Making zero waste or plastic free makeup is not for everyone. Having the time, space, resources, finding ingredients package free, or at the least in reusable and recyclable packaging can put this aspect of zero waste living in the too hard basket. Luckily, there are pre-made products that tick the zero waste packaging box for some.

Last year, I set myself the mission to look for ready made zero waste beauty products that would suit people wishing to live a low waste lifestyle or plastic free lifestyle. I picked two product lines to investigate; lipstick and mascara.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

This is not a paid review at all. I bought this for me to use, because sometimes I get busy and don’t have the time to make my own lip cream.

Luckily, there are people out there that LOVE to make beauty products for a living. Etsy and other online stores is the space to find them. This is where I found a lipstick and cheek tint in compostable cardboard, ticking all the boxes for a consumer looking for a ready-made zero waste lipstick.

I have had my UrbApothecary Tint Stick for almost a year and continue to wear it almost every day. I even wore it on my wedding day and recently on national TV. No one knew that the packaging was, gasp, made of cardboard.

Now if you clicked the link, you would have noticed that the tint stick is wrapped in a sticker. So did I. Stickers like this are not recyclable or compostable. But seeing how this was one of the only ready made lipstick/cheek tints I found in compostable packaging, I decided to contact the seller asking if they would be able to send this item without the sticker. As it is made in small batches, the maker complied easily, saying that when she makes the next batch (which mine would be from) she would keep a sticker off my one.

This is one of reasons why I encourage people to check out Etsy or other small online stores for zero waste beauty items. They are run by individuals or are small businesses, making it easier to have a direct conversation about what you (the consumer) would like. This is especially handy too when making requests on how your items should be packaged and sent (no plastic please and bubble wrap please). Same with local markets or local boutique makeup businesses.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

UrbApothecary Tint Stick is a mainly plant based product. The red colouring comes from a plant called alkanet. Being free of mica and iron-oxide, it does require a couple of applications to provide a bold colour on the lips. On my pale cheeks, one application is more than enough.

A touch up after four hours on the cheeks and one hour on the lips suits me fine, depending if I'm eating or drinking. It has a sweet smell, nothing too overpowering or strong. I don’t know if I would classify this as tint, it does not stain the way my beetroot lip/cheek tint does. It does provide colour though, just not an instant bold colour. You gotta build that up.

It’s small (7cm long) and light weight, allowing for easy transportation.

I recognised all the ingredients, but punched them into the EWG database to double check their safety. All came back with safe recommendations. It is free of synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances, cruelty free, palm oil, paraben and SLS free, plus organic and ethically sourced materials ticked boxes for me.There is also a vegan wax option too.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

The cardboard case has held up well. The application is just like a regular lipstick with a push up function.

I did check with the seller and also the maker of the packaging if there was a lining of plastic. There is not. Instead it has a lining made of oil that is safe for composting. I’m about two months away from finishing this tint stick and will do the hot water test to double check it is indeed lined with only oil and not plastic. One of the reasons I gravitated towards paper based casing was the composting factor. If I lost this, it should break down in the natural environment quickly. I'll be quick to update if this is not the case. But until then I am trusting the maker and packaging company that is indeed free of a plastic lining.

UrbApothecary Tint Stick was shipped with no plastic too. A request I made. The lipstick came in a plain cardboard envelope, held in the small white paper envelop with paper tape seen below. It also came with the business card.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

It was great to find a ready made cosmetic in cardboard. While there are more options in glass and metal, I prefer cardboard for a couple reasons. Cardboard can break down in my simple backyard compost. Cardboard is welcome and beneficial to the composting process. While resources, energy and transportation are needed to make the cardboard packaging, if I choose to compost it then I don't have to recycle it, which is a labor intensive industry too. If I have the choice, I will choose composting over recycling. Most glass packaging comes with a metal or plastic lid. Plastic lids smaller than a business card are harder to recycle and can escape the sorting process. It's best to ask your council or closest recycling centre if they accept them for recycling and how best to hand them over (usually as a bundle so they don't get lost). Metal lids and containers can be lined with plastic. This usually does not stop them from being recycled, but i'm trying to cut down on plastic where I can. So cardboard is my preferred packaging and if it works just as well as plastic, then why not choose it.

The only downside is that the product is made in the US. So there is the shipping miles included for us Aussies. However, I have found out there is an Australian company called Dirty Hippie Cosmetics that is set to offer some products in compostable packaging soon, including a cheek/tint stick.

Until then I’ll continue to use UrbApothecary Tint Stick as I am very VERY happy with it.

I’d love to know if you found this review helpful. I’d also like to know if there is a similar products available here in Melbourne or other parts of Australia? Have I missed it? Is there a Australian beauty business that has low waste as a priority? Are there any big brands that are trying to reduce their packaging too?
Zero Waste Wedding

Two days after Christmas Day 2015, the Builder asked me to marry him. And I said yes. Five months later we were married. This blog post covers how we tried to create a zero waste wedding. It's a long post, so if you want to to read it all, then I suggest making yourself a cup of tea. 

Planning a wedding was something I had never contemplated fully. Admittedly, there has been the odd wedding related chat with girlfriends. But those conversations were usually forgotten, never fixated upon. I’m all for commitment, it’s just I’ve never related a wedding or marriage as the solitary symbol of commitment.

Marriage is important to the Builder. Out of the two of us, I’d label him the traditional one.

