12 zero waste ideas working so far!

I haven’t put trash out in almost two months. As requested by Mary Ann who asked, “But don’t you have one single post showing how you’ve done that?” Twelve things that are working to keep the trash out of the bin (and therefore the landfill) since we started this blog:

Every day is a new journey, and another chance...

1. The compost.  I rarely throw anything food wise in the garbage. Even pizza boxes and fish bones go in. And I’m saving the drained fat off my meat to make soap. (Future post!)

Big, fat, healthy grubs! OMG! Aren't they disgusting? I LOVE them!

2. The garden. We’ve grown so much of our own produce, we’ve decided to expand the garden in the spring.

Favorite spot.

3. Shopping at the farmer’s market. They don’t wrap their fruits and veggies in plastic.
4. Buying in bulk. We found the Heritage Store in Norfolk and Whole Foods in Jacksonville. It only reduces waste though IF I bring my own small mesh bags to fill.

Even candy.

5. Trimming meat consumption. We’ve cut down how much meat we eat for the simple reason it’s always packaged. Fish is easier to find  not packaged and if they do wrap it, it’s in compostable paper.

See the olive oil squirter?

6. Shaving with olive oil. My husband now shaves with olive oil (refilling the same bottle) instead of buying shaving cream aerosol cans– which are difficult to recycle. I still use soap.
7. Making my own food. I now make my own granola, marinara sauce, salsa, bread, breakfast muffins, snack mixes, tortillas, oatmeal, beans, juice, and soups. That means no more granola bar wrappers or glass marinara jars or plastic tortilla bags to throw out. I make the juice straight from the fruit and buy the beans in bulk = no packaging.  To keep from spending hours in the kitchen, I adopted the crock pot as my new best friend. That’s why I started the crock pot blog in the first place!

Making marinara sauce.

8. Reusing, reusing, reusing. And THEN  finding another use for it. For example–A) reusing Ziploc bags. By washing them out and reusing them, I haven’t bought any since 2008. When they no longer close, I store tape or pens in them  to help me find things in my  junk drawer or separate make-up pieces in the bathroom. B) My coffee cans serve as food scrap holders on my kitchen sink or for nails in the shed. C) I save any plastic bags I might accumulate for my mother when she takes her dog for a walk. We also use them as trash bags, since we don’t have enough trash to fill anything more than a small grocery bag. D) I reuse the boxes I receive in the mail for anytime I need to send something out. E) I make my business cards out of cardboard I cut out from food or beer boxes. F) I discovered Polish Mom Photographer does the same with super crafty ideas. These are oatmeal boxes and cans she reuses. These are her decorative bowls made of newspaper. And her recycled magazine mirror frames. The woman is a genius.
9. Switching products. We switched from Kleenex to handkerchiefs. From lighters to matches. And from electric toothbrushes to Preserve toothbrushes– made from recycled yogurt cups that you send back in to the company once you’ve finished with it.
10. Recycling tops. Almost all recycling centers refuse tops. Aveeda Salons will take all tops except prescription bottle tops and use them to make hair product containers.  Caps n Cups will take clean bottle caps and number 5 plastic.
11. Using  leaves and/or pine needles as homemade mulch.  No more plastic bags from the hardware store.
12. Stopping the consumption. We’re only buying what we “need” and not what we “want” for six months out of every year. We’ve down-sized. This year we made the distinct decision not to take part in holiday madness, requesting that we did not want any gifts. We do not need anything. The more we accumulate, the more pressure it puts on me to get rid of when we pack up and move….again.
There are more, but they are being arranged in posts to come! 
And how I still feel about all of this?

Yeah, pretty much like that.

Reusing, Reducing, Recycling articles:


23 responses to “12 zero waste ideas working so far!

  1. So nice of you…. You had a great smile!!!!

  2. fine steps to self management, passion makes living the zero waste life possible…thanks for pointing out the preserve toothbrush option..and steering readers to momphotographer, how refreshing …conscious lifestyle is so rewarding and elevating…keep enriching those around you.

