Managing Our Waste At Home

I am creating this page to keep a record of everything I can do around my house to manage the waste coming in and going out on a weekly basis. By waste, I mean single used plastics. Whether they are recyclable or non-recyclable. Also cutting back on boxed packages where possible.

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!

Select the highlights to see what I’ve done each week!

July 15-21, 2018.
Starting out, looking for recyclable options and purchasing without packaging.
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.
July 22-28, 2018.
-Shopping for produce without plastic, just a cloth bag.
-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.   
July 29-August 4, 2018.
-Reuse a baby powder bottle into a carpet freshener.
August 5-11, 2018.
-Adjusting to household changes and organizing.
August 12-18, 2018.
Waste bin contained 4 bags of garbage and 2 diaper bags.
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.
August 19-25, 2018.
-I made a list, on paper, (which I will put up in the future) of all our household products we buy on a regular basis, yearly. I marked what packaging is waste, compost and/or recyclable. Then I planned out other options that are more environmentally friendly and what packaging those were in. Turns out I cut down on the waste a lot!! Even the compostable and recycling packaging! The main reasons for that are by shopping at the Bulk Barn with my own containers and using my cloth bags for produce at the grocery store. I made more by the way!
-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!
August 26-September 1, 2018.
-I am currently making a list (private right now) of our home products and groceries and the packaging material they come in comparing to before and after going with less waste.
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.
September 2-8, 2018.
-Switching to using the DivaCup instead of menstrual pads, present time. Goodbye plastic waste pads!! DivaCup was a success and I will continue using and I recommend it! Takes a little while to get used to the cup and chose a regular routine when using.
-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.
September 9-15, 2018.
-I have finished my long list of before and after products for choosing to go less waste. Then and Now.
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.
September 16-22, 2018.
-Reusable juice boxes, made by Rubbermaid, leak. I have to return them. So for now, back to single use juice boxes for the kids at school.
-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.
September 23-29, 2018.
found this link to Staples. They accept pens, markers, highlighters etc . . . And put them through a recycling program! Who new? I even called our Summerside location to confirm!
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!
September 30 – October 6, 2018.
-Organizing and settling into new routines and storage options.
-A list of Bulk Barn items I am purchasing
Grocery run this time
October 7-13, 2018.
-Cloth diapering is going very well! Scroll down to check for updates here.
-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.
October 14-20, 2018.
-Trying to de-clutter our home room by room. Donations and selling.
-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!

October 21-27, 2018.
-Still working on de-cluttering our home, little by little.
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.
October 28 – November 3, 2018.
-Removed the Purel and Lysol from our Kitchen area. Hand washing is more effective, cost effective and less plastic usage. We decided to wash the tables and counters with dish soap and water. What ever germs are on those are no different than the ones on the dishes (more so on the dishes). No one has been sick from residue on dishes. Kitchen cleaners are overrated.
-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!
November 4-10, 2018.
-I really need to take some time to tidy my surroundings.
a. PantryDone
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 countersDone
f. Tidy top cupboardsDone
-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.
November 11-17, 2018.
-Recently I had an amazing idea to make digital scrapbooks for the children. My plan years ago was to make scrapbooks for the first 4 or 5 years. With 5 kids, that would be 20-25 books! Add the costs and prints and supplies. Crazy amount of dollars, supplies, time and space. So far in the last 9 years I have made 7 or 8 books of the 18-22 I should have completed. Cost and supplies have held me back and now I am happy about that! I can move forward with waste free scrapbooking right here on my site!
-Zero waste 2nd Birthday party for Thomas planning.
-Made my own make-up.
November 18-24, 2018.
Less waste birthday party sucess!
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.
November 25-December 1, 2018″
-Catching up on housework this week.
-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!!)
December 2-8, 2018.
Advent Calander!
-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.

_______________________________

This is a great article about how to talk about living with less waste to others by not pushing it into their lives forcefully.

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?

7 responses on “Managing Our Waste At Home”

  1. Hi Rachel, heard you on the CBC last night! Very inspiring! What do you do for things like handwashing soap, Shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant…..all very bad containering (I just made that word up)…do you have a list of all of the things that you buy at the bulk barn…I would love to do what you do (with the containers)…also, I find it very hard to stay within my budget at the bulk barn…I’m tempted to bring my kitchen scale after buying $20 worth of parmesean cheese…..
    Again, you are an inspiration, I will follow your blog and share any tips/ideas I have or come up with as well!

