa essential oil for deodorant, washable pad cloth, baking soda for toothpaste (since few days), hard soap for hands and body and refill of liquid shampoo at the zero waste shop, and papier-cotton ear sticks. New bamboo toothbrush are ordered to be tested.

Picture (from left to right, up to bottom): menstrual cups, bamboo toothbrush and baking soda, peppermint-like hard toothpaste, cotton-paper ear stick, palmarosa essential oil, hard soap (with a condom drawn on it… receive at a AIDS conference many years ago, hihihi), and washable pad cloth.

Toothbrush: There are now many brands (and “fake copies”) of bamboo toothbrushes. I tried the “humble brush” and the “hydrophil”. Unfortunately, I’ve switched back to a classical (plastic) toothbrush. The ‘hairs” of the toothbrush are a little but too hard for my gums and they suffer of it. I want to give another try with the “toothbrush Bam Boo”. They propose “soft” toothbrushes. (Update Oct 2019: Bam Boo is as hard as the other ones…)

For the Dutch speaking, you can read the excellent blog of “Ma vie en vert” (she has two post on toothbrushes: 1st post and update).

Toothpaste: Here again, there are many options and I’ve tried some of them. Many DIY toothpaste require some preparation time (just what we want to avoid, he?) and some “exotic products” as coconut oil (not so ecological at the end…).

We bought the “lolly toothpaste”: you just have to go over it with your wet toothbrush. It is not foamy, so you have to get used to it. There are different taste. The one I tried, were not tasting very good…I was literally feeling sick of it.  We also tried the “candy toothpaste”: it looks like a small mint and you have to bite on it until it gets a paste. Then you can brush your teeth. I’m not fan of this neither (and I came in a tick plastic packaging…). But if you travel a lot it is very easy! You might find it without packaging at a zero waste shop.

For the purpose of the blog post, I decided to start using baking soda (commercial toothpaste have been proven better than toothpaste not containing baking soda by scientifics). It feels you are emptying completely your salivary glands in 2 seconds 😉 It cleans theeth very well (my theeth feels so smooth!); but you might want to try it for few weeks if you have sensitive gums. You can use it as it is; or add some peppermint extract or peppermint essential oil (if you limit the amount of essential oil, your toothpaste will be cheaper than a regular toothpaste). It is quite salty… but you get used to it. An if you prefer a paste, add little by little some water and mix well.

Deodorant: I only use a drop of palmarosa oil. I wrote on it here.

Reusable pad cloth: I love it! I use those from “Eco Femme”. Why? Because it is a social project for women empowerment in India, it saves a lot of waste… and the push button (to keep it in place in your uderware) is very thin (… if you bike every day it might be more comfortable). The cons: it comes from India… but yes… one makes choices… I’ve about 12 pieces (3eur per piece). But the quality is excellent.

Menstrual cup: there you also have a lot of choice. Big of small (according to your flow). And with different end… up to you… I like better the one with the small “button” end (blue one on the picture). The longer end felt uncomfortable to me.

I also read about menstrual underwear: a underwear keeping the menstruation without leaking or stinking…I didn’t try it, but find it a cool idea  😉

Ear stick: you can find quite easily bamboo or paper ear sticks with cotton at the end. Check at a bio/zero waste shops. I guess it will arrive (if not yet) in supermarket sooner or later. You can also use reusable sticks from inox or bamboo (e.g. oriculi). It looks like a mini spoon. But if you need time to changes your habits, as I do, you can start with the paper/cotton ear stick (it is more expensive in the long term, though).

Washable face scrub: yes, it does exist too. Either from cotton, Hemp or bamboo. Or if you can sew, just make some with old towels.

Soap and shampoo: I started with refilling my old bottles at the bio shop. But when I heard that the plastic packaging was not reused (OK, 1 big container of 20L is still better than 30 small bottles), I promised myself to look for an alternative. So I switched to hard soap…. Great. You can probably even promote local fabrication (Belgium: check one of my old flatmate new hobby/job). For Shampoo, I tried hard shampoo (2 different brands)… but I don’t like it. With long hair, I don’t get it everywhere and I don’t like the feeling of it in my hair. So I’m still refilling my bottle once in a while. I read about people using eggs, vinegar, not washing at all… But I’m not so far yet. Bu I succeeded to train my scalp to be less greasy (washing now every 3 or 4 days instead of every other day! When the become greasy, I rinse my hair with water only).

