Life goals, Lifestyle, Zero waste

Is zero waste always possible?

This is kind of a huge thing for people trying to cut down their waste, especially when there are items that we actually need in our lives. Medicines, feminine products, medical items etc. So are these items truly necessary or have we just been conditioned to think that they are.

In short, yes. But it is really more complicated than that. It seems that sometimes people are shamed for needing these items, and while it is good to reduce our waste we really need to realize that sometimes people actually do need these things in their lives, they may be trying very hard to be less wasteful and we don’t need to shame them.

Reasons someone might need waste in their life:

-Medical needs. Try as we might we really can’t fix all issues with oils checklist-3222079_960_720

-Medical products- change those gloves, change needles, STOP the spread of disease. Zero waste won’t do any good if we all contract weird viruses.

-Someone may not have time, or the ability, to prep every single meal. We don’t know their life so don’t tell someone they need to buy all zero waste food.

-Some people may not be able to use a menstrual cup, it might be easier for them to use disposable products, we don’t know. So again, no need to judge. Peoples needs are important.

-Maybe it’s just not in their area. I know that it’s really hard for us to get stuff zero waste, save money and not starve.

shy-863056_960_720This is a lifestyle that comes with many privileges. Take a look at this awesome buzzfeed video to see more on it. Zero waste for 30 days.

If you aren’t able to be 100% zero waste don’t feel bad. I used to beat myself up all the time over this. How as I going to buy laundry items that would get clothes clean when we live with 3 cats? In my area I can’t. How can we take care of 3 living creatures without waste? We can’t. I made myself miserable trying to be perfect, when I finally stopped and just did what I could I lived a much happier life.

So try to do what you can, still use what you need. While it is good to question our need of some items we also don’t want to just trash everything just cause of waste.

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Cleaning, DIY, Household, Lifestyle, Zero waste

DIY wall spot cleaning

So we are going to be moving in April; and with that comes all the packing, cleaning and patching. I figured I could get a head start and start packing the things we don’t really need in day to day life. So, as very clever me went to remove the bajillion pictures and wall hanging items we have I had a mini heart attack as I saw black smudges that stained the once white wall. IMG_5118

I tried scrubbing them off, I tried some soap, I tried our little dish eraser type thing. NOTHING! So I googled, my answer was-ammonia. No thanks, no way, not in my home. I figured there had to be a way, there just had to be. Then I remember that I had made all my homemade cleaners one time, and we still had a degreaser. The degreaser is essential baking soda and dish soap. Which offered the clean as well as the abrasive scrub.

So I gently covered the smudges with the paste, as extra measure I let it sit then sprayed some vinegar over it making it react with the baking soda. Then I scrubbed, and while it was not perfectly pristine white on the first try the spots are definitely gone and black smudges no longer plague my wall. So here is how you can erase those pesky stains from your walls as well, with no harmful ingredients as well as being zero waste as well.

Baking soda scrub: IMG_5119

Half and half baking soda/dish soap – mix well

Directions:

spread the mix on the wall, let sit for a few minutes. Optional to add vinegar to ensure extra stain removal, and then scrub away. Make sure to test this before use so you don’t damage paint, but this did fine with my walls and I rent an apartment. A rough sided sponge works best for this as well.

Make sure to go back over and wash all the residue off the walls with soapy water as well. And WALLAH your walls are cleaner and less spotty. This might take a few scrubs but for me this beats having to buy and use ammonia. You can still see that I have some residue left, but this worked wonders for me and did so much more than I thought. Huge improvement from the dark picture fram shaped stains for sure. Going over it again will definitely help I think, and I love that I found a non-toxic way to deal with tough stains.

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Life goals, Lifestyle

Finding a job you love

I know that this is kind of cliché, because honestly who has a job that they love? It seems like something that should be so simple, and yet it’s so hard to actually find a job that you love. And in todays day and age it’s required to have a job so you need to go out and pick something that you are able to support yourself on. So we end up picking a job, even if we hate it, just so we can survive. Yay, real world. It sucks.