The only marriage ceremony that appealed to me, consisted of the registry office, followed by a long lunch. No fuss. Intimate. Simple. Affordable. The Builder's was the opposite. Traditional church, me walking down an aisle in a white dress, big reception, first dance etc. He wanted to make a commitment to me, in front of the people we love.

Since I didn't have any dreams of how I wanted my wedding to look or be, I let go of my desire for a small wedding and gave the Builder the wedding he dreamed of. One of my conditions was that we make for a plastic free and zero waste wedding. Or at least attempt it. My husband worked very hard with me, to make this happen. In fact he did most of the planning and organising, as I was too busy with work to focus solely on the wedding preparations. I now happily admit that it was the best day of my life. Cliché much? You bet! Especially from a girl who never really thought about weddings.

For those that don’t want to read a breakdown of the wedding, the photo below shows the waste we accumulated from the planning through to sending out thank you cards. So, there is your answer – we did create plastic waste on our wedding day. I named this post zero waste wedding, as it was a goal. To me, that is what zero waste is...a goal.

Zero Waste Wedding
All the rubbish (non recyclable material) that we created from planning through to sending out thank you cards. 

Before I begin, I’d like to thank my readers who offered a variety of ways to help make our day wonderful and low waste. Dresses, candles, props, styling, celebrant and even a private garden. I was floored by how much was offered to us for free. THANK YOU!

Choosing the venues

The venue for our reception was decided on rather quickly. We fell in love with the Newport Substation's unique character at first sight.

We liked that it was a community run space too. Initially an electrical substation built in 1915, the building sat in disrepair until the early 1990s. A group of residents came together, gathered donations from members of the local community and set about repairing the building, turning the forgotten space into a thriving community arts facility. It now houses concerts, art exhibitions, markets and of course, weddings. Since we live in north west Melbourne, it felt right to pick a venue close to our home and the area we spend most of our time.

Zero Waste Wedding
View from outside - Image from Wikipedia Commons
The hall - Image by The Substation
They had two dates available, May and October. The Builder could not understand why we should wait so long. Naively, we went with the date in May. Planning a wedding in five months, with the added stress of it being a very busy time at work for me was…well it was a test. I don't think we have ever fought so much in our relationship!!

The Newport Substation is not an equipped function space. This means everything, but tables, some seating in the entrance area and AV, had to be brought in for the event. Clients simply book the building, then whichever catering company is picked, runs the day. Not an in house team from the Substation. It did prove a little challenging, but we just loved the building. Guests could explore the whole space, from the gallery to every other little and big room. The Newport Substation is an interesting building and is well worth a visit.

The wedding ceremony was held at St Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Yarraville.

Paper, printing and choosing sustainable options that suited us

Using paper was always going to happen. Deciding on how much, where we wanted to use it, printing and sourcing stock was easy to navigate. I work as a graphic designer. I knew where to source 100% sustainable recycled post-consumer paper, made in Australia.

70% of our invites and information cards were sent electronically using It proved to be an efficient tool that helped not only save on paper and postage, but also for organisng the event. Remaining invitations were sent by regular post, along with RSVP cards, to those who did not have an email address.

Apart from the printed invitations, we had church service programs, menus, gift in lieu cards and a seating chart on the day. Simple actions like asking people to share menus (we had two per table) and share church service programs helped save on the amount of paper used.

The church service program was not necessary, but something I felt was needed at our wedding. I had an Antiochian Orthodox wedding ceremony. I knew pretty much all of my family and friends had never been to one and I wanted to explain parts of the service to them, so they could understand why I was wearing a crown or why I walked around a table.

I set up the printing so I could get three church service programs on one A4 page or two menus on an A4 page. All material that was left at the church or reception was collected to be reused or recycled at home.

Our Thank you cards were also sent out electronically to those that we had emailed invitations too and hand written cards for those sent via post.

Dress, Shoes and Jewelry

I found my second hand wedding dress on Love Me Twice Facebook page. When I saw it, I immediately knew it was MY wedding dress. Another cliche? You bet. 

Truthfully, it was not what I had planned.

When I first began looking for wedding dresses, I had two rules: it had to be functional post wedding and it needed to keep me warm. The wedding was at the end of May, meaning it would be cold. And it was cold!

I liked the idea of the combination of a knitted jumper with bridal skirt. I had found a place to rent a bridal skirt for the day. The only hiccup was locating the right knitted jumper, that I would want to wear again.

Then I began searching online for second hand wedding dress sites. But I found nothing that would suit a cold autumn day. It seemed like winter dresses consisted of long lace sleeves and that was it!

Then, I saw my wedding dress. It ticked the 'keep me warm' box. And it will be functional post wedding, because I intend to sell it onto another bride. I like the idea of selling my dress. I had such a wonderful day wearing it, and want to give that to someone else. 

Second hand wedding dress shopping is tricky, for the simple reason that dresses are made especially for someones body or off the rack dresses are altered to fit specific measurements. Even my dress had to be altered on the left hand cuff.

Zero Waste Wedding

If I had not found my dress, I would have started scouring vintage stores in Melbourne. Hiring is also an option too...the simple reason I did not hire was because I wanted a warm dress and there were zip available. Can you tell I like to be comfortable and warm? 

I found my shoes in an Op Shop.  They were simple kitten heels, comfortable for dancing all night in. A bargain at $6.

Apart from my engagement ring, I borrowed earrings from my mum and a vintage dress pin, turned into a hair clip.

