DIY Natural Lip Balm (Simple Recipe!)

DIY Natural Lip Balm (Simple Recipe!)

I’m really enjoying concocting my own homemade products and working towards a more low impact/high quality lifestyle.

It just feels right. It contains clean, honest-to-earth ingredients. And it works!

In case you’re new here, I made my own deodorant a little while ago but what I didn’t share was that I also made my own lip balm. It’s so so so easy. So in case you’re feeling crafty and want to give it a go, here’s what you need to know!

Clean out and reuse old lip balm containers

I’ve had this EOS lip balm since right after college which was (omg) 7 years ago! It was a spare one I carried around in my various bags and miraculously didn’t lose. It started to get stale after so long and I didn’t have the heart to throw it away.

Then I came across this idea to make my own lip balm, and found a whole plethora of ways to reuse the EOS container. Here’s how to empty and clean out your EOS container to be reused.

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

1. Open EOS lip balm. Notice the removable cartridge holding the balm.

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

2. Remove the balm cartridge using a sharp utensil (I used a butter knife)

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

3. It might take a bit of prying, but will come out with a bit of leverage

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

4. Scrape out the old balm from the top and bottom of the cartridge

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

5. Then clean it all off under warm soapy water

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

6. Let dry. And you’re ready to reuse!

DIY Lip Balm & What You’ll Need


1 tsp Cold pressed extra virgin Coconut oil
1 tsp Shea butter
1 tsp Beeswax
5 drops of preferred essential oil (optional – I used lavender for its soothing effect)
½ tsp Cinnamon (optional – add to naturally exfoliate your lips!)

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

Directions for Making the DIY Lip Balm

Mix all the ingredients in a double broiler (the exact same way I made the deodorant here).

While it’s still warm, pour into your lip balm container!

Place the cap back on upside down and let cool at room temperature.

Or you can put it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Once it’s dry – voila!

That it! That’s how easy it is!

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle

I poured the ingredients into both the EOS lip balm container and a regular lip balm container – both of which I cleaned and disinfected before reusing.

DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle
DIY natural lip balm | Nerelle
DIY natural lip balm | Sustainable living | Nerelle

So I hope you clean up those old cute lip balm containers, play around with these natural ingredients and and DIY your own sustainable lip balm!

xo, Nerelle

4 easy tips for a sustainable home

4 easy tips for a sustainable home

1. Add greenery.

Literally make your home more green by adding your favorite plants. You can start an herb garden so you always have fresh herbs for mealtimes. Succulents are super cute and easy to care for if you’re the type to always forget to water plants. And there are a number of houseplants that thrive in low-light areas. My favorite right now is the golden pothos vine that drapes beautifully around my window frames.

2. Ditch harsh cleaning chemicals.

I used to have a spray bottle for every area of my home like the kitchen, bathroom, and the living room. They all claimed to do different things, but all I really needed it to do was clean. Now, I literally have one spray bottle that does the job without being too harsh, and is safe for pets and kids. The secret concoction? Water, vinegar, and dish soap. Yup, it really gets the job done and cuts grease like NBD. If you’re not keen on DIY though, try Meyer’s multipurpose cleaning spray made with plant-derived ingredients and doesn’t contain parabens and phthalates.

3. Make reusable cloth napkins.

Seriously, go grab an old lavalava right now, and cut down into small squares, or whatever size/shape you want. And voila. This is the easiest DIY project of all time, saves you money on sad-looking single-use napkins that end up in the trash, and makes you look and feel classy whenever friends come over and they’re like “how cute are these!” And you’re just like, “yeah I made them”… yeah, you did that!

4. Clean, declutter, and minimize your stuff.

We all have a weird attachment to STUFF, which makes it easy to amass junk along the way. I’m not saying you need to fully go KonMari on your house if that’s a little too intense for you. But go through your stuff, make a pile of stuff you don’t care about, and donate it or figure out a way to reuse it for a different purpose. Try your best to not buy anything else that might take its place.

(in love with the natural light in our home)

Earth Day wave

Earth Day wave

Talofa and taeao manuia from American Samoa!

