6 Months to Zero Waste: No Bottled Water

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

Since January, we’ve been taking some time each month for small ways we can reduce our waste and move towards a more zero waste lifestyle. Here are some things that we have tried in the last six month:

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
We went thru what we have to declutter and reduce.
March - Switch to Paper
This month we moved to paper to get one step closer to reusables.
April - Compost
Composting is an easy way to reduce food waste and prevent it from reaching the landfill.
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

Next month is Plastic Free July, so the last of our six months is a great time to start gearing up for a more drastic anti plastic challenge.
The perfect way to start is to give up some item of disposable plastic. Find one items that you use and stop using it. Hopefully in March we were able to give up plastic bag, so this month choose some other convenience, like bottled water, plastic straws, yogurt cups, plastic cutlery, or something else you use on a daily basis but might not think about.

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By giving up one seemingly small item we can tangibly see how we can reduce our waste little by little. An important part of moving towards zero waste is moving away from the constant convenience of modern life. It doesn’t mean your life will get harder, but it hopefully will mean that your life becomes more mindful. This does take a mindset shift, a habit shift, and a being more prepared in daily life. Once we see how easy it is to live without our bottled water, it’s easy to start giving up other such items.

But how do you actually give up bottled water? Once you set your mind to it, it’s not so hard. A great thing to do is use a reusable water bottle. You can get in almost any grocery store, or better yet buy one second hand. But if you don’t have one yet, try refilling a disposable plastic bottle you already have, use a water fountain, instead of taking water to go stay where you are and use a cup or glass, bring a cup to work to use. Or simply go without until you get to a place where you can drink from non-disposables.

Next month we’ll take part in Plastic Free July and gain even more insights into what we can give up or change to be even more zero waste.

What disposable plastic item will you give up in June?

Something Nice : The Joy of Using Up

One of the great things about using what you have before buying new is that you see the whole life of an object. There is a certain joy to using something until it can’t be used any more. Each item’s like span is different.

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Sometimes, like with these sneakers the joy of using up is also balanced with the sadness of saying goodbye. Once I felt the street more than the bottom of my shoes, I knew it was time to give these shoes up. Although I won’t wear them anymore, I’ll hold on to these until I find a place to recycle them.

What was the last items you used up?

6 Months to Zero Waste: Meatless Mondays in May

Last month we figured out how to compost to reduce our food waste. Another food related waste that we can start to combat is the to understand the huge impact the modern industrial meat has on the waste we create.

Some great ways to combat this kind of waste is to go totally vegan, only buy local meat from small farms, only grow your own food, fish for your sea food, etc… But a simple and good first step is to be more mindful of what meat, fish and dairy, you do consume.

It can be Monday, Wednesday, or whenever, but making sure to take one day a week to consciously be aware of what you’re eating and where it’s coming from. If you eat a lot of meat, take one day to be vegetarian, if your veg, take a day to be vegan. Eat local one day, eat raw, eat no processed foods, eat only from your garden, eat only foods not packaged in plastic… there are so many ways to be mindful of what you are eating and change you habits.

By simply changing how we think about what we eat, we can become more mindful of the waste our food creates, and become more mindful of how that waste effects our environment and planet.

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Since January, we’ve been taking some time each month for small ways we can reduce our waste and move towards a more zero waste lifestyle.

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

Here’s what we have done each month, so far. Feel free to follow a long, do everything all at once, or come up with your own monthly challenge.

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
We went thru what we have to declutter and reduce.
March - Switch to Paper
This month we moved to paper to get one step closer to reusables.
April - Compost
Composting is an easy way to reduce food waste and prevent it from reaching the landfill.
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

Where are you in your zero waste journey?

Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Review

Disclaimer: My product reviews are completely unsponsored and unsolicited. The opinions are my own from my own experiences.

I’ve long been a fan of Meow Meow Tweet which I first heard about ages ago in Brooklyn. I really enjoy that they have always had minimal and recyclable, plastic free packaging. And with the coolest drawings!

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When using up my old products, deodorant is one of the last of them I had to replace to be more zero waste. I love that MMT uses all natural, vegan ingredients, and has a lot of citrus fragrances.

