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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

Easiest. Hot Chocolate. Ever!

Welcome back! I have exciting news… I figured out how to make hot chocolate and it’s basically the easiest thing ever! It’s been awhile since I’ve had one. The only way I knew it growing up was either in small pouches or in a giant tub. Both of which create waste and are basically just sugar mixed with flavors. Delicious sugar mixed with delicious flavors mind you, but it’s all completely processed. So if you’re looking for a nice treat to help warm yourselves up on during these icy times, without adding to your trash bin, look no further!

Time: 5 minutes max

Serves: 4

What you’ll need:

1 small pot

1 metal whisk

 

Measuring utensils of choice

Ingredients:

2 cups of water

4 cups of 2% milk

1 tsp of vanilla essence (yes, I found this in bulk 😉 )

1/2 cup cacao powder (I had the dark kind because that’s what was offered in bulk section)

4 tbsp sugar

Directions:

First, add all the liquid ingredients to your pot and put on high. Cover and bring to a boil whisking sporadically. Be careful that the liquid doesn’t boil over. Speaking from experience, it’s not pleasant!

Once you’ve reached your boil, turn down the heat to low-med. Add the powdered cacao and sugar. Whisk constantly at this point to avoid clumps. Whisk until it’s all dissolved and well combined. It should take about 2 minutes.

That’s it! You now have a delicious treat, with no waste and is perfect for those chilly nights. You can use this as the base and add any other flavor you want. Some ideas include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Whipped cream and sprinkles
  • Marshmallows
  • Creamed liqueur
  • Cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Wanna try a vegan version? Use coconut milk or almond milk instead!

The list can literally go on and on. The next time, I think I’ll add a pinch of salt to see how that fares. There we have it friends, the simplest and tastiest hot chocolate base you’ve ever tried. I hope you enjoy this!

For more recipes, tips and tricks 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!

Live Waste Free

Simple Transitions into Zero Waste

groceries-pic

Living close to Zero Waste has been an amazing transformation for me. I love that I’ve lowered my family’s ecological footprint by approximately 80%. However, this is not within the reach of some people. Not everyone has the ability to live Zero Waste. Sometimes, there are restrictions such as severe allergies, other medical restraints and even geography could play a role. If there are no shops in your area that are bulk based and will allow you to use your own container, you’re kind of stuck. But just because there are limitations, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done.

Grocery shopping: Try to be more aware of your choices. Avoid excessive amounts of plastic. When you’re in the produce section of your supermarket, skip the plastic bags all together. You bring the produce home to wash anyways, so the plastic really isn’t doing anything; and when you can, choose glass or cardboard containers for other items.

Going out for supper: While ordering your meal, inquire about the use of plastic in it. There’s often plastic picks or toothpicks with a colorful plastic tip used to hold burgers or sandwiches together. Ask for them to skip that step all together. Also, if the sauces come in tiny cups, ask what the cup is made of. If they’re washed and reused, go for it. If it’s a single use item, dodge it.

Drinks with your friends: Personally, I prefer to order beer from the tap. Kegs are refillable and beer doesn’t come with a garnish. If you prefer spirits, always remember to say NO to the straw. At bars, they are not typically recycled and I’ve never seen a reusable straw in this setting. Ask for them not to use one in your drink. Don’t forget about the sneaky plastic picks as well. Bartenders want your drinks to look classy and a clear plastic pick gives that illusion. It is however, unnecessary. Just like the straw, ask for your drink without one.

Use reusable shopping bags: Plastic shopping bags are seriously, the worst! It may take a bit to remember to carry your own bags at first, but eventually it’ll become a habit and you won’t even realize you’re doing it. It’ll save so much from landfills and waterways (Yes, that’s where they often end up, despite attempting to recycle them).

Use your own reusable mugs and water bottles: So many of us start our day with a nice cup of caffeine. Now let’s assume you’re like I used to be. I would stop at the coffee shop in the morning, grab a large double-double (not using my reusable) and be on my merry way. On my way home from work, I did the same thing as sort of a treat. Now let’s look at that, that’s 2 coffees a day, with a plastic lid and a paper cup that’s been dipped in plastic to reinforce the strength against the liquid. 10 coffees a week, just from my commute to and from work, every week for approximately 45 weeks a year. That’s 450 cups and 450 plastic lids a year! Only 1 person (me) and that isn’t including when I would get a muffin or a bagel. That’s crazy! Thinking back to it! I spent so much time of my life creating an insane amount of waste, when now, all I do differently is carry a reusable mug. I can still enjoy a coffee (not as much now since I’m trying to switch to loose leaf tea) with none of the consumer waste.

With these few steps, even if you’ve been held back due to a variety of personal reasons, you can still have an impact. At the risk of sounding ultra corny, I legitimately believe that the best tool we can do while transitioning to a Zero Waste lifestyle, is your attitude! If you’re a bit reluctant and hesitate, it will show. If you’re excited and remain positive, it’ll make more of a difference than anything else I can suggest.

For more tips and tricks, 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!