Zero Waste Update – I need help, and Motivation…

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I feel like I’ve been stagnating this month, so the plan this week was to get off my behind, “fix” everything and bring balance to the world again.

This is only my second month striving to live zero waste, but I still feel like I’m failing at this. We still throw out way too much trash for my liking. Some of it is stuff that we had lying around from before the zero waste expedition (shampoo bottles, items bought in bulk, cleaning materials etc. HOW ON EARTH DOES ONE ACCUMULATE SO MUCH PLASTIC, AND JUNK IN GENERAL……) others are because I don’t have zero waste alternatives yet, or I just don’t get around to making my own. Either due to laziness or lack of funds. At least, I’m much more conscious about waste these days, but still… I need to jack this mission up.

What goes right:

  • Reusable bags – I really love my bags. As soon as I have more money, I’m going to get more the draw string bags. Sometimes I still forget the bags in the car, but I’m getting there.
  • Switching to glass jars – I use them for my lunch at work, to store veggies and greens in the fridge, to store maize, rice, sugar, cat food (and the cat food comes in a plastic bag, urgh), etc. Only problem is that I’m running out of storage space now. (Small apartment)
  • Buying bulk from Fruit and Veg – Green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, fruits, etc, I get it all there. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar is on tap, spices are in bulk. Michael has decided to quit eggs and fish as well, so we’ll move into truly vegan mode now. Less cartons to get rid off.
  • Hair and teeth – I’m fairly happy using coconut oil, baking soda and vinegar for this. (Though we still have tooth paste in tubes around here. Also, I don’t think Michael is ready to give up toothpaste yet…)
  • Make Up – Haven’t bought any since I started this. I’m not fond of make up, I hardly every wear it. I do enjoy a good black eyeliner and dark eye shadow though for the times that I do dress up. Anybody have any alternatives for that?

Stuff That Needs Work:

  • Bubble Bath & Mayo – These are Michael’s two luxuries. Bubble bath and B-Well Vegan Mayo. Both in plastic jars. I have a mayo recipe that I still need to try once I have all the ingredients. I dunno about the bubble bath. Still looking for a place to buy Vegetable Glycerine so I can make our own. (Can’t find it sans plastic anywhere)
  • Compost – Can’t afford a vermicomposter yet, we don’t have a garden (third floor in apartment building.) I’ve started collected all “good” food scraps in the freezer at least to make vegetable broth with, and re-purposed a bucket to keep other food scraps, tea bags, etc. Dunno what I’m gonna do with it just yet…
  • Trash in general – I just feel it’s still too much. I’m monitoring it this week, and realized there’s a lot of work still left to be done. So far, all the food scraps goes into the dedicated Food-Scraps-Tea-Bag-Bucket. We finished our supply of black garbage bags, and I refuse to buy more!! So for now, all the trash has been folded/torn up and “stored” in a empty 2KG paper bag that sugar comes in… Right now, there’s an empty packet of 2 min noodles plastic wrapper in there, the top of a 2L plastic bottle (reused the rest of the bottle) silver-plasticky wrapper that tea bags come in, and its box, plastic wrapper that had freshly ground coffee beans in (bought looooong ago) 4 random plastic bottle tops, and empty 450g chick pea flour plastic bag and various other odds and ends. The 2KG paper bag is almost full…
  • Soylent – We make our own soylent drink for breakfast and lunch, Nature’s Choice products like Soy Lechitin, Chick pea flour, coconut flour, and such things. All come in plastic bag of 450g or 500g. No one seems to have these products in bulk.
  • Toiletries – Don’t have a moon cup yet as they’re are too expensive, so still using tampons, urgh. I’ve switched to buying a dove soap bar that comes packaged in carton instead of plastic. Not ideal but I think it’s better?
  • Receipts – I can’t get rid of these! Almost all stores require that you take it to check your stuff out. A security dude has to check, stamp and/or sign it, so I can’t tell the cashier to just not print one.
  • Toothbrushes and Earbuds – I’ve tracked down disposable ear buds, but it’s a really long drive from here… At this stage it’s not the worth the petrol. And compostable tooth brushes are a bit pricey here… (I know I say everything is pricey, we recently had to replace all four shocks and clutch on the car. We’re also recovering from two weddings which cost a pretty penny with travelling, accommodation, flight tickets, car rental etc. So we’re well and truly broke for the next couple of months.)
  • Fry’s Foods, Pasta’s, etc. Most of them come in recyclable cartons, but they always have some form of plastic inside. Somewhere. Like a little “window” on the front of the box, or something wrapped in the box. It’s madness.
  • Recycling Stations: I need to set up a dedicated spaces in my apartment for things to donate, recycle or reuse. Glass bottles, empty tins, and so forth. Also a separate box for stuff to take to the local charity store. I’ve been meaning to do this since… I can’t even remember. I’m a hoarder. I have a ton of stuff I don’t need. Once all that’s cleared out, I’d probably have space for everything I want/need to do.