The Builder chose to invest in a new suit. He tried to find a second hand suit, but nothing fit him. I suppose one perk for boys buying a new suit, is that they will likely wear it again. Since the wedding it's been worn five times.

I also let my beautiful bridesmaids choose whatever dress they wanted. I’d rather they pick a dress that’d be worn again.

Hair and Makeup

For the day, I opted to have my hair fashioned by a vintage hairstylist.

Anyone who knows me, has endured my love for vintage. I adored the vintage faux bob, and will admit there was a bit of hairspray used to achieve the look. I had planned to do my own hair for the day. Then I started looking into professional services, and I thought why not. When would be the next time I’ll get to have my hair done like this? Probably never! Should I have given the hairstylist the challenge of finishing the style without hairspray? Yes, I should have and I wish I had. Regardless, I don’t regret getting my hair done…only the hairspray.

While I splurged on my hair, I did my own makeup. I wore my regular compostable lipstick and blush all day and night. I made the decision to borrow my mum’s eyebrow pencil, my sister’s foundation and mascara.
Zero Waste Wedding
With my beautiful bridesmaids
The eyebrow powder I use regularly has turmeric in it. I did not want to chance any of it getting onto my dress. It felt weird to have the foundation and blush on my face. I did not regret borrowing the mascara, mine is not waterproof and I cried throughout the speeches. 

I feel like I should feel guilty, for not wearing my usual plastic free/zero waste makeup. My homemade makeup is great, but not long wearing. Since this wedding was only going to happen ONCE, I figured why not go with something I knew would last without needing a couple touch ups. I did not want to spend time at my wedding doing that. So just this once, I use old conventional makeup.


The bouquets were made of the same proteas, foraged blossoms and eucalyptus used in the table settings (more on that below). My mum fastened them together with old hessian and twine. They looked beautiful. Thanks Mum!!

Wedding rings

I didn't even think about buying a wedding ring. I knew that I had something suitable in my jewellery box. My wedding ring belonged to my Mum, that I have worn since I was a teenager, just on the other hand. I think many of my friends know it as I've been wearing it that long. I don't know where she got it from, but I liked it so much when I was younger, that I asked for it. And since she never wore it, she passed it over. It's called a Russian wedding ring or also known as a Trinity ring. Three bands intertwined in harmony, three colours of gold: pink for love, yellow for fidelity and white for friendship.

Zero Waste Wedding

My engagement ring also came from my mother. I have never EVER seen the point of them. When the Builder proposed, he did it without a ring. Then he asked what eco sustainable ring I wanted, and I said none. It's not needed. However, my mother is traditional and so is my now husband. They conspired behind my back, and the Builder presented me with one of my Mum's old rings. She bought it for herself in the 1970s.

The Builder's wedding band is made of gold sourced entirely from his mum, aunt and grandmother's old jewelry from Lebanon. It was simply melted down and turned into a new ring. He likes the connection the ring has to his family and heritage.

Styling the venues

We chose not to style the church. Being an Antiochian Orthodox church, it had enough going on. If you have been to an Orthodox church, you will know what I mean. 

The large windows and grand velvet curtains with the high exposed ceilings of Newport Substation were features in themselves. We didn’t see the need to add anything else either.

Zero Waste Wedding
The main hall before the guests arrived
I did want to add flowers to each of the guest tables and dessert table. I decided to forage for native plants along the Maribynong River with my mum and sister.

Having a wedding in the cooler months allowed us to take advantage of the native gum blossoms. We also used found bark and native seeds to dress the tables. I had planned on gathering proteas from a nearby tree. By the time our wedding rolled around, there was only a handful left. In the end I ended up buying 25 protea’s and silvan red from a Victorian supplier. Total cost was $150.

The flowers were arranged in jars I already owned. Living zero waste and plastic free, means my jar collection is strong. We only had to collect ten extra from family.

Foraging for native flowers, gum leaves and bark then assembling into table decorations
One of my readers donated candles, used at her own wedding (thanks Shay!!). We put these on the guest tables and used 17 of the candles as table numbers, wrapping them in old paper I had lying around, painting the table numbers on the paper.

We used eucalyptus leaves as place cards, writing on each one with a pen I borrowed from the Builders toolset.

Each table had two menus, rather than one per person.

Our catering company lent us old wooden crates to style our gift table/dessert table. I also borrowed old bird cages from a work colleague to use for the wishing well.

Zero Waste Wedding

Zero Waste Wedding

Newport Substation had round tables available for use, along with trestle tables. To keep costs low, we utilized these rather than hire. We did need to hire chairs for the night.

Unfortunately, the guest tables were worn chipboard, requiring us to hire table cloths. We rented these along with cloth napkins for the night. A MAJOR oversight by us, was not asking how the linen would be packaged, when dropped off. The linen was wrapped in a soft plastic. We could recycle it through RED Cycle program BUT on each bag was a sticker and some plastic tape. I took these off each plastic bag (you can see the stack of stickers in the photo of our rubbish at the top) before they were dropped off at the recycle bins, otherwise they would not be fit for recycling.

At the end of the night, everything we foraged for, was collected by the catering company for us to then drop off at our local Transfer Station. They collect tree pruning, garden rubbish and green waste. Paper elements left behind were recycled. 


We had the wedding ceremony at St Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Yarraville - a 10 minute drive from the Newport Substation. With 80% of my guests coming from interstate and overseas, we decided on hiring two buses to take people from the ceremony to the reception. If people were travelling long distances, we wanted them to have an easy time getting between the venues, even if it was only a 10 minute drive. It saved on individual cars and also fuel.

