Paris To Go

Zero Waste Wardrobe Part I: Foundations

(I'm including swimwear in this because I'm lazy)

I only started caring about lingerie when I got married, not because of my husband or anything- he was already trapped, so who cares- but because it seemed like the grown up thing to do, you know, like getting regular pap smears, having an accountant do your taxes, or Venmoing friends instead of giving them straight cash (I do none of these things). Also, living in Paris, I had to pretend to be interested in Foucault's technologies of self, of which lingerie is one instrument. I don't know if Dior really said, "Without foundations, there is no fashion," but all too often, undergarments are an afterthought. We're more inclined to choose an outfit first, then haphazardly find a bra or whatever to go with it, when clothes would fit better if we chose carefully, from the ground up. That being said, I wish I could be one of those girls who goes braless but... I can't. I'm too basic. I can't even use being from the Midwest as an excuse, because Gloria Steinem is from Ohio, too.

Anyway I don't know if French girls really spend a significant portion of their income on lingerie. Some magazine articles make it seem like they're all running around in Agent Provocateur but most of my friends buy more regularly from, for example, Etam, Aubade, Princesse Tam Tam or Oysho, and they handwash their lingerie, no matter how inexpensive. I know this because I would walk into their apartments and see everything hanging off dish racks or drip drying in the shower. It's true they would, for instance, buy one bra and buy the matching thong, culotte, and boy short to go with it. Their collections were not so different from those of my American friends, though, and I'm more crazy about matching than anyone I know.

It was difficult for me to find things in France because my size is not normally stocked in stores, and then I care about ethics and the environment of course, and also I hate everything. I try to keep fabrics and materials as natural and untreated as possible, the gold standard for which is Oeko Tex certification. One sustainable brand I often admired at Centre Commercial was Base Range; I also like zero waste Anekdot Boutique and Pansy. However, I read once that you should choose lingerie based on your actual shape, not how you hope to look someday. As much as I'd love to look like one of those lithe Vanessa Traina types at Dia:Beacon, I never will. My underwear reflects that. I ended up finding a jackpot of Stella McCartney lingerie, tags still attached, at Violette Leonie and never looked back. Now my whole lingerie collection is secondhand. I wear the Isabel floating bralette (not pictured because I was either wearing or washing it while taking these photos) to exercise, which I realize is the equivalent of Shannen Doherty bathing in Evian. I think Stella McCartney is an important voice in the push for a more sustainable fashion industry, however, I don't believe the line is as green as everybody says. My pieces have organic cotton gussets and recycled metal fasteners, as well as a small percentage of recycled polyester (they are mostly silk, though). For ethical shoppers larger than a B cup, Luva Huva and Harlow & Fox offer an extended range of sizes.

I like garter belts because my mom always had them and they make me feel like a career woman in post war America, but I don't actually need them since I only wear seamed Swedish Stockings. I wore the same single pair of leggings from age 10 to age 27, recently replacing it with an organic cotton pair from Pact, also secondhand. They are the best ever, so soft, not the least bit saggy or sheer, and easy to care for. Since most of my socks were lost in my move, now I only wear Pact socks or a handknit A Wool Story pair.

To bed, I wear an American Apparel dress I found secondhand. I usually change into that or a t-shirt and my leggings as soon as I get home, because I hate the idea of dirty street clothes on the furniture- I feel like I must have had a trauma or something in childhood to make me this way. The swimsuit is American Apparel also, and it's perfect- it doesn't move when I jump into wadis or get caught in a wave or anything. I try to handwash everything with castile soap after each wear and hang to dry. It takes a lot of water and resources and energy to manufacture just one pair of underwear, so I want to take care of my things as long as I can. Right now my collection consists of three bras that I rotate (I never like to wear the same bra two days in a row), seven bottoms, and seven pairs of socks. I'm just storing them folded, with each cup inside the other, in the boxes they came in for now.

Above: American Apparel swimsuit, secondhand, similar top and bikini bottoms at Reformation. Stella McCartney Isabel floating bra, panty, thong, and suspender. Stella McCartney Clara Whispering set. Agent Provocateur Cendrillon set. Swedish Stockings, Pact socks, and Pact leggings.

