Happy May! It's been a while since I shared some zero-waste wins so it felt about time. To be honest, I don't have super big accomplishments or successes to share. Sometimes it's just about keep on keeping on and repeating small wins on a daily basis. I also think that habits are catching and good conversation starters. Just the other day, a colleague noticed my lunch tins and we wound-up talking about reusable items and household products. Here's what's been happening in our neck of the woods...
We're a family of four and went over a week without a dryer. I think we've all been there: you're about the use the appliance when some dreaded code appears and says "call service". For a while, I just ignored it (isn't that what one's supposed to do?) until my husband convinced me to call the repair people. Turned out we needed a new part and it was best not to use the dryer until then. And you know what? We were fine. Hannah is excellent about hanging all of her clothes out on a line, while I still use my dryer on a regular basis. But this time, my family was forced to re-wear some clothes and only wash and hang the necessities like undergarments and socks. This change made us think twice about mindlessly tossing clothes into the laundry; I'm hoping we developed some new habits. I also think sometimes more is more and it's ok to have a lot of pieces, if it means being able to go longer without running the machine. A quarter load of laundry is extremely wasteful. Remember - choose cold water and the express cycle whenever possible! You'll use less resources and the clothes will still get cleaned.
Meanwhile, we are making do with other appliances that are on their way out. Our house came with some fancy appliances but they are starting to age. For example, our oven is broken (did you know ovens use a cooling fan?) but the stove works just fine. We have tried fixing the oven but its pieces are obsolete and impossible to find. (I am hoping "right to repair" bills will prevent this problem from happening in the future.) Can we trash the range and just buy something new instead? Sure, I suppose we can and likely eventually will one day. But, like I mentioned, the stove works fine and we are able to use our toaster oven for almost everything. Working with what we have means a few less years of landfill. I'll call that a win.
We said "no" to lawn chemicals. Please don't feel like you need to use "Round-Up" or any other type of weed killers. The early season "weeds" like dandelions feed the pollinators until other flowers bloom. Plus, those "perfect lawn" chemicals are terrible for the environment and your health. If you want to start a garden, think about local plants that grow in NH. There's also the "No Mow in May" movement, which encourages lawn owners to forgo the mower for a whole month in an effort to help the environment.
Lastly, we are composting again! Unfortunately I usually stop in the middle of the winter because my tumbler freezes shut. Though next year I'll start using a service! Composting is one of the cheapest and easiest things you can do to help the environment. Food waste accounts for a large part of landfill, none of those items decompose and more methane enters the air. Get yourself a tumbler, learn a few steps and skip the trash. Once you get into the hang of things, composting is super easy and just becomes another quick chore, similar to recycling.
That's about all from here. I'll be lying if I didn't sometimes wonder if these efforts are enough. Yet, that doesn't mean I should stop trying. I've convinced a few people to stop using paper towels (no, washing rags doesn't use as much or more energy...) and to start composting. One person turns into two and so on. If you're looking to effect change on a larger scale, there's a hot debate in Concord right now. Have something else happening by you? Let us know and help get the word out! No issue is too small.