talking trash: 4 months

vegan zero waste trash jar

Time is just flying by and it’s already time for another trashy post.  A few of you asked me to document my recycling this month too so I’ve added that…although I don’t know if I’ll do it every month because it was kind of a pain to keep it around this long… but I will if its really helpful/interesting for you.  Let me know.

This is everything my family of four wasn’t able to reuse, repurpose, or rot (compost) this month…so our landfill trash and our recycling.  For more info on how we keep waste so low, check out the first post in this series: month 1.  And for past months of trash documentation: month 2, and month 3.  For a post about a zero waste kit to reduce trash on the go, click here.

Lets get into it.  First, here’s all the actual “trash” or landfill waste we made.

zero waste landfill trash jar

landfill trash:

plastic seal from Just Mayo: I haven’t ventured to experiment with DIY vegan mayo but will when we run out of this guy.  I reuse the glass jars and plastic lids for storage and bulk buying.

tabs from Carmela thrift coats, Joel sweaters, Vin tops: we needed some clothes this month as it got colder and even though we thrifted them, they come with little plastic tabs that attach the paper tags. (click here to read how+why we shop secondhand for almost all clothing)

tape from copper pots- also at the thrift store I found this amazing set of vintage copper pots (not even a brand on them and so well made) and they had a bunch of plastic shipping tape wrapped around them to keep the lids together with the pots.

plastic for your protection seal from oregano oil- this is my go to, heal all potion for immunity, infection, my mom even uses it to remove suspicious sun spots.  I was out so I bought another (it lasts forever) and it had this plastic seal.  I reuse the bottles for my own tinctures and refilling extracts.

2 small pieces of scotch tape from the sleeve of handmade local soap: these bars of soap was minimally packed with a thin strip of paper, held together by a sliver of tape.

tag from a bunch of parsley: usually I buy these at the market but occasionally I forget or run out and this label was attached to the twist tie.  It has a #5 recycling symbol on it, but its so small I worry it will slip right through and get trashed.

Clearly kombucha label: my husband picked this up before our own kombucha was ready to drink and although it had a metal lid and glass bottle (which i washed and will reuse for our own brew), it had this giant plastic label on it.

Nature’s Bakery fig bar: this I found at the bottom of my daughters backpack and she said it was a prize for winning the reading contest in her class at school.  I’ve talked to the teacher and asked if I can bring in a few jars of various bulk treats for her to give out instead of the bars, goldfish crackers, and plastic wrapped toys she usually gives.  The teacher didn’t mind whatsoever and I’m so happy to have this option.

Volunteer sticker: I volunteer at my daughter’s school a few times a week (I co chair the garden program there) and usually I sneak by the office so I don’t have to check in (and get this huge plastic sticker) but this time I needed a key and was forced to check in, hence the sticker.

Produce stickers from avocados: thankfully the avocado stand from Southern CA is back at the market.  I recently read this piece about avocados and sustainability too that I found thought provoking.

Gold plastic seal from a sesame oil bottle:  I usually buy this in bulk but I ran out unexpectedly one night after being almost done with a recipe it was essential for- I will wash +reuse the glass bottle it came in for hot sauce.

2 plastic windows from mail: I have all my bills on paperless, and have followed this great post years ago to stop virtually all junk mail- but I did get 2 envelopes this month with plastic windows for a security alert from my bank and new membership to a local art museum.

2 non dairy yogurt starter packets: experimenting with ways to get consistent results on dairy free yogurts and I wouldn’t recommend this brand.  I could have not bought this but I’m really sad without good non dairy yogurt.  We have a couple coco yogurt brands in glass here but they’re expensive and not very good.  All others like almond milk and cashew yogurt are in plastic here.

Next, here’s all the recycling we had this month.

recycling zero waste

recycling:

6 beer bottles + 3 beer cans + 1 wine bottle:  as you can see, this is the majority of the recycling.  My husband manages a restaurant here and receives free samples of beer and wine from alcohol reps and companies.  I wish he didn’t accept them and we bought beer and wine in growlers/our own bottles, but I’m working on it and at least there’s no plastic involved here.  If you’re in Sacramento area, Cork it Again, Revolution Wines, and Berryessa Brewing Co. all offer refilling.  All the beers are local to CA (where we live), and the wine is from Washington- better than from Europe or Australia, etc.

3 cans of coconut milk: I haven’t been able to make homemade coco milk as creamy as canned for texture in curries and such, but I’m continuing to experiment.

2 cans of beans: baked beans and chickpeas.  I make our own beans 99% of the time but I’m not above buying canned beans in a pinch.

assorted paper: from mail, Carmela’s schoolwork, cardboard 6 pack box from the beer.

 

That’s it!  If you guys have any questions about specific things, feel free to comment below or on Instagram @mamaeatsplants , I’d love to hear about what your biggest sources of trash are.

