Sustainability Update: April 2018

As some of you know, I started Loose Leaf Living with the intention to write, take photos, and make videos related to minimalism and sustainability. I had recently discovered the zero waste lifestyle the year before, and I wanted to do my part by sharing my story.

To be frank, I don’t think I’ve been doing a very good job sharing my story. I’ve made videos about my zero waste struggles and what’s on my zero waste wishlist, but I haven’t really shared a comprehensive update.

Even though I’ve made great strides in some areas, I’ve regressed in others. I’ve been having a bit of trouble with food waste and food packaging recently, which I had hoped to keep private and pretend isn’t happening.

But that isn’t healthy. Or honest. So here are my successes…and my failures.


Successes (so far in 2018)

  • Cloth napkins. Though I’ve been using them for years, I haven’t been as committed to them as I have been this year. I’ll admit that I still buy paper towels, but I don’t even think about grabbing one when I’m eating. It’s cloth or nothing!
  • I stopped buying loofahs. Even though the ones I had been buying claimed to be recyclable, I didn’t want to chance it. I figured the employees working the recycling conveyor belt would just toss them in the trash. Instead, I’ve been using washcloths. I machine wash them after every 1-3 uses.
  • Shampoo bars. They were packaged sustainably, are vegan, and can work as body soap as well! I haven’t had the best luck with them yet, but I’m giving them time.
  • I’ve only used one disposable coffee cup this year. I’m very determined not to use any more.


Failures (so far in 2018)

  • Food packaging. So much food packaging. This is multilayered, so bear with me while I explain my predicament. I have anxiety, which aggravates my pre-existing stomach condition often. I’m unlikely to feel good eating the same thing day after day. Sometimes one time is enough. That means buying food and cooking it in large quantities (a.k.a. bulk) isn’t always the right option for me. There’s also the issue of the time it takes to cook things from scratch and the money it costs to stock our kitchen with a variety of different food, but I’m working on managing my time and increasing my income, so hopefully those won’t be a problem anymore. I also recognize that I’m lucky to live somewhere with access to a variety of different food, and I don’t take that for granted. 
  • Take-out containers. I cook 3 meals each week, and though we can usually stretch the food for 4-5 days, sometimes I get tired. My boyfriend is tired as well. Some days we don’t want to cook or eat leftovers. We don’t want to go out and eat there, so we order food via Postmates. I wish there was an option for no extra napkins, utensils, etc. Maybe I’ll write to Postmates…
  • Tea bags. I’ve been out of chamomile tea for months. Finally, I decided it was time to get some more. I was impulsive and bought Celestial Seasonings. Even though their company is more sustainable than most, they still use tea bags. I know I’ll take the extra step and buy loose leaf next time. 

I made a video last year called How to Begin Going Zero Waste, and, after watching it again, I realized I need to take my own advice.

One Step At A Time

I felt like I needed to tackle all my failures at once, which led to me feeling overwhelmed and not taking any action at all. It was easier for me to stay as I was than to step out of my comfort zone and look for alternatives.

If you’re feeling anxious like me, I suggest doing the same. I think it’s important to “go back to basics” to see what you’re doing right, and expand from there.

Also, I’m going to be using the term low waste instead of zero waste when describing my lifestyle to others.

Low Waste Goals

  • Continue using shampoo bars. Try experimenting with DIY dry shampoo to control oil.
  • Plant basil plant (I can’t find unpackaged basil at any grocery stores near me!)
  • Stop buying spinach in packaging (and figure out how to store it)

Let me know your zero/low waste successes, failures, and goals in the comments below.