We tried their Grapefruit Baking Soda Free cream deodorant, which is packaged in a glass bottle with a metal top. and comes in a paper box in the store. Despite still being all hand crafted, poured and packaged, you can find MMT in several big store, including Target. I really like that this deodorant is dry and creamy, goes on easily and doesn’t leave my hands feeling gross. I think this creamy works well and you only need a little pea sized amount to stay dry.

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My husband can’t get used to the cream and doesn’t like it quite as much as I do. We both agree that the scent is nice, citrusy but not overpowering or too sweet.

I would definitely recommend this deodorant for those looking to switch over to a more sustainable, low waste, hand made, chemical free option.

6 Months of Zero Waste: March Switch Review

If you’re looking to reduce your waste or your plastic consumption, you might already know that giving up plastic bags is an easy first step.

Whether a this is a first step or a fiftieth, giving up plastic bags just make sense. Every time we go to the grocery, big box store, etc… we are given a plastic bag out of hand. When we pick up some rolls at the grocery, some lemons, or a head of lettuce, etc… we put them in or they come in a plastic bag. The best solution for this is to simply bring your own reusable bags, made from mesh, clothe, recycled materials, and old tee shirt, whatever!

If remembering to bring a reusable bag is still a hard step for you, consider switching to paper.

Granted, this is a lateral move, bc it’s still creating waste, but asking for paper is a good way to be mindful of your plastic intake. In stead of taking a plastic bag for your self serve rolls, cookies, or produce look around the grocery for a paper bag, or ask at the check out for a small paper bag. A lot of times these live by the bakery section.

Many groceries now have a bulk section which usually have a plastic bag to store your items in. You can use a paper bag! Ideally, you’ll graduate to bringing a cloth bag or reusable jar for this, but for now using paper is a great first step!

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By choosing paper over plastic at every opportunity in the grocery, your reducing your plastic waste but you can also reuse the paper bags in many ways! We get our groceries in paper and then use those bags for all our trash and recycling. In our area, we can’t put our recycling out in plastic bags, by putting it in paper, it allows us to store it and toss it, with out unnecessary plastic. You can reuse your paper bags by returning them to the store and using them again, you can pack your lunch on them, use them to donate clothes to the thrift, use them for book covers or wrapping paper, shelf liners, or litter box liners. When your bags are too crinkled to reuse, toss them in your compost pile and they will turn into soil for your garden.

A few tips for switching to paper:
Go for brown bags - they aren’t bleached and therefore better to eventually compost or dispose of.
Don’t use bags if you don’t have to - If you can go with out a bag, that’s ever better than switching to paper! Potatoes, apples, and other veggies or larger items that come in their own containers don’t need to be in a bag at all.
Make sure to reuse your paper bags - An issue with switching to paper is that your house can be overwhelmed with paper bags. Using them to hold trash, or in any number of ways, make sure that they aren’t cluttering up your home.
Try to bring them back to the store when you can - Remembering to put your used paper bags in the car or in your purse/backpack to bring back to the grocery is a good way to get the hang of bringing your own bag.

At Mad Cat Quilts, we’re still catching up with our 6 month of Zero Waste Challenge. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
We went thru what we have to declutter and reduce.
March - Switch to Paper
April - Compost
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

How are you doing with your 6 month of zero waste? Are you following along or are you challenging your self in other ways?

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6 Months of Zero Waste: February Declutter Review

In January I posted about 6 ways to reduce you waste, or become closer to the Zero Waste lifestyle. Here is a little refresher of something to do each month leading up to Plastic Free July:

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
March - Switch to Paper
April - Compost
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

How have you you been doing so far? I’ve gotten behind in reviewing and documenting each month, so hopefully you’ve been following along on your own. If not, no worries, it’s never too late to jump on and start! If you need the push to get started here is the February Review:

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In February we declutter.
That could be a motto for America this year, right? With Marie Kondo’s method for clean living being on the top of everyones to watch list, this was an easy month to get your self and your stuff sorted. Whether you use her life changing magic, or you just had some good old fashion cleaning sessions, decluttering and minimizing is a great step towards Zero Waste. Like the trash audit, it allows us to see what we are using and what we are wasting. Once we have established that, it’s easier to see where we can reduce in out day to day.

Personally, I didn’t get a lot decluttered in Feb, but I have been trying to declutter as I go, day to day. I know that I still need to take a full day for each area that needs to be reassessed.

