Where it all started
I had always tried my best to sort compost, waste and recyclables. I never paid attention to the packaging material. I did not take notice and also did not care. Our products came as they were and disposed of when done with. The garbage was put out every week, sometimes overflowing and it was gone, out of sight and out of mind.
Back in July, our local paper released an article about our Waste Management System about how well our Island (PEI) is doing in disposals. Recycling rates were good and composting. Right after I read it, I thought, we can do better. Our family of 7, 5 kids at the time aged from 1-9, produced a lot of waste.
I started to research in what to do in order to cut back on the waste, and soon found out that we are all swamped in mountains of plastic from land to sea. I knew about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but I did not know how serious the problem actually was. Microplastics and Chemicals found in everyday products were an eye opener too.
I soon found myself keeping all sorts of empty containers and got myself to Bulk Barn. My container collection grew and I switched to using cloth bags and cloth produce bags, knocking many plastic packaging out of our house. Our 5th child, Thomas, was switched out of disposable diapers to cloth diapers. Even compostable material was decreased in our home. Paper towels for example and many boxes as most of our grocery items come from Bulk Barn, which is package free when I purchase it. My dozen cleaners downsized to a handful of environmentally friendly options. Local businesses are supported as well. The list goes on and continues to grow.
I am still learning as I go and finding new recipes and plastic free finds. I have spoken to local farmers and small businesses about plastic free options. I am learning to let go of what I can not change. We certainly need help from each other and the companies responsible for the waste crisis.
Here are some things I have learned along the way.
- Small changes are best. Trying to change many things can be chaotic and stressful. This takes time!
- Organizing and changing spaces in the home will be frequent until the space is utilized for your use and purpose.
- Do not cut out products unless you have a better solution to replace it With. Example: Packaged food, you will be hungry! Lots of kids snacks are packaged. Don’t cut those out until you can provide similar nourishment with no or less packaging.
- If you make purchase and realize later you could have done better, don’t worry about it! Lesson learned! Keep moving forward!
- If you can’t find a better way to get your item without packaging, don’t sweat over it if you need it!
- Can you cut back on some items? Can you live without it?
- Do not throw out items because it is plastic or wasteful. Use them until worn out or donate/sell to someone who can use them.
- Make a list of things you want to improve.
- Keep a record of the changes you made so you can look back at the good you’ve done, what you have learned and what else can be improved. Sharing this to others can be inspirational!
- Reduce, reduce, reduce!!
Select the highlights to see what I’ve done each week!
–Waste bin contained approx 14 bags of garbage, 2 diaper bags.
–3 blue bags of recyclables and 1 bag of paper.
-Local Bulk Barn. I gathered a list of items and the prices per 100 grams comparing to Bulk Barn and my local grocery store, keeping in mind what is packaged in plastic, recyclable and paper/box board.
-Switching to reusable K-cup filters. Back to ground coffee.
-The kids love playing with playdoh. This recipe is so much better than the store bought!
-Dryer balls instead of bounce sheets.
-A stash of cotton rags in the kitchen in two bathrooms instead of paper towels.
-Starting with a shampoo bar from The Farmers Wife.
-A post I made of determination against waste.
–2 blue bags for recyclables and 1 bag of paper.
-Seeking other alternatives to cleaners and diy food products making healthier choices.
-How my grocery run looks now.
-Our Waste Watch Management has a great site to check out individual items for proper disposal. If your not sure how to dispose of an item, check it out!
–Waste bin is at the road for pickup with 3 garbage bags and 3 diaper bags collected over the last 2 weeks. Also the broken Keurig machine.
-We are settling into our new less waste routine at home, I am done reorganizing my cupboards over and over again! Though, I am having some trouble with my bread. I thought I would get a second hand bread box to store our homemade bread in, but have not retrieved that yet. I ran out of the bread bags I was buying from a store around the corner that closed last month. I have a couple bread bags left for our sub buns, but I have found that paper bags work well with the loaves of bread for 2 days. Paper bags do not work well for sub buns. I am having second thoughts about the bread box, as I can not find anyone who uses them and am unsure how well they actually do work. . . Maybe I can find recyclable bread bags online, like the stores use for their breads.
-Still working on my home product list, actually, I have not worked on it much lately.
-My husband bought me a bread box!!! Works wonders for our homemade breads!
-Packing school lunches. Selecting containers for snacks and parchment paper wrapping. I bought reusable juice boxes to use instead of buying single use juice boxes.
