Zero Waste: Holy Grails, Fails, & Goals!

Ever since reading books like Plastic Ocean & Zero Waste Home, I’ve been trying reduce the amount of trash I produce. My entire family has been working hard to consume less and waste less. But some efforts have been more successful than others.

In this week’s video, I talk all about the zero waste swaps that I’ve found most useful. I also discuss my frustrations with myself, my family, and with a world that isn’t exactly friendly to minimizing consumption. There are some places where I have definitely failed at zero waste (starting with the fact that I’m definitely not anywhere near zero waste!). But I’m trying hard to focus on the positive and be effective without going crazy. (And going crazy about zero waste is frustratingly easy to do).

Holy Grails

Reusable glass jars have made storing food easier, and I love how fresh they keep things! I’m also loving the “makeup eraser” cloth I got from Sephora.

In terms of recipes that have been success, my zero waste toothpaste was a win for me, but the rest of my family is less enthusiastic (I just need to find tutti frutti-flavoured essential oil). Bamboo toothbrushes worked for me, and the kids like them – but they prefer the more colourful plastic version. I also love Lauren Singer’s zero waste deodorant recipe, though I might break down and buy an antiperspirant for certain occasions (watch the video if you want to learn why).

As I mentioned in a previous video, my grandpa’s safety razor is amazing, and I like it a lot better than disposable razors. I’ve also been using a Diva Cup, and I love that too.


Though I’ve tried occasionally, reusable cups are just not working for me at coffee shops. Instead of toting a mug everywhere, I’ve compromised, and decided to choose coffee shops that reuse their cups (saving me from having to drag along my own). And when I’m in a pinch (usually at Starbucks, which often doesn’t have reusable mugs here in Canada), I’ll take a paper cup, but leave the lid.

Overall, though, my biggest fail has been packaging. By a mile. It’s kills me to see how much packaging we throw away/recycle each week. We are pretty good at garbage, and we are slowly getting to a point where we’ll be able to produce a fairly tiny (office/bathroom can-sized) bag of trash per week for a family of four. It’s not very impressive by Lauren Singer or Bea Johnson’s standards, but it’s far better than our previous bag a day! However, the amount we recycle is really out of hand. We produce a kitchen garbage sized amount every 3 days, and it’s usually filled to the brim with plastic clamshells and the like.

Zero Waste Goals

In order to keep from despairing about the overflowing recycling, I’m going to try to keep things simple and focus on one thing at a time. For the next few months, that thing will be plastic. I’m going to try to find as many better alternatives as I can to the regular products we buy, and I’ll try to make sure that when we do buy plastic, it’s recyclable. By focusing on one thing, hopefully I can be more effective and get less overwhelmed and frustrated.

What about you? Are there any zero waste swaps you find helpful? What is your best tip for minimizing the trash you produce?

What do you think? Join the conversation!

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