6 More Months of 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.

Starting in January and leading to Plastic Free July, we (readers of this blog and I) tried to become more zero waste. Zero waste is the goal, but creating less waste and having a lower impact on the destruction environment is the means by which we get there. Learning to set aside our own convenience and take personal responsibility for improving the world around us, for ourselves, for future generations, and for the planet, is the mental attitude needed to accomplish this goal. Each person’s journey is different and one can only start where they are and do what they can, but it’s now undeniable that each person should at least be trying. To help and inspire, I have chose to make our 6 Months of Zero Waste simple and easy to adapt to just about any lifestyle.

Here’s what the first 6 months looked like:

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
One of the best ways to improve the environment is to stop eating factory farmed meat and industrial fish. Small steps lead to big change so this month we gave up meat (or dairy or fish)
June - No Bottled Water
We gave up bottled water as an avenue to give up more disposable plastic in Plastic Free July.

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In July we participated in Plastic Free July where we used the month to give up as much disposable plastic as possible. Hopefully you were able to change your mindset with this exercise. Did it stick? Did PFJ change the way you look at disposable plastic? Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but just bc July is over, doesn’t mean we can’t keep thinking of how we use plastic and what we can do better.

Hopefully some plastic free habits that we learned January to July lingered in the following months and now were ready to take on some new challenges!

It’s time to look to the next 6 months:

October - Zero Waste Kit
November - Clothing and Fast Fashion
December - No Gifts
January - Bathroom Make-over
February - Mass Transit
March - Grow Your Own Food

Join us as we explore these topics and continue our journey to becoming more zero waste. Follow along in your own time, take what you can use, or share your progress and ideas in the comments below!

Mad Cat Capsule | Summer 2019 (July, August, September)

I have gotten to the place with my capsule wardrobe where I’m pretty tired of making them. I still really like having a capsule, but actually making it is tiresome. I certainly have enough clothes to make 10 or more capsules so making one only requires going through my stock. Even that has become quite overwhelming. Part of the reason to make a capsule is to have less options and pare down to only having clothes that you love. I love so many of my clothes that, while each time I go through my back stock I do let go of several items, there are so many that I cannot let go.

For my Summer wardrobe, I sort of wanted to go through every item of clothing, but I only made it about half way. Not only did I have enough clothes for my current capsule, but I was exhausted from looking through all the clothes. I gave up mid way and decided that most of the items that were in my Spring Capsule would work for Summer as well.

The result of which is that I never felt like Summer was a true capsule. Sure, I had a limited amount of clothes that I re-wore, instead of buying new or adding to my closet from the back stock of clothing I already own. I had this feeling a bit in Spring as well, Even though they were almost opposite conditions. In Spring I made the capsule a more fluid capsule, taking things freely from the back stock.

Instead of listing every items of my Summer Capsule, I’m sharing some of my key pieces, either those that I really enjoy or were the most worn.

For future capsules, I oscillate between the idea of only using my favorite pieces, most of which were in many of my capsule, and the idea of returning to my stock pile and creating a totally new wardrobe. I also have become aware that I require less items in my capsule over all. Having less items means that I might get a little more bored with my wardrobe and also that I use each piece more over the season.

What was your plan for your capsule this Season? Were you satisfied with it? What will you do differently next time?

I bought the tank tops at least 15-20 years ago. Still good and fun to wear!

I bought the tank tops at least 15-20 years ago. Still good and fun to wear!

A hand me down sweater that didn’t get much wear until Sept, but it’s getting wear now.

A hand me down sweater that didn’t get much wear until Sept, but it’s getting wear now.

New favorite jeans, silk/linen thrifted pants (fully lined), perfect summer shorts now 10+ years old.

New favorite jeans, silk/linen thrifted pants (fully lined), perfect summer shorts now 10+ years old.

Mad Cat Garden | June

May was the first month we started working on and tracking out garden, but June was when we really got down to business. June saw us buying and plating more, making more beds, and seeing plants grow and change. The changes between the beginning and end of June were huge, but these photos and records are mainly from the beginning on the month.

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June was extremely rainy. Many of the plats loved it! Our lilies returned and grew taller then me this year. They are not strictly part of the garden but a focus of June was to bring in pollinators with many flowers. The strawberries over wintered and started blossoming. We planted herbs and they thrived in the rain.

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In out front bed, also our first bed, tomato volunteers started popping up like mad and we had to thin them out. Rather than just toss the extras, we planted them in small pots to give away, or replanted them in other areas. We made new beds in the back and planted lettuce, arugula, broccoli (one is pictured in the first photo), corn, beans, and cucumbers.

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Many flowers helped attract bugs and bees. Our blueberries got off to a good start, enjoying the rain and producing lots of little soon to be bluebs.

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Tom often helped by inspecting the catnip patches. In June we created three new beds and had a delivery of filtered soil dropped off to fill them. Although pricy, we found this to be a convenient and zero waste alternative to buying many bags of dirt. We are still contributing to our compost on a regular basis, but it’s not big enough to fill beds. We do use some compost to help enrich the soil.