  3. You’re so awesome with your lifestyle, Jennifer. I really like this post because you show that green and sustainable living is possible. Reading your post made me think about how difficult it is to live green these days.
    This is a perfect example for it:


    I lived my entire childhood without plastic bags and plastic boxes. My lunch was packed in newspapers 🙂 and fabric bags made by my mom. I grew up in a world of glass bottles for every single drink we would buy: milk, buttermilk, cream, sodas, juices. Being green was a normal thing and it was called “green living” it was called “normal living”. It’s so strange how easily we transformed from that era to a plastic modern world.
    People who were raised in a plastic world (like my husband) thinks differently. their mind set is so weird. At the beginning he didn’t want me to clean and to reuse ziploc bags. He told me: “we’re not that broke that we can’t afford to buy a few plastic bags now and then”. It took me a while to explain to him that it’s not about what we can or can’t afford. Many people thinks that only “those green freaks” and poor people recycle, reuse and repurpose stuff and that’s totally not true.

    • Polish Mom Photographer, I think it’s so ironic that we’re trying to live like you did growing up! America is so behind when it comes to waste and recycling. We’re the most wasteful nation on earth. But that facebook post is right. It wasn’t always like this. And not even that long ago. In my grandmother’s day and even in my mother’s day (as they grew up poor in the country) they did do it right. They weren’t wasteful. But there was a giant shift between my mother’s generation and mine. So, I feel it’s my responsibility to take it back. And it’s strange that I’m considered a “weirdo…or a fundamental environmentalist…or green” when all I’m really trying to do is live like they did in the ‘olden’ days when people weren’t so wasteful and things weren’t all made of plastic. Or like you did growing up in Poland.
      Thank you for coimng over here and teaching us. (You know my girlfriend used to say the same thing about me reusing the ziploc bags. “It’s not like you don’t make enough money to buy new ones.”) That wasn’t the point. Why would I NEED a whole box of new ones if these are still working just fine? That’s just wasteful. Why be wasteful just because you can? But your husband is from a generation that’s never known any differently. The only way we get to see differently is when we travel overseas, where they do it right. So, your coming to us has been a real miracle. I think so many people learn from your blog.
      Thank you for thinking the way you do.
      And yes, I’ll post up that salsa the next time I make it—-just for you!

      • The same is going on in Poland these days. Plastic everywhere and everything packed in plastic. But you still can see people going grocery shopping with wicker baskets.It’s so cute 🙂
        btw, I just remembered that my mom uses newspapers to line baking sheets and pans for baking cookies or cakes. It works perfect. I don’t know why I stopped doing it. Now I got spoiled and I use parchment paper like it’s any different.
        Reusing ziploc bags it’s almost nothing comparing to what my mom have been doing.She reuses almost any tiny plastic bag or container if it doesn’t have a whole in it.She used to save yoghurt cups but at some point she had so many of them that she had throw some away.now she’s more reasonable with it.we would never buy airtight containers because we reused what we had from the food we bought at the store.actually I do the same now.
        and you don’t need to thank me.I learn a lot from you guys as well.the fact that you both are so deep involved into trying to live sustainable way it’s amazing.my husband is more into being self-sufficient than in being green.those two things goes together (kind of) but “being green” it’s not his priority.He likes many things I do to make our family more green and he supports me but in some cases I see that weird look on his face (like the ziploc bags) saying “what for?”. you guys are both in it and I think it’s awesome! I love it! and you’re so open and straighforwad about it… and so involved.
        thanks for being here!

      • @Polish mom photographer–my husband said, “You guys aren’t writing comments back and forth, you’re writing posts!” LOL
        My mom is like that too. Amazing how much we pick up from our moms.
        And I think living sustainably is living green. Your hubby is a greenie and not even trying to be! Good for him. Hopefully one day, all those weird looks we get will stop.
        I LOVE the idea of using the newspaper for baking sheets. I would have never thought of that!