The Builder wanted to rent a nice car...I was quite happy to get a taxi. Either way, we needed transport from my house (I don't own a car and I was not driving his dirty ute in my dress). Some arguments later, I let him hire two cars for us. One for us, the other for the bridal party. It was very cool to drive around in a vintage car. It's not something I had done before or will probably ever do again. Probably not the most eco of choices, but compromise is very important in any relationship.

The food

Bringing our own food or asking guests to bring a plate would have been one of the easiest ways to limit waste.

But only if all the guests followed our same lifestyle.

Sending out a request for them to BYO food, with a list of how to prepare and package, so it falls into a zero waste and plastic free category, did not sound like fun. Plus, with so many travelling, the last thing I wanted to do, was put them to work trying to find food in a city they don't know. The idea sounds great, but the execution would have been hard to follow through without some stress.

The quest for a zero waste catering company returned futile results. We ended up choosing Farm Café Catering (Collingwood Children’s Farm) namely because we liked their local and seasonal food philosophy and we had seen the giant compost piles on the farm. The farm sounds far away, but it’s actually in Melbourne, 10 mins from the CBD.

Zero Waste Wedding
Roasted field mushroom, thyme and blue cheese on sesame brioche bun 
We explained our desire to have a zero waste and plastic free wedding. They jumped on board, helping us along the way.

While the farm had compost on site, they were not allowed to take food served to guests back to the farm for compost.

We flirted with the idea of asking people to bring containers or supply paper boxes for leftovers. The idea was nice, but we did not think enough people would take food home. Especially all those travelling from interstate. Instead, we decided to compost ourselves.

We asked our event manager if we could take the leftover food home for composting. They agreed. The staff put everything in large containers for us, that we picked up on the following Monday. 

Composting large amounts of food is not possible for everyone. Melbourne has a pickup service called Compost Collectors. If we did not have our own place to compost, I would have arranged for Compost Collectors to collect it.

Composting the scraps helped reduce waste significantly.

Zero Waste Wedding
All the food scraps from our wedding! It filled to just over 3/4 of this bin.
Into the compost it went...
Our guests loved the meal and continue to compliment it. It was shared plates of local seasonal food. Sharing the food allowed people to dictate how much food they wanted themselves and what they wanted to actually eat. The catering company said it's a good way to reduce waste as some people like to eat more than others, while others are small eaters.

We were shocked with how much food was left at the end and had to remind ourselves it was 170 people worth of food, and some of the scraps were from prep. It made us think about all the food waste, at all the weddings, going to landfill. Kind of disheartening. The Farm Café are now thinking seriously about how to change this in their own practice.

The reception began with canapes, meaning that either small plates or cloth napkins were needed. Since the space where we were having the canapes was a little tight, we decided on cloth. We asked if we could hire cloth cocktail napkins – neither we nor the catering company could find these for hire. The cloth napkins we hired for dinner were big and bulky. The Farm Café located compostable napkins, so we went with those. They did come wrapped in a soft plastic, that could be recycled through RED Cycle

In hindsight, we should have looked for place to buy actual cloth napkins as I had an event for Plastic Bag Free Victoria where I could have used them. Regardless, we composted the paper napkins that were used.

We did away with having a wedding cake. Neither of us are big on cake. Instead, the gift table was turned into a dessert, coffee and tea table. We ordered baklava and Turkish delight for half the guests and all was eaten. Milk for the coffee and tea was sourced in glass jars from La Latteria by our catering company. Tea was loose leaf.

The beverages

Alcohol was an easy option for us. We got to provide most of it in bulk to our guests! And we had no glass that needed recycling at the end of the night.

Melbourne based mobile bar service TAP. provided our wine on the night. All of the wine is dispensed from stainless steel kegs, that are reused.

Choosing TAP. helped reduce the waste associated with wine bottles such as cartons, labels and corks. One keg of wine eliminates the need to manufacture, package, store and dispose of 26 glass bottles.

We served rose, red and white wine along with prosecco. Yes, we had bubbles on tap!

We hired kegs of Victorian Bitter from Kegs on Legs and served homemade Arak (Lebanese spirit) from a family friend.

Whisky was not as easy to source in bulk or refill. The Builder had a conversation with Starward Whisky, a local whisky distillery, about the prospect of offering a refill option at their brewery in the future. We hope they do; it’s great whisky and a 10 minute drive from our house. Fingers crossed the conversation planted a seed for the future. I've already started reusing the empty whisky bottles we bought. 

Ice also presented a hurdle. We tried to avoid buying ice in plastic bags. The Builder researched hiring an ice machine. The time, space and money needed to create enough ice presented too many challenges. The Builder queried local pubs on using their ice, but no luck. We went with ice bags and recycled them through RED Cycle.

Non-alcoholic drinks consisted of homemade Lebanese lemonade and water. We borrowed the Builder’s sister juicer for the lemonade making process. It was an epic day making the lemonade. 22L of concentrate was created, then dropped to the catering company in every empty jar and bottle we had spare. Our kitchen floors were sticky for a week!

Bathrooms towels

Why do the bathroom towels get their own unique category? Because this is something we did not think about;  how the guests would dry their hands! Luckily the catering company, Farm Café, gathered extra cloth napkins we had hired and put these into the bathrooms, in lieu of paper disposable ones.

