How to Reduce Waste as a Family (Zero Waste for Beginners)

by Quay

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H-e-l-l-o beautiful soul flowers, so you want to learn all about living a zero-waste lifestyle as a family. Well, let me tell you; you are in the right place. Let me begin by saying no one person on the planet is “perfect” the title zero waste may lead someone to believe that this lifestyle requires 0% waste which isn’t entirely true. No matter how hard you try there will still be plastic stuck to something whether it’s a sticker on an organic apple or bamboo toothbrushes that have come in a cardboard box. Don’t let the guilt of perfectionism stop you from giving this lifestyle a chance.

What Is Zero Waste

Zero waste is a lifestyle designed to prevent resources and products from ending up in our oceans, trash heaps, and incinerators. The idea of zero waste is spreading like wildfire and I couldn’t be happier. Our planet is on the brink of destruction, and right now we don’t need a bunch of people attempting to do things perfectly. We need a mass amount of people that care and are willing to give this lifestyle a chance. Zero waste isn’t just for hermits, homesteaders, or those damn hippy kids HEHE! You can live this lifestyle whether you live in a city, a small town, on a farm, or anywhere for that matter. All it requires is a bit of education and a willingness to heal this big beautiful blue ball of a planet.

Where to Begin

I want to start with a disclaimer. I am not an ecologist, an environmental scientist or anything of the sort. I am just a woman with a laptop and a message to share. If you are further along on your zero-waste journey and would love to leave some helpful tips in the comments, feel free to do so.

When I decided to give zero- waste a try I researched, researched, and researched some more. I couldn’t get enough of the YouTube videos and blog post on the matter. I couldn’t believe how destructive plastic was to our environment. In this house, plastic has become public enemy number one.

I am going to stop blabbing now and get to a few ways you can reduce waste. I will go through each room of a normal household and give examples of things I no longer use and things I have replaced them with. Let’s start in the Kitchen.

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Reusable Bags

The first item on this list is reusable shopping bags. This is something I am sure everyone knows, but I figured I would put it on the list anyway.

 It is always better to purchase cloth reusable bags. I read that plastic reusable bags end up in landfills because they do not last long, and one reusable plastic bag is the equivalent to five plastic bags. Opt for reusable biodegradable fibers such as cotton, hemp, and bamboo.

Straws

If you enjoy straws as much as I do well, you are in luck. I have seen an expansive amount of reusable straws hit the market lately. My favorites are glass straws and bamboo straws. If I know I am going to have a smoothie it’s so nice to reach into my stash and grab a straw that I know won’t do any harm to the environment. I am sure we have all seen the video of the poor sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nostril. So not cool.

Food Storage Containers

If you already have plastic storage containers, please DO NOT throw these away. These are perfectly fine to use until they can’t be used any longer. At the beginning of my zero-waste journey, I thought I had to run out and buy all the cool new products (les be honest the shit they have out now days is awesome) but is totally unnecessary to throw away perfectly good storage containers. Just in case you are running low on containers here are a few options. (these things just like socks always seem to go missing; you’ll have the container but no lid. Why is that?)

Use glass instead of plastic. Glass can easily be broken down and reused.

Stainless steel tins are always a great alternative as well

To Go Ware also has a great stainless steel food bin

Biodegradable food wraps

Cutlery

Growing up my family always used bamboo or wooden cutlery for cooking, but it wasn’t until I was older that I noticed how wasteful I was being when it came to eating out at restaurants and fast food joints. I think it is always a good idea to bring your own spoon, fork, and knife with you. It’s always great to use what you have at home. Just pack a spoon and fork and head on out the door. When I was traveling the country, I enjoyed using to go ware. I loved that they are bamboo and great for the environment. Like I stated above it is totally fine to use what you have. If you are interested in my kitchen essentials click the link here.

Water, Water, and More Water

How are you getting clean drinking water? Bottled water bottles make up for most of the plastic in our oceans. To be honest this is something I struggle with today. I have researched a multitude of reverse osmosis filters, water ionizers, and water companies that only distribute water in glass bottles. In all honesty, you must figure out what works best for you. Here are a few options that will cut you water bottle usage in half or down to none.

Invest In a Water Ionizer

Amelia over at salt sand and smoothies is amazing when it comes to helping with water machines. She is a representative for the Kangen water Company, and I have to say these machines have piqued my interest numerous times, but they come with an expensive price tag.

Photo Cred Amelia Salt, Sand, and Smoothies

Another water filtration system I have investigated are Berkey Water filters. These things have an awesome rating and run about 300 bucks. Which I don’t think is bad at all. It is always best to do your own research and decide what works best for you.

Find Spring Water Near You

When I was a child my pap would take us into the countryside. He’d have a little hose that he stuck into the side of a mountain. He’d suck a little bit and out poured clean spring water. He would fill up old jugs and we’d have clean drinking water for the month. This, in my opinion, is the best option. There is nothing like getting water straight from momma earth herself.

Invest In a Good Water Bottle

Now, that you have clean drinking water its time you look into options for when you are on the go. For example, long workdays, days at the gym, beach, etc. My hands-down favorite water bottles are Hydro flask and let me say that these things have been clutch for my entire pregnancy. Especially in this Florida heat, they keep my water cold for days on the beach and long sleepless nights. If you haven’t tried one of these yet I highly, highly recommend it, and les be honest they come in an array of beautiful colors. You can even opt for a Hydro flask with a straw.

To Sponge or Not To Sponge

We all have to do dishes in our lives even though we hate them. There are so many options out there when it comes to getting those dishes and counters sparkling clean. In my household we opt for dish rags and towels they can be reused and washed several times. Unlike, a sponge that harbors bacteria and kills our environment. When shopping go for pretty dish towels and rags. Super easy fix. We also opt out of using paper towels. It is one less thing we buy.

