Paris To Go

Zero Waste Packing and Moving

I'm going to share pictures, snaps, and videos of the new apartment with all our stuff moved in soon, but for now, here's the new place pre-Kar and Toffel. We love it. I already forgot we lived in the 7ème! Because this flat came furnished (most Paris rentals these days do), moving was easy. Previously, I helped friends move who didn't want to pay for boxes- they draped sheets over their furniture and tied washcloths or towels to the feet and arms before sticking them in the truck :)


Instead of using boxes or packing material, I wrapped breakables in clothing, towels, socks, and rags before putting them in our suitcases, my husband's backpack, or my wicker shopping cart. Our books fit in one suitcase, our plates filled the silver suitcase, and my garment bag carried all my clothes, with shoes in the cart. I moved things little by little over the course of a few days, walking to our new place or taking the Métro when I knew I'd be in the area anyway. Nothing broke, even when I dropped a suitcase while carrying it up seven flights of stairs! This is the same method we used when moving overseas- all our belongings fit in seven bags with only clothes / linens as cushioning. Lemon Coco by Marline did a wonderful post on minimalist moving and Emma + John had the brilliant idea of using a cute vintage wagon to move their belongings instead of renting a car or truck, perfect for walkable cities.


If you don't have enough luggage, old trunks, or reusable Rubbermaid-type containers to pack your things, you can always find boxes on Craigslist or Freecycle. Liquor stores are usually willing to give their discarded boxes for packing. Fold the flaps closed or use paper tape, twine, or rope to secure boxes instead of plastic tape, and reuse or relist afterwards. Services like Rent a Green Box and Carton Plein offer eco-friendly packing materials and relocation by bicycle, a great option if you don't have all week to move things. I wanted to book their bike move, and I can't get into why we didn't (it's really cost effective), but let's just say, once we were all unpacked, my husband turned the TV on to see a program featuring Carton Plein and said, "Ariana, have you seen this? This is what we should have done." I smacked my hand to my forehead until I nearly blacked out.


The first thing I do whenever I move is clean the apartment from top to bottom. I threw the windows open, scrubbed with Aleppo soap and a stack of flour sack towels, and disinfected with vinegar. I wasn't crazy about the tomette floors before we moved, but fell in love with their patina and easy care- sweep and wash weekly with vinegar and water. To remove hard water stains, buff with a soft cloth. I took all the landlord's glasses, dishes, and silverware from the cupboards and filled the dishwasher, cleaning the cabinets with vinegar before replacing items. Then I threw the curtains, sheets, duvet, and pillows in the washer before airdrying in the sun.


Once satisfied, I moved our own stuff in. I immediately put books in the shelves and replaced the wall art with our posters and photos. When organizing, I arrange items according to where I instinctively reach for them, storing like with like. We sold all our furniture (except the Kartell Componbili and Eames rocker) and appliances before moving, so there wasn't much to transport. Whereas the old apartment seemed empty, this one showed how much stuff we really had- it suddenly felt cluttered and overwhelming. I had to put all the owners' stuff that I didn't like in the side closet, because I was afraid to go in the cave (a storage space included with some Paris apartments). Even then, we decided to pare down a bit more. Oh, and the cats felt at home right away. They love leaping from shelf to shelf in the closet, jumping on the doors, climbing the curtains, and running around the mezzanine. The tile floors are really nice on hot days for them to stretch out and cool down.

Paris to Go

Zero Waste Dishwashing

I have a dishwasher for the first time in my adult life, and it's amazing. I'm at the age where I'm too old for Pokemon Go but not too old for Snapchat, so naturally stuff like this excites me. 
Not only does the dishwasher sanitize and use less water, it's the best drying rack for limonade bottles. I can actually relax during dinner parties instead of scrubbing plates to clear sink space. At first I didn't mind not having a dishwasher, because it was just me, or the two of us, and it's hard to make enough dishes for a full load. After several years, however, washing up became mind numbingly boring, like watching Taylor Swift pretend to be guileless again.

I still have to wash some dishes by hand- things I need to use immediately, delicate glasses and utensils. I try not to put dishes off, cleaning while I cook, and I collect and reuse dishwater when possible (I like using extra water from my tea kettle to sanitize things). When handwashing, I typically don't soak dishes first. Scrub directly with soap and rinse with a thin stream of water to save resources.

Zero Waste Dishwashing

I've been using the same Redecker beech wood and plant bristle brush for years now, replacing only the head and saving the handle. I prefer brushes to sponges because they dry quickly, make cleaning pans easier, and seem to last longer (you could also use a natural sponge, if preferred, or knitted hemp cloth). Simply wet the bristles and apply directly to a bar of soap. I like Aleppo because it's palm oil free, cleans oily items perfectly, and is easy to buy unpackaged in Paris, but you can use any pure, food-safe soap. To sanitize the brush, boil the head with a little vinegar. I put dishes either in the dishwasher or on a dish towel so they drain. If I'm running out of time, I use a clean cotton dish towel to hand-dry (mine are secondhand), otherwise I air dry and put them away immediately. I dry the sink immediately every time, and clean it out with Aleppo soap or vinegar a few times a week.

