Sixth month check-in part I

It’s hard for me to believe we’re coming up on the sixth month anniversary (month-iversary?) of this Simple Year project. In some ways, this has been anything but simple — it’s like my second job, running around all the time being hyper vigilant about our trash production — but on the other hand … yeah, I think it IS leading us to a simpler lifestyle.

I don't have art for this post so here's a picture of the nut butter machine in action.

I don’t have art for this post so here’s a picture of the nut butter machine in action.

Our food is simpler. Grocery shopping is also simpler since we’re just cruising around the edges of the store. Cleaning is simple … packing lunches, getting ready in the morning, using jars and bags — all simple.

I am really, really happy with that.

I had some fairly lofty goals for months three through six, but it was helpful to have a plan because it kept me focused — especially since I felt my first three months were kind of disorganized, like I was going down a road but not really able to tell if it was a hiking trail or a highway.

One big lesson I’ve learned this quarter: Zero waste is a journey, not a destination. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m rocking it like Bea Johnson. I certainly aspire to that — not going to lie, I’m a little jealous of how easy it looks for her (but then, she’s been at it much longer than I have and she’s got her routines down). I’m super proud of the progress I’ve made — this is the best I’ve ever done, the farthest I’ve ever managed to get! — but there’s still so much to do. I’m trying to tell myself that’s okay. So I’m not perfect, so there’s not an end game. (I like an end game, so that’s hard for me.)

Here’s the ground we’ve covered (or not) between July 15 and today:

  1. I’ve been canning like crazy to get my pantry into shape, i.e. not need so many purchased products
  2. I’ve also been doing a lot of freezing and drying produce for the same reasons
  3. I found some bulk laundry detergent … and then decided it was too expensive…
  4. But that’s cool because I’m really digging my homemade laundry powder made with washing soda, baking soda and castile
  5. Learned that saying “I’m trying to reduce my trash / plastic” gets you farther with people than saying you’re zero waste
  6. Discovered you can evangelize without even trying in the bulk aisle and checkout counter
  7. Threw Abby a fairly zero waste birthday party for her and her friends
  8. Got my favorite beige jacket mended instead of tossing it and buying a new one
  9. Inherited some rockin’ 1970s linen napkins from my favorite mother-in-law (hi, Joni!) to use in place of plastic wrap and paper towels
  10. Sewed a couple new bread bags
  11. Learned tea strainers really are just for tea 😉
  12. Took zero waste field trips to other stores to see what was what
  13. Decided to just use stuff I already own in my emergency work reusables kit, but then failed to actually put it together
  14. Got a safety razor and lived to tell the tale!
  15. Bought secondhand capris, which turned out to be a great purchase, and a secondhand leather jacket, which is already in the donation bin
  16. Tried all kinds of DIY tooth powders and pastes
  17. Had my doctor and dentist weigh in on said tooth powders and pastes
  18. Made a tinted lip balm that ended up being a fairly decent blush
  19. Tried to zero waste our family vacation and was fairly successful
  20. Kinda failed at the back to school shopping
  21. Discovered that even I think zero waste is a crazy concept
  22. Got the laundry room sorted as zero waste-y as I could
  23. Got SO BOLD about taking my containers to the store (I don’t even think about that anymore)
  24. Also got bold about coming out as a zero waster to coworkers
  25. Ate out even less than before and tried to be better about eating what we have (i.e. fridge clean out)
  26. Started a zero waste cookbook (uh, “started” is the operative word there)
  27. Got a reusable coffee filter and learned to brew my coffee in a new way
  28. Made powdered foundation and blush (success) and eyeshadow (fail)
  29. Brainstormed snack ideas for Johanna’s robotics club … only to learn they’re feeding them at school so I don’t have to bring anything after all (kind of disappointed, actually — I had a good list going!)
  30. Moved the trash can out of the kitchen and into the laundry room
  31. Taught Johanna how to use a cloth napkin to wrap a sandwich
  32. Learned to make energy bars! (Thanks, Jeanne!)
  33. Another round of Project 333 for fall keeps the ol’ closet a waste-free zone
  34. Started planning for holiday gift giving
  35. Got depressed about homecoming and waste at functions in general
  36. Took reusables to family functions and no one cared one lick
  37. Reread “Zero Waste Home”
  38. Watched some zero waste Ted talks
  39. Took a heck of a lot of notes throughout this whole process
  40. I’m kind of pushing it at this point but I wanted to end the list on a big even number

I’d kind of forgotten about some of this stuff (good thing I have a record!). I think my first quarter theme was just “getting my feet wet,” and this quarter has been “laying the groundwork.”

I haven’t figured out what theme the next three months will fall under. I’m open to suggestions!

Next up: Part II — The Kitchen.