Returning to Our Roots // A Waste-Free Home (almost)
This year, I only gave myself one resolution. In the past, I found myself trying to set "New Year" goals, and they always seemed to fall through. I think a lot of this has to do with having too many ideas, something that I've always been wounded by. It's disappointing when you can't achieve everything on your list! While I have many plans and goals for this year, there was really only one thing that I wanted to change about me. This year, I want to become a more habitual person. I want to lose the habit of not having any habits and give myself a daily schedule, a weekly schedule, a monthly schedule. I think that will help all of my other goals overall because I'll be in the habitual practice of completing them! Sometimes it takes a general goal to make all of the small ones happen, at least in my head. One of the habits I really want our family to get into is making our home as waste free as possible!
To me, a waste free home is creating the least amount of trash as possible in our garbage can. At least, that's where I want to start. The way I figure it, the more sustainable we become, the more we can use our waste + fuel it into our garden. Everything, in the end, will come full circle. Being sustainable is really fun so far! And honestly, I think that this goal will be achievable for our family! If you had asked me around five years ago if I thought our family could achieve a waste free home, I most definitely would have rolled my eyes at you. We were not good at keeping up with healthy habits, our home was filled with unused items + things, and we bought a lot of food from the inner sections of the grocery store. Have you heard of the grocery store map? Where you really only need to purchase food from the outer sides and aisles of the store? That's kind of something that we stick to when we go! Meat (which we want to cut back on), fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads. Everything within the inner aisles is usually packaged and processed! Of course, I tend to run out of a lot of baking ingredients (;
Anyway, here is my plan to keep our home as waste free as possible!
According to Duke University, about 2/3 of our waste can be composted. However, over 50% of that waste ends up in a landfill. That's really gross. We passed a giant landfill in Florida while driving along the highway on my vacation... it always kills me that I need to see something for the impact to really hit. It was horrifying and really, really sad. Though seeing the mounds of waste made my insides ache, I also know that not being able to see the landfill daily will only to help to not motivate me to compost. That's just how my brain works. If it's in a box where I can't see it, then I tend to forget it's there. Gardening is really going to help to motivate me to compost. Have you heard of black gold? That's compost!
Compost is bug poop - it's essential to your garden as the microscopic bugs within the pile help to clean up and decompose our waste. I have been on the hunt for a really awesome company that sells compost bins, but haven't managed to find any (if you know of any cool environmentally positive gardening brands, let me know!) so we're just going to wing it and create a simple compost bin out of wood for our yard until we can find something better. We purchased a small garbage can for our kitchen that will hold our waste throughout the day, and then we will empty it out onto the pile either at night or in the morning. I don't really think the smell will be that awful, as our trash can was already filled with that waste anyway. I'm hoping to write more about how to compost later, but for now that's what we're beginning to do! I made a little list for beside our can that says all of the materials we can compost. It's helped a lot!
As for being not as waste free as possible, we're going to hold onto using toilet paper and diapers. I suppose we could move onto purchasing compostable diapers (not so keen on a compostable toilet just yet... sorry!), but I'm a single mom with a budget. Maybe one day!
This one is kind of a no brainer, but it's something we never really did. The best part about recycling for us? We don't have to pay anything for the city workers to come pick it up! That's what's motivating my dad right now. HA! In most cities + towns around the US, at least where we've lived before, you pay a fee for a garbage can. In Kalona, you have to pay for garbage stickers per bag, and the bag can only have so much trash in it. Now that we've been recycling for the past few weeks, we've reduced our garbage down to less than a bag! A lot of that waste was coming from plastic bottles, bags, and paper containers. We've created a little place in our mud room for our recyclables to go. This has helped so much, which is really silly! But it reminds us that the containers are there, we don't have to go outside in the cold or disrupt our day, and we're saving money (and also the planet, no big deal). It's also going to be fun when we take our metal cans and glass bottles to the grocery store. Our grocery store has a special place where you can turn those cans and bottles in for change! We've never utilized it before, but are excited to begin! A cute space can really motivate you to do more.
BUYING LESS WASTEFUL PRODUCTS
One of my personal goals to being waste free is to purchase less plastic. In my mind, this completes a lot of my personal goals in one step. Want to cut back on junk, pop, and processed foods? Don't buy them... because guess what! Most of it comes in a sealed, plastic container. And that does nothing for our garden. Things that are packaged in paper and cardboard can at least be composted. We're trying to get in the habit of purchasing most of our dry food at Stringtown Grocery here in town. I've talked about it before, but it's an Amish owned store that sells bulk food. They don't have a lot of options, but that's okay! All we need we can find there. As for fresh food? If we're cutting back on dry goods, then we don't need to spend as much at the grocery. Because we buy in bulk, we use a lot of glass containers to hold our items. It's been a really beautiful and fun change!
We also want to get back into the habit of bringing reusable shopping bags with us. It's been really quite sad bringing home our groceries in plastic bags and then just throwing those plastic bags into another plastic bag and putting that bag on the side of the road for someone to take away. Reusable bags means less for us to waste.
MAKING OUR OWN CLEANING PRODUCTS
To continue with the idea of purchasing less wasteful products, I think that making our own cleaning products will be the most fun for our family! For the past three months, we've been making our own laundry detergent (which I am excited to share with you!). It's actually be our most favorite detergent we've ever used. I can't tell if it's the scent or the fact that we made it that makes it so much better, but I'm guessing it's probably both of those factors. We've also been using a few other waste-free and natural products from some awesome companies that I'll be sharing with you next week! This reduces our use of harmful chemicals and plastic waste. Win! I also hope to try my hand at making my own beeswax preservable paper so we can eliminate plastic wrap! A silicone baking mat might also be a good purchase so we can get rid of aluminum foil and parchment paper as well.
BEING HAPPY WITH LESS
I mentioned in a different post that we all sat around the dining table recently and made a statement about what kinds of clothes and items that we needed this year, all of us coming up with one or two items, but essentially coming to the conclusion that we didn't need anything. Our wardrobes were satisfying and functional. It was a happy relief! Growing up, I found myself always wanting more clothes. I do love clothes, and I love having a personal style. I really think motherhood has taken that hobby out of me, and I am grateful for it. I think the uniform trend is really cool, and I hope it becomes a lifestyle for me rather than a trend. Right now, we're satisfied with what we have.
And that's it! It's little changes that I think we can accomplish. If those sound like big changes for your family, but you want to try, I say go for it! Maybe try one goal every month or so just to see how it feels, to see if you can make it happen. I hope to share a little more of each step in detail in the future. How are you becoming waste free this year?