One year of “zero waste”

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Em Português mais abaixo.

It’s been more than a year that I read that book, made myself a few muslin cotton bags and made a  commitment to reduce our waste and as back then I still struggle to use the term Zero Waste for many, many reasons, but for lack of a better shorter term, and because nowadays is so easily recognizable, I still use it, especially in tags on instagram and will keep using it to categorize this kind of posts, however, there are a few things I wanted to address here first.

Even most of the more devotees to this lifestyle recognizes that is very difficult for an individual in our modern society not to create waste, but on a more personal level, in reality I cannot, at this stage of my/our life aim for a total zero waste lifestyle. Each person/couple/family have personal circumstances that must be respected, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change our habits, we must! However small steps and a more positive way of looking at what we can achieve is a better attitude and helps us to make long lasting changes that we can stick with more easily.

There was a time, earlier on, where I did try to shop zero waste and after awhile I came to the conclusion that I simply couldn’t keep up! I was stressing over it too much and more importantly,  the simple truth is I just can’t afford it. That doesn’t mean its business as usual; what I’m trying to say is: in a more honest way, my aim is to reduce our waste, which we’ve actually managed to do! Instead of fretting about the amount of recycling and rubbish we were creating I decided to look at the amount we’ve reduced, which has been significant, and as I said above, this shift of perspective has been better for my mental health, therefore, I believe, easier to keep those changes and keep working to reduce it even further. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I’m ready to share in following posts, some of the steps we’ve taken to reduce waste for our family of five with a limited budget.

 

Já lá vai um ano desde que eu li aquele livro, fiz uns saquinhos de pano e decidi reduzir o nosso lixo, e tal como antes, continuo a não me sentir confortavel com o termo “zero waste” ou desperdicio zero, por várias razões. Mas por falta de um termo melhor e de fácil identificação continuo a usá-lo, principalmente no instagram e continuarei a usar para categorizar este tipo de postes, no entanto há umas quantas coisas que eu gostava de falar primeiro.

Até mesmo as pessoas mais devotadas a este estilo de vida reconhecem que é muito dificil para um individuo na nossa sociedade moderna não criar nenhum desperdicio, mas num sentido mais pessoal, nesta altura da minha/nossa vida, simplesmente não me é possivel tentar atingir um estilo de vida totalmente de desperdicio zero. Cada pessoa/casal/familia tem circunstâncias pessoais que têm de ser respeitadas, mas isso não quer dizer que não podemos mudar os nossos habitos, nós temos mesmo que mudar! No entanto passos pequenos e uma atitude mais positiva em relação ao que nós podemos conseguir ajuda-nos a fazer mudanças que poderemos manter mais facimente a longo prazo.

No inicio eu ainda tentei fazer compras sem desperdicio, mas passado pouco tempo cheguei à conclusão que simplesmente eu não conseguiria manter esse estilo de vida! Eu stressava muito e o mais importante, e a simples verdade é que simplesmente eu o dinheiro não chegava. Mas isso não quer dizer que voltou tudo como era antes; o que eu quero dizer, numa maneira mais honesta, o que eu estou a tentar fazer é reduzir o nosso desperdicio, o que nós já conseguimos fazer! Em vez de me preocupar com a quantidade de reciclagem e lixo que nós produzimos em casa eu decidi observar é o que nós já conseguimos reduzir, o que é significante, e ta como disse acima, esta mudança de perspectiva tem sido muito melhor para a minha saúde mental e por isso mesmo eu acredito que manteremos mais facilmente essas mudanças e nos permitirá continuar a trabalhar para reduzir ainda mais. Agora que já falei sobre estas questões, estou pronto par apartilhar em futuros postes, os passos que temos dádo para reduzir o desperdicio de uma familia de cinco pessoas com um orçamento limitado.

