Less Waste Beginners Guide to O’ahu

Less Waste Beginners Guide to O’ahu

When I decided to create less waste and reduce my plastic consumption, I googled “zero waste o’ahu.” The results were really great to see, schools promoting zero waste and composting, a “how to recycle” guide by the Department of Sanitation and various articles about zero waste around Hawaii. But what I really was looking for a was guide. I needed to know where to shop, how to transition to zero waste and what others found helpful. Since there was no such guide I could find, I decided once I got a pretty good hang of the less waste thing, I’d create one. So here we go…

Bulk Food

Bulk shopping is a must when you transition to a less waste lifestyle. I always keep mason jars and reusable produce bags in my car, as well as reusable totes. I have the tare weight of my jars stored in my phone, and my produce bags list their weight (so handy). The first time I went with my mason jars, I was a little nervous but the woman at the customer service desk didn’t bat an eye when I asked for her to weigh my jars. While I am in the store, I fill up my jars and bags in the bulk section, and write in my notes the corresponding PLU #. I also get my bread placed in a cotton bag and they place the sticker on the outside.

The best stores on O’ahu for bulk shopping (in my opinion):

  • Whole Foods: Your food shopping go-to! Bulk section, produce, body products, essential oils, hydroflasks (look for the 25% off sales!) etc.
  • Down to Earth:Awesome bulk section, the best buffet and great selection of veggie items.
  • Celestial Natural Foods (Haleiwa): Great for bulk spices and local produce
  • Costco: Let’s say you cannot find the item you want in the bulk section, or it is too costly for you at Whole Foods/DTE and you use the product often. Costco is not a bad resource, and we still buy items here. They have the best gas prices on the island, lots of glass items (olive oil, avo oil, honey {if that’s your thing}) and some produce directly in a box with no plastic. We also get bulk oil for our cars here. I have also seen large containers of coconut oil, bulk cacao powder, hemp seeds and almond flour.

Farmers Markets

I personally love a good farmers market! This is where you should try to get most your produce, great prices and direct farm to you! Oahu Farmers Markets is a pretty great guide to the different markets. If you are ever up north, the Thursday farmers market at Waimea is really fun! In addition to local produce, they also serve prepared foods, {amazing pizza} and have beer on tap, they also play live music. If you are looking for a more conventional farmers market, I would recommend looking into the KCC market or the Kailua market.

CSA

Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to buy directly from farms and get fresh, local produce weekly or biweekly! We currently do not participate in a CSA but in the past we have used Waihuena Farm and loved their selection (if you are in the North Shore area, this is a great farm to get involved with!). I have not tried the following but they are worth looking into if you are interested in CSAs: Local Inside, Oahu Fresh, Kahumana Farm, Mohala Farms, Otsuji Farms, Fresh Aloha Direct, Wallys Farm, and many more!

Adios Plastic, Aloha Glass

When transitioning over to zero waste, I encourage those to ditch the plastic (not literally- I use my plastic containers now to store household/non-edible items, such as Christmas decorations and screws) and transition to glass containers. I understand this can be expensive, so you can try what I did: transition slowly and when you have the money. Every paycheck or every other paycheck invest in an item. Or shop on craigslist/ Facebook marketplace. You can also check out the local thrift stores for items. I bought Pyrex containers, a stainless steel lunch box (not glass but stainless steel is a great alternative as well), amber spray bottles, and mason jars to get myself started.

Beauty Products

Keep it simple! I am currently working my way through a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, which I use in the shower as a body wash. It literally takes me a year to go through a bottle of this, but after I am finished, I will be looking to switch to a brand that does not use palm oil (or hopefully Dr. Bronner’s stops using palm oil!). For toothpaste I am currently using Dr. Bronner’s peppermint toothpaste (there was a sale a while back and I stocked up). When I finish, I will be trying mamaeatsplants recipe for toothpaste. I use a tongue scraper that I got at Celestial Health Foods and I switch between a bamboo toothbrush and an old electric toothbrush I have. For my hair, I am still using giovanni products, I get them at TJmaxx in bulk size and it takes me a while to go through them, when I find a more sustainable brand that I like, I will share! I tried no-poo and low-poo but my hair is very damaged and did not do well. I wear deoderant sparingly, I have about 6 different brands now that I have had for a long time. I will write a review of them on a future post. Right now I just use a swipe of Kopari Coconut Deodorant. As you can see, my beauty products are still primarily plastic containers. I thought it would be foolish to get rid of these products to make way for less waste products, so I will be using them until they are finished and then transitioning over.

Cleaning Products

For cleaning products, I buy vinegar at Celestial Health Food (they sell vinegar in glass bottles) and dilute with water. I then add essential oils to create a pleasant smell. I place this mixture in the amber spray bottles that I mention above and I use this for almost everything. I recently realized I am low on our detergent, instead of buying a Costco sized “eco-friendly” brand, I invested in some soap nuts and wool dryer balls, I will write a post about my experience with them after I use them for a while.

Pest Control

Bugs and Hawaii go hand in hand. We are fortunate that in our new apartment, we haven’t had many pest issues, but in the past we have battled our fair share of cockroaches and ants. I always make sure that all cracks, holes and crevices are filled in properly and I use my vinegar/essential oil mixture to clean around the apartment. I also diffuse essential oils to repel bugs, such as tea tree and peppermint. We sometimes get little cockroaches in our cars as well, even though we always keep all doors and windows shut when not in use. Gotta just roll with the bug punches in Hawaii! For this, I always keep all food and drinks out of the car, vacuum pretty regularly and use my essential oil/vinegar spray. In the past, if we ever did have a problem, I found the Hoy Hoy roach traps to be effective, and they are made out of cardboard, not plastic (I included a link for walmart but they also sell them at costco here).

This should be a pretty good beginners guide to less waste on O’ahu. I hope this simple guide can help you transition to a less waste lifestyle with ease!



1 thought on “Less Waste Beginners Guide to O’ahu”

  • Such an awesome guide! I always just use the plastic bags at WF and transfer to a container at home, this way sounds so much easier!

    I’m going to try out the CSAs, the prices look so good for local produce!

    Thanks Avery!

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