Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is Zero Waste Time Consuming and Expensive? No and No!

Over the past couple of months, I have had several friends say to me, “I love what you are doing, good for you, but I'm too busy”. 


Do you feel that you don't have time? Or do you not know where to start?  Or you can't really be bothered? 

I work full time, am a mom of three active preteen and teenage boys. My evenings and weekends consist of being a taxi driver to music/chorus practices, competitions and concerts, as well as football/baseball practices and games, and school functions. I also drive to and from sleepovers (average friend in our rural area is 45 min away). If this lifestyle took extra time, I couldn't do it. 

I will explain why becoming zero waste not only won't take more time out of your hectic schedule, but on the contrary, allows you your freedom, time, and energy back into your life. Also, I will share the first steps I took to simplifying my life and turning to zero waste. If you are not ready for bulk shopping yet or getting rid of processed foods because you need those simplicities in your life, then start slowly. 


First action we took to simplify our life:

 Before going Zero Waste my room and the boys' rooms were a disaster. We spent most of a Saturday morning cleaning. Since decluttering our bedrooms, i.e. donating clothes, toys, books, movies, board games to Goodwill, and only keeping the bare necessities, we spend less time cleaning our rooms. Please do not think my children are deprived. On the contrary. They love exchanging a movie or board game at Goodwill for a 'new' one. They enjoy reading books from the library. They love folding less clothes and not having clothing lying all around their room. Not to mention, without all of the books and knick knacks their room is easy to dust and has improved Aaron’s asthma and allergies.  We felt selfish for hoarding so many items that could be used by those that care about the environment. When we donate so that others may reuse our belongings and will not need to purchase new, we are creating a ripple effect. If people purchase reused or borrowed items, this in turn causes less strain on our resources. All in all, we have what we need and have our Saturday mornings back to play outside instead of cleaning our rooms. 


First Simple steps we took that you can easily adapt without extra time out of your schedule:

1) Exchanged a plastic water bottle for a reusable water thermos. 

This saves money, as water out of your faucet is free (why would you want to buy something that is free?) and saves time because you will not need to drive to a store to buy a new disposable water bottle. 


2) Exchanged paper napkins for cloth napkins.
This saves money plus a time saver as no need to drive to the store to buy new napkins. We have enough on hand to last a weeks’ worth of lunches and dinners. This way I only do one small load a week of cloth napkins, sometimes it takes 2 weeks for the need to do a load. 


3) Exchanged paper towels for cloth rags.
Another large money saver in our house, as we were going through about 4-5 rolls a week and time saver as no need to drive to store to buy new rolls. Now we use cloth rags to dry our hands, wash dishes, clean counters, table, stove etc. We keep enough on hand so that we only need to do one load a week (which we throw in with cloth napkins). 


4) Becoming organized and prepared with a weekly menu and shopping list.
This is also a time saver because I am not making multiple trips to the grocery store during the week. I only shop once a week, as our only bulk store is 30 min away. We have quick snacks on hand that I make on Saturday or Sunday. We keep them stored in sealed glass jars to last the week for sports days, rushed afternoons or lazy days that we don't want to prepare a snack. No need for processed snacks in plastic bags anymore. 


 5) Other small steps that make a difference (and no extra time); using reusable grocery bags at stores, using reusable produce bags, saying no to plastic straws, composting and using a reusable coffee thermos (Starbucks deducts 10 cents each time). 


As you can see from these few first easy steps we adapted into our home, we have gained time back into our routine, feel great about helping the environment and I feel wonderful about what I am feeding the family by serving them unprocessed foods. On a side note, one added bonus is I have lost 18 lbs since starting this journey. I am not dieting or working out, but simply from eating unprocessed healthier foods , less stress and having the TIME back in my life for things I used to enjoy, such as my evening family walks and reconnecting with my children has helped restart my metabolism.


I hope this may help those that are interested in becoming zero waste but are unclear of where or how to start. Please feel free to comment or ask questions! 

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