When I first started living zero waste in my home and urban farm over a year ago, I was met with some pretty funny comments. A lot of family and close friends thought I had joined new political parties and beliefs, and I was called a "treehugger", a "bleeding heart liberal", an "environmentalist", and other things that had never been part of my name-calling repertoire. I laughed the silliness off, and have tried to explain to people one of my main principles:
There is nothing more conservative than conserving.
Living and gardening with zero waste is not only healthy for the planet, but for your bank account and other resources. Although I grew up in the 80's and 90's where environmentalism was starting to be largely discussed, I've never felt the need to alter my lifestyle simply for the planet's health. You may agree with that sentiment. But when I saw how much money I was saving and how much trash I wasn't producing? Now, that changed everything in my competitive spirit! Once Mr. Man and I decided on the zero waste lifestyle, we started in the kitchen. That led to the bathroom, and then to our workplaces. Finally, we made our urban farm zero waste, using recycled materials, compost, and seeds to house and grow our produce.
Little changes, such as ridding ourselves of paper towels, incorporating a compost bin in the kitchen to take our food waste outside, and finding fun ways to change leftovers into different meals were easy. Calling the city and asking for as many free recycle bins as we could get? Simple!
We found an antique bin to hold our everyday cloth napkins (regular and cocktail), short reusable straws for cocktails and large ones for drinks, and better storage containers to elongate the freshness of our food.
Bulk shopping became fun, and is an inexpensive way to buy your favorite goods. (In an upcoming blog I'll share my methods for buying the bulk food in stores, and the transfer process once it reaches the kitchen.)
Is all of our zero waste living helping the environment? Probably, because reducing packaging and cleaning waste means reducing resources and our landfill footprint. But you know what it's really saving? Our checking account in a two-fold way. One, not buying so many paper products and throwing out spoiled food every few days reduces our grocery bill; Two, because we save food scraps in our outdoor compost bins, we are creating organic soil for our farm beds, which saves a lot of money on nursery-bought soil and goods.
Zero waste living and farming doesn't have to be political; there are so many polarizing topics already, why even go there? One or two parties usually get the credit for being environmentally savvy, and a lot of people vote for the candidate who promises environmental reform. The party that rarely discusses environment does have something in common with the conservationists, because the party platform revolves around saving all resources. Conserving resources and saving our land doesn't have much to do with the promises of D.C.,because it really starts with you. There's no need to regulate what you already want to do, so I say go for it and start seeing the savings!
Till next time,
Dallas Farmer Gal