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Dawn Francom

Live Waste Free

Garbage Auditing 101

Welcome back friends! Today, I want to talk to you about something important.

Getting started!

Beginning a new project or forming new habits can be challenging. It can definitely be overwhelming when we don’t know how to start. It’s the same from getting in shape, to cutting out screen time, to… you guessed it, going Zero Waste. Since you’re presently reading this post, I’m assuming you have your reasons “why” to commit to this lifestyle, but what about the “how”. Yes, shopping with jars and making changes from single use to reusable is a great way to go (and has an immense impact), but you don’t want to show up at your favorite bulk place and not know what to get. Or end up with a whole bunch of food you’ve never tried and don’t know if you’ll like it, then be stuck with it, defeating the purpose of avoiding food waste!   

This is where a garbage audit comes into play. When anybody is interested in the Zero Waste lifestyle, I always mention to them to start by a week of auditing their trash. This is incredibly simple and easy to do. The concept behind this is to know exactly what you are throwing away. Once you acknowledge that you are throwing away specific items, you are able to find the alternatives you need and you know you already like!

How To:

At the beginning, I found it to be a bit much to remember everything that I tossed. So, I decided to keep a notepad by the trash and recycling bins. Each time I went and threw away something, I wrote it down. Whether it was fresh fruit peels or tissues, it went on the list. I did this for about a week in order to give myself a wide range of what I was getting rid of.

Once you have your grand list, you’re able to break it down into categories. Some categories I had on mine were:

  • Food scraps (peels or tiny bits of leftovers)
  • Food that I forgot to eat and had died in my fridge
  • Food packaging
  • Product bottles (household cleaning and personal hygiene)
  • Take away trays or Single Use products from eating out/ordering in
  • Other (dryer lint and fabric softener sheets, vacuum dust, dead pens)

I decided on categories because the master list was too scary, whereas a smaller, more specified list (like the one above) simplified the process. Some things on the list were easy fixes and taken care of right away and others took a bit more time to find solutions. Here’s how I was able to break it all down:

Category My Solution
Food scraps
  • Put less food on my plate to avoid excessive waste.
  • Eat only when actually hungry.
  • Cook sensible portions OR large batches to freeze/store for later.
  • Save leftovers/Freeze leftovers.
  • Call the city for a compost bin to participate in the curbside pick up that was offered.
  • Freeze leftover veggie scraps to make veggie broth before sending them to compost.
Food scraps from food that I let go bad (unintentionally)
  • Buy less produce.
  • Make grocery lists to shop with more intention.
  • Make sure to eat/cook what will expire as soon as possible.
  • Have a flexible meal plan to include the extra veggies that may die.
  • Freeze leftover veggies to make veggie broth.
Food Packaging
  • Begin buying food items using my own containers, from bulk stores that allow it.
  • For items that I cannot find in bulk, look for less wasteful alternatives (glass, cardboard, anything that is not plastic).
  • For food that I cannot find without packaging, I attempted to learn to make myself (I like to cook though, so this solution may not be for everyone).
Product bottles (household cleaning and personal hygiene)
  • Buy in bulk with my own containers or learn to make my own.
Take away or Single Use from eating out
  • Carry my ZW kit with me for eating out. This includes a wrap I made to hold all my utensils and a cloth napkin and (depending where I am going) a container to bring home leftovers.
  • Try my best to remember to bring a reusable coffee cup, or avoid buying coffee while out.
Other
  • See what the items were and try my best to find an alternative (ie: change from dryer sheets to dryer balls that will last a long time and are compostable afterwards).

This above was my jump off point to getting into the lifestyle. I find that knowing exactly where I struggled was the best way to think of solutions. Also, breaking things down into smaller, more manageable tasks is always easier for any new goal. Keep this up and try your best to find alternatives that you need. Always keeping in mind that perfection is not the goal and incredibly hard to obtain. Every bit that you can do, definitely helps! Try this out for a week and see how you do!

I hope you enjoyed my take on Garbage Auditing and that you give it a try! For more tips, tricks and even recipes to help live a Zero Waste lifestyle, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies.

Until next time! 😉

Live Waste Free

Zero Waste Shawi

       

     If you follow my social media, you may have noticed that I made a big change recently. My husband and I decided that it was time to try to live a simpler life. This, for us, meant moving away from Montreal to a much smaller town. We now proudly call Shawinigan home.

     In general, I’ve adjusted well to the change. I sleep better, I eat better, I’m outside way more often. It’s rather incredible! The tougher situation of this change is on the Zero Waste side. I’m basically starting from scratch. Back in Montreal, I knew where to go, I know who accepts jars and who to avoid. I have my favorite stores to visit. Here, I need to start over completely. Despite our best effort, we still find ourselves filling up the recycling AND garbage bin (mainly because we still haven’t found a composting site… YET). At first, I was quite bummed out by this and thought it would be hopeless. As if all my previous effort was gone to waste (pun intended). This feeling of self pity however, did not last long. I care about my projects and really wanted to succeed in them. I have since taken this seemingly dreadful news and turned it into a new super challenge! And let me tell you! I was pumped!


