I started my blog on August 1, which means I’ve been one my zero waste journey for about three months (though I started the baby steps well before writing here). In that time, I’ve made quite a few life changes, product recommendations, and done some serious downsizing at home. Today I wanted to take a look back at my progress so far to reflect on changes I’ve loved and what I would change if I could do it all again:
1: Always try to refuse
The first R of zero waste is to refuse. Since starting my blog, I have resisted the urge to buy any clothing brand new, which is a huge deal for me! I’ve gone on many trips to places like Target and Nordstrom to search for new things, but on every trip, I’ve asked myself, “Do I need this article of clothing or do I just want it.” So often, we conflate wanting something with needing something. For example, last weekend my work had our largest fundraising event of the year. Like many women, I have been conditioned to think we should not repeat outfits for formal occasions and so I spent hours at the mall looking for something to wear. The night before the event, I almost dropped $80 on a dress I only kind of liked and would only ever wear to this one event. Instead, I put it back and allowed myself to repeat an outfit, wearing a dress I like infinitely more and saving money, and no one said a thing. I have allowed myself to buy new shoes in these three months but for very specific reasons. One pair was to replace a pair of black booties that broke while I was wearing them, the other two were a pair of oxfords and sneakers that I can wear casually and to work since at some point my shoe collection consisted entirely of boots with heels.
Even if you don’t want to live zero waste, I think this is a great mentality to incorporate into your life. I have saved more money these past three months than ever before because I am not responding to instant gratification. It’s good for the planet and my wallet, which is a win-win in my book!
2: Zero Waste grocery shopping
This may be strange to say, but I actually really enjoy grocery shopping and I think I enjoy it even more now that I am trying to shop zero waste. My reusable produce bags are, without a doubt, one of my top three zero-waste purchases. While I always tried to remember reusable grocery bags, I used produce bags without much thought. Now, I can’t imagine going back to using them. Since my initial post, I’ve switched from washing my bags in the sink to throwing them in the washing machine and hanging them dry. I don’t know why I felt the need to be gentle with my bags earlier, but upkeep is definitely easier when a washing machine is involved. More than any other product I use, these bags are a conversation starter at the store. I now do most of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods because of their bulk bins and local produce. Every week when I check out, I end up having a conversation with the checker about reducing waste. I really hope that these catch on with more people because they really are great!
My most popular post to date has been about T’eo Deodorant, which I find only a little bit odd. I still adore T’eo and don’t see myself ever switching back to a traditional deodorant. My original bar is pretty much done and I have already purchased a replacement, meaning I spent about $11 for 2 months of use (not a bad deal in my mind). Since my initial post, I have gotten the occasional irritation on my underarms — though I think this also has to do more with razor burn. I may switch it up and try a different LUSH version (or a DIY recipe) in the future, but I’m happy to have found that you can sacrifice packaging without sacrificing quality when it comes to deodorant.
4: Getting a library card
I practically grew up at my neighborhood library, so it’s a bit surprising that for the past few years I haven’t had a library card. I recently got into the library game again and I am so excited to have a new source of movies and books. I still haven’t jumped on the e-reader bandwagon, so I’ve ended up buying and then donating a lot of books. My plan is to buy fewer books and use the library as my main source of new reading materials. I am also planning on ending my Netflix subscription (now that I’ve finished Stranger Things) so it’s nice to know I’ll have a place to go for movies too. I love having books around, but the reality is I’ll only read the majority of my books one time, so there’s no need to waste money or resources just to have a bigger book collection.
5: My compost fail
In September, I picked up a compost pail so that I could keep my food waste out of the dump. Unfortunately, the pail is more of a middle ground to hold scraps until you can transfer them to an actual compost bin. Since I bought my pail on a whim, I did not plan where those scraps would go when that pail filled up. I’ve been researching worm composters and other options, but haven’t actually purchased a compost bin yet. The first few weeks I was great about throwing my scraps in the pail until I realized that things were starting to happen in the pail and I had nowhere to put my scraps — so I just ignored it. I finally worked up the nerve to check my pail a few weeks ago and it was a soupy, smelly mess (not the goal of compost). I ended up throwing out the contents of the pail, which is now sitting unused under my kitchen sink. Through this journey, I need to remind myself to do research and not just buy the first thing I see since it seems sustainable. I want to tackle the compost problem since food waste is probably my largest source of trash at this point, but I’m gonna be honest, I feel a bit discouraged.
These last few months have been absolutely incredible. I feel like I am living my life with more purpose, have a new passion to share with others, and have connected with other zero waste people from around the world. I am excited to see where I am 3, 6, and 9 months from now. Thank you for being a part of my journey!