Living (almost) zero waste
Megean Weldon, author of “An Almost Zero Waste Life,” is the mother of a 3½-year-old, so she understands the attraction to kid-related disposable items. But because she was on a journey to living with zero waste before she became a parent, she said she never got a taste for convenience items. Instead, she figured that if it was an item her mother or grandmother did without, she could, too.
Weldon’s great-grandparents lived during the Depression. She said the resulting frugality was environmentally friendly and just a normal part of life.
“They did things like grown their own food,” she said. “My grandma would can all the food. We’re so disconnected from that, especially if we live in cities. It inspires me thinking about how they were able to sustain themselves on so little. In reality, the simplest things we do are the best things we do for our impact.”
The easiest is simply to buy less stuff and use what we have. Try having “no spend” weeks or months. Make do with simple swaps like using rags instead of disposables for cleaning, using handkerchiefs instead of tissues and avoiding fast food packaging and restaurant waste by cooking at home.
“The more we cook at home, the less waste we make,” Weldon said. “Overall, I think we live in excess way more than we should.”
Weldon learned early on that it is easy to go overboard on baby gear.
“In reality, newborn babies only need about 10 percent of the things marketed to us,” she said.
With kids, there has to a be balance. Weldon said you do your best but give yourself some leniency when needed.
“The convenience is so tempting as a parent,” she said. “You are already deprived of sleep. You don’t have time to worry about a lot of things when you have a small child. With babies especially, it’s diapers and wipes.”
Weldon devised a plan to stick to reusables, even when away from home.
“I was scared to do it at first,” she said. “I researched and figured out everything I could do to make it as convenient as possible.”
Starting small eases the process.
“We get caught up in the details,” Weldon said. “It’s all about our habitual lives – how we move through each day. A lot of people get overwhelmed. I tell them to go through their trash and find one thing. Just focus on that for however long you want. Make that normal. Once you plant that first seed of doing something new, you get excited. Slowly do it. Some people – like myself – try to do everything all at once. I don’t recommend that at all. Be gentle with yourself.”
Get more tips from Weldon at https://zerowastenerd.com.
Going zero waste with diapers and wipes? Make a plan.
· Weldon recommends always having a “wet bag” with you for used diapers and wipes
· Make a wipe stash using a reusable silicone zipper bag for moist cloths.
· Give yourself permission to use disposables when you are away from home, if that’s what you need.
· Underprepare for a new baby and then buy what you really need after the baby is born.