Low(er) waste journey, part 1

I’ve mentioned in past posts about my desire to work towards a reduced-waste lifestyle (see this post, this post, and this post). This was mostly spurred by our city’s recycling program, which underwent many changes at the beginning of the year since China banned the import of most of our recyclables—and that was the first time I had heard that we shipped our recyclables to China to be processed. As much as I love recycling (I was the one that got my family to start recycling back in 5th grade—when recyclables had to be sorted into their own crates!), I’ve since realized that recycling should be the last of the three “R”s we do: the first two Rs being reduce and reuse.

Our personal journey towards reduced waste is slow-going, so I’ve also been happy with changes made by the city to help us keep the waste we do have out of the landfill. I’ve also learned of many tips and tricks for clean/green living thanks to the Litterless and A Beautiful Mess blogs! This post is all about the changes we’ve made so far, the things that aren’t going so well, and the goals I have for the future.

THE GOOD

Composting food waste / Last year, our city started collecting food and plant waste for compost! I feel much better about tossing our food scraps in this bin and knowing it’s getting made into compost. We are still working on buying too much food and having to throw it out, but at least we have this option now instead of it going straight to the landfill. We keep our food scraps on the counter in the kitchen using these compostable bags and this container and usually set out one bag per week in the bin.

Hefty EnergyBag program / With the recycling changes made earlier this year came the elimination of our ability to recycle most plastics in our regular recycling program. Now, those crinkly water bottles and food clamshell containers go in the trash. On the positive side, we can now recycle a ton more plastics thanks to the Hefty EnergyBag program! Every single plastic that cannot go in the recycling bin and isn’t trash goes into this bag. This includes plastic baggies, plastic film bags, toiletry containers, plastic straws, plastic silverware, foam products, plastic lids, and the list goes on and on. We fill up a bag about once every 1-2 months. These items are converted into synthetic diesel fuel.

Reducing use of paper towels / One of the first and easiest changes I wanted to make was to reduce our use of paper towels. I tended to use them for everything: drying my hands after washing them, cleaning up messes on the floor, wiping down counters, etc. I bought a set of 12 “unpaper” towels with snaps from Remiusables on Etsy a few months ago. They’ve done an amazing job at replacing paper towels! I use them all the time to wipe my hands and clean the counters. I thought that 12 wouldn’t be enough, but we still haven’t run out in between laundry days.

Stopping the use of dryer sheets / Earlier this summer, I bought a couple of wool dryer balls, and then I got some more in my MightyFix a couple of months ago. I also buy bags of lavender at the farmer’s market and throw one in the dryer with the dryer balls. We aren’t totally out of our dryer sheets yet, but I don’t plan on buying more after they run out!

Reusing items around the house / It’s so much more fun to actually use what we already have versus buying new things. I noticed I had some unused jars, so I put our bags of nuts in them. They’re now easy to access and look nice on the counter. I also had a couple of mason jars sitting around, so I used them to keep a couple of living basil plants on the windowsill. I also used a spare smaller jar to house our dish wand and a ceramic fruit basket to hold some loose tea bags.

Reusable bulk and produce bags / I ordered some silk and nylon bulk and produce bags made by kootsac on Etsy. When I do remember to bring them to the grocery store (the hardest part, to be honest), I love using them, and I’ve never had any cashiers question me. That said, I think I’ve only used them for bulk foods and I always mark the product number on a tag so they don’t even think to look and see what’s inside, haha.

MightyFix monthly subscription / I wrote about my first three MightyFixes (Stasher reusable silicone bag, wool dryer balls, and dish cloths) and can’t wait to see what I receive for the rest of my year-long subscription! Let me know if you’d like a free month of MightyFix (with a subscription sign-up).

THE NOT SO GOOD

Extra waste from Green Chef / As much as we love getting Green Chef (read my unsponsored review), it does come with a major downside: extra waste every week. Luckily, Green Chef does what they can and provides product packaging that can be either recycled or composted. That said, sometimes we are busy/lazy and let things (like the gel packs) pile up before finally just throwing them away. I think for now, I much prefer receiving healthy, organic meals than stopping our subscription. We just need to be better about keeping things out of the trash. Receive 4 free meals if you sign up for your own subscription with my referral link!

Packaging from online shopping / I receive many packages and packing materials from online shopping. I reuse what I can when shipping out Poshmark sales and recycle what I can’t. I’m happy that plastic shipping bags can now go into the Hefty EnergyBag.

Plastic film bags / I still use plastic film bags for cat litter and as liners in the smaller trash cans. I’m not sure what else to use, but I was thinking maybe the compost bags would work for the cat litter? I just don’t want the cat litter bags composting in the trash bin in between collection days… Now that every plastic bag can go in the EnergyBag, I’m kind of at a loss!

GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

Use up everything we have / I have a bad habit of buying new/different products to try and not finishing what I already have. I hope to either use up everything we have (be it toiletries, cleaning products, etc.), or if it’s something I truly won’t use, pass it on to someone who will.

Replace cleaning products / Once we use up what we have, I plan to research and purchase better products for our home and for ourselves. Right now, we use a lot of Method products, and I’ve loved them so far, but I wonder (and think) there may be better products out there.

Check out our new zero waste market / The Roots Zero Waste Market just opened near me, and I can’t wait to check out their selection and learn tips to reduce our waste even more!

