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 minimalist 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.
After that, my new obsession became recycling and composting. I would research what was recyclable and what wasn’t. I would always search on 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 create 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 live like this! Ever see those people who show a jar, and announce that is all the trash they accumulated in a year? Yes, those people. Total dream if I could ever make that happen! But huge applause to anyone who for can achieve that. You do not have to go to that extreme if it is unrealistic for you. I know I can’t. 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 primary 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 everyday lives, all comes packaged in plastic! Now, if you don’t already know, not all plastic is recyclable. When you think about it, that 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 continually 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.
How I Decided to Create a Zero Waste Home: Homemaker’s Edition
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 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 an excellent 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 drinks that are packaged in plastic, such as soda and juices. I use loose leaf tea to make iced beverages, and I get to choose from a variety of flavours and control how sweet I want them to be. I use a tea steeper rather than tea bags, and fill them in glass bottles. This not only saves money, but no plastic is used. I would consider that a win situation.
I also make my own fruit juice, by boiling fruit in a pot of water till all the juices are 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 plastic bags provided at grocery stores. All of it would just end up being thrown away in the trash. I bring my own reusable bags for all my groceries, and just recently, I purchased and 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 than buying a smaller amount in its 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 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 oceans 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. I bought metal straws for an excellent 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 have my own.
I also do not favour 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 water or have to carry a big, clunky plastic bottle.
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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.
Instead of plastic wrap, you can use beeswax 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
The cupboard under my kitchen sink is filled with cleaning supplies. When I first moved in, I thought I needed all these different products for various uses around the house. And I do use these products weekly, if not daily. Although I can invest in more natural and earth-friendly products (which I will) to keep down the toxins in my home, 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. Good luck on your own zero waste journey!