–Waste bin included 4 garbage bags and 2 diaper bags.
-I am going to start taking out my meat packages to the garbage bin outside instead of keeping them in my garbage bin for 3-4 days. That way, I won’t have to empty the trash bin as often. We will see how I did in two weeks time.
-Removed plastic mixing bowls and plastic spoons from my pantry and counter as well as my plastic cutting board. I will use the cutting board for crafts and such, not kitchen use. I don’t want to throw it out. My plastic bowls have lids, so I can use one for soaking stained clothing and such.
-Returning to my DIY pancake mix
-Made 5 batches of playdoh for my girls’ kindergarten class. Sent in a tin can. No plastic! Should have taken picture.
-I found the perfect Granola Bar recipe online. I tweaked it to suit everyone’s taste. I removed the nutmeg and cinnamon. Use 1.5 cups milk chocolate chips and added .5 tsp salt. Also, Canola oil.
-Making removable/reusable labels for my containers at home.
-I found a toothpaste at Sobey’s which comes in a recyclable container, cap too! Crest Complete, Scope. No more tubes for the garbage!
-I am switching juices from Fruitopia to Oasis, as Fruitopia caps are waste, Oasis caps are recyclable! Too bad such a small issue (cap) stops me from buying that product.
-planning a new list to look at what else I can change to take away from waste, I counted 40 possibilities. Also remove some recyclable items all together.
-I noticed that we are eating much more healthier and more homemade meals. Less packaged, canned, frozen and pre-made items. I love having a jar of nuts and fresh fruit at the ready. I think I may make my own trail mix, another good snack for on the go.
-Part of my grocery run now.
–Found this link for Brita Filters. You can ship them back to the vendor. How many of these have I tossed in the garbage the last 9 years? Probably over 50!
–School lunches packed with little waste.
-Goodbye to packaged popcorn. Used last package, now back on to using popcorn machine.
-Goodbye to Downy Fabric Softener. Done.
-Goodbye to Lysol Toilet Bowl cleaner. Done.
–Waste bin this week contains 3 garbage bags and 3 diaper bags. I have been putting the meat wrapping and trays directly in the black box, saving me from having to take the garbage bag out more often because of odors. But I wonder if they should be contained in case the wind takes them. . .
-Gone through more diapers this past week than usual. It is on my mind, cloth diapers. I just don’t know how, so I’m slow to switching. It is just one child in diapers, then we are done with them. Hats off to those families who use cloth diapers!
–Recycling K-cups when possible.
-Washing dishes by hand much more. Less dishwasher use = less detergent used = less amount of waste.
-Making sure I rince my dirty recyclables before I drain the sink so I don’t use more water than needed. Let them air dry on counter before adding to the blue bag.
-Switching to cloth diapers!
-going to secure a garbage bag to the black bin, so I can put in those meat trays and packages. When its full or garbage day, i can tie it up and drop it in the bin. No loose garbage to fly away!
-Want to make more cloth bags for my Bulk Barn trips.
-Made some cloth wipes. I guess I can cut down on the number of homemade wipes I make! Savings!!!
-Going to try a recipe to make my own tomato paste.
–Waste bin went out today. 1 diaper bag, 3 garbage bags. One of those was a meat packaging only bag. Not sure if I can do better than that.
-Found a 100% good condition mop handle across the road. Neighbors moved out and it was at the side of the road for trash. Just needs a new mop head.
–Honeyed Tomato Paste, DIY.
–Mended a broken slipper instead of tossing it!
-Made my own deodorant with this recipe
-2 blue bags and 1 bag of paper. Cardboard too.
-Happy with cloth diapers.
-A updated comparison between grocery store and Bulk Barn.
-Switching to canned juice instead of plastic containers!
–Got the go ahead on cloth bags for Bulk Barn. Project for next week with a friend down the road.
-Made Roasted Chickpeas. Me and Julia like them. They are best when warm from the oven.
-Tried to make a DIY foundation/powder. Need more research!
-Making fresh playdoh for the kids this week. They go through it fast!
–Grocery store comparison to waste packaging and friendlier packaging.
–Waste bin contained 3 garbage bags. One of those bags for meat packaging. Also some roof shingles. . .
-Where my inspiration originated.