I know the harsh truth of this all too much, having spent my entire life doing things that I didn’t not actually enjoy. I dreaded going to work, I was miserable and unhappy and hated what I was doing with every fiber of my being. I’d been doing the same thing since I was 16, and it wasn’t good. I know that jobs aren’t meant to be fun, and they aren’t meant to be enjoyed. But why not? And why is the first response to someone hating their job to tell that person they need to try harder or do better because the reason they hate their job is all their fault.

My mom would always tell me this, it was on the list of lectures that I got. Everything was what I would make it, even if I didn’t have the “best” job I could still make it better. Something happened at work? She would respond that she has always had it worse. This only added to the feeling of unhappiness to be quite honest. I was in a dead end job that I hated, and at the same time I was being made to feel like it was all my fault and I needed to make a change.

My job, childcare.kids-2985782_960_720 Don’t get me wrong, I liked working with kids. I did not like the other aspects. So much crap went down, workers filtered out faster than a toilet flushed. For a long time I was doing so much over time I would arrive at 630 in the morning and wouldn’t leave until well after 4 or 5 in the afternoon. This was everyday for a while actually. I would get an hour lunch break (we get a paid 30 minute one so I would essential get a half hour off my work time to be able to stay longer) and it was called good. When they finally realized how long I was working they were shocked. I remember my boss saying to me “I didn’t realize how much you had been working” like it was a shock to them even though I was there all day everyday. Somedays I didn’t even get that extra break, which royally sucked.

The cherry on top was being asked the day of to stay late, or when I was “on call” unofficially they would call hours before they needed me. Each time when I was not able to I was told that I was required to do this and saying no wasn’t an option. Or I would be sighed at. There was the one time that I had missed a meeting because they way they told employees about a meeting was solely verbal. When I was cornered and asked why I had missed it I simply said (while extremely busy taking kids to the bathroom mind you, I was literally doing my job) that I honest to goodness didn’t know about it. I was accused of having an attitude and was told, kid you not, this is why people complain about me all the time because I have such a bad attitude.

Now I am a pretty emotionally aware person. I can get worked up, I get crazy, but I fully realize when I am being unreasonable and when I am not doing anything at all. That time, I didn’t do anything. I answered a question in a rather bland non emotional tone. So maybe I just have resting bitch face or something because I don’t know how I was chewed out that much and made to feel as though everyone hated me. At that point why was I even hired there?

Eventually I moved from that center though, thankfully I had moved towns I was in and was able to say that I found another center closer to where I now was living. However it was then that I realized I just didn’t enjoy childcare, and the things that came with it. I was good at my job, I did everything I was asked plus some. baby-2981946_960_720.jpgBut that’s the problem in a job like that. You have the people that try so hard and they get the brunt of it all because they actually work and then you have the people that just sit on their butts doing nothing still getting paid because they think childcare means just being in the room with the kids.

And I am not trying to complain about how crappy my work situation was, or place blame or anything like that. I’m telling the facts so that people can get an idea of what working in childcare is like. As much as I loved working with kids, there is just too much other stuff that goes on that burns you out. And while the new center was better by far it came with it’s whole slew of issues as well.

People would get hired then sit, literally sit all day doing absolutely nothing. The boss wouldn’t fire anyone and they new it. The one time the boss stepped up and told some employees that they needed to step up with their job, they stopped coming to work. We had a girl that was hired who sat. Nothing but sitting, and gossiping. Talking smack, and literally hating anyone who actually did their job. It was a fight working with her, asking her to do something made her mad. Then she would talk crap about you to everyone, also not realizing that if she was in the other room that was attached to the one I worked in YOU COULD HEAR EVERY WORD. Classy. Also classy, her talking about her entire personal life, like every extreme detail of every personal thing she did. In front of the kids. I mean I know they’re like 1-2 years old but still, not appropriate. But despite employees acting like that, and causing so much drama, they were never fired. Either because the boss was too nice or just too afraid of losing people because hiring new ones is so much harder.

