Nothing has challenged my “Planner Bae” and organizing ways like reducing our family’s waste. Since May of this year I’ve been working on reducing how much stuff we have/consume. What I mean by this is, how much our family’s habits impact us, the folks around us and the planet. It’s been very enlightening! We are by no means a vegan zero waste family but we’ve reduced a lot and I’m proud of the strides we’ve made.
Simply put…stewardship and impact. We are committed to taking care of the planet God lent to humanity. As a result we are eating mainly plants, drinking mainly water, and following (as best as we can) the five R’s:
- Refuse: Don’t buy it. Don’t accept it. Say no.
- Reduce: Use what you actually need.
- Reuse: Give 2nd hand stuff and second chance.
- Recycle: If it can be recycled then do that.
- Rot: Figure out how to compost.
These 5 R’s have been very simple to understand and moderately simple to actually implement. Nothing horrid. No scary stories. Just a change in perspective and some planning.
10 areas where I’ve seen lots of change:
- Peelings are the bomb: Flavor town and we’re reusing the stuff I used to just trash. I collect veggie peelings in a container in the freezer and make broth weekly to keep in the fridge. I use the broth in place of water when cooking rice or making soup. The key is to make the broth before compost day!
- Composting: A hassle, initially. Doesn’t smell half as bad as expected. We do not have a compost system at home. I went to Goodwill and bought an old school Tupperware container and a counter top compost crock. I dump the counter top crock into the larger Tupperware container when it gets full. I put news paper clippings in the bottom to make for easier cleanup. Once a week I take the Tupperware with me on the grocery trip and dump it at Mom’s Organic Market. It’s so nice of them to let you bring compost. This is where I buy our bulk grains so its not an extra trip and it’s part of our meal planning process.
- Cloth napkins: It feels nice to use these. I’m finding that the kids are thinking a little more about why they are reaching for a napkin. “Do I need a napkin to wipe up this dot of jelly that I spilled or will the dish sponge work as well?” It’s also added a little fanciness to our meal times.
- Tap water: I’m not happy about this and still not used to it but the alternative is dragging water around and buying a ton of plastic that then fills up our recycle bins. So frustrating. Also, I didn’t know that plastic recycle is not like glass recycle. Glass can be recycled over and over but plastic looses its integrity after being recycled so it’s not exactly sustainable. We’ve bought some awesome water bottles that keep water really cold so that’s helping. I also add some fruit to our water container that helps it taste a lot better.
- French press vs three way espresso/coffee/cappuccino/milk steamer: less hassle, less coffee! I’m the only one drinking it so my tiny press is perfect. Plus the coffee grounds help keep compost smell in-check. #winning
- Real plates, forks, cups, spoons: This wasn’t an issue at all because we live on a budget so paper/plastic items don’t normally make the list…until we have a gathering of some sort. I was being lazy and bought plastic wear for our son’s birthday and have paid the price ever sense. Where does it go once you’ve used it? Recycle? It’s covered in peanut butter. Trash? There’s no food scraps in our trash can there for no trash bags therefore peanut butter gets on the can. Compost? No, it’s plastic. A conundrum cause by single use plastic. LOL. I’m gonna try not to by anymore. It’s too much to deal with afterward.
- Trash bins: Great when it’s working and frustrating when it’s not. As referred to in #6, our trash has reduced tremendously. Our kitchen trash can get full about once a week and that because of packaging from groceries I’ve bought or mail or a delivery for our baking business. We have a counter top compost croc and a recycle bucket. The trash can and recycle live under the kitchen sink and he compost Tupperware lives in a cabinet. The issue arises when my husband doesn’t know what to do with the half eaten soup that he’s done with it or my kid eats a mango and that huge pit has to be disposed of. The truth is the soup needs to go down the disposal and the pit needs to go directly into the Tupperware but…families. So, I’m trying to get everyone fully educated on their disposal options. LOL.
- Recovered Fruit and veggie delivery from Hungry Harvest: Amazing and challenging in a good way. If my weekly box comes with rambutans then I get to google what the beans those are and how to eat/prep them. I enjoy that challenge. Getting a weekly box also mean no lugging produce and veggies from the store. No extra packaging and I’m buying food that would ordinarily go to the landfill simply because it’s grown too large or is too small.
- Glass Storage containers: I’ve purged almost all of our plastic containers. I store both dry and fridge things in wide mouth mason jars. I love them! They’re are microwaveable, can be sterilized, we have less random tops and they clean easier. No weird oily residue in the corner that was missed when washing dishes. We do have plastic lunch containers mainly because glass is heavy and I didn’t want a heavy lunch container.
- Paper straws: This has been the hardest thing to remember and once you remember you’re driving off or it’s already in your drink or the server had left the table and the straw is already headed to the landfill. I’m actually almost out of the stash of paper straws I keep in my purse. We have stainless steel straws but those are not travel friendly and you risk throwing it away if you aren’t paying attention!
All in all it’s working for us. It’s a commitment and I would be telling a fib if I said it didn’t require planning ahead, scheduling and organization but, it worth it.
Are you organizing and planning around impact/waste/consuming less? If so, let us know what you’re doing!
Alright, I’m headed to dump this compost.