A Simple Home | Zero Waste Update

reusable shopping bag / zero waste

A couple months ago I wrote a post about the benefits of pursuing a zero waste lifestyle. Today, I wanted to check in and talk about some progress I’ve made, and discuss some goals I have for myself. To be clear, I am not aiming for total zero waste. I’ve thought about it deeply and it’s just not feasible for me to ban all waste from my life. I’m using zero waste as the ultimate goal, but allowing myself to settle for less than it. Overall, any waste reduction is good for our health and the planet. My goal is to continually, step-by-step reduce the waste I produce. There are two ways I am doing this.

+ Replacing consumables with reusables. There are many products in our lives that we use once or twice, and then toss in the trash, that could easily be replaced by something that is reusable.

+ Stopping waste at the door. Not allowing things to come into my home in the first place, like junk mail and free goodies, prevents me from even having to worry about what I’ll do with them later.

So, let’s check in, shall we? Here are some first baby steps I’ve made toward zero waste.

getting rid of junk mail

Junk Mail

Junk mail is recycleable, yes, but it still contributes to a lot of mess in my house. I signed up for a few junk mail opt-out services, but I’m still seeing a slew of unwanted stuff coming through. I’ll be referring to this post from Chloe to really put an end to it. The hardest part will be things like local advertisements, and things that come in Bryce’s name. Again, though, we’re not aiming for perfection here, just reduction.

 

bees wrap, a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap / zero waste

Plastic Wrap

Recently, I signed up for Mighty Fix, a sustainable products monthly subscription service. My first fix was Bees Wrap, a great reuseable alternative to plastic wrap or tin foil. Bee’s Wrap, which is made in Vermont, are cotton squares treated with bees wax, jojoba oil and tree resin. To use them, you wrap them over a bowl, plate or around your food, and the warmth of your hands will seal the wrap, much like plastic wrap. So far, we’ve found it to be great to wrap up our cheese and to transport food for shared meals. Unfortunately, we have a huge stock of plastic wrap on hand already, due to some cat issues we had in our previous house. I’m not sure what to do with it all!

 

Mighty Fix

Signing up for Mighty Fix is definitely helping in pursuing a more sustainable, zero waste lifestyle. While, yes, your order may come in a plastic package, they do use the minimal packaging needed for each shipment. For $10 per month, you get one sustainable item (so far I’ve gotten Bees Wrap and reusable dish cloths) worth at least $10 shipped straight to your house. It’s perfect for those who are new to sustainable living as it helps introduce you to products that you may not have known about before, and helps replace more wasteful items in your home. The best part, is that Mighty Nest (the website and online store that provides the Mighty Fix subscription) has a whole array of organic, non-toxic and sustainable products ranging from dish soap to sunscreen to food storage. If you’re signed up for Mighty Fix, you can choose to add any items to your order, and have everything shipped together, which means free shipping and less waste produced in the shipment process. The service isn’t for everyone, but I’ve been finding a lot of value in it.

 

zero waste alternatives

Reusable Rags

Paper towels, after plastic wrap and aluminum foil, is one of the most wasteful products in our home. In an effort to reduce my use of paper towels, I’ve been using some small reusable rags for cleaning tasks. (I received these in last month’s Mighty Fix.) I now aim to do all my counter-wiping and window cleaning with these guys, rather than paper towels. We still have paper towels on hand, but certainly have seen a dramatic dip in how many we use.

 

glass spice jars / zero waste options

Spice Jars

I recently purchased a set of glass spice jars and decanted our spices into them. Firstly, it was for aesthetic purposes. Our kitchen came with a spice shelf on the wall, and figured I should use it, but was turned off by how ugly and mismatched our various spice jars were. So, I decided to streamline the look a bit, and it serves double duty of reducing waste as well, since I’m not replacing the bottle every time we need to replenish a spice. We already buy most of our spices from the bulk aisles, but now I can just bring these jars, and skip the plastic bag that the store provides for this.

 

Some zero waste goals I’d like to work on:

Bringing my own cup to Starbucks for iced tea.
Buying more food in bulk.
Bringing my reusable bags to the grocery store (I always forget!)
Continue to crack down on junk mail.

 

I’ll check back in a few months time to update again on any other progress that I make. I’d love to hear from you how you’re reducing waste in your homes, too!

  • What a coincidence, I just finished reading Bea Johnson’s book! I think most of my trash comes from plastic food wrappers and other types of packaging. This is what I’m going to focus cutting back on the most.

    • I need to read her book! Food packaging is definitely a huge one for us too, but currently we’re in such bad grocery shopping habits, that I have to fix that before I can worry about food wrapping. I still have a lot of work to do here.

  • Stacy, thank you so much for mentioning my post about junk mail!
    Wow, I had never hear about The Mighty Fix, I’m definitely going to look into it, it sounds wonderful!
    Your spice jars look so lovely! Mine are all different shapes and kinds, I’m so jealous :)
    If you want to jumpstart your buying in bulk habits, I’m working on new bulk buying workshops in PDX, keep an eye on the events section of the Conscious by Chloé Facebook page: http://cnscio.us/1LFmVMo

    – Chloe

    http://consciousbychloe.com

    • Mighty Fix has been such a positive thing for me. My next one should be showing up any day now, along with a few other items I ordered from their site. Can’t beat the free shipping. Thanks for the info on the workshops, I’ll definitely look into those!

  • This is so good, I love hearing about how other people reduce waste. I am really good in some areas, and really terrible in some others. Some ways we reduce: we don’t buy any ziplock bags. At first it was kind of hard to find workarounds, but now that it’s been several months we are used it. My daughter has a bento-box type thingy that she uses for her lunch, and my husband uses those glass snapwear sets (and some odds and ends rubbermaid containers). When packing snacks for the kids I often reuse plastic canning jars. We use glass canning jars around the house for everything! We often reuse bread bags, or any other sort of plastic bags that come our way. Where it’s hard is dealing with things like dog poop or stinky diapers, I re-use produce bags to take care of those, but sometimes I have to buy rolls of plastic bags to do the job. It feels like a terrible waste! You win some, you lost some, I suppose, and as long as you keep trying to improve, that’s a good thing, right?

    • I haven’t used a ziploc bag in months, but my boyfriend still uses them, and I can’t really force him to stop. We’re getting there though! We can never be 100% waste free just because of having pets – not sure there’s an alternative for most cat/dog poo bags, or at least not one that I want to use. I’m definitely a fan of reusing produce bags for that type of thing too! I figure that if you reduce in as many areas you can, that helps balance out those areas that are tougher, like with pets & kids!