The end of 2018 marks the end of my first full calendar year of living zero waste. Throughout the year I tried new products, read books about the environment, and connected with people in real life, on the blog, and on Instagram (I’m way more active on Instagram these days, you can find me @ARenewableLife). Going zero waste can be overwhelming at times, but it’s easier with a great community surrounding you. Here are top 5 of 2018 (in no particular order):

Elate Cosmetics

I first tried Elate Cosmetics in April when I ordered their brow balm, a bamboo Z Pallet, and samples of their BB Cream and pressed powder. I now use their brow balm, pressed powder, and concealer every day that I wear makeup (I’m still working on that original brow balm from April, almost 8 months later). I love that they focus on minimal packaging and ship their products with no plastic (except for packing tape). The brand also appears to live its values, rather than cashing in on green beauty being trendy, because when I asked for no plastic in my last order they opted to leave a handwritten note on my receipt (instead of a plastic card) and didn’t send me any samples, since those do come in plastic.

My go-to products from Elate Comsetics

Their prices fall between the drug store and Sephora, so the brand isn’t exactly cheap, but since I was used to buying things at Sephora I didn’t experience any sticker shock. You also get a discount by purchasing a refill, though all of their pressed formulas are available in a bamboo compact. My biggest critique is that their shade range, like most green brands, is pretty appalling and has limited options for deeper skin tones. I have yet to try their bronzer, blushes, and eyeshadow, but as I use up the last of my pre-zero waste goodies I’ll be sure to look at Elate first.

Waste Free PhD

One of my biggest complaints of the zero waste community is that we tend to rely on lay-people rather than scientists when it comes to research. From posts about “chemical free cleaning” and recommendations for fluoride-free toothpaste (of which I have been guilty), there is a lot of pseudoscience online that is, quite frankly, harmful. Laura is working on her Ph.D. and has a background in environmental science, meaning she sees through the “no chemical” B.S. If you’re looking for science-based, aspirational posts for your zero waste journey I recommend checking out her website and Instagram. Just a warning, you’ll soon learn that some of your favorite zero waste tricks (like cleaning with vinegar) aren’t all that effective.

Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant

I’ve tested out numerous zero waste deodorants in the past 1.5 years (my post about T’eo Deodorant from Lush is still the most read post on here). For months I had a love affair with the Schmidt’s Bergamot and Lime jar deodorant because it’s sustainably packaged, works well, and smells amazing. Unfortunately, my body has started to react poorly to baking soda, resulting in a rather unsightly (and painful) rash on my armpits.

Enter Meow Meow Tweet! Their ultra trendy packaging made me a bit skeptical at first, but this stuff has worked wonders for me. While this product is a deodorant (not antiperspirant), I don’t find myself getting sweaty throughout the day. I find that the scent, and sweat prevention, lasts throughout my work day day but I do reapply in the evening if I’m going to be out and about.

My new favorite deodorant

I’m a fan of the Eucalyptus Lemon Deodorant Stick and plan to try the Baking Soda Free Deodorant Cream soon. The best part about Meow Meow Tweet is that it is sold at Target, so it should be available in many communities, and the deodorant bar comes in a biodegradable cardboard tube. This product is a bit pricey, at ~$14-$20 depending on the product, but as someone who wants to avoid baking soda and the DIY route, I’m willing to pay a little more for a product that works.

Swedish Dishcloth

I’ve sworn by the Swedish dishcloth since I started using them over a year ago. I use them for cleaning in my kitchen and bathroom (using a separate cloth for each room), and simply toss them in the wash when they need it. These are an easy introduction to zero waste (I’ve managed to convert my parents and hyped them up to my grandma over Christmas) because they are a huge money saver and aren’t as “out there” as some other zero waste swaps (like the family cloth, which I will never use). I’m starting to see these pop up at more home-good and novelty stores, making them one less thing  I have to buy online. You can also find them in loads of different designs, making them aesthetically pleasing and practical addition to your home

The Year of Less

It’s hard to think of a book that has impacted me more than “The Year of Less” in the last 12 months. Cait Flanders’ journey starts online, where she chronicled her debt-free journey. Then, she turned her attention to her stuff and went on a one-year no buy that turned into two. Cait is vulnerable, openly sharing what it’s like to go sober, climb out of debt, and find new ways to socialize with people when you don’t drink or shop. I started 2018 with a no buy and am doing the same in 2019. Cait has inspired me to shop less, I’ve even created shopping rules for 2019 so that I don’t end up with more stuff. I don’t think I’ll be as successful as Cait, but consuming less is a step in the right direction.

I can’t enumerate all the ways that 2018 was a great year (personally at least, our political situation is a bit of a dumpster fire). I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for me and to continue to connect with others in this community. What were your favorite finds of 2018?