Our Low Waste Goals for 2020 | Fresh Exchange

Our Low Waste Goals for 2020

My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be

Image by: Mae Stier

We all are doing our best aren’t we? We all want to take care of our planet and there is no doubt that seeing the way the world is looking these days leaves us feeling we need to take more drastic measures. Though we have done a lot already ie. composting, gardening and growing our own food, eating local, eating only meat from small local farms in sustainable models, taking our own bags to the store, buying in bulk sections and bringing our own bags or reusing the ones we get at the store, and the list goes on….BUT there is more to do and as the planet warms and the plastic rises, we have to think about every purchase, how we live, and more. So this year I am jumping up and saying…we have a long way to go too because after all it isn’t about perfection, but about a lot of small things adding up into big things.

The truth is I am learning right along with you on this journey. I won’t be perfect and neither will you, but we can choose various things each month or even year that we can do no matter how busy we are. So I am kicking off this idea by sharing the main things we plan to do this year. I am explaining where we are beginning and then I will be sharing about it throughout the year on Instagram and here about how it is going and what I am learning and trying. LOTS to learn with these things, so I am going to get real about where we are beginning. So let’s get going we have a lot of ground to cover.

My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be


ONE: Cleaning Supplies including Laundry and Dishwasher soap first more than anything

TWO: Buy 2nd hand or natural/sustainable fiber clothing only – do the research before buying new

THREE: Eliminate all single use plastic waste in our home

FOUR: Eliminate unnecessary mail coming into the house

FIVE: Focus on Item Lifecycle with anything new we do purchase


Now some of these may surprise you to hear from me. But I am going to go through this list and explain where we currently are and where I want to be with each of these. Like I said, we aren’t perfect, but I want to do a few things REALLY well in our house and then begin to add in more the next year to switch up our life a little more. These shifts take time because it is all about relearning how to live. We all have grown up a certain way and society still generally works in the same old ways so we are having to restructure and break old routines to start new ones. This can be overwhelming with the demands on us to make ends meet, raise kids, be with our family, etc. But I do believe when we are intentional over the course of a year’s time we can shake old ways and make new ones. The old day can learn new tricks.

So here we go, let me be real about where we are with each of these goals and where I want to be.

My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be

Cleaning Supplies including Laundry and Dishwasher soap first more than anything
Where we are right now:
Currently in terms of cleaning we have gotten down to using solely Castille Soap (Bronner’s in particular) for nearly everything from hand soap to dish soap. We use white vinegar and water to clean glass and stainless in our home. When we have hard stains we use Sal Suds from Bronner’s in either concentrated form or diluted for a spray. I plan to talk more about what we do and do a big break down in April so look for that, but this all works really well! We don’t buy any marketed cleaning supplies for anywhere in our home other than we do buy one bottle of disinfecting spray for the moment the stomach flu or a cold shows up in our house. I know people swear by Essential Oils, but I 100% know that things from like more bio based brands work in those instances so I stick to that 1 bottle we buy a year. For our Castille and Sal Suds, I buy in bulk so the bottle waste is very limited. Plus we dillute it. I do the same with white vinegar. You can buy a huge jug at places like Costco and we might use one every year. This doesn’t eliminate but it takes things down in a big way! I haven’t found anywhere to purchase white vinegar into a refillable container. But 1 container instead of 5-8 does a lot! We also use old cloths for all of our cleaning. It is simple and easy to do and all clothes are 100% cotton so they can be broken down in compost later when we have overused them. Old sheets make great cleaning rags! But we have a long way to go still with our laundry detergent and our dishwasher soap. 

Currently with dishwasher soap I use  Seventh Generation in a bulk container. So we eliminate containers but the formula isn’t the best AND it is probably more expensive than we need to be spending. I want to find an answer that is completely biodegradable and not harmful to the earth especially since we are on a well and septic system. I also don’t want any plastic waste. 

With laundry soap I love The Laundress but the small containers even with 64 loads isn’t ideal. It is fairly eco but not as clean as I believe we should have. So I want to try a local brand we have and also consider making my own. We also buy the ECOS brand in bulk from Costco, but don’t let the ECO word fool you, it still isn’t the best either. I want to do better here but I know it is going to take some trial and error especially with stains and such with kids. 

Where I want to be by the end of the year:

My goal is to have our cleaning supplies and routine down to 100% sustainable, eco, and no waste. A small bit of cardboard is fine especially if we can start composting it with either our worm farm or in our bigger compost pile, but I want it all to have no impact ultimately and for sure no plastic. I am sad to ditch my beloved Laundress soaps but I also know the plastic waste is no good. I think we can do way better here and find a great solution to these challenges for our life.


