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.