My Journey To: A Low Waste Lifestyle

Friday, October 4, 2019

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When we were preparing for our move, I was sickened by the amount of "crap" we had accumulated. Stuff we didn't need. Stuff we didn't use. I'm ashamed to admit we hauled a lot to the city dump. There were a lot of things that couldn't be recycled or given away. I vowed to never ever be in that situation again. That was my starting point. I didn't realize at the time that it would lead us to fully changing our entire lifestyle.

I promised mother nature & the universe (and my bank account) that I wouldn't be wasteful like that again. I think it's easy with social media to get caught up in the "newest" and "prettiest" things. We have goals of aesthetically pleasing lifestyles plunged down our throat with every glance of Instagram. It has taken "keeping up with the Jones's" to a whole new level. An unhealthy one.

We needed a few furniture pieces once we got settled into our new house. We were gifted a dining room set from J's grandmother because she is now in assisted living. It's beautiful, has familial history, was free to us, and we are reusing instead of buying new. I won't lie, even after all my vows to myself for a more minimal lifestyle I found myself caught up in pinning home decor on Pinterest. I nearly almost purchased a brand new mid-century (isn't that an oxymoron) TV stand and coffee table online. Old habits die hard. I had to reel it in and I'll be searching thrift & antique stores for our future furniture. Yes there's downsides to this, you must have patience. It takes time and a lot of trips to find a piece that speaks to you. But once you do... it's so rewarding! 

Clothing was another shame moment. I couldn't believe the amount of clothes I had accumulated and can't wear anymore, or haven't worn, or completely forgotten about! This is where fast fashion comes into play. This was another promise I made to myself, to not get caught up in fast fashion. Not only because it's completely unnecessary, but fast fashion is the leading cause of clothing in landfills, most fast fashion clothing items are created in unethical shops outside of the US, and it takes about 700 gallons of water to create 1 cotton shirt. Those are just a few reasons that fast fashion is not sustainable and is unethical. I only kept a few things that I loved, the rest was donated. In our new city, Wichita, I have found several thrift shops that have amazing items for very low prices. I've made a few trips, because we did need a few things once we moved. I will only be purchasing secondhand or from sustainable clothing companies. One of the most freeing things about not purchasing fast fashion is that YOU have a chance to decide what YOUR AUTHENTIC style is. Don't get caught up in what the fast fashion industry tells you to wear, wear what you want to wear. If you're not chasing trends, you aren't creating waste. I'll definitely be posting more about fast fashion in the near future. But for now keep this in mind:

  • don't buy clothing you don't need just because it's on sale
  • seek out secondhand stores, there's some amazing ones out there
  • invest in sustainable pieces that are well made and will last a long time
  • discover your own authentic style instead of chasing trends
My initial goal was to just cut down on random spending and accumulation of unneeded things. What I didn't expect was to find myself going down a full on low waste lifestyle. I started watching YouTube videos about sustainable living and that's when things really started to take off for me. We are currently a one steady income household. I make money from my Etsy shops & blogging but it fluctuates. We live off of J's income and she gets paid once a month. Without going too deep into personal life here, we decided when we moved I'd stay home for awhile. This is something I really wanted, and she graciously is giving me that. I wanted time to heal myself from my previous soul sucking job of 10 years (seriously, it did a number on me). I also wanted to give my side hustles full-time attention to see where I can grow. However, this brought on a major lifestyle change. I knew we'd have to cut some costs and be a little frugal for a bit while we adjusted to one steady paycheck a month. Not only is low waste sustainable living frugal, it's important for our world. 


Every morning I get up and pack J's lunch for work. She's not fancy, she just prefers a sandwich and some veggies. Any kind. Even just plain crunchy peanut butter. She has long work days and takes 2 sandwiches. She'll have one at lunch (it's super early in the day) and one in the late afternoon. Her lunch bag came with a neat reusable plastic container (this was gifted to her last year) but it only has space for one sandwich. So we were using sandwich bags. After a month of this, I decided to look for a less wasteful option. I purchased these reusable sandwich bags. They have been amazing and I've since purchased reusable gallon size bags as well. This is a prime example of low waste being cheaper and better for the environment. These are made with food grade PEVA which is biodegradable.


At the same time I purchased the reusable sandwich bags, I purchased reusable cotton rounds. It just happened that the day I was placing my order, I ran out of cotton rounds. Since my brain is in full low waste mode, I decided to look for better options. I use these for eye makeup remover and my toner. I'm in love with these! They're made from natural bamboo material and are biodegradable. They also came with a little laundry bag. I keep this bag in a drawer in my bathroom, and just place the used rounds in there then toss in the laundry when it's full. Once again, a frugal and low waste replacement.


I don't like cow milk. I never have. I've never been the type to sit down and drink a glass of milk. I prefer almond milk for cooking and cereal. However, even purchasing almond milk at Aldi is an expense I'm not crazy about. Mostly because I use a little for a recipe then it goes bad. I've wasted A LOT of milk over the years. I accidentally came across a YouTube video where a woman was making oat milk from scratch. It was insanely easy, incredibly cheap (I always have oats on hand, love them), and low waste for sure. Especially if you buy your oats from a store that has bulk bins. I'm going to do a blog post on my oat milk process soon, but in the mean time here's the nut milk bags I purchased to make my oat milk. 


Speaking of bulk bin shopping... 
Here in Wichita we have a Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's is opening next week. Sprouts has been my ultimate go-to for bulk bin items and most of my organic produce actually. I already bring in my reusable shopping bags but also made the change to reusable bulk bin bags. We buy our coffee beans from Sprouts and we go through a lot of coffee. I use a reusable bulk bin bag and come home and immediately transfer the beans to a mason jar for storage. I also started using reusable produce bags. This is a no brainer and I'm disappointed I haven't been doing this all along. Produce bags are so incredibly wasteful. I purchased my bulk bin bags & produce bags from Sprouts but these are a nice option from Amazon.


I'm a straw drinker. 24/7. Even at home. The wrinkles my lips will have when I'm old... I'm not sure what it is but I need a straw. I already suffer from very low fluid intake (my urologist is on me about that) and I find straws help me drink more. During our move, my favorite Starbucks reusable tumbler with straw got broke. So I had no cup at home with a straw. I was placing my Grove Collaborative order and came across bamboo straws. I immediately put them in my cart. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about them, but I love them and take them with me everywhere. They come with a nice drawstring bag so I keep the extras in my purse for out and about. This would be an unnecessary purchase for anyone that doesn't insist on drinking out of straws like I do. So unless you're like me, you can probably skip this purchase. The thing I like about the bamboo is that it's not affected by heat or cold liquids like metal straws. This package comes with 6 straws, a travel bag, and a cleaning brush. Check them out

I know that I've shared some of my low waste replacements with you today, but I think it's important when starting your journey that you don't run out and buy everything you "think" you need. Let it happen organically. Find stuff you already use every day and see how you can make it low waste. I didn't necessarily seek out the low waste lifestyle, it found me. So I did naturally find replacements. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about these changes in my life and I look forward to sharing so much more with you!

What are some things in your day to day life that you can find a low waste alternative for?

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