We are starting week 4! The time since we started our challenge has really gone by quickly, and the process of weighing our waste has now become part of our routine.
Here is a recap of the previous three weeks:
- Week 1: An introduction to the 8-month long zero waste challenge our family is participating in.
- Week 2: Our first weigh-in results
- Week 3: 3 easy ways to start your own zero waste challenge
Here are our results from the past week:
Reflection: We are still in the first four weeks where we are simply weighing and tracking our waste. During the first four weeks, we are supposed to be keeping our waste habits the same. As you can see from the graph above, we have decreased our trash each week! The decrease in trash and recycling between the first week and the second week was explained by the fact that we did a major clean-out of our fridge and freezer (why we decided to do that during our first week of the challenge, I have no idea. Seemed like a good idea at the time). The second week we had more waste because we had a week where we ended up getting a lot of takeout, and takeout produces so much trash! So I would like to think that this week was more along the lines of our ‘normal’, but it just looks like we are already reducing our waste habits, which I don’t think that we are.
We finally meet with our advisor affiliated with the challenge next week, and we are very excited to see what is in store for our next steps! We will finally be able to start actively moving towards reducing our waste.
Favorite Zero Waste Items
I have received a few questions asking if our family has any items we use that can help with reducing waste. I had planned on creating a large list of resources once we were a little more established into the challenge, but there are a few items our family has been using for a while (even before we started the challenge) that I thought I would share here.
- Bamboo paper towels – I bought these because I felt like we were spending so much money on paper towels and going through the rolls so quickly. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but at an $8 price point, I decided it would be worth a shot. We have been really impressed! They are thick, absorb quite a bit, and even after washing multiple times they have held up really great! We have a container for the clean ones and another bin that we put the ‘used’ ones in to wash. I will admit that we still buy and use paper towels for cleaning items such as E’s (our 2-year old) potty training chair. I haven’t been able to move past the reusable aspect of cleaning up human waste, hoping to talk about this with our zero-waste advisor soon.
- Stainless Steel Straws – Straws are big in our house right now with E. Unfortunately, he tends to bite through/chew to death any ones besides these stainless steel straws. I have been really impressed and think they are a worthy purchase.
- Mason Jars: 8 ounce / 32 ounce – My mom and I make 100% non-GMO soy candles. We use the 8-ounce jars for one of our candle sizes. Because of this, we have a LOT of candle jars leftover after the candle is done burning. Soy wax can be easily cleaned out of the jar using hot water and soap, so we have discovered lots of uses for them (see a couple of examples below).The 32-ounce size jar is great for storing and freezing stocks, soups, casseroles and more! They get lots of use in our house.
- Water bottle – In my decluttering series, I mentioned that decluttering and minimalism looks different for everyone. In my family’s case, one may look at our water bottle collection and completely gawk. We are BIG fans of water bottles in our house and use them all the time. My favorite is this water bottle by Kleen Kanteen. We have a couple in this size (27 ounces), and one in this larger size (40 ounces). They last forever and are practically indestructible! We are also big fans of Nalgenes, especially for hiking/camping.
- Reusable Coffee Mug – Speaking of Kleen Kanteen, our love for that brand doesn’t stop at water bottles. This reusable coffee mug is one of my favorites and DOESN’T LEAK! PS: I am not affiliated with Kleen Kanteen, I just really love their products.
Photo credit: picjumbo.com
- Mesh produce bags – We started using these bags a long time ago. They are great for buying produce at the grocery store or farmer’s market instead of using the small plastic bags.
- Dryer Balls – Not only are these ADORABLE (they’re hedgehogs!), they work great. We haven’t even missed dryer sheets.
- Cloth Napkins – We have actually been using cloth napkins for a few years now, and we love them! I love finding cute ones from local artists. Here is the link to an Etsy shop of someone I know locally who makes absolutely adorable stuff! (Note: Not an affiliate link, I just honestly love her stuff!)
This list will be a living document; meaning I will be constantly adding to it as we continue to adopt new zero-waste living habits and try new items.
There is one thing I wanted to make note of before ending this post. Sometimes these types of posts can cause the reader to feel like they are being judged, or they start feeling bad because they want to live a lifestyle described but can’t for whatever reason. I have been one of those readers before. Know that this is absolutely not one of those posts. We are all in different parts of our journey. Sometimes things out of our control dictate how much we can do; things like budget, availability of resources, time, etc. My family did not start using all the products above at once. We slowly integrated and replaced over time. We still have plenty of habits that could be improved upon in our eyes. And we will continue to slowly replace items and habits over time as we are able. If you are interested in this journey, I would recommend taking it slowly as well! Do what you can when you can. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not where you think you should be. You will get there!
What reusable or waste-free products do you love? Are there any specific brands you would recommend? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!