zerowaste

My Zero Waste Journey So Far

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My zero waste journey began on New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2019. That day my husband and I spent quite a bit of time cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer. We were shocked at how much we ended up throwing away in the clean out. It really opened our eyes to how much waste was going on in our own kitchen. There were too many things in the fridge, so we would forget we had them, so they would go to waste. We would buy too many condiments that we didn’t use on a regular basis and so they would be outdated as well. In the freezer similar things happened. We overbought, stocked too much and as a consequence ended up having to throw too many things out. Have you had a fridge/pantry clean out like this? I also ended up going through the spices/dry goods in a similar fashion.

We are on a journey towards zero waste since this day. After that clean out I knew that I needed to really stick towards menus of dishes that I knew we would all eat, and only cook enough for us to use up that week. We also like to go out to eat on the weekends, so I mainly plan to make 3-4 meals a week at home and we usually have 1-2 leftover nights where we eat up leftovers. We are not perfect, but now I clean up the fridge on a more regular basis and yesterday there were only 2 outdated jars. That’s great progress & it was wonderful that they were glass with metal lids so it was easy to recycle them.

I also began to think about the packaging we were bringing home as we shopped both at the grocery store and for other items. I have cut way back on buying things online and try to find more local alternatives. This really saves on boxes/ packaging that ends up in our home. Some of it is recyclable and some is not. With materials that are not recyclable, I try to reuse those as much as possible.

We have started to shop every week at the farmer’s market on Saturdays. This really cuts down on packaging, bringing our own bags to the market and to the grocery store really helps.
The market also has minimal packaging for fruits and veggies. I have found one store- New Seasons Market who will allow you to bring in your own containers to buy items in bulk like: olive oil, coffee, dry goods like rice, flour, nuts, dried fruits, spices and more.

I am happy to say that last week our recycling was not overflowing and our garbage can was only about 1/8 full. Amazing! Every day and every week we learn more and I will be sharing more details in further posts. How have you reduced waste in your home and lifestyle?

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need  support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

I have 3 home clearing packages to choose from: 

Services:

http://expansive.me/services

Find out more on my website:

http://expansive.me

What space are you creating?

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This spring we are nearing the end of a project to clear some large items and a few boxes and bags of small items in our garage in anticipation of buying an electric car in the coming months. This photo above is my dream car- a red Tesla!

I have a super fun game that I play every day to see how many Teslas I can spot on the road. It’s super fun! Many times I see this red one too! My favorite!

It’s often great to have a goal in mind for the space you are creating while de-cluttering your home. Having those pictures of dreams in your mind can really encourage you and spur you on going forward.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your spaces:

  1. How do I want to feel in this space? What does peace in this space look like and feel like to me?

  2. What do I picture myself doing in this space?

  3. What new possibilities am I opening up in my life by clearing out the clutter in this space?

  4. What surprises am I allowing for by creating some space? Empty spaces as well as empty drawers and shelves can create great energy for many things to show up in your life! You will be surprised!

Now that our garage space is nearly cleared the energy feels light and every day I see more and more Teslas! They are like a trail of beautiful dream “breadcrumbs” on the way to my intentions coming true. I can just see the car in that space. Create more space for more possibilities in your home and in your life.

When you clear a space for yourself and your dreams in your home and on your calendar you are creating freedom and peace for yourself. You will be shocked at the amazing outcomes!

What spaces are you making for yourself? Feel free to comment below! Make sure to leave space in your home and on your calendar for your dreams to grow!

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need  support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

I have 3 home clearing packages to choose from: 

Services:

http://expansive.me/services

Find out more on my website:

http://expansive.me

Recycling can be Clutter Too

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At our home, one week is yard waste week and one week is recycling week. We have a very small trash bin and a very large recycling bin. I have always tried to recycle as much as possible and not throw away a lot. However, the other day I got an “oops” notice that I could not recycle takeout containers or frozen food boxes. It turns out there are several items that cannot be recycled in our area.

Then, about 2 weeks ago for some reason the truck forgot to take our recycling. Our bin was very full, so now we have an overflow of recycling in our garage. I have boxes I am filling with recycling until it is picked up again on Wednesday morning.

Given that I spend quite a bit of time on recycling and dealing with it, especially when there is a backlog, it really made me think about the packages of items that I was bringing home after grocery shopping. So many things come in plastic clam-shells, plastic bags or other types of plastic tubs and containers. Very few plastic containers (even if they have a recycling symbol/number on them) can be recycled in our area. So, even though it may make it to the recycling plant, it may get thrown away anyway. And, recycling takes quite a bit of energy.

In a way I am glad that we have had these experiences recently because it made me think- “Wow! Having too much recycling or bringing in too many packaging items when grocery shopping is a form of clutter as well.” I was cluttering up our garage with lots of extra packaging that may or may not be recyclable. This realization made me take lots of action. It will be a gradual, continual process of change which I will update you all on, but I feel that I have made headway already.

