My Brother Dissed my Waste Less Lifestyle…He Would!

An awesome bag made from Keep Nature Wild…”Other tote bags exist as well to hold your precious bottles JJ!!!” (see post below)

It happened on a cold winters eve…JK! It was sunny out, we just finished jumping on giant inflatables for my nephews birthday party, & we were happy off our jumping endorphins! My brother was tasked with buying the birthday treat since his son is extremely picky when it comes to food…even chocolate covered foods (weird right?!). I cringed while he picked out two desserts contained in plastic (I came from out of town without a cake) & he proceeded to buy two coca-colas in plastic bottles. Being well trained in “no bags please,” the words came out of my mouth & I picked up both desserts while leaving the cokes to my brother & well able-bodied nine year old nephew to carry two small bottles. However, while we were almost out the door, my brother slides the bottles into a plastic bag. I exclaim, “Really JJ? You need a bag for two bottles?” His demeanor changed from “Yay, let’s go eat cake,” to severly POed.

“Keep your hippie-dippie shit to yourself, I need convenience.”

I scoffed.

I’ve read on other blogs & instagram posts & zero waste journey group chats about other peoples families rebelling against their zero waste goals, but I had not yet experienced it. If family members didn’t care, I’m sure they unfollow me, scroll past my post, & NEVER read this silly blog, but tell me to my face, this was a first!

I let it go…(thanks Elsa!) I let my brother believe I was some hippie protesting against plastic bags for NO GOOD REASON! I definitely DO NOT have my nephews & niece in mind or the countless other babies my friends are having. I definitely want my yard to continue to fill with Frito bags, fast food drink cups, & random bits of styrofoam. I DEFINITELY want to drive down the road & have plastic bags flying through the air – – – – NOT!!!!

Convenience now, more polluted water, air, & over-all destruction of our earth later. Simple change here, simple change there. Did I use to buy pre-cut broccoli & individually wrapped candies… uh, duh!!! Just like everybody else! Not a hesitation or second thought. Shopping used to be incredibly easy. I used to think of how amazing I was when I brought my own bags seven years ago when it started become “a thing.”

Grocery shopping has definitely become more of a strategy. I need to use or take items out of my mesh produce bags before I can reuse them. I need to make sure my roommate doesn’t use my quart size mason jars for his smoothies so I can use them at the bulk section. I need to bring the right size containers for my meat so I can stock up instead of getting two things. A plan of attack is needed when trying for a less wasteful lifestyle. I am making shopping with the least waste purchased a goal every time I go so this is eventually a habit.

Has anybody made comments about your refusal of single-use plastics? How did you react? Is your family on board?! Let me know & let’s chat!


What my Dog Chews Up Usually Heads to the Landfill…Yuck!

I said, “C’mon now! Not cool bro!” My dog, (Licks my face).

Coming home to something chewed up to pieces is no surprise in my house. With my older dog, it was my flip flops, underwear, shorts, & recycling pieces like boxes. The worst was a brand new kitty litter box she ripped up and drug from one room to the other. With my younger dog, it seems to be ANYTHING!!! There is no rhyme or reason to her chewing, it just seems like, “Oh, there’s something that I need to chew right now,” num num num” (<—thats her chewing noises hahaha.) However, once I started this waste free journey and I realized everything my younger dog has been targeting – once it is chewed, I am reaching for the GARBAGE CAN!!! Ps. The broken hanger was first done by yours truly & later chewed up to bits, not pictured.

Don’t you LOVE the plastic baggie my pens lived inside of?! Landfill!

Could I use the broken colorful bits of my chewed up pens to make something artsy?! Perhaps! Will I?! Of course not! They are already disposed in the trash. The chair that has been in Elle’s entire short life met its match and half of the cushion has been chewed, of course the front part that we sit upon. She keeps nibbling on this cushion by the way! But once again, trash! The pillows she has chewed up I HAVE saved for potential “pillow reconstruction,” but it’s not my top priority as of now.