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talking trash: 3 months

Family Trash jar zero waste landfill

All right, trash voyeurs!  Here’s a peek at all the trash our family of four made this month.  In my first post in this series, I share more about the HOW behind the jar- shopping and lifestyle habits we adopted to reduce our trash drastically.  I checked in for month two to show you what I added, and now it’s already month three!  This is everything that I couldn’t reuse, recycle, repurpose, or rot this month aka all our landfill trash.  I’m toying with the idea of also photographing our total recycling for the month, too: let me know if that would be interesting to you!  Now let’s get down and dirty-  let’s talk about each piece.

trash jar zero waste landfill

plastic wine “foil” + synthetic cork:  I asked J to bring home a cheap wine for cooking and he brought one that had PLASTIC foil AND cork!!!  Ugh…you couldn’t really tell until you opened it.  Learned my lesson there!

supplement seal: my glass bottle of chlorophyll supplement came with a plastic seal all over it (even though it was already sealed in a paper box!)  so I won’t be repurchasing.

various tiny plastic tags:  from thrift store clothing, 2 new dish towels, and a metal tea strainer.

kombucha seals:  my SCOBY isn’t quite ready to brew yet, and for Christmas I wanted to have something a little bubbly to share with the kids.  I bought two health-ade kombucha which come in glass bottles, but both had a black plastic seal around the lid. My SCOBY is almost ready to brew ‘booch, so this should be the last time I have to store buy, and I’ll repurpose the bottles for my own brew.

“sealed for your protection” plastic seal:  I can’t remember where this guy came from 😦 but these types of seals are the bane of my existence, as I’ve mentioned before.

broken hair tie:  one of my daughter’s synthetic hair ties broke after months of use.  I might look into alternatives like clips, cotton hair ties, barrettes etc.

gochujang sticker: the mother-in-law gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste) I bought came in a lovely glass jar with metal lid that I will reuse, but the label on it was purely synthetic. I may try making my own as I have access to both bulk koji and bulk gochujaru (the Korean chili flakes).

price sticker:  from a mug I bought at world market.

produce sticker:  from a rogue kiwi I bought.  Usually I buy these at the farmers market.

3 admission stickers:  from a trip to a local museum.  I saw a ton of them stuck outside the door on a pole, ostensibly from people ripping them off immediately upon leaving- who likes to wear a sticker?  We’re not in kindergarten.  I wish they could use something more sustainable.  I’m planning on emailing them to voice my discontent and support for an alternative.  I still feel the value of supporting art, local business, and exposing my kids to culture outweighs the trash.

That’s all!  Here’s what all the 3 months of landfill trash looks like all together:

Landfill trash zero waste family

Things I could do better:  Inspect items more closely before buying to ensure they’re not plastic…ie the wine and the supplement.  Also, I could have gotten by without buying the two kombuchas.  But, all in all, pretty good although I feel like we still recycle a good bit of cans, glass, and paper.

Also, a goal for next month is to shop for food as needed to reduce compost waste and fridge clutter.  Let me know what you think, what you’re curious about, and what you’re doing to lessen your waste in the new year- I’d love to hear.  If you’re starting from scratch, this post on a zero waste to go kit may be helpful to you ❤️

Love to you all,

xx Amanda

 

talking trash: 2 months

 

zero Waste trash jar family vegan plastic sustainable

It’s been 2 months since I decided to start keeping all of our trash.  It’s been an eye opening experience.  It really keeps me on my toes avoiding trash since I don’t want to have to add anything unnecessary to the jar!  Having a visual reminder keeps me on track when I’m feeling lazy.

trash jar zero waste

Background: We are a family of 4 and live in a town with access to farmer’s markets and bulk stores where we can buy most things package free.  For more in depth information on HOW we live waste free, check out my first post in this trash series.  Now, lets get down to the nitty gritty.  Here’s what new trash was added to the jar this month:

  • Clif bar wrapper- given to Vin at the park and opened before I saw it.  The struggle is real with kids!  People desperately want to give them things, like food, candy, toys, stickers, and other small plastic entombed items.  I enforce the “No, thank you” rule with my kids- when someone offers something like this to them, they firmly but politely say “No, thank you”.  This is quite easy for C (9 years old) to do, as it’s second nature by now.  For V (5 years), things sometimes slip through, like this bar.  REAL LIFE with kids guys.
  • Two green wristbands- we went to a fall festival at our kids school, and they required the kids to wear a wristband.  I mentioned to the PTA that a stamp would be cheaper and less waste, so I’m hoping they make the switch next year.  IMO the event isn’t high tech enough to require a wrist band?? 😉
  • some more plastic tag connectors.  We picked up quite a few winter clothes secondhand this month and although the tags are paper and compostable, the connectors are usually plastic.  Sometimes they use staples which is awesome and recyclable (save them all up and recycle inside a metal container or foil).  For more info on how and why we buy virtually all our clothing secondhand, check out this post: why+how i buy secondhand clothing
  • backing of a fire station sticker: our local fire station had a open house and V ended up with a sticker to replace the one on his toy fire hat that was worn out.  Stickers are my arch enemy basically.
  • silver plastic pouch of tempeh starter: I miss tempeh so much, its always wrapped in TONS of plastic so I don’t purchase it.  I made my own with this starter and it was a paper box but the starter pouches are plastic 😦 Much less waste than buying it pre made though.  I used banana leaves to wrap the tempeh in instead of a ziplock bag as recommended.
  • seal from a b12 supplement spray which came in a sealed paper box yet still had a plastic seal on it ????? y tho
  • seal from a glass jar of barley grass juice powder
  • seal from a glass jar of coconut yogurt
  • seal from a plain kombucha used to make my own SCOBY
  • produce stickers from avocados, one of the only things I buy that I can’t always avoid stickers on.  There’s a booth at my farmers market which sells avocados from Southern California without stickers.  I buy from them when possible, but they haven’t been at the market lately.

