The last few weeks of 2015 were a wonderful whirlwind of food and social time… and we brougt our waste not principles with us to the best of our ability! We spent most of Christmas with our families and didn’t want to impose our values on them, so it ended up looking a bit more like “waste less” than “waste not” in some cases.
We wrapped gifts in scrap paper that needed to be reused anyway, we hosted a brunch consisting of bread pudding made from all our accumulated bread heels and waste-free fruits (no berries, as they’re out of season and only come in plastic this time of year), we hosted numerous potlucks and used actual dishware and mugs, rather than their disposable counterparts…. there were dozens of small shifts like these that really ended up adding up over December. All said and done, we generated about a quarter of a kitchen garbage bin full of waste throughout the month of December and we have yet to need to empty our recycling bin since the beginning of the project.
We also experienced some definite challenges. I bought Jesse an ice cream maker for Christmas, but due to not planning ahead, found myself resorting to buying cream from the store so that he could actually use it as immediately as he would want to. Since then, we’ve found a lead for a cream hookup who will let us bring our glass bottles out to collect cream directly from the farmer, which honestly feels so cool – Jesse will soon be able to make custom ice cream concoctions using the freshest possible cream. It doesn’t get more “from scratch” than that!
Right after Christmas, we headed out West to visit our friends Keith and Greg in the mountains near Nelson, B.C. We didn’t plan out our food strategy as well as we could have, so we found ourselves simply not buying a lot of things that we wanted because we didn’t have an effective way to bring them home without a bunch of excess packaging. In the end, we ate simply and well, and came home with one more plastic bread bag as our compromise. One additional note – our grocery experience in B.C. was notably more relaxed. There were no eyebrows raised when we asked if we could purchase some cheese from the counter and take it home in our own container, and the attendant then tried to help us solve our bread bag dilemma. We were able to compost and cook from scratch just like at home while staying in Greg and Keith’s cabin, and we even got to see what life is like when your home is heated by a fire.
All-in-all, our waste free kitchen mission for December has been a much more manageable transition that it seemed at first! By simply planning ahead for what we’ll want and need, and accepting that there will be some things that we just won’t be able to have if we can’t figure out how to get it without packaging, we’ve adjusted pretty easily.
While we haven’t fully mapped out what 2016 for this project looks like, we do know where we’re going for January: cleaning and hygiene! As we run out of our hygiene projects, cosmetics, bathroom materials, and cleaning supplies and products, we will begin replacing them with our waste free principles guiding the way. Jesse has already been researching how to make our new cleaning staple, apple cider vinegar, from the apples that we use to make our applesauce (we eat A LOT of applesauce), since that takes some planning ahead – the vinegar will need a few weeks to sit. We’ll be welcoming even more baking soda into our lives (we already use it for tooth brushing and hair washing), to act as our scouring agent for household cleaning, our deodorant, and whatever else it seems able to handle. We’ll post more about what sustainable solutions we come across along the way!