It’s been a while- many apologies BUT, my absence doesn’t mean I gave up! Quite the opposite. I’ve been slogging through the mud of hiring an architect, searching for, bidding on and purchasing a lot, choosing a builder… requesting a survey and having a site plan drawn…deciding on building materials and finishes…and the ultimate barrier to building my dream home, obtaining a mortgage. That last one has been a B, but I GOT IT!
Construction on Tiny Sparkle is about to begin. Here’s the quick version: TS will be a 12x 24 foot “stick built” HOME on a raised slab foundation. Interior will be drywall, amenities include a full bathroom with shower, sink and traditional flush toilet, kitchen with full size refrigerator and stove/ oven. The water heater will be tankless (natural gas) and HVAC will be a mini split. The house will be connected to city electric, water, sewer, and natural gas.Exterior will be vinyl siding and the roof will be metal. There will be a staircase to the 8x 12 loft, which will have a height of 5′ at the peak. An 8x 12 screened porch, usable most of the year here, will add living space. I’ve chosen counter top, I know what flooring style I’ll use, and have colors (mostly) decided on.
Besides working out details of the build, I continue to evaluate, purge, downsize and decrease my carbon footprint- especially regarding what I toss and what I can Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. I have become fascinated with the Zero Waste movement and I know I can do better! Today’s title is a quote from my kid, upon walking in on my assessment of the amount of trash that I personally produced in one week’s time. There won’t be a 13 gallon trash can in my house. How WILL I handle “tossables”? Can I get them down to one Mason jar full a year? IDK. Let’s say I promise to work on this. A lot. SO, this is how much trash I accumulated in 7 days. Sorry it took 2 pictures. Whatevs. Pictures do NOT include 3 to 4 plastic grocery bags a day used to dispose of dog and cat waste (thrown away in the Big Green Monster, to be hauled to a landfill and turned into petrified poop for ever and ever amen UGHHH) or toilet tissue used because ew. OK.
Here are my take- aways from Week One of My Tiny Steps to Zero Waste:
It’s harder to refuse than you might think. I now carry this super fun kit whenever I dine out so that I don’t have to use plastic utensils or straws, or styrofoam take out containers. But- I haven’t figured out how to use real utensils in restaurants that come wrapped in a paper napkin and a little paper band around all of that. Uhhh… And how do you refuse the million stupid political candidate cards that show up in my PO box along with grocery ads and catalogs? I can unsubscribe (maybe) but might have to recycle for now. How do you refuse receipts at stores? (Did you know that receipt paper is coated with BPA?) Every time I get a prescription filled, it comes in a bag with LOTS of info printed out- I need to ask if I can just get the bottle. Perhaps those can be used somewhere. The stickers on prescription bottle though…
Reducing is a little easier. I already switched from paper towels to un- paper towels and gave up plastic wrap for reusable beeswax wraps. I use rags to clean up gross things. I made a list of all of the things that I routinely purchase that come in plastic, and am exploring alternatives. Grocery bags were easy- I bring my own bags now, and purchase as much as I can that doesn’t come in plastic already. (MUCH harder than it sounds!! SO much plastic!!) I have found a doggie poo pick up bag that is truly biodegradable and will use those as well as making a tiny doggie “septic tank” for my yard. I won’t buy “single serving” products any more, including small bottles of water. I bought a dispenser to use at work and the 5 gallon refillable bottles. I use my glass water bottle, stainless coffee cup and have my glass to- go coffee cup with me at all times. This part is kind of fun to figure out!
Reusing- let the “ew” begin LOL (I won’t lose sleep, FYI) my first projects are to replace facial tissue with washable handkerchiefs and toilet tissue with Family Cloth. Look it up, lots of benefits- inexpensive options and I won’t need to store multiple rolls of TP! Good thing, because there’s nowhere for that in TS 🙂
Recycle. Already doing but have more work to do. I THINK that where I live, there are only options to recycle types 1 and 2 plastic- and even then, plastic, once made, can’t be UN- made so I would rather not use it to begin with. Plastic ends up as microplastics in the food chain, and we ultimately consume it. Yuk. Many containers cannot be recycled. I need to find out for sure which containers are the lesser of the evils. I’m still perplexed about good products in bad packaging…. I know it is related to maintaining product freshness and condition to market, but it’s hard to buy biodegradable kitty litter or my favorite coffee in non-recyclable plastic bags. Bummer.
Rot- aka composting. Fun and beneficial!! I’ve done this for years but recently attended a (free) class at our local park/ nature center. For my attendance, where I learned about various types of bins and the right way to compost, I received a compost “bin”- a length of fencing that is already set up on my lot and being used as we speak! The week’s contributions were mostly coffee grounds and filters, and fruit and vegetable scraps.
So, at the end of my first ever experimental week of saving trash, this is what was left after recycling newspaper, mixed paper, 1 and 2 plastics, and my one aluminum can.
My next goal is to review my list of Tossables, and to take my next Tiny Steps by reducing or eliminating one or more items before my next “trash review”!
Have you contemplated your contributions to landfills? Made steps in your own home to tackle the 5 R’s? What has worked (or not) for you?
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