How my sister inspired me to work towards being a Zero Waste Family

Zero waste is not something that happens overnight or in a weekend or even within a month!

The idea can be overwhelming –

How can we change our lifestyle so drastically?

Will it really be worth our efforts??

Here’s how my sister inspired me to make changes at home!

❤️🌸❤️🌸❤️🌸❤️🌸

Once upon a time I had been diligent in recycling and I refused plastic bags at every store I went to.

Then I got discouraged.

The trash man would also take our recycling – I would call the waste company and get a different lie every time. This went on for about a year and I finally stopped recycling – what was the point? I started using plastic bags again- what was the point not to?

And then my sister came for a visit.

She told me about how her and her family are working towards zero waste. I was inspired!! She told me how they bought toilet paper with zero packaging, reuse glass bottles as water bottles, and are buying food at bulk stores.

Sonja also told me how she had had made HUGE changes at the hospital she works as a nurse! This is her story as told in a series of texts!

Here is the organizations website … I learned about them through a man at church who runs the nonprofits “love the hungry” and I attended a SOS brunch to learn more about them. I was super nervous to attend but I thought it was going to be this small little event where they had donuts and a poster board…. boy was I wrong —- there was event parking and hundreds of people and a sit down brunch.

I immediately  felt intimidated and went to the coffee station but somehow while trying to blend in and be a wallflower I ended up meeting delegations for Nigeria …. there is a picture and I ended up getting in and it was published in their newsletter…. I’ll attach the link for that ….

anyways after learning about their mission I thought – reducing trash and medical missions??? This organization was made me for me!!! Lol I spoke and met with the head lady and toured their facility and was blown away at all the medical supplies they divert from the land fills and send to those in need.

Looking over their website you can see pictures of their warehouse where they sort items and store them till they are shipped

This is the news letter where I ended up in a picture with the Nigerian delegations

I wanted to get my hospital involved because I saw first hand how much we throw away as a facility …. we discharge a patient and there are unopened materials left in their room and it will just all get thrown away!!!

But now we just wipe it down and put it in a collection bin where it can be used for good!!

Don’t get me wrong I believe that in the medical world there is some necessary waste for the sake of cross contamination but we can make efforts to decrease the waste! For example our pharmacy brings all our medications in zip lock baggies into our med room … hundreds of baggies get used for 20 minutes then thrown away…. I started a collection bin for the baggies and SOS uses them for packing material and sorting smaller items …

To help my hospital get some momentum to collect I got a grant from Thrivent Finiancial for $250… I used that money to help build awareness and to buy needed items for SOS to aid them in collecting and sending our items … there is a picture of the stuff we purchased for SOS and the trifold I made to advertise SOS …. it’s on this link

The biggest thing I think is just taking a step towards your beliefs and what you find important- it’s scary to take that first step but it can be baby step and see where it takes you- God gives us unique passions and gifts and using those we can do so much to make a difference and show Christ’s Love – I know God loves his creation because he promises to come back and redeem it all and He invites to be part of that redemptive work.

Also after learning and getting involved SOS I saw how they were able to do so much because of so many small steps of actions and it motivated me to make small steps as a family to move towards zero waste.

I saw first hand how small steps can lead to change and big impacts!

“Sonja Weber, a nurse at Baptist Health LaGrange, has helped her hospital to organize the collection of surplus supplies to be donated to SOS. Additionally she organized the use of excess funds to purchase items vital to the SOS collection process!”

MY SISTER DID THAT!! Not only did she stop usable items from going into the landfill, she sent them to another country that desperately needed them!

I’m so proud of Sonja and she encourages me to make changes in my life!

I may not be making such a large impact as Sonja has done with the medical supplies, but EVERY LITTLE CHANGE adds up to big results!

Changes we have made as a family.

1. I sewed a bunch of cloth napkins.

I’ve done be this before, but my German Shepard Daisy, kept eating them 😳 so, we were down to just a handful! I tripled our supply and found a new place to store them.

Also, now that the kids help with the laundry, wash clothes are washed the same day which means Daisy doesn’t have a chance to eat them and we always have a clean supply!

2. I sewed a whole roll of unpaper towels, complete with snaps!

3. We started recycling again and using paper trash bags.

The recycle bin is a metal vintage trash can. It’s small which requires frequent dumping into the recycle cart outside, but it gets the job done, looks cute to me, and fits in our small kitchen.

