Drew’s Zero Waste Week Challenge

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Day 1: When I woke up this morning, I realized that I still had to do my grocery shopping. I went to the store and got my usual supplies, but I was shocked at the amount of packaging that I was throwing away. I like to have some breakfast shakes stocked away in case I wake up late and need to rush out the door. It never occurred to me that the box and all of the bottles were ending up directly in the trash. I think I’ll start buying the big tub of powder mix in the future. On the bright side, I did bring all my own bags to the grocery store, so no waste was created with plastic! I’m looking forward to the week ahead!

Day 2:  Today I waited in line all day for the Oklahoma basketball game, and I actually did really well waste-wise with relatively no extra effort! Since I was outside all day, my only waste was a couple granola bar wrappers, a breakfast shake, and some hand warmers. After the game I picked up a burrito but asked for no bag, so the only waste was the tin foil. All in all, I did very well today. I hope I can keep it up!

Day 3: Today I was swamped between work and class, so it was another day filled with granola bars, homemade sandwiches, and a fancy ham, egg, and cheese supper. I was a little bummed out by the dishware at the team meeting though. I know it’s tough to bring reusable options, but I couldn’t help thinking that we could surely find some sort of way to create less waste.

Day 4: Another great day down! Today my goal was to have absolutely zero waste. I used my own coffee mug, brought a refillable water bottle, and made all of my meals at home on reusable dishware. I thought I was going achieve my goal until the mail came – I ordered a couple of my textbooks online, and they showed up in one of those envelopes lined with bubble wrap. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t do zero waste for the day, but I was pretty close!

Day 5: Today I splurged and had another breakfast shake – only to realize that it basically filled the rest of my bag. From here on out, I’ll only be able to fit things that I can fold or ball up to make much smaller. I’m still doing pretty well as far as meals go, although I am getting pretty sick of the same sandwiches every day. Next time I go to the store, I need to be better about getting a variety of sustainable food choices instead of my typical bread, eggs, lunch meat, and fruits/veggies.

Day 6: Today I was surprised to learn that it is the ISU Bookstore’s policy to give everyone a plastic bag. I went in to buy a blue book, which definitely does not need a bag, and the cashier politely told me that every purchase must be bagged. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed with whoever put that rule in place. Think about how many of those bags get thrown in the trash immediately after people leave the store!

Day 7: Welp, I did it. I kind of stumbled across the finish line though. Today I finished up a bottle of orange juice and I had a bottle of sparkling water – two items which definitely will not fit in my gallon bag.

All in all, I’m actually pretty surprised that I didn’t need to start a second bag. I did a good job of making nearly all of my meals at home where I could eliminate any packaging that would be used if I ate on the go. I’d be lying if I said this was a typical amount of weekly waste for me. I was very careful this week to make sustainable choices, and I typically give little to no thought about what type of waste I am producing.

That being said, I think this was an awesome experience for me. It really opened my eyes to the footprint I typically make versus the much smaller footprint that I am capable of making with just a couple tweaks to my daily routine. I’m thankful to be able to take the lessons learned this week and apply them to my life in the future!

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