How To Reduce Waste In Your Home

08.12.2019

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Reducing the amount of trash that comes into your home is not as hard as it sounds. It might sound like a daunting task because we as consumers, buy a lot of packaged items that we bring into our home. However, it’s a simple process of elimination.

For instance, if you evaluate your kitchen items and everything you buy weekly, monthly, and yearly- that’s pretty much your entire list. For the yearly items, if you can find reusable alternatives, you can essentially eliminate your yearly inventory shopping.

Then, list all your weekly items that you tend to buy, and find reusable, non-toxic alternatives for those items. Your weekly and daily items are most likely the trash culprits. Half of the time, we don’t realize how many coffee cups we buy every day or even plastic packaged lunch items that we purchase daily. Eliminating the daily trash will help greatly reduce the amount of trash that enters your home. There are a lot of reasonable alternatives when it comes to kitchen items. Using cloth napkins in lieu of paper napkins, and using real dishware instead of paper plates can help eliminate the disposable trash output. You can also use real utensils instead of disposable utensils. You can bring a reusable coffee Tumbler when you go to get tea or coffee, so you don’t end up with a disposable cup.

A lot of people don’t know that the paper containers provided for us at grocery stores, and food establishments are lined with plastic, and those containers do not compost or bio degrade. The plastic layer, prevents it from composting completely. It’s a little bit like green washing because you may think your container is completely made of cardboard but it really isn’t. Using reusable items is a much better alternative, because you are in control of how much trash you are producing.

For your bathroom items, it’s the same process as evaluating your kitchen items. Go through your items and figure out which products you use and purchase, yearly, weekly and daily. Slowly replace the yearly items with reusable and sustainable options, as well as a weekly and daily items.

When it comes to medications or anything medical, I suggest that you consult with a doctor before you decide to eliminate certain products. I purchase sunscreen consistently. I live in California, where the sun is strong, and skin cancer is a real concern. I’m very aware that I am producing plastic trash with my sunscreen bottles. However, I would never want to put my health at risk just so I can proclaim that “My lifestyle is absolutely zero waste!”, and I wouldn’t want you to do that either.

Health concerns are very personal, so you know your own limit. If you can eliminate a plastic contained product and opt for a reusable version, than I think that’s great. Right now, I buy my conditioner, body lotion, bar soap, liquid soap, and tooth powder, in bulk. When it comes to sunscreen, face moisturizer and dental floss, those come in packaging.

You can use this evaluation process for the other rooms in your home. The biggest trash producers are the kitchen and the bathrooms. Some people have other rooms where they tend to buy a lot of items for, and those can be also evaluated in the same fashion.

This process takes time, and it takes self awareness to be consistent. Start slow and just work on an area or room in a certain amount of time. If you give yourself a time limit, staying consistent and motivated, becomes easier.

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Plastic Packaging In The Kitchen

07.08.2019

0600

Even when I buy items in glass jars because I can’t find a refillable version of it, I always end up with these plastic shrink bands. It seems that zero waste is never an absolute. Sometimes when I do buy produce that is free plastic packaging, I’ll still end up with rubber bands or twist ties. The good thing is I can actually reuse those items, but it’s preferred that I don’t have to.

Most of my dry goods are sold in bulk bins, so I am lucky that I have the privilege to buy package free dry goods from bulk items.

During the process of transitioning over to a zero waste lifestyle, I knew that I would end up giving up a lot of foods that I enjoyed. I personally love potato chips to snack on, but it was one thing I knew I had to give up, since the packaging wouldn’t fit my zero waste lifestyle. I gave up a lot of snacks such as packaged cookies, packaged crackers and packaged candy. There were alternatives to these packaged items, such as certain bulk options.

When I realized I had to give up certain foods, I also sought out alternative food substitutes. There are good substitutes out there, but sometimes, seeking out the alternatives require more work than expected. Once in awhile I will indulge in a packaged food, and then that packaging will get added to my pile of trash for that year. During my journey, I did come across a company called TerraCycle. They team up with certain companies who participate in different recycling programs with TerraCycle. These companies offer recycling programs through TerraCycle, in which customers who purchase their products, can join their recycling program, and send back the packaging to the company for free. It’s an option, and the program change frequently, so checking their website updates is helpful.

