the ReFab Diaries: zero-waste lifestyle
Showing posts with label zero-waste lifestyle


Goals - Week 16:
  • When buying packaged goods, carefully consider the packaging
  • Boycott any manufacturer using #6 grade plastic
  • Support cradle-to-cradle companies when possible

Stretch goal: vastly reduced reliance on packaged goods


What do tennis balls, pantyhose and broken crayons have in common? They're actually recyclable. Not through your city's recycling service, but in other cool ways!

So in honor of Earth Day, here are 20 things you might be surprised to discover can actually be returned for repurposing, recycling or upcycling. Here's to keeping more stuff out of landfills.



Goals - Week 14:
  • Reduce my reliance on single/limited-use plastic items
  • Slowly replace things with non-plastic alternatives
  • Stop bringing plastic into my home - especially single-use crap!
Stretch goal: no single-use plastic in my life



Goals - Week 12:
  1. Reduce my reliance on plastic in the kitchen
  2. Slowly replace things with non-plastic alternatives
Stretch goal: plastic-free kitchen

Goals - Week 11:
  • Reduce my textile waste
  • Support organizations that recycle the usually un-recyclable
  • Finally get rid of 8 pairs of old bras I've been "storing"

Stretch goal: organize a bra drive!


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


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! 


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!  :)




Goals - Week 7:
  1. Reduce my reliance on single/limited-use plastic items
  2. Slowly replace things with non-plastic alternatives
  3. Stop bringing plastic into my home
Stretch goal: zero-waste toothpaste

About half of the nearly 600 billion pounds of plastics produced each year go into single-use products. Just think about that for a second.



Goals - Week 6:
  1. Spend less time dealing with email
  2. Avoid the message to buy
  3. Avoid the damn message to BUY

Stretch goal: ZERO promotional emails

If you use gmail, you have a partitioned inbox like I do. And it's a really a great way to filter "promotional messages", most of which we've volunteered to receive. Who knows why. Many reasons, right?

Here's the problem: they're all tempting us to buy things we don't need. So. My goal this week is to scroll down and UNSUBSCRIBE. It's a pain. But if I'm committed to reducing my "stuff" and trimming my waste, temptation to buy doesn't help.

Any of you done this?







Goals - Week 5:
  1. Precycle - bring less non-recyclable plastic into my home
  2. Buy less, make more (without being stinky)
  3. Save money!


Stretch goal: make this for everyone I know so they'll try it!  (recipe after the jump)



Goals - Week 4:
  1. Look for ways to make my coffee habit more environmentally friendly
  2. Make less trash
  3. Repurpose more
Stretch goal: pay more to buy locally roasted, fair-trade coffee.



Goals - Week 3:
  1. Upcycle a non-recyclable item
  2. Repair or repurpose old clothes
  3. Buy less, make less trash and create more  :)
Stretch goal (punny!): use old tights to line plant pots



Goals - Week 2:

  1. Really pay attention to how much I throw away #thereisnoaway
  2. Decrease landfill waste
  3. Notice how fast the recycling fills up
Stretch goal: Composting - achievable if I figure out a sensible solution for a single urban apartment dweller.



If you missed it, here's the post explaining the whole "trimming my waste" thing.

Goals - Week 1:

  1. Precycle: reduce the amount of packaging I bring into my home, even if it's recyclable
  2. Reduce exposure to chemicals in cosmetics. Because no one seems to be regulating them or       explaining them very well. See Stink! ... you won't like what you smell hear
  3. Support small, local businesses making products using simple ingredients

Stretch goal: DIY soap or body wash.



Happy 2016! I'm a week late but hey ... better late than never right? In fact, that's sorta the sentiment behind the new series I'm kicking off this week. Better something than nothing. Better to start than wait for the perfect time and place to start. Right?

So here's the plan: for the next 51 weeks, I'm going to share with you all the small changes I've made (and will make) to "trim my waste". And by "waste" I mean everything from actual trash (and recycling) to the unworn items in my closet, the energy suckers in my home and an array of other wasteful habits and behaviors. Why? Because I've been arguing for years that upcycling is my low-pressure way to change mindsets. A gentle prod in the direction of more conscious, conscientious consumption.



The seasons are turning and I'm about to spend 24 hours traveling. This will be my last post for the year and I wanted to share Molly Costello's beautiful Solstice Moon and her thoughts on connectedness. Molly lives on the north side of Chicago and spends a lot of her creative time working alongside neighborhood youth to develop green initiatives that encompass social justice, prosperity, sustainability and community.

I'll be a the warmer hemisphere for the holidays this year, so my Chicago decorating is minimal. And I don't have a real tree. Not sure I ever will because. Well. Bit wasteful I think? 

But I kinda do have a tree. At the very least, a way to display ornaments and lights. Because most of my ornaments are meaningful and unpacking them every year is a sentimental journey I look forward to. Many are souvenirs. Some gifts from people I love. And/or, in the case of the intricately beaded South African angel, made by someone I love (my mom). 

I also have a few ornaments I made myself (see below for the how to). So, yes, some decorating has happened! 

Yesterday I happily wandered a new a favorite Chicago craft show (Show of Hands) and supported two of my favorite jewelers and friends: Tania Rodamilans and Betsy Siber. I also experienced the amazing thing that is Architectural Artifacts. It's described as an antique store and architectural museum. I'd describe it as a three-ring-circus for junk jivers. Or perhaps as The Night Circus meets Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium meets American Horror Story? I'll stop writing now and just show you lots of pictures. 


From a time when you could "know" your future for two quarters.


Time to send Making Garbage Great to a new home! As always, I used a randomizer to pick the winner and it chose entry #406 - that's Samm K. 

Samm, congrats! Expect an email from me later today to get your shipping details. Thanks to everyone who entered for your interest and thanks to Terracycle for the great giveaway!

Here's to wasting less :) 





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