The next three months: In which I come up with a plan

If the first quarter of the project was about getting my feet wet in the zero waste pond, and the second about laying the groundwork, it seems logical that the third quarter should be about sustainability.

As in: How do I keep this up?

I’ve had more successes than failures in the last six months, which is good for my self esteem and the planet. But some of those wins aren’t practical for everyday — they’re too hard, costly, or time consuming. Or maybe have the potential to, I don’t know, wreck my teeth (looking at you, toothpowder). What I need to do, then, is continue with what is working and explore how to make the rest work better. I love a plan.

A recent score at a craft fair: Small knitted rounds that I'm using instead of cotton balls.

A recent score at a craft fair: Small knitted rounds that I’m using instead of cotton balls.

Goal 1: Research low waste options for dishwasher detergent, laundry powder, make-up, toothpaste and floss.

I’ve tried DIY dishwasher and laundry powders, makeup and toothpaste … and have had varying levels of success with each. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s less expensive and less waste to buy one product rather than buying several to make a “homemade” item. Also, I’m not 100 percent sure that my homemade products can safely do the trick in every situation. DIY lotion? Awesome. DIY toothpaste? Eh, let’s see what else is out there.

Goal 2: Explore other avenues — FreeCycle, TerraCycle, Buy Nothing Groups.

Pretty straightforward. I just need to do it! There’s so much out there already in the waste stream, and I like the idea of utilizing those items first. As far as TerraCycle, I’m not convinced that it’s any better than recycling (just in that items still get downcycled), but hey, better than nothing.

Goal 3: Low waste holidays / Johanna’s birthday.

We’ve got Thanksgiving, Johanna’s birthday and Christmas coming up in our household, and there’s potential for a lot of trash. I think, if I plan it right, I can get pretty close to zero waste. (I’d have included Halloween in this, but we live in the boonies and no one comes to our house for treats, so that kind of takes the pressure off. OH! I did just read a post by The Blogess about how she gives books as an alternative to candy. Too late for this year, but next? Hitting up garage sales or secondhand stores for lightly used books to hand out might be kind of awesome for those who actually get trick-or-treaters.)

Goal 4: Continue with unfinished second quarter goals.

There were a few things I didn’t get to last time which I am carrying forward: Homemade Kleenex for winter colds, that work emergency kit of reusables, and continuing to “zero waste” my recipe collection. I’d also like to get the laundry room and bathroom — my part of the bathroom, anyway — into shape / as zero waste as possible, and the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator even closer to zero. And maybe come up with a plan for eliminating food waste.

Goal 5: Zero waste my office space.

We use an incredible amount of supplies at work, which is kind of funny because you’d think all we’d really need was a computer and a blank word document. Some of it I cannot control — they’re going to use plastic when they mail us inserts — but some of it I can — opting to reuse paper for interviews in the field vs. reporters notebooks.

Goal 6: Call another family meeting.

I’ve been mostly focusing on foodstuffs as far as the whole family goes, but I think we’ve been doing this long enough now that the shock has worn off 😉 and they can pick one thing they’re willing to try in some other area of our lives, be that face wash or bamboo toothbrushes or hobbies or whatever.

Goal 7: Zero waste cat.

Um, internet, meet Pearl.

Pearl and I know how to party on a Friday night.

Pearl and I know how to party on a Friday night.

Three months to the day that we lost Skilly, a coworker came to me with a sad tale: She had adopted Pearl from the cat rescue place a few months earlier, but Pearl kept getting ambushed and beaten up by another cat in the house. She hoped Pearl and the other cat would eventually come to a truce, but that wasn’t happening, and she had come to the conclusion that Pearl would be better off somewhere else. Pearl has a few issues — she’s been displaced at least three times now, so it’s taken some time for her to get used to us (still not there, actually), but if there was ever a household up for rehabilitating a neurotic kitty, it’s ours.

Not that it hasn’t been a transition for us, too. Skilly was the best cat ever, and we miss him so much. Honestly, it’s probably too soon for this. But it’s also kind of fun to have a little furry friend underfoot again.

Anyway, I had been researching various zero waste cat food ideas, thanks to our friend Jewel (hi, Jewel!) — namely, raw food diets — but Eric was concerned that she wouldn’t get enough to eat that way. So right now she’s on canned soft food and bagged dry food (I’m really uncomfortable with the dry food, as that’s the culprit behind Skilly’s kidney failure, but Pearl got used to it at her other house anyway, I guess).

No idea what this even will entail, but there’s just got to be something she can have in her dish at all times for munching — that would make Eric feel better — that’s not packaged dry food — which would make me feel better.

Next up: The irony of writing gift guide stories for a special publication when you’re a minimalist / aspiring zero waster.


11 Responses to The next three months: In which I come up with a plan

  1. Good luck on your new kitty! I don’t have any useful info on zero waste cats, but i do know that flushing their waste is a terrible option! The waste water treatment facilities do not filter out a bacteria, toxoplasmosis, that many cats carry. This bacteria has been linked to death in sea otters, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium. (if you have some free time, look up toxoplasmosis and mice. Interesting, in a crazy sort of way.)

    Enjoy your new family member!

    • Everything I’ve ever read on cat waste discourages flushing — so no worries, that is not an option! (Poor sea otters.)

  2. I cannot zero waste our dog or cat. I tried the bulk foods, but they were really low quality and hurt my puppy’s stomach. Like you, I decided to compromise. I do buy Yesterday’s News cat litter. It is made from recycled newspaper, and the bag itself can be composted.

    • I’ve never heard of that kind of kitty litter, just, like, wood shavings or dirt (!). Might be interesting to try. I really hate the smell of the kitty litter we use now. It’s just so fake and gross. Thanks for the tip!

  3. i second the Yesterday’s News cat litter. It doesn’t clump, but the newspaper pellets don’t track and they don’t have that weird artificial scent. My cat is allergic to both the corn and wheat based litters but she’s done very well with the paper. She also gets fancy pants food from the vet but I use her food bags (as well as the dogs’) as trash bags since I stopped buying them. I’m not generating much trash these days, but it’s still a good system for me. And that’s nice news about Pearl. She looks so soft and FLOOFY.

  4. I love the idea of the little rounds instead of cotton pads. I may have to make some – I have cotton yarn in stash!!

    Just a little pedant here….they look crocheted not knitted!! 😀 😀 😀

    • LOL — that shows you how much I know about knitting! The rounds are exactly like cotton balls, of course, but they do work fairly well.

  5. Take a look at Uncle Harry’s for toothpaste – comes in a small glass jar you could easily repurpose or recycle. It takes a little getting used to as it’s on the salty side, but I’m happy with it.

    Would love to hear about your explorations into zero waste for your new kitty, especially litter related – that’s the majority of my weekly trash.

    • Adding Uncle Harry’s to my look for list! Thanks!

      And yes, I have a feeling zero waste cat will be coming up a few times. Fingers crossed we find some sustainable solutions!

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