     First thing was clear, I needed to find places that would allow me to shop Zero Waste. They did not need to fully understand what Zero Waste was, but they needed to let me do my thing. The info will come, since I DO NOT stop talking about it 😉 First store on my list was an easy one: Bulk Barn. There are Bulk Barns in many cities (big and small) and luckily enough, we have one too! I brought all my jars for the first big shop and chatted about Zero Waste with the clerks (as well as activities to do in the area). They had no issues helping me out by taking the tare of the jars and to my surprise, it was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had in this store…EVER! Not to say the previous experiences were bad, they were just less memorable for me.  The clerks were so kind and so chatty that it felt so comforting.     

     During this hunt for new stores, I have uncovered a few places that flat out refused my containers, but seeing as how this is not my first rodeo, I was used to rejection at the expense of my own containers. I decided to remain optimistic and continue on! I began seeking out smaller stores and bakeries and kept on asking. Persistence was truly key here. Eventually I found a small bakery that has no problem with my bag for buns and breads. Bonus points go to it being across the street from my new employer and absolutely delicious! SCORE! While on this treasure hunt, I also found a shop that not only sells kombucha, but they make it in house! Making it super local! This place is great! Delicious flavors and they even have a consignment on their bottles. So we bring the glass jars they offer back once we’ve finished and we can take a fresh one. These jars will then get washed and sterilized and stay in circulation as long as they are usable! Much like our own jars and bottles! DOUBLE SCORE!


     These 3 small wins felt incredible! I’m no longer feeling bummed out by my lack of ZW options, I see potential here. It’s all about getting creative and not giving up! I am also incredibly excited for the summer time. Local produce will be everywhere! Much more local than previous options and direct from the farms. At the moment, it seems to be too early in the season for farms to open their stands, but I certainly look forward to when they do!

     Ultimately, this move has done wonders for us. It’s only been 3 weeks but I already feel comfortable and I’m quite happy with the choice that we made. Zero waste is still a lifestyle I intend on striving for and I definitely won’t be giving up on it anytime soon.

     

     For more stories on this new chapter of my Zero Waste journey, or for general tips and tricks follow along on my Facebook  Live Waste Free at  or check me out on Instagram at @livewastefree.

Take care! Until next time!  

Live Waste Free

A Minimal March

 

    March has come and gone and I think it was my least wasteful month yet! I am genuinely impressed with my efforts. I am beginning to feel much more confident in my choice of lifestyle and I feel less strained in making educated decisions. Before, I used to feel almost deprived. As though I was refusing myself, stuff that I enjoyed, in the name of reducing my waste. I decided to not dwell on this and change my views. I now look to my cravings for inspiration. For example, a big thing I miss are chips. It is crazy how often I crave those crunchy-salty delightful crisps. Now whenever I get these cravings, I seek out an alternative. I make popcorn and put on some popcorn toppers that you can find at bulk barn or can make yourself! I also have turned to crackers or other chip like snacks that I can find in bulk. Pretzels are also wonderful craving cravers in moderation. All found in bulk! YES!

     One thing I struggled with, yet again is cheese. I’m trying you guys. I really am! For my dad’s birthday, we had him over for supper and I know how much he likes brie and how rarely he eats it. So I served some up with crackers as an appetizer to help make his day more special to him. At the time, I could not find it in bulk, so I bought two wheels for the occasion (we had multiple people come over that day). Other occasions, I chose to make vegan nacho cheese, which is incredibly simple, delicious and I found all the ingredients in bulk! I just need to focus on the change that I want to make and stop making excuses. I will get there sooner rather than later. I just know it!

     For now, let’s take a look at what’s in my jar this month. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to weigh it, but it was significantly less in terms of volume! I am so encouraged to continue applying everything that I learned and implement it into my day-to-day life.

1-   Two Brie wrappers (dad’s birthday mentioned above).

2-   Plastic that went around some organic bananas. I feel this is crazy that organic items need to be marked with plastic wrapping. It’s quite unfair.

3-   Vegetable stickers. I feel as though these always sneak into my home. I try to choose veggies without them. Time to start shopping more often at the farmers market!

4-   Dryer sheets. Last month I upgraded to compostable dryer balls. These were the last two I had. Now that they are all used, I will not be turning back!

5-   Sticker from a shampoo bar. I shopped quickly this day and just grabbed the bar. When I got home, I saw a sticker. Woops!

6-   A ring from my milk. This particular day, there was no bulk milk in stock, so I bought milk in a glass jar on consignment. This milk brand had a small plastic ring around the cap. Overall, I’m happy with how little milk I actually bought this month. I am getting better every day!

