My Path to Less Trash

A few things you should know before we proceed:

  1. I'm not a super hero homesteading mom with boundless energy.
  2. I don't have an endless supply of money.
  3. I have a real job.
  4. I have real kids (who like toys and kid food and things).
  5. I have a real husband who moves along this continuum as it relates to my low waste efforts:  resistant--->indifferent--->supportive
  6. We have not yet achieved zero waste.
  7. I think it is realistic for real people to fit low waste into their daily lives without too much struggle.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let's move forward.  My goal in writing is to let you learn from my mistakes (lots of mistakes) and to benefit from my successes.  My path on the way to zero waste has been a long time coming, but about 10 years ago, I was a clothing, plastic, consumerist junky.  Neatly packaged food was my jam.  Ziplock bags, plastic wrap, and super cheap tupperware type containers teetered precariously in my kitchen cabinets. My closet barfed throwaway fashion.  

But I recycled.  Oh, I recycled.  I filled that bin up.  Then I used old shipping boxes to hold the overflow.  I patted myself on the back for doing my part!  I wasn't part of the environmentalists' problem; I was part of the solution.  I recycled!  Like crazy!  I cared, but I was uneducated on the resources used to recycle goods.  I was pretty into Jack Johnson whose foundation and concerts opened my eyes to the benefits of actually consuming less instead of just disposing of trash responsibly.  My interest peaked, I found two books that change my life: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Find them on Amazon here and here.  I'm not sponsored - I just really found them to be valuable.  These women made huge life changes, one by attempting to create zero waste and the other by consuming only local foods.  Each highlights the benefits of her lifestyle both within the home and for the environment.  If you want to be motivated to make a change while simultaneously feeling overwhelmed and lazy, read these books!  Actually, go ahead and read them but remind yourself that you don't have to do EVERYTHING to still be doing something worthwhile.  In fact, I fell into this trap a few times and did the old Paula Abdul - Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back (don't worry if you don't get my reference - my sense of humor is an acquired taste and only moderately funny, even then). Doing too much at once doesn't change your habits effectively, because it can't fit into your lifestyle.  Think of it as you would a diet.  Trying to do it all just won't stick.  

A few changes were easy and took off like gangbusters:

Cloth Napkins!  Easy Peasy switch.





Other switches have taken time, research, and trial and error:  


After searching for a while for green tea packaged plastic and staple free, I finally screwed my head on straight and found a convenient grocery store that sells bulk tea and this simple little infuser. Seems like a simple fix, now, but it was comically complicated for me at the time. *eye roll*


So let's take on this journey together.  I'm happy to catch you up if you aren't here, yet.  If you have already embarked on your path to zero waste, let's commiserate, celebrate, and share ideas.  We can't do this alone.  Well, we can, but it sure isn't as fun, easy, or effective.  We share the Earth, and I would love to share the responsibility of leaving it a little less trashy with you.