Throwing Things “Away” 

Good afternoon! I’m sitting here on my break between classes eating my packed lunch and people-watching. Seeing the incessant flow of people to and from the trash bin reminded me of how easy it is to just throw things away. But where do they go? Certainly, off of our conscience and our list of responsibilities but not much further than that; it piles up in landfills and stays.

Right after the New Year, I watched a video of Lauren Singer explaining her zero waste lifestyle and it piqued my interest. Check out the full video for yourself if you have 5 spare minutes!

After doing my own research over the past few weeks, I’ve begun making small changes in my habits and I’ve already noticed big results so I wanted to share my experience.

Here’s what I’ve started doing so far:

  1. Bringing my own cloth/recycled bags to the grocery shop (this one is easy for me because Bellingham has a plastic bag ban and charges 5 cents for paper bags at most stores–no thanks).
  2. Bringing mason jars or other repurposed glass/metal containers with me to shop for bulk items. I just take the jar and write down the weight before filling with oats, rice, pasta, raisins, etc.
  3. Keeping a metal fork and spoon in my backpack for on-campus lunches.
  4. Swapping out plastic drink straws for metal and glass ones (which are cuter, also).
  5. Bringing my own thermos or mug when I plan to buy a drink somewhere.
  6. Buying loose-leaf tea from now on and steeping them in a little metal ball.
  7. Making (well, my mom made me) wool dryer balls that help absorb moisture and cut drying time and pick up lint. I add a few drops of essential oil to them to make my clothes smell delicious without dryer sheets.
  8. I found a pretty glass soap jar and plan to continue refilling it with bulk soap instead of buying “disposable” plastic soap dispensers.
  9. Cut the bottoms of old t-shirts to make a little fringe and then double knotted each pair (front and back of the shirt) to close up the bottom. Then I cut off the sleeves and cut the neck hole wider to make a bag shape. I flipped it inside out and voila! No-sew cotton bags.
  10. Continued supporting Kombucha Town, which sells glass growlers for a $3 deposit that they’ll clean and reuse. This provides you with a fresh growler of delicious kombucha for $5 when you bring trade in your dirty one–score!

Those are the main changes I’ve made so far. Next up, I want to:

  • Start a compost bin in my house and find a local garden or larger compost bin that I can add the end product to until I am out of the apartment scene.
  • Start brewing my own kombucha.
  • Use produce and muslin bags for product and dry bulk and transfer them to my glass jars at home.
  • Find more ways to repurpose what I already own before buying new things.

At the end of the day, it’s not an all-or-nothing deal; every little effort to swap in reusable alternatives makes a difference so my plan is to just do what I can with what I have and let things change as slowly as they need to. I’ve heard it compared to exercise in that more exercise may be better for us but getting some exercise is better than none at all. It should be fun and rewarding to clean up your habits and simplify your shopping lists.

That’s all for now, folks. Let know if you have made any similar changes in your life. I’d love to hear your ideas!

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