 

 

shop update

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The post I have waited so long to do is finally here! After years of planning, years of trying to save and even more of actually saving, we are now ready to embark on a new adventure. I have wrote a little about it before. We’re chasing a wish, a dream and see what we can make of it and what opportunities come our way. Just now, we’re too much in the middle of it all to write more and there are too many things to organize and pack…

If you would like to help us and in return receive beautiful and useful Earth friendly things, go to my shop (I’ll keep updating it in the next few days, so please check often), and for one week only enter the code LighterPacking to receive a 10% discounted. This is valid until September 15th, after that the shop will close for a few weeks or months and I’m sorry to say, postage will be more expensive to the UK…

 

reusable tea bag

If you drink herbal tea for medicinal purposes, chances are you’ll need to drink several several cups a day. The quantity depends on many factors, but at the moment I should be drinking four but I’m lucky if I remember to drink two… Obviously is not enough.

So the solution? Make a big batch in the morning and drink throughout the day. And that’s where this reusable tea bag comes in, made of organic non-bleached muslin cotton, made in India. You can fill it with one or up to seven or eight teaspoons of loose tea (it shouldn’t be pack full so the herbs have plenty of space inside). After use, turn it inside out and wash under running water. The fabric is so thin that it’ll dry in a couple of hours, I usually leave mine to dry on the dish rack. And that’s it, as easy as that!

These bags would also be great for herbal bath (where you fill the bag with herbs and drop it in the bath while the water is running, or if you don’t have time, tie the bag onto the shower head and have a herbal shower).

They are now available in the shop in sets of two!

(zero waste) Lunch / picnic

So far lunch has been the most difficult thing about this decision!

Not the kind of lunch that we cook and eat at home, but the other, the one we pack and eat out. Where before I relied on rice crackers, oat cakes and pasta for quick fixes, now I don’t have that to fall on… Crackers always come wrapped in plastic, even the ones coming from a carbon neutral company I don’t think they are recyclable, at least I had a look and didn’t see the sign.

Besides this conundrum I’m also very lucky to have a fussy child to feed! Well, he is fussier that the other two, so I’m assuming that he is a fussy eater…

So, what to do? First I brainstormed with the children; what do they think we could take for lunch when we’re out? We now have a list of acceptable foods, but the most difficult part is that I have to get in the habit of preparing food the night before, and as we know habits, especially the ones that are good for us, are difficult to implement!  Is not that the food is hard to prepare or cook, is just that is one more thing to do, to plan, to think about…

Anyway, next week is a new week, let’s see how we do with this list and a commitment for new habits.

 

Até agora o almoço tem sido a coisa mais dificil sobre esta decisão!

Não o tipo de almoços que cozinhamos e comemos em casa, mas o outro, aquele que levámos para comer lá fora. Antes quando não tinha muito tempo para preparar o lanche, valia-me as bolachas de arroz, aveia e massas, mas agora não tenho nada dessas coisas porque até mesmo os pacotes de massa de arroz integral ou a bolachas de arroz de uma companhia “carbon neutral” não são reciclaveis, pelo menos eu tentei ver e não vi o sinal.

É que para além disto tudo, eu ainda sou sortuda de ter um filho esquisito com a comida! Bem, ele é mais esquisito do que os outros dois, por isso eu imagino que seja esquisito…

Então o que fazer? Primeiro perguntei às crianças o que é que eles gostam de comer quando fazemos um picnic e agora tenho uma lista de comida aceitavel, mas o mais dificil é que eu tenho que criar o habito de preparar a comida no dia anterior, e como nós sabemos, habitos, especialmente os que são bons para nós, são dificeis de implementar! Não é que a comida seja dificil de preparar ou cozinhar, mas é mais uma coisa para fazer, planear, pensar…

Mas pronto, a próxima semana é uma semana nova e com a tal list de comida e o compromisso de criar um novo habito, vamos a ver como é que corre.

 

reusable produce bags

It has been at least a month since I started using these reusable cotton bags (from my etsy shop) and I haven’t had a negative reaction to it, the  people working at the shops, even in the supermarket, just weight them and go about as if using these is the most conventional thing! It has been a truly positive change all around!

Since we started seriously reducing our waste, I have also been using a drawstring bag to buy bread and other things, and again, people just look inside or ask. I am thankful for people not making a big deal about it and just let me use them. Just imagine if this type of thing became the norm, how much more plastic we could stop from being produced and wasted!

 

Já há cerca de um mês que eu começei a usar estes sacos de algodão (à venda na minha loja etsy) e ainda não tive uma reação negativa por parte das pessoas que trabalham nas lojas, até mesmo dos hipermercados; elas pesam os sacos com as coisas lá dentro como se fosse a coisa mais normal! Tem sido uma mudança bem positiva em todos os aspectos! 