It’s Earth Day 2019 and we started our morning bright and early with something we call a “wave”. The wave was coordinated by AS EPA, and majority of the island’s environmental agencies (American Samoa National Park Service, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Coral Reef Advisory Group, Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources, Department of Education, S.T.E.A.M. committee) and a couple of student climate advocacy clubs joined in on the wave. Our congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, and Miss American Samoa Magalita Johnson were also there waving along with us. It was great to see everyone coming together to celebrate our Earth.

Now “what’s a wave?” you might ask. It’s something that I realize is actually kind of unique to Samoa, usually to bring awareness to something – in this case, Earth Day. A group of people will stand on the side of the road with big colorful signs, and literally wave at drivers and passersby. This gathering will yell things like “Happy Earth Day!” and “Say no to styrofoam!” to get the message across. It’s normally done about 7am on the main road to get the most visibility during the commute to work and school. There’s also typically loud music blaring to encourage good vibes, and you can tell the vibe is right when people are dancing, smiling, and waving, eliciting generous honks to further promote those good vibes. And it’s a lot of fun!

How did you celebrate Earth Day?

DIY Beeswax Wraps ft. Alafaga

DIY Beeswax Wraps ft. Alafaga

In 2017 I started my journey with zero waste, making small changes to adapt a more natural lifestyle. One of my big goals in 2018 was to reduce my plastic usage drastically, and now in 2019 I’m committed to making steady strides in sustainable living. It’s been a fun learning experience.

Enter: Beeswax fabric wraps.

What are beeswax wraps? They’re a reusable alternative to plastic cling wrap that’s super easy to make! They are great as lids for jars, bowls, and containers, and can be used to wrap sandwiches and snacks.

I hung out with one of my bestest friends Gabby Faaiuaso (@Alafaga) and it was her idea to blog about our creative afternoon adventure, so I hope you enjoy this post and get inspired to make your own beeswax wraps!

What You’ll Need:




  1. Bees wax
  2. Cotton fabric
  3. Scissors
  4. Grater
  5. Baking sheet
  6. Parchment paper
  7. Tongs (optional)
  8. Paintbrush (optional)



1 / Choose a medium weight pre-washed cotton fabric and cut into desired size and shape. We decided on larger square pieces that were 12 inches x 12 inches, so that it could be used to cover most bowls easily. For a clean cut with no frays, you can use pinking shears (zig zag scissors) but since we didn’t have any, we just used regular scissors.


2 / On a baking sheet, lay parchment paper over the entire tray and place your cut fabric on top. It’s important to use parchment paper (do not confuse with wax paper as it cannot be used in the oven) so you can safely continue using your baking sheet for other obvious reasons like baking cookies.


3 / Then use a grater to shred your block of beeswax down into smaller bits and scatter an even layer on top of your fabric. This will require some elbow grease so be careful and go slow. Make sure that you have enough wax to cover the entire fabric, but not too much that it will melt into a thick glob. We found that a handful of shredded beeswax was enough to evenly cover the fabric.


4 / Next, preheat your oven to 250°F, then place baking sheet in and set timer for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on your project. Once all the beeswax shreds have melted, check to see if the fabric is evenly covered in beeswax. You can use a clean paintbrush to spread the melted beeswax around.


5 / Pull your baking sheet out of the oven and immediately remove the fabric from the parchment paper using tongs. Be careful as the wax will be very hot. Hold it in the air to let it cool for about 30 seconds before touching. You’ll notice the fabric become stiff once it’s dried.

Uma lava  – That’s it! You’ve made your own reusable beeswax wraps!

Mold your beeswax wraps around containers, bowls and jars to keep your food fresh in the fridge. Beeswax wraps are great as gifts too so grab a friend, choose fun fabrics, and spend an afternoon making a batch to share!
To care for your beeswax wraps, wash with cold water and gentle soap, then air dry.
To store your beeswax wrap, fold and keep in a cool dry place.

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

What Does a Sustainable Party Look Like?

What Does a Sustainable Party Look Like?

Feast your eyes on this tropical zero waste party idea!

My best friend Gabby Faaiuaso hosted a sustainable baby shower party for her oldest sister Siumu (who works for the local Environmental Protection Agency), and I was so impressed with the ingenuity of it all! Also impressive is the fact that she planned it all within a week’s time and got everyone together to make it eco-friendly.

