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Life without Plastic

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Shop Like a Zero Waste Pro!

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.

Today we are going to compare going shopping the average way or pre-zero waste way.

First is the pre-zero waste shopping prep:

1.Grab wallet or purse, or diaper bag if you have small children. This is used to carry cash or a debit/credit card for your purchases and baby/toddler odds and ends.

2. Don't forget your keys! These give you access to your place of living and access to your vehicle, if you have one.
Www.Littleurbangreenie.Blogspot.Com Natural Tote Bag Front
3. Maybe you also grab some reusable bags. If so, you're already on your way towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

4.  Lastly, put on shoes and you're good to go.

Second, we have zero-waste and plastic-free shopping prep:
1. Grab wallet or purse, or diaper bag if you have small children. This is used to carry cash or a debit/credit card for your purchases and baby/toddler odds and ends.
2. Don't forget your keys! These give you access to your place of living and access to your vehicle, if you have one.
Produce bags in muslin
3. Grab some reusable produce bags for grocery trips. You can either make your own or buy them from talented Etsy sellers. You can also bring glass jars for liquids, such as peanut butter.
Www.Littleurbangreenie.Blogspot.Com Natural Tote Bag Front
4.  Grab your reusable bags. Again, you can either buy the new Little Urban Greenie bag directly or make your own out of old T-shirts. Save a bird, save a marine animal, and save your wallet with a bag credit discount.
File:Woman's Bar Shoes 1880-85.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
5. Lastly, grab some shoes for when you get the store or for leaving the house. I dare you to join the barefoot movement, but sadly most stores require shoes to enter their establishments.

Now, comparing average shopping trip vs the zero waste trip. All you do for the zero waste trip is use your produce bags that you brought with you for bulk goods and produce, instead of the bags provided. Then you check out with your reusable bags, vs using the paper or plastic ones that are available.

Plastic-Free July Challenge-
I found a receipt in the parking lot, but that was it for litter picking this week.

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How do you zero waste shop?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is Being Green Affecting Your Wallet?

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.

Is Kermit the frog right when he said, "It's not easy being green."?  Is the zero waste lifestyle only for those who can afford it? Many zero waste and plastic-free lovers seem to be able to buy their way to an eco-friendly lifestyle. They have the store bought beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap, the organic cotton produce bags, and the stainless steel or glass water bottles. They shop at the farmer's market and avoid the plastic produce stickers and other plastic packaging.

What about the working class? Are there any "normal" people who also live zero waste and plastic-free lifestyles? You know, who don't live in a rich community in California and go on European vacations several times a year? Or this lifestyle simply unattainable for anyone who lives below a certain income?

Good news! Many eco-friendly practices are also wallet-friendly practices; and it all starts with a budget. If it's not in the budget, it simply won't happen in our house (which by the way, is a working class, one-income family until this blog produces serious income). Yep, I said the family-friendly "B" word.

If you haven't been using a budget, now is the time to start. Once you control your money and it doesn't control you, you can see where you can make wallet-friendly changes. Similar to a waste audit, budgeting lets you see where your money is being wasted and where it's being used wisely.
So, how to set up a simple budget? Start where you are at! Are you paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly? Then set your budget up with how often you are paid. Even if you are paid every two weeks (fortnightly), you can break your budget down for a weekly grocery trip, etc. if it works better for your family. Mr. Greenie is paid weekly, so we budget on a weekly basis. 

Next, are you salaried or paid hourly? If you are salaried, then your budget will be easy to make consistent. If you are paid hourly, then you average out what your paychecks are and use that average as your total budget. This is your base line. As needed, you adjust your budget to the size of your paycheck.

Use this free budget tool from Dave Ramsey for easy, automatic math budgeting. Or you can create your own paper or spreadsheet using my instructions below.

(See this screenshot for a visual example of a weekly budget)
Next, you make five columns. In the 1st column you name the sub categories of your budget, Paycheck, Groceries, Toiletries, etc. In the 2nd column, you list the main categories such as Income, Food, Personal, etc. and do your math for your overall total for that sub category from the last pay period combined with this pay period. In the 3rd column, you enter the budgeted amount. In the 4th column, you enter what's left over after the budgeted amount is subtracted. You keep working your way down from the 4th column to the 3rd column line just below it. In the 5th column, you show the overall total from your 2nd column math, straight across.

For either an easy digital, paper, or spreadsheet budget, zero waste and plastic free "Reusables" sub category would go under the Personal category and Debts category comes last, where you allocate the last of your money after everything else is figured out.


Practice using your budget for 2-3 months and fine tune it so that it works best for your family. Once you have figured out where your money is going, you can see what zero waste changes you can afford right now. If you want to start with a few free changes, sign up for my email list!

While the working class zero wasters may not be able to completely buy their way into eco-friendly living, budgeting for making some beeswax wraps,etc. may be attainable. So Kermit, it can be easy being green.

Plastic-Free July Challenge Update:

We haven't been out much lately, but here is what I collected this week for our Plastic-Free July challenge!


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Best Solution Ever to Find Your Outer Waste

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.


What is the best way to find where your waste is going? The best way is to do a waste audit and this is how to do it.


1st: Make a list of what's in your trash can-
There are different kinds of waste, but the most important kind of waste you audit is in your trash can. When you look at your trash, you analyze what trash you’ve created over a given period of time. This can be daily, weekly or monthly, or until the can is full. You write down what is in your main trash can; analyze if it needs to be thrown away OR recycled/given away/composted, etc.; and weigh it. The weighing is optional, but it can help you keep track of where you are at and how far you go.

