Our guest author today is Sandra Zhang, a zero waste practitioner in Singapore. Sandra’s interest in environment issues led her to set up Mono + Co, where she experiments with zero-waste lifestyle and journals these experiences. Currently working as a Project Manager for a charity organisation, she nevertheless makes time to work magic with leftover or near-expiry ingredients to eradicate household food waste. She also creates mouth-watering bread with vegetables, root vegetables especially. Do look up her website for recipes, inspiration, and more!
When not cooking/working/journal-ling, Sandra can be found answering questions – which is how we found her on our journey to zero waste. We asked her for a miracle product that helps us live as waste-lessly as she does, and here is her answer…
Way before I attempted a zero-waste life lifestyle, my toiletry bag used to be stuffed with loads of products when I travelled. Products for every use, products for every part of the body: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body scrub, bath salt, foot scrub, body cream, make up remover, facial cleanser, facial scrub, facial mask sheets, toner, serum, eye gel, facial moisturizer, and toothpaste….
Have you gotten tired just by looking at this long list? Or are you packing a similar list, perhaps even more?
The idea of pampering oneself during bath time, surrounded by numerous bottles of stuff is very inviting, even more, when one is on vacation isn’t it? Well, I ended up with lots of expired products after each trip since I don’t use them often enough back home.
Then I discovered the multipurpose tea seed powder.
Now my travel toiletry set consists of just six items: bar soap, toner, eye gel, facial and body oil, toothpaste and (with drum roll) tea seed powder! Ahhh… the joy of travel light. I could have easily used tea seed powder to replace bar soap, but since I have saved much space and plastic by eliminating so many toiletry items, I shall retain the bar soap. I am so happy with the result that I ended up using tea seed powder to replace most of the products in my bathroom at home as well.
Packing light is possible because tea seed power has multiple uses with its effective yet gentle de-greasing power. I use it as my shampoo, makeup remover, facial cleanser, scrub, and mask. I also use it as a foot soak, bath soak, laundry powder for washing my reusable handkerchief, cotton tenugui and furoshiki that I bring along to avoid the use of paper napkins and plastic wrap for snacks.
And as dish detergent.
Wait a minute, dish-washing while on vacation? Yes, I bring along my own food containers, cutlery set and beverage cup/bottle everywhere, even overseas. I have experienced lots of meals in local casual eateries served in disposable serve wares. And since street food and night markets are prevalent in our neighboring countries, and a must-try experience in almost all cities, my bring-your-own (BYO) reusable food containers are critical to the success of my zero disposable waste project. Hence the habit of carrying a small container filled with tea seed powder so that I can wash my greasy food containers or cutlery on the go.
Are you by now wondering what exactly this miracle product is? Tea seed powder is simply the residue which would otherwise be discarded from the process of tea seed oil extraction. Tea seed oil is also known as camellia oil. The factories grind these seed residues into a very fine powder that can be dissolved in water, to form a paste for cleaning and de-greasing purposes.
Tea seed powder smells deliciously like toasted nut powder or sesame seed, but it is inedible. It’s extremely fine and easily dissolves in water.
Tea seed powder, unfortunately, has a very short shelf life; one year if the packaging is unopened and 3 months after opening, before it turns rancid. I manage that challenge by adding water only when I am about to use the paste. For instance, I sprinkle the amount of tea seed powder directly onto one of the dishes that I need to wash, add water to mix it into a runny paste, and then use it to clean and degrease the rest dishes.
Have I convinced you to try it out by now?! Here’s where to buy it from in Singapore.
With the various uses I have mentioned above, it doesn’t take long to use up. So here are more tips for you to consider switching to tea seed powder as a more eco cleaning product:
– When using it on hair or face, keep eyes closed and do not let it get into your eyes. Tea seed powder stings eyes badly stings worse than soap and could take quite a while before your eyes feel comfortable again even after rinsing. This is the most important thing to remember when using tea seed powder.
– After mixing with water to form a paste as a cleaner, the mixture cannot be stored or kept for later use. Only add water to the powder when using it.
– Once the packet of tea seed powder is opened, store in an airtight container, away from sunlight and heat.
– Tea seed powder is brownish in colour and could stain white fabrics, avoid washing light colour fabrics with tea seed powder.
– I pack a small 100g bottle of tea seed powder in my tote so that I have detergent on-the-go for washing my food containers and cutlery, or when they run out of hand soap in the public toilet. This article demonstrates that tea seed powder is effective as an antimicrobial handwash, that’s one more purpose!
Have you heard of or used tea seed powder? Do you like it and have any other useful suggestions? Share with us!