A few days ago, I read the Zero Waste Tag post on shotsofsimplicity.com. I write about the subject of zero waste a lot but I love the idea of answering someone else’s questions and reading other people’s answers.
I wasn’t officially tagged by Christine of Shots of Simplicity, but I’m tagging myself. Put me in, coach!
- What got you started?
I’ve always been interested in the environment, being eco-friendly, using non-toxic products and generally living a healthy life. I started getting more serious about going plastic free after reading Beth Terry’s book. After my daughter was born in 2014, we saw just how easy it was to use cloth diapers so we started examining other areas in our home where we used unnecessary disposables. We stopped buying plastic zipper bags, paper towels and other single-use items. I stumbled upon a story about Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers and that led me to furiously research zero waste for a few weeks. I very publicly announced my intention to attempt a zero waste home in 2016 and here we are.
- Most memorable moment?
I’ve had lots of memorable moments this year of exploring the zero waste lifestyle, but my favorite moments are always talking to people in the aisles of the grocery store or check out line. Whether I’m using a cloth bag to stash my raisins from the bulk bins, a glass canister for almond flour or a glass container for deli items, I love getting stopped by store staff or other customers to chat about what the heck I’m doing and why. At one of our local (big, conventional) grocery stores, the staff have become such good advocates for us that they’ll happily explain our ways to other people in the store. One time, a friendly staff member was slicing some Cabot cheddar into a glass container for me at the deli counter and the woman behind me said, “What is that?” and he readily supplied this lovely answer of his own creation: “They don’t use plastic. They are reducing their carbon footprint!” Simple, to the point and while I probably blushed slightly, I was so pleased.
- Favorite bulk purchase?
This is a hard question but I think it’s buying spices in bulk. Not only is buying spices in bulk usually a significant cost savings over pre-packaged, you can buy exactly the amount you need. I often purchase just a couple tablespoons of a dried herb or spice because I know I’ll only use a little bit. I also think buying spices in bulk is a great “gateway” for anyone nervous or curious about reducing their waste because the benefits of saving money and not wasting spices are so readily apparent. Cooking at home is important when you are trying to reduce your trash and using lots of different spices is a great way to make your food exciting. However, the cost and thought of having a huge container of something you only need 2 teaspoons of can put people off. Buying spices in bulk solves this issue.
- Most recommended zero waste item?
I recommend a lot of things depending on what I know someone is looking for. Overall, though, I think this is a three-way tie between cloth bags for buying bulk items (easy to DIY!), cloth napkins/wipes and reducing junk mail by getting off of mailing lists using Catalog Choice and DMAchoice.
- What keeps you motivated?
Now that my family is in a good habit and we know what to bring when we’re out and about, how to shop at our favorite stores and we’ve created other systems, I’m happy to report that most of the time drastically reducing personal trash is simple and enjoyable.
Also, the immediate benefits for my life are hard to turn away from. I recently wrote about falling off the zero waste wagon this summer when I was very sick during my first trimester of pregnancy and while the impact producing more trash has on the planet was certainly on my mind, I couldn’t help but also be annoyed and stressed out by the changes in my personal environment. The bottom line is that having to deal with trash is annoying.
I also encourage you to tag yourself as I have done, no matter how far on your zero waste/low waste/trash free journey you are. Feel free to share your answers to all or some of the questions here in the comments, on your social media accounts, wherever. No blog required!