-Removed the drying rack out of the second sink to give more space for having a clean sink to use for washing surfaces. Also having the rack in the sink inconvenienced me from washing that part of the sink regularly (lazy I guess to move it momentarily), so now my kitchen is actually a lot more cleaner. It also allows for more space for dishes to sit after washing, before they get dried.
-Continuing to hand wash dishes rather than the dishwasher. The dishwasher is used on busy or overwhelming days.
-I saved some Oasis juice bottles and covers to use for our canned juice. I can fit 4 cans easily in one of these containers. having a few different kinds of juice (apple, orange and a fruit drink) will allow 2.5-3 weeks in between buying a new boxes of canned juice. Less shopping, money saved and no plastic waste. Someday I will upgrade the Oasis containers to something more permanent.
-Since October 7th, we saved approximately 144 diapers from going into the landfill. 24 days worth! I have also been using virgin coconut oil as a cream for baby. Working quite well! Still loving the homemade liners! Only 1 went to the garbage, as a newbie. Also the Diaper Genii pail got sold and sent to another home. No excuse to toss a dirty liner. Just clean it and get it done.
-That time of year as well with the colder weather, vapor barrier is going up on the windows. Big drawback, but it has to get done.
-Switched cat food cans from Fancy Feast to Wiskas. #1. Larger portions. #2. $.45 per 100 g instead of $.89 per 100 g. #3. Our cat was not eating enough of Fancy Feast brand, I was worried about her health.
-Going to learn how to use a sewing machine and make more cloth bags!
-A start to my cloth bags for Bulk Barn!
b. Yard work-Done
c. Clean out rooms and donate what is not used/needed-Slow going
d. Clean out baby items for family-Started
e. Kitchen counters–Done
f. Tidy top cupboards–Done
-I have changed my cleaning habits. I use warm soapy water to clean surfaces and if I feel they need disenfecting, I will use vinegar. I bought a 10% acedic acid vinegar for cleaning purposes. I have read washing with soap removes 99% of germs/bacteria and vinegar will disenfect 99% as well. So by removing bacteria first with washing then a second go over with vinegar, you are left with a clean surface. Other sites have stated vinegar is a good solution to use against e-coli and salmonella.
–Waste bin contained 3 garbage bags including 1 for meat. I will be doing something different now. No more bag in my house waste bins. Nothing yucky goes in it anyways. I have large garbage bags, and secured one to the waste cart outside. I will be dumping our garbage in that. This week, it was about half full. I believe it will take 4-5 weeks to fill a large garbage bag.
-Zero waste 2nd Birthday party for Thomas planning.
-Made my own make-up.
–Waste bin did not go to the road today as my large bag is not full. Maybe half full. One less stop for the garbage man saving time and fuel.
-Spread peanut butter on sticky glue residue on containers and let it sit overnight, wash and the residue is gone!
-Saved some clothing from crayon in the dryer. Here is how!
-So far we have kept 225 disposable diapers from the landfill by switching to cloth diapers. Reusable liners too!
-Creating a new Then and Now chart, to show where we are now with products.
-More decluttering. Donating lots of small/clothes not used as well as coats snd snow pants. Tidied my chemical cleaners out of our house! They found a new home(s).
-Basic cleaners are now Dawn and Down East dish soap, 10% vinegar, Finish dishwasher soap (couple times a week) and Down East laundry detergent. Very happy!
-Will be switching away from Dawn dish soap as I think it is a culpret to my super dry hands along with the cool dry weather. Coconut oil is not doing the trick!
–Then and Now Part 2 product comparison is complete
-Found a block of beeswax at the farmers market!! $5.00! They have Shea butter too! 1 pound for $25.00 or a half pound for $15.00. Will find out their source and packaging at another time. I have been wanting shea butter for a long while!
-My daughter and I will be making plastic free Advent Calanders too! Will share that soon, by Dec 1st I guess. (Ah! Better get a move on!!)
-Yogurt drinks are done in this house. I believe that knocks out about 130 bottles a month!!! Caps and wrappers too!
-Making homemade yogurt drinks. The kids like to call them smoothies, so hey, Sure!!! Will post more details later!
–Waste bin will not be going to the road again. I finished filling one extra large garbage and just started the second. Probably another 4 weeks until it is full, time will tell. Another stop the garbage man does not need to make!
-Dawn dish soap is finished. I wanted to switch to a product more natural. Down East is working, my hands do not get that drying out feeling after washing the dishes. No complaints about the new soap.
