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


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.

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.

When you commit to 51 weeks of posts and then you skip a week ... well, it feels odd. But I had to thanks to being sick. Again. My immune system has been less than effective this year.

How is this relevant to breadboxes? It's not. But it has provided the kick I needed to take a hard look at the way I eat. And I'll tell you more about the changes I've made next week because they are, actually, relevant. To both breadboxes and trimming my waste!

Meanwhile... I needed to go back to my blog roots a little to get back on this wagon. I used to do a lot of these repurposing round ups in pre-Pinterest days (remember those?). So let's have some fun with old breadboxes before I tell you about my much-lower-waste eating.

Goals - Week 30: 

1. Make the most of things that come free
2. Make jam/preserves for the first time
3. Make sure that an abundance of fruit (free of pesticide and packaging) isn't wasted

I've never picked raspberries (I grew up in South Africa - I picked avocados, pecan nuts, papaya, passion fruit, lychees etc... but not raspberries). And I've never made jam or canned anything. So what prompted this series of firsts? Free fruit growing wild in Chicago. A huge, overflowing hedge of wild (ish) raspberries. In its prime right as my friend Johnny became a tenant of the property. Giving him some right to pick the berries. So we picked them. How could we not?


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.



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



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 :) 


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! 



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:



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



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.







Goals - Week 17:

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

Stretch goal: use only homemade cleaning products



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!  :)

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