I have since quit childcare altogether and moved on to yoga.29389458_10211698395800431_8398133395648937984_o Last I heard that one girl is still working, I remember on my second to last day I could hear her talking smack about me. Mocking me because I had quit so I could instead teach yoga. Like of all the things to mock someone about, you’re really going to mock me for finding a more flexible job, better hours and better pay? I simply made it known that I could hear her, didn’t say a word and just walked off. My look, I’m assuming, was something resembling “I am so done with you but you aren’t even worth a fight or a response.” And I have not a single regret that I ever quit because as much as I loved that center the people (okay one person in particular) there were enough to make me never want to return.

The process to yoga was long and difficult, the training was long. The hunt for job was even longer. And the disappointment was a bitter, harsh truth of my reality. I spent months not working, desperately trying to find anything. And while I was extremely blessed that my husband made enough to cover everything it was not without hardship.

And now, I have a great job. For about a month now I have been doing the training, going to classes and teaching! I don’t want to be that person who is jumping for joy because I have moved on in life, not really seeing the bigger picture. But you can generally tell pretty quickly what kind of job it’s going to be. My first month at both childcare jobs were pretty telling, and I soon learned what they would be like. But my first month teaching yoga was literal gold. Okay not literally, but I haven’t enjoyed working this much like ever. After I teach I have a little bounce. I’m happy, and excited to be doing it. I love to see people love what I am teaching, and I love everything about my job. While I have set classes I can also add in some subbing as well, essential working as much or as little as I want.

But to get to this point was a lot of work. I worked so hard, trained hard and got myself to where I am today. And while those lectures from my mom essential at the time didn’t make much sense I realized that yes I need to make the change. So I changed careers, and while that is probably not what my mom meant it has certainly worked for me.25075081_10210934710028764_8413503960227464115_o

So, hang in there. We can make our own futures. It might take time, but I believe that if we don’t like something in life we have the ability to change it. And if you have a really sucky job, I understand. I have been there. I am 23, turning 24 and I have just now figured out what I want to do with my life. There is no age limit as to when you need to figure this out. There is no deadline, and there is nothing saying that you can’t go after your dreams after the age of 21. And yes, sometimes we need to work crappy jobs, but that doesn’t mean that we need to be stuck in them forever. An opportunity will come along, and eventually you will be able to follow a dream and find a job that you can truly enjoy.

Life goals, Lifestyle, Zero waste

Should I recycle?

When I decided to become a zero waster I figured it would be a snap. I thought I could just Recycle as much as possible and still live the same lifestyle. It made me feel better to know that I would be putting something in the bin with the promise of reuse rather then sending it straight to the landfill. Honestly, I didn’t know much about recycling or what any of the numbers even meant. I was assured and confident that if it had the triangle symbol of it then I was doing the world some good.

But are we doing any good if we still continue to buy into this plastic packaging industry? If we want to stop something the quickest way is to stop the demand for it. If we still continue to indulge in the plastic world then we still create the demand for those products and they still continue to be produced. I hadn’t even considered this, nor did I consider the plastic things that I bought and consumed at alarming rates would never be reused as the same product.

Also, I had no clue what the numbers on the bottom even met, nor did I feel it was useful when I started to look up what they meant. So what do those little guys mean?

1: Polyethylene terephthalate; recycled into tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, fiber, and polar fleece

2: High Density Polyethylene; recycled into pens, recycling containers, picnic tables, lumber, benches, fencing, and detergent bottles

3: Vinyl; recycled into paneling, flooring, speed bumps, decks, and roadway gutters.