Good luck!


Blog post 3: DIY cleaning products

Most of my cleaning products…

Did you try to make some cookies? I hope it was a success. Each time you make some, it is a packaging less. If you don’t have time to bake every week, why not alternate?

Ready for a new challenge?

Cleaning products… we collect so many of them. Strangely enough, we can reduce them to a few of them: laundry powder, “all use cleaning, dishwashing detergent, and dishwasher soap. You’ll also need to store some of the ingredients for your home made-products (citric acid, soda, soap, vinegar), but you need very few of them.

First a funny story… I wanted to try the recipe from a friend called “toilets bombs”: I had to make some “ice cubes” with a mixture of baking soda and citric acid; and add a little bit of water to bind the mixture; but not too much otherwise the baking soda gets transformed in carbonic acid (H2CO3) and then in H2O and CO2 => bubbles).

 I thought “it will take me no more than 5 minutes”… yeah… I added much too much water… and it has been “making bubbles” for about 1,5 hours!!! I’m happy that I used a huge cooking pot…I had to keep stirring otherwise it would rise and get bigger and bigger and go over the pot every 2 minutes… so to go to the toilet, I had to run 😉


Let’s starts with the one I like the most, and the easiest: the laundry powder.  I mix baking soda, crystal soda and soap flakes… done… 

You can also make liquid soap if you want; but I’m not fan of it. You have to cook your mixture, let it cool down and pour it into a bottle (hum… always a mess with me). Not so quick, so I’ll not share it on this website.

I’m probably like you: I want to be more ecological, but it fits my family life better if it doesn’t take too much time!

You can also do your laundry with Ivy or horse chestnuts! Very easy and free!

As softener, I only use vinegar! Easy, he?

All purpose cleaning

According to me, the second best time/quality product is the “all purpose cleaning”. Mix vinegar and water. That’s it. I promise that the smell of vinegar doesn’t stay in your house! I reuse spray bottles, and I’ve added a mark with a permanent pen to indicate the volume of vinegar I’ve to add. So, when I need to refill: Vinegar to the mark, and water to the top… And done!

If you want it to smell better when spaying it, you can add pieces of lemon or oranges for a couple of weeks (then remove it before it gets rotten); or add some drops of essential oil.

You can use this for cleaning your bathroom, windows, remove the dust in your living room,… Don’t use it on natural stone!!! (The vinegar destroys the limestone in your natural stone…I’ve done it once…don’t try it).

I’ve found a lot of other fancier recipes, but this one is very easy and quick and I’m happy with it!

All along this blog, I’ll try to keep to easy and quick solutions, hoping to motivating you to use some of them.

Toilet cleaning

For cleaning the toilet, I follow the advice from the “famille zero déchet”: a tea spoon of citric acid that I try to stick on the side (if you do it after flushing, it works). They add flour; … I tried it too, but as I’m always forgetting it for too long… the flour gets very sticky into the toilet…. You can alternate with baking soda and vinegar.

I also tried a recipe of “toilet bombs” (as explained here above). But, in fact, it contains citric acid and baking soda (+ essential oils). Water is to make it hard and have nice looking cubes. But if it is for yourself, you don’t need a good looking product, right? Just working products. If citric acid works, why make good looking cubes?


Update October 2019: I’m now making my dishwashing powder.

Up till now, those are the recipes that I’m using often. It is maybe enough for you to start?

To buy the ingredients, I either buy at the zero waste shop in Antwerp ( Marseille soap flakes, baking soda) or ask the bio shop to order for me (paper bags of crystal soda from “la droguerie ecologique” But I’m still looking around for more packaging free. If I find a zero waste cheap solution, I’ll let you know. If you leave in Antwerp, I can buy it for you (I buy in big quantities to reduce transport pollution and transport cost).

If you have good tips, don’t hesitate to write me ( or via the contact form).

Have fun,


PPS: and if you liked my post, don’t hesitate to “like” it, and to share it to friends and family!