At the beginning of this year, I declared war on consumption in the Bocks household and we’re now six months into our mission. I guess its time to check in. To start off, I’d rather talk about our successes first and address what we need to work on later. I still have half a year to get there, though, so let’s talk about what’s worked so far.
- Buy local produce: Now that the farmer’s markets have opened up for the season, I’ve really enjoyed taking a weekly trip to pick up some fresh produce. I even bring my own produce bags so there’s zero waste involved.
- Eliminate the trash: I’m far from complete on this one, but I have made great strides to get there.
I finally found a natural market here that has bulk bins for rice, pasta, snacks, grains, etc. I bring my own glass jars, get them weighed before filling them, and then pick out what I want. This actually turns out quite a bit cheaper. I get healthier options, and it’s zero-waste! My favorite things are the quinoa pasta, all-natural m&m’s, and the goji berries! This is our pantry – there’s still quite a bit of packaging there, but its much better than how we started out.
Milk cartons were taking up a lot of our trash space, so when I found out that I could get fresh milk and lemonade delivered in glass jars, I jumped on it. The glass jars go back to the dairy to be cleaned and refilled. While this milk isn’t certified organic like our preferred Horizon milk, they use humane organic practices on their family farms. I comfortable with that – and it costs about a buck less per half-gallon – with zero-waste! I also get some cage-free antibiotic and hormone-free eggs delivered as well.
We’ve almost ditched the revolving supply of ziploc bags and plastic bowls. I love using my glass bowls with silicone lids to store leftovers in. 🙂 Fossil-fuel free and nothing to throw away (so I get to say zero-waste again!).
Ronnie’s snacks have been a major source of trash for us around here, but I’ve been working on finding ways to avoid any trash at all. Look! A zero-waste snack pack for school (and no plastic involved either) – filtered water in a stainless steel bottle, sesame sticks, natural m&m’s, goji berries, dried apples, and a cheese wheel.
Let’s talk about diapers. I still LOVE my cloth dipes. I still use chlorine-free disposables for our day-trips away from home, but I try and use the cloth diapers as much as I can. I even worked up the nerve to add cloth wipes to our routine. I’ve had them prepared since before Wade was born, but I neglected to use them for a while. Once I added a mixture of filtered water, Dr. Bronner’s organic baby wash, tea tree oil, and grapeseed oil to my homemade wipes, I was in love. These wipes work so much better than disposables and it also means less trash to throw away. These babies go right in with the dirty diapers. Zero-waste wins again!
- Stop buying ziploc bags: While I haven’t stopped completely, I have really been focusing on using reusable bags for snacks, sandwiches, and such. Rob didn’t like it when I put a reusable bag in his lunch, though, so I’ve had to keep the ziplocs for him – I’ve managed to make the boxes last forever by really using them sparingly.
- Use washable shopping bags: I absolutely adore my flip & tumble bags. They’ve been through the washer dozens of times and they still look brand new. No more throwing away the polypropylene bags! 🙂
- Explore new ways to eliminate cleaning products from my cabinets: workin’ on it. Here’s what my cleaning shelf looks like right now:
I tried making my own laundry detergent and it worked well for a while – until it started to build up in the cloth diapers and made them stink to high heavens. So, I had to switch to Country Save, which is a natural detergent that leaves no build-up. It works great and comes in a cardboard box that I can recycle, so I can’t really complain with that.
Instead of fabric softener dryer sheets, I have discovered these wool dryer balls that cut down on drying time and soften at the same time. I even add a couple drops of essential oil to each ball about once a week to make our clothes smell super fresh!
And, as you can see, I’m still using vinegar, baking soda, and peroxide for most of my cleaning needs. I found this cool air freshener and all-purpose cleaner to use when I want some smelly-good stuff, but that’s far from zero-waste. I suppose at least I can re-use or recycle the bottles, so its not all that bad.
- Buy USA made products: I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve shopped in a Wal-mart this past year. I’ve been that good about it. While I’ve had dozens of opportunities to choose USA made over foreign products, here’s a couple of examples:
When it came time to buy Ronnie a twin-sized bed, we chose this simple wood USA-made frame. Granted, the mattresses are from IKEA, but they were the cheapest “safer” mattress option around.
And when I needed Easter presents for the kiddos this year, I opted for homemade cloth baskets, a wooden bowling set, and a wooden teether from homegrown etsy shops. Notice the absence of Easter “grass”? I figured it was a needless waste of plastic or paper, so I just left it out.
Stay tuned to find out what I still need to work on!