My name is Sadie and I live in Chattanooga, TN. My husband, Zach, and I are working professionals and parents of two awesome daughters, ages 3 and 5.
We started our zero waste journey in the summer of 2017 after hearing about a woman who could fit all of her trash for the year into a single mason jar. Could we do that in Chattanooga? Well, so far our trash doesn’t fit into a mason jar–see the section titled “Plastic Waste Journal” to see our trash!–but we have made significant progress in reducing our waste with many small steps, multiplied over time. We realized that while sometimes trash is inevitable because of the world we live in, most of our trash was not a wise use of our world’s resources.
There are many reasons for us to reduce our waste, especially plastic waste. The most obvious is to be good stewards of the earth. We are deeply moved by the pictures of baby albatrosses who had been fed pieces of plastic by their well meaning parents. You can find those images at the Albatross film trailer. There are also a host of health effects related to plastic that make us uncomfortable using plastic to store food, drinks, and personal products. The biggest reason, though, is the impact that the creation and disposal of plastic has on other people, particularly those in poverty who have fewer options than we do. We feel we need to take action to stop a system so wrought with injustice, and that action has to start in our own home.
It makes no sense to use a milk container for about 2 weeks when it is made out of a material that will last for hundreds of years! Recycling is not the best fix because plastic can only be recycled a few times before it heads to the landfill (or worse, the ocean!). The best fix is not to use the plastic in the first place.
Beyond plastic, there is are also good reasons to avoid single-use items made out of paper, glass, and metal. Yes, they are recyclable. Paper fibers can be recycled multiple times and glass and metals can be recycled infinitely. However, all of the destruction of the earth to get raw materials, energy consumption, and use of unsafe chemicals to create an object that quickly becomes trash does not make sense. This is why we advocate not only being plastic free, but also zero waste.
Going on this journey of zero-waste has also opened my eyes to how the things I chose to eat, wear, and buy impacts other people–often people on the other side of the planet. It’s a little embarrassing to admit I had never given a second thought to who made my clothes before, but it’s true! Learning how to be considerate and kind to our local and global neighbors through what we choose to buy is a life-long lesson, and it has also turned out to be lots of fun!
There is already an abundance of good instructions for zero-waste and low-impact living on the internet, so this is not an attempt to recreate that content. I recommend Going Zero Waste and Trash is for Tossers as additional great zero waste blogs to follow.
This blog is to show our family’s journey towards a zero-waste, considerate lifestyle. It is also to share the resources we’ve found in Chattanooga to help other Chattanoogans who are are also trying to take better care of our earth, their health, and our neighbors.
Please note, while I am in the medical field and my experience in medicine does influence my writing, nothing in this blog should be taken as a diagnosis or treatment of any medical problem.