The brush easily removes burned or baked on food debris. For stubborn cases, try deglazing with vinegar while the pan's still hot or using a pot brush. I personally use baking soda to scour on rare occasions, but I'm trying to reduce my baking soda usage because it's a non-renewable resource and I don't recycle it. It helps that I don't cook cheese or meat at home anymore. I can typically reuse cooking oil and any wet food can be scraped into compost before washing.

Because water is so hard here, vinegar is necessary in the sel detachant and rinse agent compartments of the dishwasher (when handwashing and drying I don't need it). If your rinse compartment doesn't dispense enough product, fill a small bowl on the top rack 1/4 of the way with vinegar. We buy cheap dishwasher tablets in bulk here, but to make some dishwashing detergent yourself, use 1.5 cups each baking and washing soda, 1/4 cup Epsom salts, and two tablespoons citric acid. Mix well and store in a glass container for powder, or pat into molds and wait a half hour for tablets. I don't rinse the dishes before putting them in the automatic washer and they still come out completely clean. To clean the dishwasher I was told to run an empty cycle with vinegar, but I haven't needed to do that yet.
Paris to Go

Zero Waste Dental Hygiene

I'm a big fan of one ingredient solutions, so of course I make barely nothing. I just use baking soda, a bar of soap, and Brush With Bamboo toothbrush from Vegan Mania. I promise I've never had a cavity and my dental routine is pretty much unchanged since childhood. I did want braces to get rid of my dog teeth back in the day but no dentist would let me. One told my mother, "She just wants that Hollywood smile- don't waste your money." If I had known selfies were going to become such a big deal I would have insisted.

In France I think a lot of people don't floss. Brush with Bamboo is working on a sustainable one; until then, some recommend swiss chard fiber instead, or human / horse hair gathered during grooming, then cleaned. I tried radish green fiber and it's tough enough to work, but I don't know if it leaves too much sugar between my teeth. Others unravel thread from silk (Bea from Zero Waste Home does this), which you could do with secondhand or peace silk. For siwak, separate the bristles before using them exactly like floss between your teeth, scrubbing back and forth in a C formation along the teeth and gums. I imagine you can use a neem stick, which freshens breath, the same way, although you're really supposed to chew them for hours. My dentist recommends a water pik in conjunction with some type of floss or interdental brush. Radius or EcoDent floss are popular options- my grandparents always washed and reused dental floss. Goodwell sells disposable flossers marketed as biodegradable, but am I stupid because I can't figure out what they're made of or if they actually decompose in a timely manner? I have crowded teeth, so siwak works for me.

Wasteland Rebel brought out a great point- despite being vegan, she chose plastic free silk Vomel floss from a refillable glass container after seeing images of marine life choking or being half-decapitated by plastic floss :( 

I use aleppo soap once a day for brushing (baking soda in the morning, aleppo at night) and my dentist is happy. My grandma started using soap once a day, too. She used to have sensitive teeth and enamel, which were destroyed by Sensodyne. She's brushed with baking soda for decades with no problems- her teeth and gums are actually stronger now! Day by Day sells unpackaged minty tooth tablets, and other companies, such as Lush or Fat and the Moon, offer dentrifice unpackaged or in glass, made from ingredients like trace minerals and kaolin clay. Some zero wasters report yellowing teeth after quitting conventional toothpaste. Coconut oil, turmeric, or activated charcoal are effective whiteners. Neem and siwak have whitening properties, but you really need to chew the sticks several times a day, for a long time.

In Korea, they use broth made from pine cones to heal dental problems, such as infected teeth. I personally know people who've had amazing results, but if you try this (5 green pine cones, or 5 fallen pine cones, boiled three times in a liter of water) you need to stop drinking alcohol for it to work. Baking soda is also recommended for gum health in Korea, but only once a day, because too much can be overly harsh. White sesame seeds, neem, fennel, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, and licorice root can remedy tooth and gum problems and improve oral hygiene in general. Chew ingredients and brush with water after.

Previously, my mouthwash recipe was 500 mL boiled water, cooled to room temperature. Add 30 drops peppermint essential oil and 15 drops clove essential oil; shake well. Store in pharmaceutical grade amber glass (mine's an old Aesop bottle), and swish using small glass beakers. We used to be able to buy essential oil in our own containers from a copper still at Marché Bio Raspail (I haven't bought them in over a year because of my cats). Boiling clove, peppermint, cinnamon, and / or licorice in water still works. Stuff as many spices as possible in 500 mL water, boil three times, boil again in fresh water for tea, then compost :) My friends recommend oil pulling, not for all the hipster mumbo jumbo, but because it freshens breath like nothing else. Several studies found it reduced certain forms of bacteria, including those associated with halitosis. Seems like a viable alternative to alcohol-containing mouthwash or plastic gums. I tried it for a week and my teeth were noticeably whiter, and my grandma said it made plaque completely disappear after only a few days. By the way, does anybody brush their cats' teeth? I heard I have to brush them once a week. Is this real?

Paris to Go