That’s it!  Everything else I’ve been able to refuse, refill, reuse, repurpose, recycle, or rot (compost).  If you’re inspired, try keeping all your trash for a week and going through it to see just how much you’re generating and ways you may be able to make small changes to reduce it.  Do the best you can and don’t get discouraged.  Little changes add up!  For how to reduce waste without access to a bulk store, read my post on this topic.  LOVE to all of you xx

talking trash

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A month ago I started keeping all of our trash instead of throwing it out, as a visual reminder + a way to stay accountable for our waste.  It’s also a way to document our journey and hopefully be able to recycle some of these items some day (teracycle is doing some interesting work here).  I wanted to share it to hopefully inspire you guys to reduce your waste and also to show you that we are not perfectly zero waste BUT IT’S OK, we are doing our best day after day and you can, too!

*As a side note, we are an average family of four, living on essentially a single income, and we live in California.  I’m a busy mom and I work 2 days a week in addition to volunteer work.  My husband works full time.  My point is, I’m not a magical unicorn with tons of time and money at my disposal.  I’ve just learned over time to make small changes to lessen our waste.  

What’s inside?

  • Produce stickers- I try to buy most produce from the farmers market but I do buy bananas and sometimes avocados from my co-op and sometimes they have stickers.
  • plastic cocktail pick- this was from a weekend trip, we went to a bar and I requested “no straw” which they obliged, however, this pick made its way into my drink unfortunately.
  • Plastic safety seals- these were a) from a glass jar of coconut oil and I’ve since found a source to purchase it in my own container and b) from a B12 supplement which I thought wouldn’t have one because it was already sealed in a cardboard box.  Ugh.
  • safety seal sticker from a glass jar of coco yogurt- I’ve been making my own now.
  • price stickers from a few glass jars I bought.
  • plastic tags from clothing- we shop pretty exclusively at thrift stores, but sometimes they still have these plastic tags.

We used to make a huge amount of waste compared to this, just even a year ago.  Here’s some of the big ways in which we’ve cut out waste:

  • stopped shopping at Costco and Trader Joe’s // switched to shopping exclusively at my local co-op and farmer’s market, which both offer a multitude of plastic free, bulk, foods that are seasonal and local.
  • stopped buying essentially all processed and packaged foods // bought whole foods instead for snacks, like apples and almond butter, nuts, chocolate, carrots, dates, popcorn, and olives.
  • started making my own cleaning products // switched from many different bottles of specific cleaners to just one cleaner: white vinegar cut 3:1 with water + some essential oils for smell and anti-bacterial properties
  • simplified our beauty routines // in our shower, we just use bar soap (Dr. Bronner’s which comes in paper) and refill old kombucha bottles with natural + organic shampoo and conditioner from a local store.  I’ve heard Lush makes a great shampoo bar too.  For the ultimate option, the lovely Paris To Go only uses water on her hair and it’s perfect.
  • ditched our expensive and wasteful plastic razors // bought this bad boy here + these blades
  • stopped buying toothpaste // made our own : 1/3 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon stevia, 2 tablespoons bentonite clay, 40 drops peppermint essential oil or gum blend oil.  We also use compostable floss .
  • stopped using plastic bags // I use these cotton bags when I shop for produce, this mesh tote for hauling them, and these bags to keep greens and veggies fresh in the fridge.
  • stopped using tampons // switched to a menstrual cup this is the one I’ve used for years
  • stopped buying plastic water bottles // bought a reusable water bottle I love this one

I want to point out that all these changes took place over a year or so.  It took a WHILE to get into a routine that works for us.  It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re first starting out, because everything seems so unmanageable and so many things to remember.  Truly, though, it becomes second nature when you practice it.  Just like veganism, once I knew the TRUTH about plastic pollution, there was no way for me to NOT change.  With the knowledge came responsibility and I had to make changes, no matter how small.  They snowballed over time and here I am today, producing hardly any trash and feeling a deep sense of satisfaction and peace from living my values.