Easy DIY Natural Wood Butter

Easy DIY Natural Wood Butter

I’ve never put much thought or care into how I’m supposed to clean and condition my wood cutting boards, bowls or utensils… but this super easy homemade wood butter is everything I need to get shiny buttery wood! Lollllllll



Natural beeswax
Cold pressed coconut oil


Mix 1 part beeswax with 3 parts coconut oil in a bowl. Heat in microwave for ~30 seconds until it’s all melted. Squeeze the juice of a lemon in the bowl and stir. Pour into a wide glass jar. Let it cool for a few hours, and voila! Apply a thin layer to condition your wood to give it a brand new sheen so it lasts longer and prevents mold. Plus it’s totally food safe!

DIY Natural Wood Butter

DIY Natural Wood Butter

Making cloth napkins + elei printing

Making cloth napkins + elei printing

A couple of weeks ago, Gabby told me she was planning her sister Siumu’s surprise baby shower and she might need some help. She said she was inspired by what I’ve been doing to live a more sustainable life and decided on an eco-friendly tropical theme for the party. What?! How cool!! This made me very excited to hear her list out all the ways she was opting for a zero waste event. I immediately offered to provide cloth napkins (instead of paper towels), and before I knew it, Gabby came over to my house with a giant bundle of orange fabric. I just had to cut and hem. But it seemed too plain, and Gabby was already pulling all the stops, so I had to level up (yassss to Ciara + Parri$).

I finally had a good reason to use this elei stencil I bought in Samoa over New Year.

It took a looooong time but once I set up my workbench and did a couple of test prints, I found my groove. I cut the long fabric into pieces that could fit 4 napkins, taped the stencil down and placed two 2×4 blocks to keep the fabric from warping, poured and painted with a roller,  took it out to the balcony to dry, and repeated this… about 15 more  times! With less than 24 hours before the event, I couldn’t leave them out to dry, so thankfully Ian helped and ironed all the pieces to heat set the fabric paint. Then I cut out the 4 napkins from each strip, and took it to my sewing machine to do a raw hem edge.

Like I said, it took foreverrrr. I started on Friday afternoon and finished at 5am the next day, just a few hours before the surprise baby shower! Oh man, if it weren’t for Gabby, I don’t think I would have done any of this but I’m glad they turned out. I’ll be posting photos from the beautiful baby shower super soon!

Trying Samoa elei for the first time | Nerelle.com

Trying Samoa elei for the first time | Nerelle.com

Trying Samoa elei for the first time | Nerelle.com

Trying Samoa elei stencil for the first time | Nerelle.com

Trying Samoa elei for the first time | Nerelle.com

Sewing napkins | Nerelle.com

Trying Samoa elei for the first time | Nerelle.com

Trying Samoa elei for the first time | Nerelle.com

#PlasticFreeJuly – Week 1 Updates & Lessons Learned

#PlasticFreeJuly – Week 1 Updates & Lessons Learned

Daily Notes and Efforts



I was so stoked to be part of #PlasticFreeJuly, and started strong! I brought my own cutlery to church (we usually have a big potluck lunch with everyone after church) and after I commented on the paper bowls, my dad said they would only use paper plates/bowls from now on! After church, I got real crafty! Courtney and I got starfruit from a tree outside, made some pretty drinks using our metal straws and put on some tunes, then I made a new batch of natural deodorant and filled a reused mini sunscreen stick (looks like an old glue stick) for my upcoming trip and gave her a reused mini deodorant container for her to try out. Then we got help from our neighbor to make coconut bowls with fallen coconuts in the yard.


Not today, plastic! However it was pointed out to me that l was munching on edamame packaged in plastic, but in my defense, it was already in my pantry from a previous grocery run. Note to self: look for a plastic free alternative in the future!



I made vegan curry and quinoa for Courtney’s birthday (though 100% credit goes to her for hand-squeezing her own coconut cream from Sunday’s coconuts!) and again, the eggplants and quinoa were packaged in plastic. I got these before I decided to try #PlasticFreeJuly. Also, I’ve made peace with the fact that I can’t always go 100% plastic free. What I can do is try my best to make sustainable choices.