      • … and I always say: “I won’t be like my mother”. funny.
        and yes, I’ve noticed that we write the longes “comments” I’ve even seen anywhere 😉

  4. …ah and share the recipe for salsa, please!

  5. Great post Jennifer, I really can use some of these some tips. We already recycle and reuse as much as we can, but there is always room for improvement. I need to make my way to the Farmers’ Market more often, luckily I already make my own food but I think getting fresher products is not a bad idea at all, so I will try my best to make to the market this weekend.

    • Good to hear you’re already making your own food, Marcia. There just isn’t enough of that now a days. I’m sure your family along with your heart and your tummy thank you! And the farmer’s market food just TASTES so much better! Let me know if you can tell a differernce in the tomatoes and avocados. I was so amazed.
      Thank you for making a difference, Marcia. If we’re all in this together, image the revolution we can create!

  6. @ Mom Photographer—we just have a lot to say! LOL! 🙂

  7. jennifer and momphotog.. let’s face it you have become passionate postment writers, spontaneity usually fades in commenting and posts are not necessarily uplifting…you connect perfectly on the path to sustainability.
    jen, i feel nestled between you and your commentor from Poland, because i am french, and i also feel that for myself, it was never about saving money..behaving naturally ethically has been a lifelong personal goal for me. and if i save expense at the same time, well, good for the budget.
    being an artist and a part-time loner, i have learned to enjoy the ‘weird’ looks you mention…over time, and during this lasting financial crisis people have grudgingly appreciated my sense of economy and ecology.
    i am often asked to give tips on ways to shop smarter and maximize nutrition.
    the very folks who once said ” i can’t do what you do” are now using my steadfast example to make ends meet. i applaud them for changing ever so slowly..hope they continue; even after they recover or adapt…
    eco-love to all..

    • Nadinesellers, I just love that we’re all on the same page—the French, the Polish, the American. Isn’t that how it should be? (Sigh.) This crazy blog gives me such hope for the future!! 🙂

  8. to momphotog. i should note that baking on newspaper can introduce heavy metal residue into the foods…lead being one of the worst…please be sure that your newsprint is soy-based ink…you don’t want to add toxic matter into the growing cells of your children..
    as for plastics, never use scratched up old bags or containers as they also leach phthalates into the bloodstream. over time this is one cause of major illness…i am not an alarmist, just a cautious healthful reminder..i re-use practically everything..and love reading your ways and discoveries.

    • Nadinesellers, I’d never heard that before—about the soy based ink or the scratched up plastic. I reuse scratched up plastic bags all the time. I wash them out and use them again. That does it….I’m going to HAVE to completely get away from this plastic. It does make sense though. I also have been reusing the same plastic water bottle for almost a year. I’d heard it wasn’t good for you….but…..I try not to use them at all. Sometimes, I fail. And I don’t want to just throw it out!

  9. Oh my, I *think* I’m looking forward to that soap recipe. I know it used to be made with lard / tallow but drained meat fat? I shall remain open minded! How do you manage with putting cooked food in the compost? No vermin?

    • Ha! ha! Mrs. Green. I’ll get that soap post up soon. We’re experimenting! I said the same thing! And no, no vermin in the compost, but I have noticed the coons digging around it. It’s an enclosed one, but only because of the constant moves.

  10. Just found this older post of yours and was so impressed at how easily you’ve been able to reduce your waste. We can recycle so much here – all plastics, cardboard, tin, glass, and we compost (well, actually, we throw fruit and veg scraps in the wild field at the edge of the property – with the horses, we don’t need extra compost, so we just let it break down naturally). Still, we have a bag every two weeks. We could do so much better.

    Just wanted to say that you are impressive and doing a great job!

    • Aww. Thank you lightlycrunchy! 🙂
      We’re just determined. Sometimes, we make life harder on ourselves it seems. But all these were really easy to implement. I’m always impressed with your recipes and ideas. You have no idea how much you inspire me!

  11. Pingback: Good trash week. | Attempting zero waste lifestyle in a military household

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