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The reality of waste

Does waste bother you?

For a long time there is one type of waste that has really bothered me: food waste. It’s when.. a food expires or goes bad before we are able to eat it. We go out to eat and order too much. We get fast food and I’m sitting there faced with countless wrappers, boxes, and bags… not to mention the ketchup packets, plastic straws, and SOOOOOOO MANYYYY napkins.

What is a type of waste that has always bothered you? Can you think of one?

Waste is a natural part of life. Animals have waste. Their bodies go through and digest every little thing that is valuable to them as a nutrient and everything else is waste. The difference is that they do not over-indulge on most of what they take in. Humans, however, do.

Zero waste has many goals and definitions but it can be streamlined to understand 5 core concepts. This is especially helpful if you are just starting to learn about your ecological footprint. I found this valuable Beginner’s Guide to a Zero Waste Lifestyle from Arctic Gardens and I have paraphrased it here:

Five Zero Waste Concepts

  • Refuse: not everything that everyone gives you is necessary for you. Not everything that you want to buy is essential for you to buy. Learning to discern what is essential and necessary for you and your family is the first step. Say no and limit your purchases of everything else. Stop bringing needless things into your home.
  • Reduce: reducing the things that you consume and adopting minimalist tendencies may be hard for some. But if you find yourself going through this cycle: “I get to the point where I just have to purge everything that we don’t need. We just have too much stuff….” And then you go on buying the way that you always do until the next time that you feel like you need to have a massive purge… You have a problem, and so do I. There is something that can be done about this when you stop and think about the things you are buying, the things you are collecting, and the things that you are then purging because you have too much stuff. Try to reduce those things and realize that you don’t need them all to be happy. Happiness was never found in a big box store.
  • Reuse: when you have reduced what you own, you can focus on re-using things. When you do want to buy something, try to focus on getting second-hand things or repurposing what you or friend’s have to give! Let me tell you something: Almost all of my kids’ clothes have been given to us as hand-me-downs from friends, with the odd exception of very specific items bought at a store. It has been such a blessing because it gives us what we need and it keeps those clothing items from piling up as waste. If you have a lot of things to give, please consider donating it to those who may need it.
  • Recycle: If you can’t reuse something then opt to recycle it. One thing that I have been thinking of is the necessity to buy things from the store with the intent to be able to recycle them. For instance, if you have the opportunity to choose between salad in a packaged plastic bag that your neighborhood recycling program cannot recycle or a plastic carton that they can, then by all means, please choose the plastic carton of salad! Or better yet, purchase some reusable produce bags and actually just get the open head of lettuce! Everything that can be recycled is a win for you and the environment!
  • Rot: When you have organic waste choose to compost it instead of throwing it into the garbage. And if you don’t have any idea how, what or why to do that, then learn! There are even ways to establish composting gardens.

In the month of September, I’m going to be focusing on how to move our family into more sustainable and less wasteful patterns and rhythms of life. That will start with a Ditch the Paper Towels opportunity, so stay tuned for that!

Until next time, keep trying to waste less. <3 Kate