Happy 4th of July! The struggle is real. I worked all afternoon and evening at the Fireworks event and avoided plastic and styrofoam takeaways until the end of the night when I took home a Samoan-style food platter (made of plastic) and drank out of a plastic cup which was handed to me for a toast to my coworker’s birthday.


Sometimes you try, and sometimes you fail. At a work lunch, I ordered a drink and remembered to ask “no straw please”. A few minutes later, my drink is delivered… with a plastic straw. I took it out of my drink and then realized it was already used and it would go into the trash anyway at this point, so I put it back in my drink and used it. I also went to Turtle & Shark gift lodge and purchased mostly plastic free gifts for friends. It wasn’t until after I paid and I was going through my purchases that I realized a pair of lopā seed earrings were cased in clear plastic and my usual favorite travel-sized Mailelani coconut oil was packaged in a plastic bottle. At first I bummed myself out that I didn’t even realize they came in plastic. But I thought about it, and I’m actually okay with these because I’m supporting local business and handicrafts, plus I can reuse/recycle the plastic bottle!


I mentioned before that zero waste travel was hard for me. I was on the Hawaiian Air flight and the free meal service came around. I thought about refusing the meal since there was a lot of plastic, but I was so hungry and I have no idea if they’re just going to throw out the food anyways, so I got it. BUT I made sure to use my own utensils, opted for the aluminum juice can instead of a plastic cup, and neatly organized my tray so it was obvious that the cutlery and water were still good to use.


I love the idea of farmer’s markets but unfortunately barely ever get to go to any, so when my friend Kristine said she was going to one near her house, I jumped at the opportunity. They’ve got such a good vibe to them! I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and it was almost noon so I searched for a sustainable option and set my sights on a “fawaffel” spot with compostable takeaway containers. It was delicious, plant based, and guilt free! I caught my connecting flight to Phoenix and the free meal service came around. Ahhh, I forgot again! It was a 6 hour flight so I cut my losses and devoured my sandwich and sweet Maui onion chips. And the free rum punch. Oops.



Don’t be too hard on yourself.

I felt inspired on my own accord by the #PlasticFreeJuly movement and I used that feeling to motivate and propel my decisions to go plastic free as much as I could throughout my first week. I failed a few times already in the last 7 days, but I won’t let that prevent me from continuing to try. I still take every option and choice as a win as long as I’m learning and making conscious decisions.


Preparing for #PlasticFreeJuly

Preparing for #PlasticFreeJuly

One of my goals for 2018…

was to lessen my waste and strive for a zero waste lifestyle. I’ve made small habit changes over the months that help reduce my footprint but now it’s almost July and I’ve accepted the challenge to action this goal every day for 31 days!

If you haven’t heard about #PlasticFreeJuly,

it’s a social movement (which started in Oz I believe) I found online that encourages people all over the world to try to go plastic free for a whole month. You can sign up to accept the challenge here! What this means is that I’ll be reducing and refusing single-use disposable products such as plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic and styrofoam plates, plastic water bottles, etc.

I’ve been doing a pretty okay job at this so far, but there are definitely times when I forget to say no straw please, or forget my grocery totes at home, or drink out of plastic water bottles when I should have just refilled my own Nalgene. So for the next 31 days, I hope to make a low waste/ high quality impact!

But as always,

it’s a work in progress and I’m excited to try my best to go plastic free all month.

The biggest challenge…

I’m anticipating is that I’ll be traveling for most of July, and as I’ve learned in other recent travels–avoiding single use disposable products can be difficult because they’re just so readily available and sometimes seem to be the only option. I’m looking at you plastic wrapped airline food!