Wedding favours

We decided to not give people wedding favors. Instead we chose to make a donation to Cure MND Foundation. Guests did receive a small card to let them know of the donation. Sadly most of them were left in the room. They were collected and recycled.

On reflection, a small sign on the gift table would have sufficed.


A request of no physical gifts was made. If they felt inclined, they were welcome to make a contribution to our honeymoon. No one gave us a physical gift on the night, except one of my friends mum, who makes the tastiest fig and ginger jam. She even wrapped it in old cloth.

We recycled the envelopes and kept the cards. Some envelopes we could reuse too!

One guest reused an old envelope, wrote a message on the front of the envelope and put a contribution inside, with no card. It was by far our favorite! Another guest sent an e-card.

The Builder on the Lebanese drum, while guests danced the dabke

Final thoughts

None of our guests were aware of our low waste wedding. Not one, suspected that we strived to make it sustainable. We estimated that there were around 50 people that had no idea we live a low waste lifestyle. And it was not that hard for us to keep our wedding low waste. This is because we kept everything simple. It had all the usual elements of a traditional wedding, we just happened to reduce, reuse, borrow, compost and recycle properly.

The days following our wedding, I was struck with thoughts like, "I should have sourced 20 second hand table cloths to avoid that plastic packaging" or "why did I not make cloth cocktail napkins myself." In the end I had to step back and remind myself that we did the best we could, and that is better than not trying.

Sticking to the zero waste philosophy and aiming to be plastic free, helped us save money too. Our wedding fell way below our budget. We found it easier to cut back on anything that was not needed or served us. While we wanted a low waste wedding, our ultimate aim was to have a fun day with our family and friends.

If you have read over this, and believe you could do a better job at creating a zero waste and plastic free wedding, then I really truly wish you do! I am sharing what we did, the problems encountered, areas we did not pay attention to, anticipating that another couple does come along with the hopes of doing it better. Otherwise, what's the point in sharing this?

My tips for a zero waste wedding

  • Each wedding in unique, and there are many different factors that make up that special individuality for each one. We found a style that worked for us. Find one that works for you and don't compare your wedding day to another.

  • There is no one size fits all for an eco wedding. Do the best with what you have got and suits you. We could have had the ceremony and reception all in one building but, that did not happen for our wedding. And that's okay. An eco wedding does not have to happen on a rural farm or in a rural location. It does not have to be boho, gypsy or hippy themed. It does not have to be small. It can work just fine in the suburbs with as many people as you want there. 

  • Ask your catering company about using seasonal, local food and their views on composting or research composting companies. You could also choose catering companies that support community or charity initiatives. We really wanted to use Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, but were knocked back because our venue was a little tricky without the kitchen. 

  • If you want to have a styled wedding, then see how you can do it with less waste, by asking some questions like; where was this item made, where will it end up at the end of it's life cycle and can it be reused. Most props used to style weddings can be hired or borrowed out

  • Assuming and not asking questions of our suppliers, led to the plastic waste that was created. Neither of us had planned a wedding before, nor an event for over a hundred people. So asking those tough eco questions is a must!

  • While I was able to design and print my own material for the wedding, I understand most don’t have this option. If you are going to have material designed and printed for your event, simply ask your designer exactly what you what in terms of a sustainable end product. Most designers and printers will have a good idea and contacts to help.

  • If you are fortunate enough to have access to an office printer, or simply want to print at home, then finding 100% sustainable recycled post-consumer paper is not difficult. All specialty paper stores will either have it in stock, or can source it for you.

  • We had our wedding photos before the ceremony so we could get people onto buses and to the venue 20 minutes after the ceremony finished. I had to fight the Builder for this, as I did not want my guests to linger in the cold while we posed for photos. Plus I wanted to spend time with them, not having my photo taken. After all, they traveled a great distance to see us. The Builder has since agreed this was a great decision as it saved us time to just enjoy the flow of the day. We still had that special moment of seeing each other for the first time, aisle or no aisle. 

  • There are many different ways to offer gifts to your wedding guests that are low waste and plastic free (plants, homemade jam, seeds - pinterst has numerous suggestions!). It's not a necessity to give one. Most weddings I have been to, have never had wedding favours. 

  • Ask friends (married or not married) if they have anything you can borrow. You would be surprised by what people will offer too. 

  • Check out your local second hand clothing stores

  • Another worthy mention is visiting reuse craft stores like Resource Rescue. They are a non-profit organisation which collects rejects, seconds and factory off cuts for distribution to the community. Another handy idea if you are looking for fun, funky pieces is to visit the The Junk Map, to find salvage yards

  • If you can't forage for flowers, ask friends with flower gardens or simply choose flowers that are local and in season. 

  • Avoid the throw away items, and hire ones that can be washed like proper cutlery, plates, glasses and cloth napkins.

  • Have fun :) 

So, on that note ... I'd love to know if you have any tips? Would you have done things differently? Leave any notes in the comments below, for the brides and grooms, who were like me, scrambling the Internets looking for Eco, zero waste, plastic free, sustainable wedding inspiration :)

DIY Zero Waste Eyebrow Powder and Eyeshadow From The Pantry

In a recent chat with 1 Million Women, I shared that my eyebrow powder is made of ingredients straight out of the pantry. Since then, I have had emails and messages asking for the recipe. For some reason, I thought a post on DIY zero waste eyebrow powder from the pantry was already sitting among my other do it yourself natural beauty recipes. But I was wrong. So here it is.