4: Low density Polyethylene; recycled into compost bins, paneling, trash can liners and cans, floor tiles, and shipping envelopes

5: Polypropylene; recycled into brooms, auto battery cases, bins, pallets, signal lights, ice scrapers, and bycycle racks.

6: Polystyrene; recycled into egg cartons, vents, foam packing, and insulation.

7: Other, Misc; recycled into plastic lumber and other custom-made products.

See article on plastic recycling for more information on recycling and the numbers.

These numbers are actually quite alarming, A little research goes to show that at best these plastics are used twice. While that may be better than sending them to a landfill that still isn’t a long life for something that sits on the earth and clogs the lands with disgusting single use items. The absolute best thing on this list is number 1 because those things at least are used for a longer amount of time but then again that is one of the least safe plastics according to various sites. In reality it’s a no win situation, and recycling can seem very daunting and altogether pointless.

Recycling can also have a negative impact as well, causing more gases to be released in the process or creating toxins through oil refinement. (See list of negative impacts here for more info) As well as not being as effective as proclaimed, and false hope to those who think recycling is the best option. A lot of plastics can’t be recycled anyways, and contamination still gets around with this method. Recycling, in truth is not the end all be all that people (and society) has made it out to be.

So then is recycling pointless and worthless as a zero waster? Not necessarily, but in reality we need to be smart about what goes in the bin. Plastic is not an infinite recyclable, aluminum and metal however are labeled as infinite. Glass is also infinite.Paper is recyclable up to 5-7 times, but it is also biodegradable so it can be composted. For more information on recycling lifetime see article here.

Okay, so that’s a lot of info. Not going to lie my head is spinning a little bit. What does this mean? How should we go about recycling and what does this mean with a zero waste lifestyle. Before you go ahead and toss out your recycle bin just think about what is in your bin. Is it mostly plastic? Find some alternative options.

Some alternatives to plastic everyday items are:

Shampoo/conditioner- buy bulk or shampoo/conditioner bar

Razors- safety razor or not shaving at all are the best options. Homemade sugar waxing is also a more and more common option.

Bubble bath- reusable bubble bar or bulk liquid soap

Soap-unpackaged bar soap or naturally biodegradable packaged bar soap

Floss- biodegradable floss, or refillable biodegradable floss

toothbrush- unpackaged or biodegradable packaged bamboo tooth brush

Toilet brush- bamboo brush

Dish/bottle/straw scrubber- knitted scrubby or bamboo scrubber

Straws-bamboo or metal (silicone is an option but still not recyclable or biodegradable)

Menstrual cycles-reusable pads, diva cup, free bleeding or period panties

Medicines/band aides- alternative practices like essential oils or natural remedies, cloth bandages made from old shirts or clothing (100% cotton is best.) Please note that I am not a doctor and you should inquire before you change anything with your medical lifestyle. If you need something do not give it up, your health is ultimately very important and don’t feel as though you can not accept any medicine if you do need to do so.

You can find a lot of these products here at package free shop by trash is for tossers, as well as many zero waste ideas on her blog.

Packaged food: Buy bulk with your own containers and unpackaged fruits/veggies. If you are a meat eater you can try bringing your own containers to the meat counter-but don’t act like you are unsure in this practice. Be confident when asking, simply say “blank pounds of that meat in this container please” if you are confident your are more likely to be accepted and unquestioned. Also for meat eaters buy eggs in cardboard not styrofoam.

Opt for glass packaging where ever possible if needed, glass is an infinite recyclable.

Once the plastic side of life is cut out of our lifestyles as best as we can, we are able to focus on the other recycling uses. Obviously it is still not the greatest, but still better than sending our cans to a landfill. If you are a person who is busy and do not have time for massive meal prep canned food is the best option sometimes. We buy canned beans still and canned tomatoes/sauce simply because these are the items that take the longest to cook and we eat them on a daily basis. We do not have the means at this time to cook massive amounts of beans and canned works best with our life. We rinse the cans according and recycle them. Along the lines of things like this are sparkling water cans, metal straws and metal cutlery. Straws and cutlery are harder to know what to do with so research those items before tossing them in the bin.

