how to make your own compost

Hi, so for the third week of my 6 months challenge, i decided to start composting as much waste as possible. After stopping to buy plastic bottles of water and replacing deodorant by an alum stone, please find below how to make your own compost even in an apartment (with balcony and providing you have plants to use your compost with).

Why composting?

Some people believe that organic waste can be thrown to the trash with no impact on the environment. Unfortunately, organic waste in a landfill actually participate to methane emission because it decomposes anaerobically. In some cases it is incinerated or the methane emitted are used to generate energy. however this is still not efficient enough and composting is still a more environmental friendly way to dispose of organic waste. Also reducing volume of trash will reduce the number of trucks or trips that need to be made to collect it and dispose of it. Compost is also a great alternative to chemical fertilizers.

how to start your own compost?

plastic basket
plastic basket

Honestly, when I started researching about this I had many questions and thought it would be a complicated process. It turned out the solution was actually very simple. I started looking for a recipient for my compost pile, and I found a plastic basket similar to this one:

bamboo basket
bamboo basket

a more environmental friendly option would be a wooden basket similar to these. What is important is that your compost pile can breath inside the basket.

I put a plate to collect water under my basket and I started by putting newspaper at the bottom. I had some soil left that I was not using for my plants, so I put some as well. (not required). And I started composting my organic waste.

how to maintain a proper compost?

The main concern with composting is the smell. Actually a proper compost does not smell bad. how to ensure this? First make sure your compost is breathing (hence the opened basket indicated above). You can also turn it around from time to time (i do it every one or 2 weeks). Second, you have to make sure to have a good proportion of green and brown matter.

Green matter (fresh and moist) includes:

  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds/tea bags
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Trimmings from perennial and annual plants
  • Annual weeds that haven’t set seed
  • Eggshells
  • Seaweed…

Brown matter (dry) includes:

  • leaves, Twigs, chipped tree branches/barkSawdust
  • Corn stalks
  • Paper (newspaper, writing/printing paper, paper plates and napkins, coffee filters)
  • Dryer lint
  • Cotton fabric
  • Corrugated cardboard (without any waxy/slick paper coatings nor adhesive tape)…

If you find that your compost pile is not heating up or is dried, then add more green mater. If you it starts to smell, add more browns (newspaper or cardboard for example). Air it put some water on top. You should have about 1 third of browns and 2 third of greens. Note though that if you can choose between recycling and composting your paper, it is probably better to recycle it to avoid the production of new paper. However the best for the environment is actually not to use it in the first place.

Once you have some nice rich dark earth at the bottom, just put it on your plants and flowers. The time it takes varies depending the size of the chunks you put in your compost, the weather (hot and humid weather like here helps), what you put in your compost…

What are your alternatives?

if you don’t have a balcony, you may want to look at an indoor compost bin. In some places, there may be an organic waste collection company or organization you can turn to. In Thailand, if you have large amount of organic waste, you can contact scholars of sustenance. They collect organic waste to make compost. (they also will collect food that can be given to people in need).

Thanks, I hope this was helpful, as usual please comment below with your questions or suggestions. And hope you join the journey to help heal the world with me, starting by reducing our environmental impact.

natural alternative to deodorants

Hi, so for the second week of my 6 months challenge, i decided that I would find a natural alternative to deodorants (such as the sprays and roll-ons that last few weeks). The objectives are reducing the chemicals I apply on my body, reducing the environmental impact of the packaging and production of such deodorants.

note: You can find my week 1 article here: an alternative to buying bottled water.

6 months challenge – week 2, replacing deodorants with a healthier and eco-friendly option.

I’m not gonna suggest that we stop using deodorants though some people may be lucky and have no bad odors. But I believe most of us need to use some kind of deodorants to ensure that we do not have bad body odor. Nowadays most of commercial products are antiperspirants. I do not recommend using them. Sweating is a natural process that allows us to cool down and purge the body of toxins. Antiperspirants stop this process by blocking the pores of the body. Body odors are generated by the bacteria breaking the toxins released by our apocrine glands. So getting rid of the bacteria is a better solution than stopping our natural toxin release process.

My alternative choice: alum ston

alum stone

After a lot of reading and researching, I found got this alum stone. alum usually refers to potassium alum. (usually obtained from aluminium sulfate and the sulfate monovalent cation). It is very convenient to use, just wet the top and apply on your armpits. So far, it works fine for me. It leaves a fine salty, alkaline film on the skin which will prevent the growth of bacteria. Without bacteria, the body does not produce any smell. This stone will probably last few years. So it is also very economical. you can find it in most of the pop & mom shops in Thailand or traditional pharmacies sold by the kilo. (it is called sansom in thai – สารสัม). You should therefore be able to get it in your own reusable bag.

