After traveling with such a small bag and even smaller wardrobe, my outlook on material excess has shrunk- literally. Cleaning out my closet was one of the first things I did when I returned, and I didn’t just stop at clothing, donating several additional boxes of items and objects that were just collecting dust on my shelves.
But what does this have to do with zero waste?
I truly believe that going zero waste is not just something you do- its a state of mind. Learning to let go of unnecessary things has served to create emphasis on the things I do keep, while also cutting my ties with the culture of consumerism; I have to decide what I need before entering stores or browsing online and I subject myself to heavy interrogation before signing in blood on the dotted line of the receipt.
But in all seriousness, I have to be honest with myself. This whole experiment is about balance, and I believe that genuine change comes from genuine understanding; the more I learn about myself and what I truly value, the more likely I will make a successful and clean transition into a responsible lifestyle.
Which is also why I needed to create a “craft” pile while cleaning out my closet. I had a really hard time giving away/throwing out items that I was attached to, even if they were just scraps of paper or old T-shirts. I enjoy DIY projects, just small-scale crafting stuff, so naturally I thought a craft pile was a great idea- but there was a catch.I wouldn’t let myself put anything into the scrap pile until I had an idea of what I would use it for, and all projects left uncompleted by the end of the summer will be forfeited. I’ve set these rules down to prevent my craft pile from becoming another junk pile, I guess we’ll have to see what happens!
So far I’ve made a keepsake out of all the scraps of paper and tickets I collected while in Southeast Asia (including a napkin with directions, you use whatever is available!) I’m thrilled with how this one worked out, and having found the same sort of keepsakes from my first few years at university, I plan to do the same once I dig a frame out!
After cleaning out my closet, I began to plan for every day applications of zero waste. I knew from my online research that I needed to put together a grocery shopping kit as well as a food storage kit for the kitchen. I also needed to pack lunches for work and store leftovers, something to consider now that tupperware is out of the picture. I found a great supply of tin cans and glass jars at thrift stores for insanely reasonable prices, I have a cloth lunch bag with drawstring, and even a small pillow case for wrapping bread on the counter. Easy peasy!
I do, however, want to give a dose of reality to the situation. Despite the fact that I’m living back in my family’s home this summer, I personally only own the bare-minimum for cookware; this has made it almost too easy to make a lifestyle change because I don’t have to throw out perfectly good plastics- I’m just purchasing glasses and metals for the first time, and in that sense, I’m lucky. I do want to add that I found the jars and tins in the city at a thrift shop, simply because I was passing through and did not want to risk it on the small shops in town. I purchased four glass jars of varying sizes, and six tins also of varying sizes, for just under $15. As for soaps and cleaning, I have a small stock leftover from my wasteful days, so while I tackle the food related issues of zero waste, I plan on using them up. Why throw away perfectly good lotion or shampoo just because it’s in a plastic bottle? I can’t control what I bought in the past, but I’m controlling what I buy now, so there’s no point in adding additional (and blatantly irrational) waste to the pile. Having said that, if one were trying to make such a transition and found their home littered with plastics, they could always donate or recycle (when possible) the plastics and upgrade to other more natural materials when and if they had the economic standing to do so.
I think the big thing here is to cut back from consumerism and one-time use practices. The granola bar wrappers, the bottles of soap, the bag of peanuts. I’m soon going to find out how economic/time efficient this lifestyle proves, but already I’m noticing a serious difference in the foods that are available to me- those mostly being fruits and veggies. Needless to say I can feel the health flowing through my veins, but that doesn’t mean I don’t really, really, miss chocolate bars.
Next up, I dive right into grocery shopping, food storage, granola bars, and drift wood flowers, although, things could change by the end of the week. I’ll let you know.
All the best,