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2021 Zero Waste Goal Recap (+2022 Goals)

This article was written 21.12.05, please excuse any joke/reference that’s no longer applicable.


Happy new year!

How was everyone’s holiday break? Good? Bad? Stressfully filled with no (or very few) zero waste options?

Don’t worry if you ‘slipped up’ this past holiday season – that part of the year is literally designed to be thrown away. Think about it: plastic decorations, wrapping paper, gift bags, cards – everything that makes it ‘festive’ is basically just fancy trash!

You don’t have to beat yourself up if you used a festive napkin at a get-together or couldn’t resist buying a plastic decoration. These things happen. The important thing to remember is that the Earth doesn’t need everyone doing zero waste perfectly, it needs everyone doing it imperfectly.

As long as you’re trying to do better, you’re already ahead.

Speaking of trying to do better, at the beginning of last year, I made this post, which outlined my zero waste goals for 2021. And I thought, since I went to the trouble of making a post telling you what my goals were, it would be kind of dumb if I didn’t make a follow up post to let you know whether or not I actually reached them.

To recap, in the post I made last year, I said the main thing I wanted to try and stop using was paper towels, and then zip lock bags, if I managed to stop using paper towels.

I’d like to report that I accomplished removing these things from my life, and I can now move on…but if I did that, I’d 100% be lying!

I didn’t stop using paper towels, and I definitely still use Ziploc bags. Instead, I decided to test out a more eco-friendly toilet paper, and, I’m happy to report, I’ve been using it exclusively since trialling it last year!

I mentioned it in passing in the goals post for last year, that chopping down a 40 year old tree for something you use 1 time and then throw out is crazy – which it is – and the more research I did into toilet paper, the more I felt compelled to change that first.

Since I wanted to change things in order of the most wasteful, so that my changes would have the biggest impact, changing toilet paper actually should’ve been the first thing I changed.

As I was researching paper towels, I stumbled across a stat that blew my mind: 27,000 trees are cut down per day for toilet paper. Per day!

That’s an insane amount of trees being cut down for something people definitely don’t use more than once. Similar to when I went vegan, once I knew, I couldn’t un-know, and I definitely didn’t want to be contributing to that stat anymore, so, I started researching alternatives.

Now, there are varying degrees of alternatives to paper toilet paper – for instance, there are bidets, which are pretty widely known, but thinking about the future, since the bidet is something that has to use water, and attach to your toilet, I decided that wouldn’t be the right option for me. (I’m planning on converting a bus into a tiny house on wheels, and using a dry [composting] toilet – there will actually be an article coming out later this year explaining this in more depth)

Then I found a more… let’s call it ‘unique’ alternative called Family Cloth. This one… well, it probably is the most eco-friendly, since it involves taking what would otherwise be trash and reusing it, but, it also seems the most gross and labour-intensive.

For those of you who don’t know, Family Cloth is pieces of clothing (usually old t-shirts/sweaters/flannel) that have been cut into squares, for you to use like toilet paper. After using, you put the soiled cloth into a bucket of water (or, it might be some sort of water/vinegar cleaning solution) and then you wash the cloth using a washing machine.

While it might not be as gross as I’ve built it up in my mind to be (I’m assuming it might be like reusable period pads – there was a time when I thought I would never use them, and now I use them exclusively), Family Cloth is just something I don’t think I could do, at least for the time being.

That’s why I was over-the-moon excited when I discovered a brand called Who Gives a Crap. They sell toilet paper (and a few other products) that is more eco friendly than conventional toilet paper. They have two kinds available, a bamboo, or a recycled paper version. You’ll be getting a full review of them later this year (March), so I won’t go into too many details, but I ended up trying (and loving) their bamboo paper, so I decided to switch to them once I got my order.

And, I’m happy to report, it wasn’t actually that hard! The difference is very minimal, and I’ve actually gotten used to the texture difference, and don’t even really notice it now. As stated above, this is the only toilet paper I use now, so it was a great switch for me to make.

So, while I didn’t technically reach my zero waste goals for last year, I ended up changing a bigger, and arguably, more important aspect of my life. Which leads me to: my 2022 zero waste goals!

I think I’ll stick with last year’s goals of trying to remove paper towels and, possibly, plastic zip-lock bags. Who Gives a Crap has some Forest Friendly paper towels (they’re made out of bamboo and sugarcane), so I’ll check those out, while I also try to cut back on my over-all use of paper towels. Just because they aren’t made out of trees doesn’t mean I should feel complacent with still producing garbage!