Okay, so paper items. It is best to just compost these items if you compost. If not recycle them accordingly. Boxes can be reused by putting donations in them or using them to ship back for charity-see link here. Otherwise recycle cardboard boxes accordingly. Otherwise another great option to is try and go paperless, in a technology world this is more and more popular. Recycle/reuse or donate old electronics accordingly.

So, then recycling? Is it good? Bad? After all this research and information I can conclude it’s a neutral topic. Should we recycle more? No, we should cut out plastic from our lives. We should compost (if possible) everything that we can, cut out the packaging that is not necessary and then we should evaluate what is left and recycle accordingly. The end result should be no trash and very little if possible in our recycling bin.

Zero waste may seem daunting or impossible, especially depending on the region. But as someone who has no bulk stores or zero waste stores in their area we have somehow managed to make it work. Mostly thanks to metal, glass, bulk sections of our local grocery and lush cosmetics (which recycle everything, offer naked packaging and have compostable paper packaging.) we have managed to fulfill a minimal waste lifestyle. Now we are focused on using up the plastics that we have before we went to this lifestyle.

Recycling can be a wonderful tool, but we still need to be wary of the impact that it has and how many of the items are actually going to be reused/recycled. If you are serious about this life, research everything you can and evaluate what items in your life can be replaced by other more environmentally friendly products.

Happy Zero Wasting!

Life goals, Lifestyle, Zero waste

Going Zero Waste

As we move into the new year and decide as a household to become, or move toward the ultimate goal, of being a zero waste we have a seemingly daunting task ahead of us. Attempting zero waste can seem crazy, radical, and even a little mental. We have been sitting on this idea for a while, and now we have settled that this is going to be something that we are actively doing and working towards. While it may seem like something out of the ordinary and difficult to do, it really isn’t. Okay, it’s out of the norm to do this but it’s not as difficult as it seems.

Now if you’re reading this and are thinking that this is impossible, that it’s crazy or that we are just some crazy tree hugging earth loving people who don’t bathe then let’s take some time to talk about why we decided to do this and the benefits that it holds for our household. And we still bathe, I promise.

It started a while ago when I had watched the documentary (warning, graphic images of dead birds in the trailer) Plastic Paradise. I tried to find the full movie but it looks like it has been taken off Youtube, however you can rent it I believe and it is well worth the watch. Basically, we live in a single use world. Obsessed with ease and comfort we have mass produced plastic as a norm and it clogs our oceans and collects in many places. One of these place is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Plastic is mainly a single use items in things such as cup lids, straws and even in our shoes/clothing and many other daily use items. It doesn’t easily biodegrade, if even at all. It clogs our oceans and causes damage to the world and animals. By our obsession with ease and comfort we have created a plant of plastic. And with items we don’t even need to live in our everyday life.

After watching this, I felt hopeless as to what I could do. I looked around at what we had and half of the products we own are plastic. Now that isn’t to say we need to turn around and trash those items. That would be so pricey having to replace all those products we own and they would just end up in a landfill sooner. Instead we are currently focusing on using up all the items we have that are plastic while refusing to bring any more into our home. Our end goal in this is to eventually find that we no longer need a trash can.

Wait, what? That is so CRAZY! I know right? I agree, but it’s crazy good. Think about it, if we in turn stop all flow of plastic into our house we have no packaging that needs thrown away. We don’t have plastics that need recycled (we are focused on only recycling those items that are infinite like glass,metal and aluminum) and we have officially set up a compost for for everything else in our life. Eventually we will have no need for trash bags and even no need for paper towels if we switch to reusable and washable items.

