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

25 Creative Ideas for ‘Plastic Free July’

25 Creative Ideas for ‘Plastic Free July’

It’s already July!? Wow… the months are zooming by!

I usually try to blog about my Plastic Free July efforts, but this month really got away from me, and to be honest, I’ve been failing at it!

Just today, I was in between appointments at the radio station with my coworkers for a song recording project (more on a later post!) and filming an interview for the same project in Vaitogi which drew out longer than I expected… and I was so hungry that I caved and got an iced coffee that came in a single use plastic cup with a plastic lid… andddd… I had McDonald’s for the first time in more than two years!! It was surprisingly mostly plastic free, except the dip packaging, and the drink lid/straw that I forgot to refuse when I got my order… le sigh*

Anyhow, long story short… I’m still doing my best, but some days, my “best” doesn’t really look very good. Still, I love that an entire month is dedicated to being mindful of our plastic consumption and that there is a growing worldwide movement towards bigger change, just by taking small steps at home.

So to keep myself in check, I wanted to share 25 creative ideas for Plastic Free July… these are ideas that aren’t just about plastics per se, but are about reducing waste in general, and ways to live more mindfully and sustainably.


  1. DIY unpaper towels
  2. Carry your cute tote bags everywhere
  3. Make up a recipe using existing food in your fridge/pantry
  4. Use a bidet
  5. Declutter your physical space and digital space
  6. Clothing swap with friends
  7. Go thrift shopping
  8. Practice saying ‘no, thank you’ to politely refuse single use cutlery and straws
  9. reuse pasta jars
  10. Ditch plastic water bottles forever
  11. Go ‘naked’ when choosing fruits and veg
  12. Learn to mend your clothes to give it new life
  13. Start a compost
  14. Grow your own herbs and vegetables
  15. Host or participate in a beach cleanup
  16. Switch all paper mail to e-mails instead
  17. Learn about your town’s recycling programs
  18. Turn off the lights – conserve energy
  19. Make your own household cleaners with natural ingredients
  20. Opt for solid bar soaps, shampoos, and conditioners
  21. Make food at home instead of eating out
  22. Start a daily or weekly budget tracker
  23. Air dry your laundry
  24. Create your own “zero waste kit
  25. Be kind always – it’s free, and good for the planet!

Week 1 Recap of Plastic Free July

Week 1 Recap of Plastic Free July

Hello hello!

I’m here to keep myself accountable as I said I would… so here’s a recap of my week 1 doing the Plastic Free July challenge.

Prepping for the challenge

To prep for the Plastic Free July challenge, I had set some realistic goals and expectations for myself and did a really quick scan of my home to look out for ways I could improve. I got my zero waste kit ready, and I also received some mail I ordered last month which came just in time for Plastic Free July. One package was for Ian — I had ordered him a pair of upcycled boardshorts from Vissla made from coconut fibers. His other pair of board shorts have worn out so this was my little gift to him. The other package was for me, containing 7 pairs of period panties from Thinx. Just typing the words ‘period panties’ feels weird and almost TMI but I liked that the cardboard packaging the undies came in essentially said “we’re saying bye to stigmas around periods”. Anyway, I’m excited and feel more equipped to tackle the month.

July 1 — Didn’t use any new single use plastics (SUPs) on my first day! I’ve come to terms with the fact that if there are single use plastics that are already in our home (i.e. chopsticks from previous takeout orders), those would be okay as long as we reuse them and try to avoid new SUPs. I also learned how to make popcorn on my own! We got popcorn kernels in bulk last year and Ian normally makes the popcorn, so this was a win for me, because I was itching so hard to buy a bag of chips at the store for a snack and instead made this plastic free snack. I also started watching decluttering videos on YouTube because I’m in need of some minimization inspiration, and found these old bags in my closet that I never really use because they’re tucked away. Giving away the teal one, and keeping the fabric bag because I made it around 10 years ago!

Day 1 success rating: 10/10

July 2 — Decided to treat ourselves and get lunch from Henry’s Diner. I love their fried chicken and mashed potatoes, mmmm! We were only going to order one dish each, but we brought six of our food containers, and good thing we did because they all got used up! They always give really large Samoan sized servings, and they put each food item in a separate container. I love it because it always means delish now, and delish later when we have leftovers. We were hungry and excited, we got home and set it out like a big mukbang spread and put on our current favorite show, Community. We thought we did so well avoiding SUPs, but we later noticed they included two small plastic sauce cups in our container. A good lesson learned to include our own sauce cups in the future. Overall, valiant effort!

