Yes, ditch your trash cans. No, it won't happen overnight. I think it took me about a year to work my way down to not having trash cans in my kitchen. The first thing I did was switch the trash and recycling cans. I started using the larger can for recycling and the smaller one for landfill waste. As I started making less and less recycling waste, I moved the recycling can out onto the back deck. As I started making less and less landfill waste, I moved that can onto the back deck, too. Now both of them are used for recycling, but it takes me quite a while to fill them up. I keep a small bag inside for whatever landfill waste is made. No, I'm still not completely zero waste, and don't think I ever will be, which is part of the reason the term zero waste is a little problematic. I think it could sound overwhelming and unattainable to newbies. I find it to be a fun challenge, kind of like a game, but not everyone is like me. If zero waste sounds daunting, just think of it as less waste. No, I have not done a jar challenge and don't have any plans to do one in the near future. The jar challenge for those not familiar, is keeping all landfill waste in a glass mason jar and seeing how long you can go before filling it up. I enjoy watching other people's posts about jar challenges, but haven't felt the urge to participate. Also, I will mention here that I've recently taken on a new housemate, so there has been an increase in overall household waste, both recycling and landfill, since December 1. It's been a perfect way for me to practice not being a judgmental asshole and letting my actions speak for themselves. Just today he went shopping at the local health food store and purchased himself a reusable bag and milk in a returnable glass bottle!
I find myself wanting to go to any other room of the house besides the kitchen. I don't feel overly qualified to dispense advice about a zero waste kitchen, but I will continue to share the things I've either done or the things I'm currently working on, and if any of it sparks your interest and curiosity, great. When I first started making changes in the kitchen, I would sometimes find myself stuck, literally unable to think of a plastic free or toxic free alternative. Anytime that would happen I would pause and think well, what would my Great Grandmother, Ida, have done or what would my Yiayia in Greece have done, back before this plastic thingamabob existed. Side note, can we take a moment to appreciate that thingamabob is a word? This is what zero waste feels like to me, going back to my roots, back to a more sustainable way of living. It's not some hot, new trend to use real plates and silverware, to cook on a stovetop or in the oven, to not waste food, although that's how it can look on Instagram.
I often say my zero waste lifestyle started about two or three years ago, but that's simply not true. I've had my To-Go Ware utensils and food carrier for over a decade. I've had my Glad Rags pads for over a decade. I was born in 1977, as an 80's kid, Woodsy Owl (created in 1971) made a huge and obviously lasting impression on me. The 3 Rs were drilled into my head at school. I've already mentioned my childhood summers in Greece and how they shaped me in regards to conserving water and electricity. Those summers were endless and spent outside unless it was nap time or bedtime. My memories of Greece make me think of simple things; running wild, riding bikes, sunshine, the ocean, fresh food, did I mention naps? During the rest of the year my Dad was known to encourage shorter showers, turning lights off when leaving a room, and putting on a sweater during the winter months. None of this zero waste business is ground breaking news, instead it's more of a remembering of how things used to be and finding our way back to a more sustainable lifestyle before we completely destroy the environment.
It's more accurate for me to say the term zero waste hit my radar about two years ago and has inspired me to do even more. It has been nice to connect with other people living this way. And if I do get stuck or need advice, there is a large network of people ready to offer up tips, ideas, advice, and recipes!
It's hard for me to pinpoint the first zero waste thing I did in the kitchen, and I suppose order doesn't matter, but the more I think about it, I'd have to say it was ditching the microwave. I bought my house in 2001, ditching the microwave happened shortly after that, but I couldn't tell you exactly when. I know this may seem impossible for some people to even consider, but it was easy for me to say goodbye. When I was a senior in college, my boyfriend was a first year medical student. While home on a break he explained to me the dangers of microwaves (and cel phones*) and I will never forget it. He was downright freaked out by both of them and what he had learned in school. Maybe it's not a big deal. I know there is research that says microwaves don't cause harm, that you would have to stand directly in front of it for a long time, but there is other research that shows microwave safe plastic is not really that safe. I've also read articles that show microwaving reduces the nutrients in the food. I personally don't see the need and I have never missed having a microwave in my kitchen. Obviously, do your own research and make whatever decision works best for you.
* I believe this is why I fought getting a cel phone for years after most people had one. I still daydream about smashing my phone at least once a week. Also, wifi...I'll make a note to talk about these in a future post.
PMS ESC (Extreme Self Care) was an old workshop idea that I never brought to life, but it’s a concept I get to practice and play with monthly. I swear this round of PMS tried to kill me. Wednesday night was exhaustion and a bout of nausea I’d never experienced before. I treated that with ginger, lemon, and hot water. Thursday was cramps. More ginger, lemon, and hot water, along with Clary Calm blend from @doterra applied every couple of hours. Yesterday I was so tired. I wasn’t hungry until about 11:30 am. I ate and then crawled back into bed for the best nap of my life. I woke up a few hours later completely refreshed and renewed. This is my post nap selfie from yesterday. Today I took it easy, never changed out of my comfy clothes, and spent most of the day in bed with Stretch reading a book. Tonight I’m treating my face to an @orgaid organic sheet mask and eating coconut fat balls in bed.
Besides cleaning the bathroom, which I’ll cover down the road, I think this wraps up our time in the bathroom. I don’t wear make up so I’ve got nothing to share in that arena. There are lots of great zero wasters that talk about DIY and ethical make up. I’ll tag a few. I’ve given hair removal (eyebrows, upper lip) a rest for the last couple of years now so not much to share about that either. Except the break has been lovely. If I think of anything else, I’ll circle back, but for now, that’s a wrap! Onto the next area!
The day I found out that lighting a match could replace bathroom air fresheners, I felt like I had finally been let in on a giant secret of the universe. Why had this secret been kept from me for so long? Why did I have to suffer for years and years with overly fragrant, toxic bathroom sprays that didn’t really work anyway? I hope I was the last person to learn of this secret, but just in case I wasn’t, this actually works. It’s not the flame, it’s the lighting of the match and the smoke after blowing it out. Light one or two, let them burn for a few seconds and then blow them out. Run them under water to make sure they’re fully extinguished and toss in with compostables. And now you know. You’re welcome. Obviously not the best zero waste solution if there are kids in the house, but child free here and matches can be found in both bathrooms on the back of the toilet in either a cute basket or ceramic bowl.
I haven't tried this myself, but this looks promising as an alternative to store bought sprays and matches.
Is there really anything else to say with this one?! It's self explanatory and as I've written in a previous post, toilets use anywhere between 2 – 7 gallons of water to flush, depending on the age of the fixture. The savings of money and water quickly add up!