Sometimes love happens fast and sometimes it takes time.
What I’ve realized along my personal zero waste journey is that I fall into the second group. My experience is that, even though I’m already a recycler, composter, and re-user, it still bothers me to see the waste our two person household generates on a monthly basis.
A perfect zero waste life sounds daunting to me and so far from where I am now. Plus, doing things the way we’ve always done them is a lot easier. Old habits are hard to change and the convenience of single use items is most often just too convenient!
My first experience with a less wasteful lifestyle, although I didn’t realize at the time, was watching my Grandma carefully wash her plastic zip top bags and tinfoil to be reused for the next awesome casserole. She wasn’t trying to live a zero waste life but she never wasted anything, and that stuck with me. As an adult, I’ve definitely had more than a few funny looks from friends when they open my kitchen drawer and find folded up pieces of tinfoil or see plastic bags drying by the sink. I guess I just don’t like to be wasteful, like my Grandma, and I knew if I started small I could build on those inherited habits over time.
Looking back on those times, I have realized that I’ve never loved using disposable products even if I got multiple uses out of them. Over the years this frustration towards cheap plastic waste built up. I knew I was ready to take the next step to lessen my waste even further. I started with what was bugging me most and examined my plastic bag habit. Every morning I make a smoothie and to save time I pre-make frozen fruit packs that I stash in the freezer for a quick on the go breakfast. By chance I found reusable silicone bags to be the perfect and easiest swap for my usual zip locks. Check! One less plastic bag.
Next up, I found a lower waste swap for tinfoil and switched to biodegradable parchment paper for all my baking, and beeswax food wraps or washable bowl covers for leftovers. All simple and relatively easy swaps to make. Who thought breaking up with plastics was going to feel this good? I was on a roll!
Then, plastic bottles we’re on the chopping block. Ugggghhh, must I say more. An awesome friend introduced me to these zero waste vegan dish soap blocks made by No Tox Life, that could easily prevent 8 plus bottles per household, per year, from heading to the landfill. I discovered that locally owned WeFill Mobile Market and Refillery stocks them and other refillable natural cleaning, kitchen, laundry, home and body care essentials, and many other awesome low waste goodies too. Even better yet, they deliver!
Doing dishes with a block of soap and dish brush (which also composts) is also, kinda fun! I had to change up the way I do dishes, in a good way. I don’t fill the sink with nearly as much water and I like how the brush helps get it to lather, and the soap really lifts off grease, stuck on food, and with a quick rinse your dishes are sparkly clean! Plus, I discovered that this kitchen soap doesn’t dry out your hands, like many commercial brands do at this time of year. I’d like to think that not only am I creating less plastic waste, I’m also using less water in the process. Double check!
When WeFill shared a post on Instagram that they carried a baking-soda-free natural deodorant, I had to know more. Apparently, baking soda is found in most natural deodorants and is usually the main cause of complaints for those making the switch. I too have had my own troubles in finding a natural deodorant that I love because of this, but I had never given up trying to find the perfect one! The Curator, by Canadian company Routine Cream has been a deodorant game changer for me (and probably those closest to me as well!). Bonus points? Routine comes in a refillable glass jar and the refills save you money and time. Another awesome plastic swap!
My small steps towards a more zero waste lifestyle are not perfect, but over time they have become easier to maintain. Now, I see it as a challenge - which pesky plastic habit will I conquer next? I also know that I don’t always get it right the first time, but that’s not the point. Let’s not forget, as Anne Marie Bonneau (otherwise known as the Zero Waste Chef) says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly,” and this is me saying to all of you, I’ll be one of the imperfect ones trying to do better. Now I challenge you, what’s one small change you can make to break up with plastics and start your zero waste love affair?