Zero Waste Living

Guys, over the weekend I got completely sucked into the world of zero waste blogs. It all started when I clicked on this post over at the blogsnark subreddit. I really fell in love with Paris To Go and Litterless. They make it seem easy and doable while not going for an "all or nothing" sort of approach. It's more.. do what you can do.

Growing up working in restaurants you get used to all the waste - both from customers and within the restaurant itself, like all the cardboard on truck delivery days - and when you really pay attention to it, it's insane. Whenever I would gather up all the full trashbags to take to the garbage cans, I'd think about all the restaurants and businesses in the world that are producing the same amount of trash and how incredibly huge and really scary that is.

The things we throw away each week in my home are no better. While we do recycle as much as we can, what if I changed the way our family shopped so that there was no trash to recycle or throw away in the first place? I've already made a few changes that I think are a step in the right direction.

red leaf lettuce

// buying heads of lettuce instead of boxed spring mix

Not does this help reduce waste but it is also much cheaper! I usually buy those big plastic tubs of spring mix for $5 or $6 and sometimes it can be really hit or miss to how good they are or how long before it goes weird and slimy on you. 

This grocery trip I changed things up and bought a giant head of red leaf lettuce (in no packaging!) for $1.62, brought it home, washed it and ran it through the salad spinner, chopped it up, and put it into a big tub in the fridge. Yes, this is a lot more work but the lettuce has held up really well and is all nice and crisp even after three days.

Ways I could make this better? Buy some of these cotton produce bags instead of using the plastic bags at the grocery store and instead of lining the bottom of the tub with a paper towel like I did above, use a dish cloth.

ecolunchbox zero waste container

// bringing along my own to-go box 

I used to be so good about this but got out of the habit somehow. We went to eat Thai food over the weekend and needed two to-go boxes for leftovers. They were styrofoam and it felt like such a waste when I could just of easily brought a container from home.

My favorite containers are these leak-proof, stainless steel bento boxes by ECOlunchbox. They have them on Amazon along with a ton of other great looking options, but there's a really great bundle deal right now over on their website. I use these right now to send snacks to school for Waves and she has no problem opening and closing them which is a big plus too.

They are truly leak-proof yet keep in mind that I haven't ever put anything like soup or something in it before. I have put thicker dressings like ranch in the smaller container and it didn't leak.


// reusing glass bottles and jars

Although I would love to eventually get away from buying a majority of my groceries in packaging like glass jars, I think it will take awhile to get to that point so for now I'm going to reuse those containers for food storage.

I've read that some grocery stores will even let you bring in clean, empty glass jars to use for foods in the bulk bins. Definitely call ahead before doing so because some stores/states consider it a health code violation. 

So, those are a few things I've been doing in order to jumpstart this new way of thinking and buying. There are a lot more areas I need to work on - such as figuring out what to do about the Wal-Mart grocery pickups that I rely on. On one hand, they save me money by eliminating impulse buys.. but they also package each individual thing into its own plastic bag. Yeah, you read that right. I understand why it's done, but I'd love if it could just be brought out into the bins and then into my own reusable bags. I've been donating the bags to our local library so they can put checked out materials into them when it rains and you can bring the bags back to Wal-Mart to be recycled.. but back to my thought of how nice it'd be if there was no waste at all.

Anyway, I'd love to hear what you think about all this, if it's interesting, something you're already putting into action, or any tips/tricks/websites/product recommendations. Litterless has a great state-by-state guide on where to shop if you're looking to get into this as well.

6 comments

  1. Such a great way to live -- creating and leaving a positive impact on the world around us! Zero waste is definitely the way to go. :)

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    1. It really is! Even small changes can add up!

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  2. We try to reduce the amount of packaging that comes home, and to reuse as much of it as we can. I'm still shocked at how much recycling and garbage we put out each week, though.

    I've never tried using my own glass jars in the bulk section of the grocery store. It's a great idea, though I have to wonder how the store would track the weight of the jars, especially if you bring in an assortment of different type jars when you shop. You might end up paying more because they aren't subtracting the weight of the jar from the total weight....

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    1. I'm shocked by how much we put in the garbage and recycling as well. Every blog I've read where they take their own jars - they weigh them at home or the store and write the tare weight on the lid with a wax pencil or sharpie. Then the cashier can just put that weight in on the register and it will subtract the weight. This blog post is helpful: https://www.litterless.com/journal/howtobulkaisle

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  3. I love these simple ways to waste less! I switched to using dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. Less chemicals + waste = win win!

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  4. Just such little things in life really have an impact in the long run! Good job for keeping up with this. I too work in a restaurant and can see all the waste that gets produced daily.. Quite scary actually if you think about it!

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