zero waste

Falling off the zero waste wagon

The excuses as to why we fell off the zero waste wagon this summer are likely not that exciting but I’ll rattle them off anyway.

I was newly pregnant when we moved to our new house. These two things combined to create an awkward situation. We had nothing in our fridge or, I’d argue more importantly, our freezer. I try to have all kinds of quick breads and muffins, cookies and maybe a casserole or two sitting in the freezer waiting for a busy day. Or in this case, days when I was too sick to cook or even enter the kitchen. Since I was sick pretty much immediately after we moved, I avoided the (empty) kitchen like the plague and left my husband and daughter to fend for themselves basically from the start. They didn’t starve, though, trust me. My husband is a great cook even when he was exhausted from work/unpacking/taking care of new-home fixes.

In mid to late June, we started producing more trash than we had in months. From takeout to miscellaneous food packaging, suddenly we were searching for a garbage bag for the first time in half a year. Here’s what we noticed:

  1. We finally had to admit that we make special trips to different stores for different things. We’d typically go to three (sometimes more) stores regularly to get all the things we need in the most low-waste way possible. No one store both allows us to use our own containers and has everything we need. The past couple months we’ve gone to one store at a time and gotten things in packaging there that aren’t available packageless.
  2. We rely a lot on homemade and DIY. I didn’t feel overwhelmed before but the truth is we make a LOT of stuff. Everything from toothpaste and diaper cream to pizza crust, crackers, muffins, and much more. When I stopped entering the kitchen, all of those items had to be purchased. We went without certain things or searched for products with the least amount of packaging, but it still added up.

In both July and August we produced a typical kitchen-sized bag of trash for our family. No pretty jar photos here, folks.

I just recently got back into the kitchen to make a few things, though my food aversions are still tremendously powerful.

I value our trash free or “trash light” lifestyle so much more now that we’ve had a taste of falling off the wagon. In September we tried again, making an effort like used to, and hoping that we can make progress even though I’m still not my full self.

Attempting this lifestyle as a busy person in the modern world is TOUGH. We got a taste of what life would be like if we loosened the reins a bit and quite frankly we didn’t like it. The truth is, we haven’t been too hard on ourselves either.

We’ve noticed how annoying it is to have more trash, have food in the house that we aren’t thrilled to eat or have our daughter eat, and to simply deal with all the extra work that comes with managing a lifestyle of consumption that we thought we’d left behind.

We also totally understand how things can get out of control and it’s easy to slip a little, and then a lot. When family, friends, or strangers on the internet declare “I could never do that!” about attempting zero waste, I get the hesitation more now. We were so intensely committed to this experiment that we didn’t consider straying. Zero waste tunnel vision, if you will. Now we’re trying to have our eyes open a bit more and are planning for the future. We want to make a trash-light lifestyle work for us in the long term, so we’re thinking more now about what areas of our home and life are easier than others to maintain in this way. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading! Catch up with me daily on Instagram and feel free to leave comments here on the blog if you ever want to chat.

If you’re curious about our zero waste lifestyle, here are a few posts you might want to peruse:

The key to reducing your household wasteGrocery shopping zero waste style (Whole 30/Paleo)
Five months of living zero waste
Zero waste travel tips


4 thoughts on “Falling off the zero waste wagon

  1. Congratulations Meredith! Sometimes it is helpful to try something different for perspective, even if it isn’t the lifestyle you ultimately want. Loved your honesty here

    1. Thanks for the comment, Lauren! I agree that we didn’t exactly mean to gain this new perspective but it’s good that we have this history now. Glad you’re following me on IG now so you can get my news/updates (such as, baby #2 is on the way!) much faster 🙂 We’re really excited about the new baby, even if she (yep, girl again!) messed with my ability to be in the kitchen for several months haha. And now that I’m ~23 weeks and finally feeling human I’m so so happy.

  2. You are doing such a great job reducing waste! It is very inspiring and amazing specially with young kids. We did very well during plastic free July but we also realised during that month that some things would not be sustainable for us (we also ended up going to multiple shops that with a young child is a nightmare!) . There had To be a compromise between plastic-free and me losing my mind 🙂 so something remain in package although a lot has been improved from before July.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Irene! Yes, going to multiple stores can be a pain! We try to stagger our visits so we don’t have to coordinate it all in one day. I’m lucky that so far my daughter likes tagging along to the grocery stores, though 🙂 I had a personal trainer friend who always used to say “The best workout is the one that you’ll actually do.” I think the same applies to so many other areas of life. Having a goal of personal sustainability is ideal. Pushing ourselves towards unattainable standards isn’t practical at all. Good luck on your journey – sounds like you’re doing great!

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