Yes, the number one rule when starting your waste free life is to use up whatever you have. Easy! But, once you DO use it up, you better be ready with an alternative, or you might end up like me, staring at possible options at the grocery store and online & then bailing, thus putting it off further. Do I need new pens?! No. Will I throw away that chair?! No. No replacement needed in those areas. However, my kitchen scrubber?! ABSOLUTELY!!! How many have I looked at either at the store or in somebodies Instagram, at least 12. Have a purchased one yet?! No! There are so many options and I want to ensure it does not come wrapped in plastic AND it can be composted once it is gross & of no use to me.

I have been making little fixes for a few years now, but I definitely dove in face first back in January 2019. I read about it, talk about it, learn about it, CONSTANTLY! I am making a list now of what I need to further replace & what my options are. There are a lot of things I want to change or buy & it CANNOT happen all at once. It is overwhelming as I’ve said before. I know I will get there one day, but I need to celebrate my small victories along the way.

What little steps are you taking?! Did your dog chew up your favorite pair of leggings too?! I still love them AND they forced me to recognize how unsustainable household items can be. Thanks pups!

Resetting after Failure: Building your Composter

Time lapse of the composter completion – SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!

If you read my previous post, you would have learned I tried composting right next to my house in an open compost pile, rats came, & I had no where else to plot my compost pile. Once the rats showed up, I gave in and bought a compost bin. Truthfully, I was looking into one well before I started composting because I thought that was the only way. When I became more involved, I researched this composter like a car. What reviews did it get, how many stars, how long did it take to put together, did it leak, did it fall apart, etc, etc, etc. I also joined facebook & instagram groups to see what they used – some people way overshared & some people were very “hoidie-toidie” about it all – if you can sound that out – hahaha!

Since we have two dogs & I placed the composter in the backyard, I knew they would be sniffing the around, so I wanted one that was well contained. Composter’s on the cheaper side looked amazing, but people gave horrible reviews saying compost started falling out the sides, there was no way to stir the compost, or the actual bin started to bust from the seems.

I was dead set on buying a composter for $260 and told my husband he would need to help me put it together; it said it would take 2-3 hrs. It looked like an apocalyptic, indestructible pod you would insert yourself into to survive. I had it saved in my Amazon basket & was ready to go when I thought, hold on. Somehow I stumbled upon the one I purchased, a Yimby compost tumbler, for half the price of the apocalypse bin, & since it was one solid piece, I figured nothing could bust out the sides (I was very nervous for that to happen.)

It has been a month & a half since I built this composter & everything is going very well. However, it is winter here in Nashville, so I am very interested to see how summer goes. It gets very humid here & the last thing I want is moldy food smell while I enjoy the sun. However, I am hoping I have learned a thing or two and can keep the smell from happening. Only time will tell.

Was this everything I ever wanted?! NO! I wanted my ground compost to work out so I could see it working, mix my pile by hand (wish I had done that months ago), & watch it turn to soil. BUT, do I have a huge sense of pride when I throw my scraps into this bin-YES! Do I smile every time I tumble my composter and I hear the contents swirl around together – YES!! Am I excited to see it actually work and become soil-YES!!!

What do you do in your journey to make yourself feel prideful? Be proud of any step you take & don’t beat yourself up when you slip. We’re all in this together, so let’s keep cheering each other on!

Bonus video of my kitty, Frank, going for a mini ride in the composter –

DISCLAIMER: No cats were injured during this video.

Composting – Another Fabulous Way to be Waste Free & How I Failed at it…

Real video of girl believing she knows how to compost.

After we bought a house here in Nashville, it was a goal of mine to start composting. I went and bought the essentials:

  • Chicken Wire
  • Poles
  • Zipties
  • Rake/Shovel (to help mix)
  • Wire Cutters (if you don’t already have some)

When I came home with my supplies, I had to figure out the best spot for my compost heap. Our backyard is not very big & we have two big dogs who would love nothing more than to play & eat such compost, so I chose the cozy spot RIGHT NEXT to the house & to make it worse, right next to the neighbors as well (without their knowledge).

