Zero Waste Update

>> Thursday, August 17, 2017

It’s been a while since I wrote about our less-waste efforts. To be clear, the movement is called zero waste, but we are still very far away from declaring the 100% zero waste goal as a goal for our family. When we left off, we knew our weak spot. We had tons of packaged stuff in the pantry. While not everything was garbage, our recycling was overflowing each week. In a word, it was overwhelming.

BTW: If you’re interested, here are 12 tools to help you transition to less waste.

And here’s where we started with "zero-waste” in the spring.

To recap, here’s what we were doing right back then:

  • Bringing our own bags for grocery and other shopping. Including produce bags. (Here are more ways we've tried eliminating plastics.)
  • Buying produce from a CSA where we fill a huge bag with the foods versus getting them packaged in the store.
  • Trying to buy foods in bulk when possible.
  • Cloth diapering -- at least some of the time. 
  • Using or fixing the things we have versus always going out and buying new.
  • Carrying our own water bottles (always) and coffee mugs (when we remember).

And here’s where we’ve improved:

  • Started making even more of our own pantry items, including items we eat A LOT of, like yogurt, bread, mozzarella cheese, and jarred jalapeños, pickles, etc. Posts are coming on all of these things.
  • Stopped eating many packaged foods, like tortilla chips or gummies, and transitioned to more whole or homemade foods, like apples and homemade granola bars. I’ll be sure to post more when the school year starts about how we’re dealing with this in relation to school lunches.
  • In general, we have really changed how we eat. I’m cooking much more from bulk ingredients, like dry black beans, and freezing a lot of ingredients, like bulk picked blueberries. This area has been the hardest because it requires a lot of thought and planning.
  • Made a new batch of beeswax wrap to replace plastic wrap. We also found these nifty silicone bowl lids that we use quite frequently -- they use suction to stay on top.
  • Refreshed all our at-home cleaning supplies (links above and below) and we’ve added a few antimicrobial wood fiber cloths to our no-paper towel collection.
  • I finally purchased silicone squeeze packets -- I went with The Original Squeeze ones -- to replace all those individual baby foods and applesauces we had been buying.
  • While we never used fabric softener or dryer sheets, I did also get some wool dryer balls to use. I’m excited to see how they work with my essential oils.
  • I continue to buy 98 percent of my clothing (and Eloise’s) second-hand (here are my favorite thrift shopping tips!). Ada’s wardrobe is about 60 percent second-hand, but my mother-in-law bought her a bunch of new school clothing from Target this year. Very much appreciated.

// Fail

I am always real with you guys. No fronting here. Our current weak spot is that I have decided not to cloth diaper. After I wrote the last post on less waste, I made a concerted effort to get back into it. I tried for several weeks to get into a groove. The thing is, Eloise wasn’t a fan. I could tell she wasn’t liking being wetter than disposables made her. She was also getting rashes far more often. Then our washing machine died and we waited a few months to buy a new one (because money). I still have them folded in the drawer next to the disposable diapers.

Excuses, excuses. I know tons of people who absolutely love cloth diapering. I’ve have good and bad experiences. I don’t really know what to do. I feel guilty a lot of the time. It’s one area that should be “easy” to navigate. But for whatever reason, it just hasn’t worked for us.

Many of you have been asking about our homemade pantry items. In my next post, I’ll cover the tools we use to create things like homemade breads, yogurt, cheese, canned goods, etc.

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