E desde que começamos a reduzir o nosso lixo  a serio, também começei a usar os sacos de pano para comprar pão e outras coisas, e também com esses as pessoas ou olham o que está la dentro ou perguntam. Eu fico agradecida por as pessoas não fazerem disto um bicho de sete cabeças e deixarem-me  usar os sacos. Imaginem só se este tipo de coisa fosse o normal fosse o que toda agente faz, quanto plastico que deixaria de ser produzido e desperdiçado!

 

(aiming for) Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Last year I did my Permaculture PDC at Urban Roots with Lusi Alderslowe. As part of our training the group was asked to chose between a few themes and one day Lusi took us out to Linn Park… I remember an exercise from the work Joanna Macy, the council of all beings but this particular exercise I don’t remember where it’s from.We sat in pairsand answered three questions: If you had a superpower to help the Earth what would you do? The second question was,  what do you think you could do in a year (or was it a month?), and the third what could we do by next week?

My superpower would be to stop the production  every chemical or anything that doesn’t breakdown, for example plastic. Then the second and third question came and I don’t really remember what I said, but I kind of felt that there wasn’t much I could do. I think I only came up with the solution of recycling more and maybe choose to vote for a political party that would endorse policies to reduce toxic waste. I don’t use any chemicals to clean the house and all my hygiene products were natural and simple. Trying to recycle more felt too vague and not enough either. I kind of felt helpless!

Fast forward to a couple of months ago I came across the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson (a library copy); something in me shifted and I took action! Sometimes we get so stuck in the normal busyness of life that we don’t see the simple steps we could take until somebody points out to you and this family example gave me the tangible inspiration I needed!

After I read the book, I finally made some muslin bags to use instead of the thin plastic ones and I set out to reduce our recycling and regular bin. For this to work though, I needed to educate my children about it too! I wanted them to understand why I didn’t want to buy some of the things they would ask me to, I wasn’t being mean… So I decided to show them some documentaries on the subject and we started with the Story of Stuff, after we watched all the clips we came to an agreement that we wouldn’t buy anything that could not be recycled or compostable, just to start small… They are so supportive and cooperative! I’m surprised on how well they took this on board, checking everything we buy and asking so many good questions!

Once I started to look, I found an inspiring movement of people reducing their rubbish:  one, two, plus the instagram hashtag.

weekly shopping

Above you can see our shopping for the week. It’s likely that I’ll have to buy more fruit but this is it, more or less:

A large box of vegetables from Locavore; there are quite a lot of packaging this week (top right corner), and though they can all go in the compost, I just send it back in the box, hopefully they’ll reuse it. As soon as we receive the box I put the vegetables in the big plastic box that I have been using for years to store them in the fridge, and the salad leaves wrap it in wet muslin cloth to keep them fresh, and I also store them in the fridge.

This week I don’t really need a lot of dry goods, what I did wanted to buy I couldn’t find at the Harvest Co-op, so I’ll have to take a trip to Wholefoods where the bulk selection is bigger.

I did hesitated to buy those two packs of fruit for smoothies (left), but I’m just about to start (again!) an elimination diet, so I decided not to complicate things too much for myself… besides, the packaging fits our family criteria as it’s recyclable.

I have yet to convince the children and my husband to switch to my powdered toothpaste so I can’t take that off the list, but I think I’ll try this recipe to see if they like that better.

In some ways this change has actually made my life easier! Besides the fact that we’ve reduced our regular and recycling bin a lot, now I actually have a plausible excuse, one that the children understand and agree with, not to buy processed food! That and not having to go to the supermarket is some of the best outcomes.

 

new packaging

packaging

packaging

Up until now I wasn’t very happy with the packaging I was using to send the orders from the shop. I was reusing old envelops that I’ve kept, the problem with this is that I was relying on buying stuff on the internet and receiving it by post and most envelops aren’t big enough.

So I started looking for packaging, I wanted it to have zero plastic, but I at the same time it needed to be strong to handle everything a package has to go through since living me, until it reaches you.

These satisfy those requirements and I really like the simple, raw look of it!