For over a decade, I tinted my eyebrows and eyelashes at home. When I began the transition to plastic free beauty, the monthly ritual of colouring my blonde eyebrows to a dark brown was phased out.

The plastic free and zero waste replacement came easily from my kitchen cupboards.

DIY zero waste eyebrow powder and eyeshadow from the pantry

1/4 teaspoon Carob powder
1/8 teaspoon Turmeric
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon

DIY Zero Waste Eyebrow Powder and Eyeshadow From The Pantry

This is a mixture that suits MY eyebrows. The turmeric adds a golden hue that works with the natural colour of my eyebrows, carob adds darkness and the cinnamon brings a touch of ginger to match my hair.

These are all ingredients that I use in my cooking each week too, so I always have them on hand. And of course, all bought zero waste from my local bulk food store.

As I said, this combination suits ME. It took a couple of different mixtures to figure out what from my pantry would work with my skin colouring. We are all unique, so if you want to make your own DIY zero waste eyebrow powder from your pantry, be prepared to try out variations that you think will work for you. Any concoctions that don’t make the cut can be tossed easily into the garden, compost or even eaten. I love that the eyebrow powder I am putting on my body is natural and safe. Ain’t no weirdo chemical lurking on my face.

DIY Zero Waste Eyebrow Powder and Eyeshadow From The Pantry

I keep it in an old glass bottle that previously had a hair oil treatment in it. This mixture has lasted well over a year and cost less than $3 to make.

PLUS, when I’m feeling fancy, it doubles as my eyeshadow.

DIY Zero Waste Eyebrow Powder and Eyeshadow From The Pantry

Below are a list of ingredients sorted by hue. Try making your own eyebrow powder or even eyeshadow using some of these:

Chinese five spice



Red browns

Matcha powder


Activated charcoal

I’d love to know if you make your own eyebrow powder or eyeshadow. What colours do you use? Are there any other ingredients from the pantry that could be added to list?
Choosing how and where I spend my money is important to me. This rule also applies where I choose to eat my food. 

Melbourne is known, unofficially, as the foodie capital of Australia. Being from NSW, I joke it's because the weather is not the best in Melbourne and they don't have the beautiful beaches Sydney has to offer, so the city has to entertain/lure people with something else. 

It feels like there is a new restaurant/cafe/venue opening up every day, making this city a competitive place to find a meal. And if I want to find a meal that meets my eco values, it can feel like I'm searching for a needle in a haystack. 

I value places that think about their waste (both food and packaging), composting, reduced plastics, community minded, local food, fair food, organic. 

Fair Food Forager helps me to pick a business that aligns with my values. Their website and smartphone app, connects people like me, with the food business I want to spend my money with. When I am looking for somewhere to eat, I simply put in my post code and can browse the ethical food choices in my area. 

Food business are added to the app and website, by every day eco conscious individuals or by businesses themselves. The team at Fair Food Forager will then asses if the businesses nominated for listing, align with their ethical values. 

I got to chat with the developer Paul Hellier about what inspired him to build his fair food community website and smartphone app. 

Interview with Fair Food Forager

Interview with Fair Food Forager

What is Fair Food Forager about?
Fair Food Forager is creating a competitive / business reason for food growers, sellers and artisans to include ethical and sustainable practices in their business model. To achieve this, we have created a website and smartphone app that lists the more ethical and sustainable options right across Australia. Basically we want to highlight the businesses that are worthy of your money and make consumers aware of some of the little but very positive things being done in thousands of food venues, everywhere. We want to change the way the world eats, by helping people make better and more thoughtful decisions regularly.

What inspired you to start the website?

After about a decade of picking up litter, daily, from my local beach and being frustrated by the constant supply. I decided I wanted to do more, have a greater impact and felt that technology had to be a part of whatever that solution was.

After another year of deep thought, consideration and talking to lots of people, I decided that food was the link I needed. After a trip away and trying to get myself a sit down coffee in a ceramic mug to no avail. I realized an app to help me find the businesses that care, was definitely the way to go. The rest is history.

We want to highlight the businesses that are worthy of your money and make consumers aware of some of the little but very positive things being done in thousands of food venues, everywhere. We want to change the way the world eats, by helping people make better and more thoughtful decisions regularly.

Interview with Fair Food Forager

Interview with Fair Food Forager

Tell us about your new app?
The Fair Food Forager app lists restaurants, cafes, grocers and suppliers who are making steps to be more sustainable and ethical. You as the consumer can help us populate the app, so that we can all work together to help people find food that is lighter on the planet.

Often when we are away from our hometown we end up settling for something not so healthy or ethical because, well we are just hungry and have already looked for a while and there just isn’t anything around. However it is regularly the case that there is something, we just don’t know where to find it.

Our plan is, that people discover these great caring businesses; they list them and help the next caring consumer to find it. Then as business owners realize that consumers are choosing ethical options, they will see the need to either increase their levels of sustainability or start tackling it in some way.

We have identified 11 categories of sustainable practices with individual icons (Sustainable Palm Oil is coming soon). At a glance, these icons identify what areas a business is tackling and helps the consumer make a choice based on what is important to them.

The icons list categories including; Fair Trade, Sustainable seafood, reduced food waste, reduced plastic waste, chemical free, local produce, homemade, charitable, ethical / free range, vegan and vegetarian.

What has been the challenges developing this kind of service?
Funding and time are by far the biggest challenges for us. I am not a web developer, so I had to pay someone with these skills to create the website and app. I’ve saved and borrowed money to make it happen, but I thought that if I’m going to get it off the ground, this is the quickest way.