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What’s great about this challange, is it’s ok to go at your own speed. Starting to think about waht your wasting, cstarting to be aware of waste that’s created day to day is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Changing your midset to think like a zero waster is the hardest part of being sero waste, but it’s also the biggest step, so once you’ve made that mindset shift, you’ve already come a long way!

How did your declutter go?

6 Month of Zero Waste: Trash Audit Review

In January, I wrote about some things to do each month leading up to Plastic Free July. Are you following along?

Last month, we separated and audited our trash. What did you learn? Here are some questions to ask your self:
How much was trash?
How much was food waste?
How much of your trash was recyclable?
What part of each contained plastic?

Now that you know what your trash really looks like, where can you reduce it?
Go ahead and answer these in the comments below so we can share in your observations!!

You may want to keep separating and auditing your trash for another month, or for several month to see how your waste changes now that you are more mindful of what you throw away.

Now that we are making our way to mid February it’s time to start decluttering things, if you haven’t already. All the things. The decluttering craze is upon us so you can find a lot of resources and ideas out there. I suggest paying special attention to duplicates, paper clutter, clothing, as well as little or never used items and appliances. The goal here is to get rid of lots, but also to organize what’s left.

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Do as much as you can do until we talk again!

Chagrin Valley Soap And Salve Company Review

Disclaimer: My product reviews are completely unsponsored and unsolicited. The opinions are my own from my own experiences.

Last year, while spending time in Cleveland, I came across the Chagrin Valley Soap shop. I brought home one of their shampoo bars and very much enjoyed it! Since then, I’ve tried several different shampoo bars but none were as nice. Last month, I ordered a few more bars from them.

From start to finish, I had a great experience!
I chose the Citrus Chamomile Shampoo Bar, the Citrus Soapnuts Shampoo Bar, and the Cocoa Butter Hair Balm. Ordering from the site is very easy, and shipping was shockingly fast.

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I was so pleased to see that all the packaging was plastic free! One never knows what to expect with packaging, and it made me thankful to that I didn’t have to worry. The first bar that we opened was the citrus chamomile and so far we love it. We’ve used the hair balm a few times, and it’s also quite nice. The soap bars are large and judging from the one I got over the Summer, it will last a long time.

I look forward to using these products more. The plastic free packaging pretty much guarantees I’ll be purchasing from Chagrin Valley Soap again. I can definitely recommend these soaps if you’re looking for a reliable shampoo bar!

Zero Waste Fail for Xmas

Each year at my work we have a holiday party. For 2017 I implemented ditching plastic straws at work, moving to paper straws and only giving them out upon request. At the holidays I thought it would be fitting to give everyone on staff a metal straw.

To keep the tradition of zero waste gifts up in 2018 I decided to get everyone some bamboo utensils. I found some super cute little sporks. I tried to make sure they were sustainably made, a good company, the right fit for what I wanted to convey with the gift. I felt at least mostly satisfied and made my purchase. 50 bamboo sporks.

And then they arrived.

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Yes, every single one of the 50 sustainable zero waste-use items I had bought was wrapped in it’s own plastic bag, and each 10 in turn were wrapped in another plastic bag.

The horror.

The absolute horror of it when I opened the mailer (also plastic, BTW). Even though I tried to be as zero waste as possible I was wasn’t at all. But it happens. You can only do your best, and work with what you have.

As I unwrapped every single spork, I thought about how my coworkers would like them and how it might save them from using disposable utensils. I thought about how more people know about or ask questions about zero waste bc they work with me. And I thought about how I would have to drop all these tiny plastic bags off at recycling.

Even though the was a fail, I will learn from it. What fail have you had recently?

My Favorite Thrifted Items from 2018

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about people best thrifted items from 2018. I started to think about what I would include in my own. 2018 was the year that I really rekindled my love of thrifting, even opening an online vintage clothing shop. Looking back these were the thrifted items that really stuck out to me.

Black Wool Coat
I love this coat!! It’s almost a bat wing coat in black wool with suede details on the shoulders. It’s cozy and warm and makes me feel very scandanavian chic.I got this coat for $10 at a local thrfit shop.

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Oversized Chair
We knew for a long time that we wanted a big puffy chair to cozy up together in. Something bigger than a chair, but smaller than a loveseat. We found the perfect chair at our local ReStore shop. We paid $49 for this chair and every single person in the house loves and uses it.