Apple (and pumpkin) picking in Idaho

Fall apple picking outfit — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Fall apple picking outfit with plaid shirt and navy puffer vest — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Cabalo's Apple Orchard in Kuna, Idaho — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

I know, I know... Apple picking is such a cliche fall blogger activity. I can't help but love it, though, especially after going apple picking in New England many years ago. I couldn't make it back to New England this year, and I've been dying to apple pick for the past few years, so I did some research and found a few orchards within a reasonable driving distance. Orchards are definitely not as plentiful here in Idaho... we're kind of known for our potatoes, not our apples. ;)

We visited Cabalo's Orchard and Gardens last weekend with a couple of friends. It was an absolutely beautiful, sunny, and crisp fall day. As much as I love the sunshine, it doesn't make for great photo lighting. Ah well… We picked a variety of apples (mostly criterion apples, a cross between winter banana, red, and golden delicious apples that really taste nothing like red or golden delicious apples, in my opinion) and selected a number of pumpkins from the patch next to the orchard. Korri and I went a little crazy in the pumpkin patch and picked out 10 to take home. I decided to be reasonable and pare it down to only eight—four large orange pumpkins (two to carve) and four smaller white pumpkins. In all, we took home 100 pounds of pumpkins...!

Fall apple picking in plaid shirt — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Fall outfit with puffer vest, plaid shirt, Bean boots — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Fall outfit with navy vest and burgundy pants — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

There was a little farm stand with some freshly picked veggies (we grabbed some bell peppers and jalapeños for making salsa), fresh apple cider (absolutely delicious), local honey, popcorn kernels, and pickles. I also picked out some decorative corn, but I'm not quite sure how or where to display it. I know Sybil will try to eat it if it's in her reach...gotta love cats! I am excited to have some more fall decor for the house, though.

Of course, I had to go all out for the occasion and wear the most cliche blogger outfit I could: quilted vest + flannel shirt + L.L.Bean boots. The only things that would have made it even more cliche is a huge blanket scarf and floppy hat! The vest is perfect for keeping warm but allowing the plaid shirt to shine. Of course, I had to wear my boots, which were great for frolicking between trees and keeping my feet safe from rotting apples and crazy weeds. I love wearing navy and burgundy together, and I think the burgundy pants add some interest; regular denim skinny jeans would have been too predictable. Jewel tones for fall…groundbreaking, right? ;) It’s just as groundbreaking as apple picking, ha!

Cabalo's Orchard and Gardens, Kuna, Idaho — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Pumpkin patch at Cabalo's Orchard and Gardens — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Bean boot fall outfit at the pumpkin patch — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

OUTFIT DETAILS

Uniqlo vest / similar from Kohl’s or Lord & Taylor
Penfield shirt / old; similar from Kohl’s or Nordstrom
Madewell pants / old; similar from Nordstrom
L.L.Bean boots / exact
Coach bag / vintage; similar or similar by Lucky Brand
Le Specs sunglasses / exact style
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in rosé / exact

Sweater obsessed

Fall outfit with green cashmere and boyfriend jeans — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Everlane ribbed cashmere sweater in loden — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Everlane ribbed cashmere sweater fall outfit — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Vintage Coach 'City' crossbody bag fall outfit — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Everlane modern boyfriend jeans fall outfit — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Fall outfit with ribbed cashmere, boyfriend jeans, ankle boots — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Another day, another new sweater. This is my third new sweater in the past three months. It seems like a lot until I remember that I’m having a lot of turnover in my closet right now, especially with regards to my sweaters. I’ve listed a number of sweaters on Poshmark recently, so I haven’t technically added any more to my collection. I’m just parting with the ones I haven’t worn much or that I’m not excited to wear anymore and adding new sweaters to love.

I used to want to get to the point with my wardrobe where I love every single thing and don’t have any closet turnover, but I’ve since come to the realization that I’m always going to have some turnover in my closet. I enjoy clothes too much to not pick up some new things every once in a while. I just need to remember to be mindful and not buy for the sake of buying something new. Instead, I should only buy when it’s something I absolutely love and know that I will wear over and over.

I had planned on doing a short Everlane shopping freeze because I placed way too many orders there over the past couple of months, and then they released the ribbed cashmere sweaters. You know me… I’m obsessed with sweaters! (You can’t have too many in a region that experiences true winter, haha.) That said, I didn’t think I was going to want one until I saw this sweater in their beautiful heathered green color called loden. I was planning on buying the regular cashmere crew in this color at some point in the next couple of months, but I already have the cashmere crew in three other colors, so I jumped on this sweater when I saw it because it was the color I wanted in a style I didn’t own.

I’m planning to post new Everlane reviews at some point soon, but I’ll say this for now: the sweater is well-made, gorgeous, and slightly oversized for a super cozy fit. It’s not quite as soft as the waffle knit cashmere I bought last year, but it’s still nice. I kept this look comfy with my boyfriend jeans and went matchy-matchy with the cognac boots and accessories. I wore the hat to conceal a bad hair day, but the wind had other plans. Sometimes you just gotta embrace the crazy!


OUTFIT DETAILS

Everlane sweater / exact
Everlane jeans / exact (review heremy referral link)
Madewell boots / old; similar
Phase 3 hat / old; similar from Kohl’s
Coach bag / vintage; exact style on Etsy 
Moorea Seal sunglasses / old; similar by Le Specs
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in rosé / exact