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How I Decided to Create a Zero Waste Home
Zero waste is something I’ve been working on slowly ever since moving into my own home (without even realizing it). When I first started the process of packing and buying things for the house, I was super into the minimalism lifestyle. I would only buy items I knew we needed and would use. I didn’t want to have to deal with a cluttered home and feel overwhelmed by an abundance of things we had no use for. Once that was done, my new obsession was recycling and composting. I would research what was recyclable and what wasn’t. I would constantly look at packages for the recycle symbol, and make sure anything that was considered compost went into the bin. Living in my own home for 10 months now, I discovered something new. I found the ‘Zero Waste Lifestyle’, and I was willing to give it a try.
What is zero waste?
“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.” – RCBC (Recycling Council of British Columbia)
Zero waste is where you don’t make any trash, which you may think is impossible to do! Trust me, I am thinking the same thing, and there are people out there that actually do this! 12 Valuable Tips and Marriage Advice For Young Wives | Marriage Advice | Relationship Advice | Feminine Energy | How to Be a Good Wife | Submissive Wife | Young Wife | Newlywed | Newlywed Wife | Healthy Marriage | Successful Marriage Ever see those people who show a jar, and announce that is all the trash they accumulated in a year? Yes, those ones. Total dream if I could ever make that happen, but a huge applause to them for achieving that. They are actively helping the environment by making as little trash as possible. But you do not have to go to that extreme if it is unrealistic for you. I know I cannot do this myself. Sometimes, things DO have to go in the trash. Luckily, I don’t produce that much anyway, about a bag full once a week. That’s a start, right?
Why Plastic Packaging is the Enemy
I’m the main grocery shopper in the house, and I did not realize just how much plastic we use to package our food. It wasn’t until I went shopping one day and really looked at my surroundings. So much of our food and essential items that we use in our every day lives, all comes packaged in plastic! Now, if you don’t already know, not all plastic is recyclable. When you think about it, that totally sucks! That means that plastic goes into the trash, into a landfill, where it sits for years and years. And every time I throw something in my trash can, I am contributing to the harm of our planet.
I thought I was already doing so well by constantly recycling and making sure I organize everything correctly. But that’s not enough. Not only should I try to produce less trash, but I should try to recycle less, too.
Disclaimer: I’m not perfect, and I do not plan to go super hardcore into it. I do, however, want to do what I can. Every little thing I do counts, and I’d rather leave this earth knowing that I did my part in helping preserve it. Because of my minimalism journey in the beginning, I already was doing a few things that I would consider zero waste, but now I want to do even more! This is my journey of converting my life and my home to zero waste, to the best of my ability, and maybe you’ll be inspired to start, too.
What I Currently Do as a Part of My Zero Waste Home
Make My Own Almond Milk
Not only do I make my own almond milk, but I use glass bottles or reuse old milk bottle to store it. This way, I’m not buying plastic jugs (even though I know they are recyclable), and I even save a little bit of money when grocery shopping (bonus!).
Homemade Ice tea + Juices
By making my own beverages, I don’t have to purchase any that are packaged in plastic, such as soda and juices. I use loose leaf tea with honey to sweeten my teas, and I get to choose my own flavours and how sweet I want them to be. I use a tea steeper rather then tea bags, and fill them in my glass bottles. Saving money, not wasting tea bags, no plastic involved. I would consider that a win situation. I also at times make my own fruit juice, by boiling fruit in a pot of water till all the juices from the fruit is absorbed. Sweeten with honey, bottle, and chill. I recently purchased a portable citrus juicer, and make my own homemade orange juice and lemonade. Yum!
Use Containers + Jars for Basic Pantry Items
I currently store a majority of my pantry essentials such as pasta, sugar, and spices in reusable plastic containers and glass jars.
Reusable Shopping + Mesh Bags
I disliked having accumulated so many plastic bags from groceries and from fruit and veggies. All of it would just end up being throw away in the trash. I bring my own reusable bags for all my groceries, and just recently, I purchased and use my own mesh bags to carry my fruit and vegetables.
I don’t have any paper bills come in the mail anymore. I do everything online. If you aren’t, I recommend you start. It’s easier to keep track, you won’t be late paying bills if your mail ever gets lost, and you save a few trees.
Goals for the Next 3 Months to Creating a Zero Waste Home
Use More Jars
I plan on using more jars to store my pantry essentials and various other uses. I’m already saving the glass jars that once had food stored in it, such as pasta sauce or salsa. Once finished, instead of recycling it, I’ll store them in my cupboard until I need one, and they will be right there for me to choose from!
I’m going to buy more food not packaged in boxes, bags, or plastic. I’ll be bringing my own glass jars and filling them up with what I need in the bulk section. This way, I’m filling up the jar with what I need. In some cases, I can fill up a large jar with a spice I know I will use often, but will last much longer then buying a smaller amount in it’s plastic counterpart. I found out that there is a Bulk Barn in my area, so I’ll start making a trip out there at least once a month to stock up on bulk food items.
Invest in a Proper Nut Milk Bag
I use disposable cheese cloths/milk cloths from the dollar store to make my almond milk, which is totally fine because they are compostable. However, I think it would be more environmentally friendly and I can save a bit of money if I were to invest in a proper milk nut bag.
Use Metal Straws + Glass Water Bottle
Despite plastic straws not being at the top of the list of contributors to plastic waste, these small tubes we use to consume our beverages hardly ever make it into our recycling bins. They contribute to the pollution of our oceans and endanger our marine life. Hearing about all the plastic floating in our ocean breaks my heart. If cutting out plastic straws is a small step to preventing any more harm from happening, I’ll do it. I’m putting away my current straws for the use of any guests if they request one. As soon as I run out, no more plastic straws. I bought metal straws for a really good price online, and will be carrying one or two in my purse with me at all times. That way, if I want to buy a drink, I’ll just use my own.
I also do not favour of having to use plastic water bottles. I want to try something new, so I purchased a small glass water bottle that perfectly fits in my purse. This way I’m not tempted to purchase bottled water, or have to carry around the big, clunky plastic ones.
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Cut Out Foil and Plastic Cling Wrap
Another two items I plan on cutting out are aluminum tin foil and plastic cling wrap. Tin foil doesn’t have much use except to cover food when stored in the fridge. Recently, I read up on how using aluminum foil when cooking food is not healthy, so I stopped using it instantly. There are other alternatives to cover your food, such as reusable elastic covers. These can be purchased from the dollar store.
Instead of plastic wrap, you can use bees wax wraps or homemade fabric sandwich covers to wrap your food in. And if you already have those reusable elastic covers, there is no need for plastic wrap. I’ll probably only keep it around if I need to package or cover food for guests.
Homemade Cleaning Products
Now my cupboard under my kitchen sink is filled with cleaning supplies. When I first moved in, I thought I needed all these different products for different uses around the house. And I do use they products weekly, if not daily. Now, I can totally invest in more natural and earth friendly products, which I will, but I also want to try making my own. I’m big on D.I.Y., so I think it will be fun to create and experiment with new cleaning products once I finish my current ones.
It’s going to be a challenge, but one I am willing to take head on. Perhaps this post will have inspired you to try going zero waste, even if it’s only a few things, such as using a canvas bag for shopping or keeping jars for various uses. I’ll be back in a few months with an update, and a new list of things to do for creating my zero waste home.