It was a beautiful setup, and the best part is – everything was sourced locally! Remember the elei cloth napkins I made in my previous blog post? I made it especially for this day. Gabby (also known as Alafaga on social media) herself, is an amazing creative, videographer, and photographer in American Samoa and always advocates for local talent. She banded some of us together to create special details that brought it all together.

Venue: Faletalimalo, Utulei Beach Park

Decorations & Styling: Alafaga

Pallet tables & center pieces: Alafaga

Tropical backdrops: Alafaga & Ammon Fepulea’i

Coconut bowls: Pua Tofaeono & Alafaga

Elei cloth napkins: Nerelle

Baskets & ma’ilo plates: TheMindofMo & Guests

Desserts: Koko Samoa Bliss & She Bakes Too

Papaya stem straws: Alafaga

Chairs: Skyview Rentals

Game prizes: ASCC Land Grant plant starters, Mailelani coconut soap bars, & coconut shell earrings from Samoa

Follow Alafaga on Facebook, Instagram, and check out her photos from the event on this gallery!

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 |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei stencil for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Sewing napkins |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

How I got American Samoa on the map for World Cleanup Day 2018

How I got American Samoa on the map for World Cleanup Day 2018

Happy World Cleanup Day everyone!

That’s today (September 15) in case you didn’t already know, and I don’t blame you because I literally just learned about it on Thursday morning! I emailed the 2 contact folks for World Cleanup Day in the USA to see how I could get involved, and after a flurry of emails, I had unknowingly signed up to be Team Leader for American Samoa’s participation in World Cleanup Day!

What is World Cleanup Day?

Essentially, World Cleanup Day is one day of clean up efforts around the world. It started in Estonia 10 years ago when just 4% of the country’s population made one major mission: to clean up the whole country in 1 day… yes, that’s 24 hours!!! This sparked World Cleanup Day as a recognized civic holiday, now in its 2nd year, and with support worldwide! From Fiji to New Zealand, to India, to the UAE, Argentina, USA, and now American Samoa. Millions of people around the world took a pledge to do their part, big and small, on this particular day to address the issue of trash and waste in our environments.

On top of these initiatives, there is a huge media movement that follows cleanups from 150+ participating countries. A live feed was broadcasted online, tracking the cleanup progress around the world on September 15 at the start of the International Date line in New Zealand… and because of my outreach, American Samoa was officially dubbed the final destination for the 2018 World Cleanup Day! WOOHOO! You can find a screencap of the Live video broadcast here.

Cool! Now what?

I was actually really excited to get such great feedback from Jim Sharman and Steve Jewett, the representatives for Let’s Do It! World and National Cleanup Day. But because I had just found out about the whole movement only 12 hours before it was to begin on the other side of the International Dateline, I really only had a day to make plans.

*Warning: Long Post ahead!*

A Community, A Cleanup

Bluesky Cleanup / Laufou Shopping Center

I was doing all of this — sending emails back and forth, gathering information on World Cleanup Day, and telling my friends about the Coconut Point beach clean up — all during an off-site video shoot for work, and when I told my coworker Lauren, she suggested I ask our company to get involved. That was a great idea! I emailed my HR and Marketing managers and they said that if I could arrange it outside of working hours on such short notice, the company would sponsor trash bags, gloves, and a light breakfast. I was stoked! Soon after, I sent out the email asking for volunteers to show up an hour before work the next morning so we could clean up around our building. I knew not a lot of people could make it because it was outside of work hours, and a few of the departments were extra busy. But thankfully, we got a good group together and collected 100 gallons of trash; mostly cigarette butts, small plastics, and styrofoam.

Photos from our Friday, September 14 / Laufou Shopping Center cleanup at 7:30am

Capstone Cleanup / Lion’s Park

This incredible group of citizen scientists are members of Capstone AOG church. They already do monthly cleanups (working with the AS Coral Reef Advisory Group as volunteers to collect waste and extract data from what they gather), but when they learned about #WorldCleanupDay just 2 days ago (I told Ian, Ian told his coworker, and his coworker told her church group), they decided to do an extra one this month at the Lion’s Park!! We joined them this morning at 7am this morning and found a LOT of soda cans, water bottles, styrofoam cups and plates, plastic cutlery, chip bags—you name it!—just littered everywhere, ESPECIALLY on the shoreline! But I just wanna shout out this awesome group who made it fun, and made a big impact in just a couple of hours! Big thanks to Pa’i from the NPS Green Team for setting this up, and to Bluesky American Samoa for providing trash bags and gloves!

