The Art of Living, or Something…

Hello family, friends, and the internet–

I must admit this post and the ones I hope will follow radically shift from my original intent of this platform. However, this dissertation writing has me in a bit of a creative funk and the usual ways I cope with stress are either turning out to be entirely too expensive in LA or simply unrealistic given the time constraints and energy sap of academic life. That being said, I think I might have found a positive outlet that I’m excited to explore and that is waste-conscious living.
I have always been passionate about living more sustainably, and must admit that I have tired and failed on several occasions to make necessary changes. However, lately I have been reinspired by waste-free lifestyle bloggers and solution oriented small businesses, and I thought it warranted another attempt. This time I hope to take it SLOW–no pressure, no timelines, no shaming.
The reality is there is a lot out there about people living waste-free and an overwhelming plethora of helpful tips, DIY home goods, and recipes for getting started… I will be linking up to their work and will be doing a lot of resource shares that way. I hope this can be a space where I can write without the pressure of punctuation!…,theoretical clarity, or deadlines. So be easy with the poor writing– I will be decompressing via blog in between my longer stints writing and reading for my dissertation. I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “My other car is a spaceship,” so in that spirit:
“My other writing is a dissertation.”
Waste-free living, as these brilliant examples (here and here) demonstrate, need a complete lifestyle overhaul. Being a graduate student and partnered up with a man who works 2 jobs full-time…radically reorienting is simply not realistic for us…for both financial and sanity reasons (but I do believe it is necessary over time). That being said, we both recognize the impact our living has on the planet, and the idea of living more waste consciously has been on our radar for some time. So as we transition ourselves to an eventual waste-free future (eventually), I want to share with you some of the ways in which we are being more waste conscious and significantly reducing our waste over time.
Please join me in these efforts, because –>this
So, for this first post I want to reflect a little on where we are and where we hope to go in order to be more waste conscious. As I write this I am realizing that we already do so much to either reduce our waste or to create more sustainable forms of refuse (and have been for several years). You can do! I want to encourage you, whoever is reading this, to try small things first (and to form habits), because even the little things add up over the course of a lifetime of consumption.
Here is a little list of sorts so you can get a feel for ways you can start with me today (below), and a helpful resource if you want to dive head first into complete waste-free living–> Two Steps to Zero Waste. I hope to blog about each in more detail over the course of the next several months, but please let me know if you would like to hear about anything specific and I will try to get to those things first.
Things we already do to produce less waste:
  • No paper towels or paper napkin products
  • No plastic wrap or ziplock plastic bags
  • Patio/pot composting
  • Reuse jars and plastic containers
  • Recycle glass, paper, and plastics
  • Refill handsoap bottles
  • No dryer sheets
  • Save wine corks
  • Save gift wrap
  • Save paper cards (gift cards, holiday cards etc)
  • No more printing from home (huge grad school adjustment)
  • Bar soap
  • Biodegradable doggie bags
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Purchasing some bulk foods
I know this doesn’t seem like much to a seasoned waste-free life-stylist, but this is where we are at. And for the first several posts I will be talking about how we got here over the course of the last three years. As we make other adjustments– I will post those as we go.
Some things I’m looking forward to transitioning:
  • Homemade toothpaste
  • Compostable toothbrushes
  • No more body wash (unless I can find refillable liquid soap somewhere)
  • More homemade and less harmful cleaning products (baking soda and vinegar I’m told…)
  • No more cooking foil (sad and scared)
  • More bulk buying
  • Compost and soil sharing (If you need compost, I have it! No charge!)
I think these goals are enough to start with, but I will be looking for creative ways to transition into a more waste-conscious lifestyle as opportunities arise organically. The first thing I am pretty passionate about is NOT THROWING AWAY THINGS YOU ALREADY HAVE IN EXCHANGE FOR MORE SUSTAINABLE OR WASTE- CONSCIOUS OPTIONS. This defeats the purpose. I get it, if you would like to immediately remove harmful chemicals from your household, do so by donating these products to friends, family members, or organizations who are not quite ready to move into the waste conscious lifestyle you will be pursuing. Because they purchase these things anyway, you are saving them money and putting a small chink in the heavy armor that is chemical capitalism etc.
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Facts about our family:
  • We live in Los Angeles, CA
  • We have two large breed dogs
  • We both work full-time
  • We don’t have the money to go out and start binge buying mason jars or biodegradable toilet brushes (yet)
  • We don’t have the time or energy to start a homemade cleaning or personal products factory in our home
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Part of how I am able to start reducing our household waste and needless purchases is by saving the containers from products I have already purchased. So even though I have not given up buying things in plastic or glass containers (I hope to very soon!), I do save a majority of my containers and put them to good use around the house… and during the holidays I am able to gift a lot of them away (I plan to blog about this)!
My M.O. is as things break or wear out I will replace them with more sustainable waste free options and will blog about it. This is a much more manageable approach than the complete overhaul and makes more sense environmentally and financially (IMHO).
So, here goes something      …
Excited for your support and your partnership in these efforts!
Let me know your own waste-conscious/waste-free hacks!

7 thoughts on “The Art of Living, or Something…

  1. zanygreenquest says:

    Vinegar and baking soda has been working good for me so far. I have some bleach I dilute with water that I still use for raw meat clean ups.
    I’ve found using jars for the bulk bins to be a bit of a pain to use so I purchased some reusable bags off Amazon. A lot of people like the Simple Ecology bags.
    I also haven’t gotten rid of all my items in plastic. I’ve just been re purposing things. My leftover shampoo has turned into hand soap lol.
    Your goals sound great!
    (Hope I didn’t triple post this comment, post button is behaving funny)

    • Stephanie Sparling Williams says:

      Thanks so much for this! I am going to start trying some household cleaner recipes once mine run out in a month or so. And that is a great tip for the reusable bags…do you know anything about how the weight of the bag affects pricing for the bulk items?

      • zanygreenquest says:

        It’s really minimal weight wise. I bought the Flip and Tumble polyester ones off Amazon and they’re super light. I’d like to get some of the cotton type for powdery items though.

  2. stacietamaki says:

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. I came to take a peek at yours and realized we have much in common 🙂

    I have been eco-conscious (though not hard-core or full blown) for a number of years and have tried to modify my daily routine as you describe in this post.

    One of my pet peeves is food waste as well as to-go and throwaway food containers.

    At home I will eat random bits of dinner leftovers as part of my breakfast or lunch the next day to avoid throwing them away. Even if it’s just a couple of forkfuls. It makes me feel better knowing I’m not contributing to the enormous amount of food waste our country creates even as many here go to bed hungry each night. I read the other day that the average American throws away 25% of the food they purchase. To me that says I can eat everything I purchase and have 25% of my same food budget to donate to a local food bank, still buying the same amount of food but helping others and the planet at the same time. Though I suspect my food waste at home is closer to 5%.

    When I do eat out I have, for years, taken my own tupperware-type container with me for leftovers, reusable chopsticks that have their own carrying case I can keep in my purse, a plastic fork if I’m going somewhere casual, and even a clear, hard plastic cup to restaurants with serve yourself soda-fountains that only offer throwaway cups. Since I only drink water the clear cup has been fine with every restaurant I’ve ever taken it to.

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