Laurelin’s Zero Waste Week Challenge

Day 1

Lesson of the day: There is a lot of extra plastic in food packaging.

Even the foods I thought were going to be waste free had extra plastic. Tomorrow I’m planning on eating today’s leftovers, so that should help with creating less waste from food packaging! It was really hard for me to resist the urge to reach into the cabinet and grab a wet wipe after spending a good chunk of my night cooking, but I used a reusable dish rag instead.

Day 2

Lesson of the day: It’s tough to avoid creating waste at restaurants if you don’t plan ahead.

I went out to eat with some friends, and unfortunately I ended up choosing the messiest appetizer on the menu. That meant that I was forced to use the restaurant’s disposable napkins. But overall I did a pretty good job remembering to avoid disposable things while I was out and about today. I remembered not to use hand towels and I even remembered to ask the waitress at the restaurant to NOT bring me a straw.

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Merry shows off her Zero Waste bag early in the week!

Day 3

Lesson of the day: Getting the office involved in Zero Waste Week makes for fun morning meetings.

At our team meeting this morning, I was surprised by the Live Green! team’s reaction to the challenge. No one was really frustrated or ready to give up. Instead I think a lot of team members were experiencing real epiphanies about their waste and how much they consume per day and per week. I’m really glad that they’re enjoying the challenge (and that they don’t hate me for having them go through it). On my end, I’m finding it easier and easier to avoid throwing things away, and I hardly even miss the garbage cans around my apartment anymore.

Day 4

Lesson of the day: I really don’t miss my trashcans.

I’ve been packing my lunch daily and eating leftovers for dinner, so I’ve managed to avoid a lot of food packaging waste! Without the extra plastic wrappers from snacks, I don’t really have much to throw away. But I did cheat a tiny bit today. I accidentally used paper towels because they’re deeply ingrained in my bathroom routine. I didn’t really want to pluck my used paper towels out of the trash can, so they didn’t make it into my bag.

Day 5

Lesson of the day: Buying donuts or other quick treats isn’t 100% waste-free. 

Today after a long day of classes, I treated myself to a donut, but it was surprisingly difficult to buy donuts not produce waste. I think a lot of waste is produced because we’re concerned with sanitation, which understandable. But there’s got to be something more sustainable than wax paper to give donuts to customers. But at the very least, I remembered to ask the cashier to hold the bag so that I’d produce less waste.

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Day 6: Madi and I haven’t overfilled our bags yet!

Day 6

Lesson of the day: Living waste free is making me a healthier eater. 

Throughout this entire week, I’ve done a good job choosing foods that produce less waste, and I’ve realized that living waste-free really does make me eat a lot healthier. But when I cooked dinner, I did have to throw away the two bags from my broccoli and cauliflower. So even though those vegetables are both healthy and natural, they still produce waste since they’re off-season and I can’t get them at a farmers’ market.

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Day 7: By the end of the week, Drew, Madi, and I completed the challenge with room  in our bags to spare (sort of)!

Day 7

Lesson of the day: Living waste-free isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be! 

Tomorrow is the end of Zero Waste Week!

As a student living in an off-campus apartment, this challenge was very do-able for me. I did have to change some of my daily habits to reduce my waste, and maybe not all of those habits are sustainable (I think I’m going to have to go back to using tissues again with this cold weather.) But this challenge has really opened my eyes about where my waste is coming from and it’s given me a lot of ideas of how to start reducing my waste from here on out.

Would I do this challenge again? Absolutely. For me, it wasn’t a complete struggle to give up my wastebaskets for a week. I actually didn’t even miss them after a couple of days. I definitely value composting a lot more after this challenge – and recycling, too. But recycling still isn’t really a perfect solution. What I really need to do is focus on reducing – reducing the amount of things I purchase with unnecessary packaging and reducing the amount of things I have in general.