bulk bins of ingredients

Four Months of Living Zero Waste + Some News

Oh heyyy, it’s May! That means we’ve completed four months of our zero waste challenge. It’s really becoming second nature and that’s so cool. Here are some random insights and musings I jotted down this month. Feel free to shout out any questions in the comments.

This month we still almost filled a jar – mostly receipts and random bits of plastic packaging – from a bottle of oil, etc. A plastic spatula cracked in half so that’s in there. Ugh. A razor head is in there too – my next to last one ever, hopefully! I am on my last one right now and I’m going to replace my trusty Venus with a safety razor. I have my eye on one by Oui but I also like the idea of just grabbing one off ebay* – or there’s even a popular one at Target*. They are built to last so there are lots of good quality secondhand/vintage ones out there.

Four months after committing to the zero waste challenge, what's in Meredith's trash jar?

  • To jar or not to jar? Showcasing my landfill trash in a jar isn’t necessarily showing you the whole picture of my waste, but I will continue doing it because I think it’s a good illustration and tool right now. Will I continue doing it forever? Who knows. I buy things in bulk that come in a bag to the store. In the case of bulk spices, a relatively small bag. I don’t ask the store for a cut of the bag to put in my jar. I have attended parties and gatherings where cheese or other food was packaged and I’ve eaten it. I’m not at the point where I want to ask family and friends for the plastic wrap for my jar. Maybe someday or (some days) I’ll decide to refuse anything at all that came in packaging, but it’s not where I am right now. We drive a car (infrequently, but still), and we get repairs, we get the oil changed. The discarded motor oil isn’t in the jar. I am constantly asking for “no straws” and getting them anyway. And then too often I forget them at the restaurant. So, there are a few straws that *should* be in my jar but aren’t. Also we sometimes recycle things – that could be considered single use because recycling is very resource-intensive. Is a banana peel that I just throw in the compost without trying to salvage other cool uses/benefits single use and wasteful? To some people, maybe. So, the jar a partial picture at best. We’ve cut back dramatically and I’m so happy with where we are, but we’re not perfectly “zero waste” by some definitions. But in my heart I feel like we’re a zero waste home and I’m proud.
  • I’m realizing that “REFUSE” is definitely the most powerful of the Rs for me right now. If I don’t receive something I don’t want, I don’t have to figure out how to deal with it.
  • I’m also realizing that since I have SO MUCH LESS trash (yay!) I really can spend more time trying to figure out if it truly is trash or if it can be recycled/reused. I used to think that the “big name” zero waste leaders and bloggers were a little silly running all over town to specially recycle one small thing. But now I get it – you have so much less stuff to contend with so you can really pay attention to what’s going to the landfill.
  • I still think that zero waste and minimalism are both well suited for each other and at odds. More on this later…
  • I’ve probably accidentally composted more fruit stickers that I’d like to admit. I think I’m going to come up with a “sticker spot” somewhere in my kitchen where I can stick them while I’m running around.
  • I’m not feeling super great about our dog food options but we’re getting there. Our current food bags can be recycled (er, down-cycled) through TerraCycle. It’s not ideal but it’s better than racking up a bunch of bags that have to go to the landfill. We have kept 2-3 of our old bags (also not in our jar!) because they are really heavy duty plastic and have a resealable top so I think they are useful to have on hand for the rare occasions when we need a “trash bag.” We currently have one that’s being filed up from this year’s total landfill waste – I just dump our jar o’ trash in there at the end of each month.
  • We’ve tried a few flushable bags for dog waste though and I’ll have a review of those up soon!
  • I really need the Whole 30  I’m doing this month. I let myself fall a little too far into the jelly bean jar the past month or so (really since I did that Whole 14 back in March) and I’m feeling SO sluggish. Ready for that energy boost! Which will come in handy soon because…
  • And now, for our BIG NEWS: (No I’m NOT pregnant, haha!) …We’re buying a house! We don’t have the keys yet but all the big hurdles are out of the way so we’re 99% sure it’s a “go!” It’s a 950 sq ft 1920s home. It’s not “tiny” by any means but a nice small size that we’re excited about. Stay tuned for updates on how we’re trying to make our move and updates/repairs to the home as zero waste and eco-friendly as possible. During our last move we produced bags and bags and bags of trash and this time that’s just not happening.

That’s it for now! Let’s chat in the comments or on Instagram!

Related reading:

Four things we did before going zero waste
Zero waste travel tips
The key to reducing your household waste
Zero waste, plastic free reading list
Plastic free, zero waste water filter

xo, Meredith

*Hi friends, this post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links are indicated with an asterisk. If you click, a shark will EAT YOU. Just kidding! Your shopping or browsing experience doesn’t change, but I might get a teeny tiny commission. 


9 thoughts on “Four Months of Living Zero Waste + Some News

  1. I appreciate your honesty.

    I’m still trying to figure out how “Zero Waste” I want to be. I don’t want people to avoid me and I still want to have a social life without feeling guilty for getting a straw, condiment ramekin, wax paper liner. I don’t really want to bring my trash home from restaurants. I’ll still eat out of chip bags if i’m at a party, the bag is there, its open, I didnt buy it, but hey, i really love my salt and vinnies! I keep my jar because I honestly just don’t need the trashcan!

    I drive my car to work everyday. I just bought it 6 months ago (was carless for 3.5 years), it is something that I worked really hard to save up for and it symbolizes my hard work and where i’ve come from. Also, Buffalo is cold and the bus sucks, and I do a lot more than work, so its helpful for getting around! Also, its pretty. I WILL start riding my bike next week and usually do that for 5-6 months, because take advantage of every damn second of warm weather in this city that I can, haha.

    So i’m trying to adopt a “do the best you can and don’t stress about it” less waste idea, and def trying to be better about not being hard on myself.

    haha sorry for the venting! Congrats on the house, to me 920sqft is the PERFECT size. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the comment! “Do the best you can” is the healthiest way to approach it for sure! And most things, actually! And yes I think the house is going to be a great size for us. I don’t think I could ever do a 250 square foot tiny house!!

  2. The jar is really hard for me and I definitely miss some bits too. There’s also somethings I’m okay with. I manage a farmers market and a lot of vendors will give me random stuff to try or leftovers like spinach that come in a bag. I don’t think I’d be doing very good at my job if I didn’t know the product of each and every vendor… and I’m too broke to deny free food just because of a bag.

    And it’s also so hard to find every single thing in bulk, unlike the awesome stores in California! It’s so hard not to be jealous. The house sounds amazing by the way! My moving tip is to wrap all breakables in your clothes. Boxers work well 😛

    1. We all have to make decisions about what works for us. Accepting farmer’s market food sounds like a good idea to me! If you have to also accept a bag, it happens. Just reuse it as much as you can and move on. Yeah, there’s not as much in bulk as I’d like in my area, either, but hopefully it’ll slowly change. Thanks for the moving tip – good idea!

  3. Congrats on the house! Love reading about your zero waste efforts. We are still at 1-2 small trash bags (grocery bag sized) per week and I’m always looking for ideas to reduce that.

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