Zero Waste: My Beginnings

Zero Waste: My Beginnings

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I had heard the mantra “reduce, reuse, and recycle” many times before. To me I figured since I responsible enough to make sure I was putting things in the trash and recycling bin, I was doing my part to keep the earth clean. Then I saw the whale video. This video made me sick to the stomach with sadness. It was actually possible that one of the many plastic bags found in this whale was once mine.

 

Internalizing my role changed my life forever. Not knowing anything about zero waste, I set out to make changes in my life and that of my kids.

What Drives Me

I grew up surrounded by trees and plants. We could pick the fruits directly from trees, or get peas and corn to cook for dinner. I grew up where we would draw drinking water from a well. We hand washed and line dried our clothes. We ran around barefoot all day, and when we went to the beach we picked up seaweed for the plants. Plastic was not highly consumed in our home growing up. 

Living in southern California, the whale watching season is upon us. The kids and I may go out to sea to watch the whales and dolphins move through the ocean. There may come a day when my kid’s kids won’t be able to see a whale because we killed them all off. The same for sea turtles, and other marine life, and albatrosses, and other animals close to the sea due to our consumption. Knowing that I have the opportunity to raise at least 3 children who can inspire others to live a more zero waste lifestyle drives me.

Getting Started

The first thing I said I would do is reduce my waste. This meant looking at ways to reuse what we already had, and buying using alternative packaging where possible. Some of the biggest changes happened during my grocery shopping, and how we eat. I’ll work on sharing more ways we have implemented zero waste into our life, but here are a few things we did that made a big difference:

  • Shopping with reusable produce bags. I will be making available some of my handmade reusable shopping bags soon! Look out for them!
  • Shopping in the bulk bins section (with reusable bags or jars). Most places will accommodate reusable vessels in their bulk section, but ask first because you may also get some discounts!
  • Composting! I couldn’t believe how much my compost bin still filled up once we made an effort to either reuse food scraps in broths, and toss the rest in the compost bin
  • Opting for Hemp! Hemp is an amazing plant, and the things that have been produced from it are just as amazing. This is one alternative to plastic that needs its own post!
  • Start a garden! Even if you can only put a few pots in the window with herbs, you would be helping to not produce more waste by buying herbs (in plastic containers) that can be grown at home. You can reuse the old herb containers to hold your dried spices from your plants
  • Find ways to reuse the plastic that you already have. If you join enough groups, you will come to despise plastic. You may also feel the urge to just toss all plastic dishes, cups, etc in the recycle bin. Before you do that, look for ways to reuse that plastic! 
  • Consume less. Another side effect when getting started is the urge to go out and buy all sorts of new gadgets, and trinkets aimed at supporting your zero waste journey. Before you do, look around your home to see if there is something that can be used to serve the purpose you need it for.

It’s a Journey

It truly is a journey, and you should approach it as such! Even if you make a single move to start being more diligent in recycling, that is a huge step! Research, then research some more! This can’t be stressed enough. As a whole, we human are quite creative, and you would be amazed at some of the fun things others have come up with. Just make one change at a time, and encourage others to do the same!

Lastly, if you are just starting out, I would like to congratulate you for this bold move! You are actively deciding to do something to help heal the earth. Thank you for your efforts! Please leave a comment and share with others. All the love helps keep me going!

Neely

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