Sustainable Lifestyle

Update: #NoWasteNovember Challenge

I decided to challenge myself this month to reduce my waste, particularly of plastics. While No-Waste-At-All is the goal, it’s definitely idealistic and far-reaching. Also, #nowastenovember has a certain ring to it unlike #lesswastenovember. This challenge is the latest in my longer-term goal to manage the amount of stuff I own. I was inspired* to have a minimalist approach to acquiring any new stuff and consider how I dispose of used, unwanted, or old stuff. 

Beginning November 1, 2018, I began toting around reusable cotton bags, glassware, thermos mug, and a metal spoon and fork. By day 2, I realized I needed to establish some guidelines. So I came up with the following list of do’s and don’ts. 

YasiFit Goes Green

  1. Don’t buy plastics or collect free plastics.
  2. If I end up getting plastics, it must be recyclable. 
  3. Reuse any existing plastic items. 
  4. Recycle all possible plastic, paper, metal, and glass.
  5. Compost food scraps.
  6. Biodegradable waste goes into the garbage in a paper bag. 

It’s been two weeks so far and I’ve learned a few things about my consumer behavior. Plastic is everywhere in my life! My favorite pens are mostly plastic. I have bought and eaten food sold in plastic wrappers. Finally, I kept forgetting to ask servers to hold the straw. 

Practice Makes Perfect Progress 

These are the different ways I’ve been sorting my trash. Where I live, we do not have recycling pick up service. I’ve lugged my recycling items to my sister’s house where she has a green waste bin from the city. 

I’ve learned that recycling centers do not accept soiled plastic containers so I hand wash each item. It gets really complicated for toiletries like hand lotion (i.e., cutting the tube open and wiping it clean). There are some weird items like paper boxes that have a plastic coating on the outside. I throw those into this bag too and hope for the best!

Recyclables Bag
Contains paper packaging, plastic containers, aluminum cans and foil.

The next category is really interesting. I hadn’t thought about what I might do with biodegradable stuff like soiled napkins, paper towels, and . . . hair balls. If you’ve got long hair, I’m sure you know all about Hair Art in the shower. I have forced myself to establish the habit of balling that hair up and throwing it into the trash, not down the drain. After paying for a plumber to auger a shower drain clogged with hair clumps, I learned my lesson. Hair goes into the trash and not down the pipe. 

I use a separate paper bag for the biodegradables. I expect to toss it directly into the trash bin as is. 

Biodegradable Bag
Contains dryer lint, soiled napkins and towels, wooden chopsticks, hair strands, and nail clippings.

The last portion of my waste collection is the undesirable plastic and plastic coated trash. After two weeks of this challenge, I realize that going completely no waste is completely impossible. So I used a plastic bag that I couldn’t recycle to hold all the remaining trash. There are some themes here, mostly of plastic wrappers for food and products and those dang drink cups. 

Except for days 12 through 15, this is about 75% – 80% of the trash I’ve created since I began the challenge. All in all, I am pretty sure this trash would have been three times as much. I’ll chalk it up to a Big Green Win!

Legitimate Waste
Contains food wrappers, cups lined with plastic, toiletries wrappers, and mail plastics. 

After several days of travel with my cousin, I am back on track for the rest of the month. I’m enjoying the challenge of grocery shopping for items that aren’t wrapped in plastic or styrofoam and getting creative when eating out. Looking forward to changing my consumer habits in the long term to encourage a more consistent low-waste lifestyle. 

*The goal to minimize my stuff was added to my 2018 vision board.