I finished reading Zero Waste Home a couple weeks ago and I loved it! When I first discovered Bea Johnson, via The Lively Show and Slow Home Podcast, I was a little intimidated to say the least. I looked at where I was and where she was, [her family of four fits all of their trash for an entire year into a mason jar] and could not envision how anyone could possibly do that - and still have a life.
I’m all for reducing our waste and slowing down/ simplifying, but I don’t want to just live in a tent somewhere like a hermit. [Although, now that I’m typing this - that sounds quite appealing, at least for a short time.] Turns out, that was quite an unfair assessment. When I started looking into how she actually does this, I was surprised to see how chic she was and how gorgeous her home was! Whoa - ok - I can reduce my waste and consumption without sacrificing living well - SOLD.
Carl and I had already done A LOT of work in reducing our consumption, due to our debt-free journey, which naturally reduced how much we were throwing away. When you’re trying to save money and pay off debt - you start questioning EVERYTHING you’re buying, using everything you have, and reducing how much you throw away. In fact, our trash to recycle ratio is directly opposite to our city’s. Currently, trash pick-up happens every week and recycling, every two weeks. Actually, we probably only need trash pick-up once a month and recycling to come every week - but I think we’re in the minority there [hopefully not for long.]
I knew I wanted to ELEVATE [there’s my word again] our game this year, so I purchased & read her book. Below are some of the things we’ve implemented so far, and other things we hope to implement over the course of 2016.
In December, I stopped buying Ziploc bags. [Before reading the book]
I thought about how that was money we were investing into something that we literally throw away - which didn’t make any sense to me when I stopped to think about it. Now we use the many mason jars we already have as well as tupperware containers [that I plan on upgrading to glass, when it makes sense for us to do so.]
I stopped using paper towels.
Again, money towards something we throw away. After going through our clothes, we each had a stack of T-shirts we weren’t wearing, so I cut them up and turned each one into four rags for cleaning. We also purchased reusable “unpaper” towels to clean up spills and wipe off tables/ counters. I do think that we’ll keep one or two rolls of paper towels on hand for gross pet-related cleanups, but other than that, we’ll be paper towel free.
We explored health food stores and farmer’s markets for bulk options.
When I say bulk - I don’t mean Costco, which is what I used to think of when I thought about bulk. I mean, bins of food sold package-free. We went to a few places and were pleasantly surprised by how many options were available. Now that I have a better idea of what’s out there, the next step will be to purchase reusable produce bags and containers to take with me to the bulk stores. That and better meal planning.
We donated or sold our unwanted items into the secondhand market.
For our clothes, we took them to Buffalo Exchange and got cash for what they took. Everything else went to The Free Store, along with tons of random kitchen and other household items that had been piling up in our enclosed porch/sun room. We’re planning on taking our books to Julia’s at the Habitat ReStore, since they’re always looking for book donations. All you need to do is write an itemized list of the things you are donating, for tax purposes, take them to a donation location of your choosing, and get a receipt. MUCH easier than yard sales.
We’ve taken a few steps so far, but there’s plenty more we want to do throughout the year.
Switch to toilet paper instead of using tissues
Swap chemical cleaning products for non-toxic options
Cancel magazine subscriptions
Continue donating/ selling into secondhand market
Start composting [This will significantly reduce our trash.]
Recycle LESS. [Purchase less packaged goods/ use reusables.]
Experiment with making my own beauty/skin products
Start some kind of garden
Purchase strong cloth totes for all shopping purposes
Switch to one soap for laundry, dishes & hand soap
Switch to one bar of soap for face, body & hair [I switched to bar soap over a year ago to replace body gel in an effort to save some money where we could and it was an easy switch. Body gel is about $4/month vs. a pack of 6 bars for $8 which I still haven’t gone through, and yes, I shower daily. Same brand, same smell, less money & less packaging. Now, finding one that will work well for my face, body & hair will be interesting.]
Try a straight razor with coconut oil for shaving [I heard this on a podcast and I am intrigued.]
Set-up Recycle, Donate, Action & Out stations at the door
This journey has been really fun and stress-relieving so far and I'm excited to see what comes from it as we progress.
The Best Is Yet To Come!
Love & Blessings,