It has no smell but since it stops body odor in the first place, it should be fine. It is mildly antiseptic so you could also use it for the following:
1- on your feet if needed.
2- as an aftershave to clean small cuts
3- as a relief for insect bite (it reduces the swelling and redness)

note: it does contain aluminum so it is better to avoid this solution if you are looking for aluminum free solution. i was not able to find clear findings on whether such usage is dangerous for the health. if you want to share any information on this, please comment below.

other option

grace crystal deodorant

if you cannot fine alum in a small thai shop, you should be able to find more commercially available alternatives such as Grace Crystal deodorant. They should even be available in 7/11.

Another alternative, which does not contain aluminum, is to use a coconut oil deodorant (think about the environment if you live in a place without coconuts…). You can either do your own or get some natural one from Zero Waste Thailand. This comes from Pai Seedlings Foundation which will be able to finance local environmental and education projects as well as create employment. There are plenty of other alternatives, so don’t hesitate to put some in the comments below.

alternatives to buying bottle water

Hi, so for the first week of my 6 months challenge, i decided that I should stop buying plastic bottles. Therefore this post will discuss the alternatives to buying bottled water and give you different options to reduce your impact on the environment and drink healthy water.

6 months challenge – week 1, no more plastic bottles

Living in Thailand, tap water is considered by the majority not safe to drink (honestly i did not test my water to find out but most of the people don’t drink it despite the fact that, at least in Bangkok, Metropolitan Waterworks Authority certifies that tap water is safe to drink.) Here I will assume it is not safe, if you drink tap water in Thailand without any filter please let a comment below. I won’t discuss here all the disadvantages of buying bottle water (from creating waste to water contamination by chemicals from plastic).

note: I understand that some plastic bottles are recycled (or more downcycled) by people who make a living of it. However, too many of them end up in the ocean. Also, as far as I know, Thailand does not approve recycled plastic for food usage. So plastic recycled is either shipped overseas or downcycled for other usage.

solution chosen to replace plastic bottles

After reviewing alternative options (see the details below), i opted to get my water delivered by sprinkle. It is very convenient. They deliver big tanks (about 19 liters) of water to your door. I leave the empty tank in front of my door when leaving for work in the morning and I have a full one instead when I come back home. They reuse the tanks and their were already serving my building so no additional trip for them. I ordered online, buying a year worth of water coupons in advance. Sprinkle gives you a free rechargeable water pump with your first subscription. (you can also buy a water cooler like this if you want to be more convenient without forgetting the fact that bottled water is less regulated than tap water…)

note: sprinkle is using reverse osmosis treatment to make the water safe to drink. There is some concern that this results in water with low minerals, which may not be healthy on a medium or long term. I have not researched that any further. Many other alternatives use reverse osmosis as well. I will do more research and write an article on water remineralization later on.

other options

while doing my research, i found many other alternative options. so please find more details below. Please also feel free to comment if you want to share other alternative options.

commercial water filters

I didn’t find any zero waste filters yet (I’ll update you if I do) but an option is the big Berkey water filter. They do deliver in Thailand (and all Asia as well). The replaceable Berkey filters inside will last for 23000 liters of water, so you shouldn’t have to replace them before 10 years (3 liters of water per person per day for 2 people). Unfortunately, these replaceable parts cannot be recycled…

I used to have an amway espring filter but it generates much more waste than the berkey option. The big filter cartridge need to be replaced every year. There are plenty of other filter options available, i may add more later.

Water refill station

An alternative is to use the water refill station that you can find in many condominiums or around minimarts, markets… I haven’t used them for a while but if you plan to use them I would recommend the following: choose one that looks well maintained and cleaned. Prefer one that is in a clean environment (not next to garbage dump or big intersection for example). And finally choose one that you see people using regularly.

note: these don’t seem to be well controlled or regulated. There have been numerous reports in the news indicating that some are not maintained properly. It also depends where there water is coming from. If they use clean tap water, then it should be safe.

safe water on the go

What about getting drinking water when you travel without buying bottled water? Cheap restaurants in Thailand will usually provide free drinking water (sometimes you have to help yourself though: ). Better restaurants or hotels may make it more difficult though most of the time, employees will be able to help you if you explain your actions. (tea is usually an option in that case or get some smoothies that they will put in your own glass).

you could also buy a water filter bottle such as this. That way you can filter any water you don’t completely trust. The filter lasts one year or 640 refills so here again, not much waste generated. Another option is the sawyer mini. They have different options that can be adapted to almost any system (plastic bottle, hydration pack for sport people, squeezing water in a safe recipient…). These are just 2 options of the many available…

DIY water filter

you can search on google and you will find plenty of Do It Yourself water filter system. Click here to see some DIY water filters. I would consider this option more as an emergency option (while trekking and lost for example…). If at all possible, it is still advised to boil the water (several minutes should be fine, making a fire can also be necessary to make charcoal if you don’t have any with you). The piece of fabric can be replaced by cotton, coffee filter, wood or grass packed together. if the water is not clean enough after the first pass, you can filter it again.