Day 2 success rating: 9/10

July 3 — We got the day off from work for the federal holiday. Ian wasn’t feeling too well, so I spent nearly the entire day with Gabby, and boy was it a busy day. We went fabric shopping at Island Image, and brought our own reusable bag, avoiding the plastic bag they almost gave us. Then we did some groceries, and it was a bit disappointing to really look around at the supermarkets and see almost all the produce wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. Most of our island’s food and supplies are imported by cargo ships from the mainland. I couldn’t avoid SUPs this day because I needed to get food supplies for the next couple weeks, and I did a bad thing and caved into my potato chip addiction, and got a jumbo bag of potato chips, since I was messing up anyway! I was also bummed to find a grab and go lunch box all packaged in plastic. For some reason, I didn’t think it would be, because it’s from a local cafe that really tries to make sustainable efforts. But of course, convenience, options, costs… they all play a factor here. BUT no hard feelings. I am also of the mind that we are imperfect, and all we can do is try our best, and minimize our plastic consumption as much as we can. It was a good eye opener though, about how jaded I’ve become (even though I’m a huge proponent for sustainable/low waste living) that I forgot how much of what we buy at the stores has plastic, and how abundant it is in our daily lives. I hope we can turn this part of the culture around. Later, I went with Gabby on one of her photo shoots, and then we stopped by Tradewinds for Charles’ birthday. He had so much yummy food! Luckily, Gabby had compostable paper clamshell takeout plates in her car, so we used those instead of styrofoam plates. I also had two pairs of chopsticks in my bag, and my reusable water bottled topped up, so we did pretty well considering!

Day 3 success rating: 6/10

July 4 — Learned to make almond flour pancakes with organic agave syrup at home! Ian suggested to add an over medium egg too, and I was skeptical at first but it tasted so good! Afterwards, Ian and I went out and bought a brand new washing machine! There wasn’t really much of any plastic, except for the stickers on the washing machine, and the large cardboard box was given to our neighbors to use as their kids’ new playhouse. I forgot it was the 4th of July, but I think I caught what Ian had the day prior. I was so lethargic that I took a nap on the floor of our living room, and Ian carried me to bed where I slept for most of the afternoon.

Day 4 success rating: 10/10

July 5 — Went to church, and my zero waste kit was all ready to go! We had toana’i (Sunday group lunch) after church to celebrate two church members’ birthdays. They had paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic water bottles, and Ian and I looked at each other sideways and nodded. Ian and I grabbed our containers that we keep in the car for these “just in case moments”, I brought my own water bottle, and I also still had some leftover compostable utensils and chopsticks in my bag. We avoided SUPs the rest of the day!

Day 5 success rating: 10/10

July 6 — Did a good job I thought. I drank my morning matcha out of a reused glass pasta jar with a metal straw. I ate potato chips and shared on my daily instagram stories about how I felt a bit guilty about it, but I expalined, potato chips are my weakness! All other new SUPs were otherwise avoided. Gabby came over and hung out after work, and we started sewing her duvet cover with the fabric she bought at Island Image over the weekend. I was also stoked to get a few messages from friends on instagram who have watched my daily Plastic Free July updates, and how they were inspired to start the challenge too! I had some really good conversations about ideas on reusing glass jars for a variety of purposes like for propagating plants, as drinking glasses, to put homemade gifts into, or for shell collections. Those interactions have motivated me to keep sharing my sustainability journey on here and on instagram, and to try my best!

