Published: March 14, 2023 By

DIY makeup remover padsAre you new to living on your own in a dorm room or with your friends off campus? Is inflation getting the best of you? Same! My name is Karlie, and I'm a senior on the Zero Waste Outreach Team at the Environmental Center. During my time working at the E-Center, I have learned many tips and tricks for eco-friendly living, so I am here to help! In this article, I will provide you with household and lifestyle DIYs that will help you take care of yourself, your home and other lifestyle necessities with the earth and your wallet in mind. These easy (and fun!) hacks will save you time and money, including utilizing items you may already own.


Let’s start with the place you go first thing each morning and each night right before bed. A lot of bathroom items can be recreated to save time and help you adapt to living a more zero waste lifestyle. Here are some of my favorite swaps and DIYs for your bathroom:

  • Is your face covered in streaks of mascara even after using face wash and warm water? Try these DIY makeup remover pads for gentle and effective use. This one uses old fabrics and a sewing machine to give new life to old clothes; however, you can also use old ratty towels, clothes and other unused materials to cut little rounds. 

    • Use a repurposed jar to store them (you can also use this jar to outline a circle so your makeup remover pads fit perfectly).

  • Shampoo bars are another easy item you can make yourself, and reduce plastic use while doing it. Usually equivalent to 2-3 bottles of plastic shampoo bottles, these bars are phenomenal and can be customized for your hair needs! Not only that, but making your own shampoo bars ensures you are not putting harmful and toxic chemicals into your hair. Here are two vegan and plastic-free shampoo bar recipes:

    • Gentle lye-free bar: best for avoiding greasy hair and excess oil

  • 1 cup castile soap
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon castor oil
  • ½ teaspoon black molasses
  • 15 drops of vanilla essential oil, 15 drops of patchouli essential oil and 10 drops of rosemary essential oil
    • Melt soap. Once melted, stir in olive oil, castor oil and black molasses. Let cool. Stir in essential oils, pour into a soap mold and let sit for at least 24 hours before using.

      • Simple custom bar:

        • ⅔ cup olive oil
        • ⅔ cup coconut oil in liquid form 
        • ⅔ cup sweet almond oil (can swap for avocado oil, grapeseed oil or any essential oil blends to choose the scents you want)
        • ¼ cup lye
        • ¾ cup cool water
        • 2 tablespoons essential oil (optional)
    • Combine oils in a bowl, in a separate heat-proof container, and pour the lye into the water slowly, stirring constantly. Allow the lye and water to cool to ~125 degrees, slowly pour it into the oil and continue stirring. Mix until the consistency is like pudding and stir in another tablespoon of oil and your essential oils if you choose to include them. Transfer to your mold and cover for 24 hours, then dry for a few weeks before using. 

  • If bars are not your thing, try this simple shampoo recipe: ¼ cup distilled water, ¼ cup liquid castile soap, ½ teaspoon of oil of your choice and some container to store. Mix together all ingredients, shake before use, and feel free to add up to 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar if you are worried about oil.
  • If you aren’t able to DIY, you can also try bulk shampoo/conditioner. These places in Boulder County offer bulk shampoo/conditioner products:
    • Nude Foods Market (Located in Boulder. Delivery available in Boulder, Central Denver, Gunbarrel, Lafayette and Louisville)
    • Simply Bulk Market (Longmont)
    • Here are some other places that have plastic-free environmentally friendly soap products in Boulder:
      • Lucky’s Market
      • Natural Grocers
  • If you want to go on a refill extravaganza, consider using your bus pass to head down to Denver (or carpool with friends) to check out some amazing refill options:

General tips for bathroom products

  • For those who have a period, consider investing in menstrual cups.
  • Brush your teeth with baking soda (put it in an Old Spice shaker).
  • Or mix with water and add peppermint oil and create a paste then store in a repurposed jar.
  • Castile soap is your best friend for all things cleaning.


A kitchen is an excellent place for developing new eco-conscious habits. You can reduce your waste, become a diligent grocery shopper, learn how to store food properly to get the most out of what you buy and make life a bit easier for cooking and cleaning in your kitchen.

