Since we’ve started Tinycaravan, we’ve been on a journey to limit our impact on the planet. A large part of that is limiting the amount of waste we produce. We started bringing reusable utensils everywhere, invested in reusable produce bags for the grocery store, and learned how to recycle the right way. Recently, we decided to take another step towards living with zero waste.
The zero waste movement is a lifestyle that focuses on the conscious & unconscious effort to lower the impact of harm done to animals, humans, and the environment. It’s not about attaining perfection, but making an effort to do more and do better for the planet. The transition has been a great learning process and we’re excited to share our experiences with you.
This month we will be showing you our waste, documenting our progress, and providing weekly updates on the transition. Dismissing the idea of “out of sight, out of mind,” anything that cannot be reused, repurposed, composted, or recycled will be put into mason jars that we will share in each post. We intend on taking what we learn from this experience and incorporating that in our zero waste journey (and we hope you will too).
Note: Although we don’t normally keep our trash in a mason jar, we’re doing it this month so that we (and you) can visually see how much trash we produce each week.
Where are you currently living?
Why do you want to live with zero waste & what do you hope to gain?
I hope to be even more mindful of my impact and waste. By visualizing my trash, I will be able to see what goes into the landfill and how much waste I produce. I hope this will encourage our readers and myself to make an effort in looking for bulk food stores in the area, shopping at the local farmers market, reusing what we already own, buying recyclable & compostable products, and buying items with little to no packaging.
Where do most of your waste come from?
Food packaging and fruit peels/veggie ends.
What have you found to be the most challenging or frustrating?
Food waste and plastic packaging (especially the little ones you tend to forget about). When it comes to food waste, Ventura County does not have a composting facility or make it accessible for the community to compost. It’s frustrating because most of my waste is food, which can easily be handled if only composting was available. The only solution I can think of is to create my own compost bin –– it’s in the works! I also became more aware of the little annoying plastics found on everything from fruit stickers, price tags & stickers, bread ties, jar stickies, foil/plastic on top of the opening of containers, plastic wrap on jars, and so much more. Plastic is everywhere –– it’s so annoying!
What have you found to be the easiest transition?
Shopping for household products, beauty products, and groceries and eating food at office parties. Ventura County provides many options to shop in bulk and at farmers markets. On Saturdays I’ll head to a local farmers market and a Sprouts with my reusable produce bags and glass jars. The Refill Shoppe, is also located here and is my go-to for beauty and bath products, kitchenware, and household items. They sell many items in bulk and reusable products (e.g. straws, utensils, napkins, bags). Most come package free and if not, the packages are either compostable or recyclable. When it comes to spontaneous office parties (which happens more often than I expect), I avoid waste by keeping a plate, a reusable container, and reusable utensils at my desk. I can enjoy the free food and feel guilt-free –– double win.
What surprised you the most in the waste you produced? How can you try and reduce that waste?
There is a lot of waste created from fruit peels and food packaging, especially packaging from frozen Asian food (e.g. dumplings, green onion pancake, Chinese sausage, buns). Luckily (or maybe not for me), Ventura County doesn’t have many Asian supermarkets –– and it’s been a struggle because I love Asian food! I also was surprised with how many fruits I ate every day, the little veggie ends that went to waste, and all the egg shells I produced from the amount of eggs I ate. Receipts have also been a problem. Sometimes you can’t refuse them because stores automatically give them to you. This is where the importance of educating businesses come into play.
I’m going to try and reduce these waste by composting, avoiding plastic packaging (even though they’re “recyclable,” and stop buying frozen foods. I also want to start making my own food, such as almond milk or hummus –– with supplies bought in bulk with my reusable containers. Being prepared ahead of time will help with the amount of waste I produce too. I’m ready for week 2!
What ended up in my 32oz. jar?
Any item that couldn’t be recycled went into my jar. Most of my trash in the jar was food packaging. Others include napkins, fruit stickers, and soy sauce packages.
If you have any tips to reduce waste, I’d love to hear it!