Paris to Go

Zero Waste Beauty

Since switching to zero waste, beauty is one of the areas I've really saved money on. Previously, Claudia Kishi was a very poetic figure in my life, informing many of my maximalist tendencies. Not only did I do deeply sus things like wear a single giant heart shaped statement earring, leaving my other lobe earringless, I adopted a palette Lisa Frank would find excessive. Yes, I had gold eyeliner. I used white Wet and Wild pencil to brighten my eyes, blue Dior mascara (the natural sequel to the Maybelline Great Lash favored in high school) to accentuate their color, and for awhile loved pairing yellow and pink MAC shadows on my lids, a look a fellow classmate dubbed "Too Asian to function." Despite Nars being the compact of choice for burgeoning THOTs everywhere at that time, I never left class without whipping my Laguna / Orgasm duo out, brushing blush along the apples of my cheeks because I read it would diffuse undereye bags. Never mind the fact that I was NINETEEN and would not have bags for another seven years. 

That's what I find so insidious about the makeup industry and women's / teen magazines. They create imaginary problems, making you think everyone's staring at flaws you either don't have or no one notices because NOBODY CARES. Everyone's too wrapped up in their own stuff. Pore size does not impact anybody's life enough to warrant daily use of a refiner, especially at the cost of the environment. This is something my mom tried to impress upon me before I spent half my nontaxable income at Sephora, but of course I didn't listen because, you know, Cosmo. Anyway, I've written posts on this before. However, my routine changed, and like Rory Gilmore before me, I decided, no doubt erroneously, I am my own best subject and people somehow care about what I do or do not use for my hair and skin. So here's everything (if you prefer videos with poor production value, check it out here):


AM: Nothing. I don't wash it, I don't moisturize, I don't even put on sunscreen, sorry, doctors and dermatologists everywhere (if you prefer not to play Russian roulette with carcinogens and cellular DNA damage, I recommend Raw Elements or one of the plastic free sunscreens listed here). I apply Burt's Bees Red Dahlia lip balm every morning. It's not vegan, but Leaping Bunny certified, and they have a takeback program for the containers, which are reused for new lip balms, or turned into yogurt containers and park benches. I'm considering Fat and the Moon Ruby Red tinted balm after finishing this (which I just realized was also not vegan, only plastic free). 

Sometimes I use Votre Vu eyebrow powder my mom was going to get rid of with an Ecotools brush as eyeliner. It's in glass with an aluminum (plastic lined) lid; I'm sure it's toxic. If I feel like it, I curl my lashes and apply W3LL People mascara, which is the best mascara I've ever tried, period. I love the recycled packaging and silicon brush. It's gentle (I think it also smells good but I'm probably crazy), doesn't flake or smudge, is easily removable, and doesn't make my eyelashes fall out like conventional mascaras did. I liked RMS Beauty, but it stung my eyes and they changed the packaging so the product dries out prematurely. Maybe I got a bad batch of Kjaer Weis mascara, which did nothing for my lashes, flaked like crazy, and felt like acid if any accidentally touched my pupils. W3LL People offsets carbon emissions via, and you can drop off used tubes at Origins, which has a brand agnostic recycling program. I considered Ilia Beauty mascara, but W3LL People was at Target and I'm basic, so...

I like bronzer and blush because my face is so big, but I don't have time to dehydrate beets anymore and cocoa powder makes me hungry. As much as I love Kjaer Weis compacts, I don't mess with cream makeup formulas. Also, despite being as unencumbered by reality as I am, I'm not about to spend $56 on something that's just going to disappear on my face. I'll probably try one of the refillable pressed cheek colors from Elate Cosmetics, which offers bamboo compacts and seed packaging.

PM: Wet a washcloth (one of my knitted hemp ones or a cotton one from around the house) and scrub. Sometimes I moisturize eyes or lashes only with olive oil / coconut oil / castor oil, which I apply with fingers to remove eye makeup, before wiping off with a washcloth (I fail to see the purpose of reusable facial rounds). Water only eliminated my cystic acne, and when I do get a zit, just letting it heal naturally is quicker than any pimple cream I tried, even dermatologist prescribed products. Sometimes the washcloth pops a blemish- that's fine. Since switching to water only, they always disappear within 48 hours without scarring.


PM: Shower and shave with bar soap (I love evening showers, they help me unwind, and I also need to be clean before I get into bed). I don't care about the kind of soap, as long as it's moisturizing and locally available. Dr. Bronner's All in One is cheap here (I use hemp lavender), and if I find unpackaged vegan soaps at stores I buy them. I shave with a Merkur razor. Haven't needed to replace the blade yet, and it's been years, but I have a pack of Kai blades and moisturize with coconut oil. I don't think it's a good idea to shave or brush teeth with coconut oil, because it clogs drains. Straight baking soda is the best deodorant. Swipe underarms with coconut oil first, then apply with fingers. Zero waste deodorant doesn't have to be difficult- baking soda is not that messy or hard to use, it's not complicated! If you really need a creamier formula, mix one part cornstarch, one part baking soda, and one part coconut or sweet almond oil. You can also dissolve 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per every 120 mL water in a spray bottle.


