My journey to (as close to as) zero waste as possible...
Hi everyone : )...I'm here today to talk to you today about something that I am quite passionate about. If you know me personally or have followed my journey at all over the years then you know that I am often seeking ways to be less wasteful so that I can reduce my carbon footprint on our one and only earth. I know me as one person will not make all that much of a difference, but could you imagine if each and every one of us would make even just a few tweaks to our lifestyle that would cause us to be less wasteful? It would add up over time and that, my friends, will start to make a difference. So, enough of this...let's get down to business. Today I will be discussing 8 ways that I personally partake, or have partaken in the past with, so that I can reduce the amount of waste I use daily.
1. Unpaper towels and napkins
These hands down have been a game changer for my kids and me. About a year ago (almost to the day to be exact), I finally decided to take the plunge and switch to using unpaper towels and napkins. It was a choice that I had been wanting to make for a while and quite frankly is one that I wish I had made much sooner. I was hesitant at first to pay the amount of money for a 1 "roll" of paper towels. I mean who pays almost 35 bucks for ONE roll of paper towels! I finally sucked it up and forked out the money to buy a roll and OMGOODNESS it was so worth it. After some research, I ended up finding mine through The Tailored Home on Etsy and I immediately fell in love with her product. In fact since then, I have purchased unpaper napkins and another roll of the unpaper towels. The second roll was hands down my favorite because Laura, the owner of The Tailored Home, worked with me to custom
order a roll with elephant designs on them (if you don't know by now, I love elephants.) So we have 2 rolls total plus a set of the napkins and I can say without a doubt that we have saved money in the long run. Not only do we use these at the house, but the kids and I also use them in our lunches for school/work. They are so simple too...after each use we simply throw them in the wash with everything else, dry, and then put back on a traditional paper towel holder then they are good to go for another use. Laura from https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheTailoredHome has been so kind to offer a 15% discount when you use my code VEGANGIRLOTR15. Shop away my friends : )
2. No paper plates
So this is one that I know will get mixed reviews from people. I know (& no judgment here) plenty of people who feel that paper plates are worth the quality of life and time that it gives back to you. Hey, I get it...the more you cook, the more dishes that accumulate, the more time you have to spend washing them; however, take a moment to look at it from a different perspective. While you may be saving time due to less dish washing, you also now have extra trash, have to spend extra money vs using dishes you already have, and are in a sense contributing to the destruction of our environment. The fact of the matter is that in order to produce paper plates (and most paper goods for that matter) trees must be cut down. I did some research and according to Canada's National Environmental Agency, "On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four." That's mind blowing. I made the decision around 3 years ago or so to completely forgo the use of paper plates and I have never regretted that decision. Yes, now I have more dishes to wash which uses water, but there are more efficient ways of handling both the amount of dishes you use and how you are washing them.
3. Unpackaged bar soap
This is a change that I made about 7 months ago or so. We stopped using bottled body wash/gel and bars of soap that come in packaging in lieu of unpackaged bar soap. Let me explain. We all know that showers and bathing are quite frankly a very necessary thing so it has to be done lol, but it also creates quite a bit of waste over time when it comes to the amount of containers, packages, wrappers, bottles, etc that we use as we both open and finish products. Now this is not to say that I stopped using my products all together just so I don't create waste...I'm a woman and have way too many products that I use on a daily basis. It's not like I'm a man and have 1 bottle of mystery soap that can be used for about a thousand different uses; however, I have reduced my waste somewhat by switching to unpackaged bar soap to wash our bodies with. I purchase bars of Good Soap (they use no form of packaging) from Whole Foods and store them in a Tupperware here at the house. I even use the same bag over and over again when I go and purchase more and then simply restock my Tupperware here at the house with them. As an added bonus, Whole Foods puts them on sale from time to time for 10 for $10...that's quite a steal considering one bar seems to lasts us a long time before we need to bring out a new bar.
