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

Birthday // game day

Birthday trip to the Seattle Seahawks football game — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

I briefly mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it was my birthday weekend, but I didn’t say what exactly I would be doing for it! Well…

Korri and I flew to Seattle for the day to attend the home opener of the Seattle Seahawks!

That may not sound exciting to you—and honestly, I wasn’t thrilled when Korri suggested going (this trip was his idea)—but I love going on random trips, and Seattle is easy enough for us to get to (though our trip wasn’t seamless, as you’ll read below). I feel like I’m in Seattle all the time, whether it be for work or for play. Plus, we had enough time to do a couple of extra things while we were there. :)

Flying to Seattle, Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

We had some issues with our flight to Seattle but got there with minimal delays. (Short story: The night before, our direct flight to Seattle was cancelled due to air traffic control in Seattle, and we rebooked onto flights going through Spokane that got us to Seattle only about a half hour later. Side note: AVOID SEATTLE right now if you can… one of the runways is ripped up and it’s causing a lot of delays. Not sure how long that’s going to be an issue. Anyway…)

After landing, we caught the light rail heading northbound into Seattle along with a shockingly (to me) large number of people wearing Seahawks and Cowboys jerseys. It was about 9:30 in the morning and everyone was already on their way to the stadium! The game didn’t start until about 1:30 pm.

Our first stop was at The Lodge Sports Grille in downtown Seattle to meet my mom and step dad for brunch. They live on the Olympic Peninsula (you may remember my trip to visit them) and drove/rode the ferry to meet us. The restaurant was essentially a sports bar, and I couldn’t believe how busy it was at 10:30 am. There were Seahawks and Cowboys fans all around us. The food was pretty good (I got just the regular breakfast with eggs and potatoes), but the service was on the slow side (not surprising considering the number of people) and they didn’t have any champagne for mimosas. :(

After brunch, we walked a couple of blocks down to the Moorea Seal retail store. I’ve followed Moorea for years now on Instagram, ordered a number of items from her website, and was thrilled to finally be visiting her storefront! Unfortunately I did not buy anything because I had no way of getting it back to Boise (I only had my clear stadium bag with me for the game, and it was stuffed with some small gifts from my mom and our DSLR camera that I didn’t end up using at all, haha). I’ve got my eyes on these zodiac stud earrings, though.

My parents joined us on the few-block walk over to the stadium. There was a mass exodus of people in jerseys and other Seahawks gear walking down to the stadium at the same time and yelling random chants along the way. We passed a blogger at one point—I could tell by the photographer waiting on the sidewalk for people to stop walking by and the lady sitting at a table in the corner on a restaurant patio. No idea who she was, though! I’m sure Seattle has a ton of bloggers.

We didn’t convince my parents to stay for the game, so we parted ways after wandering around the outside of the stadium. It was a madhouse, as you probably could imagine!

Seattle Seahawks vs Dallas Cowboys, Seattle, WA — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Once inside the stadium, we made our way to the Seahawks store and browsed but didn’t end up buying anything even though I was eyeing the baseball caps. That was maybe a bad idea because our seats faced southwest and we were in the sun the entire game. We all got slightly sunburned, but I took off my vest and held it over my face most of the game to prevent it as much as possible. I can’t complain too much, though—the weather was absolutely gorgeous that day!

We met the rest of our group at our seats; some of Korri’s friends from Boise also made the trip over. We sat in the section right below where the opposing team’s owner sits, and since the Seahawks were playing the Cowboys, we were right below Jerry Jones. Everyone in our section was yelling and waving at Jerry and he even waved back, haha. The best part was when everyone waved goodbye when he left.

The Seahawks ended up winning, which I was very happy about since it was my birthday, after all. ;) Plus, I didn’t want Korri to be in a bad mood during our trip home, haha! They scored one touchdown on the end zone closest to us, and I caught it on video (see it on my Insta stories highlights). The guys all around us would high five everyone anytime something good happened during the game, and the guy in front of us high-fived my phone after that touchdown. It made me laugh!

We had to head back to the airport immediately after the game. Pro tip: Walk north to Pioneer Square station if you’re planning to catch the light rail heading south after a big event at one of the stadiums. The stations closest to the stadiums were absolutely packed full of people trying to get on. Once in the airport, I had time to grab a few of the most delicious snacks that I’ve only been able to find in the Seattle airport: Biena milk chocolate-covered chickpea snacks. YUM!!! I actually might order them on Amazon in bulk since they’re a lot cheaper on there than they were in the airport…not surprisingly!

I had a wonderful time celebrating my 29th birthday! :) We watched the sun rise on our flight to Spokane and set as we were leaving Seattle. Until next time!

Downtown Seattle, Washington — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

WHAT I WORE FOR MY BIRTHDAY … ON GAME DAY

P.S. I wore the Earth ‘Vital’ sneakers ALL DAY and my feet did not hurt at all by the end!