I’m extremely lucky to have local bulk grocery stores, who provide the option of bulk shopping, so I can continue this lifestyle. Only once in awhile, I’ll need an item and the glass jar will have the plastic shrink band on it. If I can, I try to only need and use items that are only sold in bulk.

What I Stopped Buying- Garage, Living Room and Holidays

11.10.2016

0800

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My last part in my ongoing list of “Items I’ve stopped buying” focuses on my garage, living room and holiday items. This list is very small in reference to the items I frequently bought. The garage items focus around doing laundry and the items needed to do laundry. The holiday items refer to items I used to buy for wrapping gifts.

Doing my laundry is my least favorite chore and ever since I simplified the amount of clothes I own, it’s not as bad as it used to be. (My capsule wardrobe now consists of 27 items.) But also not needing dryer sheets or dropping my items off at a dry cleaners also make for a simple laundry routine. I have so few items when I do laundry, that I simply hang everything up when I’m done. I used to sit and fold my items for a good amount of time, and had to set aside time to do it.

Admittedly, my simplistic routines have made me slightly lazier, but it’s also saved me time so I’m not packing my days off with things I need to get done. I actually HAVE time to be lazy- it’s weird. But I’ll take it. It’s weird because I’ve been conditioned to constantly be busy or with the tasks I need to get done each weekend or every other weekend. These tasks are supposed to take up a good amount of my day (that way I feel I’ve accomplished something for that day). When you get to the point when you find time to breathe (I mean a lot of time), it’s well worth the zero waste journey.

There’s more planning involved in the beginning and routines to get used to, but honestly….. who doesn’t love naps??

GARAGE

  1. Dryer Sheets ——————-> N/A
  2. Dry Cleaning ——————-> Hang items in bathroom while showering so they can steam.(I’ll iron if I ABSOLUTELY have to.)
  3. Laundry Soap ——————> Paper Packaged Powder Laundry Soap

LIVING ROOM

  1. Candles (Bed Bath & Beyond) ——> Sage leaves
  2. Flower Bouquets —————-> Fresh Flowers from backyard

HOLIDAYS

  1. Wrapping Paper —————-> Colorful Bandanas  [wrap and tuck] & old t-shirts made into reuseable gift bags.

What I Stopped Buying- Kitchen Items

11.08.2016

0800

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So my list of “Items That I No Longer Buy” continues onto the kitchen area. This list will include items I stopped buying for the sink area, cooking and dining area. As well as a short list of items I no longer buy for grocery shopping as well as the refrigerator.

For the kitchen items, switching over to reusable items really cut down time for shopping and running errands. I didn’t have to constantly keep track of what I was running out of or running low on. Plus, looking for sales wasn’t as stressful as before. Since I shop so little now, I actually tend to only look for a sale once, and just stock up on the bulk item in my glass container. The products that I do stock up on now, will last me for a much longer period of time.

It’s interesting when I do go shopping for bulk kitchen items such as soap, vinegar or baking soda, because I know exactly where the items are located in the stores, but I’ll walk around thinking that I’m forgetting an item (also because my basket will ultimately have a total of 4 items in it). When in the end, the total number of items I need is just the four…. for the next 5 months, because that’s how long it lasts. It’s great. You should try it!

SINK

  1. Dishwashing Soap ———————–> Bulk Dr. Bronner’s Liquid soap
  2. Plastic Dish Rack ————————> In-sink Metal Dish Rack
  3. Paper Towels —————————> Fabric Kitchen Towels
  4. Kitchen Cleaning Spray ——————-> Vinegar & water mix,  Baking Soda as an exfoliant
  5. Dish Cleaning Sponges ——————-> Alternative Dish Scrub (Alternative Dish Scrub)

COOKING

  1. Plastic cutting Board —————-> Wooden cutting board
  2. Plastic Kitchen Tools —————-> Metal/Wooden Kitchen Tools
  3. Non-Stick Kitchen Pans ————-> Stainless Steel Kitchen Cookware Set/Cast Iron Pans