In preparation for #PlasticFreeJuly,

here’s a list of changes I’ve made in my life since late last year when I became more acutely aware of my environment and learned about zero waste living:


/ I leave all my tote bags by the door so I don’t forget it when I go grocery shopping

/ I’ve switched to bamboo and metal straws and always politely ask for “No straw please” when I’m ordering a bevvy

/ Made my own zero waste kit (carrying my own cutlery). You can check out my

/ Zero Waste Kit for Beginners here! BYO-tupperware whenever we out, because I almost always get takeaway

/ Sewed a cloth bento bag from scrap fabric to carry my said tupperware

/ Also sewed a black cloth trash bag liner so I no longer use plastic trash bags. *This always confused me because I felt like I was making more trash by throwing my trash in plastic trash.

/ I say no to any and all styrofoam

/ Made my own natural deodorant (you can find how I made it here)

/ Switched to homemade cloth napkins using scrap material



Ok ok ok… is it weird that I’m kind of nervous to start this challenge? Well, I’m excited mostly! But also slightly nervous. Ah!

To keep myself accountable,

I’ll be posting on my instagram stories every day in July and will post weekly updates here on my blog! I hope you follow along in July and I also encourage you to accept the challenge and try #PlasticFreeJuly!


If you’re interested in learning more about how you can live more sustainably, check out my post: 20 WAYS TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY



Happy Earth Week!!

*Cue the birds chirping, the wind rustling through the leaves, and the sound of waves crashing*
I totally meant to post this on Earth Day (April 22nd) but I’m posting this just a little late, though still in time for Earth Week. Go outside and enjoy the sunbeams on your face, dig your toes into the earth, and think of as many things you’re thankful for that the Earth provides.
But also remember that every day is Earth Day! Which is why I wanted to share some things I’m doing as I progress toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are my 20 ways to be kinder to our environment.


Instead, invest in a bamboo, metal or glass straw. It’s way more hip, and way better for the environment. Did you know that millions of plastic straws are used up every single day? And did you also know that they cannot be reused AT ALL! I saw that famous video of a turtle with a straw stuck in it’s nose and I cried. Now whenever I go to a store or restaurant, I have to remind myself to say “No straw, please” and use my own bamboo straw.


This one is a bit obvious, but say no to plastic bags. Opt for brown bags, or starch bags. I was so elated when American Samoa banned plastic bags (A.S.C.A 25.2034) for commercial use, and all shops are now required to use only bio degradable bags which decompose in about 180 days! Still I try to avoid single use bags altogether and bring my own tote bag. Which, by the way, are so functional! And so cute. Why would you want to walk out of the grocery store with an ugly plastic bag? You can make your own tote bag out of fabric scraps, or an old t-shirt!  Add your personality to it if you want, and bring it with you everywhere.


I have always been a thrift lover. Most of my favorite clothing I got from thrift stores. It always feels like a treasure hunt, finding something that fits me and knowing that I’m not taking part in fast fashion. Did you know that fast fashion as an industry is one of the major sources of pollution on the planet? I saw this quote somewhere said “If you want to see the upcoming color of the season, just check the color of the Yangtze river”. It’s horrible but so illustrative of how bad the fast fashion industry has become. Clothing swaps are so much fun too. My first clothing swap was here in American Samoa. Because it’s such a small island with limited shopping options, my group of girl friends hosted a clothing swap, and it’s genius! We all brought our gently used clothes and a bottle of wine to share and it turns into a costume party and catwalk all in one. We grab our favorites, and donate the rest to our local charity, Hope House.


I’m still an amateur at cooking so not gonna lie, I eat out every so often. And because I don’t always finish my food, I end up getting takeaway. BUT ever since I learned that I could bring my own tupperware, I am so much more conscious of the waste that goes into food takeaways! We’ve invested in some glass tupperware that we take with us to restaurants (or leave them in the car just in case we need them), and pack our food if we have leftovers. This saves us from using styrofoam plates, and saves the restaurant money so they can focus on high quality food instead of spending money on takeaway boxes. Koko Bean and Double Z’s get thumbs up for never judging me when I do this lol!