Day 6 success rating: 10/10

July 7 — A little change of scenery from the past few months, as I worked from my office in town on this day. Ian and I made plans to have lunch together at Ruby Red Cafe. We were going to eat in, but I still brought my zero waste kit in case I had leftovers. Which was a good call, because I did in fact have leftovers. I also had my own utensils with me in my bag, so I used that. Ruby Red Cafe has paper takeout boxes but it’s always good to avoid waste when possible. Plus, Ruby Red Cafe does this amazing thing where they will offer a 50-cent discount if customers bring their own reusable containers! I think it’s a great incentive, and another reason why I will always love supporting their small business. After work, Gabby asked me to go with her to Photogenix because she was going to pick up a photo frame. We went but turns out Photogenix was closed, so instead, we spontaneously decided to go thrifting at Savers Samoa just down the street. We were there for like, 2 hours! But we got some really good vintage pieces for suuuuuper cheap! And I’m very happy to say that I’ve made the shift to slow fashion over the years, including making my own clothes, repairing clothes I already own, and buying second hand. I’ve only had to buy some new pieces (like my Thinx period underwear) out of necessity, and I plan to wear and rewear them for many many many years.

Day 7 success rating: 10/10

Whew! What an update!

The Plastic Free July challenge is just that, a challenge. It has also been very rewarding and taught me a lot already in the first week. This is my third year doing Plastic Free July, and I feel renewed stoke for sustainable living. Hopefully we do better in week 2!

My Plastic Free July Goals and Expectations

My Plastic Free July Goals and Expectations

A new month is here, and with it comes my favorite sustainability challenge all year — Plastic Free July.

What is Plastic Free July? Simply, it’s 31 days of making an effort to avoid single-use plastic that contribute to pollution and waste.

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. 

This is my third year trying this challenge, and I’m excited to see how I might have improved as I’ve been incorporating different sustainable swaps at home over the years that have helped me immensely to live as low impact as possible.

And while July is a great month to audit my environmental impact, I also want to use this month to make other home and wellness improvements. So to keep myself accountable as much as possible, I’m listing my goals and expectations for this month. I’ll also try to post at least weekly updates on my wins, fails, and the sustainable lifestyle journey.

Tote bags for Plastic Free July

My Goals for Plastic Free July

Avoid and refuse any and all single-use plastics such as straws, plastic bags, coffee cups, takeaway cutlery, etc.

Always bring my zero waste kit with me when I leave the house.

Choose to buy local when possible.

Eat less meat.

Discover more sustainable swaps to incorporate into my home.

Minimize material things, and declutter my home.

Be more mindful of my wardrobe, and shift my clothes to slow fashion only.

My Expectations for Plastic Free July

I expect that I’ll be able to avoid a lot single-use plastic because it’s what I already do in my day to day life. I do expect that food shopping will definitely be difficult because so much of our food on island is imported in plastic and styrofoam. I expect I’ll fail sometimes, but I won’t dwell on those because it’s all about making the effort and moving forward.

My “zero waste kit” goes through iterations of essentials to curb my plastic consumption, but my go-to basics are my reusable water bottle, a sturdy tote bag, and utensils I already own. My expectation is that I’ll do a decent job at taking my zero waste kit around but I anticipate some honest mistakes like forgetting to request “no straw, please” when at restaurants.

Buying local is obviously the first choice because it supports our local economy, but unfortunately a lot of local produce comes packaged in non-renewable plastic. I expect that this will likely be our exceptions to the challenge because we love local produce but we’re still thinking of ways to improve.

I’ve already eliminated beef and pork from my diet, and have been getting more into plant-based products, so I think I’ll do pretty good on that this month.

We’ve transitioned our home into a much more conscious environment — composting our food scraps, sorting our glass, and aluminums for recycling, and have made various changes to little things like using cloth napkins instead of paper towels, using soap and shampoo bars, etc. There’s a lot more of the little stuff that are harder for us, like how to get a more eco-friendly toothpaste option since it’s not readily available on island. I’ve tried DIY’ing toothpaste, and it did not turn out. So I’ll be looking for other swaps that we can make and even if there’s just one or two little things we change, that will make a big difference.

I just started on decluttering my home today, and have already culled more than 20 miscellaneous items from my home, and that was just in one hour of decluttering! There’s probably about a hundred more things I could get rid of… my neighbor is hosting a clothing swap in the next few weeks, so I’ll be organizing my stuff to a giveaway pile, and donate pile. I hope that by the end of the month, through daily decluttering, I’ll be able to minimize my material possessions to only things that are functional and bring me joy.