-Switching to a chemical free laundry powder in a box board package.
–Waste bin contained 1.75 Extra large garbage bags. It has been 6 weeks since I put the cart to the road. November 7-December 19. I definitely would have kept it for another two weeks, but with Christmas around the corner, I wanted to be sure there was room in the cart for the extra hassle. I have no idea what to expect waste wise. Hoping the cart does not go to the road for another 6-8 weeks. Time (and waste) will tell.
-Also 3.5 blue bags of recyclables (2 months worth).I’m excited to see what next month looks like for recyclables as we have removed yogurt drinks and laundry detergent bottles. There will be 3 didhwasher detergent bottkes andcthat will be the end of those!
-The kids (3) have a Christmas flea market at school where they pay $1.00 for a gift they choose for someone they want to give it to (toys and such are donated to the school). The school has volunteers set up to help wrap the items for the kids as well. This year, our kids will be taking a cloth bag and placing the gift in that instead of wrapping at the school. Then once home, they get to colour some packing paper I have saved with Christmas colours and wrap the gift. Our own Christmas wrapping paper.
-Between visitors’ Christmas gifts and a Birthday + party, we filled 2 more bins of waste.
-All inclusive, our Xlg garbage bag in the waste cart outside, is only about half full. We can fit 2 of these bags full. Wednesday this week will mark two weeks since it was last picked up. Hoping to go 6 weeks between waste pickup.
A. Beeswax wraps, they are awesome!
B. A new ball cap with a leather strap instead of velcro
C. 2 large glass containers, using for dry cereal storage
D. Burlap and steele wire, time to get crafty!
E. 24 muffin pan, suitable for our large family
F. Wooden spatchula, I want to get a couple more from the Farmers Market
G. Wool dryer balls
H. My husband got a stainless steele tea ball
–Waste bin did not go out for pickup, maybe 1/3 full. That counts two weeks of garbage including Christmas, Birthday and a Birthday Party, mind you, kids have 3 sets of grandparents.
-About 460 diapers have been diverted from landfill! Yay cloth diapers!
–Repair and Refuse!
–Waste bin did not go out gor pickup, marking 4 weeks.
-Our garbage bin in the kitchen has not been taken out for 2 weeks! Will be going out, on day 16.
-We had 1.5 blue bags collected this month. I am positive it would have been 1 bag, but we got a slinky mishap (2 tangled together) and about 2 months worth of plastic berry clamshells. They were being saved for someone for crafting purposes, but that ended.
-Bought a pound of Shea Butter at the Farmer’s Market. Can’t wait to use it!!
-tried to dye some of my cloth Bulk Barn bags with beet juice.
-Making yogurt drinks in a mason jar is much better than in a blender! Smooth drinking all the way, no foam. And quicker clean up!
-Not very happy with the Nature Clean powdered laundry detergent (probably the dishwasher quality). Our glasses are getting a film as well as the black dishes. I tried adding a little less detergent, which helped, but I find dried on food is not washing like it should. Will be rinsing the dishes off very well to deal with that problem. (Update, our dishwasher has low water pressure, due to issues with the water softener)
-Local gropcery store is not restocking the Nature Clean laundry powder as they are making changes in the next 8 months. Back to Down East liquid for now.
–Bulk Ketchup, no more pladtic containers.
-My daughter finally agreed to no more store bought peanut butter, Bulk Barn will do! Yay!!
-No more store bought waffles, will be making and freezig our own. Kids agreed! Yay!
-Julia’s 6th Birthday Party, zero waste as much as possible.
Switching to potty training!! We saved approx. 570 diapers so far from landfill!
–Refuse packaging at the store!
–Bulk Barn trip
–Waste bin is not going out this week. I just emptied our household garbage, of 10 days, into a new bag in the cart. Cart has not been emptied 6 weeks now. Will be good for the next two weeks. The first full bag has styrofoam in it, and making my bin blocky full, so I believe our bin will go out next time making it 8 weeks, Dec 19, 2018 -Feb 13, 2019.
–Supporting the Farmer’s Market
–Homemade waffles, goodbye packaging
-Reducing juice intake at home drastically.
–Homemade Hot Chocolate Powder
-just emptied our household waste into the black cart, 15 days worth.
–waste bin will be going to the curb for pickup, marking 8 weeks since it was last emptied, Christmas included.
–Comparison between the grocery store and Bulk Barn in unit prices per 100g.
