Reducing waste through upcycling, repurposing, refashioning and reloving.

Showing posts with label trimming my waste. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trimming my waste. Show all posts

45 ways to make less trash.



At the beginning of 2016, I committed to trimming my waste. After years of using this blog to gently reinforce the message that mindless consumerism is a problem, I decided to take off the gloves. Inspired by the zero-waste movement, I joined Be Zero's #makelesstrash2016 challenge and declared my intention for the year: to trim my waste. Because we are literally consuming ourselves. And we need to wake up.

Thanks to the generous (and robust) zero-waste community I've become a part of, I'm reminded often to stop worrying about the word "zero". Zero waste is an industrial term being applied to a lifestyle. It refers to a circular-based economy where we design without waste as an end product. We don't yet have the infrastructure, laws, or consumer demand to move us from our current linear economy to something circular. Zero waste is a goal - the lifestyle is not to be taken literally. That's why we need to educate ourselves on materials, on resources, and on how we can give companies the incentive to make change. We have to simplify and become resourceful, thrifty, and community-centered again. We have to rethink the way we consume. And we have to make less trash.

What have I learned this year? That every small change matters. That avoiding plastic packaging is incredibly difficult. That avoiding single-use plastic is not nearly so difficult. And that putting my money - and my energy - where my values are is worth it.

Here are 45 tips, takeaways and learnings from 51 weeks of trimming my waste: 


Trimming my waste: Week 35 (low-waste eating cont.)



Week 35 goals:

1. Shop cleaner. Eat cleaner.
2. Boost my immune system

Last week I explained how and why I've committed to eating differently. This week, a little insight into what I'm eating, how I'm feeling, weight loss and lots of links in case you want to try any of this yourself. Then I'll take a break from blogging about food. Just to be clear: I'm not "on diet". If you do want / need to shed pounds, this will work. But that's not why I'm doing it.

Trimming my waste: Week 34 (low-waste eating)


Goals - Week 34: 

1. Heal myself (quite the goal huh?)
2. Walk the walk when it comes to zero-waste grocery shopping
3. Hit the re-set button on my eating habits 

It's week 34. I'm way past the halfway mark and you may have noticed that I have not yet mentioned food shopping, cooking or eating. In the zero-waste niche, this is odd. Search #zerowaste on Instagram, and you see a lot of this:


Why not me? Well, I knew a change in my shopping habits would be the hardest to pull off. I get to the farmer's market sporadically. I squeeze in grocery shopping when I can. I feed a fruitarian 6-year old and once I know I have what she needs, I tend to buy what's convenient for me. Not junk - think pre-grilled chicken, precooked lentils, cheese, apples. Just convenient. A lot in recyclable packaging. But still. A ton of packaging.

Trimming my waste: Week 31 (refashion giveaway!)




Goals - Week 31:

  • Give away what I don't need
  • Say thanks for all the support I've been given
  • Encourage all of you to upcycle and relove! 

I'm 31 weeks into my challenge! I'm celebrating this milestone by giving away lovely books I don't need. Because I now have multiple copies of them.

Trimming my waste: Week 29 (zero-waste office)


Goals - Week 29: 
  1. Walk the walk at work and at home
  2. Share good ideas for reducing office waste
  3. Appreciate working with people who share my values.
When I'm not on this blog, I have a full-time job at a creative agency in Chicago. I'm very lucky to work with (and for) people who either share my concerns around waste or are willing to adapt to accommodate them. It's one thing for one person to try to go zero-waste. It's a much better thing to change the habits of 37 people.

In the lead up to a recent office remodel, our company "Green Team" was asked to make recommendations for how we could reduce our office waste and overall energy consumption. We took a hard look at our behavior patterns and also held a "Rad Collab", where we asked most of the office to brainstorm actions we could take to reduce the amount of waste we produce. We then presented leadership with a very long wishlist.

Most of our solutions are tied very closely to an awareness of our behaviors. They may not all apply to every office (beer isn't popular everywhere!) but I'm guessing many of them will apply.

Trimming my waste: Week 28 (recycling cork)


Goals - Week 28: 
  1. Find a way to keep meaningful things around and functioning
  2. Find resources for recycling cork
  3. Keep it simple

Trimming my waste: Week 27 (clock rehab)



Goals - Week 27: 
  1. Repurpose
  2. Upcycle
  3. Draw!

Trimming my waste: Week 26 (#plasticfreeJuly)






Goals - Week 26: 
  1. Commit to #plasticfreeJuly
  2. Make an extra effort to avoid single-use plastic items
  3. Spread the word

It's week 26! That means I'm now halfway through my challenge to trim my waste. To celebrate, I'm committing to yet another challenge for the month of July. The #PlasticfreeJuly ask is a simple one: can you avoid single-use plastic items this month? For the whole month? For a week or even just a day? It's annoyingly hard to do... our world is full of the stuff. 

Here are 15 ways to reduce your reliance on plastic this month: 


Trimming my waste: Week 25 (mending spree!)