If you’ve seen some of my recent blog posts, you’ll see that I’ve started sewing again and making my own clothing pieces. It was my goal last year to not shop fast fashion, and I think I did okay but this month I will go more thoroughly through my wardrobe and try to repair some pieces that need TLC, and think about how much I wear and rewear pieces to identify my favorite essential clothing and get rid of ones that I don’t need or wear.

Overall, I feel like my mindset is in the right place. My sustainability journey has been eye opening over the past three to four years. My habits are continually shifting; I’m more mindful of my consumption; and I am enjoying every step of the way.

17 ways I try to be a better human of the Earth, from home

17 ways I try to be a better human of the Earth, from home

Happy Earth week, humans of the world!

This year marks the 50th year since the very first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million Americans in 1970, after an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara stirred a California senator to make a change. The history of Earth Day is actually quite fascinating, I’ve learned. You can read up on the history here

Since I’m spending a lot of time at home these days, I wanted to share how I’ve adapted different sustainability actions over the past few years to achieve an earth friendly home. It’s not perfect by any means, but my home is always going to be a work in progress, and I’m always so excited when I can make small changes at home for the greater good!



Started a backyard compost

I had no idea what composting was until I went to university and was so confused with the color coded trash bins at UA Student Union. The green bins, I learned, were for food waste to be sent to compost centers where they would biodegrade into nutrient rich soil that could be used as natural fertilizers. Then I moved back home to American Samoa and learned about home composting, and how easy it was to start one in my backyard. I’ve got to give all the credit to my fiancé though for our compost. He was the one to set it up initially, and maintains it weekly… all I do is throw my food scraps into the compost. Oh, and he also shovels fresh dirt for me whenever I ask for new soil for the garden. Thanks babe!

Always bring reusable tote bags and produce bags when I grocery shopping

This one took some getting used to at first because I’d forget to leave bags in my car, or I’d have them in my car, but forget to bring it into the store with me, and would only realize it at checkout when I’d be too embarrassed to get my bags and hold up the line. Now, it’s second nature for me. I keep a few bags in my car at all times, in case I get groceries spontaneously, and when I plan for bigger grocery runs, I have a large tote bag hanging right by the front door filled with all my reusable tote bags and produce bags. 

Also, always bring my reusable tupperware when I’m getting takeout

This also took some getting used to. It was a little weird at first walking into a restaurant with my own tupperware. I was always nervous that people would judge me if I asked for takeout in my own to-go container. But just thinking about getting my food in styrofoam and getting grossed out over the thought of nasty chemicals leaching into my salt and pepper popcorn chicken… it’s enough to make me bold and ask (politely)) to have my takeaway placed in my tupperware. I also now bring a tote bag to hide my tupperware, unless I need it, and it prevents me from having to use a single use plastic bag to carry my food out.

Swapped nasty sponges with these natural handmade tauaga

My best friend Gabby actually introduced me to this as a sponge alternative, and I love them! Tauaga is made of natural plant fibers from the local laufao plant. They’re used as a natural strainer to hand squeeze coconut cream, as a body scrub, or as a sponge. I much prefer them because they last longer than the store-bought sponges, and they’re a lot cleaner than waterlogged sponges.

Opt for glass jars over plastic jars, so we can repurpose them as drinking glasses or storage jars

Who else’s S/O constantly breaks all the drinking glasses in the house?! Mine does for sure. Or at least he did. As you can see, we now have a shelf full of mainly glass jars as drinking glasses because of it. We opt for glass not only because it’s a more renewable material than plastic; we also prefer to repurpose rather than recycle glass because it saves on costs and resources to transport and process recycling. If your S/O doesn’t have a reputation for accidentally breaking your glassware, you can also repurpose jars for storage, like we do with ours!

Ditched plastic trash bags, and made a washable drawstring cloth bag

I sewed up a quick cloth drawstring bag from black fabric and an old rope, and have been plastic free (with my waste bin liners) for over a year now! Someone asked me what I do when my trash gets stinky? Well, all of our food scraps gets composted, and we rinse and sort our recycling in a separate bin outside, so we don’t have any liquid-y foods going into our trash can, therefore we don’t have a smelly trash! 

