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April Zero Waste Wins and Struggles

As we’ve discussed here on the site, we’re all somewhere on our “zero-waste journey.” It’s pretty impossible to practice a perfect zero-waste lifestyle – society just doesn’t work that way – but we can all work towards making small changes and improvements towards helping the Earth. So I’ve made a decision to celebrate those accomplishments and hope you will too. At the same time, I think honesty and transparency are important. We’re all humans. I’ve made mistakes and a bit more trash this month than is preferable and am sharing my journey today on GreenLifeNH.

Found these pretty yellow flowers in our local salad mix. I’m buying more and more food locally, and will call that another win. Also reuse an old plastic container to store the greens

I Get It Now. Some know that my life has changed this past month. I was home with my girls for a long time and recently started back at a full-time job. While staying home with them had its own struggles and challenges (as any stay-at-home parent will tell you), I did have some flexibility. I could choose to spend the day at home and plant seeds/make bread/do our compost or head to the bulk store/co-op/farmstand. That schedule was mine to create and mold towards my zero-waste needs and preferences. Those days are (sadly) gone for now. While I will have some “down time” during school vacations and weekends, I am left asking how I can accomplish my zero-waste goals while working within a more restrictive schedule. I’m one week into this new lifestyle, but my current resolves are to plan ahead, make sure to allow for some “empty” time on the weekends and give myself grace. Progress, not perfection, correct?

Bringing My Own Food. That said, I’ve been great about bringing my own food to work everyday and using minimal packaging. Think reusable cutlery, napkins and food tins. During my previous work life, grabbing a take-out salad or sandwich at the local deli was part of the culture. While I believe in supporting local businesses, it’s nice to make less trash during the day. That said, in the interest of transparency, I’m developing a nasty take-out coffee habit again. I need to think of a system for making that 3pm cup of caffeine and/or become bolder about bringing my own cup again. I was handing over my own before Covid but am now unsure about the rules. I need to speak-up.

Egg cartons make excellent “brown matter” for composting. Cardboard, too.

Composting. You’re probably sick of hearing it from me, but composting is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective things you can do for the Earth. (Tutorial here.) Once it becomes part of your routine, it’s similar to trash and recycling – something you take out every few days with minimal effort. However composting in the city/town can be trickier than rural areas, because you can’t just make a large pile in the middle of your smaller yard. So I use a tumbler, and while that’s effective, it can get full and frozen over the winter months. Not proud, but I had been throwing out my food scraps because I had nowhere else to turn. (I am hoping one of the local compost companies will come my way. A friend also said I can use her rural pile next winter.) But not anymore! I reopened my bin for the season and will be diverting food scraps from the landfill until the end of the year. I’d call that a win!

What about you? Where have you succeeded and struggled this month? Share with us! – Rachel

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