Wins and Losses: Zero Waste

First off, let me get it off my chest: I will probably never be zero waste. I’m not going to have so little trash that I can show off a month’s worth in a mason jar. I’m trying to take steps toward zero waste to cut down on our trash and plastic, but I’ve run into some roadblocks and frustrations.

Bulk olive oil and maple syrup.

Olive oil and maple syrup in glass milk bottles look pretty, with zero waste!

New steps I’ve taken this month:

  • Monthly meal planning, to both avoid waste and save money (and to stop going grocery shopping multiple times per week). It’s been hit or miss (mostly hit so far), but what I’m realizing is, even when I’m planning on a monthly basis, I make way too much food! This is in part because my husband has had a lot of work-related lunches in the past two weeks, which means the leftovers I intended for him are still sitting in the fridge. But still. I need to calm down a little.
  • Eliminated paper cupcake liners for muffins. I make muffins on a weekly basis for breakfasts, so I was using (and running out of) paper muffin liners all the time, which was annoying as well as wasteful. I started oiling my cupcake pan, and the results are actually delightful–a crisp exterior on the “muffin stump.” Not as good as the top, but better. Not sure about doing this for cupcakes, but I’ll likely test it out.
  • Saved glass bottles and filled them with olive oil and maple syrup from the bulk section at the People’s Co-op. This worked perfectly! I used a tip from Trash for Tossers and brought a cloth wine bag to organize my bottles and keep them upright: no spills or clanking!
  • Shopped Craigslist for needed baby items. This isn’t new, really–everything in Sarah’s nursery except a cube organizer and some wall shelving was either handed down, found on Craigslist, or made for us (an end table built by my father). This time I found a Graco Pack N Play for just $25 (they generally sell new for about $80). When I opened it up I realized it had some minor stains and water marks, but I attacked it with a bowl of soapy water and a rag–it looks brand new! I love Craigslist, because it’s like a garage sale or secondhand shop where you can find specific items quickly.
Bulk and Cocoa Pebbles

Bulk white and wheat flour and granulated and powdered sugar, surrounding . . . Cocoa Pebbles?!?


  • Looking at my grocery store hauls, it’s so clear where most of the plastic/packaging comes from: meat, cheese, and brand-name processed food we’re especially attached to. I would love to find a store that would let me shop the meat/deli counters with my own containers, but I’ve had no luck–and we’re just not ready to go vegan. Also: Kraft macaroni and cheese forever. FOREVER.
  • Impulse/must-have specialty items. This month is my son Sid’s 10th birthday, yay! To honor his long-range obsession, I decided to make him a Minecraft grass cube cake (I’ll post pics and a how-to). Looking through various examples on the Internet, I decided on Cocoa Krispies for the sides of the cake, to give it that pixelated “dirt” look, assuming I’d find it (or something similar) in bulk. No go. Having painted myself in a corner (and with very limited time), I felt I had to bite the bullet and get the packaged stuff. Boo.

In other news: we leave for Great Wolf Lodge today to celebrate Sid’s 10th birthday! I’ve never been, but I’ve heard it described as “Vegas for children.” Shudder. We’re all staying in one room: Scott, Sid, Sarah, and me, Sid’s mom, and two of Sid’s friends. This might end up being a cautionary tale. It will depend on how the boys behave!

My apologies for my lack of blogging this week. My wrists and hands are killing me–Sarah is now about 18 pounds, and I have to pick her up constantly. I have another Circle of Chicken recipe I’m excited to share, so I’ll prioritize that next week!

Do you have any tips/roadblocks to zero waste? Post them below!


3 thoughts on “Wins and Losses: Zero Waste

  1. Nice haul. I think if people focus on zero-waste perfection, very few will start. The hardest areas for me are 1) my one kitty with fleas and my other kitty with a special diet and 2) gifts. I find little gifts tricky. People who aren’t into this lifestyle don’t realize receiving flowers wrapped in plastic or a box of chocolates might send me over the edge. What do you say to them?

    I would love to see pictures of your son’s cake. That’s a brilliant idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary-Suzanne says:

    I have the same problem with leftovers – my husband basically refuses to take leftovers for lunch, even if I pack them up nicely. He loves the food carts near his office too much…

    But I’m still really bad at making The Right Amount Of Food for dinner…. unless I cheat and make sammiches. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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