  • Swap paper towels for reusable ‘unpaper’ towels out of old 100% cotton fabrics or old towels. This works best if you can sew them together, but also works great as just a square of reusable fabric.  
  • Compost! Sign up for a free EcoVisit and an eco-kit filled with Zero Waste essentials.
  • Get your produce from the farmer's market. 
  • Keep your food scraps! There are so many ways to use stems, rinds, leaves and all your scraps. Here are some of my favorite ways to use my food scraps:
  • Make stock with skins, peels, stems and tops.
    • Broccoli stems also make delicious soups and can be chopped into fries!
    • Place in the freezer all together until you have enough scraps to create a delicious stock.
    • Regrow produce with seeds, pits and cuttings.
    • Use peels for dyes or even teas.
    • Make jams with leftover fruit peels, cores and tops.
  • For those plant parents, use the soft side of a banana peel to remove dust and give plant leaves better health and shine! Keep your peels in a container with water for a few days to create beautiful phosphorus-rich water for your garden or house plants.
  • Make homemade air fresheners by boiling your fruit scraps.
  • For bird lovers, keep all your used cooking oils in a jar and create suet for birds, the perfect energy booster for birds in the colder months.
  • Use citrus peels to add to your homemade vinegar cleaning solution, which helps get rid of grease.
  • Any foods that will go bad before you can eat them all, freeze them for later.
  • Be intentional—with what you buy, what you invest in (support local if you can), what you eat, etc.
  • Buy your tea and coffee in bulk. 

Lug Your Mug!

  • Make sure to lug your mug to Atlas Corridor every Wednesday leading up to Earth Day for some free coffee from our Zero Waste team! We will be out there from 9 a.m. until noon, or till we run out.
  • Eat more plants, especially local ones, to lessen your environmental impact. 

For cleaning your kitchen

  • Use repurposed rags out of old cotton clothes or towels.
  • Steam your microwave with water for a couple of minutes to make it easier to wipe clean.
  • Use bulk vinegar (except on granite) and baking soda.
  • Wash produce with baking soda and water.
  • Make DIY cleaning spray.
  • Buy bulk dish detergent or make bars of dish soap.
    • While washing your dishes, make a small dish of warm water with your soap for your sponge to dip in instead of having the water running.
    • If you have a dishwasher, here is how you can make your own detergent.

General tips for the kitchen

  • Buy in bulk.
  • Bring bags, jars and bottles to fill your items.
    • It's especially great to buy pantry items and staples, like beans, rice, lentils, canned fruit/vegetables, soups, oats, nuts, spices and more in bulk.
  • Make your own food (i.e. hummus, jams, cookies, dressings/sauces, etc.).
  • Keep your pasta water for making a sauce.
  • Love your tap water.
  • Buy bulk Castile soap (again–an essential for all things zero waste).
  • Thrift Tupperware, plates, bowls, mugs and all your kitchen essentials.
  • Reuse your aluminum foil or invest in beeswax wraps or a silicone baking mat.
  • Place your coffee grounds at the bottom of your garbage to stop any bad smells from overpowering. 


Your room should feel like such a safe place, where you can go and really be at peace, rest and recover. It is the place you sleep and therefore should be a place that oozes comfortability—yet also a place to help you become comfortable in yourself. These hacks can make your bedroom feel more aligned with a zen zero waste lifestyle.

  • DIY air fresheners
  • Use about 25 drops of your favorite essential oil and combine with 2 tablespoons of baking soda; stir and pour into a spray bottle with water.
  • Another easy recipe is one part vinegar to four parts water and any essential oils of your choosing.
  • DIY candles
  • Zero waste glass cleaner
  • Decor: thrift.
  • Create your own art.
  • Use flowers to make pressed flowers or dried flower garlands before they go bad.
  • Try a new hobby for your decorations (2-D and 3-D). Visit Art Parts for used and saved art supplies for all your new adventures. Get crafty by searching for inspiration on Pinterest.
    • Ceramics
    • Knitting
    • Sewing
    • Embroidery
  • Maximize sunlight for your plants, for heating your spaces and therefore using less energy.

General tips for the bedroom

  • Declutter often.
  • Donate to shelters when possible.
  • Thrift furniture when you can. Use Facebook Marketplace or Buy Nothing groups.
  • Use energy-efficient bulbs and appliances.
  • Swap disposable items for reusable ones.

Laundry Room

Not everyone may have access to laundry rooms, but here are some ways to have a lower-waste laundry experience. 

  • Make DIY dryer sheets or wool dryer balls.
  • Make DIY laundry detergent (powder and liquids per your preference).
    • Powder: 3 ingredients; baking soda, washing soda (Arm and Hammer) and Castille bar soap.
    • Liquid: use Castille soap and mix with baking soda, washing soda and essential oils of your choosing. Use around 1-3 tablespoons per load. 

General tips for the laundry room

  • Dry on a line, drying rack or air dry as often as you can.
  • If you do use the dryer, keep your lint trap clean for the best efficiency.
  • Do full loads, cold water cycles and use laundry detergent in bulk.
  • For stains: use chalk, lemon, vinegar and/or dishwasher detergent.
  • Castile soap is your best friend for all things cleaning.