Zero Waste TP: I Sh*t You Not

Hello lovely humans! I was inspired by one of my (cr)happiest friends while on a visit to Richmond, to tackle the #2 topic on everyone’s mind: Poo. Everyone does it, everyone is kinda weird about it, and some people even flush halfway through as if needing 2 toilet fulls is less embarrassing than the muffled toot we both know everyone heard. Toot on people, toot on.

If you’re interested in more information about our wastewater treatment facilities in VA, DC or MD, or if you’re interested in following the poop trail check out these nifty sites: Largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world, poop and port-a-potties, Alexandria ReNew, and finally an in-depth look, albeit exhaustive, plunge into how we treat our waste water.

Gonna go ahead and throw out an audible “sorry mom!” disclaimer on this one…

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Picking My Trash Jar

When I first told my family that I was attempting to do a zero waste month, I don’t think any of them were all that surprised. I sent out an email declaring my endeavor and I asked that they not buy me anything new for my birthday this year.

I also dropped them a line:

“does anyone have an extra mason jar or big ass glass jar I could use to collect my trash in June?” (I was preparing both for success, by gathering materials and information for my zero waste month, and for failure, by assuming I would need a gallon-sized container to hold my mountains of trash)

My sisters, the ever supportive cheerleader-types, quickly responded that of course they have glass jars they can spare. I think they were just excited to get clutter out of the cabinets.

My mom, however, tentatively and somewhat disgustedly asked “why glass… won’t you be able to see it all?”

Obviously she’s right, it is kind of gross and there’s a reason we don’t use clear trash cans or garbage disposals. It’s nasty. And if my goal for my zero waste month was to weigh out all the trash I produce then I could very easily just put it in an opaque container and not have to suffer the sight of the trail my choices leave behind. But to me, weighing it would add another dimension or layer of obscurity to my research. I needed to see it. No bullshit. I think that’s the difference between when something weighs on your conscience and when you’re forced to look it straight in the eye and confront it.

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Receipts: I before E except after Sea

 

Receipts.

So far my biggest enemy in my quest for zero-waste.

Here is how receipts line up with the 7 R’s of zero-waste:

1. Refuse: refuse receipts when possible. Many stores are able to email receipts or opt out of the customer copy. Ask before they swipe your card!! It is so important to be proactive in this regard!

2. Reduce: I interpret this step to mean “buy less” which will inadvertently reduce the number of receipts produced in general. Some receipts are printed automatically when paying with a credit card, so try to have cash on you when making smaller purchases. I would also suggest that playing a more active role in your purchasing process would help reduce receipts. What I mean by that is to cut down on how often you order things online (obviously almost every part of online shopping is producing waste in one way or another). If you do need to order something online then play an active role and take preventative steps to lessen packaging and waste in the process.

3. Reuse: how can you reuse a receipt? Lots of ways! Some people write their to do lists on them or use them as bookmarks. I personally, am not a fan of thermal printed receipts and try to limit the number of times I have to touch them… My favorite way to reuse receipts is to shred them along with any pieces of junk mail I’ve acquired and turn them into recycled paper! You’d be surprised how simple the process is! I’ll write a separate post outlining my process later on!

4. Recycle: Some municipalities accept receipts in their recycling programs. Most however, do not. If you’re curious whether or not your city accepts receipts visit 1800recycling.com for more information. Read More

Day 1: My Zero Waste Game Plan

Alright so yesterday I talked a lot about communication and miscommunication. In that same light of transparency, I’d like to outline what my parameters are in my journey and how I plan to achieve them (I’m doing this mainly for me but since you’re here, join me. Could get interesting).

I am an engineer’s daughter. I am the daughter of a man who built a leaf gathering machine out of gift wrapping crates and bungee cords. I am the daughter of a woman who stockpiled those weird styrofoam crocheted nets that went on pears because, and I quote, “I dunno! They can be used for something!” She was right, I wore them as sassy rocker gloves for a costume one year. This is in my blood. My grandfather was an inventor. My grandmother wrote stories and documented our family and friend’s histories. They found meaning not only in changing the world, but in our shared understanding of what those changes mean to us and the people we love. To be present is not to be complacent, to be present is to see all things for what they were, what they are and what they can be. And with that sappy aside, I give you: my plan.