–Waste bin certainly did not go to the curb for pickup this week. It only contained meat packages as our household garbage has not been emptied since Feb 12th, marking 17 days. since it is a non windy day, I will collect all waste in the house (bathroom, laundry, kids room) and dump it in cart today.
-Made our own margarine, needs tweaking.
-Tried making hazelnut butter, recipe needs tweaking.
-Kind of having an off week, not feeling very motivated.
–plastic free fruit and vegetables
-Bought the online book version of Zero Waste Home, by Bea Johnson. A great read so far!! Her online blog reminds me of me a little. Scroll to her first posts.
-Decluttering some more kitchen items not truly needed. Donation box count since about November, 2018 is 15. Closets, big kids room and dressers need a do over soon!
-How do you dispose of deep fryer oil? Compost or waste?
-In need of some medication
–Repairing kids items
-Tried the homemade hazelnut butter recipe again (try #2; plan B), still needs tweaking. Next week I will try plan C and if that fails, I have a plan D! Lol. I will post my recipe once I got it figured out.
–Farmer’s market Trip
-Can you be waste free eating from McDonald’s?
-Blue bag went this week, just one. It was not overly full, whichmis great! I have been keeping vinegar, laundry and Oxygen bleach containers the last two months, hoping to find some use for them like watering cans for example or if we get a refill station for soaps and such in Summerside. I have a half filled bluebag of these items.
-This week I am decuttering some more areas and have more donations, 20 boxes since Nov. 2018.
-Compiling my journey for a project, private for now
-A look at our grocery run now
-Our oldest child, Daniel, celebrated his 10th Birthday! Minimal waste created! Will be having his Party at the movie theatre on Saturday, which will be very low waste! All the decorations were hung with homemade glue, and the decorations themselves are biodegradable
-Made the best frosting ever! Though, I needed whipping cream which is in a plastic carton. Milk products that are plastic free seems impossible to find at this time in our area.
–less waste Birthday and party at the movie theatre
-Started to make homemde vinegar, more info to come next week
–Waste cart did not go out this week, marking 8 weeks since last pickup.
-Our Green cart needed to get replaced as over the last couple of years, the side of the bin got a crack. Over the winter that crack grew and I decided that it needs a replacement before a huge mess happened or more summertime pests invade. I was told the metal pieces of the bin would be removed and the plastic part of it recycled. Happy to know it is not going straight to landfill.
-A look at my Saturday routine shopping trip.
–Update on the homemade vinegar!
-Still working on the page that shows visually the changes we made with products we bought before less waste compared to now.
-Homemade Chocolate Syrup
-Homemade chocolate cake and cupcake recipe
–Blue bag pickup today, 1 bag of recyclable plastics. Can’t wait to do a audit on the next month of recyclables now that the K-Cups are gone!
-Another waste free Birthday and party, Alaina’s 8th.
-I believe our waste cart will be going out on Wednesday. I think we could hold off another 2 weeks, but there is no need for that kind of pressure. This will mark 10 weeks since last pickup!
This is a great article about how to talk about living with less waste to others by not pushing it into their lives forcefully.
Here is a link most updated that shows what we used to purchase before going less waste. I am currently working on another quite updated list with visuals.
Feel free to subscribe to my site for weekly updates.
Once you stop buying and using plastics you notice it even more. In stores, homes, walks, even the overflowing waste bins at the roadside. Not to mention the thought about how much plastic there is behind the scenes at stores/businesses, the “public waste” from hotels and such. It can be hard to bite the tongue and not point out what is noticed. We as individuals can help ourselves by reducing and choosing different packages we buy our products in. The biggest solution, I think, is how businesses/producers/manufactures pack and ship their products. There must be better ways! I don’t know the answer. I do love it when I walk into stores/shops and see loose items for sale than packaged in bulk wrapping. I avoid packing when I can even if it is a single item. Example: English cucumbers. Why are they wrapped? Because of the thin skin and it keeps them fresh longer! Well, I would rather buy the field cucumbers to avoid the wrapping. Another example: Bagged carrots. I have found a way to keep my loose carrots fresh in the fridge with no packing! Simply cut off the tops, scrub the dirt off, then wrap them in a damp/wet dish towel in a container to fit their long size. They last over 2 weeks and are still crunchy, not rubbery. No crisper needed, as mine are already full of other veg and fruits.
We choose our journeys and decide when we are ready to make a change. Are you ready?