Your audit can include all of your trash cans, from the kitchen, bathroom, offices and other rooms of the house, or you can just audit one room at time if you want to tackle your waste in smaller steps.


2nd: One Man's Trash....-
First off, are you throwing away things that are usable, either for your family or others around you? Clothing can be sold to ThreadUp if you have good quality items and certain brands, given to a neighbor on Buy Nothing Project or Freecycle, donated to your local thrift store, or used for craft projects. They never need be tossed into the landfill. You never know what may be useful to someone else. There’s a produce sticker artist you can send your stickers to, which aren’t recyclable or compostable and otherwise would need to be tossed.
3rd: Can it be recycled?-
Next, can you recycle it? Check with your local recycling agency to see what they recycle. The contents vary by location, but there are some harder to recycle things that can be recycled if you mail them as well. (See my Free Resources page, under the Zero Waste Section for more ideas) Glass and metal are always best. Then comes paper, then plastic, then items can only be trashed. Paper can be recycled 4-7 times before it can be composted. Plastic just gets downcycled by being “recycled” once.

4th: Can it be transformed?
Are you throwing away food scraps? If so, can the scraps be transformed into another meal? Veggie peels and meat bones make great broths. Fruit scraps can become smoothies or vinegars. Cooked grains can be made into casseroles or soups with dairy and other leftovers. 


5th: Could it, would feed a bird?
If your scraps don’t seem edible, could they be given to pets or livestock to supplement their diets? Chickens are omnivores and eat almost everything thrown into their coop, cats and dogs can eat meat scraps (not pork) and the list goes on.

6th: Just rot it!
If your food scraps aren’t edible and can’t be given to pets and livestock, can you compost it? If it is a food, paper product, or comes from life (i.e. hair, nair clippings, plant waste, etc.) it can probably be composted. Some places have commercial composting facilities, but most of the time you will need to use some form of home composting (worm bin and/or bokashi bin for indoors, black soldier fly composting, outdoor pile, or any combination of these methods).

7th: Do you really need that much wrapping?
Can you get it with less packaging? Shopping at other locations may provide you with alternatives that have less waste, including bulk shopping, shopping at the farmer’s market, and bring your own container options, which often are cheaper than buying in smaller packages.


8th: Is there a reusable option?
Can you get a reusable version? Are you tossing of a lot of paper towels, antibacterial cleaning wipes, Q-tips? Start small and make or buy a few reusable alternatives that can be washed and used over and over. Reuse some old worn-out clothing to make cleaning cloths to replace paper towels and cleaning wipes. Buy an ear spoon to replace Q-tips.

9th: Maybe I'll make one instead..
Can you make your own alternative? Are you finding lots of packaging from eating out or packaged foods? Start making your own, one simple meal at a time.  I love searching for "copycat" recipes from my favorite restaurants.You will save money and be healthier. The same goes for cleaning products and many toiletries as well.

10th: The Ultimate Question...
Decide if you really need the product after all. After thinking through your alternatives, you may just find that your favorite product isn’t actually needed after all.

11th: Give it a try!
The last step in your waste audit is to start to implement a change or two. After your changes are comfortable, repeat the audit and see if there are any other changes you are ready to make.


I was out and about a couple of times this past week. The items I picked up were recycled where possible and thrown into the garbage where necessary. Here are the photos from those two outings:
Cigarette Butts can be composted!
 











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Urban Naturale Blog Hop

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Have you ever done a waste audit? If so, how did it go?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What if Your Roommate Isn't Zero Waste?

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.



Recently we had a friend move in with us who isn't Zero Waste or Plastic-Free, or a practicing member of our church. Although it's only been a couple of weeks, I've realized how different our lifestyle is. Since our roommate is one of my husband's co-workers, he isn't home much. Soon enough, we'll probably have a talk about how we do certain things.

In reflecting upon our differences, I've hit upon some simple ideas to help us live together as comfortably possible, while still being able to live our zero-waste lifestyle.



Simple Ideas for a "Wasteful" Roommate
  • I've labeled the trash (with No Food Waste warning), compost, and where to put unwanted food (in our house, it's the "Chicken Bucket" in the fridge for giving scraps to the chickens). 
  • Mr. Greenie will be offering to eat any of our roommate's leftovers so that it doesn't need to be given to the chickens. We usually eat up any leftovers before the chickens get them. This will reduce the food waste.
  • As we have the smallest size city trash can, we have to pay very little to toss our small amount of trash. Our roommate however, uses quite a few disposables, including diapers for when he has his son, eats fast food, etc. To cover the cost of additional trash, water, and electricity for leaving on the lights and keeping his basement bedroom "cold" with a personal a/c unit, we have him contribute towards utilities to offset the cost. The thermostat won't go below 78 F.
  • We let him live his life and we live ours, while addressing any questions that arise. While it would be amazing for everyone to adopt zero-waste practices, we don't push. Our roommate is an adult, and has the right to live as he chooses. Want to know the secret to get more people to join the zero-waste movement?....Be a good example! We don't adopt his lifestyle, but we accommodate him where we can. We didn't start our zero waste journey in the middle, and we can't expect that of anyone else.
 
Plastic-Free July Update-
    It's only been five days of practicing our Plastic-Free July challenge, but so far so good. I haven't left the house much, but when we went out to see a beautiful waterfall, I was able to collect a couple things that were just thrown on the ground. At Mr. Greenie's request, I threw both the cigarette butt and single flosser into the nearby trash rather than collect them for the month. I'm keeping a container in our van for collecting when UG1, UG3, and I are out and about. I may just sneak a couple of pictures before I dispose of whatever we find.



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    What are some ways that you've reconciled different lifestyles into one household?

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