So pleased was I with every bucket of compost I brought outside & dumped in my pile. So proud was I of all the waste I was saving from the landfill. So happy was I, that I naturally started to get lazy with my dumpings. Not once did I stir my compost. Only a few times did I add “brown matter” to my compost. I added baked goods & ENTIRE watermelons I reluctantly thought I would eat, but never did, and when I cut into it, the insides seeped out…so gross…I HAD to just throw it into the compost. I was so lazy with my compost, I invited even grosser things to the party.

If you watched my video above, you saw the holes that formed, which I chose to ignore at first. I ignored them because I wanted my composting to work & to continue making the wonderful feelings it gave me. Wwweeeellllll, it wasn’t until one night, dumping my compost, that a RAT squeaked at me as it DOVE UNDER MY HOUSE, causing me to scream, & run back inside. My husband & roommate were right there, so I had to come clean about the uncleanliness of my compost heap & I was forced to shut down. My roommate said the rats could eventually get into the house, which grossed me out even more & that was the end of that.

There were no other logical spots to put a new ground compost spot within our yard (front or back), so I decided to buy a real composter. Please learn from my mistakes & keep the rats and vermin at bay! Yes, rotting food attracts all sorts of bugs & such, but we can avoid them as well. My next few posts will be about composting, so keep learning with me. Have you tried composting already? Have you had some failures or it is going well? Let’s chat!

This rat just looked so sad I had to post…BUT…they’re still not allowed!!!

January Garbage Haul – “Bring out your Waste!”

YES, I saved my garbage – all of January – excluding cardboard, aluminum, glass, & drippy/gross meat containers . Once I filled up my first medium sized tupperware, I was totally bummed. I filled it up in four days… I was like, “I’m trying to NOT waste, and look at ALL thissssssss (disgusted hiss)!!!!”

The first rule for tonight #1: Use up what you already have! Do not purge – use up while you find a replacement. If it runs out & you cannot find an alternative yet, please do not beat yourself up when you buy the same thing. I’m sure you noticed the amount of DF chocolate chip bags I have…..7 in total…..with more in the freezer (I make a lot of treats OK!!!). You are not going to find replacements with the snap of your fingers; piece your reusables/compostables/washables together over time – if your don’t you’ll just drive yourself insane.

#2: There are things you are going to debate – heavily! I have been the one standing in the store, holding two products in either hand – freaking out over which is worse in terms of waste. I have been the one who has become WAY to overwhelmed with the amount of wrapping on products & LEFT the store. I was like my own mom, “If you make too much of a ruckus, we’re leaving the store.” I have been the one to turn down meat because they wouldn’t use my container. I have been the one who has asked where a product is, an employee brought me all the way across the store, I found out it was wrapped in plastic & rejected it! (Of course I thanked her for out lovely journey – sorry gurl!) Learn from me who denied herself cauliflower all of January to only buy two heads of it come February – the plastic is in my February tupperware presently. Give & Take – do your best without the panic attacks.

#3: Yes, produce will help your waste free lifestyle! Look around for unplasticed (is that a word?!) produce —- possibly without stickers or rubber bands or twist ties. If you look at the photo above, I have a mess of produce stickers next to the massive amount of chocolate chip bags. It does exist at a regular grocery store! Look for loose produce of mushrooms, green beans, carrots, brussel sprouts, snow peas, etc & pull out those produce mesh bags & smile!!! Get ready to CHOP —AAAALLLOOOTTTT!!!!! Those beautiful bags of pre-chopped broccoli & butternut squash I use to buy smirk at me as I rush away.