When you’re buying drinks from the store, instead of getting plastic bottles, look for glass or aluminum options. These are more readily recyclable than plastic.


Did you know that over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are used a year in America ALONE?? And these are almost never recycled. They take well over 500 years to decompose. I never thought about something as innocent seeming as a toothbrush could make such a huge impact on the environment. I made the switch to bamboo, and I’m never looking back! I bought this pack of 8 Juvale bamboo toothbrushes on Amazon.com for only about $16.

7. BYO- coffee cup/water bottle

Never before has coffee culture been so popular. It’s cool, it’s hipster. So why settle for the standard disposable coffee cup? Bring your own super cool mug or tumbler and show off your personality at coffee shops! Also, try your best to avoid foam cups and the plastic tops. Ask to use their mugs instead. Same goes with water. Stay cool (literally and in the style sense, duh) and stay hydrated. Fill up at any community water dispenser.

8. Zero Waste Kit

Now this is basically just carrying all your sustainable to-go items such as reusable spoon/fork and straw around with you (in your cute tote bag!) so you won’t ever need to use plastic or styrofoam. It’s made such a difference for me to have this on hand when I go out, and it’s made me realize how often I encounter single use disposable items that I can now avoid. See my zero waste kit here.

9. Water filter

If you’re like me and you live in a place where drinking water sources may be contaminated, you should invest in a water filter instead of constantly buying bottled water. I use the Gravity Works Platypus water filter. It is amazing. It uses microfiber filaments to filter out most bacterium. We’ve had ours for 2 years, just filling it with sink water (which we can’t safely drink on its own) and then filtering to fresh drinking water. We also have a LifeStraw which we’ll take when we travel.

10. Recycle glass, aluminum, plastics, and e-waste

In American Samoa, you can take your recycled beverage containers like coke cans, Vailima bottles, Dasani water bottles, etc. at GHC Reid or PPTC, and ASPA also collects glass recycleables and crushes them for their cement mixes. There are more opportunities for recycling on island than you might realize!

11. Reef friendly sunscreen

Did you know that most sunscreens contain chemicals that harmfully affect fish and coral reefs? While it’s important to protect our skin, it’s also super important to consider the ingredients in your sunscreen. With summertime around the corner, many people will head to the beach lathered in sunscreen but please remember that most sunscreens are not reef-safe. Some reef-friendly sunscreen brands include Badger, All Good, and Raw Elements.

12. Rechargeable batteries

Don’t toss out old batteries! Make sure to take them to an e-waste center (in my case, ASPA). As an alternative, rechargeable batteries are not only sooo convenient, they’re also cost effective! You’re not constantly having to purchase new batteries, you leave less impact on e-waste materials, and you can reuse them multiple times. I use the Energizer rechargeable AA and AAA batteries and Universal charger for my external camera flash which uses up batteries quickly, and it’s saved me so much money.

13. Refillable pens and pencils

We use pens and pencils every day, and billions are produced every year. Have you noticed that almost all pens you see now are plastic? These go directly into land fills, they do not biodegrade, and they can turn into microplastics that poison soil. Instead, try to opt for pens and pencils made of sustainable sources, or you can also purchase pens with refillable ink so you’re reducing waste.

14. Carpool / Public Transport / Ride Bike

There are so many pros to this. Social interaction in carpool rides, people watching in the aiga bus and public transportation. Riding your bike doubles as exercising. And of course, you’re reducing your carbon footprint!

15. Menstrual cup

The average woman uses about 240 tampons a year. Can you imagine how many applicators/pads/plastic lining waste this creates with millions of women around the world? This is something that I’m still researching and have on my wish list because I live so remotely and I don’t want to purchase something that doesn’t fit me properly. I have heard lots of great things about menstrual cups though – they save you money so you won’t need to purchase anything else, and prevents a lot of waste on other feminine period products.

16. Eat less (or no) meat

Did you know that it takes up to 2,500 gallons of water just to make 1 lb of meat? Plus think of all the greenhouse gas emissions! I am slowly adapting this to my life because not gonna lie, I love bacon. I have over the years though, been better about my meat consumption. And really even one meal a day without meat makes a huge difference.

