Last year, my partner and I sat down and wrote out goals we each had. Every so often we do this, so that we can continue to dream together. (I totally recommend everyone doing this – you never know what amazing ideas will come up, or what dreams you didn’t know your partner had) We love talking about big ideas! One of the things that came up last time was moving toward being a lower-waste household. We’ve always cared about our planet, our environment, and genuinely try to be good stewards of the things we have and things we affect.
I started getting curious about the steps we’ve taken, and thought it may be nice to recap our journey so far. These are listed in no particular order (other than the order that they came to my brain in). Maybe you can be inspired by something on the list!
“A little progress every day adds up to big results.”Satya
1.I stopped buying yogurt. I know, I know, how in the living hell does this create a more low-waste life? I started making my own chia pudding, and use this any place I would have used yogurt. Even though I was purchasing it in the largest containers I could find before, I would still go through one 24-oz plastic container every 2-3 weeks. Now, I make one mason jar of chia pudding, and simply re-make as needed. Bonus: chia seeds are packed with so much nutrition, and I can customize it to be flavorful or simple, depending on my mood!
2. I also make my own granola, granola bars, trail mix, bread. Buying in bulk helps me get all the ingredients I need for less money and less plastic so that I can make my own recipes. (A recipe section on my blog is coming soon so you can try out some of the winners!)
3. We built and installed a rain barrel. This will be our second year with our lovely little barrel of rain joy. We’ll see what this season brings, but last year, our barrel supplied enough water for our garden without having to supplement it once with our garden hose. We would get so excited every time it rained, knowing our barrel would be full!
4. We continue to grow our little garden homestead. In a long-term goal to be able to produce all of the produce that we eat, we continue to add little by little every year. This year, we added blueberries, apples, and pepperocinis to our happy little garden. I also received a lemon tree that I set up indoors!! (I’ve wanted a lemon tree for YEARS people. The dream has become reality)
(Last year, I learned how to can vegetables, and will can my own pickles, apple butter, applesauce, jam, kimchi, sauerkraut,, and other produce.)
5. Along the same lines as gardening, we built a compost bin. This honestly may be the single greatest thing we’ve done to lower our waste. There is so much that can be composted that in the past would have just gone to the landfill. Food scraps, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and garden scraps all become nutrition for our growing plants instead of filling up our trash bin. Talk about a win! We repurposed a sealable container that we now store under the sink, and when its full with food scraps, we just take it out and add it to the compost bin. Easy-peasy!
6. Speaking of toilet paper, Who Gives a Crap ships their rolls in completely compostable paper. Recycle the box, and everything else goes in the compost! They also donated 50% of their profits to help build toilets, use all recycled paper, and do their part to limit carbon emissions,
7. This is a big one, but we’re going solar! This is definitely a long-term investment, but I am so excited to generate our own power and be able to reduce our energy footprint. I’ll be posting a full post soon about this process, so stay tuned 🙂 It’s a fun one!
8. I have become pro-Diva Cup. To be honest, getting in the hang of using the Diva Cup took some time, but just like I’m amazed at how many diapers a single baby goes through, it is jaw-dropping to think about how many pads/tampons one woman goes through over the course of her lifetime. This is my second year without buying a single tampon! I also use Thinx period underwear, and you can totally use this link to receive $10 off yours if you’re into that sort of thing!
9. We purchase a real Christmas tree every year, and once the season is over, let it dry out, using it for starter wood over the course of the summer. The branches are perfect for kindling, and any pine needles add some needed nutrients to our compost bin.
10. I have committed to only buying secondhand clothing. This was one of my yearly formations in 2020, and it is amazing to understand how little we do actually need. I don’t miss shopping, and my wallet doesn’t either. I used ThreadUp for the first time, when I needed a blazer for an event, and it was so simple, inexpensive, and quick. Color me a believer!
11. We scheduled an home energy audit. I stumbled across this program through our gas company, and for $75 we received a top-to-bottom examination of every part of our home and how it affects energy usage/conservation/waste. Next, we were given a comprehensive recommendation list of things that would make a positive impact. From this, we have made a couple of changes and they have made a world of difference in our energy usage. The three biggest things we have done as a result of the audit are adding insulation to our home, replacing inefficient doors, and sealing doors, windows, and our basement.
I am so proud of each and every one of these steps. No matter how small, everything we do really does make a difference. Looking forward, I know that we should continue to make baby steps. So dream with me, y’all. Here are a few things that I hope to do in the *near* future:
1.If there is something that we need or want, I would like to keep asking “Can I make this?” or “Do we already have something that can work for this?” It’s amazing what a little creativity can do.
2. It’s a battle for me, but learning to sew has been on my list for awhile. I understand (a couple of) the basics, but I struggle so much on this! It would be so helpful to be able to make my own items, fix/patch things, and so much more to cut down on purchasing new things if something wears out first. Currently, I get frustrated 98% of the time and only sometimes finish the project.
3. I desperately want to become a year-round cyclist. This has so many variables to become a reality, but my next step would be some cold-weather gear. I’m starting to scour REI garage sales and other places to see if I can get some used gear/clothing because cold toes suck. Currently, I cycle outdoors from April-October (ish). This means that I lose about 50% of my outdoor cycling time. If I could extend that by just 2 months (March + November), this would be a fantastically huge step forward. We’ll see if we can’t make that a reality.
Get fired up! What projects or ideas have you done or are working on to lower your waste and/or your carbon footprint? What is one thing you can do today to begin working towards it?