Here is our plastic waste from about the past month:
Some opportunities for improvement:
Both of the shipping bags were a disappointment. I bought some a used item on ebay and asked the seller to ship in only a paper manilla envelope, but instead it showed up in that plastic priority mail bag. The pile in the bottom middle are because my employer still hands out paper checks instead of direct deposit and the envelopes have a plastic window.
To replace the olive oil, I bought a big container from EarthFare in a metal box. I’m not really happy with myself for it, though. Even though that is much less plastic, it still makes a non-reusable container at the end. And the pouring spout is plastic. Whole Foods has olive oil in bulk, I will check out the price difference. Generally, an item in bulk is less expensive than the equivalent item in packaging. Packaging isn’t free!
The maple syrup is from my cousin’s farm in Vermont. Not sure how I would get that waste free without going to Vermont during sugaring season with my container to refill (which is actually not a bad idea…)
Also a problem: Cat food. I’m not quite ready to tackle that one yet.
Some successes for celebration:
What do you not see? Diaper waste! (Well… you were never really seeing it because that would have been gross..no point in saving all the dirty diapers just to take a picture. Yuck.) The key to cloth diapering is to have a good system set up for cleaning them. We don’t have that system down quite yet :). I will say that I love cloth wipes. They clean soooo much better than the disposable ones! And they were free because I cut up a pair of cotton long-johns that I was going to donate to Goodwill anyway. I keep them dry in a drawer below the changing table and get 1-2 wet before opening up the diaper. On the go, I keep the dry ones in my purse and I have a wet bag that I put them in with the soiled diapers. We have been doing natural fibers cloth diapering for any new-to-us diapers we acquire. Mostly cotton or bamboo diapers with wool covers. Wool is this magical fiber that can keep the wetness in the diaper without getting dirty itself. It keeps your kid warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Also, the wool covers only need to be washed about once a month, which means you really only need 2–and you do less laundry. I even made one out of a wool sweater from a thrift store, so it really was inexpensive. Not to mention all the money we save from not buying disposable diapers. I wish I had done this when our first daughter was a baby.
To know everything you need to know about using wool for cloth diapering, check out Little Spruce Organics. They have a wealth of info, as well as a store where you can buy high-quality organic cotton and wool items. Or you can do things on the cheap and buy used cotton diapers on ebay and make your own wool covers.
Another success: My mom brought a container to EarthFare to refill with beans from the bulk bin! Great job mom!
If you try out bringing your own containers, be sure to take it to a cashier or the customer service counter to have them weigh it for you before you go to fill them the first time. This is called the tare weight. I write it on the lid with a sharpie. The cashier will subtract that from the total weight during checkout. Then, tell me how it went!