Let’s first start with a definition of what zero-waste (aka zero waste) is. According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, it means “generating little or no waste.” According to Wikipedia (who goes into more depth), it is “a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused.” Basically, it boils down to cutting the excess from your life so that there is no waste in what you use. This is going to be a series of posts where I talk about what zero-waste is to me and how I do it. I’m not a typical vegan hence the reason I go with a whole food plant-based eater and food creator. Most of the harder core vegans would not approve of my ways of reusing and reducing some things. As I said, this is zero-waste my way.
Don’t fall into the trap I started to descend in to. I do not want to disrespect anyone who makes their money who create items to be used by zero-wasters, but I am offering a different perspective. The first thing that we can easily change would be the use of straws. We’ve all seen at least one of the videos that shows someone pulling a straw from the nose of a turtle/tortoise. Those things cause them such pain, and it’s a tortuous process to remove it (though the animal is grateful afterward). Just stop accepting straws when you go through a drive-through. Granted it is hard to remember, sometimes, to refuse but you will get the hang of it. Yes, I bought the stainless-steel straws. Then I remembered that I don’t always use a straw, to begin with, so that was a bit of a waste of money, but I do use them when I want a straw and so does my family. I have a collection of plastic straws that get brought into the house. I can’t bring myself to throw them away having seen what happens, so I just wash them and make sure that my family knows that they are there if they need one. What about paper straws, you ask? Well, those aren’t reusable, are they? So, you are wasting your money in my opinion.
Now let’s look at utensils. You eat out at places that utilize plastic utensils – throw-away items. Those things do not disintegrate. Most common plastic does not break down. It just sits there in a landfill or ends up in our oceans along with those straws. So how to get around that? Well, you could purchase bamboo utensils or some other form of utensil that is popular now for zero-waste people. Me? I got smart. I can’t afford that stuff, so I decided to go to my own kitchen drawer and pull out a set of utensils to utilize when I go out. So, my travel kit is a cloth napkin enclosing a complete eating utensil set and a stainless-steel straw (just in case). I’ve been thinking about making some of those carrying bags for utensils out of material I already have, but that’s another post. I have another idea, though. If I make those kits – I’ll be getting the utensils from second-hand stores. I would also get the material from there, as well.
Next, storage containers. Yes, we all want to be the perfect zero-waste person and have all glass containers or stainless-steel ones. Let’s be honest with each other though. We have plastic containers and odd glass jars from our grocery shopping. So, why not just reuse those. If you can’t, that’s cool. Just check for a local recycling center (I have to travel about 45 minutes to one) that will recycle the containers. There is nothing wrong, though, to reuse the odd butter, yogurt, or sour cream plastic container. You can even reuse those glass jars that you get your jelly, pickles, olives, or sauerkraut in. Just make sure to clean them really well and try different methods to remove the smell from the lids. Different methods for different scents. I’m still looking for a good way to remove the kosher pickle smell. LOL
Finally, just take stock of what you have and what you actually use. How often do you use it/them? If you don’t use it that often (that’s completely up to you as to what often is), then donate it (or have a yard sale) if it’s in good enough shape. If it isn’t, then see if it’s recyclable in some other way. If not, there is no other option sometimes; I’m sad to say.
Feel free to leave a comment/question. I love them! My next post will be in two weeks, and it will cover SHOPPING!!!
Peace and love, my friends.