June 9, 2012

Conscious Waste Project: Week Three

In an effort to reduce my families waste, I'm starting Marvelous Adventures' very first series. The theme of the series is quite simple: Zero Waste. We're focusing right now on what goes in our garbage can - the recycling can will be dealt with another time. Feel free to learn from our mistakes

Week Three
Week One Results
Less Packaging
Unlike predicted this was really, really difficult. I realized about the third day in that cutting food packaging meant more than just avoiding it - we had to change our eating habits, too, and deal with the plethora of packaged food in our over stuffed pantries. Breaking my mom of microwave popcorn happened over night, though and I lessened the amount of packaging brought in to the house by making stuff myself. There was some packaging from the "making it myself" ingredients (the seal on the cinnamon and vanilla extract, for example), however it is significantly less than the packaging of the pre-made products in terms of size.

But this is definitely going to take longer than a week to completely deal with. I'm guessing it would take about a month to completely clean the packaging out of our kitchen and shift our eating habits. 

Project 3
The Bathroom
Once food waste and food packaging are taken out of the equation, the majority of our trash comes from personal hygiene products. You know, deoderant, disposable razors, Q-tips, toothbrushes, etc.There's a whole bunch of it, and the majority of it we don't need to be bothering with. For example, Q tips are so not good for you. Here's what strategies we'll be using to tackle this waste:
  • Minimize the bathroom, so that we only have to deal with zero-wasting the bare necessities (no more Q-tips, bandaids, etc.)
  • Find sustainable alternatives to disposables ( i.e. glass cup instead of dixie cups)
  • Buy in bulk, or at least in large, minimally packaged quantities what we can't live without
  • When items needs replaced, replace with eco-friendly alternatives (real loofah instead of the plastic ones, organic or homemade conditioner)

Last Week's Trash
Total: 3/4 bag
I think this was our worst week in the entire project... Oh well. We made some good fundamental changes.
  • Leftovers (1/2 egg, 1 bowl of cereal, crab salad sandwich, 1 piece of gum, )
  • Food Packaging (microwave popcorn,8 seasoning jar seals, cinnamon container,  tear strip on frozen juice can, Parmesan cheese, sweet peas bag, red potato bag, baby carrots bag, butter wrappers, crescent roll can, fruit stickers, star burst wrapper, tea box wrapper, bottled water cap, 5 milk caps, 2 plastic produce bags (ran out of cloth ones), green onion bag, olive oil wrapper, tortilla chips bag, dried mango, pistachios, shredded cheese, oreos, chicken, pork chops)
  • Individual flossers (why did we buy these?)
  • Tissues
  • Some bits of tape
  • Babywipes
  • Ziplocs
  • Dentists goody bag 
  • 2 deoderant sticks (partially used, but too icky to use ever again)
  • 1 bottle of conditioner, found myself allergic too it after the third use (local woman's shelter wouldn't take it since it's been opened)
  • 2 disposable razors found while cleaning the bathroom
  • Clorox wipes (container recycled) 
  • Prescription bag and bottle
  • Plastic packaging for a set of pens
  • Dry erase marker packaging
Improvements Made
On top of the weekly project, little changes are being made as problems are realized and research is done. Our budget for change is incredibly limited, so we tend to make the changes that are cheap and will save us money first.
  • Got rid of our plastic dishes
  • Switched to glass jars instead of Tupperware
  • Quit using cupcake liners (if every US citizen did this, we'd keep 15.5 million pounds of paper out of landfills. In case you were curious.)
  • Make our own muffins, without the mix
  • Recycled the last of the plastic grocery bags at Walmart
  • Quit pre-sliced cheese 
  • Made our own graham crackers (we go through a whole family-size box of these a week, now I make them myself!)
  • Make our own popcorn on the stove, instead of using the microwave kind
  • Minimized the bathroom: Got rid of the disposable face wipe-pad-thingies (Mum never uses them anyways, and a soft microfiber washcloth works better), got rid of the Q-tips!, composted fingernail clippings, and donated the tiny travel toothpaste things to the Woman's Shelter.
  • Started making chai tea from scratch (tastes better than the packaged stuff), and can be done mostl
  • Switched to using the tooth powder, instead of the tube stuff. I used the jar the Q-tips were kept in. Sooo much cheaper than Toms (all natural) toothpaste. And, this is 100% natural.
  • Switch to handkerchiefs instead of tissues (just me, the rest of the family isn't quite jumping on this bandwagon yet)
  • Successfully refused my first library receipt (this was very, very embarrassing but my librarian was super nice) 
  • Using a low-flow showerhead
  • Put a brick in our toilet bowl (reduces the amount of water used per flush) 
  • Made our own sandwich bread (will be buying this bulk from the farmers market from now on, way too time consuming)
Improvements to Make
These are improvements my family hopes to make in the near future. Go ahead and try a few if you want.
  • Switch to handkerchiefs instead of tissues
  • Use a reusable pepper corn grinder
  • Ask farmer that we get our meat from to have an alternative packaging method besides shrink-wrap
  • Toilet-train my little brother
  • Grind our own coffee beans
  • Get coffee in bulk
  • Tackle the junk mail
  • Finish the band-aids, switch to gauze and paper tape
  • Make our own almond/peanut butter (apparently there's fire retardant in the packaged stuff)
  • Make our own desserts/treats instead of the prepackaged stuff (candy bars, jell-o, cake, etc.)
  • Make our own pasta (not available in bulk here)
  • Switch to refillable pens (we're still working our way through the plastic dollar store ones)
  • Find a replacement for freezer bags?
  • Get raw milk in glass jars from local dairy
  • Switched to a reusable sea salt grinder (we can get sea salt in bulk)
  • Switch to an electric razor
  • Buy toilet paper in the paper packaging instead of plastic
  • Make our own yogurt
  • Buy cheese and deli meat in jars at the counter
  • Buy floss in the little packs, instead of individual flossers - a lot less plastic. 
  • Buy bulk beans, rice and grains
  • Switch to loose-leaf tea
  • Can our own pickles (not available in bulk, but we cannot live without them)
  • Can/freeze our own spaghetti sauce
Previous Posts in the Series:
Week One: No Wasted Leftovers
Week Two: Less Packaging
What's your zero-waste journey like?

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