Zero Waste – Week One

So far, so good!

I’ve decided already that thirty days is too short a Challenge to truly study removing excess waste from my life and space, so I’m extending this to a sixty-day Challenge! Because here’s the thing about this first week: throwing out plasticky-things without using them is wasteful and against the purpose of this Challenge. This is not about going to Zero in a day–it’s about assessing for lasting change. So I’m not going to not finish the frozen meat in my freezer, the pasta in my cabinet, and the products in my pantry and closet for no good reason. Instead, I’ll spend some time observing my packaging habits as I finish things, and then replace them with Zero Waste options as I go… or nothing at all.

Week One

Easy Wins

 

Last week, I kicked this all off assessing daily habits I’d want to immediately shift and realized the two most pressing purchases needed were handkerchiefs and tampons.

I found the sponge tampons I’ve used in the past at Elm Health on 7th Avenue. While not a cheap investment ($27 for two), I was able to slice the two large sponges into four comfortable, easily reusable tampons that got me through the week with my Luna Pads. I’d just needed the kick in the vagina to buy new ones, so definite wins from just taking action: no plastic pads / wrapping in the trash or cotton tampons down the toilet.

I bought handkerchiefs online after a fruitless and frustrating search on foot. I’m completely smitten. From Gina’s Soft Cloth Shop, my four hankies are made of brushed cotton. They’re truly soft and absorbent, they wash beautifully and, best of all, they’re reusable. I didn’t feel gross using them, and I didn’t toss tissue after tissue in the trash all week. The only complaint I have? Come on, Gina; these aren’t just “Great for the man in your life…” In my searching, the gender stereotyping of colors and patterns “for men” versus “for women” in general when it comes to reusable cloth anything is a bit silly. But if needed, I’ll be back for more of her products. Love ’em.

Then, there’s Valentine’s Day coming up: Since 2000, Muffin and I have exchanged Valentines, to the point that even her husband knows it is our special day and they don’t celebrate together. I can’t spill what I’ve sent, but to fit the energy of this challenge I’ll share that one part of it is something repurposed that means something to me, and the other part I made. They’re wrapped in the paper that a dry-cleaned sweater came back from (I didn’t take the plastic or hanger) and then mailed in the envelope the handkerchiefs were delivered in! Win-win-win!

Waste This Week

zero-waste-week-one-collection

So that’s what I got rid of in one week (not shown, the plastic encasing of a whole, organic chicken and the same around a pound of organic ground pork). This is the part of the weeding out of the process, as I use things I already have. As I’ve put things in a box to give away as well (books, an old curling iron, a computer bag I haven’t used in a year etc.), I’ve been assessing how I try things, and the wake of waste that leaves.

Last week, I gave a bin of makeup to girlfriends who came over (this weekend, one wore one of them at her fancy dress party and looked amazing). My makeup is now about 70% reduced from what it was six months ago. That top up there for the foundation will soon be joined by another, as I had two bottles on their last dregs. I will go to Sephora to replace it, rather than ordering a new one I want to try that is not available in stores. This is both to save on shipping waste, but also because I know the Josie Maran Matchmaker Serum Foundation works so well for me that I’m cleaning bottles of it dry. So while I do want to RMS Beauty unCoverup, the potential failure of it could lead to more unnecessary waste. Plus they don’t carry it in stores, so I have to get it delivered. Double bad whammy.

Other than that, most of my non-compostable or non-recyclable waste comes similarly in the form of caps: to almond butter, olive oil, almond milk, a candle, and my (natural) laundry detergent. I’ll keep that in mind when buying candles, I’m going to buy almond butter in bulk (see below), and I don’t yet know what I’m gonna do about almond milk (that’ll be another post).

But for not trying too hard in my first week, 5.1oz of plastic waste by weight isn’t too bad, right?

Coming Up

The next step is restocking.

At $12.99, the least expensive fair-trade, organic coffee I find in bulk at a store I already frequent is a big leap from $8.99 at Trader Joe’s. Loose organic vegetables and bulk pasta, oils, and nuts will cost me more, too, if I’m not smart. I don’t have the disposable income to buy without thinking, and the point is not to make things harder by doing more. So I’m trying to keep it simple without going even broker by the extra layer of need: high-quality food are important because of my health, sourcing because of my ethos, and now packaging, too.

Fortunately, I found a Groupon for 50% off at Westerly Market; a store a hundred blocks away that sells in bulk that I mentally bookmarked there a month ago. I’m not a big Groupon-er, but this is hella convenient. Meat is going to be an even bigger problem — I only have one package of chicken and one of ground turkey in my freezer. Getting organic, free range or grass fed meat without plastic around it means going to a high-end butcher shop. Again, this means more money. Luckily, I found another Groupon to a butcher shop in the market under where Sassy Roommate works (we gave her that nickname yesterday). So she offered to pick up meat for me when I need it. Yay!

While I love shopping at butcher shops and do it whenever I can, this is something that needs to continue to get better, even in New York.

Finally: I need clothes. SR caught me in a meltdown before the ballet the other day, when a storm had knocked inches of snow and ice on us and the last-minute invitation meant I needed to get out of leggings and into something decent that could be worn with snow boots. I’ve lost enough weight in the continued No Sugar Challenge lifestyle that most of my pants and skirts don’t fit me, and none that are slim enough to wear with boots are even close. We managed an outfit for the night, but I need to shop for pants. I hate clothes shopping. And now I can’t just order and have them delivered. I’d rather buy secondhand anyway. That takes driving or footing it. Spoons I don’t wanna spend. And I want something of quality — not cheaply-made clothes I can’t feel good about buying. So that’s happening this week somehow, come hell or high water. Ugh.

Conclusion

Yay. I’m enjoying this. I probably won’t break this down so intimately next week — a drugged headache and ice storm keep me from going downtown to yoga today, so I’ve got the time. But this is a fun one.

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