Okay, so that is a lot. And it seems super crazy. Like insane. I know how crazy it can seem, having been on this thought of zero waste for quite some time I had already told people our goals and gotten the responses of how crazy this venture is. And in a world obsessed with the easiest products it certainly is a goal that seems to have no feasible way of actually being attainable.

So what does zero waste even mean for us?

Firstly, stopping the flow of all plastic. That means refusing anything plastic. Bringing our own cups, saying no straw, buying only bulk and unpackaged items and bringing own containers or composting the ones provided in stores. No more plastic containers, instead we opt for glass ones or metal cans etc. We have to bring our own grocery bags (not to bad since it’s more and more common) and our own produce bags. We have to take extra steps though by refusing plastic straws that are automatically dropped onto tables and into drinks. 500 million straws are used everyday, to give you an idea of just how large this problem really is. Instead we got reusable metal straws, which we mush be vigilant in bringing with us. We will need to prepare ahead and bring our own utensils/plates if we know that we are going places that won’t offer those items.

I invested in a safety razor with refillable blades; I have recipes for homemade cosmetics, toothpaste, mouthwash etc. We are using up the last of our shampoos/conditioner and I have switched to unpackaged bar shampoo/conditioner and deodorants well as unpackaged soap. I have bought recyclable or unpackaged face care products that I do need. I made myself some reusable cotton pads out of an old t-shirt, which was a heck of a lot of sewing let me tell you. I plan to make reusable cleaning cloths, paper towels and handkerchiefs. We have several options with toilet paper, as that traditional ones come in plastic, we could buy bulk from a hotel or other bulk seller or we could invest in a bidet which is the most cost effective one. The rest of the toiletry items I have I am using up, after I do so I will decide which items I need to buy such as lotions, perfumes etc.

These are just the small steps we are taking to achieve this lifestyle, just a start to a long journey which will be so worth it in the end. While we still have so many items that are plastic I feel that it is best to either keep them for the time being and use them until they are no longer good or donate/sell those items that we no longer need. The hardest steps will be refusing, especially around holidays or with mail. Also gift giving will become a lot harder, nowadays it’s extremely difficult to find items that are unpackaged. Buying clothes will change with more trips to a thrift store to find untagged items. Wrapping gifts is a new task to tackle but we can wrap items in cloth or newspaper. So please, I ask people that are close in our lives be patient and understanding as we task ourselves with this new journey.

So why are we doing this? And what are it’s benefits? We have tackled what plastic does to our environment, but why specifically are we wanting to do this? Simply because I feel that as a Christian woman I still need to take care of what we are blessed with and for me this means that I will no longer be a contribute to the pollutants of this world. It’s a healthier lifestyle anyways, with ridding ourselves of the majority of chemically made plastics and opting for natural biodegradable items instead.

The benefits include a cheaper grocery bill, while many people claim buying fresh and bulk is not cheaper if we opt for things in bulk that are unpackaged and buy only those fresh items we need and use in a timely manner we save a lot more money than if we bought all the packaged items we think we need. That means a lot of making our own foods, but I find that I enjoy the fresh items a lot more now than packaged and preserved items. We still buy canned goods but those can be bought for about 40 cents a can. We also save money by not buying trash bags, paper towels, disposable cleaning items, cleaning supplies (I make my own natural ones) new clothes or new items in general. The only thing we have not found a solution for yet is pet food and liter. I am working on that however and if I find a sustainable solution I shall gladly share. For now, the containers we buy those items an can be recycled or upcycled.

So this is the biggest goal that we have for this new year. It’s a task, it’s daunting and it certainly will be some work right now. But I feel passionate about this, and it’s very doable. So we are attempting to be a zero waste house. Feel free to ask any questions about this lifestyle, I am no expert but I have been making switches in my life and doing a ton of research on this top. I am happy to share anything that you guys might want to know.

Resources to check out:

Zero Waste Home

Sustainably Vegan

Clean my Space (not zero waste but great for making your own cleaning items and general organization.)

Plastic free shop by Trash is for Tossers