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.
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 if (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!