My goal is to get down to mostly recycling: glass, paper and metal. These materials are much easier to recycle and take less energy to do so. Recycling these items is a win-win because we save a lot of water and raw materials by recycling them.

Plastics on the other hand are very complicated to recycle and also just because it has a number on it doesn’t mean it will be recycled in your area, or at all. Those number just state the type of plastic that is used. Single-use plastics are the ones that we should be most concerned about. These are ones that are used for packaging or things like takeout containers or forks, spoons, knives used at food trucks, for camping or picnics.

Here is a quote from an article I found online by Viv who sells compostable food supplies:

“While a number of plastics are now recyclable, EcoCycle encourages you to avoid plastic and single-use packaging as much as possible—in the past 45 years, it’s increased more than 10,000%!”

Wow!! An increase of 10,000% in single use plastic use. I can believe it as I look around my kitchen cupboards and realize there are many products I will not be buying anymore unless I can find them in non-plastic packaging.

Here are some things that I have started doing to reduce plastic waste and reduce our recycling as well.

Reducing Plastic at the Grocery Store:

When you go grocery shopping you can reduce the single-use plastics that you bring home by paying close attention to what the products are packaged in. Also, I have stopped using plastic bags at the store for my fruits and vegetables. I can either use mesh bags, put them in re-usable bags I have brought from home, or just put them straight into the cart. I have started to make sure that as many bottled items come in a glass bottle and preferably with a metal lid. Yesterday when I went shopping I decided to buy broth base in a glass jar with a metal lid instead of buying broth in a carton with a plastic lid. All in all I only came home with 1 plastic jar of a condiment that I couldn’t find a current alternative for. I will continue to find ways to reduce and ultimately not bring home any plastic packaging as time goes on. Next will be to buy in bulk using my own bags or jars.

Farmer’s Market:

I am also going to make a real effort to shop more at the local farmer’s market because plastic packaging is not so prevalent there. I of course have a lot of reusable bags I can use and many of the products are packaged in paper or in glass jars. Also because the products are produced locally it doesn’t take as much fuel use to get them to shoppers. This is a great win-win situation where you are creating less waste, fewer items to recycle and you are supporting local farmers and makers.

Making Your Own:

Another way to reduce single-use plastic packaging is to make some of the items that you usually buy in the grocery store yourself. Three examples that I have tried or will try that usually come in plastic packaging are the following:

Bread: While you sometimes can get bread in a paper bag, many loaves come in plastic bags. Knowing that we buy at least 1 loaf a week, I decided to teach my son how to make bread. We made 2 loaves and then wrapped them in fabric bags to be stored on the counter for slicing for sandwiches and toast. My son was thrilled, had fun and noted that the bread tasted amazing!

Pasta: Many types of pasta come in plastic bags or in cardboard boxes with plastic windows in them. This week I am going to show my son how to make pasta since we have a pasta roller and cutter at home. We will make a batch of fresh pasta to use for dinner and it will save packaging!

Yogurt: Usually every week I buy Greek yogurt. I always buy the largest container that I can, but it is still a plastic container. For this reason I looked up how to make yogurt online and it is so easy! As soon as I am done with the yogurt I have in the refrigerator I will make my own.

As time goes on I am sure that we will make lots of other items that we usually buy in packages. We will continue to reduce our waste and recycling.

Take Out Containers:

Last night I tried an experiment and it worked great! We went to a local restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I know that we always take leftovers home with us and since these containers cannot be recycled in our area, I decided to bring two glass containers from home to the restaurant to put our leftovers in. This worked perfectly! Sure enough, we filled both containers with our leftovers and there was no food waste and no container waste either!

Buy Locally:

When you buy items locally (not just groceries) you reduce the amount of packaging because you can bring your own bags and you are not creating more recycling by having all of those cardboard boxes and packing materials to sort through. Also, it takes less fuel/transport to get the items to you. There are some wonderful zero waste products that you may need to order online, but those companies usually use very little packaging and it is easily recycled or even can be sent back to be re-used. I know that my local UPS store will take packing materials and re-use them which is a plus for those times when you need to order certain things online.

Vintage Clothing:

For my summer wardrobe(since I have de-cluttered old summer outfits) I have my eye on going to the local, beautiful vintage clothing store for a couple of special items. In this way I am reducing waste because this clothing is getting re-used and given a new life. Much of vintage clothing is also made from more natural fibers such as cotton and silk. It’s great to be excited about making old clothing new again by getting a “new-to-you” outfit.

I would love to hear your ideas on reducing plastic waste and other waste. Comment below or send an email to me:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Joyful Minimalism:

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. I have accountability packages & coaching packages: 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com