The picture of an ice bear on the last small piece of floating ice in the ocean, might be something we can block out and pretend it isn’t real, but we all know that our earth is in trouble and that this is our last warning to turn the tide. But how come that people just stubbornly refuse to do so, although they have children, grandchildren and wish them all the best…. A world to live in, clean air and water seems to be the most important gift one can give to one’s children so I’m trying to make every effort to make a difference on my way to going zero waste!
Consuming, throwing excess away has become a natural thing to humans. I used to say: I recycle, I have my compost heap… but reading more and more about zero waste households, I understood I’m not even half way in reducing my carbon footprint. It bothers me and I would like to start a whole new interaction with what I use, do or cook, inspired by this zero waste idea. Bea Johnson’s book is an amazing example of a zero waste life style and inspired me to give her tips a go!
It is a slow process with tiny steps, but I believe life changing. More and more I try to buy things in stores without unnecessary packaging, preferably in bulk (transported home in my own homemade cloth bags), or aim to buy products in glass, aluminum, or paper. I already buy food from local farmers, but ever since I try to avoid plastic and prepackaged goods, they seem all there is in shops. I honestly believe I can do without but it’ll be a serious change of attitude.
What I do already:
- Making my very own all-purpose household cleaner, dish soap and laundry soap using simple fair trade plant based Castile bar soap (biodegradable and nontoxic), vinegar or bicarbonate soda.
- Re-use paper: print on both sides of paper and only print when necessary.
- Buy from local farmers (no packaged items).
- Use homemade reusable sewn bags to do my shopping and refuse tons of plastic bags offered by supermarkets when I have to buy extra veg and fruit (they do look at you when you put 20 tomatoes on the counter using the green stem of the tomatoes as handle, but don’t object because I didn’t put them in a bag).
- Buy healthy snacks (nuts, raisins), lentils, rice etc. in the bio shop in bulk.
- Buy bread delivered unpacked from the local baker doing her round
- Use my own reusable water bottle. No bottled water is coming in the house.
- No more use of aluminum foil, cling wrap in my kitchen
- Re-use the water of the tumble dryer to clean with, instead of throwing it away.
- Making my own jam from fruit trees in the garden.
- Give clothes not worn anymore or old books, to charity.
- Use a pressure cooker to save time and gas whilst cooking.
- Make my own pizzas instead of buying them.
- Use handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
- Compost and recycle.
- My Etsy shop is all about vintage recycling: giving old items a second home.
Recently I started to:
- Put a bucket under the shower collecting the cold water preventing it to run away, whilst waiting for it to become hot for my shower: thus I recuperate 1/2 a bucket of water which I can use to clean with, drinking water for the dogs or flush the toilet with! For the same reason I use the collected water of the tumble dryer whenever I do have to use it. Try it you’ll be amazed!
- Order our toilet paper on Amazone packed in paper instead of plastic (at the moment can’t find it anywhere else here in my region!).
- Ban paper napkins for cloth napkins.
- Use French jars to freeze and stock my food instead of in plastic tubs or sacks (clear jars help to know exactly to see what food is in it), here’s my last batch of soup:
- Buy butter (wrapped in paper), instead of margarine in plastic tubs.
- Make my own shower gel, washing up liquid, all-purpose cleaners and washing product (fair trade Castile soap, vinegar, baking soda being main ingredients).
- Buy loose tea instead of teabags.
- Use paper clips (reusable) instead of a stapler.
- Declutter by going through my cupboards and what I haven’t used for a long time goes to recycling shops, what I have double (e.g. bottle and can openers) give to charity or refugees. Amazing what space you suddenly have in your cupboards. After all reusing has got those vintage vibes, so I am all in.
- Stop buying any canned food
Honestly with these simple actions, my household budget has already gone down significantly!
Still to change or to do, I’m telling you I’m doing baby steps here:
- Finding nearby places willing to refill, letting me use my very own containers for refilling. One ex: Finding a solution for buying yoghurt of the counter instead of in glass jars.
- Eliminating all single – use products.
- Making my very own peanut butter!
- Continue to declutter per room (is not done in one day!)
- Baking cookies instead of buying them for my mum.
- Finding milk in reusable or refillable bottles.
- Make my own toothpaste approved by the dentist.
- Start wardrobe minimalism. Buy only fair trade and ethical clothing lines with natural fibers.
- Get dog food in bulk.
- Start using a refillable pen or fountain pen again, compost even my pencil shavings.
- Reuse used greeting cards or donate them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children: This organisation recycles cards by detaching the front of the card and gluing them to a new blank card. For more information: http://www.stjudesranch.org/contribute/recycled-card-program/Mail cards to: 100 St. Jude’s St. Boulder City, NV 89005
- Learn folding in the furoshiki style, the original “eco” bag of Japan to carry things without the waste of plastic bags. Ideal to use instead of endless wrapping paper for presents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cos8bvYi2LQ
Options I like but my fellow housemates have difficulty adapting to and if they don’t enjoy it, it won’t be sustainable:
- Convincing my English husband not to buy teabags but loose tea:
- Folding paper in the small trash bin instead of using a plastic bag (argument of my husband it will get soaked and leak):
- Line dry bath towels, all the rest they accept but line dried towels is felt as to rough to use…
Really motivated to take control of my own health, whilst seriously reducing my carbon footprint in a simple cost effective way, trying to do my contribution to avoid litter and plastic in the ocean,
Suggestions to improve are always welcome! Do you try zero waste as well?