Our Zero Waste Household Mission

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cloth produce bags
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Before I became pregnant, I kept wondering how the stereotype of “the hormonal pregnant woman” would apply to me. Turns out I was pretty level headed during pregnancy (I felt, anyways, maybe ask my husband). I was, however, changed in a different way.  

During my pregnancy, I had a HUGE increase in my awareness for the environment. Weird, I know. And I have no way of explaining this mental shift. I have always tried to be environmentally friendly, but in my head it was taken to a whole new level.  

I’m not sure if it was hormones, or the fact that I subconsciously knew I was bringing another life into this environmentally struggling world, but I became highly motivated to become no-waste in our household. We continued with what we were already doing, along with implementing a few new practices.

Re-Usable Shopping Bags 

We have been using re-usable shopping bags for a while, but we made sure when shopping to always have them with us. If we did forget them, we would turn down plastic bags and load the items in the back un-bagged. I would just bag the groceries and bring them in when we got home. It was a little more work but made me feel better.

I also stopped putting fruit and vegetables into the little plastic produce bags. I now just put the produce in the cart and put it right into my bags at checkout. My goal is to make or purchase some re-usable produce bags in the future.  

My mother-in-law made some produce bags out of lace curtains she purchased from the thrift store. I am currently keeping an eye out for appropriate fabric to use.

cloth produce bags
Re-usable cloth produce bags made from a lace curtain.

My in-laws have started a new practice when they shop that I am going to try to do as well. At Costco they take the produce out of the plastic bags and containers and put them in their produce bags. They also leave a comment at the suggestion/comment box, asking Costco to consider how much packaging they use and to make attempts to reduce it. I want to do this at our local grocery store. They literally wrap every single vegetable in plastic wrap. It makes me cringe when we have to shop there and purchase vegetables like this.

Composting 

I also started composting. I read somewhere that even the organic waste we put into landfills turns into methane. Once I read that, I couldn’t shake that thought when I was throwing potato peels into the garbage. 

I started off my composting career by digging holes in my garden and putting the compost in there. My garden is quite small so once I ran out of room in there, we purchased a composter from Home Depot. The downside is that it’s a big plastic bin and I’m trying to be conscious of our plastic use as well. My intention was to build one, but being pregnant and tired, it didn’t happen.  

Wax Food Wrappers 

The next thing I did was purchase reusable wax food wrappers. They’re great for wrapping up veggie half’s or covering bowls with. The only downside I find is washing them. You need to wash them with dish soap in cold water. Something about cold water and cleaning don’t mix for me. I’m getting over it though. 

Glass Spray Bottles 

Before becoming pregnant I had purchased glass spray bottles. My intention was to make “room spray” with my essential oils. I did that. I also intended to make “fruit and veggie cleaner”. I haven’t done that yet. If you didn’t know, essential oils should be used in glass containers. They can eat away plastic.

I use one of my glass bottles to dilute Young Living Thieves cleaner. It is an amazing multi-purpose cleaner and I love that I can have one cleaner for everything. I just keep mixing it in my glass bottle. It saves plastic by not having ten different cleaning products and saves money as well, I have had the same bottle of cleaner for about 2 years.

Reducing paper products 

Another goal of mine was to reduce our paper product use. We tried out three ways of doing this. 

My mom gave me a roll of reusable “paper towels” for my birthday about a year ago. I believe they are made of bamboo. We are still using that one roll. They are meant to eventually disintegrate, but are hanging in there well. I use them for anything you would use a paper towel for, like wiping the counters or cleaning. They just get thrown into the washing machine and come out clean and ready to use again.

This is a small change, but I had never thought of it before… I stopped buying paper muffin cups for baking. I had always bought and used them when baking, because I had grown up seeing my mom use them. Now I just use a silicone brush (yes, still researching and unsure of how great silicone is for us) and coconut oil to grease the muffin tin and the muffins come out just fine.  

The third paper product I want to cut down on is toilet paper. And before you jump to any gross conclusions, no, we did not stop buying toilet paper. At first I made a good effort to not mindlessly roll the paper around my hand four times. Next we tried using cloth wipes for pee and keeping the toilet paper for number 2’s. That worked for about a week. It could be easily sustainable if I set up our bathroom correctly. Living in a tiny house doesn’t leave much room for another waste basket for the cloth wipes. I plan on setting up our bathroom properly and trying it out again in the near future.

Bamboo Toothbrush 

I switched out my toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush. I heard somewhere that toothbrushes take a really, really, long time to break down. They sit in our landfills forever. This is not cool with me. Right after learning and realizing this, I went to our local eco-friendly baby store, Tiny Tree Hugger, and purchased a bamboo toothbrush. I don’t notice any difference between it and a regular plastic one, other than it is lighter.

I learned some really neat things from reading this post on toothbrushes.

Conclusion

In closing, I would like to say that this is an ongoing mission. It was sparked during my pregnancy, and I continue to learn about environmental issues and different things to change in my household. I still have so many goals to meet to become no-waste in my home, but I will continue educating myself and implementing what I learn.

Check out how I tried to be eco-friendly when preparing for baby to come in my post ” My Eco-Friendly Baby Preparation”.

If you have any no-waste things you do in your home, leave a comment and let me know what they are!

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December 21, 2018
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