Why Minimal Waste (And Why I Don’t Say Zero Waste)

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So I spoke a little bit about why we are going minimal waste in a video last month, but I left many people confused because minimal waste is not nearly as popular of a phrase as it’s Zero Waste sister. Although I could have left things at that video, I thought it would be best to address why I call my journey a Minimal Waste journey, and what that exactly means for my family.

First off, like I mentioned in the video, going Zero Waste is really not an option for my family. We got through so many syringes, oxygen masks, and medicine bottles that I will literally always have some sort of plastic in my home that is unavoidable. But that is not the only reason why we are Minimal Waste instead of Zero Waste.

Yes, I could go on a mission and get rid of everything disposable in our home other than Austen’s medical supples, and never bring those things back in. I could, but I won’t. And that’s because I do not feel that that is necessarily a healthy way to live my life. I know if I tried to live my life that way I would obsess over it to the point of not focusing on anything else, it’s just the way I am, so I choose not to.

Instead we have set up some ground rules for our home that we try to follow in order to cut down on the waste we create and not bring as many wasteful things into our home.

  • We follow the 5 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and Refuse that I learned about in the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson.
  • We buy as much as we can without packaging. This includes shampoo, face soap, conditioner, and most food items.
  • We have made guidelines of what types of plastics we are okay with bringing into our home, namely cosmetics cases, milk cartons and milk cartons that I am unable to find in non plastic containers.
  • We do not purchase things in styrofoam, or use disposable plates or cutlery.
  • We got to know our communities recycling guidelines, and make sure anything we do bring in that is plastic falls within those guidelines.
  • We are focused more on lowering our trash output than our recycling output at the moment. Once we get that under control we plan to tackle that as well.
  • As things in our house break or become unusable that are made of plastic, we plan to replace them with sustainable alternatives. For example, when my plastic dish rack broke a few months back we replaced it with a bamboo option.

As time goes by my goal is to lower our output 85-90%. Right now I currently fill up my recycling bin every single week and throw away two trash bags full of trash a week as well. By December I hope to get that down to one load of recycling and one bag of trash every two weeks. Eventually I’d like to get it down to once a month or less.

I’m taking baby steps with my green journey, the same way I am with my debt free journey. And that is okay.

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4 comments on “Why Minimal Waste (And Why I Don’t Say Zero Waste)

  1. Kudos to you!! Baby steps in the right direction are to be celebrated! Thanks for sharing your perspective as you walk this awesome journey toward a greener, better life! <3

  2. I love this article! It is great to see other families making such a big commitment to our communities. Two summers ago, we made a “worm bin” for composting but let me tell you what, somehow they were escaping from the closed container underneath my sink into my kitchen. The compost was quickly moved outside. Anyhow, lovely blog here!

    1. Oh my goodness that’s both hilarious and terrifying! We are actually building our compost bin outside this week from some old pallets!

  3. I’m trying to work on this. We’ve totally eliminated meat and dairy for the environment and I feel like my boyfriend and I could also be doing a lot better with the amount of waste we accumulate.

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