Water only, and I don't brush it anymore. Yes, I have one hair tie I found on the ground. Sometimes I put coconut oil on the ends, or use lavender essential oil (here, lots of people make their own essential oils. My brother in law even built a still in his basement) if I plan on tossing my hair or something.

Dental care

Brush with a bamboo toothbrush and bar soap once a day, baking soda once a day. Coconut oil for oil pulling, and swiss chard, siwak, or neem stick in place of floss. I still need to try Vomel, which I think is the most sustainable option available right now. Flossing with swiss chard is kind of crazy.

Some beauty / personal care brands offering refillable options or popular among the zero waste, plastic free community include Meow Meow Tweet, Ellis Faas, Beatnik Naturals, Holistic Science Co., Truthpaste, Le Labo, and Call of the Vialed. I work a lot, and travel a lot for work, so I don't have the time to make stuff anymore. When I'm home, I'd rather spend time cooking food or sleeping and I'm not much of a DIY person anyway. Buying is just easier for me right now. 

Paris to Go

Giveaway: Brush With Bamboo Sustainable Toothbrush 4-Pack

Plastic toothbrushes demean us all. What is with the molded polypropylene and colorful grippers? Do I have the fine motor skills of a baby? Beautiful bamboo toothbrushes with natural bristles have a long history in China, but the bristle versions popular today didn't come into use until 1938, three years after Dupont introduced nylon (one year after the chemist who discovered it committed suicide by swallowing cyanide). All the plastic toothbrushes created since then still exist. That's a lot of fossil fuels, and a lot of nonbiodegradable waste in landfills- in the US, some 50 million pounds of toothbrushes are tossed each year. It doesn't help that toothbrushes are one of the most complicated items to recycle, because they consist of so many different components: bristles, the material holding the bristles in place (usually a metal staple), and a plastic / rubber handle. You can't just drop them off at your local recycling facility without separating the components, shredding the plastic parts, and cleaning them yourself. Not to mention, weathered thermoplastics actually hold bacteria and are impossible to disinfect. Basically, plastic toothbrushes are like UberPool passengers that don't stop talking and then, at the end of the ride, try to keep in touch, forever.

An easy way to ghost harmful plastics is by switching to a bamboo toothbrush, which was one of the first things I did when I went zero waste. For five years now, the only toothbrush I've used is Brush with Bamboo. Not only is bamboo naturally antimicrobial and biodegradable, but these toothbrushes are made from organic, wild mountain bamboo watered only by rain. The bristles are plant based- 62% castor bean oil, 38% plastic- and can be recycled. Brush with Bamboo packaging is compostable- the wrapper can be composted in a city or industrial facility, and the cardboard box folds together like origami without the use of tape or glue. They also ship plastic free, using recycled materials and paper tape. 

Because I'm shallow, one of the things I like best about zero waste is how beautiful everything is- high quality, durable materials infuse even the quotidian with allure. It's kind of a thrill to open my bag and whip out a bamboo travel case with a pretty toothbrush inside. Not only do people always ask where I got it, but these toothbrushes work- my dentist is really happy, and even though I don't floss (I brush in between my teeth with siwak or a neem stick, or I floss with swiss chard when it's in season... when Package Free Shop opens, I'm buying the refillable floss in glass), I'm the only one in my family to never have a cavity. They last just as long as their plastic counterparts, too, I just store mine upright away from the shower. Efficacy and ecofriendliness aside, buying Brush with Bamboo is a powerful protest against fossil fuel dependency and a vote for non-toxic, long lasting products that are a joy to use. Plus it's a great family company to support- the founders turned their home into a model of sustainable living, producing over 5000 pounds of natural organic food per year while educating the community about ecology and urban agriculture.

This week, Brush with Bamboo is giving away a 4-pack of bamboo toothbrushes to six winners- to enter, just leave a comment below! This giveaway is only open to US readers only, and winners can choose whether they would like a 4-pack of adult toothbrushes, kids' toothbrushes, or half and half. Giveaway ends Sunday, April 23, at noon. Six winners will be chosen at random and contacted privately. Please leave your email or subscribe to comments (or send me your email at ariana at paris-to-go dot com, you can also use the contact form above) so I can contact you. And if you can't enter the giveaway, Brush with Bamboo is offering a special 15% coupon off any order- simply enter the code "paristogo" at checkout, and be sure to follow Brush with Bamboo on Instagram for updates! (Photo above is representative of my dental routine only and includes items not part of the giveaway, in retrospect I should have planned that better)

Paris to Go