DINING

  1. Plastic Water bottles ———————> Reusable water Bottles
  2. Plastic Straws —————————> Metal Reuseable Straws
  3. Coffee Filters —————————> French Press (doesn’t use disposable filters)
  4. Plastic Utensils ————————-> Silverware
  5. Paper Plates —————————->Dishware

GROCERY SHOPPING

  1. Plastic Bags ————————–> Reusable grocery bags
  2. Plastic Produce Bags ——————-> Fabric Produce bags (DIY Produce Bags)

REFRIGERATOR

  1. Plastic Ice Cube Tray ——————-> Metal Ice cube tray
  2. Plastic Tupperware ——————–> Glass Tupperware

What I Stopped Buying- Bathroom Items

 

11.03.2016

0800

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So I thought I would go over what I have actually stopped buying in lieu of alternative zero waste options. A few people have asked me about what I had to give up when I started my journey to a zero waste lifestyle and majority of the time I knew I was forgetting to mention certain items, so I decided to mke a list of what I gave up.

The items listed with “N/A” indicates that I no longer use it and didn’t find a replacement for it. There’s only one item that repeats and the item is the sage leaves which I use in lieu of candles and the scented bathroom spray.  The bathroom and kitchen were the most effected rooms during the change of switching over to zero waste alternatives so this list is one of the more elaborate lists.

This list can give you an idea of what I gave up, but to be honest, I really didn’t have to give up too much. It’s simply a list of items that I simplified and the replacement items are longer lasting and more durable over a longer period of time. If you’re thinking of moving towards this lifestyle, I hope this list helps. If you’re loking for any of the items I listed, take a look at my store on my homepage and skim through the room categories. There, you’ll find the suggestions I recomend for certain areas in your home.

MEDICINE CABINET

  1. Face wash (Clearsil) —————————> Unpackaged organic soap bars
  2. Deodorant (Secret Invisible solid) —————-> Deodorant crystal
  3. Toothpaste (Colgate) ————————–>  Baking Soda
  4. Plastic Toothbrushes  ————————->  Recycleable toothbrushes
  5. Band aids (BAND-AID) ————————>  Gauze and paper tape
  6. Antibiotic ointment (Neosporin) —————->  Bulk honey
  7. Cotton balls (store brand) ———————->  N/A
  8. Cotton swabs to clean my ears (Q-tips) ———–>  N/A
  9. Fancy body lotions from (Victoria’s Secret) ——–>  Bulk body lotion
  10. Face lotion (Neutrogena)  ———————->  Bulk face lotion
  11. Rubbing alcohol ——————————> N/A
  12. Dental Floss (Oral-B SuperFloss Dental Floss) ——> Dental floss (ECO-dent)
    1. ECO-dent is packaged in paper, with a little bit of plastic packaging
  13. Bug spray for your body (OFF) ——————-> Citrus essential oil
  14. Jewelry cleaning liquid (La Sonic Jewelry Cleaner) —> N/A
  15. Makeup————————————-> Organic makeup
  16. Body Sunblock ——————————-> ALBA Sport Sunblock
  17. Face Sunblock  ————————> Mineral Fusion Sunscreen Moisturizer

SHOWER

  1. Shampoo bottles (Pantene Pro-V) —————-> Bulk Hair Shampoo
  2. Conditioner bottles (Pantene Pro-V) ————–> Bulk Hair Conditioner
  3. Disposable razors (Gillette) ———————-> Epilator
  4. Shower Pouf ———————————-> Pumice Stone & Wash rag

SINK

  1. Tampons (Tampax) —————————> Keeper Moon Cup
  2. Scented bedroom spray (Bed Bath & Beyond)  ——> Sage leaves
  3. Nail polish (from wherever) ——————–> N/A
  4. Nail polish remover (store brand) —————-> N/A
  5. Bathroom cleaning sprays (Scrub/409)  ————> Vinegar & Baking Soda
  6. Toilet Paper (Plastic packaged) ——————> Toilet paper (Paper Packaged)
  7. Bathroom Hand Soap ————————–> Unpackaged organic soap bars
  8. Bathroom rags ——————————-> Microfiber cloths
  9. Candles (to make the bathroom smell nice) ——–> Sage
  10. Bathroom sink scrub brush ———————>  100% Sisal Fiber Bath Sponge

