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Zero-Waste Living - Taking the First Step

It's a daunting task, breaking away from all the traps we've fallen face first into as a society. Most individuals find themselves asking, why me? What difference will one person make? This is the type of thinking that impedes our progress back toward a healthy earth, and a healthier us. We can't control those around us but we can control ourselves, and if we, the consumer, start demanding solutions, they will come.

I've recently picked up a book by Gregg Braden called Walking Between the Worlds - The Science of Compassion. He mentions briefly becoming more aware of the vibrations of the Earth, and as part of my "awakening" I do find that to be a side effect. Becoming more in tune with her vibrations I find more and more I am physically unable to do things that cause the Earth harm and I find myself re-wiring the way I live my daily life as a result.

  1. Recycle - At first it takes a bit of effort. We live in an area that has not placed importance on recycling. I moved to California in 2007, a young college graduate. I found myself at a bar with work friends and as I almost chucked my bottle beer into a TRASH can I was met with a gasp of disgust from onlookers. I had no idea San Francisco had already begun sorting their trash in public venues, much less in the home. I had not been introduced to or educated on why this was even important. Even now thirteen years later New Orleans, the city in which I live, does not have an easy way to recycle glass. Rinsing off cans, plastic, and other recyclables and sorting them for collection is a small easy step you can take if you haven't already.

  2. Compost - Some people may have difficulty with this due to space, but if you're like me with a little extra yard space it gets a lot easier. (Click this link for composting in smaller spaces) In my case I purchase one of those big storage bins, drilled some holes in it and plopped it on some bricks I had laying about. We dump all lawn trimmings, grass, and dead things we find in the bin. It's kind of a fun game I play with myself. What can I compost!? To make composting even easier have fun finding creative ways to use ALL of your consumable food, that way you only wind up composting a small amount. Get crafty with the leftovers or start making more things from scratch. Zero Waste Chef has some great tips for this. Some of her suggestions include re-using glass jars to store and freeze almost anything. (If it's a liquid make sure to leave room at the top for expansion.) This was a great tip for me, since our city doesn't recycle glass I've been storing all my used glass in one of our bathtubs (much to the dismay of my fiance) and now I have another way to utilize some of that glass! Since following Zero Waste Chef's Instagram I have taken some of her advice and am now storing lots of things in my freezer for future use including lemon and lime zest and juice, a big jar of veggie parts for a future veg broth, and some breadcrumbs I made last night after saving the butts of my bread for a couple months! (The breadcrumbs are kind of an experiment, not sure how they'll hold up in the freezer but I'll keep you posted.) What I don't save in my future broth jar or compost I try to replant!

  3. Re-Plant- Some veggies are easy to pop back in the ground. If you're living in a tiny space or an apartment there are plenty of resources on Pinterest for vertical gardening, window gardening, or porch gardening. Some easy Veggies to regrow include Tomatoes, Potatoes, Lettuce, Beans, Pumpkins, Berries, etc. In my window right now I have potatoes, lettuce, a baby apple tree, some onions, and some tiny tomato sprouts. I'm using discarded egg shells and cartons as the home for the seedlings and when they get big enough to replant I just take the eggshell, crack it up a bit for an easy breakdown, and place it in a bigger pot.

  4. Re-use Glass - There are lots of fun ways to re-use glass. Recently I bought myself a little glass cutter you can grab one for about 20 bucks and they're really easy to use. You can make all sorts of things with old glass bottles and jars, self-watering planters, light fixtures, candle holders, etc. Also just re-using jars for things you can freeze as discussed above!

These are just a few of the steps I've been able to take very easily in my own home and feel much better doing it. Of course I have long term goals like community gardening, bee keeping, having chickens, using less paper towels, ditching plastic, reducing my travel emissions and more. But for now I can start here and feel good about what I CAN do. So if you're having trouble figuring out where to start, pick one thing and check it off the list, and go easy on yourself!


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