Home eco friendly Ethical Writers Coalition Zero Waste Challenge, Update 1

Ethical Writers Coalition Zero Waste Challenge, Update 1

October 9, 2016

I’ve been battling a cold since last weekend (or maybe it’s the flu?! I hope not), so I’m a bit behind on updates.

In many ways this cold has made this challenge a bit easier for me as it has kept me from venturing outside of the house and has left me without much of an appetite ,so I’ve had less opportunities to create much waste.

I leave for my trip to Indonesia next week (crossing my fingers that I’m feeling better for that hellish flight), so I imagine I’ll encounter some challenges while I’m away.

Here’s my experience Wednesday – Today (Sunday).



I’ve been talking about getting a new compost bin for ages- my last one was not very user friendly and it was really difficult to churn the compost. I decided this challenge was the perfect excuse to finally set that plan in motion ,so I suggested to my husband that we just build a new one in a discreet corner of our yard- memories of the handmade compost pile my father had when I was growing up sprang to mind. But, after more careful consideration, we instead opted for a compost tumbler we found at Home Depot.  I think it’s a sign that you’re getting older when you’re genuinely excited about getting a new compost bin. And one that spins!

Anyway, I found it pretty funny that the compost bin, which was boxed in recyclable cardboard, was also wrapped in plastic that I could not recycle.  Oddly enough, my efforts in improving my eco-friendly habits at home contributed to some more waste.

After picking up the compost bin we had lunch at one of our favorite little spots that we go to when we want a quick little snack or a tasty wrap. The glass container I’ve been using for water since I lost my S’well bottle came in handy as I had the barista use it for my iced coffee instead of a plastic cup.

Since I’m not feeling well I purchased a package of zinc lozenges that I find soothing when I’m sick completely neglecting to remember that they’re all individually wrapped in plastic.

For dinner I prepared roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, beets and garlic with quinoa and sauteed kale and sliced avocado. For Thursday’s breakfast I prepared some overnight oat/chia pudding for my husband and myself. Nothing from dinner or breakfast preparation went to the landfill.

Wednesday’s Waste

Plastic packaging from compost bin box

Plastic wrappers from zinc lozenges

Toilet Paper

Dryer Sheet



In preparing for my trip to Indonesia, I needed to buy a few things.  Some of these things were ordered on the internet, and they arrived in packaging that couldn’t be recycled. I’ve also been growing increasingly frustrated about the amount of junk mail I’ve been receiving at home. A lot of this is paper that can be recycled, but some of it includes envelopes that can’t be recycled, or catalogs that arrive bound plastic wrap that can’t be recycled either.  I’m hoping that there is a simple solution to stop the delivery of all junk mail and I’ll be sure to share if I find it!

I also purchased some items that WILL create waste once I use them. I’ll include them on my daily waste tally when I do finally use them next week.  They are: a package of eco-friendly sanitizing wipes from Clean Well, and a package of face wipes from Acure. I typically eschew the use of single-use items, but they’re so handy and convenient when traveling, especially on long flights.

Finally, to round out the day ,I heated up the previous nights’  leftover roasted veggies and quinoa for dinner, and prepared some steamed broccoli and sauteed cabbage and kale to go with it. Nothing from dinner went to the landfill.

Thursday’s Waste

Mail packaging

Toilet Paper

Wrappers from zinc lozenge



I didn’t move around too much today because I was feeling pretty awful.

I drank copious amounts of See Mei tea, which is powdered so there’s no waste from a tea bag.  The packaging containing the powder will, unfortunately, go to the landfill when I’m done with it. But, it makes 80 cups so it’s far from single use.

I made a delicious pot of Tom Yum inspired soup hoping that it would help soothe my cold. I loaded it up with hot peppers, ginger, lemon grass, lime, mushrooms and cabbage.  All of the waste from the ingredients went to either the recycling bin or the compost bin EXCEPT for the damn plastic wrap that covered the mushrooms.

Friday’s Waste

Plastic wrap from mushroom container


Toilet Paper

Wrapper from zinc lozenge


As far as I’m concerned, Saturday did not really exist for me this weekend as I did not leave the house for the majority of the day. It honestly doesn’t even seem worth recording as part of the challenge. Although I did, unfortunately, have to toss a plenitude of tissues and several wrappers from my zinc lozenges into the trash.  I didn’t create any landfill waste otherwise.

Saturday’s Waste


Toilet Paper

Wrapper from zinc lozenge


I slept in a bit this morning, the now familiar feeling of congestion, muscle aches, and fatigue compelling me to remain nestled beneath my cozy blankets.  I wasn’t initially hungry when I finally went downstairs to have some tea and catch up on some computer work, but with the rain and the laziness of the day stretched out before me I decided to make  this apple pie oatmeal recipe from Minimalist Baker.  This will be one that I incorporate into my regular breakfast repertoire as it was comforting , indulgent, yet healthful all at once.  I grudgingly used a piece of parchment paper to roast the apples because I thought I wouldn’t be able to add it to the compost bin. But, alas, parchment paper, unlike waxed paper, CAN be composted!

After my delicious bowl of oats, which I laced with almond butter, ground flax, and chopped walnuts, I decided I was feeling well enough to venture out of the house for a bit. One does get pretty restless after being house bound for the better part of a week! My husband and I headed into Providence to shop around for a bit and I picked up a couple of American made T-shirts, a tank, and a dress from a cute boutique called Nava, which has vintage and new items, plus a nicely curated selection of trinkets, home goods, and jewelry  from local artisans.  For lunch we went to Garden Grille, a vegetarian spot, and stopped by their sister shop, Wildflour Bakery, for some delicious vegan treats to bring home for dessert.  Unfortunately, I forgot to pocket my paper napkin from lunch to toss into my compost bin, so that definitely went to the landfill. On a positive note, I did manage to avoid using any plastic, as our drinks came without straws (I forgot to ask the server NOT to bring one, so that was a happy accident) and our takeaway bins are compostable.

The rain has picked up and is pouring down sideways now, so I’m content to remain at home the rest of the day. I declined an invitation to watch the debate with some friends, as I’m still feeling a bit crummy and still sound sort of gross, which is unpleasant to be around.

So, I can comfortably say that below is my waste tally for today:

Sunday’s Waste


Toilet Paper

The plastic from the tags on the clothes I purchased

Paper Napkin

Wrappers from zinc lozenges

Next week should prove to be more interesting as I embark on my trip. I know for sure I won’t be able to compost anything while I’m away, but I’m hoping that I am well enough prepared to avoid using any plastic.

Be sure to continue to follow the other Ethical Writers Coalition members participating in this challenge.

Style Wise


The Note Passer

Tortoise and Lady Grey

Leotie Lovely

Sustaining Life

Sustainably Chic

Rebecca Bratburd




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