How am I defining waste?

Single use items that cannot be reused or re-purposed and ultimately end up either in a trash bin or recycling bin. That’s right people… recycling is not a zero waste industry and I intend to abide by that rule. Whatever things I have left will either be put in my zero waste jar for the month or used again. Those are really the only 2 options I will be working with.

What will not constitute as waste? Read More

Eco-Logical Fallacies: understanding our misunderstandings Part 1

We’ve all used them. We’ve all been confused by them. Let’s talk logical fallacies and how our understanding is shaped by our communications and miscommunications with the people around us. In this post, I will do my best to avoid examples of President Trump exuding fallacies because I choose to believe that he is an outlier when it comes to the United States’ common consciousness….

What is a fallacy? Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim.

Ad Hominem

This translates as “to the man” and refers to any attacks on the person advancing the argument, rather than on the validity of the evidence or logic.

Affirming the Consequent

This is a fairly difficult fallacy to understand or spot. It is categorical in nature and, essentially, means reversing an argument, or putting the cart before the horse, meaning reversing or confusing the general category with the specific/sub-category.  Note that in this fallacy the premises/reasons are actually correct or valid; the error is found between the premises and conclusion.  Usually, the error occurs because we incorrectly assume that the Premise was a sufficient condition, when in fact it was only a necessary condition (one of many conditions) necessary to prove the conclusion.

Example of both Ad Hominem and Affirming the Consequent: Read More

The Goodwell Company

What is it and why does it matter?

GOODWELL+CO. was created to offer a sustainable alternative to the plastic toothbrushes that are sold by the billions every year and go un-recycled, only to end up in landfills.
Their mission is to create 100% natural, subscription-based, sustainable products, systems, and technologies that raise environmental awareness and empower people to make choices that help protect and preserve the planet today.

What product is right for me?

Premium Toothbrush

The Handle: Made from recycled aluminum and is guaranteed for life. Simply swap out the biodegradable attachments and hang on to the handle forever.

The Bristles: Binchotan fibers deflect negative ions to remove plaque and attack the causes of bad breath. It also helps to prevent harmful bacteria and viruses from growing in the brush bristles.

Bamboo+Binchotan

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Brush with Bamboo

Purchasing an eco-friendly toothbrush was technically my second step into zero-waste living (composting being the first, that post is in the works!). But it was definitely the first time I implemented zero waste in my morning routine. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I have a penchant for falling into what I call “research rabbit holes”. When I finally came out the other end, I bought these brushes in bulk for my family.

Why?

  1. Company Transparency
  2. Simple, Attractive and Comfortable Design
  3. Superior Environmental Certifications
  4. Customer Support and Care

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Starting From Zero

There is zero shame here! If you’re reading this then you have already taken the hardest and most important step. From here on out, you will have a community to support you and tell you that “yes, it was kinda funky the first time I tried a bamboo toothbrush. And I did think it might give me splinters.” You are NOT CRAZY. You certainly are not the first person to buy a reusable grocery bag only to leave it at home and struggle to choose between buying another reusable bag, using a plastic one (don’t…), or, like my partner says, “the best way to learn a lesson is the hard way” and carry all of your groceries in your arms defiantly as you strut down the street- a true warrior for our planet. You will falter on this journey and like good friends and family, we will be here to pick you up or like my family, laugh at you for bringing tupperware to a restaurant so they don’t put your leftovers in styrofoam, only to be told that it’s against their health code policy. Like my good ol’ friends at Olive Garden like to say, “when you’re here, you’re family” and that’s exactly what we are. All of us, even your friend who buys coffee everyday and has never thought to use a reusable travel mug, even that uncle who insists on having two straws with every drink because it “makes him look like a walrus”, and even your neighbor who can’t seem bothered enough by the unsightly compost bin in your backyard. They are all family and they all piss you off sometimes, but I urge you to hop off your high horse and remember that the most effective way to create change is to find common ground with the people you understand the least. Read More

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