Making less trash

I won’t try to tell you that I am “zero waste” because I am far from that – but, I will tell you that I am mindfully reducing my waste, every day.

I want to share how I got inspired and just a few of the changes I’ve made and then some that I plan to make.

*disk scratch* Let’s rewind for a minute.

There’s always been a joke in my family about how many paper towels I used after I washed my hands. Not one or two. I’d mindlessly grab like 5.

One day Jake and I just had this huge realization. We were going through a pack of 12 paper towel rolls in a week. First of all, that’s expensive as hell, but also it was incredibly wasteful. Not to mention, we were taking the trash out once per day.

I was like, HOLY. SHIT. I have to make some changes.

This was absolutely not a conclusion I came to on my own.

Last year I watched Minimalism on Netflix and it totally mind-fucked me. You can ask Jake, I was really REALLY upset about it all, but I wasn’t ready or knowledgeable enough to make the changes.

So ultimately, this idea came from following some zero waste Instagram accounts, and simply being really inspired. I loved what they preached, their attitudes, and the accessibility. *Something for your reading pleasure, is this article on Zero Waste and Privilege.*

Lifestyle shifts (key term imo) often feel as if they’re a drastic change. A “do or die” sort of thing. Yet, I have found the zero-waste community to be open, accepting, and encouraging – no matter what stage you’re at in the process. This is honestly what attracted me more than anything else. Anyone I have ever messaged with questions has been so open and excited to answer me, which I am so grateful for. There’s definitely no stupid questions when it comes to this process.

The first thing Jake and I did was sketch out a “WHY” for making these daily shifts. We then created this list – it was important to take some time to see where we were already succeeding, and where we had room to grow.

This is actually my first time reviewing this list since I wrote it, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t make almost every change I set out to and then some.

Since then, these are just a few updates, changes that we’ve made, places we need to improve, places I’m okay with not changing (for now), and a few products that work for us, in regards to the list:

  • When we need paper towels for guests/ cleaning/ etc, we use these and recycle them (when possible). They do come in plastic though and I’m running low, so I just ordered these to try.
  • Haven’t found a eco-friendly TP that I love (maybe TMI??? but my lady bits did *not* like recycled material) but just ordered this to try – I’ve heard it rocks and we currently use a bamboo TP but it comes in plastic.
  • We buy a lot of our groceries from a CSA program. It supports local farmers, and they’ve been amazing about not including any plastic in my boxes. Otherwise, I shop at Whole Foods and do my best to avoid plastic.
  • In the process of trying to find a good bulk store – I’ve heard there’s one about 45 minutes away from us so I’m hoping to check that out soon.
  • We’ve reduced our meat intake a ton!!! Bring home a piglet and it’ll drastically change how you view meat. But, we aren’t totally vegan, and the meat we do buy, comes in plastic packaging. It is something we are okay with (for now)!
  • I do buy frozen veggies/ fruits and greens in plastic. The frozen foods don’t get used very often (maybe 1 bag every few weeks) and I recycle the hell out of some plastic. Again, I’m okay with this (for now)!
  • I buy 5lb bags of nuts and seeds from and store them in my freezer, taking out only a jar-full at a time (which I keep in the fridge). The packaging isn’t recyclable. The quality of the nuts and seeds is the best. Flavor 10/10. I’m okay with this because in a bulk store what you buy *also* comes out of a large plastic bag. I’ve only had to purchase them twice this year so this is something I’m definitely cool with!
  • I found a recycling center that is about 30 minutes away, that is a non-profit, and takes EVERYTHING. Our curbside recycling program is a bit weak, so my goal is for us to start taking our recycling there 1-2x per month.
  • Shampoo I use (and absolutely love)!
  • Having a zero waste farm is tough because feed bags are not recyclable. On a mission to find some that are! But on the flip-side, we have WAY less food waste because our farm animals are literal garbage disposals.
  • My purse is now always stocked with a to-go container, bamboo utensils, reusable straws, and a to-go cup.
  • For more of my favorite products, click here, or check out the tab on my site that says ‘Loving’
  • If you have any specific questions about stuff I mentioned on here that I didn’t include in this lil side-bar, please feel free to comment or message me! I didn’t want to bore y’all with everything.

Thinking about all of this every day, with every action, has been such a gift. I find myself being so aware.

It doesn’t mean that when I’m out, I don’t mindlessly grab a straw or use a plastic bag. I’m breaking 20 years of habits, and a societal norm (though, I usually have an “oh shit” moment within 10 seconds of doing so). But it does mean that I (usually!!) remember my water bottle, opt for fresh fruit rather than the pre-cut stuff in plastic, am constantly looking for new ways to reduce, and purchasing mindfully.

Whether you’re inspired to reduce your waste or not, there’s 3 tips I can offer to you that are applicable to everyone:

  1. Use what you already have. We live in a “MORE. MORE. MORE.” society. This is something I had to find awareness in when making this shift. I wanted to buy the “zero waste version” of something, instead of using up what I already had. (The other option is to donate or sell, if you really need to get rid of something!) But body products, shampoos in plastic bottles, cleaning supplies, etc. Use it until it is gone, do your best to get rid of the packaging, and in the mean time, find a better option if you can or choose to. Upcycle glass bottles, wash out your empty peanut butter jars, use the other 3 bronzers you have instead of buying a new one – you get it.
  2. Be grateful. The practice of being aware is major. Gratitude is a good first step.
  3. The sacrifice is only in your head. My quality of life has only improved since I’ve started this. I don’t find myself lacking, wanting, or wishing for anything that I “once had.” I actually can’t think of a single thing that I haven’t been able to replace or find a better option for. (This thought process applies to most things though. A sacrifice you’re choosing to make, is not a sacrifice at all).

Remember that this process is slow and it is forgiving. If you’re choosing to change just one thing, you’re already doing something better for the world.

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