The team has grown to 6 volunteers including myself, we all have bills to pay, and so everyone is working on Fair Food Forager in their spare time. It’s a team of motivated, go-getters, who all contribute massive world changing ideas. Though for now, we must prioritize and only do that which is most important in changing the way the world eats.

Interview with Fair Food Forager

If any readers would like to develop a website or app that relies on user input, what is your advice on how to approach it?
I think you have to talk about it and talk about it a lot, to everyone. Don’t worry about someone stealing it. Chances are they aren’t going to put in the work that you have, or they are going to copy it anyway, once you are live. You can hide your idea, but then no one will know about it and worse still, you will miss all of that invaluable input.

There are many reasons to talk about it. You might speak to that one person that can really help you get the word out there. Or, people will tweak and refine your idea with fresh ears and eyes and that could be the difference between something that works and something that doesn’t.

Also I think its important to tell the like minded, find your tribe and they will help you spread the word. You can’t be everywhere.

What plans does Fair Food Forager have for the future?

Our biggest plan is to make this platform valuable all over the world. I love the idea that I could travel around the world impacting less as I go. People could list their favorites, in say San Francisco that will benefit us when we travel there, and that person will benefit when they travel here in Australia. Everyone wins!

We are also working with some great partners on a variety of things, from reducing plastic waste to educating consumers on sustainable palm oil, sustainable seafood to reducing food waste. There is just so much good to do.

I have to add that I look forward to working with people like you Erin, people passionate about the state of the planet. I believe that we shouldn’t under estimate the power of our purchasing dollar, the more people choose to avoid over packaged, unethical, unhealthy food. The more business will listen and cater to what the people want.

As a community we can all help to minimize the negative impact that eating has on the planet.

If you had a moment in an elevator and could tell people just one thing, what would it be?

Just do something, start somewhere simple, make it a habit and go from there. You don't have to be perfect, but who knows, you might change others with your new behaviour.

Right now, the website and smartphone app are only available in Australia and New Zealand. If you know of a cafe/restaurant/venue or run a business of that nature, and you believe it should be listed on Fair Food Forager, PLEASE add it. I truly believe sharing is one of the most important actions that will help shift awareness. Plus, I love travelling around Australia and would prefer to support ethical, waste minded businesses as much as possible :) 

Whenever I end any of my community talks or converse with eager people about the zero waste or plastic free lifestyle, I always encourage those with internet connections to join online groups. Usually, I point them towards Facebook for location based groups specific to their city, town, or state.

While blogs, books and online articles are helpful tools, conversing with people in your own suburb or town on ways to begin a low waste lifestyle can provide confidence to those looking for solutions locally but not finding many via google searches.

These online groups are thriving hubs for people that;
  • Want to reduce their waste
  • Need answers to questions relating to their suburb, town, city and state
  • A place to share frustrations of an over packaged plastic item
  • Sharing new bulk stores or a butcher, baker and all the other businesses in-between that allow customers to shop with their own containers
  • Troubleshooting zero waste questions with a group
  • Sharing real life experiences
  • Want to help others
  • Share ideas, tips and tricks
The list could go on and on. I love logging into these groups, browsing the rousing conversations being had.

Below is a list of link to the Australian zero waste online communities that I know of. 

Zero Waste Victoria

Towards Zero Waste Bendigo
Banner to come

Zero Waste Tasmania

Zero Waste and Plastic Free Living Perth

Zero Waste Sydney

Zero Waste Newcastle

Zero Waste Blue Mountains
banner to come

Zero Waste Brisbane
banner to come 

Towards Zero Waste South East Queensland
banner to come

Zero Waste Families 
Zero Waste Families is not location specific. I thought i'd add it, as it's Australian based.

If you know of other Australian zero waste online communities, let me know. I’d love to add them to the list. I encourage you to share this post too. Creating communities like this, is one of the many ways we can support the growth of the zero waste and plastic free movements here in Australia. 
I kindly receive dozens of emails each week, from companies asking me to try their product. While it's very nice, rarely will one actually fit with my lifestyle. Which is why, you don't see many of these disclosure statements before I write a blog post...the product I am about to talk about was gifted to me. All thoughts are my own.

Two weeks before the Builder and myself were about to embark on our honeymoon, an email from Ethique arrived in my inbox. A New Zealand based company that was aiming to be the most sustainable beauty company in the world.

Here we go I thought, another one...

But it wasn't another one. This one was different.

You see Ethique make beauty products; soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturisers and other similar products. What sets them apart is their very simple aim. Like me, they want to prevent unnecessary plastic bottles and jars from being used and thrown away. So far they had prevented 60,000 bottles and jars from being thrown away. There ultimate goal is 1 million. They cater for the person who wants to do better, but does not have the time to necessarily make their own stuff like soap, conditioner and moisturisers.

While I enjoy making my own products, and I know some my readers do too, not all of us have that time or even want too. Including myself. And that's ok. Living plastic free or zero waste, does not mean weekends or evenings have to be filled with DIY beauty projects.

Ethique make all of their products in solid form. No liquids. No need for the bottles and jars. Each product is simply wrapped in compostable packaging. It's kinda hard not to fall in love with a company that dislikes plastic and unnecessary packaging as much as I do.

