Sunday, June 30, 2013

Got Milk?

  Our family does drink milk and a lot of it. How? We buy organic, local milk in glass bottles. We pay a $2 deposit and get the $2 back when we return the bottles.  Now before you say we don't have that where I live, please remember where I live. Bumpass, Virginia. I live in one of the most rural areas in the US (or at least I feel like that). Believe it or not, we have not one but two Whole Foods near us. The closest one is 25 minutes away but any grocery store is that far to us. We keep our gas emissions down by only going to the store once a week.

  As you can see by the top of the bottle, my family loves a wide variety of milk. We also purchase lemon aid (yellow bottle) with the same deposit/return program. The more that people participate in this, the more stores will get involved. This way we  drink milk that is from a local farm, less of a cost than organic milk from other grocery stores, not in a plastic container and that will be reused in glass bottles over and over. 


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Trey is the winner!

Picture: Maggie's pile left, Trey middle (1 item not pictured), Noah right (2 items not pictured)
* Recyclables not pictured. We were each allowed one a day that did not count in our waste total.
Maggie: 5 (surgical plastic was one, I cut it into 4 small pieces)
Trey: 4 (plates from camp lunch)
Noah: 9 (plates from camp lunch and snacks from camp)

Trey won with 4 items of trash. If we had chosen weight, I would have won. We are still figuring out the tweeks. I think for our family the actual number of trash accumulated is easier for the boys to keep track of. Even though they decided to have camp lunch twice, they still produced a very small amount for the entire week and I am very proud of their efforts. 

Trey has chosen to go see White House Down tonight for his fun activity. Litter walk for his environmental activity. We are starting week 2 today.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

LA passes ban on plastic shopping bags

Over 70 cities in California have joined the plastic free movement, including San Francisco and LA, which is the largest city so far to ban plastic shopping bags.  Just this week LA banned plastic shopping bags. This will take effect in Jan 2014 for stores that gross more than 2 million or larger than 10,000 sq ft. and July 2014 for smaller stores. (Business Week)

Virginia hasn’t been as progressive as California and still has not banned plastic shopping bags anywhere. I hope California causes a ripple effect and more states, cities and towns get on board. 

Below are two informative links(click on Chico Bag and Plastic Pollution Coalition):
Chico Bag has a list of countries, states and cities that have implemented the plastic ban and those that have tried but failed.   
Plastic Pollution Coalition is a good resource in case you are interested in learning ways that you can help with the movement. 

Tomorrow is the last day of our first week challenge. This has been an eye opening experience already for them and they have thought hard about all their actions that could cause waste.  Yesterday Trey even turned down a lollipop because it was wrapped in plastic. It wasn’t easy but he is determined to win this week.  It is a tight race and I will announce the winner Saturday morning with pictures of our accumulated trash.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zero Waste Lunch

  Eating a zero waste lunch is easy and doesn’t take any extra preparation. I am working at my organization's summer camp program and the boys are down the hall at a different camp. Both camps offer free lunch, however it is served with Styrofoam trays, plastic utensils and milk cartons. We decided that we would take the few extra minutes to pack our own lunch to eliminate any lunch waste.

  For our lunch, we use fresh bread from the bakery to make sandwiches and wrap them in cloth napkins. For all of our side items we use uno and duo stainless steel containers.  To drink we bring water in our stainless steel water bottles.  It's that simple, produces zero waste and keeps our trash empty.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Buying and storing wet food in your fridge

 When walking into Whole Foods our first stop is customer service. We return all of our empty milk glass bottles, get our $2 deposit back then get our "wet" jars weighed. It is not a hassle and does not add more than a few minutes to our shopping trip.

 We use stainless steel sandwich tins for our deli meat and cheese. We ask them not to wrap in paper or plastic and to place in our tins. Then we move on to the olive bar to get fresh roasted red peppers and olives. Last, we go to the salad bar to get fresh Parmesan and feta cheese. 

 Storing this way eliminates the moldy food that you forgot about in the back of the fridge scenario. It is also less expensive, no waste and since it is so fresh the taste is a lot better.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shopping Bulk

One way that we can live a zero waste life is that I shop in bulk. We bring our own grocery bags, cloth bags for dry food, jars for wet food, produce bags and buy milk in glass jars. We do not bring any plastic into the house from the grocery store. We also love shopping bulk because we get a huge variety. Each week we change our type of dessert, pasta, cereal, bean, coffee, bread etc. We don't have any food wastage because we buy only what we need for a week or two. The picture is a snap shot of the dry food in my pantry. The honey and boxed food in the top left is prior to my switch to bulk.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 1

Having family from out of town is wonderful but it does make things more complicated when you are starting a waste war challenge. After a long day of boating we decided to eat dinner on the lake. I remembered that this particular restaurant uses plastic cups so I was prepared with my stainless steel water bottle. Trey (son #3) wanted a soda so he generated a plastic cup as waste. Noah (son #2) stayed with my dad for the night, who is in town visiting, and they had take out. Noah generated a Styrofoam take out container, plastic bag around the box and a soda can. Not great but not too bad for the first day.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ready to Start

Our containers are ready for tomorrow. Although these are plastic, they are what I had at the house. I still have several old items that are plastic that I try to figure out a way to reuse them. This was a perfect solution so that I didn't need to buy anything new and I could reuse plastic without it going into the landfill. Game on tomorrow.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Starting Date

We will start Day 1 on Saturday. One of the boys will be out of town for the week so there will be three of us competing the first week. We have the containers ready, rules all agreed on and our competitive nature geared up. Starting in the summer will be more difficult but we are brainstorming alternative choices for our vacations that are coming up. 

Our house is almost completely zero waste now, however our biggest challenge is when we are on vacation or at school/work, getting my spouse on board and when we have visitors over and they bring plastic waste into our house.

I will update during the week periodically with end of week totals and pictures.