#4: Sometimes, waste may be the only option at that point in time. Going waste free will force you to research, try things out, take notes, make your own food, follow a million other waste free wannabees on social media, & learn! You will learn so much it is overwhelming, so take it slow. Learn what works for you, and keep going! I am proud to say I am still learning & hope to help you skip my mistakes & make your own.

February garbage tupperware is in full effect as we speak. I am going to compare my loads (ha!) & share the comparisons. I am aspiring to be better so let’s see what happens! Give it a whirl or set a goal to do it come March. See how gross you really are!

Celebrating the Small Waste Free Victories

I work at a preschool & today was a teacher workday – which usually means lunch is provided – to make us feel extra special. With no children around, I already feel special – ha! I love to find even the smallest of victories throughout the day pertaining to no waste, especially since January 1st. January 1st started my “no waste January” & I have been failing big time. I have retained (almost) everything that will end up at the landfill & plastic waste. So far, I have two Tupperware’s full of garbage & a few plastic containers that do not fit within said Tupperwares. I have not kept everything due to smell (I have a roommates) or it was cardboard/aluminum, which are easier to recycle than plastic.

My above picture prove my victory above plastic cups, plastic silverware, & styrofoam plates (vomit emoji). Our planets problem with plastic is as follows:

  • there are many kinds of plastic
  • different kinds of plastic cannot be recycled together
  • plastic containers are sometimes mixed with other plastics or cardboard & therefore cannot be recycled
  • usually the plastic containers are not cleaned out & the remnants of product contaminate the plastic & it can no longer be recycled
  • with single stream recycling, the remnants from other recycling mixes with the plastic, contaminates it, & it is now garbage
  • it is so GD convenient that it is not even thought about as a problem because it is GD everywhere!

Carrying a waste bottle started back in high school when I thought if I didn’t drink enough water, I would die & suck at running. Since running has continued throughout my life, I still carry a water bottle. Yes, my first water bottles were plastic, were refilled & placed back in the fridge, & started to taste funny by the fourth day I reused them. Vomit emoji again. This Contigo water bottle is small, but has an amazing clasp on it so it can clip onto my backpack strap, purse strap, or whatever else to make it the most convenient water bottle I’ve ever owned.

I scoured the kitchen for a washable plate (since styrofoam is the bane of my existence) & succeeded. The utensil I carry on me (almost) at all times, is my handy-dandy splayd (or foon/spork) I got from REI a few years ago. When I have bought something messy from the store & I do not want to wait until I get home to dig in…my splayd has saved the day! Spoon, fork, knife…”you got it” (Home Alone Recorder Style).

I will high five myself for today’s little victory over waste, wash my reusables, & be ready for what tomorrow brings!

Containers – A New Love for Becoming Wastefree

Now, before I start gushing over how much I love my containers…they did cost me some money. It was an investment, but a much needed one. You know the saying, “Look good, feel good.” I firmly believe this quote. When my hair actually looks good & my clothes fit just right, I feel like I’m the best looking one in the room. Cocky?! Perhaps, but my days like this are few and far between. I knew if I had cute containers I would actually use them & be excited to use them. It is also easier to tell the store the Tare (or the weight of an empty object) before they price it (they will ask this at check-out). An alternative to purchasing your own & saving money is repurposing your old spaghetti sauce jar, pickle jar, salsa jar, etc and use those containers. If you choose this route, perfectly fine, good on you……but I wanted cute matching jars.

When selecting your own collection of containers to bring to the store, you’ll figure out what works best for you. I love the quart size, wide mouthed mason jars for easy pouring. I found one giant mason jar (3.5 pints) at a garage sale, fingers crossed on finding more! Mini mason jars for spices & ideally I should have bought glass pyrex for meats, buuuuuttttttt I was feeling cheap at the time.

The plastic containers on the right are for my meats. There is residue from the price sticker, but I’ll take sticker waste over an entire plastic package of waste. Now, using these containers at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Market, etc has been about being confident & reassuring. Majority of people behind the counter have NOT YET been asked, “Can I have a pound of salami, & can you place it in this container?” That’s when I flash a big smile & show them my container. It has been received positively so far, but does take some conversation about it. Some are proud of me while others look confused the whole time, but they DO IT!