4. Reusable straws
This is one of the best less waste changes we have made...hands down. I changed to reusable straws maybe a year and a half ago and I have never looked back. I honestly can't remember the brand of straws that I originally purchased, but I bought a pack of 6 stainless steel metal straws online through Zulily when I first made the transition and it was definitely worth the investment. As a household that uses straws often (Smoothies anyone?), those 6 straws have more than covered our needs. They are (surprisingly) easy to clean as well...at least I've never had any issues. Like I said, I don't remember the brand; however, a quick search for reusable metal straws will bring you plenty of options. Choosing reusable straws is a great starting point if you are tinkering with the idea of living a less wasteful lifestyle...not only will you save money in the long run, it's so much better for our environment as well.
5. Reusable cotton makeup remover pads
This past summer (June to be exact), I came across a post on Instagram by zerowastechica talking about her beauty regimen. Much of her regimen is very similar to mine, but aside from that there was one thing that really caught my eye about her personal regimen...reusable cotton pads for makeup remover. I mean, HELLO, where had these been my entire life?! I can't even begin to tell you how many cotton pads I have used over the last...I don't know...20+ years. As someone who is very particular about taking care of her skin, especially my face and décolletage area, I have followed a very structured face routine (religiously) for 20+ years. After washing my face (done twice daily...sometimes 3 times depending on my workout for the day), I use a toner (more often than not witch hazel) on cotton pads to further cleanse my skin. That is a lot of cotton pads over the years...I'm talking tens of thousands! I immediately knew I wanted to give these a go and see if I liked them because I knew this would make a huge change in lessening my unnecessary waste.
I saw that she purchased her reusable cotton pads on Etsy through HandcraftedGoodies (https://www.etsy.com/shop/HandcraftedGoodies) so that's where I looked to get mine. I bought a set of 25 organic hemp cotton pads and they have been such a great investment. I use them and then throw them in the wash with the rest of our clothes, air dry, and then they are good to go for more uses. I wish I would have known about these sooner. Adriana from HandcraftedGoodies has so graciously offered a 10% discount now through Dec 31st when you use the code VEGANGIRL10 : ).
6. Reusable produce bags
As a vegan, who eats primarily raw at that, I go through SO much produce in our house. Raw fruits and veggies make up the bulk of my diet, which also means that over the years I had been using so many of those plastic bags in the produce department at grocery stores when purchasing them. Around a year ago or so, I noticed reusable produce bags at a particular store that I had been shopping at and while this seems like such an easy and obvious change to make, it quite honestly wasn't one that I had even thought about before that. I immediately bought several of them to start using in place of the disposable kind. I have to be honest, I sometimes forget them at home (hey, I'm human), but I'm trying to improve on that because it truly makes a difference.
7. Cloth diapers
Now I know this one is either one you are totally for or totally against...and I say that with no judgement to anybody. My kids are now 8 and 10 so it's obviously one that I don't do anymore, but I feel made a big difference in being less wasteful and quite honestly saving money. I will say that I did not immediately start off with this when I had my first. As much as I wanted to, the thought of cloth diapering a baby and washing the cloth diapers was a bit intimidating to me; however, when I finally decided to get brave enough and try it out, I quickly realized it was really an easy change for me and my lifestyle. I wish I had done it sooner than I did, but hey, you live and learn and evolve as time goes on : ).
8. Reusable wipes/"Kleenex"
Last, but definitely not least, this change was one I made soon after having my second baby. At the time, I asked my grandmother, who is a seamstress by trade, if I purchased her the materials if she could make me reusable wipes. I had seen someone selling them at a craft fair I went to and quite frankly loved the idea, but also knew I knew someone that could easily make them for me. Of course she agreed. She made me close to 30 of them and still til this day, that is what we use for wiping dirty faces, as "Kleenex", etc. I simply wash them after each use and then restock the small box I use to store them in.
I hope you enjoyed this post and while there are many other ways to live a less wasteful life, this is just a snippet of what we do here in our household. What other ways do you and your family utilize to help produce less waste? Leave a comment below and let me know : )