Buy 2nd hand or natural/sustainable fiber clothing only – do the research before buying new

Where we are currently at:
We currently have slowed down our clothing consumption in a big way even with kids. I made a commitment with having a 2nd we wouldn’t buy anything new with her at least in the first year. We did receive gifts from people that were, but I wanted to make this baby a low impact as much as I could. We received hand me downs and so on. Though there are a few things I did buy new for her I bought them from small brands and/or made sure they were made of organic and sustainable and natural materials. No plastic! HARD to do to be honest, but so far so good. But what about ourselves. First of all we set a very clear clothing budget the last few years. This helps us know we need to buy less and invest better. Every clothing decision is a thought about thing in our house because of financial impact. But we still buy from time to time things on a spur of the moment situation. A walk through target and a quick shirt for Hayes is bought or I see something really I love on Zara and in the cart it goes. Not perfect by any means. But I want to change it. 

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
I want all of our kids clothes to be 2nd hand unless we cannot find certain things. Then we will purchase from brands that are quality and doing it right. This way we can hand down to friends or family because the item is so quality, but also the life cycle is more clear about how it is will be let go. Mike and I have learned to be very curated and minimal but I want to make sure that what we purchase are things we will use long term even if bought 2nd hand. We aren’t significantly changing in shape and so the more classic and quality items made of natural fibers the better! 


Eliminate all single use plastic waste in our home

Where we are currently at:
Currently we use more single use plastic in our kitchen than I would like to! It is less about the individual wrappers because we are have more or less eliminated those besides the clutch move when you are starving and need something quick. We do our best to keep individually wrapped snacks out of the house so they aren’t common place, but we still get many foods that come in the house in plastic that is not reusable. Though we do a ton of get items in cloth bags in the bulk section at our Co Op we still get things at places like Costco in single use plastic that though are in bulk, still have no use after. These things include frozen fruit and so on. We do really well not getting plastic wrapped or bagged fresh items but I would like to reserve our plastic waste for things that actually it is impossible to get otherwise such as meat from local farms. Even then it still comes in plastic. 

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
I want to be at a place where we solely getting single use plastic for items that we don’t have the option for but I also want to be looking and say, what sort of things can we get from our dried bulk area to create items we may be getting in single use as well. There are lots of options so I want to make sure we are making it a purposeful choice instead of a thoughtless one more than anything. Ultimately I would like a very VERY low if not Zero Waste kitchen for ourselves. 


Eliminate unnecessary mail coming into the house
Where we are currently at:
Currently, we have not worked at this at all. Like literally not a single bit so we are the normal human that gets a load of catalogs every week and so on. It’s really bad and the 2nd most wasteful thing about our home for sure!

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
I want to only be receiving the necessary bills and so on that come for things here and there and anything we have solely requested. Everything else I want to find a way to eliminate coming into our home by the end of the year.


Focus on Item Lifecycle with anything new we do purchase
Where we are currently at:
Up until the last 6 months we had been doing. Though we were thinking through what we were buying and the intentions and purposes of it, but we weren’t thinking what will happen with this item after we have had it for 10 or 20 years. How will this move through life and what will be left behind? But also where and how did this item get to us? What was the process to bring this into our lives? I had taken this approach to our food, but what about the items in our home as well?

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
My goal is that every purchase in our home is thought about in the same way we think about our food. I want to make sure that we buy with deeper intention about the impact of how an item was made to the impact it will have when we are done with it. We are beginning this year thinking about a new rug and this has been a huge focus with this item. It means we buy less things but it means that we will leave a better world on the other side. 

My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be

Image by: Mae Stier

I have other small goals in my process of become more and more sustained by our land such as learning to can properly and doing more preservation this year so we can supply more of our food. I am trying to always learn how to cook and be more focused on local a little more every time we shop, but I know it is a life long process to learn as we have been slowly working on it for over 5 years now.

The above goals are all really big goals for us, but I feel really like we are on the right step towards making them all happen. Some are going to be bigger challenges than others, but I want to share about this through the year, so I hope you will talk about your’s with me as well. Tell me, what are 5 of your top goals for a more eco friendly life this year. Do you have things you want to make happen?! I would love to hear. I think it is best to talk about goals so we can all hold each other accountable through the process, don’t you?

So share your goals for the year or if you have any recommendations for me on any of these I would LOVE to hear! I have learned so much from all of you…I mean you all taught me about white vinegar for cleaning glass which works better than anything!! So I know you all know some wonderful hacks! Share away with me.

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17 Responses

  1. This is a great list, it sounds like you are doing really well with reducing Your plastic waste. We could definitely do better On thaT but it’s not my top foCus this year.

