When I read this post about micro actions we can take to reduce rubbish in the New Year by Lindsay of Treading My Own Path, it really got me thinking about all the small steps we’ve taken in our house towards a lower carbon footprint and lower waste output. It also made me realise that we still have a long way to go, so I think now is a good time for me to evaluate how I want to move forward. It’s time for me to reflect on the changes I have made and feel proud of those, but then to also look at the changes I haven’t made (yet!) and take steps to make them happen in 2018.
While I have high ambitions for reducing my waste, my aim for this year is not in fact to reach completely zero waste. I can see myself in the future proudly toting around one of those little mason jars with the odd fruit sticker or clothing tag in it…but I guess I’ll have to leave that to the professional zero-wasters for now, because that’s not my reality. I believe the zero waste lifestyle doesn’t have to entail an all-or-nothing approach. It might take me a year or, more likely, many years to be able to keep an entire year’s waste in a mason jar, but for now, I’ll be celebrating my little victories along the way with the knowledge that they’ll all add up to something much bigger in the long run.
First, here’s a quick summary of the steps I took over 2016 and 2017, with the help and co-operation of my husband, towards being more sustainable:
- Choosing reusable
- Having zero-waste periods
- Bulk shopping and BYO container
- Refusing single-use plastic
- Being more water wise and energy efficient
- Drastically reducing our car use
Now for the challenge! In 2018, I challenge myself to…
- Further reduce my plastic footprint. This is in the hope of eventually eliminating it altogether! While I can’t undo the damage of the plastic I’ve already consumed, I do have a choice about the future. What I aim to do is a plastic audit of the house and go from there. That way, I can see which further items could be bought in bulk, what can be made from scratch instead, and what could at the very least be purchased in reusable and/or recyclable glass or metal containers. The Zero-Waste Chef’s post on going plastic-free in 2018 has really inspired me to take action on this.
- Actively keep track of our household waste output. This means emptying our little waste-to-landfill bin at the same regular intervals and weighing it prior to taking it out. I’m not entirely sure what to expect from this or what I’ll do with the data we obtain, but I know it will be interesting to see and I’m sure I will have a lot to learn. Of course, this doesn’t account for the actual materials going in to the bin, but I think keeping track of volume will at the very least give us a rough idea of whether our waste output is decreasing. Hopefully, it is!
- Make more food from scratch. A sub-goal of reducing my plastic footprint. First on my list are pesto and sauerkraut…yum.
- Make my own zero-waste bathroom/beauty products. Also a sub-goal of reducing my plastic footprint, because most of our plastic use is coming from the bathroom now that our food packaging has significantly decreased. First up, I want to try The Zero-Waste Chef’s DIY deodorant recipe. I’ve seen plenty of zero-waste deodorant recipes out there, but Anne Marie’s is the only one I’ve seen so far that uses ingredients I actually have in my cupboard on a regular basis.
- Be more proactive when it comes to speaking up about sustainability in the community. Sometimes it feels like I’m keeping my values to myself and not speaking out when I really should, and while the individual actions I’m taking are meaningful, I know I would be having a greater impact if I was communicating information about sustainability with individuals and businesses in the community. So, whether it means contacting companies to congratulate them on a sustainable initiative they have taken or to suggest they implement one, speaking to a government representative, or just being more open with my colleagues and friends about the actions I am incorporating into my daily life, these are all an important part of the ripple effect. No more hiding away!
- Deny the clothing industry my support. I’ve seen too many documentaries and read too many articles on the environmental destruction and human exploitation that is associated with the production of clothing. Even though my Nothing New Project is almost over, I would really like to not buy any brand-new clothing in 2018, except for underwear and socks if necessary.
- Try family cloth. I’ve been intrigued about trying family cloth (ie. cloth toilet paper) for quite some time now, and since I’m setting goals I figure now is a good time to see what it’s all about. We’ve already switched to plastic-free recycled toilet paper, which I’m happy with, but I really do understand the logic behind not cutting down trees so we can wipe ourselves with paper then throw it away two seconds later. I was inspired by this video from The Fairly Local Vegan to try this and will at some stage this year get to making my own cloth squares to trial.
- Do regular street clean-ups. My husband and I got into these big time in the first half of 2017 and some weekends were collecting what felt like enormous amounts of rubbish. The second half of the year saw us lose some motivation at the enormity of the task (it’s not easy seeing a street littered with rubbish after having had the satisfaction of making it litter-free only a few days prior 😒), so while we did continue with the clean-ups, we have scaled them back quite a bit. I have a lot to factor into my schedule in 2018 between work and study, but my hope is to create at least some time for street clean-ups.
- Sew my own zero-waste reusables from upcycled material. I recently bought myself a secondhand sewing machine and started taking lessons with a local sewing teacher in her home studio. I’ve had one lesson so far and it was awesome! Once I’ve mastered the basics, she is going to help me create patterns to sew my own zero-waste reusables like shopping bags, produce bags and menstrual pads from upcycled material.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ve written out a copy of my goals to put on the fridge to keep me motivated. I’ll then be reviewing the goals in a reflective post at the end of the year to see how I’ve gone. If, in the meantime, I have any important sustainability breakthroughs to share with you on the blog, I’ll certainly do so!
Do you have any sustainability goals for 2018?