Learned about my local recycling programs

Another sustainable action made possible through my S/O. He happens to be the “Green Team Captain” at the National Park of American Samoa, and he’s helped me learn what recycling options we have on island, and how to be responsible with my consumption. Shockingly, he’s never watched Captain Planet, but I still sing the theme song to him because he is my Captain Planet!

Replaced paper towels with reusable/washable cloth napkins

I used to love paper towels. I thought, hey they’re made out of paper, and paper’s easily biodegradable, so that must mean they’re great, right? Wrong. Paper towels are, itself, not bad. But the sheer amount of trees cut down to produce paper towels yearly for the average American family? It’s too much. So I took a pair of scissors to my scrap fabric pile and cut out squares to be used as cloth napkins, and I’ve been using them for over a year now! I still do have some rolls of paper towels (made from bamboo) here at home just in case, but I’ve definitely cut down on throw-aways by reusing my cloth napkins.

Trying to reduce my carbon footprint

This is something I’ve more recently become aware of. Now with these shelter-in-place policies, I’ve noticed we don’t use our car nearly as much, and when we do, we’re more efficient about our driving around, reducing our footprint as a side benefit to staying safe. Things are pretty crazy with the pandemic, but I did just hear on the news that the demand for oil is so low that they have to decrease production. And skies are clearer than they’ve been in decades because there’s less gas pollution in the air. Like, that is so cool, how do we do this all year ‘round?!

Use solid soap and shampoo bars

Bars of soap just make more sense. They’re not wrapped in plastic, simple to use, and easy to pack for travels. Now shampoo bars? Hmm… when I first began making sustainable lifestyle changes, shampoo bars were the one thing I was skeptic about. I had never heard of solid shampoo bars before, but kept seeing them in all my sustainable living pinterest boards as a must. So I gave it a go. I tried the Lush Avocado Co-Wash bar because it was a conditioner and shampoo mix in a single bar, and to be honest, I didn’t love it. It got mushy in the shower, and I felt like I had to goop up a lot to get all over my hair. But then I tried a different shampoo bar from Lush (that wasn’t a co-wash) and learned how to use it by putting it all up in my hair to get a good rich lather, and I loved it! Now I’ll use pretty much any shampoo/conditioner bar I can get my hands on.

Took the leap and got a menstrual cup

Ok, this and the shampoo bars I was most skeptical about… In 2014, I swapped to oob tampons, which had minimal plastic packaging and were more comfortable to use than plastic tampon applicators. And I applauded myself for vastly reducing my plastic waste. But of course I had heard of these mysterious menstrual cups, and I was curious. I learned that these were reusable, and cleaner than pads and tampons. Then my eco-friendly curiosity led me to purchase a Saalt cup. I was definitely apprehensive of inserting a silicone cup up my vajayjay, and it took me a while to get used to the feeling of it. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, reviews, and tutorials, and took away some lessons learned. Now, more than a year later, I’m happy to report that I’m still using my Saalt cup, and I’ve probably saved so much money on period products! I’m contemplating trying period panties too, so that may be my next online purchase.

Chose to go paperless with all my bills

Yes, even in American Samoa, we can pay our bills online! And you can set up automated payments too with your bank if it’s a fixed amount monthly. It’s one of those life admin things that you probably always have on your to-do list but just haven’t gotten around to actually do yet, but once you do it, you’ll wonder what took you so long. 

Buy local

This one is a bit of a mixed bag because on the one hand, local fruits and veg is amazing, but on the other hand, buying (non-food related) “off island stuff” from a local store can get really expensive. Since we have access to USPS, online shopping is a cheaper convenient option for buying those want versus need items. I know that I can spend a little extra to offset my carbon footprint, but that doesn’t feel like the right solution to me. I’ve been more selective these days with online shopping but I’m still learning to find the right balance.

Eat less (or no) meat

Oh, here’s yet another sustainable living action I give props to my S/O for pushing us to do. What a great influence, he is. In December 2018, he made it his 2019 new year resolution to cut out red meat from his diet, mostly due to the environmental hurt it the beef industry causes, but also for health reasons. Out of solidarity, I did the same. We’ve since explored a gastric adventure of healthier meals, given our island’s limited options. 