By the end of June, the yard looked very different, but we’ll have to wait until July’s update to take a look!

How is your garden growing?

Bullet Journal Check In | New Book in June

I’ve started my new Bullet Journal book and I’m loving it! I love that each Bullet Journal is unique and customizable. And more that that, for me at least, each one takes on a little bit of a life of it’s own.

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For my current bullet journal, I did end up buying a new new book to start in June. I went with a dot grid which I haven’t used in a while. The grid is huge compared to my last notebook! Bc of this, my approach to pages and layout are a little different.

I kept my main pages (the index, year at a glance, my monthly trackers and such) pretty much the same, but I’ve flipped my dailies and been really good about keeping up with a little bit of journalling each day!

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My first attempts at writing out my monthly trackers went a little wonky, but now that I’m more used to this big grid, July is gonna go much smoother. Another thing I love about BuJo is that I’m never upset about making mistakes, bc the next month is a chance to improve!

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Do you prefer a big dot grid for your journal? Do you keep a diary in your dailies?

What are your favorite aspects of Bullet Journalling?

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 you’re 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 your 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.

Mad Cat Capsule | Spring 2019 (April, May, June)

Spring of 2019 sees the two year mark of my capsule wardrobes. Two full years of culling my clothes, dividing them into more manageable capsules, grouped by season. Two years of trying not to buy fast fashion and close to that of buying barely any new clothes at all. two years of being aware of the impact fast fashion has on our environment and economy. Two years of choosing to still buy certain things knowing they are fast fashion (the shoes that are most comfortable to me for instance) but also seeking out alternatives. Two years of getting back into thrifting, and enjoying the challenge of finding what I need that way, two years of researching sustainable fashion.

I feel like I have used the same method for picking my capsules more or less the entire time I’ve made them. I take all my clothes out, go thru them, put anything and everything I might want into a pile. I then cull that pile down to around 40 to 50 items.

Over the last few seasons I tracked how often I wore each item over the 3 month. It wasn’t many time for each piece. This got me thinking about how I can better utilize my capsule. I’ve forgone going thru all my clothes this time and used my last capsule and a few key pieces I picked up to start a more fluid Spring Capsule.

I waited to create this post to see if this spring would eventually be a complete capsule. So far that hasn’t happened. I’m only sharing what I’ve worn until now. I’m planning on making this capsule more like a long trial for my Summer Capsule.

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I didn’t choose a color scheme, an inspiration item, or have any clear plan for the clothing I pulled for this capsule. But I like how the colors do come together and combine to make it a coherent capsule.

Looks like now, I’m at around 35 pieces. At least 30 of those are slow fashion. This doesn’t count shoes. I’m still picking pieces and adding them, and I’ve been taking items I don’t use away as well. I don’t have an exact goal with this capsule experiment, except the larger goal of always moving towards a more sustainable, more useful wardrobe.

What methods and experiments have you tried with your capsule wardrobe?

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?

What I Ate 2/20/19

This was a pretty typical of eating for me. And it was a pretty typical day for documenting in that it started off strong, but kinda petered off.

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Everyday, always, forever starts off with coffee.

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But I’ve also been smitten with ginger tea. So simple, so good! Usually this is just ginger slices in hot water. Sometimes I add honey.

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For breakfast/lunch/first meal of the day I had a salad with romaine, homemade crunchy croutons, Quorn chicken nuggets, and store bought caesar dressing. And lots of fresh ground black pepper!
Fake chicken doesn’t always agree with me, but a chicken caesar salad is one of my all time favorite meals and I was craving it! I love getting this brand and type bc it comes only in cardboard (no plastic!) and I can heat just a few nuggs up at a time, so there is less waste. Store bought dressing is one things I want to give up and start making myself, but I haven’t motivated to do it quite yet.

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On this day I went grocery shopping and couldn’t resist snacking on some pistachios in the car. We go on various nut kicks and pistachios have been a hot for a while now. I usually by them in a plastic bag, unfortunately. But we take that bag to be recycled at some of our local shops.

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Grocery shopping usually leads to unhealthy snacking for me! I have been digging these self-serve mochi lately. No plastic!

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My husband prefers the self-serve donuts. If they are around, I’ll take a bite.

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As usual, my dinner pics are a little lacking! We had one of our favorite vegan meals this night: tofu, rice, broccoli, peanuts, sesame seeds, and chili garlic sauce. I wish this meal were a little more zero waste, but the tofu and chili garlic sauce only come in plastic near us.

On many nights, I would also eat something sweet at the end of my meals, but since I snacked on so many sweets today I didn’t feel like eating anything else sweet.

I was happy to eat a lot of my favorite foods today but this could have easily been a vegan day of eating, as well. I find myself trying to assess my meals and see where they can become more vegan and more sustainable.

What did you eat today?

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?