Challenges, changes and things I’ve learned

20150302_a dream lived greener

It’s been about two weeks now since I’ve started the journey to zero waste and it really hasn’t been easy. Last week I was able to purchase only a few things that I had to throw out:

1) Receipts (I keep forgetting to say no and I feel bad not taking it. Get over this.)
2) A plastic twist tie
3) 1 produce sticker

This was only the garbage that I had to throw out that week, not the garbage that I already had before my journey started, which was about half a large garbage bag full.

Yesterday I threw out one small plastic bag full.

This past week was more challenging because I bought a few things for A.R.T in Action, like supplies (see previous post). While I did my best to bake all the snacks for the day, I ended up buying last minute things like juice that came in a tetra pak and hummus (because I messed up the recipe for homemade hummus. Don’t ask how).

The other challenge I had was switching from disposable diapers to cloth diapers. My son uses the toilet regularly throughout the day. We’ve been also going out without diapers and he’s been doing really well without accidents. The only issue was at night when we switched to cloth diapers. It’s not easy. My friend had given me three cloth diapers and I was washing them every morning, but some nights he would leak through. (We have a cover on our mattress, but still. Trust me, not fun to share this stuff, but whatever). Anyway, I still had a few diapers left so I figured I would use them up and do some more research on how to avoid leaks at night. (If you have any suggestions, comment below!)

For compost, I’ve been putting all my biodegradables into a container and bringing them to my parents house because they have a compost. I live in an apartment and they don’t do green bins here, so I figured this would be the easiest way without attracting animals to our place by tossing the scraps outside. We always go over there on Sunday, so now I’ll make it part of my routine until I either figure out how to compost inside or move somewhere I can have my own.

Regardless, this process is not only making me more aware, but more organized. I’ve also spent less money on food because I’ve been cooking and baking so much. It’s really making me more disciplined.

Here are some things I’ve learned:

1) Organize things in jars so I know when I am running out of something. Going through all of my previous spices and baking supplies in my kitchen made me realize that I was just going out willy nilly and spontaneously buying things without knowing if I still had it at home.

I’m almost done my flour, which will then leave me to try baking more gluten-free foods since I have a sensitivity.

I almost have nothing left in bags or packaging in my kitchen. Of the few things, I have some cereal, tea, those refill bags of basil and turmeric and my canned goods. I still have vinegar, cooking oils and some sauces, which I will use up before I attempt to make my own.

Except I’m not sure how to go about making my own cooking oil and the only solution I have right now is to find oil in a glass bottle.

2) Have a shopping schedule so I only have to go out once a week for things, rather than every other day. I don’t buy meat and the only things I have been missing are yogurt and cheese. (I was craving it so bad that I bought a block of cheese in plastic last week before realizing what I was doing). My friend makes her own yogurt so I’m going to go over there and learn how. I know I need a temperature reader and a starter.

3) Don’t be so hard on myself. Change is tough. I’m still learning and the process will only get easier over time. I’ve definitely downsized a great deal and am excited to keep going.

Eventually my dream of driving across the country and traveling around the world with nothing but my photography equipment, a small bag of clothing, my writing tools and my son will come true.

Maybe I’ll figure out a way to bring my skateboard and guitar too.

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