17. Grow your own food

This one takes a bit of commitments and time, but if you love basil and peppers as much as I do, you should really grow your own! Herbs and leafy greens make your meals colorful and provide rich nutrients for your body. I make sure to stay away from harmful pesticides because I don’t want to be consuming food with poisonous pesticides. To start, you can find seeds at a local store, and if you live in American Samoa, you can stop by the Land Grant and pick up plant starters to get your mini garden going!

18. Shop local

Support your economy (and the environment) by shopping at local stores that sell local produce and handicrafts. When you shop local, you’re supporting people and jobs in your community, and at the same time cutting down on pollution from transporting things like your organic bananas from somewhere in Mexico all the way to you.

19. Care for your animals

I never used to consider myself much of an animal person, and believe it or not, I used to hate cats. I thought they were jerks. Now I have a cat and a dog that I absolutely adore! But Nerelle, how is this related to sustainable living? Well, because by caring for our animal friends, you’re showing compassion for all living creatures. Besides- they’re super cute and are the best companions!

20. Go digital.

Opt to go paper-less as much as possible, especially with bills! In American Samoa, did you know that you can opt for emails instead of paper bills on your Bluesky cable and internet bill, as well as your ASPA water and electricity bill? Pay your Bluesky bill online here, and your ASPA bill online here. And my favorite part – paychecks! Ask your employer to set up automatic direct deposits instead of receiving paper pay stubs. So you’ll automatically get your money in the bank!



And there you have it! Those are my tips for a more sustainable lifestyle.
I know that I’m not perfect and I mess up ALL THE TIME but I’m trying –
and boy does it feel good to try! I hope that this was useful to you too!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments  below.

Zero Waste Kit for Beginners

Zero Waste Kit for Beginners

Living on a remote island, you would think that sustainable living comes naturally. And it should. That’s the beauty of a simple island life, right? However, these days so much waste is generated for the ease of convenience. For example, fast food culture has become the norm here, and so even at a Sunday to’ona’i (family feast gathering), you’ll commonly see styrofoam takeaway plates. These are single use items that do not decompose, cannot be recycled, and have a life span of a few hours. Then it’s off to the dump where it will sit forever – along with the plastic spoons and forks and straws that are also used for convenience – and seep harmful chemicals into the soil.

PS- Did you know that American Samoa’s landfill is unlined?

Zero waste kit for beginners | Nerelle.com

What is zero waste?

Zero Waste (or ZW) is a lifestyle practice of eliminating or minimizing single use disposable waste.

There are a lot of reasons to consider going zero waste. For me, it’s because I have always been interested in all matters of going green, recycling, and sustainable living, but putting it into practice daily is the challenge.

Which is why I put together this Zero Waste Kit for Beginners. It’s something I take around with me as much as possible to prevent waste.

Zero waste kit for beginners | Nerelle.com

Zero Waste Kit for beginners:

Drawstring bag
Spoon and fork
Reusable straw
Tote bag


Water bottle / Mug

Zero waste kit for beginners | Nerelle.com

Baby steps.

Being 100% Zero Waste is very very very difficult. Just doing groceries creates waste. Local cherry tomatoes are sold in a ziplock bag. There are times when I forget and I’m already in line at Koko Bean and the lady is scooping my BBQ chicken into a styrofoam plate. Or when I order an Arnie Palmer and forget to say “no straw please” until the glass is sitting in front of me with a plastic straw. Then I think of the turtles. Teardrop.

But that’s why this ZW kit is so great!

It’s easy. It’s convenient. It makes sense. And it’s something I can do NOW to make a small but meaningful impact. And I hope you try it out too! The best part is you can make it your own. Carry a cute tote bag around. Sew your own drawstring bag (I dyed my own fabric using turmeric!). Pick your favorite utensils. Drink out of your most loved mug. And you’ll make the world a better place.