Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Five Zero Waste Tactics on the Home Front

We are attempting to go "zero waste" in our house. Rather, I am attempting it, and my family is tolerating me.

I've always been interested in reducing my dependence on plastics. I've further learned that it's not just the recycling that's effective for our planet, but to be truly effective, I must rid myself using plastics and other wasteful items entirely.

I read ZeroWasteHome and this other amazing blog, ZeroWasteChef, and these women are blowing my mind with all the minute and large-scale changes one can do to reduce plastics dependency and wasteful habits. Zero Waste Home author and blogger Bea Johnson puts it the most succintly I have ever heard: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

Here's a few of what I have gathered so far:

1. Use glass or metal for containers and shopping.

2. Use one product for multiple things, thereby reducing your need for more products which require plastics or other products to be manufactured. Cocoa powder for make up (blush, eyeshadow), and Coconut Oil for cooking, cleaning, and skin and hair maintenance.

3. Buy in bulk. I'm a little at a loss for the question of storage because we have critter issues in Hawaii. I am still thinking about it. I do buy rice in bulk, and pinto beans, but that's about it. I store THOSE items in re-used (happy face) plastic (sad face) milk jugs, but those damn critters have made their way into those containers. 

Therefore, I am considering a larger size metal or glass container, which is going to be expensive. Sad face again.

4. Do not accept unnecessary things - like items that would become trash at your home.

This is so easy for me. I do not like people who offer to me 'free stuff'. That seems contrary to my songs about frugality and love for free stuff; however, I take things that I will actually use.

I find that sometimes I am on the receiving end of someone else's guilt: they can't bear to throw it away themselves because there's still some vague use for it, but they also can't make it to a local thrift shop or charity in their own car, either.

It's been slow-going, but I now am pretty comfortable, "Oh, thank you, Aunty So and So, but we do not need that ill-fitting, slightly stained, orange and green coverlet for our house. But thanks." I think that the "sandwich Thanks"
- both at the front and end of a sentence - adds a certain finality.

5. Start a compost pile. We had had this one going for a couple of years now - without reading these blogs. It was definitely helpful for reducing the output to our curbside trash cans. Simi Valley, CA has an amazing curbside recycling system. There seems to be problems with starting a similar program here in Maui. I think being an island our community will have to eventually put some serious thought into it. 

There is no exact step by step process to become zero waste but we are on the journey. We may never be completely zero waste, either, but I am pleased to contribute some effort into helping out the planet.
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