zero waste home

Zero Waste Home Update

I appreciate all of your support on my last post. While we were never truly “off” the wagon and back to our older days of over-consumption, we did let a lot of things slip and it was tough. I’m glad I have such tremendous support in my community online and in my day-to-day life.

In September we tried to get a bit more focused. Our jar runneth over this month but we still produced way less trash than in August/July. It feels so good to be getting back into the swing of things. To me that’s a delightful sign that not only are we committed to a trash free or “trash light” lifestyle in the long term because we care about our environmental impact but that we actually like it and enjoy it.

That’s truly at the heart of my “crazy” pledge to attempt a zero waste home in 2016. I wanted to simplify and make my life happier by extension. I was sick of taking out the trash so often even though we considered ourselves eco-friendly and were eliminating the use of disposable items (like paper towels) left and right. Having less trash helps my personal environment and the earth, which is exactly what I was hoping it would accomplish. That doesn’t always happen with experiments, but it seems to be happening here.

Let’s get to what you want to see … photos of my family’s trash!

zero waste challenge family of three monthly trash photo

Our trash jar filled up pretty slowly at first in September but then life and a couple more days of me feeling really sick due to terrible pregnancy headaches (Taking magnesium is helping a ton, by the way!*) led to packaging. This jar/bag doesn’t include a few bits and bobs from a couple shipping packages that we will reuse or bring to our local shipping store to reuse. It does include the broken bits of a plastic spray top (has anyone ever found more durable spray tops?? Please share!), protein bar wrappers, cookie packaging (this was a bummer – it seemed like a paper bag but it was plastic lined AND there was a plastic tray/plastic wrap on the cookies…ugh), gluten free bread packaging (it’s the bag holding the trash) even a bag of sour cream & onion kettle chips I just had to have. Cravings and aversions in pregnancy can be so strong! They were pretty darn delicious, but truly, pregnancy makes me do weird things that I can’t even explain to myself a few days later.

But, in the end…

This is my experiment and I’m making up the rules as I go.

In terms of rules, we have been quite strict in the past because it was good to see what we could accomplish under more confining circumstances. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how we haven’t felt that many of the changes into zero waste caused us any real hardship. We use the models put forth by many zero waste homes (primarily Pare Down, Treading My Own Path, Going Zero Waste and Be Zero) as inspiration and to build our guidelines. But we have to design a life that is sustainable for us specifically. It can be tough but eventually things come together.

As we continue to imagine and design how we’ll keep up this lifestyle for the rest of 2016 and beyond, we are slowly starting to reassess our priorities and whether or not we have to change some rules and goals. For example, we have gone without a few food items that we just cannot find unpackaged (mostly meats and cheeses, occasionally some special treats and snacks) and we might start adding those items in slowly. Perhaps once a month or once a shopping trip we choose one packaged item. We like to cook and having bacon or smoked salmon in a recipe would be special and help us continue to eat a variety of foods. Everyone gets into cooking ruts and we are no different.

We just got back from a nearly-100% zero waste shopping trip and my husband and I both commented at how good it feels to be  getting back to our version of normal.

*Disclaimer: I am taking this supplement as recommended specifically for me by my midwife. Consult with your OBGYN/midwife before adding any supplements.

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