Wrapping it up part II

Keeping a zero waste journal this year has been a godsend — I look like I’d be organized, but if I don’t have things written down, they just don’t happen. Sometimes they still don’t happen, as I’m realizing by flipping through its pages.

One of my goals was to zero waste our cat situation. After Skilly died, I did a lot of research on this for when our next cat(s) found us, with help from our friend Jewel. I thought I had it all figured out — how to make zero waste cat food using chicken from the meat counter — and was making decent headway on the cat litter question by the time Pearl joined the household in October.

Nope, the view of Mount Hood NEVER gets old.

And then Eric said that he wasn’t comfortable feeding her raw food twice a day — we’d been “free feeders” in the past with dry food — and I just kind of gave up. On food and litter. That’s a personal problem, the giving up when I get frustrated or when things don’t go as planned. I’m still working on that.

One thing we are doing that’s okay-ish is canned cat food — those tin cans can be endlessly recycled, at least. But bagged food is still under the kitchen sink.

I also never called that second family meeting to see what the other three members of the Walker Four thought they could give up on the non-consumable front. Kind of the opposite of the family meeting I called at the beginning where they got to keep one consumable. Bathroom supplies have been the hardest obstacle to overcome for all of them. I’ve never asked why.

I’d hoped to find low waste alternatives to toothpaste and floss; can’t say I’ve had too much success, especially since I want to stay away from toothpowders. I’ve made some headway on makeup, but only marginally. When my mascara is finished, that will be back on the table, and I never did figure out eyeshadow.

Nor did I make a true reusables kit for work. Although my mug, spoon and jar have gotten me by thus far.

Well, those can be Year 2 goals.

Maybe that’s another reason I don’t like to be called a model zero waste family — because it’s still in progress. With minimalism, yeah, bring on the title — because that movement is what you make it. That’s also true for zero waste, to an extent, but also not: You’ve got your trash can and recycling bins as a marker of where you are. We are definitely minimalists. We are working on zero waste.

I’m good with the journey and the day-to-day aspect of it all. I’m trying to be proud of where we are and what we’ve accomplished, and the habits that are now in place. I’m trying to be better about talking about it in real life. I’m grateful the family has embraced it as much as they have.

Things haven’t changed since our year officially ended April 15. And I don’t see them ending after I quit blogging here. There’s still so much to do.


More stories from the home front:

Abby got a summer job as a cashier … and immediately started working because they were desperate for help. That’s been a good life lesson, how to juggle school and work — her classes are stinkin’ hard, the smart little thing. Anyway, she’s been taking her own lunch and snacks in reusable containers without even thinking about it, so hey, some proof that this year has rubbed off on her!

Speaking of Abby, our church had a kermes (Mexican carnival) on Sunday and before heading to Mass, she was like, do you have a container? Dad gave me money for tamales. MORE PROOF! Zero waste packaging and tamales? It’s like I’m being rewarded for good behavior.

Our church’s annual rummage sale each June is a Walker Family highlight — kind of like Christmas in reverse because it generally takes weeks to prepare, but we’re taking stuff out instead of bringing stuff in. Anyway, we got word this weekend that we’re allowed to start bringing in our stuff, and Eric leaned over and was all, usually by this time of year, the box room (what we call our utility room, also known as That One Room Where We Hide All The Crap) is full, but this year there’s really not much down there. I guess it’s true that we don’t have as much to shed anymore. There’s some books the girls have outgrown, and some clothing, but that’s really about it. I’m grateful. I generally have two or three full carloads (trunk and backseat). I’m not sure how much of this is because of our Simple Year and how much is minimalism finally starting to pay off. I don’t really think it matters.

I’ve been having ridiculously good salads for lunch this week, thanks to our farmers’ market lettuce. Also I’m wondering if salad turnips are a regional thing because I didn’t know that was weird. I’ve never seen them in stores, just the markets.

We’ve had some gorgeous weather lately. That has nothing to do with zero waste at all, I’m just finally warm. After this winter (HERE are photos in case you forgot), I was afraid I’d never be warm again.


V, no one has been able to answer the tomato question. I’m going to keep trying and I’ll email you the answer. And then update this post. 😉 I want to know the answer, too — because I’ll be canning tomatoes again this year. (To recap: Why did her tomatoes taste metallic? And why has it been so hard to find out?)