Photos from Saturday, September 15 / Lion’s Park cleanup at 7:00am

A Live Intermission

With an hour between the 7am cleanup at Lion’s Park and our 9:30am Coconut Point beach cleanup, I got a call from Jim Sharman, the Let’s Do It! World coordinator. He wanted to share information about American Samoa on the international live broadcast, and officially dub us the final destination for the 2018 World Cleanup Day! I was soooo excited to see them raise our flag, set it on the map, and then see the producer run in and write out ‘AMERICAN SAMOA’ next to our speck of an island, because people were getting us confused with our sister island, the independent country of Samoa. It was awesome, and it honestly felt so good to know that I played the part in making that happen.

Beach Cleanup / Coconut Point

Now THIS is the beach that I call home! This community is diverse, changing, and impactful. As soon as I learned about WCD, I immediately started a group chat about a beach cleanup, and everyone jumped on it! This morning, we started at 9:30am and in just a short amount of time, collected a lot of single use plastic and styrofoam, cans and water bottles, electrical wires, and old clothes that probably got left behind on the beach. It was a great feeling to see our beautiful beach for what it is, without the rubbish, and an even better feeling to be surrounded by a rad group of friends!

Photos from Saturday, September 15 / Coconut Point beach cleanup at 9:30am

From what I’ve learned in the last few days, it’s that people are interested and want to take part in effecting change. It’s just a matter of reaching out and getting stoked! And every bit of effort counts! Of course, this was only possible because of everyone who participated. Ya’ll are amazing! If you’re still reading, WOW. And fa’afetai tele lava from American Samoa, your final destination of the 2018 World Cleanup Day!

Life Lately: I revamped my site / in a creative rut

Life Lately: I revamped my site / in a creative rut

Hi internet world!

It’s been a hot minute since I last posted.

I’ve been busy getting back into the groove of things since coming back from California, and if you haven’t yet noticed, I changed up my website layout a bit!

It’s still a work in progress…

I originally planned to work in drafts only and then change it all up in one go, but that turned out to be rather intimidating so instead I’ve been slowly making changes here and there.

Just playing around to see what I like and don’t like.

What do you think of it? Yay or nay?

In other news

I’ve been in a creative rut, and feeling unimpressed with myself lately.

So I’m working on getting my motivation up while setting my mind to power through the slumps.

I’m also writing a blog post about pushing myself to stay creative even when I’m feeling low.

Sustainability update

My zero waste kit, as you might remember (from this post) featured a wooden fork I got in Bali. Unfortunately that broke, so I’m now carrying around my regular stainless steel fork from home.

I also received a “cannibal fork” from a friend who came back from Fiji and I was obsessed with that thing. It’s a 4-pronged wooden utensil with the prongs in a square so you can dig into what you’re eating pretty easily. It worked awesome with fried chicken, let me just say. But unfortunately, that broke too. So if anyone is coming back from Fiji, please get me a cannibal fork!

Also, I’m sorry I never continued with #PlasticFreeJuly updates. I had daily notes which I was going to use for my blog post, but in the spirit of vacation I took a break from being behind the screen so much and just lived life ya know?

I will say however that #PlasticFreeJuly was a great opportunity for me to take stock of my plastic consumption. There were quite a few fails (aka learning lessons) but overall, I greatly decreased the amount of single-use plastics like straws, plastic bags, and take out containers, and I’m very happy about that.

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



I first learned about clothing swaps when I moved back to American Samoa.
A group of girls invited me over to a swap and I thought it was the coolest idea ever.
Clothing swaps are a fun way to reduce, reuse and recycle! 
This past weekend, my neighbor hosted a ladies’ day brunch and clothing swap.
We all got together for a yummy mix of breakfast foods, and piled our clothes and items on a heap in the middle of the room.
Between only 8 of us we had a decent pile of clothes, books, magazines, beauty products, and stationery supplies.
I am on a serious ongoing purge of material items I own so I wasn’t looking to take anything home, but it was great to see clothes go to a new home. It’s also so fun to have a pretend runway (with mirrors of course) where the gals can model their outfits.
By having a clothing swap, we are reducing our waste, re-using clothing, and re-homing everything else to our local charity.



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 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.