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Rainbow Mugs
In 2018, I decided that I wanted more rainbow mugs and kept an eye out for them throughout the year. I use them every day and they make me happy! I like that they have become a collection and they lend themselves to the curated living feel that I want to achieve.

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Spiderman Notebook
I’ve talked about this one a lot already bc I use it as my bullet journal, but I love it!! I love using a thrifted bok, I love the size, I love that someone else lived this book and there are drawings scattered throughout.

As you can see all my favorites this year are very useful or utilitarian but also my personal style definitely shows through. What have been some of your favorite or most used thrifted items from 2018?

6 Things To Do This Year to Become More Zero Waste

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

One of my 2019 goals is to be come better at being Zero Waste and Plastic Free. I made huge strides in this effort in 2018. If this is your goal too, here are 6 ideas, one for each month in 2019 until Plastic Free July, of things to do to generate less waste.

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January - Trash Audit
Since we are mid way thru the month, this is a perfect time to take the next few weeks and observe what trash you are generating. This is a very easy way to see areas where you might reduce your waste. Use paper grocery bags to separate your trash into at least 4 categories: plastic trash, other trash, plastic recycling, other recycling. At the end of January, share your thoughts and results here in the comments!

February - Declutter Everything
The beginning of the year is always a good time to clean and declutter your space. Feb is the perfect month for this bc it’s short! Use whatever method you most like and works for you. Go crazy Marie Kondo style, or just your usual cleaning and declutter routine. When the month is over, give yourself a break, whether you’ve finished or not! Make sure you let us know any insights or tips you might have at the end of this month! What was wasted, what was essential?

March - Switch to Paper
An easy beginner switch to make is to ask for paper bags at the grocery or for your take-out lunch. Asking for paper is a good start to prime you to bringing your own reusable bags. Paper bags can be reused and recycled or composted. These paper bags are great to use as your trash bags. Now you’re choosing to use paper over plastic for trash bags, too! (See how many paper grocery bags you reuse and fill for the month. Was it less or more than your January trash audit?)

April - Compost
I know this one is scary for a lot of people, but composting is super easy. You can compost anywhere and there are more resources than ever before. All you really need to start is a bucket or a bowl and a place to take your compost. This can be your back yard, your balcony, your local dump, your local farmers market, a community garden, or one of many more options. How much food waste do you collect in a day, week, month, year? In April, we’ll talk about what we can do with the compost we are creating.

May - Meatless Monday
The meat, fish and dairy industries are notoriously wasteful. A great way to make an impact is to lessen your participation with them. A lot of people transitioning to a meat free diet will start with one set day a week where they avoid meat. Variations on this could be going dairy free or vegan one day a week, going raw one day, or raw before four, or eating only local, etc… The beginning of Summer (in the US) is a great time to work on this bc there are so many fresh food options. Share what you might give up or some recipes below!

June - No Bottled Water
The month before Plastic Free July can be all about giving something up. If you are still buying bottled water it’s time to give it up!! If you’ve already given up bottled water, try giving up disposable coffee cups, say no to plastic straws, stop using plastic utensils or plastic food wrap. There’s a ton of things that can be given up this month and it will prep you for a month of plastic free living. What will you stop using this month?


I hope these simple zero waste tips help you in the months to come. I will post more about each of these ideas in the month they take place. Would people be interested in a link up for each month?

Remember, going zero waste, low impact isn’t easy. We can only start where we are and do what we can. Every little bit helps.

Recipe | Zero Waste Vegan Baked Oatmeal

I usually like my oats pretty simple. Hot water, fruit, sweetener. The other day I made this baked oatmeal for a brunch and it was a huge hit! It requires slightly more work, but it’s still really easy and can be made very low waste! This recipe is easily adaptable, you can swap out your favorite flavors and change it up often, make as little or as much as you want, and eat hot or cold!

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Ingredients
Quick oats
Dried spices. I used nutmeg and ginger.
Lemon Zest
Sugar
Frozen berries. I used bluebs and cherries.
Plant milk. I used cashew.

Equipment
Oven safe dish
Micro plane or zester
Spoon for mixing

Put your oats into your baking dish. I used about a cup of oats, but you can add more or less depending on who your feeding. Add dried spices, lemon zest, sugar to taste, and mix. Add frozen berries and twice the amount of milk as oats, mix well and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Mix again and pop in a 375 degree oven until oats are cooked and the top starts to brown a little. for the amount I made it took about 20 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or cooled. This would be great served with some warmed milk poured over it or with yogurt.