7-   Dryer lint. As summer approaches, I’ll be using my dryer less and less. Aside from line drying or burning this (which I do not fully feel comfortable with because of the micro fibers in my clothing), I have no solution for this item.

Much less than the previous 2 months and I am so happy with this!

     I also want to take this opportunity and say that I decided on not doing a jar for the months of April, May and possibly June.  We are moving and I have started packing everything up. Although, I still do everything that I can with food and being responsible to dispose

of anything old and unwanted, there is bound to be more trash in this process than can fit in a jar. I just know it.

(Just below, you can see all the trash I’ve produced in my three months)

     I like to think that minimalism and Zero Waste go hand in hand. Minimalism being the state of mind and being content with what you own and Zero Waste being the actions we take in living this way. There is however, a first stage before the two that I am working on; decluttering. I have begun selling old furniture that I do not intend to use in the next apartment. I am also taking this chance to purge whatever I do not use/want in order to create a more open flow of space in my home. Once we are settled in our new place, I will take it back up again. I pinky promis! 

     Of course I know that some people prefer to have things around them to feel comfortable, and that is fine for their lives and it is fully their choice. I had also lived that way for the majority of my life. Moving forward, I am choosing to go the opposite route that I have for so long. My idea is that through decluttering, I will learn to appreciate more what I do have. I do not need many belongings to feel happy. Already through this process, I feel much calmer. I feel less stressed and spend much less time cleaning. Once I am settled, I will practice more minimalist and Zero Waste, just as I had before and continue to be accountable for my waste. I will also be making more eco-friendly choices in terms of furniture and household items.

        I hope you enjoyed hearing about my March and my plans for the immediate future. For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you will get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path. Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

 

Live Waste Free

A Faulty February


     Another month has come and gone. It was filled with new experiences and its fair share of struggles. February was a ROUGH one for me. Many personal issues made it hard to focus on my goals to reduce my waste. I had a hard time with being motivated to meal prep and to make some choices that I know I should have made. I found myself down and simultaneously overwhelmed with everything at once. My personal issues played a large factor in this month’s trash. 

 

Below is my official list from February 2018:

1- The seal to a salad dressing. I was hoping that since t

he bottle was glass (and I intend to reuse it for more dressings) that it wouldn’t have a seal. I was clearly wrong.

2- 4 small plastic coffee creamers from work. My milk happened to run out on one particularly tough day (I do bring my own to work that I buy from bulk) and it was one of those days that called for coffee.

3- Plastic tag holder from a new shirt I bought. 90% of the time, I do second hand clothing, but this once I allowed myself to buy a new shirt. It came with one of these tiny tags.  

4- A paper/plastic bracelet from the spa. I had a wonderful day with my mom at the spa this day, but it came with a bracelet showing that we had access to a specific space.  

5- A Bandaid.

6- The sticker came off of my squeezy toothpaste container. We refill the toothpaste from bulk and reuse the container. I don’t like putting toothpaste into a jar because I’m too lazy to scoop it out. This keeps it easy and is reusable.

7- 2 cheese wrappers. We decided to buy this extra large cheese from a bulk store and we cut it and froze it in slices, to avoid smaller packaging while saving a bit of money. Next month, this shouldn’t be a problem since we still have a bunch left.  

8- A package for a tea from a restaurant. Again, I was hoping for the best, but it still came in this packaging.

9- Protective plastic from another sauce. Bought in a glass jar that I intend to reuse and refill at my local bulk stores.

10- Fruit stickers.

11- The handle from my brush that I keep at work. It broke off 🙁 The head still works and I intend to keep using it until it fully gives up.

12- Toothbrush bristles. We have bamboo toothbrushes, but the bristles are plastic. In order to put the handle into the compost, we need to remove the bristles.. *I’m open to any suggestions in finding a toothbrush that uses natural bristles* HELP!

13- Dryer lint.

14- Dryer sheets. I’m happy to say that we finally used up the last of them! We’ve since switched to using natural wool dryer balls. So there will not be anymore after the March jar! 😀 YAY!

     So that’s that for February. A total of 49 grams of trash. I’m finally feeling better and more centered and realigned with my goals (thank you meditation and yoga). I’m going to keep moving forward and continue to try my best at reducing my personal waste. I have decided to add a few extra goals to the list as we’ll and see how it all goes. 

March 2018 Goals:

  • Reduce my intake of dairy products. Many years ago, I decided to go vegetarian because I didn’t want to be a part of the problem with the amount of waste that factory farms produced. I’m finally at the point where I feel comfortable with reducing my dairy intake in a step to even further reduce my carbon footprint.
  • Get the hang of making my own sauces. I love cooking and do a pretty good job, but I can always improve and get creative with it.
  • Meal prep more.

     To see how the next month unfolds, or for tips and tricks to living Zero Waste, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!