Starting My Process - this zero waste thing....
It is a process, really. My first venture into "zero waste" was really before it was a thing, probably 10 years ago. I had facecloths that I kept by the sink and stopped buying paper towels. I bought cloth napkins.... I felt really good about those two small steps.
Over the years I had dabbled in making my own soaps and scrubs, bath salts, cleaners etc.... but having children and a career got in the way and I succumbed to the hubbub of being a busy woman. Around the same time I started paying more attention to what I was eating and began a clean eating journey. Keep in mind I am married to a meat and potatoes kind of guy who, to be fair, has increased his variety and palate a great deal over the last 12 years. I have teens that range from adventurous foodie to typical teen with an occasional health binge and finally, mr. frozen pizza. So, my paths to eco and tummy friendly choices have been in small doses and as allowed by my family. What do I mean by allowed? Well, I would go hard core in the grocery area until finally my family held a bit of an intervention where they pleaded for oreos every now and then in the grocery bags. I caved. After all, everything in reason, right? Similarly, they will ask where the paper towels are and then follow it with "oh yeah, I forgot."
So, fast forward to the last 3 years. After a few good documentaries I went vegetarian and my family obliges me with occasional meat included choices for them each week. A few documentaries later and I was answering my inner conscience and inner DIY voice that was telling me there had to be a better way.
- I started diving into my garden. Rather than joining a CSA for $300 I invested that money into our own garden and had a wonderful season of fresh veggies for our home. I learned as I went, used pallets to create raised beds and had a blast.
- Reusable bags- I always had them at the grocery store.... but I wasn't perfect everywhere else.
- The cloth napkins and kitchen cloths were back and I started making my own laundry soap (1 cup Borax, 1 cup Arm & Hammer washing powder and 1 shredded bar of Fells Naptha Soap) and sugar scrub.
- I read labels and paid attention to the soaps, toothpastes and more that I purchased.
- I started making my own home cleaners. I bought a book about essential oils in home cleaning and I was on my way! With different combinations of lemon oil, tea tree oil, water, apple cider vinegar, baking soda and more I felt like an eco friendly machine!
These are small steps- each of them done to fulfill a few pangs I have, the DIY bug, the eco-friendly crunchy-granola bug, the maker bug and the money saver. I cannot believe how much I could make and do with the combination products listed above. Add that to my discovery of Castile soap (which I raved about in my last blog post) and I was on my way!
So, where is there still room for improvement? Lots of places. This journey, for me- and for you.... should be about small steps in ways that are manageable and make sense. Three improvements I made in the last two weeks from the list above?
- I bought small stuffable bags which I keep in my purse (4 of them). I cannot believe how many places I have used them! Target, Marshalls, farmer's market, Michaels... literally, SO many places. (Check out the chico bags I have in the shop- they are perfect and each one holds 25lbs of stuff!)
- I spent Friday at the sewing machine. I am not a seamstress- at all, but I get by. I took the facecloths that were by the sink and added a fabric backing to each one. They are much cuter and extremely sturdy now! HUGE WIN! Not to mention, each one had straighter lines and better corners!
- I made dryer balls- Tons of them.... then I tested them in a few loads of laundry and was so surprised. They worked! They were so impressive that I added them to the shop!
So again, the shop is a passion project, this journey of reducing waste... it's good for my family, for the environment, but it's good for me too. I am being creative. I am cleaning using natural products and no chemicals. I am doing things that are good for the environment. I am taking my moment of ZILCH! (that feeling where you know you have to make a change, can't stand it anymore) and building something from it (also ZILCH- building something from scratch).
Who knows where the path will take me, or my shop. I do know this- I am having fun. I love figuring out new tips and tricks, I love seeing what I can make and do and I love sharing ideas with YOU!
Here's to you finding your ZILCH- and growing with me.