    My eco goals for 2020:

    1. (Mostly) Stop eating meat – the last couple of Years we have eaten small amoUnts of meat from local farms but i don’t feel Good about that any more. The one exception i will make is a bit of venison – we live in scotland where vast overpopulation of deer wReak havoc on the environment so i feel ok about That!

    2. Sell both our cars and get one electric car between Us

    3. No flights This year and take trips in the uk or in europe by train

    4. Buy mostly second hand clothing – i’ve set a goal of a mAximum 4 new items this year and try to make sure they are ethical brands. I’m also trying to shop second hand for furniture and other household items

    5. Join an environmentAl campaigning group to help make a real dIfference!

  2. I love these! I have many of the same goals for our home this year. Have you tried the app Paperkarma? It helped me eliminate a lot of the mail we kept seeing over and over that we had no interest in. Hope it helps!

  3. these are great goals! I wanted to work on the amount of junk mail that comes into our house too, and recently found a website that I’m hoping will help cut back on catalogs (instead of calling each individual catalog company to remove me from the list). it’s called catalog choice. can’t vouch for it yet, but might be worth looking into for you – we’ve started using it but only time will tell.

  4. These are all really great! you inspired me to make my own counter spray with Dr. bronner’s. so far, it’s working really well. Bathroom spray will be next on the list. we all can’t do everything and be perfect all the time, but small changes add up!

  5. great to hear your goals. i recently read a great book that outlined the top ways individuals can contribute, among those were transportation – our cars, flights, shipping goods, etc – and eating/using animal products. so im focusing on those big items, which are often the hardest ones!

  6. This is a great post, thank you! Going green and being eco friendly can be so overwhelming. So far this year the first thing I changed was switching away from the ridiculous amount of paper towels I was using. I bought a stack of eco friendly wash cloths that I can use to wipe down the counters, table, or the kids. I also put a small hand towel on top of the faucet because I wash my hands about 100 times a day so now I always have a clean towel just to dry my hands.

    I have a loooong way to go but that was the first thing. Next thing is to get rid of the cleaning products and switch to something like you have. Once I get that down I’ll take it from there. Oh and also stop using plastic bags at the grocery store for fruits and vegetables.

    Thank you again!!

  7. I’m SO excited to read the content you develop around this topic! Our household has not yet written goals, though this is inspiration to do so. It all feels a bit overwhelming, but I like your approach of breaking everything down into categories. One thought I had was around what to do about brands you really love (you mentioned your laundry detergent). In addition to finding another home solution, I think it’s great to reach out to companies whose products you adore and tell them why you’re leaving and encourage them to change whatever practice you’re trying to avoid. Dollars and voices can make change! Thank you always for your words and sharing your jouney.

  8. HI! Love your post. I have started to use DRopps for laundry detergent. Online company and it comes in a small cardboard box (No plastic!)-delivered by usps. Enjoy!

  9. Great post. I find its pretty easy tO find natural fiber clothing on the second market. For wool items, i suggest https://twigandhorn.com/products/wool-soap
    Works great especially on old or vintage items to bring them back to life! and you realy only need to use it once, then just wash with dr. Bonners for routine cleaning.
    If you figure out dishwasher detergent do share…i have been hesitant to make my own for fear of it not working or suds spilling out of the machine!

    1. Hi – I have started making my own dishwasher powder which seems to work pretty well. If you can source the ingredients from a bulk store its zero waste:
      1 cup baking soda
      1 cup washing soda (soda ash)
      1/4 cup salt
      1/4 cup citric acid
      10 drops essential oil (your favourite)

      Mix everything together and store in a jar. Use 1Tblsp per load.

      Note: it will leave your dishes a mess if you do not use vinegar as the rinse aid!

  10. I still need to make my goals for this year, but i did find a company (who gives a crap) that doesn’t use plastic to wrap toilet paper and tissue boxes.

      1. Congratulations, it’s wonderful that all across the world, in countries where consumerism has ruled the agenda, people are rethinking their activities. You are doing a wonderful job. Like everything practice makes you better, and coming up with solutions can only be done once you’ve thought “hey can I do this better”.. my mum always taught the importance of context, what were the supposed benefits when products went through change, or big heavy wooden furniture that would last generations as replaced by lightweight manmade products is often seen as why would you take the lightweight version. She said imagine 50 60 years ago and as a woman you have to refurnish a home after being kicked out by your partner, how much easier to grab a table a chair a sofa for yourself and children..put simply there were many reasons why things evolve. There is no reason to dwell on what were they thinking when they invented or marketed a product. But we now have the benefit of hindsight and are privileged enough to have choice. So your choices are important. Your choices make a difference. Again congrats …

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Bringing us back to nature through the garden and community.

I’m Megan Gilger and I am glad to have you here growing with me as we garden, live seasonally, and pursue an eco-lifestyle.

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