I can't believe we're in week 4 and that I complete my 30-day challenge next Tuesday. I was really nervous starting a challenge, especially one that is very public. Despite my worries, our family has learned so much from this journey, and I'm glad I did it! '
I thought I would spend some time this week answering FAQs people have about a zero waste lifestyle...keep reading, because you're not going to want to miss the giveaway!!
Will you continue to be zero waste?
Yes, and no. This challenge has given me the opportunity to see what I'm capable of - and that I don't really NEED to be purchasing a lot of my foods in packaging. I've discovered ways to source so many ingredients, and have had a lot of creative fun in the kitchen.
That said, a zero waste lifestyle is like a full-time job. If you think about it, zero waste is just the way we lived 100-200 years ago. Perhaps I would have run a farm with my partner and kids, and my "jobs" would have included child rearing and food preparation (unless I was born rich, of course, and then I would have had all the servants doing those things for me.)
My reality now is that I already have a full-time job - in fact, I have three part-time jobs, as well as my parenting role. Time is limited, and a zero waste lifestyle is not something I can keep up with...BUT (big but here) - it doesn't have to be all or nothing!! I can continue to work towards minimizing waste in the home, which I will definitely be doing by:
- Continuing to use only cloth and mesh bags/produce bags
- Avoiding food that comes packaged individually
- Continuing to source bulk ingredients like vinegars, oils, cereals, pasta, flours, nuts etc. There are so many options now with Nu Grocery on the scene!!
- Reducing waste with household goods through the Ecobar at Terra20
- Making stuff whenever I have the time, including my own tortilla wraps, yogurt and school lunch snacks
- Buying in glass whenever possible, and minimizing all plastics
What are the biggest changes you've observed?
GARBAGE...seriously, we have almost NO garbage this week. In the past we've had styrofoam containers from our meat purchases, and all the plastic packaging that can't be recycled.
COST...I had thought my grocery bills might go through the roof, but guess what? They're actually no different! In fact, we're spending less on food - probably due to the fact that I'm making a LOT of stuff myself. Our biggest difference is cow's milk - it's much pricier in jars.
FOOD WASTE...probably due to the fact that I'm making so much, I'm hyper vigilant about waste. I'm making sure we throw out as little as possible. Everything seems so much more precious after I've spent hours in the kitchen making it, or taken the time to drive across town to source the product.
What do you do about school lunches?
Most of our lunches are packed in reusable plastic containers, which I've purchased from Terra20. I find glass is way too heavy (and breakable!) and we can't afford stainless steel. Ideally at some point down the road I will replace all plastics, but right now it's much more convenient to purchase good quality (BPA free and recycled) plastic containers.
In terms of what my kids are eating for lunches, we've done all of the following in the past 4 weeks:
- Homemade applesauce
- Homemade yogurt with jam or frozen blueberries
- Homemade muffins (their faves are blueberry and chocolate-chip banana)
- Homemade fruit roll-ups
- Homemade granola bars
- Tail mix (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut and chocolate raisins)
- Cheese and homemade crackers
- Cold pasta salad with cheese
- Fruit and veggies
- Homemade tortilla wraps with homemade hummus, cheese or cold chicken
You'll see the "homemade" theme is strong here. There are a lot of things kids love to eat that come packaged in plastic and recycling. So the majority of my time is spent baking/cooking for lunches. Keep in mind I don't make all this stuff every weekend - I do large batch cooking/baking and freeze everything.
What do you do about household goods?
This is a toughie - things like kleenex and toilet paper are impossible to find without packaging. We could switch to cloth toilet paper (yup, this is a thing) and handkerchiefs, but right now I'm just purchasing in bulk to avoid as much packaging as possible. Leave me a comment if you've found a solution to this!
In terms of cleaning products, that's WAY easier. For a couple of years now we've been using Terra20's Eco Bar. I bring in my containers for bathroom cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent etc. and they just fill it up for me! I've also switched out all my makeup and other personal care products for those that are more natural and have less packaging - and Terra20 will recycle any packaging from products you purchase at their store!
What did you say about a giveaway??
Oh yes, of course, the most important part! I'm finishing up my zero waste challenge with a bang, and offering one lucky reader a chance to win:
- $50 gift card to Terra20
- $20 gift card to Nu Grocery
- A set of mason jars to get you started on your zero waste shopping journey!
What do you have to do to win? Simply comment on this post, and tell me ONE thing you will start to do to reduce your waste in the home. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture - it could simply be "I commit to remembering to bring my reusable bags while shopping!!"
The winner will be required to pick up their gift cards IN STORE. The mason jars will be available for drop-off to those living within Ottawa - if you are too far outside the city centre we will coordinate a pick-up point.
Contest closes Tuesday, October 10th at 6 p.m. EST. One entry per person. GOOD LUCK!