The trash can was an amazing estate sale find! The lady’s uncle had made it and a paper bag fits exactly inside! It was literally what we were looking for- and it was $1!!! (The best part is the cats can’t get into it – if there is a bag, they think they need to sleep in it LOL)

4. I made flannel toothbrush holders.

This may seem odd, but in my house toothbrushes were being wasted. They would fall by the toilet (gross- throw that away) or the toothbrush would be lost (go get a new one). Now everyone keeps their toothbrush in their little snap bag and we haven’t replaced a toothbrush since!

5. I made beeswax cloths and bags

Beeswax cloth is super easy to make… you just melt beeswax in the oven onto your fabric of choice! The beeswax makes it so the fabric is no longer breathable- so you can seal food in the cloth to keep it fresh! Bread doesn’t get stale either!! It’s awesome 😍

I even made zipper bags and only melted the beeswax into the lining of the bag! These act more like plastic baggies and are super convenient!

Those are our big changes we have currently made! No double I’ll be revisiting the Zero Waste theme often in my blog! 

What have you done to reduce waste? I’d love to read it in the comments!!

15 Comments

  1. Great ideas!! I recycle and use glass bottles frequently as water bottles. I try not to buy any plastic items. I have to underline try cuz it’s not that easy some of the times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Murtagh's Meadow

    Well done to your sister and your family. I love all your home made creations too. So bright and colourful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, you’re my hero! Those are awesome changes!

    Like

    • I don’t think I deserve such flattery, but thank you! ☺️ I’m happy with the changes we made and am looking for more ways to change our habits!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great that you are sharing that knowledge. 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yay! Awesome changes. I have worked hard at zero waste in the past, but likewise have been discouraged. Maybe I’ll make another go of it. Check out Bea’s website, “zerowastehome” for some great ideas. I think she has a book too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You should absolutely make another go at it! It’s easy to be discouraged in this throw away culture- but just knowing we aren’t doing it alone is helpful! I’ll totally check out Bea’s website- thanks for the suggestion 😁

      Like

  5. I love the toothbrush holders 🙂 I’ll steal your idea for when I travel for my bamboo toothbrush!
    I’ve been trying to replace anything that comes in plastic with something home made, it’s also a lot of money saved. Now I reduce my “beauty” routine to a small pot of coconut oil and essential oils moisturiser. I’m trying to move to solid shampoos and soap in general. Then I have a keepcup and a reusable bottle for water -I’ve been doing that for ages tho as aside for plastic I hate the principle of having to pay for water. I’m trying to slowly replace cleaning stuff as I finish the bought ones with vinegar based homemade ones, but still experimenting really. A friend got me a bag of soap nuts for laundry that’ll probably last me for years 🙂
    My pain point is groceries shopping :/ there’s less and less plastic in shops but I always come home with more packaging that I’d like (aka none).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Totally steal the idea! I even made toothbrush holders for my sister’s kids because they were so successful with my family!
      I transitioned my hair to a shampoo bar and I’ve been real happy with that! It smells of ginger and carrots 🥕
      I’m trying to shop at farmer’s markets more because the fruits and veggies aren’t packaged in plastic, but it’s a skill I’m still learning!
      It sounds like you’ve made lots of awesome changes! What are soap nuts for laundry? I’ve been trying to find laundry soap alternatives!!

      Like

      • I think they are some small fruits that when soaked are soapy. I never heard of them until a friend got me a bag delivered at home. They can be reused a few times if properly dried and I read around they can be also used for base to do other cleaning products, but I haven’t got the chance to try! I used them in the washing machine a few times and laundry comes out clean. I add a couple of drops of tea tree oil as antibacterial too.

        What shampoo bar do you use? Ginger and carrots are two ingredients on my favourite juice 🙂 the third is apple.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m going to look into the soap nuts- they sound pretty cool!
        I bought the shampoo bar at a farmer’s market and only got a paper bag with it – but when I go back, I’ll inquire more about it – what other ingredient and how it was made. I dream of making all my own soaps one day!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice post! I’m going to try the beeswax bag trick. The Hospital waste story reminds me that incinerating hospital waste is very, very toxic. Of course, it must be incinerated due to pathogens, etc. but never live near an incinerator, if you can possibly help it. Can you make another post about the beeswax bags? How long do I bake, any mistakes to watch out for, etc. Thx!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yuck- never thought of an incinerator! There are so many toxic places to be weary of! I’m at the point where I hope our location is “good enough” (concerning cold water creek & the landfill) because I know we aren’t moving and even if we wanted to there’s something bad in every direction! I suppose that’s what motivates me to be as organic as possible!
      I will get in the beeswax cloth post right away! It’s super easy!! The short version : 200 degrees for around 5 minutes (until the wax is melted), I fiddle around with it making sure there is wax everywhere

      Like

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