Updates on our Journey to Zero-Waste Living: Changes and Challenges

 

I first shared about our family’s journey to zero-waste living a few months ago, and I thought it’d be nice to give you guys an update on how things are going.

We’ve implemented a couple of changes that have stuck pretty well, and we’ve encountered some challenges along the way as well. I’d love to share all of that with you and get any tips or suggestions if you have any!

Again, I’m not an expert on zero-waste living - just someone who cares for the environment and wants to make some changes. Hope you enjoy reading!


Changes we’ve implemented in the last few months:

 

Mesh bags for grocery shopping

 
 

These Earthwise mesh bags were sent to me by my good friend Susan, and I was so excited to receive them, because I had been looking for something like this for some time. We have three of them that we keep with our reusable grocery totes, and now, instead of using those plastic bags in the produce section, we’ve been trying to use these mesh bags instead. Every time I use them, I’ve been feeling really good about being able to eliminate another source of single-use plastic in our lives. Every effort counts, right? :)

Bambooee Reusable Towels + Ten and Co. Sponge Cloths

We purchased a roll of Bambooee towels and have been using them for the past few months. These towels can be rinsed and reused, then put right into the wash to be used again, up to 100 times. They’ve been really awesome and I can proudly say that they have helped us reduce the amount of paper towel waste that we’ve been producing in the past by a significant amount. I would say we used to go through at least one large roll of Bounty paper towels in a month, and now we barely go through half of a roll in the same amount of time. The reason why we haven’t replaced regular paper towels completely is because we still use them for things that feel less sanitary to reuse after, like cleaning the bathroom.

The Ten & Co sponge cloths are used the same way. They’re advertised as being able to replace 17 rolls of paper towel and can be used up to 200 wash cycles. These are super absorbent, fast-drying, and come in really cute designs too, which is always a plus! We’ve been using them for cleaning our kitchen tops and we really like them.

 

Bar soaps

We haven’t completely been able to replace all of our soaps/washes to bar soaps (in an effort to reduce plastic container waste), but we’re in the process of slowly trying to do that. I’ve been using this Drunk Elephant bar soap for my face and we also use regular bar soap in the shower. Eventually, I’d like to switch to bar soaps for shampoo, conditioner, and dish soap as well. I’ve been eyeing the ones from Zero Waste store, but I’m open to suggestions if you have any!


Biggest challenges so far:

 

Ordering out

Ordering out has been the BIGGEST source of plastic waste in our house, and unfortunately, we do take-out or delivery a few times a week. So even with all the small changes we’ve been making, the amount of plastic waste that we put out on a weekly basis is still pretty bad. We’re trying to not order out as much and we do keep note of places that don’t use plastic to-go containers, but it’s still been quite a challenge. This is one area where we feel a bit stuck and we’re not sure how to completely eliminate it from our lives. Any suggestions?

 

Forgetting to bring our reusable totes and mesh bags

It’s inevitable (especially with my mom-brain), but there have been quite a few times that I leave my reusable totes and mesh bags at home, and I only remember by the time I step into the grocery store. On those days, I feel terrible and have no choice but to bag my groceries in plastic bags (a lot of places in New York don’t offer a choice for paper). We do try to reuse the plastic bags to line our trash cans in the house, but still - it sucks and I wish there was a fool-proof way to always remember to have them with me.

 

Convenience

To be completely honest, it does take extra effort to implement all these changes and keep up with them. Sometimes it’s just easier to use ziplock bags, saran wrap, or a roll of Bounty and just throw it in the trash when I’m done. Using and maintaining all of these reusable items usually means more things to wash and take care of, and as a busy and tired mom who sometimes is just trying to get through the day, that’s not always the easiest. I try to remind myself though, that I’m doing this for the environment, and that usually helps put things into perspective.


What I’ve learned so far is that positive change is not always easy, but always worth it. I hold on strongly to the belief that these small changes are contributing to a larger impact for a cleaner and safer environment, so that’s what keeps me going.

I hope our journey can inspire you to think about the changes you might be able to make in your own life, and I’d love for you to share those stories with me!

Thanks so much for reading!