Shop consciously

I made it my 2019 new year resolution to shop more consciously. In college, I used to shop like it was my hobby. I loved the thrill of finding a good deal. But then I learned about fast fashion, and how it the second biggest contributor to pollution… and do you know what the number one biggest contributor to pollution is? OIL!! Wow. That blew my mind. I wish I could say I quit fast fashion cold turkey, but truth is, I’m still working on it. I carefully consider my “buyerarchy of needs“, and choose low impact, ethical options as much as possible (like this amazing natural refillable bamboo makeup palette by Elate Cosmetics). Now, I mostly shop secondhand, or participate in clothing swaps with friends, but when I do buy from fast fashion brands, I make sure it’s a timeless fit that I really love and that I will wear on repeat for years to come, to slow down the cycle.

Invested in a water filter

I seriously, truly, ardently… do not understand why people rely on single use plastic water bottles still, to this day, even after experiencing a food and (bottled) water shortage on island just a few months ago. I have a Gravity Works water filter at home that I use daily and have only had to change the filter once in the two years we’ve had it. We’ve saved so much money and so much plastic waste by investing in a water filter, and I encourage everyone to get some sort of water filter. If you’re fortunate enough to have clean drinkable tap water, I am so jealous of you.

I just don’t suck

And neither should you… on plastic straws! It’s easy, because I love turtles too much. But also, why does anyone need straws at all anyway? The answer is, you don’t. They’re so unnecessary, and yet plastic straws are among the top 10 contributors to plastic marine debris across the globe. Please stop sucking.

Well there you have it!

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m an imperfect human making mistakes along the way, but trying my best anyway. The important thing is to keep it light, and make it fun. I like to think of new sustainable hacks as imaginary brownie points I award myself with whenever I’m able to adapt it into my routines and lifestyle. Or like I’ve unlocked a new level in a video game! It’s fun, and feels gratifying to be a small part of positive change. 

Every day is Earth Day! What are some of your sustainable living tips that I should try out? Please share with me because I’d love to know!

xo, human of Earth

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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 |

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 |

A low impact weekend

A low impact weekend

Crocheting a small jute scouring pad to try eliminating store bought sponges.

Bags to carry goods on errands.

A grocery haul.

Full dinner ingredients from local CSA bag by Superstar Produce.

Galoshes I thrifted for $7, perfect for this rainy weekend.

Our sun-bleached `ava bowl. The after photo, conditioned and buffed with homemade wood butter.

The view I’ll never stop appreciating. My body waking me up before 6am all weekend.

Officer Scruffles sleeping in. My morning is better spent journaling and sipping matcha.

Food prep station on the island we made years ago.

A cat and his cat daddy. Both cutie kitties.

A colorful dinner plate with django salsa Dusty and Mai made. But having the space to only eat the carbs and save the salad for lunch tomorrow.

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!

DIY: Cloth Bento Bag

DIY: Cloth Bento Bag

Please welcome the newest addition to my zero waste kit – this 100% cotton cloth bento bag!

I love the florals, the elephants, the colors and the paisley pattern. And it’s so so soft. I’ve been loving my lime green cloth bento bag that I made several months ago as a draft but the seams are messy. I’ll continue to use it as a backup bento bag and for grocery shopping. This new bento bag is extra special to me because the fabric is from an upcycled circle skirt that I bought from a market in India back in 2012. I’ve always loved the soft cotton material and the earthy tones so I kept it over the years even though I almost never wore it.

Cloth bento bags are useful for carrying leftovers in containers, produce from grocery stores (instead of plastic), and I’ve even used it for pizza takeaway (the only time I ever had to wash it). They’re also great as reusable gift wrappers.


Measure 10 inches x 30 inches of fabric and cut with some space for seam allowance. Width to height


From bottom left corner of your rectangle, fold  up so it’s aligned with the top of the fabric, making a triangle.


From top right corner of rectangle, fold down so it’s aligned with the bottom of fabric, making another triangle.


Now from bottom right edge, fold up diagonally so that your folded fabric looks like the photo above.


Sew up where the edges meet on the front and back so you have this open box shape. Swipe right to see the finished project above.

And voila – you’re done!

To use, simply put your tupperware/ produce/ gift inside and tie a knot. It may not look like much but the knot will hold and you can easily carry it around in your lunch bag or tote.

Thanks to everyone who wrote me about my sustainable living posts!

For more posts like this, click here!

#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