I’ve been vegan for almost 20 years, and my husband just a little less than that.
We compost every bit of food waste in both our own compost bins as well as in the city’s bin (though we tend to use that for yard waste).
We compost all of our yard trimmings.
We greywatered our plumbing and so we irrigate one of our gardens with our used bathroom shower and sink water.
We have tanks that hold 1,000 gallons of rain water to irrigate another garden.
I work from home (thus I don’t commute), and my husband walks to the car pool to get into work and walks home from the bus stop on the way back.
When we do drive, it’s a 14-year-old Prius that still gets 40 miles to the gallon.
We shop for produce at our local farmer’s market each week, often walking there instead of driving.
In fact, I walk everywhere — to the local stores for groceries, to my bank, to my post office, to restaurants, even to hiking trails.
I make all my own legumes, lentils, and grains from scratch (no cans or packaging).
We use canvas bags for all our groceries.
We tell restaurants not to give us straws.
We wash and reuse the few plastic bags that do wind up in our house.
And yet…I can do better. And I’m aspiring to.
I announced to David that one of my intentions for this year was to live as close to zero-waste / plastic-free (they kind of go hand in hand) as possible, and the journey has thus far been enlightening and exciting. The best feeling after the first week was not having to put our garbage can out on garbage day (even my friend across the street noticed). We put out the compost and recycling bins — but not garbage.
Now, that’s not to say I won’t be contributing to landfills at all. We have plenty of packaging in the house that — until we use it all up and never replace it — will be thrown out, but the idea is to:
- reduce consumption of non-renewables as much as possible
- replace the prevalence of plastic in our lives
- recycle what we’re forced to (without becoming over-reliant on things that appear to be recyclable)
- repair what we already have without buying something new
- rely on foods that can be made from scratch, like my homemade bread and homemade peanut butter for breakfast today!
In the first week, I’ve already made a number of changes, first and foremost letting good friends know this is our goal so we can avoid the awkward moment when they buy or bring me something made from plastic.
I’ve also put items back on the shelf I was about to purchase but realized were made from plastic. Not that I couldn’t find good crusty bread at the farmer’s market (in paper) or peanut butter in glass jars (or something I can press myself into my own glass jars), but this week I’ve been having a lot of fun making my own peanut butter (with roasted salted peanuts), baking my own bread (from a sourdough starter given to me by a friend), making my own almond milk, and of course continuing to use my beloved pressure cooker to make beans and grains.
Discoveries and Disappointments
*During the week (before I was able to get to the farmer’s market), when we went to a couple different local stores for produce, we had to forego romaine lettuce and cauliflower because the only available versions were wrapped in plastic, so now I know which local stores sell them without plastic.
*I noticed that the Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour I have in the pantry is packaged in a plastic, non-recyclable bag. Very disappointing. Not a big deal because I can bring containers to the bulk section of stores to buy flour but disappointing for a company that strives to do so many things right.
*I decided to finally invest in a Le Creuset dutch oven, but I didn’t want to buy a new one, so I found a fantastic deal for a gently used one on eBay! (Blog post about that coming.)
*Gotta figure out the cat litter thing (blog post pending about this, too!)
*My iPhone 6 has a cracked screen and a ridiculously slow battery. Can’t wait to tell you what I decided to do! I’ll leave that for the next post! 🙂
This is a journey, and like I always say related to being vegan: Don’t do nothing because you’re can’t do everything. Do something. Anything. So, we’re trying. And there’s a lot we can do!