Friday, April 1, 2011

Moving Toward Zero Waste

Monday will mark week three of our move toward zero waste living. What a challenge! As of today, we still have not filled a kitchen trash can of waste. However, keep in mind that we are not including diapers in our calculations because we can't really get around putting diapers on our child for now. We began with cloth diapers in our efforts to be green and save money but Eli kept getting a rash even though we constantly changed his diaper. So, we've decided to give ourselves a break to keep from giving up our zero waste efforts all together. Also realize that as we transition, we are recycling things that must be recycled. Before we toss something in the trash or recycle bins, we give thought to whether or not someone could use the item. We compost scraps and newspaper, and offer reusable containers (egg cartons, coffee cans, bottles, etc. on or Craigslist. We are currently reducing our use of plastics, but are finding it difficult to maneuver around certain evils such as juice and milk.

First I thought of making my own juice for Eli, but it seems the only affordable option for us would be to make orange juice, and he just doesn't care for orange juice. Besides that, I don't own a juicer and money is tight. I became very excited at the option of frozen juice in a paper container, but as I dismantled the container, I found the horrible plastic lining inside the paper container! Yuck! Now my attempts at better options for juice are limited to recyclable cartons.

While we live across form a dairy, it seems impossible to purchase a gallon of milk around here in anything other than a plastic jug. And while I may be able to run one hour to the nearest town with bulk shopping, I cannot do this on a weekly basis as we need milk. So, our recycling continues but decreases.

Still, we are making progress. We are using cloth napkins and towels, reusable glass and stainless cups for traveling. I'm making our toothpaste and will make my next batch of lotion and lip balm from some of the same ingredients to ultimately cut down on waste. Not a perfect solution, but then I haven't found one yet.

We are very proud of our efforts toward zero waste. It seems, however, that we are somewhat limited, as we do not have the luxury of a variety of bulk stores to shop. We live in rural NC, in the middle of farm country. The only bulk store sells pre-weighed and prepackaged items. Our only option is to leave their bag with them for them to discard. And while this surely keeps the trash out of my can, it doesn't keep it out of my county landfill. Without driving an hour to do so, I have yet to find a bulk store for food, dog food, etc, milk in a glass bottle, or a meat counter that will sell me things in my own container. I have found eggs, a deli counter and pinto beans. Of the five grocery stores within 25 minutes of me, only one carries white vinegar in a glass bottle. The Whole Foods an hour away does not sell shampoo in bulk.

While others say there are no excuses, I challenge them to attempt a zero waste home from here. And though we will no doubt have plastic or paper juice and milk cartons in our recycling bins--and shampoo bottles-- we will be proud of our many accomplishments in these two and a half weeks. Seriously, we are rockin' this attempt at zero waste!

So I encourage you to do what you can. Every bit helps, does it not? And if someone tries to blast your attempts, ignore them and continue with your efforts.

Happy day!


  1. That's awesome & I aspire to one day also join the zero-waste (or as close as possible) crowd!

  2. Cheerwine, start small like us. I'm reminded of the movie What About Bob! Baby steps to zero waste, baby steps to zero waste. :)

  3. So proud of ya'll, that's AWESOME!! I have been using Shikai shampoo, which I found at Whole Foods, for a long time now. Now I buy it in bulk from and they have plenty of variations for different hair types. Vitacost has warehouse here in town so I feel like I'm supporting local too! Keep up the good work! We have to make the world better for us and our babies :)

  4. That's right! It makes me sick to think of how things will be when Eli is grown. Can you buy the shampoo from a big bulk bin or do you just buy the big jug? I found some huge jugs of shampoo in town but I thought I might ask my hair stylist if should would sell me shampoo from her giant jug.

  5. I know girl, I have to hope and believe it can really improve by then because it's too scary to think otherwise. It helps to see people trying to make changes. Probably would be better to see if you can buy from your stylist though b/c through vitacost it's still coming in a 1/2 gallon plastic jug. The good part of that is the shampoo is a more natural shampoo though. If you decide you want to try it I'll fill you a bottle out of mine before you buy so much at once though :)

  6. Thanks! I may have found a butcher, and the candy shop will let me bring my own container too! Sweet! LOL.