Eco Conscious Living, Home Making, Uncategorized

Taking the Plunge to Minimize Waste

I did it! I managed to remember my reusable bags AND coffee mug all in the same trip! What I’m even more proud of though, is the relatively little amount of packaging on everything inside my bags!

IMG_3902.jpgReducing waste has been somewhat of a goal of mine for the past several years. We switched to cloth instead of paper towels in the kitchen (as long as I’m on top of the laundry situation) a few years ago, I finally signed up for milk delivery so we can get milk, orange juice, and cream in reusable glass bottles, and ever since last summer I have been a composting nut. These little changes were a great jumping off point, but the problem is, I never jumped! I was never brave enough to make the lifestyle change required to truly make an impact on the amount of waste we produce.  It wasn’t until my 7 year old watched a video of one persons ‘zero waste challenge’ and was so inspired that she asked if we could try it as a family, that I finally felt the courage to give it a go. Sometimes we just need the idealistic mind of a child to help us believe  we can truly make a difference in the world!

Let me take a minute to say that this post is not at all designed to guilt trip anyone on the amount of waste they produce or even persuade anyone to change their ways. I am in no position to judge, trust me! I simply thought it would be fun to share this major change in our lifestyle and all of our struggles and victories along the way. If it happens to inspire someone to make a change, well then thats just bonus points for all of us! We are at the very beginning of this journey ourselves. Miss 7 initially asked to start the challenge mid December but I knew we would have a very hard time being successful at making such big changes during such chaotic time of year. Also, to be clear, our goal is not to produce ZERO waste. I don’t think that’s very realistic for our modern family of four at this point in our lives. For now, our goal is simply to minimize our waste as much as possible.

Anyway, here we are, two weeks into January, and I am finally seeing progress! Here are a few of the changes we’ve made so far:

  • Quit using fabric softener.  I recently ran out of both fabric softener and dryer sheets. Rather than going out and buying more, I decided to experiment with not using them at all. We have a water softening system so this may not be as easy of a change for everyone, but I have not noticed the slightest difference in any of our clothes!
  • Quit using trash bags. This one was also done on an experimental basis. I was not sure I could handle the mess of no trash bags in the kitchen, but it has not been nearly as bad as I thought. I have really upped my composting game so most of our food waste goes in there. What can’t be composted either goes down the garbage disposal or straight out to the the big garbage can in the garage. Most of our kitchen garbage now consists of packaged food containers and hopefully not for long!
  • Making our Own. This is one of the big ones I am tackling this week! Tomorrow with the kids I plan on making a big batch of apple sauce, some paleo banana muffins, and some homemade larabars. Miss Sassafras has been very concerned that this challenge will mean she can no longer enjoy any of the yummy foods she loves and I want to show both of the kids that we can still have good things to snack on around the house, we just need to be more mindful about how we get them. Also, if you’re thinking we must eat an extraordinarily healthy diet if Larabars and paleo muffins are the treats my kids so desire, don’t be too impressed. Healthy eating is yet another thing we are rededicating ourselves to in the new year, but thats a whole different blog post!
  • Opting for reusable containers. As mentioned above, I managed to use both my cloth bags and ceramic coffee cup when I was doing my shopping today! I also grabbed another set of mesh produce bags, which I’ve heard are great for nuts and goodies in the bulk bins, so my goal for next week is to take a stab at that. If all goes well, I am hoping to gain the courage to bring glass jars for my meats and cheeses. I’ll keep you posted. Wish me luck!

The best part about all of this is that it is actually seems to be saving me money!! I typically do all of my grocery shopping at Target and between their low prices, cartwheel and my Red Card our weekly grocery bill is generally about $120 on a good week. I was blown away to see my bill at $63 at a health food store!! But it totally makes sense!  By avoiding packaged food and choosing to do without many items we once deemed as necessary, I have sooo much less stuff on my list! To be fair, I did have to swing by target to buy cat food, a new cat food container (because I can’t seem to find anything that those little devils can’t break into), and some eye shadow which totaled $30. Still a pretty good savings, if you ask me! I can’t wait until next week to see if this trend continues, but for now, I’ll leave you feeling hopeful!

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