I decided to check out their website, see what products they had and learn more about them.
  • Certified B Corp 
  • Cruelty free
  • Climate neutral 
  • 20% of our profit goes to various animal & environmental charities 
  • Natural ingredients 
  • Compostable packaging for a totally waste free product 
  • Sustainably sourced ingredients 
  • The owner does not like bioplastics 
  • Vegan friendly products
As I was about to head overseas, I decided to try the saving face serum. Ordinarily I use plain hemp oil on my face. However, I had a 7kg weight limit due to some internal flights on the honeymoon (hand luggage only for me). And glass jars add weight. Every little thing adds up. A solid moisturising block would weigh a lot less and take up less room.

Here is how it arrived:

Ethique's solid beauty bars with plastic-free packaging

Ethique's solid beauty bars with plastic-free packaging

Ethique's solid beauty bars with plastic-free packaging

How to use the Saving Face Serum bar:
After I wash my face in the morning, I simply warm the Saving Face Serum in my hands, then wipe the bar over my face. If I have any extra on my hands, I'll rub it into the ends of my hair. 
Ethique's solid beauty bars with plastic-free packaging
Good morning. Snap taken on our honeymoon. No makeup. In my pyjamas, getting ready for the day. 

The verdict:
  • I really love it AND am still using the first portion of the bar eight weeks later
  • There were NO breakouts (I have the oiliest skin and break out very easily) 
  • It did not melt when we left the car sitting in the sun on days reaching 35 degrees (woohoo!) 
  • No need to worry about it spilling out of a bottle 
  • No 100ml restriction anxiety when travelling
  • It was light weight and took up next to no room
  • Gorgeous subtle smell 
  • The fine lines around my eyes softened
  • I don't have to clean a bottle at the end
When I need to purchase another, I can ask for a refill only and continue to use the original box for it's home. It's small things like this that make me smile.

Turns out fancy pants serums don't need to come in bottles or jars. Compostable packaging and recyclable boxes work just as well, if not better.

Along with the saving face serum we received soap and shampoo bars. We are currently trying their soap (oh my gooodness, Lime & Ginger...the SMELL is divine). And my friends gave the shampoo bars a whirl, all are very satisfied. One had never used a solid shampoo bar before, and has now be safely converted. I think what pushed her over the edge, was learning that the average shampoo can be made up to 80% water. When you are washing with water in the shower or bath, then that extra water is just a waste. Ethique solid shampoo bars are equivalent to three (300ml) bottles of liquid shampoo. That's a lot of water and money saved, plus the bars last longer.

Ethique does not contain:
  • Sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate 
  • Parabens 
  • Phthalates 
  • Ingredients that form nitrosamines or dioxins 
  • Formaldehyde or formaldehyde donors 
  • Palm oil 
  • Petroleum byproducts 
  • Animal products 
I have faith Ethique will very easily hit their goal of preventing 1 million bottles and jars from coming into existence. Not only are they passionate about preventing plastic waste, the company is transparent, friendly and will answer any tough eco question you might have for them (I had a couple). I usually find that companies asking tough eco questions of themselves, are never slow to respond with truthful answers when asked. It's the kind of relationship you want with a company, who is asking to put stuff on your body. I trust Ethique to do that.

Thank you Ethique for letting me try your product. #giveupthebottle
I've saved $400 using a menstrual cup and cloth pads
Photo from Death to Stock Photo
When I decided to reduce my plastic waste, one of the first swaps I made, was to invest in a menstrual cup and cloth pads. I continue to use these happily three years on.

Aside from the endless plastic waste that I have avoided since July 2013, the biggest drawcard has been the amount of money saved.

I have saved over $400 by simply reusing.

Once I tallied up the amount I could have saved on tampons and pads since I got my first period. The amount was in the thousands. In all my talks, I stress that I wish my younger self had known about reusable menstrual items.

Years ago I volunteered for a week at a female refugee, set up over Christmas. Women who live on the street (voluntary and involuntary) were given the opportunity to stay at the refuge, enjoy a meal, have a shower and sleep in peace. When a new woman arrived, we would take them to a room that was full of second hand clothes and donated toiletries. One of the first items each new woman grabbed was the tampons and pads. It had never occurred to me before what women living on the streets or fleeing a domestic situation did for their period.

Last year, a woman was fined $500 for stealing a pack of tampons from a service station. The lady had allegedly stolen the tampons for a friend who was too embarrassed to buy them herself. I could only imagine that stealing tampons and pads is far more common than anyone would know. They are an expensive necessity.

While it was nice that I had saved all this extra money, I made the decision to pass it on. I have a roof over my head and food in my cupboards. If things were to ever go belly up, my family and friends would help me out. But not everyone has the same support networks. 

Share the Dignity is an Australian organisation that collects a range of menstrual items to pass onto women in need.

With the $400 I had saved, I was able to buy 10 JuJu cups for 10 women who would like to use menstrual cups during their period. The women are offered what type of menstrual item they would like. I chose to donate menstrual cups because they are what I use. I love them and sing their praise to anyone who asks.

The menstrual items are supplied to organisations that work with homeless and women at risk of homelessness, including domestic and family violence refuges.

You can click here to learn more about other products that can be donated or find drop off points in your area.

Most women don't really have a choice when it comes to our periods. It arrives each month regardless of where we are or what we are going through. No woman should have to question her accessibility to a sanitary item, whatever she may chose.

I often talk about how reducing waste and how we spend our money can help drive equality. So too can sharing, in all it's different ways. And what I did was just that, sharing what I had with others.