Going Zero Waste: Reasons Why, Zero Waste Resources and More

Hey friends.

It feels like forever since I’ve offered up a new recipe or a photo-laden travel post, and that’s because it has been a while.

In the past few months, I’ve been doing a lot of offline thinking about the direction I want to go with this blog.

The super-saturated food blogger scene has always felt too massive to crack into and not something I am actually super passionate about. Sure, I love food, like the rest of us. But recipe development? Eh, I’ll leave that to the experts for now 😛

Here’s what I know:

  1. I still love photographing food and still life imagery from my home.
  2. I still love travel and adventure and want to continue to show you the beautiful Pacific Northwest (and beyond) through my personal lens.

But there’s something more pressing that I feel very passionate about and I think will give this blog a real sense of purpose once I dig in. It’s… drumroll… zero waste.

New blog direction: Zero waste living

You may or may not have heard this term mentioned through the grapevine, and I’ve hinted at it many times in past posts, but it’s rarely been my main focus. However, years have gone by since I first started living zero waste and there are plenty of tiny but sustainable life changes I’ve made to reduce my overall impact on the environment.

Spoiler: Zero waste is a journey, not a destination. It’s virtually impossible to achieve zero as things are today and so the best we can do is find opportunities in our own lives, however small they might be, to continue to reduce down the amount of waste we produce on a daily basis.

Especially in times like these, it’s super important to have this conversation anywhere and through as many channels as possible. We have to get the word out. We have to make living low-impact and “zero waste” lives as accessible as possible. Because we’ve been doing some serious harm to our earth for too long.

Zero waste blogs to check out

If you’re brand new to this term, here are my favorite resources for zero waste living:

  • Bea Johnson’s lifestyle blog and book Zero Waste Home. Her book is the holy grail for zero wasters — I highly recommend you read it, absorb it, love it. She’s super funny and smart! Plus she’s got a Bulk Finder app on her site that’s very helpful for finding grocery stores that will let you shop with your own containers all over the world.
  • Lauren Singer’s blog Trash is for Tossers. Not only does she run a fabulous blog, she’s got a zero waste laundry detergent line (The Simply Co.) and now a package-free zero waste lifestyle store in NYC (Package Free Shop).
  • Shia’s blog Wasteland Rebel. Shia is an amazing lady who not only runs a fun and helpful zero waste blog, she’s also a vegan, has a book on zero waste and writes the most in-depth and helpful Instagram posts I’ve come across.
  • Anne-Marie Bonneau’s blog The Zero Waste Chef. As the name suggests, Anne-Marie’s blog is food-centric and has a wealth of wisdom for cooking sans plastic packaging. She also holds classes focused on fermentation, bread-baking, and zero waste from Mountain View, California. I love that she offers virtual classes as well!

I urge you to check out any of the above blogs. They’ve been so life changing for me.

Some initial reasons for going zero waste

When I first learned about the concept of Zero Waste, there were a few things that appealed to me and still stick with me each and every day, and they’re not the obvious help the environment reason (although, yes, that’s the big one).

  1. You will save money. About 15% of the price of an item at the grocery store goes to packaging. When you bring your own containers to shop, you pay for food and food alone.
  2. You will be healthier because you’re eating more real food and less packaged processed “food-like” substances. Although we are still pretty unhealthy because there is plenty of good “junk” food to be found package-free 😛
  3. This is a big one for me — you will have fewer choices in your day-to-day. I’m bad at making decisions and I like to save my brain power for the big ones. If something comes in plastic, I’m not choosing it. It’s removed from the equation.

These are just a few reasons I’ve stuck with this lifestyle so long and will continue to do so. I could go on, or I could write a blog post about any of the above. I probably will.

Another reason I like living this way is because it means I don’t have to deal with as much trash and recycling as I used to. We have one large-ish garbage can in our kitchen (still using it from pre-zero-waste days) and we empty it once every 2 months, maybe. Actually, we’re about to downsize to a tiny container that will fit under the sink — just needed to use up the last large trash bag.

And recycling? We take that out maybe once every few weeks, and it’s a pretty small container. Most of our recycling is cat food cans (true story).

Recycling is not the solution

Speaking of, you may have read the recent article in the NY Times about China no longer accepting most recyclables shipped from the U.S. They are trying to reduce the pollution in their air from processing the recyclables. And this article that goes into detail about contaminated batches of recycled matter going straight to landfill instead of being recycled.

TL;DR: Recycling is not the answer to our environmental problems. We are drowning in a world of plastic and we need to reimagine the cycle. It used to be:

Reduce, reuse, recycle:

  • Reduce what you consume and what you own.
  • Reuse something before you send it to landfill.
  • Recycle only if you can’t reuse it anymore.

The first thing I learned from Bea Johnson’s book was that there are actually 6 R’s and it starts with Refuse:

  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Repair
  5. Recycle
  6. Rot

The best way to help with this plastic crisis is to start at the top, with #1: Refuse. Say no to plastic straws in your drinks. Say no to plastic-covered toilet paper rolls. Say no to items individually wrapped in plastic. Say no to plastic bags at the grocery store. And my personal favorite: say NO to bottled water.

New blog direction details

Back to the topic at hand, the new blog direction.

I don’t think I’m an expert at living a zero waste life. What I do think is that I have the words and the photography and the ambition in me to deliver this way of life to your doorstep. To give you ideas to take into your homes and into your lives and the way you think about stuff. To empower you to say no to plastic because you’re armed with solutions for what to do without it.

We’ve all been stuck in this plastic-filled prison for too long. It’s ingrained in our subconsciousness that we need it… what would we possibly do without it?

I want to change this mindset.

I want to carve out a little plastic-free paradise in this corner of the web, and I want to share it with you. Here is some of what I’ll be writing about in future posts (still very food-centric but also a little more lifestyle in the mix, too!):

  • Farmers Market Hauls
    How to shop for fresh, local produce and how to avoid plastic while doing so.
  • Package-Free Pantry
    How to shop for dry goods and navigating bulk bins at the grocery store. Alternatives on how to store, preserve, pickle, and freeze things you might typically keep in plastic in your pantry.
  • Low-Waste Restaurant Reviews
    Highlights and notes on restaurants (Seattle area and elsewhere) making earth-friendly changes, like banning plastic straws or using cloth napkins.
  • Zero Waste Recipes (Food, Home, Health)
    There’s a lot of stuff I make myself at home since I don’t buy packaged. All are easy and quick and I want to share them with you!
  • Low-Waste Travel Tips & Experiences
    Traveling zero waste is 100 times harder than being at home. I’ll share tips and experiences from our trips.
  • Eco-Friendly Economics
    I’ll cover the money-saving aspect of living zero waste and plan to blog more about the monetary benefits.
  • #ZeroWasteFails
    Just like it sounds, little updates when things don’t go as planned and what we learned.

If there are related topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know in the comments!

Finally, here’s my goal:

To educate and empower you to say “no” to plastic, unnecessary packaging and overly processed goods.

You can read the full Kale & Compass mission statement and values on my About page.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Going Zero Waste: Reasons Why, Zero Waste Resources and More