    1. Bathroom items has been a bit tricky. I was more so concentrating on the kitchen area. My hands and face get pretty dry and I found the dove bar soap was best for me. It is the shea butter kind. But, they come in packages of 3 or 4 wrapped in plastic. I tried one kind of hand soap from a lady at the farmers market, still dry. I tried 2 other kinds from Sobey’s in a single box, one being the Caprina, currently using. I find it a bit better. The problem though is having to buy this soap to test it. If they don’t work out what do I do with it!? I feel I am creating waste. I don’t want to buy The liquid hand soap, but I got The soap pumps and I don’t want to just get rid of them. I was thinking maybe I can make my own liquid hand soap. But that is down the road for now.

      I use a shampoo bar. If you look at the Farmers markets you will probably find someone there selling them! I warn, it takes weeks for your hair to adjust! It will get oily and flat for a while. I did a baking soda wash in the shower after the 4th week and that seemed to fix it quick!

      We were using the Pro crest toothpaste. Whole thing is waste. As I was scouring the shelves at Sobey’s, hoping for an alternative of some kind, I found one row of crest complete toothpaste in a #5 recyclable container and its cap is recyclable! I was excited as to at least this might have a chance to get recycled rather than be trashed at home. I think a key point is to make sure the container is washed out so there is no contamination at the recycling plant.

      No alternative to deodorant yet. I have seen posts about making your own, but I did not venture down that path.

      I stopped buying disposable razors. Just the disposable blades. Not perfect, but less waste.

      I don’t use shaving cream. Just soap. My husband does use shaving cream, the can is recyclable as long as its empty. (But is it?)

      I still use baby shampoo and Bodywash for kids. I don’t know of any shampoo bars that are tear free.

      make up. I don’t use it a whole lot. I have not looked for alternatives yet.

      Menstrual pads. I switched to Diva cup! Gladrags would be handy or a washable pad for spotting.

      My list of products I buy are listed in the September 9-15th link on my managing waste page. Here is a direct link.

      Though Bulk Barn store is listed as well as other stores, mainly Sobey’s. Look at the baking and pantry section, that will be where most of the Bulk Barn items are.

      I did make a comparison list back in July about prices per 100g between Sobey’s and Bulk Barn. Most items are cheaper at bulk Barn. But keep in mind those prices will fluctuate! Also keep in mind we are trying to buy products not in a package. I think popcorn kernels was one of the items which was cheaper at Sobey’s. But, I can avoid the container all together at Bulk Barn. And Yes, the container at Sobey’s may be recyclable, but I am trying to avoid those too as recycling takes a lot of energy for processing. Here is a link to my comparison.

      In the beginning I brought in whatever clean container I had. I learned which ones best suited the amount I needed and were easy to fill. Small opening containers are hard to fill compared to large opening containers. For me yogurt dishes are perfect! I accumulate 2 or 3 per week, so I have a large stash to take with me. When I get home, I just pour out the products in the containers used at home in the cupboards and wash the containers for next weeks trip. If you know you only need a little, bring a small container or keep in mind to fill it halfway. That is another great thing about Bulk Barn. You take only what you need! Just don’t dump out the product from your container after you filled it. You take what you scoop in!

      Haha! I think I just wrote another article!! Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Rachel
    I watched the article on CBC last night about your journey and I think it is wonderful what you are doing. It must be a lot of work with all those little ones running around. I have tried to keep my waste from our home down as well. I am writing to let you know about another way we can help the environment and our families with products that are free of harsh toxins. I use Young Living Essential Oil Products that are all plant and oil based. The benefits of these products have been amazing for my family. And they are not hurting the environment. If you would like more info you can check out my website
    http://www.getoiling.com/empoweredbyoils

  3. LEE VALLEY (Google it !) has been an excellent source of minimal-packaging on items for over 30 years for me. They are online, mail order or pickup-in-store. Their reusable bags last “forever” compared with typical supermarket multiuse bags. When i buy multiple small items i leave with one of their paperbags just like we took groceries home in the 1950s.

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