UPDATE: Tina in the comments cracked the mystery! Thank you!

The metallic taste usually comes as a result from overcooking tomatoes.  Cheaper brands of canned crushed tomatoes, sauce, or paste often have this taste.  Use top quality whole canned peeled tomatoes.  Crush, chop, or make into sauce yourself.

Next up: I’ve got one last post, my friends. I’m feeling kind of … nostalgic. And surprisingly sad. But ready. I’m also truly excited that our next blogger will be introduced next week — it’s going to be a really, really great project!

19 Responses to Wrapping it up part II

  1. Thank you so much for your blogging this year and all the inspiration…for opening up your life for us to share. I have learned so much from you! I will truly miss you and wish you and the family well.

    • THANK YOU! Who knew overcooking tomatoes could make them taste metallic? Apparently not many, considering how many people I asked. 😉 Really appreciate it!

    • THANK YOU!!!

      I have literally been looking for that answer for over 5 years. I may just can some tomatoes this summer.

  2. I’ve never heard of salad turnips down here, but I was able to get garlic scapes in the Pacific Northwest, and even begging my garlic-selling farmers down here yielded me nothing. 🙁

  3. Awesome journey this past year! Thanks for sharing it with all of us. Please keep in touch with maybe an update down the road.

  4. Really enjoyed your year Trisha! You did a great job and inspired me quite a bit. I have read faithfully even when I didn’t comment. LOL…really I commented in my head far more often than I followed through with filling out the comment form!

  5. I started following you about halfway through. I’m not a zero waste person, and had not even thought about it before reading your blog. It has made me think and consider what I and my family are doing and using. Definitely got me thinking more about stewardship. Although I’m not converted, I’ve appreciated your perspective and the passion you’ve brought to what you believe. Thank you for your honesty. Blessings!

  6. Back in the seventies I made tomato soup and the recipe clearly said do not use a metal sieve or you will get metallic soup. So I ignored it as I only had a metal sieve (and was a poor stjdent) and I had mettalic soup!! So back then cooks knew that a reaction occurred. I learned a lesson and always use a nylon sieve now. But I see cooks on tv – even professional chefs – passing tomatoes through metal sieves and it makes me cringe!!

    So I am wondering whether the cause of your metallic tomatoes could be down to you using metal utensils?

    • Oooh that sucks! I hate when a stupid mistake ruins dinner :(. My husband actually put tomatoes in our cast iron tonight (another no-no), but they fortunately didn’t come out too metallic tasting this time.

      The infamous tomatoes were actually my first (and last) batch of canned tomatoes. I was so proud of myself for doing it and so excited to add them to my dinner, and then they turned out to be inedible. It was so bad I had to throw out not only my dinner but all of the cans of tomatoes – a *huge* waste of food, of time, of money. It’s one of my biggest struggles with zero waste DIY projects. They’re great in theory, but, if they go wrong, you’re often stuck with even more waste than before.

      I’m pretty sure the overcooking issue is the culprit. Since it was my very first batch, I was nervous about whether I had processed them long enough. I probably left them in too long.

  7. I will be so sorry to see you go Trisha. Your posts have been so informative, and I’ve loved getting a peak into your family life. Thoughts re floss: I’ve bought biodegradable floss in the past (but from overseas, can’t remember where); or I’ve read you can use plain sewing cotton, so could be composted (haven’t tried it yet), or there is this fabulous woman I saw on FB (on the NCA page?) who is making floss in reusable packaging. It is sometimes just so mentally exhausting going through all the possibilities, and unfortunately it isn’t one of those things I can go without, according to my dentist:-) All the best to you and your family and would love to be kept up to date with your future Zero Waste efforts. There is a new show on Australian TV this week called War on Waste, which I hope will inspire the masses.
    PS I had a lovely conversation about my reusable cotton produce bags at the supermarket today. The young boy who served me said it was ‘awesome’ and he’d seen quite a few people bring in similar bags. Yay!!

    • Loretta! Thank you so much — it’s been such a great experience!

      Totally agree on the mental exhaustion that comes from too many choices. It gets to a point where it’s just ridiculous. I’ve learned this year that I need to pick my battles.

      Love the TV show idea! Maybe it will come to Netflix and we’ll be able to see it here too. And love that the kid at the grocery store noticed your bags. That’s the generation we need on our side!

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