Since I was actively thinking and observing my paper towel use last year, I realized the reason I use them the most is to cut up food or use them instead of a plate. Which is dumb, because I should just be using a cutting board, instead. Or, y’know, a plate!

I don’t even know when it happened, but at some point, grabbing a paper towel just became ‘faster’ than grabbing a cutting board or a plate. Which is actually bullshit, because it literally takes the same amount of effort to grab a paper towel as it does to grab a cutting board or plate.

Do you have any zero waste goals for this year? Let me know in the comments below!


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Capsule Wardrobes and How To Downsize Your Closet

One of the things everyone has too many of, is clothes. I don’t know what it is, but practically everyone I know has overflowing dressers and closest. And, perhaps the worst part, is that their dressers and closest are overflowing with clothing they won’t even wear!

Seriously, how messed up is that? Why would you keep hundreds of items of clothes if you never wear them? That’s just wasting your money, wasting space for things you actually like/want to wear and is not doing your self-image any favours.

While I can’t tell you to stop buying yourself clothes (just because we’re in lockdown doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to go outside again), I can help you start the process of whittling down your wardrobe.

The first step to downsizing your wardrobe? Get rid of everything that doesn’t fit (yes, even that goal weight item you’re keeping for ‘inspiration’), and anything you haven’t worn in over a year. Chances are, if you haven’t worn it again, it’s probably because you don’t actually like it. By ‘get rid of’, I do not mean throw in the garbage! Unless it’s actually super holey and can’t be worn, donate them! There are tons of second hand stores that are always looking for clothing donations. (I know with COVID this may make it harder, but just be sure to do your research on the new donating guidelines!)

If the clothes are too worn/holey/stained to be donated, see if you can cut them up and turn them into something else. There are tons of tutorials online of creative ways to upcycle old clothing. I personally have made a few fabric bracelets, a hair tie, and reusable pads out of old clothes. (There will be a dedicated reusable pad/zero waste period post coming soon!)

Also, if you have an insane amount of the exact same item of clothing, get rid of it! There are only 7 days in a week, and unless you don’t have a washing machine, or get covered in mud every single day, you don’t need 7+ of the same t-shirt, or pairs of the exact same leggings. Honestly, no one will care if you repeat an outfit, and if they do, well… let’s just say there are more important issues to be worrying about.

Okay, now that you have a few tips to help you downsize, let’s get on to the items you’ll be keeping. Adopting a capsule wardrobe can be a huge help in not only maintaining your style, but also in keeping you from buying too many clothing items. The concept of a capsule wardrobe is simple: you just make sure that each new piece of clothing you buy (or each item you’re keeping) will match with something you already own. It’s basically turning your wardrobe into a giant mix and match set.

So, now that you know what a capsule wardrobe is, let’s get into the how-to.

 

Step 1. Choose a Base Colour.

This can be any colour you want! Yellow, green, pink, pastel, even tie-dyed! It all depends on your style, and what you want your wardrobe to say. This colour will be the bottom building block for the rest of your wardrobe (i.e. the colour you have the most of), so make sure it’s one that you love to wear!

I personally try to dress ‘gothic country’ (which I’m pretty sure is a style I invented), so that made choosing my base colour really easy: Black. It goes with everything, and I had the added bonus of having a lot of pieces that were already this colour. (Instead of having to rush out and buy more to my already-over-flowing closet)

 

Step 2. Select Neutral Essentials

Keep these items a solid colour that is different then your base colour. These items are these that you wear with most, if not every outfit combo you make. You can have multiple colours for your neutral essentials, as long as they go with your base colour. For me, these colours include white, grey and denim.

 

Step 3. Choose An Accent Colour (Optional)

This has to match the other colours, but this one can be a vibrant colour, or, (if your other colours are vibrant), can be a darker colour. This is to add some contrast/’pop’ to your outfits.

 

Step 4: Shoes, Jackets and Accessories

For shoes and jackets, it’s best to keep them as your base colours. However, accessories can be a vibrant accent colour. Just, be sure not to wear too many bright accessories. If your whole outfit is black, wearing ten red/blue/some-other-bright-colour accessories would just look out of place.

 

Again though, these tips are for general practices and will change wildly depending on your own personal style. You could make your base ‘colour’ polka dots if you really wanted – it all depends on what you want your style to be.

The main point of building a capsule wardrobe is to be able to wear most of your clothing with each other, so you’re not constantly buying new clothes/outfits. It doesn’t matter if you execute a ‘perfect’ capsule wardrobe, what matters is you being able to get rid of all the unnecessary clothes you own, in a sustainable way/a way that you can actually keep up with.


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