14 September 2016

On reducing waste

Personal picture

…and living a life more aligned with our values. 
Ever since I started on my path to simplicity, I have tiptoed around the concept of zero waste, or, in a more moderate way, making efforts to produce less waste.

 The consumption cycle consists in three parts: acquire, use, discard. To me, a simple life should have an effect on all of these steps – buy less, make a better use and care of what we have, and discard less. With the zero waste movement, it is obviously the discard part we are tackling.

The zero waste advocates have managed to reduce their waste to one small jar a year or so. While they set a good example, to me, it seems a bit much for a start. It feels a bit hard to achieve. Like everything else, I prefer to adopt a moderate approach. A do your best policy.

Here are some tips that come from Lauren Singer as a starting point to reduce trash:
  • Buy fewer packaged food products: when possible, favour bulk options, farmer’s markets or bigger size packs to limit the quantity of trash produced by packaging. Avoid industrial food as much as possible and get your own jars and containers to store bulk products. 
  • Make some of your own products (beauty and cleaning for example), as you’ll only get the packaging from ingredients instead of throwing empty bottles each time you finish a product. Buying in bigger quantity is also a good option (that’s what I do for rosewater and vegetal oil for example) 
  • Start a compost, if you can. This is a great way to recycle organic waste (vegetable peels, tea leaves…) and create natural fertilizer for your garden/terrace/balcony. This isn’t an easy one at first sight, as one needs to know a bit about composts to get started, but it can be a good project to have for the longer term, if your living space allows it. 
In any case, I am an advocate of step by step efforts. One little thing, like bringing your tea mug at work instead of using plastic glasses, is better than trying to do everything only to end up discouraged. It is always best to focus on little achievements rather than considering all there is left to do.

What about you? Are you trying to reduce waste at home? Please let me know if you are interested in the subject of zero waste. If so I may write more as I make small daily efforts to reduce waste at home.

Sources for more info and practical tips:
Trash is for tossers
Zero waste home


  1. i would love for you to write more about zero waste as i am trying to reduce my trash, too. i find it is the same as with decluttering, it comes in waves or layers (i wouldn't touch my books for the longest time and suddenly one day i couldn't wait to see some of them gone) and i feel like i am at the next layer right now.
    my standard deodorant was discontinued which i saw as a sign to finally try some natural options and i've been planning to buy some handkerchiefs for the longest time.
    i also make a mental note on things i haven't found a zero waste solution yet. for example the sponges i use to clean my dishes... i don't get on with brushes and all natural options i've found to far are way to expensive.
    do you use a safety razor? my razor is one of the last offenders in my bathroom and i want to try a plastic free version but i don't want to order one off of amazon.. plus i am scared ^^'

    man, i could write a chinese wall of text about this topic.. haha. about finding a good water bottle, menstrual cups, the ridiculousness of plastic packaging on only the organic produce in german supermarkets, cleaning supplies and to on and to forth...

    1. Safety razors are one of the easiest things to use. I ordered mine from Amazon. They say try a few blades from the variety pack to find your perfect one to use with the razor. But the one that came with the razor works fine.

      Hope you do give it a shot.

      Florie : My take has been : make some, forego some, buy better. The one I miss the most is nail polish. I moved state and finding a place to compost has been a problem. It threw me off my game that I thought I had mastered. I wish the city made it easy. Individual efforts compound when the authorities take it seriously too.

    2. i will try one, its now on my list of things i want to get done before the year is over :) i guess i tend to overthink such things... it's the paradox of choice, there are so many options that it paralyzes me.

      i find it frustrating to think of it as 'zero' waste, it seems so unattainable.. the same with comparing myself with bloggers who are further down the path.
      my motivation/muse is the witch i pretended to be when i was younger. she is all about good vibes, trusting the universe, using cruelty free products, owning a plastic free kitchen, beeing in touch with her body and spirit, not poisoning the planet. she wears dark nail polish, though... not ready to give that up yet. (i heard a few times that some girls use a microfiber cloth to remove the polish, which would cut down on cotton pad waste.. but i haven't found any comments on dealing with the smell when you keep that cloth around for months... i guess there is only one way to find out...)

    3. I totally agree with you on layers! It's like at some point in the simplification process, it's time to move on to something new. Reducing waste is definitely one for me too. I'll post as I learn of course, I'm but a beginner yet. I've moved on to the menstrual cup (it takes a few cycles to get used to it but now I wouldn't return to anything else) but I never bought a safety razor. If you do buy one on Archana's advice, I'd love to hear your take on it :)

      @Archana I totally agree with your take! Consuming less is the first step to having less trash in the first place. Stop using some of the products altogether helps. We probably don't need every single thing we are used to use every day without ever questioning it before. But better, definitely. Although it's hard to find things with as little packaging as possible. Make some: yes! I'll share some recipes for beauty and cleaning products once I find some that work well for me. Compost, yes it's hard in town. We have a terrasse but I didn't get round to using one yet. Some cities do take it very seriously, I heard San Francisco has city compost for example. That's nice to hear, even if these iniatives are scarce yet.

  2. Such an eloquent post as usual :) I do think that we sometimes focus too much on the first part of acquiring items and forget how to dispose them. I'm still on the lookout for a good place for recycling and composting in the city (my landlord doesn't do either) but I agree with Juju completely on using a menstrual cup (such a godsend!) and personally I either wax or laser instead of dealing with disposable razors (I figure at least waxing strips are made of compostable ingredients) as well as just generally trying to always use a reusable option when it comes to things like plastic bags, saran wrap, and all the lunchtime accoutrements.

    1. I think food wraps and packages are the worst. I always feel bad when we order sushi... I've started taking my own containers to the market for refills for example, but it's sometimes hard to go against the flow, especially for an interovert like me. It sure is easier when there is an infrastructure ready in the city, but I'm sure there are little things that can be done at a personal level for a start... Reusable options are good! Coffee cups for example :)

  3. I'd like to know more about zero waste. Write away:)

    1. Duly noted! I'm just starting but I'll jot down some notes as I experiment for future posts :)

  4. As someone that accumulates an awful lot of trash... way more than I even feel comfortable with, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. Zero waste blogs are already at that finish line but to hear about it as a journey from someone starting and learning from the beginning seems easier to follow along. Also, what do apartment dwellers or those without yards do about compost material?

    1. I do agree that it is harder to relate with big zero waste figures who seem to have it all figured out. Although there are interesting resources on their websites for receipes, tips and tricks etc. I hope sharing my experience at my level will help indeed!
      For compost, I saw there are options for terrasses and even small balconies, especially for people living in tiny places. You do have to have a balcony to start with though. Some cities have public places where you can go and throw your compost material. I'm not sure how widespread this is but it's definitely worth investigating!