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Kristina Moen takes Zero Waste Challenge

Day 0 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Kristina Moen works at the Lopez Library and has lived on Lopez Island for four years. When she first arrived on the island, she lived with Liz & Teri (May’s Zero Waste Challenge participants), who introduced her to the amazing Lopez dump and recycling pavilion and the concept of humanure. She currently rents a small cabin on a shared property. The land owners use a composting toilet and water from a catchment system, and she would like to understand those systems better. One of her motivations for doing this challenge is that she will be moving to a (most likely rural) site in Lesotho in September to volunteer with the Peace Corps, and she would like to gain a better understanding of trash removal and composting systems and wean herself off of American consumer packaged goods. 

May 31, 2018

I start the Zero Waste Challenge tomorrow. My goal is to fit all my non-recyclable and non-compostable waste into a gallon jar. Most of my visible waste comes from food and toiletry packaging - aka consumer packaged goods. Although I know there are other waste streams associated with how I live (related to housing, land, transportation, and work), I am going to focus on the waste stream I can most immediately impact. All last month, I have tried to “replace” items that come in plastic or non-recyclable containers with other options - the great thing is that I have found that I already have everything I need! It’s just a matter or using it! And there are added benefits - once I started carrying around my travel mug, I discovered discounts everywhere! On the ferry, there is a 50% discount if you bring your own mug - you just pay the refill price for coffee. I’m also taking a glass container or mason jar with me to restaurants for leftovers - which might look a little prissy, but the food stays fresher (no soggy cardboard) and is easy to reheat.

There are things I have not been able to replace and will end up in my jar this month:

Floss, menstrual products (I went applicator-less, but haven’t been able to get on the board with the cups yet), ice cream containers, toothpaste tubes. I’ve tried purchasing ice cream by the gallon to reduce waste, but then I just eat more ice cream. :) And there will be bits and pieces of plastic & paper (milk jar lids? macaroni & cheese packets? frozen bean burrito wrappers?), but I hope to spend some time down at the dump to learn what I really can and cannot recycle. I will have to make some of my own food this month - no more salsa and guacamole and sour cream in plastic tubs (I eat a lot of the aforementioned frozen bean burritos). I am going to make use of the bulk section at Blossom and put my coffee and peanut butter in glass jars.

My plan is to carry a Zip-Loc bag with me to catch my waste when I’m out and put it into the jar. Once gnarly enough, the Zip-Loc will become waste too. When I’m at work, I won’t count the waste associated with work like Scotch Tape or paper products, although I will try to be conscious of it. But any personal waste will go into the Zip-Loc. If it’s a communal food item (the library staff keeps a bin of chips, chocolate, and other snack foods we bring from home), I will make the call depending on the percentage I ate. Unsurprisingly, most of my food waste comes from unhealthy foods, so this might well be a double win.

SO, without further ado, here are my cast of characters:

Gallon Jar (w/ salad dressing for size comparison)

Example of some reusables: hot & cold drink containers from Holly B’s & Lopez Island Coffee Shop, metal straw, Hydro Flask water bottle, bamboo utensils, food wrap made by Julia Mira, glass food containers - not pictured are mason jars which are also excellent for everything


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