home life, natural living, school, working

Zero Waste

I mentioned the Zero Waste Home on my Inspiration link up, but only wrote a blip about the site. When I discovered it back in 2010, it really affected my thinking and my lifestyle. I was really into blogs back then, following friends and personal blogs and lifestyle blogs, and I even followed some fashion bloggers, believe it or not! These were more alternative bloggers who bought from thrift stores or had capsule wardrobes or did 30 day challenges… Attainable fashion, basically. Even those sold out, though some have come back pretty level-headed. But I digress.

The Zero Waste Home made me conscious of what I used and how I disposed of it. Since then, I have noticed how much trash I bring home from the grocery store in terms of packaging. And how much paper schools waste with busy work or “art” just to have something to show, to keep the kids busy, or to hit numbers and create “meaningful” data. It’s all pretty disgusting, but it’s hard to keep it away.

I wrote about Valentine’s cards and how I thought they were wasteful, but what can you do? Everything about consumerism and waste is so mainstream, so ingrained in everything, that it’s hard to break free. I sometimes still feel societal pressure about things as an adult, so I certainly don’t want my son to feel uncomfortable or mocked because his mom hates recycling the art papers that are sent home with him, or anything along those lines.

Going Zero Waste within the home is easy enough – we are keeping track of our trash vs our recycling and seeing how much we get rid of each week. We are trying to cut down on what we bring in in the first place. And I think it’s important to speak up and tell others we don’t want what they are offering us, like a free plastic toothbrush at the dentist when we buy our own compostable toothbrushes. But in a setting like school, or the workplace, things get a bit harder.

Do you have this problem with your workplace or at your kids’ school? How do you work around it? Are you vocal and just hope your kids go with it? Do you consider working at home and/or homeschooling your kids as an alternative?

Let’s get deep on the last letter of the alphabet, hm?

home life, money

Moving

Moving is tough. After being born and raised in one house, I moved a lot in my 20s. I stayed in each apartment for about a year around Memphis, then moved away to grad school for a year. Then moved back, then traveled, and then moved around a bit more before buying my house. Though it was always hard, I got pretty good at moving. I still have my fingers crossed that I won’t have to move again, or at least for a long time.

Packing. It can be done in so many ways. Often I through clothes, pillows, and linens into garbage bags because you will get them out sooner than most boxed stuff, and you can smush those bags into the cracks between boxes to help with space.

Oh boxes. I used to move with whatever boxes people had left from packages (before everything was delivered from Amazon), or from grocery and liquor stores. The problem with those boxes is that sometimes they were carrying something that is packed differently than your belongings would be, so you start to put together a box and realize It doesn’t have a bottom! 

For that reason alone, I finally bought boxes when I was moving home from grad school. I went to Home Depot and bought a set of ten or so boxes for not-too-much money. A lot of people scoff at buying boxes, but you know what? I packed them and drove them in a U-Haul trailer from DC to Memphis. I moved them into my new home. I kept them in a storage unit for six months. I moved them into a new apartment. And I moved them into my house. There are still some holding things in my attic. I’m not saying they last longer than free boxes, but I’m saying they have earned their worth by lasting so many moves. It was worth the money to know I had the size and number of boxes I needed. If you don’t want to pay for boxes – don’t! It’s not a big deal either way, and I’ve moved with free boxes and moved with bought boxes and it’s all the same.

And it’s never fun.

The best thing about moving, besides getting a new place that you (hopefully!) love, is having the chance to look at all of your stuff. I have always downsized during moves. Whether it’s stuff you forgot you had and don’t need anymore, or you just get tired of packing and decide to get rid of the rest, it’s a great opportunity to get minimalize. Sometimes unpacking is a great time for that, too – when you get to the point that you just can’t look at another box – donate it!

holidays, home life

Valentines for Everyone?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so holidays are on my mind. I used to love holidays as a kid – any special day was worth celebrating! Even as a young adult, I would celebrate different anniversaries with friends, boyfriends, referencing concerts I’d seen, and more. I loved marking time and highlighting special days. But the older I got, the less I cared. It’s just a day, right? And honestly, who has the energy to decorate and celebrate so many little days?

Valentine’s Day seems like the most wasteful holiday to me. I know people say it’s a Hallmark holiday, made up to sell cards, and we should celebrate love every day. And I agree with all of that. I don’t like Valentine’s Day, and I don’t want a gift or flowers tomorrow. But I’m sure I’ll get them, with my husband being all about the holidays. I do have a gift for each boy – a book and some candy. (February 14th is, after all, International Book Giving Day. I’m much more excited about that holiday than Valentine’s Day.)

My son is giving out Valentines in class. This is what is the most wasteful to me – giving a card to everyone in your class. He’s in preschool, so he is only handing out about 20 cards for classmates and teachers. My stepson will have to hand out close to 30. That’s 50 little sheets of paper total, some with envelopes. And why? It’s not even to show someone you like them, since you have to give everyone a card. I get the concept – let’s not leave anyone out. But why do it at all? Can’t we just say “Happy Valentine’s Day” instead?

My son’s cards are just a slip of paper with a little shaped eraser attached. I was hoping this was more practical, since it’s something useful, and it’s not candy (considering allergies, anti-sugar folk, etc). It will probably still get thrown away (or hopefully recycled), but it seems a little more thoughtful. We don’t have cards for my stepson’s class yet because he just told us about it yesterday, but hopefully he will also choose cards without envelopes. At least that will save a bit of waste.

Enough from my crotchety self – how do you feel about Valentine’s Day?