Zero waste progress

Zero waste is made of the accumulation of little acts of resistance against the status quo that threatens our future on this planet. I can never find enough time in the month to write a full post about all the little things I do to make my life simpler and more sustainable, so I would like to try a new post format inspired by the simple things series for the beauty is simple. Here are 5 little things that brought me closer to my zero waste goals this month.

New produce bagsBulk drawstring bags

In preparation for potentially having to live apart from my boyfriend for a while, I sewed a few more produce bags so that we can both have enough of them to keep the amount of packaging we send to landfill low. I used my experience with the ones I have been using for a while to come up with a more convenient design for the bulk aisle (I’m hoping to post a tutorial for them soon).

Make it do with a bad purchase
Water bottle up cycle

A few years back I bought a ‘Bobble’ water bottle to be able to filter water on the go. What a bad purchase! With each change of filter, so much plastic had to go to waste that I only changed the filter once and stopped using the bottle. Since I didn’t want to throw the whole bottle away, I used a box cutter to remove the filter part and now we can use it as a simple water bottle.

Phone case from up-cycled materialsPhone case from up cycled materials

For Christmas, I offered P. to make a case for his new-to-him second-hand phone and I finally finished it this month. It is made entirely from materials that had a previous life. The fabric, button and elastic came from the pile of material I save for craft projects and the padding was some wrapping new screens came in at work. It is actually its third life as it was used to protect things when we moved last year. The design is adapted from this tutorial.

No food waste recipe: ‘Pain perdu’

Stale bread into french toast

We don’t eat much bread, so it is not uncommon that we don’t manage to finish the one we buy before it gets stale. This is not a reason to throw it away. Even weeks after, we make French toast with our hard bread. I love that in French it is called ‘Pain perdu’ i.e. lost bread. Recipe: Mix 1 egg, 10 cl milk and 25 g. Cut the stale bread in slices and deep them for about 30 seconds in the mix. Put in an oven dish and bake until golden.

Reusable pads

Reusable periode pads

As I mentioned before, my zero waste focus of the year is the bathroom. After successfully switching to a menstrual cup, I was still finishing up my disposable pad stock to deal with leaks at the beginning of the cycle. I finally invested in re-useable pads. I am looking forward for my first truly zero waste cycle.

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How about you? I’d love to hear what little acts of resistance you carried out this month.

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5 steps towards a sustainable Christmas

Christmas is a magical time of the year that helps warm our hearts to get us through winter, but we have turned it in a bit of a mass consumption ritual which is far from environmentally friendly. Before moving on to 2017, I wanted to share the five little steps I’ve taken this year to make gift giving a bit more sustainable.

xmas

1. Sending a Christmas list

Christmas lists don’t have to be reserved for children. Since loved ones are going to spend time and money to get me a gift, I prefer it to be something I need/want, and thus will use and enjoy, than another piece of ‘stuff’ that will pile up in my cupboards without daring to get rid of it. Surprises are so overrated.

After looking around for a gift list application, I finally used google doc, as all the lists I found required to link items to commercial websites or people to sign up. I just wrote a word document, added pictures and in the sharing settings I choose anyone with the link can edit. I then sent the link to my parents for diffusion. People with the link could then look at the file and put their name next to the thing they picked.

It was not perfect as I made the list too long (5 pages), too complicated (I tried to include all the zero waste gift options I could think of) and too late (the time to figure out the best option to do this, people had already started shopping), but it helped me get things that I was planning to get anyway like a good cooking knife or a Spanish grammar book. Plus now I know how to do it better next year. Do, learn, improve.

2. Giving hand made gifts

baskets-pants.png

Since I piked up sewing this year, I decided to sew a little something to everybody. I had made a few fabric baskets for myself and found it convenient to tidy small items together. I made two types of baskets (this one and something in the line of this one adding lining inside to hide the seams), all this from material I already had: some trousers’ bottoms that got cut before hemming, and fabric left overs that came with my grandma’s sewing machine.

3. Giving edible gifts

I bought Spanish Christmas sweets to fill the baskets. I like the idea of giving food that people would not normally buy, as they will eat it thinking about you and not be cluttered with it for long. And in case the recipient doesn’t like this particular food, it should not be too difficult to find someone who will.

4. Finding something people need/want

My grandma wanted some business cards with her new address as she finds troublesome dictating it over and over, so I offered to take care of it. As a good zero waster, I found a company that offered them on recycled paper made in a factory powered by renewable energy and where the minimum order was 50. With most companies you have to get at least 100.

underwear

Looking around, I couldn’t find a gift that resonated with me for my mum. Instead of buying something because I had too, I asked her if she needed anything and she asked me for underwear travel bags. We looked together in my fabric stash and selected some pyjama underwear whose elastic band had dried out. We spent a morning making three little bags out of them. I love the irony that they are underwear bags made out of underwear and my mum being there and contributing made them more special. Christmas is not so much about the stuff than the memories.

5. Using furoshiki gift wrapping

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In my family, we have always been reusing gift wrapping over and over, but would still get some in the bin every year. Last year my mum started the furoshiki tradition by wrapping her presents in tea towels that were part of the gift. Still digging in the pile of fabric from my grandma, I used pinking shears to make fabric squares to wrap all my presents. It is much faster than with paper: two knots and voila! And they will be reused every Christmas for decades.

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Photo credit: SN, JN and MD.