Thanks for still being with me. I hope this post has been helpful and help reduce bottled water consumption, please comment below with your ideas/suggestions/questions…

6 months challenge – change to one sustainable practice a week


As mentioned in the about page, I want to do my part to help heal the world. This has only been getting more and more urgent following the pollution levels in Bangkok increasing every year to the point of being unhealthy. And I don’t mention all the pictures and news of the ocean or animals in the ocean trashed with plastic and other waste. Since one of the best way to stay motivated to reach a goal is to announce it publicly and get social support, here we go:


Over the next 6 months, every week I will replace one unsustainable practice by a more sustainable way. I will publish one post about that practice with my chosen alternative and other options. Therefore, this will be 26 new sustainable ways applicable for daily living. And 26 ways to help heal the world. The first articles should be easy but please if you have ideas or would like me to address specific subjects, let me know in the comments below.

the objective

I figure that my challenge could be harder but I really want to justify the choices i make and research them to ensure this is going the right way. It is easy to believe you’re becoming more sustainable with your changes, But if you look deeper, you may realize your chosen is not any better or even worse. I don’t have much experience in this, and i am at the beginning of the journey. So please if you see anything here that does not make sense, is or seems wrong, help me and all the other readers by commenting and questioning what i am proposing.

Hopefully this challenge will motivate and help some people to follow my way. It can and will make a difference for our planet. Even just raising awareness that we need to all commit to help save the world will a big achievement. We cannot just rely on our governments, organizations and big corporations to save it.

coming soon

Thanks for still being with me, I’m currently preparing for my first practice. I will get back to you soon with the first article about it.

weekly articles from that challenge

reducing waste to protect the environment

Looking at the environment problem, it is easy to be discouraged and feel helpless, the problem is so big, what us as individual can we do to help? Well, it is clear that we cannot let our environment in the hands of politics, corporate and other organizations. Our biggest power is in our comsuption habits, we drive the market by what we consume, so if we consume only more environment friendly options then corporations will have to follow the market. And that’s where the 5 Rs come in.

The 5 Rs Philosophy: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot

Bea Johnson (author of the zero waste home book) has come with the 5Rs. Her youtube channel has many practical video guides to become as near as possible to a zero waster. But let’s get into the 5 Rs (the order is important).


The first step is to refuse what you do not need. We consume too much and many things are useless, not needed… so the first step is to just stop accepting freebies, gifts… that you have no use for and will only clutter your home or end up in your trash. It’s important to understand that a zero waste living style starts outside your home, shopping, participating in conference, friends and families, your mailbox… You can only target zero waste home by controlling what you allow in your house, so remember refuse what you do not need. Refusing may be difficult but you can always politely decline, by saying something like “I’m sorry but I don’t have a trash can”. Some of the first things you need to refuse are:
1 – Single-use plastics
2 – Freebies
3 – junk mail
4 – unsustainable practices (individually wrapped snacks, buying things excessively packed…).
When you cannot refuse or need something, then…


Reduce what you do need: today we have become a consumer society and we just keep buying things in much bigger quantity that we actually need. This will help you live a  simplified lifestyle that allows you to focus on quality and experiences, rather than quantity and stuff. some steps to do that:
1 – Evaluate past consumption: pare down what you have (donate or sell what you do not need anymore).
2 – Curb consumption in amount and size (only buy what you need so you reduce what would have to be wasted).
3 – Decrease activities that support or lead to consumption (media exposure, leisure shopping…)
This is a very individual affair and you will need to determine how much you really need for you and your loved ones.


Reuse what you consume and cannot refuse or reduce.
(don’t confuse the terms reuse – utilizing the product in its original forms several times and recycle – reprocessing the product to give it a new use). This will help you to:
1 – Eliminate wasteful consumption by shopping with reusables to replace disposables.
2 – Alleviate resource depletion: participate in collaborative consumption, buy used and buy smart.
3 – Extend the useful life of necessities through repairing, rethinking, returning and rescuing.


Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse. First of all it is important to understand that recycling still has a long way to go: recycling is handled differently in different places, with somethings which can be recycled in some places and cannot in others, some materials (plastic for example) cannot really be recycled but more downcycled and will finally have to end up in a landfill… Therefore recycling only arrives after the first 3 R and should be only be used when required. At least until recycling is done without material waste and handled properly with correct labelling of products, correct collection mechanisms… Apply the first 3 Rs well and you will only have little to nothing to recycle.


Rot (compost) the rest. organic waste can be composted and used for your garden. There are many different ways to compost such as:
– a pile in your garden
– finding an organization that will take care of your organic waste for you
– a commercial composter
– warm composting
Finding the best way to compost for you will depend on your location, your housing… (I have started a small DIY compost on my balcony, i’ll post about the results later). There are also many resources available on internet and i’ll look at composting in more details in a separate post.

Zero waste lifestyle has many benefits, helping the environment is only one of them. It will also help you spend less, have a healthier lifestyle, help you save time and enjoy more your experiences than the stuff you own. Please post your comment/questions below and i’ll get back to you quickly

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