I think that about sums up to zero waste kitchen supplies. As I have stated several times it is always better to reuse what you have, buy things second hand, and do your research before buying anything new. I am also planning on a follow-up post all about Grocery Shopping while living a zero-waste lifestyle. If you are interested in this comment down below, “Zero- Waste Grocery Haul.”

The bathroom is one of the largest areas we accumulate the most waste. I have read that it takes a toothbrush a lifetime time to break down. Now, just imagine how many toothbrushes you have been through in your lifetime. Crazy right. No need for the guilt you didn’t know any better in the wise words of the late Maya Angelou “When you know better; you do better.”

Toothbrush

I kicked plastic toothbrushes to the side and decided to invest in bamboo toothbrushes especially the Wowe brand they have an array of products including a tongue scrubber, Dental Floss and razors.

Toothpaste

To be completely honest I have yet to find a brand of toothpaste that comes in a biodegradable package that actually works for me and my needs. I have tried homemade toothpaste and those don’t work for me either. If you know of any good brands or recipes, please help a girl out and comment down below. Currently, I am using Toms. I have used Toms for years and it works great. I simply recycle the tube once I am done with it. If you are interested in making your own toothpaste youtube has an array of videos to learn from.

Soap

Since I was a child, I always used a washcloth and a bar soap. I was never a fan of body wash and loofas I felt that they didn’t get me clean in the way I needed. Some of my favorite places to buy bar soaps are at whole foods and earth fare. These soaps are usually made with organic essential oils and herbs, and did I mention they smell amazing!! Just be sure to take the soaps out of the shower after each use they melt fast.

Razors

There is a multitude of options when it comes to razors. In all honesty, I bought a razor while visiting Hawaii in December 2018 and I haven’t bought a new one since. I am not too sure what it is made of, but the blades are replaceable, and I haven’t purchased a new razor since. Here are a few options you can look into if you are ready to stop using disposables.

That about sums up my bathroom essentials. As I stated above, I am not perfect. I still have to find a zero-waste alternative for toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo/ conditioner. Listen, you can’t bash a girl for trying. It will take some time before I perfect my bathroom routine. The key to this lifestyle transition is to be patient with yourself. Something that works for someone else may not work for you.

I really wanted to touch on this subject. Although, I haven’t given birth to my little guy yet; I planned to go as zero waste as possible when it comes to caring for my child. I did quite a bit of research while adding products to my baby registry. It was very important that he had products with zero to no chemicals, products that are organic for the most part, and made mostly of recyclable materials. I will also be honest and say I am not a fan of secondhand things when it comes to a newborn child, they have severely sensitive immune systems and I wanted my baby boy to be happy and healthy.

Reusable Diapers

I have done an insane amount of research when it came to cloth diapering, and I get it. This seems so incredibly gross to reuse diapers. I have to say diapers have improved a lot since I was a child. Benits of cloth diapering include

Less diapers in landfills. It takes about 500 years for a single diaper to decompose. That is insane and longer than the life of you and your child.

Less diaper rash, because cloth diapers are more absorbent the baby isn’t sitting in his own urine. It is quickly absorbed by the cloth.

Cheaper than purchasing disposable. I read that disposable can cost anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 a year. The average baby isn’t potty trained for two years. Cloth diapers have a large initial investment (about $500.00 U. S for a diaper stash of about 30 diapers), but they last for years and grow with the child. I have even heard of family’s that use the diapers on several babies.

Les be honest cloth diapers are way cuter than disposable. I have fallen so in love with the beautiful designs of these diapers.

Here are the three brands I decided to give a try. I chose not to buy a single brand and keep my options open just in case I like one brand better than the other.

BumGenius One Size Reusable Diaper 4.0 Pocket Style Diaper

Thirsties One Size All IN One Pocket Diaper

Alva Baby Cloth Diapers

Bottles

Plastic baby bottles were a huge no-no for me, and I am in no way criticizing anyone’s decision to use plastic bottles to each their own. I figured I don’t drink out of plastic so why would I let my child. I decided to invest in glass Advent natural bottles. There is less of a chance of these bottles to harbor bacteria and they will last longer than plastic. Does anyone else notice how plastic bottles get that nasty brown haze after a few uses? I plan to breastfeed so bottle use should be minimal. Unless daddy wants some bonding time.

Pacifier

Once again, I played private investigator and did my research it was very important to me that my child not use a plastic or synthetic pacifier. At times pacifiers are kept in children’s mouths for hours. I wanted to make sure my child had something safe and environmentally friendly when I purchased his pacifier. I went for the Natursutten Natural Rubber pacifier. These are made from the liquid rubber milk from sustainably harvested rubber trees. That means no BPA, phthalates, or chemical softening agents.

These are my newborn zero- waste swaps. I am sure things may change after the baby is born, but for now, these were the main things I wanted to focus on when it came to the environment and my child. Stay on the lookout for a Newborn essential blog post and a what’s in my hospital bag post.

To Sum Things Up

It is always a fantastic idea to do what works best for you and your family regardless of criticism, guilt, or shame. The goal here is to simply try. I know this is a long post and I feel that there is still so much for me to cover, but just to throw a few more ideas out there here are a few things to think about during your zero-waste journey.

Participate in conscious consumerism, buy second hand when possible, and limit the amount of waste when purchasing food, clothes, etc.

Learn about composting. This is something I am extremely excited to learn.

Research your county states recycling initiative. Find out exactly what is being done with your waste.

Enjoy IT!!! After all you are making a positive impact on the world. You are being of service its ok to give yourself a pat on the back for caring for our planet, animals, and fellow humans.

Thank You so much for reading. I pray that you found these tips useful. May you find peace and as always Honor The Goddess Within.

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