A few weeks ago I read about the Johnson's family Zero Waste Home in Mill Valley, CA in Sunset Magazine. To say it was eye-opening would be an understatement! It's amazing, extreme, and so inspiring! They have no trash and only a tiny bit of recycling. They're mindful about what comes into the home and are passionate about the ORDER of the 4 R's :: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (as a last resort).
Before reading about the Zero Waste Home, I was moderately pleased with our lifestyle: we have resuable bags for the market, we try to get some items in bulk, we recycle & compost, use Earth Baby (compostable diaper service) for diapers, rarely use paper towels in favor of rags, and we're pretty mindful about what we buy and where it comes from. We have a toddler and I try really hard to resist buying him lots of things: his clothes fit in 3 drawers (jams/socks, tops, and bottoms), he has two pairs of shoes: regular ones and rain boots, and to keep the family sane, his toys are very contained! Other than that, I didn't really know what the next steps were until I read about the Johnson family. There are so many more things that we can do to make our lives better and create less waste for the landfills (and recycling centers). Time to take action!
I've made some changes this week at home...
Goal #1 streamlined our grocery shopping: Major shopping is now done once per week and I have all the meals planned ahead of time. To me, getting our groceries/shopping/meals in order was step one to tidying up our home life. I'm also stocking up on reusable bags for bulk items.
Goal #2 organized random drawers: I purged & organized my bathroom drawer and the junk drawer in the kitchen! We didn't need 4 rolls of tape, 18 sharpies, and 3 pairs of scissors. And all those products, etc. in my bathroom drawer that weren't getting used- gone (not magically gone, unfortunately... emptied, recycled, etc.)
Goal #3 decided not to buy paper towels: We've been good about not using a lot of paper towels; a roll would last about a month. But when the last roll was out, I decided no more. Fingers crossed that the cat and dog please refrain from throwing up or defecating in the house (that was my main use for paper towels).
Goal #4 purged clothes and books that we don't need/want/use: Filled 2 bags with books and took them to the local bookstore. They bought most and the rest went to our local library. I have a bag in the trunk of the car for thrift store and one for Crossroads (nice clothes I basically haven't worn since becoming a mom!). Those are getting dropped off on Monday.
I'm going to take it to the next level and make some new goals that we're going to work on. Here are a few ideas...
Buy fewer books. Check them out from the library.
Buy more things in bulk. We have Rainbow Co-op in the city and I can buy so many things in bulk, reducing our consumption of plastics and other containers. I can buy in bulk everything from peanut butter and olive oil, to pasta and cereal, and even detergent and hand soap! Yay!!
Continue to organize different areas of the house where clutter lurks... there's a closet in the hallway (our only closet) that I can't wait to tackle.
Get rid of lingering stationery, paper products, and envelopes, all leftover from my previous life as a stationer. Anyone interested in taking it off my hands?
Tons of tips from Zero Waste Home can be found here.