Look how happy this container is to hold your foods!

Side Bar – the first time I used the meat containers I forgot them in the car. I debated heavily with myself about running out to get them (it was pouring rain) & I had a cart full of food already. I sucked it up, sprinted out to my car, & happily handed my container to the deli man while my hair dripped into my eyes – I felt so legit.

Please let me cheer you on while you use your containers! Post pictures of what your collection looks like or what you are working towards! Just start with one container & see how it goes!

Bountiful Wastefree Harvest: Managing shopping at the store

On Monday, December 31st, 2018, I went shopping! (“Get in loser, we’re going shopping ” – Regina George/Mean Girls). However, this was a particular Monday I had been preparing for, for some time. I was purchasing containers, mesh bags, mason jars, figuring out what foods can be composted, learning wastefree recipes, trying out composting, checking out stores status’s when I asked, “Can I put my salami in this container?”, etc etc etc!!! Being waste free is trial and error my wannabe wastefreers.

DISCLAIMER: I have a tendency to be very proud of myself for the DUMBEST things! I.E. Locking all the doors before work. I.E. Everytime I drive myself to the airport, park, & get myself on the plane. I.E. Putting my produce in mesh bags!

Oh Mesh Bags, how you make me smile. See! See how beautifully my mesh bags are holding the carrots & celery – creating no waste at all! AMAZING! I’ve noticed people eyeballing me as I put my loose brussel sprouts in my mesh bag & probably wondering, “How can I be like that?” I was once at an Indian market, scouting out garlic & cucumbers, holding my mesh bag, when another lady asked me where I got it. I immediately smiled, ready to spill, & she said, “Wait, never mind, I found them,” and grabbed a plastic bag from the hidden roll. I was crushed.

Here is another thing that makes me proud; mason jars…filled from BULK BINS! Dry ingredients of all kinds – rice, almonds, nutritional yeast, raisins, popcorn, chia seeds, etc! As long as it’s in a bulk bin, I’m probably buying it! I am still figuring out a system for labeling, since stickers fall off & sharpie looks “poor.” ha! Some stores have no idea how to compute the cost (which I will get into another day) while others call over somebody with a wise code & all is well in the world.

I suppose this post is to inspire you to obtain some kind of containers, so you too can also be proud of yourself for the smallest of things, such as saving a plastic bag from holding your lettuce. I can get into bringing the mason jars & plastic containers to the store & how to use them in another post.

Meet Me: Mary Kate/Wastefree Wannabee/Wanderer at Heart

Above is ME – Mary Kate – out on some trail, failing at the “selfie” photo, ha, trying to have it all. My favorites in life are my two GSDs, one cat, one husband, new trails, sights to see, & seeing how much waste I can keep out of my garbage!

My first love was recycling where I thought I could recycle everything, everything would of course BE RECYCLED because I put it in the recycle bin, & I was being awesome for getting my family to start recycling everything with me. I have since learned otherwise (palm to face).

I am not perfect, I even have a tattoo that says, “Perfectly Imperfect” (no you cant see it, maybe later), but I have made my mistakes along the way due to my knowledge at the time & want to, need to, have to keep learning, evolving, challenging, & most importantly – DOING more. Recycling may be your first step – it was mine – but the more you learn about recycling – the more you want to reduce your waste all together.

So, if you’re still interested & want to learn along with me, follow along for waste free posts, waste free recipes, my failures, successes, tips I feel are helpful, cute dog pictures, & more! Thank you!

Elle Woods (left) & Cher (right) – the GSD pups who will also be blogging along with me. They help me stay tied to nature through our hikes, swims, & never ending search for new trails. They sure to love the left behind garbage treats some people leave behind on trails/parking lots – another reason