Goals - Week 25: 
  • Repair things I love to wear
  • Admit that I'm not going to lose "those 5 lbs" before September (and so resize stuff!)
  • Go on a mending (rather than a spending) spree

I live in Chicago. It's either cool or cold a lot and I wear some version of jeans most of the year (because I have the kind of full-time job where that's ok). Then summer happens. It feels like it will never come and then it does. And it always surprises me. The first time I try on things I haven't worn in a year... well, it's rarely fun. Because I've gained a few inches. Or because I realize my favorite things are still unwearable. Because I neglected to fix something that was a problem a year ago. 

In the last couple of weeks, motivated by actually going on vacation during the summer (something I never do!), I've been tackling some mending. Here's what I took on: 

Trimming my waste: Week 24 (pupcycling)


Goals - Week 24: 
  • Celebrate upcycling of every sort!
  • Encourage everyone to just start somewhere 
  • Keep reminding myself (and you): a "zero-waste" lifestyle is about mindfulness, choice and creativity - not perfection

Meet Peanut. Four months old and just 1.7 kg (3.5 lbs). She's not only the star of this (p)upcycle, she's also the newest member of a popular Instagram family! (see them together below)

Trimming my waste: Week 22 (quick refashion)


Goals - Week 22:
  • Clear out closet clutter 
  • Repurpose what cannot be donated or easily recycled
  • Have a little more guts when it comes to "refashions"

I went to bed on Friday night with a head cold and woke up Saturday feeling dazed. You know when you feel too crappy to leave the house, but not so sick that you can't function? Yeah. That. Which means I made myself tackle one small task so I'd feel like I'd accomplished something. The task: put the heavy duvet cover away for the summer. 

This involved clearing out the bag I use to store it... and what did I find in there? Old clothes, most of which I dropped into a donation box on Sunday. And the two shirts that are the stars of this post. I've been storing them for over a year and as soon as I saw them, I remembered why! 

Week 20 Giveaway winner!



Time to send these goodies to a new home! As always, I used a randomizer to pick the winner and it chose entry #521 - that's Cheryl F. 

Cheryl, congrats! Expect an email from me to get your shipping details. Thanks to everyone who entered for your interest.

Here's to wasting less :) 

Trimming my waste: Week 21 (bottle borders)



Goals - Week 21:
  • Never stop being inspired by what I see around me 
  • Pause. Notice. Share.
  • But be real about upcycling. Most ideas have their pros and cons.

This past weekend was a long, sunny one. Four days off work... and Chicago was celebrating the beginning of summer and Memorial Day. On Saturday afternoon, I still had no idea what this week's post would be about. I really didn't want to be inside making, or photographing, something. I certainly didn't want to be staring at a screen doing research. And then, wondering down an alley behind a residential condo building, I happened upon this vegetable garden. And because I was with a pro photographer, I have beautiful pictures to share with you! 

Trimming my waste: Week 20 Giveaway!




Goals - Week 20:

  • Reduce reliance on paper towel 
  • Spread the love and help you do the same
  • Tell you about a company I really like

In January, I committed to Be Zero's #MakeLessTrash2016 challenge. I'm 20 weeks in and I find that I've joined an amazing community. People all over the planet who get up every day and try. Try to do a little better. Try to resist convenience. Try to live mindfully. People who remind me every day that "zero-waste" is not about showing off how you crammed a year's worth of trash into a mason jar. It's about living mindfully. Here's something BeZeroWasteGirl posted to Instagram this week:

Trimming my waste: Week 19 (declutter)



Goals - Week 19:
  • Declutter
  • Turn unwanted stuff into money
  • Get creative with how to rid myself of the stuff

Trimming my waste: Week 18 (DIY body scrub)



Goals - Week 18:
  • Boycott products containing microbeads
  • Reduce my dependance on big-brand skin care products
  • Make more, buy less
The Aveeno scrub pictured below used to be my go-to product. Yup, I'm admitting it. Even though it states quite clearly on the package that it contains "gentle microbeads", I still bought it. I had no idea and now I know I've contributed to the massive pollution of our lakes and waterways. When I finally understood, I threw it out. 

What are microbeads? Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are added to everyday cosmetic products like face wash, toothpaste, abrasive cleaners and lots more. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be made of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene. Microbeads are tiny (smaller than 5mm) and wash straight down the drain, easily bypassing water filtration systems.





Trimming my waste: Week 17 (DIY dish soap)



Goals - Week 17:

  • Gradually replace store-bought products with homemade ones
  • Reduce packaging waste
  • Simplify

Stretch goal: use only homemade cleaning products

Trimming my waste: Week 10 (reusable snack bags)


Goals - Week 10:
  • Reduce my reliance on single/limited-use plastic items
  • Slowly replace things with non-plastic alternatives
  • Stop bringing plastic into my home

Stretch goal: no single-use plastic in my life

Trimming my waste: Week 9 (reducing packaging)


Goals - Week 9:
  1. Reduce packaging waste
  2. Shift my shopping habits to incorporate more bulk
  3. Retrain myself and local stores: reusable bags/containers need to be "allowed"
Stretch goal: A pantry full of glass jars by the end of the year!

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that my first step into shopping the bulk section of my local Whole Foods was fraught. And I'm so glad I shared the experience because the response was fabulous! 

Trimming my waste: Week 8 (clean energy)



Goals - Week 8:
  1. Reduce my household carbon footprint
  2. Spend my money on renewable energy
  3. Walk the damn walk
Stretch goal: Get everyone else to switch!  :)