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A few notes:
- The lemon zest is key!! used about half a lemon’s worth of zest But I could have done the whole lemon. if you don’t have a zester or micro plane, you can slice off the skin and fine chop.
- I used white sugar bc that’s what I wanted to use up, but this recipe would be great with brown sugar, maple syrup or any other sweetener you like. You can also change up the spices and fruit added.
- To be extra fancy, sprinkle some brown sugar on top and pop in the broiler to brown and crystalize the top of your oatmeal.
- My oatmeal came out a little dry this time bc I didn’t add quite enough milk. It was still good.

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To make this recipe low waste, I used bulk oats and spices. I also used up some of my spices, which feels so good! I used pre packaged frozen fruit; I like the fruit from Whole Foods bc you can rinse out and recycle the plastic bags they come in. To make even more low waste, use fresh fruit or fruit that you have frozen yourself.

I didn’t plate mine up very beautifully, but it was still delicious!

This is an easy meal to make in advance. What are some of your favorite easy breakfast foods?

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What Plant Based Means to Me and How We Eat

My mom was a vegetarian while I was growing up. I was used to having tofu, tempeh, fresh veg, lots of legumes, fruits and homemade foods. Bc I grew up with it, it never occurred to me that other kids didn’t live that way. My father was always a healthy eater and great cook, but he ate meat. As I see it, I had the best of both worlds.

When I met my husband, he was vegetarian and had been on and off for most of his life. I ate meat then, but I never had any issues eating less or no meat during our meals together. Eating less meat made me realize that when I did eat meat, I didn’t feel as good as when I ate more fruits and veggies.

By the time we moved to New Jersey, we were eating fish, but little to no land meat. We wavered back and forth some (my husband even ate chicken for a while) but it was mostly ovo lacto vegetarian for us. Some events in the Summer of 2018 lead us both to come to the conclusion that we would give up all meat, from land and sea, in a serious manner.

Personally, I think humans are supposed to eat animals. We, ourselves, are animals and omnivores as far as I can tell from the evidence I know. But I think the way most people currently eat animals is unsustainable and inhumane, wasteful and unnecessary. In an attempt to lead a more sustainable and less wasteful life, eating plant based is an easy and obvious choice.

I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

Now we eat what I like to call a vegetarian, plant based, whole food diet. That’s a mouth full and what does it even mean? We stopped eating any fish and sea creatures. We do eat dairy like cheese and butter and sour cream. We try to eat mostly fruits and veggies and eat whole foods that have not been overly processed. We eat fermented foods like miso, pickles and vinegar.

We try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Some with every meal! The term Plant Based really refers to a diet that is only plants but I use it to mean a diet that is based on plants, which we definitely do.

We also try to keep local stores, growers, producers in mind when we eat. This year was the first one where we grew our some of our own food and it was a game changer. It’s important to us to eat this way so that we are conscious of the environment, animals, our home and our health.

There are, of course, some ways we could improve our current diet. An example would be to make our own cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt, or only buy local cheese and dairy. But right now this diet works for us.

Some of our typical and most eaten meals are:

Quesadillas with black beans, corn, olives, fresh veggies, sour cream and hot sauce.

Cheese, crackers, veggies, mustard, pickles, olives, and mustard.

Miso soup with veggies and noodles.

Pasta with red sauce or pesto or cheese or garlic oil.

Sides meal with potatoes, veggies, grains, and various other “sides”.

Salads with home made croutons, veggies, sometimes we add fake chicken patties, and dressings.

Tofu, rice and broccoli with soy sauce, peanuts and chili garlic sauce.

Peanut butter and jelly (and sometimes hot sauce) sandwiches.

Bean and rice bowls.

Grilled cheese sandwiches with red onions and hot sauce.

Pierogies with onions, sour cream and veggies.

Smoothie bowls with various toppings.

Oatmeal with fruits, nuts and nut milks.

Beans on toast.

Chickpea salad sandwiches with carrots, onions, celery, and mayo.

This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

Let me know in the comments if you also eat meals like this! Or if you would like recipes or more info on any of the meals listed above. What kind of diet do you eat? What role does your diet play in your lifestyle?