TOILET

  1. Toilet cleaner (Scrubbing Bubbles) ————–> Bulk Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap

Weekly And Daily Errands To Run

 

09.14.2016

0800

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When it comes to errands, I actually don’t have to0 do much. I don’t have daily errands, mostly because I work long hours and prefer to go home and relax. For my weekly errands, I do buy groceries each week, but mostly the fresh produce items. I’ll stock up on my bulk dry foods maybe once every 3 weeks. I prefer to completely run out of my bulk foods before I go and buy more- this way, I can refill my jars completely.
For fresh produce, I’ll buy local and seasonal items because I know that I’m supporting local businesses, and that the produce didn’t have to travel far to get its destination.
When it comes to my bathroom bulk items, I tend to buy those items once every three months. Because I buy large quantities when I go on each run, I don’t need to make frequent trips. The task of running out of bathroom items is an issue I absolutely dislike dealing with. It’s the reason why I would stock up on items in the past, which also ended up producing even more trash. Now, I simply look under my  bathroom sink and my jars are already full and waiting to be used. My jars also tend to hold more product compared to the bottles I used to buy, so each time I pull out a jar to use, I know that it will last awhile.

This is a simple list of what my typical weekly grocery run might look like:

  1. Breakfast: Oatmeal, cranberries, flaxseed, almonds, cinnamon, green tea, coffee, cane sugar, Straus Half & Half
  2. Lunch: romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, balsamic vinegar
  3. Dinner: bread, mustard, potatoes, green onions, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower
  4. Snacks: Bulk bins, Seasonal Fruit (eat skin if possible.)

For less frequent bulk bathroom shopping list, I tend to buy:

  1. Bulk soap bars
  2. Bulk face lotion
  3. Bulk body lotion
  4. Bulk Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Peppermint Soap
  5. Baking soda
  6. White Vinegar

For my more frequent bulk bathroom shopping items, I’ll buy

  1. Toothbrushes
  2. Dental Floss
  3. Face Sunscreen Lotion

Repairing Versus Buying

 

08.01.2016

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Taking my items to a shop to have it repaired was not a common task in my household when I was younger. As I moved further and further into this zero waste lifestyle, it was inevitable that I would go to one eventually.

My decision to own less, meant that I did not own all of the tools necessary to fix every issue I had in my life, this included, auto, clothing, electronics and household items. I started exploring repair shops around my town so at least I had some knowledge of what was available to me.

When I was cleaning one day, one of my new thrift shop purchases, my black heels, fell and the heel tip shattered. I was disappointed because I really had not owned them for very long. I took it to a repair shop and it was a quick and cheap fix! I told a few friends about my visit and they all came up with the same question: Why didn’t you just go buy a new one if the heel tip was that easy to break off?

That was  a great question and I’ve realized that owning a capsule wardrobe meant that each piece I owned was very valuable now. Each piece played a critical role in my overall wardrobe and I knew that it was my fault that the heel tip shattered due to my carelessness. I think when it comes to smaller items, it might be worth the effort to get the item repaired at a small shop, but for the bigger items, there’s more at stake.

For instance, I was hypothetically challenged to a situation where I had a broken residential washer and dryer, would I still repair costly items such as those, or dump them and purchase a new set?

My answer was simple. I will repair a product unless the repair would essentially cost as much as a new version of that same product. Although dumping a product is not something I like to do, in certain situations, it’s the most logical answer. If I truly love the product, and let’s say the repair costs at least 50% of the original price, I still would repair it. I’ve encountered this situation with my current car that I own. It’s a 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser and although the repairs to this thing can be costly, it has at least 79,000 miles left on it before I’m willing to throw in the towel. I’m still willing to pay the price for this car because logically, there’s really nothing wrong with it other than wear and tear maintenance. Now, if a car repair costs $12,000 in one bill, then yea I’ll probably scrap it and call it a day.

I still stand by the option of repairing items before buying a new version in most cases. I think the repair shops are happy with new customers and overall I enjoy exploring new repair shops and understanding the specialties of what these shops can do.