Living zero waste as a family of three - ways to reduce trash and live minimally with a baby

Three Months of Living Zero Waste

Three months of living with a focus on reducing our landfill waste on the books! We still have a lot to learn and we’re still tweaking our different systems, but in general this lifestyle works for us.

Here are some random thoughts and musings I’ve jotted down this month. If there’s anything specific you want to know, please leave me a comment or email me (meredithtested@gmail.com) and I’ll do my best to cover it in a future post.

  • The thing that shocks me still is how many “pre zero waste” things we’re still working through and have yet to have to find (or try) the zero waste or less-waste alternative for. Our last tube of toothpaste is still going strong, for example. Possibly because we’re just noticing our consumption of everything and using less?
  • We still have some shampoo and conditioner in a bottle left, but I cracked into my shampoo bar about a month ago anyway. Shampoo bars are a revelation. I was nervous that it would be like a body soap. But it’s not – the one we’re using has a lovely lather and cleans my hair really well. In fact, I think my hair is healthier and shinier now. We’re still using conditioner at home since we have a bottle but while traveling I was just using the shampoo bar and then running a tiny bit of Argan oil through my ends and it worked well.
  • We’re still working through our big bottle of liquid laundry detergent but I’m going to be trying out a purchased zero-waste option soon. And then I’ll try a DIY version.
  • I will not be changing our cloth diaper laundry routine. Our current routine really works for us right now so I don’t want to mess with it too much by trying a new detergent, etc. Perhaps I’ll do some experimentation but what we do now is easy and works well for us. My daughter will only be in diapers for another year+ so maybe we’ll just stick with the not-perfectly-zero-waste system that works for us. At least the packaging is recyclable.
  • I’m hysterically terrible at my zero waste “elevator pitch.” It’s ironic since I talk and write for my job (PR). My husband thinks its because it’s so …BIG… to me. And I’m a little anxious about seeming like I’m being preachy. So I just kind of falter and stumble around. I’m so incredibly passionate about living this way. But, it’s a lot to talk about, especially given the fact that most households throw out a bag or more of trash a week, and now we’re only producing a jar a month. It’s hard to condense the changes we’ve made into a few sentences. However, I think this is important as more and more people challenge themselves to reduce landfill trash. So, I’m working through a few elevator pitches and I’ll share them with you soon.
  • Challenging the status quo isn’t as scary as it once seemed to me. I tend to be passionate about the things I believe in but even so, it was a little intimidating to think about constantly “butting up against” wasteful practices and trying to change consumption habits. Starting small has been helpful. I’ve kind of made it a routine to reach out to local businesses and restaurants after I visit to suggest more eco-friendly practices such as not auto-printing receipts or automatically handing out plastic straws. I may not always get a response, but the responses I have gotten have been positive. Mostly along the lines of “Huh, good idea, we just always did it this way and never thought to change.” I feel the same way, actually! I used to accept so many single-use disposable items into my life before without thinking. Now that I know the alternatives and know how easy it is to reduce my waste, it’s second nature to refuse. But it isn’t second nature to many people and businesses. And that’s okay! You don’t know what you don’t know, right?
  • I don’t think I could ever go back to buying packaged food. The only thing we really “miss” is the occasional bag of chips. But even then, I’m not sure the taste or experience will be that exiting.
  • So many zero waste things are second nature now, I forget to post about them, even. Many of the changes we’ve made took so little time and effort to adopt. It’s not that I can’t remember what it was like to have paper towels or other typical single-use household items, but our lives just aren’t really impacted at all by the zero-waste counterparts. It’s boring, but true.
  • I’m having a hard time convincing certain people that I am not judging their choices or being judgmental. I am just living my life and trying something out. If I’m on a diet and you’re not, that’s okay with me. If I’m on a diet and you’re not and it makes you feel guilty, that is frustrating but I don’t know how to help. I’m not sure how me guilty for making someone feel guilty is that productive, if that makes sense. Either you’re confident and comfortable with your choices or you’re not. I am certainly not always comfortable with my choices but I am just trying to live a life I am happy with and that I can sustain for a long time.

Without further ado… here’s a picture of our March 2016 trash jar. Now that I’ve started sharing pictures of my trash with you, apparently I can’t stop. 🙂

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Shopping in bulk, zero waste at Costco

Zero Waste at Costco?

I’m going to give away the ending: we cancelled our Costco membership earlier this year. Or, rather, we didn’t renew. My husband and I were big Costco fans – true company loyalists. And now, it just doesn’t fit with how we’re living our life. When you say “shop in bulk” many people think of stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJs. And it’s true, you are … Continue reading Zero Waste at Costco?

Two months of living zero waste

Two months down! I’m feeling like we’re really in a good place … to tweak everything. We’ve spent the past few months figuring out the basics, and now we can hone and really put systems (and products/attitudes/schedules) in place to keep this little zero waste family grooving for the longer term.

We weren’t exactly flying by the seat of our pants in January and February, but kind of. (Side note: we’re parents to a toddler so basically every day is just “winging it and hoping it works!”) We go to the supermarket more often than we probably could, and we also tend to bring more bags/containers than we need. Better to be overprepared, for sure, but I don’t like it to feel cumbersome.

First, a note on the trash jar. Yes, I’ve jumped right onto the jar bandwagon made popular by Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer. It’s a standard way of showcasing this lifestyle and I’m happy to be “typical” in this regard. Really happy. The landfill waste we produced in February fits in a f-ing jar. Wha?! I’m so psyched.

Of course, no joke on March 1 my husband got a package in the mail just positively filled with plastic trash… but that’s for next month’s post (and jar) to deal with.

Without further ado, here’s our trash JAR from February!

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Family takes on zero waste challenge for the year ... here's their first month's trash!

One month of living zero waste

First, check out my post one week in to the zero waste challenge. 

Back to the one month checkup… Overall, we’re in a good groove now. We’re still learning, still tweaking, still finding packageless sources for our favorite foods and other items, but we’re in a habit now. It feels normal. We’ve got a routine. It happened fast in some ways. But slow in others.

Slowly over the month we’ve identified the stores where we can (and like to) buy certain items. And where we can’t buy certain things. We’ve figured out a good system for storage and only have a few things on our wishlist – including more glass containers that we can use for freezer meals.

…And something big enough to fit a whole chicken. 😉

Less waste, less garbage, less plastic, less trash, no disposable or single-use items … But no less joy, happiness, delicious food, or time with family and friends.

It’s true that the “set-up” takes some time. Even in the last week of January we found a new local, humane-raised meat source. And we hope to continue to uncover local sources for some of the things we’re currently having a hard time finding packageless, like butter (we’re still using Kerrygold), yogurt and bacon.

And now, because I’m sure you are curious, here’s what our trash can looks like after 31 days.

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My family has been living “zero waste” for a week and…

After living this “zero waste” lifestyle for a whole week (though I was sick for 5/7 of it, ugh) … here’s what’s up: Reusable containers to hold bulk ingredients makes mise en place (schmancy culinary term for setting out all your sh*t before you cook it) look really nice. It’s nice to look at and it just makes you feel nice. Some things are more … Continue reading My family has been living “zero waste” for a week and…