Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zero Waste Home

I have a new blog discovery that I have to share! Zero Waste Home. I like so much about what this blog chooses to be. The blog’s author, Bea, and her family aim to literally have no waste coming out of their home. That means they avoid clutter and live by the moniker “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot.”

There is one page on the blog that especially piqued my interest. The Tips section. As I went through these, I discovered there were things I already do, things I don’t do but should start doing, and things that I absolutely refuse to do. So what are those things? Well, I’m going to break them down like Bea does on her blog, by sections of the home. I challenge you to follow along with me and see where you can make adjustments in your home!


Already Do:
  • Use reusable water bottles for my daily water needs. 
  • Take cloth bags as well as produce bags to the grocery store. 
  • Buy in bulk for some kitchen items, such as grains, legumes, and dried fruit. 
  • Shop the farmer’s markets in the warmer months.
  • Eat most, if not all, of my food. I don’t let items go to waste and only buy what I know I will consume.
Would Like to Do:
  • Completely ditch paper towels.
  • Use castile soap for both dishes and hands.
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Compost. Unfortunately, I don’t have a garden. So what would I do with all of that composting material? Plus, I don’t have a place for the rotting specimens to, well, ROT. No yard or patio yet.


Already Do:

  • Sadly, nothing on her list!

Would Like to Do:
  • For body soap, use a package-free soap. 
  • Use 100% recycled toilet paper. This is more expensive than regular, though. Boo.
  • Refill bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner. I once lived near a co-op that allowed us to bring in bottles and buy the shampoo/conditioner by the liquid ounce! It was awesome. I no longer have that, though. 
  • An alum stone instead of deodorant. I already use a non-aluminum, homemade deodorant. But I’d like to try making my own instead of buying someone else’s homemade product.
  • Dump the Q-tips. This is going to be tough. I am a bit addicted.
  • Make homemade toothpaste.
  • Make reusable panty-liners. 
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Compost hair and nail clippings. #1, don’t have a place to compost. #2, ewww.
  • Menstrual cup. And how does one clean it in a public restroom? 
Laundry & Cleaning

Already Do:
  • Homemade cleaner (vinegar, water, and orange extract)
  • Old toothbrush for the nooks and crannies
  • Wash floors with microfiber mop
  • Turn worn-out clothes into rags
  • Iron less. I hardly iron as it is, so this isn’t hard!
Would Like to Do:
  • Own more houseplants to help clean the air (I only have one so far!)
  • Make homemade laundry detergent or buy in bulk
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Take clothes to the dry cleaner, even if it is an eco-friendly one. I don’t want to spend the money!
Dining & Entertaining

Already Do:
  • Use cloth napkins
  • Stopped buying CDs/DVDs. But I do accept them as gifts!
Would Like to Do:

  • Bring my own container to take home leftovers when eating out. Sounds weird, but who cares, right? 

Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Take jars to the grocery store. How does one do this for bulk items and not get charged the weight of the jar? For example, bulk rice is sold by the pound. A mason jar will add to the cost because it weighs a pound, at least. 

Already Do:
  • Started a junk mail war! I get electronic bills and statements for all of my accounts and I don’t have a listed phone number or address. 
  • Only use paper clips at home.
  • Make my own envelopes out of the junk mail ones that do end up in my mailbox. 
  • Use recycled paper for printing.
  • Use memory sticks and external drives instead of CDs for storage of electronic files.
  • Use the library for books and renting DVDs.
  • Recycle paper and plastic products via the recycling center in my building.
Would Like to Do:
  • Use refillable pens and pencils.
  • Donate extra office material to local public schools’ art program.
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Refuse free pens. As a part-time waitress, you lose so many pens that any free pens are highly valued! You would be surprised at how many customers steal pens!

Already Do:
  • Donate unworn pieces.
  • Keep worn-out clothes for rags.
  • Bring reusable bags for purchases.
Would Like to Do:
  • Adopt a more minimalist wardrobe.
  • Learn more sewing tricks. I can hem a pair of pants, but it isn’t that pretty.
  • Buy second-hand clothing. I do this on occasion, but I mainly stick to discount stores like TJ Maxx, Filene’s Basement, and Nordstrom’s Rack. 
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Only shop a few times a year. While I don’t shop often, I can’t limit myself to only a few times a year, because clothes don’t wear out on a schedule. 