Basically, I think it comes down to habits we need to get rid off. We should stop buying soda in plastic bottles. It’s not healthy anyway. We should stop buying things like 2 Min noodles, crisps, etc.

And that’s just all I could thing of now… It does not look good. I feel so overwhelmed.

Can anybody offer some suggestions?


22 responses to “Zero Waste Update – I need help, and Motivation…

  1. I’m in the Zero Waste boat for a year now, and I am JUST beginning to make very little trash. It is a long journey, but it is worth it! You should focus on your victories (small or big) rather than focusing on everything else at once. Choose one thing at a time on which you want to improve, and when it’s done, move on to something else. That’s what I did, and now I can see result.

    Don’t give up, I know you can do it! You just need to learn to be more patient in this. 🙂


    • I guess patience is not one of my virtues, hehehe. It’s good to know that I’m not failing! And that it’s just a tedious process. Thank you so much for the encouragement, I’ll do as suggested: make a comprehensive list, and just work my way through it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know how you feel! I am definitely struggling with my transition to a zero waste lifestyle and it is definitely not easy. I just keep telling myself that it’s ok to take small steps! Really, it’s better than nothing and slowly but surely I’ll get there! The fact that my family isn’t exactly the most supportive makes it a lot harder to stick to what I believe too but reading about other bloggers definitely inspires me! I wish you all the best with the rest of your zero waste journey!


    • That’s how I’ve been trying to console myself too, by saying I atleast know about the issue now, so even if I don’t get it right all the time, I’m still aware of it and making a conscious effort to not produce any more waste. It’s still better than mindless wasting. Not having the support of family members has to be tough… I wish you all the best too. And you have the ZWBloggers network to fall back on! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not called a zero waste journey for nothing – it’s a long path! Enjoy the waste victories – yes you’re throwing out an empty bottle of shower gel, but celebrate that it’s the last one. And also remember that if everyone you knew was giving up as much, there would be a lot less trash overall, and perhaps one day there will be! But it is frustrating, and really makes you see how our entire way of life is geared towards producing waste and using resources, without our even realising.

    On the eyeliner front, do you have Lush shops in SA? Theirs comes in a glass bottle with recycled plastic lid – the label says only the brush isn’t recyclable. Ive been using mine for a year most days and it isn’t even half empty yet either…


    • Yeah it’s so frustrating when you actually wake up to the reality of waste, and can’t fix it as quick as you want to… I haven’t seen any Lush shops around here, will ask around. If not I’ll save up and order from overseas. Thanks! I don’t wear it often now to make my pencil last, but it’ll be nice to be able to replace it waste free

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh dear. I feel your pain. Shopping can be really difficult. I want to vomit with envy when I see everyone posting photos of farmers market haul – flip – if only! But cut yourself some slack – it will take yonks to work through all your old purchases. I hardly shop at all now as I am trying to finish old stuff – saving money! Not quite sure how much I am saving – but it must be a fair amount as I am hardly ever at the shops.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also wish we had the bulk shops like in the USA. That would solve at least half the problems on my list! Lol. It would actually be interesting to see what one saves… Would be additional motivation.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

    She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

    The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

    The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Every single plastic item that you can avoid is GREAT! So if you go one by one item, with each one it’s a fantastic victory. Keep it up! You’re doing something super awesome. It will become easier.


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