January 6, 2017

Happy Weekend & The Zero Waste Challenge

Did any of you guys see this zero waste challenge video? 

One woman attempted to live without making any trash for a month. I was so curious how she did this because as embarrassing it is to admit it, I produce trash like a monster. It drives Yangkyu nuts especially with wasting paper towels and wipes. I have tried to re-use paper towels (the clean ones at least) but that effort sort of went down the drain. My excuse is, when you're in a pinch and a hurry, you don't have time to think but to just grab the most convenient thing and clean whatever mess is in front of you - spill, throw up, whatever (my biggest fear is, if I don't clean it quickly enough, someone is going to step on it and trot all over the house making an even bigger mess). 

We do recycle and compost but I realize that we could be doing more. I noticed I wasn't as adamant about recycling what was in the upstairs bathroom - empty shampoo bottles, toilet paper rolls. It was an annoyance to bring it downstairs in our recycle collection and so it went straight into the garbage bin in the bathroom. 

This is all really embarrassing to admit but I knew I wanted to change. Doing the zero waste challenge sounded a bit daunting but after watching I knew I could cut my waste by a significant amount. 

After Bartles came, it's been a little bit of a challenge because using a disposable diaper instead of a reusable one is just really convenient and a life saver especially at 3 am in the morning and I'm getting paper towel happy again (sometimes) after mealtimes (he needs a good wipe after as food particles get stuck under his mouth flaps and he drools after drinking water -- Piri was like this too). But in all other aspects of my life I am making major improvements and if feels pretty darn good. 

Paper towels -- So I use paper towels for everything. I hate using the kitchen towels because I am CONSTANTLY washing my hands and the towels end up getting soaked, and they don't dry properly and sometimes they end up with a mildew smell. I have had to wash with vinegar on numerous occasions. Yangkyu would have towels about all over our counter to have them dry properly, which drove me nuts because we don't have a lot of countertop space and when I'm trying to cook and prepare food they would get in the way. To avoid all this I just started to use paper towels. 

But I am back to using kitchen hand towels and I have learned a little something about drying hands (at the ripe old age of 38). I realized that I wasn't shaking the excess water off of my hands before drying them on a towel. Changed that. I also was using one side of the towel constantly which contributed to it getting soaked faster. Changed that. I also began to dry them properly and now that I've taken a couple of steps to ensure that towels aren't getting soaked, only one towel really is in need of some countertop time to dry properly per day. Yay. A win win for everybody. 

Wipes -- I use wipes all the time too. To wipe the countertops and to clean in general. I mean, I just can't live without them. I actually started to use wipes to save money on paper towels. But what I do now is actually use a spare hand towel to wipe the kitchen countertop and use wipes to clean them every few days. I decided to make my own countertop cleaning spray and once that is done, I plan to cut using wipes in the kitchen altogether. I think I'll still have them around for quick emergency pick ups but perhaps one day those emergency pick ups won't need the help of disposable wipes as well. 

Zip lock bags -- I use zip lock bags all the time (um.. do you see a wasteful pattern?). For vegetables, meat, left over things, temporary treat bags -- I mean name an issue and zip lock is your answer. All this - the paper towels, wipes and zip lock bags, I use because it's just really really convenient. You don't have to worry about washing anything afterwards. You just use and throw out. Simple. But I kicked my zip lock habit by using containers for everything. Everything. Our refrigerator looks like a little container shop. The only thing I currently use a zip lock bag is to hold pieces of cold cuts which I use for Bartles "high treats" whenever he successfully pees and potties outside. Oh and sometimes when we have pieces of meat that need to be freezed separately.

Disposable kitchen gloves -- I used them whenever I needed to mix food or some Korean side dishes (which uses soy sauce and sesame oil where the smell can transfer to your hands even after you wash it) and even dog food (wet and dry food). Now I just use a spoon or my bare hands. Just live with the extra thing to wash or hands that smell like soy sauce.

Recycle and compost -- I mentioned before we already do this but we're more aggressive about it now. I also saw this amazing video of making vegetable stock. I always thought that cooked foods could not be composted but I was wrong. Boiled sweet potato skins and vegetable scraps that are first used to make vegetable stock can totally be composted. And I am totally doing this.

Another major thing I stopped using altogether is tin foil (except on New Year's day Yangkyu wanted to get the grill going and toss in sweet potatoes which he wrapped with foil - he immediately regretted suggesting doing the grill). We are also considering lowering the amount of wipes we use for dogs paws and their pee and potty area. We are thinking of getting face towels and using water to soak them to wipe their paws and only using the wipes for their pee and potty area. We already purchased a small wood towel rack to hang by our balcony door but still need to invest in some smaller sized towels.

We have garbage days on Tuesday (regular garbage and recycle) and Fridays (just regular garbage). Our regular garbage can used get filled to the max, sometimes making it hard to put the top on. Now? It's hardly even filled to the top - maybe just filled halfway (before Bartles it was like 2 bags worth of trash, tops). I mean the difference was so striking and amazing to me. And it just reaffirms what a big trash monster I was. Yangkyu has always been so much better (like for instance, when he gets coffee and forgets his reusable cup, he reuses his disposable cup a few times before finally recycling it), but he's even better than better now. Maybe I'll give him a gold star when he gets home from work today. Heh.

What do you have planned for the weekend? 

We're just staying in with Bartles and our guest dogs - two Westies! Perhaps some reading, maybe even some crafting(!) and a movie or two.

Have a great one. 


  1. Oh man! So totally can relate to this, Jane. MY hubby has always been against producing so much garbage. He's pretty good with recycling and finding use for old stuff, but I am not. I also like my paper towels. I've been trying lately to be less wasteful, but it's an uphill battle with three kids. Sigh...this year though, fingers crossed, really looking to change some habits.
    Have a great weekend:)

  2. That's so awesome Jane :) I'm pretty terrible with my usage especially compared to living with Ben who has been pretty staunch with not using plastic, although his meals are usually just a sandwich (and then that's probably just me making excuses for myself!). Before meeting Ben, I'd grab a new plastic bag every time I went to the shops without even thinking about how wasteful that was. Not consuming plastic and having very limited waste is an issue I really need to focus on - thanks for giving my brain a much needed reminder! Oh and a big lifesaver we have discovered in the last year was re-useable clingwrap! Our fridge is a container heaven too but sometimes you need clingwrap, so Ben bought these re-useable cloths and they have been so great :) I also have a re-useable cloth sandwich bag too which I can definitely recommend - easy to clean and the sandwich stays perfect inside!

  3. Happy New Year! This is a great idea! I realize that I too produce a lot of waste daily. I just started using ziplock bags recently since we moved away from the city and after a huge trip to the supermarket located 2 hours drive away, I use ziplock bags to label and portion the frozen meat. Now, I'm rethinking a better alternative to doing this. I have been using wash cloths mostly. I think when I was in the Middle East I was so much better in recycling. Where we are now, recycling stations hardly exist. Something we need to change and start doing something about immediately.

  4. I've done the whole decluttering thing and the next step is to be more eco-friendly and sustainable in my lifestyle. This challenge sounds really interesting and tough. My husband always makes fun of how much I hate using paper towels and when I do re-use them to death. I hang onto old socks and t-shirts and cut them up for rag to use for household chores. I'm sure there is a lot more I can do. Hope you're enjoying a wonderful weekend!

  5. I'm not the greatest... I go through phases when I'm really on it and then I get lazy. And I'm a big paper towel user too! :-/ I do love using my re-usable bags when grocery shopping though!


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