I came across the idea of living a zero waste lifestyle awhile back while scrolling through Buzzfeed. There was a video of one of the writers trying to live zero waste for an entire week. I was very interested, so I decided to watch it. Intrigued as I was, I didn’t think it was a lifestyle that was attainable for our constantly moving, military family of 4. Then I watched a similar video a couple of weeks later. The same writer, trying to get her friends to try to zero waste their beauty routine.
Ever since then, I’ve been scouring Pinterest and the interwebs about zero waste living. I’ve become so obsessed in fact that I think I’m driving my husband crazy with all the talk of it! It was overwhelming at first, but then I came across the blog Going Zero Waste. What I love about her approach to helping curious newbies like myself, is how she really emphasizes that it’s not about perfection. Starting small, one area at a time, can really make a big impact.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who likes to really take the earth’s health into consideration. I love our planet, and all the creatures that inhabit it (except you cockroaches, you can leave). It’s a home for my children, and unfortunately it’s in a major state of crisis. Even though my previous efforts are better than nothing, after doing this research I feel like there’s so many more ways I can be contributing. I want to help reverse the harm we’ve done to our planet, even though a lot of it is irreversible. I want to teach my children while their young the importance of lowering our carbon footprint. It’s going to be tough, and I won’t be perfect, but I’m going to make it work for us.
There are several ways I’ve already started, without even realizing it! I have also set goals for what I want to change in the future to reduce, if not eliminate, the use of plastic in our household.
I went from plastic loofah to natural sea sponge
For a long while, me and my family have been using plastic loofahs. On their tag, it states that once the string is removed, the loofah is recyclable. For me, I thought hey, that’s better than nothing! When I mentioned that to my mother in law (we love chatting about being eco-friendly), she was surprised. That was only because she thought I meant real loofahs. When she said that, I hadn’t even been aware that there were loofah’s out there other than the standard plastic pouf.
After that, I started searching through Walmart to see what other options there were. Right when I was about to reach for one of those foam looking ones, I spotted the game changer. They were located on the very bottom shelf, on the other side of the aisle. If you’re not looking for them you’d miss them altogether! I saw that they’re sustainably sourced, biodegradable, and naturally inhibit bacteria and mildew. We all have sensitive skin (sorry kiddos), so these really excited me!
They came in all shapes, exfoliation levels, and sizes. I got a bigger one for myself and a smaller one for the kids. I was a little leery about their softness. In my hand they were hard and scratchy. Much to my pleasant surprise, once wet, they become extremely soft! They hold so much water, three times more than an artificial sponge actually. They are also very easy to rinse and squeeze dry. We’ve been using these for a couple of months now, and I’m proud to say we will never go back to plastic loofah’s again.
When it comes to zero waste, the only downside to the ones I bought were that they are packaged in a plastic netting with a plastic tag. In the future, I will buy our sponges somewhere like Package Free to ensure that there is little to no waste that comes along with my shower buddy.
I’ve switched to a menstrual cup
Instead of pads and tampons, which were far too uncomfortable anyway, I now use the DivaCup. There are many other brands but this one works for me. It’s made of silicone, and is reusable for up to 10 years when taken care of. It doesn’t contain any bleach or chemicals so it’s so much better for your body, as well as for the planet.
There are other alternatives to the menstrual cup if it’s not something you’re comfortable with. There’s natural sea sponge tampons, cloth pads and liners, even underwear like Thinx that are all washable and reusable!
I always use reusable shopping bags
I’m so proud of myself, because I have gotten so into the habit of grabbing my shopping bags out of the car before I go shopping that its second nature to me now. Target rewards you for doing this by giving a 5 cent discount for every bag your bring in and use during your trip.
My next goal is to make reusable cloth produce bags to bring with me and use as well. It’s all about eliminating that nasty plastic baby!
We’ve switched to reusable linen napkins
Last year for Thanksgiving, I made these linen napkins to use for our dinner. I love the way they’ve turned out. They are so easy to wash, and are still in great condition to this day. We use them everyday, though when we eat out on the weekend, we bring home disposable paper napkins.
One of my goals for this next year is to eliminate the use of all the paper napkins in our house. That will mean saying no to takeout napkins, and switching from our roll of Bounty to reusable fabric towels in the kitchen.
I’ve been doing this ever since my husband was stationed in Texas, where the army installation we were at offered recycling. I grew up in a small town in New Mexico called Moriarty. It’s 45 minutes away from any “big” city. Recycling was never a thing for us, because it wasn’t offered curbside. We could recycle cans and such and take them to Albuquerque for cash, but that’s not something we ever did.
Moving to a place with curbside recycling was a revelation for me. That’s where I learned of my passion for doing my part for the earth. Having a recycling bin full of recyclables and only one or two trash bags in our trash can was and is such a great feeling. Becoming aware of the fact that plastic can never be truly recycled, only down cycled, really changed my perspective.
My goal for this new year is to curb as much plastic as I can. I recently went through my house to evaluate the amount of products that we buy that come in plastic packaging. After doing so, I researched what I can do to replace or DIY those products to help my goal. For the future, this is going to mean making my own cleaners, overhauling my beauty routine, and cooking from scratch more than I ever have. Being a military family, zero waste is going to be difficult. We don’t have bulk stores right down the road, and living on post means finding a way to compost is going to be a challenge. But oh how I love challenges 😉
I will be sharing my journey with all of you. From the baby steps, to the setbacks, I invite each and every one of you to come along on this new adventure with me!