Already Do:
  • Keep only a minimal supply. Working on paring this down even more.
  • Own a Neti Pot. Great for nasal congestion!
  • Gave up the multi-vitamin. I eat a healthy diet!
Would Like to Do:
  • Don’t buy jumbo size medication. I do this because I think it is a better deal. It isn’t!
  • Find more natural/homemade alternatives. Like a homemade salt scrub or lotion.
Absolutely will not/cannot do:
  • Reuse my prescription jars at the pharmacy. I can’t do this. I tried and they refused. I do, however, use a few for storing small craft items, such as beads. AND edited to add, thanks to my lovely friend Nicole: save your empty pill bottles for your friends that are art teachers!
  • Ditch band-aids. Sometimes you cut yourself and don’t have time to wait and see if you will stop bleeding. Like while waitressing.

  • this last category I can’t write much. I don’t have a garden. :(

So let's hear it, could you incorporate some of these ideas into your home?


  1. I will gladly take any prescription bottles and fast food styrofoam containers off of your hands! I have so many uses for them :) I am an art teacher after all!

    1. Excellent! I'm going to start a box with your name on it, and when I get enough I'll ship them to you!

  2. YAY!!!!! You may even be able to bring them with you the next time you come home if you haven't amassed large quantities.

  3. Glad I found this post on your blog! LOVE, Love, LoVe Bea's blog. I have been reading it for at least a year or so now. Have you read the book she put out a few months ago? We bought it in digital was a good read and nice to have everything laid out in one place. Some is repetitive from her blog, but a lot isn't. I'd suggest it!

    A few things based on your lists:

    1-Kitchen: We have ditched paper towels and use castile for both hands and dishes. For unpaper towels, I have tried a couple things, but honestly, good ol' two layer flannel with serged edges has been our longest lasting, cheapest variety. If you don't have a serger, maybe we can figure something out! And for castile, we have made a liquid version for dishes and bathroom handsoap, but sometimes I just throw a bar in the bathroom as well. My four year old (and sometimes P) love it so much (the nasty almond scent) that they use it as body soap as well. Also,with the reusable jars (if you can carry them that far if you walk), you can just take it to customer service (or a cashier) beforehand and weigh it. They will write the tare down on the jar, let you fill it, reweigh and subtract the jar weight. I'm certain not all stores will be overly eager to add this extra step, but the right ones will...usually the ones we want to be shopping at anyway will. ;)

    2-Bathroom: I was going to make some deodorant, but was impatient and bought a stone. It's working well for me so far. If you can't find package free soap, at least find one that has a recyclable wrapper. Recyclable toilet paper...I found a cheaper way to find it. I'm not sure how much you buy in bulk, but check out co-ops, even if they aren't local, but ship (I use Azure Standard, but not sure they deliver that far East). I do buy a case of recycled toilet paper for almost 20 cents (If I remember correctly) cheaper than the store version of the same thing. Though, in your studio, do you have a hiding place for 36 rolls of toilet paper at once? ;)

    And 3--I am also wanting to start implementing a few of the same things. Namely, my own take-home food containers (and reuseable straws!!), refillable pens (we're just using up what we have first), and most importantly, adopt a minimalist wardrobe. I am currently waiting to deflate a bit in the abdomen area after having Liezel before I go full steam ahead with this. I am trying to find as many multi-use apparel items to help stretch the pieces. No number as and end goal, just a comfortable, small amount. Have you seen the Versalette? ( I have the old one and want to get the new one. I'm toying around with the idea of making (or probably buying, as I'm not an awesome seamstress) a convertible wrap dress for the Marine Corps Ball this year...and next year...and the next year. Once piece to do it all! I need more of these pieces! AH! ;)

    Either way, great job at adopting the tips you have! Now, if more people could live by a few of these rules, our family of seven wouldn't be more 'less waste' than some families of three that I know (or singletons!!).

    1. I haven't read the book, Misty! I am going to add that to my Goodreads list right now (which, by the way, is getting insanely long).

      Re: Jars. I would think that Whole Foods would be willing to weigh them? It would go with their mission, one would think. I'll have to ask! I just got a set of new jars the other day, so I have more!

      And yes, I've seen the Versalette! I remember checking that out before and being a bit hesitant because of price. I also have to have a certain kind of wardrobe for work, so I can't get WAY down. My newest favorite place for non-work clothes is Athleta. Everything is SO comfortable and SO well-made that I know it will last forever.

      I'll check out the recyclable toilet paper you suggested! I do have a closet where I have stored TP before, but 36 is a lot of rolls!

      And I agree, I wish more people lived this way.