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?

holidays, money, school

Standing Your Ground

It’s hard to be zero waste sometimes. In my house, I have complete control. I can package things in glass containers and reuse them. I can recycle. I can pick what I purchase and make sure it’s economical financially and environmentally. But out in the world, it gets a little harder.

I mentioned Valentines before, those little paper slips every kid hands out to every other kid in their class. Every Valentine’s Day, from preschool to middle school. That’s a lot of waste. My son’s preschool has different kids come on different days, so he had two Valentines parties. We sent one batch of Valentines, thinking the kids who were there on the first day would get theirs, and the kids who only attend on the other day would get theirs at that party. My son came home Tuesday with Valentines from his classmates, and on Wednesday he came home with more – some from the same classmates.

I felt embarrassed and cheap. “Was I supposed to send another set of Valentines for the second party?” I asked the teacher. She assured me it was fine, but another teacher was looking on with an expression that made me feel like I should have sent more.

But I hate them! (To be fair, some are cool. Some are just gummies with a note on the wrapper. Some had sticky hands attached, and those are always fun. But most were just slips of paper.) Why was I so worried that I had done something wrong, when I didn’t really want to do it in the first place?

I don’t want to be seen as cheap. But honestly, I guess I am cheap. I’m not stingy – I will buy things for fun for my kids; I will splurge on a nice dinner or treat a friend to coffee. But I felt cheap for not sending a second batch of paper Valentines. Why?!

How do you deal with standing strong in public? I have yet to take glass containers to the store to buy granola in bulk. I usually forget to take in my canvas bags, but when I do, the baggers always seem a little taken aback. I have no problem explaining why I think and do what I do, but sometimes it’s hard, and I feel the pressure from society to just conform to consumerism and waste. Does anyone else feel this way? How do you react?