Zero-Waste Challenge : Part 1

in the midst of the storm...

A group of ladies within the Ethical Writer's Coalition & myself have decided to undergo a two week ZERO-WASTE challenge! & yes.. it has been a big challenge ;) Especially with everything happening in the Southeast. Hurricane Matthew has made me evacuate my apartment in Johns Island, SC {Charleston} & brought me to beautiful Asheville.. therefore, I'm not really complaining. I'm worried with Charleston's vulnerability to floods, but we are safe & that's what matters. Crossing my fingers for my hometown of Jax, FL and my family & friends who await the craziness, tonight. Anyway, I digress... 

Since beginning this challenge on Sunday, I've realized unless my life is planned out day-to-day with no interruptions & total control, 100% zero-waste {in the South} is nearly impossible. This isn't to say I would ever give up, but it's a learning process - very situational, too. I am going to have to adjust little by little if I want to live as zero-waste as possible for the rest of my life. 

I started my week in confidence, control and excitement. Sunday, I drove about 45 minutes to a Whole Foods to go buy items in bulk. We have an EarthFare 20 minutes from our house, but their bulk selection is a bit smaller and mostly beans & nuts. I love pasta & spices which Whole Foods has a ton of options - unfortunately, it takes a lot of time & gas to get there. I'm wondering - is it more sustainable for me to buy pasta in a recyclable package instead of driving out & wasting a good chunk of my day!? {& yes, I say sustainable, not environmental - I'm considering gas money, time management, ect} I do the usual, bring my own bulk bags and totes - quick tip: take a photo of the item's number to keep with you for checkout - and try to find the veggies without any packaging. If you have certain recipes in mind, you may not be able to purchase all the ingredients unless the item's container can be recycled in your area. I decided to work with what I got...

I did well for a few days and bought zero-waste. Went out to lunch one day and BOOM! a lovely plastic cup with a straw. I know a lot of Charleston restaurants do not recycle, so it's a situation where I feel obligated to bring the cup with me. 

Then the weather becomes nasty, & Hurricane Matthew changed our plans quick. I brought all the goodies I spent {too much} money on at Whole Foods & EarthFare and packed the car. We were in such a hurry to beat the traffic, we forgot a lot of our daily essentials & had to purchase in Asheville. We went to the CVS, and I left with a plastic bag, not even thinking about zero-waste or my hate towards them. In all honesty, when you are worried, stressed & in a hurry, zero-waste is hard to maintain if you aren't already a pro. We were on the phone with our family and friends for days - making sure they were safe and the beach homes prepared. Call it selfish, but for 2-3 days I just didn't give it a thought. 

We are still waiting to hear about damage for all the places we love from Charleston to Jacksonville {update: a little wind damage & flooding, no power until Monday, but all-in-all everything and everyone is safe! It's hard to even fathom what is happening in Haiti right now, and wish we could all go hop on a plane and help... I'll figure something else out in the meantime}, and tomorrow is a new day: a new week to start my zero-waste journey all over again. I'm thinking I want to do this longer, until I'm a master & just discuss my mistakes, annoyances and triumphs. 

A little more detail in my day-to-day: {I'd like to disclose, every place I went gave me a receipt & you can not recycle the majority because of the chemical coating!!}


on the road almost all day, had some lunch with my friend Liz from Savvy Rest {no waste there - yay, for not putting straws in my glass of water & reusable napkins!}, brought my own coffee & some Kombucha {recyclable} in the car, got super hungry because of traffic and not making it back on time so I stopped at the worst of the worst... Taco Bell. got a crunch wrap supreme {no meat} - it was delicious, but a seriously bad choice, bad drive & long day. {sorry, not sorry, really} 

WASTE: 1 crunch wrap supreme wrapper & 2 sauce packets


back home, and ready to do some grocery shopping. this is where I drove further than usual to buy bulk & some good veggies {missed the farmers market being out of town} also, I bought a new hair straightener since mine has not been working well for months. the packaging is recyclable, but it came with a hideous tote. went out to lunch & had to bring cup,straw, and olive puncher {what are those called?!} home to recycle...

WASTE: 1 hideous tote bag


home all day & cooking my own food {sending some scraps to the compost, like lemons, limes, coffee beans..} makes for an easy waste-less day. had to evacuate that night to avoid traffic - not about to sit on 26 with everyone else. the gas lines weren't even lines, just total confusion and parked cars all over the street. brought snacks in our car & lots of mason jars of water. we did stop at the gas station for some sodas {in aluminum} & chips {recyclable package}

WASTE: besides a few receipts, a zero-waste day!


made it to asheville at 5am. our friend is letting us stay in her cabin with my 20 year old kitty, Tickles. we forgot to bring our own coffee, and she only had disposable Keurig cups. we spent the day eating indoors & binge watching Criminal Minds - with a very quick trip to pick up some items from the pharmacy & left with a plastic bag - distracted & ashamed. i was on the phone with family and didn't say 'no bag, please'. 

WASTE: 2 dunkin donut keurig cups, 1 plastic bag


spent most of the day at the cabin & later went out to dinner. some friends took us out - we ate a taco place where i definitely made some waste. 

WASTE: 1 foil wrap for yummy taco, 1 piece of wax paper for tortilla chips


another day of laying around at the cabin and eating my evacuated food. we went out to dinner, again, and i left my mason jar to pack up food. the curry was amazing & i'm a sucker for No Evil Plant Food - I couldn't leave it!

WASTE: 1 paper to-go box


 i did nothing! the less i do, the less waste i produce {obvious} :P i eat what is in the fridge and try to not throw any food out. we went out the night before, and i woke up with a wrist band i'm sure can not be recycled. 

WASTE: 1 party wrist band

Here's to a new week!!!

Are you on the journey towards a zero-waste lifestyle? You can check out what the other ladies are experiencing during their zero-waste challenge, below {they take even better notes than me on composting&recycling}: